Sceptics often taunt the Spiritualists with the fact that their mediums, though claiming to be inspired and “controlled” by the spirits of the great men of the past, including the most eminent philosophers, historians, scientists, and religious teachers, rarely tell us anything of any value. Worse still, that they utter too often the merest trash and try to father it upon some great man, who is not here to protest against such trickery. The point is but too well taken, as every candid Spiritualist is ready to confess, and, though there is an increasing disposition to look more to the matter uttered by the medium than the alleged source, yet there are still hosts of credulous devotees who swallow the dose for the sake of the label. We were personally acquainted, in America, with several worthy Spiritualists of both sexes, and have heard of others in Europe, who innocently claim to know and be personally guided by Jesus Christ; some going so far as to aver that he has appeared to them as a “materialized” form in mediumistic circles, and one—a well-known public lecturer on Spiritualism—having the hardihood to say that Jesus had thus stood before one of the lecturer’s audiences in a public hall, and “nodded approvingly” to indicate his concurrence.
These reminiscences are called up by a letter to the Herald of Progress, from a sensible correspondent, who shows up the stupid ignorance displayed by a “speaking medium”—a platform lecturer who pretends to be controlled or inspired by some spirit—at Manchester recently. At a public meeting the audience was given permission to name the subjects of discourse. The one chosen was “Rig-Veda: what is it? how long has it existed? and in what form was it given to the world?” A good subject in any case, and an especially good one to let the “spirits” try their hand at. They tried; and—here is the result: The Vedas—the audience were told—is “the sacred book of the Buddhist; it was written on the banks of the Ganges; it dated back 700 years before the birth of Jesus!” Shades of Veda Vyasa and all the glorious company of the Rishis and Munis! What next? And to think that Manchester is but a few miles comparatively from Oxford, where Professor Max Müller is at work on his Vedic translations, and Professor Monier Williams and his protegé Pandit Shamji Crishnavarma, F.T.S., are laying the foundations of the Indian Institute! Death is an ugly thing to face at best, but a tenfold pang is added to it when one thinks how humbugging “trance speakers” will be free to play ducks and drakes with one’s reputation and one’s writings, after one’s death if they choose; and how some will be sure so to choose.