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Arthur Conan Doyle was the foremost defender of spiritualism during his lifetime. He saw séances as a way to provide both comfort and guidance: comfort to the survivors, as they could communicate with their departed loved ones; guidance to all humankind, as the spirits could provide information about the hereafter. The spirits invoked at the séance are like ...


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Boucicault’s letter says: The next part of the séance was performed in the dark and it is clear from the way the letter is phrased that during this performance the spectators were unable to see the performers. For example, near the end, Boucicault writes: Mr. Fay was seen meanwhile bound hand and foot as before whereas, if he had been able to watch Mr. ...


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The phrase "last summer's manifestations" refers to the manifestations (i.e. becoming visible), according to witnesses, of the spirit called Katie King. Apparently, a woman named Eliza White had come forward and revealed that she had impersonated Katie King at séances organised by Jennie and Nelson Holmes. "They" in "they have been ...


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"coming and going as they were willed to do" means that the ectoplasmic forms came and went however the "strong-willed sitter" mentally told them to. "To will someone to do something" is to make something happen by wishing for it (source)1. The strong-willed sitter wishes very hard for the ghosts to come or go, and they do.


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It's not rhetorical or metaphorical, but rather a description of what is. Do a search for "1930's plaster walls". In the later 19th and early 20th Centuries, in America (and I'm not sure where else), before what we now know as drywall panels were developed, a lot of houses were built with their interior walls actually plastered on. Plaster 'mud' ...


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The Wikipedia article about William Crookes points out that he was named president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1898. His presidential address was his first speech to the association as a president. This address touched (up)on (i.e. discussed or mentioned briefly) several topics. From Wikipedia's point of view, the most ...


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The “former statement” is: Davenport admitted that his results were normally effected [that is, they were tricks, not genuine spiritual phenomena] And the “latter statement” is: the instruments never left the cabinet So Doyle’s argument seems to be that since the latter statement is wrong, then Houdini must have misquoted or misunderstoood Ira Davenport, ...


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