Why the Victorians saw ghosts: nine
So far in this history we've already encountered a number of ghost-grabbers: Noah Brooks, the American journalist with the Sacramento Daily Union, who literally grabbed the trance medium Lord Colchester's hand at a séance instigated by Mary Todd Lincoln, and the English lawyer, William Volckmann, who seized the spirit of Katie King by the waist and refused to let go—despite being tackled by two of Florence Cook's confederates who were stationed in the audience, one of whom she ended up marrying a mere four months later. Both instances were brutal and bloody. Brooks received a blow to his forehead with a drum that Colchester used in his performance; Volckmann, who was in league with the medium Agnes Guppy—one of Florence's rivals—had part of his beard torn away. Florence was ghost-grabbed again some years later, you may recall, this time by the twenty-year-old Sir George Sitwell at the assembly rooms of the National British Association of Spiritualists in 1880. It spelled the end of her career. She was forced to retire and move to Wales.
Another victim to be caught out several times was the medium Henry Slade (1835-1905), who was noted for his chalked spirit messages that would "miraculously" appear on a conveniently-held slate. Having been twice unmasked as a fraud in America (first by John W. Truesdell in 1872, then by Stanley LeFevre Krebs), he came to Britain to ply his trade. Here he was thwarted by Ray Lankester (1847-1929), a twenty-nine-year-old professor of zoology at University College London, who in 1876 snatched the pre-inscribed slate from the medium's grasp. Slade was brought to trial and found guilty of fraud, but successfully appealed his conviction on a technicality, that the original charge had omitted the words "by palmistry or otherwise". Before fresh charges could be brought he'd fled the country and returned to America.