Transit of Venus October 4, 2012Posted by Beachcombing in : Modern , trackback
Beachcombing had some fun earlier in the summer with the most famous act of nineteenth-century spiritualism: Daniel Home’s floating escapade back in 1868. He recently came across this description of a rival levitator, Agnes Nichol Guppy (obit 1917) and her famous ‘transit of Venus’. Note that this took place some three years after Home’s own gliding in and out of windows and was presumably an attempt to best him in every way. Here is a description from an Edwardian book by an author who was, often, somewhat credulous.
In Mr. Campbell Holms’ book, The Facts of Psychic Science, which is, and will be always, a most exact and valuable book of reference, there are a number of cases given where people have been transported through solid objects. Inexperienced and foolish people may jeer, but they will find it easier to do so than to refute the evidence. For example, upon June 3rd, 1871, Mrs. Guppy was floated from her own house in Highbury, and appeared upon the table of a room at 61 Lambs Conduit Street, where a séance was being held behind locked doors [three miles away]. A document was signed by the eleven sitters to testify to the fact and they had no possible object in perjuring themselves about the matter. Mrs. Guppy said that the last thing she could remember was sitting with her friend Miss Neyland. That lady deposed that Mrs. Guppy had suddenly vanished from her sight. Four of the sitters accompanied Mrs. Guppy home and heard what her friend had to say. It is difficult to find any flaw in such evidence and it would certainly have been conclusive in a court of law had it been a criminal case. But surely such a transposition is more remarkable than any of Houdini’s, and had she done similar things in public her reputation would have been similar to his own. Materialists will never fairly face the obvious alternative that such first-hand accounts either mean that a person of honour has suddenly burst into a perfect orgy of objectless lying, or else that the statements are true.
The press had a wonderful time with this story, not least because Mrs Guppy was so huge. The idea of her being gently blown through a London pea-souper just proved too wonderful an image to waste: see the fun the illustrator above had. It is important to note too that Mrs Guppy had been summoned.
One sitter said in the seance: ‘I wish you would bring Mrs Guppy’
Another sitter remarked: ‘Good gracious, I hope not, she is one of the biggest women in London.’
Katie, the spirit: ‘I will, I will, I will.
Something hit a sitter’s head and then a match was struck and Mrs Guppy was found lying across the table in her nightgown with a pair of bedroom slippers on her feet. It would be crucial to understand who asked for Mrs Guppy. Any other dirt on the transit of Venus: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com