« AnteriorContinuar »
mote publication, nor rendering disrespect to the kind friends by whose civilities I was introduced to the scene.
I hardly know what order of miracles this belongs to. The subject of it was a female about thirty years old. Some thirteen years ago, as is said, she received an injury which made her a helpless cripple for five years, the last three of which she was unable to move herself in bed. Her spine was irremediably injured, and one of her limbs thrown into such a condition of deformity, that her foot was brought and permanently lodged against her side under the shoulder. During the last year of this helplessness she had a dream, as is averred, accompanied with a supernatural vision and communication, by which she was certified, that if she should have faith to live through the following September, in the midst of extreme and excruciating suffering, she would be thoroughly restored on the 25th of March thereafter, precisely at six o'clock P. M. Of course, as she was last year alive, it will be understood that she was enabled to fulfil the condition. And accordingly, on the 25th of March, precisely at six o'clock P. M., she was perfectly restored, and was able immediately to walk about, &c. The witnesses of all the facts, and of many details which I need not trouble my readers with, it is said, are abundant and now living, professional men and others. Indeed, I was gravely told by those who were my informers, that one of the professional men, who spoke disrespectfull: of the matter at the time, was visited in judgment, and has himself been a cripple ever since:
But the most remarkabe part of the story is, that on the anniversary of that day of healing, for every succeeding year, precisely at the hour of six o'clock P. M., March 25th, this individual has swooned away, and appeared to be dead; but in a half an hour or so, exhibited the symptoms of one asleep, with eyes half open, occasionally talking like one in sleep, or in a trance; and has customarily continued in this condition of a perfect and thorough abstraction from sensible objects, conversing every now and then very religiously, and seeming to be a guest in heaven. It was averred that the medical profession had exhausted their skill and all their means in vain to rouse her; and that for eight years successively she had remained each anniversary twenty-four hours to a minute in this sort of trance, discoursing every few minutes with great propriety, and to the edification of all present. When the clock has made the last stroke of six on the 25th of March, P. M. she swoons, and revives as regularly and precisely at the end of twenty-four hours. She manifests symptoms of approaching stupor an hour or two beforehand, which grows upon her till the moment arrives, and she is gone ; a few moments before the twentyfour hours have expired, she begins to show symptoms of
resuscitation, and at the exact time opens her eyes, and is well again.
While I was dining with a friend, he mentioned this extraordinary case, said he was going to see it, and invited me to accompany him. We went; but it happened we were in error as to the day, and instead of being there two hours before the resuscitation, it was two hours before the swooning. Unexpectedly and against our wishes (for we were not prepared to desire it) we were ushered into the room of the lady herself, and introduced. She was at the house of a respectable surgeon, whose wife was her friend, and in whose family my companion was intimate. She was well dressed, and I should not, on an ordinary occasion, have noticed any thing remarkable in her appearance. It was hinted to us privately that we might stay and witness the swooning, which was confidently expected to occur in two hours, but we chose to be excused, and retired, promising to call the next day. Neither of us had faith in the matter; and although we were willing, on account of the respectability of those concerned, to see the woman in her supposed and alleged trance, we had thought her feelings would naturally be averse to be introduced to strangers while out of it, and so near the expected event. She was not, however, embarrassed, although she appeared somewhat absent and wandering in mind, from the expressions of her countenance. Not a word was said in the short interview of the subject which most occupied our thoughts.
We called the following day in the afternoon, and to be sure, the woman was in her trance. She lay upon a bed, apparently asleep, attended by a sister, the surgeon's wife, her sister, and mother. They were taking notes of her communications, which were made regularly irregular, as in for·mer years. We were informed that she had “ gone off," as it was called, precisely at the time expected, and had exhibited the same symptoms throughout as before. She lay and breathed like one asleep; her eyes half closed, and winking incessantly ; every muscle in her frame entirely relaxed, so that her hand, lifted and dropped, would fall like that of a person just expired; and she seemed totally insensible to every thing around. It was said and apparently believed, that no effort, not even violence, could rouse her ; that in former years very severe, even cruel treatment had been tried by professional men, without producing any effect; that there was an entire cessation of the animal functions for the time being; and that the application of the severest blisters had utterly failed of their effect, till after the expiration of the twenty-four hours, so that humanity required that such experiments should not be repeated. It should be observed that in the efforts of making a commu
nication, the muscles were obedient to her will, and her hands were employed as well as her vocal organs.
We had not been long in before she began to speak, in a soft and faint voice, it being her usual manner, her hands moving gently and slightly. It was something as follows:
“ Some are fearful as they approach the river (I imagined she meant the river of death); some go in with boldness; some are filled with consternation; but Christ is in the ship, and the believer is safe. This, perhaps, is the river of'which Bunyan speaks. . Some sink in the waves and are lost ; multitudes are lost. But the believer gets safely to the ship. There is the doubting Christian; he fears, he trembles; but Christ is with him, and will take him in,” &c. • Her discourse ran upon Scripture, making very rational comments upon death, the judgment, eternity, and heaven. At one time she would seem to be in heaven, “a mortal among immortals," as she expressed herself. She addressed herself to God and Christ, not unbecoming the common forms of praise and adoration used in prayer. I heard her say, “I see Moses and Aaron, and all the prophets; there is Paul, the persecutor; and there is Peter, who thrice denied his Lord,” &c. Once she said, “These are glorious, but thou, O Lord, art more glorious than all.” Most of the time she would seem to be enjoying visions of heaven, and spoke of it variously, but in simplicity, and without any appearance of ecstatic emotion. Every thing she said is suggested in the Bible and in common religious reading ; but the allegorical strains of Bunyan rather prevailed. She had doubtless read the Bible and John Bunyan thoroughly. She was occupied in making her communications perhaps one fourth of the time-was slow and distinct, but used a u form and low voice.
A medical man of considerable eminence in London, and of exemplary piety, was called in. He applied to the nostrils a pungent solution of ammonia, which produced a manifest effect, suffused the eyes, and occasioned some muscular spasms; but it was certainly well endured. The countenance exhibited some anxious expressions; but still there was no universal shrinking from it. He applied his watch, as I thought, to the ear, and when he withdrew it, rather suddenly, he allowed the seals, which perhaps had some sharp points, to drag rudely over the nose, which occasioned a sudden motion of the head, as if to avoid it. He raised her eyelid, and brought a lighted candle suddenly before it, and remarked that the pupil suffered a visible and instant contraction. He made no other experiments, and retired.
Thus passed the day, with perhaps a dozen calls, or more, of some respectable individuals, about half of whom were
Quakers. I and my friend were present, perhaps, in all two hours, at different times, being willing to satisfy ourselves what the thing might be. As the circle sympathizing with this young woman was very respectable, I feel bound to treat them with respect; and I have no doubt that they fully believe what is told, first, of her physical and incurable infirmities; next, of her miraculous cure; and consequently, believing that, they may easily believe that these periodical trances are unfeigned. I state the facts in substance as they came before me; at the same time, it is proper for me to say, that I think the business an exceedingly well-planned and well-sustained imposture. And in this view it is as affecting as it is interesting. It is a very singular enactment, such a one as rarely takes place in society. The subject is of an obscure family, and has been taken up and cherished by a number of respectable individuals and families who believe in her miraculous story. I had never heard of it before, nor does it seem to make any noise in the world.
THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT.
Westminster Hall and Parliament Houseg-Certain points of comparison
between the British Parliament and the American Congress--Uses of the Purse and Mace-The Woolsack-Ministerial and Opposition sides -The Right Reverend Bench both right and wrong-The composition of the two Houses of Parliament-Parts of the day occupied in Session.
And where is the place of the British Senate, in which Chatham, Pitt, Burke, Fox, Sheridan, and Canning delivered their opinions ? where Grey, Brougham, Peel, Stanley, O'Connell, and many others of note in debate, are now seen conspicuous ? Where is that arena which has drawn to it the attention of the world, and on the decisions of which the fate of empires has depended ? Surely, if the magnificence of its physical be equal to that of its moral, it must be something worth seeing.
Immediately on the north bank of the Thames (at this point it is the west bank, as the course of the river here is nearly north), a stone's throw above Westminster Bridge, and under the shade of Westminster Abbey, across Margaret-street—the latter being a continuation of Parliament and Whitehall streets—was situated an ancient pile, a proper heap of buildings, the first and-most commanding of which, on the north, being the main body of the whole, is Westminster Hall, originally built by William Rufus in 1097-8, on the site of the Old Palace Yard, and repaired by Richard II. in 1397, making it substantially what it now is.
This Hall is one of the largest rooms in Europe, unsup* ported by pillars, being 270 feet by 74, and in height 90.
The roof is Gothic, adorned with carved angels, supporting the arms of Richard II. or those of Edward the Confessor; as also is the stone moulding round the Hall. It has been the place of coronation fêtes-used last for this purpose on the coronation of George IV. At a Christmas festival held there by Richard II., it is recorded that the number of guests on each day amounted to 10,000, and that it employed 2,000 cooks.
Both Houses of Parliament and their adjunct apartments were burnt to the ground on the night of the 17th of October, 1834, and are now supplied by temporary structures. But it may not be amiss to notice them as they were.
The buildings immediately adjoining Westminster Hall, on the south, were the Old Palace, which constituted the several apartments devoted to the uses of the House of Lords, including that which was more properly the Senate Chamber, and which was called the “House of Lords," as being the place of their meeting and public debates. This chamber was parallel with the great hall. Adjoining the great hall, at right angles, on the east, and running towards the river, was the House of Commons, which was built by King Stephen, as a sacred.edifice, and dedicated to his namesake Stephen, the first martyr-hence to this day called St. Stephen's Chapel. It was built of course in the twelfth century, rebuilt by Edward III. in the fourteenth century, who made it a collegiate church, causing to be installed over It a dean and twelve priests, and desecrated to its present use in the sixteenth century, by Edward VI. Both Houses of Parliament were small apartments, nearly equal in dimensions, and the farthest possible from having any show of magnificence. Nothing that I have seen has given me their length and breadth ; but I should judge about sixty feet by thirty-five. The House of Lords was lofty, and lighted by semicircular windows along the upper margin of the ceiling, without galleries, except a small one built in 1832 in the end Tronting the throne and woolsack, for reporters, and suffisent to accommodate about one hundred spectators. About as many more spectators might possibly crowd around the var below; and the platform on which the throne was erected was usually occupied, in a crowded house, by the representatives of foreign courts and other privileged persons.
h great occasions, such as the opening of parliament by the king, &c., temporary galleries were set up along the side valls to accommodate the families of peers and their friends. These galleries, and the seats of the peers below, were all covered with scarlet cloth. The throne was built in 1820, and consisted of a canopy crimson velvet, surmounted by an imperial crown, and