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would keep him.' The reader may determine for himself 'which is the wiser here, Justice or Iniquity ':—■ You have got to hear my story fust. I am happy now, since I have larnt how for to wrap. You must pity my ignorance instead of laughing. I can tell you, I am sorry I lived as I did; but no decent man would speak to me when I wanted to reform, and now I am not abel to converse as wel as a littel infant, because I have nobody to larn me how. Now do remember the poor; and remember that poverty makes them bad. You must not pas them by.'
That such a work should have reached a tenth edition in the year after its first publication, is of course a strong encouragement to the manufacture of other articles of the same kind. Writings from the other world seem now to have become part of the regular stock in trade of American literature, and may be expected as part of the contents of every catalogue of new publications. One of these precious documents is now lying before us, purporting to be the production of the spirit of Tom Paine, through the mediumship of a Mr. Wood. The editor, a Mr. Burbank, vouches for it as ' a work of singular merit,' the beginning of what was designed to be 'a stupendous production' in thirty volumes of three hundred pages each. This design has, happily for readers, been abandoned; and the spirit of the notorious Tom has confined his communications for the present within the modest limits of a single pamphlet, which the editor pronounces to be certainly the work of Thomas Paine, on the ground of two convincing arguments: 'the one, that the chirography is a facsimile of Mr. P.'s; the other, that the style of composition is peculiarly his own—and that is acknowledged to be almost inimitable.' The first of these arguments we must take for granted on the editor's word, as no specimen is given either of the original 'chirography' or of its imitation: as regards the second, we arc quite ready to admit that in the prominent features of the composition, 'Tom the second reigns like Tom the first.' For ignorance, coarseness, and blasphemy, the work is quite worthy of its reputed parent; but unhappily these qualities are anything but inimitable. Tom has not improved in writing. English since he left the earth; witness his attempt to advertise the revelations of Andrew Jackson Davis, 'of whose philosophy,' he says,' allow me now to speak in commendable terms]—meaning, we suppose, terms of commendation. Nor yet has he advanced in scientific knowledge; witness his account of the development of man, 'as the highest physical ultimate of matter . . . having come up by regular stages of gradation from the monad' (surely either Tom Darwinizes or Darwin Tomizcs) . . . 'the fish running
into the saurian, the saurian into the bird, the bird into the marsupial, the marsupial into the mammalial, the mammalia] into the human'—from which we learn two things: first, philologically, that the proper name of the class is mammalialia; secondly, physiologically, that marsupials are not mammals. Nor yet has Tom advanced in Biblical learning; for he tells us that 'according to Scripture' Noah's ark contained, among other animals,' two mammoths,' ' two whales,' 'two sea-serpents,' and ' two sharks.' The main feature of his theology consists in the assertion that God is not a person, but 'an innate quality of and principle in matter.' His remarks on Christian doctrines arc too blasphemous to quote.
Such are a few specimens of the revelations proclaimed in America by 'Writing Mediums.' The manner in which these revelations are produced is thus lucidly explained by one of the inspiring spirits, to wit, the above Thomas Paine: 'Aromal electricity is thrown into the system of the medium, and concentrated in the arm in quantities sufficiently large, and in currents sufficiently rapid, as to check the power of the animal electricity of the brain. Hence, so long as these currents are continued by us, accompanied by passiveness in the medium, ice are able to use the arm of the medium, and leave his mind as free to think as ever.' The explanation and the development of the system are doubtless due to our Transatlantic kinsmen ; but we insist that the germ of the theory is of genuine British birth. The original idea is manifestly the property of Bayes in the ' Rehearsal,' who tells us that his best song was made by Tom Thimble's first wife after she was dead, and that he himself is 'clara-voyant.'
If one may not laugh at fooleries like these, it is difficult to imagine for what purpose a sense of the ludicrous was given to man. Yet, * even in laughter the heart is sorrowful,' and Heraclitus, no less than Democritus, might moralise in his own vein over such a spectacle. That these so-called spiritual communications should be established as a regular and periodical phenomenon in the literature of a civilized people, as a fountain to send forth at the same place' sweet water and bitter, the vehicle, now of religious instruction, and now of the wildest and most insane falsehood and blasphemy; that its pretensions in both characters alike should be eagerly proclaimed and indiscriminately received by a large population of impostors or dupes, seeking at all hazards for signs and wonders, be they from God or be they from Satan—such things, while we cannot but laugh at their folly, make us weep and blush for the weakness of our nature which makes such folly possible. The case, both in its ludicrous and in its painful aspect, has been rather understated than overstated. We have drawn our examples, in a great measure, from the better specimens of the literature and from the more respectable witnesses: our worst instance belongs to a class in which worse follies remain behind.
What conclusion are we to draw from these phenomena as a whole? If our materials were of a more uniform character, whether for good or for evil, we should have less difficulty in forming an opinion about them. As it is, we are embarrassed by the multitude of our riches. The spirit theory has now assumed a completeness and rotundity which enables it to meet all objections and defy all discrimination. There are, as is now maintained by its defenders, Pagan and Pantheistic, as well as Christian spirits; foolish and lying, as well as wise and truthful spirits. Thus no amount of falsehood or folly in the communication can be urged as an objection; for these may naturally be expected from spirits of a cognate character. But here the sceptic interposes with a new difficulty: 'By your own showing,' he says, 'I am justified in rejecting all such communications without further inquiry. For if the spirits tell me nothing but what I knew before or can find out for myself, their teaching is superfluous: if, on the other hand, they tell me things that I cannot discover for myself, I have no ground on which to believe them; for, by your own admission, it is at least an even chance whether the communicating spirit is one of the wise and truthful, or one of the silly and lying order. Indeed, by the latest evidence, the latter seem to be in a majority.'
It is scarcely possible to go far into the multifarious contents of American 'spiritualist' literature, without coming to the conclusion that, even admitting the possibility of a certain portion of truth at the foundation, an enormous mass of fraud and delusion has been employed in the superstructure. Some of the asserted facts are such as it seems hardly possible to attribute to anything but wilful imposture or mad fanaticism. Others might, perhaps, furnish materials for a new chapter in psychology, illustrating the influence, in certain abnormal states, of mind over matter, in relation, not merely to the phenomena of the senses, but also to the actions usually dependent upon the will. The communications made by ' writing mediums ' bear a remarkable resemblance to the power of mechanical writing exhibited by some of Mr. Braid's 'hypnotised' patients ; * both actions being apparently severed from all connexion with the will of the
* See Carpenter's 'Human Physiology,' p. 8C0, (4th edit.)
agent, agent, and from all consciousness of what is being written. This uniformity of mental state, under great varieties of bodily condition and external circumstances, seems to indicate the action of some common mental law, of which the bodily antecedents and concomitants are as yet but imperfectly known. The same law may, perhaps, be traced in table-turning, if, in accordance with Mr. Faraday's explanation, we refer the effect produced to a partially involuntary and unconscious exertion of muscular power.
• But when we have deducted from these phenomena everything that can be attributed to fraud or self-delusion, $nd everything that can be traced to known or presumable natural laws, material or mental, may there not still remain a residue of well-authenticated facts which defy explanation on any natural grounds? We are far from denying that 'this may be the case; but to ascertain the existence, the amount, and the value of this residue, to sift the wheat of spiritualism—if wheat there be—from die chaff, of which there certainly is a great deal, requires a far more careful investigation and a far more discriminating judgment than is possessed by most of the writers who have hitherto come forward as the exponents of the supernatural hypothesis. Little help can be expected from the shark-like deglutition and ostrich-like digestion of such witnesses as Mr. Howitt and Governor Tallmadge. While admitting, in the language of Johnson, that some belief in apparitions of the dead may be supported by 'the concurrent and unvaried testimony of all ages and of all nations,' we see a marked difference between the venerable and general belief or superstition of past ages, and the gotup exhibitions of the present day ; and this difference compels us to regard the latter as a distinct class of phenomena, of mushroom growth and upstart pretensions, whose claims to reception must be founded entirely on their own merits, and not on their very questionable descent from an ancient and respected ancestry. And without denying that they may possess some substantial merit which further inquiry may elicit, we recognise in their present assumptions too much of the characteristic brag and bluster of the country to which they belong, to accept the estimate of their worth on their own valuation.
We are free to confess that we entertain in secret a sneaking kindness for ' that last lingering fiction of the brain, the churchyard ghost,' and regard his gradual extinction with the same feelings with which we grieve over the approaching end of the last scion of an ancient and honoured family. But towards our modern hobgoblins, who perform their fantastic tricks under Mr. Home's tables, we find it difficult to entertain the same Vol. 114.— No. 227. P feeling. feeling. Our judgment concerning them more nearly approaches to that recorded in an old anecdote narrated by Bacon; not Dr. Dexter's Bacon in the spirit, but Queen Elizabeth's and King James's Bacon in the flesh.
'Sir Edward Dyer, a grave and wise gentleman, did much believe in Kelly the alchemist, that he did indeed the work, and made gold; insomuch that he went into Germany, where Kelly then was, to inform himself fully thereof. After his return, he dined with my Lord of Canterbury, where at that time was at the table Dr. Brown, the physician. They fell in talk of Kelly.* Sir Edward Dyer, turning to the Archbishop, said, " I do assure your Grace that that I shall tell' you is truth: I am an eyewitness thereof; and if I had not seen it I should not have believed it. I saw Master Kelly put of the base metal into the crucible; and after it was set a little upon the Are, and a very small quantity of the medicine put in, and stirred with a stick of wood, it came forth in great proportion, perfect gold; to the touch, to the hammer, to the test" My Lord Archbishop said, "You had need take heed what you say, Sir Edward Dyer, for here is an infidel at the board." Sir Edward Dyer said again, pleasantly, " 1 would have looked for an infidel sooner in any place than at your Grace's table." "What say you, Dr. Brown?" saith the Archbishop. Dr. Brown answered, after his blunt and huddling manner, "The gentleman hath spoken enough for me." "Why," saith the Bishop ; " what hath he said?" "Marry," saith. Dr. Brown, "he said he would not have believed it except he had seen it, and no more will I."'
• Art. VII.—1. English Forests and Forest Trees; Historical, Legendary, and Descriptive. London, 1853.
2. Flores Ecclesia; the Saints of the Catlwlic Church arranged according to the Calendar, with the Flowers dedicated to them. London, 1849.
3. The Church's Floral Calendar. London, 1862.
4. Deutsche Mythologie. Von Jacob Grimm. Gottingen.
* TT was never a merry world,' said the learned Selden, 'since _l_ the fairies left off" dancing, and the parsons left off conjuring.' What amount of merriness might return to us if the parsons could be persuaded to resume their conjuring caps, we can hardly foresee; but we are sure there are a thousand good reasons for regretting the fairies. To say nothing of such substantial comforters as fairy aunts and godmothers—who are but distant cousins