Thursday, 7 August 2014

7th August 1814: 'Joanna Southcott and her Crib'

On Sunday 7th August 1814, The Examiner published  an article which discussed at length the gifts being showered upon the self-proclaimed prophetess Joanna Southcott, who had recently declared she was pregnant with the new Messiah at the age of 64.


In one of the recent publications of this Prophetess, entitled the Book of Wonders, is announced "the coming of SHILOH, with a call to the Hebrews." The Spirit says, p.4, "This year, in the 65th year of thy age, thou shalt have a Son by the power of the Most High, which if they receive as their Prophet, Priest, and King, then I will restore them to their own land, and cast out the Heathens for their sakes, as I cast out them when they cast out me, by rejecting me as their Saviour, Prince, and King, for which I said I was born, but not at that time to establish my Kingdom."―In consequence of this announcement, the followers of JOANNA SOUTHCOTT, who are increasing both in town and county, are making all sorts of necessary precautions. It is certainly true, that she has been literally overwhelmed with presents.―Laced caps, embroidered bibs, and marked robes, a mohair mantle, which cost 15 [shillings].―Splendid silver pap-spoons and candle-cups (one shaped like a dove)―have been poured in upon her, till she has at length determined to receive no more of such things. To complete the desired apparatus, a magnificent Crib has just been finished by one of our first upholsterers, of which a friend has favoured us with the following particulars:―

"A short description of a Crib, made by Mr. Seddons, of Aldersgate-street, according to the order of some Gentlemen, who are members of the Church established by Joanna Southcott, for the New Messiah, with whom they believe she is now pregnant:―

"This Crib, which is made of an oblong square, is of the usual size of modern Cribs; the frame is made of satin-wood, richly ornamented with gold; the sides and ends filled with lattice work of gold. The body of the Crib, which they call the MANGER, is richly lined with blue satin, drawn together so as to give it the appearance of fitted work. The pillars on which it stands are taper, with ribbons of gold entwining round them. The head cloth is of blue satin, with a celestial crown of gold embroidered upon it, and underneath this appears the word SHILOH, in Hebrew characters, richly drawn, and exhibited in gold-spangles. Over the head part of the Crib appears an elegant canopy of blue satin, lined with the finest white muslin, which is drawn together to a plait, and fastened underneath, or withinside the canopy, by a rose of blue satin. The outer point of the canopy is finished with the figure of a Dove of gold, resting on a small white ball, and bearing a branch of olive in its mouth. Around the outer rim of the canopy is this inscription, in letters of gold:―"A free-will offering by Faith to the promised Seed." The curtains and other drapery are blue satin edged with gold fringe, and looped up with gold line and gold tassels. The inner curtains are of fine white muslin.

"The above is a description of what they call the Manger; besides which they have a Crib which fits within the former, and hangs upon swivels, that a proper motion may be given to it whenever the young Prince may require rocking.

"The Crib itself is made with satin wood, fitted with the most beautiful cane-work, from which passes a cord of gold to a pedal, which is designed to rock the cradle whenever this may be proper for the infant, and to prevent the necessity of leaning over the manger, which might incommode the supernatural babe.

"The bed is of the finest eider-down, in a white covering; the coverlet is of richest white satin, with a medallion in the centre, bearing the figures of a Lamb lying down with the Lion. The Lamb is worked in silver―the Lion in gold. These are surmounted by a Tree of Life worked in gold also. The sheets for the bed are made of the best cambric, edged with expensive lace.―July 29, 1814."

Shiloh's Crib today, at the Panacea Museum, Bedford

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