Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Poltergeists by Frank Podmore 1908
POLTERGEISTS by Frank Podmore 1908
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VISITATIONS of raps and loud noises, accompanied by the throwing of stones, the ringing of bells, and other disturbances of an inexplicable kind, are from time to time reported by the daily papers as occurring in country villages, and, more rarely, in busy thoroughfares in our large towns. The squire, the parson, and the police constable are called in to investigate, and depart as a rule no wiser than when they came. Mysterious disturbances of the kind have been reported for many centuries. Mr. Lang has cited a case occurring as early as 856 A.D. The phenomena, according to the same authority, have as wide a range in space as in time: they extend, literally, from China to Peru; they are found amongst Eskimos, Red Indians, and Malayans, as well as throughout Europe, and conform in most cases to the same general type. Amongst the most interesting cases recorded in our own literature may be mentioned the Drummer of Tedworth (1661) of which an account is given by Glanvil in Sadducismus Triumphatus; the disturbances at Epworth Parsonage, the birthplace of John Wesley (1716-7); the Cock Lane Ghost (1762).
In a small and now rare book, called Bealings Bells, published in 1841 by Major Moor, F. R. S., for sale at a church bazaar, accounts are given, mostly at first hand, of some twenty cases of the kind. The disturbances described in Bealings Bells consisted generally of bell ringing, but they included also noises of other kinds, movements of furniture, throwing of crockery and small objects. One of the most characteristic disturbances which is reported in the Tedworth and Epworth cases, and formed the chief manifestation in the case of the Cock Lane Ghost, is the occurrence of raps on the woodwork of the bedstead, or, as in the Tedworth case, scratches as if made by nails on a bolster. In all cases the bedstead in the neighbourhood of which the noises occurred was occupied by a child, or children, to whom other circumstances point as the centre of the disturbance.
These "Poltergeist" disturbances, as they have been named, are of some historical importance, as it is to an outbreak of this kind in America that the beginning of the movement of modern Spiritualism may be traced. A farmer named John Fox occupied a frame house in Hydesville, a small hamlet in New York State. One night in March, 1848, raps were heard as if proceeding from the bedstead in which his two young daughters, Margaretta and Katie, were sleeping. The disturbance was repeated night after night and the neighbours crowded in to listen. It was soon found that the raps, of which no one could discover the cause, would answer questions addressed to them, and it was gradually elicited by these means that the demonstration was produced by the spirit of a murdered pedlar. The marvel spread throughout the neighbouring townships. Other "mediums" were soon discovered, through whose agency the spirits were enabled to manifest their presence by raps. Gradually the spirits learnt to move tables and chairs, to play musical instruments, and do other things, such as the Poltergeist had been wont to do in the past. In a few years Spiritualism, thus incubated in the little country village of Hydesville, spread its wings and encompassed half the globe. Its growth in these early years was much encouraged by other outbreaks of the usual Poltergeist type, especially those in Stratford, Connecticut, in 1850, and in Ashtabula, Ohio, in 1851, full accounts of which are given in the Spiritualistic journals of the time.
To attain, therefore, a clear understanding of the physical phenomena presented to us by Spiritualist mediums, some of which are dealt with in the next chapter, it is essential to study the Poltergeist manifestations which are their lineal progenitors. The Poltergeist is, so to speak, the _fera naturae_ of Spiritualism.
Recently Mr. Andrew Lang has obtained, through the kindness of the Marquis d' Eguilles, copies of the official records of a trial in which a Poltergeist case formed the subject of enquiry. The case is a fairly typical one, and will serve to illustrate the nature of the phenomena usually exhibited. In January, 1851, Thorel, a shepherd, summoned M. Tinel, Cure of Cideville (a Cure is a spiritual or religious charge of the people in a certain district), for libel. The Cure had, according to the plaintiff, accused him of sorcery, and had procured his dismissal from his employment. The defendant pleaded that he had only charged Thorel with "arrogating to himself the quality of sorcerer." It was shown by the evidence of many witnesses that for some weeks disturbances of an inexplicable character had plagued the Cure's house. M. Tinel kept two pupils, who gave evidence as follows: Gustave Lemonnier, the younger of the pupils, aged twelve, said that raps began when he was alone, on November 26th, and continued. He saw knives, blacking-brushes, a roasting spit, and M. Tinel's breviary leave their places and go through the window-panes. All sorts of objects flew about. He was struck in the face by a shoe, a candlestick, and by a black hand which afterwards disappeared up the chimney. A sort of human shape, dressed in a blouse, which appeared to be a spectre, followed him about for a whole fortnight . We learn from another witness that the child said that this spectre was only fifteen inches high. Once an invisible force pulled him by the leg, his comrade sprinkled some holy water, and the force let go; then a child's voice was heard crying, "Pardon, mercy." Notwithstanding all these disquieting events he did not ask to be allowed to go home. Meeting Thorel, when with Tinel, he recognised in Thorel the spectre in the blouse.
Bunel, aged fourteen, the other pupil, corroborated Lemonnier, who, he said, had "lost consciousness" and "had a nervous attack" after meeting Thorel. The witness showed a black eye, caused by a stamping iron which flew in his face. He attested many eccentric movements of objects.
It was given in evidence further that Thorel had boasted of his power as a sorcerer, that he had used threats against M. Tinel, and that on being charged by the Cure with being the cause of the disturbance, Thorel had knelt to beg forgiveness of the younger boy, and had been struck with a stick by M. Tinel.
Most of the witnesses called in the case had only hearsay evidence to give; or could speak only of the occurrence of raps and thumps in the presence of the two boys, which they were satisfied the boys could not have produced. Two gendarmes had counted twenty-three broken panes of glass; but after spending an hour or two at the Presbytery had not seen or heard anything out of the way. But Cheval, the Mayor of the Commune, testified to having seen the tongs and shovel at the Presbytery "leave the hearth and go into the middle of the room." They were put back, and rushed out again. "My eyes were fixed on them to see what moved them, but I saw nothing at all." He also saw a "stocking dart like a thunderbolt from beside the bed on which the children were sleeping, to the opposite end of the room." Lying in bed with the boys, his hands on their hands, and his feet on their feet, he "saw the coverlet dart away from the bed." M. Leroux, the Cure of Saussay, aged thirty, deposed:
"I have to add that when at the Presbytery of Cideville, I saw things which I have been unable to explain to myself. I saw a hammer, moved by some invisible force, leave the spot where it lay and fall in the middle of the room without making more noise than if a hand had gently laid it down; a piece of bread lying on the table darted under the table; and we being placed as we were, it was impossible that any of us could have thrown it in that way. I also saw, after the Cure of Cideville and I had shaved, all the things we had used for the purpose placed as if by hand on the floor; the young pensionnaire of M. Tinel having called our attention to this, M. Tinel and I went upstairs to assure ourselves of the fact. Perhaps the child had had time to do this ; but on coming away again, we had scarcely descended six steps of the stairs when the child told us that everything had been put back in its place. I went back alone and found everything was, in fact, in its place, with the exception of the mirror, and I am certain that the child could not have put everything back in its place in that way in so short a time. It seems to me inexplicable. Since that I have heard noises at the Presbytery at Cideville. I took every precaution in listening to them, even placing myself under the table to make sure that the children could do nothing, and yet I heard noises, which seemed to me, however, to come more especially from the wainscot."
The Marquis de Mirville, a well-known Spiritualist, who published an account of the case in a contemporary pamphlet, also gave his evidence. He testified that the raps showed intelligence and gave correct answers to several questions which he asked on personal matters—his exact age, the number of letters in the names of his children and in the name of his house and commune. Further, the raps executed correctly Rossini's Stabat Mater and several popular tunes. The only physical phenomenon which M. de Mirville witnessed he described as follows:
"One of the children said to me, 'Look, Sir, look at this desk knocking against the other'; but as the child was in front of the desk I did not attach much importance to this fact,—not that I believed him to be the cause of it."
Madame de Saint Victor, aged fifty-six, said that she had heard the Angelus and one or two popular tunes rapped correctly. Further,
"after Vespers, when I was at the Presbytery of Cideville standing quite apart from the other people there, I felt an invisible force seize me by the mantle and give me a vigorous shake. The same day also I saw three persons sitting on a small table in the Presbytery and it moved along the floor in spite of the efforts of two people to hold it back. Several people were there, amongst others my femme de chambre, but I cannot precisely say who the others were. Another day I saw the child sitting on a chair with his feet off the ground and his back not leaning on the chairback, yet the chair rocked with a movement which the child could not have given it, ending with the chair falling in one direction and the boy in another. The child was much frightened at this. A week ago when I was alone with the children I saw the two desks at which they were working fall over and the table on the top of them. The same day I took the children some St. Benoist medals in which I had faith, and every time the medals were placed on the desks not the least sound was produced there, the noise then being heard behind me in the wall cupboard; but as soon as the medals were withdrawn from the desks the noise was heard again in the desks. The same day the noise rapped out the tune of Maitre Corbeau, and on my remarking, "Do you know nothing but that, then?" it sang the air of _Au clair de la lune_, and that of _J'ai du bon Tabac_. Yesterday, again, I saw a candlestick leave the chimneypiece in the kitchen and go and hit the back of my femme de chambre, and a key lying on the table struck the child's ear. I must say that I cannot tell precisely where the key was, as I did not see it start on its flight, but only saw it arrive. I was not frightened, only surprised. My son was with me when I heard the Angelus as well as the two children and the Cure, but during the other airs I was alone with the children. It was not possible for the children to do these things; I watched their feet and their hands, and could see all their movements. I think the shepherd Thorel could not have done them unless he had made a compact with the devil; for it seemed to me there was something diabolical in it all."
M. Robert de St. Victor, son of the last witness, testified that he had heard the tunes rapped out. He adds:
"A week ago I went again to the Presbytery, and was alone with the children and the old servant maid; I placed one of the children in each of the windows of the room upstairs, I being outside, but in a position to observe all their movements in the position they were placed in; besides, they could not have moved much without risk of falling; and I then heard raps struck in the room, similar to those of a mallet. I went up to the room, and I saw one of the children's desks coming towards me, with no visible force to push it; however, I did not see it at the moment of its starting. I am convinced that the children had nothing to do with this, since they were still standing in the windows. Being one day at the Presbytery with the Mayor, I heard several loud blows such as the children could not have produced. I put my hand and ear against the wainscot, and very distinctly felt the vibrations and the place where the blows were struck."
M. Bouffay had heard raps and noises "in those rooms only where the children were." He adds:
"I also saw, both upstairs and downstairs, the perfectly isolated table move without any force that I could see to cause the movement. On the second visit I scarcely saw anything. On the third visit I saw pretty much the same things as on the first. I noticed that the children were perfectly motionless when the sound was produced, so could not have made it themselves. I heard it when the Cure was absent from the Presbytery as well as in his presence. It was impossible that either he or the children should have had anything to do with the noise, because it was too loud."
Further, the witness said that when he returned with M. Tinel and the children from the house of one of the inhabitants of the commune, where they had slept on account of the noises at the Presbytery, just as the children were going up to their room to ascertain if all was at an end, he saw a phantom-like vapour go with great rapidity through the kitchen door towards the room where the children were.
M. Brtard, when at breakfast with MM. Bouffay and Tinel, had heard an alarming knock on the floor beneath the table, and was certain that neither the children nor the Cure* could have caused it.
Dufour, a postman, saw a table move without any one touching it. Lecontre, a carpenter, testified to a stone being mysteriously thrown. Leseigneur, eighteen years of age, a farmer, "saw a hammer impelled by some occult force start from the top of the table and fly at the window, breaking two panes. I also saw a shoe leave the pupil's foot and go and break a pane." He saw several other movements of objects, and was certain that neither of the pupils caused them.
Practically all the witnesses were confident that the movements and noises could not have been caused by the children or by M. Tinel. The only hint of a normal explanation which appears, in some eighty typewritten pages of evidence, is a statement by one or two of the witnesses that they had heard a M. Fontaine call out from the window that he had caught the younger boy in the act of cheating. Now Maitre Fontaine, apparently the same person, was the counsel for the plaintiff, and was presumably precluded from giving evidence in his own person. He cross-examined Lemonnier, however, on the incident of the alleged detection, but the boy seems to have stood the examination with great self-possession, and made no damaging admissions. On Maitre Fontaine's attempting to cross-examine the elder boy, Bunel, to similar effect, the Judge disallowed the questions as being irrelevant and contrary to the dignity of justice. The Court, in fact, seems to have been not very wise, perhaps not quite impartial, and certainly unduly sensitive as to its own dignity. In the summing up of the case the Judge found that "the most clear result of all the evidence is that the cause [of the disturbances] remains unknown." Thorel was nonsuited, on the ground that, if he had not done the things himself, he had said that he had, and had, further, professed contrition for his offence.
The case is an interesting one from several points of view. M. Tinel and his brother priests, and the Catholic witnesses generally, seem to have been quite satisfied of the diabolical nature of the visitation. Thorel, it is clear, brought his fate upon himself. The evidence leaves no doubt that he had freely boasted of his powers as a sorcerer; and that he had actually fallen on his knees and begged pardon of the Cure" and of the child Lemonnier. Perhaps Thorel believed in his own powers. A curious illustration is given of the success of a suggestion made by him. Further, it appears from the evidence of Cheval, the Mayor, that Thorel was somehow associated with one Gosselin, a very learned man, who had presumed to visit a sick person with the view of curing him, and had been denounced by the Curt Tinel, and put in prison for his pains. Naturally Gosselin came out of prison vowing vengeance on the Curt.
The reference to witchcraft is exceptional amongst latter-day Poltergeists, at any rate in this country. But in this respect the Cideville case resembles the case of the Drummer of Tedworth already referred to, and other earlier narratives. Mr. Lang cites a case occurring in Lincolnshire in 1867, in which a woman laid a spell upon the servant girl of a rival witch, and caused her to make knockings and move the furniture. It is probable, in fact, that the idea of being bewitched, acting upon an hysterical temperament, may in many cases prove the efficient cause of disturbances.
But in other respects the Cideville case is, as said, a fairly typical one. It will be observed, first, that all the disturbances occurred in the presence of the two children; many of them in their immediate neighbourhood. Further, it appears, even by the description of the witnesses, that many of the things could have been done by the children in a normal manner. In most other instances the margin between what was possible and what, in the view of the witnesses, was not possible for the children to have accomplished, was very narrow. M. Leroux is satisfied that the child could not have replaced the toilet articles in so short a time. Madame de St. Victor is satisfied that the child could not have rocked the chair. Perhaps M. Robert de St. Victor had been a good child and had never played tricks with chairs. M. Bouffay is certain that the children could not have made the noise which he heard, because it was too loud.
But there remain certain things which cannot be so easily explained; such as the moving tongs and shovel testified to by Cheval, the flying hammer witnessed by M. Leroux and by Leseigneur, or the candlestick which Madame de St. Victor watched in its flight.
Now the disturbances began at the end of November, 1850, and they ended on the 15th February, 1851, so that the occurrences were still fresh in the memory of the witnesses. More than one of the most inexplicable events are testified to by witnesses who, if strongly predisposed to belief in the marvellous, were, it is to be presumed, fairly well educated. Their testimony is given with some care, and there can be no doubt that these witnesses honestly believed that they had seen and heard things inexplicable by natural causes. It seems scarcely credible that the two little boys should have done the things themselves without detection (save in one doubtful case) and apparently without suspicion. The performance, it is to be remembered, lasted for some weeks; and the actors throughout the time were constantly called upon to play their parts with variations before an interested and not wholly uncritical audience.
The explanation in fact is not to be reached from the examination of any single case, least of all a case where personal enquiry and interrogation of the witnesses are no longer possible. But these outbreaks, as said, are numerous and monotonously similar in their general features. The person who is the centre of the disturbance, and in whose absence nothing takes place, is generally a child, boy or girl; more rarely a young servant maid. The phenomena, again, move in the same groove. Many of them, as described, are quite inexplicable; especially is this true of the movements of objects, which are frequently spoken of as hovering, floating, or being gently wafted by an invisible agency. Members of the Society for Psychical Research have from time to time investigated on the spot a large number of these occurrences. Sometimes the disturbances had ceased before the investigator had actually arrived on the scene, and it has been possible only to interrogate the witnesses and examine the theatre of the display. But in one or two instances we have actually been present during the performance, and have detected trickery on the part of the children; in other cases trickery has been detected at the time by others; sometimes the child has subsequently confessed to trickery. It would not be fair, on the sole ground that trickery has been proved to account for some of the movements and noises in certain cases, to infer that trickery is the explanation of all the disturbances in all cases. The real justification for that conclusion can only be fully appreciated after a careful study and comparison of the records. Space would not permit of the proof being stated here at adequate length. But let us take, as an illustration merely, the evidence just quoted in the Cideville case. On a superficial reading it would seem as if the marvels recounted could not be due to the trickery of a couple of children. But we may see from the account given by the untrained observer of a conjuring trick how widely the thing described may differ from the thing done. And it is to be noted, in the Cideville case, that very few details are given. When, for instance, Madame de St. Victor saw a candlestick leave the chimneypiece and hit the femme de chambre, we want to know what was her own position with reference to the chimneypiece, what was the position of the two children, the approximate distance of the children, the femme de chambre, and herself from the candlestick, and so on. The account implies that she actually saw the candlestick at rest, and then saw it change its position of rest for motion through the air. Did she really see this? Was she really watching the candlestick continuously, or did she merely remember to have seen it at one moment at rest, and, after a short interval, in motion through the air? It is difficult, without long training, to realise how small is the part played in general perception by actual sensation, especially in the case of retinal impressions, and how largely those retinal impressions are interpreted and supplemented by immediate and unconscious inference. When we are dealing with familiar matters the inference is generally correct; but the conjuror induces us to adopt a wrong inference—we "see" in a conjuring trick something which does not really take place.
Again, when, as happens in many cases, the account is not written down until some time after the events, errors of memory may distort the facts. oth kinds of error are admirably illustrated in Mr. Hodgson's comments on the experiments in slatewriting made with Eglinton and Davey discussed in the next chapter. That such errors, of observation or of memory, are responsible for a great part at any rate of the marvels reported in Poltergeist cases, we can often find out by comparison of the accounts given by different witnesses of the same incident, or by the same witness at different times; or, more generally, by a comparison of the evidence given by educated and uneducated witnesses.
The following narrative, which we owe to Mr. W. G. Grottendieck, of Dordrecht, will serve to illustrate the two main sources of error above referred to. It is the more valuable as an illustration because Mr. Grottendieck is a particularly scrupulous and level-headed witness, and apparently a close observer. He writes as follows:
Dordrecht, January 27th, 1906. ..."It was in September, 1903, that the following abnormal fact occurred to me. Every detail of it has been examined by me very carefully. I had been on a long journey through the jungle of Palembang and Djambi (Sumatra) with a gang of fifty Javanese coolies for exploring purposes. Coming back from the long trip, I found that my home had been occupied by somebody else and I had to put up my bed in another house that was not yet ready, and had just been erected from wooden poles and lalang or kadjang. The roof was formed of great dry leaves of a kind called 'kadjang' in Palembang. These great leaves are arranged one overlapping the other. In this way it is very easy to form a roof if it is only for a temporary house. This house was situated pretty far away from the bore-places belonging to the oil company, in whose service I was working.
I put my bullsack and mosquito curtain on the wooden floor and soon fell asleep. At about one o'clock at night I half awoke, hearing something fall near my head outside the mosquito curtain on the floor. After a couple of minutes I completely awoke and turned my head around to see what was falling down on the floor. They were black stones from one eighth to three quarters of an inch long. I got out of the curtain and turned up the kerosene lamp, that was standing on the floor at the foot of my bed. I saw then that the stones were falling through the roof in a parabolic line. They fell on the floor close to my head-pillow. I went out and awoke the boy (a Malay-Palembang coolie) who was sleeping on the floor in the next room. I told him to go outside and to examine the jungle up to a certain distance. He did so whilst I lighted up the jungle a little by means of a small 'ever-ready' electric lantern. At the same time that my boy was outside the stones did not stop falling. My boy came in again, and I told him to search the kitchen to see if anybody could be there. He went to the kitchen and I went inside the room again to watch the stones falling down. I knelt down near [the head of my bed] and tried to catch the stones while they were falling through the air towards me, but I could never catch them; it seemed to me that they changed their direction in the air as soon as I tried to get hold of them. I could not catch any of them before they fell on the floor. Then I climbed up the partition wall between my room and the boy's and examined the roof just above it from which the stones were flying. They came right through the "kadjang," but there were no holes in the kadjang. When I tried to catch them there at the very spot of coming out, I also failed.
When I came down, my boy had returned from the kitchen and told me there was nobody. But I still thought that somebody might be playing a practical joke, so I took my Mauser rifle and fired five sharp cartridges into the jungle from the window of the boy's room. But the stones, far from stopping, fell even more abundantly after my shots than before.
After this shooting the boy became fully awake (it seemed to me that he had been dozing all the time before), and he looked inside the room. When he saw the stones fall down, he told me it was "Satan" who did that, and he was so greatly scared that he ran away in the pitch-dark night. After he had run away the stones ceased to fall, and I never saw the boy back again. I did not notice anything particular about the stones except that they were warmer than they would have been under ordinary circumstances."
In a later letter dated ist February, 1906, Mr. Grottendieck adds:
"(3) The boy certainly did not do it, because at the same time that I bent over him, while he was sleeping on the floor, to awake him, there fell a couple of stones. . . .
(8) They fell rather slowly. Now, supposing that somebody might by trickery have forced them through the roof, or supposing they had not come through it at all,—even then there would remain something mysterious about it, because it seemed to me that they were hovering through the air; they described a parabolic line and then came down with a bang on the floor."
Mr. Grottendieck explains that the stones, which have unfortunately been lost, were black and polished, but not crystalline, more like anthracite, but not with such sharp edges. They were light like anthracite.
He adds, in a letter dated February 13, 1906:
"I hope that my plan is plain enough to give you an idea of the way in which I watched the stones coming through the roof. I was inside the room, climbed up along the framework to the top of the wall, held on with one hand to the framework, and tried to catch the stones with the other hand, at the same time seeing the boy lying down sleeping outside (in the other room) on the floor behind the door, the space being lit up by means of a lamp in his room. The construction of the house was such that it was impossible to throw the stones through the open space from outside.
I wrote before that it seemed to me that the boy had been dozing all the time after I awoke him. I got that impression because his movements seemed to me abnormally slow; his rising up, his walking around, and everything seemed extraordinarily slow. These movements gave me the same strange impression as the slowly falling stones.
When I think over this last fact (for I remember very well the strange impression the slowly moving boy made on me) I feel now inclined to suggest the hypothesis that there might have been something abnormal in my own condition at the time. For having read in the Proceedings about hallucinations, I dare not state any more that the stones in reality moved slowly; it might have been on account of some condition of my own sensory organs that it seemed to me that they did, though at that time I was not in the least interested in the question of hallucinations or of spiritism. I am afraid that the whole thing will ever remain a puzzle to me.
Now, there is one serious discrepancy in this account. According to his original version Mr. Grottendieck's first step, after being awakened by the falling stones, was to go into the next room, and wake up the boy. The boy then searched the jungle, and on his return was told to search the kitchen. Mr. Grottendieck climbed the partition whilst the boy was searching the kitchen. But in his later letter he describes seeing the boy asleep whilst he is himself on the partition, trying to catch the stones as they fall. One of these two accounts then—we cannot tell which—must be inaccurate in regard to the important detail of the boy's position at the time. If one is inaccurate, both may be. Further, if it is only by the accident of there being two accounts that this inaccuracy has become manifest, we are entitled to infer that there are probably other inaccuracies which happen not to have been manifested.
Another class of error is illustrated by Mr. Grottendieck's statement that he "saw quite distinctly that the stones came right through the kadjang." As Mr. E. T. Dixon has pointed out in his comments on the case, "no retinal image or succession of retinal images could have recorded the passage of stones through the kadjang; he can only have (unconsciously) inferred that the stones passed through from the fact that he was not aware of any retinal image representing them coming up to the ceiling from the boy's hand (or wherever they did come from)."
It is probable that the appearance of the stones falling slowly is also, as Mr. Grottendieck himself suggests, due to a sensory fallacy of another kind. This appearance is very commonly reported of the objects seen to move through the air in Poltergeist cases. Such an appearance would be caused by any temporary aberration in the estimation of time; and we know that such erroneous estimates occur in delirium, and under the influence of haschish, and other drugs, and apparently in the partial dissociation of consciousness which accompanies many waking hallucinations.
It should be added that the hallucinations described by the child Lemonnier may perhaps have been genuine. The young persons round whom these disturbances occur frequently describe hallucinatory figures seen by them, and there is evidence, in many of the cases investigated by or reported to the Society, of hysteria or marked abnormality of one kind or another.
It is only by a fortunate accident that we are able, here and there, to analyse the evidence for the spontaneous phenomena of the Poltergeist, and demonstrate its untrustworthiness. But in the next chapter we shall see how little to be trusted are the statements of competent witnesses as to phenomena occurring in their presence under conditions which are certainly more favourable for observation than those obtaining in the Poltergeist disturbances.
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