Recognized HTML document

318   Art of Travel.

latter inspected one another's knots as well as they could, and on their expressing themselves satisfied, the doors of the cupboard were closed, the lights of the room were kept low for 5 or 10 minutes, until a signal was made by the exhibitors from within the cupboard ; then in a blaze of gas light the doors were opened from within and out walked the two men, leaving the ropes behind them. After this, they tied themselves in their own knots ; and under those easy conditions a number of so-called spiritual manifestations took place, which I need not here describe ; the real curiosity of the exhibition being that which I have just explained. These exhibitions continued for months; but at length two nautical gentlemen insisted on using their own cord, which they had previously well stretched, and this proceeding utterly baffled the Davenports. Thenceforward wherever the Davenports showed themselves, the nautical gentlemen appeared also, appealing to the audience to elect them to tie the hands of the exhibitors. In this way, they fairly exposed the pretensions of the Davenports, and drove them from England. Once I was proposed by an audience to tie the hands. I did my best, and I also scrutinised my colleague's knot, as well as the confined place in which the exhibitors were tied, permitted. The cord we had to use was perhaps a little too thick, but it was supple and strong, and I was greatly surprised at the ease with which the Davenports disembarrassed themselves. They were not more than 10 minutes in getting free. Of course if either of the exhibitors could struggle loose, he would assist his colleague. It therefore struck me as an exceedingly ingenious idea of the Davenports, to have two persons, and not one person, to tie them. I considered it was very improbable that a person taken at hap-hazard should be capable of tying his man securely ; and it was evident that the improbability would be increased in a duplicate ratio, that both persons should be capable. Thus if it be 20 to I against any one person's having sufficient skill, it is (20 by 20 or) 400 to 1 against both the persons, who might be selected to tie the Davenports, being able to do so effectively. As I have already said, the opportunity that was afforded to each of scrutinising the work of the other, was worth very little, because of the dark and confined space in which the exhibitors sat.