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Observations placeholder

Patrick Proctor Alexander - Spiritualism: A Narrative with a Discussion – 16 A third chair left its place, came slowly across the room, and set itself beside the others, to her no little surprise



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience


Let me illustrate the difficulty here by a little account of a strange thing told me by Dr. D  and confirmed by his wife, from whom I had it in a separate narrative. It happened at an early stage of his experience, whilst yet he was scarce a confirmed believer ; though ‘ perplexed in the extreme,’ as quite unable to naturally account for the phenomena. A Seance having taking place, Mr. Home had left the house, and the good Doctor was sitting alone in the room, much musing over the odd things that had happened, and in a state of great mental puzzlement.

‘Suddenly,’ he said, 'it seemed to me that one of the chairs opposite me was moving. It was so; and I could scarcely believe my eyes when I saw it travel slowly across the carpet, and set itself beside my own. Presently another followed, and set itself beside the first. I was very much astonished indeed. At this moment my wife came into the room.'

Let us allow her to carry on the story. Mrs, D had up to this time — as she said — entertained a distinct distaste for the whole business ; and her annoyance was considerable at the strong hold it plainly had begun to take of the mind of her husband. When told of what had occurred, she expostulated vigorously:

‘Oh Doctor !’ she said, ‘I wish you would get that nonsense out of your head It is impossible such a thing should occur; you must be under some delusion ; you must merely have imagined it ; it can't possibly be true.'

And then, as if for her prompt contradiction, a third chair left its place ; under her very eyes, came slowly across the room, and set itself beside the others, to her no little surprise and consternation.

Do I confidently believe, on the evidence, that this thing actually happened?

I am not prepared to say I do ; but most implicitly I believe in the veracity of the two people, and therefore that they believed it, as seen of their own eyes.

And how they should have so believed they saw it, if the thing did not really happen, I am a little at a loss to know. Had there been only one witness, we must, with little hesitation, have disposed of the fact alleged in the way which at first occurred to Mrs. D herself, — as spawn of a heated fancy, — some mixed mode of mental and optical delusion. As seen by a second witness, engaged at the very instant in making a strong sceptical protest, this explanation of it can scarce, except with much difficulty, be accepted.

And yet, if it be not accepted, either the thing must be true, or the people reporting of it liars. Personally declining in toto to take up with this last supposition, I cannot but regard the evidence to the fact as very strong indeed, — so strong that I almost think I ought to believe it.

The source of the experience

Home, D. D.

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items


Activities and commonsteps