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vol. 3, p. 145
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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Editorial Paragraphs

In a letter to Col. Olcott, of date July 17th, ultimo Mr. William Crookes says, “I have done very little in Spiritualism lately, partly for want of opportunities with trustworthy mediums, and partly owing to my time being so much occupied with business matters; but my interest in the subject is unabated."

Disorganization Among American Spiritualists

In America the Spiritual movement is at the present time in a disturbed, unhappy state, partly in consequence of two notorious mediums, who were condemned as unreliable in England, having successfully imposed upon some honorable people, and partly in consequence of some attacks made upon Spiritualism by a Dr. Beard, of New York, to whose utterances the daily papers there have given wide publicity. Orators from the United States, who have visited this country, have told us of eleven millions of Spiritualists who form one third of the total population of their native land, consequently, in the middle of the present depression, it is natural to ask what those alleged eleven millions of believers are doing to ward off the attacks of the enemy. Surely there is no lack of strength; for one third of the population, by all voting together in opposition to the divided votes of the remaining two thirds, could take the entire government of the nation into their hands, and command nearly every seat in the Congress at Washington. Madame Blavatsky, a most energetic Russian lady, now in the United States, has been fighting Dr. Beard most vigorously, and has certainly come oil best from the encounter; but in an article in the Spiritual Scientist she piteously asks where all the millions of the American Spiritualists are. and why they are doing nothing in the middle of the present crisis. In Boston, the headquarters of the Spiritualists of the United States, there are internal divisions, and people of education and culture, hate not banded together in such a way as to be able to give public expression to their views: consequently in Boston, and, indeed throughout the States, the uneducated portion of our body is that whose utterances are attracting the greatest share of public attention, and this is certainly not to the advantage of the movement. Mr. R. Cooper who is now in Boston, says that there is a great falling off in the attendance at Spiritualistic Sunday meetings in that town; although a much smaller hall is now used than formerly, it is not half filled. He adds: “The more respectable, well-to-do Spiritualists hold aloof altogether, preferring not to identify themselves with the movement in its present transitional state.” Thus it will be seen that in consequence of the most intelligent people keeping aloof, and the most uneducated being split up into small societies having no influence. Spiritualism in America, is at present a rope of sand, so far as united action and power to resist attacks from outside are concerned. The championship of the interests of the cause in times of difficulty thus falls upon two or three heroic individuals, and a lady has been obliged single-handed, to do work which it was the duty of the whole movement to undertake. In England, the banding together of educated and non-quarrelsome Spiritualists has proved eminently successful; it has given a strength to the movement which it never possessed before, and it has given the members the power of appointing by vote those representatives in whom they have confidence, and who can command the respect of the outside public. Our brethren in America should do likewise, and form a National Organization. As Mr. Paul said at Marylebone, there is nothing good or bad in organization itself, its function merely being to give strength, so that if organization in Spiritualism is bad. Spiritualism must be bad also; the evil cannot lie in the circumstance of individuals deciding in favor of union instead of disintegration. No doubt the eleven millions of American Spiritualists exist only as a brilliant figure of rhetoric. Nevertheless, the number of American Spiritualists is much greater than the number of Spiritualists in England, yet in this country the movement is probably strongest, in consequence of educated Spiritualists having resolved to pull together in amity and good will. That the whole of our body is not as yet working in unanimity, is not the fault of those of us who have raised the cry of anti-dissension, and invited all. high and low, to work unitedly on terms of equality, under a constitutional system resting upon vote by ballot. —London Spiritualist.

From the London Spiritualist.

A Medium of the Last Century

The memory of torn of the remarkable mediums of past days may well be recalled, now that there is some chance of their being understood. There are few points on which ignorance, prejudice, and misapprehension have combined to occasion more loss and obscurity than on this subject. Mediumship of old was, more emphatically than invention or science, a thing before its time—little better can be said of it, indeed, to-day. In medieval times any unusual amount of learning was ascribed to supernatural, unusually diabolical sad, and scholar, philosopher, and medium were placed in the same category. It would be a curious and difficult undertaking to distinguish among celebrated names of old who were scholars and savans, pure and simple, and those who were aided and influenced, more or less, by mediumistic power. In the former Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus, and Duns Scot us may be ranged as representing the Tyndalls and the Huxleys of their day; and Cordan, Cornelius Agrippa, Trithemius, and Paracelsus among the latter; but all alike were popularly held to derive their knowledge from supernatural agency. A person in those days endowed with medial powers must have frequently been sorely perplexed, the more so according to fineness of nature and religious instincts. Often the possessors might view their powers with horror and refer them to infernal possession, and doubtless many a strangely harassed life, unspeakable mental struggles, and fearful questionings have passed unrecorded and unknown. We will now mention an individual who lived near our own days, who, apparently distinguished tor nothing else, must have been an extraordinarily strong medium.

Schrepfer was a native of Leipsic, where in after life he kept a cafe. He asserted himself to be in continual intercourse with spirits, whom he could control and summon at pleasure; he distinguished them into friendly and evil, and the approach of each was heralded by particular sounds. He is said to have frequently given astonishing proofs of his power, but the most famous instance was that in which Prince Charles of Saxony, with much difficulty, prevailed upon him to present in visible fora the spirit of the Chevalier de Saxe, one of the natural sous of Augustus II., King of Poland, and halt brother to the famous Marshal Count Saxe. He was uncle to Prince Charles, and having amassed enormous wealth and died without issue, it was reported that vast sums belonging to him were concealed in the palace. Curiosity therefore combined with avarice in prompting Prince Charles to endeavor to gain an interview with the spirit of his uncle, Schrepfer, with much repugnance, for he represented such an undertaking as dangerous to himself, was prevailed upon to make the attempt. A company, nineteen in number, assembled by night in the great gallery of Prince Charles’s palace in Dresden, and all doors and windows were carefully secured by Schrepfer's directions. Lights were extinguished, and Schrepfer, after warning the company that the event might try their nerves, retired into a corner, and, after a long interval, passed into a convulsive and agitated state, when a noise was soon heard more like, wet fingers drawn over the edge of glasses than any thing else. Presently very frightful sounds followed, and the company being much aghast, the principal door suddenly opened with violence, and something that resembled a black ball or globe rolled into the gallery. It was invested with smoke or cloud, in the midst of which appeared a face like that of the Chevalier de Saxe, from which a loud and angry voice exclaimed in German, “Carl, was wolt du mit mich?"— “Charles, what wouldst thou with me?"

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Editor's notes

  1. Editorial Paragraphs by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 22, August 5, 1875, p. 259
  2. Disorganization Among American Spiritualists by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 1, March 11, 1875, p. 6
  3. A Medium of the Last Century by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 26, September 2, 1875, p. 308