GERALD MASSEY'S LECTURES.
THIS favourite Poet of Progress is engaged by an
influential committee to give a series of lectures on Spiritualism, on
Sunday afternoons, in St. George's Hall, the particulars of which may be
found on a page in the advertising department. This step is one of
the most significant that has occurred in the history of Spiritualism, and
shows that literary men of the highest standing may identify themselves
with this movement without incurring social ruin. Any man of genius
and power may now become an advocate of Spiritualism with perfect safety
to his interests; for if popular opinion throw him off, spiritual opinion
is powerful enough to take him on. Since it was announced that Mr.
Massey would lecture in London as above stated, a number of other places
have caught up the idea, and flooded our table with inquiries as to
whether Mr. Massey would visit them on the same mission. We do not
take it upon ourselves to answer for Mr. Massey, but would recommend all
to write to him at Ward's Hurst, Hemel Hempstead, Herts. He is a
lecturer by profession; and for years has been notorious for his allusions
to Spiritualism in his public duties on the platform. We think there
is a grand field open for lecturers on the subject of Spiritualism, and it
would give us infinite pleasure to know that Gerald Massey had entered it.
As many of our readers as possible, both metropolitan and
provincial, should endeavour to be present at the lectures and promote
them as much as possible. It is usual for country people to visit
London to attend the May Meetings, and at this season the party of
progress have an excellent excuse to follow the usual custom, and
participate in Mr. Massey's lectures.
Ed.—this programme of
lectures was reported later in
The Medium & Daybreak.
THE MEDIUM AND DAYBREAK
November 1, 1872.
MR. GERALD MASSEY IN THE NORTH.
We have received an advertisement bill from Bishop
Auckland, intimating that Mr. Massey will lecture in the Town Hall, on
Friday evening, November 8. Subject: "Facts of my own personal
experience narrated and discussed, together with various theories of the
alleged phenomena." The lecture to commence at eight o'clock.
Admission—front seats, 1s.; second, 6d.; gallery, 3d. We also learn,
from Mr. Wilson, that Mr. Massey is engaged to lecture at Halifax, on
December 18, 19, 20, and 21. This is a full course, and ought to be
imitated in other places of similar size. If well worked, the effort
would prove a great success. For the benefit of inquirers, we append
Mr. Massey's address —Ward's Hurst, Hemel Hempstead, Herts.
GERALD MASSEY'S LECTURES—"We
learn that Mr. Gerald Massey is engaged on a prose work, to bear some such
title as Myth, Mystery, and Miracle, a series or deep-sea soundings
in the abnormal domain of which Mr. Massey has had such a special
experience. Parts of his profoundly interesting subject will be
treated by Mr. Massey in a series of lectures, which he is preparing for
delivery in this country and the U.S. of America. Literary societies
that desire a preparatory specimen of the work cannot do better than
engage Mr. Massey to give them his curious and novel lecture on 'Sun and
Serpent Worship.'"—Newcastle Daily Chronicle.
THE MEDIUM AND DAYBREAK
November 15, 1872.
MR. GERALD MASSEY IN THE NORTH.
Mr. Gerald Massey's visit to the county of Durham, to
lecture at Darlington, Bishop Auckland, and Barnard Castle, has given
great satisfaction in each of those towns, not merely to the
Spiritualists, who, we need not say, have had a rare treat, but to the
general public who patronised his lectures. The Darlington and
Stockton Times says:—
"One of the most intellectual,
and, I may say, influential gatherings that I have ever noticed of
the inhabitants or Darlington, assembled on Monday evening to listen
to Mr. Gerald Massey's lecture on Spiritualism. It was,
indeed, a strange story that Mr. Massey had to tell—how he was made
to believe in Spiritualism, almost in spite of himself. The
evidence was so strong, powerful, and multitudinous that Mr. Massey
could not resist it, he tells us. He tried to account for it
by every other means than that of the Spiritualist theory, but
failed. He was assured of the communication of the disembodied
spirits of his own relatives, and also others who had passed to the
other side. I heard one or two people say, however, that the
lectures were more for those who were to some extent acquainted with
Spiritualism than for the general public, though I defy any
intelligent man, be he Spiritualist or not, to listen to what was
said without having his attention arrested, and the spirit of
On leaving Darlington, where Mr. Massey was the guest of one of the
leading gentlemen of the town, Mr. H. K. Spark, he proceeded to the
ancient town of Barnard Castle, where he gave the same two lectures as at
Darlington, and where he was most warmly welcomed by a small but
enthusiastic circle of friends, at the head of whom is Mr. Joseph Lee, who
was mainly instrumental in securing Mr. Massey's services for that place.
The lectures were delivered on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
Great quakings, it is understood, were heard on the part of the orthodox
at this invasion of their very quiet little town, but nevertheless
curiosity and the energy of local friends secured a good house each
evening. The local scribe of the Northern Echo furnished some
account of these lectures to his employer, the Editor, who, it will be
remembered, made himself conspicuous by condemning Spiritualism while he
admitted the phenomena at the time of the late Conference. The
Northern Echo had a large heading over the article which dealt with
the lectures, entitled, " Gerald Massey interviewing the Ghost of Müller
the Murderer," and the article, we scarcely need say, was quite in keeping
with the heading, and ended with the remark, "Many things were propounded
difficult of apprehension, very strange to ears unused to them, and to
many minds revolting in their rank heterodoxy."
On Wednesday night Mr. Massey addressed a considerable
audience in the Music Hall. The subject advertised was, "The Man
Shakespeare;" but owing to some mischance Mr. Massey had not been informed
of the title, and hence was only prepared, as arranged with the other
placers on this tour, to give his course on the subject of Spiritualism.
However, with the approval of the audience, taken by vote, he delivered
his No. 2, or "The Spirit World revealed." The Subject was treated
in the lecturer's usual masterly style, and gave much satisfaction, save,
perhaps, to those whose religious prejudices influenced their reception of
On Thursday the subject was on "The Facts of my own Personal
Experience." Much credit is due to Mr. Lee and Mr. Kepling, who so
energetically managed the arrangements of the Barnard-Castle lectures.
From Barnard Castle Mr. Massey journeyed to Bishop Auckland,
where our old friend Mr. N. Kilburn, jun., had made every arrangement for
his reception for a lecture on Friday evening (of which there is an
account appended). Mr. Massey again returned to Barnard Castle for
Sunday, and, on the evening of that day, delivered the third of his course
or lectures on Spiritualism, pertaining to the life and miracles of Jesus
Christ. This lecture was given in place of the usual discourse from
the pulpit of the Free Christian Church, of which Mr. Joseph Lee is the
pastor—a fact which reveals, both on the part of Mr. Lee and his
congregation, a freedom and liberality of thought rarely paralleled in the
churches of the present day.
GERALD MASSEY AT BISHOP
On Friday night last, the 8th inst., Mr. Massey lectured in
the Town Hall to an audience of 300 people. The fact that such a
number of listeners could be brought together for a lecture will,
to those who know the town best, be the most convincing proof of the deep
interest taken in the subject of Spiritualism. Doubtless some few
who came out of curiosity rather than in search of knowledge found the
lecture technical, deep, and searching; but in Spiritualism, as in other
branches or knowledge, there is no royal road to learning; and on this
occasion the subject was being fundamentally expounded, rather than any
mere oratorical flights indulged in.
The lecture was in part an exhaustive reply to those who ask
for facts in connection with Spiritualism. Mr. Massey carefully
narrated, from notes taken at the time, the various experiences which
occurred in his own house through the mediumship of his Wife. From
these facts, most minutely analysed, no other possible conclusion could be
arrived at save that spirits who once lived on the earth could, and did,
under certain laws or conditions, communicate with us.
The so-called explanations of the phenomena, by psychic force
and unconscious cerebration, were thoroughly sifted without at all
damaging the spiritual theory. This portion or the lecture was
characterised by great depth of thought, and thoroughly taxed the mental
capacity of the audience.
The inestimable value of prayer, as a power on the
spirit-world, was pointed out in a graphic and touching manner; and its
use as a means of spiritual elevation, recalled from that sphere of
abstraction into which the creeds have banished it. Man is a denizen
of two worlds: in him meet and blend the spiritual and the natural; prayer
is the magnetic link between the two, and is therefore the special
attribute of all true Spiritualism.
Spiritualism claims to have substantiated and made real the
spirit-land, which is ever near. It teaches that our actions here
are the arbitrators of our position yonder, rather than any misty faith in
a wholesale salvation; and while it upholds the justice of God in the
punishment of all wrong-doing, condemns, with trumpet-tongue, the lying
farce of an eternal hell. Man, after death, will be his desires and
affections personified; therefore, set your affections on the highest
God is really our father, not a chemical compound. Let
us draw near to him by communion with those departed ones whose exalted
position reveals to them more and more of his power and glory. In
our lives let us act so that no dear one may have to look back with sorrow
on us; rather may we be a strength and stay to both worlds. "Be not
afraid! eternally shall truth live on, whilst error shall shrivel up and
become as nothing."
We cannot attempt more than the briefest sketch of the
lecture, which was characterised by that wealth of thought and
illustration which is so profoundly exhibited in the author's works.
It is not to be anticipated, from the very nature of the subject, that all
present were satisfied or convinced; but certain it is that seeds of truth
were sown in many places, which after-time will abundantly reveal.
Mr. Massey deserves the lasting gratitude of all who love truth and
progress, for his courageous avowal of facts, the recital of which must
have cost him many a pang. We heartily wish him God-speed in his
N. K. J.
THE MEDIUM AND DAYBREAK
November 22, 1872.
MR. GERALD MASSEY'S LECTURES.
We hear frequent echoes of the results of Mr. Massey's
lectures in the North. The newspapers have in general given full and
appreciative reports, and when falsehoods and bitter spite were vented by
obscure scribblers, such were themselves healthy signs of victory gained.
It is not alone the attendance at the lectures, nor the innumerable array
of good things said which form the excellency of Mr. Massey's services.
The lecturer's fame and personality are themselves a treasure, even if he
spoke not a word. Every person of culture knows who Gerald Massey
is—a man occupying the best-earned and one of the foremost places in
literature. This itself makes Mr. Massey's advocacy a telling
incident to thousands who do not go near the hall, and the newspaper
reports have given a very full expression to the fact.
Some gentlemen of Mr. Massey's position would be disposed to
please the popular demand by diluting the subject with that form of
thought which is already in good repute. To the lecturer's credit be
it said that this odious charge cannot be for a moment sustained, but
rather the contrary, as the following letter from Barnard Castle shows:—
On the 6th and 7th instant Mr. Gerald Massey
delivered two lectures, on Spiritualism to large and intelligent
audiences at Barnard Castle; the subject was handled in a masterly
style, orthodox theology was fought on its own ground, several
ministers were there to hear it, and such was the artillery brought
against the old creeds that the most independent thinkers declare
that its foundations are terribly shaken; raving priests and foaming
bigots raised such an uproar with the old cry, "the church is in
danger;" and an attempt was made to get Mr. Massey out of the town
before completing his engagement. This his friends would not
submit to, but the Free Christian Church was placed at his service,
and a large audience listened to him with great interest for one
hour and forty minutes. The subject was, "The Birth, Life, and
Death of Jesus," and again old orthodoxy fell in for a most fearful
lashing; he set forth Jesus as an ever-living and spiritual presence
which has given encouragement to free and independent thinkers.
A few séances have been held, and striking manifestations realised.
I would recommend all who wish to study this important subject to
listen to Mr. Massey's lecture on the person of Jesus from a new
standpoint. Yours faithfully,
A very certain corroboration of the above letter is found in a newspaper
report of the Congregational Anniversary at Barnard Castle. The Rev.
H. Kendall, of Darlington, spoke despairingly of the present state of
Church affairs. "As there are tides in the great ocean, so there are
tides of grace. The churches seemed to be in low water at present."
The speaker then ran aground on Spiritualism, a very dangerous now
continent, on the reef surrounding which a previous speaker had scraped
his keel. The reverend gentleman alluded to Mr. Massey as "a certain
individual who had been lecturing last week in Darlington and other places
on the subject, and he was amused at that gentleman's curious statements
The opinion of Christians and theologians was given, viz.,
that the whole thing was due to the agency of his satanic, majesty.
A minister in Darlington, on Sunday last, said that nine-tenths of the
matter was humbug—the other tenth due to the devil. Modern
mediums—if living at the time of Moses, or in this country a century
ago—would have been put to death. He warned all Christians to have
nothing to do with the matter. The chairman characterised the
lectures on Spiritualism as a mingled mass of nonsense and heterodoxy.
The remarks of Mr. Kendall and the chairman were received with
enthusiastic applause, and showed what kind of an impression the lecturer
had made on a great number of his hearers.—Bishop Auckland Chronicle.
This is all very horrid, reverend brethren, and it must be a
source of great uneasiness to your charitable feelings that you do not
live "at the time of Moses," and have the glorious and god-like
satisfaction of putting the heretics to death. The nearest approach
you can come to it is to allude to the lecturer and not mention his name.
Our chief regret is that Mr. Massey's pressing engagements
previous to his departure for America will not permit of his doing much
more for our movement, and it is not at his request that we so urgently
beseech our friends to take all the work out of him they can.
THE MEDIUM AND DAYBREAK
January 3, 1873.
GERALD MASSEY AT HALIFAX.
To the Editor.—Dear Sir,—During these last few days
there has been such a manifestation of profound intellectuality and
Spiritual erudition as has not been experienced in Halifax since Mrs.
Hardinge, with benedictions on her head, left us. There are those in
Halifax who are inexpressibly thankful to Gerald Massey for the rare, and
I may say wondrously unique treat which be has blessed them with; and the
writer of these lines is one amongst them. Mr. Massey's lectures are
the very paragon of excellence, because of the rich vein of thought which
runs through them—because of the great, yea stupendous, erudition evinced
in them, and because of the beautiful and exquisite diction with which
such thoughts and erudition are clothed. I am sorry to say, sir,
that the audiences were very meagre; yet it is somewhat gratifying to
record that the few who heard the lectures listened with rapt, attention,
so much so that it reminded one of that passage in Lord Lytton's play of
the "Lady of Lyons" where Pauline is made to say to her lover Claude, "As
the bee hangeth on the honey, so hangeth my soul on the eloquence of thy
tongue." Mr. Massey's first lecture, on "The Man Shakspeare," was a
production of a very high order. It was studded with beautiful gems,
such as delight and gladden the refined soul. The characteristics of
Shakspeare were exhibited in a manner which will not be forgotten by those
who heard the second lecture, which descanted upon the Spiritualism of all
ages, brought truth to view, which, to many, was hid in a heap of
mythology; ancient faiths and reputed legends were analysed from the
débris of myth and crude fancy, and some spiritual truths were culled.
The third lecture, which was on his own personal experience
in connection with Spiritualism, was listened to with mingled feelings of
amazement, awe, half incredulity, and yet, withal, with deep and riveted
attention. The statements were so forcibly put as to leave no room
for criticism or cavil. Every loophole by which the prejudiced
usually creep out in order to evade the logical conclusion which such
facts necessarily involve was effectually stopped up, as it were, to
prevent their wonted egress. Mr. Massey showed incontrovertibly that
departed spirits must be the chief agents in producing the phenomena he
There was a somewhat larger attendance on Sunday to hear the
lecture on "Jesus Christ." This lecture evinced the same
characteristics as the other—full of beautiful, humane touches—redolent or
appropriate repartee and satire, which cleaved deep through the fabled
dogmas of orthodoxy, and made an awful wreck of them. The true life
or Jesus , was exhibited in all its pristine beauty—minus the artificial
colouring which theologians have bedaubed it with. His miracles,
from his conception to his death, were considered in the light of
spiritual science; and it was shown that they were not accomplished in
virtue of suspended law, but in accordance with laws of nature, physical
and super-physical; or, as some would term it, material and spiritual.
In the evening of the same day Mr. Johnson, of Hyde, spoke in
the trance, and touched upon various themes in connection with the
philosophy of Spiritualism; but, having to go out on business, I cannot
say anything about it, save that the chairman did a little bit of
exorcising. I am told that he interrupted the spirit, and contended
that it was not speaking to profit. Judging from Mr. Johnson's
previous addresses in the trance, which I thought were of a high nature, I
fancy this interruption would be uncalled for; and I am strengthened in
this belief by the fact that two prominent Spiritualists in the body of
the hall protested against it, and contended that there were no signs of
disapprobation in the audience. Be that as it may, I myself demur
to, yea, detest, interferences of this kind. I say, let spirits have
their opinion as well as mortals. Apologising for my imperfect
communication, I am, yours in haste,
A. D. WILSON.
P.S.—Probably there are three causes which militated against
the success of these lectures. In the first place, the weather was
very unfavourable; in the second place, it is too near Christmas; in the
third place, there is disruption amongst the Spiritualists here. I
regret to say that many Spiritualists who were not interested in Mr.
Massey's coming amongst us ill-naturedly kept away, and even on the Sunday
got up an opposition meeting—a mode of proceeding, to say the least of it,
exceedingly disrespectful to Gerald Massey, not to mention bad manners in
other respects. I sincerely trust that Dr. Sexton's lectures, which
are got up under different auspices, will be attended by all
Spiritualists. Let all help, while differing in minor things, to
spread the cause which we all have at heart.
A. D. W.
13, Baker Street, Pellon Lane, Halifax. December 22nd.
[We rejoice at the sentiments conveyed in these last words.
Spiritualism does not seem to have taught these "ill-mannered" parties any
thing better than a childish retaliation. We hope the committee thus
aggrieved will pay back in good deeds, and do all they can to promote any
action for the good of Spiritualism, though it should be "got up under
different auspices."—ED. M.]
THE MEDIUM AND DAYBREAK
January 31, 1873.
GERALD MASSEY'S LECTURES IN THE NORTH
AND THE PROGRESS OF SPIRITUALISM.
On Monday of last week Mr. Massey lectured in
Middlesborough for the Philosophical Society, the Mayor, R. Stephenson,
Esq., in the chair. There was a pretty large audience, and the
remarks of the lecturer were received with repeated salvos of applause.
The Gazette says:—"No one who listened to Mr. Massey could doubt
the honesty of his belief, and his lecture, which forms only a part or a
book he has in preparation on the subject, was adorned by a wealth of
allusion and illustration which imparted a charm quite, independent or the
particular line of thought which characterised it." Besides a
copious report of the lecture, the same paper devotes a leader to the
subject, in which Spiritualism is treated in a remarkably fair and cordial
manner. It is reported that the Swedenborgians are arranging for a
lecturer to visit Middlesborough as an offset to Mr. Massey's teachings.
The editor of the Gazette cannot understand such conduct, seeing
that Mr. Massey claims Swedenborg as one of the greatest Spiritualists or
all time. The editor appropriately remarks:—"The discussion thus
raised should contribute to the public enlightenment on a subject, to say
the least, very perplexing to the uninitiated. The proposed lecture
is only one indication of the peculiar interest which Mr. Massey's visit
to Middlesborough has awakened."
On Tuesday evening Mr. Massey lectured in the Mechanics'
Hall, Newcastle, E. Procter, Esq., in the chair. The lecture is very
fully and intelligently reported in the local Chronicle. Mr.
Massey's second lecture was very much better attended than the first.
It was on Mr. Massey's personal experiences. Mr. Councillor Barkas
presided, and admitted the existence of some invisible power. Mr.
Massey was listened to attentively, and frequently applauded. At the
close there was discussion and questions asked, which passed off
pleasantly, notwithstanding the efforts of several persons to raise
difficulties and misunderstandings. These lectures have produced a
very marked impression in the north of England.
CHICAGO DAILY TRIBUNE
December 10, 1873.
Lecture by Gerald Massey at the Kingsbury Music Hall.
Gerald Massey, the English poet, lectured last evening at the
Music Hall in the Star Course, to a house miserably disproportionate to
the fame of the lecturer and the amount of advertising done by his agents
in this city. It may have been the opera, or it may have been something
else that left the auditorium about two thirds empty. The larger part of
the audience being chairs, it is not surprising that there was but little
applause. In fact, the audience was rather cold. It did not applaud any of
the effects of the Star orchestra, and waited in mute astonishment, until
Mr. Gerald Massey stole quietly in at a side door of the stage, and
hurried to his stand, without making a bow, and without introduction. He
suddenly opened his manuscript, and began reading with considerable
nervous hurriedness. Mr. Massey is not handsome, nor is he in appearance
intellectual. His moustache and side whiskers are thin, and his hair is
parted in the middle.
The lecture began with a definition of the two qualities of wit and
humour, somewhat after the fashion we have generally heard, Mr. Massey
speaking, however, with such rapidity that the force of his illustration
was lost be the effort to crowd too much into a short space of time. The
illustrations were always bright and original, and occasionally brilliant.
The subject of the lecture was "Charles Lamb," and the introductory
remarks were admirable suited to the body of the discourse, inasmuch as in
Charles Lamb, according to Mr. Massey, wit and humour were inextricably
blended. Passing from these remarks, he gave a short sketch of Lamb's life
from his entering Christ's Hospital, where he first made the acquaintance
of Coleridge. He referred to the taint of hereditary insanity in both
Charles Lamb and his sister Mary, treating the subject very closely, and
with strong pathetic description. There were, he said, various kinds of
madness, one kind, such as that which affected these poor creatures, which
was a sort of disorganised somnambulism. Mary Lamb, her brother wrote, was
during periods of insanity, far more brilliant in conversation than any of
his wittiest friends. To the protection and preservation of this sister
Lamb devoted his whole life, giving up for this purpose his love's young
dream, the memory of that Alice to whom he refers occasionally in his
writings. And it was this devotion to his sister, of the grandeur and
heroism of which lamb appeared to be quite unconscious, that the lecturer
said he wished his hearers to think. Lamb used to kick against the
drudgery of his work at the East India House, but it was the very best
thing for him. To be taken out of himself by force for six hours a day, at
a good salary, was a godsend to Lamb, and a blessing to us. It had given
us all the best of Charles Lamb in the smallest possible space, four
pocket volumes containing all his contributions to literature. And if he
could write all he had to, in four volumes, how much better for him that
he did not dilute them into twenty-four.
Lamb was a creature of London, the roots of his nature clung to the bricks
of that old Babylon; he never breathed freely, save in its limits; was
never at home elsewhere. Whenever he was in the country, he walked out of
it as fast as possible. He never liked it, except at one time, and that
was when he was in love, and then, like all lovers, he had a sympathetic
longing for all green things. The fact that lamb's love of the country (in
poetry) survived fresh and green in the heart of the great city, was
curious in a literary point of view, as curious, he thought to men of
letters, as the discovery by small boys, that mustard and cress would grow
upon wet flannel, without taking root in the earth at all.
In describing the appearance of Charles Lamb, Mr. Massey declared that the
subject of his discourse was not formed according to the conventional idea
of a great man, against which popular fallacy he (the speaker) felt
himself to be a standing protest. Charles lamb was not much of a teacher,
but he was one of the best good fellows and humorists the world had ever
seen, and he left us in his writings, and inexhaustible supply of
amusement and keen delicate fun.
The lecture was made up, in the great part, of extracts from lamb's works,
chosen with admirable taste, as illustrative of the character and
personality of the man whose genial, simple, nature he was discussing, and
anecdotes were given, especially towards the end of the lecture, which
were listened to with warm appreciation and marked attention on the part
of the audience.
Mr. Massey possesses considerable initiative, ability and versatility of
expression. He was guilty of an occasional omission of the aspirate and
said "unctious" for "unctuous" twice. His delivery is very rapid, puzzling
to an audience for some time but agreeable after a little. His
spiritualistic leanings were expressed in an occasional remark dropped
BANNER OF LIGHT
11th Oct., 1873.
Arrival of Gerald Massey.
It will be seen by the following announcement that Gerald
Massey, distinguished as a poet and man of letters, and a Spiritualist
withal, was among the recent arrivals at New York. He is engaged
as a lecturer in several of the winter courses, and we hope that our
friends will see that he is well cared for.
Gerald Massey, the English poet who has just just arrived in
this country, was born in May, 1828, and is therefore forty-five.
He was the son of a poor canal boatman, and after hard toil in a
silk-mill as a boy tender, at fifteen went to London and found work as
an errand boy. His is another example of the power of genius to
make itself known despite all repression of circumstance. He has
published some five volumes of poetry--"Poems and Chansons," "The Ballad
of Babe Christabel, and other Lyric Poems," "Craigcrook Castle," and,
latest of all, "A Tale of Eternity, and Other Poems." The latter
is a ghostly and strange work. Massey's strength has been in his
lyrics, which have won for him the admiration of the English common
BANNER OF LIGHT
11th Oct., 1873.
Now in this country on a lecturing tour, delivered recently
in London a very successful series of lectures on Spiritualism [Ed.—probably
the series in Langham Place].
He is the author of a little volume, bearing the title "Concerning
Spiritualism," in which, assuming the facts as proven, he deals chiefly
with the philosophy of the subject. The following passages in
reference to the Darwinian system, &c., will be read with interest:
"Spiritualism will accept evolution, and carry it out and
make both ends meet in the perfect circle; with it is the nexus,
not on the physical side of the phenomena; without it the doctrine of
Mr. Darwin is but a broken link. Complete evolution is the
ever-unfolding of the all-present, all-permeating creative energy
working through all forces and forms."
"Mr. Darwin, as much as any theologian, when he does
allude to the Creator, appears to look upon him as operating ab extra,
and working from without; a mind dwelling apart from matter and
ordaining results which are executed unconsciously in his absence;
whereas the Spiritualist apprehends him as the innermost Soul of all
existence, the living Will, the spiritual involution that makes
the physical evlution—the immediate and personal Causation of
dynamic force, no matter by what swift transmutations—the creative
Energy in presence penetrating every point of space at each moment of
time, effectuating His intentions, and fulfilling His creative being.
"Spiritualism will also destroy that belief in the eternity
of punishment, which has, for many mourning souls, filled the whole
universe with the horror of blackness, and made God a darkness visible.
'Ah,' said the dear cheery Old Calvinist, 'these people—the
Spiritualists—'believe in a final restitution and the saving of all,
but we hope for better things.' Many good people will cry out
in an agony of earnestness, as Charles Lamb stammered in his fun, 'But
this is doing away with the Devil; don't deprive me of my Devil.'
"Spiritualism must not destroy the dogma that God has but one
method of communicating his love to men, and but one doorway way through
he draws them into his presence. I tell you the God of heaven
bends and broods as lovingly, as divinely, and with a balm as blessed,
in the dear, appealing, winsome face of my little child, as He can do in
face of Christ."
We needn't say more to show that Mr. Massey's little tract on
Spiritualism is worth reading; but it will require close attention and
study in the reading, for he enters into some of the profoundest of
questions of life and creation.
THE MEDIUM AND DAYBREAK
December 19, 1873.
GERALD MASSEY IN AMERICA.
Gerald Massey, to quote the Daily Graphic, is no
longer the "Coming Man," for the excellent reason that he has come.
He has spoken twice, once in Unity Chapel, Harlem, on Sunday, October
26th, to a crowded, intellectual, and enthusiastic audience. His
subject was based on the Man Friday's question to Robinson Crusoe, "Why
does not God Kill the Devil?" Under the head of a "Poet Preacher,"
the Graphic says:
"The lecture was scholarly, pictorial, glowing, and
at times really eloquent. The first part was rather overladen with
myth lore for popular effect, but the body of it was practical
enough for anybody. Mr. Massey's voice was slightly husky, but not
unpleasant. He speaks with great rapidity and nervous energy, and
with an earnestness which communicates something of its own glow and
fervor to his auditors. He makes no attempt at oratory; he is too
much in earnest for that, and perhaps will be all the more effective
and successful because of his simple, down-right sincerity and
directness in presenting his convictions."
The World has a full and fair report of the lecture. The
Herald intimated that it would take a full page to do justice to its
profoundity, and that it was too compactly welded to deal with piece-meal.
The Tribune also rendered a very favourable account. This
paper had put in a claim for Mr. Massey to be heard for himself, even when
his subject might not seem attractive from the title. It wrote, when
Mr. Massey first arrived in America:
"Mr. Massey comes to us to lecture
upon literary subjects. and brings with him a reputation as a
lecturer not second to his poetical fame. In a truer sense
than any English writer, he may be called the poet of the poor.
But his early association with labouring people did not prevent him
from becoming an unusually cultivated and ingenious scholar.
He has made the most subtle and curious study of the character of
Shakespeare, as shown in his writings, which has yet been put forth.
He is at present engaged on a work requiring enormous research and
acumen—an investigation of the history of myths and the origin of
language. In the meantime, we do not doubt that the thousands
who have read and enjoyed his pure and earnest verse, will be glad
to see and hear him on the platform."
On Monday Evening, October 27th, Mr. Massey lectured in Association Hall
to an audience which, when the state of the weather and the financial
state are considered, was impressively good. We again quote the
"Mr. Gerald Massey made his bow as
a lecturer to a New York audience at Association Hall last night his
theme being, "A Spirit World Revealed to the Natural World."
There was a large and intelligent audience present. Mr.
Massey's manners as a lecturer are pleasing, and the theme is one
exceedingly provocative of thought. The literary merits of Mr.
Massey's lectures are of the highest possible order. He has
won the warmest regard of all who think well of their kind by the
feeling he has expressed for the poor of his own and every country.
There ought to be enough of interest in him and his subject to bring
him large audiences in every city of the Union."
Theodore Tilton, in the Golden Age, characterises Gerald Massey as
"A genial, modest gentleman; full
of bright thoughts and fancies earnest and sincere in his
convictions; enthusiastic in his temperament, and altogether an
agreeable and attractive friend. His lectures will not begin
for a week or two, and during the interval he is devoting himself to
seeing what he can of our people, and interchanging views on
subjects in which he is interested. One of these is
Spiritualism—not its vagaries and follies, but its philosophy and
facts. Another is the labour question, in which his whole
heart is interested on the side of the working classes.
Another is Shakespearean literature, or which he is a diligent
student, and to which he has contributed a stately volume called
"The Secret Drama of Shakespeare's Sonnets Unfolded."
As a lecturer, he depicts Mr. Massey as "original in thought, rapid,
ardent, and glowing in expression, and honest as the day is long."
The Evening Mail predicts that Mr. Massey will receive a warm
welcome from all classes of our people.
"He has won at once the cordial
will of those who have had the pleasure of making his acquaintance.
Those who have admired his genius—and they are a countless host—will
not fail to appreciate his modesty, his quiet earnestness, and his
unaffected devotion to what he believes to be the truth."
Mr. Massey's literary lectures—such as those on the more familiar subjects
of "Lamb," "Hood," the "Man Shakespeare," and the "Story of the English
Pre-Raphaelites"—will attract, entertain, and charm our people. And
these are kept quite distinct from his other utterances, which are
reserved for those who desire to hear them, and are not thrust on those
who do not. The Sun called Mr. Massey's first lecture—
"Spiritualism handled so that Spiritualists did not
This was a compliment, however unintentional. They are
immensely mistaken who assume that Mr. Massey has come to America to talk
over the trivialities of table-tipping. He has explained in the
Golden Age that, by means of a very peculiar experience, he has struck
on a lost track of ancient knowledge. The first fruits of this are
offered in a few of his lectures. But the fuller unfolding will take
one or two large volumes. There can be no doubt that Mr. Massey has
most personal affection for the less popular of his subjects, or he would
hardly have run the risk of offering these to audiences in Now York
against the advice of the Bureau and his more worldly-wise friends; it is
because he feels that he has something new to say, and he thought this
country the right place to say it. He proclaimed on Monday night
that Spiritualism, as he understood it and had wrought it out, was a New
World's gift that amply repaid all America had ever received from the old
world, and concluded his peroration with these words:—
"It may be the dream was true; it may be flint I saw
with visionary eyes. But as I strained them across the Atlantic long
before I came, I saw your young world of the West arise and brighten
with this new life quickening at the heart of her, this new dawn
kindling in her face, throbbing and radiating with auroral splendour
of this latest light, as if the millenium morning of humanity's most
golden future had touched her forehead first, and she shone
illumined, glorified and glorifying, as if in the very smile of
February 13, 1874.
MR. MASSEY IN AMERICA.
On more than one occasion Mr. Gerald Massey's lectures in the United
States have been too unorthodox for the listeners. The executive
committee of the Chicago Philosophical Society recently replied as follows
to a protest from the trustees of the Chicago Methodist Church, who had
let their building to the society for the delivery of one of Mr. Massey's
lectures:—"We fully recognise not only your right, but your duty, to
protest, against any improper use of the church property held by you its
trustees, and we are free to admit, in the case of Gerald Massey's
lecture, we did not use our usual caution in ascertaining the character of
it; and are equally free to say that, had we been aware of its character,
we should have declined it."
On the 17th of last mouth, at a dinner which took place in
Boston in connection with the Franklin Typographical Society, Mr. Massey
"I am pleased that the first public social reception
given to me in Boston should have come from the working-men. I
was born among the workers, and to them I belong. At the
present time I am associated with a subject that is tabooed and
unfashionable—so much so that only a single preliminary word of
welcome was given to me by the Boston press. It has always
been my fate to stand on the weaker and unpopular side, and it is so
still. But, gentlemen, I can assure you it was the side that
came uppermost, and was the stronger in the end, and I do not doubt
it will be so with this much despised subject of Spiritualism.
I carry with me from England letters of introduction from some of
our foremost people to some of your most honourable citizens.
But, as fate would have it, none but the despised Spiritualists
invited me to lecture in Boston, and with them have I cast in my
lot. In this connection too, it is pleasant to reflect that
all the private hospitality extended to me in America has been in
the homes of the Spiritualists."
BANNER OF LIGHT
28th May, 1874.
WORK IN SAN FRANSISCO.
The News Letter, a literary journal of high
merit and popular standing, which is published in the above-named city,
thus kindly treats in brief—in its issue of April 18th—of the past life-labors
in England, and present especial results in the Golden State by this
gifted poet and earnest orator, who on Sunday, May 10th, took leave of
the Boston friends at Music Hall preparatory to his homeward voyage
across the Atlantic. To the views expressed by our contemporary of
the Pacific slope concerning Mr. Massey, we desire to say, Amen!
"A thoughtful, earnest and original spirit has come amongst
us and in the brief space of a week, has created almost a revolution in
the domain of intellect, and set those thinking who rarely thought
before. Gerald Massey, until of late years, has been known to the
world as a writer of impassioned verse, some of the love strains of
which are destined to live as long as our mother tongue shall last, but
recently the poetical faculty seems to have given place to the more
generally one of the public teacher, and the latter triumphs of our
friend have been won upon the lecturer's platform. Born with
somewhat unfavorable conditions for the fostering of the more gentle
qualities of our nature, it was somewhat surprising to find a boy of
eighteen or nineteen dashing with such charming rhymes as those
well-known love-lyrics of his, beginning
'No jewelled beauty is my love,'
'Heaven hath its crown of stars.'
The former of which has found has found its way into every
selection of poetical beauties which in late years has issued from the
press. Sprung from among the people, his association has always
been with them, and sympathy for their sorrows and advocacy of their
rights have ever enveloped his life, and borne him onward upon the
stream which carries the old prejudices of the past toward the great
ocean of oblivion. A deep and inquiring thinker, he has shaken off
the trammels of sectarianism and boldly dared to think for himself on
all matters most intimately concerning his own moral and spiritual
nature. The conclusions to which he has come upon religious
subjects are such as would startle the class of minds accustomed to
regard them through the spectacles of their ancestors; but placed as
they are before his audience in terse and vigorous language, and with an
earnestness which is the fullest proof that they are the purest
convictions of their author's mind, they tell the listener that there is
much room for doubt as to many of his cherished theories, and send him
seeking into new paths for treasures of truth which may lie there, to
him as yet unknown. Mr. Massey's subjects are various and widely
separated, and touch the very opposites of mental thought. Poetry,
science and drama, the ancient myths, modern religious creeds, wit and
humor, and the teachings of Spiritualism, are all treated by him in
their fullest measure, and receive the advantage of candid and impartial
research. The visit of this remarkable man to this city has been
unfortunately too brief, and only three of his many topics have received
illustration before a San Francisco audience. The first of these,
'The Man Shakspeare,' was a careful epitome of the author's more
extended analysis of the sonnets and a pleasant inlook upon the private
life of the grand poet of the world. It was full of gems of
masterly English, and when published, as it doubtless will be, will
serve as a text upon the phases of Shakspeare's life and character of
which it professes to treat [Ed.—see 'The
Secret Drama of Shakspeare's Sonnets']. 'Why does not God
kill the Devil?' is a startling title, and the interest in the subject
displayed by a very numerous audience showed how attractive was the
lecture in which the question was to be answered. In this Mr.
Massey scattered to the winds the trumpery doctrine of a personal fiend,
and showed that God did not kill the devil because there was no devil to
kill. Bold and perfectly outspoken, he cares not to shelter
himself behind glittering flowers of rhetoric, but without a fear dashes
into the midst of what be believes to be error, and does his best to
vanquish it. His third lecture, on 'The
Coming Religion,' we could not hear, but we are willing to believe
that it was marked by all the originality and breadth of thought which
distinguished his previous efforts. It is a matter of regret that
we should have seen so little of Mr. Massey, and that his many calls
among the cities of the Eastern States forbid the prolongation of his
stay. He may, however, be assured that such is the impression he
leaves upon the minds of his hearers, that his second visit to the
Pacific Coast will be hailed with delight by a large number of the most
thoughtful minds among us, and that a warm welcome will be extended to
him when he again bends his steps hitherward. In the hope that we
may soon witness his return, we for a time regretfully bid him
THE MEDIUM AND DAYBREAK
July 31, 1874.
GERALD MASSEY'S LIST OF LECTURES FOR 1874—5.
Mr. Massey has issued the following list of subjects
for the ensuing season. We hope Mr. Massey will be extensively
engaged. The plan which we recently recommended for the introduction
of lectures on Spiritualism into the arrangement of Mechanics'
Institutions, might be adopted in respect to Mr. Massey. Special
efforts should be made to secure a visit from Mr. Massey in every place
where lectures can be got up. His lectures are of the highest class,
fearless and logical, and carry conviction with a class of minds which are
repelled by the performances of those where genius is not so sparkling.
The recent triumphant tour in America will re-introduce Mr. Massey to the
English public with renewed zest. The list of subjects offered is as
the Most Unique of English Humourists.
A Plea for
Reality; or the Story of the English Pre-Raphaelites.
Why I am a
Spirit-World Revealed to the Natural World from the Earliest Times by
Means of Objective Manifestations, the Only Basis of Man's Immortality.
Character, and Genius of Thomas Hood.
Why Does Not
God Kill the Devil? Man Friday's Robinson Crucial Question.
Shakespeare, with Something New.
Life, Miracles, and Character of Jesus Christ, Reviewed from a fresh
of the Serpent Symbol.
Address—Ward's Hurst, Hemel Hempstead, Herts.
ST. LOUIS GLOBE DEMOCRAT
Oct. 21, 1875.
GERALD MASSEY INSANE
The Weaver-Boy Poet in a Lunatic
(From the New York Mercury.)
[Editorial note: "If you don't read newspapers
you're uninformed. If you do read newspapers you're misinformed." (Mark
Twain) . . . . errors, omissions and
exaggerations in newspaper articles are, and always have been,
commonplace. Thus, when used as primary evidence, such material should be
treated with caution. This article is no exception to that rule.
During the Autumn of 1875, several U.S. newspapers
carried brief statements—probably re-postings, as is this article—that
Massey had been confined to an asylum. However, there is no corroborating
evidence that this was ever the case. It is perhaps coincidental that Massey's
first wife, Rosina Jane, throughout her married life suffered from an increasingly serious
psychological disorder worsened by alcoholism.
Thomas Cooper, writing to a friend in
1861, had this to say of Rosina
".....I wonder that poor Gerald Massey parades the figure of the
drunken plague to whom he has so sillily tied himself."—he
had little choice; he couldn't leave Rosina on her own.
Towards the end of her life, Massey was encouraged
strongly to place his wife in an asylum; this he resisted. Rosina was to
die suddenly, of no definite cause, some nine years before the date of
this article, so it is possible that we have here a garbled version of
that story, which Massey often related in his lectures on spiritualism
(e.g. see the report....
Conviction and Conversion). That said, this article's author
(anon) paints an interesting picture of Rosina, of whom we have little
detailed information, and of Massey's early years on the lecture
circuit. There can be no doubt that Rosina greatly influenced
Massey's life—not, for the most part, beneficially—sparking off an
interest in Spiritualism that was to absorb much of his later years and
give him a living on the lecture circuit, both at home and abroad, long
after this piece was written.
(Incidentally, the Lancashire poet
Samuel Bamford might have owned up to the epithet
'Weaver-Boy Poet', but Massey? Definitely not!)]
Tidings have reached this city from private sources in England that the
well-known poet and lecturer, Gerald Massey, is suffering from aberration
of mind, and has been placed in a private asylum. To those that have
been at all familiar with the career of the gifted and unfortunate poet,
this sad news will not occasion unmixed surprise. In his marriage,
infelicitous as Byron, he has been literally chained to a woman who was at
once an Amazon, a Medea and a Venus.
The writer became acquainted with Mr. Massey in the winter of
1854-55 in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England. Gerald was then a young man
of twenty-six engaged on a lecturing tour. For three nights he
lectured before the Literary and Philosophical Society of that town, his
terms being ten pounds sterling per night. His success was immense.
Lord Ravensworth was the chairman of his second lecture, and the poet was
for a couple of days his lordship's guest at Ravensworth Castle. At
every town he visited on that tour he was the guest of the aristocracy,
and though this distinction did not turn his head or make him arrogant,
there was no disguising the fact that he became in the slightest degree
snobbish. While engaged in lecturing, he was also a regular
contributor to the columns of the Athenaeum. Consequently his
worldly circumstances were easy, and he was a jolly but temperate
companion. He talked much of his home, his baby, his Newfoundland
dog, Carlo, and his "beautiful, beautiful wife;" and he used to say that
the money he made by his lectures very inadequately repaid him for the
home happiness he was deprived of during his tour. He abhorred
tobacco, and repeatedly said he could not understand how a man of culture
and refinement could introduce the "beastly ador of tobacco into his
Everything was lovely with Gerald in those days. The
writer was over half a dozen years his junior, and caught some of the
poet's enthusiasm while listening to his fervid eloquence. Let me
describe him as he then appeared: A very little man, with a shock of sandy
hair combed straight back, without parting, from the forehead; underneath
a pale, careworn face; moustache lighter than the hair; a scrambling
goatee; large, luminous iron-gray eyes, an upper lip too large for his
face, and a painful lack of character about the lines of the mouth.
His hands were as white as those of a hospital patient, and though they
were small, the fingers had not that tapering form or delicate tip which
are accustomed to associate with the artistic or poetic mind. He had
then written a few poems, one of which was published in the Edinburgh
Witness, while the celebrated geologist, Hugh Miller, was its editor. But that was before poor Gerald was
married; or, to adhere strictly to the facts, in the year 1848.
Alas! the year after he was married to his queenly-looking Dulcinea; and
as she said herself, "Massey's impassioned poetry won me." We have
no room to print the entire poem of "Unbeloved,"
which won Gerald's wife, but this notice of the man's life would be
incomplete without the first verse, which paints his hopeless passion at
the time he was courting the beautiful Mabel:
tree beside the river
Of her life that runs from me,
Do I lean me, murmuring ever
My fond love's idolatry:
And I reach out hands of blessing,
And I stretch out hands of prayer,
And with passionate caressing,
Waste my life upon the air.
In my ears the Syren river
Sings, and smiles up in my face;
But for ever and for ever
Runs from my embrace.
Mr. Massey was then living in an elegantly-appointed house in
Portobello, a couple of miles from Edinburgh. The writer visited him
there in the summer of 1853. It was impossible to escape the
conviction that the poet was then "overshadowed" and hen-pecked by his
wife. She had a grand presence, large jet-like black eyes, a hard
mouth, fine teeth, and a form that a sculptor would love to model.
After luncheon, Gerald and I took a walk round Arthur's Seat, and he
commented enthusiastically, as was his want, on the physical and
picturesque contours of the Newhaven fishwomen returning home [to]
Edinburgh. As I left him for the night he said, while clasping my
hand with both of his, "My boy you must get married; see how happy I am!"
Two years elapsed, and I heard little of Massey. But
when the winter came I was surprised to see a "poster" in the market-place
at South Shields, announcing that "Gerald Massey, the poet, would deliver
three lectures in the Central Hall, Chapter Row." I attended the
first lecture. Its subject was "Hood, and Wit and Humor."
[ED.—see also Massey's essays, "Thomas
Hood, Poet and Punster" (1855) and "Life
and Writings of Thomas Hood" (1863)].
I occupied a back seat, yet I could distinctly perceive that
the poet's face was more haggard and careworn than when I last saw him.
There was probably a majority of ladies in the fashionable audience, and
the lecture proceeded with that rippling eloquence of which Massey was
such a master. His voice—always full, musical and mellow—had lost
none of its resonance, and his hearers were alternately dissolved in tears
or shaking with laughter. Tender glances from bright eyes were
thrown upon him, and before he had progressed half and hour it required no
particularly acute observer to discover that half of the young ladies in
the hall adored him. When he began to recite the "Bridge
of Sighs" you could have heard a pin drop, and as he, with touching
pathos and lingering sadness, repeated the lines:
Cross her hands humbly,
As if praying dumbly,
Over her breast!
Owning her weakness,
Her evil behaviour,
And leaving, with meekness,
Her sins to her Saviour!
there was not a dry female eye in the assemblage.
I saw Mrs. Massey gaze round with astonishment. She saw
that the little man was the idol of the hour—that tears were flowing from
aristocratic cheeks; that beautiful young hearts responded to the touch of
nature which makes the whole world kin. The sight was too much for
her nature. With a wild, shrill shriek, she apparently fainted away.
Poor Gerald advanced to the edge of the platform pale with anger and half
unnerved. Four men hoist the woman and bear her from the place, two
matronly women attend and apply restoratives, tidings pass round the hall
that the fainting woman is the lecturer's wife, and that she is jealous of
him, and after a while the lecture proceeds undisturbed.
At the next lecture I went as a privileged individual with
Mr. and Mrs. Massey, to the central Hall. The lecture was upon
"Burns, and Love Poetry." The hall was crowded; but the lecturer
looked as if he expected a sheriff around. He was fidgety and
restless, and his annunciation was at times indistinct. I sat
besides Mrs. Massey. She said to me in a whisper; "Look"
Gerald is in love with that lady; I know it. See how he looks at
her!" Almost immediately came the recitation of the poem, "To Mary
is Heaven," and with an amazonian yell, Mrs. Massey fainted away, and I
was one of the bearers who conveyed her from the premises. It was
the same story wherever he lectured. Mrs. Massey systematically
fainted away, and had to be carried from the hall, while he looked on with
an expression of poignant anguish. There was no aristocratic houses
offering their hospitality to the poet and his wife now; but there were
humble friends who were not banished like bees by the wintry weather, who
now surrounded him, and who offered their "best apartments" as a dwelling
for the poet and his wife. And in one of these comfortable,
unpretending houses—No. 9 Summerhill Terrace, Newcastle-on-Tyne—I dined
with Massey and his wife in 1858. it was Sunday, and after dinner
Mr. M—, Massey and myself retired to the "library" to smoke. There
was no sentimental aversion to tobacco now in the poet's mind; but he had
a lingering fear—and expressed it— that "she" might burst into the room
at any moment. It was as he expected. She opened the door,
and, with the appearance of a Medea, cried: "Gerald! don't you know
'Carlo' is dying?" This was the dog, and the affect on the little
sensitive man was most distressing. Soon after she returned with the
announcement: "Gerald, our little Freddy is sick." "O, curse you,"
cried Massey, throwing down and breaking his long clay pipe, "you will
kill me!" At every town in which he lectured these scenes were
repeated. And she would wake him up in the night to retail horrible
visions, where some cherished member of his family was predicted dead.
By and by he began to believe that his wife possessed the power of
divination, and it was then not a difficult road for him to reach a
profound belief in Spiritualism.
His vagaries in the spiritualistic business are notorious to
all newspaper readers. In all of these eccentricities he has been
assisted by his wife. Together they have seen visions of babies and
hogs, and discovered that the bones of the weird visitors were buried
beneath the Massey hearthstone. These absurd visions he minutely
described in the London Spiritualist, and then his friends and
well-wishers began to suspect that his mental balance was shaken. A
few years since, it will be remembered, he lectured in Boston and other
New England towns on spiritualism. But the man had lost his
magnetism, and the lectures, as they deserved to be, were an absolute
failure. In point of fact, poor Massey has been approaching insanity
Most of Massey's latest writings have been on the subject of
spiritualism, and his most intimate friends have regarded every succeeding
speech or article as a nearer approach to lunacy. Massey will not be
regarded by critics as a strictly original poet. Taking Tennyson as
his model, he has, to some instances, almost servilely imitated that great
master. Still, there are poems of Massey's that can only perish with
the English language.
THE BANNER OF LIGHT
Boston, March 15, 1884.
Gerald Massey in Springfield, Mass.
Sunday, March 9th, Gerald Massey, the distinguished lecturer
on the origins of Religions, gave a learned exposition of the fable of the
"Fall of Man" in Genesis. The audience was very large and paid
strict attention. Many of our editors and professional men were
present. His explanation of the astronomy of the ancient Egyptians
throws a flood of light upon the story of the Garden of Eden, the Serpent,
the Tree of Knowledge, etc. It was almost like a new revelation to
us to hear such clear and unanswerable explanations of these Bible myths.
Mr. Massey ought to be heard in every city in New England
before he goes West, for he has information of the gravest importance to
give to the people. His lectures lay bare the false foundations of
Christianity, and prove conclusively that the dogmas and ceremonies of the
Christian Church are misrepresentations of myths of antiquity whose
original signification has been lost to the people in the lapse of ages,
and yet whose meaning can be restored by a careful study of the mythology
Public libraries ought to have Mr. Massey's book "Natural
Genesis" which gives in full his discoveries; and his lectures, which are
a popularized epitome of his researches, should eventually be printed in
cheap form for the masses.*
Mr. Massey has a magnetic voice and an earnest manner, and
both his thought and his delivery insure a charmed and instructed
audience. He will give two lectures at Gill's Hall, Sunday, March
16th. The subject for the evening lecture will be "The
Historical Jesus and the Mythical Christ."
Prof. Milleson will speak here on March 23rd, and James R.
Cocke, the blind musical medium, the 30th. The Spiritualists' Union will
have a meeting here on the 31st, particulars of which will be given you
H. A. BUDINGTON.
* Ed. While
not material that the "masses" would readily take up, as Mr. Budington
appears to think likely, Massey did eventually arrange (in 1887) for his
principal lectures to be printed individually as inexpensive booklets.
These, which are reproduced on our lectures page, remain available in modern reprints.
THE BANNER OF LIGHT
Boston, March 22, 1884.
Gerald Massey in Springfield, Mass.
Another full and very intelligent audience assembled Sunday evening, March
16th, to hear Mr. Massey in his masterly lecture on "The
Historical Jesus and the Mythical Christ." In this discourse
parallels are drawn between the gods of Egypt and the Christian Christ,
showing from the "Book of the Dead" that most of the stories of Jesus
found in the four gospels are modified copies of the Egyptian myths.
A number of citizens from other churches and some or our best
thinkers among the unchurched were present. The views of Mr. Massey
were new and startling to most, and yet they are founded on the facts of
facts of Egyptology. The Springfield Republican reported the
lecture, giving an unusual amount of space to it.
Prof. Milleson of Boston will lecture here next Sunday, the
23rd, and in the evening exhibit his paintings and diagrams of the
spirit-body, which he has made a study of for years, and which he claims
to have been shown clairvoyantly some new and beautiful truths.
H. A. BUDINGTON.
THE BANNER OF LIGHT
Boston, Saturday, April 19, 1884.
The poet, the scholar and the orator, concerning whom the friends of
Spiritualism on both sides of the Atlantic cannot do other than cherish an
appreciative memory, in view of the important services which he has, by
research, voice and pen, rendered the cause, is at present speaking in the
West, having just concluded his initial engagement in that quarter, at
Mr. Massey's first lecture in Cleveland was given on the
evening of April 6th. Though the weather was very inclement, the
Church of the Unity, in which it was delivered, was crowded with an
appreciative audience. The subject was "The Mystery of Evil," and it
was dealt with in a manner so much out of the common course that every
word was listened to with the utmost degree of attention. The
lectures that followed increased the public interest, and when the
concluding one of the series was delivered, many regrets were expressed
that there were no more to be heard. Very favorable mention of them
was made by the press some of the papers giving quite lengthy notices,
including the leading points of each.
The manner in which Mr. Massey turns his scholarship and
learning to spiritualistic account is remarkable. For example, it is
commonly assumed that what is termed the phallic religion, the types and
symbols of which are found the world over, originated in a worship of the
generative powers. But Mr. Massey proves, in his lecture on
Man in search of his soul during
many thousand years, that the phallic imagery was first employed by
primitive man in the burial of the dead, whether in the re-birth place of
the Egyptians, the caves of Europe, or the "Navel-Mounds" of the red men.
He shows that the dead were buried in the tomb as the locale of re-birth;
end that the natural imagery of reproduction in this life was repeated as
the symbolism of reproduction and resurrection for another. In this
way he makes use of Spiritualism, the light of to-day, to read the
far-off facts that have been obscured in the dark places of the past.
His mode of treatment has proved interesting to all men, whether
Spiritualists or not. For instance, Courtlandt Palmer, the President
of the Nineteenth Century Club, testifies that he heard Mr. Massey's
lecture in New York with the most profound interest; and although a
Positivist himself, he says Mr. Massey's facts and deductions are of the
utmost value according to any theory of the world.
THE BANNER OF LIGHT
Boston, Saturday, 3 May 1884.
Gerald Massey in Grand Rapids.
The Grand Rapids (Mich.) Eagle, April 21st, speaks as follows
regarding Mr. Massey's Sunday discourse in that place:
"Quite a large audience listened to the lecture in Powers' Opera
House yesterday, by Gerald Massey, on the 'Mystery of Evil,' and all
seemed delighted with his masterly handling of the subject—some of
them saying that they could listen two hours longer without being
wearied. He gained their close attention from the first and
held it till the close. Mr. Massey is a rapid speaker, will a
great command of words, yet often his fervid sentences demand the
closest attention. By some he is called Emersonian in his
epigramatic utterances; but as a speaker his delivery as compared
with Emerson's, is like the rushing storm as compared with the
steady breeze of a dull morning. He may be set down as
pleasing and instructive speaker, whether his views are shared by
his auditors or not, and an impetuous platform orator."
Mr. Massey spoke in Grand Rapids April 20th, 23d and 25th,
and was to lecture there again the 28th. As noted in these columns
last week, he intends to devote some six weeks in May and June to places
between Chicago and San Francisco, on his way to Australia, where it is
said he has just concluded negotiations to deliver ten lectures. The
friends all along the route should make every effort to secure the
services of this ripe scholar and eloquent speaker.
THE MEDIUM AND DAYBREAK
16 January 1885.
Republished from The Harbinger of Light, 1 November, 1884.
GERALD MASSEY IN AUSTRALIA.
On the evening of September 29, a conversazione was given in
Melbourne, to the members and friends of the Victorian Association of
Spiritualists, Mr. C. Johnston, President, in the chair. Between 300
and 400 persons were present. "The Harbinger of Light," November 1,
reports the following:—
"Mr. Gerald Massey, who was received with applause, responded
cordially to the words of welcome that had been spoken. He was, he
said, one of those 'cranks' called Spiritualists. He was not an
abnormal medium, as one of the papers had made him say, but his first wife
was mediumistic, and through her he had received many proofs. He
spoke of his state of health when he left England, after the completion of
his book, as very low, but he was glad to say he now found himself, after
his travels, very much better. He thought that Spiritualists did
not, as a rule, learn sufficiently from nature. They believed in the
natural; only that in that expression they properly included the
domain of the spiritual. But some Spiritualists, the moment they
found that certain extraordinary phenomena were true, at once thought that
it proved all the miracles recorded in the Bible to be true likewise.
These, however, were simply myths, and had to be interpreted by the light
of mythology. Spiritualists ought to be educated in the doctrine of
Evolution. The Denton Museum, which he was glad to see there, was a
step in the right direction, and he was also glad to find that the young
had an opportunity of being freed from the damnable doctrines which had
cursed their forefathers. Everywhere he went, he had found the
Spiritualists in a chaotic state, with many divergences of opinion, and he
had come to the conclusion that the object of Spiritualism was essentially
to make people independent in mind, and that they were not meant to think
alike, and that these divergences of opinion really formed a species of
protective bristling chevaux de frise around their facts. He
approved, however, of any attempt at confederation; for though they could
not meet to agree to think alike, they could meet to agree to do
something, to carry out some plan of action. He was not exactly a
representative sent out by English Spiritualists, but in some sort he did
represent them, and, therefore, in conclusion, in their name he tendered
to his hearers a cordial greeting."
Mr. Massey has been lecturing in the Theatre Royal, Sydney,
to crowded audiences. Of his lecture on "The Fall of Man," The
Liberal says: "We have no hesitation in describing it as the most
elaborate, the most learned, the most profound, and the most absorbingly
interesting discourse ever delivered in the City of Sydney."
We regret to learn that Mr. Massey has been taken ill in
THE MEDIUM AND DAYBREAK
27 November 1885.
Republished from The Rationalist, Auckland, New Zealand,
Sunday, August 30, 1885.
ORATION BY GERALD MASSEY
PERORATION TO "A LEAF FROM THE BOOK
OF MY LIFE."
Mr. Gerald Massey again lectured on Sunday evening
last, to a large audience. The subject of the lecture was "A Leaf
out of the Book of my Life."
In his introductory remarks, Mr. Massey said: We have a class
of journalists in London and elsewhere, who grin for the public through
the horse-collar of the press. Their duty is to make fun of all that
is foreign to them. The more the seriousness the greater the
absurdity. Such writers have no comprehension, and can have no
respect for the love of truth, which alone could compel a man to volunteer
his testimony all the world round to an unpopular truth, in a case so
painfully personal as this of mine. In the course of my life I have
been a fighter in the forlorn hope of more than one unpopular cause,
beginning as a Chartist, but the clown who grins professionally for the
press must not, therefore, assume that I am the champion of an
unparalleled imposture. I am impelled to tell my story solely
because it is true, and because it enables me at times to be of use to
others who may be in the midst of some peculiar experience, the mystery of
which they cannot fathom by themselves. I am not here to
proselytize; only to state facts, and now and again to draw an inference.
We cannot generalize or form an opinion on any subject unless we have the
facts to go upon.
We reproduce the conclusion of the lecture verbatim:—
Mind you, I am not going to claim for Spiritualism any more
than it will carry. These phenomena, if true, are not about to prove and
re-establish the mythical miracles of the Old or New Testament as true.
The sun never stood still in heaven, in any time past, tho' all the tables
on earth should take to dancing in the present. I am aware that the
first effect of these phenomena on many observers, is to make a profound
appeal to the feeling of religions awe, and therefore to confirm the
orthodox in all the errors of their early thought. If certain
extensions of recognised laws take place in the present, why may not all
the mythical miracles of the past be veritable matters of fact; and of
course they may, if we have no means of distinguishing between them.
Thus, the primary tendency of spiritism, is to rehabilitate all the old
beliefs that have been founded on misinterpreted mythology, which have
been, and are, the cause of natural enmity between men of science and the
facts of spiritism themselves. It seems to me that the diablerie and
the grotesquerie of the modern phenomena may be humorously directed
against the sham divinity that would otherwise have been exalted to the
pedestal from which other false gods have been dethroned. No more
infallibility. I soon saw that if the old book were plumped into the
new boat, unexplained, it would scuttle it and might sink it. The
so-called Christian Spiritualists, for example, are never tired of
proclaiming that the facts of Spiritualism and the miracles of the Bible
are identical; and that if one are true, the others were. But,
supposing some comparative mythologist comes and shows us that Hebrew
miracles are Egyptian myths, and explains their symbolical nature
according to evidence yet extant, although unknown to the people of one
book—proving that the assumed miracle never meant what has been
assumed,—then the tables are turned on the Christian Spiritualists.
This was why I devoted the best years of my life to the matter of
mythology; and I have shown that the miracles of misinterpreted mythology
are not to be explained by modern Spiritualism, but by mythology itself;
when explained they are true to neither the one nor the other, but are
repudiated by both.
There are valid reasons why the theoretic and ideal
Spiritualism of orthodox theology, that was based upon a false
interpretation of ancient ideas, is, and must be, at enmity by nature with
Spiritualism of free and original thought that is based on phenomenal and
verifiable facts,—which is at liberty to explore and seek the sources of
the manufactured mystery of the present in the primitive mysteries of the
past. It is at enmity to-day. By and by it will gradually
claim our facts in order that these may help to rehabilitate and
re-establish its own exploded fallacies! But, it will be too late!
The fictions will have been found out first! Hence the necessity for
orthodoxy holding aloof a little longer. Some writers regret its
attitude, and its opposition to Spiritualism! But this is its
testimony to the truth,—coming as it does from those who have always
opposed that which is scientifically true. If orthodoxy could have
assisted at the birth of Modern Spiritualism it would have been only with
the view of procuring an abortion, or of surreptitiously making sure that
the babe should be at least still-born! They have done enough!
They have brought death into the Mental World, enthroned a dying Deity in
Heaven! Theirs is the past with its dead yesterdays! The
living future's long to morrow is ours. In conclusion, I have to
confess that the Spiritualists, as a body, are possibly the most curious
agglomerate of human plum-pudding-stone in the world—an aggregate of the
most cranky and kinky individualities ever massed together. We are
drawn, but by no means bound together, by the facts to which we testify in
common. We are an inchoate and an incoherent cloud of witnesses.
Of one thing only do we speak with one voice. That is the reality of
our facts; the actuality of our phenomena, to which I bear true witness
to-night. But, mark this! It was not Spiritualism that
created, or is accountable for, this bristling crowd of cranks!
These are the diverse outcome of other systems of thought. These are
the warts on the stricken and stunted tree. These are the thistles
and thorns of uncultivated fields; the wanderers, during forty years, in
the theological wilderness; the rebels against usurped authority;
devil-may-cares who are determined to do their own thinking, be the
consequence what it may. We club together, all the excrescences of
characters that never could attain a natural growth under the old cramping
conditions, and of these we will yet make a knottier iconoclastic mace for
breaking down the false images set up for worship. We stand with all
our divergences distinct, but massed together like a chevaux-de frize
of serried spears around one central truth, whoever, may advance against
us, or touch it whoso dares! Spiritualism is sure to be terribly
iconoclastic! It means a new light of revolution in the world from
the old eternal source. And you cannot have new light let in without
seeing many old acquaintances with a new face. Many aspects of
things will change; and some things that we mistook for live faces will
turn into the sheerest masks of mockery, and whiten with the sweat of
dissolution running down them. The old grounds of belief are
breaking up rapidly, no matter what fresh efforts may be made to deceive,
delude, and secure the ignorant, the infants, or the aborigines. The
orthodox creed is doomed to reversal, even as a dish is wiped clean, and
turned upside down. The foundations of the false, cruel, and gory
faith are all afloat. It was built as the Russians rear their Summer
Palace on the frozen river Neva, and the great thaw has come suddenly upon
them; the ominous sounds of the final break-up are in their ears, their
anchorage and place of trust is crumbling before their eyes. For
they had built on the very things (or condition of things) which had
sealed up the running springs, and stayed the stream of progress in its
course. They have arrested for the purpose of resting. And
here is the hint of Science, of Spiritualism, of Materialism, of
Freethought, in every form. That they must move on, and get out of
the way, or be moved off for ever. The fraud founded on a fable is
found out. The Christian religion dies, in proportion as it loses
the power to persecute. Spiritualism, as I interpret it, means a new
life in the world, and new life is not brought forth without pain and
partings, and the sheddings of old decay. New ideas are not born in
the mind without the pains and pangs of parturition and to get rid of our
old in-grained errors of false teaching, is like having to tear up by the
root the snag of one's own teeth, with our own hand. But, by our own
hand and will this has to be done, for nothing else can do it. New
light and life, however, do not come to impoverish, they come to enrich;
and no harm can befall the nature of that which is eternally true.
It is only falsehood that fears the transfiguring touch of light; that
must needs shrink and shrink until it shrivels away. Spiritualism
will prove a mighty iconoclast, but the fetishes and idols it destroys
will yield up their concealed treasures of innermost truth, 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 emote mightily with his iron mace; down fell the
image, 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, 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 has never been lost, and consequently, does not need to be, and
never can be, saved, in the sense intended such language has lost its
meaning for us, it has become one of the dead languages of the past; we
have quite another use for the facts found in Nature. Spiritualism
will have done a great work, if only by abolishing that craven fear of
dying which has been instilled into us from before birth, the child in
embryo having been made to embody the mother's shudderings at the
frightful language used by the torturers of souls, who fulminate from the
pulpit. If it sets us free to do our own thinking as rational men
and women, who have so long and so profoundly suffered from the
pretentions of the Sacerdotalists, who continue to peddle from the pulpit
in the name of God, a system of delusion, the foundations of which are to
be discovered at last in misinterpreted mythology. Against which
system of false teaching, I, for one, am at war to the death, with any and
every weapon I can lay hands on, including this most potent weapon—the
sword of Spiritualism.
Nov. 18, 1883.
The Views of the People Upon a variety of Topics.
Recollections of Gerald Massey.
To the Editor of the Brooklyn Eagle:
Mr. Gerald Massey's presence in this country recalls many old
time memories. It in fully thirty years since I met him last, a
young English Radical filled with all the stir and hope expressed in
Massey's poems. We than believed truly that as he sang:
"'Tis coming up the steep of time,
And this old world in growing brighter,
We may not see its dawn sublime,
Yet high hopes make the heart, beat lighter,
'Tis coming, yes, 'tis coming."
The People's Advent
Gerald Massey, ca 1854.
Let me see, that must have been in 1849, and Mr. Massey must have been
less than twenty years of age. I remember him distinctly. He
was below rather than above the middle stature, of slender frame, not a
weakling by any means, with a face of marked beauty and clearness of
outline. It was striking too, with its heavy mane of brown hair
falling back in a full unparted wave from a broad and well moulded
forehead, beneath which were luminous and large eves, full of light and
gray in color, if I am not mistaken. His nose was strong and
straight, and the mouth also full and well shaped. His manners or
ways, were a little rustic, but full of grace and inate dignity of
character. I recall his voice with pleasure, for he talked or
lectured at the John street Institute, Fitzroy Square, quite near to
Tottenham Court Road. I think, also, he was a student at the
Workingmen's College, in Golden Road, I believe, under the
presidency of Frederick Denison Maurice, and tutored by such types of
Christian socialists as Charles Kingsley and Thomas Hughes.
Gerald Massey, speaking from the English point of view, is
essentially a man of the people; he had a hard time or it too, in his
youth, and found out, as he himself said in a preface to the earlier
edition of his poems, that the muse does not love entertainment which is
not fit for man or beast. "So many lions are in the way of the gate
beautiful," wrote the poet, "that if the poor man's heart breaks out in
song, it is like to fall in hailstones, rather than fructifying rain."
Mr. Massey was born in Devon*, so much I remember.
His father, who labored on a canal, died when Gerald was about nine or ten
years old*. His mother worked hard and effectively to give
the boy some sort of education. It was not much a child of the poor
could get in those days—forty years and more ago—in the parish schools of
rural England. But the times were seething with thought.
Gerald Massey became known, almost famous, I might say, by his lyrical
outbursts, early in 1848. Of course I know that he has surpassed the
expression of his hot youth, but I am sure that none of us will love him
more in the later and more distinctly artistic work of his teeming
imagination and scholarly brain than we did then and since, for the
splendid passion and power of his outcry. He voiced, as no young
soul and brain had ever done, the cry of English labor and sympathy with
the revolutionary outbreaks of that time. We were all Chartists, of
course, and Gerald among the rest. What a time that was; the march
of young Europe in 1848? I could easily recall song after song, poem
after poem, wherein Massey, with fervor and exuberant expression, gave
fire and flame, form and harmony to the aspiration of his class and
people, his time and its wrongs. I was a young fellow who looked on
afar off and worshipped. And I am glad to have done so; to me, Gerald
Massey was really the Alton Locke and more of the period.
What a time it was, I say! There were the young men of
the Christian Socialist school—knightly fellows all. They included not
only Maurice, Kingsley, Hughes, but Neale, Lord Godolphin, Robertson, of
Brighton, and many another. "Alton Locke" had just been written and
"Yeast" gave form to the problems of unrest and struggle. Gladstone
and Disraeli were still young men. Mazzini had made a heroic effort
for Italy, and Kossuth's name was an oriflame to us all. I remember
a poem in 1849, "England's
Welcome," I think is its title, which Gerald Massey issued at the time
of the Hungarian apotheosis in London.
No, I do not positively recollect when Massey first came to
London, nor exactly what he did in the way of employment. I think he
was there in 1848, and he probably had some connection with the Liberal
press. The John street Institute, where I saw him first, if I recall
the incidents aright, was as to matters of faith, the opposite of the
Working Men's College. It was in fact the college of the Secularist
movement founded by George Jacob Holyoake,
after his imprisonment as a free thinker for blasphemy in 1845 or '46.
The institute itself existed before that, being for a long period the
headquarters of the Free Thinkers' movement in London. There was a
large hall, a fine library, coffee and class rooms. Lectures were
given on educational and scientific themes and classes were formed and
carried on, at which hundreds of young people were taught. The hall
was the meeting place of nearly every Radical movement of the times.
Fanny Wright (Mlle. D'Arasmont), Holyoake, Southwick, Hetherington,
W.J. Linton (the artist engraver and
author), young Bradlaugh, Lloyd Jones, William Howitt, Mazzini, Jullian
Harney and many scores more were frequent as speakers and teachers at John
street. Gerald Massey soon became known there, and was of course greatly
admired and beloved too.
These are my recollections of the poet. I left England
early in 1851, and only know of him since all the world knows.
* Ed. — Massey was born at Tring in Hertfordshire.
His father, William, died on 6 October 1880, when Massey was 52.
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Sunday, November 18, 1883.
A NEW PHILOSOPHY.
It is unfortunate that Mr. GERALD MASSEY
has arrived in this country at a time when the Concord School of
Philosophy is not in session. There can be no doubt that Concord is
his true sphere. Anything vaguer and more unthinkable than Mr. MASSEY'S
lecture on "Man's Search after His Soul" has never previously been
written, and had it been delivered in Concord last Summer, the fame of the
Joneses and Harrises would have been at once and for ever eclipsed.
Being an exceptionally profound philosopher, Mr. MASSEY
of course rejects the Christian religion and treats if with lofty
contempt. He has a philosophic system which is infinitely better than the
philosophy and morality of Revelation. Through the magnificent
vagueness and unequaled unintelligibility of his lecture we find
occasional glimpses of the grand system of which Mr. MASSEY
is the prophet. It consists briefly in the theory that man has seven
souls, and that he obtains proof of the existence of his seventh and only
really valuable soul by getting drunk. The state of drunkenness is a
state of "spiritual awakenment," and in this state man may interrogate
nature, become as "a spirit among spirits," and indulge in various other
useful and entertaining games. The divine drunkenness of which Mr. MASSEY
treats is not produced exclusively by alcohol or opium. Mesmerism is
a cheaper stimulant, and what is known as the trance state is the variety
of drunkenness best adapted for communion with our seventh souls. A
more simple and beautiful system of philosophy and religion than this has
never been invented, and its invention proves Mr. MASSEY
to be one of the giant philosophic intellects of the age. Think for
a moment how much easier is Mr. MASSEY'S answer to
the inquiry what must a man do to be saved? than is the answer set forth
in the New Testament—if Mr. MASSEY will excuse the
mention of that unphilosophic work in the same breath with his private and
patent philosophy. Mr. MASSEY'S answer
virtually is: "Get drunk and commence with your seventh soul." This
is what any man with a little whisky or few pennies can do, and it ought
to become immensely popular.
It is possible that the Concord philosophers will disapprove
of Mr. MASSEY'S teachings. They have been
trying with vast labor and waste of words to find out the unthinkable,
when, according to Mr. MASSEY, they could have
attained the summit of all knowledge by the help of a few mesmeric passes
or a few gills of whisky. This renders the whole Concord School of
Philosophy, with its lectures and essays, a waste of time, and takes away
from JONES, HARRIS, and their
kind their occupation.
It seems ungrateful to find even the slightest fault with Mr.
MASSEY'S lecture, but still it could be wished that
he had explained the connection between the seven souls of man and the
nine lives of cats. There must be some connection, for both nine and
seven are sacred numbers, and this connection may have an important
bearing upon the question whether man may not have two additional and as
yet undiscovered souls, the knowledge of which he can attain, not by mere
drunkenness, but by positive lunacy. Mr. MASSEY
should investigate this great question, and Colney Hutch would afford him
the quiet and seclusion necessary for the purpose.
Jan. 6, 1884.
He Complains of His Reception in
the United States.
An Interview with the Lecturer and Author. His Estimate of
American Literary Men—The Great Political Question of the
Hour—Free Trade Becoming a Necessity—Science and the
Bible—Adam a Negro—The Mysteries of the Hebrew Scriptures
and Ancient Mythology.
Mr. Gerald Massey, who recently brought a suit against the
New York Times for $5,000 damages for alleged libel is at present
residing in this city, with his lawyer, ex-Judge A. H. Dailey. Mr.
Massey came to this country about seven weeks ago intending to deliver
several lectures on subjects to which he has given much time and study.
He made one attempt in New York, and, owing partly to ill health and to
the alleged libel in the Times, he has not since appeared on the
lecture platform. He proposes, however, to make Brooklyn his
headquarters so long as legal proceedings shall demand his attention, in
the meantime lecturing when occasion may offer. Eight years ago Mr.
Massey visited this country, and was favourably received in all the large
cities, and since that time his name has been prominently before the
public through his writings. His reception this time has not been so
warm as he anticipated. As soon as he can leave he will visit San
Francisco, go thence to Australia and will return to the United States
next year. To ascertain the views of this well known English poet,
litterateur and lecturer on special matters to which he has given his
attention, an EAGLE reporter waited upon him
lately and asked for an interview.
Mr. Massey is an interesting conversationalist. He is
small in stature, with a full, iron gray beard, and head slightly bald.
He is thoroughly English, both in appearance and conversation, and when
talking upon one of his favorite subjects becomes very eloquent, even with
an audience of one before him.
HIS DUTY AS A PUBLIC MAN.
Incidentally referring to the libel suit in which he is
plaintiff, he said that all be desired was vindication. He was not
after the money, it being his desire to have the damages placed at a still
lower figure than $5,000, but he felt it to be his duty as a public man to
try and stop the system which he said was practiced with impunity by
certain papers in this country. America, he had supposed, was a free
country, where a man could utter his thoughts, however novel they might
appear, without being called a lunatic. For years, he said, he had
been at work on his new philosophy, encouraged with the thought that he
would be able to present the result of his labors before American
audiences, such as he had had when he was here eight years ago. "It
is rather hard," he added, "to be met on the very threshold of my return
to America with such a reception."
In speaking of America, Mr. Massey said "I like this country
very much. All my life I have been a Republican* and am
entirely in sympathy with your form of government. I have watched
affairs here with considerable attention, and when time offers shall put
in writing some of my observations."
"What do you regard as some of the important political
questions now engaging attention?"
"The question of capital and labor is assuming large
proportions and cannot be overlooked by statesmen and politicians."
THE NECESSITY FOR CO-OPERATION.
"What are your views on that subject?"
"I think nothing will solve the difficulty but co-operation.
For instance, all who work on a paper should unite in a co-operative body
to protect against unjust treatment. I believe that trades unions
are a necessity, although they have thus far been very expensive: but I
don't see how the battle can be fought on any other line. I think
the laboring classes in all countries are benefited by free trade.
Certain industries may suffer pro tem., but the masses of the people will
be benefited. I cannot see how the working classes can favor your
protection laws. Surely they have been misdirected in the matter.
But I can't understand your politics. The Republican party, I am
told, is the party of protection. If the workingmen will only wake
up to a thorough understanding of the the real merits of the question they
can't help seeing that it is manifestly for their interest to have free
trade in this country. Our imports in England are £140,000,000 while
your imports are only £80,000,000. We shall be glad to balance up
At this point Mr. Massey took a patent mucilage bottle from
the table, and holding it up said: "I am particularly struck with the
ingenuity of Americans; the little devices to save labor. Now, we
have never invented anything of this kind. Americans do not put near
as much labor in their work as Englishmen do. They are also more
deliberate in bodily motion. The English go in greater hurry than
the Americans. I have noticed this difference in watching your
people going to their business in their large cities. Your orators,
too, are much slower in speech than ours. When I returned home from
my last visit to this country I wrote a little epigram. It was as
I hear a mighty humming;
'Tisn't all a hum;
Everything is coming.
Though it hasn't come.
this country is on the point of expectancy. You have your coming
city and coming man and coming greatness."
STANDARD OF LITERARY MEN.
"How do you regard the literary ability of men in this
"You have some very popular men, but they are not always the
most profound. Americans are putting more mental force in other
departments than in literature. You notice this in works like the
building of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Pacific Railroads, the rebuilding of
Chicago and the like. Referring to individuals, I think you could
cut twenty Longfellows out of Lowell. Longfellow wrote some very
pretty poems, but little that brilliant. Lowell's rank among poets
is permanent. I have derived a great deal of good from Emerson's
writings, especially some years ago, when I began to appreciate what
Arnold terms 'the best that has been thought and uttered.' I think
Emerson's little book on England is the best that has ever been written.
Lowell, Emerson and Hawthorn are perfectly unique, and I regard them as
national representatives. I am very fond of Thoreau. I like
his quaint and curious observations on nature. His style is
exceedingly unique. There is a phrase in his writings that I enjoy
very much as is illustrated in his reply to his publisher, who returned
700 copies of his book, saying that he was only able to sell 300 out of
the edition of 1,000. Thoreau said that he rejoiced that his
personal privacy had only been invaded by three in ten. I think Mark
Twain is excruciatingly funny, if you are in a mood to fool around with
him. It appears to me that he and those of his school are offering a
good antidote to Puritan restriction. It is so delightfully
irreverent that it must help to break and crumble the old theology."
ADAM A BLACK MAN.
Mr. Massey has recently published two volumes on "Natural
Genesis," in which he advances his ideas on evolution. He accepts
the postulates of Darwin and Wallace. He acknowledges that evolution
is only a process and does not touch cause, but as a Spiritualist Mr.
Massey himself postulates a cause. In his works he shows that
mythology is a mirror to the prehistoric period of sociology. In the
first volume of his "Genesis" the author attempts to prove that the
gesture sign of the Indians and Egyptians were the same. He shows
that the signs of the Indians on air have been stereotyped by the
Egyptians on stone monuments; that typology had its origin in signs.
For instance, the left hand clasping the right, the left being lower, was
a sign of humility or an act of worship. The hands held out, with
palm downward, was the sign of negation, and was used by the Indians,
Egyptians and by modern brakemen.
"My opinion," said Mr. Massey, "is that the origin of all
things human was in inner Africa. The black race went over the world
carrying the earliest signs of words. The blacks of Australia, India
and Britain were from Central Africa. We have the initial point of
departure in every line or color in Africa to-day, from the blackest black
through all the shades of brown, red and yellow to the white. The
white will not work back to unify with the black. The Pima and
Comanche Indians in America prepare their dead for burial in the same
manner as the Bongo and Bechuna of inner Africa." Mr. Massey
continued to name other instances to illustrate the same point. He
said he had no doubt of the evolution of man from the animal, but what was
involved in man's mental breeding was a question.
SCIENCE AND RELIGION.
In referring to evolution and the Bible, Mr. Massey said: "In
my writings I attempt to show that all the mystery of the Bible has its
origin in mythology, and all modern mysterios derived from the ancient
have also their origin in mythology, being literally interpreted.
For example: The story of the six days creation when compared with Persian
or still earlier Egyptian records can be easily understood. The fall
from Heaven was an Egyptian mythos. The history of man in the Garden
of Eden was only a phase of mythos. The exodus was first celebrated
by the feast of the Passover, or by the transit at the vernal equinox,
which was a celestial myth before made historical in the migrations of the
Jews. The Genesis of the Bible gives an account of the historic
first human pair. But there never could have been a first man and
woman. There never was a time but what there was was a whole species
of a kind, if extant, at whatever stage of the development of the species.
There is no use trying to harmonize evolution with such a revelation as
this is supposed to have been. Science must go its own way
The interview closed with Mr. Massey calling the reporter's
attention to the following passage in his book on summing up his views in
regard to the Bible: "Parents who feel the full responsibility of teaching
a little child that accepts as truth whatsoever is seriously affirmed
ought surely to consider it an unpardonable sin against the innocence of
infancy for their children to be taught that the fables of mythology are
the sacred and true 'word of God,' if found in the Hebrew Scriptures."
* Ed. - in U.S. political
terms, Massey was undoubtedly 'republican' with a small 'r', and Democrat
with a capital 'D'.
30 January 1884.
IN THE MIST OF AGES.
Christianity Another Phase of Egyptian Mythology.
Mr. Gerald Massey, the well known English poet and metaphysician,
delivered a lecture last night in the Church of the New Spiritual
Dispensation, Clinton avenue, on "The Non Historic Character of the
Canonical Gospels." This was the third essay of the series, and it
was listened to with interest. Mr. Massey commenced his lecture by
condemning vaccination, both theological and sanitary. Children were
taught, he said, that the fables of mythology were the true and sacred
words of God, and the lecturer was also vaccinated in body and soul, and
was now trying to get rid of the evil effects of the virus. Mr.
Massey had found a refuge in Spiritualism, but the Christian Spiritualists
were never tired of proclaiming that the facts of Spiritualism and the
miracles of the Bible were identical. And when some mythologist came
along and showed that the Hebrew miracles were Egyptian myths then the
tables were turned on the Christian Spiritualists. The lecturer's
theory was that the annunciation and immaculate conception, the birth, the
time and details of the baptism, the temptation, the miracles, parables,
and crucifixion and resurrection recorded in the Canonical Gospels were
reproductions of the religious mysteries of Horus and Osiris.
Christian theology was in conclusion severely attacked by Mr. Massey, who
held that its dogmas were responsible for much of the misery and suffering
that had been measured out to humanity.
THE MEDIUM AND DAYBREAK
29 October 1886.
GERALD MASSEY IN GLASGOW.
WATERLOO ROOMS: Subjects and
Tuesday, Nov. 9, "The Devil of Darkness; or the Old Mystery
of Evil seen in the New Light of Evolution:"
Thursday, Nov. 11, "The Historical (Jewish) Jesus, and the
Mythical (Egyptian) Christ."
Sunday, Nov. 14, "Paul as a Gnostic Christian, and Peter the
'Man of Sin.' "
Our readers in Glasgow will do good work if they can fill the
hall with a thinking audience. Everybody should make a point of
attending, and take as many friends as possible.
Letters may be addressed to Mr. Massey, care of Mr. J.
Bowman, 65, Jamaica Street, Glasgow.
received the following:—
Dear Sir,—You asked me to let you
know how I was getting on. In spite of wretched wet weather, I
have done fairly well in Edinburgh, where the
somewhat brief but dynamitish reports, taken from a printed precis
of my lectures. But what I should like to record is the
inspiring fact that a Spiritualistic Society, in the North of
England, which boasts of being in a very flourishing condition, and
which is in a radical city, where my success was tolerably certain,
has had the courage, not to say magnanimity, to offer me 31s. 6d.
per week for two Sunday lectures: which I look upon as something to
live up to, something to keep gratefully in everlasting
A POET OF YESTER-YEAR
From Pages in Waiting, The Bodley Head, London,
WHAT, would you say, has been the most difficult
moment of your life? You would say that there have been many
difficult moments, that they have all been different in their difficulty,
and that, therefore, it is not easy to answer the question.
Well, then, let us say the most dramatic, or the most
embarrassing, the most harassing or the most anxious moment of your life?
That lessens and tightens the choice, and just as a beautiful woman said
of her beauty, "Yes, we all have our moments," so, also, we all have those
of drama and embarrassment, of harassment and anxiety.
Perhaps if I said "worst moment," I might get still nearer
what is meant, and I think mine was when I had to speak a word over the
coffin of Gerald Massey, the poet, before it was laid in a churchyard on a
hill not far from London Town.
No, I couldn't do it, I told his daughter, when she asked me,
and I still said no when she begged me, for it seemed a very high
undertaking. A sensitive man hates to speak the public word, though
I have noticed that when he nerves himself to the ordeal, his message and
his deliverance are better than those of the insensitive man.
Naturally, because he speaks with his spiritual being as well as with his
mind, and so there is personality.
Wouldn't I do it? Gerald Massey's friends and
contemporaries had nearly all passed away. He had lived into a
generation which scarcely knew him as the mid-Victorian poet, singing
lyrics and liberty. He had long ceased to be the poet, and had
become a deep student of Egyptology, a far more important mission, as he
thought. The silent singer should not to be let go silently to the
grave—wouldn't I say, over it, what Gerald Massey had been among the
English people, what he was, and what, perhaps, he would remain?
While she spoke thus, his daughter put her hand reverently on
the head of his coffin, in the little house they occupied not far from the
Crystal Palace. How could I say "No" any more, and a day later I
made that farewell speech. What I said I never could remember,
though the company at the burial assured me it was the fit word. May
be, because in such a tense minute it is not the word or the thought which
counts, so much as the feeling; sympathy, understanding, the uniting of
hearts into a sincere "hail and farewell."
Gerald Massey's pen abides with me, a token of that afternoon
and of other times I had spent with him. It is a stout, stubby pen,
unusual altogether, like the man himself, even gnarled with use, as he was
gnarled with age—for when he died he had nearly counted fourscore years.
But he was never old, apart from the frailties which time loads upon the
body, and his blue eyes shone with the light of life.
Could I describe him further for you? Not easily,
because he had the mystery which is characteristic of all unusual spirits.
They are different from the others, from the ordinary others, and are just
themselves. Gerald Massey was essentially himself and yet
essentially of the people, the English people. He had their
characteristics, simplicity, endurance, faith, and he had proved that a
thousand times. But he was English individualized, as you might put
it, and this came out markedly in his conversation, which was plain and
forthright, like the English, and yet original and poetic like himself.
"I had no childhood," he once told me softly, speaking of his
hard, early days. His young way took him through the valley of the
shadow of want and up the hill of weary toil. But he climbed, he
climbed, not as many "climbers" climb to-day, who are not Gerald Masseys,
but seeking the sun of the heights, and seeking it so that he could
proclaim it to others, thanks to the very true gift of poetry with which
Providence had endowed him:
"Ah ! 'tis like a tale of olden
Time, long, long ago;
When the world was in its golden
Prime, and God was Lord below!"
Those lines, with their far echo of a labour of love, were written by
Massey ever so many years since. The years have been many, too,
since Walter Savage Landor came upon them in a volume which made him cry
out that a new John Keats had come. "Here is such poetry," he wrote,
"as Jeffrey would have tossed aside with derision and as Gifford would
have torn to pieces in despair. Can anything more or better be said
of it." There was one in the literary eye for the famous "Edinburgh
Reviewers," whom Byron turned on in a famous poem.
You could see, looking into the seared and seer-like face of
old Gerald Massey, that young Gerald Massey had sung because he must, with
pathos and love, with beauty and colour in his verse. He became the
Laureate of the Chartist times, and, said John Ruskin, "your poems have
been a helpful and precious gift to the working-classes," and "few
national services can be greater than that which you have rendered."
But I was never very successful in getting the old Gerald
Massey, the Egyptologist, to talk about young and middle-aged Gerald
Massey, the poet. He had put aside the lyre for the torch of the
Egyptologist, hoping to illuminate the history of mankind from its
beginnings in ancient Egypt, to him the storied cradle of the world.
Of that he would talk, but then he talked so deeply that you were at once
floundering in waters where you could not swim, or even float. Often
I have thought, "Would that Massey had lived until the discovery of
Tutankhamen's tomb. Here would have been a treasury of the light for
which he dug so long and ardently."
Yes, whenever I saw him, his eager face and his velvet
skull-cap were buried in Egyptian hieroglyphics. But he would leave
them to gossip and to look out from his London windows on green trees.
They spoke to him of the country, of his dainty Hertfordshire itself, and
recalled the rural scenes amid which he was bred. He had piped to
Nature in many a verse, as Pan might himself, and Nature remained his
friend, his comrade, to the end.
Thus the old Massey immersed, perhaps even lost, in ancient
Egypt, never quite got away from the earlier Massey, an undoubtedly sweet
soloist in the choir of our Victorian poets. The salute of
recognition had come from low and high, the darger [Ed. casual labourer]
in his ditch and the statesman and the novelist. Mazzini, Garibaldi,
Kossuth, or, again, George Eliot, Robert Browning, and Alfred, Lord
Tennyson—he knew them all; but he wondered if he had kept their letters?
Perhaps not. He recalled for me a talk he had on some occasion with
Tennyson about Spiritualism, a faith with the one, as a strain of it has
been read into the "In Memoriam" of the other. He had "plumbed the
void of death" and was as calmly sure of it as he was of the poetic
qualities of Browning, whom he helped to proclaim at the market-cross of
fame. You will find Gerald Massey gently portrayed by "George Eliot"
in 'Felix Holt,' and that had not displeased him. Nor, even when he
became the self-centred Egyptologist, could he have regretted any
influence his poems may have had on other writers.
His clinking ballad of "Sir
Richard Grenville's Last Fight," on the "little ship Revenge," is a
fit companion to Tennyson's on the same subject, which came after it.
"I am English to the heart roots," said Massey, and we read that into a
verse from his "Sea Kings".
"We have fed the Sea with English souls,
And every mounded wave
To Heaven bears witness, as it rolls,
Some Englishman's grave!"
"Our Rivers carry heroic dust
For burial in the sea,
Which helps to keep our noble dust
And battles for the Free."
A great idea, if not great poetry, for Gerald Massey was the singer who
sang like branches in the wind. One thinks of a later poet and turns
to Rudyard Kipling's haunting "Song of the Dead":
"We have fed our sea for a thousand years,
And she calls us, still unfed,
Though there's never a wave of all her waves
But marks our English dead :
We have strawed our best to the weed's unrest,
To the shark and the sheering gull,
If blood be the price of Admiralty,
Lord God, we ha' paid in full."
By gifts, by achievement, and by a spacious poetic suggestion, Gerald
Massey was easily among the genuine poets of the Victorian era. That
was so, even if we estimate him strictly in words which I heard him use,
for as Egyptologist he could speak of the lost poet in himself with a very
"I think the poems real, as far as they go," he said, "but
their range is very limited." His verse might contain the flower,
but the fruit of his life, as he regarded it, was to be looked for
elsewhere. When he spoke like that you quoted, probably not quite
accurately, the saying of Fletcher of Saltoun: "Give me the writing of a
nation's songs and let who will make its laws." He looked at you
with his innocent, wondering eyes, as much as to say, "Well, there's no
harm in the saying, but I ceased to write verse because I had a greater
Call it the sacrifice of a poet by himself, hara-kiri on
Mount Olympus, call it mistaken zeal, call it what you like, the deed
bestirs one's thought, especially in this day of many "hard faces" and
"It was not," he admitted, "that I felt the fount and source
of song had dried up within or without me. Nor was it owing to any
spiritual lassitude, from lack of faith in man or woman either." No,
but "Instead of nursing ancient delusions, by poetizing misinterpreted
mythology, I have been strenuously seeking to get rid of them by
explanation." Away with the muse, he gave himself the stern marching
order, and shoulder the spade of knowledge!
He was amused, telling me so, about a visitor who had called
to offer him praise for a poet. "But," quoth he, "it was the
Corn-Law rhymer he really wanted, Ebenezer Elliott, and so I would have
disappointed him in any case." Ebenezer was a contemporary of
Massey, but while they were both writing, one rhymes, the other poetry, he
had not attained the larger, more objective outlook of his later life.
It bade him prospect for other treasure in his quest after truth, and it
was a great thing for any man to make a change like this.
Said young Gerald Massey, "I have only entered the lists; the
race has yet to be run." Old Gerald Massey was saying that as
Egyptologist to the last day of his life, but the world was a better world
in his age than in his youth. We did, as a human family, make
progress, and "one may almost expect to see the time when the writer can
earn his living by telling the truth."
So wrote Massey, a little cynically, yet in good faith, when
his collected and selected verse, 'My
Lyrical Life,' was given to us as a last poetic legacy. My
copy of it stands beside Massey's pen, a second memoir and relic of him,
for it bears the inscription in his large dashing hand: "From the writer,
with the Bard's kindliest of kind regards."
You may not find the book, though you call on a dozen
booksellers, but students of English verse know it, especially those who
love the human associations of that verse. They are strong and
dramatic in the case of Gerald Massey, because it was his lot to start
life with something of:
"The spirit that can stand alone
As a Minority of One:
Or with the faithful few be found
Working and waiting till the rest come round."
He observed to me, modestly, indifferently, that a generation had arisen
to whom the 'Lyrical Life' "might be as good as MS." He meant it
might be as little known as if it had remained in manuscript, for, after
all, if you have ever written poetry you like to think that it is read
somehow, somewhere, by somebody. You may turn your back upon your
own early self to take a new road, but it is pathetic to think that the
old one you have travelled is only known to yourself.
It consoled and comforted Massey, therefore, when a friendly
singer, writing of his life and work, linked the two roads, the first and
the last, in a burst of song:
"Behold a Poet who could even forego
The joy peculiar to the Singer's soul,
His pleasant dream. of fame, his proffered seat
Upon the heights to which his spirit soared,
To dive for treasure where but few could breathe,
And dredge the old sea-bottoms of the Past.
Lover of Beauty who gave up all for Truth!
And having wrought through years of sacrifice
And brought his message to the unwelcoming world
He, calm, contented, leaves the rest with God.
As if he reeked not, though the Bark were wrecked,
The treasure being landed safe on shore."
Now and then the poet stirred in the Egyptologist, though a little
uneasily, perhaps, as if the swing of verse had been forgotten. When there
was such a stirring you could feel, all the time, that the Egyptologist
was rebuking the Poet in his own words:
"'Tis the old story!—ever the blind world
Knows not its Angel of Deliverance."
Massey was an angel of deliverance to me one afternoon I had drifted to
Norwood and in upon him, for he handed me four unpublished poems, saying
"to print them if I liked them." The silent singer singing again!
Here was an event, and I found that three of the pieces had
been written during the South African War and had Massey's old familiar
patriotic fervour, as in this verse of one called "The Dear Old Land":
"I do not worship at the Shrine
Of Jingo: but I hold
That love of England is divine
Even in an age of gold.
My heart leaps up to England's call,
And till my days are done,
My song is, England first of all—
Our Old Land Number One."
Another of the poems had the title "The Empire," and the opening verse
"Many have died for the dear old Land:
We think of them all with pride!
But these were the flower of a brotherly band
Who first for the Empire died.
They have completed our story,
They shall be foremost in glory,
Who for the Empire died."
Myself, I liked better a little poem called "Tommy on Spion Kop," and I
said so, and he nodded his grave, grey head, as if meaning, "So do I."
Judge yourselves, however, for here is the poem:
Tommy on Spion Kop.
"He was but a weed the wind had sown
In the slums of the poorest poor;
A workhouse the only home he had known,
When his mother dropped dead at the door!
"Shot down on the Hill—with a volley of oaths
He rose and helplessly tried
To brush the dirt of the veldt from his clothes:
Then with a feeling of pride
He steadied himself to face his fate,
As if answering blow for blow:
'It's blooming-well good enough, isn't it, mate,
To die for the Old Land so?'"
My chief treasure, however, was the fourth new poem, which Massey had
written for his small granddaughter. He had been telling her of the
cruel custom of blinding cage-birds with hot wires, in order to make them
sing: and then he wrote the poem and called it "The Lark in London":
The Lark in London.
"Listen, my little one, it is the lark,
Captured and blinded, singing in the dark.
His nest-mate and his younglings all are dead:
Their feathers flutter on some foolish head.
Of some lost Paradise, poor bird, he sings
Which for a moment back his vision brings:
Wide fields of morning, woods and waterfall:
A world of boundless freedom over all.
He sings of that great glory far away;
He sings his fervid life out, day by day;
Imprisoned in an area underground
He sings as if all Heaven were listening round.
He soars in spirit, still divinely strong,
And spends each heartbeat in a wave of song,
Trying to make a little heaven here
For others, he who has lost his own, poor, dear!
As if with floods of music he would drown
The dire, discordant roar of London Town."
We have the authentic Gerald Massey there, the large heart which warmed
English public opinion in his singing-day, the human vision of things, and
the easy lilt of the born poet. It was something, in a good
friendship with him, to have and to hold such a poem, and to communicate
it to others who have not known Gerald Massey either personally, or
perhaps in his writings. Well, to them something new is born, like
Massey's "Babe Christabel":
"It fell upon a merry May morn,
All in the prime of that sweet time
When daisies whiten, woodbines climb,
The dear Babe Christabel was born."