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The Martyr Medium

"After the valets, the master!" is Mr. Fechter's rallying cry in the
picturesque romantic drama which attracts all London to the Lyceum
Theatre. After the worshippers and puffers of Mr. Daniel Dunglas
Home, the spirit medium, comes Mr. Daniel Dunglas Home himself, in
one volume. And we must, for the honour of Literature, plainly
express our great surprise and regret that he comes arm-in-arm with
such good company as Messrs. Longman and Company.

We have already summed up Mr. Home's demands on the public capacity
of swallowing, as sounded through the war-denouncing trumpet of Mr.
Howitt, and it is not our intention to revive the strain as
performed by Mr. Home on his own melodious instrument. We notice,
by the way, that in that part of the Fantasia where the hand of the
first Napoleon is supposed to be reproduced, recognised, and kissed,
at the Tuileries, Mr. Home subdues the florid effects one might have
expected after Mr. Howitt's execution, and brays in an extremely
general manner. And yet we observe Mr. Home to be in other things
very reliant on Mr. Howitt, of whom he entertains as gratifying an
opinion as Mr. Howitt entertains of him: dwelling on his "deep
researches into this subject", and of his "great work now ready for
the press", and of his "eloquent and forcible" advocacy, and eke of
his "elaborate and almost exhaustive work", which Mr. Home trusts
will be "extensively read". But, indeed, it would seem to be the
most reliable characteristic of the Dear Spirits, though very
capricious in other particulars, that they always form their circles
into what may be described, in worldly terms, as A Mutual Admiration
and Complimentation Company (Limited).

Mr. Home's book is entitled Incidents in My Life. We will extract a
dozen sample passages from it, as variations on and phrases of
harmony in, the general strain for the Trumpet, which we have
promised not to repeat.


"I cannot remember when first I became subject to the curious
phenomena which have now for so long attended me, but my aunt and
others have told me that when I was a baby my cradle was frequently
rocked, as if some kind guardian spirit was attending me in my


"In her uncontrollable anger she seized a chair and threw it at me."


"Upon one occasion as the table was being thus moved about of
itself, my aunt brought the family Bible, and placing it on the
table, said, 'There, that will soon drive the devils away'; but to
her astonishment the table only moved in a more lively manner, as if
pleased to bear such a burden." (We believe this is constantly
observed in pulpits and church reading desks, which are invariably
lively.) "Seeing this she was greatly incensed, and determined to
stop it, she angrily placed her whole weight on the table, and was
actually lifted up with it bodily from the floor."


"And she felt it a duty that I should leave her house, and which I


It was communicated to him by the spirit of his mother, in the
following terms: "Daniel, fear not, my child, God is with you, and
who shall be against you? Seek to do good: be truthful and truth-
loving, and you will prosper, my child. Yours is a glorious
mission--you will convince the infidel, cure the sick, and console
the weeping." It is a coincidence that another eminent man, with
several missions, heard a voice from the Heavens blessing him, when
he also was a youth, and saying, "You will be rewarded, my son, in
time". This Medium was the celebrated Baron Munchausen, who relates
the experience in the opening of the second chapter of the incidents
in HIS life.


"Certainly these phenomena, whether from God or from the devil, have
in ten years caused more converts to the great truths of immortality
and angel communion, with all that flows from these great facts,
than all the sects in Christendom have made during the same period."


"As to the music, it has been my good fortune to be on intimate
terms with some of the first composers of the day, and more than one
of them have said of such as they have heard, that it is such music
as only angels could make, and no man could write it."

These "first composers" are not more particularly named. We shall
therefore be happy to receive and file at the office of this
Journal, the testimonials in the foregoing terms of Dr. Sterndale
Bennett, Mr. Balfe, Mr. Macfarren, Mr. Benedict, Mr. Vincent
Wallace, Signor Costa, M. Auber, M. Gounod, Signor Rossini, and
Signor Verdi. We shall also feel obliged to Mr. Alfred Mellon, who
is no doubt constantly studying this wonderful music, under the
Medium's auspices, if he will note on paper, from memory, say a
single sheet of the same. Signor Giulio Regondi will then perform
it, as correctly as a mere mortal can, on the Accordion, at the next
ensuing concert of the Philharmonic Society; on which occasion the
before-mentioned testimonials will be conspicuously displayed in the
front of the orchestra.


"On the 26th April, old style, or 8th May, according to our style,
at seven in the evening, and as the snow was fast falling, our
little boy was born at the town house, situate on the Gagarines
Quay, in St. Petersburg, where we were still staying. A few hours
after his birth, his mother, the nurse, and I heard for several
hours the warbling of a bird as if singing over him. Also that
night, and for two or three nights afterwards, a bright starlike
light, which was clearly visible from the partial darkness of the
room, in which there was only a night-lamp burning, appeared several
times directly I over its head, where it remained for some moments,
and then slowly moved in the direction of the door, where it
disappeared. This was also seen by each of us at the same time.
The light was more condensed than those which have been so often
seen in my presence upon previous and subsequent occasions. It was
brighter and more distinctly globular. I do not believe that it
came through my mediumship, but rather through that of the child,
who has manifested on several occasions the presence of the gift. I
do not like to allude to such a matter, but as there are more
strange things in Heaven and earth than are dreamt of, even in my
philosophy, I do not feel myself at liberty to omit stating, that
during the latter part of my wife's pregnancy, we thought it better
that she should not join in Seances, because it was found that
whenever the rappings occurred in the room, a simultaneous movement
of the child was distinctly felt, perfectly in unison with the
sounds. When there were three sounds, three movements were felt,
and so on, and when five sounds were heard, which is generally the
call for the alphabet, she felt the five internal movements, and she
would frequently, when we were mistaken in the latter, correct us
from what the child indicated."

We should ask pardon of our readers for sullying our paper with this
nauseous matter, if without it they could adequately understand what
Mr. Home's book is.


Prudently avoiding the disagreeable question of his giving himself,
both in this state of existence and in his spiritual circle, a name
to which he never had any pretensions whatever, and likewise
prudently suppressing any reference to his amiable weakness as a
swindler and an infamous trafficker in his own wife, the guileless
Mr. Balsamo delivered, in a "distinct voice", this distinct
celestial utterance--unquestionably punctuated in a supernatural
manner: "My power was that of a mesmerist, but all-misunderstood by
those about me, my biographers have even done me injustice, but I
care not for the untruths of earth".


"After various manifestations, Mr. Home went into the trance, and
addressing a person present, said, 'You ask what good are such
trivial manifestations, such as rapping, table-moving, etc.? God is
a better judge than we are what is fitted for humanity, immense
results may spring from trivial things. The steam from a kettle is
a small thing, but look at the locomotive! The electric spark from
the back of a cat is a small thing, but see the wonders of
electricity! The raps are small things, but their results will lead
you to the Spirit-World, and to eternity! Why should great results
spring from such small causes? Christ was born in a manger, he was
not born a King. When you tell me why he was born in a manger, I
will tell you why these manifestations, so trivial, so undignified
as they appear to you, have been appointed to convince the world of
the truth of spiritualism.'"

Wonderful! Clearly direct Inspiration!--And yet, perhaps, hardly
worth the trouble of going "into the trance" for, either. Amazing
as the revelation is, we seem to have heard something like it from
more than one personage who was wide awake. A quack doctor, in an
open barouche (attended by a barrel-organ and two footmen in brass
helmets), delivered just such another address within our hearing,
outside a gate of Paris, not two months ago.


"The lady of the house turned to me and said abruptly, 'Why, you are
sitting in the air'; and on looking, we found that the chair
remained in its place, but that I was elevated two or three inches
above it, and my feet not touching the floor. This may show how
utterly unconscious I am at times to the sensation of levitation.
As is usual, when I had not got above the level of the heads of
those about me, and when they change their position much--as they
frequently do in looking wistfully at such a phenomenon--I came down
again, but not till I had remained so raised about half a minute
from the time of its being first seen. I was now impressed to leave
the table, and was soon carried to the lofty ceiling. The Count de
B- left his place at the table, and coming under where I was, said,
'Now, young Home, come and let me touch your feet.' I told him I
had no volition in the matter, but perhaps the spirits would kindly
allow me to come down to him. They did so, by floating me down to
him, and my feet were soon in his outstretched hands. He seized my
boots, and now I was again elevated, he holding tightly, and pulling
at my feet, till the boots I wore, which had elastic sides, came off
and remained in his hands."


As there is a maudlin complaint in this book, about men of Science
being hard upon "the 'Orphan' Home", and as the "gentle and
uncombative nature" of this Medium in a martyred point of view is
pathetically commented on by the anonymous literary friend who
supplies him with an introduction and appendix--rather at odds with
Mr. Howitt, who is so mightily triumphant about the same Martyr's
reception by crowned heads, and about the competence he has become
endowed with--we cull from Mr. Home's book one or two little
illustrative flowers. Sir David Brewster (a pestilent unbeliever)
"has come before the public in few matters which have brought more
shame upon him than his conduct and assertions on this occasion, in
which he manifested not only a disregard for truth, but also a
disloyalty to scientific observation, and to the use of his own
eyesight and natural faculties". The same unhappy Sir David
Brewster's "character may be the better known, not only for his
untruthful dealing with this subject, but also in his own domain of
science in which the same unfaithfulness to truth will be seen to be
the characteristic of his mind". Again, he "is really not a man
over whom victory is any honour". Again, "not only he, but
Professor Faraday have had time and ample leisure to regret that
they should have so foolishly pledged themselves", etc. A Faraday a
fool in the sight of a Home! That unjust judge and whited wall,
Lord Brougham, has his share of this Martyr Medium's
uncombativeness. "In order that he might not be compelled to deny
Sir David's statements, he found it necessary that he should be
silent, and I have some reason to complain that his Lordship
preferred sacrificing me to his desire not to immolate his friend."
M. Arago also came off with very doubtful honours from a wrestle
with the uncombative Martyr; who is perfectly clear (and so are we,
let us add) that scientific men are not the men for his purpose. Of
course, he is the butt of "utter and acknowledged ignorance", and of
"the most gross and foolish statements", and of "the unjust and
dishonest", and of "the press-gang", and of crowds of other alien
and combative adjectives, participles, and substantives.

Nothing is without its use, and even this odious book may do some
service. Not because it coolly claims for the writer and his
disciples such powers as were wielded by the Saviour and the
Apostles; not because it sees no difference between twelve table
rappers in these days, and "twelve fishermen" in those; not because
it appeals for precedents to statements extracted from the most
ignorant and wretched of mankind, by cruel torture, and constantly
withdrawn when the torture was withdrawn; not because it sets forth
such a strange confusion of ideas as is presented by one of the
faithful when, writing of a certain sprig of geranium handed by an
invisible hand, he adds in ecstasies, "WHICH WE HAVE PLANTED AND IT
DROSS OR LEAVES"--as if it followed that the conjuror's half-crowns
really did become invisible and in that state fly, because he
afterwards cuts them out of a real orange; or as if the conjuror's
pigeon, being after the discharge of his gun, a real live pigeon
fluttering on the target, must therefore conclusively be a pigeon,
fired, whole, living and unshattered, out of the gun!--not because
of the exposure of any of these weaknesses, or a thousand such, are
these moving incidents in the life of the Martyr Medium, and similar
productions, likely to prove useful, but because of their uniform
abuse of those who go to test the reality of these alleged
phenomena, and who come away incredulous. There is an old homely
proverb concerning pitch and its adhesive character, which we hope
this significant circumstance may impress on many minds. The writer
of these lines has lately heard overmuch touching young men of
promise in the imaginative arts, "towards whom" Martyr Mediums
assisting at evening parties feel themselves "drawn". It may be a
hint to such young men to stick to their own drawing, as being of a
much better kind, and to leave Martyr Mediums alone in their glory.

As there is a good deal in these books about "lying spirits", we
will conclude by putting a hypothetical case. Supposing that a
Medium (Martyr or otherwise) were established for a time in the
house of an English gentleman abroad; say, somewhere in Italy.
Supposing that the more marvellous the Medium became, the more
suspicious of him the lady of the house became. Supposing that the
lady, her distrust once aroused, were particularly struck by the
Medium's exhibiting a persistent desire to commit her, somehow or
other, to the disclosure of the manner of the death, to him unknown,
of a certain person. Supposing that she at length resolved to test
the Medium on this head, and, therefore, on a certain evening
mentioned a wholly supposititious manner of death (which was not the
real manner of death, nor anything at all like it) within the range
of his listening ears. And supposing that a spirit presently
afterwards rapped out its presence, claiming to be the spirit of
that deceased person, and claiming to have departed this life in
that supposititious way. Would that be a lying spirit? Or would it
he a something else, tainting all that Medium's statements and
suppressions, even if they were not in themselves of a manifestly
outrageous character?

Charles Dickens

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