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OF THE PRECEDING CASE.
and that she died in America. Be this as it may, in Ireland, as elsewhere, the visitation followed him unceasingly
« This spirit never spoke, never answered questions ; and the mode of communicating now so general was not then known. If it had been, there might have been a different result.
“As it was, Robert L-'8 mode of life in his native country gave his mother great anxiety. I had no clew, however, to his ultimate fate; for his sister would not tell me where in Ireland he had made his miserable home.
“My friend Kate married immediately after her brother left. She was a bride, a mother,
and a corpse
within a year; and her death really broke her mother's heart: so that in two years the family seemed to have vanished, as if I had never known them. I have sometimes thought, however, that if the dear old lady had not received such a shock from her son's spiritual visitor, she would not have been crushed by the loss of her daughter; but she told me she had nothing left to bind her to this world.
"I have often regretted that I had not watched with my young friend one night; but the facts I have thrown together were known to certainly twenty persons in London."*
One rarely finds a narrative better authenticated, or more strongly indicating the reality of an ultramundane agency, than this. It is attested by the name of a lady well and favorably known to the literary world. It is true that, deterred by her fears, she did not personally witness the disturbances. But if she had, would it have added materially to the weight of her testimony as it stands? Could she doubt the reality of these appalling
Extracted from Mrs. Hall's letter to me, dated London, March 31, 1859. 452
REMARKS ON THE PRECEDING CASE.
demonstrations? Can we doubt it? The testimony of the sister and the mother, whose lives this fearful visitation darkened if it did not shorten, to say nothing of the corroborative evidence furnished by friends who sat up with them expressly to seek out some explanation,-can we refuse credit to all this? The baggard and careworn looks of the sufferer, his blighted life,could these have been simulated ? The confession to his family, wrung from him by the recurrence, in his mother's house, of the torment he could no longer conceal,-could that be a lie? Dumb animals attested the contrary. The death of the canary-bird, the terror of the dog,could fancy cause the one or create the other? Or shall we resort to the hypothesis of human agency? Ten years had the avenging sounds pursued the unfortunate
In tent or tavern, in country or city, go where he would, the terrible Intrusion still dogged his steps. The maternal home was no city of refuge from the pur
To the wilds of Ireland it followed the culprit in his retreat. Even if such human vengeance were conceivable, would not human ingenuity be powerless to carry it out?
But, if we concede the reality and the spiritual character of the demonstration, are we to admit also the explanation hypothetically suggested by the narrator? Was Robert L- really thus punished, through life, for one of the worst, because one of the most selfish and heartless and misery-bringing, in the list of human sins? He himself seemed to be of that opinion: “Perhaps I have deserved it” was the verdict of his conscience. It may be rash, with our present limited knowledge of ultramundane laws, to assert any thing in the premises; knowing as we do that tens of thousands of such offenders pass through life unwhipped of justice.*
* It does not by any means follow, however, that because many similar offenders escape unpunished, there was nothing retributive in the incidents here related. In this mysteriously-governed world some criminals escape, while others, less guilty perhaps, are overtaken. “Those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think yo that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem ?”—Luke xiii. 4.
Yet, if we reject that hypothesis, what other, more plausible, remains ?
Even if we accept that explanation, however, it is not to be assumed, as of course, that it was the spirit of his poor victim that thus ceaselessly followed her deserter, the betrayer of her trust. Love may be changed, for a time, into vehement dislike: it is difficult to believe that, after the earthly tenement is gone, it should harden into hate eternal and unrelenting. And we can conceive that some other departed spirit, of evil nature, obtaining power over the wretched man by the aid of an impressible temperament wrought upon by a conscience haunted by remorse, might have been permitted (who can tell under what law or for what purpose ?) to visit, with such retribution, the evil deed.
But here we enter the regions of conjecture. Theso events happened long before Spiritualism had become a distinctive name. No attempt was made to communicate with the sounds. No explanation, therefore, trustworthy or apocryphal, was reached. There was no chance, then, given to conciliate; no opportunity afforded for propitiation.
It has been alleged that, in many modern instances of what had assumed the character of spiritual interference, the disturbance ceased when communication, by knockings, was sought and obtained. So it might have been, as Mrs. Hall suggests, in the case of Robert LAnd, if so, the spirit-rap, lightly esteemed by many as it is, might have brought to repentance and saved from hopeless suffering—possibly premature death-a young man with heavy guilt, indeed, upon his soul, yet not a sinner above all men that dwelt in London.
A PLEASANTER task remains; to speak, namely, of the indications that reach us of ultramundane aid and spiritual protection.
Three stories have come to my knowledge, in each of which the subject of the narrative is alleged to have been saved from death by an apparition seeming to be the counterpart of himself: one related of an English clergyman, traveling, late at night, in a lonely lane, by whose side the figure suddenly appeared, and thus (as the clergyman afterward ascertained) deterred two men, bent on murder and robbery, from attacking him; and both the others—the one occurring to a student in Edinburgh, the other to a fashionable young man in Berlin-being examples in which the seer is said to havo been warned from occupying his usual chamber, which had he occupied, he would have perished by the falling in of a portion of the house.
But these anecdotes, though for each there is plausible evidence, do not come within the rule I have laid down to myself of sufficient authentication.
A somewhat similar story is related and vouched for by Jung Stilling, of a certain Professor Böhm, of Marburg, in whose case, however, the warning came by an urgent presentiment only, not by an actual apparition.*
Such a case of presentiment, though the danger was to another, not to the subject of it, came to me, through the kindness of a lady, at first hand, as follows:
A WASHINGTON ANECDOTE.
HOW SENATOR LINN'S LIFE WAS SAVED. Those who were familiar with the political history of our country twenty years ago remember well Dr. Linn, of Missouri. Distinguished for talents and professional ability, but yet more for the excellence of his heart, he received, by a distinction as rare as it was honorable, the unanimous vote of the Legislature for the office of Senator of the United States.
In discharge of his Congressional duties, he was residing with his family in Washington, during the spring and summer of 1840, the last year of Mr. Van Buren's administration.
One day during the month of May of that year, Dr. and Mrs. Linn received an invitation to a large and formal dinner-party, given by a public functionary, and to which the most prominent members of the Administration party, including the President himself and our present Chief Magistrate, Mr. Buchanan, were invited guests. Dr. Linn was very anxious to be present; but, when the day came, finding himself suffering from an attack of indigestion, he begged his wife to bear his apology in person, and make one of the dinner-party, leaving him at home. To this she somewhat reluctantly consented. She was accompanied to the door of their host by a friend, General Jones, who promised to return and remain with Dr. Linn during the evening.
At table Mrs. Linn sat next to General Macomb, who had conducted her to dinner; and immediately opposite to her sat Silas Wright, Senator from New York, the most intimate friend of her husband, and a man by whose death, shortly after, the country sustained an irreparable loss.
Even during the early part of the dinner, Mrs. Linn felt very uneasy about her husband. She tried to reason herself out of this, as she know that his indisposition