Review of Reviews,  6 (1892), 182–83.

Balance Against Force. The Story of the Girl Who Baffled the Tsar





Class, Supernaturalism, Magnetism, Force, Display, Experiment

    Details a 'séance' in Copenhagen attended by Tsar Alexander III of Russia and other members of European royalty, in which the 'audience took an active part in the performance'. As well as experiments in 'thought-reading', there was 'quite a novelty, in the shape of Miss Bentley's experiments dealing with so-called magnetic phenomena'. Before commencing, Bentley informed her royal audience that 'no mystery was to be made about them, but that the experiments would be exhibited in order to show how force could be diverted without the apparent employment of a counter force'. (182) As part of 'the "lifting test"', Bentley, 'by merely placing a hand on each side of the back of a chair, with the thumbs slightly curved', elevated a heavy flat-bottomed chair which held 'one Emperor, two future Kings, and one King in posse. Never was there so much royalty upon one single chair before'. At the conclusion of these experiments, the 'various royal ladies present [...] one and all wished to see if they were "magnets"'. It was 'whilst the magnetic craze was at its height in London' that Bentley's 'first actual test experiments were given' in the home of Henry D P Labouchere, who had 'invited a number of distinguished folk to witness her demonstrations, by natural means, of the phenomena for which supernatural claims were then being made. Miss Bentley completely knocked the bottom out of the supernatural theory, and, in doing so, was of great service to the cause of common-sense'. (183)

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