INTRODUCTION. POETIC JUSTICE OF THE EXPOSURE.
That the inventors of an infamous fraud should deal to it its death-blow, is the poetic justice of fate.
Over the creature, the creator has power of life and death.
The creators of Spiritualism abjure its infamy.
They decree its death.
They condemn it to final destruction.
They fasten upon those who continue to practice it the obloquy of history, and the scorn of mankind for all time to come.
Margaret and Catharine Fox, the youngest of three sisters, were the first to produce “spiritualistic manifestations.”
They are now the most earnest in denunciation of those impostures; the most eager to dissipate the foolish belief of thousands in the flimsiest system of deception that was ever cloaked with the hypocrisy of so-called religion.
When, as by accident, they discovered a method of deceiving those around them by means of mysterious noises, they were but little children, innocent of the thought of wrong, ignorant of the world and the world’s guile, and imagining only that what they did was a clever lark, such as the adult age easily pardons to exuberant and sprightly youth.
Not to them did the base suggestion come that this singular, this simple discovery, should be the means of deluding the world, of exalting them in the minds of the weakly credulous and of bringing them fame and splendor and sumptuous pleasure.
No one who learns their true history can still believe them guilty of the willful inception of this most grotesque, most transparent and corrupting of superstitions.
The idea had its monstrous birth in older heads, heads that were seconded by hearts lacking the very essence of truth and the fountain of honest human sympathy.
The two children, who had at first delighted, as younglings will, in what was but a laughable mystification, were dragged into a sordid, wicked and loathsome speculation, built upon lying and fraud, as unforgivable as the sin of Satan, and of which they were but the unthinking instruments, often reluctant and remorseful, yet docile and compliant by nature.
Thus the “Rochester knockings,” the example and prototype of all later so-called spiritualistic “phenomena,” began merely in a curious childish freak, disguised without effort, and which, from the first, was encouraged to partly formed understandings by the wonder and intense spirit of inquiry it provoked.
The young operators were carried away by the undreamt-of current of enthusiasm and awe in which they soon became involved. They felt the natural need of maintaining with unabating dexterity, that false sense of the miraculous which by chance they had called forth.
Thus they went from one stage to another of this queer illusion, and, being compelled by a harder and more mature intelligence to repeat their part over and over again, became the chief means of establishing that injurious belief in communications from the spirits of the departed, of which such great numbers have become the victims.
Many an older offender against common sense, reason and strict morality persists through force of circumstance in the pathway he has chosen, and does not turn backward, merely because he cannot do so without wearing the face of shame....