Hiram Mattison.

Spirit rapping unveiled : an exposé of the origin, history, theology, and philosophy of certain alleged communications from the spirit world by means of spirit rapping, medium writing, physical demonstrations, etc. online

. (page 1 of 17)
Online LibraryHiram MattisonSpirit rapping unveiled : an exposé of the origin, history, theology, and philosophy of certain alleged communications from the spirit world by means of spirit rapping, medium writing, physical demonstrations, etc. → online text (page 1 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



I II! nil

B E fi37 3MT












f-^. I















The John J. and Hanna M. McManus

Morris N. and Chesley V. Young











E&lfj) £llustratfon0.







Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1863,


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern
District of New York.






The design of the following pages is to expose one of the most re-
markable delusions that has ever prevailed in any age or country.
In all the annals of the past we find nothing at all comparable with
modern "spirit-rapping," It is the grand climax of soothsaying, as-
trology, witchcraft, phrenology, mesmerism, clairvoyance, psychology,
Fourierisra, Millerism, Morraonism, and all other superstitions, delu-
sions, and isms that ever have been, or probably ever will be.

Appealing to that love of the marvelous, for which, as a nation, we
are somewhat distinguished, and also to our natural affection for the
departed ; and not having been regarded hitherto as really worthy of
refutation ; the delusion has gone on from one step to another, and from
year to year, till it has undermined the faith of thousands, and has
already ruined its hundreds for time and for eternity. And yet some
continue to sa}', " Let it alone ; it will soon die of itself J^ But are such
counsels wise ? Why is it not dead already ? Is silence the best anti-*
dote for the spread of error ? Especially, are watchmen placed upon
the walls of Zion, and pledged to "banish and drive away all erroneona
and strange doctrines contrary to God's Word," to discharge their duty
by a studied silence ? Alas for us and for the cause of God, when such
comes to be the general policy of Christian ministers!

" I am perfectly aware," says Rev. Dr. Clark, of Hartford, " that t»
ascribe so much importance to such a subject as this, will lead those
who know nothing about it, to suspect the soundness of one's j'adg-
ment, and it will be said that our wisest course is to let it alone ; it is
one of the humbugs of the day, and will soon die of itself. It may be
so, but the indications do not point that way at present."

" Few really know," says the Journal of Commerce, " how the belief
in the spiritual nature of these rappings is increasing. And this, too,
not among the ignorant, but among men of learning and standing in
society." The " spiritualists," as they style themselves, now number
their "mediums" by thousands, and their disciples by tens of thousands.
They are making powerful efforts to disseminate their principles by
means of lectures, books, and papers ; and are now oi^anizing for a



regular and concerted movement against the Bible and all our religious
institutions. "There is a work going on in this spiritualistic move-
ment," says a distinguished minister, " which we shall soon be obliged
to meet, in some more potent way than mere official malediction. It is
undermining the ancient faith in many quarters more effectually, be-
cause more secretly, than any other influence now at work in our com-

With these views and sentiments I most heartily concur; and it is
under similar convictions that I have bought and examined spirit
books, taken periodicals, and made experiments, and lectured and
written. And to have done otherwise, under the circumstances, would
have been to have disregarded the clearest convictions of duty.

In regard to the best mode of treating such a subject, different views
may be entertained. To me it seemed important to vindicate the Sa-
cred Writings, as the only infallible standard of truth, and to set forth
their teachings, in regard to the intermediate state, as beyond all con-
troversy. In contrast with these, I judged it best fully to state, and
even to illustrate the new " spirit" philosophy ; that its absurdities might
be the more apparent, and the impression made the more vivid and
distinct. Hence the cuts are mere pictorial representations of princi-
ples or phenomena described by the " spiritualists" themselves. If,
therefore, they complain of the cuts, they must lay the blame to their
own bad " philosophy," and not to the author or publishers.

In the progress of the expos6, it has been thought best to cite numer
ous quotations from the writings of the spirit-rappers, not only to sustaiu
the general propositions respecting their views, but to place every point
charged beyond all cavil. Many of these quotations, I am aware, arw
of the most pernicious character; and if found in any other book than
a professed unveiling of a dark and iniquitous system, their repetition
would be not only an offense against good taste, but a questionable an-
tidote to error. But, under the circumstance, I had no alternative but
to leave the infidelity and licentiousness of the system to be admitted
upon my bare assertion, or to support every charge by indubitable
proof. The latter course was judged to promise the best results, and
was consequently adopted. Indeed, it would be im.possible to review
and expose a system of error fairly and effectually, without quoting from
the works containing it.

Of the literary character of the work it is due to say, that it has been
written in the midst of other and pressing duties, and in much less time
than should have been devoted to it Not a page of it has been trans-
cribed or rewritten. It would be strange, therefore, if it was not in
many respects unfinished. Still, it will probably be understood, even
by unlettered readers, and that is the main thing desired.


As to the ityle and price of the book, the author has no control or
responsibility. Xot wishing the care and trouble of publishing it myself,
it was placed in the hands of an enterprising and honorable publishing
house, and appears in good style, and at as low a price as circum-
stances would justify. The engravings add materially to the expense
of publication.

May the God of the Holy Bible — the Author of everlasting life —
approve and bless the eflFort to vindicate His own truth, and to save
His people from error and sin, and from their consequences, now and

New York, April 9, 1853. H. MATTISON^



CHAPTER I.— History and alleged phenomena.

Origin of Spirit-rapping— Its Progress — Recent alleged Phenomena— Eapping and
Writing Media— Speaking by " Afflatus"— Seeing and hearing Media— Physical De-
monstrations, &c 9

CHAPTER II. — Alleged causes — theory of spiritual interoourse.
Disembodied spirits — Spheres and Circles — Progress — Low and high spirits. . 1 6

CHAPTER III. — Standard of truth — the bible on psychology.

Truth distinguished from Error only by comparison with some acknowledged Stand-
ard — The Bihle treats fully of Spiritual Matters : of Man. his Origin, Nature, and Des
tiny : of various Sciences, but never in Error- Good Authority on Psychology— En
dorsed by '"Spirits" — Often appealed to by Necromancers 24

CHAPTER IV.— The intermediate state.

The Soul distinct from the Body— Nature of Death — Souls do not linger about
their former Homes, or the Grave of the Body — Depart from Earth — Intermediate
State — Not to return till the Second Coming of Christ and the General Eesurrec-
tion 28

CHAPTER V. — Ministerxng spirits.

Who are the " Ministering Spirits" of the Bible — Angels not the spirits of men-
Good and evil angels 39

CHAPTER VI. — Witches, wizards, etc., of the bible.

Origin of Witchcraft— Witches and Wizards— Necromancers and Soothsayers — As-
trologers and Magicians — Modern Fortune-tellers — How classified in the Scriptures —
Denounced by Jehovah — Simon Magus — Elymas— Ghost-books burned — " Medium"
atPhllippi 42

CHAPTER VII. — Apparitions, ancient and modern.

Apparitions of the Bible — Modern ghosts — Who see them — Why so seldom seen —
When and where — Ghosts eaught— DifT^jrent kinds— General conclusion respect-
ing 49


CHAPTER VIII. — Vabious allxoed spikit media considered.

Eeccnt "Spirit Commnnlcatlons"— Yarious Modes of Communication— Eapplnjf
Process — Card Process — Writing Media — Hand used by a Spirit— Spiritual Atmos-
phere Process — Spirit Occupation Process — Spiritual Impression Process — Spirit Pho-
nography—Independent Spirit Writing— Speaking Media— A Spirit Lecture — Several
Spirits in one Body — Trance — Pointing Media — Dancing Media. 52

CHAPTER IX.— Theology of the "spirits."

Sources of Information— Both matter and spirit eternal — Man never fell— Needs
no conversion— Christ a mere man— Never made any atonement — Never rose from
the dead— Never wrought any miracles— Borrowed his wisest sayings— The Bible not
of God— One of the worst of books— No devils— No hell— No resurrection — No Day
of Judgment — Christianity no blessing — Ministers hypocrites — Churches must bo
broken up— Civil government abolished—No Sabbaths— Marriages annulled— Practical
nullification— Summary of spirit theology— Who are the "mediums?"— Davis, Ham-
mond, Brittan, Post, Ballou, Partridge, Spoar, Hoar, Winchester, Ambler, Harshman,
Boynton, Ac. 83


Spirits alone responsible — Mediums in the fog— Not to be relied upon— What have
they revealed ? — Spirit orthography — " George Washington's" spelling— Mr. Brittan
correcting John Wesley's communication— A sublime production— Spirit poetry, from
Franklin and Washington — Spirits forgetting how to spell their own names — Palpable
forgeries — Spirit autographs— Spirit Hebrew— Translation by Professor Vail. . . 108

CHAPTER XI.— Science and philosophy of ths " spirits."

Spirit astronomy— An interview with " the Seer" — Spirit cosmogony-" Develop-
ment" theory — ^Mr. Davis' illustrious ancestry — Spirit geology — A spirit plagiarism —
New motive power — Essence of spirit discovered — New mode of education— Taking
the lightning out of a lady — " Spiricity" in the lump — "Tom Paine's" philosophy —
The earth self-luminous — The sun opake— True source of " spirit philosophy. . . 121

CHAPTER XII.— Mistakes and contradictions of the " spirits."

Number of spirit spheres— Distances— Spirit homes— Intercourse just opened, and
yet opened ages ago — Deceptions exposed by a rapper— Tom Paine contradicting
himself— Lavalette and George Fox at odds — California mediums and election re-
turns — Another medium in a fix— Still another ditto— Philadelphia mediums in error
— Another spirit plagiarism — Books and no books in the Schools of the Spheres —
"John Wesley" contradicting himself— Mr. Harvey's "spirits" all Methodists — Le
Eoy Sunderland done for— The Fox girls ditto 182

CHAPTER XIII.- Astonishing revelations by the spirits.

What have they revealed ?— Davis' sublime philosophy — Judge Edmonds' "kitten"
—Learning to write In the Spheres— Ladies most intellectual— Bloomer dresses to
prevail — Ladies to pay addresses to the gentlemen — All to live without eating —
" Pay the printer"— Spirit wanting gin— Spirits want money in the Spheres — Birds
and other animals in the Spheres— Playing cards in the Spheres — Parties, balls, and
concerts In the Spheres— A battle in the Spheres— Spirits won't serve the press-
Wont operate in public- Deception and collusion- 142



Frauds by the spirits— Spiritual banking— Euin of George Doughty— Insanity— Or-
viUe Hatch— Melissa Ilaynes — Adaline C. Moore — Eobert G. Shaw — Samuel Cole —
Ninety insane rappers— Eemarks of Judge Eosevelt — Tendency to suicide— Bishop
Peabo.dy — Mrs, Eich — S. W. Lincoln — Murder by a medium — Suicide of Matthew
Langdon. 154

CHAPTER XV. — Causes of alleged spzeitual phenomena.

Sophistry of the rappers— Eapping in a school-room with the toes— Discovery by
the Buffalo physicians— Detection of the Fox girls- Eapping with the feet or ankles
—"Wiseacres deceived by a young girl — Medium tables with machinery— Disclosure
at Hartford— Statement of Mr. Pack— Confession and affidavit of Mr. Beardslee— Ex-
perience of Mr. Burr — Physical demonstration— Moving of Tables. . . . . , 16T


Keep away from the " circles"— Of ghost-books and papers — A word to ministers —
Appeal to the press— A word to mediums 1S3



Origin of Spirit-rapping — Its Progress — Kecont alleged Phenomena — Eap-
ping and Writing Media — Speaking by "Afflatus"— Seeing and hearing
Media — Physical Demonstrations, &c.

It is now several years since the first accounts of spirit-rap-
ping were published to the world. Two young ladies by the
name of Fox, residing in the city of Rochester, N. Y., heard
certain strange and unaccountable rappings about their room ;
and on asking whence the noise proceeded, the invisible agents
called for the alphabet {lioio, we know not), and, by rapping
out certain letters and words, indicated that they were the
spirits of the dead, and wished to communicate with them !
Such was the commencement of what was first known as the
" Rochester Knockings."

For some time after the opening of the supposed intercourse
between the dead and the living, no messages of any extent
were received : they were all very brief and orthodox. But
the news that messages from the unseen state were being re-
ceived at Rochester spread like wildfire, and was read every-
where with avidity. The staid and sober portion of the press
gave the alleged facts, but withheld their endorsement ; while
a few editors were found who lent their columns and their in-
fluence to foster the new-born wonder.

In almost every community some were found who at once
had full faith in the spirit-rappings ; and, in a short time, such
disciples, and others who were not believers, but wished to see
and hear for themselves, began to flock to Rochester, and in-

10 spmrr-RAPPiNG uttveiled.

quire /or "the Fox family." The young ladies soon found
themselves in great demand. As " mediums,"* through whom
the "spirits" had deigned to communicate with this lower
world, they could not, of course, be otherwise than wise and
good, and were caressed and admired by troops of pilgrims to
our modern Mecca. This, of itself, was doubtless highly grati-
fying to the young ladies, especially as, but for the distinction
conferred upon them by the spirits, they might have lived and
died in obscurity, as

'' Many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air,"

But smiles, and adulation, and expressions of astonishment
would not buy fine furniture, nor rich clothing, nor ornaments.
Besides, it was no small trouble to be consulted so often, and
by so many, so that the Misses Fox were compelled, in self-
defence, to charge a small fee for- admission to their "circles."
This feature of the " knockings" (of course, not anticipated at
the first, but now fully sanctioned by the " spirits") was soon
noised abroad wherever the first tidings had gone ; when lo !
in a very short time, the " raps" began to be heard all over the
land !

From this small beginning the spirit-communication business
has gone on, till men and women have been " developed" from
" rapping mediums" to write and speak for the spirits, to see
and hear them, and to be the media and witnesses of the most
astonishing " physical manifestations." Hundreds, if not thou-
sands, have fully embraced the faith of spirit revelations ; some
eight or ten periodicals have been started, devoted to the spread
of the " new philosophy ;" and from fifteen to twenty different
volumes have been published, in different parts of the country,
all professedly written by the spirits of the dead, and unfold-
ing the secrets of the unseen world !

Such, in brief, is the history of the rise and progress of our
modern necromancers, down to the present writing ; and though

* "We prefer the word mediums to media, because more easily under-
stood by general readers.


the reader may exclaim with St. James, " Behold how great a
matter a little fire kindleth !" the fact cannot be denied, that
whether a reality or a deception, the doctrine that the spirits of
the dead are in constant communication with our world, through
certain mediums, is already the faith of thousands ; many of
whom, we should suppose, had too much sound sense, and were
too well versed in the teachings of the Bible, to be led away
by such a delusion. But what error was ever promulgated that
did not find its vottiries? Even the licentious vagaries of
Mormonism have built a city, and peopled a state ; and what
wonder if the spirit-rapping enterprise should be equally suc-
cessful !

There are, no doubt, some who have fallen in with this new
mania who are honest and sincere at heart — deceived, and not
deceiving. We have known a few such, men and women of
prayer, conscientious and upright, but whose judgments were
not perfect, though their motives and intentions were good, and
who, consequently, were beguiled into a belief in this " vain
philosophy," while they honestly intended to follow nothing
but the truth. Such persons should be treated with great ten-
derness and forbearance by friends, and especially by their pas-
tors and brethren, if members of the church of God. The
views they cherish may be more their misfortune than their
fault ; and it becomes us, in all such cases, to endeavor to re-
store such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering that we
ourselves may also be tempted.

Should this book fall into the hands of any who fear God.
and wish to know the truth, and yet have been inclined to be-
lieve in the reality of the alleged *' spirit manifestations," I shall
have full confidence that such readers will be set right by the
perusal of its pages, will cut loose from the fireship before
it consumes them, and will join us not only in pursuing the
" old paths," that lead to heaven, but in exposing and arrest-
ing this terrible delusion, that is spreading so fearfully over our
country, and leaving blight and mildew in its path wherever it

Having thus glanced at the rise and progress of the recent


'' spirit" movement, I shall now enter upon a direct examination
of its claims, as set forth by its advocates, and professedly by
the "spirits" themselves. First, then, let us inquire, What are
the phenomena alleged to have been exhibited, and which are re-
ferred, for their cause, to the agency of the spirits of the dead ?
That we may do no injustice to the friends of the new doc-
trines, the alleged phenomena shall be stated in the language
of one of their most zealous and able advocates. We quote
from " A71 Exposition of Vieivs respecting the 2)rincipal Facts,
Cases, and peculiarities Mivolved in Spirit Manifestations, dx.,
d:c., by Adin Ballou." The principal phenomena, as laid
down by this writer, are the following :

" 1. Making peculiar noises, indicative of more or less hitelligence —
such as knockings, rapjaings, jarrings, creakings, tickings, imitation of
many sounds known in the different vicissitudes of human life, musical
intonations, and, in rare instances, articulate speech. Some of these vari-
ous sounds are very loud, distinct, and forcible ; others, low, less distinct,
and more gentle, but all audible realities.

*'2. The moving of material substances, with like indications of intel-
ligence — such as tables, sofas, light-stands, chairs, and various other arti-
cles, shaking, tipping, sliding, raising them clear of the floor, placing
them in new positions (all this sometimes in spite of athletic and heavy
men doing their utmost to hold them down) ; taking up the passive body
of a person, and carrying it from one position to another across the
room, through mid-air ;* opening and shutting doors ; thrumming musi-
cal instruments ; undoing well-clasped pocket-books, taking out tlieir con-
tents, and then, by request, replacing them as before ; writing with pens,
pencils, and other substances, both liquid and solid — sometimes on paper,
sometimes on common slates, and sometimes on the ceilings of a room, &c.

" 3. Causing catalepsy, trance, clairvoyance, and various involuntary
muscular, nervous, and mental activity in mediums, independent of any
will or conscious psychological influence by men in the flesli, and tlien
through such mediums, speaking, writing, preaching, lecturing, jDhiloso-
phizing, prophesying, &c.

" 4. Presenting apparitions — in some instances, of a spirit hand and
arm ; in others, of the whole human form ; and in others, of several de-
ceased persons conversing together ; causing distinct touches to be felt by
the mortal living, grasping and shaking their hands, and giving many
other sensible demonstrations of their existence.

" 5. Through these various manifestations communicating to men in

* See cut on the opposite page.




the flesh numberless affectionate and intelligent assurances of an immor-
tal existence, messages of consolation, and annunciations of distant
events unknown at the time, but subsequently corroborated ; predictions
of forthcoming occurrences subsequently verified, forewarnings against
impending danger, medicinal prescriptions of great efficacy, wholesome
reproofs, admonitions, and counsels, expositions of spiritual, theological,
religious, moral, and philosophical truths appertaining to tlie present and
* future states, and important to human welfare in every splicre of exist-
ience, sometimes comprised in a single sentence, and sometimes in an
ample book"

** This," says Mr. Ballou, " is a general statejpent of the
facts to be considered and disposed of in a just '•discussion of
this subject." But this catalogue of phenomena was written
more than eight months ago, since which time other events still

* These alleged movements of ponderable substances, without any
visible cause, are usually denominated "physical demonstrations." In
this cut, the wonders discovered by Mr. B. are presented to the eye.
Tlie " medium" sits on the right, waving her hand, to direct the various
movements. The table will tip up with a heavy man on it ; other arti-
cles are flying about the room, and "the passive body" of another
" atliletic and heavy man" is seen in the act of being " carried from one
position to another across the room, through mid-air !" He has not so
much as a broomstick to ride upon.



more marvelous have transpired. Not only have " prescrip-
tions of great efficacy" been given by spirits, if we are rightly
informed, but in some cases, the spirits of several deceased
physicians have been seen consulting together in regard to the
sick ; and in one case, it is said that a large tumor was re-
moved from the person of a lady, in a most skillful manner, by
the spirit of a deceased surgeon !

To the above phenomena we must now add the Hebrew and
other ancient languages said to have been written by spirits in
the room of Mr. Fowler (of which we shall speak more fully
hereafter), and also the following, which has appeared in the
" People s Paper' under the heading of " The Spirit World,"
and over the signature of Thomas Dexter, Brooklyn :

" The family of Mr. Snyder, of Astoria, are all mediums, even to a
little infant not two years old, through whom most remarkable demon-
strations have been had. What think you of a child not twenty months
old, sitting down to a table and writing out lengtliy communications in

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Online LibraryHiram MattisonSpirit rapping unveiled : an exposé of the origin, history, theology, and philosophy of certain alleged communications from the spirit world by means of spirit rapping, medium writing, physical demonstrations, etc. → online text (page 1 of 17)