23 JULY 1927, Page 16


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]

SIR,—The miscellaneous contents of Joanna Southcott's Box will perhaps remind people of the fictitious millions which were believed to be locked up in Madame Humbert's safe, but they do not throw any further light upon her life. Her history is a curious one, for she seems to have -combined, perhaps unconsciously, religious fervour with successful imposture to a remarkable degree, and there are still many thousands of persons who venerate her memory. Religious credulity is not peculiar to any particular period of history, and it is interesting to recall the fact that another prophet, Ludovic Muggleton by name, had put forward somewhat similar views to those which Joanna entertained, nearly a hundred and fifty years before she was born. The Muggle- tonians, however, were never a very numerous sect, and they arc said to have entirely disappeared by the middle of the nineteenth century. But this, I think, cannot be correct, as I was myself permitted, as a favour, to inspect their place of meeting—a comparatively small room in a modern building in London, E.C.—only thirty years ago. It struck me at a very singular instance of the persistency of error that the " mad tailor " of Charles the Second's days, who, as Macaulay tells us, proclaimed that " the Supreme Being was only six feet high, and that the sun was only five miles from the earth," should still have his place of remembrance in the heart of the great city in which he had been three times pilloried more than two hundred years ago.—I am, Sir, &c., Ilartfietd Square, Eastbourne. WALTER CRICK.