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Egyptian Hall

Source: The Illustrated London News, April 18, 1874 p.375

The conjurors of the present day endeavour to do good service to science and philosophy by the exposure of superstitious practices which the so-called spiritualists, who are in reality victims of the grossest materialism, push to an extreme which borders on the absurd. Dr. Lynn at the Egyptian Hall exhibits his mysteries, which, after a fashion, "confound the very faculties of eyes and ears," and sometimes transcend imaginative expectation altogether. It is our ignorance of the cause of the effects produced which creates the wonder; were the arcana revealed we should cease to admire, and most inconveniently anticipate, the results which now stimulate surprise. The marvels of his magic box would no longer astound the apprehension if we once knew how they were done. Dr. Lynn appears, too, to have an instinctive power of understanding all languages. From Hebrew to English, and in all the intermediate lingual stages, he can interpret all learned sentences which the best instructed among his audience are capable of inventing. He has also the power of producing a written paper on which shall be inscribed our secret thought of the moment. But Dr. Lynn is not the only wonder-worker of the Egyptian Hall. Messrs. Maskelyne and Cooke share the honours with him, and now enter on their second year. These gentlemen aim directly at exposing spiritualist illusions, and succeed to an unprecedented extent. We are not quite sure that their success is not too great; for their experiments always succeed, which is far from being the case with the illusionists whom they would expose. It may be urged that this is the exact difference between vital and mechanical processes. We give the spiritualists the benefit of the doubt; but there are so many rational grounds of suspicion in the record of their doings, that we dare not assert anything of their manifestations with certainty.