Charles Bailey Australian Physical Medium in NZ 1909

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Charles Bailey Australian Physical Medium in NZ 1909

Post by Admin on Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:54 am

The following article is from a newspaper when you read the criticisms one wonders just how much has changed. Bailey was caught as a fraud subsequently and became known as another, like Eusapia Palladino, who it was felt could at times be genuine and at other times be a fraud. He continued for many years and was written up as a direct voice medium by Psychic News in 1937. However thats another story.......

I think the comments by the writer, whose name is not given, reveal he was at least an amateur conjuror who was well aware of the reality of the points he was making.

"THE NEW ZEALAND TABLET THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 1909. SPIRITISTIC 'MANIFESTATION' IN WELLINGTON

BREEZY discussion on spiritistic ' apports ' and other spookish ' manifestations ! has been wagging its tongue with much volubility during the past fortnight in the Wellington daily papers. The centre or the cyclone of words is a ' meejum ' named Charles Bailey and his claim of occult power of bringing material ' apports ' from afar, of evolving spirits at will from the vasty deep of death, and of placing a select coterie (for a valuable consideration *of so much per head) in audible' or visible relation with 'Calling shapes, and beck'ning shadows dire, And airy tongues that syllable men's names'.

Charles Bailey is described as 'a Melbourne bootmaker.' He speaks with ungrammatical lips, falls into slang, drops his g's in participial endings, and plays at cross-purposss with the initial letter h. Judging from the newspaper descriptions of the Bailey seances, his performances are marked by the usual plentiful lack of originality. We have the same stereotyped ' materialisations '—the same monotonous round of disguised spirits ' Doctor ' This ; 'Professor' That, and an Abdul, and another thrown In as an occasional hors d'ceuvre—all speaking platitudinous flummery with ungrammatical lips, falling into slang, and dropping their g's in participial endings, and playing at cross-purposes with the letter h.

We have, too, the customary ' conditions '—the failure of proper search or other test, the usual canopy of darkness, the same old 'patter,' the same old 'ghost' tricks and ways, the same old ruse of safeguarding the performer within a 'circle' of joined hands, the same old method of entertaining the audience with (of all things) hymns, in the sometimes dreary periods of waiting that intervene between 'manifestation' and 'manifestation.' Sicut erat in principio — 'tis~ substantially the way that professional mediums have had ever since they first began to 'manifest.'

No conjurer would dream of requiring, and no conjurer's audience would for a moment tolerate, the 'conditions' that the ' meejum ' Bailey, and the rest of his tribe, demand and receive at the hands of grown people coming to him to witness the evidences of alleged occult power. Cabinet or bag — it all comes to the same thing. Bailey (we are informed) gets tied up in a black bag; bag and medium are then surrounded by 'a huge sack of mosquito netting ' ; a guarding circle is formed; the lights are turned down or out by trusty hands; a hymn is sung; and after the usual ' spook ' business, the ' meejum ' produces ' a small bird and a brand-new- Samoan waist belt ' — and the audience is serenely requested to believe that the bird was brought by spirit-hands from the depths of the Indian jungle, and the waist-belt from the Pacific Islands, and both precipitated through the solid walls of the séance-chamber. We are by no means of those who doubt the possibility of things being borne through space in a preternatural or supernatural way. But, in the present instance— and in spiritistic séances generally— there is not the smallest necessity for falling back upon such an explanation of their appearance. And it is a good Catholic and philosophic, principle that either miracles or prodigies are not to be rejected without cause. Any conjurer above the public house variety could produce bird and nest and waist-belt in the full glare of noonday, without the need of lugging them across long leagues of ocean. For the present, let the following remarks suffice:
1. There was no proper and independent selection of a committee of investigation, in the case of the Wellington ' manifestations ' — the members ' were (say the daily papers) ' nominated ' by one of Charles Bailey's ' spooks ' — that is, by Charles Bailey himself.
2. In no case was anything like a proper investigation made of the medium and his attire — the pretence of a ' search ' that was actually carried out was precisely of the nature that we have personally seen again and again — a delusion and a snare. And in our issue of June 27, 1907, we showed how even the scantiest and most tight-fitting dress can be made (and by professional mediums and conjurers is made) to carry material sufficient for the performance of illusions and ' manifestations ' of the most surprising kind. Trick boots, socks, the soles of the naked feet, the hair of a well-furnished head, afford concealment for sufficient spiritistic frippery to produce 'fee-nomena' (as Bailey terms them) of a clever and mystifying nature. And every illusionist is aware that all this by no means exhausts the possibilities of concealment, and that an adroit and resourceful medium, or a first-class conjurer, is often able, even in a state of nudity, to defy anything but the most rigorous and remorseless search. This is a subject on which it would not be easy to enlarge here. Let it suffice to say that, for a proper search of a medium giving a ' test ' performance, the services of an expert conjurer and of a physician should in every case be secured; the claimant of occult power should, in no circumstances, be permitted to use any part of his own dress; the place of the séance should be chosen only at the last moment, and the possibility of preliminary 'faking' of it should be avoided ; and due precautions should (by suitable isolation and otherwise) be taken against confederates practising upon the investigators with ways that are dark and tricks that arcane. In view of what has been written in this paragraph, the reader will understand the peculiar significance of the statement made by the representative of the New Zealand Times (August 19, 1909) that 'meejum' Bailey would not for a moment entertain his (the representative's) proposal 'to retire with the searching committee to a private room and submit to a complete overhaul — "strip- to the skin” was the phrase used.' A more adroit conjurer would have done so, and yet — if aided by luck or skill — would have produced such ‘apports' as a waistbelt and a tomtit (or whatever it was) just the same. With the perfunctory pretence of a 'search' carried out in Bailey's case, and on his own ground, a 'bagged' illusionist of the first order could have produced the full of a barrow of 'apports' — including tomtits and crested canaries. And, by the way, is it not passing strange that the mediums who profess to bring yellow birds or brass farthings, 'in the snapping of a gun,' from India's coral strand, so persistently refuse (as Bailey did) to fetch a newspaper of the same day from the same place?
3. We now come to the black bag and the knots and seals which are supposed to have kept the medium 'a poor prisoner bound' while his ungrammatical spooks were cavorting to and from the Indian jungle with the spiritistic equivalent of the seven-league boots. The mass of men have a faith that is simple and childlike in the holding power of black-bags and knots and seals. For ' minds innocent and quiet,' ' Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage.? And love (we are told) laughs at locks and locksmiths. So (in a very real sense) do the conjurer and the spritualist medium. One need not be a Houdini (' The Handcuff King ') to laugh at handcuffs and knots and seals — he needs simply a moderate knowledge of the comparatively simple but mysterious (mysterious because little known) art and craft of cord and 'cuff illusions. We, personally, do not lay claim to any special skill in this line; but in exposures of sundry of the physical phenomena of spiritistic mediums, we have been securely handcuffed, 'bagged' in a black bag, tied with a window-blind cord bound tightly around our neck, and knotted and sealed with elaborate care, and the ends of the aforesaid cord held securely by sturdy witnesses who were prepared to make their affidavit that we never once budged. (In this they were greatly, but quite honestly, mistaken). Yet we produced ' manifestations ' galore — and afterwards showed an amazed audience how simply they had been fooled: how vain are handcuffs and knots and seals against the recondite artifices of the prestidigitate". We cannot here enter into the details of the manner in which medium or conjurer fulfils the old motto, aut viaminutaire aut facere — and makes or finds a way by divorcing himself from the grip (real or seeming) of steel or cord or waxen seal. But if any honest and serious investigator of such things calls, upon us we shall willingly enlighten him — and at the same time lay open to his view the wiles and guiles and trickery that may be concealed in the apparently innocent enwrapment of a black bag — even when that black bag is cut out, sewn together, and made up entirely upon the stage or in a room, in full view of the audience.
4. We have already referred to the darkness under the friendly cover of which - the 'apports' are brought and the other 'manifestations' are produced. It is needless to point out that this is obviously as favorable to trickery as it is unfavorable to accurate observation and reasoned inference from attested fact. Writing as one having some right to claim practical knowledge of the methods we describe and criticise, we have no hesitation in confirming the conclusion of the New Zealand Times : ' The conditions are ludicrously inadequate to exclude possibilities of fraud. That being so, no one is justified in concluding that artifice is absent from the seance.’
For our own part, we have no doubt whatever that Charles Bailey is a charlatan, and will continue to hold that belief until he submits himself to a real test of his "occult powers."' We do not, at the same time, share in the verdict of a Wellington conjurer who roundly pronounces all the phenomena of spiritism false and fraudulent. We hold that there is a thin stratum of manifestations that are preternatural — these being rather of the psychical than of the physical kind; that it is practically a waste of time to seek these at the hands of professional mediums; that there are many morbid mental phenomena difficult to classify so as to determine how much in them is merely human and how much is also in part diabolical; and that the action of the spirits of evil varies greatly from age to age. But, with the Church, we neither pronounce a universal Yea nor a universal Nay in regard to the objective reality of the actual or possible manifestations of spiritism. We simply watch and note events, judge particular phenomena as they are presented to us, and — again with the Church — decline to follow in the wake of a world that is caught and tossed about by every wind of doctrine, and (in Devas's words) decline likewise to ' rush from one extreme of seeing Satan everywhere to the other of seeing him nowhere.'
* Postscript. — After the matter that appears above was put in type, our copy of the Dominion (Wellington) of August 21 reached "us, stating that the medium Bailey had been — by the direction of his 'spirit controls,' be it noted — stripped and searched. The process, however, was ludicrously inadequate for ' test conditions.' The reader is referred to what appears above in regard to methods of search, and to possibilities of concealment even by mediums in a state of complete nudity. The Dominion states that 'a committee of three . . . stripped Bailey and examined him and his clothes, while others of the circle looked on or searched the clothing.' Bailey (we are furthermore told) 'was stripped from neck to ankles. His socks were not removed, 'but were only felt very thoroughly.' There was no medical examination such as we hinted at above. And then a fresh blunder (the third of the series) was perpetrated by that easy-going and over complaisant search committee : Bailey was allowed to resume his own clothing, 'his coat alone being discarded'! Even a smart public-house conjurer could produce a hatful of 'apports' under such conditions. But, easy as the conditions were, they seem to have taxed the medium's apparently very limited powers. For it took quite a time for him, even 'in pitch darkness,' and with much rustling and moving in his chair, to produce his 'apports,' which (we are told) were 'very slow in coming.' Samuel Weller, senior, after a stormy wedded life, averred that it was hardly worth going through so much to learn so little. And surely it was hardly worth while for Bailey's audience to sit through co much to see so little when some light was shown. There was nothing but two tiny brown objects in Bailey's hands. These were alleged to be eggs from a far-off land. The audience were permitted to see— through gauze— but not on any account to touch or examine them either then or afterwards. The reader will duly note this circumstance. The only other apport was a little crumpled wisp of ' brown stringy fibre resembling that on the husk of a cocoanut, and it could, says the Dominion, be compressed into a very small space. These paltry ' manifestations ' must, all things considered, be voted a decided failure as evidences of the medium's alleged occult power.' The whole of the 'apports ' just mentioned — including real birds' eggs — could have been concealed under one foot, not to mention other hiding-places on the person and clothes of the medium that may have escaped the attentions of a committee that quite failed to create even the semblance of test conditions for the séance in question. The medium's action in regard to the alleged 'eggs' not unnaturally aroused the suspicion that these were dummies, ' of rubber or wood or anything else not easily broken.' This may have been the case. But we might remind our Wellington friends that most of the' conjuring depots supply strong little vulcanite or xylonite protecting cases for such fragile things as little eggs, etc. We have one of these in our possession. And even without recurring to these/ any smart and observant boy could readily pick up (or get made) a protecting cover for a tiny bird's egg that, even, in a perfectly nude subject, could be readily concealed under the toes, or in the hair of a well-covered head, or in various other ways that would defy anything but a rigorous medical examination."
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Re: Charles Bailey Australian Physical Medium in NZ 1909

Post by zerdini on Wed Apr 01, 2009 5:38 am

Sounds like the writer wasn't impressed by Charles Bailey! Laughing

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Re: Charles Bailey Australian Physical Medium in NZ 1909

Post by Admin on Wed Apr 01, 2009 5:41 am

Does doesn't it Z Mr Bailey was a rather controversial fella who once apported a shark into the seance room.
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Re: Charles Bailey Australian Physical Medium in NZ 1909

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