Henry Slade (1825 - 1905)
The Master Medium.
In his book, "SPIRIT SLATE WRITING AND KINDRED PHENOMENA",
William E. Robinson states that no phenomenon which psychic mediums produced in the nineteenth century converted more persons to belief in spirits than the supposed writing by spirits on school slates.
He was called "Dr." Slade, though there is no reason to think he had any legitimate claim to that title. Slade was certainly one of the most important and colourful psychic mediums of the period.
He was, in fact, credited (in the spiritualist publication, THE MEDIUM AND DAYBREAK, October 8th, 1876) with actually discovering the phenomenon of spirit slate writing at the home of Mr. Gardiner Knapp of New Albany, Indiana, in the 1860`s.
Much of Slade`s success in this area was no doubt due to his ability to write messages with minute pieces of chalk in the fingers of either hand, with the toes of either foot, with the chalk in his mouth, and it is said he could mirror-write backwards as fast as one could dictate to him!
Slade was a handsome man with clear eyes and a large moustache. He publicly offered a reward of 1,000 dollars to anyone who could prove that slate writing, as presented by him, was the result of trickery rather than the spirits.
Though he lived in Michigan in 1860, and later moved to New York, it was in London that Henry Slade achieved his greatest success. He arrived in London in July of 1876 and was an immediate sensation.
He was on his way to the University of St. Petersburg where he was to undergo an investigation by the leading lights of what was later to be the Theosofical Society, Madame Helena Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott.
In London Slade charged a small for a sitting, though it lasted but a few minutes. It has been claimed that Henry Slade was making hundreds od punds each week from his psychic readings.
Henry Slade`s luck in London was not to last. Professor Ray Lancester noticed the tendons of Slade`s wrist move as he held a slate under the table (remember: spirits always preferred to do their writing in the dark and so Slade often held the slates under the table)
Lancester interested Dr. Horatio Donkin, and together they set a trap. At the next seance with Henry Slade, Lancester discourteously snatched the supposedly blank slate right out of Slade`s hands and found, not to his surprise, that the "blank" slate was already covered with "spirit" messages.
Lancester told his tale in a letter to THE TIMES (September 16th, 1876) and then promptly brought legal action against Slade. The case was heard on October the 1st, 1876, and though one of Slade`s defense witnesses was no less a celebrity than the famous scientist, Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace (who had also come to the defense of the medium, Dr. Monck) Slade was found guilty of fraud and sentenced to three months in prison on hard labour. He escaped this fate on technical grounds because of a flaw in the wording in the indictment. Before a new indictment could be prepared, Slade and his manager, a Mr. Simmons, quietly sailed for France.
Business in France did not prove to be as lucrative as in England, particularly since a friend of Lancester`s informed the Paris press of the London scandal.
An interesting footnote to this story is that Slade supposedly did return again to London in 1878 under the name of
In 1877 Slade was investigated by Professor Zollner of the University of Leipzig. The results of this investigation were most positive: the phenomena which Slade produced were accepted by Zollner and his associates as genuine evidence of the existence of a transcendental power!
Many writers have pointed out that Sollner was himself senile at the time of these investigations and was really seeking experimental verification of a thesis which he already held.
Regarding Zollner`s associates - Professor Fechner was almost blind and believed because of Zollner`s observations; Professor Scheibner also had defective vision (it should be noted that Schebner was not wholly satisfied with the phenomena which Slade produced; finally Professor Weber was well advanced in years and, we are told, did not seem even to realize the severe disabilities of his associates! None of these men, needless to say, had much experience in uncovering the grand possibilities of deception.
According to a Henry Ripley Evans,in 1892 Slade was "an inmate of a workhouse in one of our Western towns, penniless, friendless and a lunatic". (THE SPIRIT WORLD UNMASKED, Chicago, 1897)
THE NEW YORK WORLD published an article (March the 10th, 1892) stating that Henry Slade was sick in Jackson, Michigan, and that the doctors asserted that he was a woman!!
The strange tale continues:
"In September, 1905, I read an account of the death of Henry Slade, at the age of eighty, in a sanatorium in Belding, Michigan. Curiosity impelled me to telephone the sanitarian doctor who attended him in his last illness. I informed him of my connection with psychic affairs and with Slade and asked, if it was not a breach of confidence, if he could tell me whether Henry Slade was a woman or a man? ""Sure I can tell you" said the doctor, "It was not a secret here. Slade was for sure a hermaphrodite".
More Great Online Psychic Resources
Go to Spiritualists Mediums
Go to Psychic Reading from Henry Slade.