MARVELLOUS SPIRIT MANIFESTATIONS
A SECOND IDA PFEIFFER WITH THE EDDYS — APPARITIONS OF GEORGIANS, PERSIANS, KURDS, CIRCASSIANS, AFRICANS, AND RUSSIANS — WHAT A RUSSIAN LADY THINKS OF DR. BEARD.
[The Daily Graphic, New York, Vol. V, October 30, 1874, p. 873]
The following letter was addressed to a contemporary journal by Mme. Blavatsky, and was handed to us for publication in The Daily Graphic, as we have been taking the lead in the discussion of the curious subject of Spiritualism.
EDITOR, The Daily Graphic.
Aware in the past of your love of justice and fair play, I most earnestly solicit the use of your columns to reply to an article of Dr. G. M. Beard in relation to the Eddy family in Vermont. He, in denouncing them and their spiritual manifestations in a most sweeping declaration, would aim a blow at the entire spiritual world of today. His letter appeared this morning (October 27th). Dr. George M. Beard has for the last few weeks assumed the part of the “roaring lion” seeking for a medium “to devour.” It appears that today the learned gentleman is more hungry than ever. No wonder, after the failure he has experienced with Mr. Brown, the “mind-reader,” at New Haven.
I do not know Dr. Beard personally, nor do I care to know how far he is entitled to wear the laurels of his profession as an M.D.; but what I do know is that he may never hope to equal, much less to surpass, such men and savants as Crookes, Wallace, or even Flammarion, the French astronomer, all of whom have devoted years to the investigation of Spiritualism. All of them came to the conclusion that, supposing even the well-known phenomenon of materialization of spirits did not prove the identity of the persons whom they purported to represent, it was not, at all events, the work of mortal hands; still less was it a fraud.
Now to the Eddys. Dozens of visitors have remained there for weeks and even for months; not a single séance has taken place but some of them realized the personal presence of a
friend, a relative, a mother, father, or dear departed child. But lo! here comes Dr. Beard, stops less than two days, applies his powerful electrical battery, under which the spirit does not even wink or flinch, closely examines the cabinet (in which he finds nothing), and then turns his back and declares most emphatically “that he wishes it to be perfectly understood that if his scientific name ever appears in connection with the Eddy family, it must be only to expose them as the greatest frauds who cannot do even good trickery.” Consummatum est! Spiritualism is defunct. Requiescat in pace! Dr. Beard has killed it with one word. Scatter ashes over your venerable but silly heads, oh Crookes, Wallace and Varley! Henceforth you must be considered as demented, psychologized, and lunatics, and so must it be with the many thousands of Spiritualists who have seen and talked with their friends and relatives departed, recognizing them at Moravia, at the Eddys’, and elsewhere throughout the length and breadth of this continent. But is there no escape from the horns of this dilemma? Yea, verily, Dr. Beard writes thus: “When your correspondent returns to New York I will teach him on any convenient evening to do all that the Eddys do.” Pray why should a Daily Graphic reporter be the only one selected by G. M. Beard, M.D., for initiation into the knowledge of so clever a “trick”? In such a case why not publicly denounce this universal trickery, and so benefit the whole world? But Dr. Beard seems to be as partial in his selections as he is clever in detecting said tricks. Didn’t the learned doctor say to Colonel Olcott while at the Eddys’ that three dollars’ worth of second-hand drapery would be enough for him to show how to materialize all the spirits that visit the Eddy homestead?
To this I reply, backed as I am by the testimony of hundreds of reliable witnesses that all the wardrobe of Niblo’s Theatre would not suffice to attire the number of spirits that emerge night after night from an empty little closet.
Let Dr. Beard rise and explain the following fact if he can: I remained fourteen days at the Eddys’. In that short period of time I saw and recognized fully out of 119 apparitions seven spirits. I admit that I was the only one to
recognize them, the rest of the audience not having been with me in my numerous travels throughout the East, but their various dresses and costumes were plainly seen and closely examined by all.
The first was a Georgian boy, dressed in the historical Caucasian attire, the picture of whom will shortly appear in The Daily Graphic.* I recognized and questioned him in Georgian upon circumstances known only to myself. I was understood and answered. Requested by me in his mother tongue (upon the whispered suggestion of Colonel Olcott) to play the “Lezguinka,” a Circassian dance, he did so immediately upon the guitar.
Second. A little old man appears. He is dressed as Persian merchants generally are. His dress is perfect as a national costume. Everything is in its right place, down to the “babouches” that are off his feet, he stepping out in his stockings. He speaks his name in a loud whisper. It is “Hassan Aga,” an old man whom I and my family have known for twenty years at Tiflis. He says, half in Georgian and half in Persian, that he has got a “big secret to tell me,” and comes at three different times, vainly seeking to finish his sentence.
Third. A man of gigantic stature emerges forth, dressed in the picturesque attire of the warriors of Kurdistan. He does not speak, but bows in the Oriental fashion, and lifts up his spear ornamented with bright-coloured feathers, shaking it in token of welcome. I recognize him immediately as Saffar Ali Bek, a young chief of a tribe of Kurds, who used to accompany me in my trips around Ararat in Armenia on horseback, and who on one occasion saved my life.† More, he bends to the ground as though picking up a handful of
* [This boy was Michalko Guegidze, of Kutais, Georgia, who was a servant in the household of Katherine de Witte. See in connection with this subject Col. H. S. Olcott’s work, People from the Other World, Hartford, Conn., 1875, pp. 298 et seq.—Compiler.]
† [Safar Ali Bek Ibrahim Bek Ogli, mentioned by Col. Olcott in his People from the Other World, p. 320.—Compiler.]
PORTION OF A PAGE OF H.P.B.’S SCRAPBOOK I
(See page 34 of the present volume for transcription of her pen-and-ink remarks.)
ALEXANDER NIKOLAYEVICH AKSAKOV
(Consult the Bio-Bibliographical Index for biographical sketch.)
mould and scattering it around, presses his hand to his bosom—a gesture familiar only to the tribes of the Kurdistan.
Fourth. A Circassian comes out. I can imagine myself at Tiflis, so perfect is his costume of “nouker” (a man who either runs before or behind one on horseback). This one speaks. More, he corrects his name, which I pronounced wrongly on recognizing him, and when I repeat it he bows, smiling, and says in the purest guttural Tartar, which sounds so familiar to my ear, “Tchoch yachtchi” (all right), and goes away.
Fifth. An old woman appears with a Russian headgear. She comes out and addresses me in Russian, calling me by an endearing term that she used in my childhood. I recognize an old servant of my family, a nurse of my sister.
Sixth. A large powerful negro next appears on the platform. His head is ornamented with a wonderful coiffure, something like horns wound about with white and gold. His looks are familiar to me, but I do not at first recollect where I have seen him. Very soon he begins to make some vivacious gestures, and his mimicry helps me to recognize him at a glance. It is a conjurer from Central Africa. He grins and disappears.
Seventh and last. A large grey-haired gentleman comes out attired in the conventional suit of black. The Russian decoration of Saint Ann hangs suspended by a large red moiré ribbon with two black stripes—a ribbon, as every Russian will know, belonging to said decoration. This ribbon is worn around his neck. I feel faint, for I think of recognizing my father. But the latter was a great deal taller. In my excitement I address him in English, and ask him: “Are you my father?” He shakes his head in the negative, and answers as plainly as any mortal man can speak, and in Russian, “No; I am your uncle.” The word “diadia” has been heard and remembered by all the audience. It means “uncle.”
But what of that? Dr. Beard knows it to be but a pitiful
trick, and we must submit in silence. People that know me know that I am far from being credulous. Though a Spiritualist of many years’ standing,* I am more sceptical in receiving evidence from paid mediums than many unbelievers. But when I receive such evidence as I received at the Eddys’, I feel bound on my honour, and under the penalty of confessing myself a moral coward, to defend the mediums as well as the thousands of my brother and sister Spiritualists, against the conceit and slander of one man who has nothing and no one to back him in his assertions. I now hereby finally and publicly challenge Dr. Beard to the amount of $500 to produce before a public audience and under the same conditions the manifestations herein attested, or, failing this, to bear the ignominious consequences of his proposed exposé.
—H. P. BLAVATSKY.
124 East Sixteenth Street, October 27.
[In H.P.B.’s Scrapbook, Vol. I, the above article is pasted on page 5, in three separate columns, together with the Press Cutting mentioning her arrival at the Eddy Homestead on Oct. 14, 1874, as may be seen on the accompanying illustration. H.P.B.’s comment at the top of the page reads:]
The curtain is raised. — H.S.O.’s acquaintance on October 14, 1874, with H.P.B. at Chittenden. H. S. Olcott is a — Rabid Spiritualist, and H. P. Blavatsky is an occultist — one who laughs at the supposed agency of Spirits! (but all the same pretends to be one herself).
[To the date of the article H.P.B. added in pen and ink: 1874; and she also wrote the following footnote under column 3:]
#They may be the portraits of the dead people then repro . . . . . (they certainly are not Spirits or Souls) yet a real . . . . . nomenon produced by the Elementaries. H.P.B.
* [When H.P.B. pasted the cutting of this article in her Scrapbook. Vol. I, p. 5, she rubbed out the words “a Spiritualist,” substituted for them the words “an Occultist,” and underlined in blue the entire sentence.—Compiler.]
[The sign introducing the footnote is missing in the actual article; there are, however, blue underlinings and quotation marks in connection with the word “spirits,” in the 4th and 5th paragraphs of the text, made by H.P.B., and to which her footnote may refer.]
[In A. P. Sinnett’s well-known work, Incidents in the Life of H. P. Blavatsky (New York: J. W. Bouton, 1886), pp. 131-33, there occurs a rather important statement, as well as a direct quote of H.P.B.’s own words, bearing upon the séances at the Eddy Brothers. Mr. Sinnett says that H.P.B.
“. . . . has tried with the most famous mediums to evoke and communicate with those dearest to her, and whose loss she had deplored, but could never succeed. ‘Communications and messages’ she certainly did receive, and got their signatures, and on two occasions their materialized forms, but the communications were couched in a vague and gushing language quite unlike the style she knew so well. Their signatures, as she has ascertained, were obtained from her own brain; and on no occasion, when the presence of a relation was announced and the form described by the medium, who was ignorant of the fact that Mme. Blavatsky could see as well as any of them, has she recognized the ‘spirit’ of the alleged relative in the host of spooks and elementaries that surrounded them (when the medium was a genuine one of course). Quite the reverse. For she often saw, to her disgust, how her own recollections and brain-images were drawn from her memory and disfigured in the confused amalgamation that took place between their reflection in the medium’s brain which instantly sent them out, and the shells which sucked them in like a sponge and objectivized them—‘a hideous shape with a mask on in my sight,’ she tells us.”
H.P.B. herself goes on to say:]
Even the materialized form of my uncle at the Eddy’s was the picture; it was I who sent it out from my own mind, as I had come out to make experiments without telling it to any one. It was like an empty outer envelope of my uncle that I seemed to throw on the medium’s astral body. I saw and followed the process. I knew Will Eddy was a genuine medium, and the phenomenon as real as it could be, and, therefore, when days of trouble came for him, I defended him in the papers. In short, for all the years of experience in America I never succeeded in identifying, in one single instance, those I wanted to see.
It is only in my dreams and personal visions that I was brought in direct contact with my own blood relatives and friends, those between whom and myself there had been a strong mutual spiritual love. . . . . For certain psycho-magnetic reasons, too long to be explained here, the shells of those spirits who loved us best will not, with a very few exceptions, approach us. They have no need of it since, unless they were irretrievably wicked, they have us with them in Devachan, that state of bliss in which the monads are surrounded with all those, and that, which they have loved—objects of spiritual aspirations as well as human entities. “Shells” once separated from their higher principles have nought in common with the latter. They are not drawn to their relatives and friends, but rather to those with whom their terrestrial, sensuous affinities are the strongest. Thus the shell of a drunkard will be drawn to one who is either a drunkard already or has a germ of this passion in him, in which case it will develop it by using his organs to satisfy the craving; one who died full of sexual passion for a still living partner will have its shell drawn to him or her, etc. We Theosophists, and especially occultists, must never lose sight of the profound axiom of the Esoteric Doctrine which teaches us that it is we, the living, who are drawn toward the spirits—but that the latter can never, even though they would, descend to us, or rather into our sphere.