D.D.Home, is often regarded as the greatest physical medium in the history of Spiritualism.
Daniel Home’s mother, Elizabeth Home (née McNeill) was known as a seer in Scotland, as were many of her predecessors, like her great uncle, Colin Urquhart, and her uncle Mr McKenzie.
The gift of second sight was often seen as a curse, as it foretold instances of tragedy and death.
Home’s father, William Home, was the illegitimate son of Alexander, the 10th Earl of Home.
Daniel Home was Elizabeth’s third child, and was born on 20th March 1833. The one-year-old Home was deemed a delicate child, having a “nervous temperament”, and was passed to Elizabeth’s childless sister, Mary Cook. She lived with her husband in the coastal town of Portobello, 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Edinburgh.
“My aunt and others have told me that when I was a baby my cradle was frequently rocked, as if some kind guardian spirit was tending me in my slumbers.
“My aunt has also told me that when I was about four years old, I had a vision of the circumstances attending the passing from earth of a little cousin, I being at Portobello, near Edinburgh, and she at Linlithgow, all which proved to be entirely correct.”
He was taken to the United States at the age of nine, growing up in Greeneville, Connecticut, and Troy, New York.
It was noticed that he had keen powers of observation and a prodigious memory. He saw his first vision at age 13.
A 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 died first would appear to the other.
From that time on his thoughts turned more and more to the life beyond.
Home’s second vision came four years later. It announced the death of his mother to the hour.
The first scientist to investigate Home’s phenomena was George Bush, a distinguished theologian and Oriental scholar from New York.
The celebrated American poet William Cullen Bryant and a Professor Wells of Harvard University testified in a written statement to the reality of the phenomena. Professors Robert Hare and James Mapes, both famous chemists, and John Worth Edmonds of the United States Supreme Court owed much of their conversion to Spiritualism to Home.
Home’s first levitation occurred in the South Manchester house of Ward Cheney, an eminent American manufacturer. Strains of music were heard when no instrument was near.
Nobody understood at that time the part the physical organism plays in the production of the phenomena. The demands made on Home were very heavy and the drain of nervous energy excessive.
His intended medical studies had to be broken off because of illness; a trip to Europe being advised, Home went to England in April 1855.
He first stayed at Cox’s Hotel in Jermyn Street, London, and was later the guest of J. S. Rymer, an Ealing solicitor.
The conversion of many of the later leaders of the Spiritualist movement in England was attributed to Home’s phenomena.
When these phenomena attracted public attention Home found himself in the midst of a press war. Among the first who asked Home to attend a séance was Lord Brougham, who came to the sitting with Sir David Brewster.
Home was proud of the impression he made upon these two distinguished men and wrote about it to a friend in the United States.
The letter was published in the United States and found its way to the London press, whereupon Brewster at once disclaimed all belief in Spiritualism and set down the phenomena to imposture.
At the same time his statements in private supported Home, and they too found their way into the newspapers.
Home’s name was originally Daniel Home, but by the time he arrived in Europe he had lengthened it to Daniel Dunglas Home, in reference to the Scottish house of Home, of which his father claimed to be a part.
In London Home found a believer in Spiritualism, William Cox, who owned a large hotel at 53, 54 and 55 Jermyn Street, London. As Cox was so enamoured of Home’s abilities, he let Home stay at the hotel without payment.
Robert Owen, an 83-year-old social reformer, was also staying at the hotel, and introduced Home to many of his friends in London society.
At the time Home described as tall and thin, with blue eyes and auburn hair, fastidiously dressed but seriously ill with consumption.
Nevertheless, he held sittings for notable people in full daylight, moving objects that were some distance away.
Home converted most sceptics, but Robert Browning, the poet, proved more difficult. After attending a séance of Home’s Browning gave his impression of Home in the unflattering poem, “Sludge the Medium” (1864).
His wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, was convinced that the phenomena she witnessed were genuine and their discussions about Home were a constant source of disagreement.
Home’s fame grew, fuelled by his feats of levitation. William Crookes claimed to know of more than 50 occasions in which Home levitated “in good light” (gas light) at least five to seven feet above the floor.
Homes’ feats were recorded by Frank Podmore: “We all saw him rise from the ground slowly to a height of about six inches, remain there for about ten seconds, and then slowly descend.”
In the following years Home travelled across continental Europe, and always as a guest of wealthy patrons.
In Paris, he was summoned to the Tuileries to perform a séance for Napoleon III.The story of Home’s séance with Napoleon was not made public. The curiosity of the press was aroused, however, when the first séance was followed by many others.
An account of the first séance in Home’s autobiography, Incidents in My Life, tells how Napoleon followed every manifestation with keen and sceptical attention and satisfied himself by the closest scrutiny that neither deception nor delusion was possible.
His and the empress’s unspoken thoughts were replied to, and the empress was touched by a materialized hand that, from a defect in one of the fingers, she recognized to be the hand of her late father.
The second séance was more forceful. The room was shaken; heavy tables were lifted and then held down to the floor by an alteration of their weight.
Prince Murat later related to Home that the Duke de Morny told Napoleon III 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.”
Earlier, in Italy, Home had been introduced to the king of Naples.
The German Emperor and the Queen of Holland soon joined the ranks of the curious who were besieging Home with requests for séances.
Queen Sophia of the Netherlands, wrote: “I saw him four times…I felt a hand tipping my finger; I saw a heavy golden bell moving alone from one person to another; I saw my handkerchief move alone and return to me with a knot… He himself is a pale, sickly, rather handsome young man but without a look or anything which would either fascinate or frighten you. It is wonderful. I am so glad I have seen it…”
In Rome during the spring of 1858 Home was introduced to Count Koucheleff-Besborodka and his wife.
Soon after he became engaged to Alexandrina de Kroll, the count’s sister-in-law.
The wedding took place in St. Petersburg.
It was a great society affair. Count Alexis Tolstoy, the poet, and Count Bobrinsky, a chamberlain to the emperor, acted as groomsmen.
Alexandre Dumas, a guest of Count Koucheleff-Besborodka, was one of the witnesses.
From Home’s marriage to Alexandrina de Kroll a son was born.
Shortly after Home returned to England, friends tried to bring about a meeting between him and Michael Faraday, the famous scientist and proponent of the involuntary muscular action theory to explain table movement.
As the Morning Star reported, Faraday 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.
Home derived more satisfaction from his experiences with Dr. Ashburner, a royal physician, and John Elliotson, sometime president of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London, a character study of whom, as “Dr. Goodenough,” was drawn by Thackeray in Pendennis, and to whom the work was dedicated.
When Ashburner became a believer in Spiritualism, Elliotson, who was one of the hardest materialists, became estranged from him and publicly attacked him for his folly.
A few years later, however, Home and Elliotson met in Dieppe. The result was a séance, a strict investigation, and the conversion of Elliotson.
On his return to London he hastened to seek reconciliation with Ashburner and publicly declared that he was satisfied of the reality of the phenomena and that they were tending to revolutionize his thoughts and feelings.
Home’s phenomena also radically changed Robert Chambers, co-author, with Leitch Ritchie, of the anonymous Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (1844), which startled the public by its outspoken scepticism.
Chambers attended the séance Robert Bell wrote about in Cornhill Magazine.
He was too afraid of losing his reputation to make a public statement, although he allegedly received startling evidence of continued personal identity from his deceased father and daughter.
Nevertheless, Chambers anonymously wrote the preface to Home’s autobiography in 1862.
Eight years later, during the Lyon-Home trial, he abandoned his attitude of reserve and gave an affidavit in Home’s favour.
In 1866, Mrs Lyon, a wealthy widow, adopted Home as her son, giving him £60,000 in an attempt to gain introduction into high society.
Finding that the adoption did not change her social situation, Lyon changed her mind, and brought a suit for the return of her money from Home on the grounds that it had been obtained by spiritual influence.
Under British law, the defendant bears the burden of proof in such a case, and proof was impossible since there was no physical evidence.
The case was decided against Home, Mrs Lyon’s money was returned, and the press pilloried Home’s reputation.
Home’s high society acquaintances thought that he behaved like a complete gentleman throughout the ordeal, and he did not lose a single important friend.
Home met one of his future closest friends in 1867; the young Lord Adare (later the 4th Earl of Dunraven).
Adare was fascinated by Home, and began documenting the séances they held.
One of Home’s levitations occurred the following year, and in front of three witnesses (Adare, Captain Wynne, and Lord Lindsay) Home was said to have levitated out of the third storey window of one room, and back in through the window of the adjoining room.
In October 1871, Home married for the second, and last time, to Julie de Gloumeline, a wealthy Russian, whom he met in St Petersburg.
In the process, he converted to the Greek Orthodox faith.
At the age of 38, Home retired, as his health was bad – the tuberculosis, from which he had suffered for most of his life, was advancing – and his powers, he claimed, were failing. He died on the 21 June 1886, and was buried in the St. Germain-en-Laye cemetery.
Experiences in Spiritualism with D.D.Home
By Viscount Adare
Home here threw himself back in his chair, rubbed his hands together as if very much pleased, and said, “Now, if you wish to ask any questions I am ready to answer them.”
Question (Henry Jencken): How do you make us see spirit forms?
Answer: At times we make passes over the individual to cause him to see us, sometimes we make the actual resemblance of our former clothing, and of what we were, so that we appear exactly as we were known to you on earth; sometimes we project an image that you see, sometimes we cause it to be produced upon your brain, sometimes you see us as we are, with a cloudlike aura of light around us.
Question (H.J.): Do you use actual garments?
Answer: Purity is our clothing. We have no need of garments; but are enveloped in a sort of aura, or cloud of light. Other spirits, more impure and gross, dwelling nearer earth, have need of garments.
Question (H. J.): How do we appear to you?
Answer: Mostly in pure light.
Question: Can you see our light?
Answer: We can see all lights; sunlight, and every colour that it is composed of. We see the most beautiful combinations of light. Everything has its light. We see the progress either of growth or decay that is taking place in everything. The table that you are sitting at was once growing. We could see every particle expanding and increasing; now it is decaying; and though it is so gradual that to you it is not apparent, yet we can see the change taking place in every particle of it.
Question: In moving among us, do we present an obstacle to you? Do you avoid us?
Answer: We do, and must avoid you. For your ether bodies and the atmosphere that surrounds you are, in many cases, as solid and impenetrable to us as granite is to you. We can see both the light of your spiritual bodies and of your material bodies.
Question: Are not the sun’s rays composed of something more than light?
Answer: Of light only, and an elastic wave of electricity that precedes the light.
Question: I suppose it is not possible for you to visit the sun?
Answer: Most certainly we can. Why should we not?
Question: Does it take time for you to travel?
Question: I suppose you move in the same ratio as light?
Answer: We can travel faster than light.
Question: What is the appearance of your form or body?
Answer: Exactly like your material body, only slightly smaller in every respect.
Question: How do you produce material forms?
Answer: You produce them with and through us.
Question: But have you no field for action?
Answer: You cannot understand us; the material is to us, as it were, spiritual. Suppose I want a fruit, I cannot create it by thinking of it; I must go and fetch it from where it is: so if I want an idea I must travel into higher spheres, and seek and find it as an actual created thing. Many things are more real than you suppose; thoughts, are they not almost realities? Try and think of a house you knew long ago; you will invariably enter it by the door; you go in by the door in your imagination, were you to enter by the windows or the walls, you would not understand or recognize it. That will tell you that there is something of material reality in the idea of a house in your mind.
Question: Are then your flowers and fruits as actual and real to you as those growing upon earth are to us?
Answer: They are as real to us as an apple or pomegranate is to you.
Question: Have you animals in your spheres?
Answer: There are animals that give pleasure such as horses and dogs; nearer earth are baser animals, and those that cause pain; some saints and holy men, being in an ecstatic state have at times caught glimpses of what is going on near them, animals and men, strange and curious forms all mixed up together.
The only way I can at all describe it to you is to look at a drop of muddy water under the microscope, and observe the strange forms; you will see the tail of one protruding from another, and so on, hence the old ideas of satyrs and creatures half man, half beast, hence the notion of devils with horns and tails, and of a material hell. Other men have seen higher and brighter spheres. All this is but the imperfect imagining of those who see visions: as in Dante’s Frozen Hell, he saw the frozen zone and spiritual forms moving about, and mixed them up all together. Bodily suffering produces mental suffering; and mental suffering afflicts the body; need you be told this? Instance, a case where fright may produce paralysis; or where pain, insensibility.
In answer to a question:
The spirit is always sane; the body makes insane. We can see the spirit like – what shall I say – well – like, to use a very homely simile, a jack-in-the-box;we see the empty, useless casket, and the spirit hovering above it, the spirit bounds forth as soon as liberated by death – by sleep.
In answer to a question:
Some spirits are removed to other planets, in the course of formation, not necessarily as a punishment, but that by trial they may develop and return again at some future time purified. Spirits very often go voluntarily to other planets, until they can fit themselves to be of use to those on earth, or to dwell with other spirits in higher spheres; tell this to Dan when he awakes, as he has often wondered why some of his friends have not returned to visit, him?
In answer to a question:
Actual substances are thrown off from the earth and get entirely beyond its attraction; and actual substances are brought from the sun to the earth by means of the rays of light, substances that can be weighed – aye, and that will be weighed some day.
In answer to a question as to punishments:
Why and how are you punished? You punish yourselves if you have broken a law of nature; for no natural law can be broken without amends being made for its violation. Cut a vein and the blood flows, because you have violated a natural law.
Question: Do you like making manifestations?
Answer: It pleases us to come to you, and to make manifestations. We get so charged by remaining any time in the earth’s atmosphere, that it is a positive relief to make sounds.
There is a spirit now come into the room; he is what we call naturally charged. (Quantities of raps heard on the table.) Now he cannot help doing that, and it is a positive pleasure to him.
(Speaking to me) Elliotson did not want to frighten you the other evening at your house; he does not know yet how to manage manifestations, hence the noise he made the other night. He wanted to see Daniel and you too, but he did not intend to frighten either of you.
Question (H.J.): As to a law of predestination?
Answer: Yes, there is a law of predestination, which is quite true, only you could not understand it.
Question: Infinite possibility gives freedom of action?
Answer: Yes, infinite possibility, harmonizing with predestination is the law. Oh, I wish so much some spirits from other planets could come to you, but that is very rarely allowed.
When Malle (Mrs Jencken’s servant) passed away, a spirit from another planet passed by the open window, that was all, and yet the room was filled with perfume for days; if you had thought of it, and had gone out into the garden, you would have found the perfume stronger there than in the room.
“Henry, your father was inspired when he wrote his works, remember this (grasping H.Jencken’s hand). Act! Do something!
It is so very glorious to assist in the search for truth. There are so many stubborn men to be convinced. It is your duty to say that which you know to be true, to utter it. (taking my hand)
Oh, my lord, do something! Act! Aid the many beings yet in darkness. There is the truth, it is only hid, it is there nevertheless shining forth in all its splendour.”