14 May, 1845.
THE LATE THOMAS HOOD.
—was the son of Mr Hood, the Bookseller, of the firm of Vernor and Hood.
He gave to the public an outline of his early life, in the "Literary Reminiscences" published in
Hood's Own. He was, as he there states, early placed "upon lofty stool, at lofty desk," in a merchant's counting-house; but his commercial career was soon put an end to by his health, which began to fail; and by the recommendation of the physicians he was "shipped, as per advice, in a Scotch smack," to his father's relations
in Dundee. There he made his first literary venture in the local
journals: subsequently he sent a paper to the Dundee Magazine, the editor of which was kind enough, as Winifred Jenkins says, "to wrap my bit of nonsense under his Honour's kiver, without charging for its insertion."
Literature, however, was then only thought of as an amusement; for on his return to London, he was, we believe apprenticed to an uncle as an engraver, and subsequently transferred to one of the Le Keux.
But though he always retained his early love of art and had much facility in drawing, as the numberless quaint illustrations to his works testify, his tendencies were literary, and when, on the death of Mr John Scott, the
London Magazine passed into the hands of Messrs Taylor & Hessey, Mr Hood was installed in a sort of sub-editorship.
From that time his career has been open and known to the public.
The following is, we apprehend, something like a catalogue of Mr Hood's works, dating from the period when his "Odes and Addresses," written in conjunction with his brother-in-law, Mr J H. Reynolds, brought him prominently before the public:—"Whims and
Oddities;" "National Tales;" "The Plea of the Midsummer Fairies" (a volume full of rich, imaginative poetry); "The Comic Annuals," subsequently reproduced with the addition of new matter
as "Hood's Own;" "Tylney Hall; "Up the Rhine;" and "Whimsicalities; a Periodical Gathering."
Nor must we forget one year's editorship of "The Gem," since that included "Eugene Aram's Dream," a ballad which we imagine will live as long as the language.
Of later days Mr Hood was an occasional contributor to Punch's casket at mirth and benevolence; and, perhaps, his last offering, "The Song of the Shirt," was his best—a poem of which the imitations have been countless, and the moral effect immeasurable.
[The above short memoir is extracted from a kindly notice of Mr Hood in the
Athenæum, and gives a general idea of his multifarious labours.
Mr Hood's reputation is chiefly founded upon his unequalled talents as a wit and humorist, but he had many higher claims upon the voice of fame.
He was possessed of poetical powers of no mean order, as many of his descriptive sketches amply testify; and the ballad, "Eugene Aram's Dream," mentioned in the preceding sketch, is one of the most powerful pictures of the workings of remorse and guilty terror to be found in any language.
As a novelist, also, Mr Hood is worthy of a high place; and though "Tylney Hall" is the only regular novel he has ever completed (for a second was being published in "Hood's Magazine," under the title of "Our Family," when the author's hand was arrested by his final illness), yet it alone is amply sufficient to establish his excellence in this department.
We perceive that some regret has been expressed that Mr Hood should have expended his genius upon the light periodical literature of the day; but in our opinion such expressions are less justifiable than they at first eight appear to be.
His writings in magazines and elsewhere have cheered the leisure hours of many whom otherwise they might never have reached; he has diffused among thousands of his countrymen much innocent and cheerful amusement, thus contributing largely to the general fund of happiness.
And not only so, for the majority of his works were of such a nature as to instruct as well as to amuse—to improve the heart and the feelings, as well as to gratify the imagination.
The moral tendency of Mr Hood's writings was always of the highest and most unimpeachable kind, his sympathies were strong and active, yet tender and sensitive, and even in his most light-hearted moods, he would sometimes touch some of the hidden springs of the heart, and delicately appeal to the most tender and sacred feelings of our nature. There was often deep thoughtfulness in his smiles, and tears would sometimes mingle with his most joyous laughter.
We quite concur in the opinion of the writer in the Athenæum, that "the world will presently feel how much poorer it is for Hood's withdrawal."]
lecture engagements, 1852.....
Author of "Voices of Freedom and Lyrics of Love," will deliver lectures on
the following subjects, to Working Men's Associations, Mechanics
Institutes, &c., &c., who may think fit to engage his services.
A course of Six Lectures on our chief living Poets.
A course of Six Lectures on English Literature, from Chaucer
the present time.
Cromwell and the Commonwealth.
The Poetry of Wordsworth, and its influence on the Age.
The Ideal of Democracy.
The Ballad Poetry of Ireland and Scotland.
Thomas Carlyle and his writings.
Russell Lowell, the American Poet, his Poems and
Shakespeare—his Genius, Age, and Contemporaries.
The Prose and Poetry of the Rev. Chas. Kingsly.
The Age of Shams and Era of Humbug.
The Sonz-literature of Germany and Hungary.
Phrenology, the Science of Human Nature.
Chatterton, a Literary Tragedy.
The Life, Genius and Poetry of Shelley.
On the necessity of Cultivating the Imagination.
American Literature, with pictures of transatlantic Authors.
Burns, and the Poets of the People.
The curse of Competition and the beauty of Brotherhood.
John Milton: his Character, Life and Genius.
Genius, Talent and Tact, with illustrations from among living
The Hero as the Worker, with illustrious instance of the
as the Teacher.
Mirabeau, a Life History.
On the effects of Physical and mental Impressions.
For particulars and terms, apply to Gerald Massey, 56, Upper
Charlotte-street, Fitzroy Square, London
In answer to some communications which I have received from
good friends in provincial towns, &c., I may say that with the coming
spring, I intend making a lecturing tour through the Country, should I
succeed in making satisfactory arrangements.
MS. National Library
FRESHWATER, I. OF WIGHT,
April 1, 1854
My dear Sir
In consequence of my change of residence I did not receive your
captivating volume till yesterday. I am no reader of papers and reviews;
I had not seen, nor even heard of any of your poems; my joy was all the
fresher and the greater in thus suddenly coming on a poet of such fine
lyrical impulse, and of so rich, half-oriental imagination. It must be
granted that you make our good old English tongue crack and sweat for it
occasionally; but Time will chasten all that. Go on and prosper and
believe me grateful for your gift and
Yours most truly
MS. National Library
FARRINGFORD, FRESHWATER, I.
OF WIGHT, July 11, 1855
Dear Mr. Massey.
Will you accept a little volume from me of my own poems? I have
ordered Moxon to forward one to you. My mother now between 70 and 80,
one who takes far more interest in the next world than in this, and not
generally given to the reading of literature, was quite delighted with
your paper in Hogg's Instructor. Believe me, dear Mr Massey,
Yours very Truly
MS. John Hopkins
11 August 1855
Dear Mr Massey
Many thanks for the Critique in the Edinburgh paper [Ed.―Edinburgh
News and Literary Chronicle, 28th July] which I suppose you sent me.
You have done wisely in not attempting, as most other of the periodical
writers have done, a full explanation of the poem. Men should read and
ponder over a work before they judge it: to prejudge it is ten to one to
I trust you got a copy of Maud which I sent you, inscribed. I believe
you are quite right as to the conclusion of the Charge. I sent you a
copy of that version of it which I have just transmitted to the Crimea.
The Secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel out there
told a friend of mine that the ballad had in some strange way taken the
fancy of the soldiers: that half of them were singing it but that they
all knew it in fragments and that [all of them wanted it in black and
white. The chaplain of the Society wrote to the Society. 'You can do
no greater service] just now than to send out copies of the Charge
on slips for the army to sing.' Who could resist such an appeal? This is
the soldier's version and I dare say they are the best critics.
I trust my dear sir that you are by this time somewhat reconciled to the
loss of your child. Believe me,
Yours most truly
January 3, 1870
Dear Mr. Massey
I thank you for your Poems [Ed.—A Tale of Eternity and Other Poems
(1870)] and I send you an inscribed copy of The Holy Grail according to
your desire. I have been waiting for it or I should have answered
your note before.
I am by no means sure of being at home on 27th February but if you will
kindly give me an opportunity of communicating with you immediately
before I will let you know whether I am or not.
As to telling you what I think of your book, I am sorry that I cannot
promise to do much of that, having, as I think you know, been obliged to
decline all or nearly all criticism.
My wife begs to thank you for your inquiries. Believe me,
24 March, 1858.
MR GERALD MASSEY’S LECTURES.
— A large audience assembled in the Queen Street Hall on Monday evening to hear Mr Gerald Massey on
"Thomas Hood, and Wit and Humour."
Professor Simpson presided.
Mr Massey introduced his lecture with a pleasing definition of the varieties of wit and humour, and the healthy tendencies or genuine merriment.
As Jean-Paul Richter said, "The tear of holy sorrow is beautiful, but it is the tear of joy that is the diamond of the first water."
Hood's verse drew such tears, although the sad and melancholy predominated in his songs, and was rendered more effective by the force of sudden antithesis.
His humour was of the most ethereal kind....neither coarse, like Swift's, nor sarcastic like Byron's.....his wit was anchored fast in humanity.
That Hood was irreligious in many of his poems Mr Massey denied. The poet ridiculed pretence, hated humbug, exposed all' Pharasaical cant, stripped false sanctimony of its disguise and consumed it to ashes in the fire of his scorn, but with religion he played not.
Having drawn a graphic picture of the remarkable contrast between light and shade which was everywhere to be met with in Hood's
poetry—a contrast influenced equally by his love of humanity as by his own personal misfortunes. Mr Massey glanced at him in his grandest character, as the poet of the poor, into whose sufferings he looked with a friendly and a sympathising eye, and in whose cup of bitterness he had so often and deeply shared.
At the conclusion of the lecture, which was frequently applauded, a hearty vote of thanks was passed to Mr Massey on the motion of the chairman.
27 March, 1858.
MR GERALD MASSEY'S LECTURES.—On Thursday evening Mr Gerald Massey gave the last of his series of lectures in Queen Street Hall, the subject being
"The Poetry of Alfred Tennyson."
Lord Murray presided.
Mr Massey, by way of introduction, glanced at the two division of
Poetry—the objective and the subjective. Tennyson came under the subjective class; beginning his poetry with minute and careful particularising, and not like those who broadly handled the brush and produced effects not to be desired, his reputation was slowly and securely built.
Many people pretended to view his poetry unfavourably—
thought it vague, involved, and meaningless; but Tennyson never " moved with aimless
feet"—his verse was pregnant with meaning, and though at times subtle and obscure at first sight, this vagueness occurred only when the poet reached one of those eternal truths which, like a cut diamond, might be six -sided, and present as many meanings.
The stream of his speech might be deep—perhaps unfathomable to many—but it was never muddy, except through the splashings and flounderings of the reader.
The great function of the poet was to give expression to the beautiful; and surely he did well who translated a page of that language.
Tennyson's poetry was a world of beauty—not a world like Wordsworth's with the look of eternity in its aspect; not like Shelley's, so fantastic, so aspiring in its forms; not like Keats's, whose deity was Pan, who revelled in a wilderness of sweets, where the very weeds were fragrant; nor like Byron's, which was a volcano extinct.
Tennyson's world was like that fairer world of beauty of which they got glimpses only in the delectable views of the imagination.
It lay near heaven. It had a holy ground; it might be an invisible world to some, but others could glance up at it; it was a world where the mortal met with the immortal, and saw the spirits of the past move by grandly and solemnly, with music, perfect and ineffable, dying away into the faintest spirit-sweetness, seeming to be answered by an ethereal far-off echo in the life that is to come.
The lecturer showed that it required a refined and educated taste to appreciate the poetry of Tennyson, which was noble and moral and pure, having a womanly sanctity pervading it; he contrasted it with the poetry of Byron, noticing how the latter was sunk in self-consciousness, while the former was patriotic, and representing humanity.
He gave several readings from the more prominent of Tennyson's poems, and especially quoted from his
"In Memoriam," which possessed so wide a range of thought and beauty in its expression that he could not but consider it as the greatest poetic effort of the last two hundred
years—the climax and crown of Tennyson's poetic life, to be equalled by nothing he had yet done or would hereafter perform.
A letter published in the
21 December 1859
Tuesday, December 20, 1859.
you permit me to throw out a suggestion which may possibly be of some benefit to
railway travellers in these snowy days. Yesterday, I came from Darlington
to Edinburgh by the train which was due at 3.35. As you are aware the
North British line is blocked up between Dunbar and Cockburnspath, so that we
had to come round by Kelso. I had to lecture in Falkirk last night.
This I could not do unless we were in time for the six o'clock train. I
made Mr Maclaren, the gentleman sent by the North British Company to clear the
trains through, aware of the fact, and he did all that was possible to reach
Edinburgh by six. Indeed, in spite of the snow, we came from Kelso in
twelve minutes less time than the ordinary train should have done. We were
in at the place for ticket-taking as the clocks were striking six. I ran
up, and the next instant saw the Falkirk train in motion. One minute's
grace would have been sufficient; and that brings me to my point. At a
time like the present, it may happen again that a train going north when a train
is coming from the south may, by giving a minute or two, save a great deal of
annoyance and expense to passengers who may already had enough of both! There
is such a thing as telegraphic communication even where there may be no
friendlier feeling between railway companies. In this case, there were two
or more trains long due, and other passengers than me waiting to go on.
Allow me, on the part of these passengers and for myself, to thank Mr Maclaren,
of the North British Railway, for the energetic and unwearying efforts he made
to ensure safety and attain speed. We all pronounced him to be a "brick."—I am, &c.
BRITISH PRESS and JERSEY TIMES
28th Nov., 1862.
MR. GERALD MASSEY'S
LECTURES.—Last evening Mr. G. Massey delivered his first
lecture in the Lyric Hall, his theme being "Sir Charles James Napier, the
Conqueror of Scinde." There were about 150 ladies and gentlemen present.
H. L. Manuel, Esq., took the chair, and, in introducing the lecturer to the
meeting, made a few remarks on the happy change which had of late years taken
place in the transmission of knowledge. Mr. Massey then apologized for his
non-appearance on Wednesday evening, and explained that the occurrence arose
from two circumstances—the late delivery of a letter, and losing the boat by
three quarters of a minute. The greater part of the lecture was an heroic
on one of England's most successful generals. In drawing the portrait of
Sir Chas. Jas. Napier, the Lecturer aims at accuracy of delineation,
truthfulness of detail, and beauty of execution. He succeeds; and,
although it cannot be said that Mr. Massey is a first-class lecturer, it may
safely be stated that he is a writer of eminence, many of his beautiful lyrics
having won for him a world-wide celebrity. He is a young man who has nobly
fought his way to the present position among the literati, by whom he is
regarded as being much more successful as a writer than as a lecturer. His
lecture last night was frequently interrupted by applause, and, at its close, he
had the additional gratification of receiving a vote of thanks from the
BRITISH PRESS and JERSEY TIMES
29th Nov., 1862.
MR. GERALD MASSEY'S
SECOND LECTURE—The author of "Babe
Christabel" delivered his second lecture in the Lyric-hall last night, when the
number of ladies and gentlemen present very considerably exceeded the small
attendance of Thursday night. His subject was, "England's old Sea Kings;
how they lived, fought, and died." The lecturer appeared to be much more
at home than when drawing a picture of the life and exploits of the Conqueror of
Scinde, for although the tale of Sir Charles James Napier is a good one when
well told, it did not afford such scope for a display of Mr. Massey's high
poetical powers as the theme of England's Sea Kings. Having traced the
origin and progross of our maritime life up to the time of Elizabeth, Mr. Massey
showed clearly that we are deeply indebted for our supremacy on the seas the
genuine courage of the great Queen and the bravery of her admirals, foremost
among whom was the indomitable Drake. Its tells an excellent story,
showing the animus of haughty Spain, who instructed her admirals not to fail in
accomplishing two objects viz., "Take the Queen prisoner, and kill the Drake."
Fortunately for us, they did neither. The lecturer's descriptions of our
naval exploits were heart-thrilling and brilliant, and were received
enthusiastically by the audience. In the absence of Colonel Nicolle, Mr,
Wellman presided, and, at the close of the lecture, proposed a vote of thanks to
Mr. Massey, which was carried by acclamation.
BRITISH PRESS and JERSEY TIMES
5th Dec., 1862.
MRS. GERALD MASSEY'S
POETIC READING.—The talented wife of
the author of "Babe Christabel" gave a poetic reading last evening in the Lyric
Hall, about three parts of which were occupied by an intelligent audience of
ladies and gentlemen, with a few children. If an exception be made to the
weakness of this lady's voice, it may be said, with truth, that she reads very
well; her expression is sweet and pleasing, and her enunciation distinct.
The poems which she read embraced several of her gifted husband's best
productions, interspersed with choice selection from the Poet Laureate, Russell
Lowell, and poor Hood. Massey's touching "Poor Little Willie" was
charmingly rendered, as was also the poem "Nelson" (by the same author) and
"Lady Clare," by Tennyson. To Russell Lowell's enticing piece "The Courtin',"
full justice was done. That most pathetic piece of Hood's, "The Death
Bed," brought tears to many eyes, which were again lighted up with the treat of
"Under the Mistletoe," Massey's "Nicholas and the Lion," had many admirers, who
received a decided accession to their numbers when "Our Wee White Rose" was
given. "Sir Richard Grenville's Last Fight," is a fine production,
rendering infinite credit to the noble heart of the author. The
interesting entertainment closed with "A National Anthem," by Massey—the
auditory being evidently much gratified with what they had heard. We may
add that Mrs. Massey made a few pertinent remarks on the eminent poetic
abilities of the truly great Victor Hugo.
BRITISH PRESS and JERSEY TIMES
8th Dec., 1862.
MR. AND MRS.
MASSEY IN GUERNSEY.—We condense the
following from the Guernsey Star:—
On Monday evening a highly respectable audience, composed of
about 600 persons, assembled in the hall, the chair being occupied by Peter
Stafford Carey, Esq., Bailiff. To aid in a just appreciation of Mr.
Massey's merits we would mention that he is entirely a self-educated and
self-made man. The child of honest labouring parents, he at a very early
age, became a worker in a silk mill, and from thence went to London as an errand
boy. But he had that within him which compensated for the want of worldly
advantages, and by indomitable perseverance in reading he so trained himself as
to become a correct and able writer, stored his mind with various knowledge, and
at length made for himself a name amongst the lyrists of the day, affording in
his own person an encouraging example of what may be achieved by perseverance
applied to the culture of natural talent.—The subject subject of Mr. Massey's
reading on Monday evening was "Old England's Sea-Kings,—how they lived, fought
and died." It is not our purpose to follow Mr. Massey through his lecture.
He propounded the theory that the fighting element of the Anglo-Saxon character
was derived chiefly from the old Norsemen who had mixed themselves so largely
with the Celtic and Saxon population of Britain, and he then proceeded to
establish this theory by relating, from the Saga records the warlike deeds of
the Sea-Kings and their hardy followers. There was much of thought,
expressed in powerful and poetical language, in Mr. Massey's lecture, and we
found much to admire in his composition—much to confirm the reputation to which
he has attained. We should observe that Mr. Massey is not an elocutionist,
and that, consequently, his reading did but imperfect justice to his matter.—On
Wednesday evening Mrs. Massey gave readings from her husband's poetry, and from
that of Tennyson, Hood, Russell, and Lowell, before a meeting presided by the
Rev. A. Crisp. Mrs. Massey read in what may be termed "a drawing room"
style, without any attempt at declamation. Her reading was intelligent and
touching and was much applauded.
THE LIVING AGE
Volume IV, 1867.
you come and call on Jean Ingelow?” said my hostess, one fine day.
Of course I would. So away we went along a shady lane, with the old
oaks of Holland Park on the one side and the ivy-crowned walls of Aubury
House on the other; for, though a part of London, Notting Hill is rich in
gardens, lawns, and parks, such as one sees only in England. Our way
led us by Kensington Palace, the residences of Addison, the Duke of
Argyle, Macaulay, and, better than all the rest to me, the house of
Thackeray. A low, long brick house, covered with ivy to the chimney
top; a sunny bit of lawn in front, trees and flowers all about, and,
though no longer haunted by the genial presence of its former master, this
unpretending place is to many eyes more attractive than any palace in the
land. I looked long and lovingly at it, feeling a strong desire to
enter its hospitably open door, recalling with ever fresh delight the
evening spent in listening to the lecture on Swift long ago in America,
and experiencing again the heavy sense of loss which came to me with the
tidings that the novelist whom I most loved and admired would never write
again. Leaving my tribute of affection and respect in a look, a
smile, and a sigh, I gathered a leaf of ivy as a relic, and went on my
way. Coming at last to a quiet street, where all the houses were gay
with window boxes full of flowers, we reached Miss Ingelow’s. In the
drawing-room we found the mother of the poetess, a truly beautiful old
lady, in widow’s cap and gown, with the sweetest, serenest face I ever
saw. Two daughters sat with her, both older than I had fancied them
to be, but both very attractive women. Eliza looked as if she wrote
the poetry, Jean the prose —the former wore curls, had a delicate face,
fine eyes, and that indescribable something which suggests genius; the
latter was plain, rather stout, hair touched with gray, shy, yet cordial
manners, and a clear, straightforward glance, which I liked so much that I
forgave her on the spot for writing these dull stories. Gerald
Massey was with them, a dapper little man, with a large, tall
head, and very un-English manner. Being oppressed with "the
mountainous me,” he rather bored the company with "my poems, my plans, and
my publishers,” till Miss Eliza politely devoted herself to him, leaving
my friend to chat with the lovely old lady, and myself with Jean.
Both being bashful, and both labouring under the delusion that it was
proper to allude to each other’s works, we tried to exchange a few
compliments, blushed, hesitated, laughed, and wisely took refuge in a
safer subject. Jean had been abroad, so we pleasantly compared
notes, and I enjoyed the sound of a peculiarly musical voice, in which I
seemed to hear the breezy rhythm of some of her charming songs. The
ice which surrounds every Englishman and woman was beginning to melt, when
Massey disturbed me to ask what was thought of his books in
America. As I really had not the remotest idea, I said so; whereat
he looked blank, and fell upon Longfellow, who seems to be the only one of
our poets whom the English know or care about. The conversation
became general, and soon after it was necessary to leave, lest the safety
of the nation should be endangered by overstepping the fixed limits of a
morning call. Later I heard that Miss Ingelow was extremely
conservative, and was very indignant when a petition for women's rights to
vote was offered for her signature. A rampant Radical told me this,
and shook her handsome head pathetically over Jean's narrowness; but when
I heard that once a week several poor souls dined comfortably in the
pleasant home of the poetess, I forgave her conservatism, and regretted
that an unconquerable aversion to dinner parties made me decline her
—M. L. Alcott
in the "Queen."
Massey reviews Jean
Ingelow's Poems for the Athenæum.
12 December, 1868.
Thursday evening, a lecture on the "The Sea Kings of England” was delivered
at the Town Hall, Portobello, by Mr Gerald Massey. The room was completely
filled by a fashionable and attentive audience.
In the first part of the lecture Mr Massey treated of the virtues
and the vices of the old Norse Vi-Kings, of their heroism, endurance of pain,
love of adventure, grim humour, and deep-seated tenderness, as well as of their
influence on our national life and character; in the second, he dwelt on the
revival of the sea-spirit in the Elizabethan Age, and did full justice to the
memory of Granville, Gilbert, Drake and many other worthy.
To show that there was life in the old land yet, he concluded a
most eloquent and animated narrative with graphic descriptions of the cavalry at
Balaclava, and the wreck of the Birkenhead.
THE MEDIUM AND DAYBREAK
17 February 1871
GERALD MASSEY ON SPIRITUALISM.
On Tuesday last, Gerald Massey the poet, lectured at Ulverston,
Lancashire, on "Pre-Raphaelitism, a Plea for Reality." The lecture
was an eloquent, advocacy of "Truth," whether in painting, literature,
sculpture, or religion. In the course, of his remarks Mr. Massey
referred to the supernaturalism of the age. He thought great harm
was done by regarding Spirituality as something to be reached only by an
act of faith. The fact was, life was but a portion of eternity, and
was quite as great a mystery as ever death could be. We wanted more
naturalism in our religion. He looked upon the spiritual world as
ever round about us. He pictured disembodied spirits as ever
carrying on God's work, and occasionally they gave us glimpses of his
glory and his love. That was his idea of the realism of the
supernatural. It had, however, he could assure his hearers, taken
long and deep inquiry to arrive at such a conclusion. Gerald Massey
is a thorough believer in Spiritualism, and his latest work, "A Tale of
Eternity, and other Poems," which appeared simultaneously with Tennyson's
"Holy Grail," is full of his personal experiences. In an article on
the "Self-made Men of Our Times," which appears in last week's Chimney
Corner (an illustrated periodical), the story of Gerald Massey's life
is told, and the writer describes him as "a true poet," and a man of "the
most exalted character." Nevertheless the biographer finds it hard,
as do most of his class, to accept the facts of Spiritualism which Gerald
Massey narrates. This is how be gets over the difficulty:—
"We do not pretend to be very deeply versed in the doctrines
of Spiritualism, nor indeed do we believe much in the supernatural, but we
do not think that such testimony as Mr. Massey's is altogether to be
ignored, though to us it does not appear necessary to go out of the world
of reality to account for phenomena which Spiritualists themselves admit
are only exceptional, and which may be easily accounted for in some
peculiarity of the temperament of the so-called "medium." Every
imaginative mind has experienced its capacity for realising visions which
itself creates, and, by excessive indulgence in this capacity, the mind
may be strained to a state of tension that becomes almost dangerous.
Gerald Massey himself best illustrates this view in the following passage
of this remarkable poem:—
'One night as I lay musing on my bed,
The veil was rent that shows the dead not dead.
Upon a picture I had fixed mine eyes,
Till slowly it began to magnetise:
So the ecstatics on their symbol stare,
Until the Cross fades and the Christ is there!'
the theory that forms the basis of this poem, the utterances that spring
out of it display a mind in the author capable of the deepest and
profoundest thoughts on subjects that affect humanity more nearly than
anything else, and we are very far from agreeing with some of his critics
that such subjects are not fit ones for poetry. What we are, and
whence, and whither we tend, are not questions of mere theology; they are
the questions that man has endeavoured to solve for thousands of years.
Who ever objected, on the score of theology, to Wordsworth's 'Ode on the
Intimations or Immortality,' or to Shelley's 'Hymn to Intellectual
Beauty'? The 'Tale of Eternity'
has the same spiritual tendency, and exhibits a grasp of intellect, in
clearing away the films of matter, and contemplating 'the awful presence
of that Unseen Power' which exists beyond, equal if not superior to
THE MEDIUM AND DAYBREAK
5 October 1883
WHY DOES NOT GOD KILL THE DEVIL?
(Man Friday's Crucial Question )
DELIVERED IN ST. GEORGE'S
HALL, LANGHAM PLACE,
AFTERNOON, SEP. 30TH,
This lecture, the last of the series, was better attended
than any of those previous. The audience had come to know what to
expect, and they took their places with a feeling of familiar confidence.
The lecturer was equally at home, and performed his task with great
freedom. The voice was clear, powerful, and sonorous, and could have
been perfectly heard in any part of a hall three times as large.
There was a flow of humour, and feeling of vivacity about the manner of
delivery which gave a charm to the lecture. It was the most
practical of the series; the application of the whole question.
Though its lively sallies were received with irrepressible laughter, yet
it had an equal proportion of passages that moved the deepest and most
sacred feelings of the audience.
The Lecturer introduced his subject by observing that the
savage laughed at the statement that man could live after death without a
body. The human intellect began by recognising things—thing-king.
The metaphysicians, whom he had called impostors, were literally so, for
they imposed a system of words upon the things that had been previously
observed. Thus Plato bridged over the chasm between the system of
Egypt and the Christian Fathers, leading to chaotic misrepresentation.
Thus the doctrine of the trinity was shown to originate in the phases of
the moon, which, when full, represented the mother, in the quarter it was
the child, while the sharp horn of the new moon was the reproducing male.
These phases represented the moon in totality, as man is represented by
father, mother, and child. The three are one.
The metaphysician uses words without any facts of his knowing
to represent them. Thus the Spiritualist calls certain
manifestations by the name of materializations, and yet knows nothing of
spirit any more than the materialist knows of matter, or the mentalists of
mind. Such people could not explain themselves: like Crusoe, when
Friday asked him if God could not kill the Devil, being so strong, they
pretend not to hear inconvenient questions.
The Lecturer traced the origines of the dualism known amongst
us as God and Devil. These were darkness and light; Cain and Abel,
one of which slew the other; Esau and Jacob, having a feud with each other
even before they were born, they were supplanters and destroyers of one
another. The myths of the Bible representing this dualism were found
amongst savages. Night, or darkness, was the measurer of time, and
observed in advance of light as a fact in nature. The devil, or the
dark brother, took the precedence of God, or the good brother in the
savage myths. The Hebrew Satan was the Adversary—darkness—which
swallowed up the light incessantly. The Lecturer at full length
showed that in early times no devil was understood to be behind the
darkness: the darkness itself was the devil. To illustrate he showed
that the animals after which constellations are named were not animals,
but images of natural phenomena. It was pointed out that the duality
of God and Devil existed in Egypt, and another form, the twin Christ, had
been discovered in the Catacombs of Rome. The duality was then
traced by the speaker into mental and moral states: the enlightened and
dark mind, the flesh and the spirit. The misunderstandings were
pointed out which result from the transference of this primitive fetishism
into modern theology, of which the mind of the present day is the victim.
Luther and Calvin did much to set up the Satan of modern Churches, the Romish Church knowing too much of his antecedents to make much of him.
Having repudiated the mythical Church devil and the hell
where he is supposed to dwell, the Lecturer gave a forcible illustration
of the "devil" revealed by Spiritualism. In powerful language, he
showed how the consequences of earth-life followed the spirit into the
future state, returning again as a tempter to man on earth. But in
some cases man was the tempter of those undeveloped spirits, by holding
out in his own undeveloped vicious state, conditions through which these
evil spirits can approach earth and gratify their passions. The only
devil is the Nemesis that follows broken laws, in heredity, personal acts,
&c. This was a hell more terrible than that of the Church.
To illustrate how evil affects in various ways man's
condition, he read a poem relating a legend of a youth and an angel
passing a dead dog in a state of putrefaction. The youth was almost
suffocated by the bad smell, whereas the angel did not at all perceive it.
Further on they met a beautiful woman. The youth was ravished by her
attractions, whereas the angel could not approach her, the influence of
her surroundings were so disagreeable to him. The decaying dog was
too far down in the scale to affect the angel, whereas the worldly
passions of the woman which fascinated the youth repelled the angel.
The passions, like a fever, had to burn themselves out; when
no trace of them were left in us, then their analogues in the spirit world
would be unable to influence us. When a natural appetite became a
lust, and led the attractions to a lower state, then it was enthralling to
man's spirit. The miser would have to haunt the treasure left on
earth till it was all distributed. By overlooking these
considerations man had failed to recognise the true devil, which every man
has within him, his worse self, which has to be overcome by the better.
The Lecturer then reviewed the many abuses in society that
extend beyond the province of personal effort or responsibility, and
appealed to all to co-operate to destroy the causes of evil prevailing
amongst us. God is not the author of this evil; we shed it on his
creation. It is the consequence of evolution, and has to be
continually combatted with as man rises. Thus treated evils were
blessings in disguise. When a thing is seen to be evil, then it must
be abandoned and substituted by good: and thus the "devil" may be
The use of pain was shown as necessary to the perfection of
conditions inhuman life. Pain and suffering were not a curse, but
the result of ignorance and its conditions, and therefore an incentive to
improvement. Man is so much of one family that "own-hookism" cannot
be practiced. If the condition of the masses leads to disease, the
wealthy who are better placed may fall victims to the infection. The
condition of the poor was sketched with much pathos; persons "who neither
go to church nor chapel." The sectarian, it was said sarcastically,
would possibly attempt to remedy the matter, by spending money on building
more churches, and appointing another bishop, instead of improved
dwellings for the sufferers from man's avarice. He held that we are
all responsible for the welfare of man as a whole. He ridiculed that
selfish policy which strives for an individual salvation and the "rights
of property" utterly callous as to the welfare of others. There was
enough in the world for the use of all, and man required a salvation by
which everyone would be able to live his best. He was not so
concerned about another world as this one. Here our duty for the
present lay, and by attending to it the best preparation could be made for
what might follow.
But the considerations arising from the fact of a future life
were introduced in a most powerful manner. That there is a realm
beyond the visible introduced a new factor into man's life on earth.
The reign of law extended beyond the visible and the present. There
was no longer the idea of "blind force," but an eye and an intelligence
dominating all things. Spiritualism showed that man is not alone in
the universe, whether there be a God or not. But thought opened up a
vista of possibilities which turned the ground of materialism into a
Godwin's Sands. As to a personal God, he considered it premature to
speak decidedly: a true conception on this point was coming in the future.
He had great sympathy with the atheist, who had no alternative but the
fetish of the primitive man. That kind of God was the cause of
atheism; and it was better to be blind than to see falsely. He
seldom used the name of God; it had been so long taken in vain by the
orthodox blasphemers. With great delicacy of statement the lecturer
regarded the question of God as private with each soul. "It is a
consciousness working under conditions like his own consciousness."
Man's relations to God in the matter of prayer was discussed.
He did not recognise a God that played fast loose with the laws of nature:
a weathercock placed on the top of creation, and which could be turned in
any direction if sufficient human lung power could be obtained to blow it.
The land laws were examined, and the complicity of the Church
in all abuses that demanded legal reform. The bishops would not even
vote for the poor pigeons. The savage sport of the landowners, and
the monopoly it maintained was the inscrutable cause of the origin of much
evil that the Church professed to bewail. The policy of the 30,000
thieves who invaded us as Hastings—the eaters up of the land—was
contrasted with that of the clansmen. The evil of large farms and
fancy farming was pointed out. The productive powers of these
islands had never been tested. The Church stands in the way of any
effort to remove these evils. The Church, indeed, opposed all
progress. Its cruel and unjust plan of salvation was represented by
the vivisection of animals on the plea that such suffering is for the good
The lecture closed with an eloquent appeal for action to be
immediately taken to promote the kingdom of heaven on earth. Though
the Church stood in the way, it was nearly "played out," to use an
American phrase. He called on the misdirected worshippers to get up
from their knees and work for the better kingdom, and do all that might be
required for its establishment. All the evils that exist are of
man's making, and by him alone can they be removed. So God cannot
kill the devil.
Having concluded his lecture amid great enthusiasm on the
part of the audience, Mr. Massey remarked that before he went on the
platform it had been suggested to him that a vote of thanks should be
proposed to the lecturer. He thought it would be better for the thanks to
proceed from the lecturer; he therefore very sincerely thanked his
audience for their attendance and attention.
Such are a few heads of a long lecture, which bristled with
gems of thought, poetical language, flashes of wit, deep pathos, and a
thorough and comprehensive treatment of all that is the concern alike of
theology, philanthropy, and reform. No report could give a true idea
of the performance, and there is a charm about Mr. Massey's presence and
manner which greatly enhances the value of his most excellent matter,
expressed only as a poet can phrase it.
The position assumed is a most independent one. All the
vested interests and abuses of society are openly and honestly assailed.
Mr. Massey makes a clean breast of it, and takes his audience freely into
his confidence, even to his most secret thoughts on the most sacred
themes. It is his earnestness and straightforward manner that charm
even those who do not agree with him on all points. His fiercest
thrusts are given with such good humour and pitying love for human
suffering, that no shade of coarse invective or harsh denunciation can be
perceived, Mr. Massey is an embodiment of a new concrete progressive idea.
While he boldly speaks as a Spiritualist, and derives his strongest points
from spiritual sources, yet he has a word of criticism as he goes along.
He curries favour with no class or party, while he is a tower of strength
to all true and sincere reformers.
SYDNEY DAILY TELEGRAPH
26 May, 1885.
[Re-published in The Medium and Daybreak, London, 24
MASSEY'S EXPERIENCES IN SPIRITUALISM.
At West's Academy, on Sunday night, Mr. Gerald Massey
delivered a peculiarly interesting lecture on Spiritualism, which he calls
"A Leaf from the Book of my Life." The lecture was chiefly interesting
from being to a large extent a plain statement of extraordinary facts in
Mr. Massey's life, giving support to the belief in a spirit-world which
can and does communicate with this world of ours. In his opening remarks
Mr. Massey said:—
"We have a class of journalists in London who grin for the
public through the horse-collar of the Press. They laugh for their
living, and their duty is to make fun of all that is foreign—the more the
seriousness the greater the absurdity for them. Such jesters are not
wholly unknown to the colonial papers. Their duty is to play the
fool. They have no comprehension and can have no respect for the
love of truth, which alone could compel a man to tender his own testimony
in a case so painfully personal as this. In the course of my life, I
have been a fighter in the forlorn hope of more than unpopular cause.
But these grinning, drivelling fools of the present time need not think
that I am therefore, the champion of an unparalleled imposture. Some
of my hearers would possibly have preferred a short and easy lesson upon
Modern Spiritualism, in which I should tell and teach them the whole that
I have learned, and they could go away, knowing all about it, in 70 or 80
minutes. But what I have to offer to-night is a story of personal
experiences, and I will answer for my facts with as much certitude as Mr.
Cocker has done for his. I speak in all sincerity, and mean exactly
what I say, never doubting that the truth, truly spoken, will ring
truthfully on the touchstone of all true souls. But in relating an
experience so personal and peculiar, it is only fair to myself and my
subject that I should ask your attention to one or two facts which with
the unprejudiced, if there are any such, may count in my favour as an
observer. In the first place, then, I am no visionary, and have no
predisposition to superstition—no predilection for wonder-mongering in any
department. I have had to earn my own living by hard work of various
kinds ever since I was eight years old. During that time I have had
to form the habit of looking facts in the face as fully and squarely as
possible, with the view of getting a good grip-hold of reality. Nor
did I start with any original tendency to 'mooning'—all my abnormal
experiences came unsought. I had no wish to try the spirits—they
tried me too much. My testimony may be questioned on the ground that
I am sometimes called a poet, and poets are supposed by some people to be
born liars. But even in poetry it has always been my desire and
endeavour to get at the truth. I never could derive any inspiration
from unreality, and I have spent some years of my literary life
conscientiously trying to tell the truth. The facts now presented
are those that I recorded just as they occurred."
Mr. Massey then proceeded to explain how he, some 33 years
ago, was invited to see a young clairvoyant, who afterwards became his
wife, and he then narrated some remarkable phenomena which he experienced
through the mediumship of that lady. Many things, for example, were
communicated to him by her while in the trance condition, which could not
be accounted for but by the working of some intelligence external to this
life. Events were recorded by her on the date of their occurrence,
at great distances from them at the time, with perfect accuracy, as
subsequent inquiry proved. Some of these events were trivial, others
were of importance, and one touching instance of this abnormal power may
be related in Mr. Massey's own words:—Washing up one night, my wife said
"Mother is dead!" "Why do you think so?" I asked. "She told me
so, and showed me the letter pushed under the bedroom door with the black
seal upwards. At 8 o'clock the same morning* I saw the letter
pushed under the door by the servant with the black seal upwards, and
which letter verified my wife's vision by announcing the fact. "For
many years," continued Mr. Massey, "I used to look on the trance
conditions as only showing an exalted form of the same personality.
But by degrees I was forced to the conclusion that there was more in it
than one individuality manifesting under some duality of obscure brain
conditions—that, in fact, other persons, individuals, or intelligences had
the power to make use of these conditions, as if they, also, could
magnetise and put their patient into a trance, take possession of the
human machine, and run it on their own account; that these conditions were
those of mediumship betwixt two worlds, the unseen and the seen; and that
the kind of manifestations on the character of the operators were in
keeping with the nature of the conditions. That is, to put it
roughly, health, mental or moral, is conducive to the manifestations of
good or pure spirits; whilst disease, whether mental or moral, lets in the
lower, darker, earth-bound kind of natures to make use of the victim for
their gratification. I know whereof I speak, and if need were I dare
stand here to say what some of you would not dare to sit there and listen
to. Some of us could present facts so hard that they would strike
the blatant sceptic and shut him up dumb, as with a back-handed blow on
the open mouth."
Mr. Massey then gave further facts in proof of spirit
communication, relating one instance where it seemed the spirit of his
wife's mother and of his little daughter absolutely conveyed certain
intelligence by means of rapping, which was the means of preventing his
wife being consigned for a time to an asylum for the insane. He also
referred to a number of manifestations he had obtained, and phenomena
experienced, as for example when he received a direct communication from
Müller, who was hanged on a charge of murder, and in whom he (Massey) had
interested himself in consequence of a communication made through the
medium that Müller did not actually commit the murder, laid to his door.
"As soon as executed he (Müller) purported to come and thank me in trying
to save his poor neck." Other experiences in the same direction,
which the lecturer told his audience were of a weird and gruesome
character, as for example when a certain house** occupied by his family
was haunted for a term by the restless spirit of a departed murderer, the
scene of whose crime was that same house, his victim being an illegitimate
child, whose body he buried in the cellar. In this instance it was
the medium who suffered most, the supposed spirit of the murderer taking
complete possession of her, and in the most horrible language demanding
possession of the discovered bones of the murdered child. "If we had
never touched the other world before, it looked as if we had broken into
it now, and that it responded in a frightful manner. When the
supposed spirit was in possession of her organism, the medium would become
to all intents and purposes a male, consumed with a craze for rum and
clamorous for tobacco. Other and even more peculiar manifestations
were apparent when the seizure was on her and the transformation took
place. It is not my purpose merely to tell you a thrilling story, or
I might repeat some of the details that may be found in 'Tale of
Eternity,' but I would rather set people's brains at work within the skull
than see their hair standing on end outside of it. For myself, I
wonder I did not come out of that awful experience white-haired."
Mr. Massey then quoted a portion of his "Tale of Eternity,"
in verse, giving an account of this particular experience.
Continuing, he said—"Before passing away, the medium promised to come back
and prove her presence with the children by rapping a clock, and those
raps were of common occurrence for years, and at my first sitting with the
medium Home my wife purported to speak to me, giving her experience of the
time when she parted this life. The contact of the spirit-world is
to me as real, as active, as that of the natural world. I have
touched it at various points, and joined hands with it for the doing of
better work in this world. I have proved that spirits can be evoked
whether good or bad, Heaven-soaring or earth-bound, in strict accordance
with the nature of our longings and desires. I have had my own hand
compelled to write without any volition of mind hundreds of times. I
declare when I come to think of it, that these miserable, despised, and
repulsive facts in their mental transformation have been such a lighting
of the earthly horizon, and such a letting in of the Heavens, that I can
only compare life without Spiritualism founded on fact to sailing on board
ship with the hatches battened down, and being kept below, 'cribbed,
cabined, and confined,' living by the light of a candle, and then being
allowed upon some splendid starry night to go up on deck to see the glory
of the starry heavens overhead, and drink in new life with every breath of
the wondrous liberty." The lecturer proceeded at considerable length
with an analysis of the Spiritualist's belief, but was careful to say that
for him the belief was based solely on facts. A Positivist critic
and opponent of his had admitted that he (Mr, Massey) had accumulated and
presented such a mass of facts that it would take half a dozen
philosophers to deal with them. Spiritualism was at once the oldest
and the newest light in the world.
In bringing his lecture to a conclusion, Mr. Massey said he
had to confess that the Spiritualists as a body were possibly the most
curious agglomerate of human plum-pudding-stone in the world, an aggregate
of the most crooky and kinky individualities ever massed together.
They were drawn, but by no means bound together by the facts to which they
testified in common. They were an inchoate and an incoherent cloud
of witnesses. Of one thing only did they speak with one voice.
That was the reality of their facts; the actualities of the phenomena, to
which he bore true witness that night. But mark this. It was
not Spiritualism that created, or was accountable for this bustling crowd
of crooks. They were the diverse outcome of other systems of
thought. They were the warts on the stricken and stunted tree—the
thistles and thorns of uncultivated fields—the wanderers during forty
years in the theological wilderness—the rebels against usurped authority.
They stood with all their divergencies distinct, but massed together like
a chevaux de frise of serried spears around their central truth
whoever might advance against them, or touch it. Spiritualism meant
a new light of revelation in the world from the old eternal source.
The old grounds of belief were breaking up rapidly. The foundations
of the orthodox faith were all afloat. They had built as the
Russians rear their winter palaces on the frozen river Neva, and the great
thaw had come suddenly upon them. The ominous sounds of a final
breaking-up were in their ears. Their anchorage and place of trust
was crumbling underfoot before their eyes. They had built on many
things that had sealed up the living springs and stopped the stream of
prayers. They arrested for the purpose of resting. And here
was the hint of the Almighty that they must move on or be moved off.
Spiritualism, as he interpreted it, meant a new life in the world, and new
life was not brought forth without pain and partings and sheddings of old
decay. New ideas were not born in the mind without the pains and
pangs of parturition, and to get rid of old ingrained errors of false
teaching was like having to tear up by the root the snags of one's own
teeth by one's own hand; but by one's own hand this had to be done, for
nothing else could do it. Light and life, however, did not come to
impoverish, they came to enrich, and no harm could befall the nature of
that which was eternally true. It was only falsehood that feared the
purifying touch of light, that must need shrink until it shivered away.
Spiritualism would prove a mighty iconoclast, but the fetishes and idols
it destroyed would yield up their concealed treasures, as did the statue
which was destroyed by Mahmoud, the image-breaker. The priestly
defenders offered him an enormous sum to spare their god, but he resisted
the bribe, and smote mightily with his iron mace, and as it broke there
rolled out of it a river of pent-up wealth which had been hoarded and
hidden within. "It will take a long time," said a learned professor
the other night, "before this sort of thing—Spiritualism—saves the world."
And this expression of an obsolete system of thought was no doubt
considered to be a "modern instance" of wisdom. But the world had
never been lost, and consequently never could be saved in the sense
intended. Such language had lost its meaning for others. It
had become one of the dead languages of the past. Spiritualism would
have done its work if it only abolished the fear of death, and enabled
them to live as free men and women, who would do their own thinking in
that domain where they had so long suffered from the pretensions of the
sacerdotalists, who ignorantly peddle the name of God—a system of thought,
the sole foundations of which, as it was his special work to show, were to
be found at last in misinterpreted mythology.
* This must mean next morning, unless the
conversation reported took place after midnight. In other places we
have found errors in reporting.—ED.
** Ed.—'Ward's Hurst', at Ringshall near Tring — the
current tenants (2005) still believe the house (in particular, its cellar)
to be haunted.
THE MEDIUM AND DAYBREAK
4 December 1885
Reprinted from the New York Tribune.
MASSEY AS AN EVOLUTIONIST.
THE NATURAL GENESIS. By GERALD MASSEY
2 vols. imp. octavo, pp. 552, 555. London: Williams & Norgate.
This is the second part of a voluminous work undertaken by
Mr. Massey for the purpose of establishing a theory which certainly should
have sober examination. He holds that the origins of the "myths and
mysteries, types and symbols, religions and languages," are to be found in
Africa alone, and that Egypt is the "mouth-piece." Proceeding on the
evolutionary hypothesis he seeks to demonstrate, to quote his own words,
"the Kamite origin of the pre-Aryan matter extant in language and
mythology found in the British Isles—the origin of the Hebrew and
Christian theology in the mythology of Egypt,—the unity of origin for all
mythology, and the Kamite origin of that unity,—the common origin of the
mythical Genitrix and her brood of seven elementary forces, found in
Egypt, Akkad, India, Britain and New Zealand, who became kronotypes in
their secondary and spirits or gods in their final psychotheistic
phase,—the Egyptian genesis of the chief celestial signs, zodiacal and
extra-zodiacal,—the origin of all mythology in the Kamite typology,—the
origin of typology in gesturesigns,—and the origin of language in African
It is clear that if on the one hand this is a sufficiently
audacious and ambitious conception, on the other hand it is a perfectly
legitimate enterprise, and one the implications of which may be most
important. The author deliberately undertakes to prove all
Christendom the dupes of sweeping and long-sustained delusions. He
challenges scientists, theologians, philologists, anthropologists,
sociologists. But he proceeds upon methods the soundness of which no
evolutionist, at least, can question; and since he presents to his readers
all the testimony upon which his conclusions rest, it is not difficult to
check him as he goes on, and to ascertain how far, if at all, he is making
unwarrantable deductions. The volumes represent an immense amount of
labour and research. Mr. Massey has evidently sought conscientiously
to exhaust the field in regard to justification for his views. The
abundance of his evidence, indeed, will have the effect of delaying the
comprehension of his purpose, inasmuch as the ordinary reader will soon
become lost in the mass of detail, and, bewildered by this accumulation of
minute proofs, will fail to perceive the tendency, the sequence, and the
significance of the argument. To the non-evolutionist the work will
probably appear either unintelligible or wantonly wicked, since its
involves, among other results, the relegation of the whole system of
Christianity to the realm of mythology, the very historical existence of
its Founder being denied, and the not altogether novel theory of the
sun-myth being put forward as the origin of the alleged delusion upon
which the religion was based. Necessarily, however, this conclusion
is only reached after a long and elaborate study of the typology and
primitive language of early mankind. In these researches it must be
conceded that the author has sifted the best authorities; that he shows
familiarity with a wide range of scholarship; that he has not undertaken
to thrust upon the world an altogether crude theory, by straining,
distorting or mutilating the evidence used on its behalf. In fact he
has succeeded in bringing together a great number of illustrations whose
peculiarity is that they appear quite naturally, and because of inherent
accord, to fortify his conclusions. The worst that can be said of
any controversial work is that the theory was first invented, and that the
facts have been selected to fit the theory. Such a description ought
to be fatal to any work of the kind, if true. But Mr. Massey is not
open to that accusation, so far as we can perceive. He has
questioned facts to find out what they meant, and he has endeavoured to
put that meaning, as it appeared to him, plainly before his readers.
And certainly some of his suggestions are well calculated to approve
themselves to intelligent minds. The old notion that primitive man
began with monotheism and gradually declined into polytheism, is now
exploded. But there still survives a tendency to believe that
primitive man was a good deal of a philosopher, capable of somewhat subtle
reasoning upon physical phenomena, and possessing an imagination potent
enough to create for himself a complete mythology. Upon this subject
Mr. Massey argues forcibly. He says: "The world of sense was not a
world of symbol to the primitive or primeval man. He did not begin
as a Platonist. He was not the realizer of abstractions, a
personifier of ideas, a perceiver of the Infinite. In our gropings
after the beginnings we shall find the roots of religious doctrines and
dogmas with the common earth, or dirt even, still clinging to them,
and showing the ground in which they grew."
He deals boldly with the theory that the ancient mysteries
concealed subtle and mystic teachings and occult secrets. That
theory has of late been revised by some who desire to find new support for
belief in a modern adaptation of those mysteries. Mr. Massey,
however, does not hesitate to express the opinion that the reason why the
mysteries were so carefully concealed from the masses in later times was
"the simple physical nature of the beginnings out of which the more
abstract ideas had been gradually evolved." He holds, in fact, that
the Gnosis, the Kabalah, the esoteric evidence of all the so-called
mysteries, owe their origin to very simple and transparent physical
allegories. That, as he puts it, "the knowledge was concealed
because of its primitiveness, and not on account of its profundity."
Certainly some of the partial explanations which have come down to us of
the mysteries of Eleusis, seem to bear out this theory. The extent
to which symbolism has been employed, the natural progress made by it from
its beginnings in the crudity of gesture language to its tyrannical
sovereignty over partially civilized minds during long periods of time, is
exhibited in a suggestive way, and with the usual wealth of illustration.
Indeed, so far as the argument is concerned, Mr. Massey would, in our
judgment, have done better had he curtailed the illustrative portion of
his book considerably; and even now he may find it worth while to
popularize the work by making a condensed revision of it, in which only a
bare sufficiency of evidence need be given, and so as not to interrupt the
free and steady progress of the argument.
Patience and determination are required for the perusal of
such voluminous works, and the author evidently does not expect that his
book will achieve a large circulation. If, however, it is read by
the small minority of thinkers who, after all, give tone and tendency to
the intellectual progress of the age, his aim will have been attained; and
this limited range the work assuredly deserves. For it is an honest,
intelligent, painstaking effort to apply the evolutionary principle to the
beginnings of things, and to get at the real meaning of many mysteries by
ascertaining how the beliefs which men have held have grown naturally.
No doubt modern ethnology is very useful in this connection, for there is
no lack of examples of savage, barbarous, half-civilized, and peoples of
arrested development, to investigate. By the psychological growth of
the modern savage we can tell with almost certainty what was the
psychological growth of our ancestors, and of the ancestors of those
ancient peoples; the evidences of whose high culture have been preserved
so wonderfully in the Nile Valley. And inquiries from the beginnings
are becoming recognised as the only profitable ones. The school of
which Mr. Herbert Spencer is the acknowledged chief and guide has
proceeded mainly upon this method, though it has not always been true to
itself, because perhaps it could not at once liberate itself from the
influence of inherited and instilled fallacies. Mr. Massey has gone
further in this research than any of his predecessors. He is justly
entitled to claim, as he does in his preface, that his book is written "by
an Evolutionist for Evolutionists." Unhampered by educational bias
of any kind, he was enabled to start from a more advanced point than any
who preceded him, and as a result he has produced a work which must be
characterized as the boldest and most uncompromising outcome of the
evolutionary principle, carried out with an intrepid determination to
arrive at the truth concerning all the subjects of the inquiry. The
volumes are well printed, and are furnished with an index, which, however,
might well be enlarged for the better convenience of those to whom the
work is likely to become one of reference.—New York Tribune.
THE BUCKS ADVERTISER AND AYLESBURY NEWS.
MAY 22ND, 1886.
The eighth of Mr. Massey's ten lectures was given in St. George's Hall on
Sunday, and was on the "Logia or Sayings and Teachings assigned to Jesus."
The lecturer said the popular ignorance of the various origins of "History
Christianity" must be well-nigh invincible when a man like Professor Jowett
could say, as if with the voice of superstition in its dotage, "to us the
preaching of the Gospel is a new beginning, from which we date all things,
beyond which we neither desire, nor are able to inquire." Whereas we who
commence with our canonical Gospels—the latest of a hundred scriptures—are three
or four centuries too late for the beginnings. From the time of Irenaeus to that
of Mansell it had been taught that Gnosticism was a heresy and an apostacy from
the true faith originating in the second century, whereas the earliest
Christians known were Gnostics, although they did not accept Historic
Christianity. Essenes, Mandaites, Sethites, Elkesites, Nazarenes,
Docetæ, Simonians of Antioch, and others, were Gnostic Christians; some of whom
preceded, and all of whom opposed, the belief in a carnalised Christ. The
Gnostics, who were muzzled, and whose evidences were masked, constituted the
true connecting link betwixt Egypt end Rome. The Horus-Christ of Egypt was
continued as the Gnostic Christ called Horus. Other Gnostic types, probably
Egyptian, survived as Christian. It was Gnostic art that brought on the
types and symbols and portraits of the Horus-Christ, which are to be seen in the
Gnostic stories and in the catacombs of Rome. The Gnostic rituals repeat
the matter, names, and symbols found in some late chapters of the Egyptian Book
of the Dead. It was the Gnostic ante-Christ that became the haunting
anti-Christ of historic Christianity. According to the unquestioned
testimony of Papias, the primary nucleus of the canonical Gospels was not
biographical but a collection of sayings of the Lord (the Logia Kuriaka)
written down in Hebrew by one Matthew. The lecturer proposed to show that the
sayings referred to by Papias, together with the sayer and the scribe, were
originally Egyptian. The Ritual is partly composed of the sayings of Horus,
whose names signifies the Lord. One of these saying is "I have given food to the
hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, and a boat to the
shipwrecked," and as the speaker has done these things the judges say to him,
"Come, come, in peace," and he is welcomed to the great festival called "Come
thou to me." These sayings of Horus (literally, the Logia of the Lord) are
written down by Tehuti (Thoth or Hermes) the scribes of the Divine Words, who is
said to have the power of granting the Makheru to the solar god—that is
the gift of "speaking the truth" by means of the word, because he is the writer
of the sayings—the scribe of the wisdom uttered orally by the Lord; the means
therefore by which the word became truth to men. Now the special title of
this divine scribe in the character of registrar when he writes down the sayings
in the judgement hall (chapter 125) is Matin, which the lecturer claimed
to be the Egyptian original of "Matthew." Mr. Massey's next lecture will
be on the " Mystic Christology of Paul."
THE BUCKS ADVERTISER AND AYLESBURY NEWS.
MAY 29TH, 1886.
The subject of Mr. Massey's ninth lecture in St. George's Hall on Sunday
was "The Mystery of the Apostle Paul, and the nature of his Christ."'
It was well known that there was an original and fundamental difference
between Paul and the three apostles, or "pillars," whom he saw in
Jerusalem. But the depth of that doctrinal difference had never yet
been fathomed, in consequence of false assumptions concerning the origin
of historic Christianity. Paul found that Peter, James, and John
were preaching another gospel than his, and setting forth another Jesus,
which he denounced and anathematised. We know what their gospel was,
because it has come down to us in the doctrines and dogmas of historic
Christianity. It was the gospel of the literalisers of mythology,
and the Christ made flesh to save mankind from an impossible Fall; the
gospel of a physical resurrection, and the immediate ending of the world.
These doctrines of delusion were repudiated and opposed by Paul. The
lecturer entered into immense detail in his analysis of the Epistles to
identify the Gnostic doctrines found there. Upon any theory of
interpretation two voices were to be heard contending for supremacy in
Paul's writing. They utter different doctrines; and this duplicity
of doctrine makes Paul, the one distinct and single-minded personality of
the New Testament, look like the most double-faced of men. These two
doctrine are those of the Gnostic Christ and the historic Jesus. The
lecturer contended that the true solution of this profound problem was to
be found in the fact that Paul did not set forth or celebrate any
historical Christ. He was a Gnostic, or, in Hebrew, a Kabalist.
He was an adept in the mysteries, a master of the gnosis, and one who
spoke wisdom amongst the perfected. According to Clement Alexander, when
Paul was going to Rome he stated that he would bring to the brethren, not
the true "Gospel history," but the gnosis or gnostic communication—the
tradition of the hidden mysteries "as the fullness of the blessing of
Christ," which, Clement says, were revealed by the Son of God—"the
teacher who trains the Gnostic by mysteries"—that is the mysteries of the
gnosis and of abnormal experience, such as that whereby Paul at first
received his personal revelation. A knowledge of the Gnostic
doctrines, which had been continued from Egypt, will alone explain the
true position of Paul. No Gnostic could admit that the Christ became
flesh, and Paul was a Gnostic. No Gnostic ever called the Christ
"Jesus of Nazareth;" neither does Paul. The Gnostic Christ had no
human genealogy and Paul likewise repudiates the genealogies amongst other
Jewish fables. Paul was the only apostle of the true Logos who was
recognised by Marcion, the rejector of historic Christianity. The
double dealing with us in the Epistles may be set down to the
interpolators of the writings after the death of Paul—the forgers whom be
had warned the Thessalonians against in his life-time. The supreme
feat performed by the secret managers in Rome was the conversion of Paul's
epistles into the chief support of historic Christianity by the
restoration of that "other Jesus," whom he had all along repudiated.
But there wait a great gulf for ever fixed between the Gnostic-Christology
and the historic Christianity, which has not yet been plumbed, or
bottomed, or filled in. It was bridged over, with Paul and Peter for
supports on either side—they who from the first had stood on two sides of
the chasm that could not be closed. The "Prædicatio Petri" declare
that Paul and Peter remained unreconciled till death. But the Roman
Church was erected as a bridge across the gulf which it concealed, and the
Pope appointed and aptly designated Pontifex Maximum. It was reared
above the chasm lurking like an open grave below; and to-day, as ever, the
orthodox are horribly haunted with the fear lest a breath of larger
intellectual life, a too audible expression of freer thought, a dose of
mental dynamite should bring down the edifice to fill that gulf at last,
on which it was so perilously founded from the first.
THE MEDIUM AND DAYBREAK
10 September, 1886.
MASSEY ON SHAKESPEARE AND BURNS.
Mr. Gerald Massey gave the first two of a course of ten
Lectures, in St. George's Hall, Langham Place, London, on Tuesday and
Friday evenings of last week, on Shakespeare and Burns.
THE MAN SHAKESPEARE
Mr. Massey said that his object was to present the human
personality of the great poet. How few of all who ever read his
works or made use of his name, had any adequate or even shapeable
conception of the man Shakespeare. He who of all poets came the
nearest home to us with his myriad touches of nature, seemed the most
remote from men in his own personality. Yet we know that somewhere
at the centre of the glory radiating from his works, there dwells the
spirit of all the brightness, however lost in light Shakespeare's own
life, Shakespeare himself, not Bacon, nor another, is at the heart of it
all. He was a man, and one of the most intensely human that ever
walked our world, although as a dramatist the most elusive Protean spirit
that ever played bo-peep with us from behind the mask of matter. But
the known facts of his life were few. The lecturer gave a brief and
interesting sketch of the England into which Shakespeare was born; and the
new spirit of national adventure which was just then beginning to get
daringly afloat. When our Shakespeare was sixteen years of age there
was a William Shakespeare drowned at Stratford, in the river Avon.
This fact offered a rare chance for those purblind followers of poor Delia
Bacon, who were suffering from the delusion that her namesake was the
author of Shakespeare's works. They should complete their case by
boldly swearing that that was our William Shakespeare who was drowned, and
there was an end of him once for all; nothing short of proving some such
alibi could ever establish their theory. Possibly his early
life in London was a time of trial for Shakespeare; but, unlike Byron, who
wrote most eloquently about himself, largeness of sympathy with others,
rather than intensity of sympathy with self, was Shakespeare's nobler
poetic motive. This was provable by means of his poems and plays,
and was not to be gainsaid by any false reading of the sonnets. We
should know still less than we do of the man Shakespeare, but for his
evident ambition to make the best of this world. He had seen quite
enough of poverty in his father's home. So he set about gaining what
money he could for himself, and gripped it firmly too when he had got it.
Mr. Massey thought it was to Gabriel Harvey that we owe the first
recognition of Shakespeare's genius, in the letters "especially touching
parties abused by Robert Greene." Harvey expostulates with the
Greene clique on behalf of this new poet, whom he proclaims to be "the
sweetest and divinest muse that ever sang in English or other language."
Mr. Massey adduced various instances of Shakespeare's retorts to the
attacks make on him by his contemporaries, the most amusing of which were
in reply to old John Davies, of Hereford, who wrote the epigram on "Drusus
the deer-stealer." The lecturer suggested that the character of
Malvolio was intended for John Davies. We might depend upon it,
whether we accepted the particular illustrations or not, that Shakespeare
was a great mimic by nature, and the mimicry was not limited to the player
when on the stage. He was a merry mocker beneath the dramatic mask.
See how he quizzed the euphuistic affectations, and other non-national and
non-natural fashions; how he burlesqued the bombast of Tamburlane, and
made fun of the mythical heroes of Homer, who he knew were not men of
nature's making. Mr. Massey said he dwelt on these aspects because
it had been too commonly the habit to look at Shakespeare with the faculty
of wonder alone. Of all great poets he drew most from real life, and
his men and women are so life-like and genuine for us to-day, because he
held the mirror up to nature, and so faithfully rendered those of his own
day. It is not the subjective kind of mind, which goes ballooning
aloft out of sight of the earth below, that can ever apprehend the robust
reality and matter-of-fact details, political or personal, to be found in
the work of Shakespeare, which is the essence of the national character
made concrete. No true representation or Shakespeare could be given
with a false interpretation of the sonnets. If we read them as
wholly personal to himself we have to reverse all that we know of him—the
happy soul delighting in his wealth of work and "well contented day"
becomes a moody, disappointed, discontented man, envious of this one's art
and that one's scope, disgusted with his work, which brought him friends
and made his fortune; disgraced by writing for the stage or hearing the
name of "player" as a brand; miserable in his lot; an outcast in his life;
blotted and stained in his character; meanly immoral in his friendship; a
hypocrite, a knave, and a fool. And all because a sort of one-eyed folk
cannot see that the greatest dramatic poet in the world could also write
dramatically, or vicariously, when composing "sonnets for his private
friends." The autobiographic theory was false. The sonnets
were also dramatic. In his life we know that he left the impress of
a cheery, healthful nature, a catholic and jocund soul, on all who carne
near him. Only twenty-four years after the poet's death the
publisher Benson says the sonnets are of the "same purity that the author
himself avouched when living." They would find in Shakespeare an
active sense of the supernatural, and the reality and nearness of the
spirit-world, but he never took sides with any religious sect or system.
He was a world too wide for any or all of the theologies, and when these
had passed away, said Mr. Massey, like a mist dispersed, there will be but
little superseded in the work of Shakespeare. Ben Jonson, in his
tribute to Shakespeare, his "book and his fame," uttered the very one word
once for all, when he said, "Thou wert not of an age but for all time."
He had nothing merely Elizabethan or Archaic in his work; his language
never gets obsolete; in spirit he is modern up to the latest minute; other
writers may be outgrown by their readers as they ripen with age, or lose
the glory of their youth, but not Shakespeare. At every age he is
still mature, still ahead of his readers, just as he always overtops his
The lecturer was frequently applauded, and many valuable
hints were given and suggestions offered, to Shakespearean students.
ROBERT BURNS, POET
In his essay on Burns, Carlyle remarks that if the boy Robert
had been sent to school, and had struggled forward to the university, he
might have come forth, not a rustic wonder, but as a well-trained,
intellectual workman, and changed the whole course of British literature.
This dictum, the lecturer ventured to dispute; he could not regret that
books had no more to do with the intellectual making of Robert Burns.
We had altogether overrated the power of making mind out of books; we need
more rapport with, and relationship to, the living source of mind
in nature itself; a closer study of records, a nearer, subtler communion
with her works and ways. What could they have done with Burns at
college beyond making out of him one more misleading parson or professor,
or possibly have turned out another mis-trained literary man—the more
literary, the less a man? What had been and still is the great cause
of mental sterility but the casting of new minds in obsolete moulds of
thought? Burns got the very best education that was not to be had
for money, whereas the collegian sometimes got the very worst that money
could purchase, because it was misleading. Mr. Ruskin once wrote to
him (Mr. Massey) "Your education was a terrible one, but mine was a
thousand-fold worse." "Yet," said the lecturer, "he had all that
wealth could buy, and I had all that poverty could bring, and was forced
to do my own thinking for myself." The world had been suffering for
centuries from a religion of anti-naturalism, and a poet like Chaucer,
Shakespeare, Wordsworth, or Burns exerted a most beneficent influence in
rescuing men from the pious pretenders who taught that all things natural
are wrong. The people must produce their own poetry, and Robert
Burns possessed the very soul of the people. Perhaps no poet ever
existed who was so intensely national; his generous heart flowed with
sympathy for the poor, who were so often compelled to creep through ways
too low for the lofty spirit to walk in at full height. His tear of
pity for the wee dying daisy hangs on it an immortal dew-drop. And
how his feeling heart ached to see the little field mouse turned out of
its "cosie, wee bit housie" just as it was built for shelter from the
coming winter. But in all these outgoings of the poet's sympathy
there was never a taint of the sentimental. The most cynical
Saturday Reviewer even dare not snigger nor sneer when Burns sheds tears.
Burns' sympathy was large enough to include the devil in its embrace.
It was often a great difficulty for the self-educated man to fling aside
the fustian in his writing long after he had ceased to wear it in his
work, but Burns seemed to have begun where other writers had ended, with
reliance on simplicity and perfect trust in truth. He was
Wordsworth's immediate predecessor and teacher. The revolution in
poetry completed by Wordsworth was begun by Burns. Wordsworth had
said of him—
He showed my youth
How verse may build a princely throne
On humble truth.
But Burns was
the more essentially and inevitably human in his love of nature. His
brother man was more to Burns than his mother earth, and he struck his
deepest root in human soil. Speaking of the drinking songs and
customs, Mr. Massey said it did seem at times as if Scotch whisky were the
sole relief from the dreary drizzle that had soaked and sodden the souls
of men with the Calvinistic mist of misery—as if Scotch whisky were the
natural and necessary antidote to Scotch theology. (Laughter.)
No subject tickled the Scottish sense of humour more irresistibly than
that which brought out in a broad light the droll aspects of character
under the influence of drink, especially if illustrated by the lapse of
some godly man who had been spirituously overcome in his unequal conflict
with the tempter, the delightful incongruity of the douce*, canny man
becoming devil-may-care, the straight-laced letting out tuck after tack
till Nature asserted herself, large as life—the over-cautions permitting
the mask of prudence to fall, or dashing it off like an old wig and going
in for it neck or nothing, barefaced and bald beaded. This, too,
Burns said and celebrated. We could not possibly estimate the genius
of Burns apart from the surroundings of his life. It was, in fact,
by the eclipse which his life suffered that, like astronomers dealing with
the sun, we could best measure the corona of his glory and see how far it
soars beyond eclipse. It was such a strong, clear spring of life, welling
fresh from the Infinite and working its way outward from the stiff soil of
poverty, through all obstacles, to water and give life to many waste
places of the world. At times the poor fellow was, as he described
himself, "half-mad, half-fed, and half-sarkit.*" All he asked of his
native land when he made his little venture of publishing his first poems
(the final folly he intended to commit) was just £20 to enable him to
leave it for ever. And when he was dying he was threatened with the
horrors of a gaol on account of a debt (the only debt we hear of him
owing) for his regimental suit, in which he had sought to serve a grateful
country; whilst his petition that his full salary might be continued to
his wife and children during the time he was dying was not granted; add to
these things the fact that he suffered fearfully from low spirits, and had
a constitutional melancholy. That dark cloud of Calvinism, under
which he was begotten and born and bred, was never quite lifted from the
soul of Burns; he suffered horribly from that creed which sets men all at
cross purposes with themselves, and with nature within and without so soon
as they begin to think. On behalf of his fellows his whole nature
rose in revolt against this theology. His own recklessness was at
times in sheerest defiance of its damnatory doctrines. Think of
these things, said Mr. Massey, and then remember that Burns in his poetry
is one of the blithe powers of nature, and his art is dedicated to joy.
Personal suffering or discontent do not set him singing. He was not
one of the half-poets who are cradled into poetry by wrong, but one of
those who mirror the round of human life in the range of their own
experience. He did not apotheosize sorrow as an image of the
Eternal. He was heartily opposed to the gospel of gloom, and his
poems supplied an antidote to Auld Scotland's lugubrious curse of
Calvinism. The poet Goethe had characterised the history of a nation
as a mighty fugue, in which the voice of the people is heard last.
In our national development we, the people, got adequate expression for
the first time by the voice of Robert Burns. In him the soul of the
common people, the toilers, the peasantry, straightened the bent back, and
rose up to manhood full-statured to wipe the sweat off the brow proudly,
look out of his eyes, dare to be poor, and feel enfranchised through him.
As a poet he was the first, and remained the foremost, great
representative of labour. He asserted our right to join in the
onward march of humanity, and share audibly in the national life.
The flag of the workers, which waved out only the other day in our House
of Commons, and will soon have manhood suffrage emblazoned on it, was
first unfurled on its way there by our banner-bearer, Robert Burns.
He had the "glorious insufficiencies" which are often more admirable than
the "narrower perfectness"; and we are drawn more directly to a nature
like this, with all it flaws and failings, than to the man whose only
fault might be that from lack of force he had no fault at all. As we
are humanly constituted, a far more perfect man might have called forth a
lesser love than that which we feel for Robert Burns.
The numerous eloquent passages and the humorous and satirical touches in
Mr. Massey's address, elicited frequent bursts of applause.
* Ed. 'douce' [archaic] - sober; prudent;
'sarkit' [dialect] - clothed.
THE MEDIUM AND DAYBREAK
10 September, 1886.
MR. MASSEY'S NOTES ON DR. PEEBLES.
We have had placed in our hands certain notes made by Mr.
Massey on reading our article commenting on the correspondence of Dr.
Peebles with Rabbi Wise. Our language implied that the falsification
of Josephus had gone on to the fourth century. Mr. Massey corrects
that view of the matter :—
NOTE 1.—You have got Josephus wrong.
The passages about Christ did not appear until the fourth century,
being entirely unknown to the early Christian fathers. The
forgery proves the need of it! It is feasibly conjectured to have
been the work of the forger Eusebius, who boasted to Constantine that he
had made things square, or all right for the Christians!
It has been the culminating aim of Mr. Massey's work to show
that the Christ of the Canonical Gospels is not to be resolved into the
man whose identity is acknowledged by the Jews; but can be traced, trait
by trait, characteristic by characteristic, and character by character to
the several copies of the Egyptian prototype, especially to the Horus-Christ
of the Osirian religion, who was continued as the Horus of the Gnostics,
and who is the Christ in the Catacombs of Rome.
NOTE 2.—Dr. Peebles will have to go a
good deal further than Rabbi Wise, or any other Hebraist who is
unacquainted with the Egyptian origines of the doctrines of Christology.
I do not deny that such a person as Jesus Ben-Pandira ever lived, or that
he may have been mixed up with the Mythical Christ of the Gospels by his
ignorant followers. But he was not Jesus the Nazarene; as is shown
by the legend of the water Boleth being poured upon his crown, to make it
bald for ever, and destroy his pretensions to being a Nazarene. But
"Jesus" could not have been named "of Nazareth" in consequence of being a
Nazarene, nor could he become a Nazarene, or a Natzar, by being born or
taken to dwell at a place called Nazareth. His reputed father's name
was Pandira, not Joseph; his mother's name was Stada, not Mary, and a long
way the opposite to a virgin. He was put to death and hung on a tree
in the city of Lydda, or Lud, not at Jerusalem. These contradictory
statements can never be reconciled, hence certain ancient Rabbis rightly
contended that Jehoshua Ben-Pandira could not be the Jesus of our
Canonical Gospels. Rabbi Salman Zevi put forth ten reasons why the
Jehoshua of the Talmud was not the personage who was afterwards known as
Jesus of Nazareth. Others maintained that the Man of the Jewish
history and legends could not be one with him who was honoured by the
Christians as their God.
NOTE 3.—You are right. Dr. Peebles is
incapable of asking a question correctly; much less could he be expected
to answer one. He is also incompetent to repeat what he has
"carefully" read. I do not purpose replying to him, you have done
that very well. He is one of those professed Spiritualists who are
the very worst cacklers on behalf of historic Christianity, as if they
were the Geese who are going to save Rome for the second time!
22 October, 1886.
PAUL THE GNOSTIC NOT A WITNESS FOR HISTORIC
Gerald Massey delivered a lecture last night in the Albert Hall, Edinburgh, on
the above subject. There were about sixty ladies and gentlemen present.
The object of Mr Massey’s lecture was to
show that the Apostle Paul did not preach the Christ made flesh, and was not a
supporter of historic Christianity. Two voices, he said, were to be heard
contending in Paul's Epistles, to the confounding of the writer's sense and the
confusion of the reader's. They utter different doctrines, so
fundamentally opposed as to be for ever irreconcilable—the
doctrines of the Gnostic or Spiritual Christ and of the historic Jesus. He
held that the profoundest feat performed in secret by the mangers of the
mysteries was this conversion of the Epistles of Paul into the chief support of
historic Christianity. It was the very pivot on which the total imposition
turned. In his lifetime Paul had fought with tongue and pen, tooth and
nail, against the men who forged the faith of the Christ made flesh, and damned
eternally all disbelievers.
After showing that, according to the date and
data of the Acts, the conversion of St Paul was wrongly recorded, Mr Massey said
that the account of his conversion recorded in the Acts was entirely opposed to
that which is given by Paul himself in his Epistle to the Galatians; and
nothing can be more instructive than a comparative study of these two versions
for showing how the matter has been manipulated, and the facts perverted, for
the purpose of establishing an orthodox history.
Jesus of Nazareth was unknown to Paul.
The compilers of the Acts had falsified when they thought fit, and told the
truth when it suited their own notions. Here they found Paul in agreement
with the Gnostic rejector of the Jesus of Nazareth and of historic Christianity.
In the same way Paul repudiates the
genealogies. He tells Titus to "avoid foolish questionings and
genealogies." He counsels Timothy to warn his followers against
giving "heed to fables and endless genealogies," such as they now
found in the canonical Gospels of Matthew and Luke; these could have no
application to the Christ of the Gnosis. The Christ of the Gnosis was not
connected with place any more than personality and, therefore, could not be
Jesus of Nazareth. The Gnostics were Christians in an esoteric sense, but
not because they explained a human history exoterically. It was as a
Gnostic, a wise master-builder, that Paul laid the foundations which others
built upon; and we know the superstructure they reared was that of historic
Christianity. His Gospel; his mystery; his Christ, are not those of
Peter and James, and so he warns his followers against the preaching of that
"other Gospel" and other Jesus which are opposed to his own truer
teaching. Here the lecturer entered into very elaborate details to
identify the Gnostic nature of Paul's doctrines, and to show how the doctrines
involved the Christ of the Gnosis and not of any human history. Paul's
doctrine of the resurrection was Gnostic, and therefore totally opposed to the
cardinal doctrine of the Christian creed, the resurrection of the body.
Such doctrines being impossible to the Gnostic, the lecturer said he held that
the texts on which they were founded had been falsely fathered upon Paul.
The Gnostic Christ was the immortal spirit in man, which first demonstrated its
existence by means of abnormal or spiritualistic phenomena; it did not, and
could not, depend on any single manifestation in historic personality; and when
Paul said, "I knew a man in Christ,” he showed that to be "in
Christ," or "in the spirit" as he otherwise calls it, was to be
in the condition of trance—-that condition in which he first received the
revelation of his mystery. This Christ of the Gnosis of Philo and of Paul,
preceded Christianity and was sure to supersede it, because it is based upon
facts known in nature, and verifiable to-day as ever; and because Paul
demonstrated these facts the Galatians received him as the Christ. Peter, in
questioning the claims of Paul as an apostle, was obviously aiming at his
abnormal spiritualism when he asks:—"Can anyone be instituted to the
office of a teacher through visions?" Hence those who were the followers
of Peter and James anathematised Paul as the great apostate, and rejected his
The work of the forgers who laid the
foundations of the Roman Church, was to successfully blend the Christ-Jesus of
the Gnostics, of the pre-Christian Apocrypha, of Philo and of Paul, with that
corporeal Christ and impossible personality in whom they ignorantly believed,
through a blind literalisation of mythology, so as to make the historic look
like the true starting point and the Gnostic interpretation of a later
heresy. This was finally effected when the teaching of John, that the
"Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us," had been accepted as the
THE MEDIUM AND DAYBREAK
1 April, 1887.
EGYPTOLOGISTS AND GERALD MASSEY.
By "M A. (CANTAB.)."
The readers of the MEDIUM are really
indebted to Mr. Coleman for his being, however unwittingly, the occasion
of the spirited "Retort" from Gerald Massey, contained in the issue of
March 18. Most of them will be content with the knowledge of Mr.
Coleman which may be gathered from the said "Retort." But the apparent
endorsement of his criticism by an Egyptologist of so high a reputation as
Mr. Peter Le Page Renouf, challenges further notice.
No one, I think, of ordinary perspicacity, could doubt after
reading Mr. Renouf a unmanly, skulking sort of note to Mr. Massey, that he
was the author of the letter to Mr. Coleman referred to, approving that
person's strictures on "The Natural Genesis." Who then is Mr. Le
Page Renouf, who lately succeeded Dr. Birch as Keeper of the Egyptian
Antiquities at the British Museum? and what ground have we for distrusting
any judgment he may form on subjects bearing on religious philosophy?
It is not perhaps generally known that Mr. Renouf, when an Oxford
undergraduate, eighteen years of age—in 1842—became a member of the Roman
Catholic Church. In 1855 he was appointed by Dr. Henry Newman,
Professor of History and Eastern Languages in the Catholic University of
Ireland. I am not aware that Mr. Renouf has ever renounced his faith
in the dogmas of the Catholic Church, and if he has not done so, what
reliance can be placed on his decision as to any religious question,
directly or indirectly relating to or impugning the authority of the
Catholic Creed? On the peril of his soul's salvation he cannot
search for Truth, except through the distorting medium of Catholic
spectacles, and if he accidentally meet with her, he dare not look her in
On à priori grounds then, we are obliged to distrust
the judgment of Mr. Renouf, but not on these alone. In his "Hibbert
Lectures," delivered in 1880, on "The Origin and Growth of Religion, as
illustrated by the Religion of Ancient Egypt," Mr. Renouf expressly says
that "neither the Hebrews nor Greeks borrowed any of their ideas from
Egypt"; that the interest attaching to the Egyptian Religion is that of an
isolated phenomenon;—we quote from memory. These "Hibbert Lectures" are, I
see, referred to by Professor Max Müller in an article lately published,
as being of remarkable worth.
But if the interest attaching to the Mythology of Egypt be of
the isolated character that Mr. Renouf supposes, why should scholars spend
their lives over it in a work-a-day world like ours ? How can Mr. Renouf
above all, with his religious notions, be content to pass his days in
deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics, when Hell and Purgatory are yawning
for erring souls ? Why does he not leave his mummies to the repose they
have enjoyed for 4000 years, let the dead bury their dead, and join
himself the popish Salvation Army of the ignorant learned ?
I venture to say a word also with regard to Professor Max
Müller. If his praise of Mr. Renouf's Lectures only implies an
admiration of his scholarship, regardless of his theory as to the isolated
character of the religious belief of Egypt, how misleading is such
approbation! Of what real importance to us is a knowledge of the
exact religious ideas of the inhabitants of the Valley of the Nile 6,000
years ago, if they stood alone. The real point of importance
is their after influence. If Mr. Renouf is wrong there, his capital
error more than outweighs all his erudition. If, on the other hand, Max
Müller agrees with him on this main point, what a reproach does he cast on
the authority of orthodox Egyptian scholars! And what confidence can
we, poor laymen have in the assertions of these interpreters of the Sacred
Books of the East ?
For if Mr. Renouf is right, then such erudite Egyptologists
as Gardner Wilkinson, Samuel Sharpe, Stuart Glennie, and the author of
"The Origin and Destiny of Man," with a host of other reliable scholars,
must have been under the strangest possible delusion: inasmuch as they
assert that almost every distinctive article in the Christian Creed was
held in Egypt 5,000 years ago. This much was known before Gerald
Massey wrote a line on the subject. What he has done is to give us
the Natural Genesis and Evolution of the Ideas, and to work out the
details, so (as it seems to me) to leave no possibility of doubt on the
The Egyptian origin of Christianity is in itself an old
theory. But an age of science like ours is impatient of mere
theories. Theories are useful and necessary, but they must be
interpreters of, and interpreted and checked by, facts. Unless they will
bear this test, they must be rejected, however gratifying they may be to
the imagination, or whatever logical ingenuity may have been employed in
their construction. Mr. Massey's discoveries do not consist of
theories of this nature. They form a vast pyramidal structure,
raised on a concrete foundation of unquestionable facts, derived from
every conceivable region and authority. And a critic who would
endeavour to weaken the force of Gerald Massey's conclusions, as a
whole, by exposing a hundred petty etymological or other errors, would
show that he had not the power of understanding the author's aim and
method, or the bearings of the work. Not that Messrs. Sayce and
Renouf have done that; they have avoided giving evidence which could be
tested! "The Natural Genesis" is a museum of facts—facts zoological,
ethnological, mythological, astronomical, philological, physiological,
theological, and philosophical. These facts are shown to be related,
according to certain laws and principles, which are clearly enunciated.
If, then, twenty facts—zoological, mythological, or what not—otherwise
inexplicable, are interpreted by some law, it does not matter if three
other facts, from error of judgment, lack of knowledge, or other cause,
should be improperly ranged under that same law: the force of the array
of the other twenty remains undiminished.
I have been reading and re-reading "The Natural Genesis" ever
since it was published. To master it in its present form is no light
task, and I for one do not regret this. One feels doubtful if it
would be well to popularise such a book. It is a terribly revolutionary
affair, for which the world is scarcely ripe, perhaps, as yet.
Reverend Professors and Catholic Curators are certainly not so. An
earthquake is a serious matter, productive of results very painful to
contemplate. But this is something worse : this is a heaven-quake!
THE MEDIUM AND DAYBREAK
3 August, 1888.
GERALD MASSEY PROPOSES TO VISIT AMERICA.
The lecturing tour in the United States now proposed
will be Mr. Massey's third visit of the kind. His first tour was a
great success. On the second occasion his health broke down, and
that was, of course, an end of everything. After leaving the
American Continent his success in the Australian Colonies was phenomenal.
Mr. Massey is just the teacher which this progressive age
requires. No lecturer, nor all the lecturers, in the world could
cover the ground which he has made his own. He stands far ahead of
all expositors, and his unique position will suit the American mind to a
tee. We have heard nearly all of his lectures, and have witnessed
the most intellectual and refined audiences drink in his words with
ecstasy. There is not a poor or "middling" lecture in the list.
They are all good!
But how will Mr. Massey's health stand the cold weather and
the incessant platform work and travelling? With the larger
demonstrations, a course of chamber lectures should be worked.
Twelve or twenty is not too large a dose of these lectures. Select
subscription courses in a moderately sized apartment would just suit
picked minds on special subjects. Some lectures are "popular,"
others are a hundred years ahead, and therefore just level with the
requirements of certain advanced minds.
If the right men will work the right way in the right places,
a successful work may be done through Mr. Massey's visit such as the Cause
of Progress stands greatly in need of at the present moment.
A LIST OF EVOLUTIONARY, ANTHROPOLOGICAL, GNOSTIC, NEO-NATURALISTIC
BY GERALD MASSEY.
WOMAN, as the Victim of Ancient Symbolism.
Donnelly's Lost Atlantis, and Warren's Paradise Found at the North Pole.
THE DEVIL OF DARKNESS
in the Light of Evolution.
MAN IN SEARCH OF HIS SOUL
for 50,000 Years, and how he Found it.
THE COMING RELIGION.
A LEAF FROM THE BOOK of my
THE HISTORICAL JESUS
of the Jews and the Mythical Egyptian Christ.
PAUL THE GNOSTIC Opponent of
Historic Christianity, called by Tertullian the "Apostle of the Heretics."
THE "LOGIA OF THE LORD,"
or Pre-Christian Sayings assigned to Jesus in the Gospels.
THE HEBREW CREATIONS
THE FALL OF MAN
as an Astronomical Allegory and a Physiological Fable.
GNOSTIC AND HISTORIC
CHRISTIANITY IN THE ROMAN CATACOMBS,
or the Testimony of Gnostic Art.
LUNIOLATRY: Ancient and Modern.
THE "SEVEN SOULS,"
and their Culmination in the Christ.
NATURAL ORIGIN OF SPIRITS:
Elemental, Celestial, and Human.
ZOOTYPOLOGY as a Primitive Mode of Representation.
MYTHOLOGY as a Primitive Mode of Representation.
TOTEMISM as Primitive Mode of Representation.
FETISHISM as a Primitive Mode of Representation.
SIGN-LANGUAGE: From Gestures
to the Alphabet.
LANGUAGE in the Human Likeness.
THOUGHT without Words.
CRAZE; or, Shakspeare and Bacon.
THE MAN SHAKSPEARE:
His Life and Work.
THE SECRET DRAMA
of Shakspeare's Sonnets.
REALITY AND SHAMS in Art and
CHARLES LAMB: The Most Unique
THOMAS HOOD: Poet and Punster.
OLD ENGLAND'S SEA-KINGS:
How they Lived, Fought, and Died.
Delivered Singly or in Courses, according to the Subjects.
Mr. Massey uses the term "Neo-Naturalistic" in place of
"Spiritualistic," as he claims that Spiritualism is a newer, larger
Naturalism. Mr. Massey's lectures promote the Cause of Spiritualism
with a class of minds inaccessible to other kinds of advocacy.
From . . . .
Vol. 3, September 1888, pp 74-5.
GERALD MASSEY IN AMERICA.
THE intelligent American public will shortly have
another opportunity to hear that brilliant orator, poet, Egyptologist and
philosopher, Mr. Gerald Massey, Egyptologist, about to visit America for
the third time on a lecturing tour. Our transatlantic brethren of
the T. S. will give him, we feel sure, a hearty welcome, for his own sake,
and for that of the help he has given LUCIFER,
notwithstanding the dissimilarity of his views to that of the Theosophists
in some respects. All our theosophists and readers remember the
charming poetry and excellent articles on symbology that have graced the
pages of our magazine over Mr. Gerald Massey's signature. His is a
richly stocked mind; full of learning, where there is no room for
narrow-minded prejudice. His noble endeavours to raise the British
working-man to higher aspirations and ideals have made his title clear to
ennoblement in the list of benefactors of humanity and won the respect of
the greatest thinkers of our age.
The last time he was in the States, his health broke down in
the midst of a course of lectures in some Chickering Hall, New York, and
he was laid up for some months. He is probably better known or
appreciated in America than in England. At least we know of an
occurrence in a London drawing-room which points that way. Two
American ladies claimed that Mr. Massey was an American poet, and there
was no one present who could disprove it. This is a story that Mr.
Massey tells with great glee. There are, however, some reasons for
this. Mr. Massey's poems have been published in a collected edition
in Boston, U. S., but never in England [Ed. ― collected editions of
his poetry appeared in 1888 and in 1896 ― see
My Lyrical Life]. He is
perhaps the least published of any living author. At the present
time the whole of his writings in prose and verse, with the exception of
his "Natural Genesis" and "Book of the Beginnings," are out of print.
He is preparing to make a re-appearance with his work in the "Secret
Drama of Shakspeare's Sonnets," which has lately been re-written by
him in the light of later knowledge, with a
reply to the anti-Shakspeareans.
It is to be issued immediately from the press of Messrs. Clay and Sons in
two editions, one for subscribers only, the other for the public. A
foolish notice, full of errors, recently appeared in Mr. Redway's circular
attached to the June number of LUCIFER. Amongst other mis-statements
it was alleged that Mr. Massey was "a ghost-seer" as well as a poet.
This is simply untrue. Nor was Mr. Massey's work on Shakspeare based
on any abnormal experience of his own. A "psychic origin for
anything professedly outside the consciousness of the author" in that
relationship has to be referred to the mediumship of Mr. Massey's first
wife and not to his own, as explained by him in one of his lectures.
Mr. Massey's later studies and researches bring him nearer to the
Theosophists. He has never lectured better than he did in delivering
his recent course of lectures in London. What he has to say is the
result of profound research and wide experience, and is sure to be uttered
in that masculine English of which he is a master. His list of
lectures contain subjects that are Evolutionary, Anthropological, Gnostic,
Neo-Naturalistic and Literary . . . .
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Extract from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's
'The New Revelation'
I cannot end this little book better than by using words more eloquent than any which I could write, a splendid sample of English style as well as of English thought.
They are from the pen of that considerable thinker and poet, Mr. Gerald Massey, and were written many years ago.
"Spiritualism has been for me, in common with many others, such a lifting of the mental horizon and letting-in of the heavens
— such a formation of faith into facts, that I can only compare life without it to sailing on board ship with hatches battened down and being kept a prisoner, living by the light of a candle, and then suddenly, on some splendid starry night, allowed to go on deck for the first time to see the stupendous mechanism of the heavens all aglow with the glory of God."
"Gerald Massey (1828-1907), a by-product of the Chartist Movement.
He was the son of a bargee, born somewhere on a canal near Tring, Hertfordshire,
started work in a mill at the age of 8, at 15 was earning his living as an
errand boy in London, at 21 was editing a Chartist newspaper.
No record is left of the course of self-education that he
must have undergone. He soon launched out as a poet, and wrote the Ballad
of Babe Christabel, Sir Richard
Grenville's Last Fight, and Ten Kings. But his main title to fame is that he
wrote the words of numerous songs that are sung in democratic gatherings to-day.
In later life he became absorbed in Spiritualism and
Egyptology. His fine work in the latter sphere was recognised by archeologists,
while he was a prolific writer and lecturer on the former."
Note: the journalist's reference to 'Ten Kings',
which cannot be traced, might have been to 'Sea
GERALD MASSEY'S DEATH
This cutting from an unidentified Australian Newspaper, was found pasted
inside an 1854 edition of 'The Ballad of Babe Christabel with Other Lyrical
"An interesting personality has passed away.
He may even be remembered in
Australia, which he visited some 30 years ago [in fact in 1884]. I refer
to Gerald Massey, the Chartist poet, a friend of F. D. Maurice, of Charles
Kingsley, and the original of George Elliott's "Felix Holt", and a
writer applauded by Tennyson, by Landor, and by Ruskin. He was the son of a
canal boatman; he had practically no education, and all through his wretched
childhood starvation pursued him. Yet he rose superior to his
surroundings, and by the age of 30 had impressed the world with his poetic
powers. His ambition was to become the poet of the masses. "I
yearn to raise them into loveable beings. I would kindle in their hearts a sense
of the beauty and grandeur of the universe, call forth the lineaments of
Divinity in their poor worn faces, give them glimpses of the grace and glory of
love, and of the marvellous significance of life." Massey was true to
the mission he planned for himself in those noble words. It has been said
of Massey's poetry that it is "thickly strewn with beauties";
and so it is. Landor quoted, with glowing admiration, the lines:
"The starry soul that shines when all is dark,
Endurance that can suffer and grow strong
Walk through the world with bleeding feet and smile."
Many of his metaphors and similes are extremely beautiful:
"We climb like corals, grave by grave,
That have a pathway sunward."
"Hope builds up
Her rainbow over memory's tears."
Nearly 40 years ago Massey practically gave up poetry, and devoted
himself to literary research, spiritualism, psychology, and egyptology. His latest book, not long out, was "Ancient Egypt: the Light of the
THE TWO WORLDS
May 8, 1908.
Gerald Massey: An Appeal.
WE have received a copy (which we gladly publish) of
the circular letter recently issued by Mr. James Robertson, of 5,
Granby-terrace, Hillhead, Glasgow, regarding the raising of a
"Subscription Fund" for the "widow and daughters" of Gerald Massey.
We are pleased to notice that "by the kindness of Sir Henry
Campbell-Bannerman" the fund is headed by £200 from the Royal Bounty Fund,
followed by £100 from the Committee of the Royal Literary Fund.
Other sums follow, but much more is required to meet the cases of the
ladies. Mr. Massey was a royal-souled man and a deep thinker.
As a poet he sang the songs of freedom and progress, as a Spiritualist he
was stalwart. He literally laid all he had upon the altar of truth,
and we most earnestly hope that now he has left us, those whom he loved
may not be allowed by his friends to feel the cold winds of adversity now
that he can no longer help to succour them. Some £360 has already
been raised, but at least £1,000 is necessary. Will all who can
assist send at once to Mr. Jas. Robertson, as above. He is a donor
of £10. Who will follow his example?