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vol. 1, p. 8
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 1 (1874-1876)


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< Some Interesting Passages About The Reigning Sensation–The Eddys and Brown (continued from unknown page) >

Graphic correspondent, who has been here five weeks, and who has weighed the incarnated spirits on Fairbanks’ scales. In order to make sure I placed pins in the cracks of the sash at regular intervals, pushing them in so far that they could not be easily discovered. I left the window, feeling sure that no one could pass through that window without disturbing something. I afterwards learned that the brothers are perfectly willing that persons should watch this window from outside during the manifestations, and that many have done so without result. Going inside I entered the closet and thoroughly inspected it, finding it a very simple structure of frame, lath, and plaster; with no loop holes, secret passages, or trap-doors. To be sure, I put pins in all the floor cracks, covering them with dust so that the boards could not be moved without disturbing them. I then went to Eddy and easily obtained permission to enter the closet that evening just before he did. Then I waited. At half past seven the seance was announced, and we all went up. After all were seated I went into the closet and found all my pins just where bad put them. I hammered the sides thoroughly, but discovered nothing like fraud. I then slowly backed out of the door to my seat, keeping the door constantly before my eyes. Now, said I, the battle must be at the door if anywhere. Very soon William Eddy entered the closet, and in five minutes the blanket was lifted and a face peered out. Immediately after the blanket was again lifted and another face looked out, and this action was closely followed by the appearance upon the platform of an old gentleman, dressed in old style, who soon returned. A voice from within said, “Will Mr. Pritchard and Mrs. Packard take seats upon the platform.” These persons, guests like myself, took their places upon the platform. Soon the blanket was lifted and a little old woman with very white hands and a long white gown came out. She was at once recognized by Mrs. Packard, who said, “Mother, how do you do this evening?” In answer the little woman whispered so that all could hear, “I am very happy.” She then took her daughter by the hand and kissed her. Mr. Pritchard stepped up to the other side of her and the three talked together for several minutes, when the old lady desired to be introduced to the guests. Her daughter presented her as “my dear mother, come back to earth.” The old lady disappeared behind the blanket and at once there appeared a stalwart, fine-looking young man, with a heavy moustache. Said Mrs. Packard, “William, my son, how lovely you are looking,” and then took hold of him and kissed him. He then went back, and in two minutes there appeared a tall old gentleman, who was at once recognized by one of the guests as his father. Said the son: “Good evening, father,” and the old gentleman answered “Good evening.” Several other persons appeared before the end of the seance, which was closed with the appearance from the door of Mrs. Eddy, the deceased mother of the Eddy brothers, who spoke at some length, saying that she was sorry that her sons were unable to convince people of their honesty, and that she hoped all would see and understand the great truth. Веfore she came out many had appeared in quick succession who bad been recognized as fathers, mothers, brothers, or some near deceased relative by many in the audience, who came to the house as I came, and some of whom have gone away to their homes. * * * Something claiming to be George Dix, a pirate, held up its hand, saying, “This is my hand.” It had but three fingers. Horatio Eddy has lost no finger. Next a lady’s slim white hand was thrust over the cloth and pattered the assisting guest on the forehead. He said: “This is my daughter’s hand. I should know it anywhere. This is worth thousands of dollars to me.” * * * The Eddy brothers say that the great spirit, the Witch of the Mountain, will be here in November, and that she will be powerful enough to materialize fish out of the of water, and do many other wonderful things which can be closely inspected. It is said that she found Horatio trying to build a fire the other day, and set the damp wood blasting by throwing a dipper full of water upon it. But this I did not see. The guests also tell me of seances held Honto’s cave, a spot under an overhanging rock in a neighboring gorge. Here the Eddys have smoothed an earthern platform, upon which Indian forms appear from behind a horse blanket as at the house, while at the same time the top of the rock and neighboring localities swarm with Indian figures. I wish to say that I am unable to express any opinion concerning the real meaning of these manifestations. I certainly did all could to expose trickery, and very intelligent men like Colonel Olcott have been for weeks trying to unravel the mystery, but are now as far from it as ever. I have told you what I saw and what others with me saw, and I can add that all who saw were convinced that they saw was no hallucination. Some, of course, who are Spiritualists believe that the appearances were materializations of the dead. To many others the whole is a deep mystery, inexplicable as yet. Of the latter I am one.

George Ralph, a prominent citizen of Utica, visited the same place, and of what he saw he writes as follows to a friend in that city:

We arrived at the Eddy brothers’ [homestead] between two and three in afternoon of the 20th. I was requested by the spirits to sit upon the platform with Mr. Pritchard, of Albany. I did so. When Honto came out and a presented her the moccasins; she put them on her feet, and, putting her hands on the railing, sprang over on to the main floor, then faced about, sprang over back again, the height four feet five and a half inches. She then caught hold of my band, pulled me on the floor to dance, which was something I had never done before, You may, therefore, imagine I cut a fine figure. She then got Mrs. Cleveland and Mr. Hunt and we all danced together; Mr. Smith, of Windfield, played the violin. Honto them materialized shawls (blanksoms she calls them), too long to straighten across the hall, and so wide they could not be held high enough to clear the floor. She threw them into the cabinet in each case. She drew two of them from my shoulders and Mr. Pritchard’s [mother], who sat beside me on the platform. Mr. Pritchard's mother came out and embraced him, shook hands with me, and talked with us for some time. My daughter Lydia came next, took hold of me, and I took her by the hand, with my other arm around her. She said, “Oh, my dear father, I am so glad to meet you!” She put her face close to mine and kissed me. My feelings are better imagined than described. Several spirits came out and spoke. Mrs. Eddy again thanked me for the kindness I had shown her dear children. She would and did kneel at my feet, in gratitude and thankfulness. The spirits did, indeed, show us more than we had ever seen before, as they had promised. Horatio Eddy held a dark circle. Mayflower and George Dix performed as of old. All were well pleased. Wednesday evening Mme. Blavasky[1] (a Prussian[2] lady) by subscription raised means to hire an organ and went to Rutland for it; so we had some of the finest music and singing I ever heard through the great musical medium, Jesse B. H. Shepard. I sat again on the end the platform with Mr. Pritchard. My uncle came, took me by the hand, called me by name. I recognized his voice, although I had not seen him since the spring of 1826. He seemed much pleased to see me. Mr. Smith’s grandfather came and spoke in a feeble voice. Mrs. Ehle’s grandmother appeared ; she passed away on Friday, the 16th of October. She spoke but little. Lord Byron appeared to Mr. Shepard, in fulfillment of a pledge ; he is writing something through Mr. Shepard—literary composition. Several other spirits came. Honto was first as usual, and danced and materialized shawls. After this circle Mr. Shepard was influenced by a Prussian, sang and played on the organ most beautifully. The music was operatic. A duet he sang in a male and female voice. The spirits had perfect control of him. The accompaniments were artistic in the highest degree. Horatio held a light circle, when the usual manifestations occurred. After this, for Horatio’s benefit, Mr. Shepard gave another circle ; be sang under the influence of an Egyptian of the time of Pharaoh. This was good music, partly minor; then the control was Prussian for singing, and the spirit Donizetta played the instrument. This manifestation was most astonishing and miraculous. Thursday evening, Mrs. Packard and five others came from Albany. The evening was not remarkable for anything unusual. Mrs. Ehle’s grandmother came out very strong, and plain to be seen. No circle by Horatio this evening; he was sick. Friday night was the night for the Indians, Oswegatchie came to Mrs. Ehle. Three foreigners came to Mme. Blavasky; one an African, one a Caucasian, but no relations. The African had a peculiar head-dress—two horns extending straight up on the top of the head, and some white material, very strange. Mr. Smith’s grandfather came out, but did not speak. Saturday evening this circle was a grand success. The principle events were these: Mme. Blavasky’s uncle, Gustave, and her sister-in-law’s servant came. Mrs. Eddy came out and talked to the party who were to leave next day. Colonel Olcott and his artist, two from Philadelphia, and Mme. Blavasky were to leave. In Horatio’s dark circle George Dix said, “Mme. Blavasky, I bring you the badge of honor that your father wore in 1828, in his campaign against the Turks. It was buried with him in his grave, July 1873, and was brought here by your uncle to-night.” So it was. It was the cross of the Order of St. Ann. Madame was overwhelmed* with gratitude. Mr. Olcott received a present from George Dix of a fine gem, nicely polished, containing what seemed a picture of a lady in its centre, being valuable.

* Overwhelmed – be switched!.. not my father’s pet, if you please. H. P. Blavatsky is never “overwhelmed”.

Unpractical Spirits

Bravo! Irvin Francis Fern—a great Occultist. He is right but we have to defend phenomena & prove it too before we teach them philosophy.

I have been very much interested in the reports of the searches at Chittenden, Vt., from the pen of your correspondent, Colonel Olcott. There appears to be only one thing needful to bring Spiritualism into general favor, and that is its utility—question apparently avoided by its advocates. I cannot see that it has been of any practical value to mankind, as its manifestations hitherto appear to have been confined to tying knots, ringing bells, throwing musical instruments around, dancing, crying, singing, playing the barber, rapping on tables and walls, and such other pranks, as useless to others as undignified in the spirits themselves. When they condescend to converso, their language is anything but what one would expect from beings who have seen what for us lies hidden in the lap of time, who have passed the bourne and returned. For instance, what can more shock our ideas of the eternal fitness of things than the language of the disembodied barber, who recently practised his art, to the detriment of one side of Horatio liddy's whiskers—“Now I’ve get you just where I wanted you, and I’ll put a mark on you.” One would think it was a Bowery rough in the flesh, instead of a spirit that had visited the shores of the great unknown. Spirits can materialize themselves, as witness the barber. They can bear envy, hatred, and malice: witness the same mischievous being. What dreadful forebodings hereupon arise! What guarantee have we of safety for one moment against the evil-minded denizens of spirit-land? Just think! Supposing all the spirits of murderers, incendiaries, thieves, and villains of every description from the foundation of the world to date should materialize themselves and make a raid upon their brethren in the flesh, what would become of us?

Let the spirits stop their tomfoolery and Bowery slang and teach us something that will be of practical utility. Let them tell us of the life after death, and settle the great questions that separate the religions of the day. Let them restore the lost arts, reveal the origin of races. Let them even set the Shakespearian controversy at rest or discover the Darwinian link. Let them materialize sufficient clothing to supplying their poor and needy relations and they will then have some claim to our respect and gratitude; but as it is, they same to me to display very poor taste in wasting their time and ability masquerading in a badly furnished country farm-house.

I. F. F.

November 21.

A Protest from Col. Olcott

Allyn House, Hartford, Feb. 13th, 1875

To the Editor of the Banner of Light:

For the Lord’s sake, stop calling me a detective! In to-day’s Banner you say: “This gentelemann”—meaning me—“has the reputation of being one of the shrewdest detectives in the United States,” etc. Now I don’t know what reputation I may have for this sort of thing, but I do know that I am not a detective, never was, nor ever will be.

This is a blackguard epithet applied to me during the war by thieving contractors and their confederates in and out of the public service, because I aided the war and navy departments to prosecute them. I did the same professional duty for those two branches of the Government as the late James T. Brady and General “Baldy” Smith did in New Orleans; Mr. Charles A. Dana in the West; and every Judge Advocate and Inspector General everywhere. When Secretary Stanton accepted my resignation, his official order, issued by the Adjutant-General of the Army, designated me as “Colonel Henry S. Olcott, Special Counsel of the War Department;” and the orders of the Secretary of the Navy styled me “Special Commissioner of the Navy Department.”

If I am to have notoriety among the Spiritualists, as seems my destiny, I prefer at least to be recognized as a gentleman and a man of honor; neither of which are necessarily implied in the offensive title which you have bestowed upon me.

Henry S. Olcott.

A Word with Mr. Hazard

Dec. 19. 1874

To the Editor of the Banner of Light:

If I have not shown my friendliness and justice toward the medium class in what has come from my pen, and my personal intercourse with them, it will be idle to attempt to convince Mr. Hazard now. If any man in the United States would have treated the Eddy boys more kindly, impartially and justly than I under the circumstance in which I was placed at Chittenden, I would like to see him. Whatever Mr. Hazard may think (and I have great respect for that gentleman’ character), one thing is sure : I have received scores of letters from all parts of the world, expressing the satisfaction of the writers with my championship of persecuted mediums.

The paragraphs in my book, to which Mr. Hazard alludes, were not written without due consideration, but as the result of personal knowledge, united with the testimony of such men as the late Professor Mapes, the late Judge Edmonds, Mr. Owen, and others of like character and trustworthiness. If any one wishes, from a sentimental regard for a much-persecuted and abused class, to bar the telling of the truth that most mediums sometimes cheat, then let him do as he likes. For my part, I, who have studied Spiritualism for about twenty-five years, who was a member of the first Committee organized in this city to hire Dodworth Hall, a contributer to “The Spiritual Telegraph” as far back as 1852 or ’53, and a member of the famoust “Amherst Circle,” in which Finney was developed—I, who apparently have some right to speak to the question before the house, say that the time has come when the public have the right to know how to discriminate between the tricks and genuine phenomena of mediums. I am satisfied that in many cases elementary spirits (who are utterly devoid of conscience, and full of malice toward us, compel the mediums to cheat, and even, failing this, assume the shape of doppelgangers, to confuse and disturb the circle of investigators. I am satisfied, also, that the proverb, “Answer a fool according to his folly,” is a fixed rule among the communicating intelligences, and that the cunning deceit and duplicity in the inquirer’s heart is reflected sharply and faithfully in the replies he gets.

We are babies as to our knowledge of the laws of spirit-intercourse. We can neither (without the absolute enforcement of test conditions) know when the medium is cheating us with false faces, staffed hands ... these respects the most obscure Arab Sheikh and tattered Hindoo Brahmin are our superiors, and until we acquire this alphabet of mystical science, I shall let stand as written the paragraph which offends Mr. Hazard; I am an ingrained, uncompromising skeptic as to the honesty of every medium, until his trustworthiness is proven. That done, nobody will more boldly defend him (even against himself) than.

Yours truly,

Henry S. Olcott.

Editor's notes

  1. So in text, here and so on. Should be: Blavatsky.
  2. So in text. Should be: Russian.
  3. Unpractical Spirits by Fern, Irvin Francis, Daily Graphic, The, (?)
  4. A Protest from Col. Olcott by Olcott, H. S., Banner of Light, The
  5. A Word with Mr. Hazard by Olcott, H. S., Banner of Light, The