Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

"Ten years ago, Mrs. Hayden, the well-known American medium, came to my house alone. The sitting began immediately after her arrival. Eight or nine persons were present, of all ages and of all degrees of belief and unbelief in the whole thing being imposture. The raps began in the usual way. They were to my ear clear, clean, faint sounds such as would be said to ring had they lasted. I likened them at the time to the noise which the ends of knittingneedles would make if dropped from a small distance upon a marble slab, and instantly checked by a damper of some kind.

Mrs. Hayden was seated at some distance from the table, and her feet were watched.

On being asked to put a question to the first spirit, I begged that I might be allowed to put my question mentally—that is, without speaking it, or writing it, or pointing it out to myself on an alphabet—and that Mrs. Hayden might hold both arms extended while the answer was in progress. Both demands were instantly granted by a couple of raps. I put the question, and desired the answer might be in one word, which I assigned, all mentally. I then took the printed alphabet, put a book upright before it, and bending my eyes upon it, proceeded to point to the letters in the usual way. The word chess was given by a rap at each letter. I had now reasonable certainty of the following alternative: either some thought-reading of a character wholly inexplicable, or such superhuman acuteness on the part of Mrs. Hayden that she could detect the letter I wanted by my bearing, though she (seated six feet from the book which hid my alphabet) could see neither my hand nor my eye, nor at what rate I was going through the letters. I was fated to be driven out of the second alternative before the evening was done.

“At a later period of the evening, when another spirit was under examination, I asked him whether he remembered a certain review which was published soon after his death, and whether he could give me the initials of an epithet (which happened to be in five words) therein applied to himself. Consent having been given, I began my way through the alphabet as above; the only difference of circumstances being that a bright table lamp was now between me and the medium. I expected to be brought up, at say, the letter F; and when my pencil passed that letter without any signal, I was surprised, and by the time I came to K, or thereabouts, I paused, intending to announce a failure. But some one called out, ‘You have passed it; I heard a rap long ago. I began again, and distinct raps came first at C. then at .D. I was now satisfied that the spirit had failed; but stopping to consider a little more, it flashed into my mind that C. D. were his own initials, and that he had chosen to commence the clause which contained the epithet. I then said nothing but 'I see what you are at; pray go on, and I then got T (for The), then the E. I wanted—of which not a word had been said—and then the remaining four initials. I was now satisfied that contents of my mind had been read which could not have been detected by my method of pointing to the alphabet, even supposing that could have been seen.

The things which I have set down were the beginning of a long series of experiences, many as remarkable as what I have given.”—“From Matter to Spirit,” Preface, pp. xli. xlii.

From the body of the same work I give one short extract:-“The most remarkable instance of table moving with a purpose,

which ever came under my notice, occurred at the house of a friend, whose family like my own were staying at the seaside. My friend's family consisted of six persons, and a gentleman, now the husband of one of the daughters, joined them, and I was accompanied by a young

[ocr errors]

member of my own family. No paid person was present. A gentleman who had been expressing himself in a very sceptical manner, not only with reference to spirit manifestations, but on the subject of spiritual existence generally, sat on a sofa two or three feet from the dining-room table, round which we were placed. After sitting some time we were directed by the rapping to join hands, and stand up round the table without touching it. All did so for a quarter of an hour; wondering whether anything would happen, or whether we were hoaxed by the unseen power. Just as one or two of the party talked of sitting down, the old table, which was large enough for eight or ten persons, moved entirely by itself as we surrounded and followed it with our hands joined, went towards the gentleman out of the circle, and literally pushed him up to the back of the sofa till he called out 'Hold, enough.”” (From Matter to Spirit, p. 26.)

J. W. EDMONDS, commonly called Judge EDMONDS, is a man of considerable eminence. He has been elected a member of both branches of the State Legislature of New York, and was for some time President of the Senate. He has been Inspector of Prisons, and made great improvements in the penitentiary system. After passing through various lower offices, he was made a Judge of the Supreme Court of New York. This is the highest judicial office in the State; he held it for six years, and then resigned, solely on account of the outcry raised against him on its being known that he had become convinced on the subject of Spiritualism. Since then he has resumed his practice at the bar, and was elected to the important office of Recorder of New York, which, however, he declined to accept.

The Judge was first induced by some friends to visit a medium, and being astonished at what he saw, determined to investigate the matter, and discover and expose what he then believed to be a great imposture. The following are some of his experiences given in his work on “Spirit Manifestations":

“On the 23rd April, 1851, I was one of a party of nine who sat round a centre table, on which a lamp was burning, and another lamp was burning on the mantelpiece. And then, in plain sight of us all, that table was lifted at least a foot from the floor, and shaken backwards and forwards as easily as I could shake a goblet in my hand. Some of the party tried to stop it by the exercise of their strength, but in vain; so we all drew back from the table, and by the light of those two burning lamps we saw the heavy mahogany table suspended in the air.”

At the next séance a variety of extraordinary phenomena occurred to him. “ As I stood in a corner where no one could reach my pocket, I felt a hand thrust into it, and found afterwards that six knots had been tied in my handkerchief. A bass viol was put into my hand, and rested on my foot, and then played upon. My person was repeatedly touched, and a chair pulled from under me. I felt on one of my arms what seemed to be the grip of an iron hand. I felt distinctly the thumb and fingers, the palm of the hand, and the ball of the thumb, and it held me fast by a power which I struggled to escape from in vain. With my other hand I felt all round where the pressure was, and satisfied myself that it was no earthly hand that was thus holding me fast, nor indeed could it be, for I was as powerless in that grip as a fly would be in the grasp of my hand. It continued with me till I thoroughly felt how powerless I was, and had tried every means to get rid of it.” Again, as instances of the intelligence and knowledge of the unseen power, he says that during his journey to Central America, his friends in New York were almost daily informed of his condition. One returning, he compared his own journal with their notes, and found that they had accurately known the day he landed, days on which he was unwell or well; and on one occasion it was said he had a headache, and at the very hour he was confined to his bed by a sick headache 2000 miles away.” As another example, he says, “My daughter had gone with her little son to visit some relatives 400 miles from New York. During her absence, about four o'clock in the morning, I was told through this spiritual intercourse that the little fellow was very sick. I went after him, and found that at the very hour I received that intelligence he was very sick; his mother and aunt were sitting up with him, and were alarmed for the result.”

“This will give a general idea of what I was witnessing two or three times a week for more than a year. I was not a believer seeking confirmation of my own notions. I was struggling against conviction. I have not stopped to detail the precautions which I took to guard against deception, self or otherwise. Suffice it to say that in that respect I omitted nothing which my ingenuity could devise. There was no cavil too captious for me to resort to, no scrutiny too rigid or impertinent for me to institute, no inquiry too intrusive for me to make.”

In a letter published in the New York Herald, August 6th, 1853, after giving an abstract of his investigations, he says—"I went into the investigation originally thinking it a deception, and intending to make public my exposure of it. Having, from my researches, come to a different conclusion, I feel that the obligation to make known the result is just as strong. Therefore it is, mainly, that I give the result to the world. I say mainly, because there is another consideration which influences me, and that is, the desire to extend to others a knowledge, which I am conscious cannot but make them happier and better."

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »