Picture of Andrew Jackson Davis

[“Uncle Bill” in Chicago Herald.]

The queerest preacher in the New York is Andrew Jackson Davis.  He is a Spiritualist, and I am not going to write a word for or against the soundness of his doctrines.  At all events, they are not more unique than his person.  Spiritualism has no such hold, numerically or intellectually, here in New York, as it has in Boston, Philadelphia, or Chicago; and Davis’ congregation is very small, besides evidently unable, as a whole, to comprehend his complex and speculative teachings.  Davis is at the head to-day, I suppose, of all the honest believers in spiritual communication.  In the street or on the platform he is worth looking at, whatever may be the opinion as to listening to him.  He is a little above the medium height, thin to emaciation, and straight in a squeezed-up way, as though he had beenlaid on his back under a heavy board when young and plastic.  His head is a five-story structure, but built on a narrow lot.  His nose would never be mistaken for anything else than Roman, and he has black whiskers that are the only commonplace thing about him.

He is intensely clerical in aspect, his broadcloth being smoother, his coat higher in the neck or more single-breasted, his hair longer and his spectacles glassier, than are often seen in an orthodox pulpit.  He has visions, and shows it.  A far-away look and a disregard of adjacent earthly matters are explained by his friends as the signs of spiritual intercourse.  He may at the time be walking the street, or eating his dinner.  He cannot be accused of mercenary insincerity.  His preaching yields a slender income, he has nothing to do with séances for fees, and he might prosper by turning his talents to something else than the hard job of converting the world to his own religion.  It was in a downtown restaurant that I made this ketch of him.  Between the ordering of a steak and its delivery a trance came upon him.  He had entered hungry, as his eager directions to the waiter regarding the necessity for rareness and juiciness in the beef clearly proved.  But when it was placed before him he gazed vacantly over it into the spirit land; and when he returned to the earthly life it was uneatably cold.  Can you doubt his honesty now?

Fort Wayne (Indiana) Daily Gazette, February 2, 1884.


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