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People From the Other World by Henry S. Olcott

 

CHAPTER VI - MORE PROPHETIC WARNING

MY narrative, being in fact a narrative, not a mere report of researches in the phenomena of Spiritualism, will embrace things personally experienced, and things reported to me by credible witnesses.Thus three of my chapters have told the story of the outer life of the Eddys, and, including this one, two have been devoted to their inner life, which in their case is the more pleasant and important of the two. "In their case" did I say ?-why not in every case ? This inner life, with its hidden mysteries, its undiscovered laws, its unmeasured possibilities ! Why, look at the mere matter of the memory. When I was last in England, Professor F. Crace Calvert, F. R. S., the well-known carbolic-acid exploiter, told me a curious bit of personal history that occurs to me just at this juncture. He was born in England, but when he had reached the age of eleven, his father took up his residence in France, and for twelve years the boy never spoke or heard spoken a work of English. Then he married an English girl and returned home. At this time, when he was at

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work with grammar and dictionary relearning his mothertongue, of which he had wholly lost the use, he talked nothing but English in his sleep; and his wife says he talked a good deal of it.

Coleridge mentions a somewhat similar case in his Biographia Literaria," that of an ignorant girl, who "during a fever talked incessantly in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew; and who, it was afterwards discovered, had lived with a learned man who was a great Hebraist." Coleridge says of the wonderful power of memory, as suggested by this case, that " this, perchance, is the dread book of judgement, in the mysterious hieroglyphics of which every idle word is recorded."

The Eddys, we may say, live three distinct lives:--one external; and one conscious and one unconscious internal life The first is the common lot of us all; in the second they see spiritual things while otherwise in their normal condition, and remember what they see; the third is the state of deep trance., into which William invariably enters when sitting for the materializations; and into which Horatio and the others fall when obsessed by other spirits who communicate orally to their personal friends, or when levitated, or when sitting for powerful physical manifestations in the light or dark.

Upon recovering from this latter condition, the medium seems to remember nothing that has befallen him, except upon those rare occasions when William, like the ancient Epimenides and Corfidius, has left his body dead and wandered in the supernal spheres, bringing back accounts of what he had seen and heard among the immortals.

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am well aware that the materialization of spirits, is what the public is most anxious to hear about, but I cannot take up that phase of the subject, before at least skimming the surface of this family history for the other marvelous experiences to which its members have been subjected. It would be like Columbus returning from his gold hunt in the new country with no account of its geography, fauna, flora, or human inhabitants. The stories I am recording were not gathered at appointed sittings, at which the narrator might have been tempted to stretch fancy to help make literary sensations; but in general social conversation, over our pipes around the evening fire, as the discussion of varied topics drew them out. And in every case they have been attested by more than one witness. For the present we will occupy ourselves with more familiar phases of the mediumship. There will be abundant opportunity for me to present the materialization question in its most novel and interesting aspects.

We were upon the subject of portents fore-running death, and in my last chapter I described some that befell, before Mrs. Eddy, the mother, left this world for the other. About a year before the father died, he retired one night, in his usual health to his sleeping- room in the L part, leaving the family in the sitting-room. In a few moments they were startled by seeing him, or what seemed himself, standing in the door leading into the front hall, with his outer clothing removed. The following diagram will show the room they were in, and so account for their alarm:

that it was impossible for him to have reached the place without passing directly through

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A is the sitting-room; B Mr. Eddy's sleeping-room; C his bed; D the door where he was seen; E fire-place.

From the room A he could be seen by the family lying in his bed, and yet, there, he or his second self stood at the hall-door! Mrs. Eddy called to him and he answered from his bed, scolding them for disturbing him. The silent figure was then nothing less than his " double " or wraith.

The son James died of diphtheria in 1862 in the north room (marked F on the diagram). A week before the event he asked his mother who the lady was who came every day on the white horse to visit him. She thought his mind wandered, and set to pacifying him, saying that there was no lady nor any white horse, and he must not disturb his mind with such fancies. He insisted that there was a lady, and that she rode up every day at a certain hour, tied her horse to the hitching-post and came and sat in his room, waiting, as she said, for him to come with her. The mother then said it must be a spirit, but

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he declared that it was no spirit, but a living person. At this very time Dr. Ross, of Rutland, the attendant physician, prophesied his recovery, but the mother recognized the phantom rider as a warning, and her fears were justified a few days later. The night he died he appeared to his brother William, then a lad working in the dairy on Warren Leland's farm in Westchester County, N. Y., and who started for home before the next dawn. He reached the door of his home weeping bitterly, and anticipated the evil tidings by saying he knew all about it and had come home to the funeral.

How vividly this incident recalls the case of the two illustrious friends, Michael Mercatus and Marcellinus Ficinus, as related by Baronius:

After a long discourse upon the immortality of the soul, they mutually pledged their word that whoever should die first would appear to the survivor. Shortly after, Mercatus being one morning deeply engaged in study, heard the noise of a horse galloping in the street, which presently stopped at his door, and the voice of Ficinus called to him Oh, Michael ! oh, Michael ! vera sunt illa -those things are true". Rushing to the window and flinging open the casement, he plainly saw his friend on a while steed. He called after him, but without another word he galloped out of sight. Thereupon he sent immediately to Florence to inquire concerning his friend's health, and learned that he died about that hour he called to him.

Mrs. Crowe tells of an Edinburgh citizen who, riding gently up Corstorphine hill one day, observed ail intimate friend of his own, on horseback also, immediately behind him. He slackened his pace to give him time to come up, but presently was amazed to find no one in sight, although there was no side road by which his friend could have departed. Perplexed in mind at the strange circumstance, he returned

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home to find that during his absence his friend had been killed by his horse falling in Candlemaker's Row.

Again, a Yorkshire farmer's wife, away from home, was suddenly seen to ride into the farm yard on horseback and then disappear, and she was afterward found to have died at that precise time.

One day, before Miranda Eddy's death, the family were sitting at dinner, when suddenly a heavy bell tolled one, in the air, right over their heads, and the reverberations of the peal died away while they listened for the stroke to be repeated. Miranda saw James and Francis in the spirit and gave orders for her own tombstone. She ordered the inscription - "Not dead but risen. Why seek ye the living among the dead?"--to be placed upon it. The survivors declare that she was the greatest medium in the whole family. An old woman of the neighborhood, who has the same passion for laying out corpses that a famous New York thief, nicknamed "The Chief Mourner," had for attending funerals, was counting upon the pleasant job Miranda was soon to furnish her, but the dying girl said the miserable creature should never close her eyes. She made her mother promise that no one but she should touch her body, and then calmly awaited the end. As the ebb of life interfered with her breathing, Mrs. Stephen Baird, a friendly neighbor, supported her in her arms. The last minute arrived, the wrist was pulseless, and the last gasp was being taken, when the dead right arm raised itself, and the dead hand closed the glazed eyes. Here is Mrs. Baird's own certificate:

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Chittenden;, October 5th, 1874.-I certify that I was present on the occasion of Miranda Eddy's death ; that I held her up at the last moment ; and that, just at her last gasp, her arm rose and her right hand closed her eyes."     MARY BAIRD.

Miranda wrote her own obituary verses, which, at the family's request, I quote:

There's a silence in parlor and chamber, There's a sadness in every room ; Tho' we know 't was the Father who claimed her, Yet everything 's burdened with gloom. But we will not be comfortless mourners, For we know where the angels have borne her, And soon we shall see her again."

Francis Lightfoot Eddy was Orderly Sergeant of Company G, 5th Vermont Volunteers, in the late war. He contracted a heavy cold in the army that soon ran into quick consumption, and the poor fellow came home to die. He lay sick three months, but three days before the end approached, he wrote in the family Bible, the exact day and hour of his death. A fortnight previous to this, the family heard a wagon drive up to the front door, one evening, the latch lifted and the button turned, and they saw two soldiers bring in a coffin and place it in the entry, and then retire and drive off without saying a word. On the coffin was a plate with a name upon it, which not 'being able to read in the obscurity, they went for a candle; but upon its being brought, the coffin had vanished like its mysterious bearers. When Francis died they sent to Rutland by a neighbor for his coffin, and when that was brought, it was the counterpart of its spectral double, to the very plate and nails.

Francis also dictated the style of his tombstone and Wished it to bear the inscription, "passed into the

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world of spirits,'' instead of the usual formula, "died." He also wanted a flag carved on the stone, surmounted by the legend; " Freedom at last." But old Mr. Eddy was bound to have his own way in this as in everything else, and set up a stone to suit himself. This enraged the boy's spirit so much that he came back in materialized and unmaterialized form, and annoyed them until they replaced the obnoxious marble with one according with his dying request.

In the spring of 1863 the child of Sophia Eddy, wife of Sylvester Chase, of Bennington, Vt., lay sick at the old Eddy homestead, of lung fever. Her death was expected by all, and Delia ironed a white dress and skirt for the little girl and laid them away in the mother's trunk. One evening Horatio went out to the penstock for water, and, looking up, he saw his own room in the second story lighted up and two strange old women walking about, shaking the invalid's dresses and busying themselves in other preparations, apparently for the coming death. He ran up-stairs, and, opening his door, found a table set in the middle of the floor, covered with a sheet taken from the bed and on it the child's clothes, which had been removed from the trunk in another room. The smoking wicks of two candles showed the source of the light he had observed. Knowing by experience what this sort of thin,- meant, he came down and told the watchers that the child would die, The mother at once fell into a violent convulsion, which ended in a dead faint. Meanwhile Horatio had gone to the door and stood watching the reliting of the candles and the moving about of the ghostly women, when, just as Mrs. Chase had fainted, the

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light Was extinguished, there was a rush of invisible feet down tile stairs and into the chamber and the child soon began to mend in the arms of William, who tended the little one with affectionate care. They were afterwards told that it was fully expected that she would die, and spirit friends had gathered there to receive her, but the mother's alarming condition induced them to unite their efforts to keep alive the flickering spark of life.

Now, please bear in mind that all these portents have had their prototypes in various countries at various times The books are full of them, and unless we choose to reject corroborative testimony of a character and to a degree that would substantiate any other facts in any court of justice, we have no right to whistle these psychological phenomena down the wind. If they have occurred more frequently than might be wished in the presence of illiterate and plain people who were incapacitated to observe and study them to the best advantage, it is only the louder call upon men of science to take up the inquiry and set our minds at rest. Says Mr. Crookes in the Quarterly Journal of Science for July, 1871 :

"It argues ill for the boasted freedom of opinion among scientific men, that they have so long refused to institute a scientific investigation into the existence and nature of facts asserted by so many competent and credible witnesses, and which they are freely invited to examine when and where they please. For my own part I too much value the pursuit of truth, and the discovery of any new fact in nature, to avoid inquiry because it appears to clash with prevailing opinions."

These are noble words, and worthy of consideration by every scientist who would not be considered an obstructionist in this time of progress. He adds in the same article:

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"I confess I am surprised and pained at the timidity or apathy shown by scientific men in reference to this subject. Some little time ago, when an opportunity for examination was first presented to me, I invited the co-operation of some scientific friends in a systematic investigation ; but I soon found that to obtain a scientific committee for the investigation of this class of facts was out of the question, and that I must be content to rely on my own endeavors, aided by the co- operation from time to time of a few scientific and learned friends who were willing to join in the inquiry."

When Mr. Crookes announced in 1870 his intention to take up this new branch of scientific inquiry, his determination was applauded by the most influential journals in Europe. "Now," they said, " we shall have the facts, for now a truly great student of nature is set about finding it all out." But when he found it out and announced, like the honest and brave man he is, that his researches warranted the belief that spiritual intercourse was a demonstrable truth, he was abused and vilified to such a degree as to make it apparent that what he was expected to discover was something that would not run counter to popular prejudice.

I have said that the Eddy portents have their prototypes. The frequency of this class of phenomena, led the German psychologists to adopt the doctrine of guardian spirits--"a doctrine," says Mrs. Crowe, "which has prevailed more or less in all ages, and has been considered by many theologians to be supported by the Bible."

The literal accuracy of the sketch of "The Phantom Carriage " has been endorsed on three separate occasions since its appearance in the Daily Graphic, by what claimed to be spirits, who addressed me in audible voice-one of the three Mrs. Eddy herself-and all three assert that the apparition was sent by a

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guardian spirit. I know the full value of words, and I mean to say unequivocally that a woman--a breathing, walking palpable woman, as palpable as any other woman in the room, recognized not only by her sons and daughters, but also by neighbors present, as Mrs. Zephaniah Eddy, deceased December 29th, 1872--on the evening of October 2nd, 1874, walked out of a cabinet where there was only one mortal, and where, under ascertained circumstances, only this one man could have been at the time, and spoke to me personally in audible voice. And nineteen other persons saw her at the same time, and heard her discourse.

The records teem with instances of warnings being conveyed by supernatural agency, to persons in temporary danger, as well as to those about to die. Among the most interesting is that of the white- robed child Immanuel, who attended Frau Jung Stilling from 1799 to her death. He would forewarn her of dangers, attended her when traveling, and hovered near at all times and seasons. He addressed her in a language of his own, which, though unintelligible to others, she somehow understood. When she asked the spirit to show himself to her husband he refused, alleging that to do so would make him ill and cause his death. "Few persons," he explained, " are able to see such things."

After the death of Dante, it was discovered that the thirteenth canto of the "Paradiso" was missing, and all search for it proved unavailing. But after some months the dead poet appeared to his son Pietro Alighieri, and told him that if he removed a certain panel near the window of the room in

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which the poem was written, the missing canto would be found. And it was found, much mildewed but legible.

The story I told of Horatio Eddy's finding his grandmother's snuff-box and gold necklace, has its counterpart in the case of Madame von Militz (related by Mrs. Crowe), who, being about to sell her ancestral home, was instructed by a voice to go to the cellar and open a certain part of the wall. She did so, and found a goblet in which was a small gold ring, on which was engraven the name Anna von Millitz.

A Scotch gentleman, who was passing the night in the Manse of Strachur, Argyleshire, was visited during the night by an apparition, which said: "I come to tell you that this day twelvemonth you will be with your father." By a most curious concatenation of circumstances, he lost his life at the very time indicated, in a storm.

I have mentioned the appearance of James Eddy to his brother William at the moment of his death, and if I had space, could cite twenty similar cases from familiar authors. One will suffice for the present. Lord Balcarres was confined in the castle of Edinburgh on a charge of Jacobitism, and one night, saw his friend Viscount Dundee open the curtains of his bed and look in upon him; and then walk to the mantel-piece, lean upon it a moment, and go out of the room. At the same hour, as it subsequently appeared, the Viscount had died.

When it is known that William Eddy never had a month's schooling in his life, and that he is almost illiterate, it will readily be imagined that he never even heard of Lord Balcarres.

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The curious weapon of which the artist has furnished a sketch was dug out of the ground, from a depth of four feet below the surface, by Horatio Eddy, near Batavia, N. Y., where he happened to be exhibiting, some years ago. His information as to its locality, was obtained, he says, from a spirit. The shape of the weapon, and the quaint ornamentation of the bronze handle, will interest the antiquary.

The sketch of the Spinning Ghost tells the story of a curious family experience, attested to me by every member of the Eddy connection that I have seen. After old Mrs. Macomb's death, she was for years in the habit of returning to the north room on the second floor and turning her spinning-wheel. Four of the boys slept there, and the wheel stood in the south-east corner, behind the door. The children were greatly frightened at first to hear the buzz and see no one, but they soon grew familiar with

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the thing, and finally, to be sure that grandmother would awaken them, they hung a little bell on the wheel. The phenomenon, which had frightened them at first so that they hid their little faces beneath the bed-covering, had become a nightly diversion. After awhile the spirit materialized herself, feebly at first but stronger by degrees, until she would come looking exactly as when alive. The sketch represents the scene with absolute accuracy, and it is worth while to call attention to the fact that, except for the title, no one would suspect that the woman was not of this world. It was intended that it should be just so, for I can assure the reader, that, so far from the materialized spirits who appear in the Eddy it circle- room " seeming ghostlike, they are as substantial in every respect as any of us who gaze at the weird phalanx of the dead-alive.

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CHAPTER VII - A CHAPTER OF FEET AND INCHES