SEANCES, CIRCLES, SITTING FOR SPIRITS    page 18 

                                                                     

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From There is no death

CHAPTER XXV
The Doctor

I WONDER if it has struck any of my readers as strange that, during all these manifestations in England and America, I had never seen the form, nor heard the voice, of my late father, Captain Marryat. Surely if these various media lived by trickery and falsehood, and wished successfully to deceive me, some of them would have thought of trying to represent a man so well known, and whose appearance was so familiar. Other celebrated men and women have come back and been recognized from their portraits only, but, though I have sat at numbers of seances given for me alone, and at which I have been the principal person, my father has never reappeared at any. Especially, if these manifestations are all fraud, might this have been expected in America. Captain Marryat's name is still a household word amongst the Americans, and his works largely read and appreciated, and wherever I appeared amongst them I was cordially welcomed on that account. When once I had acknowledged my identity and my views on Spiritualism, every medium in Boston and New York had ample time to get up an imitation of my father for my benefit had they desired to do so. But never has he appeared to me; never have I been told that he was present. Twice only in the whole course of my experience have I received the slightest sign from him, and on those occasions he sent me a message--once through Mr. Fletcher (as I have related), and once through his grandson and my son, Frank Marryat. That time he told me he should never appear to me and I need never expect him. But since the American media knew nothing of this strictly private communication,

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and I had seen before I parted with them, seventeen of my friends and relations, none of whom (except Florence, Powles, and Emily,) I had ever seen in England, it is at the least strange, considering his popularity (and granted their chicanery) that Captain Marryat was not amongst them.

As soon as I became known at the Berry's seances several people introduced themselves to me, and amongst others Mrs. Isabella Beecher Hooker, the sister of Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher. She was delighted to find me so interested in Spiritualism, and anxious I should sit with a friend of her's, a great medium whose name became so rubbed out in my pencil notes, that I am not sure if it was Doctor Carter, or Carteret, and therefore I shall speak of him here as simply the doctor. The doctor was bound to start for Washington the following afternoon, so Mrs. Hooker asked me to breakfast with her the next morning, by which time she would have found out if he could spare us an hour before he set out on his journey. When I arrived at her house I heard that he had very obligingly offered to give me a complimentary seance at eleven o'clock, so, as soon as we had finished breakfast, we set out for his abode. I found the doctor was quite a young man, and professed himself perfectly ignorant on the subject of Spiritualism. He said to me, I don't know and I don't profess to know what or who it is that appears to my sitters whilst I am asleep. I know nothing of what goes on, except from hearsay. I don't know whether the forms that appear are spirits, or transformations, or materializations. You must judge of that for yourself. There is one peculiarity in my seances. They take place in utter darkness. When the apparitions (or whatever you choose to call them) appear, they must bring their own lights or you won't see them. I have no conductor to my seances. If whatever comes can't announce itself it must remain unknown. But I think you will find that, as a rule, they can shift for themselves. This is my seance room.

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As he spoke he led us into an unfurnished bedroom; I say bedroom, because it was provided with the dressing closet fitted with pegs, usual to all bedrooms in America. This closet the doctor used as his cabinet. The door was left open, and there was no curtain hung before it. The darkness he sat in rendered that unnecessary. The bedroom was darkened by two frames, covered with black American cloth, which fitted into the windows. The doctor, having locked the bedroom door, delivered the key to me. He then requested us to throw our influence about it. As we did so we naturally examined it. It was only a large cupboard. It had no window and no door, except that which led into the room, and no furniture except a cane-bottomed chair. When he returned to the seance room, the doctor saw us comfortably established in two armchairs before he put up the black frames to exclude the light. The room was then pitch dark, and the doctor had to grope his way to his cabinet. Mrs. Hooker and I sat for some minutes in silent expectation. Then we heard the voice of a negress,singing darkey songs, and my friend told me it was that of Rosa, the doctor's control. Presently Rosa was heard to be expostulating with, or encouraging some one, and faint lights, like sparks from a fire, could be seen flitting about the open door of the cabinet. Then the lights seemed to congregate together, and cluster about a tall form, draped in some misty material, standing just outside the cabinet. Can't you tell us who you are? asked Mrs. Hooker. You must tell your name, you know, interposed Rosa, whereupon a low voice said, I am Janet E. Powles.

Now this was an extraordinary coincidence. I had seen Mrs. Powles, the mother of my friend John Powles, only once when she travelled from Liverpool to London to meet me on my return from India, and hear all the particulars of her son's death. But she had continued to correspond with me and show me kindness till the day of her own death, and as she had a daughter of the same name, she always signed herself

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Janet E. Powles. Even had I expected to see the old lady, and published the fact in the Boston papers, that initial E. would have settled the question of her identity in my mind.

Mrs. Powles', I exclaimed, how good of you to come and see me. Johnny has helped me to come, she replied. He is so happy at having met you again. He has been longing for it for so many years, and I have come to thank you for making him happy. (Here was another coincidence. John Powles was never called anything but Powles by my husband and myself. But his mother had retained the childish name of Johnny, and I could remember how it used to vex him when she used it in her letters to him. He would say to me, If she would only call me John or Jack, or anything but Johnny.) I replied, I may not leave my seat to go to you. Will you not come to me? For the doctor had requested us not to leave our seats, but to insist on the spirits approaching us. Mrs. Powles said, I cannot come out further into the room today. I am too weak. But you shall see me. The lights then appeared to travel about her face and dress till they became stationary, and she was completely revealed to view under the semblance of her earthly likeness. She smiled and said, We were all at the Opera House on Thursday night, and rejoiced at your success. Johnny was so proud of you. Many of your friends were there beside ourselves.

I then saw that, unlike the spirits at Miss Berry's, the form of Mrs. Powles was draped in a kind of filmy white, over a dark dress. All the spirits that appeared with the doctor were so clothed, and I wondered if the filmy substance had anything to do with the lights, which looked like electricity. An incident which occurred further on seemed to confirm my idea. When Mrs. Powles had gone, which we guessed by the extinguishing of the lights, the handsome face and form of Harry Montagu appeared. I had known him well in England before he took his fatal journey to America, and

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could never be mistaken in his sweet smile and fascinating manner. He did not come further than the door, either, but he was standing within twelve or fourteen feet of us for all that. He only said, Good luck to you. We can't lose an interest in the old profession, you know, any more than in the old people. I wish you'd come and help me, Harry, I answered. Oh, I do! he said, brightly; several of us do. We are all links of the same chain. Half the inspiration in the world comes from those who have gone before. But I must go! I'm getting crowded out. Here's Ada waiting to see you. Goodbye! And as his light went out, the sweet face of Adelaide Neilson appeared in his stead. She said, You wept when you heard of my death; and yet you never knew me. How was that? Did I weep? I answered, half forgetting; if so, it must have been because I thought it so sad that a woman so young, and beautiful, and gifted as you were, should leave the world so soon. Oh no! not sad, she answered brightly; glorious! glorious! I would not be back again for worlds. Have you ever seen your grave?'' I asked her. She shook her head. What are graves to us? Only cupboards, where you keep our cast-off clothes. You don't ask me what the world says about you, now, I said to her. And I don't care, she answered. Don't you forget me! Good-bye!

She was succeeded by a spirit who called herself Charlotte Cushman,and who spoke to me kindly about my professional life. Mrs. Hooker told me that, to the best of her knowledge, none of these spirits had ever appeared under the doctor's mediumship before. But now came out Florence, dancing into the room-literally dancing, holding out in both bands the skirt of a dress, which looked as if it were made of the finest muslin or lace, and up and down which fireflies were darting with marvellous rapidity. She looked as if clothed in electricity, and infinitely well pleased with herself. Look! she exclaimed; look at my dress! isn't it lovely?

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Look at the fire! The more I shake it, the more fire comes! oh, Mother! if you could only have a dress like this for the stage, what a sensation you would make! And she shook her skirts about, till the fire seemed to set a light to every part of her drapery, and she looked as if she were in flames. I observed, I never knew you to take so much interest in your dress before, darling. Oh, it isn't the dress, she replied; it's the fire! And she really appeared as charmed with the novel experience as a child with a new toy.

As she left us, a dark figure advanced into the room, and ejaculated , Ma! ma! I recognized at once the peculiar intonation and mode of address of my step-son, Francis Lean, with whom, since he had announced his own death to me, I had had no communication, except through trance mediumship. Is that you, my poor boy? I said. Come closer to me. You are not afraid of me, are you? O, no! Ma! of course not, only I was at the Opera House, you know, with the others, and that piece you recited, Ma--- you know the one---it's all true, Ma---and I don't want you to go back to England. Stay here, Ma---stay here! I knew perfectly well to what the lad alluded, but I would not enter upon it before a stranger. So I only said, You forget my children, Francis what would they say if I never went home again. This seemed to puzzle him but after a while he answered, Then go to them, Ma; go to them. All this time he had been talking in the dark, and I only knew him by the sound of his voice. I said, Are you not going to show yourself to me, Francis. It is such a long time since we met. Never since you saw me at the docks. That was me, Ma, and at Brighton, too, only you didn't half believe it till you heard I was gone. Tell me the truth of the accident, Francis, I asked him. Was there foul play? No, he replied, but we got quarrelling about her you know, and fighting, and that's how the boat upset. It was my fault, Ma, as much as anybody else's.

How was it your body was never found? It got

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dragged down in an undercurrent, Ma. It was out at Cape Horn before they offered a reward for it. Then he began to light up, and as soon as the figure was illuminated I saw that the boy was dressed in jumpers and jersey of dark woollen material, such as they wear in the merchant service in hot climates, but over it all---his head and shoulders included was wound a quantity of flimsy white material I have before mentioned. I can't bear this stuff. It makes me look like a girl, said Francis, and with his hands he tore it off. Simultaneously the illumination ceased, and he was gone. I called him by name several times, but no sound came out of the darkness. It seemed as though the veiling which he disliked preserved his materialization, and that, with its protection removed, he had dissolved again.

When another dark figure came out of the cabinet, and approaching me, knelt at my feet, I supposed it to be Francis come back again, and laying my hand on the bent head, I asked, Is that you again, dear?' A strange voice answered, with the words, Forgive! forgive! Forgive? I repeated, What have I to forgive? The attempt to murder your husband in 1856. Arthur Yelverton Brooking has forgiven. He is here with me now. Will you forgive too ? Certainly, I replied, I have forgiven long ago. You expiated your sin upon the gallows. You could do more.

The figure sprung into a standing position, and lit up from head to foot, when I saw the two men standing together, Arthur Yelverton Brooking and the Madras sepoy who had murdered him. I never saw anything more brilliant than the appearance of the sepoy. He was dressed completely in white, in the native costume, with a white puggree or turban on his head. But his puggree was flashing with jewels---strings of them were hung round his neck--- and his sash held a magnificent jewelled dagger. You must please remember that I was not alone, but that this sight was beheld by Mrs. Hooker as well as myself (to whom it was as unexpected 

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as to her), and that I know she would testify to it today. And now to explain the reason for these unlooked-for apparitions.

In 1856 my husband, then Lieutenant Ross-Church, was Adjutant of the 12th Madras Native Infantry, and Arthur Yelverton Brooking, who had for some time done duty with the 12th was adjutant of another native corps, both of which were stationed at Madras. Lieutenant Church was not a favourite with his men, by whom he was considered a martinet, and one day when there had been a review on the island at Madras, and the two adjutants were riding home together, a sepoy of the 12th fired at Lieutenant Church's back with the intent to kill him, but unfortunately the bullet struck Lieutenant Brooking instead, who, after lingering for twelve hours, died, leaving a young wife and a baby behind him. For this offence the sepoy was tried and hung, and on his trial the whole truth of course came out. This then was the reason that the spirits of the murdered and the murderer came like friends, because the injury had never been really intended for Brooking.

When I said that I had forgiven, the sepoy became (as I have told) a blaze of light, and then knelt again and kissed the hem of my dress. As he knelt there he became covered, or heaped over, with a mass of the same filmy drapery as enveloped Francis, and when he rose again he was standing in a cloud. He gathered an end of it, and laying it on my head he wound me and himself round and round with it, until we were bound up in a kind of cocoon. Mrs. Hooker, who watched the whole proceeding, told me afterwards that she had never seen anything like it before---that she could distinctly see the dark face and the white face close together all the time beneath the drapery, and that I was as brightly illuminated as the spirit. Of this I was not aware myself, but his brightness almost dazzled me.

Let me observe also that I have been in the East Indies,

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and within a few yards' length of sepoys, and that I am sure I could never have been wrapt in the same cloth with a mortal one without having been made painfully aware of it in more ways than one. The spirit did not unwind me again, although the winding process had taken him some time. He whisked off the wrapping with one pull, and I stood alone once more. I asked him by what name I should call him, and he said, The Spirit of Light. He then expressed a wish to magnetize something I wore, so as to be the better able to approach me. I gave him a brooch containing John Powles' hair, which his mother had given me after his death, and he carried it back into the cabinet with him. It was a valuable brooch of onyx and pearls, and I was hoping my eastern friend would not carry it too far, when I found it had been replaced and fastened at my throat without my being aware of the circumstance. Arthur Yelverton Brooking had disappeared before this, and neither of them came back again. These were not all the spirits that came under the doctor's mediumship during that seance, but only those whom I had known and recognized. Several of Mrs. Hooker's friends appeared and some of the doctor's controls, but as I have said before, they could not help my narrative, and so I omit to describe them. The seance lasted altogether two hours, and I was very grateful to the doctor for giving me the opportunity to study an entirely new phase of the science to me.

 

 

 

 

 

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