Breathing a Lighter Spirit

Did you hear about the ventriloquist who decided to go into another business, to become a spirit medium?

A lady comes to him and says she wants to contact her deceased mother and get her advice.  So he says okay, for ten dollars I can arrange it so your mother will materialize and speak to you.  But for fifteen dollars, she’ll do it while I’m drinking a glass of water.

Artemus Ward Among the Spirits

Petroleum V. Nasby Communes with Spirits

Letters to the Editor: A Scientific Controvery

     SPIRITUALISM—An enthusiastic believer was relating to a skeptic, certain spiritual performances to which he could testify, and among other things, he said that, on one occasion, the spirit of his wife who had been dead for several years returned to him, and, seating herself upon his knees, put her arms around him and kissed him, much to his gratification, as she used to do when living.
     “You do not mean to say,” remarked the skeptic, “that the spirit of your wife really embraced and kissed you?”
     “No, not exactly that,” replied the believer, “but her spirit took possession of a female medium, and, through her, embraced and kissed me!”

Union (Utah) Vedette, June 17, 1864

     Reporter—“Madam Gostwok, the spiritualist, does an enormous business.”
     Publisher—“That’s because she’s such a good advertising medium.”—Judge.

     Spiritualist—I have related my wonderful experience; upon what theory can you explain it?
     Skeptic—Upon the theory that you are a liar.—The Sun

Star and Sentinel (Gettysburg, Pa.), December 3, 1889.

     The tramps last night were only enjoying a spiritualist camp meeting of a peculiar style, on a small scale.  The alcoholic spirit manifested itself too powerfully, materialized itself, so to speak, and became unmanageable.

Bucks County Gazette (Bristol, Penn.), July 24, 1879.

     Facetious Gent—I can tell from your looks that you believe in spiritualism.  Am I right?
     Solemn Waiter—Well, I do have some faith in table-tipping.—Indianapolis Journal.

Daily Herald (Delphos, Oh.), June 22, 1899.

     Said Fogg, as he slipped a coin in the waiter’s hand, “I am not a Spiritualist, but I occasionally indulge in table tipping.”

Stephens Point (Wisc.) Daily Journal, September 10, 1881.

     A spiritualist may tip the table, but it is the chap who tips the waiter who gets the most attention.

Trenton (N. J.) Times, June 15, 1894.

     A querist, who signs himself “Spiritualist,” writes that he is somewhat superstitious, and that the other day he upset the dinner-table, with all the dishes on.  He wants to know what it is a sign of.  We shall answer him to the best of our ability.
     If his wife comes in before he has the dishes picked up, it’s a sign that he’s going to travel around for a week or more with his head looking like a mop of a slaughter-house.
     If the table was upset before he had his dinner, it’s a sign that he won’t have the night-mare.
     If the baby was on the floor it’s a sign that he knows how many laps there are around his bedroom, and how much soothing syrup a young one will hold without slopping over.
     If he isn’t an editor, and there was anything but crackers and cheese on the spread, it’s a sign that he’ll know how much a new carpet will cost.
     It depends altogether upon what she hit him with, whether he had better take lessons in the deaf and dumb language, or wait and see how long it will take his jaw to get as good as new.
     And last, but by no means least, we say it may be a sign that he was drunk.—New York Dispatch.

Herald and Torch Light (Hagerstown, Md.), April 27, 1881.

     Tom Thumb has become a Spiritualist, but he is not a medium.  He’s much too small for medium.  He’s hardly half medium.—Norristown Herald.

Lafayette (La.) Advertiser, February 11, 1882.

     The height of a spiritualist—somewhere below the medium.

Decatur (Ill.) Review, October 28, 1885.

     When a spiritualist dies poor he seldom leaves a rap behind.

Atlanta Constitution, April 15, 1882.

     A Democratic brother having departed this life, his mourning wife visited a noted spiritualist and queried, “Is my husband happy?”  “Yes,” was the prompt reply; “he has everything his heart desires.”  “Thank heaven,” says the good wife, “he has got it at last.”  “Got what?” queried the medium.  “Got what he longed for most on earth, a post-office.”

Decatur (Ill.) Daily Republican, August 14, 1885.  [Appointments to local postmaster positions were much coveted by political party operatives as sinecures awarded to them.]

     Chauncey Depew told a good story about the old spiritualist who died and his neighbors thought he ought to have a decent Christian burial, and so they got an old village preacher to officiate, and he prayed at the open grave and sung a hymn, and then was making a few sympathetic remarks about the uncertainty of life and the duty of preparing for death, and so forth, when suddenly the bereaved widow, who was a spiritualist too, rose forward and said: “Stop—stop right now, Mr. Johnson.  I’ve just had a communication from my deceased husband in the coffin there, and he says you are an old fool, and everything you have said is a lie.”
     The good old preacher was set back and embarrassed for a moment, and his voice trembled and his eyes got watery as he said: “My friends I have been preaching the gospel for forty years, week in and week out, and I have helped to bury most every man, woman and child who has died in this settlement, but this is the first time in all my life that I was ever sassed by a corpse—and now you may throw in the dirt, for I’m done.”

Atlanta Constitution, January 29, 1893.

     A spiritualist who endeavored to enlighten the people of Waco, Texas, met with a cool reception.  In his opening talk he said that he had come to teach the people, and was, in fact, an “ameliorator.”  This moved a good old brother to rise to his feet with the remark that “the rayless chambers of eternal death are full of just such ameliorators with their arms and legs sticking out of the doors and windows.”  The spiritualist subsided.

Atlanta Constitution, July 11, 1885.

     The scene is laid at a Spiritualist assembly, and the medium has evoked a departed spirit of the mighty dead.  The following conversation then takes place amidst an excited hush:
     “Is the spirit of Epaminondas present?”
     (Three affirmative knocks.)
     “And do you recognize me, bright visitant from a better clime?”
     (Three affirmative knocks.)
     “Who am I?”
     “An infernal ass!” spelled out the spirit of Epaminondas.

Newark (Ohio) Daily Advocate, March 10, 1883.

     An ardent spiritualist asked a Milwaukee Sentinel reporter if he would like to be convinced, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that his religion was the true one.  “I know that you heard the late Ole Bull play his violin a great many times,” he said.  “You would recognize his style, his peculiarities of mastery over his instrument, wherever you found them, wouldn’t you?  What would you say if you saw a fiddle and bow, unaided by mortal hands, going through with precisely the motions that they did when Ole Bull played with them, and reproducing his music without a shade of deterioration?”  He took the journalist to a room where a small company was gathered by invitation.  He showed a violin which had been used, as he assured them, by the dead Norwegian artist.  It was a genuine Cremona, seventy years old, time worn and season stained, and “quite ghostly in its association.”
    After the spirit of Ole Bull had announced itself by raps, the manifestation took place.  The violin was raised, the bow crossed its strings, and the “Carnival of Venice” was played.  Nothing in the well remembered performance was lacking.  The delightful merits and marring mannerisms alike were accurately reproduced.  There was Ole Bull in every squeak and movement.  But the narrator conscientiously adds that a man held the fiddle and bow.  He was a violinist, and had for a great many years acted as Bull’s agent.  But the exhibitor explained that this was merely a passive medium, controlled wholly by the dead musician, and that the manifestation was just as convincing to any fair-minded person, as though no mortal hands had touched the instrument.

Bucks County Gazette, April 12, 1883.

     Old Spiritualist—“That coat you sold me is all going to pieces.”  Dealer—“Mein frient, you go to doo many of dose seances.  Dose spirits dake a vancy to dot fine coat und dey dematerialize it so as to haf it for dere-selves.”—Good News.

Placerville (Cal.) Democrat, March 21, 1891.

     A spiritualist asks: “Did you ever go into a dark room where you could see nothing and yet feel that there was something there?”  Yes, frequently, and the something unfortunately chanced to be a rocking chair—Yonkers Statesman.

Indiana (Pennsylvania) Democrat, May 21, 1890.

     A literary gentleman, a believer in Spiritualism, said that he was himself the subject of spiritual influence, under which he always wrote his articles, thus being, in the work of authorship, a medium.  “That,” remarked a pleasant friend, “may account for your mediocrity.”

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 30, 1872.

     A spiritualist and a pretty woman had this short talk:
     “I assure you, my dear madam,” said the former, “that I have only to touch a table, chair, basin or any other object whatever to make it whirl round.”
     “Oh! I can do something better than that,” replied the pretty woman.  “I have only to look at a man to make his head turn.”

Atchison Daily Globe, January 28, 1887.

     The circulating medium—the spiritualist who floats about the room.

Atchison Daily Globe, July 21, 1888.

     “And you think I’m going to be an angel?” said the dying editor.
     “I do,” said the minister.
     “Well, keep it dark: If the sheriff hears of it he’ll hunt up a spiritualist and levy on my wings!”

Atlanta Constitution, October 7, 1893.

     A Chicago woman sues for divorce and alleges she was influenced to marry her husband by a spiritualist, and that the ceremony was performed by a medium.  She thinks marriage by this medium is a failure and not a medium failure either.

Arizona Republican, October 16, 1894.

     Down in Whitsett, this state, a traveling Spiritualist gave a performance recently.  In the course of the evening, when the room was darkened, he said:
     “I have been requested by some of the men present to recall the spirits of their wives, who have gone before.  Keep perfectly quiet, friends—in one moment they will be with you.”
     “John,” whispered an old man in the audience, “Gimme my hat—quick!  I don’t mind meetin’ Molly in heaven, but I’ll be durned ef I want her to resume business on earth!”

Atlanta Constitution, September 9, 1897.

     A certain widow who lost her husband several years ago was told that she could communicate with him by consulting a spiritualist.  The medium was accordingly visited, and after the spiritualist announced that the husband was at the other end of the line the weeping widow eagerly approached.
     “Howdy, Henry,” she said between her sobs.
     “Howdy, Jane,” he replied, and then there was a brief silence while the widow cried.
     “Henry, are you happy?” she asked.
     The spirit did not reply immediately, but it finally said: “Yes.  Don’t see much difference between this and earth.”
     “Where are you, Henry, dear?”
     Another pause and then, “I am in hell.”—Philadelphia Press.

Denton (Md.) Journal, August 24, 1895.

     An old gentleman, apparently from the country, one day entered the room of a medium and expressed a desire for a “spirit communication.”  He was told to take a seat at the table and to write the names of his deceased relatives.  The medium, like many others, incorrectly pronounced the term “deceased” the same as “diseased,” sound the s like z.  The old gentleman carefully adjusted his “specs” and did what was required of him.  A name and relationship having been selected from those written, the investigator was desired to examine and state if they referred to one party.
     “I declare they do,” said he.  “But I say, mister, what has them papers to do with a spirit communication?”
     “You will see directly,” replied the medium.
     Whereupon the latter spasmodically wrote a “communication,” which read somewhat as follows:
     “My dear husband, I am very glad to be able to address you through this channel.  Keep on investigating, and you will soon be convinced of the fact of spirit intercourse.  I am happy in my spirit home, patiently awaiting the time when you will join me here, etc.  Your loving wife, Betsy.”
     “Good gracious, but my old woman can’t be dead,” said the investigator, “for I left her at home!”
     “Not dead!” exclaimed the medium.  “Did I not tell you to write the names of ‘deceased’ relatives?”
     “Diseased!” returned the old man.  “She ain’t anything else, for she’s had the rumatiz orfully for six months!”—Tit-Bits.

Lowell (Mass.) Daily Sun, July 5, 1894.

     Ex-President Cleveland may not be a Spiritualist, as has been asserted, but it cannot be questioned that he was the medium through which a Republican president has materialized.

Morning Oregonian (Portland), March 11, 1889.

     SPIRITUALISM—“In the twelfth hour the glory of God, the life of God, the Lord in God, the holy procedure, shall crown the Triune Creator with the perfect disclosive illumination.  Then shall the creation in its effulgence above the divine seraphine, arise into the dome of the disclosure in one comprehensive revolving galaxy of supreme created beatitude”—Spiritual (N.Y.) Harbinger.
     To which the Cayuga Chief learnedly responds:
     “Then shall blockheadism, the jackassical dome of disclosive procedure, above the allfired great leather fungus of Peter Nipninneygo, the great gooseberry grinder, rise into the dome disclosive until coequal, co-extensive and conglomerated lumaxes, in one grand comprehensive mux, shall assimilate into nothing and revolve like a bob-tailed pussey-cat after the space where the tail was.”

Union (Utah) Vedette, June 20, 1864.

The Dingbat Family
By Herriman
They Get Their Signals Crossed
February 1912

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