Shortly afterwards he died (in 1857), and the widow, now calling herself Mrs. Fox-Kane, forswore all phenomena for a time, and was received into the Roman Catholic Church.
In these letters Kane continually reproaches Margaret with living in deceit and hypocrisy. We have very few of her letters, so that we do not know how far she defended herself. The compiler of the book, though a non-Spiritualist, says: "Poor girl, with her simplicity, ingenuousness and timidity, she could not, had she been so inclined, have practised the slightest deception with any chance of success." This testimony is valuable, as the writer was clearly intimately acquainted with everyone concerned. Kane himself, writing to the younger sister Kate, says: "Take my advice and never talk of the spirits either to friends or strangers. You know that with all my intimacy with Maggie after a whole month's trial I could make nothing of them. Therefore they are a great mystery."
Considering their close relations, and that Margaret clearly gave Kane every demonstration of her powers, it is inconceivable that a trained medical man would have to admit after a month that he could make nothing of it, if it were indeed a mere cracking of a joint. One can find no evidence for fraud in these letters, but one does find ample proof that these two young girls, Margaret and Kate, had not the least idea of the religious implications involved in these powers, or of the grave responsibilities of mediumship, and that they misused their gift in the direction of giving worldly advice, receiving promiscuous sitters, and answering comic or frivolous questions. If in such circumstances both their powers and their character were to deteriorate, it would not surprise any experienced Spiritualist. They deserved no better, though their age and ignorance furnished an excuse.
To realize their position one has to remember that they were little more than children, poorly educated, and quite ignorant of the philosophy of the subject. When a man like Dr. Kane assured Margaret that it was very wrong, he was only saying what was dinned into her ears from every quarter, including half the pulpits of New York. Probably she had an uneasy feeling that it was wrong, without in the least knowing why, and this may account for the fact that she does not seem to remonstrate with him for his suspicions. Indeed, we may admit that AU FOND Kane was right, and that the proceedings were in some ways unjustifiable. At that time they were very unvenal themselves, and had they used their gift, as D. D. Home used his, with no relation to worldly things, and for the purpose only of proving immortality and consoling the afflicted, then, indeed, they would have been above criticism. He was wrong in doubting their gift, but right in looking askance at some examples of their use of it.
In some ways Kane's position is hopelessly illogical. He was on most intimate and affectionate terms with the mother and the two girls, although if words have any meaning he thought them to be swindlers living on the credulity of the public. "Kiss Katie for me," he says, and he continually sends love to the mother. Already, young as they were, he had a glimpse of the alcoholic danger to which they were exposed by late hours and promiscuous company. "Tell Katie to drink no champagne, and do you follow the same advice," said he. It was sound counsel, and it would have been well for themselves and for the movement if they had both followed it; but again we must remember their inexperienced youth and the constant temptations.
Kane was a curious blend of the hero and the prig. Spirit-rapping, unfortified by any of the religious or scientific sanctions which came later, was a low-down thing, a superstition of the illiterate, and was he, a man of repute, to marry a spirit-rapper? He vacillated over it in an extraordinary way, beginning a letter with claims to be her brother, and ending by reminding her of the warmth of his kisses. "Now that you have given me your heart, I will be a brother to you," he says.