Immanuel Kant - Describes the Visions of Swedenborg
Type of Spiritual Experience
In the first example, Swedenborg was probably reading the princess's mind.
A description of the experience
Dreams of a Spirit Seer - Immanuel Kant
There lives at Stockholm a certain Mr. Swedenborg, a gentleman of comfortable means and independent position. His whole occupation for more than twenty years is, as he himself says, to be in closest intercourse with spirits and deceased souls; to receive news from the other world, and, in exchange, give those who are there tidings from the present; to write big volumes about his discoveries; and to travel at times to London to look after their publication.
He is not especially reticent about his secrets, talks freely about them with everybody, .... and all this without any apparent deceit or charlatanry. Just as he, if we may believe him, is the Arch-Spiritseer among all the spiritseers, he certainly is also the Arch-Dreamer among all the dreamers, whether we judge him by the description of those who know him, or by his works.
...... Still, as the credentials of all plenipotentiaries from the other world consist in the proofs which, by certain tests, they give of their calling in the present world, I must quote from what is spread abroad to authenticate the extraordinary capacities of the above-mentioned gentleman at least that which, with most people, still finds some credit.
Towards the end of the year 1761, Mr. Swedenborg was called to a princess, whose great intelligence and insight ought to render deception of such a nature impossible. The call was occasioned by the common report about the pretended visions of this man. After some questions which were intended to amuse her with his illusions, the princess dismissed him, after having charged him with a secret mission concerning his communication with spirits. Several days afterwards, Mr. Swedenborg appeared with an answer which was of such a nature as to create in the princess, according to her own confession, the liveliest astonishment, for the answer was true, and at the same time, could not have been given to him by any living human being. This story is drawn from the report sent by an ambassador at the court there, who was present at that time, to another foreign ambassador in Copenhagen; it exactly agreed also with all that special inquiry has been able to learn.
The following stories have no other proof than common report, which is rather doubtful evidence.
Madame Marteville, the widow of a Dutch envoy at the Swedish court, was reminded by a goldsmith to pay some arrears due on a silver-service furnished her. The lady, knowing the economy of her deceased husband, was convinced that this debt must have been settled already in his lifetime, but she found no proof whatever among the papers he left. Woman is especially prone to credit the stories of soothsaying, interpretation of dreams, and similar wonderful things. The widow discovered therefore her trouble to Mr. Swedenborg, requesting him to procure from her husband in the other world information about the real facts of the claim—if it were true, as people said of him, that he had intercourse with deceased people. Mr. Swedenborg promised to do it, and, a few days afterwards, reported to the lady in her house, that he had obtained the desired information, and that the requisite receipts were in a hidden partition of a closet which he showed to her, and which, in her opinion, had been entirely emptied. A search was made at once, according to his description, and, together with the secret Dutch correspondence, the receipts were found, making void all claims.
The third story is of a kind of which it must be very easy to completely prove either the truth or the untruth. It was, if I am rightly informed, towards the end of the year 1759, when one afternoon Mr. Swedenborg, coming from England, landed in Gothenburg. The same evening he was invited to meet some company at the house of a resident merchant. After being present a short while he proclaimed, with evident consternation, the news that, just at that moment, a terrible fire was raging in Stockholm, in the Sudermalm. After the lapse of several hours, during which he had from time to time left the company, he reported to them that the fire was checked, and how far it had spread. This wonderful news was noised abroad the same evening, and the next morning was all over the town. Not until two days after did the first report from Stockholm arrive in Gothenburg. It agreed entirely, it is said, with Swedenborg’s visions.