CHAPTER III - PERSONAL
I take it for granted that the conductors of two of the
great New York dailies would not have successively
engaged me to investigate and describe the phenomena
at the Eddy homestead, if they had supposed me either
of unsound mind, credulous, partial, dishonest, or
incompetent; and I, therefore, beg the numerous
company of correspondents who have addressed me
upon the subject, to spare themselves the trouble, and
me the annoyance, of their letters.
"Proffered advice stinks," sayeth an old Arabian proverb
more notable for strength than refinement. I know what I am
about, and mean to tell just what I saw and how I saw it. To
the impertinent people, of many localities, whom I never laid
eyes upon, who ask of me to have secret writings read,
lucky lottery numbers disclosed, and to write theses upon
Spiritualism, to remove their skepticism, I have nothing to
say except that their letters go into the nearest grate. I
certainly do not care the value of a brass farthing what they
believe or disbelieve. If I truthfully report the facts, each has the same chance as myself to make his theory
to fit them.
Imagine an Indiana physician sending a dirty package, stitched
by a sewing machine, and coolly asking me, a perfect stranger, to
furnish him the ammunition to blow up either himself or the
Spiritualists, in the following terms, which I give verbatim :
I have read all the subtle arguments of the Spiritualistic
professors, am pretty well posted in all their talk of " conditions,"
&c., &c., but I want a real material " sign," --a test that will be
palpable and beyond dispute.
I hereby enclose to you a test that "will convince the Jews," if it
can be unraveled. Here are several envelopes, each fastened by a
different process, and all of different shape, that cannot be opened
without my knowing it. In the centre one are some words written in a
Now I would like to have this same envelope returned to me, as it
is, and with it also a description of the written words just as they are
written. This will convince me that there is an intelligence beyond
earthly intelligence in existence, and I shall find no difficulty in
ascribing this intelligence to disembodied spirits. If the kind spirit will
tell the number of envelopes and describe each, -tell from what kind
of a slip the paper was cut upon which the words are written - it would
of course make the matter more interesting.
Why do I write you ? I will tell you. You appear to be like myself,
not yet convinced, yet interested enough to take some trouble to test
the matter further.
I am now engaged upon an article on the subject of Spiritualism, in
which I shall explain - or attempt to explain - the whole matter
under three heads : First, Juglary ; second, Superstition ; and third,
I shall wait a reasonable time to bear from you before I continue
it, as a solution of this test will spoil all my arguments, speculations,
And a St. Louis person asking to be told what lottery ticket to
Believing, if the manifestations are genuine, that
they have the power to foretell coming events, &c., and seeing no
reasons why I may not ask a question through you and this letter,
I would especially beg to be informed of the number that will draw
tile capital prize in the Louisville lottery, next November.
Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain, sir, yours truly.
Here is an Illinois damsel who seems to have more affection for
the neighbor who visited the gypsy camp than for Lindley Murray:
Being very anxious to know something of the future, thought I
would write you and tell you what I wanted to know, and that if you
charged me anything, to tell me so in your answer, and I would
willingly pay you. Will you please tell me what year and clay in the
month myself and my sister next oldest to me will be married. Also
give us a description of our future husbands and what their
occupation will he in life.
And will you please tell me how long it will be before my mother
will be married, she being a widow lady, Also have a half-brother who
is owing a debt in another State ; would like to know if he will ever
pay that debt up.
Also there is a gentleman, near neighbor, visited camp of gypsies
would like to know if he had his fortune told while there ; also please
describe the lady he will marry.
One more example will suffice. This comes from Alabama :
I would like to learn the history or genealogy for my family. All
I know is that one of my progenitors was a stewart [steward ?] in
some lord's family in Europe, and ran off and married the said lord's
daughter. I don't know the name of my progenitor (the given name),
or the name of the lord or his daughter. Please try to learn what each
of their names were, when married and where, and where the lord
resided, the names of his children and grandchildren down to my
father, what my father's name was and when he died, in fact, all that
can be gained in regard to the genealogy of my family. If You will do
so, I will be under lasting obligations to you, although a stranger.
If, upon a revision of My MSS. for this work, I preserve these
Communications for permanent reference, it is in the hope that I
maybe passed over by that great
company of idle persons, who employ the time that hangs
heavy upon their hands to persecute those of their fellow-
men who are temporarily thrust before the view of the
public. I do not, for one moment, admit the right of those
who have never fitted themselves for discussing profound
subjects, to intrude their crude notions and inconsequential
personalities upon the busy privacy of men engaged in the
serious concerns of life.
The Eddys get such letters as these by the score, often as
many as forty or fifty by every mail, and I might make this
volume more humorous, if not more interesting, by quoting
examples ; but I spare the reader.
I have been greatly impressed by this evidence of the
wide interest in the subject of Spiritualism; as I have also of
the publicity that any novel or exciting story gains by republication
in the newspapers. I recollect that Bayard Taylor told me once,
that at the foot of the Himalayas, in a garrison library, he encountered
some of his own works, and described the deep impression then
made upon his mind of the responsibility devolving upon a person
who writes for the press. I trust I shall bear the lesson in mind in all
that is written for these pages.
CHAPTER IV -