CLAIRVOYANCE AT TRING.
Ed.—Massey's first wife, Rosina Jane, was a noted
clairvoyant ("Somnambule Jane") who—"offered enquirers a crop of Clairvoyant Phenomena
every Monday and Thursday. Admission, 2s. 6d. cut price".
Indeed, Massey first met Rosina at such a demonstration in 1850.
report and correspondence, which are taken from the Bucks Advertiser and Aylesbury News,
the local paper for Massey's home town of Tring, relate to two 'lectures'
the 25-year old Massey gave there on clairvoyance and mesmerism.
Money was forever tight in the Massey household and, particularly in their
early years together, Rosina's clairvoyant consultations provided a
necessary source of income. Judging from the newspaper report the
Tring audiences received their money's-worth; but one cannot help feeling that the pair were 'rumbled' by
the local medical man, Edward Pope,* for as Pope put it . . . .
"Why accept a
shilling or eighteen pence for exhibiting manifestations of a power which,
skilfully applied, would make them 'rich beyond the dream of avarice?'"
. . . . and Dr.
Pope was not the only sceptic ― see extract from
Rosina's reactions to Dr. Pope's suggested experiments brings Shakespeare
to mind (Hamlet, Act 3 scene 2).....The lady doth
protest too much, methinks - indeed, some 20 years later the
Globe reports Massey
making a candid and touching confession to a large audience about
one particular clairvoyante demonstration. But for the moment the last word should
rest with the worldly James Robertson, who takes Dr. Pope to
task . . . . "Why, Sir, you mesmerise upon a large scale, and then find
fault with a poor soul that only trades now and then for a crust." (letter
* Edward Pope, aged 39, is listed in the 1851 census
for Tring as a 'Medical and General Practitioner MCSL LicAH'. He
lived at 63 Akeman Street (in the photo below, on the left
hand side, just beyond the bend in the road - now demolished) together with his wife Catherine, a
daughter (aged 6) and son (aged 1), a 'medical assistant', James McCann,
and three female servants.
19th Century view of Akeman Street, Tring.
Photo: Wendy Austin Collection.
Bucks Advertiser and Aylesbury News,
21st January 1853.
TRING ― Two lectures have been delivered in mesmerism, on the evenings of Friday
and Monday, in the Commercial Hall, by Mr Massey, now resident in London, but
being a native of Tring, was known to the majority of the audience. The
statement in the bills was, that Mrs Massey possessed the faculty of introvision,
or seeing with the eyelids closed, and this drew together two such audiences as
have never been seen in the Commercial Hall before. On the second evening the
doors were besieged, long before the time of opening. The first lecture was
principally devoted to mesmerism; its history and utility as a sanative art.
Then followed some interesting experiments on Mrs Massey, the clairvoyante
[sic], who had previously been thrown into a mesmeric sleep. The experiments
commenced by her reading from any and every book or paper given to her from the
audience, with her eyes effectively covered by the hands of anyone who could
hold them in not too rough a manner. The handbills contained a request that the
spectators "would provide themselves with their own papers for the clairvoyante to read, in order to prevent the supposition or collusion or
deception, and in all cases the print is legible." Now although some very
small type was handed to Mrs Massey, scarcely and instance occurred where she
refused, but on the contrary, read to the perfect satisfaction and astonishment
of the majority of her auditors. The first evening concluded with some
experiments in phrenomesmerism and catalepsy.
During the time elapsing between the first and second lecture scepticism was on
the alert, and many of those who were most satisfied with what their eyes beheld
and hands felt, on the Friday evening, were persuaded that it was a mere trick,
and prevailed upon others to think so; imagining the clairvoyante, like
themselves, read by looking between the hands before her. At length Monday
evening arrived when the whole affair was to be exploded like the imposition
recorded in Chambers Journal, of Jan 8th. The lecturer upon this occasion
entered into an explanation of clairvoyance and ordinary somnambulism, relating
a few anecdotes in connection therewith. The conclusion of the lecture was the
time selected for the first blow in the shape of sundry questions and
propositions put to Mr Massey, all of which were fairly answered. Then came the
clairvoyante's turn to be tested, who passed most successful; reading
everything that was given her, although two hands and once four were placed over
her eyes. Even with this, one gentleman was not satisfied, nor would he be,
unless allowed to hold the eyelids down in a manner proposed by himself; when
he had arranged his fingers a card was handed to Mrs Massey, who laid it upon
her forehead, who read it aloud to the satisfaction of the unbeliever.
only fair to state, that every means that could be thought of was adopted in the
endeavour to disconcert the youthful pair, and prove them impostors in the word
and deed. After giving some hearty cheers, the majority left the hall well
pleased with what they had beheld.
Tring High Street, ca 1890, viewed towards the photographer's
position in the first photograph.
The Bank of Tring ('Butcher's
Bank'), a bank of issue, is the gable-ended building, mid distance on the
THE BUCKS ADVERTISER AND AYLESBURY NEWS.
CLAIRVOYANCE AT TRING.
To the Editor of the Bucks Advertiser and Aylesbury News
Sir,—Having read in your paper of Saturday last an incorrect and one-sided
statement relative to the late lectures and experiments in mesmerism and
clairvoyance, at Tring, I claim, in justice to myself and several other
gentlemen who were present, and who disapprove of your report, a space in
your forthcoming number.
Medical practitioner at Tring, and clairvoyance sceptic.
A few days prior to the delivery of the first lecture, I
received a printed handbill, in which "all who desired to become
acquainted with the truth of a marvellous phenomenon were invited to a
fair and faithful investigation." I also received, a private
invitation from the lecturer, in which he stated that he "did not fear
medical men, although they were the greatest sceptics." Thinking,
therefore, that if I did not attend it would be said that I shrank from
the enquiry, and knowing also that a morbid feeling, with respect to this
subject, prevailed in the minds of some who believed that the wonders they
had heard of were the actual works of Satanic power, a notion full of
ignorance and superstition, I determined to accept the invitation and to
make a fair and faithful investigation. I attended the first lecture
and witnessed the experiments, covering on one occasion the eyes of the
clairvoyante with my hands, in the way directed by the lecturer; thus, the
palm of each hand was placed immediately over the eye, the two hands
crossing each other about the centre of the nose at an acute angle.
All the experiments thus conducted were successful. But,
although it was evident that no proof of the truth of clairvoyance could
result from experiments thus performed, I left (as there was to be another
lecture) without giving any opinion. On the following day I tried
several experiments, both on myself and others, and was soon convinced
that it is impossible for any one by placing his hands in the way
directed, over the eyes of another, to satisfy himself that the light is
entirely excluded from them, and that it is equally impossible for a
spectator in front to be so assured. On the conclusion, therefore,
of the second lecture I proposed certain experiments, which, if the
clairvoyante should succeed, I offered to move a resolution to the effect
that, the truth of clairvoyance had been proved. After explaining what
natural vision is, and how the images of things seen, are depicted by the
action of the light proceeding from them, on the expansion of the optic
nerve or retina; and after deducing from the, printed handbill what is
meant by clairvoyance, which the eye is said not to be used in a natural
way; that is as a lens, and for which purpose, therefore, light cannot be
necessary, and the exclusion of which was of course the object intended,
by covering the eyes with the hands. I proposed—
1st. That the clairvoyante should read in the dark, putting out
the light altogether, being a much more simple and satisfactory way of
excluding it from the eyes than covering them with the hands, and this too
in a room in which were several strong gas-lights.
2nd. That she should read a printed paper, which was twice folded upon
itself, and enclosed within an envelope; and here I would remark that in
such experiments the envelope should be opaque, for in certain angles of
light ordinary vision is sufficient to read a word enclosed within several
folds of letter paper which is translucent.
3rd. That I should be permitted to close the eyes in any way that I might
I then said these were the only experiments that would convince me of the
truth of clairvoyance. With respect to them Mr. Massey, after
replying to my observations relative to matters contained in his lectures,
said, that after my expression of scepticism, Mrs. Massey would not only
not submit to them but that she would not allow me to come near her.
For I must tell you that the mesmerists guard their experiments in every
way; and thus, in order to cover failures or avoid detection, they say
that this wonderful power of clairvoyance may be destroyed by the near
approach even of a sceptic! The fact is, Mr. Massey knew, that
had the clairvoyante submitted she would undoubtedly have failed, and a
public failure would never do; a few such and ''Othello's occupation
would be gone." In the remarks I made I was careful not to say
anything offensive, beyond the expression of my disbelief, lest it should
be said that my interference had spoiled the experiments. I was,
therefore, not a little surprised, on the clairvoyant being introduced, to
see her assume an air of the worst possible temper, and to hear her make
rude and vulgar personal remarks, the whole being wound up with a fit of
feigned hysteric. I say "assume" and ''feigned," it being
evident the whole thing was a sham, got up for the purpose of enlisting
the sympathy of the audience. On being thrown into the so-called
mesmeric or somnambulic state she continued her rude personalities,
proceeding even to call names, and directing occasionally towards me her
countenance full of demoniacal expression, but which, I will do her
humanity the justice to believe, she did not really feel. The
experiments, as on the former evening, were then proceeded with, but as
those I had proposed had been refused, and no one pressed them, I, after
the treatment I had received, took no further part in the proceedings.
The experiments, as usual, were of course successful—and I believe many
persons present fully credited the powers of the clairvoyante—thus showing
how easily the "discerning public" will allow itself to be deluded. In the
first place, there was not the slightest proof that the clairvoyante was
in the so-called mesmerie or somnambulic state—her whole demeanour, after
being roused from what is called the state of coma, being that of a person
awake, with the eye-lids apparently closed—and such as any one could
assume. 2nd. Fair crucial experiments, not cruel, which two words Mr.
Massey appeared to confound, were objected to, and those only were tried
which the clairvoyante and her husband themselves proposed-that is,
experiments with conditions attached. Why, has not every conjuror
his conditions, and is not his trick undetected?
With respect to the phrano-mesmeric phenomena, I pass these
over altogether, as at must be obvious that where husband and wife are the
operators, there can be no check against collusion. I may, however,
observe that Mr. Massey accounted for the susceptibility of the clairvoyante's cerebral organs to "excitation without contact," by
supposing her skull to be very thin, and politely suggested a not very
flattering contrast between it and the skulls of some of the audience.
And now, Sir, after what I have stated, I think you will agree with me,
that the question of the truth or falsehood of clairvoyance will remain
just what it was before the delivery of the late lectures and experiments
at Tring, in the minds of all such as are acquainted with the laws of
evidence, and whose previous prejudices have not rendered them incapable
of being guided by such laws.
I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,
Tring, 2nd Feb., 1853.
Tring: Frogmore St., looking towards High St. and Akeman
BUCKS ADVERTISER AND AYLESBURY NEWS,
FEB. 12, 1853.
THE TRING POPE.
To the Editor of the Bucks Advertiser and
Mr. Editor,—A letter signed Edward Pope appeared in your paper of last
Saturday, and such a one that demands a spirited reply. Respecting the
Satanic agency ascribed by some people in Tring to mesmeric influence I
have only to say that where the Devil has the best quarters the people
seem most afraid of him. All honour to Mr. Pope for his
determination to expose quackery; but only let the public see how the
question of mesmerism and clairvoyance affects him, and they will be
enlightened upon his objections to the system pursued by Mr. Massey.
I believe Mr. Pope is one of the faculty practising in the town of Tring,
and therefore desirous that the present system of medicine adopted by
himself shall remain as lucrative as it is now. Mr. Pope would
endeavour to make the people that saw the experiments to be blockheads,
and take to himself the sole and exclusive judgment, as if other people
could not judge as well as himself. Now, Mr. Pope may pronounce the
experiments quackery if he chooses, but let him know the mesmeric quackery
is not the only quackery in the world. I will not attempt, Mr. Editor, to
enumerate the quackeries in existence, only beg of Mr. Pope, before he
condemns scientific experiments, to sweep his own doorway clean before
Othello's occupation is gone.
Mr. Pope's propositions are the following:—First, that the
clairvoyante should read in the dark; second, that she should read a
printed paper which was twice folded upon itself and enclosed in an
envelope; and thirdly, that he should be permitted to close her eyes in
any way he might think necessary.
Now, upon the first proposition, can Mr. Pope read in the
dark? If he cannot how can he expect Mrs. Massey to do it. Secondly, not
only in the dark but have a printed paper twice folded in an envelope; now
how would Mr. Pope like to be told to read a letter without opening it, or
how would he like it to be folded in an envelope? Oh, says he, I do
not profess to be able. No, Sir, it would be all the same if he did. For even Mr. Pope cannot do everything. Thirdly, that he should be
permitted to close her eyes in any way he thought necessary. How
would he like a man to close the eyes of his wife in any way that man may
like, or how would he like his wife to be submitted for an examination
even by a brother member of the faculty? Was you not ashamed of
yourself, Sir, to interrupt a meeting to question a lady's sincerity or
even venture to propose to touch her eyes? Is not your wife your
property? Is not Mr. Massey's his property also? And how dare
you, Sir, if you are a gentleman, to think of such a thing?
You say that Mr. Massey and his
wife acted in concert. Well, Sir, and what of that ? A blessed
thing when they can do so. Do not say any more on that point or the
public will think that Mr. and Mrs. Pope do not.
You say that every conjuror has his conditions, and his trick
remains undetected. Do you dare, Sir, to call Mr. Massey a conjuror
and his wife a trick? Bald language, to be sure, for a man that
works with mesmeric influence every day. How many poor souls have
gone to the grave because you have shaken your head, to say nothing of
your compounds? How many have got well because you have smiled and
kept the physic-bottle away ? Why, Sir, you mesmerise upon a large
scale, and then find fault with a poor soul that only trades now and then
for a crust.
Trusting I have made myself understood, and hoping that Mr.
Pope will not be found blacking the aspirations of the youthful pair,
I subscribe my name without hesitation,
Leighton Buzzard, Feb. 8, 1853.
Tring: Frogmore Street, from the opposite direction to the
Photo: Wendy Austin Collection.
BUCKS ADVERTISER AND AYLESBURY NEWS,
FEB. 12, 1853.
CLAIRVOYANCE AND THE POPE.
To the Editor of the Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury
DEAR Sir,—Do not be startled at the heading of
my article, I do not allude to Pio Nono who lately put down sham
clairvoyance in Rome, because he thought the trick so infernally clever,
but to the Pope in miniature, who lately extinguished "Clairvoyance in
Tring." I see by your paper of the 5th inst., that we are snuffed out
irrecoverably. I little thought that after convincing millions of people
of the genuineness of our pretensions, it was reserved for the good people
of Tring to detect the humbug of them. But Sir, will you bear one word
from the condemned on his way to execution? In the meanwhile perchance a
reprieve may come.
Mr. Pope commences to correct an incorrect
statement which appeared in your paper, and which he does not correct in
any one particular. In this respect he reminds me forcibly of the
Dutchman, who having to leap a dyke, ran a preliminary two miles in order
that he might get a good start, and when he arrived at the edge of it, had
run himself out of breath, and could not take the leap at all. I shall
endeavour to answer Mr. Pope's letter seriatim. (The Clairvoyante
looking over my shoulder, construes that into " Sir! I hate him;" and begs
to endorse the sentiment. Of course, Mr. Pope will "do her humanity the
justice to believe she does not feel it.")
Mr. Pope speaks of the "several gentlemen" who
disprove of your previous report. I presume he reckons on the
principle that one of them being the landlord of an inn, he constituted a
whole Host in himself! At our seace they were a minority of two. Mr. Pope
informs you that "fair crucial experiments were objected to, and those
only were tried which the clairvoyante and her husband themselves
proposed." Indeed! Did we propose the experiments and tests of Messrs. Parkes and Sherman, the clergyman, and others, who held the clairvoyante's
eyes with the tips of their fingers? Why it was one of the very tests Mr.
Pope himself proposed; only, mark you! The condition he stipulated for
was, that "he should be the person who was to hold her eyes in the
proposed way." That, in a great measure, explains why she would not read
for Mr. Pope, and why she did read for any one beside, in the way Mr. Pope
himself proposed; and she was perfectly successful in every instance. He
states that no proof of the truth of clairvoyance could result from the
experiments as performed at Tring. Now, sir, I stated distinctly that what
we had to show was little or no evidence for the existence of
clairvoyance; and that the subtler experiments could not be induced before
a public audience. We went to Tring to demonstrate more particularly that
in the somnambulic state, and in certain persons, a transfer of vision
takes place, and that they can see without the ordinary use of the eyes. Such a power has existed in the natural somnambulist, and they have met
Mr. Pope’s conditions by seeing in the dark. Clairvoyance does exist where
this change, or intensifying of the physical sight does not occur. Indeed,
I am not aware that any living clairvoyante possesses this faculty in such
a degree as Mrs. Massey does, and this is the great fact we have to
demonstrate publicly. This is what we ask your opinion upon, and not
something else. Mrs. Massey's reputation as a clairvoyante is not staked
on this reading faculty; but whatever else she may be able to do in
clairvoyance would not help you or any one to a belief in this sight. As
regards the way we prefer the eyes being held, we choose it because it is
found by experience to be the most generally convincing; and because, if
we had not conditions, we should be at the mercy of an audience, who would
furnish probably 20 different tests in one night, and each person would
have as legitimate a right to insist on trying his test as Mr. Pope. But
if that gentleman will read one line for me in the way we propose the clairvoyante's eyes shall be held, at any of our lectures, I will hand
over to him the proceeds of the evening, and I will neither crush his
head, pinch his nose, or dig my fingers into his eyes. We invite persons
to place their hands over the eyes of the clairvoyante for their own
satisfaction; not that she would be able to see naturally if they did not,
for she is totally unable to use the eyes at all in the normal way so long
as she continues in the mesmeric state. Mr. Pope demands that the clairvoyante shall read in the dark, to prove to him that she can do what
she professes to do in the light. He might just as philosophically demand
that a given steam-engine should blow him up at a given time and spot, to
demonstrate to him the extraordinary power of steam! But the impossible
could in no wise enable him to grasp the possible. And if she were to read
in the dark? That would not convince the sceptic that it was done by
clairvoyance, not in the least. He would probably admit the fact that it
was done, that he, the sceptic, was done, that the “discerning public" was
done, and that we were all done together. But as to clairvoyance. No;
anything but that. There are chemical compositions that are luminous in
the dark. Beside, perhaps the clairvoyante might have smuggled in a
glow-worm or a fire-fly. We could not see what she did in the dark. We
know the sceptics, Sir, better than they know themselves: they do not
mistrust us alone; they cannot trust themselves.
Again, he demands that she read through an opaque
envelope to prove to him that she can see the letters of a book. We never
contended for any such powers. I never denied that light was an essential
condition for our success, nor did I assert that she could see more with
the eyes held than I or Mr. Pope can see without. I have heard of both
these things being done, and believe that Mrs. Massey could do them; but
the one would demand too great an excitement of the brain, the other would
only prove to me a transmission of thought, and not actual sight.
Mr. Pope remarks, "the mesmerists say that this wonderful power of
clairvoyance may be destroyed by the near approach of a sceptic." In
illustration, take the following extract from the Coventry Herald of Feb. 4th, relative to our
lectures in that place:—"There was one very remarkable circumstance
connected with the reading on this evening. One lady present held the clairvoyante's
eyes, when she complained that the lady's influence was so
dark she could not see; but if some gentleman would place his hand over,
in addition to the lady's, she should be able to read. This was done, and
she then read fluently." That does not look like seeing through the
fingers, does it? Mr. Pope seems to suppose that he was the only person in
Tring knowing enough to detect the trick and to cause us to fail, that we
went to Tring especially to convince him, and that, failing to do so,
therefore clairvoyance does not exist. Very amusing, but by no means
logical or conclusive. Mr. Pope complains of the demeanour of the clairvoyante. I suppose he thinks a clairvoyante should have no feeling,
and that she should hear herself set down as an impostor and humbug, and
bear the sneer, the taunt, and the insult with the most seraphic meekness. Mr. Pope may find his wife thus docile, but mine is'nt; she's not made in
that mould. He says the clairvoyante assumed ill-temper and feigned
hysteric, which assertion is unwarranted and untrue: I should add
ungentlemanly and cowardly; but I suppose I must credit him with the cruel
consistency of believing that the whole of our exhibition was humbug. Just
as he pleases. Only I think she felt too much to "feign" and was far too
ill to "assume," which, as regards the miserable motive he assigns for the
"sham," he knows well enough that the "sympathy of the audience" was
entirely with us from first to last, and that he was one in a minority of
two or three.
Mr. Pope also states that "There was not the
slightest proof that the clairvoyante was in the so-called mesmeric or
somnambulic state." A Daniel come to judgment, say I! Now, I should like
to know what would constitute sufficient evidence for the truth of
something, the very existence of which the sceptic denies? He does not
believe that the thing exists, consequently he cannot be competent to
reason on its proofs. But, Sir, we are too intimately acquainted with
scepticism to marvel at any of its manifestation. It is the same blind,
cold, wilful thing it ever was—no matter whether it stands mocking the
dying Christ, thrice-crowned on Calvary—torturing Galileo, and refuting
him by the sharp logic of the rack—or putting its squinting constructions
on mesmerism and clairvoyance. It is with clairvoyance, as with most other
things, the eyes of the beholder can only see just so much as they bring
with them the power of seeing, and if persons have not the faculty for
believing that things may exist which they cannot reason upon, and
mathematically demonstrate, we may never convince them of the truth of
clairvoyance. Credence depends upon capacity as well as evidence. We
measure things according to our organization, and I cannot help looking
suspiciously on the person who, where an alternative exists between
honesty and roguery, comes immediately to the rogueish conclusion. But
there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in medical
science, and clairvoyance does exist although some persons have not the
capacity for believing it, and Mrs. Massey's faculty for reading with the
eyes closed is genuine, independent of Mr. Pope's belief or disbelief.
In conclusion, Mr. Pope mentions my invitation to
him. I did not intend it as a personal challenge, but I here subscribe a
challenge, personal to him or any one beside, if any of those persons, who
cannot credit what they see with their own eyes and feel with their own
hands, would be inclined to back their scepticism with a sum of money
worth trying a crucial experiment for, say from £20 to £60, I shall be
very happy to wager its equivalent, that Mrs. Massey shall read with her
eyes covered by as many plasters as there may be of pounds staked, and the
sceptic may have the assistance of all the medical men in Tring in laying
the plasters on securely. Not that that would be sufficient evidence to
some sceptics, but because their only vulnerable point is the
breeches-pocket. I shall lecture in Tring again, and shall be glad to hear
from any one who will accept my offer.
I regret having inflicted so lengthy a letter on your
readers, uninteresting to the majority of them; but I promise them that we
shall shortly give them a better opportunity of judging of the truth of
our experiments, and of deciding between clairvoyance and the Pope.
I am, dear Sir, your's faithfully,
Photo: Wendy Austin Collection.
BUCKS ADVERTISER AND AYLESBURY NEWS,
FEB. 12, 1853.
CLAIRVOYANCE AT TRING.
To the Editor of the Bucks Advertiser and Aylesbury News.
Sir—I thank you for the insertion of my letter in
your last week's paper, relative to the above subject, and will beg the
same favour for the following remarks, which an unwillingness to make my
former communication too lengthy prevented me adding to it.
You will observe, that in the handbill, which I
enclose, the public are invited " to a fair and faithful investigation,"
and that it is also stated that the clairvoyante has been "satisfactorily
tested by numerous persons of all classes."
Relying on the good faith of this invitation, I
attended for the purpose of making such "investigation" and I proposed to
apply such tests as I considered would prove "satisfactory." For, in a
matter altogether so contrary to the order of nature, and in which, as the
lecturer himself admitted, so much imposition has prevailed, I consider it
is our duty not to take for granted any assertions of parties exhibiting,
and not to receive anything as true, unless it be proved to be so. Now, in
the present case, when I proposed my tests, not a word was said about
their unfairness or inapplicability; they were simply rejected, the
lecturer stating they were there to perform their own experiments and not
those of other people; and, instead of meeting my arguments with others,
he permitted the clairvoyante to assail me with personalities. She
did, however, state that at a private sitting, and for a proper
consideration, the clairvoyante would submit to other experiments. But,
if in private, why not in public? Because, in the event of failure, its
effect upon the fortunes of the clairvoyante in the former case would be
comparatively harmless. On the face, then, of the handbill there is a
fraud; in it, the lecturer invites to "a fair investigation," which in the
lecture-room he declines. The only test he will allow is his own: the
exclusion of light from the eyes by the unsatisfactory and clumsy
expedient of covering them with the hands, and this, too, applied in his
own way. And here I should observe that everything that was read was held
within the range of ordinary vision. Of course, experiments thus conducted
and thus tested must be successful. But what inference, I ask, would any
reasonable and reasoning person deduce from them? The whole thing is
But perhaps the best test of the trick or falsehood
of clairvoyance is that which was proposed about six years since by Sir
Philip Crampton, the Irish surgeon-general. This gentleman placed in the
hands of one of the Dublin bankers the sum of £100, in the form of a note. This was folded in a slip of paper, on which was written three English
words, and enclosed in a sealed envelope. On this was an endorsement to
the effect that any person describing the particulars of the note and
reading the three words should have it for their pains. It is, perhaps,
needless to remark the note was never claimed. Sir Philip, too, in the
communication to the newspaper in which he published this offer observed
that the professors of, and believers in, clairvoyance exhibited a
wonderful forbearance in not turning their powers to a more profitable
account. Why accept a shilling or eighteen pence for exhibiting
manifestations of a power which, skilfully applied, would make them "rich
beyond the dream of avarice?" and he related a story which he had
somewhere read of "an ingenious gentleman of the last age" who, lying
violently afflicted with the gout, a person came and offered his service
to cure him by a medicine which, he assured him, was infallible. The
servant carried the message up to his master, who inquired whether the
person came on foot or in a chariot, and being informed that he came on
foot, said, "Go, send the knave about his business; were his method as
infallible as he pretends, he would, long before now, have been in his
coach and six."
I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,
Tring, Feb. 9, 1853. EDWD. POPE.
The Pope family grave, The Parish Church, Tring.
In Loving Memory
SURGEON IN THIS TOWN
WHO DIED MARCH
AGED 86 YEARS
DAUGHER OF JOHN
FOSTER OF KNARESBOROUGH
WHO DIED SEPTEMBER
AGED 60 YEARS
AND THEIR CHILDREN
AGED 5 MONTHS
AGED 9 YEARS
AND TWO INFANT
Obituary, British Medical Journal, 26th March, 1898.
Photo: Wendy Austin Collection.
13th May 1872
AMONG THE SPIRITUALISTS.
Mr. Gerald Massey has commenced a course of four lectures on
subjects connected with Spiritualism. "Facts of my own personal
experience narrated and discussed, together with various theories of the
alleged phenomena"—this was his subject yesterday afternoon, and some two
or three hundred people, mostly spiritualists, assembled to hear him.
It is to be presumed that Mr. Massey's object is to promote the cause of
spiritualism by establishing those who are in the faith and convincing
those who are not. As to what may have been the effect of his first
lecture upon believers, we cannot venture to express any opinion.
People who are occasionally found to be so entirely independent of
physical laws cannot safely be regarded as at all times amenable to
ordinary mental influences. But if the experience Mr. Gerald Massey
related yesterday be the standard and ordinary experience of
spiritualists, then people may exclaim, "Heaven preserve us from
He began by declaring that either with the pitchfork, or the
pen, he had been all his life long accustomed to hard work. The
circumstances which led him first to believe in clairvoyancy, and then to
become a spiritualist, were very interesting, and might perhaps afford a
subject for a painter, or a situation for a novelist. He was in the
company of a young lady clairvoyante, [Ed.―Rosina Jane, who became Massey's first wife in 1850; she died in 1866] who undertook to read a book
without seeing it, and he was appointed to hold her eyes. This, it
must be confessed, was a very delicate office for a young man and a poet.
He frankly confessed yesterday that his anxiety for the young lady's
success overcame for once his love of sincerity and truth, and that he
purposely opened his fingers to enable her to see through. Although
this proved to be a very unnecessary display of partiality, it was of
course a very unmistakable one, and we cannot be surprised that Mr. Massey
ran away with the young clairvoyante and made her his wife.
The lecturer proceeded to give the facts of his married life
in connection with spiritualism. We really cannot bring ourselves to
recount them. We have read them over—the spirits that nibble like a
rat, and rap like a telegraph, and whisk like a dog's tail—ad nauseam.
Here and there Mr. Massey certainly ran somewhat above the ordinary level.
It is not every spiritualist who can relate from his own experience such a
hideous ghost story as that with which he yesterday delighted his
audience, nor is it every one who has occasionally found his wife ghastly
and convulsed, and possessed by the spirit of a murderer, who cries, "Give
me back my bones." It is, too, only fair to add that unlike most
spiritualistic experiences, Mr. Massey's are not entirely void of a
practical utility. The spirit of Shakespeare has occasionally
communicated with him, and on one occasion gave him a genuine hint about
the interpretation of one of those perplexing sonnets of his. Now,
this is something like what we have so long been demanding. There
really is some sort of sense in a manifestation of this kind. An
edition of Shakespeare edited by himself would be absolutely priceless.
If all the facts of our experience lead us to believe, for
instance, that ceilings must be impervious to Mrs. Guppy, why should Mr.
Massey be severe upon us it we hold on by our facts and maintain that Mrs.
Guppy can't come through, and that those who say she can must be lunatics?
It was impossible to hear this lecture and remain serious. Trashy
ghost stories might have been all very well when Mr. Massey wielded the
pitchfork; but to hear them soberly delivered in terse, vigorous English,
and with the racy, humorous good sense which is characteristic of his
style, suggests the idea of a man of real intellectual power degenerated
into a hopeless craze.
Tring: Brook Street.
Photo: Wendy Austin Collection.
Come and See, and prove it for Yourselves!
MAGNETISM THE UNIVERSAL MYSTERY DEMONSTRATED TO BE A
LAW OF NATURE.
CLAIRVOYANCE Explained! GERALD MASSEY, will Lecture
on MONDAY Evening, OCTOBER 25th, 1852, on the subject of—
MESMERISM AND CLAIRVOYANCE ! !
In the Literary and Scientific Institution, John Street,
SYLLABUS OF LECTURE.
Mesmerism too generally accepted to demand its martyrs
now.—A brief sketch of its history.—Its various manifestations.—Its
curative powers.—A Contagion of Health as well as of Disease.—Different
methods of Mesmerism.—Natural Somnambulism.—Instances of Spontaneous
Clairvoyance.—Dangers of Sleepwalking.—Somnambulism Artificially
Induced.—The Effects of Attraction and Repulsion.—Endeavours to account
for Phenomenon.—The Sceptics and Commonscensical.—The Visible and
The Lecture will be illustrated by various interesting and marvellous
experiments in Phreno-Mesmerism, Catalepsy, and Clairvoyance. The
Clairvoyante—Mrs Gerald Massey—will read any book, or paper, printed in
the English language, produced by any of the audience, who can perfectly
close the eyes of the Clairvoyante, and hold them with their own hands.
She will also endeavour to ascertain and describe any internal disease
from which any one person present may be suffering. The Mesmeriser
will also answer any questions of the audience, if directly bearing upon
Doors open at 8 o'clock. Lecture at half past 8.
Admission: Hall and gallery, 3d. : Platform 6d.
Tickets may be had at the Institution, and at 56, Upper Charlotte-Street,
. . . . and from PUNCH, 9April, 1853. . . .