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formation. The messages proceeded to assert that a new era is dawning on mankind, when more familiar intercourse with the world of spirits would be held; that the progress man has made in science and wisdom is preparing for this happy consummation; and that it has been the researches of scientific spirits, especially Franklin's, which have discovered the means of holding intercourse with the children of earth through the medium of powerful vital electro-magnetic currents! With regard to the question of the utility of these manifestations, many messages appear to describe them as sent to comfort the mourner, to convert the sceptic, and to heal the diseased; and it is said that this assertion has been extensively justified by experience in America.
The manifestations first took the form of rappings; but these rappings assumed protean forms. They would occur inside and outside a door together, at opposite doors simultaneously, on the floor, on the walls, when the feet of the media were isolated on glass stools, etc., and many knocks with various sounds would occur at the same time in the same table. But the rappings, it is said, soon became the least remarkable of the phenomena. Musical media, writing media, bird media, etc. etc. we are assured have been since developed. Media with no taste for music, when impressed, would play well on the piano; others would paint creditably who had no knowledge of the art; pianos and violoncellos would play of themselves, without visible contact; and the hand and pen of media would write various messages mechanically, without any effort of volition or thought. The minds of the media would be impressed with important messages and interesting scenes, partaking of the nature of clairvoyance and prevision; writing would take place without human agency; tables, furniture, etc. would move with and without contact, in opposition to great pressure, and with tremendous force. A very humble phase of these developments has crossed the Atlantic, and visited the conservative countries in Europe under the form of table-turning. The bigots have fancied they detected satanic agency in the novelty and the mystery of this movement; Professor Faraday, and other scientific men,
have explained all by involuntary muscular action, though the believers in these marvels assure us that there are scores of well-attested cases, where no muscle was within three, or even six, feet of the moving tables; and, in short, as usual with all new and unaccountable phenomena, it has been hushed up or laughed down.
Our space will not permit us to dwell on all the singular forms of development presented by this movement; but it will be obvious to the reader, from what has been said, that the dancing tables, as the French style them, present a remarkable analogy to the epidemic called St. Vitus's Dance, in the middle ages; and that whatever the cause of these singular movements-whether it be subjective or objectiveit is evidently a psychological as well as a physiological phenomenon, and that all attempted explanations that keep to bone and muscle will fail to solve the mystery. As it will be our endeavour presently to offer some additional elucidations on this point, we shall confine ourselves for the moment to a farther consideration of the most striking recent manifestations in America. And here we cannot do better than cite the authority and follow the statements of Judge Edmonds, a man of high integrity and intelligence, but evidently of a highly nervous temperament, and who has been expelled from the American Senate for his advocacy of spiritualism.
It was in January, 1851, that the attention of Judge Edmonds was first directed to the subject of Spiritual Intercourse. He was at that time withdrawn from society, and labouring under great depression of spirits. He occupied his leisure in reading on the subject of death, and man's existence afterwards. He had heard so many conflicting and contradictory opinions on this suject from the pulpit, that he hardly knew what to believe: he was anxiously seeking to know if after death we should again meet those whom we had loved here. In this uncertainty he was invited by a friend to witness the Rochester Knockings." He complied, more to please his friend and as a diversion, than for any other purpose. He was a good deal impressed by what he witnessed, and determined to investigate the matter thoroughly. If it were a delusion or
a deception, he thought that he could detect it. For four months he devoted two evenings in the week to witnessing the phenomenon in all its phases. He kept a careful record of all he witnessed, and from time to time compared his notes to detect contradictions and inconsistencies. He read all books on the subject that he could procure, especially such as professed to be exposures of the humbug. He went from place to place, seeing different mediums, meeting with different parties of persons, often with persons whom he had never met before, and sometimes where he was himself entirely unknown-sometimes in the dark, and sometimes in the light, often with inveterate unbelievers, and more frequently with zealous believers. In fine, he availed himself of every opportunity that was afforded, thoroughly to sift the matter to the bottom. All this time he was a sceptic, and tried the patience of believers sorely by his obdurate refusal to yield his belief. He saw around him some who yielded a ready faith after one or two sittings; others, under the same circumstances, avowing a determined unbelief; some refused to witness anything, and yet remained confirmed sceptics. Judge Edmonds would not imitate either of these parties, but refused to yield, unless upon most irrefragable testimony. At length the evidence came, and to his mind, in such force, that no sane man could withhold his faith.
The question hitherto uninvestigated by him was, whether what he saw was produced by mere mortal means, or by some invisible unknown agency: in short, if it were deception, or produced by some unknown cause. He proceeds to give a general idea of what commonly characterised his hypothetical interviews, numbering several hundred already. Most of them took place in the presence of others. He preserved the names of the witnesses, but generally refuses to publish them, to avoid their incurring the obloquy and persecution that he has personally endured. He asserts that the following considerations grow out of the facts:-1st, that he has thus very many witnesses whom he can invoke to confirm the truth of his statements; and 2ndly, that if he has been deceived and did not see what he thought he saw, his delusion has been shared
by many as intelligent, honest, and enlightened persons as can be found in the Union.
His attention was first called to the manifestations by the rappings, the then most usual, and now the most inconsiderable mode of intercourse. He was naturally suspicious of deception, and at first trusted to his senses and the conclusions drawn by his intellect from their evidence. But he was at a loss to account for the media causing what he witnessed under the following circumstances: the media walking the length of a suite of parlours, forty or fifty feet, and the rappings being distinctly heard five or six feet behind them, the whole distance, backward and forward several times; being heard near the top of a mahogany door above where the medium could reach, and as if struck hard with a fist; being heard on the bottom of a carriage when travelling on a railroad, and on the floor and the table, when seated in court, at an eating-house and by the side of the road; being heard at different parts of the room, sometimes several feet distant from the medium, and where he could not reach, sometimes on the table, and immediately after on the floor, and then at different parts of the table, in rapid succession, enabling the spectators and auditors to feel the vibration, as well as hear the sounds,-sometimes when the hands and feet of the medium were both firmly and carefully held by some one of the party, and sometimes on a table when no one touched it.
After depending on his senses as to these various phases of the phenomena, Judge Edmonds had recourse to the aid of science with the help of an accomplished electrician and his apparatus, besides which eight or ten intelligent, educated persons, examined the matter. They continued their investigation for several days, and established to their perfect satisfaction two things,-first, that the sounds were not generated by the agency of any present or near them; second, that they were not forthcoming at their will and pleasure.
Meanwhile another feature attracted his attention,-i. e. the physical manifestations, as they are termed. Thus the Judge affirms that he has known a deal table with four legs lifted bodily from the floor, in the centre of a circle of six or eight persons, turned upside down and laid on its top at
their feet, then lifted up over their heads, and put leaning against the back of the sofa on which they sat. He adds that he has known that same table to be lifted up on two legs, its top at an angle with the floor of 45 degrees, when it neither fell over of itself, nor could any person present put it back on its four legs. He states that he has seen a mahogany table having only a centre leg, and with a lamp burning upon it, lifted from the floor at least a foot, in spite of the efforts of those present, and shaken backwards and forwards as one would shake a goblet in his hand, and the lamp retain its place, though the glass pendants rang again. He has seen the same table tipped up, with the same lamp upon it, so far that the lamp must have fallen off unless retained there by something else than its own gravity; yet it neither fell nor stirred. He has known a dinner bell taken from a high shelf in a closet, rung over the heads of four or five persons in that closet, then rung around the room over the heads of twelve or fifteen persons in the back parlour, and then borne through the folding doors to the farther end of the front parlour, and there dropped on the floor. He has frequently known persons pulled about with a force which it was impossible for them to resist, and once when all his own strength was added in vain to that of the person thus influenced. He has known a mahogany chair thrown on its side and moved rapidly backwards and forwards without any person_touching it, through a room in which at least a dozen people were seated, yet nobody was touched; and it repeatedly stopped within a few inches of the judge when it was coming with a velocity which, if not arrested, must have broken his legs!
The judge affirms that this is not a hundredth part of what he has witnessed, but enough to show the general character of what he has seen. Yet he adds that he has heard of yet more extraordinary transactions from others whose testimony would be credited in any human transaction.
During this time Judge Edmunds read the exposures and explanations of the humbug, and declares that he could not but smile at the rashness and futility of the explanations; for while some learned professors were chuckling on having detected the secret in the toe and knee-joints, the manifestations at New York changed to ringing a bell placed under the table.