Patrick Proctor Alexander - Spiritualism: A Narrative with a Discussion – 15 Pray, has any one here an Aunt Margaret?
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
SPIRITUALISM: A NARRATIVE WITH A DISCUSSION. BY PATRICK PROCTOR ALEXANDER, M.A.,
At a later period of the evening, Mr. Home chancing to observe that, from certain symptoms, he surmised the Spirits were ' getting exhausted,' my friend — a person of a philosophical turn of mind — ventured to hint that he thought it absurd to suppose exhaustion in Spirits however natural, in a prolonged Séance, it might be to Mr. Home.
Instantly on this came the five raps, and an emphatic ‘Why not, James ?’ was rapped out by the table. The point of curiosity here is this : there is the very strongest reason to suppose that the Christian name of my friend must have been unknown to Mr. Home, as to everyone else at the table. To every one present he was an entire stranger. He had come there as- substitute for another person, who, as already familiar with the phenomena, had offered to cede his place to him, and in course of that afternoon had asked to be allowed to do so. He thus came, introducing himself as simply Mr. H expected, and had not the slightest ground to suppose in any one present a knowledge that his name was James. This seems sufficiently slight ; and yet, were it absolutely certain that neither Mr. Home nor anyone else present knew that my friend's name was James, it might be more or less fruitful of inference.
For, as it cannot be supposed that the table knew, some intelligence behind the table, and expressed through it, we should be rationally compelled to assume. Another instance: — My friend was smartly touched. Instantly after, a Spirit announced its presence ; and what it rapped out was this :
‘It is Aunt Margaret’s loving John’ Mr. Home, on this, looking round the table, asked : ‘Pray, has any one here an Aunt Margaret?'
‘Yes,' answered my friend; ‘I have an Aunt Margaret, who lives a long way from Edinburgh. She is a widow ; and the name of her husband, who died now a good many years ago, oddly enough, was John.’
Now I assert it scarce possible (I decline to use the word impossible — that bete de mot with which that other stupid word incredible might fitly be run in couples) that Mr. Home, or anyone else at the table, should have had the knowledge implied here. On these grounds : Only a very few hours were available for Mr. Home or his supposed accomplices, during which to rush about for information: moreover, to hunt up information in this fashion would be almost to court detection at the hands of the people, by applying to whom it had thus been surreptitiously acquired. Further, my friend Mr. H assures me that he does not know a single person in Edinburgh, from whom Mr. Home, if we suppose him solicitous to do so, could have got this special information.
Unfortunately, the ' loving John,' content with thus announcing himself, retired, and would communicate no further. Had he stayed a little longer, and been pleased to condescend on little points of family history (necessarily unknown to every one present except my friend), the evidence as to his identity might have plainly been much strengthened. But the ' loving John ' would not do this.