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vol. 1, p. 39
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 1 (1874-1876)


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July 15 1875

4 Editorials by H. S. Olcott for the Spi l Scientist

Mr. Owen's Insanite

In the secular press would imitate our fairness, by printing what we say about Spiritualistic matters, instead of falsifying our words, we would hold them in more respect than we do. We ask those who are with the Philadelphia fiasco to read the article which we copy from the Tribune, on page 221, and say if anymore malignant tissue of falsehoods ever disgraced an American newspaper. Scarcely one fact is truthfully stated. Mr. Owen’s alienation began before he went to see the Holmeses, as his present calamity distinctly proves bogus expose by the suborned agents of the Young Men’s Christian Association, did not upset his reason, but, on the contrary, he seemed unconscious of its even affecting his standing us an investigator ; he did not weep when he found he had been duped, as he supposed, by three knaves, if Doctor Child is meant by this editor as the third person in the trinity of swindlers, for he stayed in his house and implicity believed in his long after the fiasco ; and he repudiated the idea that his belief in immortality was pinned on the skirt of “Katie King” or any one spirit. The truth is(if, indeed, this whole story is not a base lie) that Mr.Owen’s mind was long ailing, and that the final catas-trophe was due to the gradual decay of his mental and physical powers, in consequence of his advanced age. However he may be regarded as a competent and trust-worthy investigator during recent years, he leaves behind him a reputation for integrity, high mindedness and scholarship which may well be pointed at as a model for American journalists to imitate.


Mutterings of a Storm

Several months ago, it was prophesied that American Spiritualism was approaching one of those crises, which, in public affairs equally, as in the physical body of man, indicate the final struggle upon which depends a favorable or unfavorable issue to the morbid condition. The person to whom this warning was given, was told that the future of the Cause, in this country, depended upon the fidelity, unity and courage of a chosen few. Exposures of cheating mediums, the defection and treachery of trusted leaders, changes in the forms of mediumship, a revulsion of popular feeling culminating in what was termed “n hurricane of opposition,” were all fore-shadowed. At that time, the prediction seemed unwarranted ; everything was quiet, proselytes were being reported every day, the secular press showed a general leaning towards our Cause, and for the first time since the Hydesville Annunciation there was a prospect of its claims being fairly discussed.

How altered the lace of things now! How one catas-trophe has trodden upon the heels of another! The Katie King fiasco; the insane card of Mr. Owen repudiating his most solemn asseverations as to his methods of investigation ; the self-exposed bogus biographies, contradictions, and bad faiths of Doctor Child ; the charges of his swindling the public, in the affair of the Eliza White,—Katie King photographs preferred against him by the Holmeses ; the circulation of false accusations of trickery against the Eddy; the reaction against Spiritualistic tendencies in the secular press, the alleged exposure of fraud in Mrs. Hardy’s seances the charges against Firman ; the affair of the English photographer, Hudson ; the iniquitous conspiracy of Buguet and the Jercks[?] against Leymarie and Firman and latest of all the baby capture.

The Jeremiahs among us are already prophesying dire disaster to the Cause. The outlook is bad to them. Shaky ones are beginning to apologize for having taken so much interest in the question of Immortality. True mediums are growing disheartened, and false ones more brazen than ever. The publishers of Spiritualistic books and newspapers seem gloomy and despondent. No one appears to know just what think, or say, or do.

Now, for our part, the situation suits us to a nicety. We welcome the for we know that it will bring convalesence and health to this sick body of Spiritualism. Our patient is gorged with sugary speeches, mediumistic effusiveness, tales of wonders teeming with credulity the offensive effluvia of cheats, tricksters, and frauds advertising as mediums, and with a fatuous literature which is calculated, (as Professor Buchanan so wisely phrases it), to cultivate a taste for superficial thought at the expense of the solid and practical. We want to see a healthy and normal condition of American Spiritualism[?] brought about, or we want to see it die away. We want to see so many exposures of cheats that no more of them will dare show their rag-babies and jute tresses, their masks or their bogus spirit arms, for fear of the penitentiary. We want to see Spiritualist newspapers, lyceums, institutes and committees doing right by the public, and joining to drive these heartless swindlers into the workhouse or into some honest calling.

We care not what others may do ; this paper will do its duty. It was established because there was a call for a journal that would dare to tell the truth ; that would not conceal it; that would serve as a standard, around which, good men might rally; that would denounce false mediums and false leaders, whenever and wherever they might be found ; that would never make patronage of its advertising department the passport to its editorial columns.

Thank Heaven, we are beginning to see the dawn breaking over these hill-tops of ignorance, fraud and prejudice that have been piling up these last twenty-seven years. Already some of the best and brightest minds among our psychologists have come to our assistance, and no paper in the world has a more talented corps of contributors. Already friends gather around us, send us money, exert themselves, without our solicitation, to get subscribers, and our young enterprise stands upon “rock bottom.” #


# The Editor and Medium Gerry Brown has thanked us for our help. Between Col. Olcott & myself, H.P.B., we have spent over a 1000 dollars given him to pay his debts & support his paper. Six months later he became our mortal enemy, because only we declared our unbelief in Spirits. Oh grateful mankind!! H.P.B.

A Rich Reward

Week after week, when the last form of our paper goes to press, and we sit down for a few minutes of rest, we cannot avoid thinking over the pros and cons veins of the problem, how it is all coming out. An editor’s life of the problem of toil and care at best. Graver responsibilities rest upon him than other men, for he is constantly shaping the opinions of his fellow men, and thus indirectly forming events, as consequences of those opinions which, may affect the welfare of generations yet unborn. But upon religious leaders devolve the greatest responsibilities of all, for the things of earth are of momentary and fleeting importance, while the things of the Lord are eternal and all-embracing.

On the other hand, since the Divine Law of Compensation runs throughout the Universe, in proportion as our responsibilities are grave, so must our reward be richer. Philosophers are never worthy of recognition, as such, unless they subordinate present advantage to future well-being. He, who, with his sword, carves grand victories out of circumstance, may win a fading laurel and a crumbling column ; but he who puts into his brother’s hand a spiritual sword, by which he may subjugate evil <... continues on page 1-40 >

Editor's notes

  1. Mr. Owen's Insanite by Olcott, H. S., Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 19, July 15, 1875, p. 222
  2. Mutterings of a Storm by Olcott, H. S., Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 19, July 15, 1875, pp. 222-3
  3. A Rich Reward by Olcott, H. S., Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 19, July 15, 1875, p. 222