Although his name is not very well known today, he astonished audiences, friends, heads of state, and the rich and famous with startling paranormal feats and levitation. His seemingly impossible powers bewildered those who witnessed them, including many respected scientists and journalists. Did D. Home truly possess extraordinary paranormal abilities?
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There was a certain mystery about his parentage. According to his own footnote in Incidents of My Life his father was a natural son of Alexander, the tenth Earl of Home.
Through his mother he was descended from a Scottish Highland family in which the traditional gift of second sight had been preserved. He was a sensitive, delicate child of a highly nervous temperament and of such weak health that he was not expected to live. Adopted by Mrs.
It was noticed that he had keen powers of observation and a prodigious memory. He saw his first vision at the age of His schoolfellow, Edwin, died in Greeneville and appeared to him in a bright cloud at night in Troy, thus keeping a childish promise with which they had bound themselves that he who should die first should appear to the other. The second vision came four years later. It announced the death of his mother to the hour. From that time onwards his thoughts turned more and more to the life beyond.
One night he heard loud, unaccountable blows. Next morning a volley of raps. His aunt, remembering the Rochester rappings that were then two years old, believed him to be possessed of the devil and called in turn for a Congregationalist, a Baptist and a Wesleyan minister for exorcism.
This being unsuccessful she turned him out of doors. Thenceforward, though he never asked or received direct payment, Home appears to have been living on the hospitality of friends attracted by his curious gift. The intelligence behind the raps was soon discovered. The first scientist to investigate the phenomena and the communications thus received was Prof. George Bush, a distinguished theologian and Oriental scholar of New York. The celebrated American poet, Bryant and Prof.
Wells of the University of Harvard, testified in a written statement to the reality of the phenomena. Robert Hare and Prof. Mapes, both famous chemists, and Judge Edmonds of the United States Supreme Court owed much of their conversion to spiritualism to the young man of frail health whose fame now began to spread.
Strains of music were heard when no instrument was near. Nobody understood at that time the part which the physical organism plays in the production of the phenomena.
The claims made on Home were very heavy, the drain of nervous energy excessive. His intended medical studies had to be broken off owing to illness and a trip to Europe being advised, Home, in April, , landed in Britain. Rymer, an Ealing solicitor. While in America his name was spelt Hume, he was known now as Home. According to Mme. No sooner had they attracted public attention when Home found himself in the midst of a Press warfare.
He came with Sir David Brewster. Home was proud of the deep impression he produced upon these two distinguished men and wrote about it to a friend in America. The letter was published in America and found its way to the London Press whereupon Sir David Brewster at once disclaimed all belief in spiritualism and set down the phenomena to imposture. As this, however, contradicted his statements in private, these statements also found their way into the Press and have, to a considerable degree, discredited his attitude, the more so as Lord Brougham preserved silence and Sir David Brewster did not even attempt to refer to his testimony.
Yet he never claimed in public to have caught Home at trickery and in private admitted that imposture was out of the question. Other famous men of the day, as Lord Lytton and Thackeray, never spoke of their experiences in public. Thackeray was very incredulous. Both there and in London he availed himself of every opportunity of control.
Treviranus to Coleridge: "I have seen what I would not have believed on your testimony, and what I cannot therefore, expect you to believe upon mine. In the early autumn of Home went to Florence to visit Mr. His name and fame soon spread there, too. Rumours arose among the peasants that he was a necromancer, who administered the sacraments of the Church to toads in order to raise the dead by spells and incantations.
This may explain the attempt which was made against his life on December 5, A man lay in wait for him late at night and struck him three times with a dagger. Home had a narrow escape. The would-be murderer was never arrested but Home was warned the following month by Signor Landucci, Minister of the Interior to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, of his sinister reputation among the populace.
About this time he was told by the spirits that his power would leave him for a year. In this state of seclusion from supernormal contact, Catholic influences found an easy inroad into his religious ideas. He became a convert to Catholicism and decided to enter a monastery. He was received by Pius IX and treated with favour. Home, however, soon faltered and left Italy for Paris, where, exactly to a day from the announced suspension, his powers returned. The room was shaken, heavy tables were lifted and glued down to the floor by an alteration of their weight.
As Prince Murat related later to Home, the Duke de Morny told the Emperor that he felt it a duty to contradict the report that the Emperor believed in spiritualism. The Emperor replied: "Quite right, but you may add when you speak on the subject again that there is a difference between believing a thing and having proof of it, and that I am certain of what I have seen.
Home refused. Earlier, in Italy, Home was introduced to the King of Naples. While enjoying the benevolence of crowned heads and the highest members of the aristocracy Home had to wage a desperate struggle against the scandal-mongers.
Fantastic stories began to circulate as soon as he left Paris and while he was regaining his shattered health in Italy it was rumoured that he was in the prison of Mazas. Henri Delange, the author, on receiving a letter from the unsuspecting Home from Rome, was instrumental in laying the calumny in Le Nord. Not many days after he became engaged to Mlle. The wedding took place in St. It was a great society affair.
Dumas was disappointed when Emperor Alexander II sent a request to Home to present himself at Peterhoff but then consoled himself with the grandiose remark: "There are many crowned heads in Europe but there is only one Alexander Dumas. It was said that he had a great number of cats to sleep with him, and by this means his body became so charged with electricity that he could produce raps at pleasure!
Shortly after he returned to England. Friends tried to bring about a meeting between him and Faraday, the famous electrician, the proponent of the involuntary muscular action theory to explain table movement whose stubborn attitude to face certain facts was strongly criticised by Alfred Russel Wallace and Prof.
De Morgan. Faraday, as the Morning Star reported, was not satisfied with demanding an open and complete examination, but wished Home to acknowledge that the phenomena, however produced, were ridiculous and contemptible.
Thereafter, the idea of giving him a sitting was abandoned. More satisfaction was derived by Home from his experiences with Dr. Ashburner, one of the Royal physicians and Dr. John Elliotson , F. Goodenough, was drawn by Thackeray in Pendennis and to whom the work was dedicated. When Dr. Ashburner became a believer in spiritualism Dr. Elliotson, who was one of the hardest materialists, became estranged from him and publicly attacked him for his folly.
On his return to London he hastened to seek reconciliation with Dr. Ashburner and publicly declared that he was satisfied of the reality of the phenomena and that they were tending to revolutionise his thoughts and feelings on almost every subject.
But he was too afraid of his reputation to make a public statement, though he received startling evidences of continued personal identity from his father and daughter. Squire, one of the editors of the Boston Banner of Light. Six months later his book Incidents in My Life was published.
It attracted widespread notice in the Press. The Morning Herald remarked: "We must note also the strangeness of the fact that Mr. Home has never been detected, if indeed he is an impostor. A second edition was published in a very few months. This, however, did not relieve the pecuniary difficulties Home began to feel. Relatives disputed his right of inheritance to the fortune of his wife and looking about for a means of livelihood he decided to develop his keen artistic perceptions.
He hoped to become a sculptor and went to Rome to study. The Papal Government, however, did not forgive the breaking of his promise to enter a monastery. In January, , he was summoned before the chief of the Roman police and ordered, on the ground of sorcery, to quit Rome within three days. As, however, the manifestations were beyond his control, he was soon ordered to quit the Papal territory. He left for Naples where he was received by Prince Humbert, and returned in April to London to demand diplomatic representations on the subject of his expulsion.
There was a debate in the House of Commons, but no representation was resolved upon. Soon after, Home made another trip to America and there became filled with hope that he might achieve success as a reader. He had undoubted talents as a stage reciter. His health, however, would not stand the strain.
Friends came to the rescue with the post of residential secretary at the foundation of the Spiritual Athenaeum, a kind of headquarters for London spiritualists. With the advent of Mrs.
The Medium Daniel Dunglas Home
Barthez It is often claimed in parapsychology and spiritualist books that Home was never caught in fraud. However, skeptics have stated that this claim does not hold up to scrutiny as Home was caught utilizing tricks by different witnesses on different occasions. It is simply that Home was never publicly exposed in fraud. Privately, he was caught in fraud several times.
The Incredible Powers of D. D. Home
There was a certain mystery about his parentage. According to his own footnote in Incidents of My Life his father was a natural son of Alexander, the tenth Earl of Home. Through his mother he was descended from a Scottish Highland family in which the traditional gift of second sight had been preserved. He was a sensitive, delicate child of a highly nervous temperament and of such weak health that he was not expected to live.
Daniel Dunglas Home