Tyndall, John – Science and the Spirits – 06 For some seconds it was pull spirit, hold muscle
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
SCIENCE AND THE "SPIRITS”
The superhuman power of the spirits was next dwelt upon. The strength of man, it was stated, was unavailing in opposition to theirs. No human power could prevent the table from moving when they pulled it.
During the evening this pulling of the table occurred, or rather was attempted, three times. Twice the table moved when my attention was withdrawn from it; on a third occasion, I tried whether the act could be provoked by an assumed air of inattention. Grasping the table firmly between my knees, I threw myself back in the chair, and waited, with eyes fixed on vacancy, for the pull.
For some seconds it was pull spirit, hold muscle; the muscle, however, prevailed, and the table remained at rest. Up to the present moment, this interesting fact is known only to the particular spirit in question and myself.
Spiritualism: A Narrative with a Discussion – Patrick Proctor Alexander
APPENDIX. Professor Tyndall 'on science and spirits: ‘
This is one more instance of this strange secretiveness on the part of Dr. Tyndall, where only by a perfect manly frankness could any rational result have been attained.
‘ During the evening this pulling of the table occurred, or rather was attempted, three times. Twice the table moved, when my attention was withdrawn from it ; on the third occasion I tried whether the act would be provoked by an assumed air of inattention. Grasping the table firmly between my knees, I threw myself back in the chair, and waited with eyes fixed on vacancy for the pull. It came. For some seconds it was. Pull, Spirit — hold, muscle ; the muscle, however, prevailed, and the table remained at rest . Up to the present moment this interesting fact is known only to the particular Spirit and myself.’
Had Dr. Tyndall — as again clearly he ought to have done — produced on the spot this little item of experience, question would at once have arisen, first as to the particular modus of his grasping the table firmly between his knees, and next as to the facilities possessed by the person or persons opposite for effecting the pull which he resisted. As to this last, it is plain that by hands resting on the table, covered, as we must suppose it, with a table-cloth, the pull could not be effected ; and it might readily, perhaps, have been shown, to the satisfaction of Dr. Tyndall himself, that the arrangement under the table precluded its being effected with the feet, without instantly attracting notice.
Or, contrariwise, Dr. Tyndall might have been able to substantiate thus much: that the facilities under the table were such as to make it easy for those opposite, if so wishing, to effect the pull in question; which would yet amount (save only in the exact mind of Dr. Tyndall) to something short of distinct evidence that they did.
Every detail of this kind being left uninvestigated, we have really not before us (thanks to Professor Tyndall) the elements of a rational judgment, on one side or the other. Further, if we suppose, for the nonce, that the pull was really that of a Spirit — suppose such a thing — it by no means follows that the express effort to that end of so muscular a Christian as Dr. Tyndall is known to be, should not be able to neutralize it. Dr. Tyndall's experience, as given, satisfactorily enough disposes of the crude and wild rubbish (so on the very face of it) of the rather poor people about him, as to ‘the superhuman power of the Spirits, ‘no human power could prevent’ etc.; but it takes us not a jot further. Dr. Tyndall himself, it may be hoped, would not pretend that it does ; for he is probably aware that to observe and criticise phenomena is one thing, — to interfere with or disconcert them, another ; and that it can never be the function of the Scientific observer to interpolate himself as a directly counteracting cause to the phenomena he is set to observe.
In brief. Dr. Tyndall’s experiment here, which, if frankly at the moment given, might have been more or less fruitful, as tested by immediate investigation, is now, as published, quite valueless, seeing that, just when it might thus have been so far fructified, he saw fit to ‘keep it to himself.'