Spirit Orators Celebrate Lincoln’s Election

Alonzo Eliot Newton, “The Transmission of Thought,” Brittan’s Journal: Spiritual Science, Literature, Art and Inspiration, January 1874: 33-34

It was my privilege to attend a public meeting held in Boston immediately after the exciting Presidential campaign in which Abraham Lincoln was first chosen President of the United States.  The meeting was one of congratulation and rejoicing upon that event, and it was to be addressed by that “silver-tongued orator,” Wendell Phillips, to whom all delight to listen, whether in sympathy with his thought or otherwise.  The audience was immense, and the enthusiasm unbounded.  I had the good fortune to have by my side an intimate and trusty companion [i.e., Alonzo’s wife Sarah], who at times was gifted by an opening of the inner senses, which revealed the presence of beings invisible to the common eye.  Nothing of the kind, however, was anticipated on this occasion, and what followed was as surprising as it was significant to us both.  As the orator stepped upon the platform, and began his address, my companion whispered to me that she saw, as it were above and in his rear, another platform, or a vast amphitheatre, on which were assembled a noble array of dignified and shining beings, with countenances all aglow with interest in the occasion.  Among those in the foreground she soon distinguished the unmistakable lineaments of a large number of the patriots, statesmen, and worthies of American history, prominent among whom was the majestic form of Washington, who appeared to be an object of deferential regard by all the assembled host, and spokesman or master of ceremonies for the occasion.  Intently regarding this unexpected scene, she soon perceived that the chief personages revealed to her vision were in some way unitedly engaged in giving expression to thoughts, accompanied by symbolic representations, of wonderful artistic beauty and force of significance, and evidently appropriate to the object of the meeting there convened.  At my request, she repeated to me, in a low whisper, as fully as possible, the ideas she received, and described the imagery which was made to pass before her surprised vision.  Listening to her words, and at the same time to the eloquent language of the visible orator, I soon perceived that the latter was but following in the same track, and repeating the substantial ideas—sometimes the very words—which had a moment before been whispered in my ear.  When he indulged, as was his wont, in a figure of speech, he but dimly indicated what had just been presented as a vivid picture before my companion’s vision!

This continued through the whole address, which was delivered apparently impromptu, and was one of Mr. Phillips’ most thrilling and commanding efforts, as will be remembered by thousands who heard it.

To us this incident, which has been paralleled by many others of a similar significance, furnished conclusive proof that this chief of orators on the American platform is at times (that he is always, is not affirmed) a medium for the transmission of thought from exalted minds once tabernacled in clay.  And if this be true of Mr. Phillips, it is and has been doubtless equally true of many other distinguished speakers and writers throughout the world, and in all times.

Whether or not the eminent orator referred to was at that time, or is ever, conscious of any extraneous influence exerted upon him; or, if so, whether he is aware of the true nature and source of “that flowing river which out of regions he sees not, pours for a season its streams into him,” I know not.  Consciousness of such influence appears to depend upon some peculiarity of organism or temperament.  But instances are not wanting of public men and authors of high repute, who have been both sensible of such inspirational aid, and aware of its source—as they have acknowledged in private to confidential friends—but who have refrained from avowing the fact to the world, through motives of prudence or policy.  Whether this has been wise or otherwise on their part, I presume not to judge.


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