Index ~ Home

 

 

 

Questions Answered Extempore by Miss Emma Hardinge 1866

 

Question 4

 

CAN you explain to us the origin and purpose of pain? Answer

 

I WILL endeavour to answer your question by a simple figure. Take the structure on which pain is exercised. Consider it in its day of infancy, when it still moves and acts in childish ignorance of itself. The child unconscious of its strength would fain exercise this beyond the measure of its capability, when lo! the sentinel, pain, steps in and calls it back. The child is dazzled by the flame, delighted with the glittering fire, and would fain grasp it in its hand, in its unconsciousness of its nature. The same guardian angel, pain, withdraws that little hand ere it has tampered too far with the destroying flame. Unconscious of the nature of the liquid water, ignorance would plunge within the wave; the pain of suffocation in the whelming flood, instructs it how to struggle back to life, leaving a lesson of the character and nature of the watery element engraved on the mind by the permanent fear of pain. And so we might proceed through all the various departments of being, and everywhere we should find pain standing as the sentinel at the gates of life, preserving its integrity. In all our many trespasses, and lapses from virtue, pain stands with his angel finger pointing to the results of crime. His warning knock is heard in the dangerous throbbings of an angry heart. He speaks in our fear of just retaliation from those we wrong or hate: He prints in our flesh his never-failing lessons of every vile excess; He throws back against our bleeding breasts each stone we seek to hurl at at one another. In a word, I cannot find a single step in human life unguarded by their stern and retributive angel, whom we so often call our adversary, pain. Pain is man’s wisest educator. We know not how much we learn outside of books, till we remember the effect of past life­lessons on ourselves, when chief of all our teachers stands life’s guardian, pain.

 

As we launch forth upon the great ocean of life, hour by hour we are warned and guaranteed from dangers by the pain ourselves have felt, and by the penalties which others have paid for us. We know but little of the depth and breadth of the riches of the Infinite and of the glory of a better life, but we are only fit to ascend to these, when we have been fully instructed in the rudimentary schools of earth through pain. Disease in various forms has made us acquainted with our wonderful structure, and by its exigencies alone, have been founded the grand schools of knowledge and instruction, which have grown up into systems of anatomy and physiology. It has been beneath the keen stimulus of pain, adversity, and even of hunger’s bitter pang that many a noble artist, poet, and painter have gemmed the world with their labour’s grandest efforts. Splendid works of genius have often been outwrought by the bitter necessities of poverty and the inexorable demands of mental and physical pain. Poverty, which is in truth pain’s sharpest goad, has compelled men to labour, contrive,


 

                                      26

invent, and in many forms dive into the arcana of nature and drag forth her grandest secrets. All adversity, all suffering, whether mental, moral, intellectual, or physical, is pain; and in each department of life, I repeat, pain is an educator, and yields not up its care of mortal life till its work is fully done, and then it resigns its charge of the spirit it has leavened into wisdom to the hands of its sister-angel - death, which like pain, men blindly call their enemy until in the day of spiritual revelation they discover that it is the beneficent liberty angel, who opens the door for the soul to immortal life and freedom, when the teachings of earthly pain are for ever ended and their mission done.

Question 5

 

IF it be admitted that self psychology presents phenomena similar to those observed in the communications of external spiritual agency, will you explain these and lay down some rules for safely distinguishing them?

Answer

 

COULD we instruct you of all the attributes that belong to your spirit, could we classify these - tell you how much you can do, and where your power ends, we should be enabled to shew you where the supramundane power beings. But there is such a much wider range of power belonging to your spirit than you have been accustomed to realise, that it would be impossible for us to lay down any such rule, and you can only learn it, when you know yourselves. For instance, it has been shewn that clairvoyance is an attribute of the human spirit. Yet how can we demonstrate the difference between that and the psychology of a controlling mind visible or invisible. Your speaker asserts her belief of a spiritual control, guiding her utterances, and changing as she responds to different questions. Yet what evidence can we adduce of this? None, but the mere assertion. What evidence can we render even of the sensations which affect your speaker? None, but her mere affirmation of those sensations, so that your acceptance or rejection of her assertion depends on your appreciation of her truthfulness. As much of spiritual phenomena, then, depends upon the sensations experienced by the recipients of spiritual gifts, how can these be rendered in speech? Simply thus. You have all external senses that enable you to apprehend the various forms of matter. By touch, you realise something of the nature of substance; by sight, of form and colour; by hearing, of the sound or percussion which bodies make in movement; by taste, you apprehend certain peculiar qualities of matter, and by smell inform yourselves of material qualities in another way. And yet these modes of sensuous perception only inform you of the attributes of material things, but fail to convey any idea of the modes of perception of the spirit, in whom all sensuous perceptions are so concentred, that the spirit is all eye, all ear, all taste, touch, and smell. Spirits perceive all qualities in objects, but never can explain to you how; they realise, the moment they approach one another, the mind, by the same perception which your senses enable you to use in judging of the attributes of matter, and yet, even here on earth, you all partake of this power of perception in the spirit; even here you have it in part, for you, all of you, have spiritual senses, which, though immersed in matter more or less, supply you with an information which you cannot realise through senuous perception, nor yet translate into speech. You perceive the


 

                                   27

sphere of those that approach you - you realise enmity, hatred, love, treachery, sincerity, even when not expressed in speech; but you cannot define how the impression reaches you. Even so does your speaker by an extreme sublimation, and possibly by long exercise of the spiritual senses in communion with spirits from the earliest period of her existence, realise not only the presence, but also the different qualities, the influence, the strength, or weakness of the spirits who surround her. But these impressions can never be communicated to another; nor rules for their cultivation laid down, because it is an experience which belongs to the individual organism, and is of a purely spiritual nature only. So in your communion with spirits, you may deceive yourselves grossly in their identity, but you cannot err very far in their quality, which by the aid of your spiritual perception no less than by your judgment refers them to the standards of right and wrong as mapped out for you in the laws of conscience, and revealed in the nature of that which they communicate. In the character of the intelligence which spirits bring, you need not deceive yourselves; and if you are mediumistic, your spirit will aid your judgment, by the antipathy or feelings of sympathy with which you are inspired in their presence. The chief cause of difficulty that lies between yourselves and the spirit-world, is in the want of discrimination between the operation of your own spirit and that of another controlling you. We can lay down no law, but that of experience to guide you in this respect, but we may venture to promise that as you are now but at the opening of the gates, and in the day of the first realisation of the grandeur and breadth of your own spirit, as it bursts upon you in the dawning of the science of mind which Spiritualism teaches - as, moreover, you have but now begun as an assured knowledge to cherish the consoling thought that you are in the midst of God’s hosts and surrounded by legions of ministering angels - that while you are now astounded at both these revelations and stand on the edge of the shores of this ocean of light for the first time - though you may now be even overwhelmed by the full blaze of the glorious possibilities that dawn upon you, and bewildered by their multitude, and mistake your way and stumble, as if still groping in darkness - the time shall come when by judgment and experiment, through the lessons of many failures and yet more successes, you shall better learn to discriminate the grandeur and power of your own spirits and the action and influence of those of the better world. We can at this time lay down no present law, but we may venture to promise you the most complete realisation of spiritual knowledge for the future, and this from no sybilline or prophetic view of that future, but from the realisation of the inevitable growth of all sciences. For spirit communion is based upon a science, and the soul within us is as much the subject of a science as all things else in being, and when the self-styled scientists of earth learn this truth, they will cease to sneer at us who have ventured far enough within the threshold of the glorious temple that enshrines this light of spiritual science, to realise that it is not the glimmering lamp that illuminates the tomb, but the glistening of the shining angels’ forms who have risen from it. The world shall yet know the Spiritualist for what he is, the pioneer of that glorious science whose dawning era is even now upon us. Humanity shall find that its progress has been a continuous ascent through all the various steps of scientific lore, from the absolutely known to the hitherto unknown; that whilst this progress first commenced with the rudest forms of knowledge, such as man’s earliest attempts to supply himself with clothing, food, and shelter, as time sped on he soared in mental effort to erect huge buildings, improve his modes of agriculture, record his thoughts in symbols, pictures, hieroglyphs, and writings. Onward still sped mind, still seeking wider fields for effort, broader plains for stereotyping thoughts, till it finally matured the noble printing


 

                                      28

press, the mariner’s compass, the knowledge of the earth and its laws of physical attraction, the ocean and its boundaries of continents and islands, the air and its mysteries of elemental gas, light, heat, and lastly of electricity and vital magnetism; and thus by mind’s growth through science, have we ascended into the unknown: gauged the heavens, sounded the ocean’s depths, explored the earth, and traced the footprint of the Creator down to the very central fires beneath us. We have watched the creative hand in nature’s laboratory; we have beheld the working of God’s wondrous laws, piling up age on age, and viewed the records of His grand and sublime chemistry throughout creation, and though our human eyes may not see the Almighty workman, by those works do we know Him. And now at least in the fulness of the ages we ascend to His realm of spirit, and already at the threshold, wait but our bridal garments of completeness to enter the sacred portals where we may behold the marriage rites of science and religion. And to this grand and glorious consummation we have the right to believe that the ultimate of all our knowledge yet will tend. The day is dawning upon us, and ere the noontide glory of the sun reveals itself we shall be in the full blaze of the era of this great religious spiritual science; then may we comprehend more fully our souls and their attributes. Then may we distinguish their own great powers from the influence of others, and determine where our still embodied spirit’s powers end and the influence of a higher spiritual life begins.

MR COLEMAN, in proposing a vote of thanks to Miss Hardinge, said that if any present were unable to appreciate her utterances, they might be satisfied that the deficiency was not hers. He then referred to the notices appearing in the daily journals, respecting Miss Hardinge’s first public address in St James’ Hall, especially thanking, on her behalf, one of the editors, who was present, for the generous testimony he had borne to the remarkable display of her powers on that occasion. All the newspapers, he said, contained favourable criticism, with the single exception of the Morning Star, with whom she was in political alliance. Spiritualists, however, expected nothing fair or generous from that journal, nearly every department of which, from the editorship downwards, was “tarred with the same brush.” Speaking to an assembly not entirely composed of Spiritualists, but comprising many who attended for the purposes of investigating the truths of psychological and kindred subjects, he would take the opportunity of declaring that Spiritualists feared no opposition from any quarter, if it were only just and fair; but they reprobated the distortions of facts and the calumnious statements that too often disgraced the columns of the newspaper press. One gentlemen was present who had from time to time manifested an extraordinary opposition to Spiritualism; he (Mr Coleman) wished to speak of him with all kindness and courtesy; and would only say that if he and his friends were serious in their opposition, and desired to arrive at the truth as we desired it, he was ready, on behalf of Spiritualists, to meet all opponents, whether from the religious or the materialistic side, with Miss Hardinge as the champion. When her course of lectures on America was completed he hoped that some public opportunity would be afforded of proving her remarkable power, from whatever source that power might be derived. He was anxious that some question should be put to her by the representatives of the united press of the metropolis, and that she should be judged by the manner in which she dealt with it.


 

                                     29

DR DONOVAN defended the press from Mr Coleman’s strictures, and said that much as he was interested in the display of Miss Hardinge’s powers, what he desired in common with the press, was “more facts and less talk.”

 

MR WILLIAM HOWITT said, that the facts which formed the A.B.C. of Spiritualism were open to every patient investigator. The misfortune was that when they were presented to the public they were ridiculed and repudiated, and the persons through whom they were exhibited were treated with rudeness and cruelty. The object of the present meetings was to observe facts of a higher order than mere physical manifestations; and the manner in which the questions had been answered by Miss Hardinge that evening must have been highly satisfactory to every unprejudiced listener.

 

After a few further observations from Dr Donovan and Mr Coleman,

 

MISS HARDINGE said: Most gladly do I answer the last point that has been mooted here; and in doing so I shall be obliged to commence by words of dissent from one of the best friends (Mr Coleman) I have in this country. In view of what he has stated, I desire to say that I believe that an earnest zeal to place me before you in the most favourable point of view has led him to overlook the fact, that though we who have found the “pearl of price” are ready to throw away all things else upon earth for its possession, we are not ready to stand as martyrs and self-sacrifists of all that makes life dear to us, until we have fully realised the worth of that pearl. I have found it; he has found it; and knowing its value, we are ready to go forth and do battle in its defence. I believe that no human being could be found wilfully opposing Spiritualism who like us have proved it to be that pearl of price; but until they can thus appreciate our belief, our antagonists subserve the very purposes which have this night been defined to you as resulting from pain and temptation. In a word, they stand related to us as “the adversary;” but even then, should we not thank them for calling forth, our arguments, and compelling us to produce our strong reasons for the belief that is in us? Are we not in every way indebted to them, compelling us as they do to enter into expositions of our faith, which otherwise we should pour into uninterested ears? We need the work of “the adversary,” we require the action of antagonism, for all reforms are more largely indebted to opposition, than they are to the unreasoning faith that accepts our dicta without challenge or enquiry. I thank most cordially those who will lend the hand of intellectual strength, to the mighty warfare of this hour. As for your speaker, she needs no defence but the strength of those whose humble instrument she is, and her meed of human justice. Demanding naught but this she stands before a jury of her country men to ask for a fair verdict on her utterances, irrespective of her belief of their spiritual source. She questions not of her listeners what their religious faith may be, neither should they question of hers before they accept or repudiate her powers. With reference to the action of the press, she has neither sought, nor ever will seek, through friends or solicitation, aught of favour or partial representation. If she cannot trust to the honour of her countrymen to render judgment irrespective of sectarian prejudice, that judgment is not worth the pains of seeking even to bias.

 

To her spiritual friends she would urge, that the selection of an opening subject, apart from Spiritualism, is a part of her religion, and when they better realise that to her mind every subject which contributes to human weal, or influences human woe is a part of Spiritualism, and that the largest and grandest parts of Spiritualism are those


 

                               30

national relations which bind up in one common interest all members of the human family, then will Spiritualists themselves cease to reproach her, because in discoursing of the national interest of the old world and the new, she has chosen the largest branch of Spiritualism to lecture upon. In reference to the expressions of our friend, who desires to behold facts rather than hear the arguments that belong to the intellectual part of the subject, I desire to say that when he is better acquainted with the quality of our pearl of price, he will find that it is fashioned on a scientific plan. Just so long as the pearl exists latent in the oyster it can be used as a part of the creature itself; when it is crystallised into the pearl, it is changed alike in substance and in use, and can no more subserve its former purpose. It is even so in the various phases of spiritual mediumship. The power that enables the medium to give off an aroma by which the physical manifestations are made, is not the same as that which clusters around the organs of the brain, and enables the subject of spiritual magnetism to become a mouthpiece for the psychological powers of spirits. The condition of the speaker is now different from that which enabled her, in years gone by, to give test evidence of spiritual phenomena in what our friend calls “facts.” Were he as thoroughly acquainted with the philosophers as with the philosophy of mesmerism, he would realise that mesmeric subjects, like spirit mediums, pass through many transitional conditions and various phases of psychological and magnetic states, and that the influence which they derive from human or spiritual magnetism only admits of certain phases of manifestation at certain times and during certain states. It is to be regretted that your speaker cannot render satisfaction to all minds at once. It is to be regretted in one sense, although in view of the various talents which are called into operation by the varieties of the species, this diversity of gifts in different organisms is manifestly only a part of the same harmonious plan that pervades all ranks of being. Your speaker is unable to present to you the facts or phenomena of modern Spiritualism, but were she able to do so she would be unwilling to perform a work which belongs to those whose time and talents are devoted to it. You may find in this very city, persons who devote all the energies and powers and possibilities that they possess to the production of the facts you seem to crave. To these we would refer you, whilst you leave in peaceable possession of this meeting those who seek alone its intellectual manifestations. We know that in olden times there were minds so bigoted as to decline to be restored to health, unless they could select the waters of healing from rivers of their own choosing. Nevertheless, whilst we acknowledge the justice of our friend’s appeal for facts, we perceive a manifest injustice in seeking them out of place and out of time, and demanding from a rostrum devoted to other purposes the peculiar exhibition which is to be obtained elsewhere. If it is the will of the majority that the modes by which intelligence is rendered on this platform shall constitute the chief feature of the evening’s proceedings, here, as elsewhere, we presume the majority must rule; and in view of this will, your speaker, with none of those objects that ordinarily prompt human effort, of compensation or reward in any other sense than the satisfaction of meeting with those she loves during her brief sojourn amongst you, renders such service as you choose to command, but only on condition that it is acceptable. She has been too many years engaged in such addresses to crave an opportunity now to do so, therefore if those who seek for facts cannot receive them on this platform, would it not be better instead of attempting to bind the will of the majority to that of the minority to seek them where they can be found? Any intellectual effort that can be made, according to the limited capacity of your speaker, is wholly at the command of those who seek it. Those more public addresses, the first of which has been recently delivered, and which will as far as means will admit, be


 

                                     31

continued for some short period longer, have a higher purpose than the propagandism of special opinion. I believe that the largest and grandest interests that can affect the old world and the new will be subserved when the Atlantic telegraph of kindness is laid between these lands. I profess no politics, nor ever laboured for aught but principles. I shall disappoint both North and South alike if they expect to find in me the mouthpiece of a party. I loved Abraham Lincoln because he was an honest man, because the spiritual philosophy was deeply engraven in his heart and so worked in his life that it ultimated a broader line of action than mere politics, and inspired in him a grander view of human destiny than was to be found in mere obedience to the diction of a party. I loved him because I believed the country’s welfare was bound up in his integrity and was safe in his wise guidance. Therefore it is that I have been constantly identified with the party of his supporters. Those who will follow me through these addresses, whether public or private, will find that the largest good to the largest number is my Spiritualism, my politics, and my religion too. And whether those who listen to me believe that spirits communicate or not with man, it matters little. All will some day themselves be spirits, and then, if not before, will realise that all good is comprehended in the spiritual welfare of mankind, and it is in this sense I urge upon my spiritualistic friends, that lectures uttered on America, or any other subject, whether of natural, scientific, moral, or intellectual interest, are all to me true Spiritualism, provided they can make one human being think more kindly of his fellow creatures, or quit my presence with a more exalted idea of their humanity, or kindlier interest in each other’s welfare.

 

Question 1   January 22nd, 1866