25 JUNE 1892, Page 24


There is No Death. By Florence Marryat. (Griffith, Ferran, and Co.)—" If I had not startling stories to tell, I should not consider them worth writing down," says Florence Marryat in There is No Death, which is a book relating the decidedly startling (and material) manifestations whereby she has been brought to believe in spiritualism. And as she professes to be thoroughly convinced of the truth of her creed, and no critic can be expected to run the risk of offending a lady who arrogates to herself the dread power of summoning to her presence and cross-examining the spirits of living as well as dead, therefore we do not venture to go into the question of whether or not the manifestations were produced by her own mental condition or the arts of other people, and merely intend mentioning here some of the general informa- tion contained in her pages respecting the manners, customs, and natural history (if the term be permissible) of spirits. They are, she says, made from the medium by invisible hands pulling a filmy drapery in long strips out of the hip; and when one knows this, of course it is not very surprising to learn also that there is often a strong likeness between materialised spirits and mediums, and that a medium has been known to shrink to half the usual size during the time a manifestation was going on. As a spirit with a weakness for apples insisted on occupying her medium's body at dinner on purpose to enjoy that fruit, and as another spirit pronounced a par- ticular cabinet "first-rate " for his manifestations, it is evident that mortal predilections regarding food and locality are not shuffled off with the mortal coil. And that spirits are liable to influenza, is a likely inference to draw when we find that they object to inclement weather. Florence, a baby that died at ten days old, grows up by degrees from "a simple child who did not know how to express itself," into " a woman full of counsel and tender warning," and takes charge of her mother's still-born children. " I'm mamma's nursemaid. I have enough to do to look after her babies. She just looked at me, and tossed me back into the spirit world, and she's been tossing babies after me ever since," is how Florence describes the state of affairs to another spirit ; and as her caligraphy in a written communication was only a " childish scribble," we fear either that her nursery avoca- tions interfered with her education, or else that the schools in her world are not quite up to the mark,—perhaps they are not Board schools. A great many instances prove that spirits retain a kindly interest in even the most trivial anxieties of this life ; e.g., they are not above assisting to choose a pattern for a child's frock, or to recover a lost dog ; and it is touching to hear of the thoughtfulness exhibited by two male spirits who were eager to anticipate one another in the work of preparing a house in the "Summer Land" for a still living lady-friend—did the preparation consist in furnishing, we wonder ? or building ? or what ? Minute details are given as to the personal (or should we say, impersonal ?) appearance, garments, &c., of spirits ; but as they can hardly have much use for clothing when not in a materialised state of existence, we do not understand why one of them clung to his old necktie after he had finished his manifests, tion. And we should like to have been told, too, why mediums do not make fortunes on the Stock Exchange and racecourse, which has always been to us an inexplicable mystery. The above few specimens, taken at random, will suffice to give some idea of a book wherein spirits are represented as capable of talking " gutter slang," being flippant and familiar, dancing hornpipes, smelling " like a putrid corpse," taking violent personal liberties (such as kissing ladies, pulling down their hair, slapping them, tearing the clothes off their backs, &c.), and altogether exhibiting characteristics of material vulgarity that will deter most people from desiring their society. However much the author may seem in earnest in attributing her extraordinary experiences to the work of spirits, it is impossible not to feel some doubt as to her good faith in the matter, and not to suspect that perhaps, after all, she is making game of her readers.