A SERIES OF ORIGINAL PAPERS, EMBRACING PHILOSOPHY, SCIENCE, GOVERNMENT, RELIGION, POETRY, ART, FICTION, SATIRE, HUMOR, NARRATIVE, AND PROPHECY.
BY THE SPIRITS OF IRVING, WILLIS, THACKERAY, BRONTE, RICHTER, BYRON, HUMBOLDT, HAWTHORNE, WESLEY, BROWNING, AND OTHERS NOW DWELLING IN THE SPIRIT WORLD
DICTATED THROUGH A CLAIRVOYANT, WHILE IN AN ABNORMAL OR TRANCE STATE.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
HENRY J. RAYMOND To the New York Public MARGARET FULLER Literature in Spirit Life LORD BYRON To His Accusers NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE Apparitions WASHINGTON IRVING Visit to Henry Clay NAPOLEON BONAPARTE To The French Nation W. M. THACKERAY His Post Mortem Experience ARCHBISHOP HUGHES Two Natural Religions EDGAR A. POE The Lost Soul JEAN PAUL RICHTER Invisible Influences CHARLOTTE BRONTE Agnes Reef. A Tale ELIZABETH B. BROWNING To Her Husband ARTEMUS WARD In and Out of Purgatory LADY BLESSINGTON Distinguished Women PROFESSOR OLMSTEAD Locality of the Spirit World ADAH ISAACS MENKEN Hold Me Not N.P. WILLIS Off-Hand Sketches MARGARET FULLER City of Spring Garden GILBERT STUART Art Conversation EDWARD EVERETT Government FREDERIKA BREMER Flight to my Starry Home REV. LYMAN BEECHER The Sabbath—Its Uses PROF. GEORGE BUSH Life and Marriage in Spirit Life JUNIUS BRUTUS BOOTH Acting by Spirit Influence REV. JOHN WESLEY Church of Christ N. P. WILLIS A Spirit Revisiting Earth ALLAN CUNNINGHAM Alone BARON VON HUMBOLDT The Earthquake SIR DAVID BREWSTER Naturalness of Spirit Life H.T. BUCKLE Mormons W.E. BURTON Drama in Spirit Life CHAS. L. ELLIOTT Painting in Spirit Life COMEDIAN'S POETRY Rollicking Song LADY HESTER STANHOPE Prophecy PROFESSOR MITCHELL The Planets DR. JOHN W. FRANCIS Causes of Disease and Insanity ADELAIDE PROCTER The Spirit Bride
BY THE EDITOR.
In placing before the public a work with such novel and extraordinary demands upon its consideration, a few explanatory words seem appropriate.
Its title and contents will doubtless at first sight cause a smile of incredulity, and will be regarded by many as one of the devices which are sometimes put forward to entrap an unsuspecting public into the perusal of a sensational hoax.
For a number of years past the community has been surprised with accounts of most incredible marvels; and from time to time the press has reported various phenomena in connection with an unrecognized force and intelligence, as occurring in almost every locality throughout the habitable globe.
These phenomena are thought by many to be mere illusions, and by some attributed to peculiar electrical conditions; while others seek their solution in an abnormal state of the brain; and others still believe them dependent on an actual intercourse between mortals and those who have passed beyond the grave.
Having become interested in this mysterious and exciting subject, and finding the means at hand for testing the various phenomena, I resolved to undertake a series of experiments, with the hope of exposing a delusion, if such it were, or perchance, of clearing up a mystery which, by the magnitude and importance it has already assumed, is disturbing the foundations of old beliefs and steadily diffusing it's theories and doctrines into the very heart of society.
Among other expedients to attain this end (assuming the hypothesis that spirits of the departed were in a condition to communicate with mortals), I interrogated, through the instrumentality of a clairvoyant gifted with the remarkable power of passing at will into an unconscious or trance state, the spirits of a number of well-known individuals concerning their views and sentiments in their present state of existence.
In response to my questions, an intelligent answer was received from the Countess Ossoli (Margaret Fuller), with the assurance that my desire was apprehended and would receive the hearty co-operation of those to whom it was addressed.
The process by which the papers were given was that of dictation through the clairvoyant while in an abnormal or trance condition and with her eyes closed. The matter was written in pencil as it fell from her lips, and subsequently transcribed for the press.
The difficulties attending the transmission of ideas through the medium of another mind, even under ordinary circumstances, must be apparent to all, and the unprejudiced reader may readily perceive obstacles to the literal reproduction of their respective styles and language by the various contributors.
Yet, notwithstanding the impediments to felicity of expression, I feel assured that persons at all familiar with the characteristics of the originals will readily perceive a marked resemblance in style to that of the authors named.
In the delivery of the articles, their composers would usually assume or personate their own individual characteristics; thus, Artemus Ward's conversation and gestures were exceedingly ludicrous. He was the very personification of mirth, occasionally going to the wall and humorously "chalking out" his designs. Archbishop Hughes expressed himself in a quiet, earnest, and eloquent manner. Lady Blessington was full of vivacity, and Margaret Fuller was our Presiding Angel; while Booth would become vehement to an intense degree, and at times would mount some article of furniture in the room, becoming passionately eloquent, as if again upon the "mimic stage of life."
An intelligent public will perceive the mental effort incident upon the production of a series of articles so unusually varied; embracing the distinctive qualities of Philosophy, Science, Religion, Political Economy, Government, Satire, Humor, Poetry, Fiction, Narrative, Art, Astronomy, etc., etc.; and the query has fitly been advanced,—what mind, in the exercise of its normal functions,—has furnished a consecutive number of essays so surprising in novelty, so diverse in sentiment, so consistent in treatment, and so forcibly original, as those embraced in this volume? What intellect so versatile as to reproduce in song and narrative the characteristic styles of so many, and yet so dissimilar authors?
In designating the locality of the Second Life, frequent repetition of certain terms, such as spirit world, etc., were unavoidable. For weeks and months the unseen visitors were punctual to their appointments, and this novel mode of book-making proceeded steadily in interest and variety until the volume was completed.
The work is now inscribed to a discriminating public, with a lively confidence that the advanced intelligence and freedom of the age will yield it an ingenuous reception.
HENRY J. HORN.
NEW YORK, October 1st, 1869.
HENRY J. RAYMOND.
TO THE NEW YORK PUBLIC.
I have often thought that if it should ever be my privilege to become a ghost I would enlighten the poor, benighted denizens of the earth as to how I did it, and give a more definite account of what I should see, and the transformation that would befall me, than either Benjamin Franklin or George Washington had been able to do in the jargon that had been set before me by Spiritualists as coming from those worthies.
"Stuff!" I have exclaimed again and again, after looking over spirit communications and wondering why a man should become so stilted because he had lost his avoirdupoise.
The opportunity which I boasted I would not let slip has arrived. The public must judge of how I avail myself of this ghostly power.
Now and then I was troubled with strange misgivings about the future life. I had a hope that man might live hereafter, but death was a solemn fact to me, into whose mystery I did not wish too closely to pry.
"Presentiments," as the great English novelist remarks, "are strange things." That connection with some coming event which one feels like a shadowy hand softly touching him, is inexplicable to most men.
I remember to have felt several times in my life undefined foreshadowings of some future which was to befall me; and just previous to my departure from earth, as has been generally stated in the journals of the day, I experienced a similar sensation. An awful blank seemed before me—a great chasm into which I would soon be hurled. This undefined terror took no positive shape.
After the death of my son I felt like one who stood upon a round ball which rolled from under him and left him nowhere.
The sudden death of James Harper added another shock to that which I had already felt. I did not understand then, though I have since comprehended it, that I was like some great tree, rooted in the ground, which could not be dragged from the earth in which it was buried until it had received some sudden blow to loosen its hold and make its grip less tenacious.
But in the very midst of these feelings I sought the society of friends, and endeavored around the social board to exhilarate my senses and drown these undesirable fancies.
Life seemed more secure among friends, but death was not to be dodged. It caught me unarmed and alone at midnight in the very doorway of my house.
I had crossed the threshold, and remember trying to find the stairs and being seized with a dizziness. The place seemed to spin around and I felt that I was falling. Next, a great weight seemed to press me down like some horrid nightmare. I endeavored to groan, to cry out and struggle from under it, but it held me fast. After this I seemed to be falling backward through a blackness—an inky blackness. It came close to me, and pressed close upon my lips and my eyes. It smothered me; I could not breathe.
Then ensued a struggle within me such as Lazarus might have felt when he endeavored to break through his grave cerements. It was frightful, that effort for mastery!
I understand it now. It was the soul fighting its way into birth as a spiritual being, like a child fighting its way out of its mother's womb.
I remember feeling faint and confused after that, like one who has long been deprived of food. An unconsciousness stole over me for a moment, from which I was awakened by a sudden burst of light. I seemed to open my eyes upon some glorious morning. I felt an arm around me; I turned and met the smiling face of my son. I thought myself in a dream, and yet I was filled with awe.
I had a consciousness that some strange transformation had taken place. My son's voice murmured in my ear, "Father, go with me now." As he spoke, his voice sounded like the vibration of distant bells. When he touched me a fire seemed to thrill through my veins. I felt like a boy; a wild, prankish sensation of freedom possessed me. My body lay upon the ground. I laughed at it; I could have taken it and tossed it in the air.
"Come, let's go," said I; "don't stay here."
My chief desire was to get out of the house. Like a boy who must fly his kite, out I would go. I feared I might be caught and taken back if I did not hasten, and moved toward the door. The seams of that door, which I had always thought well joined, seemed now to stand twelve inches or more apart. Every atom of that wood which had appeared so solid to me was now more porous than any sponge or honey-comb. Out we went through the crevice. A party of men were standing upon the doorsteps. One put forth his hand to grasp mine. I laughed aloud when I recognized the person as James Harper! Another was Richmond; another, one of my associates in the editorial corps. I was perfectly amazed, and set up a hilarious shout, which they echoed in great glee. We started forth, a convivial party. The atmosphere hung in heavy masses around the houses, like the morning mists about the base of a mountain.
We did not walk on the ground; the air was solid enough to bear us. I felt that we were rising above the city. My senses seemed magnified. The comprehension of all I did was very acute. We kept along the earth's atmosphere for quite a distance.
"Let us sail out," said I, at last.
"We cannot yet; we must wait till we reach the current. If we go outside of that, we may be lost in the intense cold and the poisonous gases, or we may be swallowed up in the vortex of some flaming comet," answered my wise companions.
The statement looked very reasonable, so I allowed myself to be guided and we soon found ourselves in a great belt of light of a pale rose-color, in which we sailed seemingly without any effort, moving the hands and arms at times and at other times folding them across our breasts.
As we advanced the channel in which we moved increased in depth and brilliancy of color, and I grew more and more exhilarated. Finally we paused and commenced to descend. The air was very luminous, radiating and scintillating like the flashing of diamonds, and so electric that the concussion of sound vibrated like the peal from some distant organ.
Looking down through the glittering atmosphere that surrounded me, I perceived what appeared to be the uplifting peak of a mountain. A halo of light rested upon its summit, and we seemed drawn toward it with a gentle force.
This mountain, I was informed, was one of a magnetic chain which belts the spirit world. In color and material it was like an opal.
I was told that a peculiar sympathy existed between it and the human spirit. When individuals on earth are in juxtaposition with this mountain they feel a strange yearning for the spirit home.
Now then the mysterious riddle is solved, thought I; and this must be the spiritual north pole!
We soon stood upon terra-firma, if these translucent rocks could be called terra-firma which rose in glittering and polished peaks all around us. They were wonderfully iridescent, so that no bed of gorgeously-colored flowers could have filled the eye with a greater variety of tints.
A few steps around a projecting bluff brought us within sight of what appeared to me a magnificent palace of alabaster. This palace I soon learned was a hotel, or place of resort for travellers.
In ascending its polished steps I was met by some half dozen persons whom I had known. You may be sure a wonderful handshaking ensued. We remained here but a few moments, partook of refreshments, and then proceeded to the court-yard, where I was told a car awaited to carry us to our destination.
The car seemed to be a frame-work, apparently of silver wire. We now comfortably seated ourselves, when two large wings struck out from it like those of some great condor. We moved rapidly over the acclivity. This is a new way of crossing the mountains, thought I; I will have to introduce it in the Sierra Nevada and Colorados.
I inquired how the machine was propelled, and was informed, "Simply by a chemical arrangement similar to your galvanic battery."
You may conceive my astonishment when we descended into a park of a vast city.
"My God!" exclaimed I, "it cannot be that I am in the spirit world! Why, look at the houses and churches, and temples! What magnificent buildings!" But I must say the material alone struck me as something sublime and unearthly. So transparent and rich in color, reflecting light as if through a veil or mist! "This caps all," said I, as doctors and lawyers, artists and authors, whom I had known, stepped up to greet me, smiling and full of life. "Why, how is this?" "Is this you?" "Where did you come from?" Questions like these came from all sides. Francis and Brady, Willis, Morris, and a host of New Yorkers who had slipped out of sight and almost out of mind, now gathered around me as if by miracle. I rubbed my eyes in wonder. Spying Brown, I cried out, "Why, how is this, Brown? It can't be that I am in heaven! Do you have such things here? Houses, stores, and works of art on every side?"
"Yes; people must live," said he, "wherever they be."
"And are men here the same, with all their faculties?" I asked.
"Yes; why not? Have you any you'd like to lose?"
I shook my head and walked on absorbed in thought. And are all our paraphernalia for funerals, our solemn black, and our long prayers but useless ceremonies? Why, according to this, the beliefs of the Chinese, Hottentot, African, and Indian are nearer the truth than our civilized creeds!
I find that there are few things in which society in this world so much differs from that of earth as in its social and political arrangements.
All the great system of living for appearances, and the habit of self-deception whereby men live outwardly what their secret lives disavow, are here entirely done away with.
In the first place the marriage relations differ materially from those of earth, and no false sentiment nor custom, nor religious belief, holds together as companions those who are dissimilar in their nature. Neither do men crucify their tastes and feelings from a mistaken idea of duty.
The miseries and disasters which are attendant on a life on earth they view as a parent would view the whooping-cough or scarlatina which afflict the body of his child—as necessary steps toward his growth and progress from youth to manhood.
A remarkable instance of this came under my own observation. You remember that the singular and sudden death of Abraham Lincoln was a matter of surprise to us. We could not see the purpose of an all-wise Providence in this sudden closing of an eventful career. It was discussed in every newspaper in the land, and the conclusion was that the Creator had some special purpose in his removal, and this we all believed.
But here the enigma is solved.
Standing face to face and walking side by side, as I have done for the last few days with this man, raised as some suppose for the special purpose of freeing the slave—a martyr for principle—I find that he enjoys as a good joke, this martyrdom, and I have also ascertained the solemn fact that he was removed, not by God, but by spirit politicians, God's agents.
And the state of the case is this: the Southern rebels, hot-blooded and revengeful, who were arriving daily by scores and hundreds, in the spirit world, finding their cause discomfited and worsted, became mutinous. They were too raw and new to fall into the harmony of the spirit life, and they threatened a second war in Heaven; a war which those young Lucifers would have waged with terrific power.
To quell this disturbance and produce a counteraction, it was necessary that one whom they looked upon as the great leader of the Northern cohorts should be withdrawn from the post which he occupied.
A man of calm, dispassionate judgment, not vindictive, who could hold the reins with a firm hand, yet look with a lenient eye on the follies which he did not share, was needed in the spirit world, and that man was Abraham Lincoln.
When those young Southern bloods had conspired with their co-patriot to his downfall, had instigated and accomplished his assassination, and when he appeared in their midst, the simple, unaffected, uncrafty man that he was, a revulsion of feeling immediately took place.
The liberal party in the spirit world, friends to humanity and progress, could have prevented his removal had they wished; but not desiring to do so, they prepared his mind by dreams and visions for what was about to take place.
For a short time in the spirit world he held the position of Pacificator and chief ruler over that portion of the American, spirit world represented by the North and South.
But after averting this peril, which would have involved the States in anarchy and war such as they had not yet experienced, he retired to private life.
Another instance, proving that the inhabitants of the spirit world, like their great prototype, the Creator, do not look at immediate distress, but at the advantages that may accrue therefrom, presents itself in my removal from the sphere in which I had probably worked out all that would be useful to humanity.
Like a charge d'affaires called back to Washington because he can fill a better post, so I, through the solicitations of relatives and fellow-citizens who have preceded me to this new world, was called here for the purpose of editing a journal and assisting in ameliorating the condition of the inhabitants of the Southern States, and also to use my influence in the Congress and Senate at Washington toward producing a better comprehension of their needs.
I have one thing to say to my brother journalist, Horace Greeley, and that is that the Utopian ideas which have for so many years formed the principal topic of his radical sheet are here put in operation.
Each one seems desirous of cooperating with his neighbor, and people of like tastes and feelings associate together and live in vast communities or cities. They do not settle down to one routine, as they do with you. The cost of travelling depending chiefly on the will and energy of the individual, the inhabitants are ever in motion, ever ready for a change, if wisdom or pleasure should dictate it. The condition of the common people is vastly improved, and America has been the chief agent in placing the lower classes in a condition which adapts them to a higher spiritualized life. I say lower classes, because under the system of monarchical governments, the peasants and laborers of Europe have been kept in a state of besotted ignorance, developing chiefly in the animal propensities, and not fitting themselves for the higher enjoyments of the spirit life.
Finding that the spirit world was likely to be overrun by this class of ignorant and superstitions people, its wise rulers have instigated the legislators of the United States to provide means for the education and development of these lower classes of society.
It is only by assimilating with those of a higher intellectual development that the ignorant become enlightened, and America, in throwing down all barriers to political and social advancement, has been the chief instrument of lifting the great mass of humanity to a position of power in the spirit world; still there are crowds of beings, ignorant and superstitious, who enter the spirit world, and their intellects can only be unfolded by the labor and guidance of some master mind.
I was surprised to find that physical labor here, as on earth, was one of the chief means employed to assist in mental growth; and I found swarms of English, Irish, and German people happily at work, cultivating the land and erecting houses for themselves and others, and assisting in the great machinery of life, which here, as in the other world, revolves its constant round.
I had nearly forgotten to mention that since leaving your world I returned on one occasion to attend a seance, as it is termed, for physical manifestations, and had the pleasure of seeing how our chemists combine from the elements the semblance of the human form. I had been interested when on earth in an experiment recently made by scientific men, whereby, through a peculiar combination of metals, a flame is caused to assume the shapes of flowers, leaves, fishes, and reptiles, apparently developed from the air, and I discovered an intelligent solution of the remarkable experiment in the manifestations I witnessed at this seance.
It appears that every particle in nature throws off a gaseous emanation, partaking of its particular shape. These gaseous particles are not discernible with the material eye, excepting when by chance they coalesce, and then a phosphorescent light ensues, which renders them apparent.
A similar effect to this is seen in electricity, which lies latent and viewless till by a sudden coalescing of its parts it manifests itself in zigzag lines and flashes of light which illuminate the heavens.
Now certain material bodies have the power of drawing those atoms in close affinity, and when they are thus drawn, the shapes alluded to are clearly discernible by the human eye.
I discovered another fact, and that is that every human being emits a light, and in the case of those called "mediums," it is intense like the Drummond light, and a spirit standing in its rays will become visible to mortal sight.
These experiments interested me highly, as they had been heretofore inexplicable to my mind.
Apropos of the topics of to-day, I must here relate what I have heard of the "Lord Byron scandal," which is creating so marked a sensation at present. I am told by Byron and others that Lady Byron, recently arriving in the spirit world and finding matters very different from what she had expected, and that she was received nowhere as the wife of Lord Byron (who having resided there some thirty years had formed a new and happy alliance), was stung with jealousy and vexation and hastened to inspire Mrs. Stowe to repeat the story which had become a matter of faith with her, hoping thereby to inflict a punishment on Byron, who ignored his relation to her.
If she had waited until she had resided a little longer in spirit life she would not have pursued so foolish a course. But I must bring this long letter to a close, assuring my friends that I have the prospect of as active a life before me as the one I have just closed on earth.
LITERATURE IN SPIRIT LIFE.
To a mind familiar with the literature of the ancient Greeks and Romans, which has studied the Scandinavian Edda, and is intimate with the more modern German, French, and English authors, the literature of the spirit world opens up a mine of interminable wealth.
The libraries in this world are vast catacombs or repositories of buried knowledge. Here are found histories of decayed races, dynasties, and nations which have vanished from earth, leaving scarce a monument of their progress in art, science, and mental culture. In these libraries the student of history will find the exploits of ancient peoples recorded, and a description of their cities, with the temples and towers which they built and the colossal images which they created.
I own to the surprise which I experienced when I discovered that printed books were a part of the treasures of the spirit world. But the scholar will rejoice as I did to find the literary productions of remotest ages garnered in the spacious halls of science that adorn our cities.
It is a principle of being—a condition of immortality—as inseparable from spirit existence as from earth life, that thought should express itself in external forms. Even the Great Spirit, the Creator of all, gives shape to his thoughts in the formation of trees, flowers, men, beasts, and myriad worlds with their constant motion, their sound and song.
It has been aptly said that the "stars are the poetry of God." He, the Great Spirit of all, writes his thoughts legibly; and so man, like his originator, whether living in the natural body or existing as a spirit, gives outward shape to his ideas; hence books become a necessity of spirit existence, and the writers from earth have still a desire to perpetuate their thoughts.
Oral communication is too evanescent, and therefore the dear old books still find a place in the spheres.
There are various modes of making these volumes, and the writer may become his own printer.
Some authors prefer to dictate, and a little instrument marks off the variations of sound which make the word, and thus, as he speaks, the word is impressed on the sheet.
Others, if the thought be clear and distinct enough, and the will sufficiently under abeyance, act through the mind upon a conductor, which dots down the thought in a manner somewhat similar to telegraphic printing.
The material used to receive the impression is of a soft, vellum-like nature, which can be folded up in any manner without destroying its form; it is very light and thin, but opaque, like the creamy petals of a lily.
The phonetic alphabet is used extensively, though we have many books printed in the mode usually adopted on earth.
All nature is constantly changing and progressing. The bards who sang upon the earth centuries ago—Homer, Virgil, the Greek and Roman, the Celtic and Saxon writers of old—have passed beyond the spirit sphere which I inhabit to a spirit planet still more refined, and have left behind only the records of their strange experience.
The eighteenth century cannot walk side by side with the third or fourth century more readily in the spirit world than on earth.
The character of the spirit literature of the present day is essentially scientific and explorative. We have in our world, as you have in yours, intrepid travellers—learned men, who make voyages to almost inaccessible planets—and they return even as those of earth, with sketches and graphic outlines of the strange sights they have witnessed; and those less venturesome who remain at home are as anxious as your citizens might be to hear accounts of wonderful regions that have been visited. And such books of travel are sought eagerly.
We have but few works on theology; the nature and essence of God is discussed with us, but not so elaborately as with you.
Spirits who have passed into a second life have so nearly approached the mystery of a Divine Being that they do not desire to debate the subject.
A large proportion of our writers are devoted to what you would here term transcendental thought, a kind of literature which lies between poetry and music, which awakens a feeling of ecstasy, and gives, as it were, wings to the soul.
The poets who sang upon earth during the last century, of whom Shelly, Keats, and Byron are an English type, and Halleck, Pierrepont, Dana, and Willis the American representatives, are among the most inspired and far-reaching of our present writers of poetry and song.
Our literature has one great advantage over that of earth, in that our separate nationalities become merged in one grand unit. We do not need translators, as we have adopted a universal written language. There are some writers who still retain, as I have said, the modes adopted on earth, but those who have been resident any length of time in the spirit sphere employ the plan of writing by signs, which are understood and acknowledged by every nationality.
I should like, in closing, to introduce an extract from an old volume which I found in a library in the city of Spring Garden.
It was written by Addison during his sojourn in that city, in the year 1720, and is in the form of a letter, supposed to be written to a friend on earth. In it he essays to portray the expansion of mind he has experienced in his new home through the magnetic influence of thought language:
"Behold the far off luminary suspended millions and billions and trillions of miles in space; then turn the eye yonder and see that infinitesimal point of vegetation, earth—a speck, countless multitudes of which heaped and piled together would form but a point compared with that majestic sun!
"Yet behold it move and expand beneath the long fibrous rays which that effulgent orb sends down through so many billions of miles to the place of its minute existence. Even as that poor little existence shoots out its fibres to meet those rays which have travelled such great lengths, so a spirit in the spheres feels the quickening, effulgent rays thrown out by the brain of some prophet or poet existing millions and billions and trillions of miles away on some distant spirit planet, and his thought expands and enlarges beneath the warming action of that far-off brain, until it assumes a shape and form which its own emulation never prophesied."
TO HIS ACCUSERS.
My soul is sick of calumny and lies: Men gloat on evil—even woman's hand Will dabble in the mire, nor heed the cries Of the poor victim whom she seeks to brand In thy sweet name, Religion, through the land! Like the keen tempest she doth strip her prey, Tossing him bare and wrecked upon the strand, While vaunting her misdeeds before the day, Bearing a monument which crumbles like the clay.
My sister, have I lived to see thy name Dishonored? Thou, who wast my pride, my stay; Shall Jealousy and Fraud thy love defame And I be dumb? Just Heaven, let a ray From thy majestic light illume earth's clay,[A] That through her I may scorch the slander vile, And light throughout the land a torch to-day, Which shall reveal how false and full of guile Are they who seek thy name, Augusta, to defile.
[Footnote A: The Clairvoyant.]
She who has borne my title and my name, In deeds fraternal saw some monster crime; To her base level sought my heart to tame, Made mock of each aspiring thought sublime, And sought to bury me beneath the slime Of her imaginings. All—all are gone Who could defend me. From the grave of time I am unearth'd—by sland'rous miscreants torn, And rise to feel again the ills I once have borne.
Is this a Christian deed, to flaunt a vice, And with another's failings gild your own? To hearken to the whisperings and device Of old age, selfish, to suspicion grown? To misconstrue each friendly look—each tone— And out of natural love create vile lust? Must brother's heart his very kin disown, While rudest hand disturbs her mouldering dust? Is this a Christian deed? Shall mankind call it just?
But let that pass. I hear a nation's voice Raised to defend the absent, wronged child; My hopes and aims were high, albeit my choice Was fixed on one who felt not for my wild And wayward nature; one who never smiled On imperfection. From my home of light Unscathed, I see life's blackening billows piled, Ready to sweep the daring soul from sight, Sinking his name and memory in darkest night.
I rise again above the woes of earth, Like unchained bird, seeking my native air. Men seldom see their fellow-creatures' worth, But blot sweet nature's page, however fair. Away, my soul, and seek thy nobler state, Where loving angels breathe their softest prayer, Where sweetest seraphs for thy coming wait, And ne'er suspicion's breath can pass the Golden Gate.
Returning one evening from a visit to a friend on earth, I was impelled to take a route with which I was unfamiliar. It led me far beyond the habitations of the city, into an open country whose surface was diversified by sloping hills and broad valleys.
The sun was quite low in the horizon, and dark purple clouds, gathering in the west, indicated an approaching storm. Anxious to reach my spirit-home before such an event, I was nevertheless compelled to keep within the earth's atmosphere.
The aspect of the country became more uneven as I advanced, and the disappearing sun threw out the hills in cold blue relief against the evening sky. One peak to the northward stood high and isolated from the surrounding hills, and was crowned by a spacious dwelling house; the high peaked roof and dark gloomy color of its exterior comported strangely with the landscape.
To this building an unseen influence drew me. As I approached nearer I discovered the figure of a man walking with restless step upon the piazza which surrounded the dwelling. At times he would suspend his walk, and crouch, shuddering as with fear, against the shadowed balustrade. His face was of ashy paleness, and his hair, black as night, fell in neglected masses around his head. His eyes were bright and glassy, and their expression frightful to look upon.
Unconscious of my proximity, he arose from his crouching position, stood for a moment irresolute, and then walked up to the heavy oaken, door and knocked.
Presently the door was opened by a lady; she looked out, but could see no one. "It must have been the wind," said she, shuddering slightly, and drawing her shawl closely around her, was about to close the door. But before she could accomplish her purpose the unseen guest had entered, with myself following closely behind, hoping to give comfort where it appeared most sorely needed.
Up a broad staircase he ascended and at a chamber door he paused—then entered. I followed. His presence seemed to cause the very furniture to shake and rattle.
"Here," thought I, "I will solve the enigma. Here, without doubt, has occurred some grand disturbance of nature. The walls of this apartment, its casements, its decorations, have been witness to some fell crime. The spectre of evil impresses itself upon matter."
While reflecting upon this wonderful law, which all my life I had perceived dimly, I observed with care the evidently unhappy man. A bedstead of rich workmanship occupied one side of the apartment. Rushing toward it he burst forth in a cry of frenzy, swaying his hands fearfully and ejaculating and groaning in most piteous accents.
At this juncture steps were heard outside ascending the stairs, and several members of the household entered, bearing lights. They looked about the room, at first timidly; then, gathering courage, peered under the bed, opened closets, and scrutinized every nook and corner of the apartment. Foiled in their efforts to discover the inmate they turned to each other with amazement.
"I am positive the sounds came from this room," said one. "There is no one to be seen here," replied another; "what can it mean?"
The culprit stood in the corner, gesticulating violently, but they with their mortal eyes could not see him. They passed close to him, but their lighted candles could not reveal the shadowless!
Having satisfied themselves that the room was tenantless, they departed. Then I approached the unhappy wretch:
"Friend," said I, "let me aid you. Unburden your woo to me; I too have suffered and am not without sin."
Casting his eyes upon me now for the first time, the man scowled with dogged sullenness, and said:
"I want no help."
"Nay," said I, "your looks belie your words; come, go with me to my quiet cottage; there you shall refresh yourself; you shall sleep to-night in peace."
"Peace!" he repeated scornfully. "I know no peace; nor can I leave this spot till every eye beholds the horrid deed that I committed here."
"Friend," said I, "tell me the nature of your crime; reveal to me your secret and your heart will be lighter for it."
"Ha! ha!" he answered, his voice dying away in a low wail. "Look upon that wall opposite the bed; it will speak better than I can." I looked, and beheld a faint photograph or impression of the couch, with its handsome drapery. Upon it reclined the figure of a female, and bending over her appeared the form of a man, whose livid face and black, disordered hair I recognized as an unmistakable reflection of the unfortunate man before me.
"You see that 'the very stones cry out against me,'" said he. "Every night for two years have I enacted that same scene, and I am held by some unseen, influence to this baneful spot."
"Tell me your story," said I; "hide nothing—I am your friend."
He ran his thin fingers through his tangled hair, and with a voice husky with emotion answered:
"I will tell you. Some years ago, when a young man, haughty and passionate, I had the misfortune to love a girl whose youth and beauty proved my bane, and in a moment of recklessness I married her. In her nature were mingled the qualities of the serpent and the dove. She was my inferior, and I could not own her outwardly nor inwardly as my wife; but, unhappily for the peace of both, I could not rid myself of her. I gave her money, but it availed not; she was ignorant, and persisted in following me." Here the man looked around with a nervous air, as if he expected to see the unwelcome face peering at him through the shadows.
"To avoid her," he continued, "I secretly purchased this dwelling, remote from the place of her abode. There I lived for a brief time, happy; a new life with loftier purposes dawned upon me; I formed another attachment—a higher and more noble one.
"One evening as I was walking upon the balcony thinking of my new-found joys, a figure came creeping up through the shrubbery towards me. To my amazement it proved to be the girl who claimed me.
"When I saw her, rage entered my heart, and I felt as if I could annihilate her. But, suppressing all show of feeling, I went with her into the house, and appointed her this room for the night. A demoniac idea had presented itself to my mind; it came unsought, but under the excitement of the moment it seemed like a good angel of deliverance.
"To further this idea, I lay down beside her. Presently she fell into a light slumber. At first a slight expression of pleasure played upon her lips, but ere long the fatigue of her journey overcame her, and she slept heavily.
"Then," said he, his countenance assuming a convulsive and ghastly aspect, "I arose on tiptoe, and collecting the heavy comforters and large downy pillows of the bed, I deliberately piled them on her one upon the other, and pressing them down with all my gathered force, I stifled her in her sleep!
"No cry, no groan from my victim betrayed the unhallowed deed, and before the first dawn of day I was driving furiously over the road to the river's bank, from which into the watery depth below I threw this millstone of my life.
"When I drove back the morning had dawned. The daylight seemed to pry into the secrets of the past night. I would fain shun it—the garish light disturbed me. The morning sun, which had ever been my delight, seemed now a mocking imp of curiosity; the house and grounds looked bare and desolate; a blight had fallen upon their former comeliness.
"A strange fascination again drew me into the chamber which had been the scene of my crime. When there I re-enacted the last night's work. The bed and furniture seemed to come toward me and taunt me with the fell crime I had committed. 'I was justified in the act,' said I to these dumb accusers, as though they had been, living witnesses. 'She was the bane of my existence.' And with cunning precision I arranged the disordered room, smoothed the pillows, and levelled the coverlet. 'The dead cannot speak,' said I. 'This thing is hidden.'
"After this performance I went forth, hoping by a sharp walk to drown the memory of the momentary deed. I passed through the garden and reached the sloping hill. There, where the low fence joined the open road, I was met by the lady whom I loved. She was taking the morning air, and with her smiling face seemed drinking in its balmy freshness.
"'You look ill,' said she, with a pitying glance. 'See what I have brought for you,' and she held forth a newly-plucked bouquet of flowers.
"I took the proffered blossoms hurriedly, dreading to meet her clear eye, which I felt must surely read my guilt. Burying the flowers in my breast, and with an effort to smile that sickened me, I bowed low to the ground and hurried on.
"When beyond her sight I drew the nosegay from its hiding place—it was withered as if scorched by a burning heat! Upon looking closer at this strange phenomena, I beheld, to my horror, in dim outline, the face of the murdered! Whence came the impression? Had my riotous heart burnt the secret upon those blushing petals?
"Frantically I tore open my shirt, when lo! upon my breast I beheld imprinted a picture of the direful deed—seared in by rays more potent than the sun's—photographed there, as if by the lightning's fierce stroke!
"Presently a band of children on their way to school overtook me, and began to whisper to each other as they passed. I saw that they looked at me with suspicion in their eyes. 'They too can see the brand,' thought I; 'they are mouthing about it now.'
"Urged to desperation, I plunged into a thicket near by. Amid a group of trees in its centre, one lifted itself higher and straighter than its companions. Upon its topmost branch, as I chanced to lift my eyes, I beheld to my terror the woman whom I had sent into eternity, looking down upon me with scoffs and grimaces!
"The ghostly apparition wrought me to frenzy. In hot haste I climbed the tree. Its straight, smooth sides, under ordinary circumstances would have proved a barrier to my efforts, but in my excitement they formed no obstacle. Reaching the top, I endeavored to grasp her. Stretching out my arms and clasping frantically the air, I fell dead to the ground.
"Thus was I born into the spirit world. The idea that last possessed me on earth, first possessed me in the spirit life.
"No mortal man can describe the horror I experienced on finding myself in the midst of a boundless space, face to face with mine enemy. Her narrow intellect and strong animal nature seemed to have expanded, even as I have seen the face of a child expand from pleasing infancy into idiotic youth. This animal part of her immortality roused my ire—struck some savage chord in my nature—and I rose up like a wild beast to attack her; but the creature laughed and jeered at my vain efforts. She led me thus, in fruitless pursuit, further and further into space; inciting me on by her taunts and ringing laugh, until I found myself in a dark and noisome pit, when she suddenly vanished.
"Ignorant of the peculiarities of spirit condition, I could not grope my way out of this place, which appeared to me a very hell. I wandered in this gloomy labyrinth, breathing the foul air, and uttering fearful cries which struck my ears with anguish. Black, threatening shapes appeared to stand in the intricate windings of that gloomy cavern, ready to seize me if I dared to essay my escape. When my agony had reached its utmost bounds of endurance, I felt myself growing strangely light, and like some thin vapor I ascended to the mouth of the pit and made my exit into the outer air.
"The place I then discovered to be merely a cavern or deserted mine, but to my unhappy condition of mind it had appeared as the home of the damned.
"Out into space again, I saw afar off, as across the continent, the dwelling where I had passed the last days of my eventful life. A current of air like the shock from an electric wire carried me back to the spot.
"Returned to the scene of my crime, I became possessed with the desire to expose to view the deed I had committed, and to reveal my villany to the community. For two weary years I have hovered around this place for that purpose; but I have failed hitherto, as you have seen me fail to-night."
As he finished his narrative I observed he seemed about to relax into a morbid condition again. To prevent this, I seized him kindly by the shoulder and exclaimed, "Friend, you must come with me. Your life, your future welfare is imperiled. You are like one shut up in a vault, breathing his own exhalations. You do not understand the science of mind."
"The science of mind?" said he. "What have I to do with that? 'Tis the curse of Cain resting upon me. I cannot undo the evil that I have done. I am an outcast!"
"The wrong you have done," said I, "becomes doubly, trebly magnified by thus living it over day by day. You have committed a crime. Do you wish to perpetuate that crime? You pursue the very course to make it permanent and enduring. Mind acts upon matter and matter reacts upon mind. You have made the house a partner to the deed you have committed by constantly associating it with the act. You have tainted its walls and poisoned it within and without.
"It becomes sentient and reacts upon you. It becomes a magnet, a loadstone to draw you. Your constant habit of associating it in your mind with the past, creates around it an atmosphere which is a part of your being and welds you to it, so that you, the house, and the deed, become one mighty monster, inseparable. The idea that you can expiate the deed by this self-torture is vain. You can neither confer good upon yourself nor your victim. Leave off and follow me."
These last words seemed to have the desired effect, for he raised his eyes with a sad smile, placed his hand in mine, and said:
"I will go with you."
Happy that my efforts proved availing, I hurried on in a joyous mood, soon rising above the earth and bearing my companion to my spirit home.
The pure air of the fragrant fields revived him, and by the time we arrived at my own garden-home he seemed born into a new life.
I set him down under my arbor, now dripping with golden fruits, and having refreshed him with cordial (angels' food), I called his attention to the beauties around us; the birds, the flowers, and the luxurious growth of nature, which shed such abundance around my home.
"See," said I, "how nature works. If the roots of the tree meet with obstacles they start off in another direction. They do not wind and wind themselves around one spot. If they did death would ensue.
"In every man's life there are deeds to be regretted—wrongs which he would gladly undo—but painful imaginings and fruitless remorse will not set them right. Only by being actively engaged in some nobler direction can atonement be made.
"This woman, whom you have injured, is in magnetic rapport with you; and while you are in this moody, self-denunciatory frame of mind, your restless, unhappy condition acts upon her, preventing her from becoming contented and happy; then her state reacts back upon you, and thus an evil equilibrium is maintained."
"I see my error," he exclaimed. "Tell me what to do and I will do it."
It was arranged that he should remain with me. We worked together; he became happy and his mind no longer reverted to the past, but active and healthful employment engaged his hours.
When he had recovered sufficiently I took him to see his former companion. He found her in a pleasant home, looking buoyant and happy. All that was demoniac had vanished from her face. Surprised, he burst into tears as he beheld her. "Weep not," said she, "for I am happy now. The past is forgotten."
They compared notes, and found that peace had entered into her soul when he had obliterated the past from his memory and commenced his labors in a new life.
Thus we see that the evil passions and attributes of one nature may awaken and kindle like passions in another, which can only be subdued by letting them pass unnoticed, and also by arousing the higher faculties into activity.
VISIT TO HENRY CLAY.
Having recovered my health after a sojourn of two weeks amid the charming scenery of Mount Rosalia, or the "Rose-colored Mount," I set forth one morning, accompanied by a competent guide, to visit the home of my friend, Henry Clay. The morning was uncommonly fine, even for the sweet Land of the Blest, and the fragrance from the roses blooming upon the hill-side was fairly intoxicating.
Our phaeton was a small, white, swan-shaped carriage, ornamented with golden designs, and propelled by a galvanic battery in the graceful swan-head, which at my request took the place of the ordinary steed.
This was, to me, an exceedingly novel mode of travel, which my short sojourn in the spirit world had prevented me from before enjoying.
We glided over the electric ground with the speed of lightning and smooth harmony of music. The road over which we rolled was white and lustrous as parian marble, and adorned on either side with most rare and beautiful forms of foliage; ever and anon we passed gay cavalcades and bands of spirits, who were evidently, from their festal garments, and the bright emanations which they diffused through the air, bound for some harmonial gathering on one of the numerous islands which dot the sparkling river Washingtonia, so named after George Washington.
The distance from the point whence I started, according to earth's computation, was over one hundred miles; but though I desired my guide to move onward as slowly as possible, that I might enjoy the prospect before me, we reached our destination in less than a quarter of an hour!
I had received a special invitation from Henry Clay to visit him on this occasion, as he had called together some choice friends to give me welcome; yet, although I knew I was expected, my surprise cannot be described upon beholding the air filled with bevies of beautiful ladies, like radiant birds, approaching, with the sound of music and flutter of flowers, to receive me. Thus surrounded and escorted, I was borne to the noble palace (for such it may be justly termed) of Henry Clay.
The structure is of white alabaster, faced with a pale yellow semi-transparent stone, which glistened most gorgeously. The form of the building is unlike any order of architecture with which I had been acquainted. The avenue by which it was approached was decorated alternately with statues of representative Americans, and a peculiar flowering tree, whose green leaves and yellow blossoms, of gossamer texture, resembled the fine mist of a summer morning. Terminating, this avenue was the main entrance, surmounted by the grand dome of the edifice. In the rear of this rotunda, extending on either side, appeared the main building, rising, turret on turret, like a stupendous mountain of alabaster beaming as with soft moonlight in the clear summer air.
We entered by ascending a staircase composed of twelve broad steps. And here let me pause, before recounting my interview with the celebrated statesman, to describe the main hall, whose magnificence I, upon entering, hastily surveyed, but which I afterward studied more completely. The floor of this hall was formed of delicate cerulean blue gems. From its centre sprang, like a fountain, a most wonderful representation of a flowering plant resembling the lotus, composed of precious and brilliant stones. The green leaves forming the base were of transparent emerald, and the white lily which surmounted the stem blossomed out clearer than any crystal. The yellow centre, corresponding to the pistils, formed a divan. This beautiful ornament was intended for the desk of the orator. The dome, which was several hundred feet high, was open to the summer sky, and arranged in tiers graduated one above the other. The lower tier was filled with paintings indicating the progress of the United States of America. Surmounting this was a gallery of small compartments, each hung with silver and gold gauze drapery, and similar in construction to the boxes of a theatre; these opened into halls or alleys leading to private apartments connecting with the main building. Above these boxes were placed artistically-carved animals, representing the native beasts of America. Above these again, appeared groups in marble of the fruits of the country.
No sooner had I entered the building which I have been describing, than a peculiar rushing sound like distant music reached my ear; on lifting my eyes in the direction of the sound, I beheld descending through the air the majestic form of Henry Clay. He approached with extended hand and fascinating smile to receive me. How like and yet how unlike the famous man I had known on earth! The gray hair of age had given place to the abundant glossy locks of youth. The intellectual eye beamed with a new life and his whole person sent forth an effulgence most attractive. Those of my readers who knew him on earth will well remember the peculiar fascination of his sphere, but they can form from the remembrance but a slight idea of the attractive aura he sheds forth in this existence. I immediately felt myself drawn by an invisible power toward him. He grasped my hand with the frank cordiality and grace of former days, and leading me thus, we arose together and, passing through one of the arched compartments of the upper tier, entered another portion of the building. As we moved on I seemed to live portions of my earthly life, long past. The gorgeous and fantastic architecture which everywhere met my eye reminded me of the halls of the Alhambra. Swiftly passing, we emerged through a spacious arch upon an open arbor, where were congregated the priests whom I had been invited to meet. I started back with a shock of delight when I beheld, in the centre of the group, the immortal figure of George Washington. I knew him instantly, partly from the likenesses which had been extant on earth, and partly from the noble spirit which emanated like a sun from his person. The group parted as we entered and I immediately felt, resting upon my shoulder like a benediction, the soft, firm hand of the Father of his Country. "Washington!" I exclaimed, fervidly grasping his hand. "At length we have met!" he responded, and a smile of ineffable joy lighted his countenance. He then spoke of the many changes through which the United States had passed since his removal to the spirit land. I was surprised at the extent of knowledge he displayed. Not the slightest variation in the scale of political economy had escaped his notice. He expressed himself pleased especially at the great progress and development of the people within the last twenty years. He alluded to their rapid march through the western territories; the founding of new and important States; the development of the agricultural and mineral resources of countries supposed to be almost valueless; of the invention and construction of machinery adapted to the wants and necessities of those new and rapidly-increasing States. "This marvellous growth is owing to their being essentially a mediumistic people—is it not so?" said he, smiling and turning to the assembled guests. "Yes, yes!" I heard repeated on all sides. On this commenced a general conversation. I listened as one in a dream. Around me I beheld the faces and forms of the heroes of past history, each bearing the shape and semblance of humanity, though removed from earth millions of miles into space. One and all emitted, like stars, their own peculiar luminous aura. Collected in motley groups were Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, William Penn, Old General Jackson, John Jacob Astor, De Witt Clinton, and many of the old Knickerbocker residents of New York; with Sir Robert Peel, Lord Brougham, the Duke of Wellington, Hunt, Keats, Byron, Scott, Cowper, Hume, Goethe, De Stael, Mrs. Hemans, and many others.
"The people of America have progressed to an astonishing degree," said a musical voice at my left. "We must initiate Irving into the means by which we impart knowledge to the mediumistic nation through the Cabinet at Washington."
"Certainly," responded Henry Clay. "Let all formalities cease. We will partake of refreshments, and then Franklin will make him acquainted with the wonderful aids to science and humanity with which he has supplied my residence."
As he ceased speaking, a shower of sound, like the music from the ringing of innumerable crystal bells, filled the air. Accompanying this, and apparently descending from the ceiling, a soft light of aromatic odor diffused itself through the apartment. This was followed by the appearance of a shining disk of amber and pearl, revolving rapidly in its descent till it reached the congregated party. This magic circle (which Thomas Hood, who was present, facetiously termed the "wheel of fortune") was supplied with refreshments truly supernal. Here were fruits of most brilliant dyes; some of soft, pulpy flesh, and others of the consistency of honey; some more transparent than the diamonds of earth; others substantial, seemingly intended to supply the demands of hunger. Here were confections resembling foam and cloud, whose very taste was elysium. The guests ate and chatted vivaciously. I received much information concerning the various products of this great land which were displayed upon the table. The most luscious fruits, I considered, both in flavor and quality, were those produced on an island in the spirit land corresponding to your island of Cuba, which was under the protection of a band of spirits called the "Good Sisters."
The company having regaled themselves at the table, arose and divided into groups, laughing and chatting like ordinary mortals. I felt immediately attracted to a cluster of which Benjamin Franklin was the magnetic centre. I reminded him of the duties imposed on him by our host, and told him playfully that I desired to investigate the mysteries of this wonderful palace. He cordially acquiesced, and, in company with a few friends, we commenced our explorations. I inquired as to the construction of the table from which we had just arisen, so superior to the cumbersome ones of earth. "It is a very simple contrivance," he smilingly remarked. "You observe inserted in these twisted columns, ornamented with leaves, which support the ceiling, an electric wire, similar to that of a telegraph. From each of these central columns, this wire connects with the upper gallery. Here," said he, pointing to one of the leafy ornaments, "you perceive the means of communicating. Unobserved by you, our gracious host touched one of these springs which are connected with the crystal bells, and announced to his servants his desire for refreshments." "Servants!" exclaimed I. "How singular! I little supposed, from the religious teachings I had received, that there would be menials in heaven!"
"Thee has a poor memory," remarked William Penn, with a bright smile, "Did not the Bible teach thee that there was an upper and a lower seat? These servants are composed mostly of those who were held in slavery on earth and who desire to receive instruction that they may progress in the spheres. They are willing assistants; giving, that they may receive in return. If thee dislike the term 'servant,' thee may use the term 'friend,' for they are friends and co-workers. Through those doors in the gallery they bring the refreshments which they gather from the hanging gardens without, where they live like the Peries of the East. The luxury of the princes of earth cannot compare with the life of enjoyment and freedom led by those whom I have termed 'servants.'"
I here took the opportunity to ask Franklin if it was necessary, in communicating with absent individuals, to use those external appliances? "Not always; thought can commune with thought if upon the same plane; but a mind like that of our great statesman cannot readily communicate with one whose mind on earth never rose above the domestic affairs of life. In such cases, external means are necessary."
"Come," said he, turning; "I will show you something more remarkable than this." So saying, he led me through an open door into one of the spacious gardens which grace the palace on either side. We walked but a few moments, arm in arm, over a soft velvet like lawn, of the color of a delicate violet. Exquisite tints everywhere met my eye. The air was like wine, and so luscious and entrancing were the surroundings that I felt inclined to tarry, but my sage guide, calling my attention to the majestic dome towering in the air, desired me to exert my will to ascend. I did so, and immediately felt myself rising as if pressed up by some elastic substance, until I reached the top. The dome, which appeared to be composed of glass, I perceived, as I approached, was covered with a thin web resembling that of a spider. The apex of this dome was surmounted by a globe representing the planet earth, with its continents and seas. Openings corresponding to the different continents admitted persons into the globe. We entered that corresponding to the continent of North America. Each of these entrances, I was told, was particularly adapted to the admission of the inhabitants of the different localities they represented. On looking down I beheld the apartment I had first entered. It was no longer vacant—each gallery was filled with spectators. On the lily-shaped rostrum stood Henry Clay and George Washington—Washington speaking to the people. "You observe," said my guide, "a secondary stem from that lily branches off and extends to this point. It appears to you a mere ornament, but it transmits the thoughts and words of the speaker to the city of Washington. Other branches, as you notice, lead in other directions. If the speaker desires his thoughts to be transmitted to any given point, he leans toward the stem leading to that point. This silken web which you have admired, is a sensitive electric telegraph. It is composed of the elements of mind; in the world you have lately inhabited it would be intangible, but it has a subtle connection with the human brain, and spirit thoughts directed through it go with the promptness of electricity to their destination. Thought is electric, but its power of transmitting itself is, like that of the human voice, limited; the voice requires the artificial assistance of a speaking-trumpet to throw its sound beyond the ordinary distance; thought requires a similar artificial conductor. You remember," said Franklin, "in my early experiments with the kite and key, I could not obtain the spark until I had established the necessary attraction, although the air was filled with the electric current. So of the thought-electricity, which is constantly flowing; we have to apply means to concentrate it and give it form and expression. On earth, word and gesture are media for thought, but the savans have not yet discovered the means by which unspoken thought can take form and expression. No galvanic wire nor chemical battery has yet been invented by them, through which these electric sparks may be drawn down from their unseen habitations among the clouds; but in the world of spirits this great discovery, as I have shown you, has been made. In this appliance you find the thoughts of the speaker running through these sensitive wires until, like telegraphic messages, they reach their destination on earth."
I listened to Franklin's explanation of this gigantic sensorium with my soul filled with love and admiration for the great Creator who had formed the human mind with its vast capacity for penetrating the sublime mysteries of nature.
After leaving the dome I continued my inspection of the edifice. But of its halls and galleries, its boudoirs, libraries, and peerless gardens, I will speak at some future time.
TO THE FRENCH NATION.
Triumph sits regent upon the Napoleonic banner. Napoleon the First is dictator to Napoleon the Third. By my side stands Josephine. We were not destined to part eternally. In Louis Napoleon Bonaparte her blood and mine commingle. _Restez-vous, mon patrie; Napoleon shall decide aright. _No, petit garcon, _Napoleon le Grand will place you upon the highest pinnacle of peace.
Fate is inexorable. The decrees of destiny are more potent than the wisdom of man. France and Napoleon are indissoluble. The star of Bonaparte is destined to shine yet for the next half-century. None but a patriot shall rule France. No proud Austrian, nor weak and haughty Bourbon shall flame their colors from the palaces of France. No, my countryman! he who serves you, who leads your armies to victory, who raises your citizens to distinction, he whose courage is undaunted, he who has the power of prescience—is Napoleon.
When Louis shall join me his spirit and mine will still animate the Bonapartes who shall come after us.
Repose entire confidence in his discretion. Napoleon the Third lives only for France.
You cry for liberty of speech and liberty of the press. But liberty is anarchy. Would you demand liberty for the army? Without a head to guide and control it, the army of France would be a scourge.
Through calamity the most depressing, the hand of destiny has led Louis Napoleon to the throne of France, and against sickness and disease, against the hand of the assassin, and against vilifications of his enemies, it will hold him there, firm. His time has not yet come. Before he bids adieu to life he will secure an able leader for France.
I give him my hand. I embrace him in spirit. The shadow of Napoleon attends him by day and by night.
W. M. THACKERAY.
HIS POST MORTEM EXPERIENCE.
Poor Will Thackeray, when a stripling, was fit to kneel in the street before his mistress, that bright luminary who shone to his boyish eyes like a star of the first magnitude! Alas, he discovered her to be one of the sixteenth, and by the time he had ceased to care for polished boots and stiff, broad collars, she had dwindled down to an ordinary piece of humanity!
He found his boon companions, like himself, liable to mistake an ant for a whale and think the King of England next in royalty to a god!
What a fool he made of himself in the eyes of those who were wiser than he, when he swore the crown of England was made of unalloyed gold! The water he drank was filled with animalculae, yet he swore it was pure as the gods' nectar. The best and freshest air he breathed contained poison, yet his boyish wisdom knew better than that.
Poor Thackeray! wiser men than he knew that youthful imagination was a cheat; that the mistress of his heart was not a goddess; and wiser beings than they all knew—angelic beings, living in the golden streets of Paradise, knew—that the conception of what the spirit after death would be able to do was as far from the truth as were his boyish dreams of the mistress of his heart!
Poor Thackeray! he has attained that superior wisdom now! He walks, himself a ghost, among the ghosts of the past; and these "airy nothings" nod and smile, and shake hands, and say:
"Yes, we are ourselves."
He thrusts his hands into his trowsers pockets, and remembers the time when he thought it would be indecent to go naked in the New Jerusalem! Trowsers, forsooth! Yes, here they are, pockets and all; and he dives his hands in deeper, jingling something which strongly resembles cash; and struts about and hobnobs with Addison, Spencer, Sterne, old Dean Swift, and he asks himself, "are these the great men of my fancy?" On reflection he finds he had expected to meet these luminaries shining like actual stars in the firmament, attended by some undefined splendor.
Poor Will Thackeray! he finds the same dross in the gold, the same animalculae in the water, the same poison in the air, the same fact that men are not gods in that much-vaunted place called heaven, as on the much-abused earth. But he wipes his spectacles, and clears away the mist of speculation and fancy, which has bedimmed his eyes, and looks about him more hopefully and trustfully than in the days when he walked through Vanity Fair and saw how Mr. Timms, with not a penny in the bank, pinched himself to give a little dinner in imitation of a great lord who gave a great dinner, and had gold beyond his count; snobs, who wore paste jewels and cotton-backed velvet, who cursed a fellow and strutted about in imitation of noble lords, who wore real diamonds and silken velvets! mimicking the follies of the great, but never their noble deeds and heroisms.
He is beyond snobs now. He is in the land of heroisms and heroes. Yet he feels he has been cheated by the fat parson who stole sovereigns from his pocket to keep him out of h——! His spiritual bones fairly ache with the leagues he has travelled, hunting up the throne of God! "Where the deuce," he mutters, "is the showman?" He can't find the lake of fire and brimstone without a guide.
Poor Thackeray! he again wipes his spectacles and feels he has been sold! This life on the other side of Jordan he finds to be what his American cousins would call a "humbug," a downright swindle upon the sympathies and good taste of those who wear long streamers of crape, and groan and sob over his funeral rites! He feels in duty bound (out of consideration for those mourners who expect nothing else) to go scudding through the air in a loose white shroud, or to rest cosily housed away in the "bosom of his Maker," like a big, grown-up infant that he is, or else to be howling at the top of his lungs hallelujahs!—he that could never raise a note. And, if not so, certainly, out of compliment to the judgment of his boon companions, he should be engaged in the dread alternative of sitting astride a pair of balances and being "weighed and found wanting;" or having been sent by the relentless Judge into everlasting torment "where there is cursing and gnashing of teeth," he should be found there tormenting his fellow-imps!
But alas! to his mortification, nothing of the kind is occurring or seems likely to occur.
He has been as active as the next man since his arrival in ghostdom. He has peeped under the chapeaux of every solemn pilgrim whom he has passed, but failed to find the four-and-twenty elders who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. What has he found? He really is ashamed to own up to the number of mountain sides and sloping hills he has inspected in the vain search for a place he used to call h—— (he thought it blasphemy to add the other three letters); but neither cloven foot, nor forked tail, nor horns, nor any kind of fearful person in black, has pounced upon him; nor has he been seized by any claimant for leaving the world unshriven, as he did.
Poor Will Thackeray! it has been a great disappointment to him! He expected some kind of sensational reception—thunder or lightning, or some big God whose towering front might vie with Chimborazo—to awe him into the consideration that he had become a spirit and was launched into the awful precincts of eternity! No wonder he feels dogged and put upon to find himself thus bamboozled! He undertook a long and venturesome journey to "see the elephant," but it wasn't there!
He can't complain against the citizens of this famous "undiscovered bourne"; they have done all that's fair and square by him; they have shown all that they have got; and he is too much of a gentleman to taunt them. He knows they feel ashamed that they haven't those curiosities that their Vicegerents on earth had vouched for their having; he can see it in their faces; but he considers himself in duty bound to prepare his fellow-citizens for what they are to expect.
TWO NATURAL RELIGIONS.
There are two great natural religions before the world, the Roman Catholic and the Spiritualistic; and both are adapted to the wants of the race.
Man naturally gives expression to his thoughts by external forms corresponding to his ideas.
The Roman Catholic religion is accused of being a system of forms and ceremonies, but therein lies its wonderful adaptation to humanity. Thought ever seeks expression in form, even as a mother's love for her infant finds expression in her ardent embrace.
Love is the prevailing element of the Catholic religion, as shown by the love of the Son of God for poor, ignorant, sinful creatures.
We do not present this to the mind ideally. We call in the outcast and the beggar, and we expose to their view, in the great cathedrals, the Son of God, as he appeared in all his various experiences of human life.
The parent who can earn but a scanty pittance for his offspring, sees before him Jesus lying in the manger, equal in squalid poverty with the lowest of mankind.
The majesty and glory of the courts of Heaven are symbolized in the Roman Church. There is gathered the wealth of the world! All that is yet attained in the representation of the grand, the beautiful, the majestic, the sublime, and the devotional, is collected in the Mother of Churches.
What earthly king, in his noble palace, with its costly architecture, its ornaments of silver and gold, its rare paintings and statuary, the wealth and accumulation of many sovereigns, would admit into its sacred precincts the poor and the lowly, the beggar and the thief, the Magdalen and the Lazarus to sully with their presence his royal abode?
But we erect palaces to the King of Heaven! regal in architecture, and adorned with beauty surpassing in magnificence earthly royalty, in which the lowliest may enter on an equality with the prince; his untutored mind, his uncultivated senses may listen to music of the highest order. The pealing tones of the organ resound under the touch of the highest masters of art for his simple ear. Listening to those strains, his mind forms a conception of the harmony and beatitude of Heaven!
Even death is not looked upon with horror by the Catholic. If he lose a friend in this life, unlike the Protestant, he does not abandon him in oblivion, but his sympathies still extend to him by offering masses for his soul. And it is because it is so adapted to man's spiritual nature that the Catholic religion has withstood the shock and surge of ages!
The restless, heaving billows of time have washed against the seven-hilled Church in vain.
My soul rests in peace. It has taken its abode in Elysium. And in this world among the stars, seeing clearer and further than when I inhabited the lowly planet earth, I look down upon the struggling, dying race I have left behind, and feel still, that the Roman Catholic religion is the religion for the masses.
A great majority of men are born into the world but little higher than the beasts that perish. Their spiritual natures, though feeble, need food that is adapted to their wants. That food we furnish.
Our priests, our sisters of charity, our holy fathers, our Benedictine monks, our nuns, are to be found in every quarter of the globe. On the mountains of everlasting snow, among the icebergs of the Polar Sea, and in the sandy deserts; on inhospitable shores, in the torrid zone, under the burning rays of the equatorial sun; with the savage and with the sage they are found ever ready to stimulate the spiritual nature, to give earthly advice, and supply material wants.
As a spirit I speak of what I think best adapted to the needs of man. I endeavor to throw aside the prejudices of education. I look upon the Protestant religion as unnatural; a monstrous belief which deforms man. So far as I can see, its influence has been blighting. It takes youth, joy, and animation from the world. It grants no indulgence for sin, nor for the mistakes of ignorance. It is cruel and harsh, and men become narrow and self-elated under its teachings.
The Spiritualistic religion resembles the Catholic in its breadth and amplitude, and in its humanizing and equalizing influence. I expect the day will come when all minor beliefs will be swallowed up in these two great religions.
The Catholic Church in the spirit world is not so extensive as it is upon earth. Its usefulness is more especially adapted to earthly conditions.
There are some noble cathedrals in the spirit world. Mass is offered up every morning at the cathedral of the Five Virgins in my bishopric.
The sisterhood of the Five Wise Virgins, newly organized, inhabit beautiful and commodious edifices adjacent.
It is their business to escort from earth youthful souls who have been baptized in the Church, and who are friendless and vagrant, having inhabited while on earth such parts of New York City as the Five Points and Water street, and having neither kindred nor connection to claim them.
These are received into the beautiful home of the sisterhood. They bathe in the golden fountains of youth, and are instructed in various ways. They are taught the uses of magnetism, mesmerism, and psychology, and return to earth to rap, write, and speak, through media, and to bring back the stray lambs to the fold.
EDGAR A. POE.
THE LOST SOUL.
Hark the bell! the funeral bell, Calling the soul To its goal. Oh! the haunted human heart, From its idol doomed to part! Yet a twofold being bearing, She and I apart are tearing; She to heaven I to hell! Going, going! Hark the bell! Far in hell, Tolling, tolling. Fiends are rolling, Whitened bones, and coffins reeking, Fearful darkness grimly creeping On my soul, My vision searing, She disappearing, Drawn from me By a soul I cannot see, Whom I know can never love her. Oh! that soul could I discover, I would go, Steeped in woe, Down to darkness, down to hell! Hark the bell! Farewell! farewell!
JEAN PAUL RICHTER.
A ship is on the ocean. The wind is fair. All hands are in motion. But a few hours since, it left port. Among its passengers is a gay traveller; he wears a silken cloak fringed with gold. The sailors admire his splendor; they gather around him as he walks the deck with his flying robe. They put forth their rough hands to feel its soft texture; its warm, bright color gives pleasure to their eyes. As they gaze their pulses heighten, their steps become unsteady, their eyes wander from duty, their great sturdy frames quiver with emotion. The captain rallies them, but in vain.
What secret foe is in their midst? Their parched tongues, cleaving to the roofs of their mouths, call for the surgeon. He comes—he questions, "From whence comest thou?" "From the Orient," the traveller replies. The surgeon gasps and shakes his head. He, too, is stricken with fear. "'Tis the plague!" he whispers. An unseen, deadly foe is stalking beneath that gay cloak! The traveller hears and shudders; he flings off his gay vestment. The waves gather up the silken folds. But the sacrifice is useless. A fell hand strikes down both traveller and sailor. As they gasp and die they are hurried to the ship's side; they are plunged overboard; a seething, foaming grave yawns to receive them.
The ship glides on. Those who remain wash the deck with water. They cannot wash away the demon, which is everywhere and yet nowhere.... Poisons as subtle attend the human spirit, baneful and contagious as the plague!
See yonder peaceful cottage, nestling by the hillside; hope and contentment dwell therein; within its walls beauty and grace awaken harmony. Lured by the bright sunshine, a stranger enters the door. He sits and chats awhile with the inmates. His talk is pleasant, and as he converses a cloud falls upon the house, the sunshine becomes darkened, and the dwellers within the pretty cottage shiver as with cold. They heed not the change, for the chat of their guest delights them. But when he departs he leaves behind him a poison more baneful than the plague.
The inmates of the peaceful cottage look with gloomy eyes one upon the other; they become dissatisfied and distracted among themselves, and discord takes the place of harmony.
Secret influences are at work, poisons thrown out by the sphere of the guest. A worse fate befalls them than befell the sailors who were invaded by the insidious Plague.
I have seen in nature a fair face clouded suddenly—made gloomy and unlovely—by the unspoken thought of another. Thought is contagious—some varieties of it poisonous! I have seen the countenance of an innocent child transformed into ugliness by a poisonous thought. I have seen those who have looked upon her receive that thought and become likewise infected.
I have seen also to this picture another and a brighter side. I have seen secret influences drawing individuals together, sustaining and upholding them; as the long line filaments of wool clasp each other and draw together the separate particles, so have I seen individuals united. Thus was the first Napoleon united to Josephine. A secret influence as potent as the plague passed from one to the other; but it breathed health and not poison.
Napoleon, with his powerful will, disrupted these magnetic relations; he tore apart the unseen filaments that bound them; and, the sustaining influence gone, he fell—a mighty wreck—on the bleak shore of St. Helena.
What man or woman can comprehend the secret influences that surround the soul. Keep guard; and when the blood stagnates within, when secret shudders, and gloomy thoughts, and inharmonious feelings arise, be sure that some poison-breathing foe is at hand.
Set the door ajar, and resolutely turn your face from the secret influence that would destroy you.
AGNES REEF.—A TALE.
I was brought up and educated by my bachelor uncle. He was a reticent, moody man, and with his aged housekeeper and myself, led a solitary and unsocial life in the old rambling house which had been his father's before him.
I was but a child of six years when destiny placed me under his charge, and with him I remained eleven years; a scared, repressed little thing, revelling in strange fancies in the spidery attic rooms, and looking down through the dusty cobwebbed windows upon the life and movement below, unconscious that I formed a part of that active humanity.
Thus I lived until I entered my seventeenth year. For the last two years my mind had been expanding and growing discontented with my lot. The moroseness of my uncle, the sullenness of his housekeeper, the gloom and dinginess of the bare rooms had grown insupportable to me. These alone I might have endured, but added to them were other sources of disquiet, not the least of which being hints from the housekeeper that it was time I began to do something for myself. Youth, pride, and ambition stirred within me, and I actively set about looking, for a situation.