Chapter 1 - Opening Thought
WHAT think ye? Whence is it -- from heaven or of men? Such was the nature of the question addressed by our Saviour to the men of his time, concerning the baptism of John. It is the crucial question by which to test every system that comes to us in the garb of religion: Is it from heaven or of men? And if a true answer to the question can be found, it must determine our attitude toward it; for if it is from heaven, it challenges at once our acceptance and profound regard, but if it is of men, sooner or later, in .this world or in the world to come, it will be destroyed with all its followers; for our Saviour has declared that every plant which our heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up. Matt. 15:13.
To those who do not believe in any "heavenly Father," nor in "Christ the Saviour," nor in any "revealed word of God," we would say that these points will be assumed in this work rather than directly argued, though many incidental proofs will appear, to which we trust our friends will be pleased to give some consideration. But we address ourselves particularly to those who still have faith in God the Father of all; in his divine Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through whose blood we have redemption; in the Bible as the inspired revelation of God''s will; and in the Holy Spirit as the enlightener of the mind, and the sanctifier of the soul. To all those to whom this position is common ground, the Bible will be the standard of authority, and the court of last appeal, in the study upon which we now enter.
A MANIFESTATION OF POWER
Spiritualism cannot be disposed of with a sneer. A toss of the head and a cry of "humbug," will not suffice to meet its claims and the testimony of careful, conservative men who have studied thoroughly into the genuineness of its manifestations, and have sought for the secret of its power, and have become satisfied as to the one, and been wholly baffled as to the other. That there have been abundant instances of attempted fraud, deception, jugglery, and imposition, is not to be denied. But this does not by any means set aside the fact that there have been manifestations of more than human power, the evidence for which has never been impeached. The detection of a few sham mediums, who are trying to impose upon the credulity of the public, for money, may satisfy the careless and unthinking, that the whole affair is a humbug. Such will dismiss the matter from their minds, and depart, easier subjects to be captured by the movement when some manifestation appears for which they can find no explanation. But the more thoughtful and careful observers well know that the exposure of these mountebanks does not account for the numberless manifestations of power, and the steady current of phenomena, utterly inexplicable on any human hypothesis, which have attended the movement from the beginning.
The Philadelphia North American, of July 31, 1885, published a communication from Thomas R. Hazard, in which he says: --
"But Spiritualism, whatever may be thought of it, must be recognized as a fact. It is one of the characteristic intellectual or emotional phenomena of the times, and as such, it is deserving of a more serious examination than it has yet received. There are those who say it is all humbug, and that everything outside of the ordinary course which takes place at the so-called séances, is the direct result of fraudulent and deliberative imposture; in short, that every Spiritualist must be either a fool or a knave. The serious objection to this hypothesis is that the explanation is almost as difficult of belief as the occurrences which it explains. There must certainly be some Spiritualists who are both honest and intelligent; and if the manifestations at the séances were altogether and invariably fraudulent, surely the whole thing must have collapsed long before this; and the Seybert Commission, which finds it necessary to extend its investigations over an indefinite period, which will certainly not be less than a year, would have been able to sweep the delusion away in short order."
The phenomena are so well known, that it is unnecessary to recount them here. Among them may be mentioned such achievements as these: Various articles have been transported from place to place, without human hands, but by the agency of so-called spirits only; beautiful music has been produced independently of human agency, with and without the aid of visible instruments; many well-attested cases of healing have been presented; persons have been carried through the air by the spirits in the presence of many witnesses; tables have been suspended in the air with several persons upon them; purported spirits have presented themselves in bodily form and talked with an audible voice; and all this not once or twice merely, but times without number, as may be gathered from the records of Spiritualism, all through its history.
A few particular instances, as samples, it may be allowable to notice: Not many years since, Joseph Cook made his memorable tour around the world. In Europe he met the famous German philosopher, Professor Zöllner. Mr. Zöllner had been carefully investigating the phenomena of Spiritualism, and assured Mr. Cook of the following occurrences as facts, under his own observation: Knots had been found tied in the middle of cords, by some invisible agency, while both ends were made securely fast, so that they could not be tampered with; messages were written between doubly and trebly sealed slates; coin had passed through a table in a manner to illustrate the suspension of the laws of impenetrability of matter; straps of leather were knotted under his own hand; the impression of two feet was given on sooted paper pasted inside of two sealed slates; whole and uninjured wooden rings were placed around the standard of a card table, over either end of which they could by no possibility be slipped; and finally the table itself, a heavy beechen structure, wholly disappeared, and then fell from the top of the room where Professor Zöllner and his friends were sitting.
In further confirmation of the fact that real spiritualistic manifestations are no sleight-of-hand performances, we cite the case of Harry Kellar, a professional performer, as given in "Nineteenth Century Miracles," p. 213. The séance was held with the medium, Eglinton, in Calcutta, India, Jan. 25, 1882. He says: --
"It is needless to say that I went as a skeptic but I must own that I have come away utterly unable to explain by any natural means the phenomena that I witnessed on Tuesday evening."
He then describes the particulars of the séance. An intelligence, purporting to be the spirit of one Geary, gave a communication. Mr. Kellar did not recognize the name nor recall the man. The message was repeated, with the added circumstances of the time and particulars of a previous meeting, when Mr. Kellar recalled the events, and, much to his surprise, the whole matter came clearly to his recollection. He then adds: --
"I still remain a skeptic as regards Spiritualism, but I repeat my inability to explain or account for what must have been an intelligent force which produced the writing on the slate, which, if my senses are to be relied on, was in no way the result of trickery or sleight-of-hand."
Another instance from "Home Circle," p. 25, is that of Mr. Bellachini, also a professional conjuror, of Berlin, Germany. His interview was with the celebrated medium, Mr. Slade. From his testimony we quote the following: --
"I have not, in the smallest degree, found anything to be produced by prestidigitative manifestations or mechanical apparatus; and any explanation of the experiments which took place under the circumstances and conditions then obtaining, by any reference to prestidigitation, is absolutely impossible I declare, moreover, the published opinions of -laymen as to the "How" of this subject, to be premature, and according to my views and experience, false and one-sided."-- Dated, Berlin, Dec. 6, 1877.
When professional conjurors bear such testimony as this, while it does not prove Spiritualism to be what it claims to be, it does disprove the humbug theory.
In addition to this, it appears that two propositions, one of $2000, and the other of $5000, have been offered to the one who claimed to be able to duplicate all the manifestations of Spiritualism, to duplicate two well-authenticated tests; but the challenge has never been accepted, nor the reward claimed. See Religio-Philosophical Journal, of Jan. 15, 1881, and January, 1883.
A writer in the Spiritual Clarion, in an article on "The Millennium of Spiritualism," bears the following testimony in regard to the power and strength of the movement: --
"This revelation has been with a power, a might, that if divested of its almost universal benevolence, had been a terror to the very soul; the hair of the very bravest had stood on end, and his chilled blood had crept back upon his heart, at the sights and sounds of its inexplicable phenomena. It comes with foretokening and warning. It has been, from the very first, its own best prophet, and step by step, it has foretold the progress it would make. It comes, too, most triumphant. No faith before it ever took such a victorious stand in its very infancy. It has swept like a hurricane of fire through the land, compelling faith from the baffled scoffer, and the most determined doubter."
Dr. W. F. Barrett, Professor of Experimental Physics in the Royal College of Dublin, says: --
"It is well known to those who have made the phenomena of Spiritualism the subject of prolonged and careful inquiry, in the spirit of exact and unimpassioned scientific research, that beneath a repellent mass of imposture and delusion there remain certain inexplicable and startling facts which science can neither explain away nor deny."--"Automatic, or Spirit, Writing," p. 11 (1896).
In the Arena of November, 1892, p. 688, Mr.
M. J. Savage, the noted Unitarian minister of Boston, says: --
"Next comes what are ordinarily classed together as ''mediumistic phenomena.'' The most important of these are psychometry, ''vision'' of ''spirit'' forms, claimed communications by means of rappings, table movements, automatic writing, independent writing, trance speaking, etc. With them also ought to be noted what are generally called physical phenomena, though in most cases, since they are intelligibly directed, the use of the word ''physical,'' without this qualification, might be misleading. These physical phenomena include such facts as the movement of material objects by other than the ordinary muscular force, the making objects heavier or lighter when tested by the scales, the playing on musical instruments by some invisible power, etc. . . Now all of these referred to (with the exception of independent writing, and materialization) I know to be genuine. I do not at all mean by this that I know that the ''spiritualistic'' interpretation of them is the true one. I mean only that they are genuine phenomena; that they have occurred; that they are not tricks or the result of fraud."
In the Forum of December, 1889, p. 455, the same writer describes his experience at the house of a friend with whom he had been acquainted eight or ten years. When about to depart, he thought he would try an experiment. He says: --
"She and I stood at opposite ends of the table at which we had been sitting. Both of us having placed the tips of our fingers lightly on the top of the table, I spoke, as if addressing some unseen force connected with the table, and said: ''Now I must go; will you not accompany me to the door?'' The door was ten or fifteen feet distant, and was closed. The table started. It had no casters, and in order to make it move as it did, we should have had to go behind and push it. As a matter of fact we led it, while it accompanied us all the way, and struck against the door with considerable force."
From the same article, p. 456, we quote again:--
"I add one more experiment of my own. I sat one day in a heavy, stuffed armchair. The psychic sat beside me, and laying his hand on the back of the chair, gradually raised it. Immediately I felt and saw myself, chair and all, lifted into the air at least one foot from the floor. There was no uneven motion implying any sense of effort on the part of the lifting force; and I was gently lowered again to the carpet. This was in broad light, in a hotel parlor, and in presence of a keen-eyed lawyer friend. I could plainly watch the whole thing. No man living could have lifted me in such a position, and besides, I saw that the psychic made not the slightest apparent effort. Nor was there any machinery or preparation of any kind. My companion, the lawyer, on going away, speaking in reference to the whole sitting, said: ''I''ve seen enough evidence to hang every man in the State -- enough to prove anything excepting this.''
"Professor Grookes, of London, relates having seen and heard an accordion played on while it was enclosed in a wire net-work, and not touched by any visible hand. I have seen an approach to the same thing. In daylight I have seen a man hold an accordion in the air, not more than three feet away from me. He held it by one hand, grasping the side opposite to that on which the keys were fixed. In this position, it, or something, played long tunes, the side containing the keys being pushed in and drawn out without any contact that I could see. I then said, ''Will it not play for me?'' The reply was, ''I don''t know: you can try it.'' I then took the accordion in my hands. There was no music; but what did occur was quite as inexplicable to me, and quite as convincing as a display of some kind of power. I know not how to express it, except by saying that the accordion was seized as if by some one trying to take it away from me. To test this power, I grasped the instrument with both hands. The struggle was as real as though my antagonist was another man. I succeeded in keeping it, but only by the most strenuous efforts.
"On another occasion I was sitting with a ''medium.'' I was too far away for him to reach me, even had he tried, which he did not do; for he sat perfectly quiet. My knees were not under the table, but were where I could see them plainly. Suddenly my right knee was grasped as by a hand. It was a firm grip. I could feel the print and pressure of all the fingers. I said not a word of the strange sensation, but quietly put my right hand down and clasped my knee in order to see if I could feel anything on my hand. At once I felt what seemed like the most delicate finger tips playing over my own fingers and gradually rising in their touches toward my wrist. When this was reached, I felt a series of clear, distinct, and definite pats, as though made by a hand of fleshy vigor. I made no motion to indicate what was going on, and said not a word until the sensation had passed. All this while I was carefully watching my hand, for it was plain daylight, and it was in full view; but I saw nothing."
We need not multiply evidence on this point. A remark by T. J. Hudson ("Law of Psychic Phenomena," p. 206, McClurg & Co., Chicago, 1894) may fitly close this division of the subject. He says: --
"I will not waste time, however, by attempting to prove by experiments of my own, or of others, that such phenomena do occur. It is too late for that. The facts are too well known to the civilized world to require proof at this time. The man who denies the phenomena of spiritism to-day is not entitled to be called a skeptic, he is simply ignorant; and it would be a hopeless task to attempt to enlighten him."
A MANIFESTATION OF INTELLIGENCE
From the testimony already given it is evident that there is connected with Spiritualism an agency that is able to manifest power and strength beyond anything that human beings, unaided, are able to exert. It is just as evident that the same agency possesses intelligence beyond the power of human minds. Indeed, this was the very feature that first brought it to the attention of the public. Spiritualism, as the reader is doubtless aware, originated in the family of Mr. John D. Fox, in Hydesville, near Rochester, N. Y., in the spring of 1848. Robert Dale Owen, in his work called "Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World," p. 290, has given a full narration of the circumstances attending this remarkable event. The particulars, he states, he had from Mrs. Fox, and her two daughters, Margaret and Kate, and son, David. The attention of the family had been attracted by strange noises which finally assumed the form of raps, or muffled footfalls, and became very annoying. Chairs were sometimes moved from their places, and this was once also the case with the dining-room table. Heard occasionally during February, the disturbance so increased during the latter part of March, as seriously to break the nightly repose of the family. But as these annoyances occurred only in the nighttime, all the family hoped that soon, by some means, the mystery would be cleared away. They did not abandon this hope till Friday, the 31st of March, 1848. Wearied by a succession of sleepless nights, the family retired early, hoping for a respite from the disturbances that had harassed them. In this they were doomed to especial disappointment. We can do no better than to let Mr. Owen continue the narrative, in his own words: --
"The parents had removed the children''s beds into their bedroom, and strictly enjoined them not to talk of noises, even if they heard them. But scarcely had the mother seen them safely in bed, and was retiring to rest herself, when the children cried out, ''Here they are again!'' The mother chided them, and lay down. Thereupon the noises became louder and mere startling. The children sat up in bed. Mrs. Fox called her husband. The night being windy, it was suggested to him that it might be the rattling of the sashes. He tried several to see if they were loose. Kate, the younger girl, happened to remark that as often as her father shook a window-sash, the noises seemed to reply. Being a lively child, and in a measure accustomed to what was going on, she turned to where the noise was, snapped her fingers, and called out, ''Here, old Splitfoot, do as I do!'' The knocking instantly responded.
"That was the very commencement. Who can tell where the end will be?
"I do not mean that it was Kate Fox, who thus, in childish jest, first discovered that these mysterious sounds seemed instinct with intelligence. Mr. Mompesson, two hundred years ago, had already observed a similar phenomenon. Glanvil had verified it. So had Wesley, and his children. So we have seen, and others. But in all these cases the matter rested there and the observation was not prosecuted further. As, previous to the invention of the steam engine, sundry observers had trodden the very threshold of the discovery and there stopped, so in this case, where the royal chaplain, disciple though he was of the inductive philosophy, and where the founder of Methodism, admitting, as he did, the probabilities of ultramundane interference, were both at fault, a Yankee girl, but nine years old, following up more in sport than in earnest, a chance observation, became the instigator of a movement which, whatever its true character, has had its influence throughout the civilized world. The spark had been ignited,-- once at least two centuries ago; but it had died each time without effect. It kindled no flame till the middle of the nineteenth century.
"And yet how trifling the step from the observation at Tedworth to the discovery at Hydesville! Mr. Mompesson, in bed with his little daughter (about Kate''s age), whom the sound seemed chiefly to follow, ''observed that it would exactly answer. in drumming, anything that was beaten or called for.'' But his curiosity led him no further.
"Not so Kate Fox. She tried, by silently bringing together her thumb and forefinger; whether she could obtain a response. Yes I It could see, then, as well as hear. She called her mother. ''Only look, mother,'' she said, bringing together again her finger and thumb, as before. And as often as she repeated the noiseless motion, just as often responded the raps.
"This at once arrested her mother''s attention. ''Count ten,'' she said, addressing the noise. Ten strokes, distinctly given I ''How old is my daughter Margaret?'' Twelve strokes. ''And Kate?'' Nine. ''What can all this mean?'' was Mrs. Fox''s thought. Who was answering her? Was it only some mysterious echo of her own thought? But the next question which she put seemed to refute the idea. ''How many children have I? '' she asked aloud. Seven strokes. ''Ah!'' she thought, ''it can blunder sometimes.''
And then aloud, ''Try again.'' Still the number of raps was seven. Of a sudden a thought crossed Mrs. Fox''s mind. ''Are they all alive?'' she asked. Silence for answer. ''How many are living?'' Six strokes. ''How many are dead?'' A single stroke. She had lost a child.
"Then she asked, ''Are you a man?'' No answer. ''Are you a spirit?'' It rapped. ''May my neighbors hear, if I call them?'' It rapped again.
"Thereupon she asked her husband to call her neighbor, a Mrs. Redfield, who came in laughing. But her cheer was soon changed. The answers to her inquiries were as prompt and pertinent, as they had been to those of Mrs. Fox. She was struck with awe; and when, in reply to a question about the number of her children, by rapping four, instead of three, as she expected, it reminded her of a little daughter, Mary, whom she had recently lost, the mother burst into tears."
We have introduced this narrative thus at length not only because it is interesting in itself but because it is of special interest that all the particulars of the origin, or beginning, of such a movement as this, should be well understood. The following paragraph will explain how it came to be called "The Rochester Knockings," under which name it first became widely known. It is from the "Report of the 37th Anniversary of Modern Spiritualism," held in Brooklyn, N. Y., March 31, 1885, and reported in the Banner of Light the 25th of the following month: --
"After a song by J. T. Lillie, Mrs. Leah Fox Underhill, the elder of the three Fox sisters (who was on our platform), was requested to speak. Mrs. Underhill said that she was not a public speaker, but would answer any questions from the audience, and in response to these questions told in a graphic manner how the spirits came to their humble home in Hydesville, in 1848; how on the 31st of March the first intelligent communication from the spirit world came through the raps; how the family had been annoyed by the manifestations, and by the notoriety that followed; how the younger sisters, Catherine and Margaret, were taken to Rochester, where she lived, by their mother, hoping that this great and apparent calamity might pass from them; how their father and mother prayed that this cup might be taken away, but the phenomena became more marked and violent; how in the morning they would find four coffins drawn with an artistic hand on the door of the dining-room of her home in Rochester, of different sizes, approximating to the ages and sizes of the family, and these were lined with a pink color, and they were told that unless they made this great fact known, they would all speedily die, and enter the spirit-world.
"Gladly would they all have accepted this penalty for their disobedience in not making this truth known to the world. She told how they were compelled to hire Corinthian Hall In Rochester; how several public meetings were held in Rochester, culminating in the selection of a committee of prominent infidels, who, after submitting the Fox children to the most severe tests, --they being disrobed in the presence of a committee of ladies, --reported in their favor All the time she was on our platform, there was a continuous rapping by the spirits in response to what was being said by the several speakers, also in response to the singing, and all our exercises."
In the same volume of the Forum from which quotations have already been made, M. J. Savage states many facts which have a determinate bearing on the point now under consideration; namely, the intelligence manifested in the spiritual phenomena. From these we quote a few. He says (p. 452 and onward): --
"I am in possession of quite a large body of apparent facts that I do not know what to do with. . . . That certain things to me inexplicable have occurred, I believe. The negative opinion of some one with whom no such things have occurred, will not satisfy me I am ready to submit some specimens of those things that constitute my problem. They can be only specimens; for a detailed account of even half of those I have laid by, would stretch to the limits of a book.
"A merchant ship bound for New York was on her homeward voyage. She was in the Indian Ocean. The captain was engaged to be married to a lady living in New England. One day early in the afternoon he came, pale and excited, to one of his mates, and exclaimed, ''Tom, Kate has just died I have seen her die!'' The mate looked at him in amazement, not knowing what to make of such talk. But the captain went on and described the whole scene -- the room, her appearance, how she died, and all the circumstances. So real was it to him, and such was the effect on him, of his grief, that for two or three weeks, he was carefully watched lest he should do violence to himself. It was more than one hundred and fifty days before the ship reached her harbor. During all this time no news was received from home. But when at last the ship arrived at New York, it was found that Kate did die at the time and under the circumstances seen and described by the captain off the coast of India. This is only one case out of hundreds. What does it mean? Coincidence? Just happened so? This might be said of one; but a hundred of such coincidences become inexplicable."
The following is another instance mentioned by the same writer: --
"I went to the house of a woman in New York. She was not a professional. We had never seen each other before. We took seats in the parlor for a talk, I not looking for any manifestation. Raps began. I do not say whether they were really where they seemed to be or not; I know right well that the judgment is subject to illusion through the senses. But I was told a ''spirit friend'' was present; and soon the name, time, and place of death, etc., were given me. It was the name of a friend I had once known intimately. But twenty years had passed since the old intimacy; she had lived in another State; I am certain that she and the psychic had never known or even heard of each other. She had died within a few months."
Mr. Savage then gives examples where the power in question was exclusively mental: --
"The first time I was ever in the presence of a particular psychic, she went into a trance. She had never seen, and, so far as I know, had never had any way of hearing of my father, who had died some years previously. When I was a boy, he always called me by a special name that was never used by any other member of the family. In later years he hardly ever used it. But the entranced psychic said: ''An old gentleman is here,'' and she described certain very marked peculiarities. Then she added: ''He says he is your father, and he calls you ,''using the old childhood name of mine."
Again, same page: --
"One case more, only, will I mention under this head. A most intimate friend of my youth had recently died. She had lived in another State, and the psychic did not know that such a person had ever existed. We were sitting alone when this old friend announced her presence. It was in this way: A letter of two pages was automatically written, addressed to me. I thought to myself as I read it,--I did not speak,-- ''Were it possible, I should feel sure she had written this.'' I then said, as though speaking to her, ''Will you not give me your name? '' It was given, both maiden and married name. I then began a conversation lasting over an hour, which seemed as real as any I ever have with my friends. She told me of her children, of her sisters. We talked, over the events of boyhood and girlhood. I asked her if she remembered a book we used to read together, and she gave me the author''s name. I asked again if she remembered the particular poem we were both specially fond of, and she named it at once. In the letter that was written, and in much of the conversation, there were apparent hints of identity, little touches and peculiarities that would mean much to an acquaintance, but nothing to a stranger. I could not but be much impressed. Now in this case, I know that the psychic never knew of this person''s existence, and of course not of our acquaintance."
Mr. Savage then mentions cases which he calls still more inexplicable, because the information conveyed was not known either to the psychic (which seems to be the new name for medium) or to himself. He says: --
"But one more case dare I take the space for, though the budget is only opened. This one did not happen to me, but it is so hedged about and checked off, that its evidential value in a scientific way is absolutely perfect. The names of some of the parties concerned would be recognized in two hemispheres. A lady and gentleman visited a psychic. The gentleman was the lady''s brother-in-law. The lady had an aunt who was ill in a city two or three hundred miles away. When the psychic had become entranced, the lady asked her if she had any impression as to the condition of her aunt. The reply was, ''No.'' But before the sitting was over, the psychic exclaimed, ''Why, your aunt is here She has already passed away.'' ''This cannot be true,'' said the lady; ''there must be a mistake. If she had died, they would have telegraphed us immediately.'' ''But,'' the psychic insisted, ''she is here. And she explains that she died about two o''clock this morning. She also says that a telegram has been sent, and you will find it at the house on your return.''
"Here seemed a clear case for a test. So while the lady started for her home, her brother-in-law called at the house of a friend and told the story. While there the husband came in. Having been away for some hours he had not heard of any telegram. But the friend seated himself at his desk and wrote out a careful account, which all three signed on the spot. When they reached home, -- two or three miles away, --there was the telegram confirming the fact and the time of the aunt''s death, precisely as the psychic had told them.
"Here are most wonderful facts. How shall they be accounted for? I have not trusted my memory for these things, but have made careful record at the time. I know other records of a similiar kind kept by others. They are kept private. Why? The late Rev. J. G. Wood, of England, the world-famous naturalist, once said to me: ''I am glad to talk of these things to any one who has a right to know. But I used to call everybody a fool who had anything to do with them; and'' with a smile -- ''I do not enjoy being called a fool.''
"Psychic and other societies that advertise for strange phenomena, must learn that at least a respectful treatment is to be accorded, or people will not lay bare their secret souls. And then, in the very nature of the case, these experiments concern matters of the most personal nature. Many of the most striking cases people will not make public. In some of those above related, I have had so to veil facts, that they do not appear as remarkable as they really are. The whole cannot be told."
A quotation from this same writer ("Automatic Writing," page 14), Says: --
"I am in possession of a respectable body of facts that I do not know how to explain except on the theory that I am dealing with some invisible intelligence. I hold that as the only tenable theory I am acquainted with."
In the same work (page 19), the author, Mrs. S. A. Underwood, as the result of her communications from spirits, says: --
"Detailed statements of facts unknown to either of us [that is, herself and her "control"], but which weeks afterward were learned to be correct, have been written, and repeated again and again, when disbelieved and contradicted by us."
On this point, also, as on the preceding, testimony need not be multiplied. The facts are too well known and too generally admitted to warrant the devotion of further space to a presentation of the evidence. The question must soon be met, What is the source of the power and intelligence thus manifested? But this may properly be held in abeyance till we take a glance at
THE PROGRESS OF SPIRITUALISM
during the fifty years of its modern history. It began in a way to excite the wonder and curiosity of the people, the very elements that would give wings to its progress through the land. Men suddenly found their thoughts careering through new channels. An unseen world seemed to make known its presence and invite investigation. As the phenomena claimed to be due to the direct agency of spirits, the movement naturally assumed the name of "Spiritualism." It was then hailed by multitudes as a new and living teacher, come to clear up uncertainties and to dispel doubts from the minds of men. At least an irrepressible curiosity was everywhere excited to know what the new "ism" would teach concerning that invisible world which it professed to have come to open to the knowledge of mankind. Everywhere men sought by what means they could come into communication with the spirit realm. Into whatever place the news entered, circles were formed, and the number of converts outstripped the pen of the enroller. It gathered adherents from every walk of life -- from the higher classes as well as the lower; the educated, cultured, and refined, as well as the uncultivated and ignorant; from ministers lawyers, physicians, judges, teachers, government officials, and all the professions. But the individuals thus interested, being of too diverse and independent views to agree upon any permanent basis for organization, the data for numerical statistics are difficult to procure. Various estimates, however, of their numbers have been formed. As long ago as 1876, computations of the number of Spiritualists in the United States ranged from 3,000,000 by Hepworth Dixon, to 10,000,000 by the Roman Catholic council at Baltimore. Only five years from the time the first convert to Modern Spiritualism appeared, Judge Edmonds, himself an enthusiastic convert, said of their numbers: --
"Besides the undistinguished multitudes, there are many now of high standing and talent ranked among them,--doctors, lawyers, and clergymen in great numbers, a Protestant bishop, the learned and reverend president of a college, judges of our higher courts, members of Congress, foreign ambassadors, and ex-members of the United States Senate."
Up to the present time, it is not probable that the number of Spiritualists has been much reduced by apostasies from the faith, if such it may be called; while the movement itself has been growing more prominent and becoming more widely known every year. The conclusion would therefore inevitably follow that its adherents must now be more numerous than ever before. A letter addressed by the writer to the publishers of the Philosophical Journal, Chicago, on this point, received the following reply, dated Dec. 24, 1895:--
"Being unorganized, largely, no reliable figures can be given. Many thousands are in the churches, and are counted there. It is claimed that there are about five million in the United States, and over fifty million in the world."
The Christian at Work of Aug. 17, 1876, under the head of "Witches and Fools," said: --
"But we do not know how many judges, bankers, merchants, prominent men in nearly every occupation in life, there are, who make it a constant practice to visit clairvoyants, sightseers, and so-called Spiritual mediums; yet it can scarcely be doubted that their name is legion; that not only the unreligious man, but professing Christians, men and women, are in the habit of consulting spirits from the vasty deep for information concerning both the dead and the living. Many who pass for intelligent people, who would be shocked to have their Christianity called in question, are constantly engaged in this disreputable business."
The following appeared some years ago, in the San Francisco Chronicle : --
"Until quite recently, science has coldly ignored the alleged phenomena of Spiritualism, and treated Andrew Jackson Davis, Home, and the Davenport brothers, as if they belonged to the common fraternity of showmen and mountebanks. But now there has come a most noteworthy change. We learn from such high authority as the Fortnightly Review that Alfred H. Wallace, F. R. S.; William Crookes, F. R. S. and editor of the Quarterly Journal of Science; W. H. Harrison, F. R. S. and president of the British Ethnological Society, with others occupying a high position in the scientific and literary world, have been seriously investigating the phenomena of spiritism. The report which those learned gentlemen make is simply astounding. There is no fairy tale, no story of myth or miracle, that is more incredible than their narrative. They tell us in grave and sober speech, that the spirit of a girl who died a hundred years ago, appeared to them in visible form. She talked with them, gave them locks of her hair, pieces of her dress, and her autograph. They saw her in bodily presence, felt her person, heard her voice; she entered the room in which they were, and disappeared without the opening of a door. The savants declare that they have had numerous interviews with her under conditions forbidding the idea of trickery or imposture.
"Now that men eminent in the scientific world have taken up the investigation, Spiritualism has entered upon a new phase. It can no longer be treated with silent contempt. Mr. Wallace''s articles in the Fortnightly have attracted general attention, and many of the leading English reviews and newspapers are discussing the matter. The New York World devotes three columns of its space to a summary of the last article in the Fortnightly, and declares editorially that the ''phenomena'' thus attested ''deserve the rigid scientific examination which Mr. Wallace invites for them.'' This is treating the matter in the right way. Let all the well-attested facts be collected, and then let us see what conclusions they justify. If spirit communication is a fact, it is certainly a most interesting one. In the language which the World attributes to John Bright, ''If it is a fact, it is the one besides which every other fact of human existence sinks into insignificance.''"
One of the reasons why it would be quite impossible to state the number of real Spiritualists in our land to-day has already been hinted at in a foregoing extract. It is that "many thousands," and we think the number might in all probability be raised to millions, who are in reality Spiritualists, do not go by that name. They are in the various churches, and are counted there. Yet they believe the phenomena of Spiritualism, accept its teachings in their own minds, and quietly and constantly, as the Christian at Work avers, consult clairvoyants and mediums, in quest of knowledge. The grosser features of the teachings of Spiritualism which were painfully prominent in its earlier stages, which there is no reason to believe are discountenanced or abandoned either in theory or practice, are relegated to an invisible background, while in its outward aspect it now poses in the attitude of piety and the garb of religion. It even professes to adopt some of the more prominent and popular doctrines of Christianity. In this phase the average churchgoer cannot see why he may not accept all that Spiritualism has to give, and still retain his denominational relationship. Besides this, the coming to light, every now and then, of the fact that some person of national or world-wide fame is a Spiritualist, adds popularity and gives a new impetus to the movement. Such instances may be named as the founder of the Leland Stanford University, of California; the widow of ex-Vice-President Hendricks, of Indiana, who, it is said, is carrying on some very successful financial transactions by direction from the spirit world; and Mr. W. T. Stead, London editor of the Review of Reviews, who, in 1893 started a new quarterly, called The Border Land, to be devoted to the advocacy of the philosophy of Spiritualism, which he had then but recently espoused. In other countries it has invaded the ranks of the mobility, and even seated itself on the thrones of monarchs. The late royal houses of France, Spain, and Russia are said, by current rumor, to have sought the spirits for knowledge. No cause could covet more rapid and wide-spread success than this has enjoyed.