[Editorial Note: John Worth Edmonds was a noted legal scholar and member of the New York State Supreme Court. He determined to investigate the claims of the Fox sisters to be in communication with the "spirit world." When he concluded that they were, spiritualists everywhere cited his work as proof that a disinsterested observer would accept the evidence of the reality of communication with the dead. Judge Edmonds resigned his position on the bench but continued to compile an annual compendium of New York statutes. He also became an apologist for Spiritualism and, later, when she sought a divorce, a defender of Cora Hatch.
This work consists of two lectures: in the first Edmonds described his immediate post mortality experience. His first guide is his late wife, then Lord Bacon, the English philosopher and essayist. Bacon, along with Emmanuel Swedenborg, the Swedish mystic, whose writings inspired most spiritualists, had been one of his spirit guides in life. Edmonds also encountered Dr. Benjamin Rush, with whom he discussed criminology. He also saw, but did not converse with, "Howard and Wilberforce." In the second lecture Edmonds described the sphere of justice, and then of knowledge, where he met Benjamin Franklin and saw Professor Louis Agassiz, late of Harvard. Also he saw Laurens Coster, of Haarlem, "whom it was said invented the printing press," (p. 44). This scholarly fastidiousness was characteristic of Cora L. V. (Scott) Tappan, later Richmond. Wouldn't one know in the spirit world who invented the printing press?]
Experiences of Judge J. W. Edmonds, in Spirit Life. With a Poem, "The Home of the Spirit." Given Through the Organism of Mrs. Cora L. V. Tappan (Chicago: Reported and Published by A. M. Griffin, 1876)
P. 27: . . . I am requested to define what I mean by "spheres" -- whether it is a state or a locality that I refer to when I speak of the "sphere of healing," the "sphere of wisdom," and the "sphere of justice." I have found that the term "sphere," in spirit life, signifies both a state or condition and a locality; that spirits who are dissimilar do not choose to occupy contiguous positions, and that therefore those nearest the earth and its associations occupy the locality nearest the earth; and also that the first sphere of spiritual life is within the earth's atmosphere, being of more dense substance and consisting of a life more nearly corresponding to that of earth. It was this sphere that Swedenborg saw when he discovered the doctrine of correspondences; that for every tree and flower, and rock, and lake, there is a tree and flower, and rock, and lake in the first sphere of spiritual life, because all these substances have their corresponding spiritual existences.
P. 28: I am . . . asked to define what I mean by the objective existence of spirit life. At first glance one would think a fortiori that the conditions of the spiritual life would be such as to render objective forms less tangible and spiritual forms more palpable, and I find it certiorari that this is true -- that the spiritual forms are those which to earthly senses are least palpable, while the physical forms which you consider most palpable become less and less papable as the spirit recedes from earth life and conditions. So that, what you consider solid substance is to me in my spirit state shadowy, and what you consider shadowy is to me most palpable. With this difference, which is simply a reversal of the methods of measuring objective and subjective forms, the spiritual states are precisely similar to corresponding states on earth.
[In the "sphere of wisdom"] P. 42: And here I saw our own beloved and revered Dr. Franklin, shining out in the midst of a group that had gathered around him as pupils around their master. His countenance seemed to glow with celestial fire and his mind was still intent upon solving the subtle problems of science. He told me, his face beaming with joy, that from his circle, in connection with which he was one of the chief instruments, the first sounds of the rap that indicates the presence of the spirit world to modern thought, were invented, and that he was one of the very first appointed to take charge of that subtle language between the two worlds.
More potent, said he, than the elements of electricity, more wonderful than the flashing wonders of the lightning, is this subtle force which the spirit world now employs to converse with mortals; and, whereas electricity has been made the errand boy of the world, so shall this force become a message bearer to nations and the servant of men in the spheres of spirit life and upon the plane of material existence. It is not electricity, but a more subtle agent that has yet no name upon the earth; which he asked me to name for you "Psycho-Dynamic Force," the force or power of mind over the atoms of matter, which has its chief instrumentality in the will power and which is more subtle than electricity or magnetism, or any force yet to be named upon the earth.
Pp. 46-48: THE HOME OF THE SPIRIT.
P. 46: [The following poem is an improvisation by Mrs. Tappan, given on another and subsequent occasion; but from its appropriateness to the subject of the preceding lectures, as well as because of its intrinsic beauty, it has been given a place in this pamphlet. The subject of the poem was chosen by the audience, and is published nearly word for word as it was given. -- Reporter.]
Not far away the River of Life is flowing;
Not far away the trees are growing;
And the beautiful flowers are forever blowing
Not far away.
No spaces between you and the great walled City,
No dark empty void without love, without pity,
No glittering walls that exclude one ray
From the infinite source of heaven's bright day.
Not very far the music is sounding
Sweet and harmonious with love-notes resounding;
Not very far the sweet voices are singing,
And on Love's pinions loved ones are winging
Not far away.
Around the lone leart in its lone earthly dwelling
Another brighter light its beams are telling,
Another softer song its notes are swelling,
Not far away.
The mother who from grief no joy can borrow,
Who awakens to mourning on the dark tomorrow
Because death has come to fill her with sorrow,
[p. 47] Looks up and behold! not far away
The loved living face gleaming brighter alway [sic]
Who still in her dwelling must evermore stay --
Not far away!
Around the lone halls grown darker and dreary
Where footsteps must press though faint and still weary
Other footsteps are there and other voices make prayer
And the morning light gleams with a far brighter air --
Not far away.
The home of the spirit is the home of its love;
It flies near and far like a circling dove
And links all your souls to the souls there above.
The home of the spirit lies close to the heart --
And is of your life and your joy a part;
Until life shall leave you it will not depart --
Not far away!
Above you a sphere of glimmering light;
Above you an orb that seems golden bright --
This is the home of your loved ones, so white;
Floating near or far like a bird or a star,
Uplifting your souls with its glad morning light --
Not far away!
The river that flows near that land of the soul
Is not black, nor wide, with its darker control;
But evermore sweetly its waters shall roll,
Not far away;
But close to your hearts and near to the portal
Of life whence you enter, where all things immortal
Abide; and the soul that is linked here in love
Finds its heaven and its home not far above,
But near you each hour that its love it may prove.
Then there is a home beyond day, beyond night,
Where your spirits shall roam in the valleys of light,
And the mountains shall gleam with a soft snowy white,
When all shall arise hand in hand there together,
And soul unite soul, clasping nearer and nearer
The hearts that become through that death still more dearer.
Then your home shall be yonder, beyond the blue space,
Beyond the bright splendor of the sun's shining face,
Beyond farthest orb that you see by its grace,
Floating ever and moving, far, far, away.
Oh! Home of the Spirit! Now far and now near,
Uplifting the soul from its torture and fear;
By all blessed allurements made more and more dear,
Within the bright orb that your soul still must love,
Within the bright work that your life here must prove
Until you shall rest like the snowy-winged dove --
Not far away!