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"Our superstitions twine
Each with the next, until a line
They weave, that through each varied stage
Linking the spring with summer weather,
SOMETHING of that deeply wrought su-
Two similar instances have occurred
Is it not possible that there is a real
ity in this? May it not be the result
As might be expected, in a commu-
Still later, in one of our Atlantic cities, an attempt was made, partially, at least, successful, to form a company for the purpose of digging for money on one of the desolate sand-keys of the West Indies. It appears that some mesmerized "subject," in the course of one of those somnambulic voyages of discovery, in which the traveller, like Satan in Chaos :
"O'er bog, o'er steep, through straight,
rough, dense, or rare,
With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues
And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies,"
and waking, with sledge and crow-bar, passengers-three long solemn-looking unwonted echoes in a solitude which men with hair hanging down around had heretofore only answered to the their lank visages "like pounds of canwoodman's axe, or the scream of the wild dles," and a female figure, closely fowl. The snows of December put an muffled and veiled. They bespoke end to their labors; but the yawning lodgings of the Elder, who was not a excavation still remains, a silent but little puzzled to divine why his guests somewhat expressive commentary upon had chosen such an inappropriate seathe "Age of Progress." son for their visit. Early the next morning, however, the good man was still more amazed to see the whole party wend their way to the beach, where one of them appeared engaged in performing some mystical incantation over the veiled figure, moving his hands in a mysterious manner above her head, and describing strange circles in the air before her. They soon returned to their lodgings, conducted the woman to her room, and having borrowed the Elder's shovels and crowbar, immediately commenced digging with great diligence in the spot which had been occupied by the veiled mystery, only abandoning their work as the night closed around them. The same ceremony was acted over again the next morning; and Elder P., deeming it his duty as a Christian man to inquire into the matter, was gravely informed that his visitors were in search of a large sum of money, which the veiled woman had seen in the magnetic sleep, a few feet below the surface of the beach! The search continued for three or four weeks; the muffled Pythoness perversely changing the location of the treasure, now to the right and anon to the left of the previous day's excavation, wearying alike the souls and bodies of her companions with " hope deferred" and hard delving. They were at length reluctantly compelled to relinquish their object, and depart sorrowful and heavy at heart, yet firm in their faith that they were leaving behind them a treasure reserved for some more fortunate experimenters in somnambulism and second-sight.
while peering curiously into the earth's mysteries, chanced to have his eyes gladdened by the sight of a huge chest packed with Spanish coins, the spoil, doubtless, of some rich-freighted argosy, or Carthagena galleon, in the rare days of Queen Elizabeth's Christian buccaneers. Who, after this, shall set limits to Yankee faith in-moneygetting?
A curious affair of this kind astonished the worthy citizens of Rye, N.H., last spring. Rye is a small farming and fishing town, looking out upon the broad Atlantic; and in the summer season, with its green headlands jutting into the ocean, its fine white beach, relieved in the back-ground by dark green woods, through which peer out the white walls of farm-houses, it is deservedly held in high estimation as a quiet and beautiful place of resort from the unmitigated heats of the inland. In the winter and spring its inhabitants are almost entirely left to themselves. In early March, however, of this year, a double sleigh drove to the door of Elder Philbrick, a worthy old gentleman, whose attention is by turns occupied with the duties of a landlord and publican, the oversight and direction of half-a-dozen fishingsmacks, and the untying of knotty texts of scripture. It deposited four of its
Fortune-telling did not die with Moll Pitcher, the celebrated Lynn Pythoness. There is still living within a few miles of my residence, an old colored woman, who, during the last twenty years, has been consulted by thousands of anxious inquirers into the future. Long experience in her profession has given her something of that ready estimate of character, that quick and keen appreciation of the capacity,
habits, and wishes of her visitors, which so remarkably distinguished the late famous Madame Le Normand, of Paris. And if that old squalid sorceress, in her cramped Parisian attic, redolent of garlic and bestrewn with the greasy implements of sorry housewifery, was, as has been affirmed, consulted by such personages as the fair Josephine Beau
harnois, and the "Man of Destiny," Napoleon himself, is it strange that the desire to lift the veil of the great mystery before us should overcome, in some degree, our peculiar and most republican prejudice against color, and reconcile us to the disagreeable necessity of looking at Futurity through a black medium?
"Thus saith the Book, 'Permit no witch to live,'
O'er mighty rocks and mountains dark with green,
Where tempests wake their voice and torrents war between."
So sang Brainard many years ago. The hospitality of the good people of Vermont is proverbial, and, for aught we know, it may have been extended even to those whom sea-board Puritanism has felt bound to exorcize and cast out by Law and Gospel. But that the evil brood is not entirely extirpated, even in the old Bay State, seems manifest enough.
It is an old and familiar proverb, that a certain malignant personage is always nearest at hand when spoken of; and, in confirmation of this, since my last paper was in type, a scene of genuine diablerie has been enacted in the goodly and respectable town of Pepperell, in an adjoining county. There, it seems, is a veritable witch, riding o' nights in this cold autumnal moonlight, on a spectral white horse, like that of Dana's Buccaneer, with
"ghostly sides, Pale streaming with a cold blue light," -a steed upon whose silent hoof shoe was never set, unless by the grim artizans of the infernal smithy. A poor girl, supposed to be one of her victims, recently died, and on the night of her death the witch was seen riding hurryscurry around the house, not indeed by natural eye-sight, but through the magic spectacles of animal magnetism. A mesmerised girl was put on the track of an old woman long suspected of being little better than she should be. She found her body lying without any spirit in it-the merest husk and shell imaginable, and following in the track of the wandering soul, discovered its
In this case, however, she has not altogether escaped with impunity, for the red hot tongs being suddenly applied to the refractory cream, a corresponding burn was found the next day on her own "shrunk shank." Upon this fact and the evidence of the somnambulist, some of the good people are half disposed to hang her outright, as an undoubted witch.
The circumstance of the old woman's abandonment of her body during her nocturnal equestrian excursions, reminds us of the hypothesis of the erudite Dr. Jung Stilling, in his "Theorie der Gristerkunde." The Doctor professes to believe that the soul in a state of peculiar exaltation may be disengaged from the body, for a short space of time, without the supervention of death, and cites several remarkable instances in support of his belief.
During the past summer the quiet Shakers of Canterbury, N. H., who profess, in the midst of a sneering generation, to have restored within their
family limits the lost innocence and purity of Eden, have, I am told, like our first parents, been troubled with the subtle enemy. Not having forgotten his old tricks, he has once more crept into Paradise. He has been only seen by two or three peculiarly sagacious members of the family; but they have had several thorough hunts for him, the entire community joining with commendable alacrity in the search, and at times very nearly succeeding in capturing him. Once under the barn they supposed they had him fast, but he escaped the eye of some less vigilant brother or sister and took refuge under the great stone watering-trough. His cunning saved him; and he still, as my informant states, goes about subjecting the worthy family to divers perplexities and troubles, and new hunts equal to any recorded in the olden annals of New-England.
In a letter which I have just received from a distinguished member of the legal profession in New-Hampshire, a very remarkable case is narrated. My friend's informant was Judge Gove, at that time attorney-general. A few years since while attending court in Cheshire county, in his official capacity, a person came before the grand jury to enter a complaint for murder. As he had heard of no murder committed in that county, he looked at the complainant carefully, suspecting him to be insane. He was a young man of about twentyfive years of age, good-looking, intelligent and well-dressed. Perceiving the surprise of the attorney-general, he said to him, "I do not wonder at your astonishment: examine these papers." They were certificates of good character and perfect sanity from a large number of the most respectable people in the town where he resided. He then proceeded to state his complaint as follows-In the winter previous he had been hired to work by a farmer. Soon
after he went to live with him he heard strange noises in the cellar and rooms. At first he took little notice of them; but one night he distinctly heard a spinning-wheel in the cellar, and loud sounds in the entries. The doors flew open as often as they were latched. The farmer laughed and remarked: "They keep up quite a rumpus tonight." The next night he heard groans as he went out to feed the cattle; soon after he saw a bright light in his bed-room, and an apparition, which said to him: "I will see you again; you are too much alarmed now." The next morning while passing an old covered well, he heard a noise. He spoke, and a voice from the well answered: "I am the Irishman who was murdered by Mrs. F., and put here." The farmer's wife saw him looking and beckoned to him to desist and escape; and looking up he saw the farmer pointing a gun at him through the window. He at first fled, but returning, promised to reveal nothing and continued to labor. Soon after, however, the farmer attempted to kill him with a sled-stake. On his return one night, the windows in the lower part of the house seemed brilliantly illuminated. He made some remark about having company, when suddenly the lower windows became dark and the upper ones illuminated, and the whole house was a blaze of fire. Upon this the farmer swore: "This is that cursed Irishman's work!" now left the house, and told the story to the neighbors, and then was informed that some years before an Irishman in the employment of the farmer suddenly disappeared, and was by many supposed to have been murdered. The young man made oath that the facts above stated were in his belief true, but, of course, the intelligent attorney did not deem it a sufficient ground for prosecution.
There is one phase of the supernatural which perhaps more than any other is at the present day manifested among us, growing out of the enthusiasm which not unfrequently attends strong religious feeling and excitement. Thus the state of Trance or Extasy, the subject of which sometimes visits in imagination the abodes of blessed
spirits, hears ravishing music, and gazes upon Ineffable Glory,
"Sees distant gates of Eden gleam, And does not dream it is a dream," is not confined to the Methodist campground, but is sometimes among the phenomena of an awakened religious interest in other sects. The doctrine
of the second coming of the Messiah, which has been zealously preached in almost all sections of New-England a few years past, has had a powerful influence over the imaginative faculty in its recipients. One of my neighbors, a worthy and estimable man, believes that in June, 1838, he saw the "sign of the Son of Man in the heavens" at noon-day-a glorious human form, with the figure 5 directly beneath it, indicating that the great consummation was to be in five years, in 1843." I have alluded to this subject with somewhat of hesitation and delicacy, for I feel that it is extremely difficult to define the exact point where devotion ends and fanaticism begins. In the beautiful records which Lady Guion, John Woolman, Dr. Payson and Mary Fletcher, have left us of their religious experience, we are compelled to make some allowance for over-wrought feeling and imagination. Bunyan in his remarkable auto-biography, "Grace Abounding," tells us that he heard devils behind him, and that he kicked at and spurned them; Swedenborg squelched a whole legion of fiends on the street pavement; Sir Henry Vane, the glorious martyr in the cause of civil and religious freedom, believed himself specially called to bear rule in the millenium; Luther, with true Teutonic vigor, dashed his massive ink-stand in the face of the Annoyer, grimly glaring on him through the stone wall of his cell, being "born," to use his own words, "to fight with devils;" Wesley was beset with invisible house-haunters; George Fox rebuked a witch in his meeting-but are we therefore to shut our eyes to the reality of the spiritual life in these men? For myself, I cannot but treat with some degree of reverence and respect every manifestation of the religious principle even where it seems to me the reverse of that quiet obedience to simple duty, that sober and "reasonable service" which our heavenly Father requires at the hands of his children. The excesses and extravagances to which I have alluded, are not the fault of the great subject itself, nor always of the manner however objectionable in which it is presented. The infinite importance of the soul's preparation for the great change which awaits it-the terrible and glorious imagery of the Bible -Heaven's unimaginable bliss, hell's
torment unutterable, the sudden awakening of a sordid earth-bent soul to the consciousness that broad acres and hoarded coin are but shadows and phantoms, that Eternity and God are reali-' ties-the startling inburst of truth upon a hard dark heart, throwing intolerable light upon its secret sin-the overwhelming contrast of human weakness and guilt with Almighty power and purity, surely in all this there is enough to shake and overawe the strongest mind. Often to minds which have grovelled in the very earth, wholly absorbed in the sensual, it carries an instantaneous revelation of the tremendous conditions of their existence. It is to them like the light which shone down on Saul of Tarsus. They tremble to know of a truth that "a spirit is within them," that life is no longer a mere money-making convenience, that the universe is no longer dead mechanism; even the common sequences of Nature seem to stretch beyond the limited horizon of time and lose themselves in the Infinite; the simplest phenomena of daily life take a solemn and supernatural character. Is it strange, that such circumstances of intense excitement should sometimes lead to a temporary aberration of intellect? It is indeed painful to witness in a Christian assembly the extravagance and superstitious folly of an Indian powow, or the whirl-dance of the Dervishes of Stamboul. But there is a sadder spectacle than even this. It is to see men regarding with satisfaction such evidences of human weakness, and professing to find in them new proofs of their miserable theory of a Godless universe, and new occasion for sneering at sincere devotion as cant, and humble reverence as fanaticism. Alas! in comparison with such, the wildest and most extravagant enthusiast, who in the midst of his delusions still feels that he is indeed a living soul, and an heir of immortality, to whom God speaks from the immensities of his universe, is a sane man. Better is it in a life like ours to be even a howling Dervish or a dancing Shaker, confronting imaginary demons with Thalaba's talisman of FAITH, than to lose the consciousness of our own spiritual nature, and look upon ourselves as mere brute masses of animal organization-barnacles on a dead universe; looking into the dull grave with no hope beyond it;