Daniel Dunglas Home has been sent by his family to live with an aunt in the United States of America because they have had enough of the different manifestations that follow him around the house.  They think that he must be possessed by the Devil.

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Soon, the aunt, too, is unable to put up with the phenomena apparently caused by young Daniel:  strange noises, furniture changing places, mirrors breaking, vases tipping over, statues flying around, etc.

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Daniel’s aunt has him examined by several doctors.  They all admit to being able to do nothing, declaring that they do not understand anything about the case of this strange adolescent.  The newspapers start to write about Dunglas Home’s miracles.  Three professors from Harvard University, persuaded that he is an imposter, decide to expose him.  They bring him to their laboratory.

***

Dunglas Home sat on a chair and looked at the professors with a smile on his face.  One of them said to him:

“Your powers seem to be curiously paralysed”.

Dunglas Home stared at a point in the air.  The professors followed his gaze and discovered, flying around the ceiling, a hand which soon descended, landed for an instant on the shoulder of one of them, gently touched another’s cheek, ruffled the hair of the third and suddenly disappeared…  Then, the young man made a ghost appear.  Disconcerted, but good sports, the dignified representatives of Harvard concluded that Dunglas Home really possessed mediumnic faculties…

***

This gave him great success in America.  After which, he returned to Europe, stupefied England, then went to France where he conquered Paris and showed his gifts at the Court of Napoleon III…  After 1870, he went to Russia where Tsar Nicolas I received him…  He died in France in 1886.

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In everyday life, Daniel Dunglas Home was charming, but unpredictable.  One day, someone entered his study without knocking and froze on the spot:  Dunglas Home was floating 1.50 metres above the floor.  Embarrassed by having been surprised in a state of levitation, he muttered some excuses and rapidly descended onto the rug…  His levitations have remained famous.  Count Alexis Tolstoi, who was a witness to one of these phenomena, writes:

“Home was lifted from his chair and I took hold of his feet while he floated above our heads…”

Another time, in a London salon, Home rose in the air in front of fifteen people and drew charcoal arabesques on the ceiling.  Arabesques that the mistress of the house was careful not to have removed, and which still exist today.  But his most famous levitation took place on the evening of 13 December 1868 in an apartment situated on the third floor of No 5 Buckingham Gate, in London.  Three people were with him in a salon.  At a certain moment, Home announced that he was going to perform a levitation experiment…  He went into a neighbouring room and the witnesses heard a window noise.  Almost immediately, they saw Home appear, floating horizontally in the air, above the street.  After a short instant, he entered, feet first, through the window of the salon where the stupefied witnesses were, landed on his feet and sat down as naturally as anything…  This extraordinary phenomenon, from which any idea of trickery – or even complicity – must be abolished, was certified by three people who were neither naive, nor ignorant:  Lord Londsay, Lord Adare and Captain Wynne.  One of these three men was a minister, another a famous astronomist…

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Some people at the time saw Dunglas Home as a great medium; others thought that he was just a clever illusionist, a charlatan.   Some even claimed that he had been unmasked.  It was said that during a spiritism seance, one evening at Biarritz, the Empress having felt a hand pass over her face, had screamed so loudly that the Palace Marshal, Baron Morio de l’Isle, had rushed to turn the button on the oil lamp, and that the medium’s foot was seen to be moving over Eugenie…  This anecdote has been firmly denied by the Empress.  It is also to be noted, that Dunglas Home always operated in full light…

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He was carefully watched, and it was found that he had no accomplices.  As well as this, he performed his experiments only in other people’s apartments.  He never operated in his own home.  Therefore it does not seem possible that he could have set up any frauds, strings, invisible threads, doctored furniture, etc.  One evening, for example, at the Tuileries, Napoleon III had the bugle of one of the guards brought onto the table.  After a moment, the instrument placed itself erect and started to play a little martial tune…

***

One evening, the Emperor asked Home to evoke the spirits of Napoleon I and Louis-Philippe.  After a moment, the Scotsman said to him:

“Sire, they are here!”

Napoleon says that he doesn’t see or hear them.  Home tells him to wait a minute and he would feel their presence.  At this moment, Napoleon III received a big kick on the backside.  He didn’t know whether it was from Napoleon I or Louis-Philippe.  [It sounds like Napoleon I to me.  It was the sort of thing that he did while alive.]

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The great physicist William Crookes who discovered thallium and invented the cathodic tube, was present at many seances organised by Home, and was convinced that he was genuine.  He wrote about the fantomatic hands that were materialised by the medium:

“To the touch, these hands appeared sometimes to be cold like ice and dead.  At other times, they seemed warm and alive, and gripped mine with the firm grip of an old friend.  I kept one of these hands in mine, determined not to let it escape.  No attempt, nor effort was made to make me let go;  but little by little, the hand seemed to turn into vapour and it was in this way that it removed itself from my grip…”

William Crookes discovered no fraud.

***

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