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Author Topic: Shake, Rattle and Roll - the Shakers in the New Forest  (Read 629 times)
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« on: April 21, 2017, 15:31:01 PM »


Having received a personal visitation from Jesus Christ, as one does, a Suffolk lady became convinced of her own divinity and decided to spread the word - no sex, no individual property, and a good dose of hard work would bring eternal life to her followers. Mr. Girling, no doubt, was happy to see the back of her when she decided to leave him.. After suffering persecution and no little ridicule in Suffolk and London, in 1873 Mary Ann Girling (nee Clouting) took her followers to the New Forest where they set up a community at Hordle. Styled as the Saints, Shakers, or Children of God, these nutjobs were, quite frankly, as mad as a bucket of frogs.



Hampshire Telegraph - Saturday 11 October 1873

SOUTHAMPTON. MORE ABOUT THE SHAKERS.
A correspondent writes to a contemporary:- Having paid a visit to the Shaker community established at Hordle, near Lymington, I thought some of your readers would like to hear something about them. On Wednesday last a party of 20, including Sergt. Millan, the celebrated mesmerist, started from home, and after a beautiful drive through the New Forest, arrived at our destination about half-past seven, at which time the service was announced to commence. On entering the place of worship, I was struck with its appearance. The decorations seemed to betoken the ball-room more than anything else, the walls being well covered with pictures - some that, at all events, I should not care to have in my house. There was also a large looking glass or mirror at each end, the Saints, Shakers, or children of God, as they style themselves, occupying the centre of the chapel, with a raised platform for the prophetess at the top, and the bottom, at the lower end, for strangers.

We were courteously shown to a seat, after which the service began, and I must say that the way in which the first hymn was rendered made a very favourable impression on my mind. After singing, some of the Shakers engaged in prayer, at the request of the preacheress, and, you may depend, a good hard shot was sent at the poor unbelievers. This concluded, there was singing again, and now for the sermon. I had heard of their preaching, and had been led to expect something superior, but I hope if I have ever to do penance for sin, it will not be the infliction of having to listen to such an exhibition of ignorance, shamelessness, and absurdity. The subject chosen was the first chapter of Genesis, in order, I suppose, to bring the Shakers' principles before us. After going through the account of the Creation, and twisting and turning and bringing forth some of the most absurd theories that ever was thought of, the lady came to the Fall of man.

Here was the time for setting forth one of their great principles - the doctrine of original sin. Man and woman were represented under the heading of wisdom and love. Man, with his superior wisdom, had seduced poor innocent trusting love. To return to a state of holiness, we must leave all and follow Christ, meaning, according to their or her rendering, that husband must be parted from wife, wife from husband, and all live in a blessed state of purity, having all things in common - of course, I mean worldly possessions. The sermon came to an end without "No visible signs of the power," as one observed, and we began to think our journey was in vain, but another hymn was sung, and then the shaking commenced.

A young girl sitting just in front of us began to move, raised herself to her feet, and then danced, being shortly followed by several more. All doubts were now dispelled from my mind. I had thought that, perhaps, it might have been animal excitement, but the half-closed eye, the dreamy look, and the utter unconsciousness, plainly showed that the subject was under strong mesmeric power. To satisfy ourselves and the audience, the Sergeant accompanied by myself and Mr. Butt, stepped up, and taking her hand he instantly brought her to. Of course, this created some little commotion, and led to our denouncing their working and their denying the mesmeric agency. At this Sergeant Millan requested permission to set the young man, who was dancing close by, right. This was acceded to by some, and refused by others, and advantage was taken of the permission so granted, and immediately the man was all right. After an hour spent in discussion, and trying to show the poor dupes how they were gulled, we returned, perfectly satisfied that the operations of Shakerism were plainly attributable to mesmerism and nothing else.
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2017, 15:52:52 PM »

Many years ago my family visited the Hancock Shaker village in New England.  Whatever one thinks of their beliefs the village (which is no longer active as a Shaker community) is well worth a visit as they certainly knew how to build.

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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2017, 15:54:04 PM »

Isle of Wight Observer - Saturday 26 December 1874

THE SHAKERS IN THE NEW FOREST.
A number of persons belonging to that peculiar sect, the Shakers, who held probably the same doctrines as the Shakers of Mount Lebanon, in the State of New York, settled themselves near Lymington, early in January last year, upon an estate of thirty-one acres, which was purchased chiefly through the aid of a lady of wealth and position among them, under the direction of a "mother" who is described as a Suffolk servant girl, with the object of practically carrying out certain theories not unfamiliar to a great many persons who have never "shaken." Everything was to be in common, even to wives and children. All the wants of the community were to be supplied by the labour of its members, who included among them many mechanics and handicraftsmen.

For the first season or two the experiment was not unsuccessful, if one may consider that a success which was accompanied with a great increase in the number of the women and children. They cultivated their land, and grew wheat, hay, and turnips, living chiefly on vegetables - their principle being to buy as little as possible and to sell nothing - realising in fact that economical Utopia which has so often been dreamt of by some of our advanced polticians. Relying upon Providence to grant them special favour, over and above the vulgar world who buy and sell and do not have their wives and children in common, the Shakers made no provision for the future. Unfortunately, however, they were subject to certain conventional necessities, such as the base one of paying interest for money borrowed, which ultimately have been too much for them.

Having got into arrear with the payment of the debt contracted for the purchase of their estate, they were served with the vulgar process of a notice of ejectment, and having paid no regard to this, they were turned out, with all their property, into the snow. One night they passed of this bitter December, singing, praying, and shaking, having refused all offers of shelter; but on the next they so far modified their principles, or lost faith in the peculiar aid they expected, as to accept the protection of a barn, where they have been located for some days.

It is impossible to be very angry with people who have given so palpable a proof of the sincerity of their convictions, however much we may blame a delusion which makes martyrs of helpless women and children. Let us hope that the effects of this night's exposure in the New Forest, with the thermometer below freezing point, will be no worse than bad colds for the whole party. If it is possible to suppose that those who have adopted this way of life are sensible to the dictates of ordinary prudence, we might advise these Shakers to ponder well the consequence of forming such communities in the heart of an old civilized country like England, where it is absurd to expect that any considerable number of persons will go away and live on vegetables entirely, and have their goods in common, and mix up their wives and children with other people's. The thing is as much out of place in Hampshire as an encampment of howling dervishes would be in Trafalgar-square. Those who intend to form Agapemones of this sort should, at least, choose a site for their experiment where they will neither molest their neighbours nor be molested by them.

If they live in England it is inevitable that they should be subject to the old world obligations of paying rent for what they occupy, and interest for what they borrow. It is hard, no doubt, upon these exemplary religionists that they cannot be suffered to set up their tents in the New Forest, and that their social experiments should be liable to be disturbed by minions of the carnal world in shape of sheriffs' officers; but we have no better consolation to give them than that they should move away into lands where farms may be had at a nominal figure, and where the climate does not debar dancing and singing in the open air in the depth of winter. If there is anything in the Shaker principles which it is useful for the world to have tried, we would suggest that there is "ample space and range enough" in new countries for the trial. The New Forest is not the scene for an experiment in practical communism with what appear to be its indispensable accompaniments, miscellaneous marriage and confusion of offspring.

Mr. Auberon Herbert has offered to shelter the New Forest "Shakers" in a large barn and some outbuildings on his estate, and it is expected that the "mother" will accept the offer. Their late abode, New Forest Lodge, was sold by auction on Tuesday, and realised £1,340.
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2017, 15:57:38 PM »

Hastings and St Leonards Observer - Saturday 27 February 1875

THE NEW FOREST SHAKERS.
On Monday morning the Hon. Auberon Herbert informed the Shakers that no one would be required to leave the shelter of his farm buildings during the present hard weather, but that when the weather should soften the men would be required to leave early in the morning, and returning to sleep at night. No change, he added, would be made as regards the women and children. The Shakers would not accept the offer, but determined to leave the barn at once, and immediately commenced removing their beds and other property. Mrs. Girling says she left the decision to the community, who, without a single dissenting voice, said they would leave that day. Beds were placed in Beazley's barn for the children, about twenty in number. The men and women determined to stay all night in the roads if no other shelter offers. The weather was intensely cold; snow lying deep in many places; and freezing hard; and there was every prospect of one of the hardest and most inclement nights of this long and dreary winter.
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2017, 16:00:35 PM »

Isle of Wight Observer - Saturday 06 March 1875

There was a great disturbance among the New Forest Shakers on Saturday. Miss Wood (the lady whose money first bought the New Forest Lodge), was removed by force from the New Forest, on a certificate of insanity, obtained by her nephew and signed by two medical men. She was only discovered after a three hours' search.
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« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2017, 09:13:28 AM »

Aldershot Military Gazette - Saturday 23 October 1875

THE "SHAKERS."
Seventeen of the Shaker community, ten females and seven males, with Mrs. Girling at their head, were present at a meeting in the Drill Hall, Southampton, on Sunday night last. Mrs. Girling wore a plain black dress with white collar and cuffs, the remainder of the female portion of her followers being dressed in white. When about half way through her address two commenced dancing and gesticulating, and they were speedily followed by six others, this being kept up more or less until the termination of the proceedings. The hall was quite full, and the audience were convulsed with laughter. A Serjeant Millin, who has attempted to demonstrate that Shakerism is nothing more than mesmerism, ascended the platform and attempted to address the meeting, but was received with cheers, groans, and hisses, his remarks being inaudible on that account. After he had done Mrs. Girling spoke, but her voice was drowned in the uproar. The meeting terminated shortly after half-past ten, having lasted over two hours and a half. Mrs. Girling and her followers returned to Hordle by van.
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« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2017, 09:25:11 AM »

Isle of Wight Observer - Saturday 25 December 1875

MRS. GIRLING AND THE SHAKERS IN RYDE.
Last evening (Thursday) the announcement that Mrs. Girling (the famous Shaker "mother," who has been lecturing or preaching at Portsmouth and other places) would be at the Victoria Rooms, attracted a large number of people, in spite of the somewhat high prices of admission. The assembly was of course a mixed one, and included, it seemed some of the "rough" element of which Ryde is not wholly destitute, for some persons treated the whole affair as they would a pantomime, and began stamping for the "performance" to commence.

Shortly after 8 o'clock Mrs. Girling appeared, followed by eight young women and four men, who at once sank down on the platform and engaged in silent prayer. The girls were all dressed precisely alike in blue close-fitting dresses, with white sashes. Nearly all of them wore some little ornament at the breast, and their hair was kept back by a comb and allowed to flow in curls over the shoulders. Altogether the appearance of the girls was prepossessing, and several were even very good looking. There was something rather indescribable about the faces of three or four of the girls and one of the men, however - an indefinable expression, which we cannot describe, but which we have seen in the faces of one or two persons subject to fits.

It is evident their religion is genuine and sincere, and the fact of Mrs. Girling obtaining such an influence over and converting so many is not without precedent, for we know that the followers of the famous Joanna Southcott (who announced herself as the woman described in the Revelations) had converts, who at one time numbered over 100,000; but Joanna's influence did not long survive her death. Attentive observation of Mrs. Girling leads us to place her upon a par with Joanna Southcott, but she is a superior woman to Joanna, who, we know, made a very good thing by selling "seals," which were to be passports to eternal salvation. Mrs. Girling does nothing of this sort, and from her exposition of her creed there was much that was true and real, mixed up with a great deal that was ridiculous and nonsensical.

Mrs. Girling is a tall woman, and very very thin. There is a firm expression about her mouth, and a kindly expression about her eyes, but her face in repose has more sternness than anything else about it. It is evident she is an enthusiast. After the prayer was over, Mrs. Girling expressed her pleasure at meeting those present, and to have an opportunity of declaring to them what God had done for her - not only to declare Christ as the spirit and the word, but to state why they were as one family, and trusting that the meeting might be profitable, and that they might know one another better. She then called upon her followers to sing an anthem, which was nicely sung, the singers being evidently tolerably well trained, though not possessing first-rate voices. After the anthem they all sank down on their knees again, and one of the girls prayed with a fervency and a fluency really remarkable. It was such a prayer as might have been heard in some small dissenting chapels, and the others chimed in, as is the fashion with some sects, with devout ejaculations.

Mrs. Girling then prayed, introducing a deal about "These last days." She then gave an address, which lasted for more than two hours, and spoke with a volubility really remarkable, though it was not always very coherent. She gave an account of her conversion some 18 years ago, and said she had longed for the gift of the Holy Spirit. This she declared was granted; the Holy Spirit descended upon her, and she could not tell how long she remained in a blissful state. She declared that while that light might be found in the New Testament, now it was she found life - which could only come from the gift of the Holy Ghost. Afterwards - she was bound to tell them, whether they believed her or not - she saw her Saviour (oh). There was a promise that those who asked should see Him. God never forgot His promises; and she had seen Christ, and spoke to Him face to face - not in the same form that He wore upon earth, but a glorified form. She knew, she was certain, that no power on earth or above the heavens could produce such an effect as that produced upon her, unless it come from Him who was of the nature of God (hisses). He made Himself known to her five times in the same way, and what He declared to her she declared to others. He taught her how to read the Scriptures by comparing chapter with chapter and verse with verse. She then said there had been many dispensations, and averred that we were arriving at the last dispensation. She should live to see the close of the present dispensation - which did not mean the end of the world.

She denounced mesmerism, spiritualism, &c, as inventions of the devil. She then gave some account of the hardships undergone, and their way of life which have been repeated before, and amidst one or two cries of "shame," said she had left her husband and children to go and found the community which is now so well known. With respect to their dancing she said it was only the outward manifestation of a blessed state within, and said that she had herself walked 10 miles to a meeting; address it for two hours (no slight exertion if she spoke so energetically as on this occasion) walk back again, and after receiving the spirit, of which dancing was their outward manifestation, felt as fresh as when she started. Would they take away that which helped them so much?

The singular meeting closed with prayer and praise, and there was hardly any disorderly conduct, though some disappointment was expressed that there had been no dancing.
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« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2017, 06:36:38 AM »

Hampshire Advertiser - Saturday 08 January 1876

The Shakers.
Mrs. Girling and her companions have returned from their tour in the neighbouring counties, and are now at Hordle. They are not discouraged as to the result of their travels. The people, it is said, are all in good health and spirits. The tents have been much improved, and are now substantial looking erections. Things appear to be slightly better with the Shakers than they appeared a short time ago. The weather, though dull and heavy, is much more bearable than that of last January, when the season was of the sharpest. There is no thought entertained of a removal from Hordle. The Shakers still hold the belief that New Forest Lodge is to be in their ultimate possession.
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« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2017, 06:39:17 AM »

Hampshire Advertiser - Saturday 29 January 1876

The Shakers.
The Shakers are building their fifth tent at their encampment at Hordle. The four they already possess are now substantial erections. Their circumstances appear to be improving; their new tent is considerably larger than any of the others. They say that when the New Forest Lodge again becomes theirs they will want all these tents to supply the places of the chapel and outbuildings taken down by the present holder. They have endured much hardship through the winter, but there is no serious case of illness among them. Mrs. Girling has been invited to make another preaching tour, but has refused to do so.
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« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2017, 07:07:33 AM »

Isle of Wight Observer - Saturday 12 February 1876

AN EVENING WITH THE "SHAKERS."
During the past week Mrs. Girling (who, at the invitation of Mr. H. Knight, has again visited this town) has been giving services at the Victoria Rooms and an exposition of the views of this really singular community. We have seen that epithet frequently applied to them, but we never conceived that it was so well deserved. There are very few who have cared to visit Mrs. Girling more than once, and one evening has been very similar to another, and if we describe what took place at one meeting that will give a pretty good idea of what took place at all.

We have described Mrs. Girling before, on the occasion of her last visit. A further opportunity of seeing more closely than on the previous occasion only confirms us in our former impression, that she is a woman of more than usual firmness and some intelligence, but with a spice of insanity about her. We should not expect from her face that she was of a particularly benevolent disposition. She is accompanied by exactly the same followers as she was on the previous occasion, including three men, who sat on the platform. The females were dressed exactly the same as they were on the last occasion, in blue dresses with white sashes, and, on the whole, looked tolerably well and healthy, though one or two of the women and all the men bore a singular expression on their faces - rather wild looking, in fact.

The meeting was opened in the usual way by singing and prayer, and shortly after 8 Mrs. Girling began an address. It was rather incoherent, and not particularly clear. It was a hard matter to understand what she was driving at, while her naive simplicity of language and quaint endeavours to illustrate her meaning made a good many laughs. It would be very tiresome and not particularly edifying to give all that Mrs. Girling said. She commenced by taking a portion of the Gospel and comparing it with the Revelations. We could not follow her, however, for what she said was very disjointed. Amongst other things she said she did not approve of preaching about death and hell; Christ never sent out his apostles to preach death and hell, but to preach the kingdom of God. She subsequently declared her belief in the Devil and Satan, who, it seems, she regarded as two separate and distinct beings, and excited a considerable amount of amusement by declaring that she believed there were male and female devils.

She then pointed out the promises of the second coming of the Lord, and intimated that she did not believe half so much time had elapsed since Christ was on earth as was generally supposed, and that the Devil, to suit his own evil purposes, had blinded people's eyes here also. It was true historians said such and such a time had elapsed, but how did we know it was true. She believed we were much nearer than we thought for. All Christians must believe that Christ was coming; it was only a question as to the time when He would come. Speaking of conversion, she said the human body could not have two inhabitants at the same time. There must either be God's spirit within us or the Devil's - there was not room for Christ and the Devil too. Why man and woman could hardly live comfortable together sometimes. (Some one in the gallery: I suppose that's how you found it!) How should we have testimony that we had the right spirit? We must have the testimony of Jesus Christ. And what was that testimony? Why, the spirit of prophesy - the second pouring out of the spirit of our Lord and Saviour. Had not Jesus already taught them how to pray? Had he not taught them to say "Our Father ?" - their father as well as her father. Perhaps they would not like to think that she was their sister (laughter). She liked to ask straight questions. For herself she was delighted to think they were all brethren (laughter). There was something very delightful in the thought that she might meet again some of the beautiful forms she saw around her clothed with the glory of God, and ranging through and traversing the pure regions of everlasting glory, exploring together that beautiful land they heard so much of. It was in obedience to this command of our Lord's that they dwelt together as they (the community) did as brethren and sisters.

She then read that chapter of Revelations in which it is stated that the time is at hand for the coming of Christ. If it was at hand when he wrote, how much nearer must it be now? He might come that night, and for herself, she said, "Come, dear Lord; come quickly!" He was never more wanted than He was now, if they were to take the state of the world at large into account. There were never more murders, robberies and wickedness committed than there was now - and why? Because people could sin, and then put on a black coat and button it up to the neck (laughter). Men could go and commit sins now which were never thought of once, because men had not the knowledge then they had now. This was what made many a minister sad. She knew one clergyman who said, "After eight years' preaching I do not know where there is a conversion." That ought not to be. She then reiterated her belief in the speedy coming of Christ, and that she should see Him. (Here one of the audience rose and said that he considered Mrs. Girling a great humbug, and he would not stay to listen to any more.)

Mrs. Girling took no notice, but continued speaking, and said that the world had never been without light long, but it was like moonlight, which did not warm. What they wanted was the spirit which, like the sun, both warmed and lighted. If they had the spirit they would have the truth both to warm and light them. The Church was now broken up into 500 fragments, but would have to gather herself together again. They would know the true church by the coming of the Holy Spirit. That she said they (her community) had, and it declared the Lord was coming shortly to reveal Himself.

Here ensued a most singular scene: one of the girls on the platform closed her eyes, and leant upon the shoulder of the young woman sitting at her side, who shortly afterwards began to close her eyes also. After sitting like this for some time, the girl jumped up in a sudden ecstatic sort of way, and began dancing, and whirling about the platform with her eyes shut, and her hands raised, and in her mad gyrations got so perilously near the edge of the platform that she would have fallen off, and possibly hurt herself, had not one of the Shaker brethren ran and caught her, and lifted her on the floor, where she continued jumping and dancing away - bouncing against the audience sitting in the front seats, and against the chairs. Her eyes were shut, and she continually ejaculated incoherent sentences which the tittering and laughter which greeted the strange exhibition prevented us from catching. Mrs. Girling stood calmly regarding the eccentric movements of her youhg disciple, and asked those present not to laugh at what they did not understand.

She declared they all lived pure and holy lives by the power of God; that this was an evidence of His power; and that if the influence was ever disobeyed they suffered - in fact it gave them the whip (derisive laughter). They never suffered if they yielded to it, and it was evidence to them (whether those present believed it or not) of the speedy coining of our Lord Jesus Christ (oh, and loud laughter). Soon after the affection spread, and another girl jumped up with startling suddenness, and began jumping like a "Dancing Dervise," and would have danced herself off the platform had not the same brother lifted her to the floor, where she continued dancing. Shortly afterwards another one jumped up with equal suddenness, and all three were dancing about in a way which caused no slight amusement, but which, when one remembered it was done in the name of religion, was really a very painful thing to witness. One girl kept on violently, and with few intermissions for, we should think, over an hour! They danced wildly about till the face of one was covered with perspiration, but the other appeared to suffer little inconvenieuce.

They continued "bumping" against each other, and against the chairs, and the audience, muttering unintelligible words for some time. One young gentleman in the front row, who was "bumped" rather heavily, made a precipitate retreat into the next row, and was considerately told by Mrs. Girling "not to be frightened." Some of the sentiments they pronounced seemed like Latin phrases repeated over and over again; the other was unintelligible nonsense. This was the "unknown tongue." The other sentences which we caught, and which Mr. Knight and the Shaker brother declared to be the direct inspiration of the "Holy Spirit," were "Christ Himself is very nigh; glory be to God on high." Another girl said, "Oh! yes; Lord God Omnipotent reigneth King over all for evermore," which was not very new. "Glory be to God, who has given us light. Praise Him." "The Lord is our strength; praise His holy name" "Yes, it is life we have received - light from the dead," &c.

After dancing till they must have been very tired, they all knelt down in picturesque attitudes, and after singing and talking in a singular sort of way, one of them returned to the platform. While Mrs. Girling had been speaking, Mr. Knight, sitting in the front row, listened attentively, but when the dancing commenced he went near the platform, and helped to prevent the dancers from dashing against the chairs, &c. As soon as the girls had knelt down, and there was a momentary lull, for up to the present time there had been a great deal of laughter and confusion, some one in the gallery called out, "Now you give us a turn, Knight!" Mrs. Girling, looking in the direction the voice proceeded from, said if those who came there thought they (the Shakers) were deceived, it would be much better to show an example worthy for them to imitate. The young ladies kneeling in such picturesque attitudes elicited other comments from the gallery - "Ladies, do you feel queer?" "Can I do anything for you?" &c. The two girls then began dancing again. One had a peculiar wild look in her eyes, which were turned upwards. Voices of the gallery "Blowed if she hasn't wound them gals up well." "You unwind 'em now, Missus;" "We've had enough;" and general confusion, in the midst of which Mr. Knight said, "I know who it is in the gallery. I know who it is making the noise, and I will take down their names. (Pointing to the dancing, or rather jumping, girls), I know this is nothing more than the outpouring of the Holy Spirit!" ("oh," and hisses.)

The dancing girls still ejaculating unintelligible sentences in the "unknown tongues." The only words in all they now said which were intelligable to us, were, "We are near the end; we won't deny Christ." "Eternity!" "In the last days I wUll pour out My spirit." "I did it all!" These were said while the dancing was in progress. Then one stopped, and said slowly, and with the air of a prophetess, "Oh! yes; will you help to join, will you help to swell, that song, the song of redemption: you may help to swell it ere long. Will you? Will you? Yes!" The girl then stopped, and kneeling on the floor, pretended to write with her finger, muttering something quite unintelligible. The other girl kept on dancing. As the meeting advanced the confusion increased. The poor girl danced till some one in the gallery said it was a "case of cruelty to animals to let her go on so," and we should think, when she left off, she must have had an hour and a half of almost continuous and violent exertion.

Mr. Knight said as there was so much noise he would call out the name of the offender, and gave the name of a young butcher as the disturber of the meeting. He was told to "give us a turn - come on!" Ultimately, after a hymn had been sang, another young woman on the platform sank down and offered up a prayer, as did also Mrs. Girling. Prayer after such remarks and the other things the audience had seen, seemed almost a mockery, and we could not help remembering that there is a time and place for all things. Mrs. Girling told them before she left that she expected to see many of the scoffers dancing some day. Bidding the audience "goodnight" she left the platform, but some of the young women remained, and with these several of the audience got into conversation. One was asked whether she had received any special gift of the spirit that night, and whether what she said was to be taken as prophesying. Pressed on the matter she admitted the dancing was only a devotional exercise, but that she had often received the gift of the spirit though not on this particular occasion. We did not hear this ourselves, but we are informed that she made this admission, which practically reduces all the dancing, writing on the floor, and unknown tongues, to so much mummery. We can hardly think the dancers, however, were quite conscious; they looked very much like those under mesmeric influence. We do not doubt, however, that there was some method in their madness.
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« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2017, 07:02:21 AM »

Hampshire Advertiser - Saturday 25 March 1876

Sergt.-Major Millin and Mrs. Girling.
A great deal of interest and excitement was created in the town on Tuesday owing to that having been the day fixed for a meeting between Sergt.-Major Millin, of Southampton, and Mrs. Girling, the Shaker "mother." On the occasion of his last visit here a fortnight ago, Sergt.-Major Millin made some most damaging statements, calling in question the morality of Mrs. Girling's followers, and also alleging that the influence she exerted over them was mesmeric.

Mr. Councillor Knight, who has been the principal agent in bringing the Shakers here, and who professes a thorough belief in Mrs. Girling's pretensions, issued bills announcing that the public would be charged one shilling for admission to the meeting. This disgusted a great many persons, who could not see why it should be sought to make money out of the affair. Sergt. Millin consequently refused to meet Mrs. Girling at the Victoria Rooms, and took the Townhall, where people were admitted free. Here over 900 persons assembled, and a message was sent over to Mrs. Girling, requesting her to attend at the Townhall. This she refused to do, no meeting consequently took place, and each party held their own meeting.

Mrs. Girling, whose meeting was very scantily attended, called her own people, who denied every one of the allegations made by Sergt.-Major Millin, and Sergt.-Major Millin at his meeting produced several witnesses who corroborated his statement, so the matter ends where it began. At Sergt. Millin's meeting, however, there was an almost universal feeling in his favour, and Mrs. Girling's name was received with loud hisses. At Mrs. Girling's meeting there was a great deal said which ought not to have gone forth before a mixed audience.
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« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2017, 07:08:29 AM »

Isle of Wight Observer - Saturday 08 April 1876

The Shakers.
Mrs. Girling and her singular followers have left the Island we are happy to say, and are now favouring the inhabitants of Southsea with exhibitions of their extravagance. We believe they are still accompanied by their devoted Knight, who champions their cause with unwearying pertinacity. The "services" commenced at Portland Hall, Southsea, on Monday evening, and on each occasion there has been no little commotion and ridicule. The proceedings have been much the same as here.

On Monday evening Mrs. Girling's address was suspended on account of several of her followers pursuing their customary gyrations. "What is it?" the audience inquired, and when Mrs. Girling said it was the "Spirit of the Living God," those assembled loudly called it "blasphemy," and a good deal of uproar ensued, in the course of which a couple of reporters, who throughout the proceedings had been somewhat demonstrative, were requested to leave the hall, Mrs. Girling having complained that one of them had used language which was inadmissible in the presence of a female. As an attendant was conducting them to the door one of these individuals informed the meeting, with a good deal of vehemence, that his friend and he had "come to denounce the swindling."

Their expulsion, though abundantly justified, was not very likely to allay the tumult; and as it was by this time considerably past ten o'clock, and the meeting had had almost enough, Mrs. Girling somewhat abruptly brought her sermon to a close, not, however, without expressing a hope that many a day might elapse before she again witnessed similar behaviour.

By the time the Doxology and prayer had been concluded, scarcely a score of persons remained in the Hall.
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« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2017, 07:23:20 AM »

Hampshire Advertiser - Saturday 29 April 1876

The Shakers.
A sudden death occurred on Thursday, at the Camp at Hordle. Mary Ann Miller, a native of Sussex, aged about 22 years, was taken ill, and about 10 o'clock, in the presence of Mrs. Girling and numerous followers, died. Medical assistance was sent for, but too late to be of any service. An inquest will be held.



Hampshire Advertiser - Wednesday 03 May 1876

The Shakers.
The coroner for the district in which the parish of Hordle is situate has decided, we understand, on holding an inquest on the body of the young woman whose death was recorded in Saturday's paper. Mrs. Girling, who preached on Sunday to a large congregation, denies that the woman is dead, and says that she is only asleep, and will revive. The body had not been removed on Monday.  (Emphasis mine)
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« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2017, 23:39:06 PM »

I bet that shook 'em!
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« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2017, 09:41:13 AM »

Isle of Wight Observer - Saturday 06 May 1876

Inquest.
Mr. Coroner Druitt held an inquest at the Shakers' encampment at Hordle on Wednesday, on the body of Mary Ann Miller, aged 22, a single woman, who died somewhat suddenly on the 27th ult. Deceased was a native of Harwich. The enquiry lasted nearly four hours, and resulted in a verdict of death from consumption, accelerated by want of medical attendance.


DEATH IN THE SHAKER COMMUNITY
We have no doubt that the death of the young woman in the Shaker community, which we recorded last week, will greatly weaken Mrs. Girling's influence. Her strong point has been, and this she has made her infatuated followers thoroughly believe, that those who had "passed from death unto life" would never die.

While the Shakers were staying in this town, we travelled from Ventnor to Ryde with one of the community, who acted as a kind of avant courier for the others. We spoke to the man about his peculiar belief, and in reference to the Shaker crotchet about not marrying, we ventured to point out to him that it was a good thing all the world did not seek salvation in the same way as he did, or the world would very soon be depopulated. This he denied, and solemnly asserted that as death was the result of sin, so those who had thoroughly turned from their sins, and passed from death into life, would never die. He felt confident that he should never die, although a few grey hairs appeared in his head as premonitory symptoms of decay. He likewise informed me that Mrs. GIRLING would never die, and dwelt upon the fact that there had been no births and no deaths in the community.

Now, if Mrs. Girling has succeeded in persuading her disciples to believe this, she must feel that the death which has just occurred has upset her assertions altogether. Death, the grim reality, cannot be stayed by any, and has put out his bony hand to refute the blasphemous views entertained and promulgated by Mrs. GIRLING, and even her most infatuated believers must, we should imagine, doubt her now. It is evident that Mrs. Girling feels this, for she has said that the girl only sleeps. This is true enough in one sense, but when the body has to be conveyed to its last resting place, no doubt she will try to get out of the difficulty she is in by saying that the poor girl was not a true believer, and died because she had sinned!

Since writing the above we learn that Mrs. GIRLING denies saying anything about her people dying; she simply denied that she herself would die. This is very different indeed, to what she said. The constant dwelling upon the fact that there had been no death in the community, coupled with the fact of her followers' undoubted belief in their exemption from death, shows that she did teach this, and made it one of the most striking points in her belief.
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