Obrazy na stronie
[ocr errors]

- Yes,

a priori, and confirmed by indubitable whom he casually broached the subject
testimony. The world is too familiar of " spiritual manifestations,” avowing his
with counterfeit clairvoyants, shamming total incredulity with regard to them.
mesmerizers, hypocritical religionists, &c., Dr. J. replied that, if evidence would con-
to believe that, if there were real recipi vince him, he thought his skepticism
ents or channels of influx for “ light from might be overcome; and they soon agreed
the spirit world,” there would not be to visit in company a Miss Middlebrook
knavish or self-deluded pretenders to such (some twelve or thirteen years old), who
gifts, as well. How far self-delusion may is a reputed "medium.” On their way,
go, we cannot pretend to estimate ; but we Mr. H. concocted four or five questions
all know that men otherwise sane, have which he resolved to ask the invisibles in
honestly believed themselves specially presence of Miss Middlebrook, saying to
commissioned and guided from Heaven to Dr. J. that if these questions were an-
admonish, prophecy, and work miracles, swered correctly he would be no longer
when in truth they had no such commis incredulous. He asked his questions ac-
sion and could do no such mighty works cordingly, and they were all answered to
as they contemplated. Salem witchcraft, his satisfaction; but now he thought of a
religious frenzy evinced through un few more that he would like to put, which
seemly contortions, jerkings and tumb he did with equal success. At length
lings, are among the familiar examples of he asked—“Who are you that answer
wide-spread contagious delusions, which me ?" Ans. “I am your uncle William."
often exhibited the apparent effects of “ No, you are not,” said Mr. H., for I
unaccountable if not supernatural power. never had any uncle William._
But the supposition that all the alleged you did,” persisted the invisible, “but
“mediums" are conscious, intentional you never saw and probably never heard
swindlers, is utterly irreconcilable with

of me.

I left Connecticut when very facts, and at war with human nature. young for the interior of New York, and Many of these “ rappers,” or “ tippers,” or died there a great many years ago.”—Mr. " writers," or "speakers,” (for the modes Humes persisted that he never had any of "manifestation" are now various,) are such uncle, and the interview rather ablittle children, even down to five years of

ruptly closed. age; others are grave, stern, honored men, Several days thereafter, Dr. Jaques, in whose integrity is absolutely beyond sus the course of an inland ride, came across picion; others, again, are beloved and sensi the father of Mr. Humes, a venerable pative women, who dread and recoil from triarch of eighty, whom he abruptly acany intercourse, while in the body, with the costed thus, -"Mr. Humes, had you ever invisible world, and would not be known a brother William ?”—“No, sir," was the as “mediums" for a kingdom. In many ready reply. The doctor turned away rafamilies the secret that "manifestations ther crest-fallen and was riding off, when have occurred there is guarded with re the old man recalled him with— " Stop, ligious care, and any allusion to the sub doctor! I was mistaken. I had a brother ject in the presence of non-members there William ; but he went off west and died of repressed, as if it were the acme of several years before I was born, and I shame and sin. Yet the contagion spreads, haven't thought of him for many years and every month adds to the number of till now. I don't think there is another the witnesses and mediums."

person alive who knows that I ever had We know it is urged that human nature such a brother. What could have put is fearfully depraved and deceitful, and him into your head ?" We have this narrathat we

cannot know the motive tion at second-hand, but on testimony whether love of notoriety, hope of gain, whose accuracy and truth we cannot doubt. the prosecution of some private intrigue, Of like bearing with the above is the or some other

which induces this or that testimony of Apollos Munn, (now deindividual who has heard of the “rap ceased,) that, on the occasion of his first pings," and the usual modes of "Mani visit to a “medium,” in a city over three festation,” to take courage by the success hundred miles from his residence, and of others and undertake to produce some where he was quite sure no one knew him, thing of the kind herself. Let us cite, he asked a number of questions, which then, one or two samples of the “Mani were answered with what seemed to be festations” as they are attested to have superhuman perspicacity, until he finally occurred, and see whether this theory will asked, “Who are you that answer me ?" account for them.

_“I am your sister Lois.”_"I never had A few days ago, a Mr. Humes, residing such a sister-my sister's name was Louin one of the interior towns of Connecti isa.”—“No, my name was Lois.”—He cut, happened to be in Bridgeport, and left the matter thus at a dead lock, and there called on his friend Dr. Jaques, to on returning to his home, said--"Mother!

[ocr errors]

can I be mistaken as to the name of my ing inclines us to Atheism, but more learndeceased sister? Though I never saw ing carries us back to a belief and trust her, I supposed I could not be mistaken as in God;" and we have no doubt that, whento her name.”—“It was Lois," quietly ever we shall clearly and fully understand responded the mother.

whatever of truth is involved in these I do not see how such relations as these, “knockings,” etc., we shall realize its perassuming that they are not utter fabrica fect accord with nature, with reason, and tions, are to be accounted for on the theory with the beneficence, omniscience, and paof juggle, or even on that of contagious ternal guardianship of the God and Father self-delusion. If we attribute the whole of us all. business to Satan, we get rid of this diffi P. S. Since the foregoing was in type, culty, but only to rush inevitably on the writer has received the following letter others perhaps no whit less formidable. from Mrs. Sarah H. WHITMAN, of ProvAmong these is the intrinsic improbability idence, R. I., in reply to one of inquiry from that the old reprobate should give utter him, as to her own experiences in "Spiritance to such counsel as is very often prof ualism," and especially with regard to a fered through “mediums,” and which, as remarkable "experience” currently reportsuming that Satan is their author, would ed as having occurred to Hon. JAMES F. seem entirely to contradict Lord Byron's SIMMONS, late U. S. Senator from Rhode observation with reference to his own Island, and widely known as one of the “Cain,” that "if you permit the devil keenest and clearest observers, most unto speak for himself, you mustn't expect likely to be the dupe of mystery or the him to talk like a parson.” For instance, slave of hallucination. Mrs. Whitman's in the backwoods of western Pennsyl social and intellectual eminence are not so vania dwells a rude but good-hearted widely known, but there are very many pioneer of our acquaintance named Mar who know that her statement needs no tin King, whose little daughter of twelve confirmation whatever. Her reply was or thirteen years became a "medium" so long delayed, owing to illness, thai about a year ago. Martin is in the main only a part of it can here be given; but a good creature, but his education is very the most material portion is as follows: defective, which is the only excuse we can make for his bad habit of keeping a bar

“ DEAR SIR:-I have had no conversarel of whisky on tap, to deal out at a tion with Mr. Simmons on the subject of shilling per quart to his hail-fellow neigh your note, until to-day. I took an early opbors. The “spirits" who manifested portunity of acquainting him with its themselves through the medium of the contents, and this morning he called on daughter promptly demanded that the me to say that he was perfectly will“spirits" (and water) confined in the ing to impart to you the particulars of whisky-barrel should be cast out, and no his experience in relation to the mysterimore be harbored on the premises. It ous writing performed under his very would take direct and abundant evidence eyes in broad daylight, by an invisible to convince us that it was Beelzebub in agent. In the fall of 1850, several mesthis instance who directed the casting out sages were telegraphed to Mrs. Simmons of the alcoholic demon.

through the electric sounds, purporting But having no settled belief of our own to come from her stepson, James D. Simwith regard to the origin and nature of this mons, who died some weeks before in modern "spiritualism,” we are very far California ! from wishing to impose one on others. We “The messages were calculated to stimmight cite many well authenticated facts ulate curiosity and lead to an attentive and incidents which tend quite as strongly observation of the phenomena. Mrs. S., as those we have just cited, to prove these having heard that messages in the hand“manifestations” the work of some super writing of deceased persons were somehuman power; we could cite many others times written through the same medium, which point to an opposite conclusion. asked if her son would give her this eviShould the subject prove of general in dence. She was informed (through the terest, we may quote and contrast some of sounds), that the attempt should be these apparently contradictory phenom- made, and was directed to place a slip ena hereafter. Meantime, the lesson we of paper in a certain drawer at the house would insist on is this-Let us not fear of the medium, and to lay beside it her to open our eyes lest we see something own pencil, which had been given her by contrary to our preconceptions of Nature the deceased. Wecks passed on, and, and Providence; for if these preconcep although frequent inquiries were made, tions are at war with facts, it is high time no writing was found on the paper. they were revised and corrected. Bacon “Mrs. Simmons, happening to call at very justly observed that "a little learn the house one day, accompanied by her

husband, made the usual inquiry, and re he saw the point slide slowly back along ceived the usual answer. The drawer had the word 'Simmons,' till it rested over been opened not two hours before, and the letter i, where it deliberately imnothing was seen in it but the pencil lying printed a dot. This was a punctilio on the blank paper. At the suggestion of ütterly unthought of by him; he had Mrs. S., however, another investigation not noticed the omission, and was there was made, and on the paper was now fore entirely unprepared for the amendfound a few pencilled lines, resembling ment. He suggested the experiment, the handwriting of the deceased, but and hitherto it had kept pace only with not so closely as to satisfy the mother's his will or desire; but how will those doubts. Mrs. Simmons handed the pa who deny the agency of disembodied per to her husband. He thought there spirits in these marvels, ascribing all to was a slight resemblance, but should the unassisted powers of the human will probably not have remarked it, had the or to the blind action of electricity,-how writing been casually presented to him. will they dispose of this last significant Had the signature been given him he and curious fact? The only peculiarity should at once have decided on the re observable in the writing, was, that the semblance. He proposed, if the spirit lines seemed sometimes slightly broken, of his son were indeed present, as alpha as if the pencil had been lifted and then betical communications, received through set down again. the sounds, affirmed him to be, that he “ Another circumstance I am permitted should, then and there, affix his signa to relate, which is not readily to be ao ture to the suspicious document.

counted for on any other theory than “In order to facilitate the operation, that of Spiritual agency. Mr. S., who Mrs S. placed the closed points of a pair had received no particulars of his son's of scissors in the hands of the medium, death until several months after his de and dropped his pencil through one of the cease, purporting to send for his ro rings or bows, the paper being placed mains, questioned the spirit as to the beneath. Her hand presently began to manner in which the body had been dis tremble, and it was with difficulty she posed of, and received a very minute could retain her hold of the scissors. and circumstantial account of the means Mr. Simmons then took them into his which had been resorted to for its preown hand, and again dropped his pencil servation, it being at the time unburied. through the ring. It could not readily be "Improbable as some of these statesustained in this position. After a few mo ments seemed, they were, after an interments, however, it stood as if firmly poised val of four months, confirmed as literand perfectly still. It then began slowly ally true by a gentleman, then recently to move. Mr. S. saw the letters traced returned from California, who was with beneath his eyes the words James D. young Simmons at the period of his Simmons were distinctly and deliber death. Intending soon to return to San ately written, and the handwriting Francisco, he called on Mr. Simmons to was a fac-simile of his son's signature. learn his wishes in relation to the final But what Mr. S. regards as the most as disposition of his son's remains. tonishing part of this seeming miracle, is "I took down the particulars in wriyet to be told

ting, by the permission of Mr. S., during “Bending down to scrutinize the writ his relation of the facts. I have many ing more closely, he observed, just as other narratives of a like character from the last word was finished, that the top persons of intelligence and veracity ; but of the pencil leaned to the right; he they could add nothing to the weight of thought it was about to slip through the that which I have just reported to you.” ring, but to his infinite astonishment,


T is a melancholy duty to which we

are called, in this our first number, to speak of the recent death of one whose memory has a double claim on our affectionate remembrance. His personal character, as well as his connection with American literature, entitled him to our

regard, and justify this notice at our hands.

JOHN LLOYD STEPHENS was born at Shrewsbury, Monmouth county, New Jersey, Nov. 28, 1805. He was the son of Benjamin Stephens, who still survives, one of the oldest inhabitants” of New-York;

his mother was a daughter of Judge Lloyd, of Monmouth county, New Jersey. Both his parents were natives of New Jersey. The future traveller was brought up and educated in the city of New-York. He received his classical education at the schools of Mr. Boyle and Mr. Joseph Nelson, the blind teacher, from the latter of which he entered Columbia College at the early age of 13. He entered low in his class, but left at its head. He remained four years in college, where he was a general favorite with his fellows. On graduating, he entered the office of Daniel Lord, as a student-at-law. He remained in his office about a year, and then entered the Law School, at Litchfield, Conn., at that time under the charge of the late Judge Gould. Here he remained a year, and on his return to the city of New-York entered the office of George W. Strong as a student-at-law, where he remained until admitted to the practice of the law. On his return from Litchfield his early taste for travelling developed itself. In company with a cousin, of about the same age with i imself, he projected a visit to a sister of his mother's residing in Arkansas, at that t'me almost a terra incognita. After making their visit, instead of returning home, as at first contemplated, it was determined to go to New Orleans. They accordingly descended the Mississippi in fiat-boats, at that time the only mode of conveyance on its waters. After an absence of some months, he returned home by sea, from New-Orleans, and resumed his study of law. At the end of his novitiate he entered upon the practice of the law, at which he continued for about eight years; but he never felt or exhibited much ardor or zeal in the pursuit of this profession. During that period he took a somewhat active interest in politics, united himself to the Democratic party, and became a sort of pet speaker at Tammany Hall. He always advocated the doctrine of free trade, and was strongly opposed to all monopolies. His manner was earnest, and every one who heard him could see that he felt what he spoke. Owing, perhaps, to his public speaking, he contracted a disease of the throat, which bid fair soon to break up his constitution. His physician happening to hint at a voyage, he seized upon it immediately, and hastened to carry it into effect. He embarked in the autumn of 1834, in the packet 'Charlemagne,' for Havre, and landing on the coast of England, went up to London, and from thence crossed to France. Thence he visited Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Russia, returning by the way of Poland and Germany to France. On his return to France from the North of Eu

VOL 1.-5.

rope, and when his family expected to hear of his embarkation for home, he suddenly took passage on board a steamer at Marseilles for Egypt, by the way of Malta. He landed at Alexandria, visited Cairo, ascended the Nile as far as Thebes. He returned home in the latter part of 1836. Prior to his return, some of his letters written from Scio, in Greece, and other places, were published, by the request of his friends, in a magazine, edited by Mr. Charles F. Hoffman, and were generally copied in the papers of the day. In 1837 he published his first work, entitled, “ Incidents of Travel in Egypt,

Arabia Petræa and the Holy Land." This was followed, in 1838, by "Incidents of Travel in Greece, Turkey, Russia, and Poland." Of the former 21,000 copies have been printed, and of the latter 12,000. These works were republished in London, and received favorable notice from the reviewers.

In 1839, he was recommended to Governor Seward for the appointment of Agent of this State to visit Holland, for the purpose of collecting records of our colonial history ; but, being opposed by the Whigs in the legislature, he did not receive the nomination, which was conferred on Mr. Brodhead. About that time Mr. Van Buren, being then President, gave him the appointment of Special Ambassador to Central America, for the purpose of negotiating a treaty with that country. On his return to the United States he prepared a third work, entitled, “Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan;" it appeared in June, 1841. Of this 15,000 copies have been printed. While on this mission his attention was first turned to a passage across the Isthmus of Darien.

In 1842 he again visited Yucatan, and published, in 1843, the result of his labors in another work, entitled, “Incidents of Travel in Yucatan.” Of this latter work 9,750 copies have been printed.

In 1846 he was chosen a delegate from the city of New York, to the State Convention of New-York' to revise the Constitution. He was nominated by the Democrats, but on account of his popularity was also placed on the Whig ticket. He introduced, and advocated the provision for a Conciliation Court, which was adopted by that body. In 1847, the subject of ocean steam navigation greatly attracted the public attention. England had the monopoly of this mode of conveyance. It was said, America could not compete with her in navigating the Ocean with steam. She had neither the capital, nor could she build vessels and machinery of sufficient strength and power-Mr.

Stephens became deeply interested in the turned home by the way of Carthagena, project, and a charter was bbtained from whence he took a steamer for the United the State of New-York, incorporating The States. On his way back he stopped at the Ocean Steam Navigation Company in the Island of Jamaica, and made a flying circuit city of New-York. Of this Company of that beautiful island. So much was he Mr. S. was a director, and the result of struck with its natural beauties, and the the enterprise, were the steam-ships moral and social aspects growing out of Washington and Hermann. The former its present anomalous condition, viz., the made the first trip, and proceeded from abolition of slavery, that it is believed he the port of New-York to Southampton, made some very considerable notes of inEngland, and thence to Bremer-Haven, cidents with a view to future publication. the port of the city of Bremen, Germany. On his return to New York, and upon the Mr. S. embarked in the Washington, on resignation of Mr. Thomas W. Ludlow, this her first trip, and had the happiness then President, Mr. S. was appointed in of seeing an experiment in which he felt so his place, and assumed the duties of Presideep an interest successfully carried out. dent of the Panama Railroad Company. He was present at the felicitations offer To the duties of this office all his energies, ed at the different ports, and at Bremen the mental and physical, were bent. The two excitement on her arrival was intense. following winters of 1850–1 and 1851-2, he The thunder of cannon, and tumultuous

visited the Isthmus and personally superrejoicing of every kind greeted her arrival, intended the work and progress of the amid much speechifying, in which Mr. S. road. To this great work he devoted took a prominent part. This decided the himself; his zeal was as conspicuous as question of America's competition with his hopes in its success were firm and unEngland, in Ocean Steam Navigation. He wavering. On his return in the Spring returned to England to meet the Wash of 1852, he seemed in as good if not better ington by way of Hamburg, Berlin, &c., health than usual, and so continued for six visited Humboldt, at Potsdam, and pub or eight weeks, when he was attacked by lished in the Literary World an account a disease of the liver, which developed of his visit to this distinguished traveller itself in an abscess, and after an illness of and philosopher, entitled “ An Hour with about four months, in almost continued Humboldt."

pain and suffering, terminated his life. He took a strong and active interest in As a literary man, the contributions the Hudson River Railroad, and warmly of Mr. Stephens were in the department supported its claims in a speech at the Mer of travels alone; his observations howchants' Exchange, in the city of New-York. ever had extended over a field so wide in

In 1849, he became one of the associates both hemispheres, that his countrymen of the Panama Railroad Company, and one were wont to call him “the American of its most zealous advocates. About Ist traveller.” And so unstudied, familiar July, 1849, the Company was organized, and agreeable was his mode of telling and Mr. S. was chosen its Vice-President. what he had seen, that those who had In the ensuing autumn he visited the ever listened to his verbal relation of his Isthmus, and Panama, for the purpose of “Incidents of Travel,” had the man perinspecting the route; from Panama he fectly before them as they read his lively went to Bogota, the capital of New Gra pages. Perhaps there never lived a wrinada, and concluded an arrangement with ter less ambitious of producing an impresthat Government most favorable to the sion by the mere graces of " style;" or interests of the road. On the journey on one more wilfully and blissfully ignorant mule-back to Bogota he met with a very of the petty artificial devices, the little severe accident, by the falling of his mule. tricks of literary composition, by which His spine was very much wrenched, and it small writers sometimes contrive to make was with the utmost pain and difficulty a shallow rivulet of thought meander over that he reached Bogota. On his arrival a large field of letters. In truth, he esthere he was obliged to take to his bed, chewed trickery of all kinds, and was as lie in one position, and thus carry on amid incapable of employing it when he wrote, the most violent pain and anguish of body, as he was of carrying it into the business all his communications with the Congress transactions of life. And it is precisely of the New Granadian Government. This this naturalness of manner, added to the accident may have helped to impair his truthfulness of his character, which have health, or at least to make him more sus made his writings so universally popular. ceptible of disease. Certain it is, he never With a quick and keen observation, an aprecovered entirely from its effects.* He re preciative and good-natured sense of the

* From Bogota he was carried in a chair constructed on purpose, supported on pillows, and carried on the shoulders of men to the steamer on the Cartbagena river.

« PoprzedniaDalej »