Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

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Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Mark74 on Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:17 pm

From Nandor Fodor's, These Mysterious People

The Cheshire cat kept on appearing and vanishing so suddenly that it made Alice quite giddy. Then "it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail and ending with the grin, which remained after the rest of it had gone".

To tell the story of a woman who all but rivalled that achievement and to speak of people who believe in it, is to invite the answer of the Cat:

"We're all mad here. I am mad. You are mad."

You will most probably call this a mad story.


A seven feet high Golden Lily which Yolande mysteriously produced from the air at a séance with Madame d'Esperance, who stands beside it.
Would it help to say that it was vouched for by fifteen eminent witnesses, among them professors at Swedish Universities, that their testimony was collected by Alexander Aksakof, Imperial Councillor to the Czar of Russia, and that it was published, as a contribution to science, under the title A Case of Partial Dematerialization, in 1898?

It happened in Helsingfors on December 11th, 1895, during a séance given by one Madame d'Esperance.

The sitters actually saw the medium's body, from the waist downwards, disappear. Her skirt lay flat on the chair, and her trunk appeared to be suspended in the air above the seat.

This astonishing state of affairs continued for about fifteen minutes.

The light was sufficient to see by, and Madame d'Esperance was quite conscious throughout the proceedings.

She permitted five persons to verify the phenomenon by passing their hands below all that was left of her.

How did Madame d'Esperance feel about it

Here are her own words, quoted from Shadowland, her autobiography:

"I relaxed my muscles and let my hand fall upon my lap, and then I found that, instead of resting against my knees, they rested against the chair in which I was sitting.

"This discovery disturbed me greatly, and I wondered if I were dreaming.

"I patted my skirt carefully, all over. trying to locate my limbs and the lower part of my body, but found that although the upper part of it - arms, shoulders, chest, etc. - was in its natural state, all the lower part had entirely disappeared.

"I put my hand where my knees should have been, but nothing whatever was there but my dress and skirt.

"Nevertheless, I felt just as usual - better than usual, in fact; so that if my attention had not been attracted by accident I should probably have known nothing of the occurrence.

"Leaning forward to see if my feet were in their proper place, I almost lost my balance. This frightened me very much, and I felt that it was absolutely necessary to assure myself whether I was dreaming or the victim of hallucination.

"To this end, I reached over and took Professor Seiling's hand, asking him to tell me if I was really seated in the chair.

"I waited his answer in a perfect agony of suspense. I felt his hand just as if it touched my knees, but he said, 'There is nothing there, nothing but your skirt.'

"This gave me a still greater fright. I pressed my free hand against my breast and felt my heart beating wildly."

The phenomenon; the miracle, if you like: or perhaps you would say the trick - lasted for fifteen minutes.

Then her skirts filled out and her lower limbs appeared in full view of the sitters.

Madame d'Esperance endured deep distress during that experience. She was ill for three months afterwards.

Who was she, this woman of mystery?

D'Esperance is French for Hope. She was Elizabeth Hope; by marriage Mrs. Reed, of Newcastle-on-Tyne.

She died fifteen years ago after living most of her life abroad.

She won an honoured place both in the annals of psychical research and in the esteem and friendship of many great scientists of her age.

She was "queer" from childhood. Saw "shadow people" where there was but a blank space. Later, in the dark, she could see a luminous cloud assuming human shapes. She took a pencil and sketched a form which nobody else had seen. There came a strange discovery.

The sketches were recognised as portraits of the dead.

A period of great excitement followed. Madame d'Esperance studied for a few months to improve her natural sketching talent. But as she progressed her power to see waned. Every attempt was followed by a violent headache.

T. P. Barkas, an alderman of Newcastle, initiated a scientific investigation of her strange powers. As a lecturer on popular science he became deeply interested in this girl of limited education who, through automatic writing, set out to prove that all his science was wrong.

A definite personality appeared to be behind these scripts. It claimed to be one Humnur Stafford, a long-dead philosopher.

For one who was long dead he was very up to date. Very minutely he described an instrument which, according to Alderman Barkas, later proved to be the telephone, and also another by which messages would be forwarded to a great distance in the original handwriting.

The remarkable re-education of Alderman Barkas paled into insignificance by subsequent happenings.

Sitting in a dark cabinet, Madame d'Esperance became conscious of a curious disturbance. The air seemed to be agitated as though a bird were fluttering about, and she felt as if fine threads were being drawn out of the pores of her skin.

The sitters in front of the cabinet grew excited. High above the curtain they saw a face with merry, laughing eyes, but - without a body.

Materialization. That mystery of mysteries... The apparent birth and flowering into full growth of human shapes from that peculiar bodily substance called ectoplasm. A biological miracle, which is now being forced on the attention of science.

Witness Professor Charles Richet, the world famous physiologist of the Sorbonne, by no means a spiritualist, writing in his Thirty Years of Psychical Research:

"I shall not waste time in stating the absurdities, almost the impossibilities from the psycho-physiological point of view of this phenomenon. A living being, or living matter, formed under our eyes, which has its proper warmth, apparently a circulation of blood, and a physiological respiration, which has also a kind of psychic personality, having a will distinct from the will of the medium, in a word, a new human being. This is surely the climax of marvels. Nevertheless, it is a fact."

In the early years of Madame d'Esperance's amazing life few people dared to testify to such enormity.

It was so easy to picture a masquerading medium or an accomplice. So many took the bull by the horns. There was a rush, a scream, and a struggling spirit was found, not infrequently, to be the medium.

If that had been all, the problem of materialization would have been laid long ago.

But there is more in it than meets the eye.

Grim experiences have taught a terrible lesson that the phantoms are the flesh and blood of the medium even though distinct.

This is what happened, in Madame d'Esperance's own words, when Yolande, a young Arab phantom companion, was suddenly seized:

"All I knew was a horrible, excruciating sensation of being doubled up and squeezed together, as I can imagine a hollow gutta-percha doll would feel, if it had sensation, when violently embraced by its baby owner.

"A sense of terror and agonizing pain came over me, as though I were losing hold of life and were falling into some fearful abyss, yet knowing nothing, hearing nothing, except the echo of a scream I heard as at a distance.

"I felt I was sinking down, I knew not where.

"I tried to save myself, to grasp at something, but missed it; then came a blank from which I awakened with a shuddering horror - and sense of being bruised to death."

Was, then, Yolande found to be the medium?

Yes, she was.

Moreover, she was seized because she showed, at first, a bewildering resemblance to the medium.

Was, then, Madame d'Esperance a fraud?

The Spiritualist contention was, and with good reason, that the materialized phantom is part and parcel of the medium.

The Spiritualists also said, with less reason, that the grabbing acts as a paralysing shock; that it prevents the quick-disintegration of the phantom and its return, in the of ectoplasm, into the body of the medium; that, instead, the medium is violently precipitated into the phantom form.

A dangerous belief, with almost no justification. For it offers a safe conduct for rogues.

There is another defense which is far better transfiguration. That is the claim that when "power" is slight the medium's face is being "built over" by the same ectoplasm that would, if ample, serve for a full form.

Lovers of mystery should frown at both explanations. They spoil the glamour of the story.

For Madame d'Esperance vowed never to sit within the cabinet again, but to exhibit herself and the phantoms at the same time.

She kept faith. "Ghosts" trooped in and out. They worried sceptical scientists to death.

Madame d'Esperance grew old. But Yolande remained young and beautiful. Three times was she grabbed, and three times was the medium brought to the verge of death.

The last was the most harrowing ordeal. In Helsingfors in 1893 a sitter lost his reason. He assaulted the phantom girl. There were frightful consequences. The medium's hair turned white. For two years she was confined to bed.

In her biography Madame d'Esperance left us a stirring description of her psycho-physiological identity with her "ghosts". It reads:

"Now comes another figure, shorter, slenderer and with outstretched arms.

"Somebody rises up at the far end of the circle and comes forward. And the two are clasped in each other's arms. Then inarticulate cries of 'Anna, oh, Anna, my child, my loved one!'

"Then somebody else gets up and puts her arms round the figure. Then sobs, cries and blessings get mixed up.

"I feel my body swayed to and fro, and all gets dark before my eyes.

"I feel somebody's arms around me, although I sit on my chair alone.

"I feel somebody's heart beating against my breast. I feel that something is happening.

"No one is near me, except the two children.

"No one is taking any notice of me. All eyes and thoughts seem concentrated on the white slender figure standing there with the arms of the two black-robed women around it.

"It must be my own heart I feel beating so distinctly. Yet those arms around me? Surely, never did I feel a touch so plainly.

"I begin to wonder which is I? Am I the white figure or am I the one in the chair?

"Are they my hands around the old lady's neck or are these mine that are lying underneath of me, or underneath the figure if it be not I on the chair?

"Certainly, they are my lips that are being kissed. It is my face that is wet with the tears which these good women are shedding so plentifully.

"Yet, how can it be? It is a horrible feeling, thus losing hold of one's identity. I long to put one of these hands that are lying so helplessly and touch someone just to know if I am myself or only a dream if Anna be I and I am lost as it were in her identity?"

Thriller writers, have you ever conceived of a greater mystery?




Mark74


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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Admin on Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:19 am

Thanks Mark, one of the fascinating parts of Madame d'Esperance's was that after the first grab, which apparently occured in a dark seance she swapped to working in sufficient light for people to see clearly.

No efffect on the phenomena but sadly it did not stop people grabbing the materialisation.
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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Mark74 on Tue Jul 03, 2012 6:09 am

I agree Jim. Her book, Shadowland is a fascinating book.

Mark74


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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Spectre on Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:30 pm

Adrian Parker, a professor from Sweden has recently discovered some old photographs of the materializing medium Madame D’Esperance. The photos have not been made public yet, I would certainly be interested in seeing them.

Spectre


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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by wattie on Wed Apr 22, 2015 9:52 am

Hello Spectre. This sounds interesting. Do you know if the photographs are of actual materialisations?

wattie


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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Spectre on Wed Apr 22, 2015 10:23 am

wattie wrote:Hello Spectre. This sounds interesting. Do you know if the photographs are of actual materialisations?

Hello wattie. Professor Parker is writing a paper on his new discoveries so hopefully we'll be able to read about his newly discovered photos soon. Smile I don't know if they are materialisations, we'll have to wait and see!

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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Admin on Thu Apr 23, 2015 4:14 am

I will have to dig into mine (or Lis's) memory banks about this we were asked to help with some information when Adrian Parker let the research community know about these.

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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Lis on Sun May 03, 2015 11:09 pm

Just a few corrections to the Nandor Fodor's record posted by Mark 74 would seem in order.

First, T. P. Barkas had already been investigating Spiritualism for over 15 years when he first began attending the Esperance séances in Newcastle in July 1875. Nor was he an Alderman at that time, nor till much later in his life.

Second, 'Madame Esperance's' maiden name was not Elizabeth Hope. She was born Elizabeth Jane Puttock on November 20, 1848 at 2 Browns Buildings, Clifton Street, Shoreditch. The Esperance surname was nothing more than a pseudonym she chose in the 1870s due to the particular circumstances surrounding the breakdown of her marriage. She had married Thomas Jackson Reed in Newcastle on August 13, 1870 but the marriage was a disaster, and by late 1871 he was announcing in the newspapers he would not be responsible for any debts she incurred in his name. They never formally divorced but some years later he went on to marry another woman and had eight children.

Third, the record 'Esperance' gives in Shadowland regarding her early life, childhood, family etc., is, to put it politely a load of rubbish. It is entirely false. I could, if necessary, go through the book page by page pointing out the falsehoods and giving the correct details of her circumstances, which were significantly different to the fantasy she claimed. As such, a great deal else that 'Madame Esperance' claimed about herself must also be treated as suspect.

I have done a great deal of research on this woman and it was I who provided Adrian Parker with her correct background and name back in 2013. I expect Adrian, who has been in London recently undertaking further research, will in due course publish his work on the subject. I have no doubt it will be of great interest. Esperance is an intriguing character and well-worth investigating, however, not all that has been written about her in the past should be treated as either certain or true.

Lis
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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Lis on Sun May 03, 2015 11:39 pm

I should add that the research I did on this topic was published back in 2013 in a short article by Leslie Price in Psypioneer In that article it notes that the information was passed on to Adrian Parker. See: http://www.woodlandway.org/PDF/PP9.8August2013.pdf

That piece does not go into all the falsehoods in her book, however, there is at the present time plans for further coverage of Esperance which will look closely at the record, and her career.

Lis
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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Spectre on Tue May 05, 2015 12:57 am

Thats actually very disheartening to read I really enjoyed her books Shadow Land and Northern Lights.

Spectre


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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Lis on Tue May 05, 2015 1:19 am

Yes, Spectre, it was actually disheartening for me as well when I did the research and discovered the extent of the falsehoods. Nevertheless other aspects of her book are valuable, and indeed, records of her early materialisation séances held at 28 Newbridge Road Newcastle in 1879 and 1880 (found in The Medium and Daybreak) are very interesting and rather more convincing in terms of the genuineness of her mediumship.

It is a sad fact that all too many mediums of that era, and later to be honest, made up quite fanciful stories about their backgrounds and activities. A later example, more recently covered in Psychic News, was that of Lilian Bailey, who I discovered had totally made up her background, did not receive an OBE as she claimed and for many years falsely presented herself in many respects. Yet, there is no certain evidence that her mediumship was also fraudulent. It is one of the disturbing but intriguing aspects of mediumship and mediums of the past.

Lis
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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Spectre on Tue May 05, 2015 12:45 pm

I read an article about Lilian Bailey a few months back but it wasn't in Psychic News. I don't subscribe to Psychic News. Can your article be seen here or anywhere else online, I would like to read that Lis. Thanks.

Spectre


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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by wattie on Tue May 05, 2015 1:29 pm

Lis wrote:Yes, Spectre, it was actually disheartening for me as well when I did the research and discovered the extent of the falsehoods. Nevertheless other aspects of her book are valuable, and indeed, records of her early materialisation séances held at 28 Newbridge Road Newcastle in 1879 and 1880 (found in The Medium and Daybreak) are very interesting and rather more convincing in terms of the genuineness of her mediumship.

It is a sad fact that all too many mediums of that era, and later to be honest, made up quite fanciful stories about their backgrounds and activities. A later example, more recently covered in Psychic News, was that of Lilian Bailey, who I discovered had totally made up her background, did not receive an OBE as she claimed and for many years falsely presented herself in many respects. Yet, there is no certain evidence that her mediumship was also fraudulent. It is one of the disturbing but intriguing aspects of mediumship and mediums of the past.

Nobody likes deceit but I think it should be borne in mind that in Victorian times at least the English class system cast a heavy shadow over the lives of those born into humble circumstances and acceptance into the higher regions of society was largely dependent on what was known of your family background. Seen in this light I think many would have felt under pressure to be less than truthful about their origins.

I would like to read the early accounts of the materialisation séances published in 'The Medium and Daybreak' and wonder if it would be possible, Lis, to provide the page references, but only if you have them to hand.

wattie


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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Lis on Tue May 05, 2015 10:51 pm

Spectre wrote:I read an article about Lilian Bailey a few months back but it wasn't in Psychic News. I don't subscribe to Psychic News. Can your article be seen here or anywhere else online, I would like to read that Lis. Thanks.

As far as I know it can only be accessed through Psychic News, however, when I get a spare minute I will try and give you a overview of the article without, hopefully, cutting across copyright issues.

Lis
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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Lis on Tue May 05, 2015 10:57 pm

wattie wrote:
Lis wrote:Yes, Spectre, it was actually disheartening for me as well when I did the research and discovered the extent of the falsehoods. Nevertheless other aspects of her book are valuable, and indeed, records of her early materialisation séances held at 28 Newbridge Road Newcastle in 1879 and 1880 (found in The Medium and Daybreak) are very interesting and rather more convincing in terms of the genuineness of her mediumship.

It is a sad fact that all too many mediums of that era, and later to be honest, made up quite fanciful stories about their backgrounds and activities. A later example, more recently covered in Psychic News, was that of Lilian Bailey, who I discovered had totally made up her background, did not receive an OBE as she claimed and for many years falsely presented herself in many respects. Yet, there is no certain evidence that her mediumship was also fraudulent. It is one of the disturbing but intriguing aspects of mediumship and mediums of the past.

Nobody likes deceit but I think it should be borne in mind that in Victorian times at least the English class system cast a heavy shadow over the lives of those born into humble circumstances and acceptance into the higher regions of society was largely dependent on what was known of your family background. Seen in this light I think many would have felt under pressure to be less than truthful about their origins.

I would like to read the early accounts of the materialisation séances published in 'The Medium and Daybreak' and wonder if it would be possible, Lis, to provide the page references, but only if you have them to hand.

Hi Wattie,

You are quite right that on occasion those from humble backgrounds at that time 'upscaled' their history to appear more acceptable to the upper classes that they came into contact with as a result of their mediumship. However, in the case of Esperance and Lilian Bailey their backstory was first given out to their fellow Spiritualists of their own class so their motivation was possibly more about appearing 'romantic' and 'special' to their own than in impressing the gentry.

I certainly can give you the references from Medium and Daybreak, but as I have transcripts of many of Esperance's early séances as a materialisation medium perhaps I could just post a few of them on here as others who may not be able to access M & D might find them of interest.

Lis
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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Lis on Tue May 05, 2015 11:30 pm

Part 1:
The first reference found in Medium & Daybreak relating to Esperance, although she is not named, is in a long article by T. P. Barkas entitled “Marvellous Psychological Phenomena” published April 28, 1876 (No. 317 Vol. VII). In that Barkas states he had been investigating her mediumship for eight months, the first séance he attended being held in July 1875. These séances were private and held without fees or rewards.

In February 1879 Mrs Mellon (the former Miss Annie Fairlamb, the Newcastle materialisation medium) announced she would soon be operating out of new premises, and it was noted that “A new series of séances is being arranged in Newcastle, at which a medium of extraordinary powers, but whose name is withheld, will sit as medium. The phenomena are expected to be of the intellectual and artistic kind.” This of course, refers to Esperance.

In the March 7, 1879 M & D (No. 466 Vol. X) the new location is revealed as 28 Newbridge Street Newcastle, and Mrs Mellon commences holding séances there on March 9, 1879.

On May 1, 1879 (noted in M & D May 9 No. 475) “about twenty ladies and gentlemen met to spend an hour in the séance rooms, No. 28, New Bridge Street, where a small but select collection of spirit-drawings by Duguid, drawings by Madame Esperance, and photographs of various kinds, were exhibited for their inspection.

"During the evening, Madame Esperance read a paper, giving a short but interesting account of her own personal experience, the reading of which gave great pleasure and was highly appreciated by those present, so much so that an unanimous wish was expressed that such meetings and readings might be continued as a means of intellectual and spiritual improvement.

"Madame Esperance is a most excellent reader, and this was not the first time she has appeared before the Newcastle Spiritualists, having on a previous occasion read an essay on “the Nature of the Spiritual Body,” before the members of the Newcastle S. E. Society Improvement Class, which created so much interest that she has been repeatedly requested to re-read the same. Madame d’Esperance is at present holding clairvoyant séances on the Monday evenings in her séance rooms, 28, New Bridge Street, Newcastle-on-Tyne.”

The note in M & D was sent in by William Armstrong, a past president of the Newcastle Society, and Mrs Mellon's 'manager' and protector. He would also be heavily involved in the next phase of Esperance's mediumistic development.

Throughout June and early July 1879 Esperance holds séances for clairvoyance, spirit portraits and healing diagnosis at 28 Newbridge Street on Monday and Thursday evenings, while Mrs Mellon holds her materialisation séances on Sunday mornings. Due to illness the  Esperance séances are then suspended for a time but by August 1879 she is holding her Monday and Thursday evening séances: Monday evening, spirit-drawings (when the conditions are favourable); Thursday evenings, clairvoyant delineations and advice.

M & D September 5, 1879 (No. 492) under the heading “Form Manifestations or Materialisations” the following: Mrs. Esperance, having been requested to give sittings for the above phenomena, will commence a series of séances in the rooms, 28, New Bridge Street, Newcastle, on Sunday morning, Sept. 7, and will continue the same each succeeding Sunday morning during the absence of Mrs Mellon. Séance to commence at 10.30 Admission as usual." Mrs. Mellon was absent due to giving birth to her first child.


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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Lis on Tue May 05, 2015 11:38 pm

Part 2:
M & D September 26, 1879 (No. 495) publishes a letter from Esperance under the heading of “Mrs Esperance as a Medium for Materialisation”: “To the Editor. – Dear Sir, - It was announced in the MEDIUM of Sept. 5, that I would hold séances for materialisation, but as that phase of phenomena is only partially due to my mediumship, and to a great extent the result of the development of the mediumship of my friend and co-worker, Mrs. G --, I have requested one of the sitters to draw up a report stating the facts, as I do not wish to be credited with a phase of mediumship which I have not previously endeavoured to cultivate. In publishing the report, please insert this note. Yours faithfully E. ESPERANCE. Gateshead, Sept. 9.”

The report followed:
“About six or eight weeks ago, at one of the séances for obtaining spirit-drawings, Mrs Esperance was somewhat unwell, and there being no prospect of a drawing, in consequence of her indisposition, some discussion arose as to the best means of employing the evening. Whilst the sitters were endeavouring to settle this point Mrs Esperance’s hand wrote – “Let Mrs G – go into the cabinet and I will try to materialise.” Mrs G – being an old and most intimate friend of Mrs Esperance, and having shown signs of mediumship, the suggestion of her entering the cabinet was at once acted upon.

"The light was reduced, and the sitters ranged themselves in front of the cabinet, with Mrs. E. at the left extremity of a semi-circle, and about three feet from her friend Mrs. G --, who was within the cabinet, which was simply a recess with a curtain separating the medium from the sitters.

"After a lapse of ten or fifteen minutes knocks were heard near the two mediums, and it was ascertained that they had to change places with each other, as sufficient power had been obtained from Mrs. G --. Almost immediately upon Mrs. Esperance entering the cabinet the figure of a man appeared at the opening. A few seconds elapsed, when Mrs. E. rushed out of the cabinet, declaring that she would not enter again, because the apparition had placed a hand over her mouth. Her friend Mrs. G – scolded her for leaving the cabinet so abruptly, and “spoiling the conditions;” and also for “being so easily frightened.” Mrs. E. thereupon re-entered the cabinet, but the conditions had evidently not been interfered with, as, in an incredibly short space of time, the apparition came out of the cabinet with a bound, and so terrified Mrs. G – that she fled from her post, and nearly knocked some of the sitters over their seats in her hurry to escape from the figure which had again entered the cabinet. Order was restored, and the two mediums, laughing at each other’s fears, reprimanded the apparition, and finally resolved that they would not be so frightened again. The figure next appeared at the opening of the curtains, and two of the sitters advanced close to it, and carefully examined the features, which they recognised as those of a friend whose portrait Mrs. Esperance had previously sketched.

"This first attempt having been so very successful, another similar séance was soon held, and the phenomena were equally remarkable. Mrs. G – entered the cabinet for a few minutes, and when sufficient power had been obtained from her, she changed places with Mrs. Esperance, and the form of a man at once appeared. Shortly afterwards the form of a lady was seen, then that of a little girl; and, finally, two little children together, one of which appeared to be quite an infant. All were clothed in the whitest of drapery, and there was no possibility of mistaking any of the forms for either one or other of the mediums, who were both in their normal condition during the whole time that the séance continued, and were quite as much interested in seeing the phenomena as any of those present. On two or three occasions, whilst Mrs. G – was sitting outside looking at the forms, Mrs. Esperance stepped out in order that she also might see them outside the curtains.

"At the next séance the materialisations were equally remarkable. A lady who died in France some years ago, materialised and allowed herself to be very closely scrutinised by a friend who was present. This friend had no hesitation whatever in saying that he recognised the face and features. The remarks, however, being entirely in French, and of a private nature, I cannot here repeat the particulars; suffice it to say, that the gentleman himself was quite satisfied as to the identity of his friend.

"Three or four other séances, with like results, have since been held, but at which the writer has not been present. Three very beautifully drawn portraits have been obtained – two of which have been photographed, but the photographs are so smudged and blurred, that they are not fit to be shown as copies of the artistically executed originals.

"For the particulars of the séance held on Sunday, Sept. 7th, I am indebted to four of the sitters who were present; and I may here state that Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Miller, two of the veterans of the Movement in this part of the country, take a very great interest in assisting in the development of mediums and for the benefit of the public generally, and to help on the Cause which they have so much at heart; so effort whatever is spared on their part, and much more real good is done by these two men in their quiet way, than by many who only do a little spasmodically in order that they may have something to talk about. The public is very much indebted to these two earnest workers for what they have done to encourage those who undertake the arduous work of satisfying others of the genuineness of spirit phenomena by the exercise of their mediumship. Seeing the requirements of these two mediums, they at once had a three-partitioned cabinet constructed of wood, with curtains running along the front. The mediums on Sunday last entered the cabinet simultaneously, taking their seats one at each of the end compartments, leaving the middle free for the materialising spirits in which to work.

"Briefly, the phenomena occurred as follows:-
1. A female appeared in the centre compartment.
2. Three children appeared at one and the same time, one in each compartment.
3. A form appeared in the centre, advancing and receding several times, growing bright and dark alternately.
4. A face was seen very indistinctly as the light had just then been considerably lowered.
5. A female friend of Mr. H – came out during an invocation by the said Mr. H --.
6. Mr. H – was told to go close to the cabinet, when the form of a female and child appeared.
7. The face of a man with dark moustache was seen at the opening of the curtains. There was an excellent light, and each of the sitters approached within a few inches of the face and examined it well.
8. A form of a child came from the centre compartment, walked round in front of the curtains, and Mrs. E – came out at the end to see the figure along with the sitters.
9. This last named figure, on forming itself, did so with the curtains open, and all present could see the materialising as it proceeded; sometimes it appeared as a small heap, and, gradually rising, shaped itself, suddenly collapsed and reformed, until at last a form resulted, though not very symmetrically shaped.

"On several occasions Mrs. E – came out of the cabinet to see the forms, and at one time she did so somewhat hurriedly, when evidently the spirit was not prepared for such abrupt departure, and afterwards complained that it was the cause of his falling to pieces.
Besides these séances, the Sunday work for the benefit of the sick is still going on, and partly owing to her advice, and the magnetic power exercised by a gentleman who attends regularly, two very serious cases amongst numerous others are rapidly being cured. F. ORTHWAITE"


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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Lis on Tue May 05, 2015 11:41 pm

Part 3:
M & D October 10, 1879 (No. 497) William Armstrong writes: “Dear Burns, - I most cordially endorse all that has been said in reference to Mrs. Esperance’s séances. They are equal to my expectations, and exceed anything I have witnessed under the circumstances and conditions.
I knew we could have these phenomena through her, but I did not expect that we should have them so strong at first. I thought we might have to spend some time in development; but, no, there they are – recognised forms of friends, several of them at a sitting – men, women, and children, two and three at a time; three children at once, one at each compartment of the cabinet, at least three feet apart from each other.

Then as to the conditions. She is in her natural or normal state the whole of the time, never entranced, talking or singing the whole of the time, occasionally looking out to see what is going on outside the cabinet; and I take a look in to see what is going on inside, and sometimes I have to hold her hands when a large form gets into the compartment beside her.

There is no tying required here – no sealing of knots, no cages, no test cabinets. Away with those tests, - what’s the use of them in any case?

“Try the spirits,” says the apostle; “Tie the mediums,” say the wise-acres of to-day, and they have their own reward. They try to trick the spirits through the medium, and the spirits trick them I could give you numerous instances, I think, in which such cases have occurred.

“Bless me! Mrs. Esperance is singing or talking to Mr. Armstrong all the time the forms are outside,” said Mrs. H – to her friend Mr. R – on Sunday last. Could that man (spirit) that shook hands with Mr. H – be the double of the medium? Perhaps it was the unconscious “psychic” of the medium that assumed the form of a large man who appeared to his friend, and shook hands with her while the conscious medium was having a quiet chat with her friend at the other end of the cabinet. But enough of this at present; we are only beginning. Wait a wee.”


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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Lis on Tue May 05, 2015 11:47 pm

Part 4:
M & D October 17, 1879 (No. 498) records: “MRS. ESPERANCE’S SÉANCE last Sunday morning. The room not being very large, it was somewhat crowded by the unexpected number of visitors who attended; there being in all thirty-seven persons present. It was not, however, uncomfortable, as the door was left open during most of the time the séance continued. The same three-partitioned cabinet, which has been previously described, was used on this occasion; the end compartments being occupied by Mrs. Esperance and her friend Mrs. G --, whilst the middle compartment, unoccupied, was intended for the spirits to materialise in. As soon as the two mediums were seated, the sitters commenced to sing a hymn, but had not got through the second verse, when the materialised form of a man appeared at the middle compartment. After this form had been seen two or three times, Mrs. G – moved outside the cabinet, and shortly afterwards two female forms were seen in the compartment she had occupied. Both these forms were draped in white: one of them was that of an elderly lady, and the other that of a young lady, apparently from sixteen to twenty years of age.  The latter wore a coronet, to which was attached white, flowing, delicate drapery: on the forehead was some bright gem, which glittered with the reflected light from the lamp. I was at Mrs. G—‘s side when these two forms appeared, and I looked closely into their countenances, not being more than a few inches from them. Whilst these two figures, so beautiful and perfectly formed, stood at the end compartment next to Mrs. G --, two other forms were seen in the middle compartment, namely, a man and a child; thus making in all four forms seen at one and the same time. Other manifestations took place; a description of which I shall pass over, and relate what occurred at the conclusion of the séance.
A SCEPTIC ACTING AS MEDIUM.
A gentleman present (Mr. W.) reminded the spirits of a promise made previously, that a friend of his should have appeared first, and the promise had not been kept. This gentleman was evidently thoroughly sceptical as to the phenomena, and apparently quite a strager to them; but being open, straight-forward, and unprejudiced, he was ordered by
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the spirits to sit close alongside the middle compartment of the cabinet. He did so, and the form of a man appeared, but he failed to recognise the features as those of any friend of his. He was next ordered inside the cabinet, into the compartment where the spirit had appeared. Whilst he sat there, alongside of Mrs. Esperance, considerable banter was indulged in by the onlookers, who reminded him that he was on his honour not to play any tricks, by producing any forms that were not genuine. Whilst he sat inside, an incomplete form, clad in white, appeared several times at the entrance of the compartment which he occupied. This appeared to be a man at various stages of materialisation. Mr. W. protested that he had nothing to do with the production of what was seen, and that Mrs. Esperance certainly had not, because she was sitting quietly alongside of him, there being only a gauze partition between them. He further averred that he did not see anything during the time he was inside the cabinet, except on one occasion, a film of something white. Though unsatisfactory to Mr. W., the results were highly appreciated by the sitters outside the cabinet.

"Mrs. Esperance and her friend Mrs. G --, have offered to give a séance for the Newcastle Society, the proceeds to go to the Bazaar Fund for the erection of a new hall. Applications for tickets to be made to Mrs. Esperance and Mrs. G – at the bazaar. I quite expect that a large number of tickets will be sold, and that a larger room than 28, New Bridge Street will be required for the séance. F. ORTHWAITE."

This is followed up in M & D October 24, 1879 (No. 499) with the following: “To the Editor. – Dear Sir, - Having read the account in your paper of Mrs. E.’s séance, permit me to relate my experience, more especially as I am the “sceptical medium,” Mr. W.

"Three Sundays in succession have I attended the above; the details are as follows: - On Sunday, Sept. 25, having entered the room, I took a seat in the behind tier of chairs. The proceedings commenced by singing, and a highly intelligent prayer was offered by a Mr. H. We did not remain long ere something was visible. Passing over minor details, I mention that at one period there was a great deal of “knocking.” After going through the alphabet, the order was that Mr. F. and Mr. H. had to sit on either side of me. What that was for I cannot say, probably they, the spirits, were afraid the conditions would be broken by me. If any of my friends were there they might have saved themselves any anxiety on that point. At the close Mrs. E. wrote – it is said, through her guide – that the only name he had been able to obtain was that of W. If I could be sure that my name was not known by any there, this circumstance would be “passing strange.” I asked if the Mr. W. could materialise himself? “Yes,” was the answer, if I wished it. Be assured an affirmative answer was my response.

Oct. 5. – The séance commenced as before, several forms appearing, but none bearing upon my individual case. Mrs. E. wrote again, that Mr. W. had not been able to show himself, as the power had been used by others, but would do so next time – Sunday. I was only sorry Mr. W. was not strong enough to assert his right.

Oct. 12th. – Having received the direct promise, no conditions being mentioned, I found myself again at the séance. With some difficulty I procured a seat at the back of the room. Things went on as usual, and anxiously did I await the appearance of the first form; it came, but resembled none I knew upon the earth. After a while I was ordered up to the cabinet. Sitting down, I looked steadfastly before me, patiently awaiting the arrival of my supposed friend, but he did not appear.

Allow me to correct your correspondent F. Orthwaite. It was not until I had come out of the cabinet that the form of a man appeared. A second command was, “Come in.” Stepping nervously into the sacred precincts, I sat down. While there I saw something of a shadowy-like form on the gauze which separated Mrs. E. from myself; to me it was just like a shadow – imperfect – thrown upon a dark ground; what light there was seemed to be in the shadow itself. I earnestly desired my friend to make his appearance, I was not afraid to meet him, and I could not see why he should be afraid to meet me. I was again ordered this time to go out of the cabinet. I sat down in the same position as I did before entering the cabinet. It was at this stage of the proceedings that a man form showed itself, but unlike anyone I knew in this sphere of life.

Perhaps it is not strictly correct to term me “thoroughly sceptical,” having seen the phenomena a few times, and as far as my power of perception carried me, having failed to detect any trickery. I credit the medium with truthfulness, until the opposite is established.

What appears strange to me is this: - that those mediums should have as their guides persons – spirits would be more correct – whom they have never known upon this earth; then again, who do not our friends appear to us instead of strangers. If the former would and could, much of the scepticism existing would be at an end. I came from the séance disappointed, however satisfactory, as F. Orthwaite, your correspondent, says, it was to the sitters. A promise is a promise, and I expected spirits to show human-kind how to keep them. – Yours, &c., W.

[It is gratifying to observe that our correspondent regards the phenomena as genuine. The longer he investigates, the more certain he will become on that point. Mrs. Esperance must be a powerful medium to obtain such manifestations under the conditions described. Our correspondent will in time discover that spirits cannot manifest just as they please, and possibly he would think his accusations against them unkind if he were aware that his mental state was the cause of them breaking their promise. When a sitter keeps his mind continuously on the spirit, it keeps it from manifesting. Next time let “W.” take an interest in that which others receive without thinking of himself, and he will receive much more satisfaction. – ED. M.]”


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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Lis on Tue May 05, 2015 11:50 pm

Part 5:
M & D November 7, 1879 (No. 501) has the following: “Since writing on the 9th inst. particulars of Mrs. Esperance’s séances I now propose not only to record what transpired at her séance on the 14th inst. but I shall also give some details of the other work in which she is engaged.

The same three-partitioned cabinet, as already described, was used on this occasion. There were nearly a score of sitters, so that in forming a semicircle in front of the cabinet some of them were necessarily at a considerable distance from it. However, this could scarcely be said to be a disadvantage, as an excellent light was maintained during the appearance of the forms, and not the slightest difficulty was experienced in seeing what took place, both at the cabinet or in any part of the room, every object being quite visible.

At the commencement of the séance Mrs. Esperance’s friend, Mrs. G --, entered one of the compartments towards the left of the sitters, and after the lapse of a few minutes, when it was understood that sufficient power had been obtained, Mrs. G – was instructed, by knocks in the cabinet, to leave her place and join the sitters. She sat at the extreme left of the semicircle, whilst Mrs. Esperance remained in the compartment of the cabinet, towards the right of the sitters.

1. Almost immediately after Mrs. G – had left the cabinet the form of a man was seen in the place she had just occupied.
2. The curtains were drawn in front of the cabinet, and the chair Mrs. G – had occupied was pushed out, and again the form of a man was seen, but much larger than the previous one; in fact, so tall and broad was this form that apparently there was scarcely sufficient room in the small recess, and this may account for the chair being moved out.
3. Two small forms were seen, one on each side of the curtain in the middle compartment.
4. A small figure at Mrs. Esperance’s right hand, in the same compartment as that in which she was sitting. Mr. Armstrong held the curtain back, so that Mrs. Esperance and the spirit-form were both visible, and the latter gradually dematerialised in view of all those who were sitting at that side of the room, directly in front of the compartment.
5. A form was seen in the middle compartment, and a second one, which had been partly formed, fell against Mrs. Esperance, and so frightened her, that Mr. Armstrong sat close beside her, and held her hands during nearly the whole of the séance afterwards.
6. A tall female form in the middle compartment was next seen, and Mr. Armstrong for a few minutes left Mrs. Esperance, and accompanied some of the sitters up to the cabinet, in order that they might very closely examine the form. There was an excellent light, and some of those who examined this figure not only described the features, but even spoke as to the colour of the eyes.
7. A tall male form appeared at the middle partition, and this it was ascertained was the same as No. 2. Several sitters closely scrutinised the features, and two of the gentlemen present, on advancing to the cabinet, were shaken hands with. Afterwards Mrs. Esperance’s hand wrote that this spirit had come there by appointment with one of those with whom he had shaken hands. This fact was corroborated by the gentleman stating that he had made arrangements with the spirit to meet him there, and, if possible, materialise. He produced a portrait of this spirit, and stated how very satisfactory the manifestation was to him. This spirit did not shake hands with those who had not known him whilst on earth, but only with those two who had known him intimately.
8. A little form was seen at Mrs. Esperance’s left hand.
9. The two small forms previously mentioned were seen very frequently during the séance, so that one form or other was seen almost throughout the whole of the time.

Neither of the mediums were entranced. They conversed with the sitters, and took part in the singing. This fact, coupled with that of Mr. Armstrong holding the hands of one, in consequence of the slight accident, and the other medium joining the sitters, contributed much to the general satisfaction expressed by those present. Personally I felt somewhat sorry that Mrs. Esperance should devote her mediumistic powers to the production of phenomena so remarkable even as the above, which I was inclined to regard as much lower than other phases she has already developed, but until we see the results in drawing others into the Movement, it is, perhaps, premature to judge as to which is the least or most important. At any rate, a great number seem to highly appreciate
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and value materialisation phenomena. Doubtless it holds a very high place as a means of convincing sceptics, and the majority of really useful men and women in the Spiritualist ranks, owe, perhaps, more to the convincing proofs of spirit-communion, afforded by witnessing physical phenomena, than they do to any intellectual manifestations. Considering the success which has attended these séances for materialisation during the very short time they have been held, it is difficult to predict what may result in the not very far distant future; however, the immediate benefit scarcely equals that done through Mrs. Esperance in other respects. . . . F. ORTHWAITE"


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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Lis on Tue May 05, 2015 11:58 pm

The five previous posts should be sufficient to give some insight into the emergence of the materialisation mediumship associated with Mrs Esperance. For those who have an interest in seeing further on her at that time go to:

http://www.iapsop.com/archive/materials/medium_and_daybreak/

Indeed, for anyone interested in the early history of Spiritualism and other occult movements as revealed in the various periodicals and journals of the time I can only recommend they explore the archives of

http://www.iapsop.com/archive/index.html

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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by wattie on Wed May 06, 2015 1:07 pm

Lis wrote:
wattie wrote:
Lis wrote:
Hi Wattie,

You are quite right that on occasion those from humble backgrounds at that time 'upscaled' their history to appear more acceptable to the upper classes that they came into contact with as a result of their mediumship. However, in the case of Esperance and Lilian Bailey their backstory was first given out to their fellow Spiritualists of their own class so their motivation was possibly more about appearing 'romantic' and 'special' to their own than in impressing the gentry.

I certainly can give you the references from Medium and Daybreak, but as I have transcripts of many of Esperance's early séances as a materialisation medium perhaps I could just post a few of them on here as others who may not be able to access M & D might find them of interest.

I take your point about the reimagining of her background perhaps being more about personal aggrandizement. It is so hard to judge motives at such a distance of time.

Thank you for posting the fascinating accounts of the early materialisation séances. I thought it interesting that both mediums are described as remaining fully conscious during the phenomena. If fraud was involved one might have expected the simulation of trance as being more dramatic.

wattie


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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Lis on Wed May 06, 2015 10:58 pm

Hi Wattie,

Actually, I suspect, based on my research into the early materialisation mediums, the fact that both Esperance and Mrs. G. remained awake and able to speak and interact with what was happening was seen as more powerful and amazing than their going into trance.

Also unique about the Esperance séances at New Bridge Street in Newcastle was the three compartment cabinet Armstrong and Miller had built. In some séances it was evident that the spirits were coming out of the apparently empty compartments, not from that in which the medium sat. This was a first in the history of materialisation mediumship.

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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by wattie on Thu May 07, 2015 8:28 am

Hello Lis,

Am I right in thinking that the Davenport Brothers also used a tripartite cabinet in their performances but not for visible materialisations? That would have been earlier but might possibly have been the inspiration for Armstrong and Miller's Newcastle cabinet.

wattie


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Re: Competing with the Cheshire Cat - Elizabeth d'Esperance

Post by Lis on Thu May 07, 2015 1:37 pm

Not quite right Wattie.

The Davenport cabinet, in later stages of their performances had three sections - that is on each end side a space with a seat for each brother with a space in the middle, however, there were no wall divisions between the three areas of the cabinet, where as with the cabinet Armstrong and Miller had built there were actual walls dividing each of the three sections so that no one (at least in the physical sense) could move from one part of the three compartment cabinet to another.

The Armstrong and Miller cabinet was a unique solution to the fact that two mediums were operating at the same time, and remember the fact that neither were necessarily even in any compartment at the time the 'materialisations' were occurring.

As for the Davenports, I will say no more - though I could - except to comment that 'performance' might be the right word. Certainly by the time they were visiting Australia (and earlier, actually) they no longer even pretended to be purporting to be Spiritualists or producing genuine spirit phenomena. Whatever may have been genuine in the 1850s and even just possibly into the 1860s can not be said of the 1870s and beyond.

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