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William Britten.

Ghost land; or, Researches into the mysteries of occultism. Illustrated in a series of autobiographical sketches .. online

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GHOST LAND;



RESEARCHES INTO THE MYSTERIES

OF

OCCULTISM.

ILLUSTRATED IN A

SERIES OF AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

IN TWO PARTS.

BY THE AUTHOR OF ' ' ART MAGIC " ; WITH EXTRACTS FROM THE RECORDS OF
"MAGICAL SEANCES," ETC. ETC.

TRANSLATED AND EDITED
BY EMMA HARDINGE BRITTEN.



"I am He that liveth and. was dead,
And behold, I am alive for evermore."




rnvE



PUBLISHED FOR THE EDITOR
AT BOSTON, AMEEICA.

1876.






Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1876,

By WILLIAM BRITTEN,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.






Stereotyped and Printed by
ALFRED MUDGE & SON, PRINTERS, BOSTON.



CONTENTS.



PART FIRST.

PAGE.

AUTHOR'S PREFACE 5-7

EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION 9-14

CHAPTER I.

ON THE THRESHOLD. AUTHOR'S VIEWS. PARENTAGE. FIRST YEARS
AT COLLEGE. PROFESSOR VON MARX. THE BERLIN BROTHER-
HOOD. FIRST SEANCES 17-31

CHAPTER EL

SECRET SOCIETIES. MAGIC. THE "ATMOSPHERIC SPIRIT." FLY-
ING SOULS. MURDER, AND ITS RESULTS 32-44

CHAPTER III.

CONSTANCE. THE VICTIM. -^ How A FLYING SOUL BECOMES AN IM-
MORTAL SPIRIT 45-63

CHAPTER IV.

ZWINGLER. HOW TO TRACK A MURDERER 64-75

CHAPTER V.
MAGIC IN ENGLAND. JOHN CAVENDISH DUDLEY. OCCULTISM. THE

LETTER-SHADOWS OF FATE 76-91

CHAPTER VI.

MAGICIANS AND SPIRIT MEDIUMS. INVOCATIONS. ELEMENTARIES.
PLANETARIES. MIRRORS AND CRYSTALS. KOBOLDS. FAIRIES.
SPIRITISM IN THE SCOTCH HIGHLANDS 92-125

CHAPTER VII.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF OBSESSION. THE ASTRONOMERS AND THE SPIRITS, 126-142

CHAPTER VIII.
STRAY WANDERINGS. THE FASTING GIRL. THE GIPSIES. THE

MODERN "DER FRIESCHUTZ" 143-171

CHAPTER IX.
THE LETTER. THE LIFE TRANSFER. THE BEREAVED . . . 172-186

CHAPTER X.

THE JOURNEY. THE DEAD PROFESSOR. How TO DIE OF STARVA-
TION. THE STARVING POOR. THE SUN SPHERES. DYING.
METRON 187-205

CHAPTER XI.

THE AWAKENING. IN THE SPHERES. THE LIFE TRANSFER RE-
VERSED. THE RETURN TO EARTH . . . 206-216



4 CONTENTS.

CHAPTER XII.

PAGE.

DIARY OF JOHN CAVENDISH DUDLEY. PROFESSOR VON MARX'S HIS-
TORY. THE PRINCESS. THE YOUNG CHEVALIER. "PROSPERO
AND ARIEL" 217-244

CHAPTER XIII.
DIARY CONTINUED. MAGICAL SEANCES. THE NINE DAYS' TRIAL.

STARVED TO DEATH. THE RESCUE 245-203

CHAPTER XIV.
DIARY CONTINUED. MAGICAL SEANCES. THE CHEVALIER'S RETURN

TO LIFE 264-282

CHAPTER XV.
DIARY CONTINUED 283-293

CHAPTER XVI.
DIARY CONTINUED. A MYSTIC. DEPARTURE OF THE CHEVALIER . 294-305



PART SECOND.
INVOCATION. THE SOUL'S LITANIES 309-310

CHAPTER XVII.
INDIA. RETROSPECT. THE ORDER OF THE UNIVERSE . . . . 311-322

CHAPTER XVIII.
THE ANGEL OF MIDNIGHT. THE RUINS. MAGICIANS. JUGGLERS.

CHUNDRA UD DEEN 323-343

CHAPTER XIX.

DAWNING LIGHT. THE BROTHERHOOD. SUBTERRANEAN REVELA-
TIONS . 344-366

CHAPTER XX,
OF OCCULTISM. ITS USES AND ABUSES. LOVE, MARRIAGE, SPELLS,

CHARMS, ETC 367-381

CHAPTER XXI.
THE ANGEL OF MORNING. SPIRITUAL PROBLEMS SOLVED. METRON, 382-401

CHAPTER XXII.
THE ENCHANTRESS. THE LADY BLANCHE. GOOD AND EVIL ANGELS, 402-422

CHAPTER XXIIL
BLACK MAGIC. VAUDOOISM 423-440

CHAPTER XXIV.
BLACK MAGIC. THE MIDNIGHT VISITORS THE SACRIFICE. . . 441-455

CHAPTER XXV.
DIARY OF THE LADY BLANCHE. VAUDOOISM. FAREWELL TO Louis, 456-468

CHAPTER XXVI.

CLOSE OF THE LIFE EPISODE. THE CHEVALIER'S RECONCILIATION
WITH THE SPIRITS. THE PRISON. How THE CHEVALIER RE-
TURNED TO EUROPE. NOTE . . 469-485



AUTHOR'S PREFACE.



BEFORE the subjoined papers are submitted to the critical reader,
the author desires most emphatically to protest against their being
ranked in the same category of literature as his recently published
volume on "ART MAGIC."

The autobiographical sketches now presented to the public were
written, or rather collated from private memoranda, some four years
since, at the earnest request of Mrs. Emma Hardinge Britten, and
that with the simple design of contributing such a series of magazine
papers to her admirable periodical, " The Western Star," as would be
in harmony with its general tone and design.

When it is remembered that these papers are only off-hand sketches
of a fateful life, in which striking illustrations of the spiritual philoso-
phy may be found in a less stately guise than abstract essays, and
that at most they are only to be considered as magazine sketches, the
author trusts that his work will be held exempt from that severity of
critical analysis which he would have courted for l ' Art Magic " had
it been placed before the world under similar circumstances.

The only claim that the author can advance for the present work is
that of strict veracit}'. Although the same reasons that induced him
to withhold his name when it was first produced prevail with him
to-day, all the incidents narrated have been faithfully set down with
the strictest regard to truth as far as the present volume carries the
history forward.

To the author himself the details of his life convey in retrospection
the most important lessons, but their value to the world is entirely
dependent upon their actuality. As a mere tale of fiction far more
interesting subjects could doubtless have been found in any sensational
novel or newspaper romance; but if the narratives herein detailed
faithfully represent the mystic action of mind upon mind, the fearful
phenomenon of obsession, the possibility of an actual life transfer,
and the interposition of beings in human affairs whose existence sup-
plies the missing link which connects the realm of animate and inani-



I



6 AUTHOR'S PREFACE.

mate nature, then is this work, however crude in style or imperfect in
philosophical deduction, a most important and noteworthy one.

It is because it ought to be thus regarded, because it narrates step
by step and incident by incident, actualities which may one day become
the experience of the many rather than the few, that the author is
again persuaded to brave the idle sneer and vulgar jeer of those who
are only capable of appreciating the facts that may have come within
the narrow circle of their own observation. That those persons who
call themselves " spiritual teachers" and clainTtcTbe "interpreters
and exponents " of the spiritual philosophy ( ?) have not all the truth
nay, not even a tithe of the experience necessary to qualify them
for the office they have assumed becomes more and more painfully
evident to the earnest student into spiritual mysteries the more he
compares the immensity of the realms to be traversed with the shallow
pretences at explanation put forth by the self-elected spiritual teachers
of this generation,

By these great authorities occultion is assumed to be a word invented
by a few individuals, whose chief aim is to destroy Spiritualism and
substitute " black magic" iB its place, whilst occultists are renegades,
who would " roll back the /car of progress" (a favorite expression, by
the way, of those who denvy the right of any one to progress 'beyond
their own standard of knowledge) and presume to add to the sublime
philosophy enunciated through the table-tipping and trance-speaking
media for " spirits of the seventh sphere," the antiquated stuff of Orien-
tal cabalists, Chaldean astrologists, Hindoo, Eg}i:>tian, and Persian
magi, Greek philosophers, Arabian alchemists, and mediaeval Rosicrucian
mystics. Of course all these are mere ignoramuses, who for thousands
of years have been blundering through the mysteries of occult science,
which the aforesaid table-tipping and seventh-sphere-inspiring spirits
instantly sweep away with the knock-down argument of ' ' What I don't
know is n't true ; and what I can not explain has no existence."

That the author of " Ghost Land" has attempted to explain occul-
tion, or present a concrete scheme of occult philosophy in these pages,
must not for one moment be assumed. He has simply introduced such
scenes in his own life experience as will ^how what a vast amount of
phenomena remain to be explained, which the spiritual philosophy of
the present day has not touched, and which many modern Spiritists,
following out the rude and illogical example of their own materialistic
opponents, find it easier to deny altogether than to elucidate. No one
has more faithfully, humbly, and reverently sought for truth wherever
it may be found than the author of " Ghost Land" ; yet he is fain tq



AUTHOR'S PREFACE, 7

confess the table-tipping and trance-inspiring spirits of America and
England have not, to his blundering apprehension, covered the whole
ground of the experiences which he has ventured to detail in this
volume. When he adds that an additional score of years' experiences
still more wonderful and occult yet remain to be accounted for, and
that during his wide wanderings over the world he has encountered
hundreds of individuals who have an array of equally occult testimony
to render, the Illuminee of the modern spiritual movement may for-
give him if he ventures to question whether there may not be some
few things, scenes, and persons more in the spiritual universe than
their seven spheres of purely human intelligence can account for.

The author could have wished that his esteemed editor had dis-
pensed with the chapters interpolated by their mutual and highly val-
ued friend, " John Cavendish Dudley" ; not that any portion of this
gentleman's writings are lacking in that strict fidelity to truth which
has been the ruling genius of the entire work, whilst in style and
interest they far . surpass the attempts of a foreigner to express his
ideas in an unfamiliar language ; but the author has marked with deep
regret the many eulogistic allusions to himself with which Mr. Dud-
ley's diary is seasoned ; and whilst he knows they are dictated in all
sincerity by a too partial friend, he feels their association with auto-
biographical sketches will subject him to a charge of vanity which is
equally repulsive to his habits of thought and action. On this point
he has no other excuse to offer than the all-potential will of his editor.
Mrs. Hardinge Britten alleges that the diary of Mr. Dudley was given
to her in the same unconditional spirit as the " Ghost Land" papers ;
also, that it was not until she came to examine the MSS. separately
that she discovered how intimately they were related and how impos-
sible it would have been to continue the narrative after the eleventh
chapter without the assistance of Mr. Dudley's journal.

When Mrs. Hardinge Britten further added I WILL to I wish, the
author of " Art Magic," himself the strongest possible pleader for the
omnipotence of will, found all his arguments on the per contra of the
question silenced.

With arftnal allegation that though the style of composition is all
too faulty, the details are a faithful representation of facts known to
and witnessed by many most honorable persons in the present genera-
tion, the author gives his work to the winds of public opinion. Blow
hot or cold as they will, they only represent the source from whence
they come, but can not make or mar the work they ban or bless.

PUEKTES GRAXDES,
THE HAVANA, ISLE DE CUBA, 1876.



INTRODUCTION,



BY THE EDITOR.



THE following series of papers was first prepared for the press in
1872, when a few ladies and gentlemen interested in the cause of
Spiritualism, and believing its interests would be promoted by the
publication of a high-toned periodical, agreed to sustain me in the
production of " The Western Star," a magazine issued expressly to
meet the above design. As soon as I had decided upon the expe-
diency of this undertaking I applied to several European friends from
whom I deemed I might obtain literary assistance of the highest value,
and contributions which would be more fresh to my American readers
than those of the writers on this side of the Atlantic.

The foremost and perhaps the most urgent applications I made were
addressed to two gentlemen from whose friendship for me and their
talent as writers I anticipated the most favorable results. I knew
that both had enjo} r ed rare opportunities of research into the realms
of spiritual existence.

One, whom I shall henceforth speak of as the Chevalier de B ,

was, as I well knew, a member of several Oriental and European
societies, where he had enjoyed the privilege of initiation into the
ancient mysteries, and opportunities for the study of occultism rarely
open to modern investigators. I had myself witnessed many evi-
dences of this gentleman's wonderful powers as a seer and adept in
magical rites, no less than what is now called u medium ship," for
everj' conceivable phase of spirit power. Already familiar with many
of his remarkable experiences, and believing I could obtain still further
information on the subject from his intimate and near connexion, an
English nobleman, to whom I give the nom de plume of John Caven-
dish Dudley, I laid my case before both parties, soliciting from them
such a series of papers as would embody their joint experiences in
Spiritualism without impinging upon any points they might desire to
reserve from the public eye. The cordial response which I obtained
from these well-tried and valued friends was accompanied, however,
with some restrictions, the most important of which was the positive
charge to withhold their names, also to arrange their MSS. under such



10 INTRODUCTION.

veiled expressions as would effectually conceal their identity. Both
gentlemen were aware that their personalities would be recognized by
their own immediate circle of acquaintances should the narratives ever
fall into such hands ; but whilst they were most willing to oblige me,
and deemed their remarkable experiences might benefit and instruct
many a spiritualistic reader, they protested strongly against subjecting
themselves to the rude criticism and cold infidelic sneers of an
uns3 r mpathetic world.

" I would not wear my heart upon my sleeve for daws to peck at,"
said my English friend, in the words of the immortal bard of Avon ;

whilst the Chevalier de B urged private and personal -reasons still

more stringent. To mask the identity of my authors then, and even
maintain a strict incognito for all those associated with them, became
the conditions upon which the terms of my editorship in these papers
were founded.

Less, perhaps, with a view of enlightening a generation whiph is

not always prepared to recognize its need of enlightenment, than with

a desire to embellish my periodical with a series of papers which I

deemed eminently worthy of the place assigned them, I cheerfully

accepted the offer of my two friends, subject to the restrictions they

'laid upon me. On examining the MSS. committed to my charge, I

/found- that I could commence the publication of the Chevalier de

B 's papers in a serial entitled " Ghost Land," and from the mass

of records furnished me by Mr. J. C. Dudley I extracted the humor-
ous and racy description of that gentleman's experiences in America,
to which he had given the caption of " Amongst the Spirits." The
autobiographical sketches of the Chevalier were written originally in
German, but as I was not sufficiently familiar with that language to
read .or .translate it, my kind friend, himself an excellent linguist,
engaged to furnish me with a literal translation, that is, to render
his writings into "rough English," and leave to me the task of
arranging the phraseology and construction of the sentences. In
many instances I found this task unnecessary, although in others I
have had much labor in re-transcribing, arranging, and compiling
fragmentary memoranda, written not unfrequently in French or imper-
fect English.

As I proceeded with my work, I found that the MSS. would be
wholly incomplete without that of Mr. Dudley, and as I had the good
fortune to be in possession of the latter's journal, I selected from it
such chapters relating to the Chevalier as supplied the hiatus in ques-
tion,- arid enabled me to form a consecutive narrative of that gentle-
man's singular and eventful career.



INTEODUCTION. 11

I encountered some opposition from both my friends in this course
of procedure, the Chevalier objecting strongly to the eulogistic tone
adopted by *his friend in reference to himself, and Mr. Dudley urging
me to say more on the same subject than I deemed it prudent to
insert. Another and still graver difficulty in my path has been the
necessity of transcribing a foreigner's ideas and statements to a con-
siderable extent in my own language, and clothing thoughts, opinions,
and even the framework of the dialogues given by the author in my
own form of expression. I feel keenly the loss the reader must sus-
tain in many instances by this infusion of my personality into the
author's sublime and exalted ideality. I am aware, also, what a han-
dle it affords to those untruthful and uncandid critics who see them-
selves in others' acts, and who, being naturally deceptive and tricky
themselves, cannot recognize truth and honesty even when it stares
them in the face.

Although I have been and shall be again, induced from the force of

circumstances to mask the noble sentiments of the Chevalier de B

in my own peculiarities of style, I have in vain labored to persuade
him to place his works in other hands or avail himself of a less pro-
noncee style of compilation. Had I not devoted myself to this work
it would never have been accomplished, and that thought has been my
chief recompense for the slander and misrepresentation that has been
cast on my share of the publication. Although my friend's courtesy
has induced him to treat these misrepresentations lightly, and even to
allege that he felt honored in hearing the authorship of his works
attributed to me, such a slander upon him, no less than the wrong
done to my veracity and the character for straightforward candor
which I deemed my life had earned, has been the worst stab nry ene-
mies could have inflicted upon me, and calls for this explanation con-
cerning the necessary share which I have had in characterizing the
Chevalier de B 's writings.

In view of the stringent charge I received from each of my authors,
not only to preserve their incognito, but even to represent an ideal
personage as the vehicle of the thoughts rendered, I drew up an intro-
ductory sketch of the supposed author of " Ghost Land," which I
printed in the first number of " The Western Star."

In becoming more familiar with the later portions of the autobiog-
raplvy, I found that the author had stated the real events of his life so
candidly, and alluded to the various dates and epochs that marked it
with such fidelity of detail, that my ideal sketch had to be abandoned ;
the two histories would not cohere together : hence in republishing the
first five chapters of ' ' Ghost Land " in their present form I have felt



12 INTRODUCTION.

obliged to present the author in his real character from beginning to
end ; and although I have observed all the other restrictions laid upon
me in respect to the names of persons and places, the incidents of this
strange life are so TRUE, so candidly and simply detailed, that I doubt
whether the lovers of fiction will be able to recognize that truth, and
I shall not be surprised to hear that the whole narrative is a made-
up affair.

I have some reason to believe this view would not be displeasing to
the author himself, who, although compelled to write under the efflatus
of the same power that obliges the ' ' sib}4 to vaticinate " even when
she is not believed in, still feels sensitively opposed to parading his
peculiar and often most painful personal experiences before a hard,
unkind, and unsympathetic world. I, on the contrary, have a deep
and religious interest in urging the exact truth of these experiences, and
as I have been mainly instrumental in inducing my friend to narrate
them, I would gladly, most gladty, add the lustre of a far more
authoritative name than my own to the solemn assurance th'at they are
all literal transcripts of history, and that they ought to be studied and
classified by every philosophic thinker as amongst the rarest and most
important ps3 r chological facts on record.

It simply remains for me to explain how and why this autobiography
appears at this particular time. I need not remind those of my read-
ers who may have been subscribers to " The Western Star," that just
after the issue of the sixth number, the occurrence of the disastrous
Boston fires and the immense losses sustained by some of my princi-
pal supporters, compelled me to suspend that periodical ; but immedi-
ately upon the announcement of this suspension and up to the present
time I have been literally besieged with requests to issue a reprint and
continuance of " Ghost Land," my correspondents assuring me that
those delightful and absorbing papers were more to them than all the
rest of the magazine. The same request has been repeatedly made
in reference to the articles of Mr. Dudley, entitled "Amongst the
Spirits." In a word, the high appreciation accorded to those two
serials made me often regret that leisure and opportunity were not
afforded me for their publication in separate and continuous forms.

It was some three years after the suspension of ' ' The Western

Star" that my esteemed friend, the Chevalier de B , made a second

visit to the United States, travelling as was his custom in a private
and unostentatious manner under an incognito, and emplo}'ing his time
in the observation and study of those spiritualistic facts which it has
been the main object of his life to gather up. It was then that I
learned from him that two works, the scheme of which he had often



INTKODUCTION. 13

laid out in project to me, were nearly completed ; and as he was unable
to undertake the fatigue and master the harassing details of their
publication, he offered to present me with the MSS., although he
wished that their production should be deferred for a stated period.

One of the MSS. thus intrusted to me was " Art Magic." It was
written, like u Ghost Land," partly in French and partly rendered into
English, for the sake of aiding me in its translation. Much of the
language I found capable of representing the author's ideas without
any alteration ; but the whole work struck me as so important, sub-
lime, and beautiful that I urged upon my friend its immediate produc-
tion without waiting for further contingencies.

Tendering all the services I deemed likely to be available on the
occasion, I at last succeeded in overcoming the Chevalier's reticence,
and provided that I would give it to the world under the conditions
which he dictated, he said the work was at my disposal. My friend
then laid down those conditions of publication which have called forth
the clouds of abuse, scandal, and insult which it has been my privilege
to endure in so good a cause, and I dictated the financial terms by
which I had hoped to save him from loss. In this respect the
results belong to ourselves, not to the world. It is enough that I
have been instrumental in launching a noble work upon the ocean of
human thought. Many a bitter experience has been added to those
which both author and editor have had to endure, many that might
have been more gracefully spared by those who inflicted them. The
effect of these experiences, however, it may not be amiss to notice a
little more in detail, for it is evident they have not fulfilled the exact
purpose with which they were freighted. In the first place, they have
taught the sensitive author to rise superior to all human opinion, by
showing him that which the editor has long since understood, namety,
that there is always a certain amount of journalistic criticism which
can be bought or sold, according to the purchaser's disposition or means
of payment ; another class from which praise would be dishonor ; still
another, who never waste time one way or the other on any subject
that is not a marketable commodity and likely to pay well ; and a
fourth class, but one alas ! greatly in the minority, who can and will
recognize truth and beauty wherever they find it : and to this class
" Art Magic " has indeed been " the gem of spiritualistic effort of this
and every other generation."

All this the author has had to learn. That he was not entirely
ignorant of the crucible through which his work would have had to
pass had it been published for " the masses" instead of the few, he
himself proved, as I find in a letter addressed to me on this very sub-



14 INTRODUCTION.



Online LibraryWilliam BrittenGhost land; or, Researches into the mysteries of occultism. Illustrated in a series of autobiographical sketches .. → online text (page 1 of 35)