The Mediumship of the Eddy Broters
facts, no matter what array of “exposers” might blow their tin horns and penny trumpets, that Jericho would stand. Then I said to myself that if William Eddy were caught fifty times playing at materialisation, with “cork soles,” “ragged blankets,” and up-standing hair, the genuine phenomena of this one seance could not be obliterated from my memory. In his dark hole of a cabinet there was not a bit of woolen, silk, or cotton rag the size of a finger-stall, nor a moccasin or string of beads; not a wig, nor even a stick of black pomade, much less a wash-bowl, water, or towels; and about his person, as I had discovered by my innocent ruse, there were none of these things; and yet there had appeared – but the story is already told, and I need not repeat.
Two features of this occasion will arrest the attention of scientific minds, viz., the appearance and disappearance of the baby, and the instantaneous formation of Honto and shawl. There could be no mistake about the child – no question of rag-wrapped legs or fondled pillows. The figure stood too near me, and in too good a light, to admit of such deceptions being practised. It was a living, moving child, which, with its right thumb in its mouth, nestled its little head in the neck of its bearer, and passed its chubby left arm about her neck. For the instant it was as palpable and, no doubt, as material a being as any baby now lying in its mother’s arms. Made from the imponderable atoms floating in the foul air of that chamber, it was resolved into nothing in an instant of time, leaving no trace of its evanescent existence behind. And the shawl! In what spirit home, by what hearth, or under what vine-trellised porch (for Mayflower’s rhymes teem with allusions to her house and garden, her pets and domestic companions) was its yarn spun, its knots tied, and its strands tinted? Whose busy fingers plied the needles, or whose hand guided the ghostly loom by which its meshes were formed? Mystery of mysteries! What Oedipus can solve the riddle? And how long must we wait for an answer?
A correspondent signing himself “P.W.E.,” who has visited the Eddys at Chittenden, Vt., writes as follows to the Hartford Times:
In the closet was a pair of mocassins presented by some visitor to Honto. These seem never to have been worn, as they were perfectly new inside and out, while Honto danced enough one night to have made a very sensible impression on them if worn. She comes in her own toggery, which by dim light looks very pretty, and as if it might be beautiful if light enough were let on. Sometimes, however, she wears a jaunty smoking-cap. “Brown,” the controlling “spirit” so-called, is evidently very tall, being higher than the top of the door, and stoops to look out; if this is Eddy himself he must be standing in the rocking chair; but as William comes out in his common dress immediately after Brown ceases, it would hardly appear time was given to effect any change of raiment. If there is any such it must be before Brown’s speech, with which the sittings generally close. It is to be remarked, Brown himself never comes on the stage, but is concealed behind the curtain, and only shows his head. It certainly must be six feet high from the floor. Another point in favour of the Eddys is this, Honto was lithe as a whip and nimble as a deer, darting back and forth with agility and grace. She also appeared to me considerably more narrow of shoulder than William. The arms were small, and very considerably unlike what we might expect in Mr. Eddy. Again, there was a great variety in dress; for instance, one large Indian figure followed another at intervals of five to ten minutes, dissimilarly dressed; these were followed by Honto in another entirely different garb, and she was succeeded by six others, male and female, with black, white and grey clothes, of different cut and fashion. The faces were sometimes apparently black, and sometimes a faint white. The question presents itself, where were these garments obtained? Wigs, beards, soles, bracelets, etc.? I did not look into the cabinet (which was open) before the sitting, and it has been suggested they might have been put there after supper and before the seance. As the door was open I can hardly think this true. But admitting they had been thus placed, I entered the cabinet a few moments after Eddy left it, clothed as he entered and as he had been all day. There remained absolutely nothing there except the few articles mentioned as being there all day, and none of which had been used, except, possibly, the cap of Honto. It is, moreover, singular that Eddy should select as a chief performer a female character as dissimilar as possible to himself, and for which his size, rigidity, voice, and shape rendered him peculiarly unfit. During these seances five or six very different suits of garments were worn each evening, and on every evening different characters in part were introduced. Some of these garments were long, flowing to the feet, others scant, and of various colours, from white to black. Now all these garments, even if of gossamer (and Honto spun out at least forty yards of cloth by measurement, and of different colours, in one evening), would make a very considerable pile, even if they could be used on different characters. Besides, there must have been masks or paint for the face; if the former, what had become of them? if the latter, where was the water to come from to wash it off. Eddy comes out with a clean face. The suggestion of a false floor or entrance into the chimney projection may be at once dismissed as simply impossible. In the dark circle the music upon some of the instruments was very excellent; that upon what I took to be an accordion was charming. These, as well as ventriloquism, would require in the performers a great, varied, artistic skill, and accomplishments which would surely reflect themselves in their manners and features.
Travelling in the Spirit
In the string of curious experiences selected from the correspondence on Levitation, published in the Daily News, of the 20th January last, the following is noteworthy: –
“Airwalker” relates the following: – I dreamed I was in Venice; it was a fine moonlight night, but too warm to sleep. I opened my window and left it, floating away through the air, hovering lesurely and with the utmost ease from roof to roof, and from terrace to terrace, over streets and canals, and witnessing many curious sights in passing before open lighted windows. Next morning, finding myself in extra good humour, and excellent health, I remembered my interesting nightly tour, but I never was in and knew I had never seen Venice but on paper, and there certainly not the roofs and higher terraces. I had quite forgotten this amusing nightly promenade, when, two years later, I, for the first time, saw Venice. I ascended the clock tower, and as soon as I emerged from the narrow trap to the platform of the two gigantic bronze figures, I gave one sweeping look round and knew at once I had seen these very roofs before, and soon I remembered when and how. My guide seeing me shaking, holding on the railing, and staring at the uninteresting roofs, asked whether I was giddy, and called my attention to the adjoining wonders of St. Mark’s Cathedral, etc. I assured him I was so far from being giddy that I only wished for a pair of wings to leave him and the platform for a reconnoitering promenade through the air.
Compare this with the experience recorded by Shelley in his fragmentary Speculations on Metaphysics in his Essays and Letters from Abroad, etc., vol. 1, 250.
“I was walking with a friend in the neighbourhood of Oxford, engaged in earnest and interesting conversation. We suddenly turned the corner of a lane, and the view, which its high banks and hedges had concealed, suddenly presented itself. The view consisted of a windmill standing in one among many plashy meadows, enclosed with stone walls, the irregular and broken ground between the wall and the road on which we stood, a long low hill behind the windmill, and a grey covering of uniform cloud spread over the evening sky. The scene surely was a common scene, and the hour little calculated to kindle lawless thought; it was a tame uninteresting assemblage of objects. The effect which it produced on me was not such as could have been expected. I suddenly remembered to have seen that exact scene in some dream of long–
“Here I was obliged to leave off, overcome by thrilling horror.”
This remark closes the fragment, which was written in 1815.
The present writer may add that he has twice in dreams been in fields, both times the same, evidently English, but as ordinary and uninteresting as those described by Shelley. All their features are perfectly visible to his mind’s eye, and he has a secret intimate certainty that they exist, and that some day he will behold them palpably.