Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

CHAPTER XXII.

WITNES

Judge Edmonds, a jurist of unimpeachable integrity and keen discernment, estimates the number of Spiritualists in this country at “eleven millions.” If belief in the mere fact of conscious spirit converse legitimately entitles to the appellation, Spiritualist, the venerable Judge is evidently quite correct. In the wider, and, we think, better definition, Spiritualism inter-related to the inductive and deductive methods of research, implies fact and philosophyscience and religion-culture, growth, and a true harmonial life.

In a lecture delivered by this eminent legal gentleman, before the Spiritualists worshiping in Ebbitt Hall, he said:

" I have been addressed upon the subject of Spiritualism by letter, or personally, by persons from Cadiz in Spain, from Corfu and Malta in the Mediterranean, Bengal and Calcutta in Asia, from Venezuela in South America, from Austria, Germany, England, France, Italy, Greece and Poland in Europe, from Algiers and Constantinople, from almost every State in North America ; and I have heard of my own publications being found on the Himalaya Mountains in Asia, and in the forecastle of a whale ship in the Northern Ocean; and in many different languages—Latin, Greek, Spanish, French, German, Polish and Indian. Such and so wide-spread has become, within the short period of fifteen years, the knowledge of and the interest in our faith.

“So among the churches have I witnessed its wide-spreading influ. ence. High dignitaries, archbishops and bishops—both Catholic and Protestant; many untitled clergymen, of almost every denomination, and Jewish Rabbis, have alike shown their belief and their interest in the subject."

A foreign correspondent writing from London, for the Boston Commonwealth, informed its readers that

" It had been publicly stated and not denied, that John Stuart Mill had become a convert to Spiritualism. Certainly the Spiritualists have an imposing catalogue of names to present before England: Ruskin, Mill, Wilkinson, Dr. Whately, William and Mary Howitt, Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall, and it is said) Frederick Tennyson. Doubtless, the majority of these have been helped to this conversion by the extreme reaction against Positiveness and Atheism, with a violent yearning to find something beyond the grave other than the desolate perhaps.'

The Roman Catholic Guardian, St. Louis, Missouri, published, Sept. 1868, a pastoral letter from Bishop Viviers, relating to the planchette and spiritual manifestations. Here follow extracts of confession and warning:

“ Doubtless there are relations between the intelligence of men and the supernatural world of spirits. These relations are necessary; they are all sweet and consoling to the poor creature exiled in this valley of tears. But God has not given us the power of communicating with the other world by any and every way, which human imprudence might avail itself of.

" To wish to penetrate it in any other manner, (than the church prescribes) to seek to discover by natural means the hidden mysteries of heaven, or the terrible secrets of hell, is the most foolish and culpable of undertakings; this is to make an attempt to disturb the order of providence and to make useless efforts to over-step the limits imposed on our present condition.

“What shall we say to them who fear not to address hell itself, in order to call from it the spirit of Satan? For it is that cunning spirit which most ordinarily plays the principal part in these manifestations ! Certainly, we ourselves do not doubt the fatal intervention of the fallen angels in human affairs. *

“ All idolatrous worship was but an incessant communication with demons. Socrates conversed with his familiar spirit; Pythagoras believed in the soul of the world, which animates, according to him, the different spheres, as the soul animates the body. The poet Lucan has described the mysteries which were used to enter into relation with the manes of the dead; and, in times yet more remote, souls from the other world were invoked to demand the revelation of hidden things.

“But," continues the vigilant pastor a long time before the multitude of facts which have been developed from so many quarters, and under so many observing eyes, were able to demonstrate to him the extraordinary frequency of the action of these malicious and perfidious invisible beings, " if there is but little belief in the presence of these

*

*

spirits which they invoke by means of the tables, they should be not less certainly convinced that these experiments are one of the thousand ruses of Satan to cause souls to perish.”

The following is from the New York Independent :

"Spiritualism is holding up its head in London. The Davenport Brothers, by their physical manifestations, are exciting a greater sensation than Mr. Hume did. He conversed with spirits—or, at all events, claimed to have the power of spiritual intercourse.

It cannot be denied that Spiritualism has made many converts in this country, and that some of the most estimable of our literary men and women, like the Howitts, Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall, and Mr. Robert Bell, are believers in what I suppose one must call this strange delusion. Mary Howitt's last new story— The Cost of Caergwyn'—which contains some charming sketches of Welsh life and character, is made weird-like and unnatural by all sorts of ghostly incidents. After all, this is better than the other extreme--that sea of unbelief, to which many of our finest intellects are drifting. Everything denotes a period of transition and change, and I suppose all will come out right in the end."

The New York Leader, under the caption—“Spiritualism looking up,”-quotes from Robert Bell's able contribution to the Cornhill Magazine, and sagely maintaining that the matter of Spiritualism is “deserving of earnest attention,” concludes a very fair article with the following remarks:

“ The phenomena witnessed by Robert Bell, were witnessed at the same time by Dr. Gully, the eminent physician of Malvern; by the eminent Dr. Collier, of London, and by other persons distinguished for the social positions they have attained by learning, genius, ability, and vigor of mind. William Howitt, the author, has seen and vouches marvels equally startling. Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, a Minister of State ; Newton Crossland, one of our most successful lecturers and arutest annotators; Parker Snow, of the Arctic expedition ; Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall, celebrated in literature; Sir David Brewster, Dr. Bird, Lord Brougham, and many others of equal note, are all believers in the spiritualistic theory. It is also known that Louis Napoleon is a firm and ardent student of these phenomena, and that he received many messages through Mr. Hume, purporting to emanate, and believed by him to emanate, from the spirit of Napoleon the First.”

The New York Herald, devoting nearly a column, awhile since, to the influence and prospects of Spiritualism, admits that

“Ever since the Fox girls, of Rochester fame, commenced those knockings that made so much noise in the world, this subject has

occupied at intervals the attention and invited the investigation of many scientific minds all over the world. Such men as Lord Lyndhurst, Lord Brougham, Sir David Brewster, and others, took much interest in it. Some people claimed that these distinguished men were believers ; others asserted that they were confirmed skeptics. No matter for that: they thought the subject worth looking into, like a great many other people. * It is said that even Queen Victoria consulted the Davenports, and we know that Louis Napoleon has for a long time been pursuing his star in the séances of the American Spiritualist, Home.

" The movement is a growing one, strictly democratic, popular in its character, and revolutionary in its nature, and defiant towards the prevailing theology of the age. Its influence is felt in the jury-box, the ballot-box, the bench, the press, the platform, the pulpit, and even our national council halls. It asserts the great Protestant principle of the right of each man to judge for himself, become his own Evangelist, and get to heaven his own way. It presents the strange anomaly of meetings without a ministry, worship without churches, conventions without delegates, halls and fluent speakers that they pay for, and yet without church edifices, funded property or real estate-without ordidations, convents, colleges or creeds, written or implied. Spiritualists as a body act together, and even now have become a great power in this country!”

On another occasion it published an account, saying

"The capital of Peru has been recently (August 7th) thrown into some commotion by a pastoral letter of its Archbishop, addressed to his flock, in reference to magnetism, Spiritualism, rappings and other phenomena, which had lately received a good deal of attention among the Peruvians.”

This Church dignitary stoutly affirms, that it is “all the work of the devil.”

The Round Table, aristocrat among the New York weeklies, and one of the most astute and critical periodicals published in the country, says

“ This question of Spiritualism has been suggested anew to us through reading an account of a 'mysterious disappearance in Cincinpati, Ohio.'

“We take for our point of departure an extract from a letter written in the autumn of 1852, by Mrs. Sarah Helen Whitman, of Providence, R. I., to Horace Greeley. Mr. Greeley heads the extract with a note to this effect: The writer has received the following letter from Mrs. Sarah H, Whitman, in reply to one of inquiry from him as to her own experience in Spiritualism, and especially with regard to a remarkable

*

*

experience, currently reported as having occurred to Hon. James F. Simmons, late United State Senator from Rhode Island, and widely known as one of the keenest and clearest observers, most unlikely to be the dupe of mystery or the slave of hallucination. Mrs. Whitman's social and intellectual eminence are not so widely known; but there are very many who know that her statement needs no confirmation whatever.'

* By the way, Mr. Simmons was in the Senate for another term after that writing, and he was looked up to as one of the ablest, most practical, and most upright of its members. It may be not improper for us to state, in the same connection, that we have examined some correspondence with Mrs. Whitman relative to the knowledge of her mani. festations. She states therein that her attention was called to the mystery in the latter part of the year 1849, about three months before, (mark this,) before any intelligence had reached her of the singular exhibitions in Rochester. She noticed the sounds (gentle tappings, they were near the hour of midnight, while she was alone in her chamber) for the first time after the death of a friend. This friend was a boy by the name of Albert Helm, about ten years of age. He came to his death by drowning near noon of the day preceding the night on which the raps were heard. But to Mr. Greeley's letter:

DEAR SIR-I have had no conversation with Mr. Simmons on the subject of your note until to-day. I took an early opportunity of acquainting him with its contents, and this morning he called on me to say that he was perfectly willing to impart to you the particulars of his experience in relation to the mysterious writing performed under the tery eyes, in broad day light, by un invisible agent.

• In the fall of 1850, several messages were telegraphed to Mrs. Simmons through the electric sounds, purporting to come from her step-son, Jas. D. Simmons, who died some weeks before in California. The messages were calculated to stimulate curiosity and lead to an observation of the phenomena. Mrs. Simmons, having heard that messages in the hand-writing of deceased persons were sometimes written through the same medium, asked if her son would give her this evidence. She was informed (through the sounds) that the attempt should be made, and was directed to place a slip of paper in a certain drawer at the house of the medium, and to lay beside it her own pencil, which had been given her by the deceased. Weeks passed, and although frequent inquiries were made, no writing was found on the paper.

Mrs. Simmons happening to call at the house one day, accompanied by her husband, made the usual inquiry and received the usual answer. The drawer had been opened not two hours before, and nothing was seen in it but the pencil lying on the blank paper. At the suggestion of Mrs. Simmons, however, another investigation was made, and on the paper were found a few pencil lines, resembling the hand-writing of the deceased, but not so closely as to satisfy the mother's doubts. Mrs.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »