BY BENJ. H. DAY & GEORGE W. WISNER.
[OFFICE 222 WILLIAM STREET.]
[For the Sun.]
MATTHIAS, THE PROPHET.
The character of Matthias having been much so the sub-ject of conjecture and speculation, a few remarks upon that subject may not be uninteresting to your readers. I saw this notable personage, for the first time, in the Court of Sessions room, when last arraigned upon the indictment of the District Attorney, in conformity with the complaint of Mr. Folger. At that time the Court room was crowded with spectators, whose object was the gratification of cu-riosity rather than any regard for his probable fate.—There, hustled with the crowd, and perhaps with no bet-ter object, I noted, at the opposite end of the room, the Phrenological developments of the prisoner, which, for the fact of their subsequent confirmation, I will copy. Nervous phlegmatic temperament; ordinary sized head; Physiognomy no ways remarkable; Countenance of a composed character, &c. Amativeness large; Philopro-genitiveness moderately large; Destructiveness mode-rately full; Combativeness rather small; Self-esteem pre-dominantly large; Conscientiousness moderately devel-oped; Love of Approbation rather large; Firmness quite large; Cautiousness very small; Reverence comparative-ly small; Hope large; Marvellousness very large; Se-cretiveness rather small; Acquisitiveness large; Con-structiveness quite large; Ideality very large; Mirthful-ness full; Imitation large; Benevolence rather full; Re-flective Faculties both small—comparison the larger of the two; Perceptive Faculties all quite small, Order, Tune, and Language excepted.
From these Phrenological facts, though obtained under disadvantageous circumstances, and, therefore, fearful that the relative development of the faculties may not have been precisely correct, I was irresistibly led to the con-clusion that Matthias actually believed himself to be what he has represented, and, consequently, less a knave than a fool. However opposed may be this opinion to the ex-pression that "he is more knave than a fool," which I had heard made in reference to this individual, I adhered to the conviction resulting from scientific facts, which have never been proved false in their character and conclusion, and which were abundantly confirmed on a subsequent occasion.
The organ of Constructiveness being large, however, I could not reconcile its enlarged development with any knowledge I had heard expressed of Matthias; but recent information has also confirmed the strength and activity of this faculty, and, consequently, its development, inas-much as he is said to be a very skilful mechanic.
Self-esteem being a predominant sentiment—Marvel-lousness and Ideality both being also large, with the Re-flective, and, generally, the Perceptive Faculties weak, it is not very remarkable that he should conceive himself a superior and a holier being than his fellow men, and that he should have turned that imaginary superiority to a ve-ry good account, by the exercise of his active and enlarg-ed organ of Acquisitiveness. These facts, however, will be seen to be more apparent, perhaps, by the particulars of an interview had with this singular personage within his gloomy cell at Bellevue prison.
From the known influence of the predominant faculties developed by the cerebral organs of Matthias, I was satis-fied that he would assume a hauteur, even in his solitary imprisonment, which might forbid the freedom necessary to a more minute examination of his mental faculties. I therefore availed myself of the influence of his legal coun-cil, hoping thereby to secure the means to which, only, would his obstinate peculiarities yield; for love of life and liberty will, in secret at least, ever prevail over the selfish conceit and affected nonchalance of the superstitious and ignorant, and bow them submissively to the means by which they are to be obtained.
Arriving, however, at the grated domicile of our hero of modern fanaticism, I obtained admission to his cell before the arrival of his council. As if fearful of the re-enact-ment of the scene between St. Paul, Silas, and the jailor, of Apostolic history, our apostle's security was made dou-bly sure, and some ten or a dozen doors "did, on their hinges turning, grate harsh thunder," before that of his deep seclusion ushered us before the presence of him of the long beard. Wrapt "in the mysteries of his make," even the thundering bolts of his prison aroused him not from his deep, deep reverie. At length, assuming "this mortal coil," as if suddenly, though reluctantly, returning to "nothing's strange abode," from his aerial voyage "of length enormous," he did enquire of us "wherefore this bold intrusion."
But now for the attack upon his floating castle of Self-esteem, every shot at which told between wind and water, and which soon brought that arrogant organ to quarters. And now that "Richard is himself again," the compla-cency with which his eyes, beaming with satisfaction, opened upon us, is easily imagined. Assuring him, in the first place, that Benevolence, though doubted by some, to be indeed favorably developed in his craniological confor-mation, and suggesting that whatever is really useful and important in religion, as well as science, cannot too soon be promulgated and adopted, he said the world should know his doctrines, of which it was now ignorant, and commencing its exposition, he went on in a rapid strain of volubility, to say no more, that often provoked a smile, in spite of our affected gravity, and with a continuity that precluded the possibility of wedging within an occasional respiratory pause, a word of our own. But, with no com-mon share of shrewdness in the arrangement of his doc-trinal points, with comparisons at once apt and ingenious, with a clearness of articulation, freedom and strength of intonation, accompanied by impressiveness and authorita-tive manners, we must do Matthias the justice to say that he has the arts necessary to enforce his doctrines and to arrest the attention of the ignorant and superstitious. Nor is it a matter of great surprise, while reviewing the past, or glancing at the present, wherein there have been, and still are those whose religious faith has yielded credence to principles equally assumptive, and to opinions equally er-roneous, that some amongst us have been found votaries to the credenda of this prince of human arrogance.
The world, says Matthias, has misunderstood the spirit of truth, and I am anxious, says he, to preach it to man-kind. But man, he says, is not yet completed; for, by calculations authorized by prophetic accounts, the fulness of man is to be effected about this time, and himself is the consecrated means of accomplishing the object so impor-tant to our happiness. Man will now go on in the im-provement of his condition with rapid strides, and attain, in due time, (known, apparently, only to himself) to the fullness of the perfect man. Summing up within himself the quantum sufficit which he says has been derived from the Apostles in the same manner as leaven is laid aside for the purpose of enlivening future batches of bread, so has the pure spirit of truth appeared in them and is now appropriated to the constitution of himself. Now, Jesus of Nazareth, he says, came to give intimation of this im-portant fact, and effectually to prepare the way for the events to be completed by him, in his own personae pro-periae. About this Jesus of Nazareth, he says, the world has been very much mistaken, &c.
Having previously intimated to him his lack of cau-tiousness in promulgating his doctrines, which he stoutly denied, for he admits of no contradictions, we offered his present condition en bon point. But, says he, I have ma-ny visiters, a plenty of company and consolation, (allud-ing to communications to him from Heaven). He said it was necessary for him to be thus imprisoned and his doc-trines to be thus treated that he might the better under stand man and what is in him;—his mind was always happy and contented with his condition: all of which he certainly manifested by his composure and serene counte-nance. Indeed, the degree of self complacency, satisfac-tion and reliance upon his supposed infallibility and im-peccable character, evinced a degree of selfish conceit and enthusiastic fanaticism, exceeding any thing I had before seen or heard. He was perfectly secure in the be-lief that men could in no way injure him, and that he is yet to perfect his great business. About the indictments against him, and the results of whatever now restrained his liberty and opposed the promulgation of his doctrine, he indicated the utmost sang froid and reckless indiffer-ence, seemingly conscious of the inviolability of his per-son and the sacredness of his character and duties. On inquiring of him how he became conscious of his distin-guished character and of his important functions, he said that he was first impressed with these facts by the follow-ing—of course supernatural circumstance. While lying upon his bed, with his eyes closed and with his head to-wards the south, he then and there saw a great cloud of heads, as it were, witnesses, stretching from the east to the west, beginning at either end with but one head, and increasing in number to the centre, in the form of a fold of a great curtain, dropping from the far-off east and west to the centre before him.
This great cloud of innumerable witnesses appeared at first at a great distance, but gradually approached and came near to him, and testified to his being the spirit of truth, &c. Numerous other descriptions of his views and statements of his doctrines, with as many compari-sons, likened unto the fowls of the air, the fish of the sea, and the creeping things upon the earth, were dealt out to us as readily as they were supplied by his fruitful and active organ of ideality, which foreclosed, for the time be-ing, our organs of speech, but which, to this time, might have been amply repaid by the bright light shed upon our minds in the new religion of Matthias, now destined, as the world knows, to be obscured.
A dark spot, in the shape of an idiotic black boy at-tached to the domestic concerns of the prison, here inter-vened and eclipsed the effulgesce of the "Spirit of truth," and, for a time, closed the portals from which it emana-ted. Anxious to get a peep, as he said, of the great Mat-thias, this black fellow came creeping along the passages, as dark as himself, and knelt down at the threshold of his cell, and, by order of the jailor, was made to crave the pardon of his sins of the "spirit of truth." Matthias, supposing him to be a criminal, cried out, with Stentorian voice,"Will you be good?" which he repeated, to the no small fright and discomfiture of the poor ignorant black. Pleased with the effect of his experiment, Matthias as lustily expressed his joy in a wild and incoherent laugh.
Little judgment seems requisite to determine the fact that the mind of Matthias is still steeped in a cloud, if not of witnesses, of ignorance and conceit, which, co-opera-ting with his extravagant imagination, self esteem, incau-tiousness, mervellousness, &c. have presented to the cu-rious the unique character of Robt. Matthias.
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