This section is from the book "Faith - Healing. Christian Science And Kindred Phenomena", by James Monroe Buckley. Also available from Amazon: Faith-Healing, Christian Science and Kindred Phenomena.
1 Dr. J. M. Buckley. Dear Sir : My recollection of the "seance" referred to in your letter of the 25th ult. is not as distinct in some points as in others you do not mention. Tho study of psychology is so important that it is necessary to bo exact beyond measure in order not to mislead. An immense amount of rubbish has been piled upon slender foundations in the study of psycho-genesis, and no progress can be made so long as people assent easily to become witnesses with external aid to recollect facts which happened long ago. I am very positive as to the truth of the following facts : I belonged to a literary club, composed of the most cultivated people residing in Stamford in 1864 - 71. At one of our meetings, I was present when you performed some experiments upon ten or fifteen of its members by asking them to stand in a circle, with closed eyes, and holding their hands before their faces as in the conventional attitude for praying; the gas was partly turned down. Some of the members of this group laughed, and you peremptorily excluded them from the circle, as previously agreed upon. A short time afterward one of my neighbors began to breathe hard, and ho was followed by several others, who gave indications, plainly visible, that something unusual was happening to them.
If human testimony is to be depended upon at all, I am sure that the social position of the persons so affected, their high culture, refinement, and surroundings, entitled their actions to be believed, as representing truthfully the conditions causing their strange behavior, even if the following circumstances did not reinforce the necessity of believing their candid sincerity in this question. One of the first "subjects" was a young lady who was made to believe that she was writing a letter to a friend, and immediately began to simulate the act of writing; but other subjects proving to be most amusingly affected, she was, unfortunately, forgotten, and allowed to go on " writing" for nearly three hours consecutively, earnestly engaged at her task, oblivious of her surroundings, neither laughing, nor apparently caring for what was going on. The effect of holding her hand in mid-air for so long a time, and moving her fingers all the time, is a feat of endurance of which she was not physically able, if conscious. Her arm and shoulder were swollen and lame for several days after this performance. [Owing to the crowded condition of the room, I did not observe this till the interview terminated. Author.] Another subject was a young lady who had recently lost a friend. The mother of her dead friend had also recently arrived from Europe and was present in the room; and after the young lady affected had expressed her ability to go to heaven and described what she saw there, she paused a moment, as if surprised and filled with terror; then, uttering a piercing scream, moved forward as if to embrace the dead friend, whose name she mentioned, in a manner so tragic and out of keeping with her usual lovely and bashful demeanor that the impression produced on the company was quite profound. This behavior, both brutal and coarse, and cruel to the mother of the dead young girl, is, I am very sure, incompatible with any theory of Miss-being in her usual senses. In fact she was made ill by this circumstance, and conceived the greatest aversion toward you. Her friend had been buried but a few days. [These facts were unknown to me, and as soon as possible her attention was diverted from them. As the whole was imaginary, this was easily done. Author].
On the 14th of April, 1868, in the City Hall of Dover, New Hampshire, in the presence of a thousand persons, the same principles were set forth. At the close Dr. L. G. Hill, of that city, long President of the State Medical Society, called for the proof of the theory that the effects attributed to animal magnetism were the result of subjective mental condition. The result, as described in the " Dover Gazette " of Friday, April 17, 1868, by the editor, who refers to himself in the account, is as follows: " Ten or twelve gentlemen at his [the lecturer's] request took the platform and were requested to shut their eyes, close their hands, and remain quiet. They did so. One complete trance medium and two partial ones at once developed.
Three of the other gentlemen, among whom was the writer of this article, felt the trance force in a slight degree. The completely developed medium was in the most perfect trance; could be convinced of anything at once; was clairvoyant, ecstatic, mesmeric, somnambulic, and in fact took any form of ideomania at will. We have been at perhaps over a hundred seances of mesmeric, biologic, and so-called spiritual subjects or mediums, but have never seen so perfect a subject so soon developed and upon so pure a principle." These cases are adduced to show the effect of the mind upon the body, and of the mind upon its own faculties. The young man particularly mentioned by the " Gazette " could have had every tooth extracted, or even a limb amputated, without consciousness. After he had resumed his normal state, such was his susceptibility that a word would have sent him back to sleep.
One of the most amusing incidents was the honest conviction with which a prominent lawyer believed himself sitting on a log looking into the muddy bottom of a stream of water. Another, that of a young man whose trembling legs were made to bend under the enormous weight of an envelope placed over his head, when told it weighed a ton. The above are a few of the things I saw about which I am positive my memory of the events is perfect. Also, that you stated that you would not and did not exercise any act of volition or influence upon your "subjects," but merely waited for them to fall into the hypnotic state giving rise to the phenomena described.
Believe me, sincerely,
E. A. Fucrtcs.
Ithaca, New York, January 30, 188G.
If he had been ill of any disease which " faith-healers " or " magnetizers " could relieve, he would have received equal help. While these persons were standing and the susceptible were passing " under the influence," I was simply waiting, " only this and nothing more".