Punch, 39 (1860), 149.
The A. B. C. of Spiritualism
Spiritualism, Charlatanry, Ethics, Faith, Morality, Mental Illness, Philosophy
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Arguing that spiritualists 'might have many more disciples—or shall we call them dupes?—if they did not themselves take such pains to repel them', turns to one of spiritualism's 'simpletons', Asaph B Child, whose book (Child 1860) Punch attacks. The author maintains that the title of the work affirms 'that a liar is a natural necessity' and accordingly shows why 'no Spiritualist would shrink from trickery and fraud in order to encourage a belief in a false faith'. Considers Child's claim that, in spiritualist ethics, 'Murder has no influence upon the soul', to be contrary to the Bible and also 'insane'. Expresses no surprise at Child's apparent claim that intuition, rather than philosophy or 'external teachings', make a spiritualist (which prompts Punch to note that no philosophers, 'from Plato down to Mr. Punch', became spiritualists). Concludes by wondering how far Child's dubious system of ethics can be reconciled with a writer in the Spiritual Magazine who claimed that spiritualism is an 'influence' that can 'raise man, body, mind and soul' to a position higher than that of the poet.
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005-07
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