Interview with the spiritual medium, the next evening.
(B) Good evening. Are you ready to go with me? (A) Yes, but I tell you frankly I am a perfect skeptic in all this sort of humbug. If there is anything after death, I do not believe our friends can come back on earth and communicate with the living, but I am willing to go just out of curiosity. (B) That is right. Here is the house, let us go in.
We enter and are seated by a table. The medium tears up some pieces of paper in small strips and requests us to write the name of some of our friends who have died. He then leaves the room. We both write a few names. The medium comes in and says, I see the spirit of your grandmother. A starts and says, what is her Christian name? The medium answers, She seems to say it is Jane. Is that her name? (A) I believe not. Other communications followed to A which were correct.
The medium says to B, I see a spirit who wishes to communicate with you. Will you please to ask him what his name is. I ask the name and my mother comes through the raps. The medium asks if it is right. I say, yes. Another comes and another, till four or five have made themselves known. All spell out their names by the raps. Finally someone raps that they will write their name on the medium's arm, and the name of my mother appears. Then comes another spirit who seems very glad to communicate with me and spells out the name of G. Q. I ask if it is my son and receive the answer yes. The medium says, Your son wants to give you a test. He hands me a piece of paper and a pencil and requests me to place them under the table. I do as I am requested but with the privilege of looking at the paper. But the medium would not grant it. So I sit up to the table and lose sight of the paper for some seconds and when I look again the paper was gone. The medium says, Perhaps it is in your hat or pocket. This diverts my mind from the floor and when I look there again I see a piece of paper folded up. I examine it and the name of my son was written on the paper. We then leave.
After leaving I say to A, What do you think of that? (A) I can't say. It upsets all my philosophy. (B) How? (A) I never believed in anything after the death of the body, but this looks mysterious. (B) Why? (A) Because there are some things which I cannot account for. No one knew what was told through the medium except myself and my friend who is dead. (B) Well, because you can't account for it, it must be spirits. (A) No, I won't say it is spirits, but these are the facts that I cannot get over. (B) Can you get over my telling you about your knee? (A) No, but that is a different case. I never told anyone what was communicated to me. (B) Did you ever tell anyone that you had a pain in your knee? (A) But I cannot see the similarity of the two cases. (B) Suppose I explain. (A) I do not see how it can be explained. I went in, a perfect skeptic, and had not the least idea or thought of my friend, for I had not thought of him for years, and when he rapped out his name and told me of a fact that no living person besides myself and him knew, how could I doubt it? The fact speaks for itself. (B) Yes I know that, but the accounting for it is the thing we are after. (A) I don't care how you account for it. There is the fact. Call it spirits or works of the devil. I don't care. The fact is all I want. (B) You get excited and run after the shadow and forget the substance. If you will listen and not get too much excited I think I can explain the phenomenon on a principle of truth that you will admit. (A) I can't see any principle that explains a fact that explains itself. Here you sit and the raps come, and you hear from your friend who is dead. This you know and it needs no explanation. Your explanation only makes it darker. I know I had a friend who died so, and so here come the raps telling the whole story. (B) Then, why deny the fact that the spirit came back and told the story? (A) I cannot account for it on any other grounds. (B) So I thought. (A) Can you? (B) Yes, but you cannot understand any more than you could about the pain in your knee. You know just about as much about one as the other, and when you understand one you will the other. (A) Well, make me understand how these raps come. (B) If you cannot understand how I can tell your thoughts, it would be impossible to make you understand any physical experiment, from the fact that the power which makes the thoughts makes the raps. (A) I can't see how it is done. (B) I will try to explain. You know I told your thoughts? Well, thought is nothing but rarefied velocity. When I say “nothing” I do not mean it exactly, but the weight is so light of itself that it comes next to nothing, like electricity. What is lost in weight is supplied by velocity. You bring thought into velocity, for every person knows that they do think. If thought is a chemical action, it is set in motion by the will or belief, and you can see how by the belief it can be formed under a certain wisdom for good or bad results, for man is like clay in the hands of the potter to be worked according to his own will. When a man thinks, he shows mechanical skill in putting his thoughts to some account. So an idea is formed. This is the effect of thought governed by some will superior to the thought or idea. To illustrate. Take a rich man of ordinary talent but selfish. Such a man can create a great many small minds from the fact that his power is in his money, but his motive governs his power, although everything seems to give the appearance of disinterestedness. Still everything acts for his own benefit. This is done by the knowledge of human nature. He sees that man, like dough, can be molded into anything; for when it gets a little dry, all that is necessary is to moisten it by that substance that can be taken up and absorbed. This puts the clay in good working order.
Now spiritualism, religion, and politics and every kind of phenomenon are brought about upon this one fact that one person acts on another for good or evil. (A) Suppose you are right. How can it be helped? It has always been and always will be. (B) I will admit it always has been and that it always will be until men's true motives are known. (A) Well, neither you nor I can change man. (B) That is a fact, but there is another fact that man is not aware of that is working in the world of man's mind that will bring about the very thing I am talking about. It is not an opinion, so I shall only show the principle and the problem works itself out, not by any supreme wisdom but by a chemical change that is taking place in the minds all the time. So changes must take place. Men's minds will run to and fro and knowledge will increase, but wisdom is not known. Parties and theories spring up, but these are the beginning. Men attach their senses to the change, and their lives being in their senses, principle is not known. To illustrate the change of mind, I will take this rebellion. Before it broke out, the minds of men had been worked up by the leaders to this pitch that the South were set against the administration party. This was brought about by the leading men, North and South, belonging to the Democratic Party, for sake of the loaves and fishes. To bring this to perfection, the North must set the people to quarreling about slavery and the South would make a handle of their arguments to convince the people that the North wanted to destroy their “peculiar institution”; this would unite the South and divide the North. Of course a fire cannot be kindled without some kindling and that was supplied by a few fanatics at the North and South, so the fire burned till all the country or mind was on fire. Meanwhile the Democratic Party was kept in power by these two elements: a united South, held by the false idea of slavery, and a divided North. Finally the North applied reason or water, cooling the flame of the northern masses and Lincoln came in president. Here is the state of the public mind. All the above is past and now the end cometh. Yet in all that has passed there has not been any wisdom and neither will there be in what is to take place, but there is a law of action and reaction and upon this ground I have my belief. So I will predict as the country now stands, it is, so far as observation goes, just where it was when Lincoln was elected, only to the natural eye it looks a little darker. But I see the light and it seems to me it will come in this way. The Democratic Party will split at the North and assume a new name, perhaps the Union or people's party, and out of this party a child must come which will devour the Republican Party almost. It will try to hold out the olive of peace to the South, but the Republicans won't agree. The South will grow wroth and a hatred will spring up and the democracy will unite with the Republicans under a new name. So the North will be united with the exception of a small party, and their word will go forth, Union forever. And if slavery stand in the way it must come down, and it will, for the North in their zeal will employ every means available to accomplish its end. So slavery dies without even a watcher to close its dying eyes, but its death must come through the elements of the Democratic Party, and if Mr. Lincoln is not the one, then another will rise up. But I think it will sprout from Abraham, for in him and in his seed shall all the earth be blest.
Sept. 4th, 1860