< The Spirits Among the Shakers (continued from page 3-274) >
came and confessed their sins to us and said they would join our order. Then we would appoint them elders and elderesses, and then they would go off to their tribe and preach to them, and the spirits of the tribe would confess to them and they would become Shakers. When they had done this they would come again to us, just the same as if they were in the body. For instance, one or two elders might be in the room below, and there would be a knock at the door, and the Indian would ask whether they might come in. Permission being given, a whole tribe of Indian spirits would troop into the house, and in a few minutes you would hear 'whoop' here and ‘whoop’ there all over the house.”
“But nobody In the rooms above had known that the elders had admitted the Indian spirits ?’’
“Nay. We only knew it who heard them ask permission to enter. But in a few minutes after permission was given everybody in the house would be obsessed. You would hear the men and women talking as if they were Indians. No theatricals that ever you saw on earth were equal to it. They would act out what they were simulating. They would sing new songs entirely unknown to our people, and sometimes they would sing in a foreign language that none of us knew. The mediums would converse together as if they were Indians, and not as themselves.”
“You never let the outside world know what was going on.”
“Nay indeed. What took place among as was so wondertul that it seemed incredible. And if we had published it to the world we should all have been sent to Bedlam.”
“Don’t you think that modern Spiritualism is much the same thing as the visions of monks and nuns in the middle ages ?”
“Certainly. That is the proper explanation of them through all the ages; The visions of St. Theresa were merely spiritualistic visions just such as we have frequently had vouchsafed to the members of our society.”
“And necromancy and magic belong to the same category.”
“Yea. That is when Spiritualism is used for selfish ends, and probably mixed with fraud and pretence, like doctor-craft. If you editors of papers were to turn your criticism upon doctor-craft, with its abominable frauds and shams and pretences and poisonous drugs, you would be doing a real service to mankind.”
“Well, reverting to your spiritual experiences—how is it that you never published them to the world ?”
“We have always known that we should have a work to do in relation to Spiritualism, but we did not know when that work would begin. The manifestations lasted seven years, then they ceased. The spirits told us when they left us that in a very short time they would; give manifestations Everywhere, from the palace to the hamlet, all over the world. We knew that we should have to work at the appointed time, but we knew also that Providence would point out to us the way and the method in which we should work. It was four years before we had any evidence of the truth of what the spirits had told us. Many of us had begun to doubt; we thought that they had deceived us. But when the Rochester, manifestations began then all knew that they had told us the truth. So I and another member of the society went off to Rochester to question the spirits. I asked them if this was the work for which we had so long been waiting. They told us yes! Immediately that we entered the room the rappings were made on the table and all around us in the most remarkable manner. The spirits manifested great joy at our arrival. I saw that the room was full of spirits. Margaret and Katherine Fox left everybody to come and assist us in our conversations with the spirits. We sat down and held long conversations witht hem. We asked them if the work for which we had been ; so long waiting had really, commenced. They said ‘Yes, it had.’ I then asked them if they would show themselves in materializations. I asked them, if they would act in the same way upon material elements as they had acted upon spiritual elements. They said ‘Yes.’
“Then you consider that the recent materializations are genuine.”
“Yea, certainly. I visited the Eddy's at their homestead and I am certain their manifestations are genuine. I was up there about three weeks ago. I Colonel Olcott is doing a good work there, and I will say that The Daily Graphic is correct so far as I was a witness of what occurred.”
“How many Shakers visited the Eddys ?”
“Myself and John Greaves."
“How long were you there ?”
“How many different apparitions did you see?
“Between twenty and thirty men and women."
“Did you or Mr. Greaysf see any spirits of relatives ?”
“We did not ; nor did we care about seeing any. We were perfectly satisfied with the manifestations that we saw. There was no possibility of fraud. As soon as the manifestations began the spirits called us to the first benches. They knew us immediately. The materializations were very pretty. No Shaker spirit came forward.”
“Did you speak to the spirits yourself ?”
“Yea, I did; and got answers from them. I saw no person that I knew at all. I think they were perfectly genuine materializations. Even if we had detected actual fraud on the part of the Eddys, I should still be convinced that the materializations were genuine. It is not at all uncommon for the best mediums to practise fraud. I detected a downright fraud on the part of that boy Henry Phelps.”
“Ha! Where did those manifestations occur? I have heard something of them.”
“At Stratford, Ct., about twenty-five years ago. As soon as I heard of the manifestations I went down and visited his father. Stratford was a quiet little-place that was composed of retired priests and deacons. Dr. Phelps was a retired D. D. His son became a medium, and the manifestations broke out right in the middle of this quiet village. His father told me that it would have been better for him if his house had been burned down than that these things should have occurred. The spirits were so eager after the boy that they tore his clothes off his back, and if he went into any house in that village they pelted it with stones and broke all the windows. The father said that as soon as he saw me drive up he was impressed that help was come. I took the boy with me to Lebanon. The manifestations by spirits through his mediumship were wonderful. Yet one evening when I was out driving with him he began making raps in the wagon with his heels. He wanted me to believe that they were spirits. I said, ‘Henry, let this be the last time that you attempt such tricks as that with me.’ ”
“What has become of him now ?”
“I realty do not know. I have spoken about Spiritualism in England. I spoke before a great crowd of the aristocracy in St. George’s Hall. I told them that Spiritualism ought to be one of the elements of a civil government; that it would answer the purposes of a police in the suppression of evil, and of an army and navy in the protection of the nation. I said they ought to at once get rid of their army and navy and proclaim England a non-resistant power, and then fall back on Spiritualism, as a means of national defence. See what a power I had over them then.”
“What is your general opinion of these multiplied manifestations that we hear of in these days ?”
“It is the descent of Spiritualism from the Shakers to the world. We had the manifestations first; but we kept quiet about it, and did not let, the world know anything about it. But the spirits promised us that there should come a time of manifold spiritual revelations the world, and here they are. It is infallible evidence that the world cannot gainsay. Why even the Mormons have had spiritual revelations.”
“You do not mean to convey the idea that the spiritual manifestations confirm the truth of Mormonism ?”
“Yea, to a certain extent.”
“Why, I Should have thought Mormonism the very antipodes of your belief.”
“Mormonism is much better than your New York Christianity.”
We now together descended to the parlor of the hotel, and were soon engaged in a discussion with the versatile and irrepressible George Francis Train. He took the ground that Spiritualism is all a delusion. “Look here,” said he. “Look at that hand; that is firm, solid flesh. Look at those legs, those, arms, this body. This is all firm. I am a man — a solid, substantial fact. But don’t talk to me about any ghosts. Pshaw; there’s no such thing. Don’t go bringing a lot of musty old skeletons and rattling their bones about my ears. I’ll have none of it.”
“But, Mr. Train, what are we to say about those Eddy manifestations ? Here is Elder Evans, who says that be hasn’t the slightest doubt of their genuineness. Colonel Olcott, Mme. Blavatsky, and a host of other intelligent witnesses all say the same thing. Why don’t you go up and see them ?”
“I can’t do it. I am a poor man to-day. I gave away the whole of my Omaha property to the City Council of Omaha; and I am not worth a cent. My wife is obliged to pay my board bills. Look at me. I’m played out. I have no more faith in the people. See how things turned out with me. I set out for the White House and ended in the Tombs. There is nothing more for me to do. Here I have invitations to lecture all over the country. I could make $20.000 this winter if I chose, but I won’t do it. I decline them all. By the way, I want you to persuade Elder Evans to give a lecture at the Brooklyn Academy of music on Beecherism. Now, he must do it.”
“ What do you say to that, Elder ?” said the writer.
“ Well, I think I might do it. But I must get the company to come down with me if I do.”
“ What is your opinion about this Beecher business ?”
“ It is the final outcome of Protestantism. As Infallibility is the outcome of Romanism, so Beecherism is the outcome of popular Christianity. One is the “ Image” and the other is the “ Beast” mentioned in the Revelations. It is just what might have been expected.”
“It is the final smash of Christianity,” said Mr. Trian.
“There is nothing to do but for the world to return to true principles of religion, and Spiritualism is preparing the way for that,” remarked Elder Evans.
- <Bethlem Royal Hospital, London hospital first to specialise in the mentally ill and origin of the word "bedlam" describing chaos or madness.>