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Nos. 614 AND 61.7 Sansom Street. 


finterar aexirding to Act of Congresa, in tbe ymi 1857, If 

L. P CROWN & CO., 

m Ibe Clerk's Office nf tbe District Court of the District of MassaebnsenB 


This volume is intended as an antidote to a species of 
errors that have been rife in every age of the Christian 
church. Notwithstanding the disclosures the Most High 
made of himself to his ancient people, they were yet prone 
to turn aside from the worship of the true God, to follow the 
lying spirits of the prophets of Baal, and other deceivers, 
from the days of Moses till the destruction of Jerusalem. 
So, likewise, under the Christian dispensation, there has 
been a succession of Antichrists, until their name is legion, 
whose teachings have clouded the understandings and blinded 
the moral perceptions of men, subverting the faith of many 
whose mountains stood strong, and who had been counted the 
chosen people of God. 

The present is viewed as an age of isms. Men have run 
mad, and are chasing phantoms. They are roaming round 
to find some fulcrum to overturn the church and the Bible ; 
they are imagining they are receiving utterances from heaven, 
when nothing is uttered but the vain fantasies of their own 
minds and hearts. It is the grossest fanaticism — fanaticism 
in its most frightful form, leading its unhappy victims, not 
unfrequently, to flagrant crimes, and to the most horrid of 
all — that of self-destruction. 

These pages are submitted to the public with the counsel 
of the wisest and best of all ages, that, amid the wily arts of 
the adversary, we should cling to the word of God, tha 
Bible of our fathers, as the only safe and infallible guide of 
faith and practice. 


We would here give credit to the principal works 
from which valuable and important matter has been 
selected for these pages: "Whitman's Popular Super- 
stitions ; Upham's Lectures upon Witchcraft ; Chris- 
tian Freeman and Family Visitor ; Abercrombie on 
the Intellectual Powers ; Influence of the Imagination 
upon the Nervous System, by Rev. Grant Powers ; 
Life of Adam Clarke ; Hay ward's Book of all Reli- 
gions ; Miller on the Second Coming of Christ ; 
Sorrow's Gypsies of Spain ; Stone on False Prophets 
and Christs ; Dickens's Household Words ; Capron 
and Barron on the Spirit Knocldngs; Dick on the 
Improvement of Society ; Revelations of A. J. Davis ; 
The Great Harmonia ; Rogers on Human and Mun- 
dane Agents ; Miss Crowe's Night Side of Nature ; 
Spiritual Telegraph, &c. 

As the work embraces a mass of facts of an absorb- 
ing and intensely interesting character, we trust that 
it will commend itself to an enlightened and judicious 






Narseiy tales of giants, dwarfs, ghosts, fairies, and witches. — Their 
effect upon juvenile minds. — A belief in ghosts still prevalent. — 
The excitability of the public mind. — Ghost reported as having 
been seen in Waltham, Massachusetts 17 



Ignorance of correct reasoning. — Conclusions from particular facte. 
— Water boiled by heat. — Signs. — Breaking a mirror. — General 
conclusions from a few facts. — A victim to superstition in New 
Hampshire. — How signs may be multiplied. — The design of 
the Creator in endowing us with reason 19 



Ignorance of it the cause of many superstitions. — Lights seen in 
marshy grounds, &c. — Supposed to be supernatural. — Causes 
of these lights, and phenomena connected with them. — Shrinking 
and swelling of pork in boiling. — Cause. — Supposed influence 
of the moon in making soap, grafting trees, cutting timber, &c. — 
Lunar influence in matters of wedlock. — Love not to be fed on 

moonshine 22 





Fruitful source of superstitions. — Opinions of ancient divines — ■ 
Dreams related in the Scriptures. — Tlieir object. — Principles of 
mental philosophy applied to modern dreams. — Examples of 
singular dreams. — Dreams occasioned by sickness. — Fulfilment 
of certain dreams. — Causes of the same. — Remarkable case of a 
German student. — Case of a member of Congress. — Amusing 
case concerning a passage of Scripture. — Necessity of a pure 
conscience, and a careful attention to our stomachs. . . .24. 



Ignorance of it has given rise to many superstitions. — Experiments 
of Mesmer and Deslon in Paris. — Singular developments. — 
Trials at Dr. Franklin's house. — Children uninfluenced by mes- 
meric operations. — Magnetizing a tree in Dr. Franklin's gardeil. 

— Experiments upon two females. — Effect produced. — Experi- 
ment upon a female by Dr. Sigault. — Practice among the 
Chinese. — Girl frightened to death by a Gypsy. — Practice 
among the New Zealanders. — liiliing others by incantation — 
Intercourse with departed spirits. — Au account of Perkins's 
metallic tractoi's. — Their supposed influence in various diseases. — 
Suspicions concerning them. — Experiments with wooden tractors. 

— Result of these experiments. — Statements of a niodera 
mesmerizer 2S 



This ignorance a cause of many superstitions. — Case of a person 
who slept in a bed room supposed to be haunted. — Skeleton seen 
by moonlio'ht. — Apparition seen by Dr. Gregory. — Case related by 
Dr. Conolly. — Ship's crew frightened by an apparition. — Young 
lady supposed to have been murdered by pirates. — Cases of ini-: 
pressions connected with bodily disease. — Phantasms in febrile 
diseases. — A farmer frightened to death by a light in the road. — 
A figure like Death striking a lady in her side with a dart. — 


niusion of sight and hearing. — Case of a lady who saw her absent 
husband standing by her side. — Countenance of a friend seen 
in a mirror. — Tunes heard. — Inverted objects. — Visions of the 
world of spirits. — Case of Baron Swedenborg. — Case of a lady 
in Boston, who saw her deceased grandmother. — The phantom 
ship seen in New Haven. — The science of optics. — Of nauscopy. 

— Cases of mirage 18 



God the Supreme Ruler of the Universe. — The natural world 
governed by regular laws. — Sign of the howling of a dog under 
the window. — Lucky and unlucky days. — Sir Matthew Hale's 
opinion. — Early laws of Connecticut. — Superstition of sailors. 

— Timidity of Voltaire. — Peace and happiness on all days. — 
How procured . . 50 



A witch as regarded by our fathers. — Compact or agreement with 
the devil. — Carried through the air on brooms and spits. — • 
Anointing their bodies with a magical ointment. — How to 
prepare the same. — Singular ceremonies at the meetings of 
witches. — How they afflicted others. — The bewitched pins 
shown to Grace Greenwood. — Mode of examining and trying 
witches. — Witch catcher in England. — How he was arrested and 
condemned. — Singular record on a church book in Scotland. — 
Notice of the Salem witchcraft. — How such superstitions are to 
be done away. — Witches and wizards of modern times. . . 53 



Moll Pitcher, the queen of the race. — Her place of abode. — Com- 
pany that visited her. — Member of a church sent to consult her. 

— Casting out evil spirits in Syria. — Account of Lady Hester 
Stanhope. — The astrologer of Hopkinton, Massachusetts. — 
Chief characteristic of fortune seekers. — Effects produced upon 
them .... 58 




Description of fairies, habits, localities, &c. — Subterranean spirits 
in Wales, called Knockers. — The Brownies in Scotland. — A 
farmer in Ireland who was tormented by fairies. — Method taken 
to appease their anger. — Spenser's poem of the Fairy Queen. — 
Gypsies and their employments. — Casting the evil eye. — Safe- 
guard against it. — Charm of the Bible and key. — Superstition 
called the elf-shot. — Practice of poisoning animals, and the cure. 
— Superstitions concerning the loadstone. — Translation of St. 
Luke into the Gypsy tongue. — Singular notions of the Gypsies 
wncerning it. — Condemned by the royal edict at Madrid. — 
the Gypsy choirs at Moscow. — Anecdote of Madame Catalini. . 61 



K.^OK c T)ubli3hed upon these things. — Their injurious tendency. — 
ii jiiii^pic Oi" their contents. — Practice of boxers. — Whistling in 
A SuOim ai sea. — Setting hens on an odd number of eggs. — 
Salutej of an odd number of guns. — Omen concerning the 
numbei ihirUrM. — Methods of ascertaining who will be a future 
husband — Crossing of knives. — Click of insects. — Advent of 
comets. 76 



They partake of superstition. — Instructions of the Savior concern- 
ing them. — Object of Scripture miracles. — Modem miracles not 
satisfactory. — Judge Howe's opinion concerning Christianity. — 
Times of miracles ceased .79 



History of the prophet Matthias. — His career in Albany and New 
York. — His deceptions upon conspicuous individuals. — His 
arrest for alleged crimes. — Account of John of Leyden. — Sketch 
of Cochi-ane, and his impositions 81 




Account of the golden plates found by Joseph Smith. — Their 
translation and publication in a volume. — Peculiar style of the 
writings. — Attempt at imitation. — Mormon preachers speaking 
with new tongues. — Increase of the doctrine, and why. — Mormon 
cities not to be identified. — Strong indications of fabrication. — 
Fluency and earnestness of their preachers. — Traits of the Coch- 
ranites. — Effects produced upon their hearers. — An account of 
the real origin of the Mormon Bible, and its author. — Of Joseph 
Smith, Jr., the Mormon prophet. — His early characteristics. — 
Exposure of the indecent ceremonies at Nauvooj as established by 
Smith and others 94 



Prophecies of Mr. Miller. — His computation of time. — Manage- 
ment to suit his own particular views. — Keeping the world stand- 
ing thirty years on a simple if. -^ Various blunders and mistakes. 

— Confession of his errors. — False information respecting signs. 

— Disappearance of stars. — Of the Aurora Borealis. — Shooting . 
stars. — Sun and moon turning to blood. — Darkness of the sun. 

— Its cause. — Remarkable appearances in various ages of the 
world. — Opinion concerning Halley's comet. — Ignorance of 
the constitution of comets. — The comet of 1770. — Tests of signs 
that shall indicate the end of time. — Scientific men stationed in 
various parts of the earth. — No such changes as have been spoken 

of by the second advent preachers, observed by them. . . .102 



Sjiirits, ghosts, and spectres seen in all ages. — Account of the 
magic crystals, or divining glasses. — Seeing spirits in Egypt. — 
Lady Blessington's crystal in England. — Spirit of Lord Nelson 
described. — The Latin language commonly used by spirits. — 
An account of spirits that live in the Sun. — Spirits conversing 
with human beings. — Mode of communication by letters of fire, 
or large printed capitals. — Interview with the spirit of Pharaoh, 

— His present dwelling in the planet Jupiter. — Information 


gleaned in conversation with him. — Swedenborg's account of 
Sir John Franklin. — Describes his situation, blocked up by ice. — 
Spirits do not understand about latitude and longitude. — Descrip- 
tion of the spirit of Socrates, his dress, &c. — Account of the 
emperor Alexander in the spirit world. — Dickens's account of 
fashionable dupes in England. — The sciences of astrology and 
magic. — Practices of high titled ladies in London. — Account of 
famous conjurers, or fortune tellers. — Account of the " rappers," 
or " knocking spirits." — Children frightened by their noises. — 
Snapping of fingers, and clapping of hands, imitated by the spirits. 

— Mrs. Fox asks questions of a spirit. — Answers given by a 
succession of raps. — Account of a ghost that appeared in Wal- 
tham, Massachusetts. — Conversation with the ghost by a gentle- 
man. — Said he had been murdered, and told by whom. — Tones 
of the ghost, (unearthly,) its mode of walking, &c. — Great ex- 
citement on account of the ghost. — Mode of communication 
with the rapping spirits. — Tables and chairs moved, sounds 
heard, &c. — Band of music, beating of the bass drum, and roar of 
artillery. — Guitar played by unseen hands. — Ladies' hair taken 
down and braided by spirits. — People touched by unseen hands. 

— How spirits produce the sounds of music. ^- How they make the 
rapping noises. — Account of an interview with the spirit of Dr. 
Franklin. — Sounds heard like trying the batteries in the tele- 
graph office. — Occupation of Franklin in the spirit world. — 
Getting up a line of communication between the two worlds. — 
Dr. Franklin predicts great changes in the nineteenth century. — 
Connection of magnetism with tho. spiritual rappings. — Clairvoyant 
interpreters between men and spirits. — Spiritual postmasters, 
letter paper, and envelopes. — Letters received from the spiritual 
■»'<^'•lds. — The Spirit Journal, in Auburn, New York. — Its pages 
edited, controlled, and superintended by spirits. — The prophets 
and apostles its conductors, acting under the Lord Supreme. 

— Blunders and errors of the rapping spirits. — Ignorant spirits. 

— Mischief produced by them. — Swedenborg's account of their 
stupidity. — How to distinguish the sounds made by an ignorant 
or an intelligent spirit. — "Wonderful precocity of infant spirits. — 
Progression of spirits, both upwards and downwards. — The spirit 
of Dr. Channing deteriorated in the other world. — Theological 
teachings of the rapping spirits. — Prophecy of Swedenboi g con- 
cerning the year 1852. — Noises of the rappers indicative of the 
approach of his prediction. — Are to be considered as omens 
of a new advent. — Compared with the Miller prophecy of 1843. 

— Miracles, both of the rappers and the Millerites. — A sick man 
and his bed taken up by spirits. — The body of a Mr. Gordoa 


taken up by spiritual hands. — Miracles wrought in favor of 
Millerism. — Miracles wrought in favor of witchcraft. — Millerites 
taken up by spiritual hands. — Strange noises made by spirits 
among the Adventists. — Houses shaken, mirrors shattered to 
pieces, furniture broken. — Four women carried through the air 
on a pole. — Testimony under oatli respecting it. — Account of a 
bewitched ventriloquist. — Witches in 1850. — What the editor of 
a Boston journal says of them. — Witches, ghosts, spooks, and 
hobgoblins, in all ages of the world. — Account of a haunted 
house in Boston. — Every window illuminated at midnight. — 
A young man frightened by the scene. — Singular notion of the 
Greenlanders respecting the cause of thunder, and of the Aurora 
Borealis. — Notion of the ancients concerning the foundation of 
the earth. — Of the mathematician Kepler. — Performance of 
Signor Blitz. — Effects produced by ventriloquism. — Singular 
vibrations of the guitar. — Spirit rappings considered as a new 
science. — Noises heard by the Wesley family, in 1716. — Noises 
heard by Martin Luther. — Empty barrels and hogsheads tum- 
bling down stairs. — Information of past, present, and future 
events. — The fortune tellers in comparison with the spirit rap- 
pers. — Spirits unwilling or unable to spell their own names. — 
Spiritual communications on the decline. — Contrast between the 
doings of ancient and modern spirits. — Swedenborg's informa- 
tion concerning the spirit of Melancthon. — A clairvoyant inter- 
view with Tom Paine. — Account of an interview with Mr. Sun- 
derland. — Dialogue with a young lady. — Interview with a 
clairvoyant medium in Lowell. — Facts respecting mesmeric 
operations. — People deceived by " sympathetic spirits." — Judson 
J. Hutchinson made insane. — Exposure of the deception prac- 
tised upon him. — Davis's account of Benjamin Franklin. — Dr. 
Phelps concerning the " spirit rappers." — Singular developments 
at his house. — How tables, chairs, &c., are moved by spirits. — 
Exhibitions of " chin music " in London. — Singular transactions 
in England, as related by Dr. Thomas Dick. — Tricks performed 
by Joe Collins of Oxford. — Spirits seen by tb.e votaries of St. 
Vitus, and the Shakers of later times. . . '. . . .118 



Great waste of time. — Ceremonies among the ancients. — Practices 
in Catholic countries. — Injurious practices in Protestant lands. 



— Dreams, visions, signs, tricks, omens, &c. — Great waste of 
human life. — Account of the trial by ordeal. — Murder of inno- 
cent persons. — Belief in dreams and forewamiugs. — Modem 
miracles, appearances of the dead, &c. — Unfavorable influence of 
a belief in dreams. — The death watch, new moon, &c. — Predic- 
tions of Nanny Scott. — Of the good Mrs. Taylor. — Mamages 
on a stormy day. — Practice of wedded couples. — Moles on the 
wrong side of the body. — Opening books, tricks, fortune telling. 

— Practice of a lady in a clergyman's family. — Disadvantageous 
matrimonial alliances. — Anticipation of dreadful calamities. — 
Practice of Rev. John Wesley. — Temperaments of Melancthon 
and Luther. — Luck, chance, fatality, &c. — Saul and the witch of 
Endor. — Conjurers and impostors. — Injury done to the cause 
of medicine. — King's touch in scrofula. — The ninth son of a 
ninth son. — The seventh son of a seventh son. — Cure by the cold 
hands of a malefactor. — Plaster on a pitchfork ; polishing rusty 
nails. — A female heart made into pills for consumption. — Heart 
taken out of a female in Maine, and in Waltham, Massachusetts, 
and made into pills. — Influence of the imagination. — Account 
of a Mr. Austin, in Vermont. — His singular mode of healing the 
sick. — Account of the celebrated rain-water doctor. — Sketch of 
an astrological physician in New York. — Of Valentine Greataks 
and Francisco Bagnone. — Momentary relief obtained, and why. 

— Injury done to the cause of religion. — Account of the 
Pharisees, compared to vipers and toads, and their numerous 
progeny. — How we may know a Pharisee. — A young man 
catechized by our Savior. — St. Paul once a Pharisee. — Proof. 

— Customs among the Catholics. — Practices of many Protes- 
tants. — Mistaken views upon religion. — Views concerning Satan. 

— Satan versus Cotton Mather. — Professor Stuart's views con 
cerning the devil. — Periodical revivals of religion ; the cause. — . 
How to have a constant revival 129 



How shall it be eflTected ? — The proper use of our reasoninff faculties. 
— :The exercise of our understandings. — Persevering self-di,sci- 
pline. — Conduct towards believers in ghosts, signs, &c — Mis- 
conduct in families ; trying tricks, &c. — How we should employ 
our time. — Belief in an all-wise Providence, as Governor and 
Controller of all events. — Importance of a correct education of 


youth. — Nursery tales and maryellous stories. — Their baneful 
influence. — Correct examples before children. — Superstitious 
tales to be avoided. — Attention to the means of education. — 
Immense value and importance of knowledge. — No lack of 
means to educate the young. — Money foolishly wasted in various 
ways. — Perseverance in laudable exertions. — The blessing of 
Heaven to crown our labors 185 



Miracle performed by spirits in Springfield, Massachusetts. — Case 
of biological deception. — Case of a " writing medium." — Effects 
produced by pathetism. — Incident related by Miss Martineau. — 
Travelling to other countries, and to other spheres. — Singular 
feat by a boy of Dr. Phelps. — Wonderful case of a lady in New 
Jersey. — Advice of Hon. Horace Greely. — Testimony of Eev. 
Dr. Phelps 191 



" Circle " at the house of Mr. Hoyt, at East Boston. — Effects of vital 
electricity. — Imitating handwritings, writing poetry, music, &c. 200 


Facts related by a gentleman of Maine. — Renunciation of a spirit 
rapper. — Murder committed at the instigation of "spirits." — 
Conflicting testimony concerning John Thompson. — Experi- 
ments of Mr. Kellogg, the table lifter. — Discovery by Dr. Taylor, 
the writing medium. — Renunciation of Mr. Cooley, of Spring- 
field, Massachusetts. — Attempt to murder a family in Barre, 
Massachusetts. — Sacrifice of the innocent in heathen countries. — 
Great danger in civilized communities. — Reports concerning the 
burning of the Lunatic Asylum in Maine. — Testimony of Pro- 
fessor Stowe. — Reply of Bingham to Professor Pond. — Singular 
confessions of the reviewer. — Intelligence said to be communi- 


cated by " spirits." — Vital electricity of embodied and disem- 
bodied spirits 20S 


Star singers, concerts, parties, and lectures in the other spheres. -^ 
Studies of French, Italian, geology, chemistiy, drawing, &c. — ^ 
Semi-clergymen, outsiders, or come-outers. . . ~ . . . 215 


Prediction concerning the ship Staffordshire. — General Pierce's 
election foretold by Professor Anderson's glass bell. — False pre- 
dictions of the " spirits." — Error committed by Professor Lester. 
— Suggestion of a lady to a sick friend. — Sentiments of Alexander 
Pope 218 


Sights, sounds, signs, miracles, maps, drawings, hieroglyphics. — 
Talking cow in Maine. — Her prophecy. — Proposition for 
another " New Chukch." — Predictions concerning all other 
churches. — Opinions three hundred years ago. — Fate of Galileo. 220 


Prescriptions from the dead. — Power of the imagination. — Won- 
derful efficacy of brown bread pills. — Singular cure of palsy, by 
Sir Humphrey Davy 221 


Fishbough's new work. — Fancy-captivating publications. — Refined 
atheism. — Transcendental nonsense. — False communications 
relating to patriots, statesmen, orators, and divines. — Mounte- 
bank scenes of " psychology." — Testimony of A. J. Davis, upon 
the tricks of the spirit demonstrators. — Concealments, mis- 
statements, and exaggerations 223 


Thumping noises in New Jersey. — Door opened as if struck by a 
mallet. — Great excitement. — Glass broken, &c. — Knockings 
heard in New Hackensack. — Pile of lumber shaken ; tables, chairs, 
stand, and candlestick thrown about. — Bags of salt, tin ware, 
and cooking utensils thrown in a heap. — An English officer 


haunted by noises in the night. — Heavy marble top tables pois- 
ing themselves on two legs. — Brass door knockers bewitched. — 
Commotion among crockery, tin ware, &c. — Firing a gun at 
noises in the walls. — Tearing up floor to get at the noises. — 
Suit brought for damages. — Bed of a sick girl raised. — Trem- 
bling of the house walls. — Singular pranks in a factory. — Jerk- 
ing of the frames, and cylinder thrown at a distance. — Alarm 
and flight of the operatives. — A chest with three men, and a man 
«n a tub, taken up by an invisible power. — A chair broken 
between two men's hands. — An image seated on a stool, clad in 
white. — Visions of beings like spirits. — Knockings on the walls, 
and noises in the air. — A lady suspended by the tips of the 
fingers, as a magnet suspends a piece of iron. — Electrical flashes 
from a lady's body. — Knockings made to be heard at a distance. 

— Quotation from a work by Rev. T. Hill, of Waltham. — Singu- 
lar developments in New York. — Freaks of a knob of a door 
bell. — Fiery flashes, and fiery smacks, on kissing. — Blows in 
the mouth from a speaking tube. — Account of two girls that 
could move tables without touching them. — Effects of storms on 
raising tables. — Electrical circles in Cincinnati. — Case of a 
lady in Strasburg. — Power of giving electrical shocks to persons 

at a distance. — Singular effects of the northern lights on a lady. 224 


Chairs, tables, and persons moved. — Biological table-liftings in 
East Boston. — "Mediums," as visible human operators. — Re- 
solve of the " rappers " at Poughkeepsie. — The unseen agent 
that moves tables, beds, &c. — Dancing plates, knives and forks, &c. 264 


Delivering speeches ; imitating orators. — Case related by Walter 
Scott. — Case of a man haunted by the devil. — Effects of wine 
and heavy eating. — Voice heard by Judge Edmonds. — Lady in 
Providence who writes music by " spirits." — Diagram of the 
spheres, by a lady in a magnetic state. ..... 268 


Imitating unseen letters, signatures, and languages. — Suspicions 
concerning Professor Bush. — Singular feat attributed to spirits. 

— No difficulty in raising chairs or tables. — Spirits shown by 
Egyptian boys. — Unbelief of practising " mediums." — School 
children forbidden to move tables, &c 273 



Dancing light seen in Southboro', Massachusetts. — Ignis fatuus 
seen by Dr. Derham. — Corpusants seen by mariners. — Dam pier's 
account of them 274 


Sailors' omens and superstitions. — Devil's power in stindng up 
winds. — Losing a cat overboard, a bucket, or a mop. . . . 27C 


Othello winning Desdemona by conjuration. — Execution of a 
young lady for giving a love powder. — Her dying confession. — 
A charm or an allay for love. 277 


Effects of a belief in the reality of ghosts. — Case at the University 
at Cambridge. — A student frightened to death. . • - . 279 


The invisible lady in Boston. — The invisible girl in London. — 
Joice Heth, the India rubber woman. — Professor Grimes's dis- 
covery among the " rappers." — Mrs. Culver respecting the 
Bochester rappers. 280 

Persons killed by the enemy's fires. — Singular custom in Java. . 281 


Men turned into tigers by eating a certain root, and turned back 
again by eating another. — A tiger-man shot in the woods and 
recognized, after having devoured some of his neighbors. — 
Account of the wolf mania in Egypt and in Brittany. — A husband 
that lived and died a wolf. 282 


Astrology. — Vegetable oil of swallows, &c. — Cleanliness, diet, 
&c. — Ablution. — Ventilation. — Food. — Quality of meats. . 284 



The object of this treatise upon some of the 
various errors of the past and present ages i? to 
explain their nature — investigate their origin — 
describe their injurious effects — and to ofier and 
recommend the necessary measures for their ban- 
ishment. Most persons, even those who have been 
well educated, can call to mind the avidity with 
which, in their days of childhood, they listened to the 
nursery tales of giants, dwarfs, ghosts, fairies, and 
witches. The effects of these juvenile impressions are 
not easily effaced from the mind, and the impressions 
themselves are but rarely, if ever, forgotten. 

To doubt, in former times, the power of charms, and 
the veracity of omens, and ghost stories, was deemed 
little less than atheism. The terror caused by them 
imbittered the lives of persons of all ages. It either 
served to shut them out of their own houses, or de- 
terred them from going abroad after it was dark. The 
room in which the head of a family died was for a long 
time untenanted ; particularly if he died without a 


will, or was supposed to have entertained any peculiar 
religious opinions. If any disconsolate maiden, or 
love-crossed bachelor, became the instrument of their 
own death, the room where the fatal deed was com- 
mitted was rendered forever uninhabitable, and not 
unfrequently nailed up. K a drunken farmer, return- 
ing from market, fell from his horse, and by the fall 
broke his own neck, that spot, ever after, was haunted 
and impassable. In truth, there was scarcely a by- 
lane or cross-way but had its ghost, which appeared 
in the shape of a headless cow or horse. Ghosts of a 
higher degi-ee rode in coaches, drawn by six headless 
horses, and driven by a headless coachman. As for 
the churchyards, the legitimate habitations of spectres, 
clothed all in white, the numbers who swarmed there 
equalled the living parishioners ; and to pass such a 
place in the night was more perilous than the storming 
of Badajos. 

Confuted and ridiculed as these opinions have been, 
in later days, the seeds of them are still widely diffused, 
and at times attempt to spring up in all their earlier 
excess. In the year 1832, crowds of men, women, and 
children jflocked to the village of Waltham, a few 
miles from Boston, to see a ghost which was said to 
make its appearance towards midnight, walking to 
and fro in a turf meadow, declaring itself, in un- 
earthly tones, to be the spirit of a murdered man, 
whose bones lay in a mud hole near by. The excite- 
ment spread many miles around, and hundreds from 
the city and neighboring towns hied to the spot, with 
eyes agape, to behold the solemn visitor from the spirit 
world. And such was the credulity inspired in the 
minds of the people, that a clergyman in the vicinity 


declared from his pulpit, on the following Sabbath, 
that the awful crime of murder had been revealed by 
the spirit which had appeared in Waltham ! Such is 
the excitability of the mind, and its tendency (not- 
withstanding the light that has been scattered abroad) 
to give credence to all the vagaries and nonsense of 
the darker ages. 



Ignorance of correct reasoning has undoubtedly 
given rise to many superstitions. Inductive reasoning 
teaches us to infer general conclusions from particular 
facts which have come under our observation. This 
definition may be illustrated by an example. You 
know that water boils on the application of a certain 
degree of heat. You have seen this experiment tried 
many times without a single failure. You therefore 
conclude that water will always boil on the application 
of this degree of heat, although you have seen it ap- 
plied but to a small portion of the water in creation 
Thus you draw this general conclusion from the few 
particular facts which you have witnessed. But had 
you noticed several failures in the trial, your conclu- 
sions would have been doubtful. And if the experi 
ment had failed ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, 
you would have adopted an opposite conclusion. 
You would have said that the application of the 


. ppocified degree of heat would not boil water. In 
this way, logical reasoning leads to the discovery of 
truth. Now, apply this principle of sound reasoning 
to the whole mass of pretended signs. Let me select 
one to show you the absurdity of believing in any. 
It is commonly reported that the breaking of a look- 
ing glass betokens death to some member of the 
family. This sign probably originated in the follow- 
ing manner : A death happened to follow the breaking 
of a mirror. Some ignorant person immediately con- 
cluded that the breaking of the glass was a sure sign 
of death. The story soon spread among credulous 
people, and at length was handed down from gener- 
ation to generation as an established truth. But you 
readily perceive the absurdity of forming this general 
conclusion from one or a few particular facts. We 
all know that death does not follow the supposed sign 
oftener than once in a hundred times ; and therefore 
the breaking of the glass is almost a sure sign that no 
death will immediately take place in the family. But 
as mirrors are always breaking, and people are always 
dying, it is not strange that the latter event should 
sometimes follow the former. It would be a miracle 
if it did not. But the events have no connection what- 
ever with each other. The coincidence in any case is 
altogether accidental. We might with the same rea- 
son affirm that the breaking of a teakettle is the sign 
of death, or any thing else, as the breaking of a mirror. 
But the truth is, there is no sign in the case. It first 
originated in ignorance of correct reasoning, and 1 as 
been perpetuated by the credulous. It is but a short 
time ago that a girl in Exeter, N. H., broke a mirror. 
She believed that iU luck always followed such an 


event and therefore became seriously affected in her 
mind. Finally, her sti-ength failed, and she died a 
victim to her superstition. Hence we perceive the 
great imporance of a just conception and well-in- 
formed judgment upon such apparently trifling, yet 
oftentimes serious events, in their effects upon social 
and individual happiness. 

We have only to apply this principle of correct 
reasoning to every sign in existence, to find them to 
be superstitious. We shall find, upon investigation, 
that they are based upon no rational evidence, and 
consequently are not entitled to our belief or confi- 
dence. If they indicate any thing, it is something 
directly opposite to what is generally supposed, for 
they do not come to pass more than once in a 
hundred times, and therefore warrant a different con- 
clusion. Not only so. If you believe in the present 
pretended signs, you may make a million more 
equally good. A man quarrels after drinking a glass 
of wine ; you may therefore say that taking a glass 
of wine is the sign of a quarrel. A man draws a 
prize in a lottery ; you may say therefore that the 
purchase of a ticket is the sign of a fortune. A man 
dies after supper ; you may say therefore that eating 
supper is the sign of death. In this you may multiply 
signs to infinity, and they will prove just as true as 
any now in existence. But our Creator has endowed 
us with understanding. He has given us reason to 
regulate our belief by satisfactory evidence. And if 
we do this, we cannot believe in any of the pretended 
signs. We must conclude that they have all origi- 
nated in ignorance of correct reasoning, and are kept 
in remembrance by those who will not use their 
ititeUectual powers as their Maker designed. 




Ignorance of inductive philosophy has giver, rise 
to many superstitions. By the means of indu jtive 
philosophy, we are enabled to trace effects to their 
true causes. For example : Lights have frequently 
been seen dancing over marshy grounds, near tan- 
yards, and burying-places, and along the sea shore. 
Credulous people have believed them to be the 
spirits of the uneasy dead. This belief must be con- 
sidered superstitious, not having any foundation on 
rational evidence. Philosophy teaches that these 
lights are occasioned by an inflammable gas, which 
arises from decayed animal and vegetable substances, 
and takes fire on coming in contact with atmospheric 
air. Thus we may trace all effects to their true 

Many persons have supposed that pork killed in the 
increase of the moon would swell in boiling, while 
that killed in her wane would shrink. This opinion 
probably originated in the following manner : Some 
person killed, at different periods of the moon, two 
nogs which had been born and fattened together. 
That killed in her increase swelled in boiling ; while 
the other, killed in her wane, shrunk. He could con- 
ceive of no way to account for the facts but on the 
supposition of lunar influence. This conclusion was 
accordingly adopted, and at length became an estab- 
lished truth. Yet there was no philosophy in form- 
ing this opinion from a few such facts. More ex- 


periments should have been tried; and the results 
would have shown that the real cause of the swelling 
and shrinking existed in the constitution of the 
animals. It would have been discovered that pork 
of fine and solid texture would commonly swell, 
whenever killed ; while that of loose and coarse grain 
would as generally shrink. And the person would no 
more have thought of attributing the difference in his 
pork to the moon than to the spirit of Bonaparte. 

Let this philosophic principle be applied to this 
whole class of superstitions, and we shall arrive at 
similar results. There is the supposed influence of 
the moon on making soap, grafting trees, cutting 
timber, and also upon the fortunes of love-sick swains 
and maidens. The latter are directed to go out in the 
evening and stand over the bars of a gate, and, look- 
ing on the moon, repeat the following lines : — 

" All hail to the moon ! all hail to thee ! 
I pray thfee, good moon, reveal to me, 
This night, who my husband shall be." 

They must then go directly to bed, and will dream of 
theu' future husband. Upon trial of the experiment, 
they will probably be inclined to consider it a dreamy 
notion altogether ; for love is of too serious a nature 
to ]>e fed upon mere moonshine. 




Ignorance of the causes of our dreams has given 
rise to many superstitions. Ancient divines have told 
us that some of our dreams proceed from ourselves, 
others from the Deity, and others ; again from the 
devil. We know, to be sure, from experience, that 
dreams proceed from ourselves in some, if not in all 
cases. We admit, however, that God has spoken to 
some of his dependent creatures by dreams ; for we 
learn this from the Holy Scriptures. But such dreams 
were direct revelations for the accomplishment of 
some divine pm'pose. The volume of revelation was 
long since closed, and all that is essential to the present 
and eternal happiness of mankind is plainjy revealed. 
There is therefore no necessity for any further com- 
munications from Heaven ; and the gospel does not 
authorize us to expect any. Dreams may sometimes 
strike a conviction upon the mind, which our waking 
thoughts may fail to do. And they may sometimes 
have the appearance of being fulfilled ; and yet there 
may be no necessity of supposing that God has made 
us the special organ of divine communications. Our 
dreams, in such cases, may be explained upon the 
principles of mental philosophy, without resorting to 
the miraculous interposition of Deity for an expla- 

To say tliat the devil is the author of all our disa- 
greeable dreams that happen generally when we are 
in some trouble of body, mind, or estate, is too absurd 


to believe. And it is specially unbecoming the fol- 
lowers of Jesus to harbor an opinion so unbecoming 
in itsdi.f, so pernicious in its consequences, and so 
derogatory to the supreme Ruler of the universe. 
The true doctrine is, that our dreams originate from 
ourselves. Some are influenced by our bodily sen- 
sations. A person with a bottle of hot water at his 
feet dreams of ascending ^tna ; and he finds the 
heat of the ground almost insupportable. Another 
kicks the bed clothes from his feet, and dreams of 
walking through snow banks, even in the summer 
season. Some dreams are influenced by the state of 
our stomach and bowels. The hungiy prisoner dreams 
of well-furnished tables and the pleasures of eating. 
The glutton dreams of a surfeit and its attendant 
unpleasant sensations. Some dreams are influenced 
by our dispositions. The person of amiable temper 
and cheerful spirits is frequently refreshed with 
delightful scenes and visions of bliss ; while those 
of morose, gloomy, irritable, and melancholy habits 
are generally harassed with those of a disagreeable 
and oppressive character. Some dreams are in- 
fluenced by the state of our health. Sickness is 
usually productive of those of an unpleasant nature ; 
while health secures those of an opposite description. 
A gentleman, mentioned by Locke, was not sensible 
of dreaming till he had a fever, at the age of twenty- 
six or seven. Some dreams are influenced by our 
waking thoughts. The mathematician solves diffi- 
cult problems. The poet roves in Elysian groves. 
The miser makes great bargains. The sensualist riots 
in the haunts of dissipation. The criminal sees the 
dungeon or the gallows. The awakened sinner b« 


holds the flames of hell, or looks upon the sceptre 
of pa.don ; and the Christian anticipates heavenly 

Strong mental emotions are sometimes embodied 
into a dream, which, by some natural coincidence, 
is fulfilled. A murderer, mentioned by Mr. Combe, 
dreamed of committing murder some years before the 
event took place. A clergyman on a visit to the city 
of Edinburgh, from a distance in the country, was 
sleeping at an inn, when he dreamed of seeing a fire, 
and one of his childi-en in the midst of it. He awoke 
with the impression, and instantly started for home. 
When he arrived within sight of his house, he found 
it on fire, and got there in time to assist in saving one 
of his children, who, in the alarm and confusion, had 
been left in a situation of danger. Without calling 
in question the possibility of supernatural communi- 
cations in such cases, this sti-iking occurrence may 
perhaps be accounted for on simple and natural 
principles. Let us suppose that the gentleman had 
a servant who had shown gi'eat carelessness in regard 
to fire, which had often given rise in his mind to a 
strong apprehension that he might set fire to the 
house. His anxiety might be increased by being 
fi-om home, and the same circumstances might make 
the servant^ still more careless. Let us further sup- 
pose that the gentleman, before going to bed, had, in 
addition to this anxiety, suddenly recollected that 
there was on that day, in the neighborhood of his 
house, some fair or periodical merry making, from 
which the servant was likely to return home in a 
state of intoxication. It was most natural that these 
impressions should be embodied into a dream of hia 


house being on fire, and that the same circumstances 
might lead to the di-eara being fulfilled. 

The cause of a dream may sometimes be the cause 
of its fulfilment. A clergyman di'eamed of preaching 
a sermon on a particular subject. In a few weeks, he 
delivered the discourse. His dream was therefore 
fulfilled. But his waking thoughts caused the dream, 
for he had meditated on this very subject ; and they 
also caused its fulfilment, for he proceeded to write 
and deliver the result of his meditations. 

A belief in the supernatural origin of dreams some- 
times leads to their fulfilment. A person dreams of 
approaching sickness. His fears and his imagination 
hasten on the calamity. A general, on the eve of 
battle, dreamed of a defeat. His belief in dreams 
deprived him of courage, and, of course, the enemy 
conquered. We have on record the case of a German 
student, who dreamed that he was to die at a certain 
hour on the next day. His friends found him in the 
morning making his will and arranging his affairs. 
As the time drew near, he had every appearance of a 
person near his end. Every argument was used to 
shake his belief in the supernatural origin of his 
dream, but all to no effect. At last, the physician 
contrived to place the hands of the clock beyond the 
specified hour, and by this means saved the student's 
life. There are instances on record where death has 
actually ensued in consequence of such a belief. It 
has been produced by the wonderful power the mind 
possesses over the body. And there can be no doubt 
that believers in dreams often take the most direct 
means to hasten their fulfilment. 


The apparent fulfilment of dreams is sometimes 
merely accidental. The dream happens, and the event 
dreamed of soon follows ; but the coincidence is alto- 
gether fortuitous. A member of Congress informed 
a friend that he frequently dreamed of the death of 
some one of his children, while residing at Washing- 
ton. The whole eocene would appear before him — 
the sickness, the death, and the burial ; and this too 
several times the same night, and on successive 
nights. His anxiety for his family caused his dreams. 
Now, it would have been nothing strange if a member 
of his family had died. But in this particular instance 
it was not the case. In this way, however, we are 
always dreaming of our absent relatives, and it 
would be singular if a death did not sometimes occur 
at the time of the dream. So on all other subjects. 
One event may follow the other, and yet the coinci- 
dence be perfectly accidental. There are occasionally 
some amusing cases of this kind. A person di'eamed 
three times in one night that he must turn to the 
seventh verse of the fifth chapter of Ecclesiastes, and 
he would find important instruction. He arose in the 
morning, and, referring to the specified passage, found 
these words : "/» the multitude of dreams there are 
divers vanities.''^ 

Finally, the occasion of some dreams seems as 
yet inexplicable. But as we can account for so large 
a portion of them, it is rational to believe that the 
causes of the few mysterious ones will be hereafter 
satisfactorily explained. We think we are safe in 
believing that all our dreams are caused by some 
principle of our intellectual oi animal nature. Let 


ns then pay no further regard to them than to aim 
uy a pure conscience before God, and a careful atten- 
tion to our stomachs and health, to have them refresh- 
ing and agreeable. 




Ignorance of the influence of the imagination upon 
the nervous system has given rise to many supersti- 
tions. We will give a few statements of facts to 
establish and illustrate this position. Some time 
previous to 1784, a gentleman in Paris, by the name 
of Mesmer, professed to have discovered a universal 
remedy for all diseases ; and this remedy consisted in 
being magnetized under peculiar forms and circum- 
stances. M. Mesmer became so noted for his discovery, 
and he performed such extraordinary cures, that, in 
1784, the F'''ench king appointed a committee, con- 
sisting of four physicians and five members of the 
Royal Academy of Sciences, to investigate this mat- 
ter. The committee, as soon as they had examined 
the whole apparatus employed in magnetizing, and 
taken cognizance of the manoeuvres of Mesmer, and 
his partner, Deslon, proceeded to notice the symptoms 
of the patients while under the influence of magnetism. 
These were various in different individuals. Some 
were calm and tranquil, and felt nothing ; others were 
affected with coughhig and spitting, with pains, heats, 


and perspirat'ons ; and some were agitated and tor- 
tured with convulsions. These convulsions were 
sometimes continued for three hours, accompanied 
with expectoration of a viscid phlegm, ejected by 
violent efforts, and sometimes streaked with blood. 
They had involuntary motions of the limbs, of the 
whole body, and spasms of the throat. Their eyes 
wandered in wild motions ; they uttered piercing 
shrieks, wept, laughed, and hiccoughed. The com- 
missioners observed that the gi'eat majority of those 
thus effected were females, and that these exhibitions 
did not begin until they had been under the operation 
of magnetism one or two hom-s, and that, when one 
becdme afi'ected, the rest were soon seen in the same 
situation. In order to give the magnetizer the faires* 
opportunity to exhibit the power of his invention, and 
to give the most satisfactory evidence to the public, 
the commissioners all submitted to be operated upon 
themselves, and sat under the operation two hour?> 
and a half, but without the least effect upon them, 
except the fatigue of sitting so long in one position. 
They were magnetized three days in succession, but 
without any sensible effect being produced. The 
magnetizing instruments were then removed to Dr. 
Franklin's house, away from public view, parade, and 
high expectation, and fourteen persons were then mag- 
netized, all of them invalids. Nine of them experienced 
nothing, five appeared slightly affected, and the com- 
missioners were surprised to learn, in every instance, 
that the poor and ignorant alone were affected. After 
this eight men and two women were magnetized, but 
without the least effect. At length a female servant 
submitted to the same operation, and she afiirmed that 


she felt a heat in every part where the magnetized 
finger was pointed at her ; that she experienced a 
pain in her head; and, during a continuation of the 
operation, she became faint, and swooned. When 
she had fully recovered, they ordered her eyes to be 
bandaged, and the operator was removed at a dis- 
tance, when they made her believe that she was still 
under the operation, and the effects were the same, 
although no one operated, either near her or at a 
distance. She could tell the very place ^vhere she was 
magnetized ; she felt the same heat in her back and 
loins, and the same pain in her eyes and ears. At 
the end of one quarter of an hour, a sign was made 
for her to be magnetized, but she felt nothing. On 
the following day, a man and woman were magnet- 
ized in a similar manner, and the result was the same. 
It was found that to direct the imagination to the 
parts where the sensations were to be felt, was all 
that was necessary to produce these wonderful eff"ects. 
But children, who had not arrived at sufficient matu- 
rity of age to be excited by these imposing forms, 
experienced nothing from the operation. 

Mesmer and Deslon asserted that they could mag- 
netize a tree, and every person approaching the tree, 
in a given time, would be magnetized, and either fall 
into a swoon or in convulsions, provided the magnet- 
izer was permitted to stand at a distance and direct 
his look and his cane towards the tree. Accordingly, 
an apricot tree was selected in Dr. Franklin's garden, 
at Vassy, for the experiment, and M. Deslon came and 
magnetized the tree while the patient was retained in 
the house. The patient was then brought out, with a 
bandage over his eyes, and successively lead to four 


trees, which were not magnetized, and was directed 
to embrace each tree two minutes, while M. Deslon, 
at a distance, stood pointing his cane to the tree 
actually magnetized. At the first tree, which was 
about twenty-seven feet from the magnetized tree, the 
patient sweat profusely, coughed, expectorated, and 
said he felt a pain in his head. At the second tree, 
now thirty feet from the magnetized tree, he found 
himself giddy, attended with headache, as before. 
At the thu'd tree, his giddiness and headache were 
much increased, and he said he believed he was 
approaching the magnetized tree, although he was 
still twenty-eight feet from it. At length, when brought 
to the fourth tree, not magnetized, and at the distance 
of twenty-four feet from that which was, the young 
man fell down in a state of perfect insensibility ; his 
limbs became rigid, and he was carried to a grass plot, 
where M. Deslon went to his assistance and recovered 
him. And yet, in no instance had he approached 
within a less distance than twenty-four feet of the 
magnetized tree. 

A similar experiment was soon afterwards made on 
two poor females, at Dr. Franklin's house. These 
women were separated from each other. Three of 
the commissioners remained with one of them in one 
chamber, and two of them with the other, in an 
adjoining chamber. The first ha^ a bandage over her 
eyes, and was then made to believe that M. Deslon 
came in and commenced magnetizing her, although 
he never entered the room. In three minutes the 
woman began to shiver. She felt, in succession, 
a pain in her head, and a pricking in her hands. 
She hecame stiff", struck her hands together, got up, 


stamped, &c., but nothing had been done to her. The 
woman in the adjoining chamber was requested to take 
her seat by the door, which was shut, wdth her sight 
at liberty. She was then made to believe that M. 
Desloii would magnetize the door on the opposite 
giiJe, w\iile the commissioners would wait to witness 
ihe result. She had scarcely been seated a minute 
before she began to shiver. Her breathing became 
hurried ; she stretched out her arms behind her back, 
writhing them strongly, and bending her body for- 
wards ; a general ti-emor of the whole body came on. 
The chattering of the teeth was so loud as to be heard 
out of the room ; and she bit her hand so as to leave 
the marks of her teeth in it; but M. Deslon was not 
near the door, nor in either chamber, nor was either of 
the women touched, not even their pulse examined. 
We perceive, then, that these effects were produced 
solely by the imagination, and the above facts exhibit 
very satisfactorily the power which the mind has over 
the body. The symptoms were not feigned, but, in 
the peculiar state of mind of these persons, they were 
involuntary and irresistible. They believed they should 
be effected in this manner ; the idea was formed in 
then* imaginations, and the nerves were acted upon 
precisely as though what they conceived was rea], and 
tJie muscular effects followed. And as the patients 
themselves could not explain the causes of these 
effects, they very naturally attributed the whole to 
magnetism. When the commissioners explained the 
matter, magnetism ceased to produce these wonderful 
effects. The minds of persons were enlightened upon 
the subject, and they no longer expected to be in- 
fluenced in this manner, and accordingly they were not. 


Dr. Sigault, an eminent physician of Paris, pro- 
fessed to be an adept in the art of Mesmer. Being 
at a great assembly one day, he caused it to be 
announced that he could magnetize. The voice and 
serious air he assumed had a very sensible effect 
upon a lady present, although she endeavored at 
first to conceal the fact. But having carried his 
hand to the region of the heart, he found it palpi- 
tating. She soon experienced difficulty in respiration. 
The muscles of her face were affected with con- 
vulsive twitches ; her eyes rolled ; she shortly fell 
down in a fainting fit, vomited her dinner, and ex- 
perienced incredible weakness and languor. This 
seemed to corroborate the remarks of Burton, in his 
Anatomy of Melancholy^ where he says, " If, by some 
soothsayer, wise man, fortune teller, or physician, 
men be told they shall have such a disease, they will 
so seriously apprehend it that they will instantly 
labor of it — a thing familiar in China, (saith Riccius, 
the Jesuit.) If they be told they shall be sick on 
such a day, when that day comes they will surely be 
sick, and will be so terribly affected that sometimes 
they die upon it." 

A late English paper states that a young woman, 
named Winfield, who had been on a visit to Derby, 
returned home to Hadborn, taking a little dog wi:h 
her by a string. On arriving there, she informed her 
friends she had seen a gypsy on the road, who told 
her, that if she led her dog by the string into the houst;, 
she would soon be a corpse. Singular to relate, tiie 
young woman expired on the following morning! 
It was thought she died from the effect of imagina- 
tion, aided by a debilitated constitution. 


A missionary among the New Zealanders says, 
" There is a class of people in New Zealand, called by 
the natives Areekee^ and whom we very improperly 
call Priests. These men pretend to have intercourse 
with departed spirits, by which they are able to kill, 
by incantation, any person on whom their anger may 
fall. And it is a fact, that numbers fall a prey to their 
confidence in the efficacy of the curses of these men, 
and pine under the influence of despair, and die." 

In less than fifteen years after the trial of the preten- 
sions of Mesmer and his coadjutors, in regard to mag- 
netism, there \vas originated in America, by a Mr. 
Perkins, a cause of delusion of precisely the same 
nature. It prevailed in all the United States, in Great 
Britain, Scotland, and Ireland, and to considerable 
extent on the continent of Europe. Mr. Perkins pre- 
pared two small pieces of different kinds of metal 
drew them to a point, and polished them. These 
Metallic Tractors, as they were denominated, were 
said to have, in their joint operation, great power over 
the electric fluid ; and by moving these points gently 
over the surface of an inflamed part, the heat was 
extracted, the swelling subsided, and, in a short time, 
the patient was relieved. After a while, thousands and 
tens of thousands were ready to certify to the happy 
influence of these Tractors. Mr. Perkins went to 
England and obtained the royal letters patent, foi 
the purpose of seeming to him the advantages of his 
discovery ; and it has been asserted by the best author- 
ity, that he returned from England possessed of ten 
thousand pounds sterling, which he received for the 
use of his Tractors. 

But Dr. Haggarth, an eminent physician and 


pnilosopher, recollecting the development of aniraai 
magnetism at Paris, wrote to Dr. Falconer, surgeon of 
the General Hospital at Bath, (England,) and stated hia 
suspicion concerning the Tractors ; that their efficacy 
depended wholly on the imagination of the patient; 
and recommended the experiment of wooden Tractors 
in the place of the metallic. 

Accordingly, five persons were selected for the ex- 
periment, who were laboring under chronic rheumatism 
in the anlde, knee, wrist, and hip. "Wooden Tractors 
were prepared and painted in such a manner that the 
patients could not discover but that they were metal ; 
and on the 7th of January, 1799, these wooden Trac- 
tors were employed for the first time. All the patients 
except one, were relieved. Three were very much 
benefited. One felt his knee warmer, and he could 
walk much better, as he showed the medical gentle- 
men present. One was easier for nine hours, till he 
went to bed, and then his pain returned. The next 
day, January 8th, the metallic Tractors were employed 
with the same effect as that of the preceding day. 
This led to further experiments of a similar kind, and 
they were continued, until the physicians became fully 
satisfied that the wooden Tractors were of the same 
utility with the metallic, provided the patients supposed 
them metallic. Similar experiments were soon after 
made at Edinburgh, and the result was the same. 
A servant gitl, afflicted with a most acute headache, 
which had rendered her nights altogether restless for a 
fortnight, readily submitted to be pointed at with these 
ivooden Tractors. The operator moved them about 
her head, but did not touch her. In four minutes she 
felt a chilliness in the head. In a minute or two 


more, she felt as though cold water was running down 
her temples, and the pain was diminished. In ten 
minutes more, she declared that the headache was 
entirely gone ; and the next day she returned to ex- 
press her thanks to her benefactors for the good sle(^) 
she enjoyed through the night. By similar experi- 
ments, the intelligent citizens in America soon ascer- 
tained the true cause of the deception, and when these 
facts came to be developed, the Tractors lost all their 
influence on the human system, and have since been 
spoken of only in derision. 

Here, again, we behold the astonishing power of the 
imagination over the human system, and witness the 
miracles that have been performed on the ignorant and 
unsuspecting. Even in the modern practice of the 
mesmeric art, a great deal of the success depends upon 
this tendency of the mind. A very respectable opera- 
tor assures us, that he cannot magnetize persons 
unless he can first impress them with the belief that 
they are actually to become magnetized. They must 
have faith in order that the effect may be produced. 
A public lecturer may hang up his watch before his 
auditors, and tell them to look upon that watch, and 
they will become magnetized. Those who expect to 
be affected are thrown into the magnetic state. Those 
who have little faith and expectation are seldom, if 
ever, influenced by such experiments. "We, however, 
do not mean to avow a disbelief in the science of 
magnetism. On the contrary, we look forward with 
much interest to its perfection, unencumbered with 
the false pretensions of its zealous and mig'akeii 





Ignorance of mental philosophy has given rise to 
many superstitions. Many persons have believed in 
the real, visible appearance of ghosts, spirits, or ap- 
paritions. Yet these things are clearly and satisfac- 
torily explained on the established principles of mental 
philosophy. And from this source we learn that they 
exist alone in the mind, in the same manner as do 
other ideas and images, except in the instances re- 
corded in Scripture. They are caused by some mis- 
conception, mental operation, or bodily disorder. We 
will give a few examples to substantiate this position. 

Dr. Ferriar relates the case of a gentleman travelling 
in the Highlands of Scotland, who was conducted to a 
bed room which was reported to be haunted by the 
spirit of a man who had there committed suicide. 
In the night, he awoke under the influence of a fright- 
ful dream, and found himself sitting up in bed with a 
pistol grasped in his right hand. On looking around 
the room, he now discovered, by the moonlight, a 
corpse, dressed in a shroud, reared against the wall, 
close by the window, the features of the body and 
every part of the funeral apparel being distiactly 
perceived. On recovering from the first impulse of 
terror, so far as to investigate the source of the phan- 
tom, it was found to be produced by the moonbeams 
forming a long, bright image through the broken 

" Two esteemed friends of mine," says Dr. Aber- 


crombie; " while travelling in the Highlands, had occa- 
sion to sleep in separate beds, in one apartment. One 
of them, having awoke in the night, saw, by the moon- 
light, a skeleton hanging from the head of his friend's 
bed, every part of it being perceived in the most dis- 
tinct manner. He got up to investigate the source 
of the appearance, and found it to be produced by the 
moonbeams falling back upon the drapery of the bed, 
which had been thrown back in some unusual manner, 
on account of the heat of the weather. He returned 
to bed, and soon fell asleep. But having awoke again 
some time after, the skeleton was so distinctly before 
him, that he could not sleep without again getting up 
to trace the origin of the phantom. Determined not 
to be disturbed a third time, he now brought down the 
curtain to its usual state, and the skeleton appeared 
no more." 

Dr. Dewar relates the case of a lady who was quite 
blind, and who never walked out without seeing &. 
little old woman, with a crutch and a red cloak, ap~ 
parently walking before her. She had no illusion 
when within doors. Dr. Gregory once took passage 
in a vessel to a neighboring country, to visit a l^dy 
who was in an advanced stage of consumption. On 
his return, he had taken a moderate dose of laudanum, 
with the view of preventing seasickness, and was 
lying on a couch, in the cabin, when the figure of a 
lady appeared before him in so distinct a manner, that 
her actual presence could not have been more vivid. 
He was quite awake, and fully sensible that it was a 
phantom produced by the opiate, in connection with 
his intense mental feeling ; but he was unable by any 
effort to banish the vision. 


A gentleman, mentioned by Dr. Conolly, when in 
great danger of being WTecked in a boat, on the 
Eddystone rocks, said he actually saw his family at 
the moment. In similar circumstances of great danger, 
others have described the history of their past lives, 
being represented to them in such a vivid manner, 
that, at a single glance, the whole was before them, 
without the power of banishing the impression. We 
have read the account of a whole ship's company 
being thrown into the utmost consternation by the 
apparation of a cook, who had died a few days be- 
fore. He was distinctly seen walking ahead of the 
ship, with a peculiar gait, by which he was distin- 
guished when alive, from having one leg shorter than 
the other. On steering the ship towards the object, 
it was found to be a piece of floating wreck ! 

There is a story on record, of a piratical cruiser 
having captured a Spanish vessel, during the seven- 
teenth century, and brought her into Marblehead 
harbor, which was then the site of a few humble 
d^ veilings. The male inhabitants were all absent on 
thiir fishing voyages. The pirates brought their 
prisoners ashore, carried them at the dead of night 
in o a solitary glen, and there murdered them. Among 
the captives Avas an English female passenger. The 
women who belonged to the place heard her dying 
outcries, as they rose through the midnight air, and 
reverberated far and wide along the silent shores. 
She was heard to exclaim, " O, mercy, mercy I Lord 
Jesus Christ, save me ! save me ! " Her body was buried 
by the pirates on the spot. The same piercing voice 
is believed to be heard at intervals, more or less often, 
almost e^ery year, in the stillness of a cahxi starlight. 


or clear moonlight night. There is s Dmething, it is 
said, so wild, mysterio is, and evidently superhuman 
in the sound, as to s rike a chill of dread into the 
hearts of all who listen to it. A writer in the Marble- 
head Register, of April 3, 1830, declares that " there 
are not persons wanting at the present day, persons 
of unimpeachable veracity and known respectability, 
who still continue to believe the tradition, and to 
assert that they themselves have been auditors of the 
sounds described, which they declare were of such an 
unearthly nature as to preclude the idea of imposition 
or deception." When " the silver moon holds her 
way," or when the stars are glistening in the clear, 
cold sky, and the dark forms of the moored vessels are 
at rest upon the sleeping bosom of the harbor, — when 
no natural sound comes forth from the animate or 
inanimate creation but the dull and melancholy note 
of the winding shore, how often, at midnight, is the 
watcher startled from the reveries of an excited imagi- 
nation by the piteous, dismal, and terrific screams of 
the unlaid g-host of the murdered lady ! 

Erroneous impressions are often connected with 
some bodily disease, more especially disease in the 
brain. Dr. Gregory mentions the case of a gentleman 
liable to epileptic fits, in whom the paroxysm was 
generally preceded by the appearance of an old 
woman in a red cloak, who seemed to come up to 
him, and strike him on the head with her crutch. At 
that instant he fell down in the fit. Another is men- 
tioned by Dr. Alderston, of a man who kept a dram 
shop, and who would often see a soldier endeavoring 
to force himself into his house in a menacing manner ; 
and in rushing forward to prevent him, would find it 


a mere phantom. This man was cured by bleeding 
and purgatives ; and the source of this vision was 
traced to a quarrel which he had had some time before 
with a drunken soldier. In delirium tremens such 
visions are comn.on, and assume a variety of forms. 

Similar phantasms occur in various forms in 
febrile diseases. A lady was attended by Dr. Aber- 
crombie, having an affection of the chest. She awoke 
her hufband one night, at the commencement of her 
disorder, and begged him to get up instantly, saying 
that she had distinctly seen a man enter the apartment, 
pass the foot of her bed, and go into a closet that en- 
tered from the opposite side of the room. She was 
quite awake, and fully convinced of the reality of the 
appearance. But, upon examining the closet, it was 
found to be a delusion, although it was almost im- 
possible to convince the lady it was not a reality. 

A writer in the Christian Observer mentions a lady, 
who, during a severe illness, repeatedly saw her father, 
who resided at the distance of many hundred miles, 
come to her bedside, withdraw the curtain, and talk 
to her in his usual voice and manner. A farmer, 
mentioned by the same writer, on returning from 
market, was deeply affected by an extraordinarily 
brilliant light, which he saw upon the road, and by 
an appearance in the light, which he supposed to be 
our Savior. He was greatly alarmed, and, spun-ing 
his horse, galloped home ; remained agitated during 
the evening; was seized with typhus fever, then pre- 
vailing in the vicinity, and died in about ten days. 
It was afterwards ascertained, that on the morning of 
the same day, before he left home, he had complained 
of headache and languor ; and there can be no doubt. 


says this writer, that the spectral app&arance was con- 
nected with the commencement of the fever. 

Analogous to this is the very striking case related 
by a physician, of a relative of his, a lady about fifty. 
On returning home one evening from a party, she 
went into a dark room to lay aside some part of her 
dress, when she saw distinctly before her the figure of 
death, as a skeleton, with his arm uplifted, and a dart 
in his hand. He instantly aimed a blow at her with 
the dart, which seemed to strike her on the left side. 
The same night she was seized with a fever, accom- 
panied with symptoms of inflammation in the left 
side, but recovered after a severe illness. 

We have read the account of a lady who had an 
illusion affecting both her sight and hearing. She 
repeatedly heard her husband's voice calling to her by 
name, as if from an adjoining room. On one occasion, 
she saw his figure most distinctly, standing before the 
fire in the drawing room, when he had left the house 
half an hour before. She went and sat down within 
two feet of the figure, supposing it to be her husband, 
and was greatly astonished that he did not answer 
her when she spoke to him. The figure continued 
visible several minutes, then moved towards a window 
at the farther end of the room, and there disappeared. 
On another occasion, while adjusting her hair before 
a mirror, late at night, she saw the countenance of a 
friend, dressed in a shroud, reflected from the mirror, 
as if looking over her shoulder. This lady had been 
for some time in bad health, being affected with a 
lung complaint, and much nervous debility. 

Another case of an illusion of hearing is reported 
of a clergyn••an^ who was ac.ustomed to full living, 


and was suddenly seized with vomiting, vertigo, and 
ringing in his ears, and continued in an alarming con- 
dition for several days. During this time he heard 
tunes most distinctly played, and in accurate succes- 
sion. This patient had, at the same time, a remark- 
able condition of vision, all objects appearing to him 
inverted. This peculiarity continued about three days, 
and ceased gradually ; the objects by degrees changing 
their position, first to the horizontal, and then to the 

Some profess to have visions or sights relative to 
the world of spirits. This was the case with Sweden- 
borg. He relates some of them in the following lan- 
guage : " I dined very late at my lodgings at London, 
and ate with gi'eat appetite, till, at the close of my 
repast, I perceived a kind of mist about my eyes, and 
the floor of my chamber was covered with hideous 
reptiles. They soon disappeared, the darkness was 
dissipated, and I saw clearly, in the midst of a brilliant 
light, a man seated in the corner of my chamber, who 
said to me, in a terrible voice. Eat not so much. At 
these words, my sight becaiue obscured ; afterwards it 
became clear by degrees, and I found myself alone. 
The night following, the same man, radiant with light, 
appeared to me, and said, I am God the Lord, Crea- 
tor and Redeemer. I have chosen you to unfold to 
men the internal and spiritual sense of the sacred writ- 
ings, and will dictate to you what you ought to write. 
At that time, I was not terrified, and the light, although 
very brilliant, made no unpleasant impression upon 
my eyes. The Lord was clothed in purple, and the 
vision lasted a quarter of an hour. The same night, 
the eyes of my internal man were opened, and fitted to 


see things in heaven, in the world of spirits, and in 
hell ; in which places I have found many persons of my 
acquaintance, some of them long since dead, and others 
lately deceased." In another place, he observes, " I 
have conversed with apostles, departed popes, em- 
perors, anS kings ; with the late reformers of the 
church, Luther, Calvin, and Melancthon, and with 
others from different countries." In conversing with 
Melancthon, he wished to know his state in the spirit 
world, but Melancthon did not see fit to inform him ; 
" wherefore," says Swedenborg, " I was instructed 
by others concerning his lot, viz., that he is some- 
times in an excavated stone chamber, and at other 
times in hell ; and that when in the chamber, he ap- 
pears to be clothed in a bear's skin by reason of the 
cold ; and that on account of the filth in his chamber, 
he does not admit strangers from the world, who are 
desirous of visiting him from the reputation of his 

The apparitions of Swedenborg were probably 
caused by his studies, habits, and pursuits. They 
bear the marks of earthly origin, although he firmly 
believed they were from heaven. Overloading his 
stomach at late meals, no doubt, caused some of them. 
He was in the habit of eating' too much, as he himself 
admits. Hence his brain may have been disturbed. 
We have all heard of the case of an elderly lady, 
who, being ill, called upon her physician one day for 
advice. She told him, among other things, that on the 
preceding night her sleep had been disturbed — that 
she had seen her grandmother in her dreams. Being 
interrogated whether she ate any thing the preceding 
evening, she told the doctor she ate half a mince pie 

46 Ignorance of mental philosophy. 

just before going to bed. " "Well, madam," said he, 
" if you had eaten the other half, you might have seen 
your grandfather also." 

The slightest examination of the accounts which 
remain of occurrences that were deemed supernatural 
by our ancestors will satisfy any one, at the present 
day, that they were brought about by causes entirely 
natural, although unknown to them. We will close 
this part of our investigation by relating the following 
circums'tances, attested by the Iclev. James Pierpont, 
pastor of a church in New Haven : — 

" In the year 1647, a new ship of about one hun- 
dred and fifty tons, containing a valuable cargo, and 
several distinguished persons as passengers, put to sea 
from New Haven in the month of January, bound to 
England. The vessels that came over the ensuing 
spring brought no tidings of her arrival in the mother 
country. The pious colonists were earnest and instant 
in their prayers that intelligence might be received of 
the missing vessel. In the course of the following June, 
a great thunder storm arose out of the north-west ; aftei 
which, (the hemisphere being serene,) about an hour 
before sunset, a ship of like dimensions of the afore- 
said, with her canvas and colors abroad, (although 
the wind was northerly,) appeared in the air, coming 
up from the harbor's mouth, which lies southward 
from the town, seemingly with her sails filled, under 
a fresh gale, holding her course north, and continuing 
under observation, sailing against the wind, for the 
space of half an hour. The phantom ship was borne 
along, until, to the excited imaginatioas of the spec- 
tators, she seemed to have approached so near that 
they could throw a stone into her. Her main topmast 


then disappeared, then her mizzen topmast, then her 
masts were entirely carried away, and finally her hull 
fell off, and vanished from sight, leaving a dnll and 
smoke-colored cloud, which soon dissolved, and the 
whole atmosphere became clear. All affirmed that 
the any vision was a precise copy of the missing 
vessel, and that it was sent to announce and describe 
her fate. They considered it the spectre of the lost 
ship, and the Rev. Mr. Davenport declared in public 
' that God had condescended, for the quieting of their 
afflicted sJDU-its, this exti'aordinary account of his sov- 
ereign disposal of those for whom so many fervent 
prayers were made continually.' " 

The results of modern science enable us to explain 
the mysterious appearance. It is probable that some 
Dutch vessel, proceeding slowly, quietly, and uncon- 
sciously on her voyage fi'om Amsterdam to the New 
Netherlands, happened at the time to be passing 
through the Sound. At the moment the apparition 
was seen in the sky, she was so near, that her image 
was painted or delineated to the eyes of the obser- 
vers, on the clouds, by the laws of optics, now generally 
well known, before her actual outlines could be dis- 
cerned by them on the horizon. As the sun sunk 
behind the western hills, and his rays were gi-adaally 
withdrawn, the visionary ship slowly disappeared, and 
the approach of the night, while it dispelled the vapors 
from the atmosphere, effectually concealed the vessel 
as she continued her course along the Sound. 

The optical illusions that present themselves, on the 
sea shore, by which distant objects are raised to view, 
the opposite islands and capes made to loom up, lifted 
above the line of the apparent circumference of the 


earth, and thrown into every variety of shape which 
the imagination can conceive, are among the most 
beautiful phenomena of nature, and they impress the 
mind with the idea of enchantment and mystery, more 
perhaps than any others. But they have received a 
complete solution from modern discovery. 

It should be observed that the optical principles that 
explain these phenomena have recently afforded a foun- 
dation for the science, or rather the art, of nauscopy. 
There are persons, it is said, in some places in the 
Isle of France, whose calling and profession it is to 
ascertain and predict the approach of vessels by their 
reflection in the atmosphere and on the clouds, long 
before they are visible to the eye or through the glass. 

Our vision is at all times liable to be disturbed by 
atmospheric conditions. So long as the atmosphere 
between our person and the object we are looking at 
is of the same density, we may be said to see in a 
straight line to the object. But if, by any cause, a 
portion of that atmosphere is rendered less or more 
dense, the line of vision is bent, or refracted, from its 
course. A thorough comprehension of this truth in 
science has banished a mass of superstition. It has 
been found that, by means of powerful riifraction, 
objects at great distances, and round the back of a 
hill, or considerably beneath the horizon, are brought 
into sight. In some countries this phenomenon is 
called mirage. The following is one of the most 
interesting and best-authenticated cases of the kind. 
In a voyage performed by Captain Scoresby, in 1822, 
he was able to recognize his father's ship, when below 
the horizon, from the inverted image of it which ap- 
peared in the air. " It was," says he, " so well defined, 


that I could distinguish, by a telescope, every sail, the 
general rig of the ship, and its particular character, 
insomuch that I confidently pronounced it to be my 
father's ship, the Fame, — which it afterwards proved 
to be — though on comparing notes with my father, I 
found that our relative position, at the time, gave our 
distance from one another very nearly thirty miles, 
being about seventeen miles beyond the horizon, and 
some leagues beyond the limit of direct vision I " 

Dr. Vince, an English philosopher, was once looking 
through a telescope at a ship which was so far ott 
that he could only see the upper part of the masts. 
The hull was entirely hidden by the bending of the 
water ; but, between himself and the ship, he saw two 
perfect images of it in the air. These were of the 
same form and color as the real ship ; but one of them 
was turned completely upside down. 

In the sandy plains of Egypt, the mirage is seen 
to great advantage. These plains are often inter- 
rupted by small eminences, upon which the inhabit- 
ants have built their villages in order to escape the in- 
undations of the Nile. In the morning and evening, 
objects are seen in their natural form and position ; 
but when the surface of the sandy ground is heated 
by the sun, the land seems terminated, at a particu- 
lar distance, by a general inundation ; the villages 
which are beyond it appear like so many islands in a 
great lake ; and an inverted image of a village ap- 
pears between the hills. 

The Swedish sailors long searched for a supposed 
magic island, which, from time to time, could be de- 
scried between the Island of Aland and the coast of 
Upland. It proved to be a rock, the image of which 


was presented in the air by mirage. At one time, the 
English saw, with terror, the coast of Calais and 
Boulogne, in France, rising up on the opposite side 
of the Channel, and apparently approaching their isl- 
and. But the most celebrated example of mirage is 
exhibited in the Straits of Messina. The inhabitants 
of the Calabrian shore behold images of palaces, 
embattled ramparts, houses, and ships, and all the 
varied objects of towns and landscapes, in the air — ■ 
being refracted images from the Sicilian coast. This 
wonderful phenomenon is superstitiously regarded by 
the common people as the work of fairies. 



Ignorance of true religion has given rise to many 
prevailing superstitions. The Savior has taught us 
that the Father of spirits regulates the minutest 
events of this world, and that he alone is the Su- 
preme Ruler of the universe. Our experience and 
observation must convince us that this infinite work is 
accomplished by regular laws, and that Infinite Wis- 
dom sees fit so to govern all events without the inter- 
vention of miracles, or through the^agency of any in- 
strumentality but his own. And by examination, we 
shall find that these truths are in direct opposition to 
the general mass of popular superstitions. 

There are many who believe in signs. They 


believe that the howling of a dog under a window 
betokens death to some member of the family. But 
how does the dog obtain this foreknowledge ? Who 
sends him on this solemn errand ? K you say that 
his appearance at the house is accidental, then you 
would have us trust to chance for information upon 
this most important subject. If you say that liia 
knowledge of the approaching event is intuitive, 
then you would have us believe that the irrational 
brute knows more than his intelligent master. If you 
say that he is instigated by some wicked spirit, then 
you would have us admit that an enemy of mankind 
is more attentive to their welfare than God ; for it 
certainly betokens the greatest kindness to notify us 
of our near dissolution. K you say the animal is 
sent by God, how will you explain the fact that the 
sign so often fails? not actually taking place oftener, 
at most, than once in a hundred times. Certainly we 
are not to accuse the omniscient and merciful Jeho- 
vah either of ignorance concerning future events, or 
of trifling with the feelings of his dependent creatures. 
"We must therefore consider the sign to be altogether 
superstitious, and contrary to all rational evidence. 

Some persons profess to believe in lucky and un- 
lucky days. They say, for instance, that Friday is an 
unlucky day. And why so ? Does God part with 
the reins of his government, and employ wicked 
spirits to torment his creatures on this day ? Does he 
make this day more unpropitious tc human affairs 
than others ? Do facts go to show that more disas- 
ters occur on this day than on any other ? Paul in- 
structs us that all days are alike, and that God rules 
the universe with infinite wisdom and benevolence. 


Then why should we account Friday to be an un 
lucky iay ? Whence came such an opinion ? From 
heathenism. The heathen were much influenced by 
this superstition ; and when converted to Christianity, 
they incorporated this among some other absurdities 
into their religious belief. Because our Savior was 
crucified on Friday, they placed this at the head of 
their unlucky days. But why they did so, we cannot 
conceive; for the death of Christ was absolutely ne- 
cessary for the deliverance of mankind from sin and 
death. And for this reason alone, Friday was the 
most propitious day that ever dawned upon a dying 
world. But the heathen converts did not consider 
this circumstance. They pronounced Sunday, the 
day of his resurrection, to be the most fortunate. 
Later Christians, in a certain sense, have thought dif- 
ferently. Sir Matthew Hale has remarked, that he never 
knew any undertaking to prosper that was com- 
menced on the Sabbath. And the early laws of Con- 
necticut prohibited any vessel from either leaving a 
port, or entering a port, or passing by a village on 
Sunday. But such prohibitions are not agreeable to 
the notions of seamen, who, as a class, are inclined 
to be somewhat superstitious. We frequently meet 
with dissipated, unbelieving sailors, who could not be 
induced to put to sea on Friday on any consideration ; 
but who would rather labor seven successive nights 
than not sail on the Sabbath. It is rather singular that 
sceptics should be so afraid of the day of our Savior's 
crucifixion, and so fond of that of his resurrection. 
Such inconsistency, however, is not uncommon. 
Those who rail most at the credulity of others are 
frequently the most superstitious. Those who lay 


the greatest claims to bravery are, for the most part, 
the greatest cowards. Voltaire could ridicule religion 
ill fair weather, but the moment a thunder cloud 
appeared, he was thrown into extreme consternation, 
and must have a priest to pray during its continuance 
for his preservation. K we would avoid the influ- 
ence of this heathen superstition, we must regard 
actions rather than days. If our engagements are 
proper, we have nothing to fear from the day on 
which they are commenced. K we feel the evidence 
within that God is indeed our Father, we shall not 
be prevented, by any belief in lucky or unlucky days, 
from doing our duty on every day, and enjoying 
peace and happiness on all days. 



A WITCH was regarded by our fathers as a person 
who had made an actual, deliberate, and formal con- 
tract with Satan, by which contract it was agreed 
that the party should become his faithful subject, and 
do whatever should be required in promoting his 
cause. And in consideration of this allegiance and 
service, he, on his part, agreed to exericise his super- 
natural powers in the person's behalf. It was consid- 
ered as a transfer of allegiance from God to the devil. 
The agreement being concluded, Satan bestows some 
trifling sum of money to bind the bargain ; then, cui- 


ting OX pricking a finger causes the individual to sign 
lis oi her name, or make the mark of a cross, with 
;heir own blood, on a piece of parchment. In addi- 
Vioa to this signature, in some places, the devil made 
•he witches put one hand to the crown of their head, 
and the other to the sole of the foot, signifying they 
tvere entirely his. Before the devil quits his new 
subject, he delivers to her or him an imp or familiar, 
and sometimes two or three. They are of different 
shapes and forms, some resembling a cat, others a 
mole, a miller fly, !:;pider, or some other insect or ani- 
mal. These are to come at bidding, to do such mis- 
chief as the witch may command, and, at stated times 
of the day, suck the blood of the witch, through teats, 
on different parts of the body. Feeding, suckling, or 
rewarding these imps Wcis, by law, declared /e/on.?/. 

Sometimes a witch, in company with others of the 
fraternity, is carried through the air on brooms or spits, 
to distant meetings or St^bbaths of witches. But for 
this they must anoint themselves with a certain mag- 
ical ointment given them by the devil. Lord Bacon, 
in his philosophical works, gives a recipe for the man- 
ufacture of an ointment that enabled witches to fly in 
the air. It was composed of the fat of children, 
digged out of their graves, and of the juices of smal- 
(age, cinquefoil, and wolfsbane, mixed with meal of 
fine wheat. After greasing themselves with this prep- 
aration, the witches flew up chimney, and repaired to 
the spot in some graveyard or dismal forest, where 
they were to hold their meetings with the evil one. 
At these meetings they have feasting and dancing, 
the devil himself sometimes condescending to play 
on the great fiddle, pipe, or harp. When the meeting 


breaks up, they all have the honor of kissing his ma- 
jesty, who for that ceremony usually assumes the 
form of a he goat. 

Witches showed their, spite by causing the object 
of it to waste away in a long and painful disease, 
with a sensation of thorns stuck in the flesh. Some- 
times they caused their victims to swallow pins, old 
nails, dirt, and trash of all sorts, invisibly conveyed 
to them by their imps. Frequently they showed their 
hate by drying up the milk of cows, or by killing 
oxen. For slight offences they would prevent butter 
from coming in the churn, or beer from working. 
Grace Greenwood says, that, on a visit to Salem in 
the fall of 1850, she " was shown a vial of the verita- 
ble bewitched pins with which divers persons were 
sorely pricked by the wicked spite of certain witches 
and wizards." 

It was believed that Satan affixed his mark or seal 
to the bodies of those in allegiance with him, and 
that the spot where this mark was made became cal- 
lous and dead. In examining a witch upon trial, 
they would pierce the body with pins, and if any spot 
was found insensible to the torture, it was looked upon 
as ocular demonstration of guilt. Another method 
to detect a witch, was to weigh her against the chm-ch 
Bible. If she was guilty, the Bible would preponder- 
ate. Another was by making her say the Lord's pray- 
er, which no one actually possessed could do correctly. 
A witch could not weep but three tears, and that only 
out of the left eye ; and this was considered by many 
an decisive proof of guilt. But swimming was the 
most infallible ordeal. They were stripped naked, and 
bound the right thumb to the left toe, and the left 


thumb TO the right toe. Being thus prepared, they 
were thrown into a pond or river. If guilty, they 
could not sink ; for having, by their compact with the 
devil, renounced the water of baptism, that element 
renounces them, and refuses to receive them into its 

In 1 664, a man by the name of Matthew Hopkins, 
in England, was permitted to explore the counties of 
Essex, Suffolk, and Huntingdon, with a commission 
to discover witches, receiving twenty shillings from 
each town he visited. Many persons were pitched 
upon, and through his means convicted. At length, 
some gentlemen, out of indignation at his barbarity, 
tied him in the same manner he had bound others, 
thumbs and toes together, in which state, putting him 
in the water, he swam ! Standing condemned on his 
own principles, the country was rescued from the 
power of his malicious imposition. 

The subsequent illustration of the condition of re- 
ligion less than two hundred years ago will excite a 
few humbling thoughts. In the parish register of 
Glammis, Scotland, June, 1676, is recorded — " Nae 
preaching here this Lord's day, the minister being at 
Gortachy, burning a witch." Forty thousand persons, 
it is said, were put to death for witchcraft in England 
during the seventeenth century, and a much greater 
number in Scotland, in proportion to its population. 

In 1692, the whole population of Salem and vicini- 
ty were under the influence of a terrible delusion con- 
cerning witchcraft. By yielding to the sway of their 
credulous fancies, allowing their passions to be 
worked up to a tremendous pitch of excitement, and 
rmining into excesses of folly and violence, they have 


left a dark stain upon their memory, that will awaken 
a sense of shame, pity, and amazement in the minds 
of their latest posterity. The principal causes that 
led to their delusion, and to the proceedings con- 
nected with it, were, a proneness to superstition, 
owing in a great degree to an ignorance of natural 
science, too great a dependence upon the imagination, 
and the power of sympathy. In contemplating the 
errors and sufferings which ignorance of philosophy 
and science brought upon our fathers, we should be 
led to appreciate more gratefully, and to improve 
with more faithfulness, our own opportunities to ac- 
quire wisdom and knowledge. But we would not be 
understood as saying, that mere intellectual cultiva- 
tion is sufficient to banish every superstition. No. 
For who were ever better educated than the ancient 
Greeks and Romans ? And yet, who were ever more 
influenced by a belief in signs, omens, spectres, and 
witches ? We believe that, when the gospel, in its 
purity and simplicity, shall shed its divine light 
abroad, and pervade the hearts of men, superstition, 
in all its dark and hideous forms, will recede, and 
vanish from the world. 

In concluding our remarks under this head, we 
would add that, in a dictionary before us, a witch is 
designated as a woman, and wizard as a man, that pre- 
tends to some power whereby he or she can foretell 
future events, cure diseases, call up or drive away 
spirits. The art itself is called witchcraft. K this is 
a correct definition, witches and wizards are quite a 
numerous class of people in society at the present 
day ; for there are many among us who presume to 
practise these things. "^ , 




Although the belief in witchcraft has nearly passed 
away, the civilized world is yet full of necromancers 
and fortune tellers. The mystic science of " palmistry " 
is still practised by many a haggard and muttering 

The most celebrated fortune teller, perhaps, that 
ever lived, resided in Lynn, Mass. The character of 
" Moll Pitcher" is familiarly known in all parts of the 
commercial world. She died in 1813. Her place of 
abode was beneath the projecting and elevated summit 
of High Rock, in Lynn, and commanded a view of 
the wild and indented coast of Marblehead, of the ex- 
tended and resounding beaches of Lynn and Chelsea, 
of Nahant Rocks, of the vessels and islands, of 
Boston's beautiful bay, and of its remote southern 
shore. She derived her mysterious gifts by inherit- 
ance, her grandfather having practised them before, in 
Marblehead. Sailors, merchants, and adventurers of 
every kind visited her residence, and placed great con- 
fidence in her predictions. People came from great 
distances to learn the fate of missing friends or recover 
the possession of lost goods. The young, of both 
sexes, impatient at the tardy pace of time, and burn- 
ing with curiosity to discern their future lot, especially 
as it regarded matters of wedlock, availed themselves 
of every opportunity to visit her lowly dwelling, and 
hear from her prophetic lips the revelations of these 
•^nost tender incidents and important events of their 


coming lives. She read the future, and traced wliat, 
to mere mortal eyes, were the mysteries of the present 
or the past, in the arrangement and aspect of the 
grounds or settlings of a cup of tea or coffee. Her 
name has every where become the generic title of 
fortune tellers, and occupies a conspicuous place in 
the legends and ballads of popular superstition. 

A man was suddenly missed by his friends from 
a certain town in this commonwealth. The church 
immediately sent a member to consult the far-famed 
fortune-telling Molly Pitcher. After making the ne- 
cessary inquiries, she intimated that the absent person 
had been murdered by a family of negroes, and 
his body sunk in the deep waters behind their dwell- 
ing. Upon this evidence, the accused were forthwith 
imprisoned, and the pond raked in vain, from shore to 
shore. A few days previous to the trial, the missing 
man returned to his fi'iends, safe and sound ; thus 
proving that the fortune teller, instead of having re- 
ceived from Satan certain information of distant and 
unknown events, actually played off a piece of the 
grossest deception upon her credulous visitors. 

We are told by travellers that there is scarcely a 
village in Syria in which there is not some one who 
has the credit of being able to cast out evil spirits. 
About eight miles from the ancient Sidon, Lady 
Hester Stanhope, the granddaughter of the immortal 
Chatham, and niece of the equally immortal Pitt, 
recently lived in a style of Eastern splendor and mag- 
nificence. She spent her time in gazing at the ex- 
tended canopy of heaven, as it shed its sparkling light 
upon the ancient hills and sacred groves of Palestine 
— her soul absorbed in the fathomless mysteries of her 


loved astrology, and holding fancied communion with 
supernatural powers and spirits of the departeds 

There recently died in Hopkinton, Mass., an indi 
vidual by the name of Sheffield, who had long fol 
lowed the art of fortune telling by astrology. He 
professed to unfold almost every secret, or mystery, 
even to foretelling the precise day and hour any person 
would die. In case of lost or stolen goods, it was only 
necessary to enclose a small fee in a letter, containing 
also a statement of your name, age, and place of 
residence, and forward the same by mail to his ad- 
dress. In two or three weeks, the information you 
sought, as to the person who stole the property, &c., 
would be forwarded to you, leaving you to judge of 
the case for yourself. He did quite a business in his 
line, and made something of a foi-tune out of a long- 
exploded science. 

There are many who trust to the declarations of 
such persons, and are often made unhappy thereby. 
In fact, it is doubtful if a more unhappy class can be 
found than those who are in the habit of consulting 
fortune tellers of any character. It is discontent, 
chiefly, that leads them to pry into futurity. And 
after having had their fortunes told, as it is termed, 
they are no better satisfied than before ; for the best 
of fortune tellers are famous for their errors and mis- 
fakes, although it would be strange if they did not 
blunder upon some facts in the whole routine of their 
business. But we pity those who rely upon their 
prognostications. If told they will die at such or such 
a time, or if they are to meet with some dreadful ac- 
cident, misfortune, or disappointment, their imagina- 
tions will lead them to anticipate and dread the event, 


which will be the surest way to produce its fulfilment. 
If a husband or wife is told that he or she will marry 
again, it will lead them to be dissatisfied with the 
partner with whom they are at present associated. 
And look at this subject as we will, we shall find 
it productive of a vast amount of evil, and therefore 
deserving of om* entire disapprobation. 



Fairies, says a certain author, are a sort of inter- 
mediate beings, between men and women, having 
bodies, yet with the power of rendering them invisible, 
and of passing through all sorts of enclosures. They 
are remarkably small of stature, with fair complexions, 
whence they derive their name, fairies. Both male 
and female are generally clothed in green, and frequent 
mountains, the sunny side of hills, groves, and green 
meadows, where they amuse themselves with dancing, 
hand in hand, in a circle, by moonlight. The traces 
of their feet are said to be visible, next morning, on 
the grass, and are commonly called fairy rings, or 

Fairies have all the passions and wants of men, and 
are great lovers of cleanliness and propriety ; for the 
observance of which, they frequently reward servants, 
by dropping money in their shoes. They likewise 
punish sluts and slovens by pinching them black and 


blue. They often change then' weak and starveling 
elves, or children, for the more robust offspring of men. 
But this can only be done before baptism ; for which 
reason it is still the custom, in the Highlands, to 
watch by the cradle of infants till they are christened. 
The word channeling, now applied to one almost an 
idiot, attests the current belief of these superstitious 

Some fairies dwell in mines, and in Wales noth- 
ing is more common than these subterranean spirits, 
called knockers, who very good naturedly point out 
where there is a rich vein of lead or silver. In Scot- 
land there was a sort of domestic fairies, from their 
sun-burnt complexions, called brownies. These were 
extremely useful, performing all sorts of. domestic 

In the Life of Dr. Adam Clarke, we have the follow- 
ing account of a circumstance that took place in the 
town of Freshford, county of Kilkenny, Ireland, show- 
ing the superstition prevailing in that country con- 
cerning the influence of these fairy beings : "A farmer 
built himself a house of three apartments, the kitchen 
in the middle, and a room for sleeping, &c., on either 
end. Some time after it was finished, a cow of his 
died — then a horse ; to these succeeded other small 
er animals, and last of all his wife died. Full of 
alarm and distress, supposing himself to be an object 
of fairy indignation, he went to the fairy man, that is, 
one v/ho pretends to know fairy customs, haunts, 
pathways, antipathies, caprices, benevolences, &c., 
and he asked his advice and counsel on the subject of 
his losses. The wise man, after having considered all 
things, and cast his eye upon the house, said, ' The 


fairies, in their night walks from Knockshegowny Hill, 
ir county Tipperai'y, to the county of Kilkenny, were 
accustomed to pass over the very spot where one ox 
your rooms is now built ; you have blocked up theii 
way, and they were very angiy with you, and have 
siain your cattle, and killed your wife, and, if not 
appeased, may yet do worse harm to you.' The poor 
fellow, sadly alarmed, went, and with his own hands, 
deliberately pulled down the timbers, demolished the 
walls, and left not one stone upon another, but razed 
the very foundation, and left the path of these capri- 
cious gentry as open and as clear as it was before. 
How strong must have been this man's belief in the 
existence of these demi-natural and semi-supernatural 
beings, to have induced him thus to destroy the work 
of his own hands!" 

In Spenser's epic poem, called the Fairy Queen, 
the imagination of the reader is entertained with the 
characters of fairies, witches, magicians, demons, 
and departed spirits. A kind of pleasing horror is 
raised in the mind, and one is amused with the 
strangeness and novelty of the persons who are repre- 
sented in it; but to be affected by such poetry re- 
quires an odd turn of thought, a peculiar cast of fancy, 
with an imagination naturally fruitful and super- 

The Gypsies are a class of strolling beggars, cheats, 
and fortune tellers. They have been quite numerous 
in all the older countries, and are so still in some of 
them; but in the United States there are but few, 
some one or two tribes in the west, and a small party 
of them in New York state. They are probably 
called Gypsies from the ancient Egyptians, who had 


the character of great cheats, whence the name might 
afterwards pass proverbially into other languages, as 
it did into the Greek and Latin ; or else the ancient 
Egyptians being much versed in astronomy, or rathei 
astrology, the name was afterwards assumed by these 
modern fortune tellers. In Latin they are called 
Egyptii; the Italians called them Cinari, or Cingani; 
the Russians, Zigani; the Turks and Persians, Zingarri; 
the Germans, Ziguenor ; the Spaniards, Gitanos ; the 
French, Bohemians, from the circumstance that Bohe- 
mia was the first civilized country where they made 
their appearance. 

In most countries they live in the woods and for- 
ests ; but in England, where every inch of land is cul- 
tivated, the covered cart and little tent are their houses, 
and they seldom remain more than three days in the 
same place. 

Dabbling in sorcery is in some degree the province 
of the female Gypsy. She affects to tell the future, 
and to prepare philters, by means of which love can be 
awakened in any individual towards any particular 
object; and such is the credulity of the human race, 
even in the most enlightened countries, that the profits 
arising from these practices are great. The following 
is a case in point : Two females, neighbors and friends, 
were tried, some years since, for the murder of their 
husbands. It appeared that they were in love for the 
same individual, and had conjointly, at various times, 
paid sums of money to a Gypsy woman to work 
charms to captivate his affections. Whatever little 
effect the charms might produce, they were successful 
in their principal object, for the person in question 
carried on for some time a criminal intercourse with 


6oth. The matter came to the knowledge of the hus- 
bands, who, taking means to break off this connection, 
were both poisoned by their wives. Till the moment 
of conviction, these wretched females betrayed neither 
emotion nor fear; but at this juncture their consterna- 
tion was indescribable. They afterwards confessed 
that the Gypsy, who had visited them in prisoii, had 
promised to shield them from conviction by means of 
her art. It is therefore not surprising that in the fif- 
teenth and sixteenth centuries, when a belief in sorcery 
was supported by the laws of all Europe, these people 
were regarded as practisers of sorcery, and punished as 
such, when, even in the nineteenth, they still find peo- 
ple weak enough to place confidence in their claims 
to supernatural power. 

In telling fortunes, the fijst demand of the Gypsy, 
in England, is invariably a sixpence, in order that she 
may cross her hands with silver ; and here the same 
promises are made, and as easily believed, as in other 
countries, leading to the conclusion that mental illumi- 
nation, amongst the generality of mankind, has made 
no progress whatever ; as we observe in the nineteenth 
century the same gross credulity manifested as in the 
geventeenth, and the inhabitants of one of the countries 
most celebrated for the arts of civilization imposed 
upon by the same stale tricks which served to deceive, 
two centuries before, in Spain, a country whose name 
has long and justly been considered as synonymous 
with every species of ignorance and barbarity. 

In telling fortunes, promises are the only capital 
requisite, and the whole art consists in properly adapt- 
ing these promises to the age and condition of the 
parties who seek for information. The Gitimos are 


clever enougli in the accomplishment of this, and gen- 
erally give perfect satisfaction. Their practice lies 
chiefly amongst females, the portion of the human 
race most given to curiosity and credulity. To the 
young maidens they promise lovers, handsome inva- 
riably, and oftentimes rich; to wives, childifen, and 
perhaps another husband ; for their eyes are so pene- 
trating, that occasionally they will develop your most 
secret thoughts and wishes ; to the old, riches, and 
nothing but riches — for they have sufficient knowl- 
edge of the human heart to be aware that avarice is 
the last passion that becomes extinct within it. These 
riches are to proceed either from the discovery of hid- 
den treasure, or from across the water. The Gitanos, 
in the exercise of this practice, find dupes almost as 
readily amongst the superior classes, as the veriest 
dregs of the population. 

They are also expert in chiromancy, which is the 
determining, from certain lines upon the hand, the 
quality of the physical and intellectual powers of the 
possessor, to which lines they give particular and 
appropriate names, the principal of which is called the 
" line of life." An ancient waiter, in speaking of this 
art, says, " Such chiromancy is not only reprobated 
by theologians, but by men of law and physic, as a 
foolish, vain, scandalous, futile, superstitious practice, 
smelling much of divinery and a pact with the devil." 

The Gitanos in the olden time appear to have not 
unfrequently been subjected to punishment as sorcer- 
esses, and with great justice, as the abominable trade 
which they have always driven in philters and decoc- 
tions certainly entitled them to that appellation, and 
to the pains and penalties reserved for those who prac- 
tised what is generally termed " witchcraft." 


Amongst the crimes laid to their charge, conLCcted 
with the exercise of occult powers, there is one of a 
purely imaginary character, which if they were ever 
punished for, they had assuredly but little right to 
complain, as the chastisement they met with was fuUy 
merited by practices equaJy malefic as the one imputed 
to them, provided that were possible. It was the cast- 
ing the evil eye. 

In the Gitdno language, casting the evil eye is 
called zuerelar nasula, which simply means making 
sick, and which, according to the common superstition, 
is accomplished by casting an evil look at people, 
especially children, who, from the tenderness of their 
constitution, are supposed to be more easily blighted 
than those of a more mature age. After receiving the 
evil glance, they fall sick, and die in a few hours. 

In Andalusia, a belief in the evil eye is very prev- 
alent among the lower orders. A stag's horn is con- 
'sidered a good safeguard, and on that account, a small 
horn, tipped with silver, is frequently attached to the 
children's necks, by means of a cord braided from the 
hair of a black mare's tail. Should the evil glance be 
cast, it is imagined that the horn receives it, and in- 
stantly snaps asunder. Such horns may be pur- 
chased at the silversmiths' shops at Seville. 

The Gypsies sell remedies for the evil eye, which 
consist of any drugs which they happen to possess, or 
are acquainted with. They have been known to offer 
to cure the glanders in a horse, (an incurable disorder,) 
with the very same powders which they offer as a 
specific for the evil eye. 

The same superstition is current among all Orien- 
tal people, whether Tm-ks, Arabs, or Hindoos; but 


perhaps there is no nation in the world with whom 
the belief is so firmly rooted as the Jews ; it being a 
subject treated of in all the old rabbinical writings, 
which induces the conclusion that the superstition of 
the evil eye is of an antiquity almost as remote as the 
origin of the Hebrew race. 

The evil eye is mentioned in Scripture, but not in 
the false and superstitious sense we have spoken of. 
Evil in the eye, which occurs in Prov. xxiii. 5, 6, 
merely denotes niggardness and illiberality. The 
Hebrew words are ain ra, and stand in contradis- 
tinction to ain toub, or the benignant in eye, which 
denotes an inclination to bounty and liberality. 

The rabbins have said, " For one person who dies 
of sickness, there are ten who die by the evil eye." And 
as the Jews, especially those of the East, and of Barbary, 
place implicit confidence in all that the rabbins have 
written, we can scarcely wonder if, at the present day, 
they dread this visitation more than the cholera or the 
plague. " The leech," they say, " can cure those 
disorders ; but "who is capable of curing the evil eye ? " 

It is im.agined that this blight is most easily inflicted 
when a person is enjoying himself, with little or no 
care for the futm-e, when he is reclining in the sun 
before his door, or when he is full of health and spirits, 
but principally when he is eating and drinking, on which 
account the Jews and Moors are jealous of strangers 
when they are taking their meals. 

" I was acquainted," says a late writer, " with a 
very handsome Jewess, of Fez ; she had but one eye, 
but that one was particularly brilliant. On asking her 
how she lost its fellow, she informed me that she was 
once standing in the street, at nightfall, when she was 


a little girl ; a Moor, that was passing by, suddenly 
stopped, and said, ' Towae Ullah, (blessed be God,) 
how beautiful are your eyes, my child ! ' Whereupon 
she went into the house, but was presently seized 
with a dreadful pain in the left eye, which continued 
during the night, and the next day the pupil came out 
of the socket. She added, that she did not believe the 
Moor had any intention of hurting her, as he gazed on 
her so kindly ; but that it was very thoughtless in him 
to utter words which are sure to convey evil luck." It 
is said to be particularly dangerous to eat in the pres- 
ence of a woman ; for the evil eye, if cast by a 
woman, is far more fatal and difficult to cure than 
if cast by a man. 

When any one falls sick of the evil eye, he must 
instantly call to his assistance the man cunning in 
such cases. The man, on coming, takes either a girdle 
or a handkerchief from off his own person, and ties a 
knot at either end ; then he measures three spans with 
his left hand, and at the end of these three he fastens 
a knot, and folds it three times round his head, pro- 
nouncing this beraka, or blessing: '■'■Ben porat Josef, 
ben porat ali ain,^^ (Joseph is a fruitful bough, a 
fruitful bough by a well ;) he then recommences 
measuring the girdle or handkerchief, and if he finds 
three spans and a half, instead of the three which he 
formerly measured, he is enabled to tell the name of 
the person who cast the evil eye, whether male 
or female. 

The above very much resembles the charm of the 
Bible and key, by which many persons in England 
still pretend to be able to discover the thief, when an 
article is missed. A key is placed in a Bible, in the 


part called Solomon's Song ; the Bible and key are 
then fastened strongly together, by means of a ribbon, 
which is wound round the Bible, and passed several 
times through the handle of the key, which projects 
from the top of the book. The diviner then causes 
the person robbed to name the name of any person or 
persons whom he may suspect. The two parties, the 
robbed and the diviner, then standing up, support the 
book between them, the ends of the handle of the key 
resting on the tips of the fore fingers of the right hand. 
The diviner then inquires of the Bible, whether such 
a one committed the theft, and commences repeating 
the sixth and seventh verses of the eighth chapter of 
the Song ; and if the Bible and key turn round in the 
mean time, the person named is considered guilty. 
This charm has been, and still is, the source of infinite 
mischief, innocent individuals having irretrievably 
lost their character among their neighbors from re- 
course being had to the Bible and key. The slightest 
motion of the finger, or rather of the nail, will cause 
the key to revolve, so that the people named are quite 
at the mercy of the diviner, who is generally a cheat, 
or professed conjurer, and not unfrequently a Gypsy. 
In like manner, the Barbary cunning man, by a slight 
contraction of his hand, measures three and a half 
spans, where he first measured three, and then pre- 
tends to know the person who has cast the evil eye, 
having, of course, first ascertained the names of those 
with whom his patient has lately been in company. 

When the person who has cast the evil eye has 
been discovered, by means of the magical process 
already described, the mother, or wife, or sister of the 
sufferer walks forth, pronouncing the name of the 

Fairies, or wandering spirits. 71 

latter with a loud voice, and, making the best of her 
way to the house of the person guilty, takes a little of 
the earth from before the door of his or her sleeping 
apartment. Some of the saliva of the culprit is then 
demanded, which must be given early in the morning, 
before breakfast ; then the mother, or the wife, or the 
sister goes to the oven, and takes from thence seven 
burning coals, which are slaked in water from the 
bath in which the women bathe. The four in- 
gredients, earth, saliva, coals, and water, are then 
mixed together in a dish, and the patient is made to 
take three sips, and what remains is taken to a private 
place and buried, the person w^ho buries it making 
three paces backward, exclaiming, " May the evil eye 
be buried beneath the earth." Many people carry 
papers about with them, scrawled with hieroglyphics, 
which are prepared by the hacumim, or sages, and 
sold. These papers, placed in a little bag and hung 
about the person, are deemed infallible preservatives 
from the " ain ara." 

Like many other superstitions, the above may be 
founded on a physical reality. In hot countries, 
where the sun and moon are particularly dazzling, the 
belief in the evil eye is most prevalent. If we turn to 
the Scripture, we shall probably come to the solution 
of the belief. " The sun shall not smite thee by day, 
nor the moon by night." Ps. cxxi. 5, 6. To those 
who loiter in the sunshine, before the king of day has 
nearly reached his bourn in the west, the sun has an 
evil eye, and his glance produces brain fevers ; and to 
those who sleep uncovered, beneath the smile of the 
moon, her glance is poisonous, producing insupportable 
itching in the eye and not unfrequently total blindness : 


all the charms, scrawls, and rabbinical antidotes have 
no power to avert these effects. 

The northern nations have a superstition which 
bears some resemblance to the evil eye. They have 
no brilliant sun and moon to addle the brain and 
poison the eye, but the gray north has its marshes, 
and fenny ground, and fetid mists, which produce 
agues, low fevers, and moping madness, and are as 
fatal to cattle as to man. Such disorders are attributed 
to elves and fairies. This superstition still lingers in 
some parts of England, under the name of elf-shot, 
whilst, throughout the north, it is called elle-skiod, 
and elle-vild, (fairy wild.) It is particularly prevalent 
amongst shepherds and cowherds, who, from their 
manner of life, are most exposed to the effects of the 
so called elf-shot. 

The Gitanos had a venomous preparation called 
drao, or drow, which they were in the habit of fling- 
ing into the mangers of the cattle, for the purpose of 
causing sickness and death. It was the province of 
the women to compound the ingredients of this poison, 
which answered many wicked purposes. The stalls 
and stables were visited secretly, and the provender of 
the animals being poisoned, they at once fell sick ; 
speedily there appeared the Gitanos, offering their 
services on the condition of no cure no pay, and when 
these were accepted, the malady was speedily re- 
moved. They used no medicines, or pretended not 
to, but charms only, which consisted of small variegated 
beans, called, in their language, bobis, coming from a 
Russian word signifying beans. These beans they 
dropped into the mangers, though they doubtless 
administered privately a real and effcacious remedy. 


B} these means they fostered the idea, already preva- 
lent, that they were people possessed of supernatural 
gifts and powers. By means of drao, they likewise 
procured themselves food ; poisoning swine, as their 
brethren in England still do, and then feasting on the 
flesh, the poison only affecting the head of the animal, 
which was abandoned as worthless ; witness one of 
their own songs : — 

" By Gypsy drow the porker died ; 
I saw him stiff at evening tide ; 
But I saw him not when morning shone, 
For the Gypsies ate him, flesh and bone." 

By drao, also, they could avenge themselves on their 
enemies by destroying their cattle, without incurring 
a shadow of suspicion. Revenge for injuries, real or 
imaginary, is sweet to all unconverted minds — to no 
one more than the Gypsy, who, in all parts of the 
world, is, perhaps, the most revengeful of human 

But if the Gitanos are addicted to any one super- 
stition above others, it is in respect to the loadstone, 
to which they attribute all kinds of miraculous powers. 
They believe that he who is in possession of it has 
nothing to fear from steel or lead, from fire or water, 
and that death itself has no power over him. The 
Gypsy contrabandists are particularly anxious to pro- 
cure this stone, which they carry upon their persons 
in their expeditions. They say, that in the '^vent of 
their being pursued by the revenue officers, whirlwinds 
of dust will arise and conceal them from the vic-iW of 
their enemies ; the horse stealers say much the same 
thing, and assert that they are uniformly successful 
when they bear a Dout them the precious stone. But 


it is said by them to effect much more. It is extraor- 
dinary in exciting the amorous propensities, and on 
this account it is in great request among the Gypsy 
hags. All these women are procuresses, and find 
persons of both sexes weak and wicked enough to 
make use of their pretended knowledge in the compo- 
sition of love draughts and decoctions. 

In the Museum of Natural Curiosities at Madrid, 
there is a large piece of loadstone, originally extracted 
from the American mines. There is scarcely a Git;ana 
in Madrid who is not acquainted with this circum- 
btance, and who does not long to obtain the stone, 
or a part of it. Several attempts have been made 
to steal it, all of which, however, have been unsuc- 

A translation of the Gospel of St. Luke was printed 
in the Gypsy language, at Madrid, in 1838. The 
chapters were read over and explained to some of 
these strange people, by the late agent of the British 
and Foreign Bible Society, in Spain. They said it was 
lacho, and Jucdl, and misto, all of which words express 
approval of the quality of a thing ; and they purchased 
copies of the Gypsy Luke freely. The women were 
particularly anxious to obtain copies, though unable 
to read ; but each wished to have one in her pocket, 
especially when engaged in thieving expeditions, for 
they all looked upon it in the light of a charm, which 
would preserve them from all danger and mischance ; 
some even went so far as to say, that in this respect 
it was equally as efficacious as the Bar Lachi, or 
loadstone, which they are generally so eager to possess. 
Of this Gospel, five hundred copies were printed, the 
greatest part of which were circulated among the 


Gypsies ; but it was speedily prohibited by a royal 
ordinance, which appeared in the Gazette of Madrid, 
in August, 1838. 

Before closing, under this head, we will remark that, 
although the Gypsies in general are a kind of wander- 
ing outcasts, incapable of appreciating the blessings 
of a settled and civilized life, yet among the Gypsies 
of Moscow there are not a few who inhabit stately 
houses, go abroad in elegant equipages, and are not a 
whit behind the higher order of Russians in appear- 
ance, nor in mental acquirements. To the female part 
of the Gypsy colony of Moscow is to be attributed the 
merit of this partial rise from abjectness and degrada- 
tion, having from time immemorial so successfully cul- 
tivated the vocal art, that, though in the midst of a nation 
by whom song is more cherished and cultivated, and its 
principles better understood, than by any other of the 
civilized globe, the Gypsy choirs of Moscow are, by the 
general voice of the Russian public, admitted to be 
unrivalled in that most amiable of all accomplish- 
ments. It is a fact, notorious in Russia, that the 
celebrated Catalini was so enchanted with the voice 
of one of these Gypsy songsters, who, after the former 
had displayed her noble Italian talent before a splendid 
audience at Moscow, stepped forward, and with an 
astonibhing burst of almost angelic melody, so en- 
raptm-ed every ear, that even applause forgot its duty, 
and the noble Catalini immediately tore from her 
own shoulders a shawl of Cashmere, which had been 
presented to her by the Father of Rome, and embra- 
cing the Gypsy, insisted on her acceptance of the splen- 
did gift, saying, that it had been intended for the 
matchless songster which she now perceived she her- 
self was not. 




Many books have been published, having a tendency 
to deceive the credulous, who suffer themselves to be 
guided by any thing but reason and experience. 
Hence the encouragement bestowed on works of 
enchantment, dreams, omens, and fate. Mankind 
have always discovered a propensity to peep behind 
the veil of futurity, and have been lavish of money 
in consulting persons and books that make a preten- 
sion of unravelling the decrees of Fate, which lie 
hidden in the labyrinths of darkness. From these 
sources have arisen the following superstitions, as a 
sample of the many that have disturbed the peace of 
individuals, families, and sometimes of whole com- 

" A coal in the shape of a coffin, flying out of the 
fire to any particular person, denotes his death is not 
far off. A collection of tallow rising up against the 
wick of a candle is called a winding-sheet, and deemed 
an omen of mortality. If, in eating, you miss your 
mouth, and the food falls, it is very unlucky, and 
denotes sickness. To dream you are dressed in black 
is an unlucky omen. Some quarrel is about to happen 
between you and a friend or relative. Sickness is 
about to attend your family. Death will ^deprive you 
of some friend or relation. Lawsuits will perplex 
and harass you. If you undertake a journey, it will 
be unsuccessful. If you are in love, it denotes that 
your sweetheart is very unhappy, and that sickness 


will attend her. If you are a farmer, your crops will 
fail, the murrain will attack your cattle, and some 
dreadful accident will happen by the overturning of 
one of your wagons. If you are in business, some 
one will arrest you, and you will have great difficulty 
in settling the matter. To dream of hen and chickens 
is the forerunner of ill luck. Your sweetheart will 
betray you and marry another. If you go to law, 
the case will be decided against you. If you go to 
sea, you will lose your goods, and narrowly escape 
shipwreck. To dream of coals denotes much afflic- 
tion and trouble. If you are in love, your sweetheart 
will prove false, and do every thing to injure you. 
To dream you see the coals extinguished, and reduced 
to cinders, denotes the death of yourself, or some near 
friend or relation. It also indicates great losses, and 
forewarns you of beggary and a prison. To dream 
you are married is ominous of death. It also denotes 
poverty, a prison, and misfortunes. To di-eam of 
lying with your newly-married husband or wife 
denotes danger and sudden misfortunes." 

Popular charms are equally absurd and nonsensical. 
For example, a ring made of the hinge of a cof- 
fin is good for the cramp. A halter with which a 
man has been hanged, if tied about the head, will 
cure the headache. A drop of blood of a black 
cat cures convulsions in children. If a tree of any 
kind be split, and weak, rickety, or ruptured children 
are drawn through it, and afterwards the tree is bound 
together, so as to make it unite — as the tree heals 
and grows together, so will the child acquire strength. 
If in a family the youngest daughter be married before 
her older sisters, they must all dance at her wedding 
- 7* 


without shoes, to counteract their ill luck, and procure 
themselves husbands. And to procure luck when a 
person goes out to transact business, you must throw 
an old shoe after him. To spit on the first money re- 
ceived for the price of goods sold on any day will pro- 
cure luck. And that boxers must spit in their liands 
before they set to, for luck's sake. 

Seamen have a superstition that if they whistle in 
a storm, the storm will be increased. And in time of 
a calm, they practise "whistling to call the ivind, as 
they term it. Among farmers, in setting a hen, it is 
deemed lucky to use an odd number of eggs. Among 
soldiers, salutes with cannon must be of an odd num- 
ber. A royal salute is thrice seven, or twenty-one 
guns. Healths are drank odd. Yet the number tlm'- 
teen is sometimes deemed ominous ; it being supposed 
that when thirteen persons meet in a room, one of 
them will die within the year. To know whether a 
woman shall have the man she desires, it is' directed 
to get two lemon peels, and wear them all day, one in 
each pocket, and at night rub the four posts of the bed- 
stead with them. K she is to succeed, the person 
will appear to her in her sleep, and present her with a 
couple of lemons. If not, there is no room for hope. 
And again the fair ones are directed to take a piece 
of wedding cake, draw it thrice through the wedding 
ring, lay it under their pillow, and they will certainly 
dream of their future husbands. A thousand other 
equally successful methods have been proposed to 
solve the mysteries of future fortune ; and yet the 
magical stone, that will turn all our schemes into 
wished-for realities, remains to be discovered. As 
time advances, and knowledge pervades the abodes 



of darkness and ignorance, all this trumpery of 
ghosts, witches, fairies, tricks, and omens will go 
down to the "tomb of the Capulets." People will 
be able to pass through the chm-chyard, sleep in an 
old house, though the wind whistle ever so shrill, 
without encountering any supernatural visitations. 
They will become wise enough to trace private and 
public calamities to other causes than the crossing of 
knives, the click of an insect, or even the portentous 
advent of a comet. Thanks to the illustrious names 
recorded in the annals of science and letters, who 
have contributed towards so happy a consummation. 



There are some who profess to believe in modern 
miracles. But such belief necessarily partakes of su- 
perstition. The Savior gave no intimation that mira- 
cles should continue after the establishment of Chris- 
tianity. He promised to be with his apostles even 
unto the end of that age. He declared that all who 
believed their instructions should also have power to 
cast out devils, heal diseases, speak with new tongues, 
and withstand any deadly thing. But his promise 
did not extend beyond the immediate converts of the 
apostles. And we have no satisfactory evidence that 
miracles were wrought by any but these ; while we 
have abundant testimony that our Savior's promise 


was literally fulfilled. In fact, there was no necessity 
for miracles after the establishment of Christianity. 
They were first wrought as so many testimonies that 
Jesus was the sent of God ; and at the same time, 
were so many significant emblems of his designs, so 
many types and figures, aptly representing the benefits 
to be conferred upon the human race. But they were 
not designed to be perpetuated ; for a history of di- 
vine revelation was committed to writing, and trans- 
lated into the prevailing languages of the civilized 
world. If any could be so obstinate as not to be con- 
vinced of its divine origin by the mass of evidence 
with which it was accompanied, neither would they 
believe, though one should rise from the dead. 

Pretended modern miracles admit of an easy ex- 
planation on natural principles. Diseases have been 
suddenly healed ; but imagination effected the cure. 
Visions, ghosts, and apparitions have been seen ; but 
they existed only in the minds of the observers, and 
were caused by some mental or bodily operation. 
But nothing of this kind can be said of the mkacles 
of Christ. His cannot be accounted for on any 
natural principles, but must have been caused by di- 
vine miraculous agency. 

Modern miracles are not supported by satisfactory 
evidence. They have been mostly wrought in secret. 
No witnesses can be produced but the most inter- 
ested. This was not the case with those of our 
Savior. They were performed openly, and in the 
presence of friends and enemies. They could not be 
deceptions ; for the resurrection of a dead person 
could be tested by the evidence of the senses. The 
remark of Judge Howe may be appropriately intro- 


(Inced in this connection. He had thoroughly and im- 
partially studied the evidences of Christianity, and a 
firm belief in its divine origin was the result. He ob- 
served that no jury could be found that would give a 
verdict against Christianity, if the evidences on both 
sides could be fairly presented before them, and they 
were governed in forming their opinion by the com- 
mon rules of belief. The truth of this observation is 
confirmed by the fact, that candid inquirers after 
truth have uniformly risen from an examination of the 
evidences of Christianity believers in its divine origin. 
The same cannot be said of modern miracles. No 
jury could be obtained of disinterested persons, who 
would give a verdict in their favor. Therefore we 
have no satisfactory evidence of their reality. Our 
safest course is to admit the conclusion of eminent 
writers of all denominations, namely, that miracles 
ceased with the first converts of Christianity. 



Many have professed a belief in the divine inspira- 
tion of some one of the many false prophets or Christs 
that have appeared in diflerent ages of the church. 
In the year 1830, there was a man in this country, 
calling himself Matthias, who declared that he was 
the v^ry Christ, and pretended that he had come to 
judge the world. And strange as it may seem, he 


was attended by some individuals of quite respectable 
standing, who worshipped him as God ! He appearea 
in pontifical robes, with his rule in his right hand, and 
his two-edged sword in the left. Underneath a rich 
olive broadcloth cloak, lined and faced with silk and 
velvet, he wore a brown frock coat, with several stars 
on each breast, and a splendid golden star on his left 
breast. His belt was of white cloth fastened by a 
golden clasp, sm-mounted by an eagle. He occasion- 
ally put on a cocked hat, of black beaver, trimmed 
with green, the rear angle being surmounted by the 
golden symbol of glory. 

On being asked where his residence was, and what 
was his occupation, he replied, " I am a traveller, and 
my legal residence is Zion Hill, Westchester county. 
New York ; I am a Jewish teacher and priest of the 
Most High, saying and doing all that I do, under oath, 
by virtue of my having subscribed to all the covenants 
that God hath made with man from the beginning up 
to this time. I am chief high priest of the Jews o^ 
the order of Melchizedec, being the last chosen of the 
twelve apostles, and the first in the resurrection which 
is at the end of 2300 years from the birth of Maho- 
met, which terminated in 1830, that being the summit 
of the power of the false prophets. I am now de- 
nouncing judgment on the Gentiles, and that judg- 
ment is to be executed in this age. All the blood 
from Zacharias till the death of the last witness 
is required of this generation. Before this genera- 
tion passeth away, this judgment shall be executed 
and declared. The hour of God's judgment is come." 

Matthias commenced his public career in Albany ; 
but not making many converts there, he soon removed 


to the city of New York. Here he met with but little 
success for some time ; but it appears that in the 
autumn of 1832, he had succeeded in ingratiating 
himself into the favor of a number of individuals, 
among whom were three of the most wealthy and re- 
spectable merchants of Pearl Street. He representeck 
liimself to them to be the Spirit of Truth, which had 
disappeared from the earth at the death of Matthias 
mentioned in the New Testament, and that the spirit 
of Jesus Christ entered into that Matthias whom he 
now represented, having risen again from the dead. 
This blasphemous impostor pretended to possess the 
spirit of Jesus of Nazareth, and that he now, at his 
second appearance of the spirit, was the Father, and 
had power to do all things, forgiving sins, and com- 
municating the Holy Ghost to such as believed on 
him. And what was most astonishing and unparal- 
leled, these men, who were before professors of the 
Christian religion, were blind enough to believe and 
confide in all he imposed on them. 

So completely did he succeed in deluding these 
men, and in impressing them with the belief that he 
was actually a high priest of the order of the mysteri- 
ous Melchizedec, upon a divine mission to establish 
the kingdom of God upon the earth, that he obtained 
entire control over them and their estates. " I know 
the end of all things," he would assert, illustrating it 
by placing a piece of paper in a drawer, leaving one 
end upon the outside, and saying, " You can see but 
one end of the paper, and so the world sees ; but 1 
see the whole length of it — I see the end." 

Whenever he saw fit to call upon his dupes to con 
tribute of their substance for his support and the pro 


motion of the kingdom he was about to establish, he 
did' so ; and if they refused to provide him whatever 
money he desired, he threatened to visit upon them 
(which he declared he had the po^ver to do) the 
wrath of the Almighty. But if they beliiwed in him 
and obeyed him in all things, he promised them tlia.t 
they should be called into the kingdom, and he would 
forgive all their sins, and they should enjoy eternal 
happiness. Impudent and blasphemous as such lan- 
guage and pretensions truly were, the intended eifect 
was produced, and the prophet received new encour- 
agement by the gratification of pecuniary abundance. 
This object gained, he was enabled to adorn his per- 
son with costly apparel, and to obtain other appurte- 
nances and furniture which he thought were neces- 
sary, that all things' might correspond to the nature 
and dignity of the office which he had assumed. 

In August, 1833, two of his friends and proselytes, 
Messrs. Pierson and Folger, were residing at Sing 
Sing, Westchester county. Thither, about that time, 
Matthias repaired, and took up his residence with 
Mr. Folger and family. In a week or two, Matthias 
came to the conclusion that their dwelling-place did 
not correspond with his character, and accordingly 
suggested to Folger and Pierson that it was their 
duty to hire, for his use, a house which he might con- 
secrate wholly to himself. In this he was accommo- 
dated, not only without any hesitation, but with the 
acknowledgment that the request was reasonable. 
Soon after this, it appeared to Matthias's mind, that 
his habitation should not be subject to worldly inter- 
ests or infidel intrusion ; and he accordingly presumed 
to require of his two obedient followers the purchase of 


a house to be exclusively his own. With this re- 
quest they agreed to comply. Before it waa accom- 
plished, however, Matthias manifested some new at- 
tribute of his character, and accompanied the revela- 
tion by an effort to make Folger believe that the 
house in which he then resided at Sing Sing, and had 
purchased some time previous for the use of himself 
and family, was purchased at the instigation of the 
Spirit of Truth, for him, Matthias — Folger having 
been the instrument under the influence of that Spirit 
for that purpose ! So complete was Matthias's con- 
trol, that Folger believed even this ! And having re- 
sided with Messrs. Folger and Pierson about two 
months, he took this house, thus miraculously pur- 
chased, into his own especial charge. Matthias then 
requked these gentlemen to give him an account of 
tbeu- property, and having obtained this statement, 
which exhibited their easy circumstances, he required 
both of them to enter into an agreement to support 
him, assuring them they should receive the blessing 
of God by so doing. This agreement was according- 
ly entered into, and Matthias enjoyed the full benefits 
of it for several months, when Mr. Folger became 
bankrupt. His wants were afterwards supplied by 
Pierson, until the death of Mr. P., which took place 
under very suspicious circumstances. It seems that a 
short time previous to this melancholy event, and 
while Mr. Pierson was yet in health, Matthias pre- 
vailed upon him to assign him his whole estate. 
And it seemed, by Matthias's account on his examina- 
tion, that Messrs. Folger, Pierson, and Mills frequent- 
ly declared to him that they believed him to be the 
Father, and that he was qualified to establish God's 


kingdom on earth, and that Zion Hill, which was the 
place miraculously purchased at Sing Sing, was 
transferred to him for that purpose, together with 
horses, carnages, and furniture of a house in Third 
Street, New York — that it was also agreed that the 
house and lot in Third Street should be conveyed to 
him, and that Mr. Pierson directed a deed to be made 
out accordingly, but died before it was completed. 
He still considered the property as his own for the 
original purpose, and considered it the beginning of 
the establishment of the kingdom. It is certain that 
Mr. Pierson was suddenly taken sick, and it was be- 
lieved to be immediately after this contract was made. 
He fell under the care of Matthias, who would neither 
allow his friends to visit him, nor to call medical aid, 
declaring himself to " have power of life and death" 
Mr. Pierson's body having been removed to New Jer- 
sey for interment, a post mortem examination was 
held by four respectable physicians, all of whom cer- 
tified that they found in the stomach a " large quanti- 
ty of an umvholesome and deadly substance^ Mat- 
thias was therefore arrested with the charge of having 
■")oisoned Mr. Pierson, on which he gave bail for ap- 
pearance at court. 

Soon after this, he went to the city of New York, 
and entering the family of Mr. Folger, resided with 
them for several months ; but the mysterious death of 
Mr. Pierson, and the attending cii'cumstances, having 
shaken the confidence of Mr. Folger and his fanaiy, 
they began to be conscious of their delusion, and 
resolved to abandon Matthias and his principles. On 
announcing their determination to him, he resorted to 
his old practice of threats and promises, and told them 


they must not throw him destitute on the world ; that, 
if they did so, the blessing of God would depart from 
them, and sickness and perhaps death would follow ; 
but if they gave him money to support him, the bless- 
ing of God should continue to them. Mr. Folger 
having become bankrupt, Matthias perhaps was will- 
ing to leave him — not, however, without having first 
insisted on a supply of money, which he obtained to 
the amount of six hundred and thirty dollars, and im- 
mediately left the city. On the morning of that day, 
Matthias partook of a very little breakfast, and scarcely 
Tasted of the coffee, alleging, as an excuse, that he was 
ill. Immediately after breakfast, Mr. Folger, his wife, 
and children were taken sick. Mr. Folger did not sus- 
pect the cause of their illness, until after Matthias had 
left the city, when, upon examination, he learned that 
the black woman who did the cooking for the family 
had also abstained from the use of coffee that morning ; 
and from other circumstances he became confirmed 
that the woman was bribed by Matthias to poison the 
family. The effort was unsuccessful, the poison pro- 
ducing but a temporary effect. This nefarious transac- 
tion induced Mr. Folger to procure the arrest of Mat- 
thias, firmly convinced, at this melancholy stage, that 
he was a base impostor. 

The third gentleman named as one of the dupes of 
Matthias became a lunatic under the unfortunate 
delusion. But on a removal to the country, and from 
the influence of the " prophet," he recovered, and be- 
came convinced of his lamentable error. 

In the sequel, it appeared that Matthias had received 
in the aggregate, from these gentlemen, about ten 
thousand dollars in money, and negotiable paper, which 


he appropriated in furnishing the establishment at Zion 
Hill and in Third Street. And by whatever means he 
obtained money, it is evident he used it for the wildest 
and most extravagant purposes. His wardrobe was 
most bountifully supplied with new boots, shoes, and 
pumps ; linen shirts of the most exquisite fineness, the 
wristbands fringed with delicate lace ; silk stockings, 
handkerchiefs, and gloves; coats embroidered with 
gold ; merino morning dresses ; and two caps made of 
linen cambric, folded in the form of a mitre, richly em- 
broidered, one with the names of the twelve apostles 
written around it, and " Jesus Matthias " adorning the 
front in prominent characters, the other surrounded 
with the names of the twelve tribes, the front like the 
other. With his two-edged sword (with gold chain 
and mountings) he was to destroy the Gentiles, as 
Gideon did the IVIidianites. With his six feet rule 
he was to measure the New Jerusalem, " the gates 
thereof, and the waUs thereof," and divide it into lots 
for those who believed on him, and obeyed the Spirit 
of Truth, as it came from him, the trumpet. With the 
golden key which he possessed, he was to unlock the 
gates of paradise. 

Somewhat versed in the rites and antiquities of the 
Jews, this impostor united with a quick and active 
mind a considerable cunning, a fluent speech, and a 
vast amount of persevering impudence, and endeav- 
ored to impress his dogmas by assuming a sanctified 
and uncompromising air, and by invariably fixing 
upon his victim his remarkably fierce and penetrating 
eyes. He reasoned plausibly and ingeniously, and 
was exceedingly subtle at evasion. Although he never 
could hav^ obtaired an extensive and permanent influ- 


ence, even if his knavery had not been detected, since 
his schemes were too wild and incoherent, and his 
demands too absurd to produce an effect that would 
endure beyond his actual and immediate presence, yet 
that his blasphemous pretensions should have gained 
any credence among intelligent minds is to be greatly 
lamented. The whole history of these transactions 
will form a dark page in the records of modern fanat- 
icism, and will present an enduring but melancholy 
evidence of the weakness of human nature. 

As an excuse for the conduct of Matthias, or Mat- 
thews, which was his real name, he was supposed by 
some to be laboring under monomania, partly hered- 
itary and partly superinduced by religious fanaticism 
and frenzy. Still, he was not without " method in his 
madness ; " and it seems evident that, with a tinge of 
insanity, he was also much of a knave, and probably 
a dupe in part to his own imposture. During his 
confinement in jail, awaiting his trial for the alleged 
murder of Mr. Pierson, Matthias issued a decree, com- 
manding all the farmers to lay aside their ploughs, 
declaring, "As I live, there shall be no more sowing in 
the earth until I, the twelfth and last of the apostles, 
am delivered out of the house of bondage." He also 
prophesied that if he were convicted, White Plains 
should be destroyed by an earthquake, and not an 
inhabitant be left to tell the tale of its destruction ; 
and strange to say, men were not found wanting who 
believed in his absurd and blasphemous predictions. 
On trial, the physicians who had examined the stom- 
ach of the deceased were led to suspect poison, but 
could not say positively that poison had been admin- 
ist?red ; whereupon the prisoner vras discharged, on the 


ground tl at no evidence had been produced to convict 
him either of murder or manslaughter. In the case of 
his arrest at the instigation of Mr. Folger, that gentle- 
man afterwards wrote to the district attorney, request- 
ing him to dismiss the case, it not appearing to be an 
indictable one, and declaring, that the day — "so far 
as passing himself for a pure and upright man — ''has 
passed, and there is no danger of his imposing upon 
any one here or elsewhere." In a letter written by 
Mr. Folger, dated New York, Nov. 8, 1834, and pub- 
lished in the Commercial Advertiser, Mr. Folger says, 
" My object is now to rid myself of him and all con- 
nected with him, with as little trouble as possible. Mr. 
Pierson, myself, and family have been deeply, very 
deeply deluded, deceived, and imposed upon ; and I 
regret exceedingly that the former could not have been 
spared to witness the deep deception. We are sensi- 
ble of our error — we repent it sincerely ; and although 
we cannot expect to recover, at present, the situation 
which we held in society previous to our acquaintance 
with this vile creature, yet in time we shall be able to 
show that we are enemies to him, and all who under- 
take to sustain him in his wickedness and plans to 
destroy us." 

For closeness of resemblance, in many striking fea- 
tures, to the case of Matthias, was that of the Anabap- 
tists of Munster, in Germany, which excited the won- 
der of Europe during the early part of the seventeenth 
century, and of which such strange accounts are to be 
found in the histories of that epoch. The similarity 
between the principal of this sect, known as John of 
Leyden, and Matthews, not only in doctrine, but in 
worldly obsirvance, in the passion for magnificence of 


apparel and luxurious living, and in the rites and cer- 
emonies exacted by each, is so remarkable as almost to 
lead to the conclusion that the latter had formed himself 
and his creed upon the model of his ancient prototype. 
' The number of deluded proselytes who blindly followed 
the dictates of the Anabaptist leader was at one time 
so great, and their power so formidable, that several 
princes of Germany united against them ; and it was 
not until after a vigorous siege, and an obstinate 
resistance, that the city of Munster, of which the 
fanatics had obtained complete possession, was taken 
and their power broken down. 

This John of Leyden wore upon his head a triple 
crown of gold, richly adorned with gems. Around his 
neck he wore, suspended by a golden chain, an orna- 
ment of gold, representing the terrestrial globe, with a 
cross, and two swords, one of gold, the other of silver, 
with the inscription, " King of Righteousness over 
the whole world." He also assumed the title of "the 
Father," and he required all his followers to pledge 
themselves to do his will, and, if necessary, to suffer 
death at his command, or in his defence and service. 
He enjoined and enforced a community of goods, a 
surrender of all possessions, land, money, arms, and 
merchandise to him, as the Father and Lord of all, 
to be employed by him in the universal establishment 
of his kingdom ; and he denounced the vengeance of 
Heaven and eternal damnation on all such as refused 
to believe in him and do his will. All churches and 
convents he commanded to be destroyed, the priests 
denounced as children of darkness, and all sovereigns 
he would put to death. He proclaimed the nullity 
of aU marriages, except such as were solemnized by 


himse. f or his o^\m prophets, but enjoined polygamy, 
himself setting the example. Each of his principal 
followers had from six to eight wives, and both men 
and women were compelled to marry. He taught 
that no man xinderstood the Scriptures but himself, or 
those whom he enlightened with his spririt, and all 
the prophecies in the Old Testament, relating to the 
Savior, he applied to himself, and proclaimed their 
fulfilment in the establishment of his kingdom. 

In our own country, the most surprising instance of 
imposture and delusion, perhaps, that has occurred, 
was that of the Cochranites, whose enormities in licen- 
tiousness made so much stir in Maine and New Hamp- 
shire a few years since. Cochrane was an officer in 
the army, thrown out of commission by the reduction 
of the military establishment of the United States, 
after the conclusion of the last war with England. 
Having become poor and penniless, he left Portland, 
and struck off into the country, seeking his fortune, 
and caring not whither he went. One day, as night 
drew on, he found himself near a farm house, weary 
and hungry, and without a penny to purchase a mouth- 
ful of food or the use of a pillow for the night. The 
thought struck him suddenly of throwing himself upon 
the hospitality of the farmer, for the occasion, in the 
character of a minister. Introducing himself as such 
to the family, he was cordially received, and as the 
country was new and destitute of clergymen, the good 
people forthwith despatched messengers to the neigh- 
bors, that a minister had come among them, and in- 
vited them into attend a meeting. The impostor haj 
not anticipated so speedy a trial of his clerical charac 
ter ; but having assumed it, there was no escape — 


he must act the part, for the time being, in the best 
way he could. Being neither ignorant nor destitute of 
talents, he succeeded in acquitting himself much bet- 
ter than he had anticipated, and gave so much satis- 
faction to his audience as to induce him to persevere 
in the imposture he had commenced. As he acquired 
skill and confidence by practice in his new vocation, 
his popularity increased, and he soon found it a profit- 
able occupation. He was followed by multitudes, 
and it was not long before he announced himself as 
some great one, and founded a new sect of religionists. 
His command over the audiences which he addressed 
is said to have been wonderful, and his influence over 
his followers unbounded. It seemed as though he was 
enabled to hold the victims of his impostures in a state 
of enchantment. A professor in an eastern college 
having heard of the wonderful sway which Cochrane 
held over his disciples, and of the impressions he made 
upon casual hearers, determined one evening to go and 
witness his performances. While present, although a 
very cool and grave personage, he said he felt some 
strange, undefinable, mysterious influence creeping over 
him to such a degree, that he was obliged actually to 
tear himself away, in apprehension of the consequences. 
This gentleman, however, was a believer in animal 
magnetism, and was therefore inclined to attribute it 
to that cause. It was said that if the impostor did 
but touch the hand or neck of a female, his power 
over her person and reason was complete. Conse- 
quently it led to the most open and loathsome sensu- 
ality. So atrocious was his conduct, that he seduced 
great numbers of females, married and unmarried, 
under the pretext of raising up a holy race of men. 


The peace of many families was broken up, and the 
village kept an establishment like a geraglio — a disgust- 
ing and melancholy commentary upon the weakne?s 
of human nature. His career, however, was but of 
short duration. 

A history of religious impostures would form a 
library of itself. The human mind, in all ages and 
countries, and under all forms of government and 
religion, seems to have been wonderfully susceptib-3 
of delusion and imposition upon that subject, which, 
of all others, is the most important for time and 
eternity. The court of Egypt was deluded by the 
impostors who undertook to contend with Moses. 
And the chosen people themselves, notwithstanding 
the direct disclosures w^hich the Most High had made 
of himself, in all their wonderful history, were prone 
to turn aside from the worship of the true God, to 
follow the lying spirits of the prophets of Baal and 
other deceivers, from the days of Moses till the destruc- 
tion of Jerusalem. So, likewise, under the Christian 
dispensation, from the defection of Simon Magus to 
the wild delirium of Edward Irving, there have been 
a succession of Antichrists, until their name is legion 
— pretenders to divine missions, the power of working 
miracles, the gift of tongues — perverting the Scrip- 
tures, leading astray silly men and women — destroy- 
ing the peace of families, throwing communities into 
confusion, and firebrands into the church — clouding 
the understandings, and blinding the moral percep- 
tions of men, and subverting the faith of these even 
whose mountains stood strong, and who had been 
counted among the chosen people of God. " In the 
last days," says the apostle Peter, " there shall come 


scoffers, walking after their own lusts," — " chiefly 
them which walk after the flesh, in the lust of un- 
cleanness, and despise government ; presumptuous 
are they, self-willed ; they are not afraid to speak evil 
of dignities ; sporting themselves in their own deceiv- 
ings, having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot 
cease from sin ; beguiling unstable souls ; for when 
they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure 
through the flesh, through much wantonness, those 
that were clean escaped from them who live in error ; 
while they promise them liberty, they themselves are 
the servants of corruption." Jude also admonishes us 
" to remember that they were foretold as mockers, 
who should be in the last time, who should walk after 
their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate 
themselves, sensual, not having the Spirit." 
^ It is wonderful to observe with what precision these 
prophecies have been fulfilled by the clouds of im- 
postors who have appeared — " spoken great swollen 
words of vanity," and fallen — since the inspired sen- 
tences were uttered. And it may be regarded as one 
of the evidences of the truth of inspiration, that, had 
the long array of apostates and deceivers actually 
stood before the sacred penmen, at the time of their 
writing, their characters all naked before them, the 
likenesses, from the first Christian apostate to the 
sdlisual Mormons, could not have been drawn with 
greater fidelity. The " Truth of God," distinctly 
set forth in the book of Revelation, is an infallible 
criterion by which to test the true character of any 
religious opinion or practice ; nor can any radical or 
fundamental error long escape detection, when sub- 
jected to this plain and unerring standard. 





A CERTAIN Joseph Smith, Jr., pretended, a few years 
ago, to have been directed by the Spirit of God to dig, 
in a hill, in the township of Manchester, Ontario coun- 
ty, New York, for a set of golden plates which were 
there concealed, and upon which were inscribed sacred 
records by the hands of Mormon. He obeyed the 
direction and found the plates. The inscriptions upon 
them were in an unknown tongue. But, by the special 
power of the Spirit, Smith was enabled to translate 
them. A volume containing these writings was soon 
after published, constituting, in the whole, fifteen books, 
purporting to have been written at different times, and 
by the different authors whose names they respectively 
bear. In these writings there seems to be a bungling 
attempt to imitate the style of the sacred Scriptures. 
But the attempt is manifestly unsuccessful. Nearly 
two thirds of the paragraphs are introduced with the 
phrase, "And it came to pass." In endeavoring to 
preserve the solemn style of the Scriptures, there is 
great disregard of grammatical propriety. We read, 
" The Lord sayeth unto me, and I sayeth unto the 
Lord." Perhaps a few extracts, selected at chance, 
will give the reader a more correct idea of the general 
style of the book than any remarks we might offer. 

" And it came to pass that when they had arriven 
in the borders of the land of the Lamanites." 

" And it came to pass that I Nephi did make 
hellowses wherewith to blow the fire." 


" And it came to pass that Limhi and many of his 
people was desirous to be baptized." 

The Mormon preachers claim for themselves and the 
members of their church the power of working miracles, 
and of speaking with new tongues. They jabber with 
Bome strange sounds, and call this the speaking with 
tonjrues. They assert it as a fact, that among them 
the dead have been raised, and the sick healed, as in 
the days of Christ and his apostles. From these facts, 
as they call them, they draw the conclusion that they 
are the members of the true church of Christ. The 
doctrine increases among men ; and well it may, for 
there are ckcumstances in the condition and views of 
those who embrace it which are calculated to secure 
its success. In a large portion of the community there 
is a great degree of ignorance in regard to the geog- 
raphy of the sacred Scriptm-es, the manners and 
customs of the Jews, and the natural history of the 
Bible. There are many who read their Bibles daily, 
and with true devotional feelings, it may be, who have 
no idea that the places mentioned in sacred history, 
like those mentioned in any other history, can be 
traced on the map, can be found and visited at the 
present day, although disguised under modern names. 
It makes no part of their study of the Bible to ascer- 
tain where the places mentioned are to be found, and 
\\hat they are now called. They have no idea that 
the allusions to manners and customs, found in the 
Bible, can be understood, through an acquaintance 
with the practices and habits of the people described ; 
and, consequently, the study of Jewish manners and 
customs makes no part of their preparation for under- 
standing the Scriptures. They have no idea that the 


allusion in Scripture to facts in natural history car be 
verified by an acquaintance with that science, and 
therefore they make no exertions to understand the 
natural history of the Bible. They do not take up 
the Bible and read it with the expectation of being 
able to understand it, in regard to these particulars, 
as they would understand any other book. All such 
are prepared, by their ignorance on these subjects, to 
become the dupes of the Mormon delusion ; or, at 
least, they are not prepared to withstand this delu- 
sion. They open the Book of Mormon, claiming to 
be a kind of appendix to the Bible. The paragraphs 
begin with the phrase, " And behold it came to pass." 
They read of the cities of Zarahemla, Gid, Mulek, 
Corianton, and a multitude of others. They read 
of prophets and preachers, of faith, repentance, and 
obedience ; and having been accustomed, in rea^ling 
the Scriptures, to take all such things just as the;y are 
presented, without careful examination, they can see 
no reason why all this is not as much entitled to belief 
as are the records of the Old and New Testaments. 
But if, on the contrary, they were acquainted with the 
geography and the natural history of the Bioie, and 
with the manners and customs of the nati->ns there 
mentioned, and especially if, in their reading of the 
Scriptures, they were accustomed to examine carefully 
into these points, they would at once perceive the 
litter impossibility of identifying the cities mentioned 
in the Book of Mormon with any geographical traces 
which they can now make. They would thus perceive 
the deception, and be put on their guard. And then, 
too, upon further examination, they would discover 
that the manners and customs of the people, the senti- 


ments and disputes, are not such as belong to the 
period of the world in which the people are represent- 
ed to have lived ; that they take their coloring from 
modern customs, from modern opinions and contro- 
versies ; and, upon these discoveries, they would be 
led to reject the whole as a fabrication. 

Many are deceived in consequence of the fluency of 
the preachers in warning sinners. They pray with 
fervor ; the people are affected ; and the Spnit of God 
is declared to be present, ow^ning and blessing the 
work. But there is deception here. It is but a few 
years since the Cochrane delusion, as it is called, pre- 
vailed in and around the village of Saco, Maine. 
What gave that delusion so much success ? It was 
because Cochrane spoke ^vith great fluency, warned 
sinners with great earnestness, and poured forth his 
prayers with zealous fervor. The people became 
aftected ; many were in tears ; many sobbed aloud, 
cried for mercy, and some became prostrate on the 
floor. " Surely," it was remarked, " the doctrines 
advanced by Cochrane must be true, the preaching of 
them being so signally owned and blessed of God." 
In this way, men of sound judgment in other respects 
are carried away by false views and appearances, and 
become the dupes of the most extravagant sentiments 
and delusions. They become " zealously affected," 
but it is not, as the apostle says, " in a good thing." 
A correct knowledge of the sacred Scriptures, and of 
proper principles in regard to the study of the Bible, 
with sound and rational views of the nature of religion, 
and of the influences of the Holy Spirit, will serve to 
correct all such tendencies to error and deception. 

From the best account that has been published 

100 MORMON supi:rstition. 

respecting the origin of the Mormon Bible, it appears 
that it was written by an individual named Solomon 
Spaulding, some twenty-five years ago ; but without 
the least intention, on the part of the author, of fram- 
ing a system of delusion for his fellow-men. This 
Spaulding was a native of Ashford, in Connecticut, 
where he was distinguished, at an early age, for his 
devotion to study, and for the superiority of his suc- 
cess over that of his schoolmates. He received aa 
academic education, and commenced the study of law 
at Windham ; but his mind inclining to religious sub- 
jects, he abandoned the law, went to Dartmouth Col- 
lege, prepared himself for the ministry, and was 
regularly ordained. For some reasons unknown he 
soon abandoned that profession, and established him- 
self as a merchant at Cherry Valley, New York. Failing 
in trade, he removed to Conneaut, in Ohio, where he 
built a forge ; but again failed, and was reduced to 
great poverty. While in this condition, he endeavored 
to turn his education to account, by ^vriting a book, 
the sale of w^hich he hoped would enable him to pay 
his debts and support his family. The subject selected 
by him was one well suited to his religious education. 
It was an historical novel, containing an account of the 
aborigines of America, who were supposed by some 
to have descended from the ten tribes of Israel. 
The work was entitled the " Manascript Found," 
and the history commenced with one Lehi, who lived 
in the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judea, six hundred 
years before the Christian era. Lehi, being warned 
of Heaven of the dreadful calamities that were im- 
pending over Jerusalem, abandoned his possessions, 
and fled with his family to the wilderness. After 


wandering for some time, they arrived at the Red Sea, 
and embarked on board a vessel. In this, after float- 
ing about for a long time, they reached America, and 
landed at the Isthmus of Darien. From the different 
branches of this family were made to spring all the 
Indian nations of this continent. From time to time 
they rose to high degrees of civilization and refine- 
ment; but desolating wars among themselves scat- 
tered and degraded them. The Manuscript was writ- 
ten in the style of the Bible, the old English style of 
James the First. When the work was ready for the 
press, Spaulding endeavored to obtain the pecuniary 
assistance necessary for its publication, but his affairs 
were in so low a condition that he could not succeed.,. 
He then removed to Pittsburg, and afterwards to 
Amity, in Pennsylvania, where he died. By some 
means or other, the Manuscript fell into the hands of 
Joseph Smith, Jr., who afterwards published it under 
the name of the " Golden Bible." Smith was the son 
of very poor and superstitious parents, and was for a 
long time engaged in digging for Kidd's money, and 
other feats of like description. Possessing considerable 
shrewdness, he became somewhat skilled in feats of 
necromancy and juggling. He had the address to 
collect about him a gang of idle and credulous young 
men, whom he employed in digging for hidden treas 
ures. It is pretended that, in one O- the excavation 
they made, the mysterious plates from which th* 
Golden Bible was copied were found. Such, brief] ^' 
is the origin of the Mormon faith — a humbug tvi 
which not a few, otherwise sensible men, have pinned 
their hopes of happiness here and hereafter. 

After the death of Joseph Smith, and shortly befoit, 


the Mormons were driven out from Illinois, many of 
the disciples of the gi-eat impostor seceded and re- 
fused to acknowledge the leadership of the knowing 
twelve who becames his successors. Among them 
were a very pious Mormon named McGhee Vanduzen, 
and his wife Maria. They soon gave to the v/orld an 
exposition of the shameful manoeuvres attendant upon 
Mormonism as a religion ; of the absurd and indecent 
ceremonies which the unprincipled leaders of that 
wicked imposture enforced upon their infatuated 
disciples. Smith, and his associate leaders at Nauvoo, 
evidently established these ceremonies for the base 
purpose of enticing the more beautiful females among 
his disciples to their ruin and disgrace. The shame- 
ful character of the mysteries developed could lead to 
no other conclusion. 

Says the Boston Traveller, of April 21, 1852, 
" The rapid spread of Mormonism is one of the mys- 
teries of the age. A more barefaced delusion, except 
that of the spiritual rappings, w^as never imposed on 
the all-swallowing credulity of mankind. Yet it has 
gained adherents by thousands in Europe as well as 
in the United States." 



A MAN by the name of William Miller published a 
book in the year 1836, in which he undertook to show 
+.hat this earth would be destroyed in the year 1843. 


His calculaticiii, as to the transpiration of such an 
event during the said year, is founded upon the proph- 
ecy of Daniel, that the sanctuary should be cleansed ! 
in two thousand three hundred days. He took the 
days to mean years, and began his reckoning from the 
going forth of the commandment to restore Jerusalem, 
mentioned in a subsequent vision. Why did he not 
begin the reckoning from the date of the vision itself ? 
Because this would not answer Mr. Miller's turn. To 
tell the people that the earth was to be burned up 
in 1747, would produce little or no excitement. He 
must hit upon a time for the beginning which would 
m&,ke the end yet future, in order to gratify his love 
for the marvellous. 

That Mr. Miller intended to manage his reckoning 
of time to suit his own scheme, is obvious from his 
different computations of time, to make his interpre- 
tations of other prophecies comport with his applica- 
tion of the two thousand three hundred days. Daniel 
says, " And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall 
be taken away, and the abomination that maketh 
desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred 
and ninety days." " Blessed . is he that waiteth, and 
Cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and 
thirty days." Taking the thousand three hundred and 
thirty-five days to reach from the taking away of the 
daily sacrifice, and setting up the abomination that 
makelh desolate, to the resurrection, he subtracts the 
thousand three hundred and thirty-five from it, and 
finds the remainder to be five hundred and eight, 
which must, to suit his calculation, be the year of our 
Lord in which the daily sacrifice should be taken 
away, &c. Then, t<i get at the taking away of a daily 


sacrifice, and the setting up of an abomination that 
maketh desolate, which should come any. where in the 
neighborhood of this date, he makes the taking away 
of the daily sacrifice to be the doing away of the pagan 
worship in Rome, and the setting up the abomination 
spoken of to be the commencement of the Papal 
authority. This he sets at A. D. 508, without refer- 
ence to fact, because his reckoning of prophetic time 
brings it so. The truth is, that the pagan charac- 
ter of Rome ceased soon after the conversion of the 
Emperor Constantine to Christianity, which was 
about A. D. 313. This makes about 195 years' dif- 
ference in the age of the world, and brings it to an 
end in 1648, over 200 years ago ! 

But let us examine a little farther. Having come, 
as we have shown, at A. D. 508, which, having taken 
from the years of Christ's life 33, leaves 475 from the 
death of Christ, he proceeds to add up: The 70 
weeks, or 490 years, to the crucifixion of Christ, 490 ; 
from the crucifixion of Christ to the taking away the 
daily sacrifice, 475. And here are his time, times, and 
half, which he takes to be the duration of the pagan 
reign, i. e., three years and a half, which, taking a day 
for a year, makes 1260. 

Here, then, he has his whole time, down to the end 
of his second or Papal transgression of desolation, 
which he has all along held to be the end of the 
world. But these several numbers added amount to 
but 2225, 75 short of the 2300, reckoning from the 
going forth of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. And 
what now shall be done ? How shall the 75 years 
be made up to bring the 3nd of the world to 1843 ? 
Why, he succeeds in finding two different numbers in 


the 12th of Daniel, viz., 1290 and 1335. And noth- 
ing is easier, when you have two different numbers, to 
substract the less from the greater. This he does in 
the present case, and finds the difference to be just 45. 
Well, what -of that ? Why, he says this is the time 
which was to elapse between the destruction of the 
great beast in his second or Papal character, and the res- 
urrection ! He does not pretend that the vision men- 
tions this, but so he fixes it. He is like a country 
schoolmaster, who, not always finding it easy to 
manage by rules, when a scholar would carry him a 
sum which he could not work, he would look at the 
answer in the book, and get the difference between 
that and his own, and then he would slip in the ascer- 
tained difference, somewhere in the operation, to be 
added or substracted, as the case might require, to 
bring the answer as he wished it. 

But although he succeeded in finding 45 years, he 
is still minus 30, for it brings out the end in 1813. 
And how shall the other 30 years be found ? It must 
be gotten somehow, for who will believe it as it now 
stands ? Yet this extraordinary man meets with no 
difficulty in finding the 30 years. In his parade of 
parts, of factors, to make up the great whole, he sets 
down for the space between the putting down of the 
Pagan power, to the setting up the same power, 30 
years ! And how he gets this number there, no mor- 
tal can tell. Yes, he tells us himself. 

Considering himself so great a prophet, he seems 
to think that his own suppositions will certainly pass 
among others as good authority. He therefore un- 
blushingly tells us that he supposes this 30 years. 
Hear him, /page 96.) " Therefore, to reconcile these 


two statem3nts, we must conclude there were 30 years 
from A. D. 508, when paganism ceased, before the 
image beast, or Papal Rome, would begin her reign. 
If this is correct, then," &c. 

Here, then, the foundation on which he keeps the 
world standing from 1813 to 1843, is a simple if. 
And to get in these supposititious 30 years, between the 
death of the pagan and the life of the Papal beast, he 
involves himself in a maze of absurdity. He makes 
the taking away of the daily sacrifice to be the put- 
ting an end to the Papal beast, that did daily sacrifice 
to idol abominations. The little horn, by whom the 
daily sacrifice was taken away, Mr. Miller takes to be 
the Papal beast, or Catholic church. This beast takes 
away the daily sacrifice, i. e., puts an end to the pa- 
gan beast, and yet does not exist until 30 years after 
the pagan beast is dead. This is truly an unheard- 
of strait for a schemer to come to, to be obliged, in 
order to bring out his reckoning, to get 30 years be- 
tween the existence of two beasts, one of "which kills 
the other. The second beast slays the first, and per- 
forms many wonderful works, 30 years before he has 
any existence ! No marvel that the man who could 
see into such mysteries should imagine that he could 
see the end of the world in 1843 ! 

Mr. Miller commits various other errors in his cal- 
culations and dates, as, for instance, he states that 
pagan Rome commenced 148 years before Christ, 
whereas Rome was founded by Romulus, as an inde- 
pendent government, 752 years before Christ, being 
pagan from its beginning. He dates the erection of 
the Papal authority at A. D. 538. By the Papal 
power he means, of course, — not the Papal doctrine, for 


that existed much earlier than 538, — but the establish- 
ment of the civil authority. And this was not until 
about A. D. 750. 

Indeed, Mr. Miller is palpably wrong in nearly all 
his positions ; and the reason is, he is not looking for 
facts, but for reckonings to fill out his own scheme. 
And even in this, too, he fails. On page 109 of his 
Course of Lectures, first published in 1836, speak- 
ing of events to happen in 1839, he holds the follow- 
ing language : " He that is filthy will be filthy still. 
Mankind will, for a short season, give loose to all the 
corrupt passions of the human heart. No laws, hu- 
man or divine, will be regarded ; all authority will be 
trampled under foot ; anarchy will be the order of 
government, and confusion fill the world with horror 
and despair. . Murder, treason, and crime will be com- 
mon law, and division and disunion the only bond of 
fellowship. Christians will be persecuted unto death, 
and dens and caves of the earth will be their reti-eat. 
All things which are not eternal will be shaken to 
pieces, that which cannot be shaken may remain. 
And this, if I am right in my calculations, will begin 
on or before A. D. 1839. ' And at that time (1839) 
thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be 
found written in the book.' Now is come salvation 
indeed. The people of God are now to be delivered 
from outward foes and inbred lusts, from the corrup- 
tions of the grave and the vileness of the flesh. 
Every one, the poor and despised child of God, will 
then (in 1839) be delivered when he makes up his 
jewels.' " 

Mr. Miller, in finding that things did not take place 
as he prophesied, put a note in the end of his book, 


on the last page, stating that he had made a mistake 
of one year in some of his computations, and hence 
these things which he supposed would take place in 

1839, according to the first computation, will not be 
realized until the year 1840 ! And yet 1840 passed 
over our heads, and these things did not take place. 
On page 296 of his Lectures, he says the sixth vial 
was poured out in 1822, when the Ottoman power be- 
gan to be dried up. This he considered to be a very 
important sign, indicating that we were on the very 
brink of the judgment day. Here he introduces Rev. 
xvi. 12. " And the sixth angel poured out his vial 
upon the great River Euphrates ; and the waters there- 
of were dried up, that the way of the kings of the earth 
might be prepared." This preparation, Mr. M. says, is 
for the last great battle, which will take place at the 
pouring out of the seventh vial, in the year 1839 or 

1840. " At the pouring out of the seventh vial, a voice 
from the throne will pronounce the words. It is done. 
The kingdoms of the earth and the governments of 
the world will be carried away, and their places be 
known no more." But these kingdoms still remain. 

Mr. Miller's last assumption was, that Christ would 
come in the spring of 1844, at the date corresponding 
with the ending of the Jewish year for 43. Mr. M. 
says, in h".s preface to his book, " If I have erred in 
my exposition of the prophecies, the time, being so 
near at hand, will soon expose my folly." He had al- 
ready seen the folly of some of his computations, and 
he seemed to fear lest it might prove the same in the 
final result also. And this he soon experienced, as 
may be seen by reading his confession, made at the 
Tabernacle ii Boston, on the evening of May 28, 


1844. He there stated that what he had preached and 
published respecting the coming of the Lord in 1S43 
was done honestly ; (!) that he fully believed it ; but 
that the time had now passed^ and he was proved to 
be mistaken; that when the time' arrived and the 
event did not take place, he felt bad — felt lonely — 
thought he should never have any ^ore to say in 
public ; that he felt worse on the account of others 
than he did for himself. He said there was an error 
somewhere in his calculations, but he could not tell 
where. He had now no definite time — he should 
wait God's time : it might come in a day, it might 
not come in fifty years ; he could not say exactly when ; 
he was waiting. Thus the whole affair exploded — 
came to nought ; although much evil in regard to Mr. 
INIiller's prophecies may yet be experienced in the 
community. Some will yet cling most obstinately to 
the system, and still maintain that Christ may be ex- 
pected every day, hour, or minute, while others will 
fbc upon some other date within a short period of 
time. They will still refer us to certain signs in the 
starry heavens, endeavoring to persuade the people to 
believe that the whole machinery of nature is out of 
joint, and that this is a certain precursor to the 
speedy dissolution of the world. 

One of the second advent preachers gave the startling 
intelligence that '■^fifteen hundred stars had recently 
faded from the vault of heaven." But what are the 
facts ? Not more than thirteen stars are recorded in 
the annals of astronomy as having been lost ; and so 
far from having faded recently, some of them disap- 
peared many ages since. It is not even certain that 


any stars ha\e been blotted out. There are nearly 
one hundred variable stars which have periods of 
unusual brilliancy, and then gradually fade till nearly 
invisible, and after a time revive again. The thirteen 
missing stars may be of this description. These 
changes were observed many centuries ago. The 
bright star which appeared suddenly, with unusual 
splendor and brilliancy, in Cassiopeia, in 1572, is sup- 
posed to be the same star which suddenly appeared in 
the same place, with great lustre, about the year 900, 
and also about 600 years before, during the intervals of 
which it was invisible. 

The same preacher adduced the Aurora Borealis as 
another sign of the last days. " Is it not remarkable," 
says he, "that no record of them appears till quite 
recently?''^ But what are the facts? It was indeed 
suppos^ed by many, who had not investigated the sub- 
ject, that the Aurora was first seen in England in 
1716 ; but on examination we find it spoken of in 
1560, in a scientific work, entitled A Description of 
Meteors, published soon after the invention of print- 
ing, subsequent to which, and before 1716, there are 
many accounts of the same phenomenon. 

Many have supposed that nothing has ever before 
appeared, similar to the remarkable red Aurora, which 
was witnessed on the evening of January 25, 1337. 
Yet such spectacles nave often been witnessed in the 
northern parts of Sweden, Lapland, and Siberia, and 
in remote and different periods. The Aurora is a 
great blessing in those high northern latitudes, where 
the sun is absent for many weeks, furnishing the in- 
habitants with a splendid light, in the midst of thei 


dreary winter nights. Gmelin describes the Auiora 
Borealis of those regions as differing in color according 
to the states of the atmosphere, " sometimes assuming 
the appearance of blood." He observes that " they 
frequently begin with single bright pillars rising in the 
north, and almost at the same time in the north-east, 
which, gradually increasing, comprehend a large space 
in the heavens, rush about, with incredible velocity, 
from place to place, and finally almost cover the whole 
sky to the zenith, producing an appearance as if a 
vast tent was expanded in the heavens, glittering with 
gold, rubies, and sapphire. A more beautiful spectacle 
cannot be painted." These lights occasionally come 
so far south as to illuminate the sky in our latitude. 
Sometimes they have not appeared for many years. 
In 1716, these lights were seen in England, though 
never witnessed before by the oldest inhabitants living ; 
and, as might be expected, they were alarmed, and 
actually supposed the day of judgment had come. 
From Barber's History of New England, we learn that 
the first appearance of the northern lights in this 
country, after the period of its first settlement, was on 
December 11, 1719, " when they were remarkably 
bright; and, as people in general had never heard 
of such a phenomenon, they were extremely alarmed 
with the apprehension of the final judgment. All 
amusements, all business, and even sleep was inter- 
rupted, for want of a little knowledge of history." 
We were told by some of the advent preachers that 
meteors and shooting stars, falling to the earth, were 
never seen until 1799. But this is a great mistake. 
As early as the year 472, Theophanes relates, " The 
sky appeared to be on fire, with the coruscations of 


flying meteors." Virgil, in his book of Georgics, speaks 
as follows : — 

" And oft, before tempestuous winds arise, 
The seeming stars fall headlong from the skies, 
And, shooting through the darkness, gild the night 
With sweeping glories and long trails of light." 

In 553, under the reign of Justinian, were seen 
showers of falling stars in extraordinary numbers. 
In 763, under that of Constantine Capronymus, the 
same spectacle was witnessed. In 1099, in the month 
of November, it is said, in Vogel's Leipzig Chronicles, 
that there was seen an unheard-of nunaber of falling 
stars, burning torches, and fiery darts in the sky. In 
1464, on the 7th of November, the great meteoric 
stone fell at Ensisheim, in Alsace. On the 8th of 
August, 1723, numerous falling stars appeared in 
many parts of the heavens, like fireflies. 

But we are told of the sun and moon appearing like 
blood, and that this sign of our Lord's second coming 
was never witnessed, since the resurrection, till the 
year 1780. Yet this is likewise a mistake ; for in the 
Basle Chronicle of Urtisus, under the year 1566, 
mention is made of the fact, that on the 28th and 
29th of July, the sun and moon became blood red; 
and on the 7th of August, this striking phenomenon 
was agdin repeated. And, according to the Frankfort 
Chronicle of Lersner, under the year 1575, on the 29th 
of July, a remarkable redness of the sun occurred. 

It has been said that the darkness of the sun, that 
occurred in 1780, was a sign given to portend the 
speedy destruction of the world. Why was it not 
then witnessed simultaneously in all parts of the 
earth ? It was confined principally to New England 


and witnessed only by the generation precedi ig the 
present. To be sure, thousands \vere appalled by the 
event, and a feeling that the judgment day had 
actually come rested upon many minds. Bat yet 
they were in a mistake. This darkness commenced on 
the 19th of May, between the hours of 10 and 11 A.M., 
and continued until the middle of the next night. 
Persons were unable to read common print, determine 
the time of day by their clocks or watches, dine, or 
manage their business, without additional light. 
Candles were lighted in their houses. The birds sang 
their evening songs, disappeared, and became silent. 
The fowls retked to roost. The cocks were crowing 
-all around, as at break of day. Objects could be dis- 
tinguished but at a very little distance, and every 
thing bore the appearance and gloom of night. The 
legislature of Connecticut was in session at this time, 
in Hartford city. A very general opinion prevailed 
that the judgment day was at hand. The House of 
Representatives, being unable to transact business, 
adjourned. A proposal to adjourn the council was 
under consideration. When the opinion of Colonel 
Davenport was asked, he answered, " I am against an 
adjournment. The day of judgment is either ap- 
proaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause 
for an adjournment ; if it is, I choose to be found doing 
my duty. I wish, therefore, that candles may be 

A similar darkness has sometimes gathered over the 
city of London, in consequence of a vast accumulation 
of smoke, so as to make it necessary for passengers in 
the streets to use h.rhted torches at midday. Jn 1783, 
a great part of Euro, >e was for weeks overspread with a 


haziness of atmosphere which caused great cons ferna 
tion. The churches were crowded with supplicants. 
The astronomer Lalande attempted to allay the fright 
by endeavoring to account for the appearance, which 
he ascribed to an uncommon exhalation of watery par- 
ticles from the great rain of the preceding year. But 
at last it was ascertained to be owing to smoke, oc- 
casioned by the great eruption of the volcano Hecla, 
which covered more than three thousand square miles 
with burning lava, in some places to the depth of forty 
feet. Dr. Franklin was in Europe at the time, and 
afterwards gave an account of the circumstances re- 
lating to this uncommon eruption. In fact, immense 
issues of smoke, from fires and volcanoes, have, from 
time immemorial, produced similar effects in difFeren+ 

We will subjoin a few remarkable appearances that 
have taken place in the heavens, that the reader may 
at once perceive that in scarcely any age of the world 
have its inhabitants been destitute of some sigyi, that 
might, to the timid and uninformed, be considered as 
the prognostication of some awful catastrophe about 
to happen. 

In 1574, on the 15th of November, large and terrific 
beams of fiery light were seen during the night. And 
similar appearances are noted in Vogel's Chronicles^ 
as having occurred in November, 1637, and 1661. In 
the old Breslau Collections, there is mention made of 
a large moonlike meteor, which passed off with an ex- 
plosion, on the 1 0th of November, 1721 ; and of a 
great fire-flash, or fiame-emitting comet, on the 12th 
day. According to Vogel's Chron'cles, there appeared 
on the 30th November, 1663, a hvrge cross, and other 


signs in the skies. On the 11th of Aui^ust, 15G1, there 
was seen, in the forenoon, a tery remarkable red 
meteor, emitting frequent flashes of light. In 1717, 
numerous meteors were seen at Fryeburg ; and at 
Utchland, in August, 1715. On the 10th of August, 
1717, a large fire-hall was seen in Lusace, Silesia, 
I'oland, and Hungary. In the Frankfort Chronicle of 
July 29, 1694, « it is mentioned that the heavens were 
full of fiery flames ! as also again on the 9th of 
August. On February 22, 1719, a large flre-hall was 
seen in several places. On the 22d, 1720, an immense 
red cross was seen at Novogorod and Kiew ; and on 
the 19th, 1722, a huge flre-hall ! 

What would the Millerites think, if they should now 
see " an immense red cross in the heavens," " a re- 
markable red meteor, emitting flashes of light during 
the night," or " a blood-red appearance of the sun and 
moon," and " showers of falling stars in extraordinary 
numbers " ? These things are as likely to happen at 
the present day as they were a hundred years ago, 
and still the world remain as it has remained. 

Just before the last return of Halley's comet, an 
article was published in a religious paper in this state, 
going to show that the world would probably be struck 
and set on fire by a comet, and that, most likely, 
Halley's would be the one to do it, as it was coming 
much nearer the earth than it had ever been before. 
The editor seemed to be ignorant that the quantity of 
matter that enters into the constitution of a comet is 
exceedingly small, and that the comet of 1770, which 
was qui+e large and bright, passed through the midst 
of Jupiter's satellites without deranging their motions 
in the least perceptible degree. Comets, it is believed. 


consist of exceedingly rare vapor ; indeed, so much so, 
that some philosophers say that our thinnest clouds are 
dense in comparison. And yet this exceedingly thin 
vapor was to dash the world to atoms, or set it on fire, 
it was not fully determined which. 

Whether comets, or any unusual appearances in 
the sky, are to be considered as signs prognosticating 
the final dissolution of- all things, as being near at 
hand, is for each to determine for himself. And in 
forming a judgment upon the subject, we may surely 
be permitted to exercise the common sense which 
God has given us. To lay this aside, and judge only 
by feeling- or fanct/, is to criminally reject a light 
which we are sure is from God, and follow one which 
may prove an ignis fatuus, and land us in the 
quagmire of infidelity. If the Scripture signs are 
to receive a literal fulfilment, we may reasonably 
expect that they will conform to the four following 
tests : — 

1. They will appear near the event of which they 
are intended as the harbinger ; probably within the 
generation of those who will be living at the end of 
the world. 

2. They will be witnessed in all parts of the earth, 
because all are alike interested. 

3. They may all be expected to appear, and not 
a single class of phenomena without the other. 

4. They will be such as will impress intelligent 
minds with their strangeness and peculiarity. 

The Aurora Borealis conforms not to any of these 
tests. It has been seen for centuries, and is confined 
to the northern portions of the globe ; having rarely, if 
ever, been seen so far north as the thirtieth degree of 


north latitude. And, as we have before remarked, the 
darkness of 1780 ^was confined principally to New 
England. And from a careful examination of all the 
accounts we have been able to collect of meteoric 
showers of the last and present century, the whole of 
them together have occupied a space on the globe 
less than one eighth of its surface. The shower of 
1799 was probably the most extensive. Its centre was 
near the middle of the Atlantic; its edges touched the 
northern parts of South America, the coast of Labrador 
and Greenland, and the western shores of Europe and 
Africa. That of 1833 may be represented on a six- 
inch globe by the space occupied by a dollar. Such 
magnificent scenes are calculated to impress the mind, 
with awe ; yet it is surprising that many intelligent per- 
sons should suppose them to be the precursors of the 
final conflagration. If the simple but reasonable tests 
we have given be correct, they are disarmed of their 
character as ominous of the destruction of the world. 

With regard to any changes in the order or succes- 
sion of the heavenly bodies, it is only necessary to 
observe, that hundreds of scientific men, in Europe 
and America, have for many years been employed in 
exploring the material heavens with the most power- 
ful telescopes. Many are employed, by the govern- 
ments of Europe, in astronomical observations, scat- 
tered over the earth, for the express purpose of making 
new discoveries, if possible, and of furthering the inter- 
ests of science. No phenomenon escapes their notice ; 
and should any thing extraordinary occur, it would 
appear before the public, vouched by names that would 
command universal credence. It may be unnecessary 
to add, that no such changes in the planets and fixed 


stars, as have been proclaimed to the world by some 
of the second advent preachers, have been observed by 
learned astronomers and men of science. 



In no age, says a popular wi-iter, has the world been 
destitute of those who professed, by some instrumen- 
tality or other, to hold intercourse with departed spirits. 
Neither has any age been without its reputed spectres, 
ghosts, or apparitions. The high priest of the Buddh- 
ist and Hindoo temples, in former times, when ar- 
rayed in the consecrated garments for the festivals, 
wore a round knob, about the size of a large pendent 
drop of a chandelier, suspended from his neck by a 
chain of great value and of dazzling brilliancy. It 
was through the agency of this crystal that he was 
supposed to hold communion with the spirit or spirits 
to whom he and his followers accorded devotion and 
made intercessions ; and the glass, acting as did the 
famed oracle of Delphi, gave orders and commands, 
and settled all great questions that might be submit- 
ted to its spiritual master. The priest, although he 
might be a pattern of purity, and the quintessence of 
all that was good, having, however, the sin of being 
in years, and not able, perhaps, to hide from the spirit 
inhabiting the crystal all the transactions of his youth, 
could not hold a direct communication with it. To 


arrange this, a certain number of boys, and sometimes, 
in some of the temples, young damsels, were retained, 
who, having never mixed with the world, could not be 
supposed to be in any way contaminated by its vices. 
These alone were said to be capable of beholding the 
spirit when he chose to make his appearance in the 
divining glass, and interpreting to and fro the ques- 
tions put and answers received. Although it was not 
every boy or seer to whom was permitted the gift of 
spiritual vision, yet in latter times, when divining, 
crystals multiplied, little ragged boys would run after 
the passers in the streets, and offer to see any thing that 
might be required of them, for a trifling gift, even a 
cake or sweetmeat. In Egypt, the divining glass is 
superseded by putting a blot of thick black fluid into 
the palm of a boy's hand, and commanding him to see 
various people and things ; of which practice Lane, 
in his Modern Egyptians, gives some curious dis- 

Divining mirrors were not confined to the East. 
Dr. Dee was the first English inpostor who vaunted 
the possession of one of these priceless treasures. He 
had for the seer one Keily, an Irishman ; and to this, 
doubtless, was attributable the impression that pre- 
vailed among the astrologers and amateur spirit hunt- 
ers, that when the spirits condescended to speak, they 
always gave speech with a very strong spice of the 
brogue. This " beryl," as it is called, was preserved 
among the Strawberry Hill curiosities, and fell under 
the hammer of George E,obbins at the memorable 
sale. It proved to be a globe of cannel coal. In Au- 
brey's Miscellany there is an engraving of another 
larger crystal, and there are with it many wonderful 


stories. Yet, notwithstanding the magic capabilities 
of these mirrors, they went out of fashion until the be- 
ginning of the year 1850. 

This revival and its consequences are like a page 
out of a silly romance. The story, if told by a disin- 
terested historian, would require authentication as 
belonging to 1850. We therefore turn, by way of 
voucher, to a publication called Zadkiel's Almanac 
for 1851. At page 46, after referring to the ex- 
istence of magic crystals at the present day, the 
AATiter says, "One of large size was a few years 
ago brought over to England by a friend of Lady 
Ble.ssington, after the sale of whose effects, it recently 
fell into the hands of a friend of mine ; and, having 
tested its powers, I have resolved on giving my readers 
an account of this wonderful mode of communicating 
with the spirits of the dead. The crystal is spherical, 
and has been turned from a large mass of pure rock 
crystal. I have been shown some few others, but, with 
the exception of one shown me by Lord S., they are 
all much smaller. These smaller ones are said to be 
consecrated to angels of the planets, and are, therefore, 
far less powerful than Lady Blessington's crystal, 
which, being consecrated to the Archangel of the Sun, 
Michael, may be consulted dming four hours each day, 
whereas the others can generally be used only for a 
very brief space of time ; nor can very potent spirits be 
called into them, or made to rer der themselves visible. 
In this larger crystal is given most important informa- 
tion of the actual existence of the soul after death, and 
of the state in which it exists and will exist until the 

" The first intimation we received," says Dickens, 


in his Household Words, " of the revival of this 
notable practice of divination, was about six months 
ago, when we were casually informed that the son of 
a distinguished officer of the royal navy was, at that 
time, frequently engaged in developing, before a few 
privileged friends, the extraordinary faculty of being 
able to hold intercourse with the world of spirits. It 
was added that the revelations made through the 
medium of this youth were of so wonderful a nature, 
and carried such conviction to the minds of those who 
listened, that they were declared to be the result of 
more than human power." 

The conjurer was asked, on one occasion, to de- 
scribe Lord Nelson. And, accordingly, the spirit, with 
an accuracy that was quite astonishing, considering 
that no portrait, bust, or statue of Nelson is known 
to exist, gave a full, true, and particular account of 
England's hero, describing him as a very thin man, 
in a cocked hat, with only one eye', one arm, &c. ; 
and the truth of the description was declared to be 
something truly marvellous. 

A demand was made that the spirit of a deceased 
brother of one of the querists should be summoned to 
appear. Presently he said, " I see him ; he has curly 
hair, and stoops a good deal. I can't exactly see his 
features, but I think he squints." This account of her 
late brother's personal appearance, though not very 
flattering, satisfied the lady as far as it went; but 
being, like Macbeth, — 

" . . , . bent to know, 
By tht worst means, the worst," 

she required further proof of his identity. There was 
a pause for a minute or *;wo, and then the spirit seer 


spoke again — " He has got a scroll in his hand, 
which he unfolds ; there is this inscription on it, in 
letters of fire : — 

'I AM Tom!'" 

This sublime revelation was received with a degree 
of solemn awe, and with suppressed throes of well- 
bred laughter. 

Other cases not a whit less marvellous have been 
described by the narrators, who could not be reasoned 
out of their absurdity, insisting that there could be no 
deception in the matter, on account of the means em- 
ployed, and the evident sincerity of the employes I 
These means, they said, required that the person who 
looked into the crystal should be perfectly pure ; that 
is to say, a child free from sin, and by no means given 
to lying, and that the form of adjuration used was, 
" In nomine Domini,''^ &c. ; Latin being, as is well 
known, the language which spirits of all denomina- 
tions are most accustomed to. When interrogated 
after this fashion, the spirit, if evil, fled away howling ; 
if good, it came, when called, unless particularly en- 
gaged in the sun; for it appears that it is to that 
planet almost all spirits go when their term of purga- 
tory is over. It seems that the spirits would some- 
times get out of breath, travelling so far, and talking 
so much ; and they then had recourse to the ex- 
pedient of letters of fire, which seemed to be ivritten 
in various ways in the crystal ; sometimes on flags, 
which the spirits hold up, but sometimes they are in 
print. In these letters of fire, the querist was coun- 
selled something like the following : " Be merry. 
Quarrel not. Keep your temper, and your children 
too. You are a good man, but try to be better. I am 
wanted. Let me go." 


We subjoin the following as specimens of conver- 
sations heard by large parties of amazed, titled, and 
believing listeners : " Are you Pharaoh, that was 
king of Egypt ? " " Yes." " Where do you dwell 
now ? " "In Jupiter." " How long have you been 
there ? " " About thirty years." " Where did you 
dwell till then ? " "In the atmosphere, and was 
undergoing punishment till then." " Were you 
king of Egypt when Moses was there ? " " Yes, 
and Aaron too^'' " Did you build the pyramids ? " 
" Some^ " Were any built before your time ? " 
" Yes." " Do you know how long the first was built 
before Christ?" "About three hundred years after 
Adam ; it was built then." " Do you mean that it 
was built before the flood ? " " No, it was not 
finished; the flood destroyed them." "What was 
the principal object of them ? " " To hold the kings 
of Egypt." " Were there kings of Egypt so soon after 
the creation ? " " Yes ; that was the first country 
kings were in." " Were you drowned in the Red 
Sea ? " « Yes:' 

At one time Swedenborg volunteered to give in- 
formation about Sir John Franklin, when the follow- 
ing dialogue took place : " What is the best way 
to communicate with him ? " " By the natives ; 
they speak to him sometimes." " Will he be home 
next summer ? " " No." " Why ? " " Because he 
cannot help himself ; he is stopped by ice ; but his 
heart does not fail him ; he wants to explore." " How 
will he do for provisions ? " " He will find bears, dogs, 
and wolvesP " WiU he find the passage ? " " No ^ 
there is a continent there." " But there is also a 
passage." "There is one, but he will not find it." 


" What latitude does he lie in chiefly ? " "I do not 
know : good hyP It appears strange that Sweden- 
borg, who knew so much, did not know this. But 
we learn in another place that " spirits do not well 
understand about latitude and longitude." Socrates' s 
appearance is described as follows : " A tall, middle- 
aged man, rather bald, di'essed with striped coarse 
trousers, very loose at the top, and tight at the bot- 
tom ; a kind of frock, open in the front, and without 
sleeves. He is generally employed in singing praises, 
but was not quite happy." Alexander the Great 
appeared on horseliack, in armor, the horse also in 
armor ; deeply regrets killing Clitus, and all the 
murders he perpetrated ; amuses himself in fighting 
his battles over again. 

To give these things a sort of eclat and popularity 
with the public, Zadkiel sums up the whole in the 
following language : " In concluding this account, 
I may remark that numerous children have seen these 
visions, some of them the sons and daughters of per- 
sons of high rank ; and that several adults have also 
seen visions, one of them a lady of title, and another a 
member of one of the highest families in England. 
It will be seen that delicacy prevents my naming 
individuals ; but J can assure my readers that above 
one hundred of the nobiliti/, and several hundreds of 
other highly respectable ladies and gentlemen, have 
examined this wonderful phenomenon, and have ex- 
pressed the highest giatification and astonishment." 

Dickens declares it to be " the fashion, especially 
among people of fashion, to point with pity to a tale 
or modern witchcraft, to an advertisement of a child's 
caul, or to the bona fide certificates of cases from the 


takers of quack medicines, and to deplore the ignorance 
of their inferiors. Delusions, however, of the grossest 
kind are not confined to the illiterate. A cloud of 
dupes have ever floated about in the higher regions of 
society ; while it is quite a mistake to suppose that 
the refinements and discoveries of the nineteenth 
century-/ have dispersed them. The reign of Queen 
Victoria, like that of Elizabeth and Anne, has its Dr. 
Dees, and Lillys, and Partridges, who are as success- 
ful as their precursors in gaining proselytes who can 
pay handsomely. Damsels of high degi-ee, fresh from 
boarding school, with heads more full of sympathy 
for the heroes and heroines of fashionable novels, 
and ideas more fixed upon love affairs than on any 
legitimate studies, can easily find out, through mys- 
teriously-worded advertisements in the Sunday papers, 
or through the ready agency of friends who have 
already become victims of the ' science ' of astrology 
and magic, the whereabouts of these awful and won- 
derful beings. There are a number of styles and 
classes of them, all varying in appearance and mode 
of operations. There are the old women, who, con- 
soled by the glories of their art, repine not at inhabit- 
ing comfortless garrets in the purlieus of the New Cut, 
Lambeth ; and hidings their vocation under the mask 
of having stay laces or infallible corn plasters to sell, 
receive more visitors from the fashionable cream of 
Belgravia than from the dross of -Bermondsey. Dis- 
guises are sometimes resorted to, and parties of titled 
ladies have been known to meet, and put on the 
habiliments of ' charwomen,' and ^ to pass themselves 
off as dress-makers. There is an old man, with un- 
shaven beard and seldom-washed face, who lives in 


more comfortabls circumstances, with his son, in 
Southwark, (the favored district of the conjurers,) who, 
to keep up appearances, has ' Engineer ' hugely en- 
graved on a great brass plate over the door, who casts 
nativities, and foretells events of the future, for three or 
five shillings, as the appearance of the visitor will war- 
rant him in demanding ; receives all his votaries sit- 
ting at a terribly littered table of dirty paper, with a 
well-smoked clay pipe beside him. Passing to a higher 
grade, the ' agent,' or arranger of matters, legal, pecu- 
niary, or domestic, only practises the black art for the 
love he bears it, and to oblige his friends, but never 
refuses a few shillings' fee, out of respect to the in- 
terests of the science. Nearly all his customers are 
people of title." 

We now come to speak of events in our own country 
which seem to be somewhat akin to those which have 
so recently transpired in England. We allude to what 
are familiarly termed " rappers," or " knocking spirits," 
from the noises which they are said to make. 

From a history of these knockings, as given in a 
pamphlet by Capron and Barron, of Auburn, New 
York, we learn that they were first heard in the family 
of Mr. Michael Weekman, in the town of Arcadia, 
Wayne county. He resided in the house where the 
noises were heard about eighteen months, and left it 
some time in the year 1847. He relates that one 
evening, about bedtime, he heard a rapping on the 
outside door, when he stepped to the door and opened 
it, but, to his surprise, found no one there. He went 
back, and proceeded to undress, when, just before 
getting into bed, he heard another rap at the door 
loud and distinct. He stepped to the door quickly 


and opened it, bnt, as before, found no one there. 
He stepped out, and fooked around, supposing that 
some one was imposing upon him. He could dis- 
cover no one, and went back into the house. After a 
short time he heard the rapping again ; he stepped 
(it being often repeated) and held on the latch, so that 
he might ascertain if any one had taken that means to 
annoy him. The rapping was repeated ; the door was 
instantly opened, but no one was to be seen. He 
could feel the jar of the door very plainly when the 
rapping was heard. As he opened the door, he sprung 
out, and went around the house, but no one was in 
sight. His family were fearful to have him go out, 
lest some one intended to harm him. It always re- 
mained a mystery to him ; and finally, as the rapping 
did not at that time continue, it passed from his mind, 
till some time afterwards, when, one night, their little 
girl, then about eight years of age, was heard to 
scream from fright, so that the family were all alarmed 
by her cries, and went to her assistance. This was 
about midnight. She told them that something like 
a hand had passed over her face and head ; that she 
had felt it on the bed and all over her, but did not feel 
alarmed until it touched her face. 

It seems that Mr. Weekman soon after moved 
away from the house, and nothing more was heard 
of the rapping, or other manifestations, till it was 
occupied by the family of Mr. John D. Fox, who 
have since become so conspicuous with '' the advent 
of spirits." In March, 1848, they, for the first time, 
heard the " mysterious sounds," which seemed to be 
like a slight knocking in one of the bed rooms on the 
floor. It was in the evening, just after they had 


retired. At that time the whole family occupied one 
room, and all distinctly heard the rapping. They 
arose, and searched with a light, but were unable to 
find the cause of the knocking. It continued that 
night until they all fell asleep, which was not until 
nearly or quite midnight. From this time the noise 
continued to be heard every night. 

After having been disturbed and broken of their 
rest for several nights in a vain attempt to discover 
from whence the sounds proceeded, they resolved, on 
the evening of the 31st of March, that this night they 
would not be disturbed by it, whatever it might be. 
But Mr. Fox had not yet retired when the usual signs 
commenced. The girls, who occupied another bed in 
the same room, heard the sounds, and endeavored to 
imitate them by snapping their fingers. The attempt 
was made by the youngest girl, then about twelve 
years old. When she made the noise with her 
fingers, the sounds were repeated just as she made 
them. When she stopped snapping her fingers, the 
sounds stopped for a short time. One of the other 
girls then said, in sport, (for they were getting to be 
more amused than alarmed,) "Now do what I do; 
count one, two, three, four, five, six," &c., at the same 
time striking one hand in the other. The same num- 
oer of blows or sounds were repeated as in the former 
case. Mrs. Fox then spoke, and said, " Count ten," 
<and there were ten distinct strokes or sounds. She 
then said, " Will you tell the age of Caihy ? " (one of 
her children ;) and it was given by the same num )er of 
raps that she was years of age. In like manner the 
age of her different children was told correctly by this 
unseen visitor. 


Mrs. Fox then asked, if it was a human being that 
made the noise, to manifest it by making the same 
noise. There was no answer to this request. Sh 
then asked if it was a spirit, and if so to manifest i 
by making two distinct sounds. Instantly she heard 
two raps, as she desired. She then proceeded to 
know or inquire if it was an injured spirit, and if so 
to answer in the same way, and the rapping was re- 
peated. In this way it answered her until she as- 
certained that it purported to be the spirit of a man 
who was murdered in that house by a person that had 
occupied it some years before ; that he was a pedler, 
and that he was murdered for his money. To the 
question Iiow old he ivas, there were thirty-one distinct 
raps. By the same means it "was ascertained that' 
he was a married man, and had left a wife and five 
children; that his wife had been dead two years. 

We might relate a little different manoeuvre in the 
case of the ghost that appeared in Waltham, Mas- 
sachusetts, a few years since. A superstitious old 
man, by the name of McClarren, a mechanic, pur- 
chased a lot of turf that had been piled up in a 
meadow about half way between his workshop 
and place of residence. Upon returning to his work 
from supper, he used to take a basket with him, and 
fill it at the turf heap on his return late in the even- 
ing. It was on one of these occasions that the re- 
puted ghost first appeared to him, and caused him 
some alarm, when he dare not linger to reconnoitre 
this strange and unexpected visitor. He resolved, 
liowever, to muster courage the next evening to ac- 
cost the figure, should it again appear to him. Ac- 
cordingly, he went with a large Bible open in hia 


hands ; and as the ghost appeared, he followed it till it 
crossed a ditch, when he was requested by the same 
to proceed no farther. Thus they stood, facing each 
other, on either side of the d tch, when the following 
conversation took place between them : — 

Ques. By McClarren. " I demand of you, in the 
name of Jesus Christ, our once crucified God, whether 
you are mortal or immortal ? " 

Ans. " I am not mortal." 

Ques. " What, then, are you ? " 

Ans. " I am the spirit of a murdered man." 

Ques. " By whom were you murdered 1 " 

Ans. « By , of Waltham." 

Ques. " Where does your body lie ? " 

Ans. " In yonder pond, behind me." 

It is supposed that this affair was got up in an 
innocent mood, merely to test the strength of McClar- 
ren's faith in ghosts. But it caused a wide-spread 
excitement; and some, who were thought to be con- 
cerned in its projection, were prosecuted and brought 
before a justice for examination, although nothing 
was proved. McClarren testified under oath, that he 
believed it to be a real ghost ; " its tones,^^ he said, 
" were so unearthly^'' " and when it moved its motion 
was not like that in walking, but it glided along like 
a sM^an, or a boat in the water." He was neither to 
be reasoned nor laughed out of it. He would believe 
it to the day of his death. You might as well tell 
him he was not a living being, as to tell him he had 
not seen a living ghost. 

The advocates of the " influx from the world of 
spirits into our own " claim in its behalf many aston- 
ishing miracles. Chairs, tables, and beds are moved 


up or down, to and fro, &c. At Auburn, New York, 
on one occasion, sounds on the wall, bureau, table, 
floor, and other places were heard as loud as the strik- 
ing with a hammer. The table was moved about the 
room, and turned over and back. Two men in the 
company undertook to hold a chair down, while, at 
their request, a spirit moved it ; and, notwithstanding 
they exerted all their strength, the chair could not be 
held still by them — a proof that spirits are far more 
strong and powerful than men. On another occasion, 
the sounds proper to a carpenter's shop were heard, 
apparently proceeding from the wall and table. Saw- 
ing, planing, and pounding with a mallet were imi- 
tated, it is said, to the life. Some gentlemen were at 
the house of the Fox family at one time, and were 
conducted into a dark room. They called for the 
sounds to be made like a band of martial music. As 
they requested, the sounds were produced ; the play- 
ing of the instruments and the heavy beating of the 
bass drum were perfectly imitated, together with the 
sound of the roar of distant cannon. Shall we not 
gather from this, that in the spirit world they have 
their bands of music and compa-nies of artillery, the 
same as in this world ? We are also told of the 
spirit or spirits playing on a guitar in a dark room, 
the gu tar hei^ig taken from the hands of those who 
held it and put in tune, and played while it passed 
around the room above their heads. On oae occa- 
sion, as it is aaid, it played an accompaniment, for 
pearly two hours, to some persons engaged in singing, 
being very exact both in time and tune. On one occa- 
sion, whUe several ladies were present, some of them 
yequested that the spirits would take their hair down. 


Accordingly it was done. One of them had her hair 
taken down and done up in a twist, and one of them 
had hers braided in four strands. Sometimes per- 
sons have felt a hand passing over or touching their 
arms, head, or face, leaving a feeling of electricity 
upon the part touched; and the hand that thus 
touches them will, by request, instantly change from 
a natural warmth to the coldness of ice. 

In answer to the question, " Why do these spirits 
require a dark room to play upon instruments of 
music, or to take hold of persons," they answer by 
saying that " they assume a tangible form in order to 
do these things, and we are not yet prepared for such 
a visitation." 

To the inquuy how it is they make the rapping 
noises that generally accompany their visits to this 
world, they answer, that " they are made by the will 
of the spirits causing a concussion of the atmos- 
phere, and making the sounds appear in whatever 
place they please." 

A Mi's. Draper, of Rochester, New York, had an 
interview with Dr. Franklin, at one time, while she 
was in a magnetized state. She said he appeared to 
be busily employed in establishing a line of commu- 
nication between the two worlds by means of these 
" rappings." On another occasion, while in a clair- 
voyant state, at her own house, sounds were heard in 
exact imitation of those heard in the telegraph office. 
These sounds were so unusual, that Miss Margaretta 
Fox, who was present, became alarmed, and said, 
" What does all this mean ? " Mrs. Draper replied, 
*' He is trying the batteries. ^^ Soon there was a sig- 
nal for the alphabet, and the following communica- 


tion was spelled out to the company present " Now 
I am ready, my friends. There will be great changes 
in the nineteenth century. Things that now look 
dark and mysterious to you, will be laid plain before 
youi" sight. Mysteries are going to be revealed. The 
world will be enlightened. I sign my name, Benja- 
min Franklin." 

It seems that, in the early history of these rappings, 
they used to be without any limitations as to whether 
persons were in a magnetized state or not. The first 
we learn of magnetism being employed as a medium 
of communication is in the case of a daughter of 
Lyman Granger, in Rochester, New York. For a 
long time, answers could be obtained by any two (why 
two ?) of the family standing near each other. And 
in the freedom of the answers, no preference seemed 
to be manifested towards any particular members of 
the family. At length, one of his daughters was 
placed under the influence of magnetism, and be- 
came clairvoyant. From that time none of the fami- 
ly could get communications unless the daughter who 
was magnetized was present. Why the communica- 
tions should leave all the family except the magnet- 
ized daughter, after they once had free conversation 
without her, remains to be explained. The whole 
business now seems to be pretty much, if not wholly, 
monopolized by the clairvoyants. They seem to be 
employed as agents, or mediums of correspondence, 
between the two worlds, acting as interpreters be- 
tween two classes of beings, or beings existing i» 
two different states, natural and spiritual. They act 
as a kind of spiritual postmasters between the two 
countries. We find spiritual letter paper^ and enve 


hpes to enclose the same, advertised for those who 
wish to avail themselves of an opportunity to write 
to their deceased friends in the other spheres. Let- 
ters said to have been written in the spirit world have 
been ti ansmitted through the established mediums to 
friends in this world, and have been published in some 
of the papers devoted to these subjects. In the New 
York Daily Tribune of February 28, 1851, we find the 
prospectus of a quarto journal, to be published in 
Auburn, " to be dictated by spirits out of the flesh, 
and by them edited, superintended, and controlled. 
Its object is the disclosure of truth from Heaven, guid- 
ing mankind into open vision of paradise, and open 
communication with redeemed spirits. The circle of 
apostles and prophets are its conductors from the 
interior, holding control over its columns, and per- 
mitting no article to find place therein unless origi- 
nated, dictated, or admitted. by them: they acting 
under direction of the Lord Supreme." 

We hope the information coming through its 
columns will be more reliable than the communica- 
tions from some of the " rapping spirits." No depend- 
ence whatever can be placed upon them. They are 
so blundering, awkward, and uncertain, and even 
trickish and deceitful, that they spoil all our notions 
of the dignity and purity — the spirituality, in fact — 
of the spiritual world. The advocates of the mani- 
festations attribute the fault to ignorant spirits, who 
do not know whether the matter they attempt to speak 
of be true or not. Swedenborg says, " There are some 
spirits so ignorant that they do not know but they are 
the ones ca\led for, when another is meant. And the 
only way to detect them, in speaking, is by the differ- 



ence of sound — that made by intelligent spirits being 
clear and lively, and that of the ignorant being low and 
muffled, like the striking of the hand upon a carpet." 

It is contended by the authors of the pamphlet from 
which we quote, that these ignorant spirits will ulti- 
mately progress to a state of intelligence. But this 
idea of progression seems to be at variance with the 
observations of a writer in the Boston Post, who was 
astonished at the wonderful precocity of little infants 
in the spirit world. " I have known," says he, " the 
spirit of a child, only eighteen months old when he 
died, and only three months in the second sphere, 
show as much intelligence, and as perfect a command 
of our language, as Br. Channing himself seems to 
possess." On the other hand, when I find that " the 
spirit of Dr. Channing cannot express an idea above 
the rudimental conception of a mere child, I am forced 
to the conclusion that his mental endowments must 
have greatly deteriorated since he left us." 

It is said that the theological teachings of these 
spirits generally agree with those of Davis, Sweden- 
borg, and others who have claimed to receive their 
impressions from spirits. Accordingly, We find them 
using the term higher and lower spheres, instead of 
heaven and hell. Swedenborg prophesied that the 
year 1852 would be the one to decide the fate of his 
church or his doctrines ; and Capron and Barron tell 
us that " the probabilities now seem to be that his 
general spiritual theory will, not far from that time, 
be very generally received." We presume that the 
" mysterious rappings " are considered by them as so 
many omens of such an event. And we may reason- 
ably conclude that they are as decisive tests.^ as sure 


prognostications, as were the various celestial signs of 
the coming of the end of the world in 1843. The 
believers in the " harmonial philosophy " have their 
miracles in attestation of their theory; and so of the 
Millerites. On Saturday evening, January 18, 1851, 
we are told by La Roy Sunderland, that Mi's. Coopei 
(clairvoyant medium) was taken to Cambridge, by 
Mr. Fernald and a friend, for the purpose of visiting 
a gentleman who had been confined by a spinal 
ditHculty some ten years or more. The spirits gave 
beautiful responses for his consolation, and in the 
sight of all present, the sick man and his bed were 
moved by spiritual hands alone. The sick man and 
the " bed whereon he lay " were both moved by 
attending angels, without any human power. And 
more recently, a Mr. Gordon, it is said, has been taken 
up and his body moved some distance entirely by 
spiritual hands. Were such miracles ever wrought 
in favor of Millerism ? Most assuredly, if we are to 
believe the Millerites themselves ; and even more in 
favor of witchcraft also. At a meeting of the friends 
of Millerism, held in Waltham, in 1842, a lady was 
taken from her seat by some unseen power, and 
carried up to the ceiling of the room ; and she after- 
wards declared that it was done without any effort on 
her part. More recently, (1851,) another lady of the 
same place testifies that she has, in a similar manner, 
been taken from her seat in church and carried up 
above the tops of the pews. And at times, at the 
advent meetings, strange noises have been heard, 
houses also have been shaken, mirrors shattered to 
pieces, and furniture broken, and all have been con- 
sidered by the Adventists as so many auguries or 


signs of the approaching dissolution of all things, to 
take place in 1843. 

We have already made mention of the fact, in an- 
other place, that bewitched persons used to be carried 
through the air, on brooms and spits, to distant meet- 
ings, or Sabbaths, of witches. But we will now give 
a case to the point. 

On the 8th of September, 1692, Mary Osgood, 
wife of Captain Osgood, of Andover, was taken before 
John Hawthorne, and other of their majesties' justices, 
when she confessed that, about two years before, she 
was carried through the air, in company with Deacon 
Fry's wife, Ebenezer Baker's wife, and Goody Tyler, 
to Five Mile Pond, where she was baptized by the 
devil, and that she was transported back again 
through the air, in company with the forenamed 
persons, in the same manner as she went, and believes 
they ^vere carried on a pole I She was asked by one 
of the justices, how many persons were upon the 
pole ; to which she answered. As I said before, 
viz., four persons, and no more, but whom she had 
named above. 

Are not these cases to be relied upon as much as 
those related by Mr. Sunderland ? Could not four re- 
spectable ladies tell whether they were actually carried 
through the air on a pole or not ? Could they be de- 
ceived ? Possibly, in the days of chloroform, or e ther, it 
might have been the case ; but not at the period in 
which it actually occurred. 

Some of the bewitched persons, as in the case of 

Elizabeth Knap, of Groton, alarmed the people by 

their ventriloqual powers, in imitating sounds and 

languages. And it would be nothing strange if son>e 



of our modern witches were in possession of the same 
talent. No wonder that the editor of one of the 
Boston papers should have ventured the opinion, that 
if some of these persons had lived two hundred years 
ago, they would have been hanged for witchcraft. 

It appears to us, that if we believe in all that is 
alleged of the rapping spirits, and their manifestations, 
we must be prepared to indorse all that has been pub- 
lished of witches and ghosts, spooks and hobgoblins, 
in every age of the world, which, at present, we are 
not at all inclined to do. We do not believe that any 
of the noises heard, or any of the information given, 
has proceeded from beings out of the normal state. 
We are rather inclined to adhere to the sentiment con- 
tained in the old couplet : — 

" Where men believe in witches, witches are ; 
But where they don't believe, there are none there." 

We once went to stay over night in a house said to 
be haunted, the house being empty at the time, the 
family who had occupied it having actually been 
frightened away by the noises they had heard. But, 
strange to tell, we did not hear any noises, neither did 
we expect to. There was a house in Green Street, 
Boston, formerly occupied by the celebrated Dr. Con- 
way, v/hich, after his decease, was said to be haunted. 
A young man of our acquaintance never passed that 
house late at night but every window in it appeared 
to be illuminated. And fkially, he became so alarmed 
about it, that as soon as he approached the vicinity 
of the house, he would commence running, and 
continue to run till it was out of sight. We have 
frequently knovn him to cross the ice on Charles 


River to avoid passing the house. And still, we often 
passed the same house, at late hours of the night, 
without seeing any thing unusual. And we know of 
no reason why, unless it was because we did not 
believe in such things, which our friend actually did. 
Faith alone made the difference. 

One of the believers in the " spirit rappings " tells 
us that " if these things are emanations from the spirit 
world, we are bound to believe them." True, if they 
are ; but this little conjunctive i/" is a word of very 
doubtful meaning. We have already shown how Mr. 
Miller kept the whole world standing thirty years on 
this same little if; and then it did not end in 1843, 
as he supposed it would. We must, therefore, be 
cautious how we depend upon a simple if. 

But we are told that, as honest persons, we are 
bound to believe what we cannot disprove by actual 
demonstration. But let us examine this for a moment. 
The Greenlanders have an idea that thunder is caused 
by two old women flapping seal skins in the moon. 
Now, who has ever been up in the moon to ascertain 
whether it is so or not? Again, they say that the 
Aurora Borealis is owing to the spirits of their fathers 
frisking at football. Who can say it is not so ? And 
yet we reject such belief on account of its apparent 
absurdity. Some of the ancients have told us that 
the earth stands upon the back of a tortoise, or upon 
that of an elephant ; and yet, without investigation, 
a majority of mankind reject the idea as being per- 
fectly ridiculous. We might here remark, that no less 
a scholar than the great mathematician Kepler at- 
tempted to prove that the earth is a vast animal, and 
that the ti ies are occasioned by the heaving's of its 
prodigious lungs. 


Many of the performances of jugglers and ventril- 
oquists puzzle us, and yet we do not believe there is 
any thing supernatural in them. Signor Blitz once 
called upon the ladies in the hall where he was giving 
an exhibition to pass him a handkerchief with their 
name stamped upon it, and he would put it into a 
pistol and fire it off in their presence, a,nd it should be 
found in the steeple of a church some quarter of a mile 
distant, and yet not a window or a door should be open 
on the occasion. A committee of honest and respect- 
able men were despatched from the hall to the house 
of the church sexton, the keys procured, with a lan- 
tern, when the belfry was ascended, the handkerchief 
found hanging on the tongue of the bell, and returned 
to the lady, who instantly recognized it as the identi- 
cal handkerchief she passed into the hands of the per- 
former. Now, who could prove that the thing alleged 
was not actually done ? and yet who will believe that 
it was ? 

We have heard distant sounds of music, and other 
imitations of men, birds, and animals, that deceived 
our sense of hearing, knowing that they were produced 
by the power of ventriloquism. We have seen things 
moved from place to place by magnetic attraction, and 
we do not think it at all strange that so light an in- 
strument as a guitar could be thus attracted to differ- 
ent parts of a room by an unseen poioer, especially 
in a dark room, and its tones be imitated by a being 
as yet in the normal state. A guitar will give vibra- 
tions of its tones to the concussions of the air, caused 
by the conversation of persons present ; and a stranger 
to the fact might possibly interpret these vibrations 
as something quite mysterious, and suppose the in- 


stniment, as it stood alone, to be touched by iome 
spirit hand. When people's minds, or their imagina- 
tions, get wrought up to a certain pitch, the most tri- 
fling things are looked upon as wonderful phenomena. 
Every thing is new, and strange, and appalling. We 
hear of the doings of the spirits at Rochester, and 
other places, and which are called the " ushering in 
of a new science^ " We know of what we speak," 
says the pamphlet before us, "we knoiv they are facts, 
strange, new, and to many wonderful! ^^ (See page 
43.) And yet the authors introduce several pages 
from a work by Dr. Adam Clarke to show that, as 
early as 1716, the Wesley family were troubled by 
noises made by the " knocking spirits," and that " the 
present manifestations have no claim to the credit of 
originality." The cracking of hazel nuts upon Martin 
Luther's bed posts, and the racket and rumbling upon 
his chamber stairs, as if many empty barrels and hogs- 
heads had been tumbling down, claim still greater 
antiquity, and belong to the same category or chapter 
of wonderful events. 

It is said to be impossible that any mere human 
being could inform persons, with whom they never 
had any previous knowledge or acquaintance, of the 
past, present, and future events of their lives — whether 
they are married or single, the number of their children 
living and dead, age, health, business, letters expected, 
the whereabout of long-absent friends, &c. It is 
supposed that such information must indeed emanate 
from the spirit world. Yet precisely such things are 
and always have been told, more or less, by astrolo- 
gers and fortune tellers, without any pretensions to 
being in league with spirits of the other worlds. We 


have said that fortune tellers do not always tell cor- 
rectly ; but, as poor an opinion as we have of them, 
we will venture to assert that they are full as correct, 
if not more so, in the information they give, as the 
members of the Fox family, or any of their contempo- 
raries, of the alleged spiritual manifestations. 

Persons of sane mind, though ever so ignorant of 
arithmetic or orthography, can tell at least how many 
children they have, and are usually able to spell their 
own names ; but one who has spent a good deal of 
time in witnessing the performances of the spirit rap- 
pers, says, " They seem to be unwilling or unable to 
answer purely test questions, like that of answering 
their own names. I have never known them to do 
this," says he, " though often solicited." He also speaks 
of their great deficiency in mathematics, not being 
able to enumerate the number of children they have on 
earth with anything like accuracy. " I am aware that 
such questions have sometimes been correctly an- 
swered, and I have heard them so answered ; but I 
have much more frequently known them to refuse en- 
tirely, or to do it very awkwardly, or to fail entirely in 
the attempt. Out of five numbers four were erroneous- 
ly selected as the right one. The fifth was right, of 
course. This goes to show, at least, that spirits have 
greatly deteriorated, rather than improved, while inhab- 
iting the celestial spheres." But this is not all. The 
facility of communication between the two classes of 
beings is also on the decline. The time was when 
ghosts or spirits held free conversation with those 
they visited, without calling in the aid of clairvoyan- 
cy or electricity. Neither did they resort, like modern 
spirits, to the slow and clumsy mode of communica- 


tion, through the letters of the alphabet. In spelling 
out a sentence by letters, one of the ladies com- 
mences repeating the alphabet ; and when the desired 
letter is mentioned, a rap is heard. In this slow and ^ 
tedious process, long sentences are communicated. 
No wonder that the slowness of the mode of commu- n 
nication should be considered as " perfectly appalling." 
And then, too, the substance of these communica- 
tions is too absurd and ridiculous to be believed. 
We might here refer to the information given by the 
prophet Swedenborg himself, in relation to the con- 
dition of the pious Melancthon in the future state, 
that he was sometimes in an excavated stone cham- 
ber, and at other times in hell ; and when in the 
chamber, he was covered with bear skins to pro- 
tect him from the cold ; and that he refuses to 
see visitors from this world on account of the filthi- 
ness of his apartment. This is about as probable 
and interesting as the account given by a female 
clairvoyant in Cleveland, Ohio, who says that she has 
(just) had an interview with Tom Paine, " who re- 
cants his errors, and is at present stopping with Gen- 
eral Washington and Ethan Allen, at a hotel kept by 
John Bunyan." 

We here introduce the following from one of the 
Boston papers : — 

" The ' Spiritual Rappings ' exploded. — There is a 
good article under this head, on the first page, to 
which we invite attention. The writer is an accom- 
plished scholar, an able physician, and one of the first 
and best magnetizers in this country. He has inves- 
tigated the ' rappings ' — tested them theoretically 
and practically, and ' exploded ' them, if our readers 


have not already done so for themselves. His com- 
mtinication is entitled to weight, and if circulated, as 
it should be, among the credulous and unsuspecting, 
might save some from the pitiful effects of a mis- 
chievous, absurd, and contemptible superstitious de- 

The article is as follows : — 

" About the 16th of December last, I called on Mr. 
Sunderland, in good faith, in order to hear and see 
manifestations from the spirit world. He received 
me in a friendly manner, and, with a young lady who 
was with me, seated me in the spirit room. We had 
to wait an hour or more, and while seated we devout- 
ly invoked the spirits. Finding them silent, I put on 
them some of my most powerful mesmeric electric 
formula. They persevered, however, in preserving 
profound silence. 

" When, however, the medium, Mrs. Cooper, had 
arrived, and seven of us, four gentlemen and three 
ladies, were seated round a square centre table, the 
responses were made, and came freely. The young 
lady with me, willing to believe, but \\dshing to know 
with absolute certainty, before she assented to the 
truth of the proposition, that the rappings were 
made by spirits, and not by the persons engaged in 
the business, had seated herself about three feet from 
the table, so that she could see under it. The follow- 
ing dialogue then ensued between Mrs. Cooper, her 
adopted sister, and the young lady : — 

" ' Will you sit close to the table, miss ? ' 

" ' If they are spirits, they can rap just as ^vell where 
J am. I am willing to be convinced, and where I am 
I can hear perfectly well.' 


" ' The rule is, to sit close to the table.' 
" ' I will not disturb, but choose to sit where I am.' 
" • If you will not comply with the regulation, you 
had better go into the other room.' 

" ' I came to know, and I shall sit where I am.* 
" She was inflexible, and the work proceeded. 
When my turn came, I could put no test question, 
and was so told. I saw and felt that there was col- 
lusion, and, ashamed of myself as being the dupe of 
supposed and known imposition, after enduring the 
liour's sitting, I arose with the full conviction that all 
was the effect of bones and muscles, and of mes- 
meric action and reaction on the subjects themselves. 
While we were examining a piano which was used on 
such occasions, and our backs were turned towards 
the table, standing partly sidewise, I caught a 
glimpse of Mrs. Cooper's foot in the very position and 
act of commencing a spirit somerset on the table. 
She looked confused. I appeared not to have fully 
recognized any thing wrong, thanked them for their 
father's kindness and their attention, and left the 
domicil of the ' spnitual philosopher ' under a full, 
stern, and abiding convicc'.on that there was not the 
abiding place of invisible beings — that all was me- 
chanical which we heard, and all that any one had 
beard or seen was mechanical or mesmeric. 

" The second opportunity I had of testing the truth 
or falsity of these spirit communications was in 
the city of Lowell. Every thing was favorable as 
to place, time, and company. My eyes were every 
where, and raps came seldom and solitary. The me- 
dium dropped from between his fingers a small black 
pencil, about two inches long, with which I believe he 


made the raps. After it fell, we heard no more. He 
looked despairingly disappointed, soon went into a 
trance, arose, locked us into the room, and when the 
hour had transpired, came out voluntarily. 

" Invited by a friend who was anxious to convince 
me more fully, and especially to convert the young 
.ady who was with me at Mr. Sunderland's, he called at 
my house with the medium, and was received into 
my office. The young lady requested that we should 
stand around the table, and no one touch it. We 
did so. On the first response, she exclaimed, indig- 
nantly, addressing the medium, ' That, sir, was from 
your foot ; I heard it distinctly ! ' He looked guilty, 
and his eyes flashed with anger. He asked the spirits 
if it was not ' nonsense,' and received the response 
from the foot, ' yes,' and left, evidently highly in- 

" I determined to give one more trial to the spirits. 
In this latter case, there were the three raps, clear 
and strong, and the answers highly satisfactory, as 
far as they went. But the difficulty was, that the 
spirits were capricious, and would respond only to 
just such as they saw fit ; and the medium was pretty 
well acquainted with me. The perfect regularity of 
the knocks, and the sound, convinced me that, in this 
instance, it was purely mechanical. I endeavored to 
get the secret from the medium, and the answer was, 
' If I should tell you, you would be as wise as my- 
self.' She evidently knew how it was done. 

" I will now state a few facts, and conclude. 1. "Wood 
is an excellent conductor of sounds. A small worm, 
called at the south a sawyer, and sought for angling, 
can be heard three yards, as it gnaws between the 


wood and bark of a fallen pine; and the slightest 
scratch of a pin, on the end of an isolated mast, sixty- 
feet long, can be heard distinctly. 

" 2. In mesmeric operations, we well know that indi- 
viduals can be made to hear and see things that never 
occurred or existed, and yet the subjects remain uncon- 
scious that they have been made the subjects of mes- 
meric hallucination I 

" 3. Persons highly observant and susceptible can, 
by their eye and feeling, when they put themselves 
into a semi-abnormal condition, tell, in many instances 
nine times out of ten, who is and who is not a be- 
liever, and what is in the mind of the inquirer. 

" 4. Mediums are invariably of this character. 

" 5. In matters of faith, friendship, love, or the spirit 
world, many are willing to be deceived; and when 
they fall into the hands of the shrewd and designing, 
who can appear the impersonation of truth, virtue, 
honesty, and even piety itself, they are emphatically 
humbugged, and give their money and their testimony 
to confirm the fraud. 

" Lastly. Many are so sincere and honest in their 
intentions, that it is not in their hearts to believe that 
some of our most respectable men, even clergymen, 
would lend their names to sustain any thing but what 
they had believed and tested as a reality, and therefore 
themselves believe. 

" Now, Mr. Editor, from all that 1 have seen and 
know of these spiritual communications, as 'rappings,' 
and from all these facts, I am free to declare, tha^ I 
believe them an arrant humbug, and one, too, of the 
most pernicious tendency. They can all be traced to 
a human agency, as either mechanical or mesmeric, 


alone or combined ; and I will give my right hand to 
any medium whose operation and device I cannot 
fully discover, trace, and demonstrate, as deducible 
from either the one or both of these sources, and from 
no otherP 

A correspondent of the Boston Traveller, in a com- 
munication dated New York, January 22, 1852, says, 
" I look upon the delusion as I do upon a contagious 
disease. It is a moral epidemic. Any man of peculiar 
diathesis may be its victim. It spreads by sympathy 
and by moral infection. Men of standing and intel- 
lect gi'avely and seriously affirm that they have seen 
a man rise and float about the room like a feather, till 
some unbelieving wretch approaches and breaks the 
spell, when the aerial swimmer falls suddenly to the 
floor. Franklin, Washington, and all the signers of 
the Declaration of Independence, have visited them, 
and these departed worthies sanction any doctrine 
which the uninitiated may happen to entertain before 
consulting them." A. J. Davis says, " There is a class 
of spirits who dwell in divine love more than in divine 
wisdom, and who are easily influenced to feel pre- 
cisely what the majority of those who consult them 
feel and think, and under peculiar circumstances will 
say precisely what the questioning minds of the circle 
xnay ardently and positively desire. Affectionate spirits 
— those dwelling in the love circles — are readily in- 
fluenced to approve the desues of the hearts ci those 
with whom they commune on earth ; as in our homes, 
the infant, by virtue of its cries and positive entreaties, 
captivates the affectionate, and perhaps intelligent, 
mother, who, consequently, forthwith coincides with 
her child's desires, submitting her judgment to xta 


powerful appeals. Thus it is, through the power of 
sympathy, spirits of the other world gratify all our 
thoughts and desires." This is the opinion of Mr. 
Davis, which may pass for what it is worth. "We 
never indorse his spiritual notions. 

To give an idea of the conduct exhibited at the 
circles, or meetings, of the " harmonials," we submil 
the following from the Springfield Republican of 
January, 1852 : — 

" When we entered the hall, the meeting had rioi 
commenced, and all parties were engaged in a lively 
chat. Soon there was a spontaneous coming to order, 
and the ladies formed a circle around a table. The 
gentlemen then formed a larger circle, entirely sur- 
rounding the ladies. A good hymn was given out and 
sung. During the singing, we noticed one lady grow- 
ing excessively pale and cadaverous. Then her hands 
began to twitch, and she commenced pounding upon 
the table. Directly opposite her, a young woman was 
undergoing the process of being magnetized by the 
spirits, while she, as we were informed, was resisting 
them. Her hands were drawn under the table by 
sudden and powerful jerks, and every muscle in her 
body seemed to be agitated with the most powerful 
commotion, as if she were acted upon in every part 
by shocks of electricity. This continued for ten or 
fifteen minutes, until she was, at last, in a state ap- 
parently resembling the magnetic sleep. 

" Another lady, with a fine eye and an intellectual 
cast of countenance, was then moved to write, which 
she did, while her eyes stared and rolled as if in a state 
of frenzy, and every muscle seemed strained to its 
utmost tension. She wrote absolutely furiously, but 


no one but the spirits could read it, and it was passed 
over tc another medium, who announced it a message 
of such utter unimportance that we have forgotten it. 
A brawny blacksmith was among the mediums, but 
he did nothing but pound on the table, and write the 
word ' sing.' The famous medium Gordon was there, 
too, and he went through various contortions — got 
down upon his knees, stood upon his seat, and 
stretched up his arms and fingers, trembling all the 
while, as if in the highest state of nervous excitement. 
Once he was twitched bodily under the table, uttering 
a scream as he went. At times, the different me- 
diums would rise, spread their arms, slap the table, 
and throw their hands into motions almost inconceiv- 
ably rapid. 

" One of the mediums, a young woman, arose by 
the dictation and powerful urging of the spirits, 
and delivered a rambling sermon. It abounded in 
quotations from the Bible and the doctrines of Uni- 

" But it was when the singing was in progress that 
the spirits and the mediums were in the highest 
ecstasy. Then the latter would pound, and throw 
their arms around, and point upwards, in the most 
fantastic manner possible. And thus, with singing, 
and pounding, and reading the Bible, and writing, 
and preaching, the evening passed away ; and while 
Old Hundred was being sung, the spirits gave their 
good night to the circle. 

" We can give but a faint idea of this scene. It is 
one we shall never forget, and we only wish that the 
respectable men we saw there, the men of age and 
experience, the young men and young women, could 


understand the pity with which a man without the 
circle of their sympathy regarded them. With the 
light of reason within them, with minds not untaught 
by education, and with the full and perfect revelation 
of God's will in their very hands, it was indeed most 
pitiable to see them swallowing these fantastic mum- 
meries, and mingling them, in all their wild, furious, 
and unmeaning features, with the worship of Him who 
manifests himself in the ' still small voice.' 

" Of the sincerity of the majority of those present 
we have no doubt ; but that there are rank impostors 
in this town, who are leading astray the credulous, we 
have as little doubt. The most that we saw on Satur- 
day night was mesmerism, and the rest a very trans- 
parent attempt at deception. At any rate, if it was 
any thing else, we should attribute it to any thing but 
good spirits. Were we a devil, and should we 
wish to see how foolish we could make people 
appear, we should choose this way. O men and 
women, do have done with such outrageous non- 

Some have been most grossly deceived, and even 
made insane, by being made to believe that they were 
magnetized by spirits. This was the case with one 
of the celebrated Hutchinson singers — Judson J. 
Hutchinson. Mr. Sunderland, in the fourth number 
of the Spiritual Philosopher, observes as follows : 
" We shall bear of communications from ' prophets,' 
' apostles,' ' kings,' and ' statesmen,' and of divers 
' revelations,' said to be made by them. We shall 
hear of human beings said to be magnetized by spirits. 
But the good and the true will know and understand 
how easy it is for some to become ' magnetized' by theii 


own ideas, and to take for ' revelations ' the fancies of 
their oivn brains. The notion about mortals being 
magnetized by spirits is a mistake, an error ; and it 
was this error which was the principal cause of all 
the real difficulty in the case of Judson J. Hutchinson. 
Mr. H, was made to believe that he was in company 
with his deceased brother, and that his own deceased 
children came and sat upon his knees, and put their 
arms about his neck. When he found himself sinking 
into an abnormal state, he was told to believe that it 
was the spirits, and that there was nothing human 
about it. This, of course, Mr. H. was ready to believe. 
He had heard of others being magnetized by spirits, 
and they were happy, very happy. And as this 
seemed to promise him approximation to the spirit 
world, for which he was earnestly longing, he readily 
gave himself entirely to that idea." The operator, 
Mr. Hazard, of Rochester, New York, suggested that 
Mr. Hutchinson should ask the spirits to move his 
(Mr. H.'s) hand to the top of his own head, that then he 
(Mr. H.) might know it was they. " But the operator 
should have known," says Mr. Sunderland, " that his 
suggesting it to the mind of Mr. Hutchinson, in the 
manner he did, or, if Mr. Hutchinson's own mind 
was directed to the movement of his own hand, that 
was sufficient to cause his hand to move, even if there 
had been no spirits in existence. And so, when Mr. H. 
went to Cleveland, the difficulty was increased by a 
repetition of the cause. He fell into the same state 
again, of course, when similar associations brought it 
up before his mind ; and there he was again told by 
a clairvoyant lady, that she ' saw the spirits ' (his 
brother Benjamin and Swedenborg) operating upon 


him. The effect was, to render him insane P His 
brother Jes&e says, that " the shock was too great 
for Judson, on account of his bodily weakness, and 
that his feeble nature was too fine strung to bear up 
against the severe attacks, and it was with great 
difficulty he was brought back to Milford, New 
Hampshire." "While in this state, Mr. Sunderland 
was sent for, and staid with him three davs and 
three nights, to render him assistance. Mr. S. says, 
" He was unfortunate in being told that, he was 
magnetized by spirits, and still more so, perhaps, in 
the treatment he met with from some uncongenial 
spirits in Syracuse and in "Worcester." From this, 
as well as from some other unfortunate cases, persons 
are admonished to be careful to refrain from visiting 
such impostors. 

Some have been told that St. Paul, St. Peter, St. 
Luke, and Timothy, were present, and answered ques- 
tions put to them ; but Mr. Davis and Mr. Sunderland 
declare it to be false. Mr. Davis says, " This point 1 
have been led to investigate carefully; and at no one 
of the circles referred to do I discover, upon the most 
critical interior retrospection, a single communication 
from the veritable St. Paul, nor from any one of his 
glorious compeers." 

So of Benjamin Franklin, who, it is said, has never 
condescended to converse but a very few times with 
earthly beings, though his name is often quoted in 
connection with clairvoyancy. The reason he is said 
to assign to Mr. Davis is, that he cannot " prevent 
the almost exact human imitations of his vibrations ; 
and that they produce so much confusion and con 
tradiction, that he thinks it best to wait until som 


further improvement can be made in the mode of com- 
munication between the two worlds." Yet how many 
are told that they have been put in communication 
with Franklin! 

Mr. Sunderland says, " We need the same condi- 
tions, or guaranties, for believing spirits^ that we do 
for believing human testimony." Speaking of those 
clairvoyants who are supposed to be exalted into the 
spirit sphere, so as to see and converse with spirits, he 
says, " Whether they do, really, see the spirits, whom 
they think they do, must be determined by other things 
besides their own testimony. We are not obliged to 
take their own mere ipse dixit upon this, any more than 
upon any other subject." And as yet, as has been 
remarked by Dr. Phelps, there is no proof that what 
purports to be a revelation from spirits is the work of 
spirits at all Mr. Sunderland, for all we can see, is 
liable to be in an error, as well as others ; and all the 
evidence he gives us that he has had interviews and 
holds conversations with spirits is that of his own tes- 
timony alone. And so of Mr. Davis. 

We have said that no dependence whatever can be 
placed upon the rapping spirits. Dr. Phelps, of Strat- 
ford, Connecticut, once heard a very loud rapping 
under the table while at his breakfast. " I asked if it 
was my sister. The answer was, ' Yes.' ' Well,' said 
I, ' if you are the spirit of my sister, you can tell me 
how many chi.dren you have in this world.' So the 
spirit commenced counting, and counted up to twenty- 
five, when I pronounced it a li/ing- spirit. I asked it, 
'Are you unhappy ? ' It answered, ' Yes.' ' Can I 
do you any good ? ' ' Yes.' ' How ? ' The spirit 
then called for the alphabet, and spelled out, * Give 


me a glass of fresh gin.' ' What will you do with 
it,' said I. ^Put it to my mouths I asked, ' Where is 
your mouth ? ' No answer." 

Letters, and lines written upon scraps of paper, 
have, it is said, been sent from the other world. The 
following was dropped from the ceiling of Mrs. Phelps's 
parlor when she and others were present. 

. " Sir, — Sir Sambo's compliments, and begs the 
ladies to accept as a token of his esteem." Other 
papers have been similarly written upon, and signed 
" Sam Slick," « The Devil," " Beelzebub," " Lorenzo 
Dow," &c. 

On the 15th of March, 1850, a large turnip was 
thrown against Dr. Phelps's parlor window, having 
several characters carved out upon it, somewhat re- 
sembling the Chinese characters. A facsimile of them 
may be found in Davis's explanation of Modern Mys- 
teries, page 55. 

Some may receive such things as emanations from 
the spirit world ; but to us they seem too simple and 
puerile to be considered as having any thing to do 
with the higher spheres. 

Dr. Phelps, who has been witness to every species 
of manoeuvre of the alleged spirit rappers, says that 
he has become fully satisfied that no reliance whatever 
is to be placed on their communications, either as a 
source of valuable information, or as a means of 
acquiring truth. " I am satisfied," says he, "that their 
communications are wholly worthless. They are often 
contradictory, often prove false, frequently trifling and 
nonsensical, and more in character with what might 
be expected of a company of loafers on a spree than 
from spirits returned from a world of retribution to 
' tell the secrets of their prison house.' " 


With regard to moving tables, chairs, beds, &c., Mr. 
Davis says that, " at a circle of friends in Bridgeport, 
Connecticut, there was a large congregation of spirits, 
who, from a distance of eighty miles, or thirty above 
the atmosphere of our earth, directed a mighty column 
of vital electricity and magnetism, which column or 
current, penetrating all intermediate substances, and 
by a process of infiltration, entered the fine particles 
of matter which composed the table, and raised it, 
several successive times, three or four feet from the 
floor ! " This we are to receive upon his authority, 
or upon the testimony of those who may say they 
saw the table moved. But if the operator can make, 
things appear that never occurred or existed, and can 
imagine a thing, and have that imag-ination transferred 
to others, then what evidence have we that spirits are 
concerned in the transaction ? Just none at all. A 
while ago, we heard of an Italian, at the Massachusetts 
Hospital, who could raise tables from the floor with- 
out touching them ; and the art of so doing, he said, he 
learned in Italy. And how are we to account for the 
Millerites and others being so raised, as they believed ? 
Are they not as much to be credited as those who 
profess a belief in the miracles of the " harmonial 
philosophers " ? For ourselves, we are satisfied that 
such things, for the most part, are but a delusion, 
whether they are alleged to take place among those 
supposed to be bewitched, the Adventists, or the har- 

As to the rapping- noises, we are inclined to think 
they may have something to do with the knee and 
toe joints, and that the two performers usually sit to- 
gether, in order the better to alternate with, and spell 
or relieve each other. Upon a fair trial, it certainly 


has been proved that the noises cannot be produced 
when the joints are grasped firmly by another. But 
it may be doubted by some whether the joints can be 
made to produce the distinct rappings that are some- 
times heard. We think they can. A few years ago, 
a boy in London gave exhibitions of what was 
termed " chin music." It was done by striking the 
fists upon the lower jaw. By this practice he was 
able to produce quite loud and distinct sounds, and 
play a variety of tunes, to the amusement of the pub- 
lic. The sounds were made by the finger joints, it 
was supposed ; and perhaps the jaw bone may have 
contributed its share in the performance. The sounds 
given by the " rapping spirits " are by no means so re- 
markable as many suppose. They are often quite in- 
distinct, and nearly inaudible. Unless a person was 
possessed of a large share of credulity, he would 
never consider them as the responses of an intelligent 
spirit. This is the decided conviction of hundreds 
who have witnessed their performances in various 
parts of the country. Yet many have been, and 
others will be, deceived. And, doubtless, many ten- 
der and sensitive minds may be made insane by the 
wicked trifling of these unprincipled impostors. Cer- 
tainly we have not the least desire to set at nought 
any thing of a tridi/ serious character. Yet we are 
constrained to believe that the things of which we 
have spoken are too ridiculous and nonsensical, if 
not actually sinful, to be entitled to the least favor 
from the public. The learned Thomas Dick, in his 
Essay on the Improvement of Society, gives an 
account of far more singular and wonderful phenome' 
na produced by mechanical agency, than any that has 


as yet been attributed to the agency of spirits, as af 
firmed by A. J. Davis, or La E,oy Sunderland. And 
we here subjoin the facts of the case, for the benefit 
of the public : — 

" Soon after the murder of King Charles I., a com- 
mission was appointed to survey the king's house 
at Woodstock, with the manor, park, and other de- 
mesnes belonging to that manor. One Collins, under 
a feigned name, hired himself as secretary to the 
commissioners, who, upon the 13th October, 1649, 
met, and took up their residence in the king's own 
rooms. His majesty's bed chamber they made their 
kitchen, the council hall their pantry, and the pres- 
ence chamber was the place where they met for the 
despatch of business. Things being thus prepared, 
they met on the 16th for business ; and in the midst 
of their first debate, there entered a large black dog- 
las they thought,) which made a dreadful howling, 
overturned two or three of their chairs, and then crept 
under a bed and vanished. This gave them the 
greater surprise, as the doors were kept constantly 
locked, so that no real dog could get in or out. The 
next day their surprise was increased, when, sitting 
at dinner in a lower room, they heard plainly the 
noise of persons walking over their heads, though 
they well knew the doors were all locked, and there 
could be nobody there. Presently after, they heard, 
also, all the wood of the King's Oak brought by par- 
cels from the dining room, and thrown with great vio- 
lence into the presence chamber, as also all the chairs, 
stools, tables, and other furniture forcibly hurled 
about the room ; their papers, containing the minutes 
of their transactions, were torn, and the ink glass 


broken. When all this noise had ceased, Giles 
Sharp, their secretary, proposed first to enter into 
these rooms ; and in presence of the commission- 
ers, from whom he received the key, he opened the 
doors, and found the wood spread about the room, the 
chairs tossed about and broken, the papers torn, but 
not the least track of any human creature, nor the 
least reason to suspect one, as the doors were all fast, 
and the keys in the custody of the commissioners. 
It was therefore unanimously agreed that the power 
that did this mischief must have entered at the key- 
hole. The night following, Sharp, with two of the 
commissioners' servants, as they were in bed in the 
same room, which room was contiguous to that where 
the commissioners lay, had their beds' feet lifted up so 
much higher than their heads, that they expected to 
have their necks broken, and then they were let fall at 
once with so much violence as shook the whole 
house, and more than ever terrified the commissioners. 
On the night of the 19th, as they were all in bed in 
the same room, for greater safety, and lights burning 
oy tliem, the candles in an instant went out, with a 
sulphurous smell; and that moment many trenchers 
of wood were hurled about the room, which next 
morning were found to be the same their honors had 
eaten out of the day before, which were all removed 
from the pantry, though not a lock was found opened 
in the whole house. The next night they fared still 
worse ; the candles went out, as before ; the curtains 
of their honors' beds were rattled to and fro with 
great violence ; they received many cruel blows and 
bruises by eight great pewter dishes and a number of 
wooden trenchers being thrown on their beds, which, 


being heaved off, were heard rolling about the room, 
though in the morning none of these were to be seen. 
" The next night the keeper of the king's house and 
his dog lay in the commissioners' room, and then they 
had no disturbance. But on the night of the 22d, 
though the dog lay in the room as before, yet the 
candles went out, a number of brickbats fell from the 
chimney into the room, the dog howled piteously, 
their bed clothes were aU stripped off, and their terror 
increased. On the 24th, they thought all the wood 
of the King's Oak was violently thrown down by their 
bedsides ; they counted sixty-four billets that fell, and 
some hit and shook the beds in w^hich they lay ; but 
in the morning none was found there, nor had the 
door been opened where the billet wood was kept. 
The next night the candles were put out, the curtains 
rattled, and a dreadful crack, like thunder, was heard ; 
and one of the servants, running in haste, thinking 
his master was killed, found three dozen of trenchers 
laid smoothly under the quilt by him. But all this 
was nothing to what succeeded afterwards. The 
29th, about midnight, the candles went out ; something 
walked majestically through the room, and opened 
and shut the windows ; great stones were thrown 
violently into the room, some of which fell on the 
beds, others on the floor ; and at about a quarter after 
one, a noise was heard as of forty cannon discharged 
together, and again repeated at about eight minutes' in- 
tervals. This alarmed and raised all the neighborhood, 
who, coming into their honors' room, gathered up the 
gi'eat stones, fourscore in number, and laid them by 
in the corner of a field, where they were afterwards to 
be seen. This noise, like the discharge of cannon, 


was heard for several miles round. During these 
noises, the commissioners and their servants gave one 
another over for lost, and cried out for help ; and Giles 
Sharp, snatching up a sword, had well nigh killed one 
of their honors, mistaking him for the spirit, as he 
came in his shirt from his own room to theirs. While 
they were together, the noise was continued, and part 
of the tiling of the house was stripped off, and all the 
windows of an upper room were taken away with it. 
On the 30th, at midnight, something walked into the 
chamber, treading like a bear ; it walked many times 
about, then threw the warming pan violently on the 
floor ; at the same time, a large quantity of broken 
glass, accompanied with great stones and horse bones, 
came pouring into the room with uncommon force. On 
the 1st of November, the most dreadful scene of all 
ensued. Candles in every part of the room were 
lighted up, and a great fire made ; at midnight, the 
candles all yet burning, a noise like the bursting of a 
cannon was heard in the room, and the burning billets 
were tossed about by it even into their honors' beds, 
who called Giles and his companions to their relief, 
otherwise the house had been burned to the ground ; 
about an hour after, the candles went out as usual, 
the crack as of many cannon was heard, and many 
pailfnls of green stinking water were thrown upon 
their honors' beds ; great stones were also thrown in 
as before, the bed curtains and bedsteads torn and 
broken, the windows shattered, and the whole neigh- 
borhood alarmed with the most dreadful noises ; nay, 
the very rabbit stealers, that were abroad that night 
in the warren, were so terrified, that they fled for fear, 
and left their ferrets behind them. One of their 


honors this night spoke, and, in the name of God^ 
asked what it was, and vjhy it disturbed them so. 
No answer was given to ti is ; but the noise ceased 
for a while, when the spirit came again ; and as they 
all agreed, brought with it seven devils worse than 
itself. One of the servants now lighted a large candle, 
and set it in the doorway between the two chambers, 
to see what passed ; and as he watched it, he plainly 
saw a hoof striking the candle and candlestick into the 
middle of the room, and afterwards, making three 
scrapes over the snufF, scraped it out. Upon this the 
same person was so bold as to draw a sword ; but he 
had scarcely got it out, when he felt another invisible 
hand holding it too, and pulling it from him, and at 
length, prevailing, struck him so violently on the head 
with the pommel, that he fell down for dead with the 
blow. At this instant was heard another burst, like 
the discharge of the broadside of a ship of war, and at 
the interval of a minute or two between each, no less 
than nineteen such discharges. These shook the 
house so violently that they expected every moment 
it would fall upon their heads. The neighbors, being 
all alarmed, flocked to the house in great numbers, 
and all joined in prayer and psalm singing; during 
which the noise continued in the other rooms, and the 
discharge of cannons was heard as from without, 
though no visible agent was seen to discharge them. 
But what was the most alarming of all, and put an end 
to their proceedings effectually, happened the next day, 
as they Avere all at dinner, when a paper, in which they 
had signed a mutual agreement to reserve a part of the 
premises out of the general survey, and afterwards to 
share it equally among themselves, (wh:"ch paper they 


had hid for the present under the earth, in a pot in one 
corner of the room, and in which an orange tree grew,) 
was consumed in a wonderful manner by the earth's 
taking fire, with which the pot was filled, and burning 
violently with a blue flame and an intolerable stench, 
so that they were all driven out of the house, to which 
they could never be again prevailed upon to return." 

This story has been somewhat abridged from the 
EncyclopsBdia Britannica, where it is quoted from Dr. 
Plot's History of Oxfordshire, in which these extraor- 
dinary occurrences are ascribed to satanic influence 
At the time they happened, they were viewed as the ei 
fects of supernatural powers ; and even Dr. Plot seems 
disposed to ascribe them to this cause. " Though 
many tricks," says the doctor, " have often been 
played in affairs of this kind, yet many of the things 
above related are not reconcilable with juggling ; such 
as the loud noises beyond the powers of man to make 
without such instruments as were not there ; the tear- 
ing and breaking the beds ; the throwing about the 
fire ; the hoof treading out the candle ; and the striv- 
ing for the sword; and the blow the man received 
from the pommel of it." It was at length ascertained, 
however, that this wonderful contrivance was all the 
invention of the memorable Joseph Collins, of Oxford, 
otherwise called Funny Joe, who, having hired him- 
self as secretary under the name of Giles Sharp, by 
knowing the private traps belonging to the house, and 
by the help of pulvis fulminans, and other chemical 
preparations, and letting his fellow-servants into the 
scheme, carried on the deceit without discovery, to 
the very last. 

The occurrences whieh are said to have taken place 


at the house of the Rev. Dr. Phelps, in Sti'atford, 
Connecticut, are not to be comparec in their marvel- 
lousness to those we have quoted from Dr. Dick, and 
which things were the results of the ingenuity of Joe 
Collins. Therefore, when we hear of such like oc- 
currences in our day, there will be no necessity for us 
to attribute them to any supernatural influence, either 
good or bad ; for it is a well-received maxim, that 
" what man lias done man can doP To suppose that 
the merciful Father of spirits would harass and 
frighten mankind by haunting their houses with 
strange noises and rappings, ghosts and hobgoblins, 
and spirits of the uneasy dead, would be derogatory 
to his paternal character. And who, for a moment, 
could believe that he would torment little children in 
this way, when our Savior took them in his arms, and 
blessed them, and said, " Of such is the kingdom of 
heaven " ? No, we must attribute such things to any 
other source than as proceeding from the throne of God. 
Up to the present time it may be that many will 
profess to the world that they have actually seen the 
spirits of the departed. Yet this is no new profession, 
for the votaries of St. Vitus, and the spiritually-minded 
Shakers of later times, have declared to us that they 
have seen their departed friends and acquaintances. 
But even Mr. Davis is led to consider a large majority 
of these cases to be the results of cerebral agitation. 
" I can truthfully affirm," says he, "that the objects, 
localities, scenery, and personages, seen by those la- 
boring under monomania, delirium tremens, &c., are 
of the same class of mental delusion, and are abso- 
lutely nothing more than the unconscious elaborations 
of the surcharged brain." 




The following are some of the evils that result from 
a belief in popular superstitions : — 

1. They have caused a great waste of time. Look 
at the practice of heathen nations. Their religious 
ceremonies are altogether superstitious. All the time 
devoted to false gods must be considered as wasted. 
Take a survey, too, of Catholic countries. During 
the dark ages, their priests were engaged in nonsensi- 
cal disputes. Treatise after treatise was composed on 
such subjects as the following : How many angels 
can stand on the point of a needle ? Have spirits any 
navels ? Is the Virgin Mary the mother of God ? and 
a thousand others equally senseless and unprofitable. 
In their monasteries, multitudes passed their days in 
repeating unintelligible prayers, poring over the le- 
gends of their saints, cutting figures in paper, and tor- 
menting their bodies for the good of their souls. Turn 
our attention to Protestant lands, and here we find, 
also, that many a folio has been written on foolish 
and unintelligible subjects ; that many a day ha,s been 
occupied in trying and burning witches and heretics ; 
that many a pharasaic custom has been scrupulously 
observed, and many an absurd opinion advanced and 
defended. Even in our own times, many hours are 
occupied in discoursing about dreams and visions, 
signs and tricks, spectres and apparitions ; in consult- 
ing charms and lots, and fortune tellers ; in prying 
into future events and occurrences ; ir borrowing 


trouble on account of some supposed unfavorable 
omen ; or in various other practices equally vain and 
superstit ous. Now, all this is wrong. Time is given 
for no such purposes. We have but a short period 
allotted to us to remain in this world, and a great 
work to accomplish. Let us then be always engaged 
in something useful and virtuous. 

2. Popular superstitions have caused a great waste 
of human life. Cast your eye over the page of history. 
You there notice an account of the trial by ordeal. 
The accused person was required either to hold red- 
hot iron balls in his naked hands, or to \valk over red- 
hot plates of iron with bare feet. If he escaped un- 
burned, he was considered innocent ; but if he was 
scorched, sentence of death was pronounced. Or he 
was compelled either to thrust his arm into a caldron 
of boiling water, or be thrown into a deep pond. If 
he was either unscalded or drowned, his innocence 
was proved ; but if he was scalded or could swim, the 
sentence of condemnation was passed. In neither 
case could life be saved, except by the interposition of 
a miracle ; and this was not expected on such occa- 
sions. And through this superstition, thousands per- 
ished in the most cruel and unrighteous manner. A 
distinguished writer computes that more than one 
hundred thousand persons, of all ages, have suffered 
death for witchcraft alone. Only think I one hundred 
thousand persons murdered for a crimt Df which no 
nuinan person was ever guilty ! 

There are others who bring upon themselves sick 
ness, and even death, by their belief in signs, dreams, 
and forewarnings. But as the gospel sheds abroad 
its divine 'ight, these things are found to recede, and 


to give place to more rational views of divine wisdom 
and goodness, in the control and arrangement of events 
having a relation to our being and happiness. The 
author of the Family Encyclopaedia says, that " the 
superstitious notions of ghosts, spirits, &c., are rapidly 
declining ; and notwithstanding all the solemn tales 
which have been propagated, there is no reason to 
believe that any real spirits or celestial agents have 
held intercourse with man since the establishment of 
Christianity;" and that "the history of modern mir- 
acles, appearances of the dead, &c., will be always 
found, when thoroughly examined, merely the phan- 
toms of a disordered imagination." 

3. Popular superstitions have caused great and un- 
necessary misery. We need not refer to history for 
an illustration of this assertion. We have sufficient 
examples around us. Look into society, and we shall 
find one class who pay particular attention to all signs 
and dreams. If any thing unfavorable is indicated, 
their feelings are greatly depressed ; and if the con- 
trary, they are as much elated. If a little insect, 
called the death watch, knocks for its mate on the 
wall, sleepless nights are sure to follow. K they notice 
the new moon over the wrong shoulder, their comfort 
is destroyed for a whole month. Nanny Scott, the 
old washerwoman, is sure that another death will 
happen in the family this year, because, when her 
sister-in-law was taken out to be buried, somebody 
shut the door before the corpse was under ground, and 
so shut death into the house. And her neighbor, the 
good Mrs. Taylor, suffers the baby to scratch and dis- 
figure its face, because it is said to be unlucky to cut 
the nails of a child under a year old. Another neigh- 


bor has seen a single raven fly over the house, or 
heard a cricket chirping upon the hearth, and is greatly 
alarmed, because such things are said to be a sign of 
death to some member of the family within the year. 
And thus many are found who are silly enough to 
imbitter their own lives and the lives of others by 
such foolish superstitions. 

There may be noticed another class, whose belief in 
the supernatural origin of signs, omens, and warnings 
leads them to adopt measures for their speedy fulfil- 
ment. Many a wedded couple seem to think they 
must quarrel because it happened to storm on the day 
they were married ; and when some dispute arises 
between them, they fall to fighting, to prove, if possible, 
the truth of the prediction. And for all this interrup • 
tion of domestic harmony, they blame, not their own 
tempers and passions, but the decrees of fate. Many 
a person has concluded he must live in poverty all his 
days, because a few moles have appeared on the wrong 
side of his body. And hence he neglects all industry 
and economy, and dissipates his time, his privileges, 
and his talents. 

We may notice a third class, who give themselves 
to tricks, fortune telling, and opening books, to dis- 
cover the events of futurity. Their spirits vary with 
the supposed indications of good or evil occurrences. 
"A lady, who moved in the first circles, was once 
visiting in a clergyman's family of my acquaintance," 
says the late Rev. Bernard Whitman, " and it was her 
regular morning custom to toss up a little box of pins, 
ana make her happiness for the day depend upon their 
accidental variation in falling. If they came down 
more heads thaw pointe, she was cheerful and happy; 


but if more points than heads, she was gloomy and 
wretched. It seemed she valued her comfort, worth 
at least a brass pin." Many a worthy Christian has 
not only been deprived of his happiness, but betrayed 
into wild, extravagant, and even sinful acts, by at- 
tempting to follow the suggestion of the passage 
which first meets his eye on opening the Bible. Many 
a poor wight has formed a disadvantageous matrimo- 
nial alliance, because some old hag has described black 
eyes and rosy cheeks as the characteristics of his 
future bride. 

"We may notice, moreover, a fourth class, who are 
forever anticipating some dreadful calamity. Let any 
fool solemnly proclaim that war, famine, or pestilence 
is approaching, and they will give more heed to it 
than to that holy word which assures us that our 
heavenly Father will never leave nor forsake us. All 
uncommon appearances in the heavens they look upon 
as indications of the threatened judgments of an angry 
God. Even the beautiful Aurora Borealis, which 
spans the blue concave above us, was so inter- 
preted. To permit such fears to disturb and destroy 
our happiness is a sin against Heaven. Our heavenly 
Father created us for enjoyment. He has furnished 
us with capacities and means of felicity. He has 
even commanded us to rejoice in the Lord always. 
He has given us a religion to effect this desirable ob- 
ject. It is as much a part of this religion to be always 
cheerful, contented, and happy, as to be always tem- 
perate, just, and virtuous. And if people would take 
one tenth part of the pains to make themselves happy 
that they do to render themselves miserable, there 
would h° ten times the present amount of happiness. 


" By the grace of God," says the Rev. John Wesley, 
*' I never fret. I repine at nothing ; I am discontented 
at nothing. And to have persons at my ear fretting 
and murmuring at every thing is like tearing the flesh 
from off my bones. I see God sitting upon his throne, 
and ruling all things well." A companion of Mr. 
Wesley says that he never saw him low-spirited in 
his life, nor could he endm*e to be with an unhappy, 
melancholic person. " Every believer," he often re- 
marked, " should enjoy life." " I dare no more fret," 
said he, " than curse or swear." Would that all Chris- 
tians were as cheerful and consistent as Mr. Wesley. 
There would be less of dark and dismal forebodings ; 
less of distrust, and more of solid peace and comfort, 
in the soul. It seems that Melancthon was somewhat 
of a melancholic turn of mind, and, when gloomy 
and dejected, would call upon Luther, and relate to 
him his troubles and afflictions. Luther, being of a 
more lively and hopeful turn, after listening to him a 
short time, would jump upon his feet, and say, 
" Come, come, let us sing the forty-sixth psalm;" 
and when they had sung that, all was peaceful and 
happy again. 

As to what is commonly termed good or ill luck, 
we may be assured that they have no other existence 
but in the imagination. Luck means chance ; but 
every thing, great and small, is under the wise and 
gracious direction of God. Nothing can happen 
without his permission, and he permits nothing but 
what, in his wonderful plans, he designs to work for 
our good. We are kept in ignorance of the particular 
events that are to befall us, in order to keep alive 
within us an abiding sense of oui ^.ependence on God, 


and a constant obedience to the directions of his 
word, by which alone we can be prepared to meet the 
dispensat'.ons of his providence. The Bible teUs us 
quite enough of futurity to teach us to prepare for it, 
as far as it rests with us to prepare. And it is both 
vain and wicked to endeavor to obtain any further in- 
formation from any other source, or for any one to pre- 
tend that they possess it. Had it been necessary for 
our good that we should know every thing beforehand, 
the information would have been given us in the Bible, 
or it would have been left so that we could have 
gathered it from general instruction and observation, 
as is the case with every kind of knowledge that is 
essential to our present as well as everlasting good. 
It certainly would not have been left to creaking 
doors, croaking ravens, or ill-made tallow candles. 
Neither would God reveal to weak and wicked men 
or women the designs of his providence, which no 
human wisdom is able to foresee. To consult these 
false oracles is not only foolish, but sinful. It is 
foolish, because they themselves are as ignorant as 
those whom they pretend to teach ; and it is sinful, 
because it is prying into that futurity which God, in 
mercy, as well as in wisdom, hides from man. God 
indeed orders aU things ; but when you have a mind 
to do a foolish thing, do not fancy that you are fated 
to do it ; this is tempting Providence, not trusting 
God. It is charging him with folly. Prudence is his 
gift, and you obey him better when you make use of 
prudence, under the direction of prayer, than when 
you heedlessly rush into ruin, and think you are only 
submitting to your fate. Fancy never that you are 
compelled to undo yourself, or to rush upon your own 


destruction, in compliance with any supposed fatality. 
Believe never that God conceals his will from a sober 
Christian, who obeys his laws, and reveals it to a 
vagabond, who goes from place to place, breaking the 
laws both of God and man. King Saul never con- 
sulted the witch until he left off serving God. The 
Bible will direct us best. Conjurers are impostors ; 
and there are no days unlucky but those we make so 
by our vanity, folly, and sin. 

4. Popular superstitions have greatly injured the 
cause of medicine. That superstition which leads 
people to believe in the efficacy of charms is very in- 
jurious. We wiH enumerate a few cases by way of 
example. The scrofula, for instance, is frequently 
called the king's evil. It received this name because 
it was generally believed that the touch of a king 
would cure the disorder. For centuries this belief was 
so prevalent, that any one who should call it in ques- 
tion would have been considered no less than an 
infidel, and an enemy to his king and country. And 
so great was the demand for the king's touch, from 
invalids, that one day in seven was set apart for the 
king to bestow healing mercies on his subjects. Vast 
numbers flocked to him, from Wales, Ireland, Scot- 
land, and many parts of the continent.' An exact 
register was kept of the number of persons who came 
to Charles the Second for relief, from 1660 to 1664, 
and they amounted to twenty-three thousand six hun- 
dred and one. From May, 1667, to 1684, the number 
of persons touched amounted to sixty-eight thousand 
five hundred a id six. Total, ninety -two thousand one 
hun('red and seven. The practice was begun in the 
year 1051, and continued until the reign of the present 


royal family, who were possessed of too much sense 
to encourage such an idle superstition. But notwith- 
standing this belief and practice were abandoned by 
the royal family, yet, with some individuals, a belief 
still prevails that certain persons are endowed with 
healing power. 

In 1807, a farmer in Devonshire, England, who was 
the ninth son of a ninth son, officiated in the cure of 
the king's evil, and multitudes believed that they 
received healing from his touch. In this country, a 
seventh son of a seventh son has officiated in similar 
cases, and performed incredible cures, as we are told 
by those who think they have received signal blessings 
through his instrumentality. 

Not many years since, the cold hands of a convict, 
who had terminated his life on the gallows, in Liver- 
pool, were drawn over several wens a number of times 
to effect a cure. A person in one of our western 
states ran a pitchfork into his hand, and he applied a 
plaster to the cold iron as well as to the fresh wound. 
When people run a nail into their foot, they frequently 
save and polish the rusty iron to facilitate the recovery 
Some time since, in the State of Maine, the body of a 
female was taken from the grave, her heart taken out, 
dried, and pulverized, and given to another member of 
the family, as a specific against the consumption. 
And the same thing has more recently been done in 
the town of Waltham, Massachusetts. The heart was 
reduced to a powder, and made into pills, but they 
did not cure the patient ; while the person who took 
up the remains from the grave, and removed the heart, 
came very near losing his life, from the putre "active 
state of the corpse at the time. 


We could relate many other cases, equally foolish 
and disgusting. All such things should be classed 
under the general name of charms, and be looked upon 
as relics of the grossest superstitions. Why not as 
well have the touch of a slave as a king ? Why not 
as v^eW apply your .plaster to a tree as to a pitchfork ? 
Why not as well drink the heart of a lamb as a woman ? 
You may say that God has determined certain cures 
shall follow certain applications. No such determina- 
tion is published in his word, and no such conclusions 
can be inferred from facts. You may pretend that a 
special miracle is wrought in such cases. But this 
is incredible; for the object is not compatible with 
the miraculous interposition of Deity. And the few 
cures which are reputed to have taken place can bp 
satisfactorily accounted for, on the influence of the 
imagination, and other natural causes. So that such 
a belief is not only superstitious, but calculated to 
lead people to neglect the proper means of recovery, and 
thus injure themselves and the medical profession. 

In the years 1808, '9, and '10, a Mr. Austin of 
Colchester, Vermont, gave out that he was a gifted 
person in the art of healing ; and if the patient would 
describe to him, by word of mouth, or by letter, the 
true symptoms of his malady, he would receive heal- 
ing at his word, if indeed his disease was curable. 
In a very little time the obscure retreat of Austin was 
thronged with invalids, coming from almost every 
section of the country; and Colchester was scarcely 
less in favor than Ballston or Saratoga. The mail 
carriers groaned under the burden of ma.adies de- 
scribed. Bar roomb at public inns, on roads leading to 
Colchester, were decorated with letters directed to 


the " Prophet of Colchester ; " an: vagrants were 
found travelling over the country, collecting of in- 
valids their evil symptoms, to be truly and faith- 
fully delivered to the prophet in a given time, at 
the moderate price of fifty cents per letter. We 
were soon referred to cases wherein the most invet- 
erate deafness was removed ; the blind saw ; drop- 
sies and consumptions, in the last stages of them, 
were cured ; and the patient, it is said, in many in- 
stances, would tell the day and the hour when their 
letters were received by the prophet, although they 
might be some hundred miles distant from the de- 
liverer, because, at such an hour, they began to mend. 
The prophet, however, did not long enjoy his far-famed 
celebrity. His house, after a while, was deserted of 
invalids. The people discovered their folly, and per- 
mitted him to sink into his former merited obscurity. 
It was just the same with the celebrated rain-water 
doctor, as he was called, who established himself at 
onetime in Providence, and at another time in the 
vicinity of Boston. Many of those now living can 
recollect the accounts of marvellous cures, and the 
flocking of invalids of all descriptions to his temple of 
health. But the community at length discovered the 
imposition of his practice, and left him to the undis- 
turbed enjoyment of his rain water and his gruel. 

The most recent case of medical imposition pactised 
upon the public, that has come to our knowledge, is 
that of a practitioner in New York city, who, by 
receiving a letter from sick or diseased persons, giving 
the year, day, and hour of their birth, immediately for- 
wards them a package of medicine suited to their case. 
It seems to be a matter of astonishment to many how 


he arrives at a knowledge of their state of health, so 
as to be able to adapt his remedies to their several 
conditions. But it is probably done on the principles 
of astrology — by finding the planet under which the 
patient is born, the diseases appertaining to that planet, 
and the plants belonging to the same, which are sup- 
posed to have a special effect upon the relative 
planetary diseases. Culpepper, in his English Herbal, 
if we mistake not, arranges or classifies all plants and 
diseases in this way, and contends that astrology is 
the only true key to medical science. Fortune telling 
is practised upon a similar plan, through the agency 
of astrology. But the whole is a deception, entirely 
unworthy the age in which we live. The fortune 
teller may hit upon an incident which is correct, once 
in a while, and it would be strange if he did not. 
And the astrological physician may prescribe some 
little tonic, or stimulant, that will raise the drooping 
spirits for a time, and actually lead the hopeful patient 
to believe that he or she is fast recovering from their 
long-afflictive maladies. But the sequel too often 
teaches them the lesson of their sad mistake. 

The history of Valentine Greataks, the son of an 
Irish gentleman, who lived in the time of Cromwell, 
is very similar to what we have related of the prophet 
of Colchester. And about the same time, Francisco 
Bagnone, a Capuchin friar, was famous in Italy, 
having a gift of healing, principally by his hands 
only. Multitudes of sick people attended him wher- 
ever he went, to obtain healing mercy. And here, 
perhaps, we may find the true principle on which all 
the impositions of Popery have been maintained for 
centuries gone by. It cannot be a matter of surprise 


that, if men, of more information than they, can be 
made to believe that they are delivered from disease 
by experiments of magnetism, tractors, or the mere 
touch of the hand, these should believe that they are 
healed by visiting the tombs of saints; by standing 
before their statues ; being touched by nails from 
tfieir coffins, rings from their fingers, or by the bones 
of the fingers themselves. 

We are by no means authorized to say that none 
of these persons were relieved of pains and diseases 
by seeking relief in this way. So great is the influ- 
ence of the imagination on the nervous, vascular, and 
muscular systems, as has already been shown, that it 
would be no more than probable that obstructions, 
causing pain and sickness, should in some instances 
be removed, and lay a foundation for recovery. And, 
moreover, that in a still greater nnmber of instances 
the power of the imagination on the origin of the 
nerves within the brain should counteract the motion 
to the brain by disease acting upon the extremities 
of the nerves ; and thus the patient for a season 
might experience relief from pain, and even feel pleas- 
ure, as was the case with an artist upon the Pont 
Royal, mentioned by Dr. Sigault, and in the gambols 
of the rheumatic patient, as mentioned by Dr. Hay- 
garth. But in all these cases, experiment and illus- 
tration, like those of the commissioners at Paris, 
and like that of Dr. Haygarth in England, would dis- 
close the real ground of these effects. The patients 
would no longer attribute them to a supernatural in- 
fluence. They would learn why, in most cases, the 
relief supposed to be obtained was only momentary, 
and why all those gifted persons, both in Europe and 


America, have had in more than an ephemeral celeb- 
rity, and, in most instances, lived ■•'o see themselves 
neglected, and their pretensions become the subjects 
of just satire and reproof. 

5. Popular superstitions have greatly injured the 
cause of religion. That superstition which allows 
any substitute for personal holiness is very pernicious. 
The Pharisees considered themselves holy, because 
they were the descendants of faithful Abraham. 
They fasted twice a week ; paid tithes of all they 
possessed ; made long prayers in public places ; and 
were strict observers of aU sacred days and religious 
ceremonies. At the same time, they neglected the 
weightier matters of the law — justice, mercy, faith- 
fulness ; devoured widows' houses ; were proud, bigot- 
ed, and self-righteous. 

Some people think they lived only in the times of 
the apostles. " But we should recollect," says the 
E,ev. George Whitefield, " that vipers and toads have 
the most eggs, and most numerous progeny. If you 
were to look at the eggs of a toad through a micro- 
scope, you would be surprised at the innumerable mul- 
titude ; and the Pharisees are an increasing genera- 
tion of vipers, which hatch and spread all over the 
world. If you would know a Pharisee, he is one 
who pretends to endeavor, and talks about keeping 
the law of God, and does not know its spirituality. 
'There are some of them very great men, in their own 
estimation, and frequently make the greatest figure in 
the church. One of them, a gentleman's son, be- 
cause he had not broken the letter of the law, thought 
he was right and without siij. " O," says he, " if I 
have nothing to do but to keeo the commandmentsj I 


am safe. I have honored my father and mother; I 
never stole ; what need he to steal who has so good 
an estate ? I never committed adultery." No, no ! he 
loved his character too well for that : but our Lord 
opens to him the law — This one thing' thou lackest ; go, 
sell all thou hast, and give to the poor : he loved his 
money more than his God ; Christ brought him back 
to the first commandment, though he catechized him 
first in the fifth. So Paul was a Pharisee. He says, 
' I was alive without the law, once ; I was, touching the 
law, blameless." How can that be? Can a man 
be without the law, and yet, touching the law, be 
blameless ? Says- he, "I was without the law ; that 
is, I was not brought to see its spirituality. I thought 
myself a very good man." No man could say of 
Paul, Black is his eye. "But," says he, "when God 
brought the commandment with power upon my soul, 
then I saw my specks, and beheld my lack of true 

Some Roman Catholics perform tedious pilgrim- 
ages ; lacerate their own bodies ; abstain from meats 
on certain days ; and some have paid the pope or 
priests for the pardon of their sins, or purchased in- 
dulgences for the commission of wickedness. Some 
Protestants, too, attend punctually upon all religious 
meetings, subscribe liberally to the charities of the 
day, observe all gospel ordinances, and profess great 
attachment to the cause of Christ ; and yet are fret- 
ful, unkind, and disobliging in their families ; censori- 
ous in their conversation ; uncharitable in their judg- 
rient ; grasping in their dealings, and unhappy in 
their dispositions. Some have thought that, because 
Christ died for the sins of the whole world they 


could commit sin with impunity ; or, if they were 
elected, they could do what they pleased, and be sure of 
heaven at last. But all these things have no founda- 
tion in reason, experience, or revelation, and may 
therefore be considered superstitious. A belief in 
them is exceedingly injurious to the cause of piety 
and holiness, because it leads to the neglect of the one 
thing needful — a uniformly sober, righteous, and god- 
ly life. God will certainly render unto every man 
according to his deeds. Be he Pharisee or Sadducee, 
Catholic or Protestant, elect or non-elect, he can es- 
cape the punishment of no sin but by repentance and 
reformation. And no sin is ever removed, no virtue 
is ever given, by miracle. Our iniquities must be for 
saken, and our goodness acquired, by our own exer- 
tions, aided by the promised influence of the Holy 
Spirit. And, until we have accomplished these ends, 
we cannot rationally expect pure and permanent 

There have been opinions respecting the devil, tinc- 
tured somewhat with superstition, that have contrib- 
uted to bring reproach upon the Scriptures, which 
were supposed to teach the existence of just such a 
being as many believed him to be. Martin Luther, 
in speaking of his confinement in the castle of Wart- 
burg, says, " The people brought me, among other 
things, some hazel nuts, which I put into a box, and 
sometimes I used to crack and eat of them. In the 
night time, my gentleman, the devil, came and got 
the nuts out of the box, and cracked them against 
one of the bed posts, making a very great noise and 
rumbling about my bed ; but I regarded him nothing 
at all : when afterwards I began to slumber, then he 


kei)t such a racket and rumbling upon the chamber 
stairs, as if many empty barrels and hogsheads had 
been tumbling down." 

Dr. Cotton Mather, in the time of New England 
witchcraft, took home one of the possessed damsels, to 
learn the ways and works of Satan. When the doc- 
tor called the family to prayers, she would whistle, 
and sing, and yell, to drown his voice, would strike 
at him with her fist, and try to kick him. But her 
hand or foot would always recoil when within an 
inch or two of his body ; thus giving the idea that 
there was a sort of invisible coat of mail, of heaven- 
ly temper, and proof against the assaults of the devil, 
around his sacred person. She seemed to be greatly 
displeased at the thought of his making public the 
doings of her master, the evil one ; and when he at- 
tempted to write a sermon against him, she would 
disturb and interrupt him all manner of ways. For 
instance, she once knocked at his study door, and said 
that there was somebody down stairs that would be 
glad to see him ; he dropped his pen, and went down : 
upon entering the room he found no one there but his 
own family. He afterwards undertook to chide her 
for having told a falsehood. She denied that she told 
a falsehood. " Did not you say that there was some- 
body down stairs that would be glad to see me ? " 
" Well," she replied, with great pertness, " is not 
Mrs. Mather always glad to see you ? " She even 
went much further than this in persecuting the good 
man while he was writing his sermon : she threw 
large books at his head. But he struggled manfully 
at these buffetings of Satan, as he considered them to 
be, finished the sermon, related all these and other 


kindred circumstances in it, preached and published 
it. Richard Baxter wrote the preface to an edition 
printed in London, in which he declares that " he who 
will not be convinced, by the evidence Dr. Mather pre- 
sents, that the child was bewitched, must be a very 
obdurate Sadducee." 

A few years since, a house in Maine was said to be 
haunted. The buUding and furniture were shaken, 
dreadful noises were heard, dismal sights were . seen, 
and heavy blows were received. The occupant of the 
house had lately left a Calvinistic theological semina- 
ry. He afterwards became a settled Universalist 
preacher. " A neighboring family informed me," says 
the late Bernard Whitman, " that he now considered 
it the Spirit of God, haunting him to forsake Calvin- 
ism, and proclaim universal salvation." His explana- 
tion, though satisfactory to himself, may not be 
equally so to our readers. 

The devil should never be made a packhorse for 
our sins, nor should our thoughts be turned from 
within, causing us to neglect a watch upon our own 
lusts and passions, in looking for the assaults of some 
outward tempter. The effect sometimes produced 
upon the minds of children has a very unfavorable in- 
fluence. A pious mother, not finding it convenient to 
attend her little son to rest, told him to omit his pray- 
ers for one night. " Mother," said the child, " will 
the devil forgive me if I neglect my prayers ? " 

" What shall we say," says the late Professor 
Stuart, " of the excessive use that has been made of 
the passages that speak of his influence and domin- 
ion ? Because, in reference to the wide-spread influ- 
ence of Satan, he is 3alled the ' prince of this world,' 


and even the ' god of this world,' are we literally to 
interpret passages of this nature, and thus in a clan- 
destine manner introduce effectually the old dualism 
of ZoFDaster and the Persians ? This, indeed, has of- 
ten, very often, been substantially done ; (ione, I ac- 
knowledge, for the most part without any direct in- 
tention of such a nature. Still there is an impres- 
sion, wide spread among the lower classes of people, 
even in our own country, that Satan is a kind of om- 
nipotent being ; and he is often represented as the 
successful, or rather the invincible, rival of the great 

" Yet the New Testament is full enough of instruc- 
tion relative to this subject to correct any erroneous 
views in relation to it, if it be duly examined. 1 
need only appeal to the large class of passages which 
represent Satan as a conquered enemy ; as ' falling 
like lightning from heaven ; ' as being reduced to a 
state of impotence in respect to that deadly power 
which he exercises, (Heb. ii. 14;) and all the evil 
principalities, and powers, and magistrates (1 Cor. xv. 
24, Eph. vi. 12, Col. ii. 15) as being subdued, or to 
be subdued and utterly discomfited, by Christ ; for 
the prince of this world is cast out,' (John xii. 31 ;) 
' the Son of God was manifested that he might de- 
stroy the works of the devil,' (1 John iii. 8 ;) and 
Christians are every where spoken of as being liber- 
ated from his dominion and power, (1 John v. 18—44.) 
When the apostle, therefore, calls Satan ' the god of 
this world,' and the Savior calls him ' the prince of 
this world,' it is the world of the wicked which is 
meant ; for such is the usual idiom of the Scriptures. 
And as to the power of Satan over the wicked, it is 


eveiy where presented in the New Testament aa 
something that will wholly cease after a time, and the 
reign of the Princ 3 of Peace become universal. 

" How deeply these considerations intrench upon the 
long-practised methods of exhibiting Satan as om- 
nipotent and omnipresent every thinking mind Avill 
easily perceive. Especially has the Romish church 
erred here beyond all bounds of reason or modera- 
tion. According to the doctrines which they sedu- 
lously inculcate, Satan has not only irresistible power 
over the world of the wicked, but, next to such a 
power, even over Christians. Nothing but exorcisms, 
and holy chrisms, and lustrations with holy water, 
and incantations, and the like, can keep off evil 
spirits, or disarm them of their fatal power. And as 
the consumma^tion and chief end of all the doctrine, 
nothing short of the interposition of the priesthood 
can secure any one against destruction, either in this 
world or the next — an interposition, however, which is 
not freely given, as the Savior commanded the disci- 
ples to impart the blessings of the gospel, but to be 
purchased at whatever price the church may fix upon 
it." — Bibliotheca Sacra, February, 1843. 

Language sometimes used in times of excitement 
is prejudicial to the cause of religion. It is some- 
times said that the Almighty is visiting such a town ; 
that he is coming this way ; that he has taken up his 
abode in a certain village ; that he \^ill remain but a 
few days ; that he has been driven away by unbe- 
lievers, and that he cannot be expected again for 
some months or years. Now, it should be remem- 
oered that God is every where present, and that his 
spirit is ? Iways striving within the soul ; and its voice 


is drowned only by the strife and tumult of our own 
discordant passions. The Spirit is ever ready to as- 
sist us, whenever we resolve to use our own efforts in 
hearty cooperation. And if revivals of religion seem 
to be of a periodical nature, it is because our own 
zeal or engagedness is too fitful. The church can en- 
joy a constant season of refreshing from the presence 
of the Lord, only let its members be ever active, ever 
diligent, ever devoted and persevering. God works 
not by miracle, but through the agency of common 
means or efforts. We must not, therefore, defer at- 
tention to the duties of religion, in expectation of 
some special interposition of Heaven. We should re- 
member that a sober, righteous, and godly life is the 
best evidence of true conversion; and that we are 
called upon to work out our own salvation with fear 
and trembling, God himself having vouchsafed to 
work within us both to will and to do of his good 



Seeing the evils of popular superstitions, what 
c Durse shall we adopt for their banishment ? Or, in 
other words, how shall we best lend a helping hand 
to hasten the downfall of ignorance, error, and sin ? 

1. We must deliver ourselves from their domination ; 
for we are all more or less under their influence. When 


any of the common signs of good or evil fortune 
appear before us, our thoughts involuntarily recur to 
the thing supposed to be signified. Sometimes a 
momentary shudder is communicated to the whole 
system ; unpleasant sensations are often excited ; and 
frequently a depression of spirits is produced. And 
how can we free ourselves from this thraldom? By 
the exercise of our reason. A proper use of our reason- 
ing faculties will enable us to accomplish this under- 
taking. We must endeavor to convince ourselves 
that all these things are the offspring of ignorance ; 
that they have no foundation in reason, philosophy, 
or religion ; and that they are exceedingly pernicious 
in their consequences. "When fully persuaded of these 
truths, we must strive to make our feelings coincide 
with the dictates of our understandings. And this we 
can effect by persevering self-discipline. Such exer- 
tions, with the blessing of Heaven, will eventually 
deliver us from the inconvenience, vexation, and sla- 
very of popular superstitions. And as such a consum- 
mation is most ardently to be desired, we must enter 
upon the duty with a zeal and earnestness commen- 
surate with its importance. 

2. We must also assist our fellow-men in the per- 
formance of this great and good work. When we 
meet with those who believe in ghosts, in signs, en- 
chantments, and divination, we must try to persuade 
them that no dependence whatever can be placed on 
any of these vanities — that they are all fictions, ab- 
surdities, and abominations. And perhaps, in some 
cases, if we cannot produce conviction by sober sense 
and sound argument, we may be justified in resorting 
to ridiculo 


It is a lamentable consideration that so much tirnf* 
should be criminally wasted in many families in ex 
plaining tricks, relating and expounding dreams, tell- 
ing fortunes, and in detailing stories of haunted houses, 
hobgoblins, and spirits of the supposed uneasy dead. 
In this way, the evil is cherished, and transmitted from 
generation to generation. But if we can succeed in 
giving an opposite direction to conversation; if we 
can induce people to reason upon these things, and 
inquire into their origin, causes, and effects, and inves- 
tigate the evidence on which they are imagined to 
rest, and adopt rational conclusions, we shall be use- 
fully employed. A course like this would eventually 
lead to the banishment of popular superstitions, with 
their baneful effects upon our peace and happiness: 
especially if we labor to impress upon the minima of 
others the existence of an all-wise Providence, that 
controls and governs all things for the highest good of 
all, calling upon us to place our trust in Him, with- 
out whose notice not even a sparrow falleth to the 

3. We must likewise attend to the early education 
of our children. It is during infancy and childhood 
that our heads are filled with " nursery tales " and 
marvellous stories. They are told us by those to 
whose care we are early intrusted, either to frighten 
us into obedience, to gratify our thirst for the new 
and wonderful, or to while away a tedious evening. 
They sink into our confiding hearts, and leave impres- 
sions the most pernicious and the most lasting. Could 
a child be educated without any knowledge of such 
things, he world never be troubled with their baneful 


influence. Our duty is therefore plain. In taking 
the principal care of our children at home, we should 
not permit them to learn any such things from our 
own lips ; and we should evince, too, by our daily con- 
duct, that they exert no influence on our own feelings, 
character, or happiness. In intrusting our offspring 
in early life to the care of other persons, we must 
charge them, as faithful guardians of the young, to 
conceal every thing of the kind from their knowledge. 
And after our children become of sufficient age to 
associate with others, we must caution them to avoid 
believing or relating any superstitious tales as they 
would shun known falsehoods. By persevering in this 
course, we shall save them from the degrading influ- 
ence of popular superstitions. 

4. We must, moreover, endeavor to increase the 
means of public education. We generally find that 
the most enlightened are the most free from supersti- 
tion ; and it therefore follows that a high degree of 
mental cultivation will effect a general deliverance. 
And how shall this great object be accomplished? 
We must reason with them upon the immense value 
and importance of knowledge. We must show them, 
by an appeal to facts, that all our civil, social, domes 
tic, and religious blessings depend on the intelligence 
and virtue of the people. But perhaps many wiU 
complain of the scarcity of money and the want of 
means. If so, we must also show them, by an appeal 
to incontrovertible facts, that more money is annually 
wasted, in all our towns, in extravagant living, dress, 
furniture, and equipage ; squandered in shows, amuse 
nients, balls, and parties ; i i gaming, dissipation, public 


parades, and intoxicating liquors, than is expended 
for the instruction of the rising generation. No, there 
is not a lack of funds. Where there is a will there is 
also a way. The value and importance of the subject 
is not generally understood ; or, if understood, is not 
properly appreciated. Almost every thing else seems 
of more consequence than learning and wisdom. Yet 
this will never answer. The world is growing wiser. 
Those who will not employ the requisite means must 
rest contented with comparative ignorance. Let us 
not be of this unworthy number. If we feel the im- 
portance of the change in these respects, let us perse- 
vere in our laudable exertions, leaving no objections 
unanswered, no measures untried, until we succeed 
in giving our children a high degree of education. 
And if the Father of spirits shall see fit to prolong 
our lives to witness the results, we shall look upon 
the almost universal banishment of popular super- 

5. Finally, we must labor for the diffusion of pure 
and undefiled religion, adhering alone to the teachings 
of Jesus. We shall then believe in one perfect, all- 
pervading Spirit, who regulates all the events of this 
world which are above our control, and that all his 
various dispensations originate in perfect wisdom and 
goodness. We shall believe that we have no worse 
enemies than our own sinful lusts and passions, and 
that power is given us through faith to conquer these, 
even in this state of existence. We shall believe that 
it is as much our duty to be always happy as it is to 
be always honest and virtuous. We shall have the 
assurance that our heavenly Father has commissioned 


no fate nor chance, spectres nor devils, to tormer t us. 
And if we live up to this belief, we shall secure a ' irge 
share of temporal enjoyment, and be prepared fc the 
increased and increasing felicity of the spiritual \\ "rid. 
If we produce this state of faith and practice in >ur- 
selves and in those around us, we shall have one 
much for the banishment of popular superstitions f « 
the downfall of ignorance, error, and sin. 




Four gentlemen in Springfield, not long since, 
publicly attested to a " miracle," performed, as they 
believed, by spirits, at a "circle" where they were 
present. It consisted in moving a table, and a num- 
ber of chairs in the room, and in shocks, resembling 
distant thunder, or cannon at a distance, causing the 
persons and the chairs and tables to tremble in such 
a manner that the effects were both seen and felt, the 
room being well lighted at the time, and an opportu- 
nity afforded for the closest inspection, so that the 
company unitedly declare that they know they were not 
imposed upon nor deceived. 

Now, there is nothing very remarkable in this affair, 
for all might have been done by the medium himself, 
by first pathetizing the persons present, as it might 
be done without their knowledge, and while in that 
state could be made to see and hear any thing ima- 
gined by the operator. We are assured, by one who 
knows, that it is impossible for those who are fit sub- 
jects to be present at a circle without being more or 
less under the mesmeric influence. And, in such 
cases, they can be willed to remember or forget what 
they have seen or heard. We do not consider such 
persons as competent witnesses in such a case as they 
have testified to. It may all have been induced^ or 


it may all have been real. And if real, there was no 
need to refer it to the agency of spirits, since such 
things have been done without spirits, as in the case 
of Joe Collins, or others which we shall refer to, in 
this part of our volume. But here we may be told, 
that a thousand dollars has been offered to any one 
who will prove that such things are produced by any 
other power than that of spirits. But the same sum 
has been offered to any one who will prove that spirits 
move tables, chairs, and the like, or that spirits pro- 
duce the noises and other manifestations ascribed to 

We have heard the case of a person who went to a 
medium and wished to know if he could be put in 
communication with his father, who had died several 
years before. He was answered in the affirmative. 
But the inquirer desired, as proof that it ^voald actually 
be the spirit of his father that would be introduced to 
him, that a pencil and paper should be laid upon a 
table, and that the spirit of the father should come 
and write his own name upon the paper, the son feel- 
ing assured that, if this were done, he should at once 
recognize both the name and the writing. Accord- 
ingly, the spirit in question came, and did as was 
desired, and the son declared it to be the real name 
and handwriting of his father. Now, the philosophy 
of the case is this : The inquirer was first pathetized, 
although ignorant of the fact at the time — a thing very 
common, though not generally understood. Thus the 
medium became acquainted with the name of the 
father as it existed in the mind of the son ; but did 
the pencil actually write the name upon the paper ? 
No. It was only made to appear so to the mind of the 


inquirer. As to the handwriting, the inquirer's mind 
was directed to a piece of paper, and to look at the 
WTiting. Of course, he saw his father's name, and 
the handwriting, for he could see nothing else for the 
time being, his mind being impressed with that one 
idea or object, and closed to every thing else. It was 
in fact, to him, his father's name and chirography, and 
no one's else. It could not be otherwise while his 
mind was under the control of the operator. 

We have been told of a lady, who, in a magnetized 
state, sits at a table and writes down information that 
is imparted to her, as is said, from the world of spirits. 
Her hand and pen glide- over the paper with astonish- 
ing speed and velocity, far more rapid than the most 
expert penman in a normal state. And what aston- 
ishes many is, that she cannot stop writing when she 
wishes to, and sometimes becomes so exceedingly 
fatigued as to beg of the spirit or spirits to grant her a 
little repose from the wearisome task. But the whole 
matter is easily accounted for, without referring it to 
the supposed agency of spirits. The lady's arm is 
first paralyzed — deprived of motion by the will of the 
medium or operator, so that her own mind or will has 
not the least control over it. She thus becomes a 
mere machine, under the will and control of another, 
whose will directs the movements of the arm and pen, 
and dictates what is written in answer to inquiries 
made of things appertaining to the spirit world, just as 
Miss Martineau declares, in her letters on magnetism, 
that " the volitions of the mesmerist may actuate the 
movements of the patient's limbs, and suggest the 
material of his ideas." Many singular effects are pro- 
duced upon the minds and feelings of subjects in a 


sleep-waking state, by Professor Williams, Dr. Cutter, 
and others, such as being made drunk with water, eat- 
ing cayenne as sugar, exercising complete control over 
their mental as well as physical condition. 

We have been assui'ed by a pathetist, who is a 
thorough adept in the profession, that he can and often 
has put persons in communication apparently with a 
deceased father, mother, brother, sister, or friend. The 
individual is first pathetized (another name for mes- 
merism) by him in a wakeful state, though uncon- 
scious, it may be, that he is under such an influence. 
His- mind being in the possession and under the con- 
trol of the operator, a person is now either actually or 
mentally (for it makes no difference) presented before 
him, and he is told of the fact, and asked. Do you not 
see your father ? The idea of father is so presented 
to the mind, through the organ of form, that the organ 
can take cognizance of none other than the father. 
The person, if an actual person is employed for the 
occasion, is then shifted or changed for another per- 
son ; yet the subject perceives no difference, even if 
changed successively for a dozen others ; it is. all 
the same ; it is father, and no one else, through the 
whole exhibition. The father speaks, the son recog- 
nizes his voice, and they converse together. The sub- 
ject can be willed to hear any sound, as that of music, 
artillery, thunder, and the like, though no sounds what- 
ever are in reality made. A niece of ours was op- 
erated on in this way, and she was told to look abroad 
and behold the majestic waves of the ocean, the 
pageantry of a military procession ; and she saw and 
was delighted with the scenes that were willed to pass 
before her. Apples were oranges to her, and she 


sucked their juice with a delightful zest. An apple 
paring held before her was a beautiful bird, then a 
squirrel, a rabbit, ©r whatever the operator willed it to 
become. The mind of the operator and the subject, 
in such cases, become as one, and they then hear, see, 
taste, and feel the same thing at the same moment. 
Miss Martineau says that, while in a mesmeric state, 
she saw " things out of other worlds — not the things 
themselves, but impressions of them." " They come," 
says she, " from my brain. The influence does not 
separate soul and body, but it sets the body at rest, 
while it exalts and elevates the thinking powers." 

" A striking incident," says Miss M., " occurred in 
one of my earliest walks after recovery from a pro- 
tracted illness. My mesmerist and I had reached a 
headland nearly half a mile from home, and were rest- 
ing there, when she proposed to mesmerize me a little 
— partly to refresh me for our return, and partly to 
see if any effect would be produced in a new place, 
and while a fresh breeze was blowing. She merely 
laid her hand upon my forehead, and in a minute or 
two the usual appearances came, assuming a strange 
air of novelty from the scene in which I was. After 
the blurring of the outlines, which made all objects 
more dim than the dull gray day had already made 
them, the phosphoric lights appeared, glorifying every 
rock and headland, the horizon, and all the vessels in 
sight. One of the dirtiest and meanest of the steam 
tugs in the port was passing at the time, and it was 
all dressed in heavenly radiance — the last object that 
my imagination woLild select as an element of a vision. 
Then, and often before and since, did it occur to me, 
that if I had been a pious and very ignorant Catholic, 


I could not have escaped the persuasion that I had seen 
heavenly visions. Every glorified object before my 
eyes would have been a revelation ; and my mesmer- 
ist, with the white halo around her head, and the illu- 
mined profile, would have been a saint or an angel." 

We know not whether, in this instance, the mes- 
merist willed her subject to behold things as she did, 
yet as to the general truth that the will of the operator 
can produce in the subject mesmerized those states of 
mind and body which he ivills him or her to experience^ 
there is abundant evidence. O. S. Fowler, editor of 
the Phrenological Journal, says he " can bear ample 
testimony to the fact, as he has seen, experienced, ami 
induced similar states by the thousand." And many 
others testify to the same effect. 

Persons can be made to travel to other countries, 
and even to other spheres, and come back and tell 
w hat they have seen. And as persons vary in the 
talent of description and observation, in the normal 
stale, so do they vary in a semi-abnormal condition. 
Some are found to be better travellers, and will see 
more than others, and in spiritual things will differ in 
their descriptions as they differ in religious creeds and 
sentiments. Thus a Swedenborg, or a Fishbough, 
sees a hell in the future state, where sinners suffer the 
penalty of their earthly sins ; while an Ambler, or a 
Davis, discovers that all men are alike joyful and hap- 
py. Mr. Davis has seen fit to caution the public not 
to believe too quickly or too fully the things excitable 
persons relate ; " because some minds are naturally 
inclined to exaggerate or enlarge upon every thing 
which they may feel, see, or hear." The state alluded 
to is merely induced. It is not real. 


Persons are frequently made to do what they be- 
lieve is done by others, as in the case of a son of Dr. 
Phelps, of Stratford, Connecticut. The boy, on one 
occasion, was found (with a rope passed under his 
arms) suspended to the limb of a tree, having been 
taken, as was supposed, from his bed in the evening 
by spirits, and thus treated by them. The boy de- 
clared that when it was done, he " screamed at the 
top of his voice ; " but it was ascertained that he 
made no noise at all, for if he had, the domestics, 
who were in the kitchen when he passed through it, 
must have heard him, which they did not. We have 
the testimony of A. J. Davis, himself, that the boy 
" really supposed that he had called aloud ; and so 
far from having been tied to the tree bi/ spirits, he had 
been made unconsciously instrumental in tyin<j: himself 
to the tree ! " " I have heard," says Mr. Davis, " in- 
stances of mischief cited, as occurring in Dr. Phelps's 
house, in evidence of satanic agency, which I now 
discover to have been caused or accomplished by one 
of the children in sport, sometimes by electrical dis- 
charges and magnetic attractions, and sometimes by 
the almost unpardonable mischievousness of persons 
unknown to the family. The wanton destruction of 
property alleged to have taken place on this gentle- 
man's premises is referable, in most cases, to emana- 
tions of vital electricity, seeking its equilibrium in the 
atmosphere. In this manner window panes were 
broken and furniture injured. In Woodbridge, New 
York, some few years ago, a young lady was affected 
with a disease which gave rise to similar phenomena. 
Mysterious sounds were heard in her presence ; window 
panes were frequently broken in her vicinity; and, 


in like manner, door panels were burst out, some- 
times falling towards her, sometimes from her, and 
quick, concussive, and very loud sounds were heard 
under her feet as she ascended a flight of stairs. Ul- 
timately, the mysterious phenomena frightened her 
into an illness which cured the malady." 

" People cannot be too cautious how they receive 
the doings of those who profess to be in connection 
with spirits of the other spheres ; and to those who 
wish to inquire into the matter, we would say. Go and 
hear, but try to keep your wits about you, and not 
swallow bodily either the preachers or their strange 
affirmations." • — Horace Greely. 

" Under an impression that whatever is communi- 
cated by a spirit must, of course, be true, many per- 
sons are receiving these communications as the truth 
of God — as a new revelation from the spirit world. 
But if these communications are from spirits, we 
have no proof that they are good spirits. The pre- 
sumption is, that they are bad spirits — lying spirits. 
At my house they often accused each other of lying 
— contradicted at one time what they affirmed at an- 
other; inflicted injury upon property in the most 
wanton manner ; and have given conclusive evidence 
throughout that the discipline of hell, which they pro- 
fess to have experienced for several years, has not 
been wholly effectual in improving their characters, 
and qualifying them for the ' higher spheres ' for 
which many suppose that the discipline after death 
is a preparation." — Dr. Phelps. 

" Many of the doings of the rapping spirits are too 
nonsensical and absurd to be believed. They spoil 
all our notions of the dignity, the spirituality^ of the 


spiritual world. That a messenger should come from 
the spirit land to tell an old woman that her black 
cat did eat another old woman's white rabbit, is not 
in accordance with the ideas most people have of the 
doings and missions of beings in the enjoyment of an 
immortal state." — Puritan Recorder. 


We have been informed, by a certain mesmerizer, 
that a distinguished lecturer upon magnetism fre- 
quently trains persons to enact certain parts in his 
public exhibitions. He first puts them under mes- 
meric influence, and while in that state they are in- 
structed to say certain things, or to perform certain 
acts, which he wishes to exhibit at some subsequent 
lecture. To this they severally agree, and thus a reg- 
ular programme, or series of performances, is made 
out. They are then brought out of the mesmeric 
state, having been previously willed by the operator 
to forget all that has passed while in that state. At 
the next meeting appointed, these persons are pres- 
ent, and are again put into the same state as be- 
fore, when they immediately perceive, and are ready 
to perform, the several parts assigned to them. In 
fact, they are so completely under the will and control 
of the lecturer, that they must do or say what he vnlls 
them to do or say, and they cannot help it, neither can 
they have the least recollection of what has trans- 
pired, after being restored to the normal state. 



Wt were present at a " circle," at the house of a 
medium in East Boston, on the 30th of April, 1852. 
Instead of that decorum and seriousness that might 
be expected while holding intercouse with departed 
spirits, we were surprised at the levity and sport in- 
dulged on the occasion. The spirits were laughed at, 
and scolded, because they made so many blunders in 
spelling out names, and were urged and coaxed to do 
better. A lady, who had buried a friend, was told 
that the name of the deceased was Hannah. But 
she informed the medium that it was a brother she 
had buried, and that she had never lost a sister. But 
the medium said it made no difference, as the spirits 
often gave the name of a sister for a brother, and 
sometimes a cousin for either, as they were all in the 
family connection, and all such dwelt together in the 
Love Circles. 

In spelling out the name of any deceased friend, 
you are presented with a card containing the alpha- 
bet, and are required to commence with the letter A, 
and go through the alphabet some one, two, or three 
times, touching each letter with a pencil as you pass 
over it. On touching some particular letter, a rap is 
given, indicating that it is the first letter of the name 
of your departed friend. And so of the other letters 
comprising the name. The spirits often made mis- 
takes in rapping at the wrong letter, and were re- 
quued to try again till they got the spelling right. 
We were very particular to observe that the spirit 
was sure to rap whenever the inquirer stopped or hes 


itated in passing over any letter. Five or six would 
De eagerly watching the movement of your hand, 
and the least possible hesitation upon any one letter 
was sure to be accompanied with simultaneous raps. 
And as the inquirer was frequently cautioned to pro- 
ceed slow, it was natural enough to hesitate on those 
letters comprising the name as it was spelled in their 
own mind. In this way the alphabet became an 
interpreter to the supposed sph-its. 

We requested that some demonstrations should 
be given in the art of table lifting, but were told that 
the gentleman through whose agency the feat is per- 
formed was not present this evening. We inquired 
if it was necessary that any particular gentleman 
should be present that tables or chairs might be 
raised, and were told it was, and that the gentleman 
in question seemed to carry a large amount of elec- 
tricity in a circle about his person. 

We have been informed by another person, who 
says he has, and often does, raise tables and other 
articles, by request of others, that he does it by control- 
ling the vital electricity of individuals present at the 
time. He says he "s^eaZs" their vital electricity, and 
appropriates it to his own use, although those from 
whom he thus takes it are not conscious of the fact. 
The more persons there are in the room, the larger 
the amount of electricity obtained, and the greater the 
effects produced by it. There is nothing as yet per- 
formed by those alleged to be in connection with 
spirits but what he can successfully imitate, such as 
producing effects upon persons at a distance, imitat- 
ing the handwriting of absent or deceased persons 
unknown to him causing persons to write music, 


poetry, &c., who, in a normal state, are incapable ol 
doing either, as well as many other exploits, at the 
option or desire of those who are present ; inquirers, 
oftentimes, in such cases, becoming the operators, 
transferring their own impressions, ideas, sentiments, 
and knowledge to the acting medium, and yet entirely 
ignorant of the fact, and astonished at the results pro- 
duced. The gentleman referred to discards the agency 
of spirits in these transactions, and declares that the 
whole is done by the power of his own will in using 
and controlling the amount of electricity present at 
the time ; thus proving that the mind or spirit in 
the body has as much power and control over elec- 
tricity as the mind or spirit has out of, or separate 
from, the body. And he is of the opinion that if 
scientific men would investigate the powers of elec- 
tricity, and the laws by which it is controlled, they 
would no more think of attributing the phenomena of 
the times to the agency of spiriU, than to the Pope of 
Rome. Many engaged in producing these phenom- 
ena are themselves ignorant of the power or means 
by which they are produced, and therefore attribute 
them to ^iritual agency, which is, in fact, transferring 
the whole matter to a point beyond human investiga- 
tion, where no mortal being can possibly explore. 

Some seem to think that these modern develop- 
ments must be the work of spirits, because, amid all 
the opposition arraigned against them, they still con- 
tinue to progress, and are becoming more and more 
wonderful every day. Yet the same argument is as 
conclusive and convincing in favor of Mormonism, 
and other foolish and wicked extravagances, as it is in 
••uvor of the alleged spiritual manifestations. But 


while hundreds, and perhaps thousands, are marvelling 
at the strangeness of these developments, we find that 
several who have been engaged in them for months or 
years, and believed them to be emanations from the 
spirit world, now declare their convictions to the con- 
trary, as wiL be seen by the following account from 
the pen of a distinguished writer, Professor Pond, of 


" The feats of the ancient jugglers were many of 
them mere acts of deception. They were known to 
be such by those who performed them. And the same 
is true of many who practise the like things now. 
Their rappings and writings, and other strange per- 
formances, are secretly, artfully got up by themselves. 
I do not say that this is true in all ceases ; but in some 
cases we knoiv it is true ; because the matter has been 
fully investigated, and public confession has been 
made. For example : A young woman, who had been 
instructed by the Rochester rappers, and practised tha 
art with them for a time, afterwards renounced it, and 
exposed the delusion to the world. 'All who saw her 
and heard her,' says my informant, 'were entirely sat- 
isfied of the truth of her statements, and that she had 
revealed the actual method in which the deception 
was effected and tie deluded were blinded. Another 
young woman in Providence, Almira Beazely, who 
was noted for her rappings and revelations, and whi. 
murdered her brother to accomplish one of her own 
predictions, confessed, on her trial, that she made the 


noises herself, and explained the manner in which 
they were produced. She also confessed to the remo- 
val of certain articles in the house which had strange- 
ly disappeared, and which she pretended had been 
taken avmy hy spirits. Drs. Lee and Flint, of Buf- 
falo, assisted by two gentlemen by the name of 
BmT, have very thoroughly investigated the matter, 
and explained the manner in which the mysterious 
noises are made. Mr. Burr has himself made the 
lappings, and made them so loud as to be heard by a 
congregation of fifteen hundred people. 

" These instances are sufficient to prove that the 
spiritual manifestations of our times, like those of 
ancient times, are in many instances a sheer decep- 
tion — a vile trick, palmed off upon a wondering and 
credulous community, for the sake of money, or for 
other sinister and selfish ends. If there is any thing 
more than trick in these spiritual manifestations, — 
and I am inclined to think that, in some instances, 
ther^ may be, — I should refer it, as in case of the 
ancient wizards, to the influence of occult natural 
causes — perhaps electricity, or animal magnetism, or 
something else, operating upon a nervous system of 
peculiar sensibility. I incline to this opinion for sev- 
eral reasons. 

" In the fu'st place, if the noises and other manifesta- 
tions were really the work of spirits, why should they 
not be made through one person, as well as another ? 
"Why should not all mediums be alike ? "Whereas it 
is confessed that only persons of a peculiar nervous 
temperament are capable of becoming mediums. 

"Again: if the disclosui'es which are made are really 
from the spirit world, it might be expected that they 


would, at least, be consistent with themselves. Where- 
as it is well known that they vary endlessly. In 
numerous instances, they are directly self-contradic- 
tory. ' Some of the communications,' says one who 
had been a medium, 'were orthodox; others were 
infidel. Some would acknowledge the truth of the 
Bible ; others would condemn it. Some would be in 
favor of virtue ; others would encourage the grossest 

"Another man, who had been a noted medium, but 
who was beginning to get his eyes opened as to the 
character of the proceedings, told his audience one 
night, ' Now, any one present ask a series of ques- 
tions, and I pledge myself that the answer shall be, 
every time, yes.' Some one in the company asked, 
' Is John Thompson alive ? ' The ans^ver was, ' Yes.' 
' Is John Thompson dead ? ' ' Yes.' ' Does John 
Thompson live in Vermont?' 'Yes.' 'Does he live 
in Massachusetts ? ' ' Yes.' And so the spirits went 
on contradicting themselves times without number. 
After this, a like series of questions were answered in 
the negative, exhibiting the most glaring contradictions, 
just as the operator pleased. 

"But this brings me to another reason for supposing 
that the answers are not from departed spirits, but 
rather from the mind of the operator, or from so7ne other 
mind in communication with his, under the influence of 
an electric or magnetic cause. It is an admitted fact 
tliat these answers coincide very generally with the 
opinions or wishes of the medium, or of some one 
present in consultation with him. I knew a very 
respectable man, who discovered that he was a me- 
dium, and who practised various experiments upon 


himself. Upon being asked what he thought of it, he 
replied, ' If the answers are from the spirits, they must 
be very silly spirits ; for they always answer just as I 
wish to have them.' Another medium informs us 
that he can obtain any answer he pleases, by fixing 
his mind strongly upon it at the time. Now, does 
this look as though the answer came from spirits ? If 
the spirits of the dead spoke, they would be likely to 
speak out independently ; to speak just what they 
thought, and not what those thought with whom they 
were consulting. 

" There is another circumstance to be noted in this 
connection. When the requisite preparation is made, 
there is no need of consulting the spirits at all, in order 
to secure answers. You may consult with the chairs 
or the table just as well. This experiment was tried, 
not long since, at Wilmington, Vermont. A Mr. 
Kellogg was the medium, and he had succeeded in 
consulting the spirits to the satisfaction of all con- 
cerned. At length he remarked that he was about to 
let the company into an important secret. ' We will 
interrogate the table,'' said he, ' and have nothing 
more to do "with spirits.' He did so ; and the table 
talked and ansivered, just as the spirits had done before. 
At the same time the table was made to stand on one 
leg, and to move about, as is usual in such cases. 
This experiment demonstrated, to the satisfaction of 
all present, that the strange appearances could be pro- 
duced just as well without the spirits as with them. 
' The calling for spirits,' to use the language of my 
informant, ' is mere garnish and fog, by which the real 
agency in the case is concealed.' 

" On the point now under consideration, viz., the 


possibly electric character of these manifestations, I 
am happy to introduce the testimony of Dr. Samuel 
Taylor, a respectable physician of Petersham, Massa- 
chusetts, whose article on the subject may be found 
in a late number of the Boston Medical and Surgical 
Journal. Dr. Taylor discovered accidentally that he 
was a medium, and he proceeded to make experiments 
upon himself. The manifestation, in his case, was 
not by rapping, but by writing — a much more conven- 
ient mode of communicating with the spirit world. 
On taking his pen, and holding himself in a peculiar 
attitude, and proposing mentally some question to the 
spirits, his pen would begin to oscillate in his fingers, 
and very soon would write out an answer ; and this 
without any voluntary effort of his own. And what 
is particularly to be noticed is, the pen would always 
write an answer which accorded with his own opinion 
or wishes, that is, if he had any wish on the subject. 
For example : Dr. Taylor inquired of one of the spirits 
about the different forms of religion. ' I asked which 
was the best religion, at the same time fixing my mind 
sternly on the word Protestant. My hand immediately 
wrote Protestant. In the same manner, and by direc- 
tion of the same spirit, my hand wrote successively, 
Methodist, Unitarian, and I believe one or two others. 
"While in this state,' Dr. Taylor says, '■I felt a sensation 
like that of a light galvanic current passing throvgh me. 
Sometimes it appeared to be a steady thrill, and some- 
times it was intermittent, resembling light shocks of 

"After numerous experiments, Dr. Taylor comes to 
the conclusion, that the strange phenomena of which 
he was the subject were not tricks of his own, neither 


did they come from the spirit world, but were the 
result of what he calls detached vitalized electricity. 
When this conclusion had been formed in his own 
mind, it occurred to him that he would put it to the 
test of the spirits themselves. 'Accordingly I asked 
them,' says he, 'if this was the work of departed 
spirits. The answer was, " No." I asked if it was the 
work of the devil. Again the answer was, " No." I 
asked if it was the effect of detached vitalized electri- 
city. The answer was, " Yes." ' So the spirits con- 
firmed the conclusion to which the doctor had come, 
as they did, in fact, all his conclusions. 

" We have the testimony of another medium, of the 
same import with that of Dr. Taylor. Mr. Benjamin 
F. Cooley, who had long been a believer and operator 
in the spiritual rappings, states that his mind is now 
entirely changed. This change was brought about in 
consequence of ' a deep and earnest study of the na- 
ture, power, and application of electricity, and of the 
susceptibility of the mind to electrical or psychologi- 
cal changes.' These things, he says, will produce the 
same mysterious and startling phenomena which have 
been produced throughout the country, and attributed 
to the operations of departed spirits. (Mr. Cooley 
has recently published a work entitled An Exposi- 
tion of Spiritual Manifestations, to which we would 
refer the reader.) 

"A part of what is done by those who claim 1o have 
familiar spirits, may be the result of unknown natural 
causes. This is the most plausible and excusable 
view which can possibly be taken of these practices; 
and yet, even in this view, they are frightfully evil. 
The persons who alone are susceptible to the influence 


of these natural causes are generally those of a dis- 
eased or delicate nervous temperament ; and the effect 
of experimenting upon their nervous system is usually 
to shatter it the more. They become excitable, fan- 
tastic, and often insane. Diseases are engendered, 
both of body and mind, which lead on to the most 
fearful consequences. But a short time ago, the 
papers gave an account of a man in Barre, Massa- 
chusetts, who had been much given to the rappings 
and other spiritual manifestations, who became, in 
consequence, a raving maniac, threatening the life of 
his family, and was committed to the Lunatic Asylum 
at Worcester. Other like instances are occurring fre- 
quently, from the same cause. Almira Beazely, the 
Providence rapper, who murdered her brother in fulfil- 
ment of one of her own predictions, was cleared on 
the ground of her insanity. 

" But this is not the only evil of the practices in ques- 
tion, when viewed as the result of natural causes. For 
the truth is, that, in most cases, they are not so viewed 
by those who engage in them. They regard them as 
the work of spirits. They are, therefore, deceived; 
and those who follow them are deceived. Both sup- 
pose they are receiving utterances from the other 
world, when nothing is uttered but vain fantasies from 
their own minds and hearts. Such a deception is, 
manifestly, a hurtful one. It is full of danger to all 
concerned. To mistake one's own fancies for divin \ 
revelation, and feel conscience-bound to obey them as 
such, is the very essence of fanaticism. It is fanati- 
cism in its most frightful form. Under the influence 
of such an impression, persons may be led to perpe- 
trate the greatest cruelties, and the most horrid crimes, 


and vainly think that they are doing God service. The 
wretched man in Barre was led to attempt the life of 
his family, in obedience to a supposed revelation from 
the spirit world. 

" The practices which have been considered are of 
heathen origin. They originated with the ancient 
heathen ; they were spread over a greater part of the 
heathen world; and they continue to pervade and 
curse it to the present time. Among numerous hea- 
then tribes at the present day, scarcely a calamity 
occurs — a death, a flood, a fit of sickness, or an in- 
stance of death — but some poor creature (and often 
more than one) is accused and put to death, as being 
the cause of it. ' The sick man is bewitched : who 
has bev/itched him ? His death (if he chance to die) 
has been brought about by evil spirits : who has sent 
the spirits upon him ? ' To get an answer to these 
questions, some old hag or conjurer is consulted ; the 
cause of the mischief is quickly discovered, and an inno- 
cent person is put to death. Probably hundreds die 
every year after this manner, among the heathen, even 
in this nineteenth century ! And the case would soon 
be no better among ourselves, if we were to go, exten- 
sively and confidently, into the practice of consulting 
with familiar spirits. The spirits would unravel all 
mysteries for us ; they would reveal all secrets ; and 
not a man, woman, or child would long be safe from 
their malicious accusations. 

" Something more than a year ago, the Lunatic Asy- 
lum in Maine took fire, and a portion of its inmates 
were smothered and consumed. And there are hun- 
dreds of persons now in the state, who affirm that the 
building was set on fire by the keepers, with a view 


to cover up and conceal their own wickedness. 
These persons know it was so ; they have not the 
shadow of a doubt on the subject. Why ? Not 
that they have a particle of evidence to this effect 
from our world, but because the spirits have so in- 
formed them. Now, let these utterances become 
common, and be commonly received, and in three 
months' time those keepers might every one of them 
be dragged to the gallows, or the stake, while they 
were as innocent of the charge laid against them as a 
child unborn. 

" I refer to this instance just to show the sin, the 
evil, the exceeding peril, of indulging in those prac- 
tices which have been exposed. Let all those who 
read these things, then, beware of them and shun 
them. If any of us are capable of becoming me.' 
diums, as they are called, we had better not know it ; or, 
if we know it, we had better refrain from aU experi- 
ments. To tamper with such a power is to tamper 
with an already shattered nervous system, the only 
effect of which will be to shatter it the more. 

" There is nothing more striking than the difference 
between those representations of the future world 
which are made known in the Bible, and which we 
know are true, and those which are put forth by the 
revealers of our own times. The former are solemn, 
exciting, impressive, some of them awfully so, others 
gloriously. While the latter, as Professor Stowe 
says, are ' so uniformly and monotonously silly, that 
we are compelled to think, if these are really the 
spirits of the dead, in dying they must have lost what 
little of common sense they ever possessed. If these 
are actual specimens of the spiritual world, then this 


world, hard and imperfect as it is, is altogether the 
most respectable part of God's creation.' 

" In the Bible, we have frequent accounts of per- 
sons who were raised from the dead — who actually 
returned from the spirit world to this. But they re- 
turned uniformly with sealed lips. In not a single 
instance did they make any disclosures. But our 
modern revealers pursue a very different course. 
They practise no reserve. They go into the minutest 
particulars, — sometimes into the most disgusting de- 
tails, — and publish, as one expresses it, ' a penny mag- 
azine of the spiritual world.' " 

In the language of the Puritan Recorder, " The 
worst of the evil is the soul-hardening familiarity they 
produce with the most awful subjects ever ofiered for 
human contemplation. We know of nothing in hu- 
man experience so fatally destructive of all that rev- 
erence for the spiritual, that awe of the unseen, that 
tender emotion, as well as solemn interest, which con- 
nect themselves with the idea of the other life. Who, 
that has a Christian heart, would not prefer the 
silence of the grave to the thought of the dear de- 
parted one in the midst of such imaginings, and such 
scenic associations as are usually connected with the 
performances of the spirit rappers ? ' They are not 
dead, but sleep.'' ' They enter into peace^ says the 
prophet. And then the precious and consoling addition 
— ' They sleep in Jesus ; ' meaning, beyond all doubt, 
a state of rest, of calmness, of security, of undis- 
turbed and beatific vision — far removed from all re- 
semblance to this bustling life — a state in all re- 
spects the opposite of that which fancy pictures as 
belonging to the scenes presented in the manifesta- 


tioi.s of spiritual rappings, and spiritual table liftings 
and all those spiritual pantomimes, which seem to be 
becoming more and more extravagant and grotesque 
in proportion to the infidel credulity with which they 
are received." 

Should any think, by reading what we have offered 
upon this subject in the preceding pages, that we 
have imputed guilt and deception to mediums, who 
are believed to be, many of them, above such trickery, 
we would merely refer such to page 29 of the Reply 
of Veriphilos Credens to the communications sup- 
posed to have been written by Dr. Enoch Pond, pro- 
fessor in the Bangor Seminary, as published in the 
columns of the Puritan Recorder. The reviewer 
says, " To suppose that mediums could practise de- 
ception on men of shrewdness and caution implies a 
greater credulity than does a faith in the most star- 
tling of their performances." " There is not the 
slightest degree of evidence," says this writer, " that 
such a case has ever occurred ; " and yet on the self- 
same page he says, " There is no doubt that some me- 
diums, when the sounds and motions have failed to come 
in the usual mysterious way, have counterfeited them hy 
some sly motions of their feet and hands. I have seen 
such things done, in some instances I " 

The same author says, page 63, " I have not at- 
tempted to justify any reliance on disclosures made to 
us in the way of rappings. I think it altogether un- 
safe to do so, for the declaration has already come to 
us, from what purports to be the spirits themselves, 
that all these manifestations are of a low order, and 
are produced by the lowest grade of spirits." 


As to the plea that " spirits must make the sounds." 
to account for the intelligence communicated, it being 
impossible for mere " eleotricity to originate facts," 
we reply by affirming that there is no intelligence 
given beyond a certain limit ; i. e., the mind of some, 
one or ones in connection, either present or absent, for 
it makes no difference. For available purposes, a 
person a thousand or ten thousand miles distant may 
yield all the amount of intelligence required in a 
given case. Distance is no obstacle whatever. Elec- 
tricity counts neither time nor space. For instance, 
the transmission of electricity through a conducting 
Bubstance is instantaneous. A wire, or other con- 
ductor, may have motion communicated to its whole 
length at the same moment, whatever that length may 
be ; and it is stated that an electro-magnetic impulse 
may be transmitted at the rate of one hundred and 
eighty thousand miles in a second, thus outstripping 
the sun in its march ! 

A large number of intelligent individuals, who, for 
a year or two past, have instituted a series of experi- 
ments upon this matter of " intelligence," have found 
that in no case has information been imparted be- 
yond what existed in their own minds or that of some 
kindred or friend. Finding this to be the case, they 
have wisely come to the conclusion that spirits have 
never originated a solitary idea ; that is, disembodied 
spirits ; and as to the spirit within a man, in his cor- 
poreal state, why cannot it command as much influ- 
ence over vital electricity as in its disembodied exist- 
ence ? Since both parties claim to perform by the 
same agent, and both claim this agent to be that of 


vital electricity, we have also come to the same con- 
clusion, with a host of others, that the "calling for 
spirits is mere garnish and fog, by which the real 
agency in the case is concealed." 


" A CONSIDERABLE heap of books, pamphlets, ana 
periodicals, some against, but most of them for, the 
' spiritual phenomena,' has been accumulating upon 
our table, and now looms up large before us, demand- 
ing notice. That departed spkits have any thing to 
do with them is an explanation that we have 
never been able to accept for one moment. We 
should as soon think of asserting that an apple, roll- 
ing suddenly at our feet, must necessarily have fallen 
out of heaven, because we could not see the tree it 
had blown from. To bring such an astounding theory 
to explain such trivial phenomena is like sending a 
frigate to pick up a champagne bottle that might be 
floating down the bay. 

" By some of the works before us we are informed, 
among many other things, that in the other world 
every man has his name upon his front door ; that 
Swedenborg is a great man, delivers lectures, and has 
a street named after him ; that in heaven parties, con- 
certs, and converzationes are frequent ; that at some 
of the concerts, star singers of great celebrity perform, 
attracting inconceivable multitudes of spirits to hear 
them ; that children take lessons in French and 
Italian every morning; that the space allotted to 


some of the spirits is as large as New York ; that the 
' seventh sphere ' (the highest heaven) is about five 
thousand miles fi 3m the earth ; that the beds are of 
roses, and when the spirits recline upon them, the 
birds sing joyfully around, and mingle their music 
with the perfume of the flowers ; that the celestials 
(not the Chinese) wear white robes, edged with pink ; 
that a man generally attends his own funeral ; that 
spirits, on their arrival in heaven, are set to studying 
geology, chemistry, and other dull subjects, which 
they soon begin to like, and say their daily lessons 
with an excellent grace ; that parchment is in exten- 
sive use ; that spirits are allowed to visit ' earth ' 
once a day only, and have the privilege of staying 
one hour ; that they have books, rings, newspapers, 
robin redbreasts, fruit, lakes, streams, diamonds, and 
drawing masters in the next world. ' Dora's dress,' 
says one of the revelations, ' was of blue satin, with 
a white sash ; half sleeves, full ; a pink velvet rib- 
bon round her throat, fastened by a cameo. Her 
hair was in curls each side of her face, and fastened 
in a knot behind.' Dora, be it observed, is a depart- 
ed spirit. 

" K it could be shown that all these things were real- 
ly revealed, as they are said to be, we should still 
think them unworthy of notice. The greater part of 
the ' supernal theology ' is utterly frivolous ; and 
whether frivolous or not, it bears very plainly the im- 
press of the medium's own mind, or of the unknown 
desires of those by whom he is surrounded. If we 
were called upon to minister to a mind diseased, or to 
find pabulum for a soul hungering after moral excel- 
lence, we should as soon think of offering a copy of 


the Arab "an Nights' Entertainments as a book of the 
' supernal theology.' For the practical guidance of 
Life, there is more help in any two maxims of the 
Sermon on the Mount, than in the whole literature of 

" The manifestation mania would have died away 
long since but for one unfortunate circumstance. 
We have in our land a large number of men who 
may be termed semi-clergymen, or, as they are fre- 
quently called, ' outsiders,' or ' come-outers.' These 
are they who, either because they know too much or 
because they know too little, or from superfluity of 
naughtiness or redundancy of virtue, find it difficult to 
obtain a ' settlement.' These are the men who fos- 
ter delusions ; who, because they cannot find a way 
to serve the public, are reduced to prey upon it. 
They embrace the new light — whatever it may be — 
with a degree of sincerity, and commit themselves to 
it ; then they push it, stimulate it, make a business 
of it, and live by it. O the multitude of spiritual de- 
lusions that in every age of the world have originated 
and derived their strength solely from the fact that 
the bodily necessities of certain individuals depended 
upon their perpetuity ! That, at this moment, there 
are men most diligently engaged in the new spiritual 
line, for the purpose :^f securing by it a reprieve from 
starvation, (or work,) Is a fact which we do not mere- 
ly believe, but know^^ 



Many devices have been resorted to in order to 
foretell th 3 events of the future. Some pretend to do 
it by cards ; some by the settlings of a tea or coffee 
cup ; some by astrology ; some by tables of letters and 
figm-es ; some by the lines of the hand ; and some by 
spirits of the dead. Strenuous advocates of these vari- 
ous modes are found, who recount the wonderful pre- 
dictions that have taken place. Some spirit hunter 
recently prognosticated that the ship Staffordshire (re- 
ported to be lost) would arrive safe at San Francisco 
on a certain day, as she did. Professor Anderson had 
a glass bell at the Melodeon, in Boston, in September, 
1852, that answered questions pertaining to future 
events. In deciding upon who would be the next 
president, it gave six distinct taps for Pierce — the 
number agreed upon if he was to be the successful 
competitor. This was done without any aid from 
spirits. We very much doubt whether Robach or 
Lester would refuse a challenge from A. J. Davis him- 
self, to test their respective claims to correct predic- 
tions. Yet we do not believe that any reliance can be 
placed upon the prophecies of either party. Events 
may sometimes transpire in accordance with their 
predictions ; and it would be strange if they did not, as 
they are always predicting, and events are ever occur- 
ring. But they never think of naming the multiplicity 
of failures that take place. Not long since, the spirits 
said that a distant friend would never live to reach 
home ; but he soon after arrived, safe ancj well. Mr. 


Lester told a young man of Woburn that in two 
years he would marry a certain young lady ; but in 
two' months he was a corpse. Hundreds of such fail- 
ures are constantly occurring, but are kept out of sight. 
If generally known, they would spoil the trade. We 
are surprised that men professing to high attainments, 
as A. J. Davis and some of his coadjutors, should fall 
back and plant themselves upon such stale trash. 
Some two years since, while lying apparently near 
our end, a lady suggested to us that, if we desired, she 
would consult Mr. Lester upon the probability of our 
recovery. We declined the offer, choosing to leave 
all with the Sovereign Disposer of events, believing 
that he would permit nothing to take place but what 
would be for om- best good, and that of all concerned. 

" Heaven from all creatures hides the book of fate, 
All but the page prescribed — their present state ; 
From brutes what men, from men what angels know; 
Or who could suffer being here below 1 
The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day. 
Had he thy reason, would he skip and play ? 
Pleased to the last, he crops the flowery food. 
And licks the hand just raised to shed his blood. 
O, blindness to the future ! kindly given, 
That each may fill the circle marked by Heaven. 
Hope humhly then ; with trembling pinions soar ; 

> Wait the great teacher death, and God adore ! 
What future bliss he gives not thee to know, 
But gives that ope to be thy blessing now." — PopB. 



The writings of the spirit rappers abound with 
accounts of sights, sounds, visions, and wonders. We 
are forcibly reminded of a similar display in the writ- 
ings of the Adventists, previous to the predicted end of 
the world in 1843 — an overwhelming array of facts, 
calculations, signs, visions, wonders, miracles, maps, 
pictures, drawings, and hieroglyphics, all going to show, 
in the most positive manner, that in that year the world 
would be annihilated. And still it remains ; and the 
works containing the omens and facts to substantiate 
the prediction are called to share the fate of a Farm- 
er's Almanac quite out of date. Some few still hold 
on to a semblance of the theory, like him who, in the 
spring of 1851, declared that a talking cow, somewhere 
in Maine, had prophesied that the world would be 
burned up the following June. How lamentable to 
view the numbers of men and women who have given 
heed to such things, when assured that the day and 
the hour is not known even by the Son himself 
(Matt. xxiv. 36.) Many of these persons ^vere once 
active in the church, and exerted an influence for 
good; but by remaining in their present position, their 
influence in the cause of Christ is palsied, and their 
talents buried in the earth. And yet we have pro- 
pounded to us another " New Church," which, ac- 
cording to the predictions of its adherents, is destined 
to destroy all other churches, as it was to be, according 
to the predictions of Miller, Fitch, Himes, and others. 

In conclusion upon these things, we would add, 
that it has been our belief from the first, that there 


is nothing supernatural in the so-called spiritual mani- 
festations. They all bear the marks of earthly origin. 
The pub He not knowing how to explain them, the first 
tappings were attributed to the " spirits ; " and the idea 
having been set afloat, it has been adopted without in- 
vestigation, being the easiest way of accounting for it. 
To the common mind, three hundred years ago, it 
was plain and easy, that the world was flat, and rested 
on something — on the back of Atlas, and he stood on 
2i tortoise, and the tortoise again on something', and 
the fact that nobody could tell what, was not allowed 
to stumble any one ; it rested on a foundation, and 
that was enough for any one to know or believe. 
Motion, space, attraction, and repulsion were not 
understood, and Galileo came near losing his life, and 
did lose his personal liberty and character, for intelli- 
gence. When the world is as fully instructed in cer- 
tain principles connected with our existence as it is in 
the laws of the physical universe, the "rappings," we 
think, will cease to be a wonder. 


Persons in a clairvoyant state, by being put in con- 
nection with a diseased person, feel, by sympathy, the 
pain and disease of the patient. But to be qualified 
to describe the locality of the disease, or be able to 
tell what organ or part is affected, the practitioner 
must first have studied anatomy and physiology. 
The more perfect they are in these branches, the more 
accurately can they describe the seat of the disease. 


Their remedies are mostly botanical, and are generally 
safe in their operation. The reg-ular " clairvoyant phy- 
sician," so to speak, does not pretend to be in league 
with " spirits ; " but there are those who profess that 
their prescriptions come from the other world — from 
those who, though dead, rest not from their labors. 
Notwithstanding the extreme simplicity of their rem- 
edies, such as any common nurse would advise, yet 
such is the profound sanctity and mystery thrown 
around them by an unseen spirit, that some profess 
to have received " wonderful healing mercies." To 
believe that a medicine (however simple) is prescribed 
by a spirit from above, is enough to perform a cure in 
any case. Imagination alone is equal to the task. A 
very eminent allopathic physician informs us that he 
often rolls up brown bread pills, which, in certain 
cases, perform unmistakable cures. In fact, history is 
full of recoveries wrought out by aid of the imagina- 
tion. We will subjoin a case by way of illustration. 

" Sir Humphrey Davy, on one occasion in early 
life, was assisting Dr. Beddoes in his experiments on 
the inhalation of nitrous oxide. Dr. Beddoes having 
inferred that this agent must be a specific for palsy, 
a patient was selected for trial, and placed under the 
care of Davy. Previously to administering the gas, 
Davy inserted a small thermometer under the tongue 
of the patient, to ascertain the temperature. The par- 
alytic man, wholly ignorant of the process to which 
he was to submit, but deeply impressed by Dr. Bed- 
does with the certainty of its success, no sooner felt 
the thermometer between his teeth, than he concluded 
the talisman was in operation, and in a burst of en- 
thusiasm declared that he had already experienced the 


effects of its benign influence throughout his whole 
body. The opportunity was too tempting to be lost. 
Davy did nothing more, but desired his patient to 
return on the following day. The same ceremony 
was repeated, the same result followed; and at the 
end of a fortnight he was dismissed wholly cured ; no 
remedy of any kind, except the thermometer, having 
ever been used." 


In the "supernal" productions we are presented 
with a 'pedantic display of high-sounding words and 
phrases. To use the language of inspiration, " they 
speak great swelling words of vanity." A work has 
recently been announced with this imposing title : 
" Macrocosm and Microcosm," containing, among 
other things, " The Potential Media" " The Diastole 
and Systole of. Nature." A writer in the Spkitual 
Telegraph, of October 9, says, " There are very 
many faiicy-captivating, and depravity-flattering pub- 
lications — some of them filled with indications, the 
most specious and subtle, of a refined atheism. And 
I have seen a copy or two of a certain ' Journal,' os- 
tensibly advocating the great truths (?) of spiritual 
manifestations, but containing some articles in which 
there was a congregation of words superlatively un- 
meaning- and transcendentally ridiculous." The. same 
writer says, " I do not believe one half the communi- 
cations which are said to come from George Wash- 
ington, Benjamin Franldin, Henry Clay, John C. Cal- 


lioun, John "Wesley, and a host of other great names. 
What affinity can these spirits have with many of the 
thoughtless, light, and trifling circles, formed to pass 
off an hour, and perhaps ending with foolish mounte- 
bank scenes of psychology, falsely so called ? " 

Davis, in his Great Harmonia, page 206, ex- 
poses a class of " mercenary practitioners, who claim 
extraordinary or supernatural powers for their sub- 
jects, ivho give public and vulgar exhibitions, who em- 
ploy chicanery and ignorant plans, who trifle ivith and 
play fantastic tricks ivith their subjects." He speaks 
of a class of " doctrinal practitioners, who pre vert and 
misinterpret principles and results ; who labor to make 
the phenomena subservient to, and illustrative of, the 
theological dogmas ; who receive, modify, or reject, 
as a sectarian education and prejudice may sanction ; 
who conceal, misstate, and magnify disclosures." 
Enough, in all conscience, to condemn the whole 


A WORK has recently been issued in Boston, by E. 
C. Rogers, containing an exposition of mysterious 
agents, and dynamic laws, or science of moving 
powers. It is a very valuable work, and, with his 
consent, we shall take the liberty of introducing some 
of the principal facts adduced ; and at the same time 
would advise every inquirer to purchase the work for 
himself, which he will never have cause to regret. 

On page 22, the author says, " Light and heat 


have always been known as agents by the common 
sensation of their more palpable phenomena. But 
electricity and magnetism were not known until their 
phenomena were specially observed. Many of the 
facts of these agents, before the latter had become 
known, were referred to spiritual agencies. It is the 
tendency of ignorance, in every age, to do the same 
thing. Reason demands an agent adequate to the 
production of every phenomenon. If she has not 
been furnished with sufficient data by which to arrive 
at a correct conclusion, imagination, influenced by a 
blind marvellousness, will refer the phenomena to 
some supernatural cause. Hence the early super- 
stitions about chemical operations, the appearance of 
comets, eclipses, meteors, the ' bog lights,' and a 
thousand other phenomena. But as the agencies of 
nature have become known, and their laws and con- 
ditions of action discovered, the domination of super- 
stition has given place to the triumph of reason and 
the reign of truth." 

" Reason determines that, for every phenomenon, 
there is an agent ; but never, without sufficient data, 
does she determine what that agent is. The imagina- 
tion often assumes this prerogative, and gives conclu- 
sions without facts, or furnishes the false data from 
which the logical faculty draws false principles. We 
mention these things to show how easy it is to be de- 
ceived, by our imaginations, with regard to the causes 
of outward phenomena, and that the only legitimate 
and trustworthy process in arriving at a solution of 
the mysteries of nature is, to furnish the reason with 
facts, and exclude the influence of imagination. A 
blind precipitation of faith is also a fatal influence 


to all correct reasoning ; for it rouses the action of the 
imagination, and long before the reason can possibly 
give a correct deduction, credulity and imagination 
have conjured one up ; and this will be the more in- 
sisted upon as the only correct conclusion, as it is the 
least possessed of the real truth and the action of 
reason. Hence it is that those persons who are most 
ignorant of the principles of nature are the more 
positive and precipitate in their decisions upon any 
question of mystery. They know that there is no 
natural explanation, and the man is a fool who at- 
tempts to find one." (Page 34.) 

The first case we shall quote from the above work 
occurred in Woodbridge, New Jersey, and was pub- 
lished at the time in the Newark Daily Advertiser. 
The phenomena made their appearance in the family 
of Mr. J. Barron, consisting, for the most part, of un- 
usual sounds accompanying a servant girl. 

" The first sounds were those of a loud thumping, 
apparently against the side of the house, which com- 
menced one evening, when the family had retired, and 
continued at short intervals until daylight, when it 

" The next evening it commenced at nightfall, when 
it was ascertained to be mysteriously connected with 
the movements of a servant girl in the family — a 
white girl, about fourteen years of age. While pass- 
ing a window, on the stairs, for example, a sudden jar, 
accompanied with an explosive sounds broke a pane of 
g-lass, the girl at the same time being seized with a 
violent spasm. This, of course, very much alarmed 
her ; and the physician, Dr. Drake, was sent for, who 
came and bled her. The bleeding, however, produced 


no apparent effect. The noise still continued, e^s be- 
iore, at intervals, wherever the girl went, each sound 
producing more or less of a spasm ; and the physi- 
cian, with all the family, remained up during the 
night. At daylight the thumping ceased again. In 
the evening the same thing was repeated, com- 
mencing a little earlier than before ; and so every 
evening since, continuing each night until morning, 
and commencing each night a little earlier than be- 
fore, until yesterday, when the thumping began about 
twelve o'clock at noon. The circumstances were 
soon generally spread through the neighborhood, and 
produced so much excitement that the house was 
filled, and surrounded from sunrise to sunset, for near- 
ly a week. Every imaginable means were resorted 
to, in order to unravel the phenomenon. At one time 
the girl would be removed from one apartment to 
another, but without effect. Wherever she was 
placed, at certain intervals, the thumping would be 
heard in the room. She was taken to a neighboring 
house. The same result followed. When carried 
out of doors, however, no noise was heard. Dr. 
Drake, who was constant in his attendance during 
the whole period, occasionally aided by other scien- 
tific observers, was with us last evening for two hours, 
when we were politely allowed a variety of experi- 
ments with the girl, in addition to those heretofore 
tried, to satisfy ourselves that there is no imposition 
in the case, and, if possible, to discover the secret 
agent of the mystery. The girl was in an upper room, 
with a part of the family, when we reached the house. 
The noise then resembled that which would be pro- 
duced by a person violently thumping the upper floor 


with the head of an axe, five or six times in succes- 
sion, jarring the house, ceasing a few minutes, and 
then resuming as before. We were soon introduced 
into the apartment, and permitted to observe for our- 
selves. The girl appeared to be in perfect health, 
cheerful, and free from the spasms felt at first, and en- 
tirely relieved from every thing like the fear or appre- 
hension which she manifested for some days. The 
invisible noise, however, continued to occur as before, 
though somewhat diminished in frequency, while we 
were in the room. In order to ascertain more satis- 
factorily that she did not produce it voluntarily, 
among other experiments we placed her on a chair on 
a blanket in the centre of the room, bandaged the 
chair with a cloth, fastening her feet on the front 
round, and confining her hands together on her lap. 
No change, however, was produced. The thumping 
continued as before, excepting that it was not quite 
so loud. The noise resembled that which would be 
produced by stamping on the floor with a heavy heel ; 
yet she did not move a limb or muscle, that we could 
discover. She remained in this position long enough 
to satisfy all in the room that the girl exercised, vol- 
untarily, no sort of agency in producing the noise. 
It was observed that the noise became greater the 
farther she was removed from any other person. We 
placed her in the doorway of a closet in the room, the 
door being ajar, to allow her to stand in the pas- 
sage. In less than one minute the door flew open, 
as if' violently struck with a mallet, accompanied with 
precisely such a noise as such a thump would pro- 
duce. This was repeated several times, with the 
same effect. In short, in whatever position she was 


placed, whether in or out of the room, similar results, 
varied a little perhaps by circumstances, were pro- 
duced. There is certainly no deception in the case. 
The noise was heard at least one hundred yards from 
the house." 

"In this case, no suspicions were entertained by the 
investigators that there was any supernatural or spir- 
itual power manifested, as there was no manifesta- 
tions of intelligence. They were purely physical phe- 

The next case we shall notice we copy from the 
Spiritual Telegraph of July 3, 1852, taken from an 
old New York paper, dated March 10, 1789. The 
extract is as follows : — 

" Sir : Were I to relate the many extraordinary, 
though not less true accounts I have heard concerning 
that unfortunate girl at New Hackensack, your belief 
might perhaps be staggered and patience tired. I 
shall therefore only inform you of what I have been 
an eye-witness to. Last Sunday afternoon my wife 
and myself went to Dr. Thorn's, and after sitting for 
some time, we heard a knocking under the feet of a 
young woman that lives in the family.; I asked the 
doctor what occasioned the noise : he could not tell, 
but replied, that he, together with several others, 
had examined the house, but were unable to discover 
the cause. I then took a candle and went with the 
girl into the cellar: there the knocking also contin- 
ued ; but as we were ascending the stairs to return, 
I heard a prodig-ious rapping- on each side, which 
alarmed me very much. I stood still some time, look- 
ing around with amazement, when I beheld some 
lumber, which lay at the head of the stairs, shake 


considerably. About eight or ten days after, we visit- 
ed the girl again : the knocking was again heard, but 
much louder than before. Our curiosity induced us 
to pay the third visit, when the phenomena "were still 
more alarming. I then saw the chairs move ; a large 
dining table was thrown against me, and a small standi 
on which stood a candle, ivas tossed up and thrown into 
my wife''s lap; after which we left the house, much 
surprised at what we had seen." 

"Catharine Crowe, in her Night Side of Nature, men- 
tions several well-authenticated cases of this character, 
and other writers have noticed the same phenomena. 
A case is given on the 410th page of Miss Crowe's 
work — that of a young officer in the English army, 
who, wherever he went, whether in camp or at home, 
or among strangers, was liable to be tormented with 
these noises at night. Although they gave no partic- 
ular marks of intelligence, yet they were regarded by 
his relatives with an abundance of superstition. They 
considered him " haunted." 

"When these sounds commenced, he would sit up in 
bed, and express his anger in strong execrations. If 
a cage bird was in his room, it was certain to be found 
dead in the morning; or if he kept a dog in the apart- 
ment, it would make away from him as soon as 
released, and never come near him again." 

"The phenomena in Dr. Phelps's case, already men- 
tioned in this volume, consisted in the moving of arti- 
cles of furnitm-e in a manner that could not be ac- 
counted for. Knives, forks, spoons, nails, blocks of 
wood, &c., were thrown in different directions about 
the house, when there appeared no visible power 
by which the motior could have been produced. A 


writer in the New Haven Journal and Courier testifies, 
that while he was present, " the contents of the pantry 
were emptied into the kitchen, and bags of salt, tin 
ware, and heavy cooking utensils were thrown in a 
promiscuous heap upon the floor, with a loud and 
etartling noise. Loaves of delicious cake were scat- 
tered about the house. The large knocker of the out- 
side door would thunder its fearful tones through the 
loud-resounding hall, chairs would deliberately move 
across the room, heavy marble-top tables would 
poise themselves upon two legs, and then fall with 
their contents to the floor — no person being within 
six feet of them." 

"On the 1st of October, 1850, Mrs. Phelps and her 
two children left home for Pennsylvania : with this 
the phenomena ceased. The doctor remained at his 
house five weeks after, without disturbance. It was 
ascertained that these and other manifestations were 
less frequent and feebler when but one of the children 
was in the house ; and that they were more frequent 
in connection with the lad, (one of the above children,) 
eleven years of age. 

These children had frequently been mesmerized into 
the trance state by their father ; and one of them was 
subject to spontaneous trance, and at one time was 
found in the barn in a cataleptic state. Since the 
return of the doctor's family, in the spring of 1851, he 
has kept the two children separate, the boy being 
away, lest his presence would occasion a recurrence of 
the seme phenomena. Simultaneous with the phe- 
nomena, the boy would frequently start while asleep 
in bed. 

Analogous to the above are the wonderful occur- 


rences which took place at Stockwell, England, in 
January, 1772, as related in the work entitled Night 
Side of Nature, page 370. We shall only give the 
most important particulars of the case, leaving the 
reader to consult the work itself." 

" On Monday, January 6, 1772, about ten o'clock 
in the forenoon, as Mrs. Golding (the hostess) was 
in the parlor, she heard the china and glasses in the 
kitchen tumble down and break ; her maid came to 
her, and told her the stone plates were falling from the 
shelf ; Mrs. Golding went into the kitchen, and saw 
them broken. Presently after, a row of plates from 
the next shelf fell down likewise, while she was there, 
and nobody near them : this astonished her much, and 
while she was thinking about it, other things in differ- 
ent places began to tumble about, some of them break- 
ing, attended with violent noises all over the house ; 
a clock tumbled down, and the case broke." The 
destruction increased with the wonder and terror of 
Mrs. Golding. Wherever she went, accompanied by 
the servant girl, this dreadful waste of property fol- 

Mrs. Golding, in her terror, fled to a neighbor's, 
where she immediately fainted. A surgeon was called, 
and she was bled. The blood, which had hardly con- 
gested, was seen all at once to spring out of the basin 
upon the floor, and presently after, the basin burst to 
pieces, and a bottle of rum, that stood by it, broke at 
the same time. 

Mrs. Golding went to a second neighbor's, as the 
articles she had conveyed to the first were being de- 
stroyed. And while the maid remained at the first 
neighbor's, Mrs. Golding was not distm-bed ; but when 


putting up what few things remained unbroken of her 
mistress's in a back apartment, a jar of pickles, that 
stood upon a table, turned upside down, and other 
things were broken to pieces. 

Meantime the disturbances had ceased at Mrs. 
Golding's house, and but little occurred at the neigh- 
bors', while Mrs. Golding and her servant remained 
apart. But as soon as they came into each other's 
company, the disturbance would begin again. 

About five o'clock on Tuesday morning, Mrs. Gold- 
ing went to the chamber of her niece, and desired her 
to get up, as the noises and destruction were so great 
she could continue in the house no longer: at this 
time, all the tables, chairs, drawers, &c., were tumbling 
about. In consequence of this resolution, Mrs. Gold- 
ing and her maid went over the way to Richard Fow- 
ler's. The maid returned to JVIrs. Pain's, to help this 
lady dress her children. At this time all was quiet. 
They then repaired to Fowler's, and then began the 
same scenes as had happened at the other places. It 
must be remarked that all was quiet here as well as 
elsewhere, till the maid returned. 

When they reached Mr. Fowler's, he began to light 
a fire in his back room. When done, he put the can- 
dlestick upon the table in the fore room. This apart- 
ment Mrs. Golding and her maid had just passed 
through. This candlestick, and another with a tin 
lamp in it, that stood by it, were dashed together, and 
fell to the ground. A lantern, with which Mrs. Gold- 
ing had been lighted across the road, sprang from a 
hook to the ground. A basket of coals tumbled over, 
and the coals rolled about the room. 

Mrs. Golding and her servant now returned home, 


when similar scenes were repeated. Mr. Pain then 
desired Mrs. Golding to send her maid for his wife to 
come to them. When she was gone all was quiet. 
When she returned she was immediately discharged, 
and no disturbances happened afterv/ards." 

"The account gives us the following particulars, 
namely : that the phenomena always depended upon 
the presence of the servant maid, and that they always 
occurred with the greatest energy when the mistress 
was in the company of the maid; also that, when 
the maid passed through a room alone, there would 
be little or no disturbance of its contents, but if she 
was soon after followed by Mrs. Golding, various 
articles would begin to play the most singular pranks. 
Very often one article would be attracted by another, 
or they would fly towards each other, and striking 
together, fall upon the floor as if both had been 
charged with some physical agent which made them 
act like opposite poles. Then, also, they would fly 
from one another, as by repulsive forces. Every thing- 
which Mrs. Golding had touched seems to have been 
in some way affected, so that afterwards, on the ap- 
proach of the maid, it would be broken to atoms, 
sometimes, even, without her touch. The blood of 
Mrs. Golding was highly susceptible under the same 
circumstances, and the bowl in which it was contained 
and the glass ware standing by it burst to pieces." 

" In the year 1835, a suit was brought before the 
sheriff of Edinburgh, Scotland, for the recovery of dam- 
ages suffered in a certain house owned by a Mr. Web- 
ster. Captain Molesworth was the defendant at the 
trial." (See Night Side of Nature, page 400.) The 
fallowing facts were developed : Mr. Molesworth had 


seriously damaged the house both as to substance and 

First. By sundry holes which he cut in the walls, 
tearing up the floors, &c., to discover the cause of 
certain noises which tormented himself and family. 

Second. By the bad name he had given the house, 
stating that it was haunted. Witnesses for the de- 
fendant were sheriff's officers, justices of the peace, 
and officers of the regiment quartered near ; all of whom 
had been at the said house sundry times to aid Cap- 
tain Molesworth detect the invisible cause of so much 

The disturbance consisted in certain noises, such 
as knockings, pounding, scratching sounds, rustlings 
in different parts of a particular room ; sometimes, how- 
ever, in other parts of the house. Certain boards of 
the floor would seem to be at times infected with the 
noises ; then certain points in the walls, at which 
Mr. Molesworth would point his gun, or cut into with 
an axe, all to no purpose.. 

The bed on which a young girl, aged thirteen years, 
had been confined by disease, would very often be 
raised above the floor, as if a sudden force was applied 
beneath it, which would greatly alarm her and the 
whole family, and cause the greatest perplexity. . The 
concussions which were often produced on the walls 
would cause them visibly to tremble. The force that 
produced these results was soon discovered to be in 
some strange way connected wdth this invalid, and 
wherever the young invalid was moved this force 
accompanied her." 

"It is plainly exhibited, in the cases just given, that 
no characteristics of spiritual agency are exhibited, 


but those, on the contrary, of a mere physical power, 
associated with the organism of certain persons. 
" We have not," says Mr. Rogers, " the least possible 
evidence that ^any spirit, demoniacal or angelic, had 
any hand in performing the wild antics among crock- 
ery and furniture which we have seen performed in 
the accounts given. For it is admitted that a spir- 
itual agent is an intelligent agent. Its characteristics 
are those of intelligence, as every one admits. Wher- 
ever, therefore, these characteristics are wanting in a 
class of phenomena, it is blindly absurd, greatly super- 
stitious, even to draw the inference that they are spir- 
itual phenomena. But what shall be said when it is 
asserted as a veritable certainty, and the crowd is 
made to stretch their throats and swallow the absurd- 
ity without a moment's examination ? " " Is it possi- 
ble we are to be driven to the conclusion that the 
ground of faith in spirituality is identical with that 
of ignorance, superstition, fanaticism, bigotry ? " 

We shall now proceed to give the case of Angelique 
Cottin, as reported in the Night Siat of Nature, and 
in the Courrier des Etats Unis, and the investigations 
of the case as reported by M. Arago, before the Paris 
Academy of Sciences, 16th of February, 1846. 

"Angelique Cottin was a native of La Perriere, 
aged fourteen, when, on the 15th of January, 1846, 
at eight o'clock in the evening, while weaving silk 
gloves at an oaken frame, in company with other girls, 
the' frame began to jerk, and they could not by any 
efforts keep it steady. It seemed as if it were alive ; 
and becoming alarmed, they called in the neighbors, 
who would not believe them, but desired them to sit 
dow 1 and go on with their work. Being timid, they 



went one by one, and the frame remained still till 
Angelique approached, when it recommenced its move- 
ments, while she was also attracted by the frame. 
Thinking she was bewitched or possessed, her parents 
took her to the presbytery, that the spirit might be 
exorcised, or cast out. The curate, being a sensible 
man, objected, but set himself to work to observe the 
phenomenon, and being satisfied of the facts of the 
case, he bade them take her to a physician. 

" Meanwhile, the intensity of the influence, whatever 
it was, augmented; not only articles made of oak, 
but all sorts of things, were acted upon by it, and 
reacted upon her, while persons who were near her, 
even without contact, frequently felt electric shocks. 
The effects, which were diminished when she was on 
a carpet or a waxed cloth, were most remarkable when 
she was on the bare earth. They sometimes entirely 
ceased for three daySj and then recommenced. Metals 
were not affected. Any thing touching her apron 
or dress Would fly off, although a person held it; and 
Monsieur Herbert, while seated on a heavy tub or 
trough, was raised up with it. In short, the only place 
she could repose on was a stone covered with cork. 
They also kept her still by isolating her. When she 
was fatigued the effects diminished. A needle, sus- 
pended horizontally, oscillated rapidly with the motion 
of her arm, without contact; or remained fixed while 
deviating from the magnetic direction. Great num- 
bers of enlightened medical and scientific men wit- 
nessed these phenomena, and investigated them with 
every precaution to prevent imposition. She was often 
hurt by the violent involuntary movements rhe was 
thrown into, and was evidently afflicted by chorea, 


or St. Vitus's dance." — Night Side of Nature, page 

" The French paper mentions the circumstance that 
while Angelique was at work in the factory, " the cyl- 
inder she was turning was suddenly thrown a consid- 
erable distance without any visible cause ; that tliis 
was repeated several times ; that all the young girls in 
the factory fled, and ran to the curate to have h m 
exorcise the young girl, believing she had a devil." 
After the priest had consigned her to the physician's 
care, the physician, with the father and mother, 
brought Angelique to Paris. M. Arago received her, 
and took her to the observatory, and in the presence 
of MM. Laugier and Goujon made the following 
observations, which were reported to the Paris Acad- 
emy of Sciences : — 

'■''First. It is the left side of the body which appears 
to acquire this sometimes attractive, but more fre- 
quently repulsive, property. A sheet of paper, a pen, 
or any other light body, being placed upon a table, if 
the young girl approaches her left hand, even before 
she touches it, the object is driven to a distance as by 
a gust of wind. The table itself is overthrown the 
moment it is touched by her hand, or even by a thread 
which she may hold in it. 

'■'■Second. This causes instantaneously a strong com- 
motion in her side, which draws her towards the table ; 
but it is in the region of the pelvis that this singular 
repulsive force appears to concentrate itself 

" Third. As had been observed the first day, if she 
attempted to sit, the seat was thrown far from her, 
with such force that any other person occupying it 
was carried awav with it. 


'■'■Fourth. One day a chest upon which three men 
were seated was iioved in the same manner. An- 
other day, although the chair was held by two very 
strong men, it was broken between their hands. 

^'■Fifth. These phenomena are not produced in a con- 
tinued manner. They manifest themselves in a greater 
or less degree, and from time to time during the day ; 
but they show themselves in their intensity in the even- 
ing, from seven to nine o'clock. 

^^ Sixth. Then the girl is obliged to continue stand- 
ing, and is in great agitation. 

'■^Seventh. She can touch no object without breaking 
it or throwing it upon the ground. 

^^Eig-hth. All the articles of furniture which her gar- 
ments touch are displaced and overthrown. 

^'■Ninth. At that moment many persons have felt, by 
coming in contact with her, a true electrical shock. 

" Tenth. During the entire duration of the paroxysms, 
the left side of the body is warmer than the right side. 

"Eleventh. It is affected by jerks, unusual move- 
ments, and a kind of trembling which seems to com- 
municate itself to the hand which touches it. 

" Tivelfth. This young person presents, moreover, a 
peculiar sensibility to the action of the magnet. 
When she approaches the north pole of the magnet 
she feels a violent shock, while the south pole pro- 
duces no effect; so that if the experimenter changes 
the poles, but without her knowledge, she always dis- 
covers it by the difference of sensations which she 

" Thirteenth. The general health of Angelique is very 
good. The extraordinary movements, however, and 
the paroxysms observed every evening, resemble what 
one observes in some nervous rialadies." 


" The great fact demonstrated in this case,'' says 
E. C. Rogers, " is, that, under peculiar conditions, the 
human organism gives forth a physical power which, 
icitJiout visible instruments, lifts heavy bodies, attracts 
or repels them according to a law of polarity, over- 
turns them, and produces the phenomena of sound. 
So far as the mere movement of objects, even of great 
weight, in connection with certain persons, is con- 
cerned, whether in the phenomena of the so called 
' spiritual manifestations,' or out of them, the imme- 
diate agent is a physical one, and is identical through- 
out. None but the most ignorant can deny this." 
For a further delineation of the facts in this case, and 
deductions therefrom, we refer the reader to the work 
of Mr. Rogers, on the Dynamic Laws and Relations 
of Man. 

" The next case we shall refer to is that of Frederica 
HaufFe, of the town of Prevorst, in the mountainous 
parts of Germany. It was found that in her hands, at 
a very early age, the hazel wand pointed out metals 
and water. It was also found that, in certain local- 
ities, the influences from the earth had a very powerful 
effect upon her susceptible nerves. It was frequently 
observed by the one she often accompanied in his 
walks through solitary places, that though she was 
skipping ever so gayly by his side, at certain spots a 
kind of seriousness and shuddering came over her, 
which for a long time he could not comprehend. He 
also observed that she experienced the same sensations 
in churchyards, and in churches where there were 
graves ; and that, in such churches, she never could 
remain below, but "was obliged to repair to the gal- 
leries. Superstition, it is true, has always claimed 


such facts as parts of her ghostly superstructure ; but 
they are too material for this. 

Frederica was almost constantly in a magnetic 
state, and in this condition frequently communicated 
what was taking place at a distance, and was aware 
(»f producing sounds in space, and some ways off; but 
this being found to materially injure her, the habit was 
abandoned. She had a very high degree of suscep- 
tibility to mundane influences, and the effect was, that 
mineral loads and subterranean currents acted through 
her upon a simple stick held in her hand. 

At one time she was attacked with nervous fever, 
which continued fourteen days with great violence. 
This was followed by seven years of magnetic life, 
interrupted only by very short and merely apparent 
intervals. After the fever, she was attacked with 
spasms in the breast, which continued three days. 
On the second day, a peasant's wife came from the 
village, and seating herself beside her, said, " She 
needs no physicians; they cannot help her; '' and laid 
her hands on her forehead. Immediately she was 
seized with the most direful spasms, and her forehead 
was as coM as if she was dead. During the whole 
night she cried dcMriously that tht woman had exer- 
cised a demoniacal influence upon her ; and whenever 
the woman returned she was always attacked with 
spasms. On the third day they sent for a physician ; 
and being then in a magnetic condition, she cried to 
him when he entered, although she had never seen 
him, " K you are a physician, you must help me ! " 
He, well understanding her malady, laid his hands on 
her head; and it was remarked that, as long as he 
remained in the room, she saw and heard him alone, 


and was insensible to the presence of all other persons. 
The same kind of exclusive attachment has been seen 
in cases of persons who have fallen tinder the pecu- 
liar influence of the magnet or a crystal, thus showing 
the relation of mundane agencies to the psychological 
nerve centres, as well as to the nerve centres in the 
spine, and among the viscera. 

After her physician had laid his hands on her she 
became calm, and slept for some hours. Some in- 
ternal remedies and a bath were prescribed for her; 
but the spasms returned in the night, and for eighteen 
weeks she was attacked by them from twice to five or 
six times a day. All the remedies prescribed proving 
inefficacious, recourse was had to " magnetic passes," 
which, for a time, relieved the spasms. It was amid 
such sufferings and such influences that, in the month 
of February, 1823, after extreme tortures, she gave 
birth to her first child. This event was followed, for 
some time, by additional ills. The following is a 
somewhat curious circumstance, and goes to show 
the influence which one organization will have upon 
another, when a certain relation is established between 
them. It is this : The woman who, on a former oc- 
casion, had exerted so unhappy an influence upon the 
mother, produced precisely the same effects upon the 
child. Her contact with it threw it into spasms, and 
the convulsions became periodical until its death. 

About a year after the birth of her child, being 
laughed at for her superstition, she was thrown into 
a state of rigid spasm, and became as cold and stiff 
as a corpse. For a long time no respiration wa? 
visible. She lay as in a dream. In this peculiar 
condition she spoke for three days entirely in verse 


and at another, she saw, for the same period, ncithing 
but a ball of fire, that ran through her whole body as 
if on thin bright threads. And then, for three days, 
she felt as if water was falling upon her head, drop by 
drop ; and it was at this time that she saw her own 
image. She saw it clad in white, seated on a stool, 
whilst she was lying in bed. She contemplated the 
vision for some time, and would have cried out, but 
could not ; at length she made herself heard, and her 
husband entering, it disappeared. Her susceptibility 
was now so great that she heard and felt what hap- 
pened at a distance, and was so sensible to external 
agencies, that the nails in the walls affected her, which 
obliged her friends to remove them. The least light 
had a powerful influence upon her nervous system, and 
could not be endured. 

She was now induced to take a medicine which 
made her more calm, but threw her into a deeper 
trance. Still she could not endure the sunlight. She 
was taken in a darkened carriage to her home on the 
mountains. " Here she existed," says her physician, 
" only through the nervous emanation of others, and 
it became necessary that some one should always hold 
her hand ; and if the person was weak, it increased 
her debility. The physician prescribed magnetic passes 
and medicines, but she fell into a magnetic sleep, and 
then prescribed for herself Her greatest suffering 
arose from the sensation of having a stone in her 
head. It seemed as if her brain was compressed, and 
at every breath she drew, the motion pained her. At 
this time a large magnet was applied to her forehead ; 
immediately her head and face were turned round, and 
her mouth distorted as by a stroke of palsy. On the 


28tli of December she gave birth to her second child, 
which was followed, as before, by a long and severe 
illness. She continued constantly in a magnetic state. 
Persons of various tempers now became her mag- 
netizers. The effects of these different nervous tem- 
peraments upon hers were very serious. It brought 
her into special relation to so many persons, that, even 
at a distance, they affected her, visions of whom would 
appear to her like visions of spirits. This, moveover, 
brought her into a deeper magnetic condition, and 
rendered her more dependent on the nervous energy of 
others. Another physician was employed from a 
distance. He gave her an amulet to wear, composed 
of certain substances, and a small magnet, all arranged 
together. Occasionally this amulet, untouched by any 
one, would run about her head, breast, and bed cover- 
ing, like a live thing." 

"It has already been remarked, that, in the earlier 
stage of her magnetic state, she was aware of making' 
sounds at a distance. This she repeatedly performed, 
so that her friends at a distance, as they lay in bed, 
heard distinctly the sounds. This fact being com- 
municated to her physician, Dr. Kerner, he, by actual 
experiment and observation, confirmed it. This was 
not performed by her will, which was inactive in her 
somnambulic or cataleptic state, as well as her con- 
sciousness. Every nerve centre was in a most in- 
timate rapport or relation with the mundane agencies, 
especially that which acts in conjunction with the 
nervous force, and holds every animal in a certain • 
connection with every thing out of the organism. 

The father of this unfortunate woman inhabited a 
house which formed a part of an old cathedral, where, 


it had bet n reported by former tenants, strange sights 
had been seen, and strange sounds heard. It was in 
this house, at the time of her somnambulic state, 
already spoken of, that there were heard unusual knock- 
ings on the walls, noises in the air, and other sounds, 
which, as Dr. Kerner remarks, " can be testified to by 
more than twenty credible witnesses." There was a 
trampling up and down stairs by day and by night to ba 
heard, but no one to be seen, as well as knockings on 
the walls and in the cellars ; but, however suddenly a 
person flew to the place to try to detect whence the noise 
proceeded, they could see nothing. If they went outside, 
the knocking was immediately heard inside, and vice 
versa. The noises at length became so perplexing, 
that her father declared that he could live in the 
house no longer. They were not only audible to 
every body in the house, but to the passengers in the 
street, who stopped to listen to them as they passed. 
"Whenever there was playing on the piano, and sing- 
ing, sounds would commence on the walls," 

We have not room to mention all the facts in her 
case ; but will add a few of the most remarkable. 
" She was very suceptible to electrical influences, and, 
what is almost incredible, she had a preternatural 
feeling or consciousness of human loriting. Various 
minerals seemed to have a specific effect, when brought 
in contact with her. Glass and rock crystal had a 
powerful effect in waking her from the somnambulic 
state, or in exciting the force within her organism. 
This fact, and others of this character in abundance, 
point to the peculiar tendency of this force, in some 
cases of disease, to act outwardly from the nerve 
centres upon glass ware, window glass, &c. " We 


have known a child, eight years old," says Mr. Rogers, 
" who seldom, at one period, took hold of a glass dish 
without its soon bursting to pieces." In the case of 
Frederica, a rock crystal, placed on the pit of her 
stomach, and allowed to remain there for some time, 
would produce a deep state of catalepsy. She was 
atFected in the same manner by silicious sand and 
gravel, or even by standing some time n( ar a glass 
window. If she chanced to seat herself on a sandstone 
beach, she was apt to become cataleptic; and once, 
having been for some time missed, she was at length 
found at the top of the house, seated on a heap of 
sand, so rigid, that she was unable to move away from 
it. Whenever she was placed in a bath by her 
medical attendants, it was with a great deal of labor 
they could immerse her body beneath the surface. 
Her specific gravity seemed to be more like cork, or a 
bladder of air, than that of muscle, nerve, and bone. 
Something seemed to pervade her body, or to act 
upon it, so entirely opposite to the centripetal action 
of the earth, as to counteract this law of force in the 
most marked manner. This fact suggested to Dr. 
Kerner a curious experiment, which resulted in the 
development of another important phenomenon. He 
had concluded, that as all these phenomena had taken 
place more or less in conjunction with those usually 
termed magnetic or mesmeric, there might be some 
relation of the forces in both, or indeed they might be 
identical. To test this matter, he at one time placed 
his fingers against hers, when he found at once there 
existed a mutual attraction, as between two magnets ; 
and now, by extending his hand upward, he raised her 
clear from the ground ; thus she was suspended^ as a 


magnet suspends a piece of iron, or another magnet, 
simply by a polar force. This was repeated several 
times, and afterwards his wife did quite the same 

" We have already spoken of the action which the 
sun's light had upon her in producing physical effects. 
Among others it was observed that the different 
colored rays produced each a specific effect. The 
light of the moon, also, when she looked at it, pro- 
duced coldness and shivering, with melancholy." 
The effects of these agents on the human organism 
are clearly explained, in the numbers of an as- 
tronomical paper, by Mr. Chapman, of Philadelphia. 

" On touching Frederica with a finger, during an 
electrical state of the atmosphere, she saw small 
flashes, which ascended to the ceiling ; from men these 
were colorless, from women blue ; and she perceived 
emanations of the same kind, and of the same varia- 
tion of color, from people's eyes." 

Concerning the power possessed in the nerve centres 
of this woman, to produce sounds at a distance. Dr. 
Kerner remarks as follows: "As I had been told by 
her parents, before her father's death, that, at the 
period of her early magnetic state, she was able to 
make herself heard by her friends, as they lay in bed 
at night, in the same village, in other houses, by a 
knocking, — as is said of the dead, — I asked her, in 
her sleep, whether she was able to do so now, and at 
what distance. She answered that she could some- 
times do it. Soon after this, as we were going to bed, 
(my children and servants being already asleep,) we 
heard a knocking, as if in the air over our heads. 
There were six kn 3cks, at intervals of half a minute. 


It was a hollow, yet clear sound, soft, but distinct. 
We were certain there was no one near us, nor over 
us, from whom it could proceed ; and our house stands 
by itself. On the following evening, when she was 
asleep, (we had mentioned the knocking to no- 
body whatever,) she asked me whether she should 
soon knock to us again ; which, as she said it was 
hurtful to her, I declined." And yet, not long after 
this, Kerner relates the following, as having taken 
place at his house : " On the morning of the 23d of 
March, 1837, at one o'clock, I suddenly awoke, and 
heard seven knocks, one after another, at short inter- 
vals, seeming to proceed from the middle of my 
chamber : my wife was awakened also ; and we 
could not compare this knocking to any ordinary 
sound. Mrs. Hauffe lived several houses distant 
from us." 

"On the 30th of the same month, E.ev. Mr. Hermann 
came into rapport or special relation with Mrs. H., 
through the medium of psychological sympathy, as 
well as through the physical influence. Previous to 
this he had not been troubled with strange sounds at 
his house, but after that period he was awakened 
every night, at a particular hour, by a knocking in 
his room, — sometimes on the floor, and sometimes on 
the walls, — which his wife heard as well as himself. 
In a great part of her magnetic state, Mrs. H. was 
under a strong state of religious feeling, and was often 
engaged in prayer. Rev. Mr. Hermann sympathized 
with her in this, and with the commencement of the 
rapping in his room, he experienced an involuntary 
disposition to pray." (See Mr. Rogers's work, where 
many such cases are given.) 


In elucidation of the effect of glass, sand, gravel, &c., 
upon her organism, we will state an additional fact, 
as related by her physician : " On the 21st of April, 
Dr. K. was at the house of Mrs. H. The window being 
open, he saw a quantity of gravel come in the window, 
which he not only saw, as he says, ' but picked it up ! ' 
To be certain that no one threw it in, he immediately 
looked out. On comparing it, he found it to be such 
gravel as lay in the front of the house." 

"Now, let the phenomena we have related be put 
side by side with those which occmred at the house 
of Rufus Elmer, in Springfield, Massachusetts, on the 
5th of April, 1852, as witnessed by Professor "Wells, 
of Cambridge, and others, and alleged to be the work 
of spirits. 

First. The table was moved in every possible direc- 
tion, and with great force, when no cause of motion 
could be perceived. 

Second. The table was forced against each one 
present so powerfully as to move them from their 
positions, together with the chairs they occupied, in 
all several feet. 

Third. Mr. Wells and Mr. Edwards took hold of 
the table in such a manner as to exert their strength 
to the best advantage, but found the invisible power, 
exercised in the opposite direction, to be quite equal 
to their utmost efforts. 

Fourth. In two instances, at least, while the hands 
of all the members of the circle were placed on the 
top of the table, and while no visible power was 
employed to raise the table, or otherwise to move 
it from its position, it was seen to rise clear of the 
floor, ani to float in the atmosphere for severa. 


seconds, as if sustained by a denser medium than 
the air. 

Fifth. Mt. Wells was rocked to and fro with great 
violence, and at length it poised itself on two legs, and 
remained in this position for some thirty seconds, 
when no other person was in contact with the table. 

Sixth. Three persons, Messrs. "Wells, Bliss, and 
Edwards, assumed positions on the table at the same 
time, and while thus seated, the table was moved in 
various directions. 

Seventh. Occasionally we were made conscious of 
the occurrence of a powerful shock, which produced a 
vibratory motion of the floor of the apartment. It 
seemed like the motion occasioned by distant thunder, 
or the firing of ordnance far away, causing the tables, 
chairs, and other inanimate objects, and all of us, to 
tremble in such a manner that the effect was both 
seen and felt. 

In conclusion, it was observed that D. D. Hume, 
the medium, frequently urged the company to hold 
his feet and hands. The room was well lighted, and 
a lamp was placed on and under the table, and every 
possible opportunity afforded for the closest inspection. 
They were therefore positive that there was no decep- 
tion in the case. The conclusion was, that it must be 
the work of spirits — a singular conclusion, indeed, for 
men of such standing and acquirements. It might all 
have been accomplished, biologically; but admitting 
the whole to be literally and substantially true, they 
fall far short of well-attested phenomena, where it was 
not so much as conjectured even to be at all super- 

The fact is incon^rovertibly evident, that physical 


agents, subtile and unseen, are every where at work. 
" Force shows itself," as the elegant Somerville re- 
marks, in his Connection of the Physical Sciences, 
" in every thing that exists in the heavens or on the 
earth." There is a physical power which not only 
binds satellites to their planet, and planets with suns, 
and sun with sun throughout the wide extent of crea- 
tion, which is the cause of the disturbances, as well 
as the order of nature, but it physically binds man to 
man, and man to nature. And as every tremor it 
excites in one planet is immediately transmitted to 
the farthest limits of the system, in oscillations, which 
correspond in their periods with the cause producing 
them, like sympathetic notes in music, or vibrations 
from the deep tones of an organ, so every vibration, 
thus excited, is transmissible to the delicate centres 
of every organic being, provided the repulsive agent 
of those beings is changed in its relative condition so 
as to admit its influx. (See Geometry and Faith, 
by Rev. T. Hill, of Waltham.) 

"It is well known to every chemist, that wherever 
there is chemical action going on, there is a constant 
evolution of some force. Now, that there is a con- 
stant chemical aption taking place is certain, and the 
sources of this action are very numerous. Among 
others, we have that of water, (often holding in solu- 
tion saline ingredients, thus increasing its action upon 
metallic substances,) which, percolating through the 
surface, acts upon all those surfaces whose materials 
have a strong chemical affinity for the oxygen or 
hydrogen of the water. 

Wherever there is a mineral load the development 
of force is in S3me instances very great. For instance, 


Mr. E. W. Fox was able, by connecting two lodes 
with copper wires, and conducting the latter to the 
surface of the earth, and immersing them in a cell 
which contained a solution of sulphate of copper, 
to obtain an electrotype copy of an engraved cop- 

Thus " the earth itself may be made a battery,''^ 
as Robert Hunt says. " We know," he repeats, 
" that, through the superficial strata of the earth, 
electric currents circulate freely, whether they are 
composed of clay, sand, or any mixture of these "with 
decomposed organic matter ; indeed, that with any 
substance in a moist state, electric currents suffer no 
interruption." The electricity of mineral veins has 
attracted the attention of some of the first philosophers 
of Europe, and has led to some highly-interesting ex- 
periments with regard to the action of this important 
agent in the formation, disposition, and direction of 
rocks and mineral veins. M. Becqueral and others 
have made use of these currents successfully in imi- 
tating Nature in her processes of making crystals and 
other mineral formations." 

"It is not, however, necessary to suppose that the 
agent of which we are treating particularly requires 
a chemical action to develop it, or the action of the 
electric force. Experiments have proved that it is 
developed in every form of material action — that 
even the substances of the earth, without sensible 
alteration, exert this force. To this agent the sensitive 
nerve centres are extremely susceptible. The celebrat- 
ed Ritter, of Germany, devoted much time to an in- 
vestigation of this subject, and, in 1809, published 
Supplementary Treatis^.s upon it, together with 


Amoretti's celebrated work on the same subject — 
Physical and Historical Inquiries into Rhabdomancy, 
&c., in Germany. (See Dr. Ashburner's Translation 
of Rheinbach, first American edition ; Redfield.) Schu- 
bert, in his work on Natural History, says, " It seems 
clear, from many observations, that the whole mineral 
(and much of the vegetable) kingdom has a profound 
and mysterious relation with the organism of man^ 
*' This relation," says Rogers, " is that of matter with 
matter connected by an imponderable agent." " The 
phenomena which betray this, as a fact of nature, 
have been observable from the earliest ages. It is 
certain, however, that local causes often give de- 
velopments to such strange phenomena, that it re' 
quires all the science that can be mustered to keep back, 
the tide of superstition which will be thus aroused in 
the breasts of those unacquainted with the action of 
these agents^ 

Some will ask the question, "If these things be 
true, why have we not heard of them before ? " "We 
confess that we know of no other possible reason than 
that such inquiries are not ^'•posted up^'' as they should 
be, in matters of history and science. But, before 
closing this part of our subject, we propose to relate 
a few more incidents, by way of illustration. 

" In the year 1849-50, certain highly-respectable 
houses in the city of New York seem to have been all 
at once unaccountably beset with a strange power, 
which seized upon particular parts, and would not 
allow any one, not even the members of the families, 
to touch those seemingly consecrated things. When- 
ever this was attempted, a loud, sharp sound would be 
instantly given, accompanied with a sharp and spiteful 


flash of light, as if the agent was determined tc pro- 
tect that which it had seized upon. But this w^as not 
all ; it would smartly shock the intruder with a blow, 
as if with an unseen fist, or the like. It even seized 
upon the members of these families at times, and 
would — so to speak — make them apparently strike 
one another, in an unseen manner, simultaneously. It 
was often the case that a stranger could not call at 
the door without being instantly struck on the wrist or 
elbow, on touching the knob of the door bell ; and he 
would see, at the same instant, an angry flash of light, 
as if from some demon's eye. The ladies \\^ere not 
allowed to kiss each other without each receiving, on 
the approach of their lips, a fiery smack, as from a 
spirit's lips. The dear little ones of these families 
were prevented from giving their mothers the parting 
salutation on retiring for the night." 

" There seemed to be a great deal of cunning shown 
by this agency. If the lady of the house did not think 
to pay all due deference to its rules, when she "wished 
to give orders to the servants below through the 
metallic speaking tube, she was sure to receive an 
unseen blow In the mouth, almost sufficient to stagger 
her : at the same instant she would see the flash of 
what might have been taken for a ' fiery,' if not for an 
* evil eye.' " 
"Professor Loomis visited these dwellings, (see 
Annual of Scientific Discovery, 1851, page 129,) 
and observed these phenomena. He perceived the 
flash whenever the hand was brought near to the knob 
of the door, also to the gilded frame of a mirror, the 
gas pipes, or any m.etallic body, especially when this 
body communicated freely with the earti. "In one 


house," says this scientific gentleman, in his descrip- 
tion before the American Scientific Association, at 
New Haven, " in one house, which I have had the 
opportunity to examine, a child, in taking hold of the 
knob of a door, received so severe a shock that it ran 
off in great fright. In passing from one parlor to 
the other, if the lady of the house chanced to step upon 
the brass plate which served as a slide for the folding 
doors, she received an unpleasant shock in the foot. 
When she touched her finger to the chandelier, there 
appeared a brilliant spark, and a snap." After a 
careful examination of several cases of this kind. Pro- 
fessor Loomis came to the conclusion " that the elec- 
tricity is created (excited) by the friction of the shoes 
of the inmates upon the carpets of the house." " If 
the professor is correct in his conjecture, it would 
follow that every house," says Mr. Rogers, " with 
similar carpets, should become electrized, and exhibit 
similar phenomena, in which case we should have 
observed their appearance at a much earlier period, 
and the occurrence would have been presented much 
more frequently and extensively. Yet the phenomena 
is every whit electrical ; hence we are led by them to 
see, that when local circumstances are favorable, ar 
agent may be developed in our midst, which may play 
the most singular pranks, which, it is more than pro 
bable, may be attributed to supernatural, and even to 
SPIRITUAL j90i(?er5, if the witnesses should be ignorant of 
those characteristics which identify them with a well- 
hnown agent. Had the characteristics in the above 
been contrary to those of any known agent, although 
the phenomena had been entirely physical, how many 
would have leaped to the conclusion, without a mo- 


merit's thought or investigation, that the force was a 
power of the invisible spirit world ? With regard to 
the phenomena of the present day, reason has been 
entirely set aside ; hence the precipitate conclusion 
concerning them, even by many who lay great claim 
to its use and application to all other subjects. We 
have been truly astonished at the course of such persons." 
" We shall now present a few cases that bear a closer 
analogy to electricity, perhaps, than those we have 
been considering. The first we shall speak of is that 
of the two Smyrna girls, who visited France in 1839, 
and exhibited what was called their electrical powers, 
in moving' tables without contact. The account was 
published in the Boston Weekly Magazine, of De- 
cember 28, 1839. The two girls landed at Marseilles, 
about the first of November, 1839. In hopes of realiz- 
ing a splendid fortune, they intended to exhibit them- 
selves in France, and other parts of the continent. 
Immediately on their arrival, several persons, including 
several men of science and professors, visited them, 
and ascertained the following phenomena : — 

First. " The girls stationed themselves, facing each 
other, at the ends of a large table, keeping at a dis- 
tance from it of one or two feet, according to their 
electrical dispositions. 

Second. " When a few minutes had elapsed, a crac- 
kling, like that of electric fluid spreading over gilt paper, 
was heard, when, — 

Third. " The table received a strong shake, which 
always made it advance from the elder to the younger 

Fourth. " A key, nails, or any piece of iron placed 
on the table instantaneously stopped the phenomena. 


Fifth. " When the iron was adapted to the under 
part of the table, it produced no effect upon the ex- 

Sixth. " Saving this singularity, the facts observed 
constantly followed the known laws of electricity, 
whether glass insulators were used, or whether one 
of the girls wore silk garments. In the latter case, 
the electric properties of both were neutralized." 
Such was the state of matters for some days after 
the arrival of the young Greeks ; but, — 

Seventh. " The temperature having become cooled, 
and the atmosphere having loaded itself with humidity^ 
all perceptible electric virtue seemed to have deserted 
them. One may conceive the melancholy of these 
girls," the writer continues, " and the disappointment 
of the two Greeks, their relations, who came with 
them to share their anticipated wealth." 

"In this case we have the " manifestation" of a force 
greatly analogous to that often witnessed at the pres- 
ent day. In one important respect it acted differently 
from electricity, in that it was broken by simply laying 
a key or a small piece of iron on the object the agent 
had acted upon, &c. " It must be admitted, how- 
ever," says Mr. Rogers, " that the fact of the influence 
cf glass insulators and the sUk dress, causing a ces- 
sation of the phenomena, shows that the agent that 
acted upon the table was, in some way, a form of 
electricity, though greatly varying, in its laws of 
action, from that usually known to science. We 
have," says Mr. R., " some curious facts relating to 
this Toodified agent, to present from Matucci and 
others," (in the second number of our work.) 

" From the effects of the humidity of the atmosphere. 


^ome may conclude that the agent must have been 
electricity, inasmuch as the same state of the atmos- 
phere produces a like effect upon the action of friction 
electricity. Let us allow this, and turn to precisely 
the same phenomenon, as it has been manifested in 
the cases of numerous 'mediums' for the so-called 
^spiritual manifestations.^ " 

" We will not state it upon our authority alone, but 
also upon that of a large number of intelligent be- 
lievers in the spiritual origin of these phenomena, that 
the electrical condition of the atmosphere enters into 
the circumstances of their evolution ; that in a humid 
state of the weather it is not only difficult, in many 
instances, but sometimes it is absolutely impossible, to 
obtain them under such a condition." We know that 
many of the less informed " mediums " attribute these 
failures to the capriciousness of the spirits, and fre- 
quently scold them soundly for their misdemeanors, 
though at other times they seem to pity them because 
they get so weary and fatigued in answering so many 
inquiries, and being so long " on dutyP 

"It was thought by some who witnessed the case of 
Angelique Cottin, that the agent which acted so 
powerfully from her organism, overthrowing tables, 
twisting chairs out of stout men's hands, raising a 
man in a heavy tub, was electricity. C. Crowe says it 
did cause the deviation of the magnetic needle ; but 
M. Arago, who knows more about this abused agent 
than a nation of theorizers, could not detect the least 
signs of it by the nicest tests. And yet it would give 
the person who touched her or her dress a powerful 
shock, as if it were electricity. Still, it may be the 
same agent that is ground out of plate glass, that 


propagates news from city to city on iron wires, and 
that thunders in the material heavens." 

" It has been supposed that because, in many in- 
stances, ' mediums ' have given shocks like those given 
by electrized bodies, the two agents must be identical. 
Not long since, a young lady, about sixteen years of 
age. Miss Harriett Bebee, was placed in a magnetic 
state, in company with Mrs. Tamlin, both being of a 
clairvoyant character. The sounds were heard while 
they were in that state. Every time these occurred a 
very sensible jar, like an electric shock, was experienced 
by Miss Bebee. In answer to a question, she stated 
that at each sound she felt as if there was electricity 
passing over her. Several of the persons, in whose 
presence these sounds are heard, always receive a 
slight shock, so that there is a slight jar, which has 
sometimes been so plain as to lead persons, ignorant 
of the facts and the phenomenon, to accuse them of 
making it themselves." Says a writer upon this 
subject, " This feeling of electricity seems to pervade 
nearly every thing connected with these phenomena. 
When the rapping is heard, the peculiar jar is felt, 
differing from the jar produced by a blow; and in 
various other ways we are reminded of the use of this 
subtile agent. We often see, in a dark room, bright 
electric flashes on the waU and other places." 

The same writer observes, " Persons sometimes feel 
a sensation of electricity passing over their limbs when 
they stand in the vicinity of those who get the sounds 
most freely, although the particular persons who 
-feem to be the mediums feel no sensation at all. 
In one or two instances we have seen a perceptible 
shock, as if caused by a galvanic battery, especially 


when the persons were under the influence of mag- 
"In a work published in Cincinnati, by William T. 
Coggshall, the author says, " We have felt positive 
electrical influences from clairvoyants. At the present 
time," he continues, " what is termed ' electrical 
circles ' are being formed every week in Cincinnati, 
for the benefit of persons whose systems require ad- 
ditional electrical power. We have seen several 
women so powerfully electrized in these circles, that 
the same effects were produced upon them which 
would have been had they been isolated in connection 
with a galvanic battery." So it has been seen that, 
on touching Angelique Cottin, a person would receive 
a " true electric shock." This kind of shock was ex- 
perienced by Campeti and Bleton, in passing over 
mineral veins and subterraneous streams, as mentioned 
by Dr. Ashburner. " Many somnambulic persons," 
says C. Crowe, " are capable of giving an electric 
shock ; and I have met with one person, not somnam- 
bulic, who informed me that he has frequently been 
able to do it by an effort of the will." 

" When an iron plate was brought near to one of 
Reichenbach's patients, and a crystal brought in con- 
tact with it, the effect upon it was like an electric 
shock, which even ascended from the elbow to the 
shoulder." Many other cases might be cited to the 
same purpose. The magnet and iron have a specific 
action upon the nervous system ; and the same agent 
acts also from crystals, vegetable substances, and the 
human hand, nay, from the earth itself." The second 
number of Mr. Rogers's work contains some interesting 
facts of this character. 


** Vitality," says Dr. W. E. Channing, in his Notes 
on Electricity, " is dependent on physical conditions, 
and performs its functions by the agency of physical 
forces." The Rev. Thomas Hill, in his Fragmentary 
Supplement to the Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, ob- 
serves that " all bodies are moved through the agency 
of other bodies, and we see nowhere a motion whicti 
is not dependent upon physical causes, that is, which 
is not produced hj physical agents. Our will employs, 
unconsciously, the aid of nerve and muscle ; the su- 
preme will employs, with wise designs, the interven- 
tion of the laws of impulse, attraction, and repulsion." 
" When, in the course of ages, the comparative easy 
problems of astronomy were solved, problems of more 
difficulty were brought to view. Phenomena which 
were not obvious, not pictured alphabet, but the Jine 
print of creation, electrical, optical, and chemical 
phenomena, led men into more hidden knowledge." 

" The agents employed by the animal organization," 
says Dr. Channing, " are principles found universally 
IN NATURE, and, in addition to these, a force which is 
peculiar to living structures — the special agent of 
vitality." "Now, it might reasonably be expected, that 
if electricity, among other agents found " universally 
in nature," is also associated with the agent of the 
animal economy, it might, under favorable conditions, 
exhibit its characteristic phenomena. These condi- 
tions would, of course, be owing to a variation of the 
organism from its normal standard. The following 
case, given by Dr. Ennemoser, of Germany, exhibits 
some of these characteristics : — 

The case was that of a young woman, sister of a 
professor at Strasburg. Immediately on a sudden 


fright, she was seized Vvdth a nervous malady, which 
continued for a long period, and finally terminated in 
her death. Among the remarkable symptoms in her 
case were the following : — 

First. Those of somnambulism, with more or less 

Second. Her body became so highly charged with 
electricity that it was necessary to conduct it away 
by a regular process of conduction. 

Third. Her body would impart powerful shocks to 
those who came in contact, and even when they did 
not touch her. 

Fourth. She controlled its action so as to give her 
brother (the professor) a " smart shock when he was 
several rooms off." (The account states, that when 
the professor received the shock, " he started up and 
rushed into her chamber, where she was in bed ; and 
as soon as she saw him, she said, laughing, ' Ah, you 
felt it, did you ? ' ") 

Fifth. She was subject, also, to spasms and parox- 
ysms of rigor and trembling. 

Some of the phenomena, in this case, resemble those 
we see exhibited by the electric fish. The case is an 
important one in considering the command which 
the nerve centres possess over the general agents 
associated with them." 

We shall now present another singular case, which 
occurred in this country, in the month of January, 
1839, an account of which was given in Silliman's 
Journal, by a correspondent : — 

First. That " on the evening of January 28, 1839, 
during a somewhat extraordinary display of the 
northern lights, a espectable lady became so highly 


charged with electricity, as to give out vivid electrical 
sparks from the end of each finger, to the face of each 
of the company present." 

Second. That this did not cease with the heavenly 
phenomena, but continued several months, during 
which time she was constantly charged and giving 
off electrical sparks to every conductor she approached. 
This was extremely vexatious, as she could not touch 
the stove, or any metallic utensil, without giving 
off an electrical spark, with the consequent twinge. 

Third. That "the state most favorable to this 
phenomena was an atmosphere of about eighty 
degrees Fahrenheit, moderate exercise, and social 
enjoyment. It disappeared in an atmosphere ap- 
proaching zero, and under the debilitating effects of 

Fourth. That, " when seated by the stove, reading, 
with her feet upon the fender, she gave sparks at the 
rate of three or four a minute ; and under the most 
favorable circumstances, a spark that could be seen, 
heard, or felt, passed every moment." 

Fifth. That " she could charge others in the same 
way, when insulated, who could then give sparks 
to others." 

Sixth. " To make it satisfactory that her dress did 
not produce it, it was changed to cotton, and woollen, 
without altering the phenomenon. The lady is about 
thirty, of sedentary pursuits, and delicate state of 
health, having, for two years previously, suffered from 
acute rheumatism and neuralgic affections." 

For further investigation into the cause of singular 
phenomena evolved from secret agents, and the true 
philosophy of biology, magnetism, trance, &c., we 


would again refer to the numbers of a work by Mr. 
Rogers, now in process of publication. His principles 
and deductions challenge successful contradiction. 


Biology, so called, is one peculiar feature, or form, 
of mesmerism. " These experiments," says Dr. Rich- 
mond, " attracted much attention some three years 
since, in Ohio, and other places, and such was the 
intense excitement of the public mind that, in some 
places, parents and the public were obliged to inter- 
fere and stop children from biologizing each other." 
It was found that not only muscular motion, but the 
exercise of the senses, could be destroyed by the will 
of the operator. Taste was obliterated, or changed, 
memory destroyed, and any picture presented to the 
mind of the subject would be seen. Tell him he saw 
snakes, and he would become frightened, and rush 
with violence over the seats and benches. Tell him 
he was sleigh riding, and he would instantly seize the 
reins, and drive the horses with great glee. Tell him 
he was a witch ■— an old woman in rags — and he 
would own the character, and confess all the crimes 
with which you had charged him. Tell him he was 
a gay young lady, and another subject was about to 
court him, and a love scene would commence. Tell 
him he was cold, and he would shiver, his teeth chat- 
ter; he would stamp, and thresh his hands to keep 
them warm. Tell him it was summer — very hot, 


and he would begin fanning himself, fling off his coat, 
and, unless prevented, would divest himself of all 
garments tell him that a tiee of fruit was before him, 
and he would begin to fill his pockets. Sweep the 
room before him, and open the sky, and say that the 
river of life and a white throne were before him, that 
the judgment was set, and instantly he would assume 
the attitude of devotion ; he would gaze with burning 
eye and rapt delight into the scene of glory. Take 
him to a lake side, tell him a child was drowning in 
the water, and he would wade in, take it in his arms, 
and lay it carefully down, and weep over it in deep 
pity. Bring before him the lightning's flash, the 
thunder's roll, or proclaim a God in grandeur, and a 
world on fire, and, as once actually took place in Cov- 
ington, Kentucky, a dozen subjects fell in intense 
fright : some on to the floor, some on benches, others 
sought to fly, and all declared to the audience that a 
shower of fire seemed to be around them. Any im- 
age the operator sees fit to plant in the subject's mind 
is readily done ; any passion readily assumed ; rever- 
ence, revenge, vanity, love, hate, fear, mirth, joy, grief, 
or ecstasy, are all imitated at his bidding, and safely dis- 
persed and reproduced with the rapidity of thought, 
changing in an instant both the actions and motions 
of the subject. Tell the person he is suflbcating in 
water, and he will suffocate, unless you prevent him. 
Tell him he is struck on the head, and he falls, as if 
stricken down with a hammer. No doubt a subject 
might be killed by a mental impression — by saying 
to him he was shot through the heart, or was strug- 
gling in water. This is the opinion of all operators 
in the art. The subject at the time is, to all appear- 
23 " 


ance, i i a perfectly normal state ; his mental, moral, 
and physical powers seem unchanged, and he thinks 
at the time he can resist your power over him ; he but 
gives you his eye, and you lead him captive by men- 
tal impressions. The only perceptible variation from 
the normal state is, that the eye, in most subjects, is 
clear and glassy, the same eye that is observed in 
some maniacs, and in consumptive patients — clear, 
sharp, and fearful to look at. The hidden fires of the 
soul seem to burn through it, with intense force. I 
have watched it for months, and years, in consumptives, 
under the wasting of vitality; and the eye kindles 
and sparkles with more inteusxcy as they near their 
end. All impressible subjects have this eye, to a 
greater or less extent; aU consumptives have it, as 
well as those who in early life are inclined to con- 

The facts and incidents under the effects of biology 
are truly singular and wonderful ; and yet the advo- 
cates of the " spirit mania " admit there is nothing 
supernatural in them. For aught we can see, the 
phenomena put forth by the " rappers " differ not ma- 
terially from the biologic developments. They seem 
to be identical with each other. 

I know it is affirmed that the developments of elec- 
tro-biology do not cover the whole ground in dispute, 
inasmuch as men and women only are found to yield 
to its impressions, while chairs, tables, and other inan- 
imate objects remain unimpressed. But if chairs and 
tables are not moved by one form of magnetism, they 
are by another, as we have abundantly shown. And 
any one with half an eye cannot but see that it would 
require less efSort to move a table, or other inanimate 


object, than living, intelligent beings, capable of exert- 
ing their will in opposition to the effort. Dr. Rich- 
mond says he has " seen an operator draw a dozen 
persons from their seats, by the magnetic force of his 
hand, at the distance of many feet. The first move 
of the hand would bring the head forward, then the 
body, and by adding his voice, ' You will stand up,' 
they would, while resisting with the will, in spite of them- 
selves, stand up, and follow his hand around the room." 
If biologists have not usually exerted their power upon 
inanimate things, it has probably been because they 
did not deem it of sufficient importance. We have 
seen, however, a biologist raise a table to the ceiling 
of a room, kindly permitting it to stick there a while, 
to the no small amusement of the spectators ! And it 
can be done again. By the way, we would inquire 
what biologist is it that has sometimes lent his aid in 
the raising of tables, at a " circle " in East Boston, 
himself an unbeliever in " spirit table-lifting's .^" 

The editor of the Spiritual Telegraph says, that 
"in the biological experiments there is a visible human 
operator" but, "in the spiritual manifestations, no 
human operator can be found, or demonstrated to 
exist." But, pray, what is the "medium," in these 
manifestations, but a visible human operator ? Some- 
times it takes three or four persons to produce a single 
demonstration. And sometimes they cannot muster 
force enough to do this, especially if the weather be 
rainy. And this is probably the reason why the rap- 
pers at Poughkeepsie have resolved not to admit 
unbelievers, nor at any time more than two or three 
new-comers, at a " circle," making, with the believers, 
ten or twelve in all — successful results never being 
guarantied to those invited ta attend. 


Mr. Brittan himself asserts that it is " the same 
power that moves the human medium that also moves 
the wooden table" &c. Here we have a human medium 
that is moved to do something, and wooden tables, also ; 
and if we can discover the secret agent in the one case, 
we shall likewise in the other, for there is a perfect 
sameness or coincidence in their operations. It is the 
same unseen power, in both cases, moving chairs, tables, 
tubs, troughs, bedsteads, and piles of lumber, besides 
other gross, ponderable bodies — cutting up an infinite 
variety of pranks to the consternation of some, and the 
amusement of others, as A- J- Davis says of the dan- 
cing plates, knives and forks, shovel, tongs, and poker, 
moved by "electrical discharges and magnetic attrac- 
tions," or emanations of vital electricity seeking its 
equilibrium in the atmosphere. 


The faculty of imitating signatures, of writing 
music, poetry, specimens of foreign tongues, &c., is 
no more strange than imitating the voice and gestures 
of those we never heard nor saw. Persons of scarcely 
any education or talents, while under biological influ- 
ence, have been made to imitate the voice of Web- 
ster, Everett, Fillmore, and others, delivering off'-hand 
speeches of most impassioned diction and eloquence ; 
while, in their normal state, they could scarcely frame 
a paragraph in the king's English, much more de- 
liver a formal address, embellished with a profusion 
of metaphors, tropes, and figures, accompanied with 


the finished attitudes and movements of a Choate, a 
Sumner, or a Banks! These mesmeric imitations 
refer also to mechanical and artistic power, and every 
talent that characterizes us as intelligent beings. Some 
assert that mediums are in a perfectly normal state 
during the exhibitions of the " spirit " phenomena ; 
and yet, to the practical mesmerizer, nothing is plainer 
than that they are most absolutely mesmeric persons. 
The power of imitation among mediums is various, 
but distinct. Some draw maps, purporting to come 
from a deceased schoolmate. Others draw likenesses ; 
others speak in voices imitating the dead — but they 
can imitate the living just as well ; others hear sounds 
— the voice of a wife, or child, or friend. Walter 
Scott relates the case of an English gentleman who 
was ill, and was told by his physician that he had 
lived in London too long, and lived too fast; and 
advised him to retire to the country and ruralize. 
One of his troubles was, that a set of green dressed 
dancers would enter his drawing room, go through 
their evolutions, and retire. He knew it was an illu- 
sion, but could not resist the annoyance, or the 
impressions made on him. He returned to his coun- 
try seat, and, in a few weeks, got rid of his visitors. 
He concluded tp remain out of town, and sent to 
London for the furniture of his old parlor, to be placed 
in his country house ; but when it came, and was 
arranged in the room, the corps de ballet, dressed in 
green, all rushed into the room, exclaiming, " Here we 
are all again ! " He had associated in his mind the 
furniture and the dancing apparit'ons, and when it 
returned, they came with it, and, as he thought, spoke 
with voices. We recollect of reading in a medica. 


paper, published in Boston, an ajoount of a man who 
believed his house to be haunted by the de-\'i], in con- 
sequence of which he resolved to vacate it and remove 
into the country. His goods were packed into a 
wagon, and he was just upon the point of starting 
with his load, when to his surprise he heard a voice, 
seemingly among the goods, crying out, " We are all 
going together." " If that is the case," said the man, 
" I will unload again ; for if I am to have the devil's 
company, it may as well be in one place as another." 

The excessive use of wine will induce a state of 
the brain, in which the person thinks he hears voices 
and sees spirits ; but on close examination it will be 
found that it is the work of the abnormal powers, 
developed in the brain by stimulating agents or in- 
tense thinking. It will be recollected that Sweden- 
borg, after eating a late, heavy supper, heard a voice cry- 
ing out to him in terrible accents, " Eat not so much." 
(See chap. 5.) Such phenomena may unravel the 
voice Judge Edwards heard. His long-continued 
meditation on death, with night, solitude, loneliness, 
and grief, had so impressed him that he thought he 
heard a sound in exact imitation of the voice of his 
wife. In the case related by Scott, hearing was not 
only affected, but the organ of color was involved in 
the hallucination, and the green figures were as plain 
before him as real persons. This is always one of the 
phenomena of ghost-seeing that the seer aigsociates 
with the spectre, namely, fcrm and color ^ voice and 

The cases of imitation referred to, and others of the 
same class, are the results of the imitative mechanic 
power of the individual, brought out by the abnormal 


magnetic state existing at the time. For instance, 
if the individual has timB and tune — the faculty of 
music within lying undeveloped — it may be brought 
out, and made to act, by the effects of magnetism. 
Last winter we listened to a lecture delivered in 
Newark, New Jersey, by the Rev. Mr. Harris, from 
New York city. He stated that there was a lady in 
Providence, who, by the agency of spirits, produced 
musical compositions equal to the productions of the 
best masters, as Haydn, Beethoven, and others, and 
that a volume of these pieces were soon to be issued 
from the press. And although the said work has not 
been heard of as yet, still we doubt not that a person 
in a magnetic state might write very good music, even 
if totally ignorant of its rules, as this young lady was 
said to be. 

Phrenologists often tell persons that they would 
make excellent tailors, dressmakers, poets, painters, 
musicians, &c. — persons who never attempted to oper- 
ate in these callings. " All they need," it is said, " is 
an opportunity for the development of their powers." 
Now, magnetism tends to develop or rouse these 
dormant faculties into action. It also gives a far-reach- 
ing, a far-seeing grasp and perception of things, as in 
the case of Miss Martineau, who, be it remembered, 
was too intelligent to attribute such effects to the 
agency of spirits. 

A marked case of the increase of the imitative power 
of persons in the magnetic condition, is found in the 
case of Frederica HaufFe. In one of her magnetic 
moods she informed Dr. Kerner that she would make 
a diagram of the spheres. " The sun sphere," as she 
called it, is very complex ; but " she spun out the com- 


plicated web with unerring precision," and a pair of 
compasses given her to facilitate her labor only em- 
barrassed her. It is made up of circles within circles, 
and sections and points, amounting to thousands, 
related and connected ; and yet the " whole was ex- 
ecuted," says Dr. K., " in an incredible short space of 
time." An engraving was made of this sphere, and a 
year after she was shown the engraving, and said it 
was not correct ; a point on one of the lines was want- 
ing. On referring to the original, they found she was 
right. This diagram contained many curious things, 
and in some parts related to the highest departments 
of mathematics. This faculty she only possessed in 
the magnetic state, being wholly incompetent to the 
task when not clairvoyant. No living artist can exe- 
cute that diagram with a pen, with a fac-simile before 
him, with the rapidity with which that ignorant, un- 
lettered child of nature did it. " I have, in many 
cases," says Dr. Richmond, " witnessed this imitative 
power of mediums with the pen, dashing off figures 
and images with a rashness and rapidity almost in- 
conceivable." As far as we can see, there is no more 
proof of the agency of spirits in one case than in the 
other ; and we are sure no such claim was ever set up 
in the case of Mrs. Haufie, though living in a less 
enlightened region, perhaps, than these United States. 
We might multiply cases of this kind, but space will 
uot permit. 



The operator in biology or magnetism often la/s 
hold of the inquiring spectator, and uses him or her 
to imitate unseen letters, signatures, and sentences, in 
foreign languages. And no doubt but what Professor 
Bush has been made unconsciously instrumental in 
executing a few specimens of languages, his eyes wide 
open, it may be, all the while. It can be no more 
strange than that the son of Dr. Phelps should have 
been made unconsciously instrumental in tying himself 
to the limb of a tree in his father's yard, supposing it to 
have been done by spirits. (See the version of the 
affair by A. J. Davis.) 

A biological mesmerist assures us that he finds no 
difficulty in raising beds, chairs, and tables ; and in 
the case of Mr. KeUogg it is shown that such things 
are easily done without any aid from spirits. In the 
case of Dr. Taylor, the writing medium, it is shown, 
by the testimony of the spirits themselves, if their word 
is to be relied on, that the phenomena in his case were 
not done by spirits, but were the results of vital 
electricity. Such things are getting to be so common 
that we may expect soon to see the time when little 
ragged boys even (like those in Egypt, who went 
through the streets offering to show the spirit of any 
deceased friend for a penny or a piece of cake) will 
offer to lift tables, or imitate handwritings, at a penny 
a sight. We know of several " mediums," now engaged 
in these things, who confess they do not understand by 
what power it is they raise tables, or write sentences, 
&c., yet they do not believe it to be done by the agencv 


of disembodied spirits. In many schools, the children 
have been forbidden by their teachers to indulge in 
these foolish practices. This power may be electri- 
city, in some of its forms, or some other agent that has 
some relation or affinity to it, as in the cases related 
by Mr. Rogers. 


A FEW years since the inhabitants of Southboro', 
Massachusetts, were excited and alarmed at the ap- 
pearance of a light, about the sLze of a star, which for 
several successive nights was seen moving over a spot 
of land in the westerly part of the town. Upon ex- 
amining the premises by daylight, it was found that a 
quantity of bones that had been buried in the earth 
had been thrown upon the surface by the roots of a 
tree, the trunk of which had recently been prostrated' 
by a gale of wind. By many, these bones were sup- 
posed to belong to some human being, who, it was 
conjectured, had been murdered, and buried beneath 
the spot. And the light seen hovering near was con- 
sidered indicative of such an event. But if the 
reader will turn to the second chapter of this work, he 
wiU learn that these dancing lights, so called, arise 
from an inflammable gas, evolved from decayed 
animal and vegetable substances, which take fire on 
coming in contact with atmospheric air. This ignis 
fatuus, Jack-with-a-lantern, or Will-with-a-wisp appear- 
ance is generally seen in dark nights, over boggy 
and marshy ground, and generally in motion, at the 
height of five or six feet, skipping from place to place, 


and frequently changing in magnitude and form. 
On some occasions, it is observed to be suddenly ex- 
tinguished, and then to reappear at a distance from 
its former position. Those persons who have en- 
deavored to examine it closely have found that it 
moves away from them with a velocity proportioned 
to that of their advance — a circumstance which has 
had no small influence on the fears of the ignorant 
and superstitious. Dr. Denham once saw an ignis 
fatuus in a boggy place, between two rocky hills, in 
a dark and calm night. He approached by degrees 
within two or three yards of it, and thereby had an 
opportunity of viewing it to the best advantage. It 
kept skipping about a dead thistle, till a slight motion 
of the air — occasioned, as he supposed, by his near 
approach — caused it to jump to another place ; and 
as he advanced it kept flying before him. He ob- 
served it to be a uniform body of light, and concluded 
it must* consist of ignited vapor. These appearances 
are common on the plains of Boulogne, in Italy, where 
they sometimes flit before the traveller on the road, 
saving him the expense of a torch on dark nights. 
Sometimes they spread very wide, and then contract 
themselves ; and sometimes they float like waves, and 
appear to drop sparks of fire. They shine more 
strongly in rainy than in dry weather. 

An appearance of the same kind is sometimes met 
with at sea, during gales of wind, and, of course, has 
become connected with many superstitious notions 
of sailors, who call it a corpusant. There are some- 
times two together, and these are named Castor and 
Pollux. The following is a description of one, given 
by the voyager Dampier : " After four o'clock the 

276 sailors' omens. 

thunder and the rain abated, and then we saw a cor- 
pusant, at our maintopmast head. This sight rejoiced 
our men exceedingly, for the height of the storm is 
commonly over when the corpusant is seen aloft ; but 
when they are seen lying on the deck, it is generally 
accounted a bad sign. A corpusant is a certain small, 
glittering light ; when it appears, as this did, on the- 
very top of a mainmast, or at a yardarm, it is like a 
star ; but when it appears on the deck, it resembles a 
great glovirworm. I have been told that when the 
Spanish or Portuguese see them they go to prayers, 
and bless themselves for the happy sight. I have 
heard some ignorant seamen discoursing how they 
have seen them creep, or, as they say, travel about, in 
the scuppers, telling many dismal stories that happened 
at such times ; but I did never see any one stir out of 
the place where it was first fixed, except on deck, 
where every sea washeth it about. Neither did I ever 
see any but when we had rain as well as wind, and, 
therefore, do believe it is some jelly." 

The origin and nature of the lights above described 
have not yet been satisfactorily explained. More 
accurate observations than have been made are 
required to furnish the basis of a correct theory 
respecting them. 


Sailors, usually the boldest men alive, are yet not 
unfrequently the very abject slaves of superstitious 
fear. Nothing is more common than to hear them 


talk of noises, flashes, shadows, echoes, and other 
visible appearances, nightly seen and heard upon the 
waters. Andrews, in his Anecdotes, says, " Super- 
stition and profaneness, those extremes of human 
conduct, are too often found united in the sailor ; and 
the man who dreads the stormy effects of drowning a 
cat, of whistling a contra dance while he leans over 
the gunwale, wiU, too often, wantonly defy his Creator 
by the most daring execrations and licentious beha- 
vior." Dr. Pegge says that " sailors have a strange 
opinion of the devil's power and agency in stirring up 
winds, which notion seems to have been handed down 
from Zoroaster, who imagined that there was an evil 
spirit, called Vato, that could excite violent storms of 
wind." To lose a cat overboard, or to drown one, or 
to lose a bucket or a mop, is, at the present day, a 
^ery unlucky omen with common sailors. 


Theocritus and Virgil both introduce women into 
their pastorals, using charms and incantations to re- 
cover the aifections of their sweethearts. Shakspear*; 
represents Othello as accused of winning Desdemona 
" by conjuration and mighty magic." 

" Thou hast practised on her with foul charms ; 
Abused her delicate youth with drugs or minerals 
That waken motion. , 

She is abused, stolen from me, and corrupted, 
By spells and medicines bought of mountebanks." 



In Gay's Shepherd's Week, these are represented as 
country practices : — 

" Straight to the 'pothecary's shop I went, 
And in love powders all my money spent. 
Behap what will, next Sunday after prayers, 
When to the alehouse Lubberkin repairs, 
These golden flies into his mug I'll throw, 
And soon the swain with fervent love shall glow." 

In Love Melancholy, by Dr. Ferrand, it is said, 
" Wj have sometimes among us our silly wenches, 
some that, out of a foolish curiosity they have, must 
needs be putting in practice some of those feats that 
they have received by tradition from their mother 
perhaps, or nurse ; and so, not thinking forsooth to do 
any harm, as they hope to paganize it to their own 
damnation. For it is most certain that botanomancy, 
which is done by the noise, or crackling, that box or 
bay leaves make when they are crushed between one's 
hands, or cast into the fire, was of old in use among 
the pagans, who were wont to bruise poppy flowers 
betwixt their hands, by this means thinking to know 
their loves." Speaking of the ancient love charms, 
characters, amulets, or such like periapses, Dr. F. says, 
" They are such as no Christian physician ought to use, 
notwithstanding that the common people do to this 
day too superstitiously believe and put in practice 
many of these paganish devices." 

Miss Blandy, who was executed many years ago 
for poisoning her father, persisted in affirming that 
she thought the powder given her by her villanous 
lover, Cranston, to administer to him, was a " love 
powder," which was to conciliate her father's affection 
to her lover. She met her death with this assevera- 


tion ; and her dying request, to be buried close to her 
father, seems a corroborating proof, that though she 
was certainly the cause of his premature death, yet 
she was not, in the blackest sense of the word, his 
wilful murderer. 

We quote the following lines from Herrick's 
Hesperides : — 


" If SO be a toad be laid 
In a sheepskin newly flayed, 
And that tied to a man, 'twill sever 
Him and his affections ever " 


"Whenever a real ghost appears, — by which we 
mean some man or woman dressed up to frighten 
another, — if the supernatural character of the appari- 
tion has been for a moment believed, the effects on 
the spectator have always been injurious — sometimes 
producing convulsions, idiocy, madness, or even in- 
stantaneous death. The celebrated Allston, the 
painter, when in England, related the following in- 
cident to his friend Coleridge, the poet : " It was, I 
think," said he, " in the University of Cambridge, 
near Boston, that a certain youth took it into his 
wise head to convert a Tom Paine-ish companion of 
his by appearing as a ghost before him. He accord- 
ingly dressed himself up in the usual way, having 
previously extracted the ball from the pistol which 
always lay near the head of his friend's bed. Upon 


first awakening, and seeing the apparition, the youth 
that was to be frightened very coolly looked his com- 
panion, the ghost, in the face, and said, ' I know you ; 
this is a good joke ; but you see I am not frightened. 
Now you ^nay vanish.' The ghost stood still. 
' Come,' said the youth, ' that is enough. I shall 
get angry ; away ! ' Still the ghost moved not. ' By 
heavens ! ' ejaculated the young man, ' if you do not, 
in three minutes, go away, I'll shoot you.' He 
waited the time, deliberately levelled his pistol, fired, 
and with a scream at the immovability of the figure, 
became convulsed, and soon afterwards died. The 
very instant he believed it to be a ghost, his human 
nature fell before it." 


In the year 1804, an invisible lady and acoustic 
temple were exhibited in Boston, as an " Extraordinary 
Aerial Phenomenon." Its body was made of glass 
It gave answers to questions asked by visitors. In 
London, a few years ago, there was shown an ap- 
paratus consisting of a four-footed stand, and several 
trumpet-mouthed tubes, from any one of which spec- 
tators received ready answers to questions. The 
answers were said to come from the " invisible girl ; " 
but the true explanation of the puzzle was, that a 
secret tube, in the legs of the apparatus, communicat- 
ed the sounds to a girl in a neighboring apartment. 
Probably something similar was arranged in the glass 
body exhibited in Boston; and if we mistake not, 
during the sojourn of Joice Heth, of iP^re recent 


notoriety, at the Albany Museum, a shrewd Albanian, 
after a minute and diligent examination, made the 
wonderful discovery that the old lady, or nurse of 
Washing-ton, was composed of India rubber, and was 
made to breathe, speak, cry, sing, &c., by the aid of 
ventriloquism I 

In a case of spirit rappings. Professor Grimes dis- 
covered that the party had contrived to have some 
levers concealed beneath the floor, and by means of 
certain little pegs coming through where the rappers 
sat, connecting with the levers, aU nicely poised on a 
balance, they placed their feet upon them, and pro- 
duced the raps at pleasure. And in the case of the 
Rochester rappers, when their ankles were firmly held 
by the committee of investigation, it is said a servant 
girl rapped with her knuckles under the floor. Mrs. 
Culver, who had been instructed by the Fox family, 
and had practised with them a while, afterwards re- 
nounced the craft, and exposed this among other 
deceptions to the world. "The girl," she says, "was 
instructed to rap whenever she heard their voices call- 
ing for spirits." 


The operations of the men sorcerers in India are 
quite scientific. They set about their work in a busi- 
ness-like manner, and in sight of the house of their 
intended victim the mystic caldron begins to boil and 
bubble. The victim, however, is not to be terrified 
out of his senses. What are his enemy's fires and 


incantations to him ? He takes no notice, and con- 
tinues to live on as though there was not a sorcerer in 
the world. But that smoke : it meets his eye the first 
object every morning. That ruddy glare : it is the last 
thing he sees at night. That measured but inartic- 
ulate sound : it is never out of his ear. His thoughts 
dwell on the mystical business. He is preoccupied, 
even in company.' He wonders what they are putting 
into the pot, and if it has any connection with the 
spasm that has just shot through him. He becomes 
nervous ; he feels sick ; he cannot sleep from thinking ; 
he cannot eat for that horrid broth that bubbles for- 
ever in his mind. He gets worse and worse, and 
dies ! But this empire of the imagination is beaten 
in Java, where it is supposed that a housebreaker, by 
throwing a handful of earth upon the beds of the 
inmates, completely incapacitates them from moving 
to save their property. The man who is to be robbed, 
on feeling the earth fall upon him, lies as motionless 
as if bound hand and foot. He is under a spell, which 
he feels unable to break. 


In the East, men are believed to be frequently met- 
amorphosed — sometimes voluntarily, sometimes in- 
voluntarily — into tigers. The voluntary transforma- 
tion is effected merely by eating a certain root, where- 
upon the person is instantly changed into a tiger ; and 
when tired of this character, he has only to eat an- 
other, when, as qui .k as thought, he subsides from a 


tiger into a man. But sometimes mistakes happen 
An individual of an inquiring disposition once felt a 
strong curiosity to know the sensations attendant on 
transformation I but, being a prudent man, he set 
about the transformation with all necessary precau- 
tion. Having provided himself with 

"the insane root 
That takes the reason prisoner," 

he gave one also to his wife, desiring her to stand by 
and watch the event, and as soon as she saw him fairly 
turned into a tiger, to thrust it into his mouth. She 
promised, but her nerves were not equal to the per- 
formance. As soon as she saw her husband fixed in 
his new form, she took to flight, carrying in her hand, 
in the confusion of her mind, the root that would have 
restored him to her faithful arms. And so it befell that 
the poor tiger-man was obliged to take to the woods, 
and for many a day he dined on his old neighbors of 
the village, but was at last shot, and recognized I 

In this superstition will be seen the prototype of the 
wolf mania of mediaeval Europe. In Brittany, men 
betook themselves to the forests in the shape of wolves, 
out of a morbid passion for the amusement of howl- 
ing and ravening; but if they left in some secure 
place the clothes they had thrown off to prepare for 
the metamorphosis, they had but to reassume them 
to regain their natural forms. But sometimes a catas 
trophe, like that above related, took place : the wife 
discovered the hidden clothes, and carrying them home, 
in the innocent carefulness of her heart, the poor hus- 
band lived and died a w If! 



In a former part of this volume, we have spoken 
of several impositions upon the credulity of the public, 
in matters appertaining to health. The astrologists 
have told us that " some plants are only to be plucked 
at the rising of the dog-star, when neither sun nor 
moon shine, while others are to be cut with a golden 
knife, when the moon is just six days old." To some 
particular plants " a string must be fastened, a hungry 
dog tied thereto, who, being allured by the smell of 
roasted flesh set before him, may pluck it up by the 
roots." At one time, the vegetable oil of swallows 
was considered a potent remedy. It was prepared 
" by compounding twenty different herbs with twenty 
live swallows, well beaten together in a mortar." 
Another medicine was prepared from the raspings of a 
human skull ; another from the moss, growing on the 
head of a thief, who had been gibbeted and left to 
hang in the air. In addition to these, we have had 
'' the powder of a mummy ; the liver of frogs ; the blood 
of weasels ; an ointment made of sucking whelps ; the 
marrow of a stag ; and the thigh bone of an oxP And 
we have numerous modern nostrums scarcely better 
than these, by which the gullible public are often 
sorely victimized. 

There are many opinions among the people, which 
prove highly deleterious in being carried into practice. 
For instance, that we must " stuff a cold to cure it," 
when the reverse of the case is the only safe mode of 
procedure. In a cold, the lungs are already loaded 
and congested with accumulations of muco-purulent 


matter, which is increased by taking large quantities 
of food. 

Erroneous views, in regard to cleanliness, often 
lead to great mischief. There is a notion with some 
that dirt is really healthy, especially for children. 
This idea probably originated from the fact, that 
those children who are allowed to play in the dirt are 
often more healthy than those who are confined in the 
nursery or parlor. But it should be remembered that 
it is not dirt which promotes their health, but active 
exercise in the open air. This more than compensates 
for the injury sustained by the dirt. There is, how- 
ever, something deceitfrd, after all, in the ruddy ap- 
pearance of these children, who, like some four-footed 
animals, are allowed to wallow in mire and dirt ; for 
they actually suffer more, not only from chronic, but 
from acute diseases, than children whose parents are 
in better circumstances. The pores of the skin, as we 
have shown in the Family Physician, published by us 
a few years since, cannot be closed with filth for any 
length of time, and the subject remain uninjured. It 
is true, some years may pass away before the bad 
effects appear ; but in after life, scrofula, rheumatism, 
jaundice, and even consumption, often arise after the 
cause which first gave rise to them is forgotten, if 
indeed it were ever suspected. It is our candid 
opinion, that a larger part of the deaths that occur 
among children by typhoid, scarlet fever, and other 
baleful diseases, is owing to some defect in manage- 
ment, as to diet, air, dress, or exercise, which we will 
briefly show in this connection. 

There are some, in adult life, who abstain wholly 
from external ablutions, and never think of washing 


their bodies from one year to another. Now, such 
persons must be considered, to say the least, to be of 
an uncleanly habit ; and such a habit is not only 
unfavorable to health, but to morality. Mr. Wesley 
reckons cleanliness to be second only to godliness. 
We venture to affirm that he who is most guilty of 
personal neglect will generally be found the most 
ignorant and vicious. I am well acquainted with a 
whole family who neglect their persons from principle. 
They are a sort of new lights in religious things, and 
hold that the true Christian should " slight the hove], 
as beneath his care." But there is a want of intel- 
ligence, and even of common refinement, in the family, 
that certainly does not, and cannot, add much to their 
own happiness or comfort, aside from the fact that it 
greatly annoys their neighbors. 

We do not pretend to say but that there are some 
great and good persons who are slovenly in their 
general appearance ; but these are only exceptions to 
a general rule. On the contrary, common observation 
teaches us that it is a distinguishing mark of low-bred 
rowdyism, and of vicious and intemperate habits, to 
see young men dressed in the most loose and careless 
manner. A person of refinement and cultivation 
would feel ashamed to appear in such a manner 
before the public gaze. 

Neglect of proper ventilation leads to incomparable 
mischief. There are many persoris who live through 
the day in closely confined and excessively heated 
apartments, and also sleep in small contracted bed 
rooms, without the least opportunity for a current of 
fresh air. Who can wonder that they rise in the 
morning with wearied limbs, languid and listless. 


with a furred tongue, parched mouth, and headache ? 
They are continually subjected to inhaling, over and 
over, the poison, the miasma, of their own bodies, 
which cannot but result, in the end, to the great detri- 
ment of health. We are perfectly astonished, often- 
times, to see to what an extent such a thing is carried. 
Take this, in connection with eating improper and 
badly-cooked food, fat meats, gravies, and pastries, 
the want of suitable protection against atmospheric 
changes, and active exercise in the open air, and who 
can marvel at the prevalence of deadly fevers, con- 
sumption, or cholera even ? It is only a matter of 
surprise that there are not ten deaths where there ia 
now one. 

Look at the quality of the meats purchased for use. 
It is now a common practice with farmers (in order to 
save the milk) to sell their calves for market as soon 
as born ; and people eagerly purchase this immatured 
meat because afforded at a low price. Then look at 
the enormous quantities of pork consumed. Go past 
the sausage factories, in the cities of Jersey, and you 
behold it heaped in piles, ready for the work of the 
hundreds of " choppers," driven by steam. Then look 
into the groceries, see the array of pound sausage 
meat, and cheese heads, so called. A grocer in 
Newark city informed us, last winter, that sausage 
meat and buckwheat cakes fornied three quarters of 
the aliment of the citizens. And in Paterson, New 
Jersey, in the hottest of the season, calves were lying 
upon the pavements, ready to be slaughtered, and 
almost as momentarily devoured, as occasion de- 
manded. Even the poor fowls, their legs swollen 
with inflammation from the cords with which they 


were bound, and half famished for water and food^ 
and fevered by fright and exposure, were readily pur 
chased by men and women, to satisfy the cravings of 
a perverted appetite. When we behold such practices, 
we cannot think it strange that mortality should be so 
rife as it is at times, especially when the atmosphere 
is in a condition to affect the body in a predisposed 
state, favorable to the development of diseases, such 
as that of small-pox, cholera, fever and ague, scarlet 
and typhoid, (i. e., decomposing fever,) which is the 
concentration of all others. The food we eat may 
convey the disease within, and unless the state of our 
system is healthy and harmonious, the resisting power 
will not be equal to the force and action of the exter- 
nal elements, and consequently we shall become a 
prey to the contagion, whatever type or form it 
assumes. "We are somewhat inclined to think that 
A. J. Davis (who is a physician by profession) is 
correct, when he says, " The atmosphere has had the 
cholera, more or less, for thirty years, and will continue 
to have it until there occurs a geological change in 
many portions of the earth ; and from the atmosphere 
the disease has been, and is, communicated epidemi- 
cally to the predisposed potato plant, and also to the 
human system." A late English writer remarks, that 
" certain diseases prevail at the approach of the 


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