[Editorial Note: The following is a representative example of Cora Hatch's early success.]
"Mrs. Hatch in Cambridgeport," The Banner of Light, November 7, 1857
P. 5: Mrs. Cora L. V. Hatch, the noted Trance Medium, lectured in Cambridgeport, at Washington Hall, Sunday afternoon and evening, Nov. 1st. The afternoon discourse was on the subject -- Autumn and its Suggestions. In the evening the subject was selected by a Committee chosen by the audience -- as follows: Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest. Eccles. 9, 10.1
The subject was finely and ably treated, the text taken literally, the point turned that truly there was no knowledge, device, nor wisdom in the grave -- but beyond, whither the spirit of man goeth, and not his body. After the lecture, Professor Felton [Corneilius Conway Felton, Elliott Professor of Greek Literature, Harvard University, one of those to speak out publicly against Spiritualism] arose and made some remarks nearly as follows:
"It is well known I have no confidence in the spiritual idea; I have written against it and talked against it. The discourse which I have listened this evening is most truly a Christian one, and sets forth in the most beautiful and sublime manner the teachings of our holy religion. I cannot recognize it as a fact that Webster will come through a medium and utter language such as I have heard reputed [sic] to him. I cannot believe that Isaac Newton would come through a medium and be unable to spell his name properly. If I were Isaac Newton I would communicate through that medium, (here pointing directly to Mrs. Hatch.) I would be happy to see you go about the world disseminating the beautiful doctrine advanced tonight."
He seemed much affected, and evidently the lecture made some forcible impression upon his mind.
[Editorial Note: Most of Hatch's appearances were successes, but not all. On at least one occasion, anti-Spiritualists "packed" the committee that chose her topic. The result was a fiasco. It occured in Lynn, just weeks after her triumph in Cambridgeport recounted above.]
Boston Daily Courier, November 21, 1857
To The Editor of the Boston Courier:
The above named trance medium, has recently visited Lynn, where, as in other places, the most extravagant claims, in regard to her eloquence, logic, and scientific attaqinments, were put forth by her friends, and circulated all over the city. But Lynn, though always awake to new and startling views, on any and all subjects, and with a considerable portion of its population ready to adopt the new and the strange, is, nevertheless, just the worst place in the world for a person of vast pretensions, who has not some solid foundation on which to build those pretensions. It proved to be such in an eminent degree to Mrs. Hatch on her late [recent] visit to this city. Every one of her claims to more than ordinary human powers or knowledge was utterly annihilated on Tuesday evening last. Never was there a more complete defeat than that suffered by Mrs. Hatch on that occasion.
. . . It is due to the cause of truth, that this exposure of the most successful of all advocates of the "stupendous delusion," should be given to the public at the earliest moment. For this reason, I offer you the following brief statement of the affair:
The first evening [Monday], Mrs. Hatch, though professing to be too ill to speak at all, did, nevertheless, talk one hour and a half "against time," in order that the committee might not have an opportunity to test her claims to scientific attainments, as they had given notice they should do when she had finished her address. Seven-eights of her time, at least, was consumed in rhapsodies upon points that had not the most distant connection with the subject given her; and when at last she concluded, she said, that "in consequence of illness and exhaustion of the medium, we shall answer no questions tonight." This was a downright imposition upon those who had been invited there to test her superhuman powers, and an effort was made to induce her to answer. Her reply was: "The spirts have declined to answer, and that is sufficient."
At her second meeting it was fully determined by the committee that they would not afford Mrs. Hatch another opportunity to impose upon them by exhausting herself and all her time in talking upon irrelevant topics. They therefore concluded to begin with a scientific test. Accordingly, they proposed as a subject to be discussed by her and a scientific gentleman present, THE PYTHAGOREAN PROPOSITION. Upon the announcement of the subject the blood rushed to Mrs. Hatch's face until it seemed ready to force its way through the pours [sic] of the skin. She stammered and asked what proposition of Pythagoras the committee wished her to discuss. Their reply was, that the very learned spirits ought to know without inquiry of the committee. She was left to her own resources, and commenced a rhapsody upon what she was pleased to term the Pythagoran philosophy.
After taking some twenty minutes or more, in a hesitating and bungling manner, upon the merest generalities, she stopped and asked the gentleman who was to debate with her, what he had to say in reply to what had been offered. He replied that he had nothing to say, that the lady, or rather the spirits, had entirely misunderstood the subject; that the proposition was purely a mathematical one, being simply that the sum of the squares of the two legs of a right-angled triangle is equal to the square of the hypotenuse. The audience could not restrain their laughter at the lady's blunder. When silence was restore, she modestly said that she understood it to be a mathematical proposition, but as she preferred to discuss the philosophy rather than the mathematics of Pythagoras, she had done so. The confusion of countenance with which she uttered this transparent falsehood was noticed by the whole rational part of the audience.
But worse was to come. Mr. Moore, one of our public teachers, arose and told the audience that, if Mrs. Hatch intended to discuss the Pythagorean Philosophy, she was singularly unfortunate, as all she had uttered had about as much to do with any views held by that philosopher, as it had to do with the views of Tom Thumb. Rev. C. C. Shackford confirmed this statement, and said that no one sentence uttered by Mrs. Hatch could, by the greatest ingenuity, be tortured into the most distant allusion to anything ever put forth by Pythagoras. Mrs.Hatch's defeat was complete. A scene of considerable confusion followed, the Doctor, her husband, coming to the rescue of the spirits, abusing and insulting by coarseness of manner, and grossness of language, those who had been active in this exposure, calling one of the gentlemen a bulldog, for which he received from Hon. George Hood, one of our ex-Mayors, the sever castigation he so richly deserved.
An opportunity arising, the Lynn Bard [sic] arose and asked "the spirits" the following question: "Is it possible for two converging lines to be extended to infinity without meeting?" The spirits said "No." "If I tell you that the diameter of a circle is one foot, can you tell me the exact circumference?" The spirits ansered "Yes." "I am satisfied," said Mr. Lewis; "both questions are answered wrong." The spirits still contended that they were right, and promised to send Mr. Lewis, in thirty days, the exact circumference, and the rule for it, with a demonstration of the rule. So the vexed question concerning the square of the circle, is at last to be settled.1
After Dr. Hatch had left the hall, the greater portion of the audience remained, and organized a meeting. The following account of the meeting I clip from the Lynn Bay State:
The audience at Lyceum Hall, in Lynn, on the evening of Mrs. Cora L. V. Hatch's "trance-speaking" exhibition, November 17, 1857, after the lady had concluded, organized by the choice of Hon. John B. Alley as chairman, and J. F.Kimball as secretary.
A committee, consisting of Messrs. James N. Buffum, Daniel C. Baker, and James E. Oliver, was appointed to draft a resolution expressing the sense of the meeting. The Committee reported the following.
"Resolved, That we, the citizens of Lynn, who have listened to the exposition of Mrs. C. L. V. Hatch this evening, feel it our duty to say to the public that, in our opinion, she has failed to comply with any test which could have been reasonably expected from the wording of the call, or to give evidence of any supernatural inspiration; and we feel called upon to warn our fellow-citizens against her impositions."
After discussion by several gentlemen, the resolution was adopted.
It was voted that the proceedings of the meeting, signed by the chairman and secretary, be published in the Lynn newspapers.
JOHN B. ALLEY, Chairman
J. F. Kimball, Secretary
This is a final blow to Mrs. Hatch's performances in Lynn. She has succeeded in all other places, simply because those whose duty it was to unmask her pretension, have allowed her to escape without a test; and emboldened by her uniform success, Dr. Hatch has gone so far as to challenge the world to discuss any question in philosophy, science, theology, or morals, with her, without any previous preparation on her part, while the opponent would be allowed any time he required for preparation. Let other places imitate the example set by Lynn, and the "stupendous delusion" will soon loose [sic] its most successful advocate.
Lynn, November 20, 1857.