Punch,  50 (1866), 170.

Launching by 'Levitation'

Tom Chambers


Letter, Spoof


Military Technology, Accidents, Mechanics, Aeronautics, Botany, Spiritualism, Philosophy, Faith, Supernaturalism, Experiment, Commerce

    Begins by reminding Mr Punch of the difficulty of shifting the HMS Northumberland, the ironclad stuck in its moorings at Millwall Iron-Works. Warns of the cost of trying to solve this problem by buoying the ship with bales of cotton or by raising her with balloons, and explains the difficulty of applying to the ship 'expansive-fungus-growth power', which once raised pavements in Basingstoke. Proceeds to declare himself to be 'a sceptic' on 'the subject of Spiritualism', doubting whether the 'faith or philosophy so-called, is founded on any basis of certitude whatever'. He insists that according to the 'common sense which repudiates the supernatural' his uncertainty about the fraudulent basis of Spiritualism is 'equivalent to an implicit and unhesitating belief' in spiritualism. Accordingly, he identifies himself as a believer in spiritualism and proposes that the 'experimentum crucis for testing its truth or fallacy' is to test whether the forces associated with spiritualism can move the Northumberland. Explains that enough 'spirit-power' could be assembled with 'a sufficient number of hands', including those of Daniel D Home, William Howitt, and Samuel C Hall. Suggests that Augustus De Morgan should 'attend and see fair play', but doubts whether Michael Faraday or David Brewster (both notoriously sceptical of spiritualism) will participate. Stresses the 'absolute inexpensiveness of Spiritual force', and points out that Home declines expenses; however, since Mary A Marshall is a 'paid medium' she should not be invited.

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