Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/97

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39
JOANNA AND HER PROPHECIES.

her deluded followers in the metropolis and its vicinity alone, are supposed at one time to have amounted to a hundred thousand.

Joanna was a coarse, common-place, and somewhat corpulent woman; she dressed in a plain, quaker-like garb, in a gown of Calimancoe, with a shawl and bonnet of drab colour. The three leading preachers in her chapel in Southwark (her great stronghold), were a Mr. Carpenter, who, after learning his business, set up as a prophet on his own account; a Mr. Foley, and a lath-render named Tozer. She had chapels also in Spitalfields, Greenwich, Twickenham, and Gravesend.

The scribblings in prose and verse of this illiterate creature, instead of being committed to the waste paper basket, were solemnly preserved and received as prophecies. Attacked at last with dropsy, her delusions assumed the following objectionable form: she prophesied, and Sharp and his fellow-disciples—some of whom were men of fair education—actually believed, that Christ was to be born again under the name of "Shiloh," and that she, Joanna, at the age of sixty-five, was to be the mother. The revelation which proclaimed the miraculous accouchement was worded as follows: "This year [1814], in the sixty-fifth year of thy age, thou shalt have a son by the power of the Most High; which if they (the Hebrews) receive as their prophet, priest, and king, then I will restore them to their own land, and cast out the heathen 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."

One might have imagined that this gibberish would open the eyes of some at least of her votaries: their insane enthusiasm, on the contrary, increased. Joanna was absolutely inundated with the "freewill" offerings of the faithful—a costly cradle, white robes, pinafores, shoes of satin and worsted, flannel shirts, napkins, blankets, silver spoons, pap-boats, mugs, silver tea-pots, sugar-basins, tongs, and corals,—absolutely without number. The absurdity of the simpletons who sent these offerings was severely