A Psychological marvel.
It is asserted on good authority, that some 4 1/2 miles north of Leesville, S.C., lives a mulatto, Major Perry, called alike by whites and blacks the “sleeping preacher." He, together, with his wife is totally illiterate. His years number about 45. Some 12 years ago the phenomenon to which this article calls attention first began to be noticed.
When a young man, he felt that a "call" to preach was his, but it was disregarded. He but seldom attends church. Each night, Friday alone excepted, and that not always, about 15 or twenty minutes after retiring (about 8 o'clock is his rule) he begins to preach. He first announces his text, chapter and verse or verses in the Bible correctly, after which he reads the text; always just as it is in the word. He then "lines" out and sings a hymn and prays, after which the sermon proper begins. The sermon is better than the average, above the reach of the average negro preacher at least. It is grammatical and logical and lasts from 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Sometimes, during his delivery of the sermon the muscles of the body, especially the arms and neck contract producing a cataleptic condition. This stops the sermon. The attacks last for a minute or so and are driven away by the wife, who strokes with her hands the parts affected. When the tendency to catalepsy is banished, he resumes his discourse, beginning exactly where he left off, even though it was in the middle of a sentence. During the summer, about a certain time each year, he holds his protracted services, sometimes getting pretty "loud," a characteristic of his race. At these special times he delivers two sermons and invites "mourners" to come to the altar; sometimes he will cease and go through the motions of drinking water. He takes a short recess between the delivery of his sermons.
It may be added that Major does not belong to the church, in fact is irreligious. He cannot be convinced that he preaches in his sleep.
The best class of white citizens for miles around visit his cabin to hear him. Leading physicians have vainly endeavored to awaken him while in this abnormal state. After finishing the sermon he is easily aroused. They have pierced his muscles with sharp instruments, made loud noises, even placed cotton between his naked toes and burned it (causing him great pain after returning to consciousness), but without avail. During the time of preaching it is an impossibility to stop him. Occasionally, while driving along the public road, he enters this voluntary trance and delivers a sermon, or if he happens, inside a church he is liable to fall asleep and begins a sermon himself, in which case the preacher in the pulpit desists. Major Perry is certainly a psychological marvel and as such should be studied by science.
From “The Anderson Intelligencer”, Anderson, South Carolina, USA
No 40, March 26, 1902, pg. 3
Edited by Elof Granholm April 9, 2014
Article on sleeping parson Perry
Article on sleeping preacher Perry