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646 PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS . [443
the exception of her fingers Mrs Jencken seemed always to stand quite clear, and the light was good.
On the other hand, during seances the light was usually bad—gas turned very low. But in some other respects the conditions may be considered good. Before commencing, the room was searched and the doors locked. Besides Mrs Jencken, the sitters were usually only Lady Rayleigh and myself. Sometimes a brother or a friend came. We sat close together at a small, but rather heavy, pedestal table; and when anything appeared to be doing we held Mrs Jencken's hands, with a good attempt to control her feet also with ours; but it was impracticable to maintain this full control during all the long time occupied by the seances. In contrast to some other mediums, Mrs Jencken was not observed to fidget or to try to release her limbs.
As I have said, the results were disappointing; but I do not mean that very little happened or that what did happen was always easy to explain. But most of the happenings were trifling, and not such as to preclude the idea of trickery. One's coat-tails would be pulled, paper cutters, etc., would fly about, knocks would shake our chairs, and so on. I do not count messages, usually of no interest, which were spelt oub alphabetically by raps that seemed to come from the neighbourhood of the medium's feet. Perhaps what struck us most were lights which on one or two occasions floated about. They were real enough, but rather difficult to locate, though I do not think they were ever more than six or eight feet away from us. Like some of those described by Sir W. Crookes, they might be imitated by phosphorus enclosed in cotton wool; but how Mrs Jencken could manipulate them with her hands and feet held, and it would seem with only her mouth at liberty, is a difficulty.
Another incident hard to explain occurred at the close of a stance after we had all stood up. The table at which we had been sitting gradually tipped over until the circular top nearly touched the floor, and then slowly rose again into the normal position. Mrs Jencken, as well as ourselves, was apparently standing quite clear of it. I have often tried since to make the table perform a similar evolution. Holding the top with both hands, I can make some,, though a bad, approximation; but it was impossible that Mrs Jencken could have worked it thus. Possibly something better could be done with the aid of an apparatus of hooks and wires; but Mrs Jencken was a small woman, without much apparent muscular development, and the table for its size is heavy. It must be admitted that the light was poor, but our eyes were then young, and we had been for a long time in the semi-darkness.
In common, I suppose, with most witnesses of such things, I repudiate altogether the idea of hallucination as an explanation. The incidents were almost always unexpected, and our impressions of them agreed. They weren. 1874.of Applause from the Gentlemen in the cane-bottom chairs—(i.e. believers).