To see the spectres, it is only necessary to look steadily at the dot, or asterisk, which is to be found on each of the plates, for about a quarter of a minute, or while counting about twenty, the plate being well illuminated by either artificial or day light. Then turning the eyes to the ceiling, the wall, the sky, or better still to a white sheet hung on the wall of a darkened room (not totally dark), and looking rather steadily at any one point, the spectre will soon begin to make its appearance, increasing in intensity, and then gradually vanishing, to reappear and again vanish ; it will continue to do so several times in succession...
J.H. Brown created his book to speak out against the 'mental epidemic' of such 'absurd follies' as 'spirit-rapping and table-turning'. He goes on to explain the wonderful mechanics of the eye and its heightened deceivability. And then, on with the show!
Thanks to The Public Domain Review it's possible for us to have a go at experiencing these surprising spectral illusions ourselves, here, even if we don't own a physical copy of the book - which, though it may not have been a absolute best seller, was still popular enough to go into a 4th edition.
(I would love to have a read of some of Griffith and Farran's other publications, such as the New and Popular Books for the Young advertised on the back cover, including The Headlong Career and Woful Ending of Precocious Piggy and the slightly dodgy sounding The Loves of Tom Tucker and Little Bo-peep.)
Joan Lennon website
Joan Lennon Instagram