Keelys Secret - He Explains His Mystic Force

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[Los Angeles Sunday Times: June 15, 1890]

He Explains His Mystic Force for the First Time.
Is Keely an Impostor or the Century's Greatest Genius? - Utilizing the Subtile [sic] Polar Current of the Earth.
Has the Genius of the Molecule Revealed Himself to Keely? - Music turned to Power - Harmony Produces Strange Results - The Motor Wizard Tells His Story of Invention, and His Theories Are Indorsed [sic] by High Authority - The Woman Who Furnishes the Money for His Researches.

[New York World, May 11, 1890.] "I have succeeded in hitching on to the polar current!"

Was I dreaming? Had the centuries rolled back to the age of Paracelsus? Was it Archimedes who stood before me with a lever in mind by which be could move worlds? Did this spectacled Galileo defy the church and rebel against all known laws of the physical universe? Or was this a Cagliostro redivivus, who had hypnotized Nature and stolen the mystery of the nineteenth century?

It was a straight, almost gaunt, big-boned and solemn-looking man. This Prophet of a New Force, who stood in the inner sanctum of his workshop at No. 1922 North Twentieth street, in Philadelphia, and proclaimed the accomplishment of the dream of his lifetime, the fulfilment of an undertaking so vast that philosophy has pooh-hoohed it and unbelieving science laughed it to scorn! His words meant a great deal to him. If they did not convey the idea at once to a brain benighted by the fogs of prejudice and cauled in incredulity, it was no matter.

''I have finished my work! I have discovered my force! I have accomplished my task!"

It was Keely who talked - Keely the Impostor or Keely the Pioneer on unknown scientific heights. For the first time he proposed to explain his invention to the world, so far as it could be explained in words and so far as the world so understood his mystic message. He continued:

"Henceforward there is nothing for me to do but to wait until the mechanics can make me a perfect machine. When that is done I will at once demonstrate my discovery to the world. That is my great, and, indeed, my only difficulty now! The apparatus with which I am compelled to work is and has been mechanically defective. When it is correctly made I will challenge the world to deny what I affirm with and through it!"

John Worrell Keely

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John Ernest Worrell Keely stood with his elbow resting on one of his "syrens. the name he gives to a machine which sings, he says, and makes the atoms of universal ether dance. It was the first time I had seen him alone, face to face. I had gone first out of idle curiosity to see "the monumental humbug of tbe nineteenth century." I had pored [sic] over the pages of that wonderful book, "Sketches of Imposture, Credulity and Deception" in all ages, wondering which of all the knave-fools and fool-knaves therein held up to the detestation of posterity this Philadelphia impostor" was like!

Here he was, six feet one in height I should say; heavy black eyebrows over deep-set, earnest brown eyes, high cheek bones, over which rested tbe legs of the "artificial eyes" his researches had long since reduced him to; a thlck, black shock of hair, slightly streaked with gray; slightly bent across the broad shoulders and looking me straight in the eyes, with an expression at first guarded, almost crafty, soon opening into apparent confidence.

It was three days ago, a rainy day in Philadelphia, with nothing to break the silence of the street outside save the jingling bells of an occasional car. The air of the workshop, outer and inner sanctum, was as still as the murk of a tomb is supposed to be. "l have succeeded," he said calmly, "'in linking on to the polar current, sympathetically, and in so sensitlzing machinery as to be able to operate it (the machinery) from that force!"

Here was the first idea I had been able to get of what "Keely's force" - if he had one - was. But what was and is "the polar current?" "The earth," says James M. Wilcox, author of "Experimental Philosophy," and a large, even ponderous-looking scientist himself, "is enveloped in magnetic currents as an orange is in its rind." Mr. Keely claims his force to be the result of an interference with this magnetic rind." There it is in "plain United States,'' and everybody may study over it for himself. l acted simply as a telephone into which Keely on this occasion, and Keely and several scientific men, including Dr, Joseph Leidy and Robert M. Wilcox, talked on another previous occasion. The telephone has no opinions of its own. It simply receives and transmits vibratory impressions.

But a telephone may be conceived to ask questions. "Tell me again," I asked. "what the Keely force is?"

It is," he replied, "a condition of sympathetic vibration associated with the terrestrial polar stream, positively and negatively."

"But what known force does it most resemble? Give some standard of comparison.''

"It is not like steam," said he, ''nor electricity, nor compressed air, nor galvanism - it is none of those, and it is not akin to any of them."


"I am now running," said Keely, "a vibratory disk, with a magnetic needle, attached to my transmitter. The disk has been so attached, by a platinum-silver wire, for seventeen weeks. The force whirling that disk around at the rate of 120 revolutions a second has not varied or been changed or tampered with during those seventeen weeks. I have repeatedly measured the velocity of its rotations, and that velocity has remained and is today the same."

I examined the compass; there was the wire," section of which I brought away with me, fastened to a button at one edge of a metallic base on which the disk rested; the disk seemed to revolve so rapidly I had difficulty in seeing it. Tho other end of the wire was attached to the sympathetic transmitter, or "syren," at a button in the cylinder at its top.

"What is the force now, which makes the needle revolve so rapidly from left to right?" was asked.

"I negatize the polar current," said Keely - "this is a negative transmitter - and produce depolarization; that rotates the compass!

"The rotation of the disk is continuous. 'Why?' you ask. This is my answer: There is a triple sympathetic order of vibration diverting tbe positive and negative currents to one general polarized center; this rotary action is continuous when sympathetically associated with the polar stream!"

Keely's Glass Cylinder Experiment

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There! That stands for just what it means to the thoughtful reader. It is Keely's language, read over to him after being committed to writing. I didn't understand it, but nobody ever understood the differential calculus or even the Abracadabra in 1 a day or two days. Let the scientific men walk the floor and wrestle with the problem of its significance. For here is the first actual notice to the world, in Keely's own words, tbat he has finished the exploitation and experimentation of his force, that he has discovered it and knows what it is. Here, indeed, is his own description of it:

"When will you announce thls formally to the scientific world, with explanation of its principles - the principles that underlie your new force?" I asked.

"That will be in my book. I am at work at present on two books; the one which will announce my force to the scientific world will contain from 1500 to 2000 pages, with fifty or sixty charts, describing the whole thing symbolitically [sic]. It will appear in 1891."

It did not seem so wonderful to a non-scientific mind that the magnetic needle should be spun around by something or other said to be communicated to it by the platinum-silver wire from the transmitter.

But this transmitter is the force-generator, so-called, in which it is claimed that whatever power is used in most of Keely's experiments is generated. These experiments have on two recent occasions, at one of which I was present, been witnessed by scientific experts. It is proper, therefore, to describe the transmitter.

It is a cupboard about thirty inches high, on which stood a cylinder of what looked like bronze fitted with a series of upright tubes one-half inch in diameter, also of the same metal and radiating from a common center; the cylinder was surrounded at its base with a series of graduated horizontal rods, solid and evidently of some resonant metal, and capped by a bell-shaped metal cup, in which appeared to be several tuning forks about four inches long, set parallel to each other. The cupboard door was open. Inside it appeared a curious-looking harp and a glass bell.

The other end of the wire, which is attached in all his experiments to the objects he moves or works on, is fastened either to the cylinder of this transmitter or to the harmonica. These are the engines in which his operative force - if there is any - is developed.

So many persons and personages have been quoted as denouncing Keely, and denying that he has or could have discovered any new force, that the names of some of those who have watched his recent experiments, and have not denounced him or denied the force, bocome of interest. Those who saw the "dance of molecules,'' as somebody called it, to the music of the mouth-harmonica, with no other machinery in use than a wire and a bronze globe, as far as any body could see, were Dr. Joseph Leidy and Robert M. Willcox. ...

Keely takes one end of a silk cord ten or twelve feet long and attaches it to a button at one end of the harmonica. There is a small copper-colored metal cylinder, say five-eighths of an inch in diameter, fastened along one side of the harmonica. The button to which the cord has just been fastened is nearly at the extremity of this cylinder.

Before Keely begins to play on the harmonica he walks to a table in the corner of the room and fastens the loose end of the silk cord to the projecting end of the axis on which a bronze globe, evidently hollow, is hung between plates of greenish glass nearly an inch thlck. A similar plate of glass lies under the supporters of the globe, between their bases and the table. The glass is almost, if not quite, transparent; but nobody sees through the experiment. ...

The air was rapidly lost in tentative, questioning minor chords. Keely explained that when the proper "sympathetic note" was struck the bronze globe would begin to revolve. Presently it did so begin. At that time he was standing at least ten feet from the tables; there was the silk cord, stretching from his harmonica to the axis of the globe; examination showed that the cord was not hollow, and one or two of the eminent scientists present said the insulation was perfect, and that electricity at all evonts was out of the question. The bronze globe did not move until the "sympathetic chord" was struck on the harmonica. All matter, every molecule, it seems, according to the new philosophy, has a sympathetic chord, and besides that, every mass of matter, every aggregation of molecules has a chord of the mass! It is this "chord of the mass," it is said, which Keely struck on tbe harmonica when the globe began to revolve on its axis.


The faster Keely played the faster the globe whirled.

"Some day," said Dr. Leidy, "I suppose a young lady wlll be able to play on the piano and set her father's mill to grinding. I see no possible source of deception. This demonstration is wonderful. There is no explanation of the effect thus produced, except by a vibratory force such as Keely assigns as the cause."

Dr. Leidy spoke with an air of conviction. "Would you care to be quoted to that effect?" he was asked. "I have no objection," said he.


"Last Saturday a week ago,"' said Keely on the occasion or our last interview, "Mr. Baker of the Engineering News was here, and Dr. Leidy also. I then performed the experiment of disintegrating water and developing from it a gaseous force which exerted a pressure of 15 tons to the square inch. (That experiment you have not yet seen.) I also performed before them the experiment of moving dead-weights at will up and down through water, 'annihilating gravity,' as has been said. That I have shown you."

"How do you disintegrate water?"

"I applied to the transmitter (see cut herewith) one end of the silver platinum wire which you have seen used in all experiments with the transmitter. The other end of the wire - here is a coil or it; examine it and see if it is hollow, as Prof. Roland asserted when he refused to witness the experiments - I attached to a shell of gunmetal weighing two and a quarter pounds and of one cubic inch capacity. Into this shell I put three drops of water. I developed the vibratory force in the transmitter; it was communicated to the shell of gun metal, and so enormous was the force generated by the instant disintegration of those three drops of water that the gunmetal shell was rent into a thousand pieces, some of which, as fine as birdshot, you see there in the frame of the skylight, where they were imbedded in the wood by the violence of this strange force. Before applying the force to the shell of gun-metal I had screwed its two valves as closely together as a vice would screw them, had then fastened them in a larger metal cylinder, and exhausted my mechanical skill to secure the shell in as immovable a position as possible. You see the result."

Keely's Transmitter

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"It is that force, produced by the disintegration of water, is it not, by which it was once said you were to accomplish such marvels? For example, with a hand engine, which you could bolt to the floor anywhere, and move about at will, you could, it was stated, by pouring a pint of water into the proper receptacle, develop considerable horse-power. And in the same way, on a larger scale, run a train of cars from Philadelphia to New York. What about that?

''The power and possibilities of the force generated by the disintegration of water," he replied, "are almost inconceivable. But I can develop my force in the air, in a vacuum, in the ether itself - I do not need even a pint of water to develop power enough, when my machinery is perfected, to run a train of cars from Philadelphia to New York."

What are you to think of such a man?

This is the way Keely develops his "force" in the transmitter (see the cut.) To illustrate it, let the reader watch him through my eyes as he "annihilates gravity" in the great glass cylinders shown in another cut.

The prophet of the new force attached one end of his platinum-sllver wire to his transmitter. The other end he fastened in the metal cap that covered one of the glass jars (cylinders) shown in the cut. This was a glass jar such as chemists use, set on a heavy wooden table about five feet away from the transmitter. The jar on examination proved to have a solid glass bottom; it was about forty inches high and ten inches in diameter. It was filled with what looked, smelled and tasted like Schuylkill water. On the bottom of the jar, clearly visible through the water, and resting directly on the glass lay three iron disks, a two-pound, a one-pound and a half-pound weight, such as one sees in the scales of a grocery store. The weights were examined and weighed by several of those present, and were found to be what they purported to be.

Then he took a bit of string out of his pocket, and winding it - as a boy winds the string about his top - around the little brass spindle in front of the cylinder on the top of hls transmitter, jerked the loose end and set the spindle whirring. Then he sat down by the transmitter and began striking the strings of what looked like a harp in the cupboard-like base of the transmitter (see cut of same). While one hand was playing on tlle strings of this "harp" the other was moving tentatively about on the resonant rods on top of the base of the transmitter, just beneath the cylinder where the spindle was whirring. When the same note on both rods and harp strings was struck, the force was at that instant, he said, generated or set in action. But what did it net on?

Perhaps there was a false note. The mass of weights at the bottom of the jar of water only quivered; one of them toppled off and fell to the bottom. Then all remained motionless. Again with his gnarled fingers - the joints of the first two fingers of his right hand are as big as walnuts - he sounded the "harp" in the cupboard and the resonant bars on top of it. "What are you doing now?" asked Dr. Leidy. "I am trying," said Keely, "to get the mass-chord of those weights. Every aggregation of molecules or of matter, I claim, or, in other words, every mass of matter, has a sympathetic chord, through the medium of which I can operate my vibratory force."

The chord was not found for some minutes. Again the spindle was spun by the help of the twine and its whizz was distinct in the silence of the room. The searcb for the mass-chord continued on the "harp" and the resonant rods. A deep clear note resounded from both at the same time, and at the instant it broke on the ear the weight that lay on the bottom of the jar by itself quivered, and then slowly, but steadily moved up through the water, as if impelled by some irresistible force, until it impinged on the top of the jar.

But perhaps this was an optical delusion?

"Why, there is the force of gravity as plainly overcome, and, indeed, annihilated, as it is possible for a human being to imagine," exclaimed a woman of the world. Dr. Leidy was asked this question: "Doctor, is it true that this unknown force, or what is here manifested as such, has actually, before your eyes, overcome the force of gravity, with which we are all familiar?"

And the answer, slowly, deliberately, was: "I see no escape from that conclusion!"

Different mass-chords were struck and the three weights were in turn sent booming up to the top of the jar, halted midway in tbe column of water, and moving up and down apparently at Keely's will.


"Are you a Spiritualist, Mr. Keely?" I asked him.

"That is one or many lies propagated about me," he answered. "'It has been said I started life as a carpenter (though that is not a slander), but I didn't; I never was a carpenter. Instead of being a Spiritualist myself, I once exposed Spiritualistic mediums in St. Paul, Minn. In 1857, 1859 and 1861, and I was nearly run out of town for doing so. Everything their mediums did in the dark I did in the light, and that naturally enraged them. I do not believe in Spiritualism, or in anything of the kind. I am, I hope, a Christian, and a regular member of the Methodist Church.

"I have been told that I am a 'powerful medium.' But if there is in me any secret force such as resides in no other man, the first manifestation of which to me when I was 12 years old drew my attention to the channels in which I have since worked, that force is in no way akin to spiritualism.

"I know I am going to succeed - that I have, indeed, succeeded. In the last twelve years I have spent from $75,000 to $80,000 on experimental machines. I have had 2000 of them!

"Now, if ouside [sic] mechanics can make my instruments, I am all right. If they can't, I will have to wait until I find one who can. I am now having a compound siphon made by Helmholtz, near Paris. I like his work."

[An expert opinion, in the shape of an autographic letter from the eminent Dr. Joseph Leldy, follows here.]

Joseph Leidy, L.L.D., has about as long a string of scientific names as most men one may meet, even in Philadelphia. [The list published makes half a column, and embraces scores of titles.]...

It was certainly an honor to meet such a man in Keely's upper chamber or anywhere else. I felt it was so when I saw the calm, almost melancholy face, the clear gray eye, the grayish-brown head encircling the face, the slightly bent, dignified figure. I had heard of Dr. Leidy, of course, but I couldn't as a Philistine say to myself exactly what it was that ought by an unscientific person be remembered about him. I asked an eminent Philadelphia author: "Who is Leidy?" I received in return a look of reproach, and the next morning a list (incomplete), of his titles, etc., the result of a sleepless night's labor on the part of the eminent author.


I saw the following documents executed:

Agreement made between Mrs. Bloomfield-Moore and Mr. John Ernest Worrell Keely:

Being fully convinced in my own mind that I can better serve the interests of the stockholders of the Keely Motor Company's shares by following out the programme [sic] mapped out for me by Mrs. Bloomfield-Moore in the autumn of 1888 (since which time I have learned more of the laws governing the operations of the force that I have discovered than in the twenty years preceding), I hereby bind myself not to give any more of my time to the construction of a commercial engine until my experimental researches have given me such mastery of the principle as to make the construction of a patentable engine possible.

Here followed the signature of Keely, duly witnessed.

In consideration of the above agreement I hereby pledge myself to furnish Mr. Keely with the funds which he needs to pursue his researches up to the time of the building of the engine for the Keely Motor Company, when that company must resign its responsibilities, or make such terms as shall be satisfactory to me and to Mr. Keely.

Here followed the signature of Mrs. Clara Jessup Bloomfield-Moore. The document was executed by them both in my presence, on April 5, 1890.

The little group about the siren - as one of Keely's machines is called were almost as enthusiastic in this ''upper chamber," over what they had seen and what they seemed to believe it all meant, as were certain other disciples of a new and ridiculed faith nearly nineteen hundred years ago. And one of them, to give still greater evidence of her belief in the gaunt, serious apostle of the new force, then produced a legal-looking document, of which the following is a typewritten copy:

PHILADELPHIA, March 25, 1890.

I, Clara Jessup Bloomfield-Moore (widow of Bloomfield Haines Moore) of Philadelphia, Pa., United States of North America, now temporarily residing at No. 12 Great Stanhope street, Mayfair, London, England, hereby declare and publish the following as a codicil to my last will: I give and bequeath to John Ernest Worrell Keely an annuity of $3000, payable in advance in monthly installments, as long as he needs the money to continue his researches; and up to the time that he gains sufficient control of the unknown force that has discovered, to enable him to construct a patentable engine, machine, or instrument, in the interest of the Keely Motor Company, the stockholders of which have had their interest sacrificed hitherto, in my opinion, by the action of its "managers" in requiring the building and operation of unpatentable engines to exhibit the same for speculative purposes in part and to raise money for the support or the enterprise.

Furthermore, I direct that, in addition to this bequest, all bills for instruments made for Mr. Keely's experimental researches shall be paid by my executors as long as he receives no pecuniary assistance from the Keely Motor Company.

A pen having been found on Keely's desk with which she could write - like most men who write a good deal he had a vile lot of pens around him - Mrs. Bloomfield-Moore then and there, on the top of the siren itself, executed this codicil to her will and had lt duly witnessed and signed by two of the little company, one of the attestants being Dr. Leidy himself.

If, as she believes, Keely is the discoverer, the prophet and apostle of a new force - forces are mightier today, perhaps. than faiths - Mrs. Bloomfield-Moore has evidently proposed to be so faithful and efficient and valuable a patron that posterity shall hold her name in as grant honor as that of the struggling, abused, ridiculed inventor, whose name has for years. ln the public prints, been a byword for hopeless effort, a synonym for Utopian Investigation. Here - Fame shall write on her scroll - was the one "amongst the faithless only faithful found!"

Looking at his gnarled fingers, the joints of which have been dislocated, it is said, in his combat with "the genie of the molecule," one would not suppose Keely to be anything of a scribe. But there is good evidence that he is handy with his pen. "I have two books on hand, he said to me, "one of which, to come out within a year, possibly sooner, will tell all that I know about my new force."

Following are some curious extracts from proof-sheets prepared by a friend from Keely's manuscript books:

"The 'aetheric field' is only another name for God - sympathetic flows are the breath of God, permeating the vast volume of space. We must become conversant with this philosophy before we can realize the infinite degrees of pleasure in the future state, as made known to us in the solution of this subtle and greatest of all problems, sympathetic flows. The higher order we attain in our earthly connections the higher will be the tenuous conditions after liberation from the physical. The degrees of future happiness, high or low orders, depends upon our line of graduation in the physical or earthly state. It is not possible that a crude organism, susceptible of only low orders of graduation, can soar, after its liberation from its earthly tenement, to a condition of as high an etheric assimilation as one of a much finer order. Our lives are graduated here by the good or evil we assimilate...

I lose myself in my conjectures when contemplating this wonderful power, and feel then to be a partial sacrilege; for who can fathom the ways of the Most High? No finite mind can reach up to Infinity; but it is given us to appreciate much that we cannot understand. Of "independent centers," Keely writes: "The atomic spheroids cluster in triplets, and rotate in that order of subdivision which I call inter-aetheric or fourth order; the interstitial flow of which I recognize as independent centers, having that inconceivable rotatory attraction that gives to each the power of self-assimulation."

. . . . . . .

This is a Keely experience. Such is Keely's secret. Such is Keely the inventor. Such is Keely the man. Such is Keely the author.

Is he the phenomenal imposter of the century or the greatest genius of modern times?

Created by Dale Pond. Last Modification: Friday November 3, 2017 03:09:22 MDT by Dale Pond.