Professor Hares Spiritual Telegraph

Julia Schlesinger, “Robert Hare, M. D.  Professor of Chemistry in the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate of Yale College and Harvard University, Associate of the Smithsonian Institute, and Member of Various Learned Societies.” The Carrier Dove (Oakland), May 1886: 101-104.

Professor Hare held an eminent position in the ranks of the scientists of America and Europe.  His “Brief View of the Policy and Resources of the United States,” was published in 1810, and was followed by more than a hundred publications from his pen, some of the political, moral, or financial nature, but mainly on the subject of chemistry and electricity.  He was the inventor of several ingenious machines for use in scientific investigations, and when his attention was called to the—as he then thought—delusion of Spiritualism, he invented some very complete machines—two of which we give illustrations of—to demonstrate the fallacy of table rappings and turnings.  Like many other scientists who have undertaken that task, he was hoisted “by his own petard,” but, unlike many of his co-workers in the scientific field of labor, he was honest enough when thoroughly convinced of the Spiritual origin of the phenomena, to publicly avow his belief, and shared the usual fate of persons who run counter to the ordinary, popular current.  Materialism is considered excusable in a scientists, but let one avow his belief in Angelic communion with humanity and the dogs of denunciation and vituperation are let loose.  In a letter published in July, 1853, Prof. Hare said: “I recommend to your attention, and that of others interested in his hallucination, Faraday’s observations and experiments, recently published in some of our respectable newspapers.  I entirely concur in the conclusions of that distinguished experimental expounder of nature’s riddles.”  In his book entitled “Experimental Investigation of the Spirit Manifestations,” published in 1855, from which we draw for this sketch, he frankly says, referring to that letter, “I allege it to be an exemplification of wise ignorance, which is about equivalent to folly.  The wisest man who speaks in ignorance, speaks foolishly to the ears of those who perceive his ignorance.  The great mass of men of science appear in this light to Spiritualists when they argue against Spiritualism.”  Shortly after the publication of that letter, Prof. Hare was induced to sit at a private house where spirit rappings were produced; all his ingenious devices to account for the raps by mundane agencies failed to produce the expected result, and he soon learned there were many things in Heaven and earth heretofore “undreamed of in his philosophy.”

His first investigations were with rapping mediums and he soon became satisfied as to the honesty of the worthy people, who were themselves under a deception if these sounds did not proceed from spiritual agency.  Visiting another medium, in the company of a legal friend, he received communications from the tippings of a table which indicated the letters to form messages as the fingers were passed over an alphabet.  When the medium’s eyes were directed away from the alphabet his companion received the following communication: “Light is dawning on the mind of your friend; soon he will speak trumpet-tongued to the scientific world, and add a new link to that chain of evidence on which our hope of man’s salvation is founded.”

He invented a machine intended to demonstrate that the “manifestations attributed to spirits could be made without human agency.  (See engraving of apparatus accompanying this sketch, A.)  It will be readily seen that the tray upon which the medium’s hands were laid, rests upon balls, making it impossible for the medium to move the table, or produce any action of the index upon the dial.  Having this apparatus at the residence of a lady by whom it had been actuated on previous occasions, he says: “This lady sitting at the table as a medium, my sister reported herself.  As a test question, I inquired ‘What was the name of a partner in business of my father, who, when he left the city with the Americans during the Revolutionary War, came out with the British, and took care of the joint property?”  The disk revolved successively to letters correctly indicating the name to be Warren.  I then inquired the name of the partner of my English grandfather, who died in London more than seventy years ago.  The true name was given by the same process.  The medium and all present were strangers to my family, and I had never heard either name mentioned, except by my father.”

Possibly a case of mind reading, which is the wise explanation that has been given in connection with our slate writing experience published in the last number of this magazine.  We live in a progressive age, and if the mind can revolve a disk, or write without human contact with the agents employed, we may yet develop its powers to a state wherein we can enjoy our otium cum dignitate in our easy chairs, and direct insensate matter to perform our manual labor.  Why not?  if it be true, as our Mind Cure friends assure us, that a fractured or dislocated limb can be restored to a sound condition by silent prayer.

Instrument A for making spirit contact

Professor Hare’s ingenious method of testing the power of the unseen intelligencies is very interesting, affording conclusive evidence of an invisible power acting in response to his desires (See B in plate of illustrations of apparatus, which is similar to machines used by Professor [William] Crook[e]s in his investigations.)  Referring to these trials he says: “My much-esteemed friend, Professor [Joseph] Henry, having treated this result as incredible, I was induced to repeat it with the greatest precision and precaution.  A well-known medium was induced to plunge his hands, clasped together to the bottom of the cage, holding them perfectly still.  As soon as these conditions were attained, the apparatus being untouched by anyone excepting the medium as described, I invoked the aid of my spirit friends.  A downward force was repeatedly exerted upon the end of the board appended to the balance equal to three pounds’ weight nearly.  It will be perceived that in this manifestation, the medium had no means of communication with the board, besides the water.  It was not until he became quite still that the invocation was made.  Nevertheless, he did not appear to be subjected to any reacting force.  Yet, the distance of the hook of the balance from the fulcrum on which the board turned was six times as great as the cage in which the hands were situated.  Consequently, [102] a force of 3 x 6 = 18 pounds must have been exerted.  The board would probably have been depressed much more, but that the water had been spilled by any further inclination of the base.

“This experiment has since been repeated again and again, but on a smaller scale, when, not only the downward force was exercised, but the spelling of words was accomplished.  On one occasion, when no result ensued, it appeared to arise from the water being so cold as to chill the medium, because on warming it up to a comfortable temperature, the desired manifestations were obtained.”

Instrument B for making spirit contact

A practical illustration of the necessity for proper conditions for the medium, or, that the mind needs warmth for the exercise of its powers.  A “crumb of comfort” for those in doubt as to their final destination.  Many of the experiments made by Professor Hare, through the agency of his dials, operated by different mediums, effectually expose the fallacy of the mind theory, so frequently advanced as a refutation of spiritual agency.  Some of his interviews with Mrs. [Maria] Hayden—one of our first and best public mediums—are very conclusive on this point.  He says: “While in Boston, having read to a friend a communication from my father through a writing-medium, I placed it in one of my pockets and proceeded to the Fountain Inn.  When there, I felt for it without success.  Unexpectedly I went to Salem by the cars, and returned the same evening.  On undressing myself the scroll was missing, and I inferred that it had been lost between the place where it had been read and the inn above named, where I felt for it unsuccessfully.  In going next morning to Mrs. Hayden’s, and my spirit father reporting himself, I inquired whether he knew what had become of the scroll.  It was answered that it had been left upon the seat in the car on my quitting it at Salem.  Inquiring of the conductor, who was on duty in the car where it had been left, he said that it had been found on the seat, was safe at Portland, and should be returned to me the next day.  This promise was realized.

On one occasion, sitting at the disk with Mrs. Hayden, a spirit gave his initials as C. H. Hare.  Not recollecting any one of our relations of that name precisely, I inquired if he was one of them.  The reply was affirmative.  ‘Are you a son of my cousin, Charles Hare, of St. Johns, New Brunswick?’  ‘Yes’ was spelled out.  This spirit then gave me the profession of his grandfather, also that of his father.  . . . Subsequently, the brother of this spirit made us a visit in Philadelphia, and informed us that the mundane career of his brother, Charles Henry, had been terminated by shipwreck, some four years anterior to the visit made, as mentioned to me.

A spirit of the name of Powel tendered his services and undertook to spell Cato, but instead of that name, Blodget, my friend, occupied the disk, and spelt his own name, and afterward Cato.  On the same occasion Blodget spelt out and designated words without the medium seeing the alphabet.  The employment of letters to express ideas neither existing in the mind of the medium or in mine, cannot be explained by any psychological subterfuge.”

Professor Hare became developed as a medium sufficiently to enable him to converse with his spirit friends, and says in this connection: “I am no longer under the necessity of defending media from the charge of falsehood and deception.  It is now my own character only that can be in question.”  This being the condition the following test is only explicable by one of two theories: either Professor Hare—a man “Sans peur, san reproche”—was culpable or idiotic enough to make public a false statement, which, even if true, would only bring his good name and reputation into disrepute among his scientific associates; or, intelligent beings, outside of any human organization, exist and have to the power to communicate with mortals.

Being at the Atlantic hotel, Cape May, about one hundred and thirty miles distant from Philadelphia, on the third of July, 1855, at one o’clock, Prof. Hare requested his spirit sister to convey a message to Mrs. Gourlay, in Philadelphia, asking her to induce Dr. Gourlay to go to the Philadelphia Bank to ascertain the time when a note would be due, and to report to him at half-past three o’clock: she did report at the time appointed.

Prof. Hare states: “After my return to Philadelphia, being at the residence of Mrs. Gourlay, I inquired of her whether she had received any message from me during my absence.  In reply, it was state that while a communication from her spirit mother was being made to her brother, who was present, my spirit messenger interrupted it to request her to send her husband to the bank to make the desired inquiry.  Her husband and brother went to the bank in consequence.  With the idea received by the latter, my sister’s report coincided agreeably to his statement to me.  All this proves that a spirit must have officiated, as nothing else can explain the transaction.  The note-clerk recollects the application, but does not appear to have felt himself called upon to take the trouble to get the register, which was not in his hands at the time.  Hence, the impression received by the applicants was not correct, but corresponded with the report made to me by my sister, which differed from the impression on my memory, and, of course, was not obtained from my mind.

Wishing to make this transaction a test, I was particularly careful to manage so that I might honorably insist on it as a test; and, until I learned the fact from Mrs. Gourlay and from the note-clerk, that the inquiry was made, it did not amount to a test manifestation.  I submit these facts to the public, as proving that there must have been an invisible, intelligent being with whom I communicated at Cape Island, who bore my message to Mrs. Gourlay, so as to induce the application at the bank.  Otherwise, what imaginable cause could have produced the result, especially within the time occupied of two and a half hours?

The existence of spirit agency being thus demonstrated, I am justified in solemnly calling on my contemporaries to give credence to the important information which I have received from spirits, respecting the destiny of the human soul after death.  They may be assured that every other object of consideration sinks into insignificance in comparison with this information and the bearing it must have upon morals, religion, and politics, whenever it can be known and be believed by society in general, as it is by me.”

Had Professor Hare—the man of scientific attainments which placed him in the front rank of scientists in Europe and America—published a monograph on the cerements of an unusual character, found on the body of a mummy, decayed and sanctified by the dust of three thousand years, he would have been accorded a hearing by his scientific dry-as-dust contemporaries, and his scientific treatment of the matter would have been lauded by them as evidence of his remarkable acumen and powers of scientific research.

Alas! the honorable man and renowned scientist had made a grand mistake, in the estimation of his compeers, in turning from his chemical investigations to the study of the evidences of immortal life, and all its unspeakable grandeur of progression.  He cast his pearls before learned swine, and swinishly did they turn and rend him.  His earnest appeals to his learned confreres to listen to the evidences of the immortality of the human spirit, which he had demonstrated through strictly scientific methods of investigation, was contemptuously thrust aside, and the wise men continued in the more congenial pursuits of watching the wonderful developments of nature in the transformation of tadpoles’ tails and bugology.

Professor Hare gives the experience of many other investigators of the phenomena, as corroborative evidence to support [103] his own statements; among them that of [homeopathic] Dr. W[illiam] Geib [of Philadelphia], which we give to illustrate some of the wonderful phases of mediumship now being daily exercised in our midst.  The medium referred to is Mrs. Ada Foye, of San Francisco.

Dr. Geib says: “Being subsequently in the city of New York, I visited the public circles of a medium for automatic writing and the sounds.  Being requested, as the rest had been, but without response, to ask if any of my spirit friends were present, my interrogation was answered by three distinct raps upon the table.  ‘Now ask who it is: a father, mother and so on’; and I was informed it was a son.  ‘Is your sister with you?’  ‘Yes.’  ‘Will you spell his name?’  ‘Yes;’ and it was correctly given.  ‘Is her little son with her?’  ‘Yes.’  ‘Will you spell his name?’  ‘Yes;’ and a name of seventeen letters was correctly spelled out by the card, the letters being indicated, when pointed to, by three raps.  My spirit son also informed me when he had died, and of what disease.  It will be observed that my son’s name had not been mentioned, reserving it for a test.  Three raps had replied in the affirmative to my question, when the medium spasmodically seized a pencil, extended a sheet of paper toward me, and wrote upside down, so that I might read it as written: ‘We are looking forward for you to join us, when we shall be more so;’ and to my perfect delight and astonishment, signed my son’s name to the communication, asking whether the name was correct.

On a subsequent occasion, when a large and respectable company was present, I remarked to the medium that she had reported the fact that foreign languages had been written by her hand.  ‘All kinds of language; but I don’t know anything about them,’ was the reply.  ‘If you have no objection, I should like to get a communication from my son, in a foreign language.  ‘Oh, not in the least; if he knew it in this world, he will know it in the next.’  ‘My son, will you give me a communication in a foreign language?’  Answer, three raps.  The company were all intent on this striking and convincing test of spiritual intercourse.  ‘In French?’  ‘No;’ one rap.  ‘In Spanish?’  Three raps.  The medium’s hand, as before, seized the pencil, and wrote upside down a communication in correct Spanish, though we all accepted her declaration that she was not acquainted with one word of the Spanish language.”

We have presented some of Professor Hare’s experiments with the phenomena of Spiritualism, and will close our sketch with some of the conclusions to which he arrived in consequence thereof.

Professor Hare says: “Confining the range of my philosophy to the laws of motion, magnificently illustrated by the innumerable solar systems, but no less operative in every minute mechanical movement, I hold that I could only come to the same conclusion as Faraday, that if tables when associated with human beings moved, it must in some way be due to those beings, since, agreeably to all experience of the laws of matter in the material world, inanimate bodies can not originate motion.  But as when the planetary motions are considered, any hypothesis fails which does not account for the rationality of the result, and therefore involves the agency, not only of a powerful but a rational cause; so the manifestations of Spiritualism, involving both reason and power, might consistently justify me in looking for agents endowed with the reason and power manifested by the phenomena.  This power being invisible and imponderable, and at the same time rational, there was no alternative but to consider it as spiritual, no less than that to which the planetary motion is due.  In its potentiality the power thus manifested might be extremely minute as compared with the potentiality of the Creator, still it had to be of the same spiritual nature.

It has not appeared unreasonable to infer that the soul in assuming the spirit form should acquire a power of which material beings are destitute, and of which they can only conceive an idea from its necessity to the operations of God.  Parting with its material attributes, were the soul not to acquire others, even if it could exist, it would be perfectly helpless.  Hence, in becoming an immaterial spirit, it must acquire powers indispensible and appropriate to that state of existence.”

Although Professor Hare’s efforts to induce his scientific friends to investigate Spiritualism were met with contempt or indifference, his interest continued unabated and he continued his communions and investigations to the end of his earth life, deriving great comfort therefrom.  Writing in 1858, he says: “Far from abating my confidence in the inferences respecting the agencies of the spirits of deceased mortals, in the manifestations of which I have given an account in my work, I have, within the last nine months, had more striking evidence of that agency than those given in the work in question.”

Illustration of Apparatus Used by Prof. Hare

Description of the instrument by which spirits were enabled to move a table under the influence of mediumship, yet in no wise under the control of the medium employed, even clairvoyance being nullified.  (A)

The table is about six feet in length, and sixteen inches in width, so contrived as to separate into three parts for convenience of carriage.

The pair of legs under the right side are upon castors.  Those of the left side upon an axle, passing through perforations suitably made for its reception.  The axle serves for two wheels of about six inches diameter, of which one is grooved.  A disk, is secured upon a pivot, affixed to a strip of wood, which is made to slide between two other strips attached to the frame of the table just under the top board.  By this means the band embraces both the hub of the disk and the wheel; when this turns in consequence of the shoving of the table horizontally along the floor, the disk turns with the wheel, and as much faster as the circumference of the groove in the hub, is less than that of the groove in the wheel.

Any mortal having due hold of the table, may, by shoving it one way or the other, bring any letter under the index, so as to spell out any desired word.  But no person, sitting as the medium is in the engraving represented to sit, with the plate on two balls, can actuate the disk so as to spell out words.  Utterly incapacitated from moving the table, it were manifestly impossible to actuate the disk, or to interfere with the movements otherwise imparted.

Description of Apparatus Illustrated, Marked B.

Representation of an experiment, in which the medium was prevented from having any other communication with the apparatus, actuated under his mediumship, excepting through water.  Yet under these circumstances the spring balance indicated the exertion of a force equal to eighteen pounds.

A board is supported on a rod so as to make it serve as a fulcrum, as in a seesaw, excepting that the fulcrum is at the distance of only one foot from one end, while it is three feet from the other.  This end is supported by a spring-balance which indicates pounds and ounces by a rotary index.

Upon the board, at about six inches from the fulcrum, there is a hold into which the knob of an inverted glass vase, nine inches in diameter, is inserted.

Upon two iron rods proceeding vertically from a board resting on the floor, so as to have one on each side of the vase, a cage of wire such as is used to defend food from flies, of about five inches diameter, is upheld (inverted) by the rod within the vase concentrically, so as to have between it and the sides of the vase an interstice of an inch nearly, and an interval of an inch and a half between it and the bottom of the vase.

The vase being filled with water until within an inch of the brim, the medium’s hands were introduced into the cage and thus secured from touching the vase.

These arrangements being made, the spirits were invoked to show their power, when repeatedly the spring-balance indicated an augmentation of weight equal to three pounds.  The relative distances of the vase and balance from the fulcrum being a 6 to 36, the force exerted must have been 3 x 6 = 18 pounds; yet the medium did not appear to be subjected to any reaction, and declared that he experienced none.

It was on stating this result to the Association for the Advancement of Science, that I met with the same reception as the King of Ava gave to the Dutch Ambassador, who alleged water to be at times solidified in his country, by cold, so as to be walked upon.

The belief in spiritual agency was treated as a mental disease, with which I, of course, had been infected; those who made this charge being perfectly unconscious that their education has associated morbid incredulity with bigoted and fanatical credence.

Although Prof. Hare mentions the receipt of communications through the instrumentality of apparatus B, he fails to give the method of obtaining them, which was probably by the substitution of an alphabetical dial and index in place of the spring-balance, as shown in the illustration.

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