Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Atlantic Monthly, Volume 6, No. 38, December, 1860 by Various

Part 3 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

sphere of his influence were alike impressed with his vast and various
powers. The life and grace of a charmed circle, the display of his gifts
was not for show, and he never forgot to keep the solemn injunction,
_"My son, give me thine heart,"_ clearly engraven before him.

Among his favorite authors, while at the University, we have been told
he greatly delighted in the old dramatists, Webster, Heywood, and
Fletcher. The grace and harmony of style and versification which he
found particularly in the latter master became one of his favorite
themes, and he often dwelt upon this excellence. He loved to repeat the
sad old strains of Bion; and Aeschylus and Sophocles interested
him deeply.

On leaving Cambridge, he took his degree and went immediately to London
to reside with his father. It was a beautiful relation which always
existed between the elder and the younger scholar; and now, as soon as
Arthur had been entered on the boards of the Inner Temple, the father
and son sat down to read law together. Legal studies occupied the young
student till the month of October, 1832, when he became an inmate of the
office of an eminent conveyancer in Lincoln's Inn Fields. Although he
applied himself diligently to obtain a sound practical knowledge of the
profession he had chosen, his former habits of literary pursuit did not
entirely desert him. During the winter he translated most of the sonnets
in the "Vita Nuova," and composed a dramatic sketch with Raffaello for
the hero. About this period he wrote brief, but excellent, memoirs of
Petrarch, Voltaire, and Burke, for the "Gallery of Portraits," then
publishing by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. But his
time, when unoccupied at the office, was principally devoted to
metaphysical research and the history of philosophical opinion. His
spirits, sometimes apt to be graver than is the wont of youth, now
became more animated and even gay, so that his family were cheered on to
hope that his health was firmly gaining ground. The unpleasant symptoms
which manifested themselves in his earlier years had almost entirely
disappeared, when an attack of intermittent fever in the spring of 1833
gave the fatal blow to his constitution. In August, the careful, tender
father took his beloved son into Germany, trusting to a change of
climate for restoration. Travelling slowly, they lingered among the
scenes connected with a literature and a history both were so familiar
with, and many pleasant and profitable hours of delightful converse
gladdened Arthur's journey. It is difficult to picture a more
interesting group of travellers through the picturesque regions they
were again exploring.

No child was ever more ardently loved--nay, worshipped--by his father
than Arthur Hallam. The parallel, perhaps, exists in Edmund Burke's fond
attachment for and subsequent calamity in the loss of his son Richard.
That passage in the life of the great statesman is one of the most
affecting in all biographical literature. "The son thus deeply
lamented," says Prior, "had always conducted himself with much filial
duty and affection. Their confidence on all subjects was even more
unreserved than commonly prevails between father and son, and their
esteem for each other higher.... The son looked to the father as one of
the first, if not the very first, character in history; the father had
formed the very highest opinion of the talents of the son, and among his
friends rated them superior to his own." The same confiding
companionship grew up between Henry Hallam and his eldest boy, and
continued till "death set the seal of eternity" upon the young and
gifted Arthur.

The travellers were returning to Vienna from Pesth; a damp day set in
while they were on the journey; again intermittent fever attacked the
sensitive invalid, and suddenly, mysteriously, his life was ended. It
was the 15th of September, 1833, and Arthur Hallam lay dead in his
father's arms. Twenty-two brief years, and all high hopes for him, the
manly, the noble-spirited, this side the tomb, are broken down forever.
Well might his heart-crushed father sob aloud, "He seemed to tread the
earth as a spirit from some better world." The author of "Horae
Subsecivae" aptly quotes Shakspeare's memorable words, in connection
with the tragic bereavement of that autumnal day in Vienna:--

"The idea of thy life shall sweetly creep
Into my study of imagination;
And every lovely organ of thy life
Shall come apparelled in more precious habit,
More moving delicate, and full of life,
Into the eye and prospect of my soul,
Than when thou liv'dst indeed."

Standing by the grave of this young person, now made so renowned by the
genius of a great poet, whose song has embalmed his name and called the
world's attention to his death, the inevitable reflection is not of
sorrow. He sleeps well who is thus lamented, and "nothing can touch
him further."

THE CONFESSIONS OF A MEDIUM.

It is not yet a year since I ceased to act as a Spiritual Medium. (I am
forced to make use of this title as the most intelligible, but I do it
with a strong mental protest.) At first, I desired only to withdraw
myself quietly from the peculiar associations into which I had been
thrown by the exercise of my faculty, and be content with the simple
fact of my escape. A man who joins the Dashaways does not care to have
the circumstance announced in the newspapers. "So, he was an habitual
drunkard," the public would say. I was overcome by a similar
reluctance,--nay, I might honestly call it shame,--since, although I had
at intervals officiated as a Medium for a period of seven years, my name
had been mentioned, incidentally, only once or twice in the papers
devoted especially to Spiritualism. I had no such reputation as that of
Hume or Andrew Jackson Davis, which would call for a public statement of
my recantation. The result would be, therefore, to give prominence to a
weakness, which, however manfully overcome, might be remembered to my
future prejudice.

I find, however, that the resolution to be silent leaves me restless and
unsatisfied. And in reflecting calmly--objectively, for the first
time--upon the experience of those seven years, I recognize so many
points wherein my case is undoubtedly analogous to that of hundreds of
others who may be still entangled in the same labyrinth whence I have
but recently escaped, so clear a solution of much that is enigmatical,
even to those who reject Spiritualism, that the impulse to write weighs
upon me with the pressure of a neglected duty. I _cannot_ longer be
silent, and, in the conviction that the truth of my statement will be
evident enough to those most concerned in hearing it, without the
authority of any name, (least of all, of one so little known as mine,)
I now give my confession to the world. The names of the individuals whom
I shall have occasion to introduce are, of course, disguised; but, with
this exception, the narrative is the plainest possible record of my own
experience. Many of the incidents winch I shall be obliged to describe
are known only to the actors therein, who, I feel assured, will never
foolishly betray themselves. I have therefore no fear that any harm can
result from my disclosures.

In order to make my views intelligible to those readers who have paid no
attention to psychological subjects, I must commence a little in advance
of my story. My own individual nature is one of those apparently
inconsistent combinations which are frequently found in the children of
parents whose temperaments and mental personalities widely differ. This
class of natures is much larger than would be supposed. Inheriting
opposite, even conflicting, traits from father and mother, they assume,
as either element predominates, diverse characters; and that which is
the result of temperament (in fact, congenital inconsistency) is set
down by the unthinking world as moral weakness or duplicity. Those who
have sufficient skill to perceive and reconcile--or, at least,
govern--the opposing elements are few, indeed. Had the power come to me
sooner, I should have been spared the necessity of making these
confessions.

From one parent I inherited an extraordinarily active and sensitive
imagination,--from the other, a sturdy practical sense, a disposition to
weigh and balance with calm fairness the puzzling questions which life
offers to every man. These conflicting qualities--as is usual in all
similar natures--were not developed in equal order of growth. The former
governed my childhood, my youth, and enveloped me with spells, which all
the force of the latter and more slowly ripened faculty was barely
sufficient to break. Luxuriant weeds and brambles covered the soil which
should have been ploughed and made to produce honest grain.
Unfortunately, I had no teacher who was competent to understand and
direct me. The task was left for myself, and I can only wonder, after
all that has occurred, how it has been possible for me to succeed.
Certainly, this success has not been due to any vigorous exercise of
virtue on my part, but solely to the existence of that cool, reflective
reason which lay _perdue_ beneath all the extravagances of my mind.

I possessed, even as a child, an unusual share of what phrenologists
call Concentrativeness. The power of absorption, of self-forgetfulness,
was at the same time a source of delight and a torment. Lost in some
wild dream or absurd childish speculation, my insensibility to outward
things was chastised as carelessness or a hardened indifference to
counsel. With a memory almost marvellous to retain those things which
appealed to my imagination, I blundered painfully over the commonest
tasks. While I frequently repeated the Sunday hymn, at dinner, I was too
often unable to give the least report of the sermon. Withdrawn into my
corner of the pew, I gave myself up, after the enunciation of the text,
to a complete abstraction, which took no note of time or place. Fixing
my eyes upon a knot in one of the panels under the pulpit, I sat
moveless during the hour and a half which our worthy old clergyman
required for the expounding of the seven parts of his discourse. They
could never accuse me of sleeping, however; for I rarely even winked.
The closing hymn recalled me to myself, always with a shock, or sense of
pain, and sometimes even with a temporary nausea.

This habit of abstraction--properly a complete _passivity_ of the
mind--after a while developed another habit, in which I now see the root
of that peculiar condition which made me a Medium. I shall therefore
endeavor to describe it. I was sitting, one Sunday, just as the minister
was commencing his sermon, with my eyes carelessly following the fingers
of my right hand, as I drummed them slowly across my knee. Suddenly, the
wonder came into my mind,--How is it my fingers move? What set them
going? What is it that stops them? The mystery of that communication
between will and muscle, which no physiologist has ever fathomed, burst
upon my young intellect. I had been conscious of no intention of thus
drumming my fingers; they were in motion when I first noticed them: they
were certainly a part of myself, yet they acted without my knowledge or
design! My left hand was quiet; why did its fingers not move also?
Following these reflections came a dreadful fear, as I remembered Jane,
the blacksmith's daughter, whose elbows and shoulders sometimes jerked
in such a way as to make all the other scholars laugh, although we were
sorry for the poor girl, who cried bitterly over her unfortunate,
ungovernable limbs. I was comforted, however, on finding that I could
control the motion of my fingers at pleasure; but my imagination was too
active to stop there. What if I should forget how to direct my hands?
What if they should refuse to obey me? What if my knees, which were just
as still as the hymn-books in the rack before me, should cease to bend,
and I should sit there forever? These very questions seemed to produce a
temporary paralysis of the will. As my right hand lay quietly on my
knee, and I asked myself, with a stupid wonder, "Now, can I move it?" it
lay as still as before. I had only questioned, not willed. "No I cannot
move it," I said, in real doubt I was conscious of a blind sense of
exertion, wherein there was yet no proper exertion, but which seemed to
exhaust me. Fascinated by this new mystery, I contemplated my hand as
something apart from myself,--something subordinate to, but not
identical with, me. The rising of the congregation for the hymn broke
the spell, like the snapping of a thread.

The reader will readily understand that I carried these experiences much
farther. I gradually learned to suspend (perhaps in imagination only,
but therefore none the less really) the action of my will upon the
muscles of my arms and legs; and I did it with the greater impunity,
from knowing that the stir consequent upon the conclusion of the
services would bring me to myself. In proportion as the will became
passive, the activity of my imagination was increased, and I experienced
a new and strange delight in watching the play of fantasies which
appeared to come and go independently of myself. There was still a dim
consciousness of outward things mingled with my condition; I was not
beyond the recall of my senses. But one day, I remember, as I sat
motionless as a statue, having ceased any longer to attempt to control
my dead limbs, more than usually passive, a white, shining mist
gradually stole around me; my eyes finally ceased to take cognizance of
objects; a low, musical humming sounded in my ears, and those creatures
of the imagination which had hitherto crossed my brain as _thoughts_ now
spoke to me as audible voices. If there is any happy delirium in the
first stages of intoxication, (of which, thank Heaven, I have no
experience,) it must be a sensation very much like that which I felt.
The death of external and the birth of internal consciousness
overwhelmed my childish soul with a dumb, ignorant ecstasy, like that
which savages feel on first hearing the magic of music.

How long I remained thus I know not. I was aroused, by feeling myself
violently shaken. "John!" exclaimed my mother, who had grasped my arm
with a determined hand,--"bless the boy! what ails him? Why, his face
is as white as a sheet!" Slowly I recovered my consciousness, saw the
church and the departing congregation, and mechanically followed my
parents. I could give no explanation of what had happened, except to say
that I had fallen asleep. As I ate my dinner with a good appetite, my
mother's fears were quieted. I was left at home the following Sunday,
and afterwards only ventured to indulge sparingly in the exercise of my
newly discovered faculty. My mother, I was conscious, took more note of
my presence than formerly, and I feared a repetition of the same
catastrophe. As I grew older and my mind became interested in a wider
range of themes, I finally lost the habit, which I classed among the
many follies of childhood.

I retained, nevertheless, and still retain, something of that subtile
instinct which mocks and yet surpasses reason. My feelings with regard
to the persons whom I met were quite independent of their behavior
towards me, or the estimation in which they were held by the world.
Things which puzzled my brain in waking hours were made clear to me in
sleep, and I frequently felt myself blindly impelled to do or to avoid
doing certain things. The members of my family, who found it impossible
to understand my motives of action,--because, in fact, there were no
_motives_,--complacently solved the difficulty by calling me "queer." I
presume there are few persons who are not occasionally visited by the
instinct, or impulse, or faculty, or whatever it may be called, to which
I refer. I possessed it in a more than ordinary degree, and was
generally able to distinguish between its suggestions and the mere
humors of my imagination. It is scarcely necessary to say that I assume
the existence of such a power, at the outset. I recognize it as a normal
faculty of the human mind,--not therefore universal, any more than the
genius which makes a poet, a painter, or a composer.

My education was neither general nor thorough; hence I groped darkly
with the psychological questions which were presented to me. Tormented
by those doubts which at some period of life assail the soul of every
thinking man, I was ready to grasp at any solution which offered,
without very carefully testing its character. I eagerly accepted the
theory of Animal Magnetism, which, so far as it went, was satisfactory;
but it only illustrated the powers and relations of the soul in its
present state of existence; it threw no light upon that future which I
was not willing to take upon faith alone. Though sensible to mesmeric
influences, I was not willing that my spiritual nature should be the
instrument of another's will,--that a human being, like myself, should
become possessed of all my secrets and sanctities, touching the keys of
every passion with his unhallowed fingers. In the phenomena of
clairvoyance I saw only other and more subtile manifestations of the
power which I knew to exist in my own mind. Hence, I soon grew weary of
prosecuting inquiries which, at best, would fall short of solving my own
great and painful doubt,--Does the human soul continue to exist after
death? That it could take cognizance of things beyond the reach of the
five senses, I was already assured. This, however, might be a sixth
sense, no less material and perishable in its character than the others.
My brain, as yet, was too young and immature to follow the thread of
that lofty spiritual logic in the light of which such doubts melt away
like mists of the night. Thus, uneasy because undeveloped, erring
because I had never known the necessary guidance, seeking, but almost
despairing of enlightenment, I was a fit subject for any spiritual
epidemic which seemed to offer me a cure for worse maladies.

At this juncture occurred the phenomena known as the "Rochester
Knockings." (My home, let me say, is in a small town not far from New
York.) I shared in the general interest aroused by the marvellous
stories, which, being followed by the no less extraordinary display of
some unknown agency at Norwalk, Connecticut, excited me to such a degree
that I was half-converted to the new faith before I had witnessed any
spiritual manifestation. Soon after the arrival of the Misses Fox in New
York I visited them in their rooms at the Howard House. Impressed by
their quiet, natural demeanor, the absence of anything savoring of
jugglery, and the peculiar character of the raps and movements of the
table, I asked my questions and applied my tests, in a passive, if not a
believing frame of mind. In fact, I had not long been seated, before the
noises became loud and frequent.

"The spirits like to communicate with you," said Mrs. Fish: "you seem to
be nearer to them than most people."

I summoned, in succession, the spirits of my mother, a younger brother,
and a cousin to whom I had been much attached in boyhood, and obtained
correct answers to all my questions. I did not then remark, what has
since occurred to me, that these questions concerned things which I
knew, and that the answers to them were distinctly impressed on my mind
at the time. The result of one of my tests made a very deep impression
upon me. Having mentally selected a friend whom I had met in the train
that morning, I asked,--"Will the spirit whose name is now in my mind
communicate with me?" To this came the answer, slowly rapped out, on
calling over the alphabet,--"_He is living!_"

I returned home, very much puzzled. Precisely those features of the
exhibition (let me call it such) which repulse others attracted me. The
searching daylight, the plain, matter-of-fact character of the
manifestations, the absence of all solemnity and mystery, impressed me
favorably towards the spiritual theory. If disembodied souls, I said,
really exist and can communicate with those in the flesh, why should
they choose moonlight or darkness, graveyards or lonely bedchambers, for
their visitations? What is to hinder them from speaking at times and in
places where the senses of men are fully awake and alert, rather than
when they are liable to be the dupes of the imagination? In such
reflections as these I was the unconscious dupe of my own imagination,
while supposing myself thoroughly impartial and critical.

Soon after this, circles began to be formed in my native town, for the
purpose of table-moving. A number of persons met, secretly at
first,--for as yet there were no avowed converts,--and quite as much for
sport as for serious investigation. The first evening there was no
satisfactory manifestation. The table moved a little, it is true, but
each one laughingly accused his neighbors of employing some muscular
force: all isolated attempts were vain. I was conscious, nevertheless,
of a curious sensation of numbness in the arms, which recalled to mind
my forgotten experiments in church. No rappings were heard, and some of
the participants did not scruple to pronounce the whole thing
a delusion.

A few evenings after this we met again. Those who were most incredulous
happened to be absent, while, accidentally, their places were filled by
persons whose temperaments disposed them to a passive seriousness. Among
these was a girl of sixteen, Miss Abby Fetters, a pale, delicate
creature, with blond hair and light-blue eyes. Chance placed her next to
me, in forming the ring, and her right hand lay lightly upon my left. We
stood around a heavy circular dining-table. A complete silence was
preserved, and all minds gradually sank into a quiet, passive
expectancy. In about ten minutes I began to feel, or to imagine that I
felt, a stream of light,--if light were a palpable substance,--a
something far finer and more subtile than an electric current, passing
from the hand of Miss Fetters through my own into the table. Presently
the great wooden mass began to move,--stopped,--moved again,--turned in
a circle, we following, without changing the position of our hands,--and
finally began to rock from side to side, with increasing violence. Some
of the circle were thrown off by the movements; others withdrew their
hands in affright; and but four, among whom were Miss Fetters and
myself, retained their hold. My outward consciousness appeared to be
somewhat benumbed, as if by some present fascination or approaching
trance, but I retained curiosity enough to look at my companion. Her
eyes, sparkling with a strange, steady light, were fixed upon the table;
her breath came quick and short, and her cheek had lost every trace of
color. Suddenly, as if by a spasmodic effort, she removed her hands; I
did the same, and the table stopped. She threw herself into a seat, as
if exhausted, yet, during the whole time, not a muscle of the hand which
lay upon mine had stirred. I solemnly declare that my own hands had
been equally passive, yet I experienced the same feeling of
fatigue,--not muscular fatigue, but a sense of _deadness_, as if every
drop of nervous energy had been suddenly taken from me.

Further experiments, the same evening, showed that we two, either
together or alone, were able to produce the same phenomena without the
assistance of the others present. We did not succeed, however, in
obtaining any answers to our questions, nor were any of us impressed by
the idea that the spirits of the dead were among us. In fact, these
table-movings would not, of themselves, suggest the idea of a spiritual
manifestation. "The table is bewitched," said Thompson, a hard-headed
young fellow, without a particle of imagination; and this was really the
first impression of all: some unknown force, latent in the dead matter,
had been called into action. Still, this conclusion was so strange, so
incredible, that the agency of supernatural intelligences finally
presented itself to my mind as the readiest solution.

It was not long before we obtained rappings, and were enabled to repeat
all the experiments which I had tried during my visit to the Fox family.
The spirits of our deceased relatives and friends announced themselves,
and generally gave a correct account of their earthly lives. I must
confess, however, that, whenever we attempted to pry into the future, we
usually received answers as ambiguous as those of the Grecian oracles,
or predictions which failed to be realized. Violent knocks or other
unruly demonstrations would sometimes interrupt an intelligent
communication which promised us some light on the other life: these, we
were told, were occasioned by evil or mischievous spirits, whose delight
it was to create disturbances. They never occurred, I now remember,
except when Miss Fetters was present. At the time, we were too much
absorbed in our researches to notice the fact.

The reader will perceive, from what he knows of my previous mental
state, that it was not difficult for me to accept the theories of the
Spiritualists. Here was an evidence of the immortality of the
soul,--nay, more, of its continued individuality through endless future
existences. The idea of my individuality being lost had been to me the
same thing as complete annihilation. The spirits themselves informed us
that they had come to teach these truths. The simple, ignorant faith of
the Past, they said, was worn out; with the development of science, the
mind of man had become skeptical; the ancient fountains no longer
sufficed for his thirst; each new era required a new revelation; in all
former ages there had been single minds pure enough and advanced enough
to communicate with the dead and be the mediums of their messages to
men, but now the time had come when the knowledge of this intercourse
must be declared unto all; in its light the mysteries of the Past became
clear; in the wisdom thus imparted, that happy Future which seems
possible to every ardent and generous heart would be secured. I was not
troubled by the fact that the messages which proclaimed these things
were often incorrectly spelt, that the grammar was bad and the language
far from elegant. I did not reflect that these new and sublime truths
had formerly passed through my own brain as the dreams of a wandering
imagination. Like that American philosopher who looks upon one of his
own neophytes as a man of great and profound mind because the latter
carefully remembers and repeats to him his own carelessly uttered
wisdom, I saw in these misty and disjointed reflections of my own
thoughts the precious revelation of departed and purified spirits.

How a passion for the unknown and unattainable takes hold of men is
illustrated by the search for the universal solvent, by the mysteries of
the Rosicrucians, by the patronage of fortune-tellers, even. Wholly
absorbed in spiritual researches,--having, in fact, no vital interest in
anything else,--I soon developed into what is called a Medium. I
discovered, at the outset, that the peculiar condition to be attained
before the tables would begin to move could be produced at will.[7] I
also found that the passive state into which I naturally fell had a
tendency to produce that trance or suspension of the will which I had
discovered when a boy. External consciousness, however, did not wholly
depart. I saw the circle of inquirers around me, but dimly, and as
phantoms,--while the impressions which passed over my brain seemed to
wear visible forms and to speak with audible voices.

I did not doubt, at the time, that spirits visited me, and that they
made use of my body to communicate with those who could hear them in no
other way. Beside the pleasant intoxication of the semi-trance, I felt a
rare joy in the knowledge that I was elected above other men to be their
interpreter. Let me endeavor to describe the nature of this possession.
Sometimes, even before a spirit would be called for, the figure of the
person, as it existed in the mind of the inquirer, would suddenly
present itself to me,--not to my outward senses, but to my interior,
instinctive knowledge. If the recollection of the other embraced also
the voice, I heard the voice in the same manner, and unconsciously
imitated it. The answers to the questions I knew by the same instinct,
as soon as the questions were spoken.

If the question was vague, asked for information rather than
_confirmation_, either no answer came, or there was an impression of a
_wish_ of what the answer might be, or, at times, some strange
involuntary sentence sprang to my lips. When I wrote, my hand appeared
to move of itself; yet the words it wrote invariably passed through my
mind. Even when blindfolded, there was no difference in its performance.
The same powers developed themselves in a still greater degree in Miss
Fetters. The spirits which spoke most readily through her were those of
men, even coarse and rude characters, which came unsummoned. Two or
three of the other members of our circle were able to produce motions in
the table; they could even feel, as they asserted, the touch of
spiritual hands; but, however much they desired it, they were never
personally possessed as we, and therefore could not properly be
called Mediums.

These investigations were not regularly carried on. Occasionally the
interest of the circle flagged, until it was renewed by the visit of
some apostle of the new faith, usually accompanied by a "Preaching
Medium." Among those whose presence especially conduced to keep alive
the flame of spiritual inquiry was a gentleman named Stilton, the editor
of a small monthly periodical entitled "Revelations from the Interior."
Without being himself a Medium, he was nevertheless thoroughly
conversant with the various phenomena of Spiritualism, and both spoke
and wrote in the dialect which its followers adopted. He was a man of
varied, but not profound learning, an active intellect, giving and
receiving impressions with equal facility, and with an unusual
combination of concentrativeness and versatility in his nature. A
certain inspiration was connected with his presence. His personality
overflowed upon and influenced others. "My mind is not sufficiently
submissive," he would say, "to receive impressions from the spirits, but
my atmosphere attracts them and encourages them to speak." He was a
stout, strongly built man, with coarse black hair, gray eyes, large
animal mouth, square jaws, and short, thick neck. Had his hair been
cropped close, he would have looked very much like a prize-fighter; but
he wore it long, parted in the middle, and as meek in expression as its
stiff waves would allow.

Stilton soon became the controlling spirit of our circle. His presence
really seemed, as he said, to encourage the spirits. Never before had
the manifestations been so abundant or so surprising. Miss Fetters,
especially, astonished us by the vigor of her possessions. Not only
Samson and Peter the Great, but Gibbs the Pirate, Black Hawk, and Joe
Manton, who had died the previous year in a fit of delirium-tremens,
prophesied, strode, swore, and smashed things in turn, by means of her
frail little body. As Cribb, a noted pugilist of the last century, she
floored an incautious spectator, giving him a black eye which he wore
for a fortnight afterwards. Singularly enough, my visitors were of the
opposite cast. Hypatia, Petrarch, Mary Magdalen, Abelard, and, oftenest
of all, Shelley, proclaimed mystic truths from my lips. They usually
spoke in inspired monologues, without announcing themselves beforehand,
and often without giving any clue to their personality. A practised
stenographer, engaged by Mr. Stilton, took down many of these
communications as they were spoken, and they were afterwards published
in the "Revelations." It was also remarked, that, while Miss Fetters
employed violent gestures and seemed to possess a superhuman strength,
I, on the contrary, sat motionless, pale, and with little sign of life
except in my voice, which, though low, was clear and dramatic in its
modulations. Stilton explained this difference without hesitation. "Miss
Abby," he said, "possesses soul-matter of a texture to which the souls
of these strong men naturally adhere. In the spirit-land the
superfluities repel each other; the individual souls seek to remedy
their imperfections: in the union of opposites only is to be found the
great harmonia of life. You, John, move upon another plane; through what
in you is undeveloped, these developed spirits are attracted."

For two or three years, I must admit, my life was a very happy one. Not
only were those occasional trances an intoxication, nay, a coveted
indulgence, but they cast a consecration over my life. My restored faith
rested on the sure evidence of my own experience; my new creed contained
no harsh or repulsive feature; I heard the same noble sentiments which I
uttered in such moments repeated by my associates in the faith, and I
devoutly believed that a complete regeneration of the human race was at
hand. Nevertheless, it struck me sometimes as singular that many of the
Mediums whom I met--men and women chosen by spiritual hands to the same
high office--excited in my mind that instinct of repulsion on which I
had learned to rely as a sufficient reason for avoiding certain persons.
Far as it would have been from my mind, at that time, to question the
manifestations which accompanied them, I could not smother my mistrust
of their characters. Miss Fetters, whom I so frequently met, was one of
the most disagreeable. Her cold, thin lips, pale eyes, and lean figure
gave me a singular impression of voracious hunger. Her presence was
often announced to me by a chill shudder, before I saw her. Centuries
ago one of her ancestors must have been a ghoul or vampire. The trance
of possession seemed, with her, to be a form of dissipation, in which
she indulged as she might have catered for a baser appetite. The new
religion was nothing to her; I believe she valued it only on account of
the importance she obtained among its followers. Her father, a vain,
weak-minded man, who kept a grocery in the town, was himself a convert.

Stilton had an answer for every doubt. No matter how tangled a labyrinth
might be exhibited to him, he walked straight through it.

"How is it," I asked him, "that so many of my fellow-mediums inspire me
with an instinctive dislike and mistrust?"

"By mistrust you mean dislike," he answered; "since you know of no
reason to doubt their characters. The elements of soul-matter are
differently combined in different individuals, and there are affinities
and repulsions, just as there are in the chemical elements. Your feeling
is chemical, not moral. A want of affinity does not necessarily imply an
existing evil in the other party. In the present ignorance of the world,
our true affinities can only he imperfectly felt and indulged; and the
entire freedom which we shall obtain in this respect is the greatest
happiness of the spirit-life."

Another time I asked,--

"How is it that the spirits of great authors speak so tamely to us?
Shakspeare, last night, wrote a passage which he would have been
heartily ashamed of, as a living man. We know that a spirit spoke,
calling himself Shakspeare; but, judging from his communication, it
could not have been he."

"It probably was not," said Mr. Stilton. "I am convinced that all
malicious spirits are at work to interrupt the communications from the
higher spheres. We were thus deceived by one professing to be Benjamin
Franklin, who drew for us the plan of a machine for splitting shingles,
which we had fabricated and patented at considerable expense. On trial,
however, it proved to be a miserable failure, a complete mockery. When
the spirit was again summoned, he refused to speak, but shook the table
to express his malicious laughter, went off, and has never since
returned. My friend, we know but the alphabet of Spiritualism, the mere
A B C; we can no more expect to master the immortal language in a day
than a child to read Plato after learning his letters."

Many of those who had been interested in the usual phenomena gradually
dropped off, tired, and perhaps a little ashamed, in the reaction
following their excitement; but there were continual accessions to our
ranks, and we formed, at last, a distinct clan or community. Indeed, the
number of _secret_ believers in Spiritualism would never be suspected by
the uninitiated. In the sect, however, as in Masonry and the Catholic
Church, there are circles within circles,--concentric rings, whence you
can look outwards, but not inwards, and where he alone who stands at the
centre is able to perceive everything. Such an inner circle was at last
formed in our town. Its object, according to Stilton, with whom the plan
originated, was to obtain a purer spiritual atmosphere, by the exclusion
of all but Mediums and those non-mediumistic believers in whose presence
the spirits felt at ease, and thus invite communications from the
farther and purer spheres.

In fact, the result seemed to justify the plan. The character of the
trance, as I had frequently observed, is vitiated by the consciousness
that disbelievers are present. The more perfect the atmosphere of
credulity, the more satisfactory the manifestations. The expectant
company, the dim light, the conviction that a wonderful revelation was
about to dawn upon us, excited my imagination, and my trance was really
a sort of delirium, in which I spoke with a passion and an eloquence I
had never before exhibited. The fear, which had previously haunted me,
at times, of giving my brain and tongue into the control of an unknown,
power, was forgotten; yet, more than ever, I was conscious of some
strong controlling influence, and experienced a reckless pleasure in
permitting myself to be governed by it. "Prepare," I concluded, (I quote
from the report in the "Revelations,") "prepare, sons of men, for the
dawning day! Prepare for the second and perfect regeneration of man! For
the prison-chambers have been broken into, and the light from the
interior shall illuminate the external! Ye shall enjoy spiritual and
passional freedom; your guides shall no longer be the despotism of
ignorant laws, nor the whip of an imaginary conscience,--but the natural
impulses of your nature, which are the melody of Life, and the natural
affinities, which are its harmony! The reflections from the upper
spheres shall irradiate the lower, and Death is the triumphal arch
through which we pass from glory to glory!"

--I have here paused, deliberating whether I should proceed farther in
my narrative. But no; if any good is to be accomplished by these
confessions, the reader must walk with me through the dark labyrinth
which follows. He must walk over what may be considered delicate ground,
but he shall not be harmed. One feature of the trance condition is too
remarkable, too important in its consequences, to be overlooked. It is a
feature of which many Mediums are undoubtedly ignorant, the existence of
which is not even suspected by thousands of honest Spiritualists.

Let me again anticipate the regular course of my narrative, and explain.
A suspension of the Will, when indulged in for any length of time,
produces a suspension of that inward consciousness of good and evil
which we call Conscience, and which can be actively exercised only
through the medium of the Will. The mental faculties and the moral
perceptions lie down together in the same passive sleep. The subject is,
therefore, equally liable to receive impressions from the minds of
others, and from their passions and lusts. Besides this, the germs of
all good and of all evil are implanted in the nature of every human
being; and even when some appetite is buried in a crypt so deep that its
existence is forgotten, let the warder be removed, and it will gradually
work its way to the light. Persons in the receptive condition which
belongs to the trance may be surrounded by honest and pure-minded
individuals, and receive no harmful impressions; they may even, if of a
healthy spiritual temperament, resist for a time the aggressions of evil
influences; but the final danger is always the same. The state of the
Medium, therefore, may be described as one in which the Will is passive,
the Conscience passive, the outward senses partially (sometimes wholly)
suspended, the mind helplessly subject to the operations of other minds,
and the passions and desires released from all restraining
influences.[8] I make the statement boldly, after long and careful
reflection, and severe self-examination.

As I said before, I did not entirely lose my external consciousness,
although it was very dim and dream-like. On returning to the natural
state, my recollection of what had occurred during the trance became
equally dim; but I retained a general impression of the character of the
possession. I knew that some foreign influence--the spirit of a dead
poet, or hero, or saint, I then believed--governed me for the time; that
I gave utterance to thoughts unfamiliar to my mind in its conscious
state; and that my own individuality was lost, or so disguised that I
could no longer recognize it. This very circumstance made the trance an
indulgence, a spiritual intoxication, no less fascinating than that of
the body, although accompanied by a similar reaction. Yet, behind all,
dimly evident to me, there was an element of terror. There were times
when, back of the influences which spoke with my voice, rose another,--a
vast, overwhelming, threatening power, the nature of which I could not
grasp, but which I knew was evil. Even when in my natural state,
listening to the harsh utterances of Miss Fetters or the lofty spiritual
philosophy of Mr. Stilton, I have felt, for a single second, the touch
of an icy wind, accompanied by a sensation of unutterable dread.

Our secret circle had not held many sessions before a remarkable change
took place in the character of the revelations. Mr. Stilton ceased to
report them for his paper.

"We are on the threshold, at last," said he; "the secrets of the ages
lie beyond. The hands of spirits are now lifting the veil, fold by fold.
Let us not be startled by what we hear: let us show that our eyes can
bear the light,--that we are competent to receive the wisdom of the
higher spheres, and live according to it."

Miss Fetters was more than ever possessed by the spirit of Joe Manton,
whose allowance of grog having been cut off too suddenly by his death,
he was continually clamoring for a dram.

"I tell you," yelled he, or rather she, "I won't stand sich meanness. I
ha'n't come all the way here for nothin'. I'll knock Erasmus all to
thunder, if you go for to turn me out dry, and let him come in."

Mr. Stilton thereupon handed him, or her, a tumbler half-full of brandy,
which she gulped down at a single swallow. Joe Manton presently retired
to make room for Erasmus, who spoke for some time in Latin, or what
appeared to be Latin. None of us could make much of it; but Mr. Stilton
declared that the Latin pronunciation of Erasmus was probably different
from ours, or that he might have learned the true Roman accent from
Cicero and Seneca, with whom, doubtless, he was now on intimate terms.
As Erasmus generally concluded by throwing his arms, or rather the arms
of Miss Fetters, around the neck of Mr. Stilton,--his spirit
fraternizing, apparently, with the spirit of the latter,--we greatly
regretted that his communications were unintelligible, on account of the
superior wisdom which they might be supposed to contain.

I confess, I cannot recall the part I played in what would have been a
pitiable farce, if it had not been so terribly tragical, without a
feeling of utter shame. Nothing but my profound sympathy for the
thousands and tens of thousands who are still subject to the same
delusion could compel me to such a sacrifice of pride. Curiously enough,
(as I thought _then_, but not now,) the enunciation of sentiments
opposed to my moral sense--the abolition, in fact, of all moral
restraint--came from my lips, while the actions of Miss Fetters hinted
at their practical application. Upon the ground that the interests of
the soul were paramount to all human laws and customs, I declared--or
rather, _my voice_ declared--that self-denial was a fatal error, to
which half the misery of mankind could be traced; that the passions,
held as slaves, exhibited only the brutish nature of slaves, and would
be exalted and glorified by entire freedom; and that our sole guidance
ought to come from the voices of the spirits who communicated with us,
instead of the imperfect laws constructed by our benighted fellow-men.
How clear and logical, how lofty, these doctrines seemed! If, at times,
something in their nature repelled me, I simply attributed it to the
fact that I was still but a neophyte in the Spiritual Philosophy, and
incapable of perceiving the truth with entire clearness.

Mr. Stilton had a wife,--one of those meek, amiable, simple-hearted
women whose individuality seems to be completely absorbed into that of
their husbands. When such women are wedded to frank, tender, protecting
men, their lives are truly blessed; but they are willing slaves to the
domestic tyrant. They bear uncomplainingly,--many of them even without a
thought of complaint,--and die at last with their hearts full of love
for the brutes who have trampled upon them. Mrs. Stilton was perhaps
forty years of age, of middle height, moderately plump in person, with
light-brown hair, soft, inexpressive gray eyes, and a meek, helpless,
imploring mouth. Her voice was mild and plaintive, and its accents of
anger (if she ever gave utterance to such) could not have been
distinguished from those of grief. She did not often attend our
sessions, and it was evident, that, while she endeavored to comprehend
the revelations, in order to please her husband, their import was very
far beyond her comprehension. She was now and then a little frightened
at utterances which no doubt sounded lewd or profane to her ears; but
after a glance at Mr. Stilton's face, and finding that it betrayed
neither horror nor surprise, would persuade herself that everything
must be right.

"Are you sure," she once timidly whispered to me, "are you very sure,
Mr. ------, that there is no danger of being led astray? It seems
strange to me; but perhaps I don't understand it."

Her question was so indefinite, that I found it difficult to answer.
Stilton, however, seeing me engaged in endeavoring to make clear to her
the glories of the new truth, exclaimed,--

"That's right, John! Your spiritual plane slants through many spheres,
and has points of contact with a great variety of souls. I hope my wife
will be able to see the light through you, since I appear to be too
opaque for her to receive it from me."

"Oh, Abijah!" said the poor woman, "you know it is my fault. I try to
follow, and I hope I have faith, though I don't see everything as
clearly as you do."

I began also to have my own doubts, as I perceived that an "affinity"
was gradually being developed between Stilton and Miss Fetters. She was
more and more frequently possessed by the spirit of Erasmus, whose
salutations, on meeting and parting with his brother-philosopher, were
too enthusiastic for merely masculine love. But, whenever I hinted at
the possibility of mistaking the impulses of the soul, or at evil
resulting from a too sudden and universal liberation of the passions,
Stilton always silenced me with his inevitable logic. Having once
accepted the premises, I could not avoid the conclusions.

"When our natures are in harmony with spirit-matter throughout the
spheres," he would say, "our impulses will always be in accordance. Or,
if there should be any temporary disturbance, arising from our necessary
intercourse with the gross, blinded multitude, we can always fly to our
spiritual monitors for counsel. Will not they, the immortal souls of the
ages past, who have guided us to a knowledge of the truth, assist us
also in preserving it pure?"

In spite of this, in spite of my admiration of Stilton's intellect, and
my yet unshaken faith in Spiritualism, I was conscious that the harmony
of the circle was becoming impaired to me. Was I falling behind in
spiritual progress? Was I too weak to be the medium for the promised
revelations? I threw myself again and again into the trance, with a
recklessness of soul which fitted me to receive any, even the darkest
impressions, to catch and proclaim every guilty whisper of the senses,
and, while under the influence of the excitement, to exult in the age of
license which I believed to be at hand. But darker, stronger grew the
terror which lurked behind this spiritual carnival. A more tremendous
power than that which I now recognized as coming from Stilton's brain
was present, and I saw myself whirling nearer and nearer to its grasp. I
felt, by a sort of blind instinct, too vague to be expressed, that some
demoniac agency had thrust itself into the manifestations,--perhaps had
been mingled with them from the outset.

For two or three months, my life was the strangest mixture of happiness
and misery. I walked about with the sense of some crisis hanging over
me. My "possessions" became fiercer and wilder, and the reaction so much
more exhausting that I fell into the habit of restoring myself by means
of the bottle of brandy which Mr. Stilton took care should be on hand,
in case of a visit from Joe Manton. Miss Fetters, strange to say, was
not in the least affected by the powerful draughts she imbibed. But, at
the same time, my waking life was growing brighter and brighter under
the power of a new and delicious experience. My nature is eminently
social, and I had not been able--indeed, I did not desire--wholly to
withdraw myself from intercourse with non-believers. There was too much
in society that was congenial to me to be given up. My instinctive
dislike to Miss Abby Fetters and my compassionate regard for Mrs.
Stilton's weakness only served to render the company of intelligent,
cultivated women more attractive to me. Among those whom I met most
frequently was Miss Agnes Honeywood, a calm, quiet, unobtrusive girl,
the characteristic of whose face was sweetness rather than beauty, while
the first feeling she inspired was respect rather than admiration. She
had just that amount of self-possession which conceals without
conquering the sweet timidity of woman. Her voice was low, yet clear;
and her mild eyes, I found, were capable, on occasion, of both flashing
and melting. Why describe her? I loved her before I knew it; but, with
the consciousness of my love, that clairvoyant sense on which I had
learned to depend failed for the first time. Did she love me? When I
sought to answer the question in her presence, all was confusion within.

This was not the only new influence which entered into and increased the
tumult of my mind. The other half of my two-sided nature--the cool,
reflective, investigating faculty--had been gradually ripening, and the
questions which it now began to present seriously disturbed the
complacency of my theories. I saw that I had accepted many things on
very unsatisfactory evidence; but, on the other hand, there was much for
which I could find no other explanation. Let me be frank, and say, that
I do not now pretend to explain all the phenomena of Spiritualism. This,
however, I determined to do,--to ascertain, if possible, whether the
influences which governed me in the trance state came from the persons
around, from the exercise of some independent faculty of my own mind, or
really and truly from the spirits of the dead. Mr. Stilton appeared to
notice that some internal conflict was going on; but he said nothing in
regard to it, and, as events proved, he entirely miscalculated its
character.

I said to myself,--"If this chaos continues, it will drive me mad. Let
me have one bit of solid earth beneath my feet, and I can stand until it
subsides. Let me throw over the best bower of the heart, since all the
anchors of the mind are dragging!" I summoned resolution. I made that
desperate venture which no true man makes without a pang of forced
courage; but, thank God! I did not make it in vain. Agnes loved me, and
in the deep, quiet bliss which this knowledge gave I felt the promise of
deliverance. She knew and lamented my connection with the Spiritualists;
but, perceiving my mental condition from the few intimations which I
dared to give her, discreetly held her peace. But I could read the
anxious expression of that gentle face none the less.

My first endeavor to solve the new questions was to check the _abandon_
of the trance condition, and interfuse it with more of sober
consciousness. It was a difficult task; and nothing but the circumstance
that my consciousness had never been entirely lost enabled me to make
any progress. I finally succeeded, as I imagined, (certainty is
impossible,) in separating the different influences which impressed
me,--perceiving where one terminated and the other commenced, or where
two met and my mind vibrated from one to the other until the stronger
prevailed, or where a thought which seemed to originate in my own brain
took the lead and swept away with me like the mad rush of a prairie
colt. When out of the trance, I noticed attentively the expressions made
use of by Mr. Stilton and the other members of the circle, and was
surprised to find how many of them I had reproduced. But might they not,
in the first place, have been derived from me? And what was the vague,
dark Presence which still overshadowed me at such times? What was that
Power which I had tempted,--which we were all tempting, every time we
met,--and which continually drew nearer and became more threatening? I
knew not; _and I know not_. I would rather not speak or think of it
any more.

My suspicions with regard to Stilton and Miss Fetters were confirmed by
a number of circumstances which I need not describe. That he should
treat his wife in a harsh, ironical manner, which the poor woman felt,
but could not understand, did not surprise me; but at other times there
was a treacherous tenderness about him. He would dilate eloquently upon
the bliss of living in accordance with the spiritual harmonies. Among
_us_, he said, there could be no more hatred or mistrust or
jealousy,--nothing but love, pure, unselfish, perfect love. "You, my
dear," (turning to Mrs. Stilton,) "belong to a sphere which is included
within my own, and share in my harmonies and affinities; yet the
soul-matter which adheres to you is of a different texture from mine.
Yours has also its independent affinities; I see and respect them; and
even though they might lead our bodies--our outward, material
lives--away from one another, we should still be true to that glorious
light of Jove which permeates all soul-matter."

"Oh, Abijah!" cried Mrs. Stilton, really distressed, "how can you say
such a thing of me? You know I can never adhere to anybody else
but you!"

Stilton would then call in my aid to explain his meaning, asserting that
I had a faculty of reaching his wife's intellect, which he did not
himself possess. Feeling a certain sympathy for her painful confusion of
mind, I did my best to give his words an interpretation which soothed
her fears. Then she begged his pardon, taking all the blame to her own
stupidity, and received his grudged, unwilling kiss with a restored
happiness which pained me to the heart.

I had a growing presentiment of some approaching catastrophe. I felt,
distinctly, the presence of unhallowed passions in our circle; and my
steadfast love for Agnes, borne thither in my bosom, seemed like a pure
white dove in a cage of unclean birds. Stilton held me from him by the
superior strength of his intellect. I began to mistrust, even to hate
him, while I was still subject to his power, and unable to acquaint him
with the change in my feelings. Miss Fetters was so repulsive that I
never spoke to her when it could be avoided. I had tolerated her,
heretofore, for the sake of her spiritual gift; but now, when I began to
doubt the authenticity of that gift, her hungry eyes, her thin lips, her
flat breast, and cold, dry hands excited in me a sensation of absolute
abhorrence.

The doctrine of Affinities had some time before been adopted by the
circle, as a part of the Spiritual Truth. Other circles, with which we
were in communication, had also received the same revelation; and the
ground upon which it was based, in fact, rendered its acceptance easy.
Even I, shielded as I was by the protecting arms of a pure love, sought
in vain for arguments to refute a doctrine, the practical operation of
which, I saw, might be so dangerous. The soul had a right to seek its
kindred soul: that I could not deny. Having found, they belonged to each
other. Love is the only law which those who love are bound to obey. I
shall not repeat all the sophistry whereby these positions were
strengthened. The doctrine soon blossomed and bore fruit, the nature of
which left no doubt as to the character of the tree.

The catastrophe came sooner than I had anticipated, and partly through
my own instrumentality; though, in any case, it must finally have come.
We were met together at the house of one of the most zealous and
fanatical believers. There were but eight persons present,--the host and
his wife, (an equally zealous proselyte,) a middle-aged bachelor
neighbor, Mr. and Mrs. Stilton, Miss Fetters and her father, and
myself. It was a still, cloudy, sultry evening, after one of those dull,
oppressive days when all the bad blood in a man seems to be uppermost in
his veins. The manifestations upon the table, with which we commenced,
were unusually rapid and lively. "I am convinced," said Mr. Stilton,
"that we shall receive important revelations to-night. My own mind
possesses a clearness and quickness, which, I have noticed, always
precede the visit of a superior spirit. Let us be passive and receptive,
my friends. We are but instruments in the hands of loftier
intelligences, and only through our obedience can this second advent of
Truth be fulfilled."

He looked at me with that expression which I so well knew, as the signal
for a surrender of my will. I had come rather unwillingly, for I was
getting heartily tired of the business, and longed to shake off my habit
of (spiritual) intoxication, which no longer possessed any attraction,
since I had been allowed to visit Agnes as an accepted lover. In fact, I
continued to hold my place in the circle principally for the sake of
satisfying myself with regard to the real nature and causes of the
phenomena. On this night, something in Mr. Stilton's face arrested my
attention, and a rapid inspiration flashed through my mind. "Suppose," I
thought, "I allow the usual effect to be produced, yet reverse the
character of its operation? I am convinced that he has been directing
the current of my thought according to his will; let me now render
myself so thoroughly passive, that my mind, like a mirror, shall reflect
what passes through his, retaining nothing of my own except the simple
consciousness of what I am doing." Perhaps this was exactly what he
desired. He sat, bending forward a little over the table, his square
jaws firmly set, his eyes hidden beneath their heavy brows, and every
long, wiry hair on his head in its proper place. I fixed my eyes upon
him, threw my mind into a state of perfect receptivity, and waited.

It was not long before I felt his approach. Shadow after shadow flitted
across the still mirror of my inward sense. Whether the thoughts took
words in his brain or in mine,--whether I first caught his disjointed
musings, and, by their utterance reacting upon him, gave system and
development to _his_ thoughts,--I cannot tell. But this I know: what I
said came wholly from him,--not from the slandered spirits of the dead,
not from the vagaries of my own imagination, but from _him_. "Listen to
me!" I said. "In the flesh I was a martyr to the Truth, and I am
permitted to communicate only with those whom the Truth has made free.
You are the heralds of the great day; you have climbed from sphere to
sphere, until now you stand near the fountains of light. But it is not
enough that you see: your lives must reflect the light. The inward
vision is for you, but the outward manifestation thereof is for the
souls of others. Fulfil the harmonies in the flesh. Be the living music,
not the silent instruments."

There was more, much more of this,--a plenitude of eloquent sound, which
seems to embody sublime ideas, but which, carefully examined, contains
no more palpable substance than sea-froth. If the reader will take the
trouble to read an "Epic of the Starry Heavens," the production of a
Spiritual Medium, he will find several hundred pages of the same
character. But, by degrees, the revelation descended to details, and
assumed a personal application. "In you, in all of you, the spiritual
harmonies are still violated," was the conclusion. "You, Abijah Stilton,
who are chosen to hold up the light of truth to the world, require that
a transparent soul, capable of transmitting that light to you, should be
allied to yours. She who is called your wife is a clouded lens; she can
receive the light only through John----, who is her true spiritual
husband, as Abby Fetters is _your_ true spiritual wife!"

I was here conscious of a sudden cessation of the influence which forced
me to speak, and stopped. The members of the circle opposite to me--the
host, his wife, neighbor, and old Mr. Fetters--were silent, but their
faces exhibited more satisfaction than astonishment. My eye fell upon
Mrs. Stilton. Her face was pale, her eyes widely opened, and her lips
dropped apart, with a stunned, bewildered expression. It was the blank
face of a woman walking in her sleep. These observations were
accomplished in an instant; for Miss Fetters, suddenly possessed with
the spirit of Black Hawk, sprang upon her feet. "Ugh! ugh!" she
exclaimed, in a deep, harsh voice, "where's the pale-face? Black Hawk,
he like him,--he love him much!"--and therewith threw her arms around
Stilton, fairly lifting him off his feet. "Ugh! fire-water for Black
Hawk!--big Injun drink!"--and she tossed off a tumbler of brandy. By
this time I had wholly recovered my consciousness, but remained silent,
stupefied by the extraordinary scene.

Presently Miss Fetters became more quiet, and the possession left her.
"My friends," said Stilton, in his cold, unmoved voice, "I feel that the
spirit has spoken truly. We must obey our spiritual affinities, or our
great and glorious mission will be unfulfilled. Let us rather rejoice
that we have been selected as the instruments to do this work. Come to
me, Abby; and you, Rachel, remember that our harmony is not disturbed,
but only made more complete."

"Abijah!" exclaimed Mrs. Stilton, with a pitiful cry, while the tears
burst hot and fast from her eyes; "dear husband, what does this mean?
Oh, don't tell me that I'm to be cast off! You promised to love me and
care for me, Abijah! I'm not bright, I know, but I'll try to understand
you; indeed I will! Oh, don't be so cruel!--don't"----And the poor
creature's voice completely gave way.

She dropped on the floor at his feet, and lay there, sobbing piteously.

"Rachel, Rachel," said he,--and his face was not quite so calm as his
voice,--"don't be rebellious. We are governed by a higher Power. This is
all for our own good, and for the good of the world. Besides, ours was
not a perfect affinity. You will be much happier with John, as he
harmonizes"----

I could endure it no longer. Indignation, pity, the full energy of my
will, possessed me. He lost his power over me then, and forever.

"What!" I exclaimed, "you, blasphemer, beast that you are, you dare to
dispose of your honest wife in this infamous way, that you may be free
to indulge your own vile appetites?--you, who have outraged the dead and
the living alike, by making me utter your forgeries? Take her back, and
let this disgraceful scene end!--take her back, or I will give you a
brand that shall last to the end of your days!"

He turned deadly pale, and trembled. I knew that he made a desperate
effort to bring me under the control of his will, and laughed mockingly
as I saw his knit brow and the swollen veins in his temples. As for the
others, they seemed paralyzed by the suddenness and fierceness of my
attack. He wavered but for an instant, however, and his
self-possession returned.

"Ha!" he exclaimed, "it is the Spirit of Evil that speaks in him! The
Devil himself has risen to destroy our glorious fabric! Help me,
friends! help me to bind him, and to silence his infernal voice, before
he drives the pure spirits from our midst!"

With that, he advanced a step towards me, and raised a hand to seize my
arm, while the others followed behind. But I was too quick for him. Weak
as I was, in comparison, rage gave me strength, and a blow, delivered
with the rapidity of lightning, just under the chin, laid him senseless
on the floor. Mrs. Stilton screamed, and threw herself over him. The
rest of the company remained as if stupefied. The storm which had been
gathering all the evening at the same instant broke over the house in
simultaneous thunder and rain.

I stepped suddenly to the door, opened it, and drew a long, deep breath
of relief, as I found myself alone in the darkness. "Now," said I, "I
have done tampering with God's best gift; I will be satisfied with the
natural sunshine which beams from His Word and from His Works; I have
learned wisdom at the expense of shame!" I exulted in my new freedom, in
my restored purity of soul; and the wind, that swept down the dark,
lonely street, seemed to exult with me. The rains beat upon me, but I
heeded them not; nay, I turned aside from the homeward path, in order to
pass by the house where Agnes lived. Her window was dark, and I knew she
was sleeping, lulled by the storm; but I stood a moment below, in the
rain, and said aloud, softly,--

"Now, Agnes, I belong wholly to you! Pray to God for me, darling, that I
may never lose the true light I have found at last!"

My healing, though complete in the end, was not instantaneous. The habit
of the trance, I found, had really impaired the action of my will. I
experienced a periodic tendency to return to it, which I have been able
to overcome only by the most vigorous efforts. I found it prudent,
indeed, to banish from my mind, as far as was possible, all subjects,
all memories, connected with Spiritualism. In this work I was aided by
Agnes, who now possessed my entire confidence, and who willingly took
upon herself the guidance of my mind at those seasons when my own
governing faculties flagged. Gradually my mental health returned, and I
am now beyond all danger of ever again being led into such fatal
dissipations. The writing of this narrative, in fact, has been a test of
my ability to overlook and describe my experience without being touched
by its past delusions. If some portions of it should not be wholly
intelligible to the reader, the defect lies in the very nature of
the subject.

It will be noticed that I have given but a partial explanation of the
spiritual phenomena. Of the genuineness of the physical manifestations I
am fully convinced, and I can account for them only by the supposition
of some subtile agency whereby the human will operates upon inert
matter. Clairvoyance is a sufficient explanation of the utterances of
the Mediums,--at least of those which I have heard; but there is, as I
have said before, _something_ in the background,--which I feel too
indistinctly to describe, yet which I know to be Evil. I do not wonder
at, though I lament, the prevalence of the belief in Spiritualism. In a
few individual cases it may have been productive of good, but its
general tendency is evil. There are probably but few Stiltons among its
apostles, few Miss Fetterses among its Mediums; but the condition which
accompanies the trance, as I have shown, inevitably removes the
wholesome check which holds our baser passions in subjection. The Medium
is at the mercy of any evil will, and the impressions received from a
corrupt mind are always liable to be accepted by innocent believers as
revelations from the spirits of the holy dead. I shall shock many honest
souls by this confession, but I hope and believe that it may awaken and
enlighten others. Its publication is necessary, as an expiation for some
of the evil which has been done through my own instrumentality.

I learned, two days afterwards, that Stilton (who was not seriously
damaged by my blow) had gone to New York, taking Miss Fetters with him.
Her ignorant, weak-minded father was entirely satisfied with the
proceeding. Mrs. Stilton, helpless and heart-broken, remained at the
house where our circle had met, with her only child, a boy of three
years of age, who, fortunately, inherited her weakness rather than his
father's power. Agnes, on learning this, insisted on having her removed
from associations which were at once unhappy and dangerous. We went
together to see her, and, after much persuasion, and many painful
scenes which I shall not recapitulate, succeeded in sending her to her
father, a farmer in Connecticut. She still remains there, hoping for the
day when her guilty husband shall return and be instantly forgiven.

My task is ended; may it not have been performed in vain!

* * * * *

JOHN ANDRE AND HONORA SNEYD.

Many of our readers will remember the exquisite lines in which Beranger
paints the connection between our mortal lives and the stars of the sky.
With every human soul that finds its way to earth, a new gem is added to
the azure belt of heaven. Thenceforth the two exist in mutual
dependence, each influencing the other's fate; so that, when death comes
to seal the lips of the man, a flame is paled and a lamp extinguished in
the gulf above. In every loosened orb that shoots across the face of
night the experienced eye may trace the story and the fall of a
fellow-being. Youth, beauty, wealth, the humility of indigence and the
pride of power, alike find their term revealed in the bright, silent
course of the celestial spark; and still new signs succeed to provoke
the sympathy or dazzle the philosophy of the observer.

"Quelle est cette etoile qui file,
Qui file, file, et disparait?"

It is unfortunate that such a pretty manner of accounting for the nature
and origin of falling stars should be unsustained by sound astronomical
data, and utterly discountenanced by Herschel and Bond. There is
something in the theory very pleasant and very flattering to human
nature; and there are passages in the history of our race that might
make its promulgation not unacceptable. When, among the innumerable
"patines of bright gold" that strew the floor of heaven, we see one part
from the sphere of its undistinguished fellows, and, filling its pathway
with radiant light, vanish noiselessly into annihilation, we cannot but
be reminded of those characters that, with no apparent reason for being
segregated from the common herd, are, through some strange conjuncture,
hurried from a commonplace life by modes of death that illuminate their
memory with immortal fame. It is thus that the fulfilment of the vow
made in the heat of battle has given Jephthah's name a melancholy
permanence above all others of the captains of Israel. Mutius would long
ago have been forgotten, among the thousands of Roman soldiers as brave
as he, and not less wise, who gave their blood for the good city, but
for the fortunate brazier that stood in the tent of his enemy. And
Leander might have safely passed and repassed the Hellespont for twenty
years without leaving anything behind to interest posterity; it was
failure and death that made him famous.

Eighty years ago a tragedy was consummated by the river Hudson, which,
in the character of its victim and the circumstances of his story, goes
far to yield another example to the list of names immortalized by
calamity. On the 2d of October, 1780, a young British officer of
undistinguished birth and inconsiderable rank was hanged at Tappan.
Amiable as his private life was, and respectable as were his
professional abilities, it is improbable that the memory of John Andre,
had he died upon the battle-field or in his bed, would have survived the
generation of those who knew and who loved him. The future, indeed, was
opening brilliantly before him; but it was still nothing more than the
future. So far in his career he had hardly accomplished anything better
than the attainment of the mountain-top that commanded a view of the
Promised Land. It is solely and entirely to the occasion and the
circumstances of his death that we are to ascribe the peculiar and
universal interest in his character that has ever since continued to
hold its seat in the bosom of friend and of foe. To this day, the most
distinguished American and English historians are at issue respecting
the justice of his doom; and to this day, the grave inquirer into the
rise and fall of empires pauses by the way to glean some scanty memorial
of his personal adventures. As often happens, the labors of the lesser
author who pursues but a single object may encounter more success on
that score than the writer whose view embraces a prodigious range; and
many trifling details, too inconsiderable to find place in the pages of
the annals of a state, reward the inquiry that confines itself to the
elucidation of the conduct of an individual.

John Andre was born in England, probably at London,--possibly at
Southampton,--in the year 1751. His father was an honest, industrious
Switzer, who, following the example of his countrymen and his kindred,
had abandoned the rugged land of his birth, and come over to England to
see what could be made out of John Bull. The family-name appears to have
originally been St. Andre; and this was the style of the famous
dancing-master who gave to the courtiers of Charles II. their
graceful motions.

"St. Andre's feet ne'er kept more equal time,"

wrote Dryden, in his "MacFlecknoe"; and the same writer again brings him
forward in the third act of "Limberham." It must be remembered that in
those days the teacher of fencing and dancing occupied a very
respectable position; and St. Andre's career was sufficiently prosperous
to tempt a young kinsman, who felt the elements of success strong within
him, to cross the seas in his own turn, and find wealth and reputation
in those pleasant pastures which England above all other countries then
laid open to the skilful adventurer.

Nicholas St. Andre, who came to London about the close of the
seventeenth century, and who was undoubtedly nearly related to the
future Major Andre, seems to have passed through a career hardly
paralleled by that of Gil Blas himself. From the humblest beginnings,
his ready wit, his multifarious accomplishments, and his indomitable
assurance speedily carried him to the topmost wave of social prosperity.
A brief instruction in surgery gave him such a plausible appearance of
proficiency in the art as to permit his public lectures to be favorably
received, and to lead to his employment in the royal household. George
I. made him Anatomist to the Court, and, as a token of especial grace,
on one occasion, went so far as to bestow upon the young Swiss his own
sword. His attainments in all the amusements of a gentleman probably had
more to do with these advancements, however, than any professional
skill. He was a capital linguist; at fencing, leaping, running, and
other manly exercises, he found few rivals; and his dabblings in
architecture and botany were at least as notable as his mastership of
chess and his skill as a musician. But when it came to a scientific test
of his surgical and anatomical pretensions, his failure was lamentable
indeed. The unquenchable thirst for notoriety--which he may have
mistaken for fame--was perpetually leading him into questionable
positions, and finally covered his name with ridicule and confusion.

An impudent woman, known as Mary Tofts, declared to the world, that,
instead of a human child, she had given birth to a litter of rabbits.
How such a ridiculous tale ever found believers, it is impossible to
conceive; but such was the case. All England, with the very small
exception of those who united the possession of learning with common
sense, was imbued with the frenzy. The price of warrens was abated to a
mere song, and for a season a Londoner would as readily have eaten a
baked child as a roasted rabbit. The children of men were believed to
populate the burrows, and authorities of the highest reputation lent an
unhesitating support to the delusion. The learned Whiston published in
the circumstance a fulfilment of a prophecy of Esdras, and St. Andre
loudly urged the authenticity of the entire fable and of the theories
that were founded upon it. But the satiric pen of Swift, the burin of
Hogarth, and the graver investigations of Cheselden at last turned the
popular tide, and covered St. Andre in particular with such a load of
contemptuous obloquy as to drive him forever from the high circles he
had moved in. So great was his spleen, that, from that time forth, he
would never suffer a dish upon his table or a syllable in his
conversation that could in any way bring to mind the absurd occasion of
his disgrace.

If all reports are to be believed, St. Andre's career had led him into
many singular adventures. He had saved Voltaire's life, by violently
detaining Lord Peterborough, when the latter stood prepared to punish
with peremptory death some peccadillo of the Frenchman's. Voltaire fled
from the scene, while his adversary struggled to be released. His
services to Pope, when the poet was overturned in Lord Bolingbroke's
coach, did not protect him from a damaging allusion in the Epilogue to
the Satires, where the source of the wealth that he got by his marriage
with Lady Betty Molyneux is more plainly than politely pointed out.
Leaving forever, therefore, the sphere in which he had encountered so
much favor and so much severity, he retired to Southampton to end his
days in the society of his kindred; and it is more than probable that an
indisposition to proclaim too loudly their identity of race with the
unlucky surgeon was the cause of their modification of name by the
immediate family from which John Andre sprung.

The father of our hero was a thrifty London trader, whose business as a
Turkey merchant had been prosperous enough to persuade him that no other
career could possibly be so well adapted for his son. The lad was of
another opinion; but those were not the days when a parent's will might
be safely contravened. Sent to Geneva to complete the education that had
been commenced at London, he returned to a seat in the counting-room
with intellectual qualifications that seemed to justify his aspirations
for a very different scene of action. He was a fluent linguist, a ready
and graceful master of the pencil and brush, and very well versed in the
schools of military design. Add to these a proficiency in poetry and
music, a person of unusual symmetry and grace, a face of almost feminine
softness, yet not descending from the dignity of manhood, and we have an
idea of the youth who was already meditating the means of throwing off
the chains that bound him to the inkhorn and ledger, and embracing a
more brilliant and glorious career. With him, the love of fame was an
instinctive passion. The annals of his own fireside taught him how
easily the path to distinction might be trod by men of parts and
address; and he knew in his heart that opportunity was the one and the
only thing needful to insure the accomplishment of his desires. Of very
moderate fortunes and utterly destitute of influential connections, he
knew that his education better qualified him for the useful fulfilment
of military duties than perhaps any man of his years in the service of
the king. Once embarked in the profession of arms, he had nothing to
rely upon but his own address to secure patronage and promotion,--nothing
but his own merits to justify the countenance that his ingenuity
should win. Without undue vanity, it is tolerably safe to say
now that he was authorized by the existing state of things to
confidently predicate his own success on these estimates.

It is not easy to underrate the professional standard of the English
officer a hundred years ago. That some were good cannot be denied; that
most were bad is very certain. As there was no school of military
instruction in the realm, so no proof of mental or even of physical
capacity was required to enable a person to receive and to hold a
commission. A friend at the Horse Guards, or the baptismal gift of a
godfather, might nominate a baby three days old to a pair of colors.
Court influence or the ready cash having thus enrolled a puny suckling
among the armed defenders of the state, he might in regular process of
seniority come out a full-fledged captain or major against the season
for his being soundly birched at Eton; and an ignorant school-boy would
thus be qualified to govern the lives and fortunes of five hundred
stalwart men, and to represent the honor and the interests of the empire
in that last emergency when all might be depending on his courage and
capacity. Even women were thus saddled upon the pay-lists; and the time
is within the memory of living men, when a gentle lady, whose knowledge
of arms may be presumed to have never extended beyond the internecine
disputes of the nursery, habitually received the salary of a captaincy
of dragoons. In ranks thus officered, it was easy to foresee the speedy
and sure triumph of competent ability, when once backed by patronage.

So long, however, as his dependence upon his father endured, it was
useless for Andre to anticipate the day when he might don the king's
livery. The repugnance with which his first motion in the matter was
greeted, and the affectionate opposition of his mother and sisters, seem
to have at least silenced, if they did not extinguish his desires. And
when the death of his father, in 1769, left him free to select his own
pathway through the world, a new conjuncture of affairs again caused him
to smother his cherished aspirations.

The domestic relations of the Andre family were ever peculiarly tender
and affectionate; and in the loss of its head the survivors confessed a
great and a corroding sorrow. To repair the shattered health and recruit
the exhausted spirits of his mother and sisters, the son resolved to
lead them at once away from the daily contemplation of the grave to more
cheerful scenes. The medicinal waters of Derbyshire were then in vogue,
and a tour towards the wells of Buxton and of Matlock was undertaken.
Among the acquaintances that ensued from this expedition was that of the
family of the Rev. Mr. Seward of Lichfield; and while a warm and lasting
friendship rapidly grew up between Andre and Miss Anna Seward, his heart
was surrendered to the charms of her adopted sister, Miss Honora Sneyd.

By every account, Honora Sneyd must have been a paragon of feminine
loveliness. Her father was a country-gentleman of Staffordshire, who had
been left, by the untimely death of their mother, to the charge of a
bevy of infants. The solicitude of friends and relatives had sought the
care of these, and thus Honora became virtually a daughter of Mrs.
Seward's house. The character of this establishment may be conjectured
from the history of Anna Seward. Remote from the crushing weight of
London authority, she grew up in a provincial atmosphere of literary and
social refinement, and fondly believed that the polite praises (for
censure was a thing unknown among them) that were bandied about in her
own coterie would be cordially echoed by the voices of posterity. In
this she has been utterly deceived; but at the same time it must be
confessed that there was much in the tone of the reigning circles at
Lichfield, in those days, to contrast most favorably with the manners of
the literary sovereigns of the metropolis, or the intellectual elevation
of the rulers of fashion. At Lichfield, it was polite to be learned, and
good-breeding and mutual admiration went hand in hand.

In such an atmosphere had Miss Sneyd been educated; and the
enthusiastic, not to say romantic, disposition of Miss Seward must have
given additional effect to every impulse that taught her to acknowledge
and rejoice in the undisguised admiration of the young London merchant.
His sentiments were as pure and lofty as her own; his person was as
attractive as that of any hero of romance; and his passion was deep and
true. With the knowledge and involuntary approbation of all their
friends, the love-affair between the two young people went on without
interruption or opposition. It seemed perfectly natural and proper that
they should be brought together. It was not, therefore, until a formal
betrothal began to loom up, that the seniors on either side bethought
themselves of the consequences. Neither party was a beggar; but neither
was in possession of sufficient estate to render a speedy marriage
advisable. It was concluded, then, to prohibit any engagement, which
must inevitably extend over several years, between two young persons
whose acquaintance was of so modern a date, and whose positions involved
a prolonged and wide separation. To this arrangement it would appear
that Honora yielded a more implicit assent than her lover. His feelings
were irretrievably interested; and he still proposed to himself to press
his suit without intermission during the term of his endurance. His
mistress, whose affections had not yet passed entirely beyond her own
control, was willing to receive as a friend the man whom she was
forbidden to regard as an elected husband.

It was by the representations of Miss Seward, who strongly urged on him
the absolute necessity of his adherence to trade, if he wished to secure
the means of accomplishing matrimony, that Andre was now persuaded to
renounce, for some years longer, his desire for the army. He went back
to London, and applied himself diligently to his business. An occasional
visit to Lichfield, and a correspondence that he maintained with Miss
Seward, served to keep his flame sufficiently alive. His letters are
vivacious and characteristic, and the pen-and-ink drawings with which
his text was embellished gave them additional interest. Here is a
specimen of them. It will be noted, that, according to the sentimental
fashion of the day, his correspondent must be called Julia because her
name is Anna.

"_London, October_ 19, 1769.

"From the midst of books, papers, bills, and other implements of gain,
let me lift up my drowsy head awhile to converse with dear Julia. And
first, as I know she has a fervent wish to see me a quill-driver, I must
tell her that I begin, as people are wont to do, to look upon my future
profession with great partiality. I no longer see it in so
disadvantageous a light. Instead of figuring a merchant as a middle-aged
man, with a bob wig, a rough beard, in snuff-coloured clothes, grasping
a guinea in his red hand, I conceive a comely young man, with a
tolerable pig-tail, wielding a pen with all the noble fierceness of the
Duke of Marlborough brandishing a truncheon upon a sign-post, surrounded
with types and emblems, and canopied with cornucopias that disembogue
their stores upon his head; Mercuries reclin'd upon bales of goods;
Genii playing with pens, ink, and paper; while, in perspective, his
gorgeous vessels 'launched on the bosom of the silver Thames' are
wafting to distant lands the produce of this commercial nation. Thus all
the mercantile glories crowd on my fancy, emblazoned in the most
effulgent colouring of an ardent imagination. Borne on her soaring
pinions, I wing my flight to the time when Heaven shall have crowned my
labours with success and opulence. I see sumptuous palaces rising to
receive me; I see orphans, and widows, and painters, and fidlers, and
poets, and builders, protected and encouraged; and when the fabrick is
pretty nearly finished by my shattered pericranium, I cast my eyes
around, and find John Andre by a small coal-fire in a gloomy
compting-house in Warnford Court, nothing so little as what he has been
making himself, and in all probability never to be much more than he is
at present. But, oh! my dear Honora! it is for thy sake only I wish for
wealth.--You say she was somewhat better at the time you wrote last. I
must flatter myself that she will soon be without any remains of this
threatening disease.

"It is seven o'clock.--You and Honora, with two or three more select
friends, are now probably encircling your dressing-room fireplace. What
would I not give to enlarge that circle! The idea of a clean hearth, and
a snug circle round it, formed by a few select friends, transports me.
You seem combined together against the inclemency of the weather, the
hurry, bustle, ceremony, censoriousness, and envy of the world. The
purity, the warmth, the kindly influence of fire, to all for whom it is
kindled, is a good emblem of the friendship of such amiable minds as
Julia's and her Honora's. Since I cannot be there in reality, pray,
imagine me with you; admit me to your _conversationes_:--Think how I
wish for the blessing of joining them!--and be persuaded that I take
part in all your pleasures, in the dear hope, that, ere it be very long,
your blazing hearth will burn again for me. Pray, keep me a place; let
the poker, tongs, or shovel represent me:--But you have Dutch tiles,
which are infinitely better; so let Moses, or Aaron, or Balaam's ass be
my representative.

"But time calls me to Clapton. I quit you abruptly till to-morrow: when,
if I do not tear the nonsense I have been writing, I may perhaps
increase its quantity. Signora Cynthia is in clouded majesty. Silvered
with her beams, I am about to jog to Clapton upon my own stumps; musing,
as I homeward plod my way.--Ah! need I name the subject of my
contemplations?

"_Thursday_.

"I had a sweet walk home last night, and found the Claptonians, with
their fair guest, a Miss Mourgue, very well. My sisters send their
amities, and will write in a few days.

"This morning I returned to town. It has been the finest day imaginable;
a solemn mildness was diffused throughout the blue horizon; its light
was clear and distinct rather than dazzling; the serene beams of an
autumnal sun! Gilded hills, variegated woods, glittering spires,
ruminating herds, bounding flocks, all combined to enchant the eyes,
expand the heart, and 'chase all sorrows but despair.' In the midst of
such a scene, no lesser sorrow can prevent our sympathy with Nature. A
calmness, a benevolent disposition seizes us with sweet, insinuating
power. The very brute creation seem sensible of these beauties. There is
a species of mild chearfulness in the face of a lamb, which I have but
indifferently expressed in a corner of my paper, and a demure, contented
look in an ox, which, in the fear of expressing still worse, I leave
unattempted.

"Business calls me away--I must dispatch my letter. Yet what does it
contain? No matter--You like anything better than news. Indeed, you have
never told me so; but I have an intuitive knowledge upon the subject,
from the sympathy which I have constantly perceived in the tastes of
Julia and _Cher Jean_. What is it to you or me,

"If here in the city we have nothing but riot;
If the Spitalfield weavers can't be kept quiet;
If the weather is fine, or the streets should be dirty;
Or if Mr. Dick Wilson died aged of thirty?

"But if I was to hearken to the versifying grumbling I feel within me, I
should fill my paper, and not have room left to intreat that you would
plead my cause with Honora more eloquently than the enclosed letter has
the power of doing. Apropos of verses, you desire me to recollect my
random description of the engaging appearance of the charming Mrs.----.
Here it is at your service.

"Then rustling and bustling the lady comes down,
With a flaming red face and a broad yellow gown,
And a hobbling out-of-breath gait, and a frown.

"This little French cousin of our's, Delarise, was my sister Mary's
playfellow at Paris. His sprightliness engages my sisters extremely.
Doubtless they tell much of him to you in their letters.

"How sorry I am to bid you adieu! Oh, let me not be forgot by the
friends most dear to you at Lichfield. Lichfield! Ah, of what magic
letters is that little word composed! How graceful it looks, when it is
written! Let nobody talk to me of its original meaning, 'The Field of
Blood'! Oh, no such thing! It is the field of joy! 'The beautiful city,
that lifts her fair head in the valley, and says, _I am, and there is
none beside me.'_ Who says she is vain? Julia will not say so,--nor yet
Honora,--and least of all, their devoted

"John Andre."

It is not difficult to perceive in the tone of this letter that its
writer was not an accepted lover. His interests with the lady, despite
Miss Seward's watchful care, were already declining; and the lapse of a
few months more reduced him to the level of a valued and entertaining
friend, whose civilities were not to pass the conventional limits of
polite intercourse. To Andre this fate was very hard. He was hopelessly
enamored; and so long as fortune offered him the least hope of eventual
success, he persevered in the faith that Honora might yet be his own.
But every returning day must have shaken this faith. His visits were
discontinued and his correspondence dropped. Other suitors pressed their
claims, and often urged an argument which it was beyond his means to
supply. They came provided with what Parson Hugh calls good gifts:
"Seven hundred pounds and possibilities is good gifts." Foremost among
these dangerous rivals were two men of note in their way: Richard Lovell
Edgeworth, and the eccentric, but amiable Thomas Day.

Mr. Day was a man whose personal charms were not great. Overgrown,
awkward, pitted with the small-pox, he offered no pleasing contrast to
the discarded Andre: but he had twelve hundred pounds a year. His
notions in regard to women were as peculiar as his estimate of his own
merit. He seems to have really believed that it would be impossible for
any beautiful girl to refuse her assent to the terms of the contract by
which she might acquire his hand. These were absurd to a degree; and it
is not cause for surprise that Miss Sneyd should have unhesitatingly
refused them. Poor Mr. Day was not prepared for such continued ill-luck
in his matrimonial projects. He had already been very unfortunate in his
plans for obtaining a perfect wife,--having vainly provided for the
education of two foundlings between whom he promised himself to select a
paragon of a helpmate. To drop burning sealing-wax upon their necks, and
to discharge a pistol close to their ears, were among his philosophical
rules for training them to habits of submission and self-control; and
the upshot was, that they were fain to attach themselves to men of less
wisdom, but better taste. Miss Sneyd's conduct was more than he could
well endure, after all his previous disappointments; and he went to bed
with a fever that did not leave him till his passion was cured. He could
not at this time have anticipated, however, that the friendly hand which
had aided the prosecution of his addresses was eventually destined to
receive and hold the fair prize which so many were contending for.

Richard Lovell Edgeworth, the ambassador and counsellor of Mr. Day in
this affair, was at the very moment of the rejection himself enamored of
Miss Sneyd. But Edgeworth had a wife already,--a pining, complaining
woman, he tells us, who did not make his home cheerful,--and honor and
decency forbade him to open his mouth on the subject that occupied his
heart. He wisely sought refuge in flight, and in other scenes the
natural exuberance of his disposition afforded a relief from the pangs
of an unlawful and secret passion. Lord Byron, who met him forty years
afterwards, in five lines shows us the man: if he was thus seen in the
dry wood, we can imagine what he was in the green:--"I thought Edgeworth
a fine old fellow, of a clarety, elderly, red complexion, but active,
brisk, and endless. He was seventy, but did not look fifty,--no, nor
forty-eight even." He was in France when the death of his father left
him to the possession of a good estate,--and that of his wife occurring
in happy concurrence, he lost little time in opening in his own behalf
the communications that had failed when he spoke for Mr. Day. His wooing
was prosperous; in July, 1773, he married Miss Sneyd.

It is a mistake, sanctioned by the constant acceptance of historians, to
suppose that it was this occasion that prompted Andre to abandon a
commercial life. The improbability of winning Honora's hand, and the
freedom with which she received the addresses of other men, undoubtedly
went far to convince him of the folly of sticking to trade with but one
motive; and so soon as he attained his majority, he left the desk and
stool forever, and entered the army. This was a long time before the
Edgeworth marriage was undertaken, or even contemplated.

Lieutenant Andre of the Royal Fusileers had a very different line of
duty to perform from Mr. Andre, merchant, of Warnford Court, Throgmorton
Street; and the bustle of military life, doubtless, in some degree
diverted his mind from the disagreeable contemplation of what was
presently to occur at Lichfield. Some months were spent on the Continent
and among the smaller German courts about the Rhine. After all was over,
however, and the nuptial knot fairly tied that destroyed all his
youthful hopes, he is related to have made a farewell expedition to the
place of his former happiness. There, at least, he was sure to find one
sympathizing heart. Miss Seward, who had to the very last minute
contended with her friend against Mr. Edgeworth and in support of his
less fortunate predecessor, now met him with open arms. No pains were
spared by her to alleviate, since she could not remove, the
disappointment that evidently possessed him. A legend is preserved in
connection with this visit that is curious, though manifestly of very
uncertain credibility. It is said that an engagement had been made by
Miss Seward to introduce her friend to two gentlemen of some note in the
neighborhood, Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Newton. On the appointed morning,
while awaiting their expected guests, Cunningham related to his
companion a vision--or rather, a series of visions--that had greatly
disturbed his previous night's repose. He was alone in a wide forest, he
said, when he perceived a rider approaching him. The horseman's
countenance was plainly visible, and its lines were of a character too
interesting to be readily forgotten. Suddenly three men sprang forth
from an ambush among the thickets, and, seizing the stranger, hauled him
from his horse and bore him away. To this succeeded another scene. He
stood with a great multitude near by some foreign town. A bustle was
heard, and he beheld the horseman of his earlier dream again led along a
captive. A gibbet was erected, and the prisoner was at once hanged. In
narrating this tale, Cunningham averred that the features of its hero
were still fresh in his recollection; the door opened, and in the face
of Andre, who at that moment presented himself, he professed to
recognize that which had so troubled his slumbers.

Such is the tale that is recorded of the supernatural revelation of
Andre's fate. If it rested on somewhat better evidence than any we are
able to find in its favor, it would be at least more interesting. But
whether or no the young officer continued to linger in the spirit about
the spires of Lichfield and the romantic shades of Derbyshire, it is
certain that his fleshly part was moving in a very different direction.
In 1774, he embarked to join his regiment, then posted in Canada, and
arrived at Philadelphia early in the autumn of the year.

It is not within the design of this paper to pursue to any length the
details of Andre's American career. Regimental duties in a country
district rarely afford matter worthy of particular record; and it is not
until the troubles of our Revolutionary War break out, that we find
anything of mark in his story. He was with the troops that Carleton sent
down, after the fall of Ticonderoga, to garrison Chambly and St. John's,
and to hold the passage of the Sorel against Montgomery and his little
army. With the fall of these forts, he went into captivity. There is
too much reason to believe that the imprisonment of the English on this
occasion was not alleviated by many exhibitions of generosity on the
part of their captors. Montgomery, indeed, was as humane and honorable
as he was brave; but he was no just type of his followers. The articles
of capitulation were little regarded, and the prisoners were, it would
seem, rapidly despoiled of their private effects. "I have been taken by
the Americans," wrote Andre, "and robbed of everything save the picture
of Honora, which I concealed in my mouth. Preserving that, I think
myself happy." Sent into the remote parts of Pennsylvania, his
companions and himself met with but scant measure of courtesy from the
mountaineers of that region; nor was he exchanged for many long and
weary months. Once more free, however, his address and capacity soon
came to his aid. His reports and sketches speedily commended him to the
especial favor of the commander-in-chief, Sir William Howe; and ere long
he was promoted to a captaincy and made aide-de-camp to Sir Charles
Grey. This was a dashing, hard-fighting general of division, whose
element was close quarters and whose favorite argument was the cold
steel. If, therefore, Andre played but an inactive part at the
Brandywine, he had ample opportunity on other occasions of tasting the
excitement and the horrors of war. The night-surprises of Wayne at
Paoli, and of Baylor on the Hudson,--the scenes of Germantown and
Monmouth,--the reduction of the forts at Verplanck's Ferry, and the
forays led against New Bedford and the Vineyard,--all these familiarized
him with the bloody fruits of civil strife. But they never blunted for
one moment the keenness of his humanity, or warped those sentiments of
refinement and liberality that always distinguished him. Within the
limited range of his narrow sphere, he was constantly found the friend
and reliever of the wounded or captive Americans, and the protector and
benefactor of the followers of his own banner. Accomplished to a degree
in all the graces that adorn the higher circles of society, he was free
from most of their vices; and those who knew him well in this country
have remarked on the universal approbation of both sexes that followed
his steps, and the untouched heart that escaped so many shafts. Nor,
while foremost in the brilliant pleasures that distinguished the British
camp and made Philadelphia a Capua to Howe, was he ever known to descend
to the vulgar sports of his fellows. In the balls, the theatricals, the
picturesque _Mischianza_, he bore a leading hand; but his affections,
meanwhile, appear to have remained where they were earliest and last
bestowed. In our altered days, when marriage and divorce seem so often
interchangeable words, and loyal fidelity but an Old-World phrase,
ill-fashioned and out of date, there is something very attractive in
this hopeless constancy of an exiled lover.

Beyond the seas, meanwhile, the object of this unfortunate attachment
was lending a happy and a useful life in the fulfilment of the various
duties of a wife, a mother, and a friend. Her husband was a large landed
proprietor, and in public spirit was inferior to no country-gentleman of
the kingdom. Many of his notions were fanciful enough, it must be
allowed; but they were all directed to the improvement and amelioration
of his native land and its people. In these pursuits, as well as in
those of learning, Mrs. Edgeworth was the active and useful coadjutor of
her husband; and it was probably to the desire of this couple to do
something that would make the instruction of their children a less
painful task than had been their own, that we are indebted for the
adaptation of the simpler rudiments of science to a childish dress. In
1778 they wrote together the First Part of "Harry and Lucy," and printed
a handful of copies in that largo black type which every one associates
with the first school-days of his childhood. From these pages she taught
her own children to read. The plan was communicated to Mr. Day, who
entered into it eagerly; and an educational library seemed about to be
prepared for the benefit of a far-away household in the heart of
Ireland. But a hectic disorder, that had threatened Mrs. Edgeworth's
life while yet a child, now returned upon her with increased virulence;
and the kind and beautiful mistress of Edgeworthstown was compelled to
forego this and every other earthly avocation. Mr. Day expanded his
little tale into the delightful story of "Sandford and Merton," a book
that long stood second only to "Robinson Crusoe" in the youthful
judgment of the great boy-world; and in later years, Maria Edgeworth
included "Harry and Lucy" in her "Early Lessons." It is thus a point to
be noticed, that nothing but the _res angusta domi_, the lack of wealth,
on the part of young Andre, was the cause of that series of little
volumes being produced by Miss Edgeworth, which so long held the first
place among the literary treasures of the nurseries of England and
America. Lazy Lawrence, Simple Susan, and a score more of excellently
conceived characters, might never have been called from chaos to
influence thousands of tender minds, but for Andre's narrow purse.

The ravages of the insidious disease with which she was afflicted soon
came to an end; and after a term of wedlock as brief as it was
prosperous, Mrs. Edgeworth's dying couch was spread.--"I have every
blessing," she wrote, "and I am happy. The conversation of my beloved
husband, when my breath will let me have it, is my greatest delight: he
procures me every comfort, and, as he always said he thought he should,
contrives for me everything that can ease and assist my weakness,--

"'Like a kind angel, whispers peace,
And smooths the bed of death.'"

Rightly viewed, the closing scenes in the life of this estimable woman
are not less solemn, not less impressive, than those of that memorable
day, when, with all the awful ceremonials of offended justice and the
stern pageantries of war, her lover died in the full glare of noonday
before the eyes of assembled thousands. He had played for a mighty
stake, and he had lost. He had perilled his life for the destruction of
our American empire, and he was there to pay the penalty: and surely
never, in all the annals of our race, has a man more gallantly yielded
up his forfeited breath, or under circumstances more impressive. He
perished regretted alike by friend and foe; and perhaps not one of the
throng that witnessed his execution but would have rejoicingly hailed a
means of reconciling his pardon with the higher and inevitable duties
which they owed to the safety of the army and the existence of the
state. And in the aspect which the affair has since taken, who can say
that Andre's fate has been entirely unfortunate? He drank out the wine
of life while it was still sparkling and foaming and bright in his cup:
he tasted none of the bitterness of its lees till almost his last sun
had risen. When he was forever parted from the woman whom he loved, a
new, but not an earthly mistress succeeded to the vacant throne; and
thenceforth the love of glory possessed his heart exclusively. And how
rarely has a greater lustre attached to any name than to his! His bones
are laid with those of the wisest and mightiest of the land; the
gratitude of monarchs cumbers the earth with his sepulchral honors; and
his memory is consecrated in the most eloquent pages of the history not
only of his own country, but of that which sent him out of existence.
Looked upon thus, death might have been welcomed by him as a benefit
rather than dreaded as a calamity, and the words applied by Cicero to
the fate of Crassus be repeated with fresh significancy,--"_Mors dortata
quam vita erepta_."

The same year that carries on its records the date of Andre's fall
witnessed the death of a second Honora Edgeworth, the only surviving
daughter of Honora Sneyd. She is represented as having inherited all the
beauty, all the talents of her mother. The productions of her pen and
pencil seem to justify this assertion, so far as the precocity of such a
mere child may warrant the ungarnered fruits of future years. But with
her parent's person she received the frailties of its constitution; and,
ere girlhood had fairly opened upon her way of life, she succumbed to
the same malady that had wrecked her mother.

* * * * *

WE SHALL RISE AGAIN.

We know the spirit shall not taste of death:
Earth bids her elements,
"Turn, turn again to me!"
But to the soul, unto the soul, she saith,
"Flee, alien, flee!"

And circumstance of matter what doth weigh?
Oh! not the height and depth of this to know
But reachings of that grosser element,
Which, entered in and clinging to it so,
With earthlier earthiness than dwells in clay,
Can drag the spirit down, that, looking up,
Sees, through surrounding shades of death and time,
With solemn wonder, and with new-born hope,
The dawning glories of its native clime;
And inly swell such mighty floods of love,
Unutterable longing and desire,
For that celestial, blessed home above,
The soul springs upward like the mounting fire,
Up, through the lessening shadows on its way,
While, in its raptured vision, grows more clear
The calm, the high, illimitable day
To which it draws more near and yet more near.
Draws near? Alas! its brief, its waning strength
Upward no more the fetters' weight can bear:
It falters,--pauses,--sinks; and, sunk at length,
Plucks at its chain in frenzy and despair.

Not forever fallen! Not in eternal prison!
No! hell with fire of pain
Melteth apart its chain;
Heaven doth once more constrain:
It hath arisen!

And never, never again, thus to fall low?
Ah, no!
Terror, Remorse, and Woe,
Vainly they pierced it through with many sorrows;
Hell shall regain it,--thousand times regain it;
But can detain it
Only awhile from ruthful Heaven's to-morrows.

That sin is suffering,
It knows,--it knows this thing;
And yet it courts the sting
That deeply pains it;
It knows that in the cup
The sweet is but a sup,
That Sorrow fills it up,
And who drinks drains it.

It knows; who runs may read.
But, when the fetters dazzle, heaven's far joy seems dim;
And 'tis not life but so to be inwound.
A little while, and then--behold it bleed
With madness of its throes to be unbound!

It knows. But when the sudden stress
Of passion is resistlessness,
It drags the flood that sweeps away,
For anchorage, or hold, or stay,
Or saving rock of stableness,
And there is none,--
No underlying fixedness to fasten on:
Unsounded depths; unsteadfast seas;
Wavering, yielding, bottomless depths:
But these!

Yea, sometimes seemeth gone
The Everlasting Arm we lean upon!

So blind, as well as maimed and halt and lame,
What sometimes makes it see?
Oppressed with guilt and gnawed upon of shame,
What comes upon it so,
Faster and faster stealing,
Flooding it like an air or sea
Of warm and golden feeling?
What makes it melt,
Dissolving from the earthiness that made it hard and heavy?
What makes it melt and flow,
And melt and melt and flow,--
Till light, clear-shining through its heart of dew,
Makes all things new?

Loosed from the spirit of infirmity, listen its cry.
"Was it I that longed for oblivion,
O wonderful Love! was it I,
That deep in its easeful water
My wounded soul might lie?
That over the wounds and anguish
The easeful flood might roll?
A river of loving-kindness
Has healed and hidden the whole.
Lo! in its pitiful bosom
Vanish the sins of my youth,--
Error and shame and backsliding
Lost in celestial ruth.

"O grace too great!
O excellency of my new estate!

"No more, for the friends that love me,
I shall veil my face or grieve
Because love outrunneth deserving;
I shall be as they believe.
And I shall be strong to help them,
Filled of Thy fulness with stores
Of comfort and hope and compassion.
Oh, upon all my shores,
With the waters with which Thou dost flood me,
Bid me, my Father, o'erflow!
Who can taste Thy divineness,
Nor hunger and thirst to bestow?
Send me, oh, send me!
The wanderers let me bring!
The thirsty let me show
Where the rivers of gladness spring,
And fountains of mercy flow!
How in the hills shall they sit and sing,
With valleys of peace below!"

Oh that the keys of our hearts the angels would bear in their bosoms!
For revelation fades and fades away,
Dream-like becomes, and dim, and far-withdrawn;
And evening comes to find the soul a prey,
That was caught up to visions at the dawn;
Sword of the spirit,--still it sheathes in rust,
And lips of prophecy are sealed with dust.

High lies the better country,
The land of morning and perpetual spring;
But graciously the warder
Over its mountain-border
Leans to us, beckoning,--bids us, "Come up hither!"
And though we climb with step unfixed and slow,
From visioning heights of hope we look off thither,
And we must go.

And we shall go! And we shall go!
We shall not always weep and wander so,--
Not always in vain,
By merciful pain,
Be upcast from the hell we seek again!
How shall we,
Whom the stars draw so, and the uplifting sea?
Answer, thou Secret Heart! how shall it be,
With all His infinite promising in thee?

Beloved! beloved! not cloud and fire alone
From bondage and the wilderness restore
And guide the wandering spirit to its own;
But all His elements, they go before:
Upon its way the seasons bring,
And hearten with foreshadowing
The resurrection-wonder,
What lands of death awake to sing
And germs of hope swell under;
And full and fine, and full and fine,
The day distils life's golden wine;
And night is Palace Beautiful, peace-chambered.
All things are ours; and life fills up of them
Such measure as we hold.
For ours beyond the gate,
The deep things, the untold,
We only wait.

THE PROFESSOR'S STORY.

CHAPTER XXIII.

THE WILD HUNTSMAN.

The young master had not forgotten the old Doctor's cautions. Without
attributing any great importance to the warning he had given him, Mr.
Bernard had so far complied with his advice that he was becoming a
pretty good shot with the pistol. It was an amusement as good as many
others to practise, and he had taken a fancy to it after the first
few days.

The popping of a pistol at odd hours in the back-yard of the Institute
was a phenomenon more than sufficiently remarkable to be talked about in
Rockland. The viscous intelligence of a country-village is not easily
stirred by the winds which ripple the fluent thought of great cities,
but it holds every straw and entangles every insect that lights upon it.
It soon became rumored in the town that the young master was a wonderful
shot with the pistol. Some said he could hit a fo'pence-ha'penny at
three rod; some, that he had shot a swallow, flying, with a single ball;
some, that he snuffed a candle five times out of six at ten paces, and
that he could hit any button in a man's coat he wanted to. In other
words, as in all such cases, all the common feats were ascribed to him,
as the current jokes of the day are laid at the door of any noted wit,
however innocent he may be of them.

In the natural course of things, Mr. Richard Venner, who had by this
time made some acquaintances, as we have seen, among that class of the
population least likely to allow a live cinder of gossip to go out for
want of air, had heard incidentally that the master up there at the
Institute was all the time practising with a pistol, that they say he
can snuff a candle at ten rods, (that was Mrs. Blanche Creamer's
version,) and that he could hit anybody he wanted to right in the eye,
as far as he could see the white of it.

Dick did not like the sound of all this any too well. Without believing
more than half of it, there was enough to make the Yankee schoolmaster
too unsafe to be trifled with. However, shooting at a mark was pleasant
work enough; he had no particular objection to it himself. Only he did
not care so much for those little popgun affairs that a man carries in
his pocket, and with which you couldn't shoot a fellow,--a robber,
say,--without getting the muzzle under his nose. Pistols for boys;
long-range rifles for men. There was such a gun lying in a closet with
the fowling-pieces. He would go out into the fields and see what he
could do as a marksman.

The nature of the mark that Dick chose for experimenting upon was
singular. He had found some panes of glass which had been removed from
an old sash, and he placed these successively before his target,
arranging them at different angles. He found that a bullet would go
through the glass without glancing or having its force materially
abated. It was an interesting fact in physics, and might prove of some
practical significance hereafter. Nobody knows what may turn up to
render these out-of-the-way facts useful. All this was done in a quiet
way in one of the bare spots high up the side of The Mountain. He was
very thoughtful in taking the precaution to get so far away;
rifle-bullets are apt to glance and come whizzing about people's ears,
if they are fired in the neighborhood of houses. Dick satisfied himself

Book of the day: