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A word more. Probably the writer of the letter in red ink knows as well as I do that Hudson of himself would no more ever have made a sham than Eve would of herself have eaten the apple; there was a serpent in both cases, and if justice were done the far greater share of the blame lay elsewhere than on Hudson's shoulders....I go "the whole hog" with the Rev. Charles Voysey that cheating in spiritual phenomena of whatever sort is a "monstrous and wicked fraud, and deserves our deepest execration." I am afraid that I have written more than you will insert. -- Your obedient servant,

Samuel Guppy Morland Villas, May 29, 1874

That isn't the best Samuel Guppy letter in the record, not by a long mile, but its overflowing personality is vintage Guppy. And it's curious, in that one moment when Guppy meets (he says) Charles E. Williams, the materializing medium whose partner, Frank Herne, was implicated in Hudson's downfall, along with (he says) Mr. Hudson, and suggests that the three -- Guppy, Williams and Hudson -- "Come to Hudson's." Guppy -- like all orotund Dickensian epistolators -- read his own press, and wrote to James Burns immediately after publication of his letter, with corrections, which Burns published in the Jun 5, 1874 issue of the MD (p. 365):
The next week, in the June 12 issue of the MD, Mr. Husk writes to disambiguate himself for us, saying (p. 379) in part that:
Thusfar, the attestation of a disinterested witness. But then:
And then, Mr. Husk offers us a poem, written at the time of his dear relative's death -- her name is Alicia -- before signing himself: yours faithfully, J. C. Husk.
This is not the first appearance, in the Spiritualist record, of James Charles Husk (1847-1920), whom we know as Cecil Husk the materializing medium. But it is an important one. The spirit in the photograph is that of Husk's sister, Alicia, who did indeed pass to the Summerland in January of 1871, leading -- if we are to credit the letter -- Cecil into a long, storied and troubled career as a medium.
James Charles -- I'll refer to him as Cecil from here on out -- was born May 22, 1847, in London, to James Husk, a music and vocals teacher, and Mary Tapley, his wife and the daughter of a musician. The family -- which produced seven children -- was a close one, centered around their home at 26 Sandwich Street, which they'd occupied since at least 1851.

James Cecil followed the family line, occupationally, becoming a musician who played with the orchestra at the Oxford Music Hall and with the Carl Rosa Opera Company -- as well as at various Spiritualist gatherings -- but with mixed success: by the time of the 1871 UK census, he has found his calling as a piano forte tuner (working, I believe, at his uncle William's piano forte works), and, perhaps led by familial interests, has turned his attention towards Spiritualism.

Among the witnesses to Mrs. Guppy's famous flight in June of 1871 from her housekeeping chores at home, to a Herne and Williams seance in Lamb's Conduit Street, we find an "H. B. Husk" of "26 Sandwich Street" -- that's either Cecil, or his cousin Henry (Jr.), witnessing the single most outlandish manifestation in nineteenth century English Spiritualism. Cecil does not appear in that particular Spiritualist clique under his own name until March of 1873, when he writes to the MD (of March 28, 1873) to describe a Charles Williams seance at Lamb's Conduit Street, in which John King materialized outside the cabinet, and shook hands with the sitters. Cecil -- now James C. Husk -- remarks in that letter that:

Husk is in effect positioning the dark seance for manifestations and forms as the central ritual of his religion -- and a joyous one -- perhaps, in part, because he is part of the ritual, opening many Lambs Conduit seances with his singing and playing, which extends in 1874 and after to performances at conversaziones and other Spiritualist gatherings. He is often found in the company of the mediums he will, later, work more directly with: Charles Williams and Alfred Rita.

In January of 1879, at Burns' Spiritual Institution, Husk debuts as a medium; his first seances are covered in the Medium and Daybreak for January 10 and January 31, and he is recognized by sitters as the vocalist of Lamb's Conduit Street. He is, from the start, an accomplished physical medium, drawing William Oxley, Hensleigh Wedgwood and Christian Reimers into his sittings. In his presence, Charles Williams' controls -- Irresistable and John King -- speak in direct voice, and physical objects are moved within -- and into -- the seance room, after which John King's spirit light appears.

Husk is not, however, a professional medium yet.

By September of 1881, Husk -- who has graduated from the Spiritual Institution to the private circles of the developing medium Mrs. Catherine Woodforde -- is secure enough in one or both of his occupations to marry, and he does so, plighting his troth to Marian Lycett (1846-1905), who will in the fullness of time become his coadjutor at many of his seances. He travels to Paris, immediately after the marriage, sitting for various Parisian circles and winning the qualified approval of P. G. Leymarie himself, who writes (in the MD for 12-13-1881) that "Most of those who were present at the manifestations produced through his mediumship, regard Mr. Husk as a perfect gentleman, and a sincere and upright man. A small minority complain that there is nothing convincing in his mediumship; but this difference of opinion must always exist, in regard to manifestations which take place in complete darkness."

-- the voice of the phenomenon-hunter, in the aftermath of the scandalous 1870s (about which Leymarie knows only too well) and the formation of the SPR. This is Husk's fourteen-pound weight: he is belated, a materializing medium working after the heyday of materialization.

Husk is, at this time, working with Williams and Haxby (until Haxby's death in 1882) and occasionally with William Eglinton. In 1884, he becomes more than mildly famous when George Wyld announces that he -- Wyld, that is -- has finally produced incontrovertible proof of matter-passing-through-matter, through Husk's mediumship.

The details of the Husk iron-ring controversy could easily fill a volume, and those details are illustrative, in so many ways, of both [a] the complexities introduced into Spiritualism by the creation of the SPR and [b] the ways in which the "scientific" dialog on Spiritualist in the 1880s decentered the medium, reducing him or her often to the status of the laboratory rat, or the beaker, in the disputation between scientists.

The gist of it, as described by George Wyld, in in early 1886, is as follows:

Seen from our vantage point, Wyld tortured Husk to prove his fundamental point -- that the ring could have been placed on Husk's wrist by natural means. He wrapped Husk's hands in "metallic tape" and in wire wrapping, compressing Husk's flesh to get measurements that, in Wyld's view, proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the iron wring... err, ring on Husk's wrist could not have been put on by slipping it over his hand. Prove that, in Wyld's epistemological frame, and one has proven the reality of spirit-agency, operating at the molecular level.

No one else -- including the SPR -- was as convinced as Wyld of the value of Wyld's experiment, but Husk wore that iron ring on his wrist for years, afterwards -- perhaps until his death. It became a sort of personal brand (in all senses of that word), and was I am sure a superb credentialing device, when he met new sitters in private seances.

At about the same time that Wyld conducts his experiments, Husk goes into public partnership for spirit manifestations with Charles E. Williams, working out of Lamb's Conduit Street, while also developing his own practice, significantly as a direct voice medium sitting with a regular schedule of sitters in private seances, in their homes. When manifesting the direct voice, Husk is in the habit of filling his mouth with water, or a mixture of water and wine, and of spitting that liquid back into the glass from which he drank it, at the end of a seance, to demonstrate conclusively, as everyone thought, the spirit source of the voices heard at the sittings.

It's possible that Marian Husk was his coadjutor, in the middle 1880s, for voice manifestations. Certainly she appears frequently at his sittings, often on one side of Husk, exerting control, while William sits on the other side of Husk.

Mediums-restraining-mediums is a recipe for disaster, and Husk had his in 1891, at the so-called "Triple Exposure" seance I mentioned in my post on Alfred Rita . As for February of 1891 (itself no defender of Husk's dark-circle mediumship) reported it, Husk and Williams "assisted by another dark circle medium 'Rita'" sat in a promiscuous circle, with Williams and Rita on either side of Husk. When the physical manifestations began, a sitter broke conditions, turned on a small light disguised as a scarf pin (that would be something to see) and the sitters discovered Husk, released from control, draped in muslin, producing the manifestations. The London ventilated the controversy in the secular domain, and Husk wrote to the editor of the Star from his home in Peckham Rye, toward the end of February 1891, to say:

Husk then takes refuge in the materialist theory of form manifestations: namely, that spirits borrow physical mass from the medium to produce form manifestations. "If, then, it is possible for the spirits to borrow in some mysterious way particles of the medium's flesh for their temporary use, I think [the witnesses to the seance] will not deny the necessity of these particles being replaced, and I can quite understand that if a materialization was four or more feet away from the medium, and a light was suddenly struck, the form would fall the medium in such a manner as to leave an impression that the form was the medium himself."
Husk's mediumship is fundamentally changed by the triple exposure of 1891. He ceases sitting in promiscuous circles, and follows the earlier lead of Florence Cook (Corner), choosing to hold more seances at his own home in Peckham Rye, in his own seance room, with his wife as coadjutor. By the end of 1891, as far as I can judge from the Spiritualist record, Husk's time as a medium for promiscuous dark circles is done.

Spirits still materialize in Husk's seances, throughout the 1890s -- from Mesmer to Princess Karadja's departed husband, Husk continues his form manifestations work, in private circles, often for a single sitter. He branches out, into spirit photography, and -- more importantly -- he has become a medium of historical significance, due in part to Florence Marryat's promotion of Husk in her "There is No Death" lecture and her other work, and also to F. W. Myers, who -- in an article entitled "The Persistence of Credibility" that I cannot locate -- uses Husk as a case study for the durability of Spiritual belief in the face of contravening evidence, and of evidence of fraud.

Husk's rehabilitation -- if rehabilitation it is -- comes late. In 1901, one of the frequent correspondents of , who signs herself "An Old Correspondent," writes to describe vintage Husk materialization seances, and that letter provokes a response from one "Vir," who asks, in the February 2, 1901 issue of "whether Spiritualists are satisfied to-day of the justice of the verdict given some years since against that medium [Husk]. In my opinion that verdict was given without due consideration, and the evidence was supplied by very incompetent observers. I have had very many opportunities of testing Mr. Husk's mediumship, and the conclusion I have formed is that he is a thoroughly genuine medium, who would not willingly impose on anyone. I have tested his mediumship in my own house, under conditions that preclude the possibility of trickery of any kind, and I feel that I have too long delayed an appeal to Spiritualists to put Mr. Husk back in the honorable position which he held as a public medium, knowling as I do his simple and straightforward character."

Other readers of concurred with Vir's opinion -- half-a-dozen further rehabilitation letters appear in after that of Vir.

Unfortunately, Cecil is ill, and his powers are in decline. He comes once more before the public, gives unsatisfactory seances -- I am reminded of the last seances of Henry Slade, when I read the accounts -- and announces in September 1901 that "owing to serious illness, Mr. Cecil Husk will be unable to hold any seances for some time."

The illness appears to be real, and -- in a marked contrast from the attitude of the community a couple of decades earlier -- Spiritualists rally to Husk's financial aid. A fund, which will be known for the next twenty or so years as the Husk Fund, is established, money is contributed, and Husk is sent out of London for his recuperation. By August of 1902, Husk has returned to his public mediumship, which is in full swing by the end of 1902, bolstered by a series of short descriptions of Husk seances written, for , by Madame d'Esperance herself.

In 1903, at a Husk seance, the spirit form of a sitter's brother is seen, by all sitters, but it is disclosed, after the seance, that the sitter's relative is still alive. It is at this time that we discover -- because it is used in his defense -- that Cecil Husk has gone blind.

There's a bit of a pile-on, after the disclosure that Husk has manifested a living man. Gledstanes writes a few letters to , pointing out that Husk always brings the same "friends" to his seances. Other frequenters of Husk seances demand that Mrs. Husk be ejected from Husk's seances, or only permitted to remain in the circle if she and Cecil are handcuffed to one another. No one's willing to use the word , but it is in the air, nonetheless.

At that point -- early 1904, for certain -- Husk is rescued, by the London Psychological Society and its secretary, Gambier Bolton. From 1904 through 1906 at least, Husk sits regularly for the London Psychological Society, and Gambier chronicles those sittings.

In 1905, Cecil's wife and coadjutor Marian dies, and Husk begins working with a male medium named Eldred, about whom I can learn virtually nothing. With Eldred, and alone, Husk begins materialization seances again, materializing the famous dead (including Napoleon. Mary Queen of Scots and Robert Browning), and almost immediately is in conflict with some of his sitters, who find fault with his form manifestations, including the inability of Husk's Cardinal Newman control to speak proper Latin.

Although Usborne Moore, who's become a kind of leader for English Spiritualists, endorses Husk's mediumship, his coverage in declines substantially after 1905; by 1907, there are no mentions of Husk, at all, for some years, and only scattered mentions thereafter.

In the 1911 UK census, Husk is a "teacher of music" still living in his house in Peckham Rye, with hise housekeeper Elizabeth Mary Simpson, to whom he will leave some of his estate on his demise. He is "old and feeble" and nearly broke by 1914, but the Husk Fund is resuscitated through the hard work of a Spiritualist from Elstree, Ella Duffus, who solicits money for the Fund, which is refloated to the extent that she is able to provide Husk with between 2 and 5 pounds per month for the duration of his life, due primarily to an unknown contributor named "Emma" (Conan Doyle contributes a pound, in 1919).

On May 21, 1920, Ella Duffus brings the editors of , and to Cecil's home in Peckham, to celebrate Husk's 73rd birthday. The bed-ridden medium sang for his guests -- "two stanzas of 'Scots Wha Hae'" -- and then Husk gave, to the assembled editors, spirit messages for publication, from Sir William Crookes, and others. closed its notice of the event with a passage that says much about just how long Cecil Husk had lived, and also what he had lived through.

A premature eulogy perhaps, but not by much. On October 11, 1920, five months after his 73rd birthday, James Charles Husk died, at home. He left his effects -- worth about 50 pounds, to his housekeeper and one Rachel Rosa Davis (wife of William Isaac Davis), who, if we could discover her history, might tell us something about Husk's life that we do not, as yet, know.

The last of the Old Guard, indeed. There was nothing convincing in his mediumship, as Leymarie remarked in the early 1880s, and much that required his supporters to look away. But several commentators, just before or at the time of his death, remarked that he was the last of the great mediums through whom spirits manifested in full form.

A candle for you, James Charles Husk, last of the Great Materializers.

Posted by Marc Demarest

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For the record, from of June 15, 1871 (p. 170):

Mrs. Guppy said that the last thing she remembered before she found herself on the table, was that she was sitting at home at Highbury, talking to Miss Neyland, and entering some household accounts in her book. The ink in the pen was wet when she arrived in our midst; the last word of the writing in the book was incomplete, and was wet and smeared. She complained that she was not dressed in visiting costume, and had no shoes on, as she had been sitting at the fire without them. As she stated this to Mr. Morris, and Mr. and Mrs. Edwards. a pair of slippers dropped on the floor from above, one of them grazing Mr. Morris' head; this was after the seance, and in the light. We all went into the dark room for a few minutes afterwards, and four flower-pits with flowers in them, which Mrs. Guppy declared to be from her house, were placed on the table at once.

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You Are Here: Sharing prize money is amateurish

Ask most domestic footballers about their ultimate ambition, and they will predictably tell you it is to play professional football outside Malawi. Well, as per Fifa statutes, most local footballers are professionals for they earn a living from football. Get that? You do not need to play in South Africa to earn such a status.

However, the issue is whether domestic footballers are professionals in this case. It is for this reason that some argue, out of Fifa script, which only recognises either amateurs or professionals, that locals are semi-professionals.

Seemingly negligible things distinguish amateur footballers from professionals. While in Malawi we stand on a higher moral ground and condemn footballers for drinking, most professionals in Europe love their pint of Tutankhamun Ale, Stella, Sink the Bismarck, Utopias and Schorschbock.

For example, Barcelona coach Luis Enrique’s code of conduct only states that (i) alcohol is prohibited during meals (ii) players must be home by midnight in the 48 hours before a game.

The difference is that professionals drink in moderation, whereas amateurs indulge in binge drinking.

Professionals need no reminders about going to the gym every day when off-season, whereas amateurs switch off from physical activity.

Amateurs do not mind their weight, but in professional football, managers give each player a weight limit and failure to maintain leads to heavy fines. Failure to maintain a healthy waist-line cost Benni McCarthy a career at West Ham.

In fact, while in Malawi sense, discipline borders on the obvious such as not boozing, in the professional world even being overweight is indiscipline.

Perhaps the most defining mark of professionals is that they are not obliged to demand anything outside their contracts. If Chelsea win the Barclays English Premier League championship Diego Costa will not ask for a share of the prize money. Winning championships is part of job description.

The other side of the argument is that domestic football clubs are also amateurish as they do not respect players’ contracts while some do not put players on contracts.

Such kind of free-for-all set up explains players’ demands for their cuts from prize money. Teams cannot develop if they spend K50 million in a year and yet share K9 million earned from prize money. Hand-to-mouth will not take the domestic game forward.

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