Spiritualism, a term formerly used to designate the doctrines and religious life of a class of mystics who professed to be under the sensible guidance of the Divine Spirit, and who were distinguished by a habit of spiritualizing the Sacred Scriptures. Jacob Boehm, Miguel de Molinos, Mme. Guyon, and Mme. de Bourignon, though not all ostensibly of the same communion, are representatives of the somewhat numerous class of religionists, particularly of the 17th century, to whose teachings and practice the appellation of spiritualism has been applied. Latterly, however, the word has been employed exclusively to designate the belief of those who regard certain accredited phenomena, physical and mental, as the result of the action of spirits, influencing and using persons of a peculiarly sensitive organization, known as mediums. In France Allan Kardec (the pseudonyme of Leon Hippolyte Denisart Rivail), who specially investigated the American phenomena, defined it as follows: "Properly speaking, spiritualism is the opposite of materialism. Whoever believes he has within him something distinguished from matter is a spiritualist; but it may not follow that he believes in the existence of spirits, or in their communications with the visible world.
To designate this latter belief we employ, in place of the words spiritualism, spiritualist, the words spiritism, spiritist." Spiritualists assert that phenomena nearly identical with the manifestations of modern spiritualism appear in many ancient histories, in the Delphic oracles, in the lives of seers and clairvoyants, in the facts of witchcraft in all ages, in the Ted-worth occurrences related by Glanvill (1661), in the Camisard marvels in France (1686-1707), in the occurrences in the Wesley family (1716), in Swedenborg's alleged full and open communication with the spirit world and daily converse with spirits and angels more than a century ago, in the records of mesmerism and somnambulism, in the traditions of countless families, and in the innumerable published accounts of remarkable dreams, predictions, and physical phenomena. - Clairvoyance appears to have played an important part in the introduction of modern spiritualism, and a historical sketch of the latter, to be complete, must include some notice of the former. Jung-Stilling (1740-1817), in his writings on pneumatology, noticed that clairvoyants, during their more exalted states of ecstasis, professed, with what seemed to him satisfactory | evidence, to be in converse with invisible intelligences.
The same claims to open intercourse with the spiritual world, with many phenomenal evidences which he regarded as establishing their truth, were afterward noted by Dr. Justinus Kerner, and detailed at large in his biography (1829) of one of his patients, Frederica Hauffe, more familiarly known as the seeress of Prevorst, who is said to have | been in a magnetic'state for most of the time I during the last seven years of her life, describing the persons and repeating the language of what she represented to be spirits, and being often accompanied with mysterious rapping sounds. In 1830 Bertrand and other students of mesmerism came upon the borders of spiritualism. The correspondence (1836) between the French mesmerists Billot and De-leuze shows that they were aware of some of the marvels asserted by the later spiritualists. Billot writes that he and his co-sectaries had both seen and felt the spirits. De-leuze declared that the possibility of communicating with spirits had been proved to him, and he also cites the testimony of a distinguished physician concerning clairvoyants who " cause material objects to present themselves." Many instances of alleged intercourse with the invisible world subsequently occurred in France, Germany, and other parts of Europe, and in the United States. In the spring of 1843 the societies of Shakers at New Lebanon and Watervliet, N. Y., and several other communities of that fraternity, almost simultaneously became the subjects of strange psychological experiences, during which certain of the members would lose all personal consciousness, while influences purporting to be the spirits of persons of different nations, who had lived in the world in different ages, took possession of their bodies, and spoke through their vocal organs.
None of the phenomena of clairvoyance were more remarkable than those in the case of Andrew Jackson Davis. (See Davis, Andrew Jackson.) Thrown into-an abnormal state of mind and body by the process of magnetism, this young man, while professing to be in immediate converse with the spiritual world, dictated a large octavo volume, which was published under the title of " The Principles of Nature, her Divine Revelations, and a Voice to Mankind.*' In a portion of this book that was dictated in 1845 (pp. 675-'6) the entranced author distinctly predicted that the communication with the spiritual world would ere long assume "the form of a living demonstration." It is noteworthy that, although Davis was almost wholly uneducated, his first and subsequent works, conceived when ho was in a clairvoyant state, or while more or less illuminated, as he claims, by the influence of invisible spirits, are written in correct and oftentimes elegant language. - The "spirit-rapping" phenomenon began in March, 1848, in the family of John D. Fox, in Hydeville, Wayne co., N. Y. Besides Mr. and Mrs. Fox, only their two youngest children, Margaret, 12 years old, and Kate, 9 years old, were at home when the family was startled by mysterious rappings that were heard nightly upon the floor of one of the bedrooms, and sometimes in other parts of the house.
They endeavored to trace the sounds to their cause, but failed. It is also alleged that a patter of footsteps was sometimes heard, the bedclothes were pulled off, and Kate felt a cold • hand passed over her face. On the night of March 31, when the raps occurred, Kate imitated them by snapping her fingers, and the raps responded by the same number of sounds. Kate then said : "Now do as I do; count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6," at the same time striking her hands together. The same number of raps responded, and at similar intervals. The mother of the girls then said: "Count 10;" and 10 distinct raps were heard : " Count 15," and that number of sounds followed. She then said : " Tell us the age of Cathy [the youngest daughter] by rapping one for each year," and the number of years was rapped correctly. In like manner, the ages of each of four other and then absent children were by request indicated by this invisible agent. Mrs. Fox asked if it was a human being that was making that noise, and if it was, to manifest it by making the same noise. There was no sound. She then said: "If you are a spirit, make two distinct sounds." Two raps were accordingly heard.
Three weeks afterward, it is said, it was made known by the raps that the body of a murdered man lay buried in the cellar, and the exact spot was indicated where parts of a human skeleton were actually found. The name of the murdered man was given, and it was learned that five years before such a person had visited the house and had suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. After a while the raps occurred only in the presence of the two sisters, Margaret and Kate. The family having removed to Rochester, the raps accompanied them, and new phenomena, including Clairvoyance and the movement of ponderable bodies without appreciable agency, were developed. In November, 1849, the Fox girls appeared in a public hall, and the phenomena were freely manifested and subjected to many tests; and a committee appointed for their investigation, after continuing their experiments there and elsewhere for several days, reported that they were unable to trace them to any mundane agency. In May, 1850, the Fox girls arrived in New York; the alleged spiritual manifestations became the subject of exten-. sive newspaper and conversational discussion; their facts were published far and wide; " mediums," through whom they were said to occur, sprang up in different parts of the country, and were multiplied by hundreds and almost by thousands.
In that year D. D. Home (see Home, Daniel Dunglas), at the age of 17, became known as a medium, and in the five following years he attained a wide-spread reputation, especially for his materialization, levitation, and other phenomena far surpassing the previous manifestations of ordinary mediums. Some of the most remarkable manifestations through his mediumship occurred in Springfield, Mass., and in Hartford, Conn., at the residences of Henry C. Deming, Isaac W. Stuart, Alfred E. Burr, and others. In 1855 he went abroad, and gave sittings with manifestations in the presence of Napoleon III. in Paris and Alexander II. in St. Petersburg; and both emperors gave him large presents in jewels and money. Nearly contemporary with Home, and since his publicity as a medium, many others in the United States and in Europe have obtained an almost equal celebrity for materializing manifestations. Among the mediums of the alleged spiritual manifestations there have been representatives from all classes and conditions of mankind.
The alleged mediums have been classified as rapping mediums; mediums for tipping and turning tables by a slight touch of the finger; for the movement of ponderable bodies without contact; for the production of phosphorescent lights in a dark room; for playing on musical instruments in a manner beyond their ordinary abilities; for involuntary writing, and for writing independent of any apparent aid from human hands; for direct spirit speech, and for impressional speaking and personation; for stigmata; for the diagnosis and healing of disease; for levi-tation; for producing drawings and colored pictures; for photographing spirits; for the introduction of flowers, fruits, vegetables, and many other things into closed rooms; for the development of other mediums; and finally, what spiritualists consider the crowning marvel of all the manifestations, for the materialization of spirit forms identical in appearance with those of deceased persons. Indeed, the powers that are claimed for mediums are protean in variety. By the raps and tipping of tables, and by the control of the medium's organs to write and speak, the spirits are supposed to express their own peculiar intelligence in a degree of perfection proportioned to the development and passivity of the medium.
It is averred that persons while under the spiritual afflatus have often spoken in foreign tongues which they had never learned; and writings in languages to them unknown have been produced in their presence, as we are told, by invisible hands. To all these modes of manifestation there are countless witnesses of high character and intelligence. In the "London Quarterly Journal of Science " for January, 1874, William Crookes, the editor, classifies some of the phenomena exhibited in repeated experiments with the mediums D. D. Home and Kate Fox (afterward Mrs. Jencken) as follows: 1, the movement of heavy bodies with contact, but without mechanical exertion; 2, the phenomena of percussive and other allied sounds; 3, the alteration of weight of bodies; 4, movements of heavy bodies when at a distance from the medium; 5, the rising of tables and chairs off the ground without contact with any person; 6, the levitation of human beings; 7, movements of various small articles without contact with any person; 8, luminous appearances; 9, the appearance of hands, either self-luminous or visible by ordinary light; 10, direct writing; 11, phantom forms and faces; 12, special instances which seem to point to the agency of an exterior intelligence; 13, miscellaneous occurrences of a complex character.
The exhibitions which Mr. Crookes and a few friends witnessed were mostly in his own house, in the light; and it is said that the existence of an unexplained force, with its amount and direction, was accurately tested by means of an ingenious apparatus. In the spring of 1874 Mr. Crookes with others began the investigation of phenomena exhibited in London through the mediumship of Florence Cook, afterward Mrs. Corner. It is asserted that in a series of sittings extending through several months a female spirit form, temporarily materialized and not distinguishable from a human being, repeatedly came from a cabinet into the light, conversed, sang, submitted to various tests, and then disappeared. Mr. Crookes, who took several photographs of the figure, says: "It was a common thing for the seven or eight of us in the laboratory to see Miss Cook and ' Katie' (the spirit) at the same time under the full blaze of the electric light." On one occasion Mr. Varley, the electrician, by means of a galvanic battery and cable-testing apparatus, showed to the satisfaction of the spectators that the medium was inside of the cabinet while the supposed spirit form was visible and moving outside.
Two years previously the phenomena of materialization appeared at Moravia, N. Y., where Mrs. Mary Andrews was the medium; and Thomas R. Hazard of Rhode Island, the Rev. R. S. Pope of Hyan-nis, Mass., and other respectable persons present at these sittings, declared that they saw and conversed with the spirits of their deceased relatives and friends. Numerous credible witnesses, prominent among them Henry S. Olcott of New York, who devoted weeks to special investigation, testify that similar phenomena occurred in 1874-'5 at the sittings with the Eddy brothers in Chittenden, Vt. Mr. Mott of Memphis, Mo., Mrs. Anna Stewart of Terre Haute, Ind., and Mrs. Markee of Havana, 1ST. Y., have the reputation of being remarkable mediums for the materialization phenomena. The fraudulent character of some exhibitions has been exposed, notably of that of the Holmeses in Philadelphia in 1874, in which the supposed spirit form called " Katie King" appeared. To this exhibition Robert Dale Owen at first gave full credence, but he ultimately withdrew his confidence, though subsequent investigations threw doubt on the charges of imposture through a confederate. Almost from the time of the first sittings the phenomena of materialized spirit hands and feet have been common.
Instruments have been floated around and spirit voices heard, phenomena supposed to be produced by the exercise of the materializing power. But notwithstanding the accumulated assumed testimony in regard to spirit photographs and materializations, spiritualists themselves are not yet unanimous in admitting them among what they believe to be fully verified phenomena. - Besides the thousands in every grade of society, throughout the civilized world, who are more or less influenced by a belief in the supernatural origin of the manifestations, many persons in Europe and America, distinguished in the walks of science, philosophy, literature, and statesmanship, have become avowed converts, or have admitted the phenomena so far as to believe in a new force not recognized by science, or have testified that the manifestations they have witnessed are not capable of explanation on the ground of imposture, coincidence, or mistake, or at least have considered the subject worthy of serious attention and careful consideration.
Among these are: Alexander Aksak off, Robert Chambers, Hiram Corson, Augustus De Morgan, J. W. Edmonds, Dr. Elliotson, I. H. von Fichte, Camillo Flammarion, Hermann Gold-schmidt, Dr. Hoffle, Robert Hare, Lord Lynd-hurst, Robert and Robert Dale Owen, W. M. Thackeray, T. A. Trollope, Alfred Russel Wallace, Nicholas Wagner, and Archbishop Whately. As the organized bodies of spiritualists include but a small proportion of those who wholly or partially accept these phenomena, it is impossible to make even an approximate estimate of their numbers. While spiritualism has its converts from every religious denomination, no small proportion of its advocates are from the ranks of those who previously doubted or totally disbelieved the immortality of the soul, and who affirm that they carry their skeptical tendencies into the investigation of this subject. On matters of speculative theology, there seems to be among them the widest latitude of opinion, though a majority of them perhaps are in their speculations inclined to what may be termed a sublimated naturalism.
They tell us that it is not the object of the spirits to teach theological dogmas as by any authority superior to that of man, but rather, by the mental and physical phenomena incidentally presented in the course of their manifestations, to furnish those elements of reasoning from which each one may work out his own conclusions; while we are told that the main object of their manifestations is to furnish actual demonstration of the immortality of the soul and of some of the conditions and laws of the post mortem existence. - The books relating to spiritual manifestations may be reckoned by hundreds. The following are a few of the more important: J. Kerner, Die Seherin von Prevorst (Stuttgart, 1829; translated by Mrs. Crowe, London, 1845); Allan Kardec, Le livre des esprits (Paris, 1853),with a supplementary work, Le livre des mediums (1863), the first translated into English by Anna Blackwell under the title, " The Spirits' Book" (Boston, 1875), and the second by Emma A. "Wood, "The Book of Mediums" (Boston, 1875); S. B. Brittan and B. W. Richmond, "A Discussion of the Facts and Philosophy of Ancient and Modern Spiritualism" (New York, 1853); John W. Edmonds and G. T. Dexter, " Spiritualism " (2 vols., New York, 1854-'5); Charles Linton, " The Healing of the Nations," with an introduction and appendix by N. P. Tallmadge (New York, 1855); Hudson Tuttle, " Scenes in the Spirit World, or Life in the Spheres" (New York, 1855); E. W. Capron, "Modern Spiritualism, its Facts and Fanaticisms " (Boston, 1855); Robert Hare, "Experimental Investigations of the Spirit Manifestations " (New York, 1856); Louis de Guldenstubbe, La realite des esprits et le phe-nomene merveilleux de l'ecriture directe demon-tres (Paris, 1857); Catharine Crowe, "Spiritualism and the Age we Live in " (London, 1859); Robert Dale Owen, "Footfalls on the Boundary of Another "World" (Philadelphia, 1860), and "The Debatable Land between this World and the Next" (New York, 1872); D. D. Home, "Incidents of my.
Life" (London, Paris, and New York, 1862;' a second volume with the samo title, 1872, and a third announced in 1875); Mrs. A. De Morgan, " From Matter to Spirit" (London, 1863); J. E. do Mirville, Question des esprits et de leurs mani-festations diverses (Paris, 1863); William How-itt, " History of the Supernatural in all Ages and Nations" (London, 1863); C. W. Upham, " Salem Witchcraft, and a History of Opinions on Witchcraft and Kindred Subjects " (2 vols., Boston, 1867); Epes Sargent, "Planchette, or the Despair of Science" (Boston, 1869), and " The Proof Palpable of Immortality" (1875); Emma Hardingo, " Modern American Spiritualism " (New York, 1870); William Crookes, " Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism " (London, 1874); A. R, Wallace, "On Miracles and Modern Spiritualism, three Essays " (London, 1875); and H. S. Olcott, "People from the Other World" (Hartford, 1875). With the exception of these and a few other books, the best portion of the literature of spiritualism is to be found in the various periodicals devoted to that subject, the number of which in 1875, in Europe, America, and Australia, was at least 60.