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vation to his disadvantage. I would have fair and full investigation, and am more than willing to give a hearing both sides of any open question; but to present to the readers of the Scientist a communication, evidently written with the intention of casting suspicion upon the genuineness of the phenomena, at Chittenden, without any accompanying remarks which might qualify such adverse influence, seems to me worse than a waste of valuable space in a paper which so heartily endorses Col. Olcott’s book. This book depends almost wholly for its interest upon the thoroughness and reliability of the author’s investigation of the mediumship the Eddys, while if those manifestations at Spirit Vale be fairly represented by the correspondent of the Boston Herald, they certainly could not have forced upon a disinterested, patient, and determined investigator a conviction of their genuineness.
If there were any evidence offered in the quoted letter which could be regarded as in any way conclusive against the genuineness of the manifestations referred to, or which had any value whatever as throwing light upon the subject, it might be a matter of conscience to set such testimony before your readers; but absolutely nothing is proven by the statements made except that the writer was dissatisfied with what he saw and heard;—for instance, with such facts as these, viz, that Honto did not fly over the heads of the circle as well as over the railing—that the materialized shawls seemed “not unlike mosquito netting” and were declared by certain “carping individuals,” who did not examine them, to be nothing else— and worst of all, that the spirits of those who did not enjoy the advantages of culture while on earth, failed, when returning in form, to speak with that grammatical accuracy which is considered by the writer so essential to the utterance any truths worthy to be taught by spirits, listened to by mortals.
It is highly probable that the fishermen of Galilee, sometimes clothed the truths they taught in “language deficient of the common rules of syntax,” and yet many believe that a “superhuman wisdom” inspired the thoughts so humbly clad. It my be that a study of English grammar is not considered so essential on the other side, as to induce those who go over ignorant of its requirements to give to it their first and undivided attention, even although in returning, they should perchance shock the ears and the taste of their critical hearers.
In reading the last number of the Scientist, my attention was also drawn to the remarks upon the “Message Department” of the Banner of Light. I felt sorry that anything should be said just now, when the hearts of loving friends are still sore from their recent loss, calculated to wound those who identify Mrs. Conant with her mediumship. Still, since the subject has been broached, it seems to me right to say that I, in common with many readers of the Banner, have always regretted to see in it communications, claiming to be from spirits, which could not but be utterly worthless to those who demand some evidence of genuineness, in any and ever form of manifestation, before attaching to it any value whatever.
Most of the messages and letters were in no way authenticated, and the answers to questions upon scientific subjects, were often so evidently the utterances of ignorance—ignorance even of the commonest and most indisputable facts in natural science—that it was impossible for any person of average intelligence and education to accept them as the teachings of advanced spirits. That Mrs. Conant was sincere, I think few will question; even those who are not Spiritualists speak of her with respect an earnest-minded and woman.
I know it has long been a subject of real regret with many interested in the advance of Spiritualism and the success of the Banner, that space should be given in it to matter which not only carried no weight, but actually did much harm in giving the impression that believers in Spiritualism were ready to accept any and everything offered to them as spiritual communications, with a faith as blind as to hinder all discrimination between proven facts and unfounded assertions, or between true wisdom and words utterly destitute of any worth, and often betraying the grossest ignorance on the part of the speaker or the inspirer.
As an earnest Spiritualist, and one long interested in the Banner, I hope that in the future none but well authenticated messages will be given. Until spirits come who can teach us something, at least as valuable as can be learned from the most elementary work on chemistry or physics, instead of stating as facts what can by no possibility be received as such, by any one who has any knowledge of the simplest and most indisputable scientific truths, I think their replies to anxious inquirers had better omitted.
It may be that the personal communications published in the message department, sometimes, perhaps not unfrequently, carried with them intrinsic evidence of their genuineness to those most interested, but to the general reader, they had certainly nothing to recommend them, and were, therefore, out of place. In cases where the genuineness of communications can only be proven to the individual addressed, they had best be confined to the circle room.
In common, therefore, with many true Spiritualists, and good friends to the Banner, I hope that the space hitherto given these very questionable communications, may hereafter be devoted to something more worthy of general attention, and better calculated to inspire respect in the minds of sensible people.
The Frauds of Scientists
There is an irrepressible conflict between honesty and knavery—between the opponents and the friends of free, honest, fearless investigation. Whenever a great truth comes to the front, the battle begins between those who are determined to give it fair play and a faithful hearing, and those who are determined to stifle investigation.
It is not the Catholic hierarchy alone who fight for ignorance. Protestantism has its full share of the bigotry which wars against the advance of sciences, and science itself has scarcely vindicated its own rights against the Inquisition, and the power of social persecution, before it too becomes the persecutor and enemy of philosophy.
The angry scorn of the Catholic church against Copernican astronomy, and the noisy hostility of Protestantism against the discoverers of geology, are rivalled by the contemptuous hostility of the majority of the cultivators of physical science, against the wonderful developments which have lifted science into the sphere of philosophy.
Every scientific convention or association, every meeting of doctors, biologists or naturalists, locks its doors against the admission of the best attested spiritual facts, wields its power of professional ostracism against all who display common honesty and mental freedom, in speaking of the facts which are now not only well proven, but familiar and famous.
The warfare of the Harvard professors against facts, their persecution of Dr. Willis, and especially the intemperate and discourteous hostility of Prof. Agassiz, are facts which we do not propose to overlook or forget. That warfare was a chronic fraud upon the credulous public—a continual repetition of brazen falsehoods and slanders, and the time is coming when such offences will be met, not only with public reprobation, but with legal penalties.
The recollection of this discreditable history has just been revived in our minds by the paper of Emile Blanchard in the Revue des Deux Mondes upon the European career of Prof. Agassiz. The conventional life of Agassiz was a scientific fraud. We do not find in any life written by his scientific friends, any recognition of the fact that Agassiz was a capital Mesmeric subject, and was thoroughly Mesmerized and controlled by the Rev. Chauncy Hare Townshend. This was a part of his European career upon which the Revue des Deux Mondes is silent; nor would any of his New England admirers have been aware of the fact, but for the industry of Allen Putnam in reviving its memory, and publishing the graphic account the affair, written by Agassiz himself to Mr. Townshend.
Such a fact as a contribution to science, was worth more than Agassiz’s dissection of fishes, and study of glaciers; but it was carefully and dishonestly suppressed. An attempt to introduce Mesmeric facts into the ring of professors, would have been as zealously resisted by Agassiz, as the parallel facts of spiritual science against which he exhibited such intemperate fierceness.
The truth is, Agassiz was himself a subject of the spiritual phenomena, if he would have submitted, for no one was ever so thoroughly mesmerized as Agassiz, unless he had a capacity for spiritual mediumship. Had he possessed a respectable amount of scientific honesty and moral courage, the facts of both Mesmerism and Spiritualism would been introduced the heart <... continues on page 1-51 >
- The Frauds of Scientists by Olcott, H. S., Spiritual Scientist, p. 306