The author has in mind one case where an ignorant sitter removed the trumpet, which was floating in front of him, from the circle. It was done silently, but none the less the medium complained of pain and sickness to those around her and was prostrated for some days. Another medium exhibited a bruise from the breast to the shoulder which was caused by the recoil of the hand when some would-be exposer flashed an electric torch. When the ectoplasm flies back to a mucoid surface the result may be severe hemorrhage, several instances of which have come within the author's personal notice. In one case, that of Susanna Harris, in Melbourne, the medium was confined to bed for a week after such an experience.
It is vain in a single chapter of a work which covers a large subject to give any detailed view of a section of that subject which might well have a volume to itself. Our knowledge of this strange, elusive, protean, all-pervading substance is likely to increase from year to year, and it may be prophesied that if the last generation has been occupied with protoplasm, the next will be engrossed with its psychic equivalent, which will, it is to be hoped, retain Charles Richet's name of ectoplasm, though various other words such as "plasm," "teleplasm," and "ideoplasm" are unfortunately already in circulation. Since this chapter was prepared fresh demonstrations of ectoplasm have occurred in various parts of the world, the most noticeable being with "Margery," or Mrs. Crandon, of Boston, whose powers have been fully treated in Mr. Malcolm Bird's volume of that name.
The first authentic account of the production of what is called a spirit photograph dates from 1861. This result was obtained by William H. Mumler in Boston, U.S.A. In England in 1851 Richard Boursnell is said to have had a similar experience, but no early photograph of this nature has been preserved. The first example in England capable of being verified occurred with the photographer Hudson, in 1872.
Like the rise of modern Spiritualism, this new development was predicted from the Other Side. In 1856 Mr. Thomas Slater, an optician, residing at 136 Euston Road, London, was holding a seance with Lord Brougham and Mr. Robert Owen, when it was rapped out that the time would come when Mr. Slater would take spirit photographs. Mr. Owen remarked that if he were in the spirit world when that time came he would appear on the plate. In 1872, when Mr. Slater was experimenting in spirit photography, he is said to have obtained on a plate the face of Mr. Robert Owen and also that of Lord Brougham.* Alfred Russel Wallace was shown these results by Mr. Slater, and said:
* THE SPIRITUALIST, Nov. 1, 1873. "Miracles and Modern Spiritualism," 1901, p. 198.
The first of his successes contained two heads by the side of a portrait of his sister. One of these heads is unmistakably the late Lord Brougham's; the other, much less distinct, is recognized by Mr. Slater as that of Robert Owen, whom he knew intimately up to the time of his death.
After describing other spirit photographs obtained by Mr. Slater, Dr. Wallace goes on:
Now whether these figures are correctly identified or not, is not the essential point. The' fact that any figures, so clear and unmistakably human in appearance as these, should appear on plates taken in his own private studio by an experienced optician and amateur photographer, who makes all his apparatus himself, and with no one present but the members of his own family, is the real marvel. In one case a second figure appeared on a plate with himself, taken by Mr. Slater when he was absolutely alone, by the simple process of occupying the sitter's chair after uncapping the camera.
Mr. Slater himself showed me all these pictures, and explained the conditions under which they were produced. That they are not impostures is certain, and as the first independent confirmations of what had been previously obtained only through professional photographers, their value is inestimable.