From the book The Proof Palpable of Immortality Epes Sargent
Dr. J. M. Gully comments on his famous photo of taking the pulse of the materialized Katie King.
Dr. J. M. Gully, formerly of Great Malvern, England, a thoroughly experienced physician and a careful investigator, under date of July 20th, 1874, writes me as follows:
To the special question which you put regarding my experiences of the materialization of the spirit-form, with Miss Cook's mediumship, I must reply that, after two years' examination of the fact and numerous séances, I have not the smallest doubt, and have the strongest conviction, that such materialization takes place, and that not the slightest attempt at trick or deception is fairly attributable to any one who assisted at Miss Cook's séances.
That the power grows with use was curiously illustrated by the fact that, for some time, only a face was producible, with, occasionally, arms and hands; with no hair, and sometimes with no back to the skull at all—merely a mask, with movement, however, of eyes and mouth. Gradually the whole form appeared—after, perhaps, some five months of séances once or twice a week. This again became more and more rapidly formed, and changed, in hair, dress, and color of face, as we desired.
The voice came long before the whole form of the body, but was always husky, and as if there was a whispering catarrh; save when she joined us in singing, when she gave out a most lovely contralto.
The feel of the skin was quite natural, soft and warm; her movements were natural and graceful, except when she stooped to pick up anything from the floor, when it seemed as if her legs as well as her trunk bent backwards.
When that photograph* was taken, I held her hand for at least two minutes, three several times, for we sat three times for it on one and the same evening; but I was constrained to close my eyes by reason of the intense magnesium light which shone directly upon me; moreover she
*The well-known published photograph, in which Katie is represented standing with Dr. Gully sitting at her side and holding her hand.
desired that none of us would gaze at her whilst the lens was directed upon her. I believe that much information might have been obtained from her concerning the outre-tombe, but the circle seemed always bent on talking chaff to her, complimenting her, and indulging in ordinary inconsequential conversation; for only on one or two occasions was I (who hate all the nonsense that was said to and by her) able to put a few questions on the subjects about which every thoughtful Spiritualist is naturally anxious.
It may be questioned whether these spirit beings can convey anything like an accurate idea of their state and powers; but I believe that, just as their power of physical manifestation augments with use, so would their power of mental communication increase were an intelligent curiosity always presented for their sympathetic reply. In fact, I believe that if less idle and more serious curiosity was felt by the circles, spirits of a higher and more powerful character would sympathetically come and teach by vocal words, written words, inspired words.
So soon as a man has convinced himself of the reality of the spirit-presence, and the absence of all deception, he should, I think, use all his will power to place his own spirit in a state of reception for spirit knowledge, and feel assured he will get it. Physical manifestations are the alphabet of the subject, and if Spiritualism went no further it would do but little for humanity.
But I quite believe in your suggestion, that, carried out to its consequences in thought and sympathy, it is destined to abolish a thick cloud of darkness which at present renders all religions more or less superstitious, and all philosophy a mere circle; and to substitute a light which will enable the mind in a body to hold communion with minds whose freedom enables them to see the workings of Great Cause and Great Effect, and so to bring forth a philosophic religion; whilst philosophy itself will be able to look ever onwards instead of going round and round, as it has done from Plato to Mill, tedious to study, and barren of result.