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WAS IT CLAIRVOYANCE OR PRESCIENCE?
showed him the remains of the half-consumed bolster and partially-burned bed-linen.
Whether the sight changed his opinion on the subject of presentiments I cannot tell; but he turned pale as a corpse, (Mrs. Linn said,) and did not utter a word.
I had all the above particulars from Mrs. Linn herself, together with the permission to publish them in illustration of the subject I am treating, attested by date and names.
There is one point in connection with the above narrative which is worthy of special examination. In case we admit that Mrs. Linn's irresistible impulse to leave the dinner-table was a spiritual impression, the question remains, was it a warning of evil then existing, or was it a presentiment of evil that was still to arise? In other words, was it in its character only clairvoyant, or was it in its nature clearly prophetic?
The impression was distinctly produced on Mrs. Linn's mind, as that lady told me, at least half an hour before it became so urgent as to compel her to leave the entertainment. When she did leave, as the carriages were not ordered till eleven o'clock, and no hackney-coach was at hand, she and Mr. and Mrs. Wright, as she further stated to me, returned on foot. The distance being a mile and a half, they were fully half an hour in walking it. It follows that Mrs. Linn was impressed to return more than an hour before she opened the door of the bedroom.
Now, it is highly improbable that the fire should have caught, or that any thing should have happened likely to lead to it, in the bedroom as much as an hour, or even half an hour, before Mrs. Linn's arrival. But if not,-if, at the moment Mrs. Linn was first impressed, no condition of things existed which, to human percep
* In Washington, on the 4th of July, 1859.
THE TRAPPER'S STORY.
tions, could indicate danger,-then, unless we refer the whole to chance coincidence, the case is one involving not only a warning presentiment, but a prophetic instinct.
More distinct still, as an example of what seems protective agency, is the following from a recent work by the Rev. Dr. Bushnell.
HELP AMID THE SNOW-DRIFTS.
"As I sat by the fire, one stormy November night, in a hotel-parlor, in the Napa Valley of California, there came in a most venerable and benignant-looking person, with his wife, taking their seats in the circle. The stranger, as I afterward learned, was Captain Yonnt, a man who came over into California, as a trapper, more than forty years ago. Here he has lived, apart from the great world and its questions, acquiring an immense landed estate, and becoming a kind of acknowledged patriarch in the country. His tall, manly person, and his gracious, paternal look, as totally unsophisticated in the expression as if he had never heard of a philosophic doubt or question in his life, marked him as the true patriarch. The conversation turned, I know not how, on spiritism and the modern necromancy; and he discovered a degree of inclination to believe in the reported. mysteries. His wife, a much younger and apparently Christian person, intimated that probably he was predisposed to this kind of faith by a very peculiar experience of his own, and evidently desired that he might be drawn out by some intelligent discussion of his queries.
"At my request, he gave me his story. About six or seven years previous, in a mid-winter's night, he had a dream in which he saw what appeared to be a company of emigrants arrested by the snows of the mountains and perishing rapidly by cold and hunger. He noted
HELP AMID THE SNOW-DRIFTS.
the very cast of the scenery, marked by a huge perpendicular front of white rock cliff; he saw the men cutting off what appeared to be tree-tops rising out of deep gulfs of snow; he distinguished the very features of the persons and the look of their particular distress. He woke profoundly impressed with the distinctness and apparent reality of his dream. At length he fell asleep and dreamed exactly the same dream again. In the morning he could not expel it from his mind. Falling in, shortly, with an old hunter comrade, he told him the story, and was only the more deeply impressed by his recognizing, without hesitation, the scenery of the dream. This comrade had come over the Sierra by the Carson Valley Pass, and declared that a spot in the pass answered exactly to his description. By this the unsophisticated patriarch was decided. He immediately collected a company of men with mules and blankets and all necessary provisions. The neighbors were laughing, meantime, at his credulity. No matter,' said he 'I am able to do this, and I will; for I verily believe that the fact is according to my dream.' The men were sent into the mountains, one hundred and fifty miles distant, directly to the Carson Valley Pass. And there they found the company in exactly the condition of the dream, and brought in the remnant alive."*
Dr. Bushnell adds, that a gentleman present said to him, "You need have no doubt of this; for we Californians all know the facts and the names of the families brought in, who now look upon our venerable friend as a kind of Savior." These names he gave, together with the residences of each; and Dr. Bushnell avers that he found the Californians everywhere ready to second the old man's testimony. "Nothing could be more natural,"
* "Nature and the Supernatural," by Horace Bushnell, New York, 1858, pp. 475, 476.
WAS IT ACCIDENT?
continues the doctor, "than for the good-hearted patri. arch himself to add that the brightest thing in his life, and that which gave him the greatest joy, was his simple faith in that dream."
Here is a fact known and acknowledged by a whole community. That it actually occurred is beyond cavil. But how could it occur by chance? In the illimitable wintry wilderness, with its hundred passes and its thousand emigrants, how can a purely accidental fancy be supposed, without ultramundane interference, to shape into the semblance of reality a scene actually existing a hundred and fifty miles off, though wholly unknown to the dreamer,—not the landscape only, with its white cliffs and its snow-buried trees, but the starving travelers cutting the tree-tops in a vain effort to avert cold and famine? He who credits this believes a marvel far greater than the hypothesis of spiritual guardianship.
In support of that hypothesis, however, there are well-attested narratives, indicating, more directly than this story of the Californian trapper, loving care on the part of the departed. One of these will be found in a work on the supernatural by the Rev. Dr. Edwards. He communicates it in the shape of an "extract of a letter from an enlightened and learned divine in the north of Germany." The incident occurred, he tells us, at Levin, a village belonging to the Duchy of Mecklenburg, not far from Demmin, in Prussian Pomerania, on the Sunday before Michaelmas, in the year 1759. The extract referred to (the title only added by me) is as follows:
"I will now, in conclusion, mention to you a very edifying story of an apparition, for the truth of which I can vouch, with all that is dear to me. My late mother, a pattern of true piety, and a woman who
STORY RELATED BY
was regular in prayer, lost, quite unexpectedly, after a short illness, arising from a sore throat, my younger sister, a girl of about fourteen years of age. Now, as during her illness she had not spoken much with her on spiritual subjects, by no means supposing her end so near, (although my father had done so,) she reproached and grieved herself most profoundly, not only on this account, but also for not having sufficiently nursed and attended upon her, or for having neglected something that might have brought on her death. This feeling took so much hold of her, that she not only altered much in her appearance, from loss of appetite, but became so monosyllabic in speaking that she never expressed herself except on being interrogated. She still, however, continued to pray diligently in her chamber. Being already grown up at the time, I spoke with my father respecting her, and asked him what was to be done, and how my good mother might be comforted. He shrugged his shoulders, and gave me to understand that, unless God interposed, he feared the worst.
Now, it happened, some days after, when we were all, one Sunday morning, at church, with the exception of my mother, who remained at home, that on rising up from prayer, in her closet, she heard a noise as though some one was with her in the room. On looking about to ascertain whence the noise proceeded, something took hold of her invisibly and pressed her firmly to it, as if she had been embraced by some one, and the same moment she heard,-without seeing any thing whatever, -very distinctly, the voice of her departed daughter, saying quite plainly to her, 'Mamma! mamma! I am so happy! I am so happy!' Immediately after these words, the pressure subsided, and my mother felt and heard nothing more. But what a wished-for change did we all perceive in our dear mother on coming home! She had regained her speech and former cheerfulness;