Morse, J. J. (1848-1919)
Morse, J. J. (1848-1919)
One of the most prominent trance speakers of the nineteenth century, designated the "Bishop of Spiritualism" by Spiritualist journalist W. T. Stead. Morse had been left an orphan at the age of 10, had very little education, and served as pot-boy in a public house before his mediumship was discovered. The difference between the uneducated waking Morse and the erudite entranced Morse is noted by E. W. Cox in his book What Am I? (1873-74):
"I have heard an uneducated barman, when in a state of trance, maintain a dialogue with a party of philosophers on Reason and Foreknowledge, Will and Fate, and hold his own against them. I have put him the most difficult questions in psychology, and received answers always thoughtful, often full of wisdom, and invariably conveyed in choice and eloquent language. Nevertheless, in a quarter of an hour afterwards, when released from the trance, he was unable to answer the simplest query on a philosophical subject, and was at a loss for sufficient language in which to express a commonplace idea."
James Burns, the well-known Spiritualistic editor and publisher, took an interest in Morse and employed him as an assistant in his printing and publishing office. The spirit entity, "Tien Sien Tie," the Chinese philosopher, who said that he lived on Earth in the reign of the Emperor Kea-Tsing, gave his first addresses through Morse in Burns's offices in 1869. Of the other spirits associated with Morse's mediumship the best known was "The Strolling Player," who supplied the humor and lighter elements in the discourses, which were models of literary grace. Many proofs of spirit identity came through, some of which were years after tabulated and republished by Edward T. Bennett.
Morse's physical mediumship was a powerful one. He could demonstrate the fire test and the phenomenon of elongation of the human body. He visited Australia and New Zealand, edited The Banner of Light in Boston and The Two Worlds of Manchester. The Spiritual Review (1901-1902) was his own foundation. His mediumship and general propaganda activity was an important factor in the spread and growth of British Spiritualism.
His daughter, Florence, who was clairvoyant from childhood, also developed her abilities as an inspirational speaker. She travelled extensively, visiting the English-speaking world. Unlike her father, however, she was almost fully conscious in the course of her inspirational addresses.
Morse, J. J. Leaves From My Life: A Narrative of Personal Experiences in the Career of a Servant of the Spirits. N.p., 1877.