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THE CIDEVILLE DISTURBANCES.
the occult force, whatever its precise character, was intelligent. When he returned, several days later, to the parsonage, the phenomena continued with still increasing violence. One evening, desiring to enter the room where the children usually sat, the door resisted his efforts to open it,--a resistance which, the witness averred, he could not attribute to a natural cause; for when he succeeded in pushing it open and entering the room there was no one there. Another day, it occurred to him to ask for an air but little known,—the Stabat Mater, of Rossini; and it was given with extraordinary accuracy.
Returning, some days later, on the renewed invitation of the curate, this witness went up-stairs; and at the moment when he came opposite the door of the upper room, a desk that stood on the table at which the children usually studied (but they were not there at the time) started from its place, and came toward the witness with a swift motion, and following a line parallel with the floor, until it was about thirty centimetres (one foot) from his person, when it fell vertically to the floor. The place where it fell was distant about two metres (between six and seven feet) from the table.*
The witness Bouffay, vicar of St. Maclou, stated that he had been several times at the parsonage. The first time he heard continued noises in the apartments occupied by the children. These noises were intelligent and obedient. On one occasion, the witness sleeping in the children's room, the uproar was so violent that he thought the floor would open beneath him. He heard the noises equally in the presence and the absence of the curate; and he took especial notice that the children were motionless when the disturbances occurred, and evidently could not produce them. On one occa
* Testimony of M. Raoul Robert de Saint-Victor.
Mr. Bell been doing in the cellar ?” She had sunk in the soft soil and fallen. Mrs. Bell replied that it was only rat-holes. A few days afterward, at nightfall, Mr. Bell carried some earth into the cellar, and was at work there some time. Mrs. Bell said he was filling up the rat-holes.*
Mr. and Mrs. Weekman depose that they occupied the house in question, after Mr. Bell left it, during eighteen months, namely, from the spring of 1846 till the autumn of 1847.
About March, 1847, one night as they were going to bed they heard knockings on the outside door; but when they opened there was no one there. This was repeated, till Mr. Weekman lost patience; and, after searching all round the house, he resolved, if possible, to detect these disturbers of his peace. Accordingly, he stood with his hand on the door, ready to open it at the instant the knocking was repeated. It was repeated, so that he felt the door jar under his hand; but, though he sprang out instantly and searched all round the house, he found not a trace of
intruder. They were frequently afterward disturbed by strange and unaccountable noises. One night Mrs. Weekman heard what seemed the footsteps of some one walking in the cellar. Another night one of her little girls, eight years old, screamed out, so as to wake every one in the house. She said something cold had been moving over her head and face; and it was long ere the terrified child was pacified, nor would she consent to sleep in the same room for several nights afterward.
Mr. Weekman offers to repeat his certificate, if required, under oath.t
* “ Report of the. Mysterious Noises," pp. 35, 36, 37. I have added a few minor particulars, related by Lucretia to Mrs. Fox.
† Ibid. pp. 33, 34.
THE CIDEVILLE DISTURBANCES.
shape of several letters written by respectable gentlemen who visited the parsonage during the disturbances. One is from the assistant judge of a neighboring tribunal, M. Rousselin. He found the curate profoundly aflicted by his painful position, and obtained from him every opportunity of cross-questioning, separately, the children, M. Tinel's sister, and his servant. Their entire demeanor bore the impress of truthfulness.
Their testimony was clear, direct, and uniformly consistent. He found the window-panes broken, and boards set up against them. Another gentlemen states that, on his arrival at the parsonage, he was struck with the sad and unhappy look of the curate, who, he adds, impressed him, from his appearance, as a most worthy man.
All these letters fully corroborate the preceding testimony.
It would be difficult to find a case more explicit or better authenticated than the foregoing. Yet it is certain that the phenomena it discloses, closely as these resemble what has been occurring for ten years past all over the United States, are not traceable, directly or indirectly, through the influence of imitation, epidemic excitement, or otherwise, to the Spiritual movement among us. The history of the Rochester knockings, then but commencing here, had never reached the humble parsonage of Cideville, and afforded no explanation to its alarmed inmates of the annoyances which broke their quiet and excited their fears.
I might go on, indefinitely, extending the number of similar narratives, but a repetition would prove nothing more than is established by the specimens already given. I therefore here close my list of disturbances occurring in Europe, and proceed to furnish, in conclusion, from the most authentic sources, that example, already referred to, occurring in our own country, which has
THE LOST REAPPEARS.
the canal at a designated point, where she would certainly discover the corpse; in obeying which injunction she nearly lost her life. Some months afterward, the alleged victim reappeared : he had departed secretly for Canada, to avoid the importunities of his creditors.*
In the Hydesville case, too, there was some rebutting evidence. The raps bad alleged that, though the peddler's wife was dead, his five children lived in Orange County, New York; but all efforts to discover them there were fruitless. Nor does it appear that any man named Rosma was ascertained to have resided there.
It remains to be added that no legal proceedings were ever instituted, either against Mr. Bell, in virtue of the suspicions aroused, or by him against those who expressed such suspicions. He finally left the country.
It is evident that no sufficient case is made out against him. The statements of the earthly witnesses amount to circumstantial evidence only; and upon unsupported ultramundane testimony no dependence can be placed. It may supply hints; it may suggest inquiries; but assurance it cannot give.
The Hydesville narrative, however, as one of unexplained disturbances, like those at Cideville, at Ahrensburg, at Slawensik, at Epworth, and at Tedworth, rests for verification on the reality of the phenomena themselves, not on the accuracy of the extrinsic information alleged to be thereby supplied.
* For details, see “ Modern Spiritualism,” pp. 60 to 62. If we concede the reality of the spirit-rap, and if we assume to judge of ultramundane intentions, we may imagine that the purpose was, by so early and so marked a lesson, to warn men, even from the commencement, against putting implicit faith in spiritual communications.
It is worthy of remark, however, that there is this great difference in these two cases, that the Hydesville communications came by spontaneous agency, uncalled for, unlooked for, while those obtained at Rochester were evoked and expected.
THE STRATFORD DISTURBANCES.
With this case I close the list of these narrations; for to follow up similar examples, since occurring throughout our country,* would lead me, away from my object, into the history of the rise and progress of the Spiritual movement itself.
* As that occurring at Stratford, Connecticut, in the house of the Rev. Dr. Eliakim Phelps, more whimsical, and also more surprising, in many of its modifications, than any of those here related; commencing on the 10th of March, 1850, and continuing, with intervals, a year and nine months; namely, till the 15th of December, 1851. A detailed account of this case will be found in “Modern Spiritualism," pp. 132 to 171.