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Thus far our authority has confined himself to what he witnessed in the presence of others. He has preferred, he says, not to subject his individual veracity to the judgment of those who would have persecuted Galileo for discovering the planetary system, and have united in the cry of "folly" at Fulton's steamboat, "humbug" at Morse's telegraph, and "insanity" at Grey's iron road.
Having by patient inquiry satisfied himself on this point, the Judge proceeded to inquire whence comes the intelligence that is behind it all; for he considers that intelligence as a remarkable feature of the phenomenon. He states that he has known mental questions answered-i. e. questions merely framed in the mind of the interrogator, and not revealed by him or known to others. Before joining a circle he has often prepared a series of questions, and found them answered in the same order without his having even taken a memorandum of them in his pocket. His most secret thoughts-those which he has never uttered to mortal man or woman-have been as freely replied to as if he had uttered them. Purposes which he has secretly entertained have been publicly revealed, and he has been repeatedly admonished that his every thought could be disclosed by the intelligence manifesting itself.
He has heard the media use Greek, Latin, Spanish, and French words, when they knew no language but their own; and he asserts that it is a well-attested fact that there has been much talking and writing in tongues with which the media were unacquainted.
Judge Edmonds meets the objection of all these latter phenomena being perhaps only the reflection of the minds of the circle, by stating that facts were often communicated, unknown then, but afterwards found to be true. Also thoughts have been uttered on subjects not then in his mind, and utterly at variance with his views.
"These are not apocryphal cases," observes the Judge; "the parties are at hand, and in our very midst, and any person that pleases may make the investigation as I have done."
But all this, and much more of a cognate nature, goes to show, in the opinion of our authority, that there is
a high order of intelligence involved in this new phenomenon-an intelligence beyond mere mortal agency.
He directed his attention to this inquiry, devoting all his leisure hours for more than two years to the task. He went from circle to circle, from medium to medium, seeking knowledge on all hands on the subject, either from books or observations, and bringing to bear on the subject all the acuteness with which he had been gifted by nature, and which, we might suppose, had been sharpened by his professional experience.
He states that there were many ways in which this secret intelligence communed with them besides the rappings and table-liftings, and that through those other modes there came very many communications remarkable for their eloquence, their high order of intellect, and their pure and lofty moral tone, at the same time that he discovered many inconsistencies and contradictions calculated to mislead, and that he endeavoured to elicit something valuable from this chaos. He refers the public to his book in evidence of his success.
To such as imagine that he overrates the importance of the subject, he replies that scarcely four years have elapsed since the Rochester knockings were first known in America. Then media could be counted by units, but now by thousands; then believers could be numbered by hundreds, now by tens of thousands. It is believed by the best informed that the whole number in the United States must be several hundred thousand, and that in New York and its vicinity there must be from twenty-five to thirty thousand. There are ten or twelve newspapers and periodicals, some of which have already attained circulation of more than ten thousand copies. Besides the undistinguished multitude, there are many men 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 their higher courts, members of Congress, foreign ambassadors, and ex-members of the National Senate.
It is the opinion of Judge Edmonds that a movement which has spread with such marvellous celerity, in spite of
the ridicule which has deterred so many from an open avowal, and which has attracted the attention of so many of the best minds among the Americans, cannot be unworthy of investigation. Judge Edmonds originally went into the inquiry considering the whole a deception, and intending to publish his exposure of it; but, having arrived at a different conclusion, he felt the obligation to be equally important to make the result known.
Such is a brief summary of the defence of himself, and of the movement by its most able and eminent advocate. We shall only add a few facts from other sources to this statement.
There are other authenticated facts open to scrutiny, among the most striking of which we will allude to the following:-The witness, a Mr. John B. Wolf, visiting at the house of Mr. J. Koons, at Ushfield, Dover Township, Athens County, Ohio, wrote Nov. 5, 1853, saying-"I have had one extended and one brief interview with spirits. I have again seen them, talked with them, and shook hands with them as really and substantially as one man shakes hands with another.... Again, writing was done without human hands; and, indeed, volumes are written in this way, and in no other way. During the circle's continuance the hand is visible while the writing is done; the pencil and paper are also visible,-visible alike to believer and sceptic." Remarkable phenomenon, certainly, and very useful to authors if these communications were good for anything!
At the Spiritual Conference at Dodsworth's Hall on the 29th of February, 1853, it was stated by a Mr. Whittaker, of Troy, who knew the fact to be true, that a medium residing in that city being at one time indisposed, was ordered by the spirits to take at a single dose one hundred grains of arsenic in a mixture of lemon-juice and spirits of nitre; and that he took the prescription according to the direction, and, so far from experiencing any inconvenience, was greatly benefited by it!
A Mr. Henry Gordon, a well-known medium for spiritual manifestations, being at a circle in New York one evening, was repeatedly raised from his seat and carried through the air without any visible power touching him.
Many witnesses affirm that the laws of gravity are often suspended by these unknown powers, that things otherwise hurtful are rendered innocuous by some invisible agency, that material objects are displaced and removed to immense distances without any traceable cause, that inveterate maladies have been rapidly and easily cured, and, in short, that phenomena are constantly occurring which former ages would have reckoned supernatural.
A word must be said regarding table-turnings, which are the most elementary of all the manifestations, and those best known in England. Evangelical clergymen, and French Catholics in England, have found that tables maintained doctrines conformable to their education, and that they have mutually anathematized each other like good Christians. In these cases it must be admitted that appearances favour the view that the reverend gentlemen charged the tables, and converted them into passive vehicles of their respective views, and that, if any evil spirits were present, they must have been incarnate in the orthodox operations.
But table-moving has been so superficially treated in Europe that we must go to America to embrace the whole scope of the question. There we find that tables are not only moved when no mortal hand is within twenty feet of them, but raised from the floor, out of the reach of any person, turned upside-down, or revolve with extreme velocity, carrying heavy men seated upon them. It might be imagined that these phenomena, resting on the evidence of countless respectable witnesses, point to a new and mysterious locomotive force.
Various attempts have been made to solve this problem, but as yet no full solution has been found. The theory of muscular or involuntary pressure is supposed by many good authorities to be disproved by undeniable facts. To suppose them merely to be delusion or deception is in many cases equally unjust, though fraud has undoubtedly been mixed up with them, as with all popular movements. If the phenomena cannot be referred to ponderable, it is as difficult to account for them by imponderable matter alone, unless we give intelligence to these forces. Hence the inquirer is drawn from one position to another, till he has
no refuge save in the labyrinth of psychology, which is tantamount to having no explanation at all; and here, even, the difficulty occurs as to whether the phenomena are self-originated and spontaneous, or come from other intelligences. And after all, we are reduced to admit that it would be vain, with our present imperfect knowledge of the question, to pronounce a judgment on its cause. We do not, however, encounter so much difficulty when we trace the characteristics of its development to what have been styled the psychological epidemics of past ages.
A case of psychological sympathy has recently occurred in Europe, which, by its connection with spirituality and pure morality, may be viewed as a more satisfactory, though still an imperfect, illustration of the manifestations in America.
That portion of Southern Sweden formerly called Smäland, and which now comprises the provinces of Kalmar, Wexio, and Jön Kopping, though one of the poorest parts of the kingdom, is inhabited by a laborious and contented people. Their lot, which is one of extreme suffering and privation, is rendered endurable to them by their natural simplicity of character and deep religious feeling. About sixty years ago a very strong religious movement took place among them, which, for political reasons or otherwise, government thought fit to put a violent stop to, and with great difficulty it was done. Whether there be a predisposition among these simple but earnest people for religious excitement we cannot tell; but certain it is that, at the commencement of 1842, the singular phenomenon of which we are about to speak made its appearance among them, and, from its rapid spread, and apparently contagious character, and from the peculiar nature of its manifestations, it was popularly called the Preaching Epidemic.
Dr. J. A. Butsch, Bishop of Skara, in Westgöthland, wrote a long letter on this subject to Dr. C. F. Wingård, Archbishop of Upsala, and Primate of all Sweden, which letter is considered so perfect an authority on the matter, that it is published in an appendix to Archbishop Wingärd's "Review of the Church of Christ," an excellent little work, which has been translated into English by G. W. Carlsen, late Chaplain to the Swedish Embassy in London, a gentleman of