Besides, he knows that, under favorable conditions, he can produce the genuine phenomena, that he has produced them again and again, and he quiets his conscience by reflecting that it can do no harm to resort to legerdemain to simulate that which he knows to have a genuine existence.
In this connection it may be well to state what must already be obvious to the intelligent reader; namely, that the only way to secure the production of genuine phenomena is, first, to secure the confidence of the medium by assuming to be in hearty sympathy with him, and by giving him to understand that you thoroughly believe in his honesty and his power to produce genuine phenomena. Give him all the time he wants, and assure him that you are in no hurry; remembering always that quiet passivity and undisturbed serenity of mind on the part of a medium is an indispensable prerequisite to success, not only in producing the phenomena, but in entering the subjective condition. It is precisely the same in this respect as it is in hypnotism. The condition of the medium, when in a trance or partial trance, is precisely the condition of a hypnotized person, and he is subject to the same laws, and the same conditions are necessary and indispensable to his success. Every hypnotist knows that it would be madness to antagonize a hypnotic subject by suggesting to him in advance that he is an impostor, or that hypnotic phenomena are mere humbug, and then expect to hypnotize him and produce the phenomena.
When investigators realize this one fact they will have taken the primary lesson in spiritistic investigation. Every one who understands the first principles of hypnotism knows what folly it would be to subject the science to the test of allowing a sceptical investigator to take a subject in hand and begin the operation of trying to hypnotize him by assuring him that hypnotism is imposture, and all subjects are mere pretenders. And yet one who investigates hypnotism in that way does, in effect, precisely what the sceptical investigator of spiritistic phenomena does when he avows his scepticism to the medium in advance. If investigators would observe the rule here suggested, and always endeavor to put the medium at his ease and accede to all the conditions prescribed by him, instead of insisting upon test conditions of their own devising, they would soon find that they would witness all the phenomena desired, and under conditions that preclude the possibility of fraud or legerdemain. Any other course almost of necessity defeats the object sought.
It will be seen, therefore, that a failure to. produce phenomena at a given time does not necessarily indicate fraud on the part of the medium; and in strict justice to professional mediums, who as a class have been brought into disrepute by the fraudulent practices of some of their number, it must be said that the detection of a medium in fraudulent practices does not per se prove that he was consciously guilty; for it is an undoubted fact that when a medium is unconscious, and his subjective mind is in control, it often acts capriciously, and presumably fraudulent practices might be indulged in without the objective knowledge or consent of the medium. Therefore, until the laws governing the subject-matter are better understood, we should extend the broadest charity over the professional medium, except in cases where it is discovered that the paraphernalia necessary for the perpetration of fraud have been prepared by the medium in advance.
At this point the question will naturally be asked, "How can a medium, professional or otherwise, be entitled to credit for honesty, who represents himself as being able to hold communion with the spirits of the dead, or to be an instrument through which communications from spirits of the dead can be obtained, if, in point of fact, such communications have their origin wholly within his own personality?"
This is perhaps the most pertinent and the most far-reaching question that could be formulated in regard to the hypothesis under consideration. If it could not be fairly answered from a purely scientific standpoint, our hypothesis would not be worthy of further discussion; for it is simply impossible to presuppose that all the immense number of mediums, professional and private, who may be found in all ranks of society throughout the civilized world, are deliberately and consciously perpetrating a fraud upon mankind. On the contrary, I here take occasion to say that there is no system of religious belief which is so thoroughly fortified by facts as that of spiritism, when its phenomena are viewed from the standpoint of the investigator who is unacquainted with the latest scientific discoveries in the domain of experimental psychology. But with that knowledge in possession, the evidential value of the phenomena of spiritism is vastly depreciated, and the high character of the medium for truth and sincerity loses all its weight as a factor in the case.
The intelligent reader has already anticipated the answer to the foregoing question. It is simply this: that the subjective mind of the medium, being controlled by suggestion, believes itself to be the spirit of any deceased person whose name is suggested. It has been educated to that belief through the objective education and environment of the individual. It is, by the laws of its being, absolutely controlled by the objective belief of the medium, and the suggestions embraced in that belief. It is true that it often acts capriciously and independently, but it is always in pursuance of the auto-suggestion or belief of the medium that it is an extraneous and, therefore, an independent power.
No one who has witnessed even the stage exhibitions of the phenomena of hypnotism will doubt the substantial truth of this proposition. An intelligent subject can be made to assume any number of characters, diverse as the antipodes, and in each one he will imitate the original in thought, word, and action with perfect fidelity, so far as he knows the character, habits, and idiosyncrasies of the individual personated, firmly believing himself to be the individual he represents. He may, with the same facility, be transformed into an angel or a devil or an animal; and he will never doubt the truth of the suggestion, or fail to act the character suggested, so far as it is physically possible. These facts are well known to all hypnotists, as well as to all who witness the common stage exhibitions of the phenomena. Some stage hypnotists have much difficulty in preventing their subjects from exhibiting spiritistic phenomena on the platform. This was a common experience of Professor Cad-well, an American performer, who was himself a spiritist.