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I have refrained from saying much about the quality of these manifestations. It is a matter upon which there must always be a wide difference of opinion. Every one will find _himself_ more or less reflected in them. It is the inevitable law of a.s.sociation. "You are a cheat and a scoundrel!" said an enraged man to my friend. "I know it,"
was the prompt reply; "it is the rascality and cussedness in you that have called it out. I never was conscious of it until I met you."
No selfishness, deceit, or diplomacy avails with these beings; what you truly think and feel, your moral atmosphere, makes or mars your relations with them. Until you can learn to meet them in perfect confidence, you can know nothing of the beauty which emanates from them.
Materialization is denounced by the learned and the ignorant, and in both cases the denial springs from the same cause. It is a fair ill.u.s.tration of high life with the bottom turned up; both cla.s.ses meet on the same plane. It is also bitterly condemned by a cla.s.s of Spiritualists whose brains are saturated with trance and inspirational communications. In their conceit, the little they know is the whole world to them.
As a rule, all nations and tribes hold in some form or another to a belief in the continued existence of man after death. However desirable such a belief may be, it is generally admitted that it rests entirely on faith, there being no substantial evidence by which it can be scientifically demonstrated. In both the Old and New Testaments are records of occult manifestations similar to what has been related here, but the materialistic tendency of science has long since caused them to be regarded as Oriental fictions.
In the materializing seance come, for the time being, living, breathing, intelligent, human forms, that are not confederates or personations by the medium. If not beings from another life, what are they? The probability, or even possibility, they offer of scientific evidence of the existence of man after death, commends them to the serious consideration of every intelligent person.
It is not a difficult task, nor one requiring a great amount of labor, to determine that these forms are distinct embodiments. To settle this is, however, only the A B C of the matter. To learn what these beings are, and their relations to us, requires the most patient investigation and the most delicate and far-reaching exercise of the mind. Facts, in themselves, unless they suggest something higher, are of little consequence. They derive their importance solely from their connection with some general law around which they are grouped.
While I have stated positively that at Mrs. Fay's no confederates are used, and that the forms that have come to me are not personations by the medium, yet, in the _legal_ definition of the word, I do not _know_ who or what they are. I have my convictions, based upon what is satisfactory evidence to me. I do not ask any one to accept my theories, but upon what have been stated as facts there need be no controversy, since any one who will give the matter the same attention can verify all that has been said.
To deny the facts without an investigation, on the ground that they are impossible, can have no weight, for it has been truly said by Arago that "outside the domain of pure mathematics, the word impossible has no meaning."
I have imperfectly related only a few of the many hundred strange things that have come under my observation, selecting them at random without any special regard to order. The same may be said of the thoughts expressed; their value, if they have any, will be found in the closeness with which I have pursued the investigation. My experience has extended over more than a hundred seances, and to have given them in detail would have exceeded my time.
These things are open to any who will approach them honestly. Let us hope that some fair-minded specialist, whose brain is not lumbered with the debris of old ideas, will yet be able to lift the veil that surrounds them.
I feel confident that I have exhausted almost every conceivable test necessary to establish the reality of these wonderful apparitions. Some of these tests, in the light of a more extended experience, now seem very absurd. Ridiculous as they must have appeared to these beings, they were never vexed, nor showed any impatience with my ignorant and unreasonable demands, but either met them squarely or playfully turned them aside. My investigations have been confined mostly to Mrs. Fay's seances, for the simple reason that here the cabinet and surroundings were known to me to be above suspicion, and from the beginning greater facilities for study were granted me than elsewhere. Such is the skeptical nature of my mind that if I had been obliged to conform to the role of an ordinary visitor, I should, in all probability, have never been fully convinced of the truth of materialization.
In dealing with a subject so new to the ma.s.s of people, it is hardly to be expected that it will be accepted on the testimony of any one. Facts, however clearly stated, will have but little weight with those who have had no practical experience. Fortunately, the rapid increase in the number of mediums, both public and private, is bringing these things within the reach of every one.
If what I have stated be true,--if the experience of others shall prove that I have not been deceived,--then the whole system of ethics must undergo a complete revolution. Man will no longer be regarded as an animal, confined to earth, but a direct emanation from a superior intelligence, holding in his nature a dual existence, connecting him at one and the same time with both the seen and unseen worlds.
There is no estimating the influence which a realization of these things, rightly understood, would have upon the moral and social condition of society. What has been held in the past as a vague and uncertain belief, would be supplanted by knowledge; and the skeptical tendency of modern thought would be checked by a fuller sense of the inspirational and spiritual nature of man.
The dread of death, throwing a gloom over the domestic circle, would glide away as the darkness of night disappears before the coming morn.
The parting of friends and relatives would find its compensation in renewed companionship and the perfect consciousness that there is no real separation.
For the fullness and tenderness with which these beings have overwhelmed me with demonstrations of regard, promptly responding to every reasonable request, I am under the deepest obligations. As I go back in my mind over the various seances which it has been my privilege to enjoy, I linger fondly over the stately form and affectionate bearing of what claimed to be my wife; the rich girlish nature of Bertha, with her marvellous beauty of expression; and the tender pleadings of one who must be nameless here, begging that I would bring those she loved nearer to her.
All along the pathway of my investigations glow a thousand things never to be forgotten. Who shall say the gates are not ajar, and that our loved but not lost ones are not pa.s.sing to and fro?
Poor in spirit and weak in affection must they be who can meet these beings as I have met them, and not feel that there comes, from the a.s.sociation with them, a richer and fuller life.