Punch,  39 (1860), 37.

Giles Scroggins's Journal



News-Commentary, Drollery


Spiritualism, Experiment, Quackery, Charlatanry

Publications cited:

Owen 1860

    Discusses two reports of spirit manifestations announced in the Spiritual Magazine, which appear to suggest that the 'Spirit Medium and Clairvoyante' Louise Besson was 'astonishing' audiences in two different places at the same time. Questions whether the aristocratic witnesses to one of these events, when they complemented Besson 'on her "spirit manifestations"', were congratulating her 'as a witch or an artist'. Following Besson's apparent ability to 'command spiritual manifestations nearly wherever she pleases', the author asks her to do so at the Punch office. Turning to other material in the 'credulous' Spiritual Magazine—which Punch christens 'Giles Scroggins's Journal' after a poem by Charles I M Dibdin featuring a character of this name (see Dibdin 1807)—notes the poor grammar of messages allegedly 'transmitted by a departed spirit through the hand of a medium', messages which suggest that spirits are like 'most rogues'. Warns its 'spiritual contemporary' against ridiculing truth and 'that experiments which cannot be performed except under certain conditions which are among those of jugglery are inconclusive, and that it is the peculiarity of all quacks and enthusiasts, whether religious or scientific, to resent derision of their impostures or delusions'. Draws attention to the Spiritual Magazine's claim that both John S Copley (1st Baron Lyndhurst) and Henry P Brougham (1st Baron Brougham and Vaux) are spiritualists, but points to the unlikelihood that 'any alleged spiritual manifestation is genuine'.

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