Mina S. Seymour is probably not someone you have heard of before. I certainly hadn’t when I came across the following book recently:
Privately printed, it contains over 150 poems ‘by’ Robert Burns, as received by Seymour, an American medium at the end of nineteenth century. Lily Dale was a spiritualist community in south-western New York State.
Carol McGuirk, writing on Burns in America in the nineteenth century, notes: ‘The first oddity to strike me as I began research on this essay was the frequency with which nineteenth-century Americans imagine, wish, or even roundly assert that Robert Burns is not dead. As with Elvis Presley sightings in our time, this is most likely a sign that mere celebrity has been transcended and cult status achieved. The cult of Burns included prominent Scottish-Americans such as Andrew Carnegie but also marginal persons as Mina S. Seymour, a psychic who in 1900 published a book said to be “transmitted” or channelled directly from the mind of Burns. An introductory “poem” in Seymour’s deranged little volume lists some of the distinguished company which Burns keeps in the spirit world, to which Thomas Edison (d.1931) is evidently making an informal early visit: “Wallace, Bruce, Dante, men of history, / Washington, LaFayette, Paine, / Lincoln, Gladstone, the warlock Edison, aye! / Passive instruments of unseen powers, / Frien’s, ye’ll understand it bye an’ bye”’ (Carol McGuirk, ‘Haunted by authority: nineteenth-century American constructions of Robert Burns and Scotland’, Robert Burns and Cultural Authority (1997), pp. 136–158).
Here is a page, to give you a flavour: