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and that he may interpret something of those inner subtle meanings and relations, growing out of that spiritual element from which all things subsist, and which we so dimly comprehend. The man gifted with natural sagacity and forethought is bound to exercise his penetration and his prudence, though not for himself alone. And he who more than his fellows, is endowed with the affluence of earnest faith,—with a deep and abiding trust in the goodness and loving care of the All-Father, and who feels within him the call to some earnest and self-denying work, shall not he, too, be true to his nature, and shall not he receive according to his faithfulness and his needs? For they whom Providence thus signally marks out are not men in whom prayer and trust minister to selfishness and indolence, but men whose hearts are filled with some worthy self-denying purpose;—to teach the ignorant, reclaim the erring, provide for the orphan, or some other form of missionary and apostolic labour. As God raises up leaders of men, inventors, statesmen, poets, so he from time to time raises up these men,-among other purposes, as living examples of the sympathy and intimate relation between the natural and the spiritual worlds, and of a Divine Order ruling Nature, and beyond it. This, at least, however imperfectly I may have expressed it, seems to me something of the Philosophy of Special Providence and Prayer.
WILLIAM HOWITT ON "SPIRITUALISM."
We extract the following vigorous exposition from The Dunfermline Press, July 4th :
"A correspondent who found fault with our animadversions on 'Spiritualism,' as contained in an article, entitled 'Imposture and Credulity,' which appeared in the Press of June 13, sends us the following letter on the subject from William Howitt, of London. As some of our readers will no doubt like to hear what so eminent a litterateur has to say on so keenly contested a subject, we make no apology for occupying so much valuable space with his communication. The letter, it will be observed, is addressed to our Alva correspondent, who is himself ar enthusiast on the subject :
“Sir, I am much obliged to you for a copy of the Dun fermline Saturday Press, containing the letter of 'A Workin Man,' and the editor's remarks upon it. The Working Man is perfectly right both in his facts and his arguments. It is true that Spiritualism, since its revival in America about twenty years ago--for it is only a revival, having existed in every age and country before, and numbered the greatest
intellects of all those ages and countries—has made more rapid, and at the same time, steady progress, than any other cause whatever-Christianity not excepted. In that short space of time it has attracted T’uenty Millions of adherents. And by what means? Not by violent and fanatic agitation; not by vehement preaching and partizan canvassing ; but simply by a calm and sensible examination of its facts. The editor of the Dunfermline Press says that 'a cause is not to be decided by numbers. True, but numbers, and intellect, and character combined, must determine the value of any cause. And who are the men who have in every country embraced Spiritualism ? The rabble ? the ignorant ? the fanatic? By no means. But the most intelligent and able men of all classes. When such is the case, surely it becomes the majority of reflecting men,' to use the words of your editor, to reflect on these facts. Let numbers go for nothing; but, when the numbers add also firstrate position, pre-eminent abilities, largest experience of men and their doings, weight of moral, religious, scientific, and political character, then the man who does not look into what these declare to be truth, is not a reflecting, but a very foolish and prejudiced man. Now, it is very remarkable that, when we proceed to enumerate the leading men who have einbraced modern Spiritualism, we begin also to enumerate the preeminent intellects and characters of the age. In America you justly say that the shrewd and honest Abraham Lincoln was a Spiritualist. He was a devoted one. So also were, and are, the Hon. Robert Dale Owen and Judge Edmonds, so was Professor Hare. You are right in all these particulars. In fact, almost every eminent man in the American Government is a Spiritualist, Garrison, whom the anti-Spiritualists were so lately and enthusiastically fêteing in England, for his zealous services in the extinction of negro slavery, is an avowed Spiritualist. Horace Greeley, the editor of The Tribune, a man whose masterly political reasoning has done more than any man to direct the course of American politics, is a devoted Spiritualist. Longfellow, the poet, now in England, and just treated with the highest honours by the University of Cambridge, and about to be fêted by the whole literary world of England, is, and has long and openly been, a Spiritualist. But I might run over the majority of the great names of America. Turn to France. The shrewd Emperor, the illustrious Victor Hugo, the sage and able statesman Guizot, one of the most powerful champions of Christianity, are Spiritualists. So is Garibaldi, in Italy. In England, you might name a very long and distinguished list of men and women, of all classes, Spiritualists. If you had the authority you might mention names which would startle
no little those who affect to sneer at Spiritualism. It is confidently said that a Spiritualist sits on the throne of these realms, as we know that such do sit on those of the greatest nations of Europe.
We know that the members of some of the chief ducal houses of Scotland, and of the noble houses of Ireland and England are Spiritualists. Are all these people likely to plunge their heads and their reputations into an unpopular cause without first looking well into it? But then, say the opponents, the scientific don't affect it. They must greatly qualify this assertion, for many and eminent scientific men have had the sense and the courage to look into it, and have found it a great truth. The editor of the Dunfermline Press remarks on
your observations regarding Robert Chambers, that Chambers' Journal of the 13th of May last, has a certain article not flattering to Spiritualism. True, but not the less is Robert Chambers an avowed Spiritualist, and boldly came forward on the Home and Lyon trial, to express his faith in Mr. Home. The editor might quote articles in the Times, the Standard, the Star, and the Daily Telegraph, against Spiritualism, yet it is a well-known fact that on all these journals some of their ablest writers are Spiritualists; but it is not always prudent for a man to say what he is. This is not an age in love with martyrdom. But as to the scientific men. The editor is very ill informed when he says that Faraday speedily stripped Spiritualism of its mystery. Nothing is better known throughout all London circles than that Faraday, on that occasion, made a gross blunder, and became the laughing-stock of even scientific men for it. He attributed the turning of tables to involuntary muscular action in the persons who, at séances, put their hands on them. But immediately tables not only moved, but rose into the air out of the reach of any hands. I, and thousands, have seen them do so often. Such things are more common than the rising of balloons. Nor was the moving of tables the only phenomena. Knocks were heard on floors, on walls, on ceilings quite out of the reach of hands. Every one who has seen the Davenports—and all Europe has now seen them—knows that instruments fly about visibly in the air, quite beyond touch of hands. In the séances in London, attended by men and women of the highest intelligence and tact, flowers, fruit, birds even come through locked doors and barred shutters; spirit hands are felt, spirit voices heard; music is played on instruments that no hands can touch; drawings, writings, and singing are done by no visible persons. And who witness all these things from day to day ? Scientific men, eminent lawyers, and literary men. It was the knowledge of these things which made Faraday see what a fool a wise man
may make of himself, and which made him take care not to commit himself a second time. But people, you say, continue to remark, 'If scientific men would but examine these things? In the first place, I have always asserted that scientific men are not the men to decide such questions. They have their prejudices and their theories which disqualify them. They have no instruments to lay hold of spirits; they mock at all their retorts, their galvanic and electrical batteries, and their chemical tests. In all ages the learned have been the opponents of new ideas. They poisoned Socrates, they crucified Christ, they declared him and St. Paul mad. When Newton promulgated the doctrine of specific gravity, they jeered at it; and his biographer says that at the time of his death not forty persons out of England believed in it. When Solomon de Caus, in France, discovered the power of steam, they shut him up in the Bicêtre as a madman. Columbus was declared a madman by the learned men of Spain for asserting that there was a great continent westward. When Franklin sent the account of his identification of lightning with electricity to the Royal Society of London, it refused to print it; and it was not till Dr. Fothergill published the paper that it reached the community at large. In his turn Franklin treated Mesmer as an impostor; and, in fact, we might run over a whole volume of proofs of the total unfitness of scientific men, as a class, to judge of new facts and ideas. And yet numbers of scientific men have embraced Spiritualism. Dr. Hare, mentioned by you, was a great electrician, rated by the Americans little, if any, inferior to Faraday. He did exactly what people now want scientific men to do. He thought Spiritualism a humbug, and went regularly into an inquiry in order to expose it. But it did—as it has done in every case that I have heard of, where scientific men have gone candidly and fairly into the examination after two years of testing and proving, it convinced him of its truth. Dr. Elliotson, a very scientific man, and for years violently opposed to Spiritualism, so soon as he was willing to inquire, became convinced, and now blesses God for the knowledge of it. Dr. Ashburner, his fellow editor of the Zoist, has also long been an avowed Spiritualist. Mr. Alfred Wallace, a scientific man and excellent naturalist, who was on the Amazon with Mr. Bates, has published his conviction of its truth. Sir Charles Wheatstone, some time ago, on seeing some remarkable phenomena in his own house, declared them real. And just now, on the Home and Lyon trial, the public have seen Mr. Varley, a man of firstrate science, the electrician to the Electric and International and the Atlantic Telegraph Companies, come forward and make affidavit of his having investigated the facts of Spiritualism, and found them real. Now, after such cases, why this continual cry
out for examination by scientific men? Scientific men of the first stamp have examined and reported that it is a great fact. Scientific men by the hundred and the thousand have done it, and yet the crowd go on crying for a scientific man. Why? Simply because it is much easier to open their mouths and bleat as sheep do in a flock than exert their minds and their senses. It is time that all this folly had an end. There are now more Spiritualists than would populate Scotland seven times over at its present scale of population ; and surely the testimony of such a multitude, including statesmen, philosophers, historians, and scientific men too, is as absolutely decisive as any mortal matter can be. And pray, my good friend, don't trouble yourself that your neighbours call you mad. You are mad in most excellent company. All the great men of all ages who have introduced or accepted new ideas were mad in the eyes of their contemporaries. As I have said, Socrates and Christ and St. Paul were mad; Galileo was mad; De Caus was mad; Thomas Gray, who first advocated railways, was declared by the Edinburgh Review mad as a March hare. They are the illustrious tribe of madmen by whom the world is propelled, widened as by Columbus, and enlightened as by Bacon, Newton, Des Cartes, and the rest of them, who were all declared mad in their turn. And don't be anxious about Spiritualism. From the first moment of its appearance to this it has moved on totally unconcerned and unharmed amidst every species of opposition, misrepresentation, lying, and obstruction, and yet has daily and hourly grown, and spread, and strengthened, as if no such evil influences were assailing it. Like the sun, it has travelled on its course unconscious of the clouds beneath it. Like the ocean, it has rolled its billows over the slimy creatures at its bottom, and dashed its majestic waves over every proud man who dared to tread within its limits. And whence comes this? Obviously, from the hand which is behind it-the hand of the Great Ruler of the Universe. For my part,'having long perceived this great fact, I have ceased to care what people say or do against Spiritualism; to care who believes or does not believe; who comes into it or stays out; certain that it is as much a part of God's economy of the universe as the light of the sun, an will, therefore, go on and do its work, without our effor to oppose or advance it.—Yours faithfully, -WM. HOWITT.
"P.S.—I do not enter into the Home and Lyon questi Whatever may be the real merits of that case, Mr. Home, as y say, is but one small atom in the great system of Spiritualisi Its truth in no degree depends on the individuals who professi any more than does Christianity on its individual professors.
* Mr. W. Gray, Weaver, Alva.”