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People From the Other World by Henry S. Olcott

 

CHAPTER X - MANY PHANTOM VISITORS

THE next materialized spirit to make its appearance after Honto, was that of a dark-faced squaw, who calls herself "Bright Star." She is shapely, tall, well-proportioned, and of a dignified carriage. She dresses in dark clothing, trimmed with bands of white that look to us like broad tape in the dim light, but that Mr. Pritchard says are beads. On her head she wears a sort of frontlet, in the centre of which is a jewel or luminous spot, that gives out a phosphorescent gleam, shining in the obscurity like the diamond in a rajah's turban. I have seen this spirit six times to the present writing, and she always appears dressed alike.

Next came "Daybreak," another squaw, dressed in dark costume, who danced to the playing of the violin, and then suddenly passed into the cabinet. As I shall have frequent occasion to refer to the dancing of spirits, especially Honto, who invariably indulges in this amusement, I may as well say that William Eddy's movements in the dance are as different from those of

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any of the former as possible. Several times we had dancing in the hall for an hour or so before the organization of the circle, and I noticed that William's motions are devoid of suppleness and agility. Though he thoroughly enjoys himself and shows no reserve, he holds his arms somewhat akimbo, his head back and to one side, and his stomach projected; while Honto's body sways like that of a Zingala or an Oriental almeh--lithe and graceful. William was evidently cut out for a great medium, but not for a dancer.

"Daybreak" gone, then came "Santum," whose appearance as regards stature and bulk is calculated to excite surprise. He measures 6 feet 3 inches, full half foot more than the medium. His dress appears to be a hunting-shirt of dressed buckskin, striped perpendicularly and fringed at the seams, leggings of the same and fringed the same, a feather in his head, and sometimes he wears a powder-horn slung by a belt across his shoulder. This horn is a real one, presented to the spirit some time ago by a visitor, who also gave Honto an embroidered cap that she sometimes wears.

After Santum came two other Indian men, and then several whites made their bow to the audience. The first of these was William H. Reynolds, late of the shoemanufacturing firm of Reynolds Brothers, Utica, N. Y. During the war he was Colonel of the 14th N. Y. Artillery, attached to the 9th Army Corps, and died May 6th, 1874, Of fever, contracted in the service. He was dressed in black and wore a full beard. As well as I could distinguish, he was a square-shouldered,  gentlemanly appearing man. His shirt was white, and

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I could see the collar distinctly. William Eddy wore, as he always does, a brown checked-gingham shirt, without collar or cuffs.

This spirit was followed by his brother, John E. Reynolds, who died in New York State, Nov. 15th, 1860. He wore a dark suit, and no beard on his face except a moustache. He graduated at Harvard University, but I am not informed as to the year. His shoulders sloped quite differently from William's, and he was quite another looking person.

Then Mr. George A. Reynolds, the surviving brother, recognized his nephew, Stephen R. Hopkins, a lad of fifteen, with light, curly hair. Mr. Reynolds asked " Mrs. Eaton," the spirit directress, if she would answer a mental question, and her voice immediately replied: " Don't give yourself any anxiety about that; you are a medium fast enough already;" which, the interrogator informed me, was what he desired to know.

We were next favored with the appearance in the closet- door, of the tall figure of the late William Brown, of York, Pa. He is the father of Edward Brown, who married Delia Eddy a few months ago, and be makes his salutation to the audience nearly every evening. He is six feet, one inch, in stature, has white hair, no beard, and dresses in a black suit of the Quaker cut.

His son sat in Mrs. Andrews' circle, at Moravia, N. Y., twice a day for a whole year without seeing any of his friends, and the same bad luck followed him here for four or five weeks, at the expiration of which time his father presented himself. For a while he could not speak at all; then he uttered a few simple greetings in

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a faint whisper; and at length he conversed in a strong, full, natural voice, saying whatsoever he pleased with as great ease apparently, as in life. Except at one seance in London, in 1870, with a noted lady medium, I had never heard a spirit-voice before, and confess that I was amazed to hear Mr. Brown's, issue from his lips as though a living man stood before me and not a being from the other world, clothed for a brief moment in a body like my own. I leave theorists to settle the vexed question, whether spirits actually employ the organs of speech to articulate sounds, or by their will- power cause certain vibrations of the air outside of and independent of lips, palate, and tongue, in imitation of spoken words. I can only say that after hearing numerous spirit-addresses and conversations, I have detected no difference in the movements of the lips, from those of a living person.

Allan Kardec, a French spiritist author, calls the phenomenon of spirit-speaking, pneumatophony, and affirms it to be the result of the exercise of will-power upon the invisible fluids of the atmosphere. He says(P- 194): "Spirits, being able to produce noises and rappings, can as well make any sound of nature, vocal sounds imitating the human voice, beside us or in the air. From what we know of the nature of spirits, it may be believed that some of them of an inferior order delude themselves, and believe they speak as when alive. (See Revue Spirite, February, 1858: History of the Ghost of Mlle. Clarion.)

" It is necessary to guard against taking for spirit-voices all sounds that have no known cause. . . . Spirit or pneumatophonic sounds have two very distinct methods of being produced ; sometimes it is a voice which resounds in the soul, but while the words may be clear and distinct, there is nothing material in them ; at other times they are exterior and as distinctly articulated as if they came from a person at our side. In whatever manner they may be produced.

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the phenomenon of pneumatophony is almost always spontaneous, and can be very rarely induced."

These are the generalizations of a writer whose experience, wide as it was, did not include such wonders as are common at Chittenden. I defy him or any other acute person to listen to this spirit of Mr. Brown and detect any difference, either in volume of sound, accent, or the mechanical process by which it is produced, between this voice and that of any living person of equal age. Even the pumping sound of refilling the lungs with air after the articulation of sentences is readily noticeable.

The phenomena of the evening concluded with the incident which furnished the subject of the accompanying sketch of " The Reunited Family." A German music teacher of Hartford, named Max Lenzberg, and a very worthy gentleman, to whom I am indebted for numerous acts of courtesy for which I desire to make acknowledgment, was at Chittenden with his wife and daughter. At Mr. Eddy's request he played on the flute during the seance, and so occupied a chair in advance of the front row of spectators and within a few feet of the cabinet. After Mr. Brown's disappearance, the curtain was again drawn aside, and we saw standing at the threshold, two children. One was a baby of about one year, and the other a child of twelve or thirteen. Behind them, very indistinctly, could be observed the form of an old woman, who held up the curtain with her left hand and supported the baby with her right. Mrs. Lenzberg, with a mother's instinct, recognized her departed little ones, and with tender pathos, eagerly asked in German if they were

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not hers. immediately there came several loud responsive raps, and the little Lena, as if drawn from her mother's side by an irresistible power, crept forward and peered at the forms that stood just at the edge of the black shadows of the cabinet. There was a moment's silence as she strained her eyes in the gaze, and then she said joyfully: "Ja ! Ar seid meine Heine schwestern! Nicht wahr ?" There came again responsive raps, and the spirit-forms danced and waved their arms as if in glee at the reunion.

Some skeptics who have been here., in their eagerness to attribute the Eddy phenomena to any other than spiritual origin, have maintained that the baby forms exhibited are made either of pillows or white wrappings around William's legs. A sufficient answer to such assertions may be found in the fact that I have more than once seen babes in arms, nestle in the necks of their bearers and clasp their arms about their necks, and heard those standing, like the little Lenzberg children, speak. A very dear little girl whom I have twice seen during my visit, kissed her hand to me. This spirit at her second appearance was dressed in a short white frock, lownecked and short-sleeved, with a sash around her waist and ribbons at the shoulders.

The picture of a young girl with her head and shoulders emerging from a sort of fog or steamy vapor, which I print in connection with this chapter, is given because of the sweetness of the face, and of its supposed representation of the process of materialization. It was procured by me from Mrs. Eliza P, Morrill, of Springfield, Mass., whom I met at the Eddys', and it is one of

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Mumler's so called "spirit-photographs."

While I have no confidence in this picture, or in fact, in any emanating from the same source, as directly or indirectly of spiritual origin, yet many very worthy and intelligent people, including Mr. Epes Sargent, do, and this portrait will be regarded by such as among the best specimens of the kind.

In fact, with the exception of the photographs taken in London under Mr. Crookes' own supervision, and under test conditions, I have never seen any of the so-called spirit-photographs that appeared to me genuine. I have in my possession one of those taken by Holmes, of Philadelphia, of a young woman whom he is pleased to call " Katie King; " but, to say nothing of the dissimilarity in likeness between this girl and the original " Katie," of London, the picture seems to bear upon its face intrinsic marks of fraud.

If any explanation is required, let the inquirer examine the shadow under the alleged spirit's chin, which was evidently added with a brush and ink after the negative was taken. I noticed this before I heard of the bad reputation Holmes and his wife left behind them in England, and long before the appearance of a recent joint card of their agent, Doctor Child, and the Hon. Robert Dale Owen withdrawing their previous endorsement of the good character of these mediums.

Mr. Owen tells us, that when the figure that he supposes to have been the original and real Katie King, dissolved her materialized body in Philadelphia, she faded away into thin vapor and gradually disappeared; whereas Honto, in my presence one

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evening, losing her power, sank, as it were, into the floor up to her waist, the upper portion of her body retaining its full solidity.

I have communications from various persons attesting to the fact of their seeing materialized spirit-forms dissolve in view of the circle, at the Eddys'. Among the most convincing is the following, from a worthy gentleman residing in Hartford:

HARTFORD, CONN., December 8th 1874.

DEAR SIR: In reply to your inquiry as to my seeing a spirit-form dissolve outside the door of William Eddy's cabinet, I take pleasure in communicating the following facts:

In June last, I visited Chittenden, in company with my wife, wife's sister, Mrs. Waite, of this city, and a friend from Waterbury. On one evening during our stay, my wife's mother, a former resident of Hartford, who deceased March, 1859, at the age of 78 years, appeared to us in white clothing, looking so natural that we recognized her instantly. She stood outside the cabinet curtain, leaned her body forward, and stretched out her arms to her daughter, as though she were longing to embrace her. Mrs. Prior asked the spirit if she could not speak to us, and she seemed to make a desperate effort to comply. But suddenly, as if she had exhausted all her power of materialization in the attempt, her arms dropped, and her form melted down to the floor, and disappeared from our view. The figure did not dissolve into a mist and disperse laterally, but sank down and disappeared, as if every particle comprising her frame had suddenly lost its cohesion with every other, and the whole fell into a heap together. Yours truly, To Col. H. S. OLCOTT. FRANKLIN BOLLES.

One evening, in July last, at a circle at the same place, Honto's form disappeared from sight in an equally sudden and unaccountable manner. The circumstance is narrated, in a letter to me, by Mrs. Doctor T. G. Horton, of Utica, N. Y., as follows:

On the evening in question, Honto came out as usual, materialized shawls, to the number, perhaps, of half a dozen, then retired

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into the cabinet, reappeared, came to the railing, stood there a moment, and, to our amazement, began to settle down to the floor and dissolve, until all form of a human being disappeared, and there seemed nothing but a mass of drapery lying close to the railing. This also melted slowly away, and every vestige of her was gone. In about a minute or two she reappeared from the cabinet, smiling, and seeming as if nothing had happened. She stood again by the railing and again dissolved as before. William Eddy was not able to give a sitting the next day.

I may as well add to Mrs. Horton's narrative, the fact that when I saw Honto dissolve up to her waist, she was close to the curtain, and pushing it aside with her right arm, passed into the cabinet. Mrs. Cleveland had been dancing with her a moment before, and saw her after she had gone behind the shawl. She says that the spirit-squaw was not more than a foot and a half high when she lost sight of her. It was not two minutes before she frisked out again as lively as ever.

These several instances, happening in the view of a number of respectable persons, at various times, offer strong and mutually corroborative proof of the fact, that the dissolution of materialized spirit-forms, has occurred in the mediumship of William Eddy. But I confess, upon a question of such great moment, I am not satisfied to take even so much as the above and consider the case proven. In my opinion, it is indispensable that the phenomenon should be repeated under such strictly test conditions as to leave no room for more than one opinion.

Such conditions I should consider: 1st The having William Eddy so shut into the farther end of his cabinet, by means of a door that should be bolted upon him, that he could not possibly come before the audience

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until the experiment was concluded, and until after the occurrence of the phenomenon; or, 2nd. The enclosure of the alleged materialized spirit-form in a cylinder of cloth, paper, or wire- netting, which could be fastened to the floor so as to effectually prevent the escape there from of any living person, and the subsequent dissolution and disappearance of the spirit-body from the cylinder; or, 3rd. The dissolution of the form upon the platform, in the view of the audience, while its ankles were fastened to the railing in so secure a manner that no living person could release himself or herself without detection; or, 4th. The perforation of the alleged spirit-form before dissolution by some weapon, in such a way that if trickery were intended, the person would be severely wounded and so discover his fraud. If close approach were permitted, it would be easy to satisfy oneself of the reality of the spirit-form by clasping it in one's arms and having it de-materialize itself while thus held. Or one of its hands might be rubbed with croton oil or some other blistering substance, or discolored with nitrate of silver. Submission to one or all of these concise tests would settle this whole question, once and forever.

No investigator's report of experiments made in the testing of spiritualistic phenomena, is worthy of a moment's serious consideration, until he proves that he has disembarrassed the problem of the element of confederacy. Until he makes it appear that it is impossible for any secreted allies to come to the assistance of the medium, we may as well spare our time from profitless waste in reading what he says, for there is no security for

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the genuineness of anything he has seen. But after divesting the case of this feature, we have Only one alternative to consider, viz. : Whether the "materializations" are real, or the figures merely personated by the medium. This is what I did with William Eddy's cabinet; what Mr. Crookes did with Florence Cook's, in London; and what ought to have been done with the Holmes' in Philadelphia. Neglect to do this, brought upon Mr. Owen and Dr. Child, the humiliating necessity to publish a card that throws unnecessary suspicion upon every genuine phenomenon they witnessed, during the past summer.

It appears that it is not necessary that the bodies of the spirits who manifest themselves in William's circle, should be fully materialized in every part. One evening, Mrs. Cleveland, a neighbor, who is generally requested to take a seat upon the platform, and who is a great favorite with Honto, was dancing with that spirit, and by accident took hold of her arm below the shoulder, when she found to her horror that it was not materialized, and her hand grasped only the sleeve of the robe. The hand was a solid hand attached to a vapory arm.

The spirits themselves say, they have to learn the art of self- materialization as one would any other art. At first they could only make tangible hands, as in the cases of the Davenports, the Foxs, and others, including the Eddys. In fact, some mediums have never got beyond this stage. Others, like Mrs. Andrews, of Moravia, N. Y., the Potts Brothers, of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Slade, of New York City, have masks or full heads appear; while the most powerful mediums, like Florence Cook, of

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London, the Holmeses, of Philadelphia, (who, despite their trickery, are admitted by Messrs. Crookes, Sergeant Cox, Owen, Mrs. Andrews, and others, to be great mediums, under favoring conditions,) and particularly these wonderful Eddys, seem to furnish the spirits with the means of calling before us, the materialized shapes of people of every nation and kindred and tongue.

I say seem, although the careful experiments of Mr. Crookes, under test conditions, have apparently demonstrated the veritable visitation of a materialized spirit to the world she left two centuries ago. The Philadelphia "Katie King materializations" appear, at the date of this writing, to have been wholly, or at least in great part, fraudulent; and the forms I saw at Chittenden, while apparently defying any other explanation than that they are of supersensual origin, are still, as a scientific fact, to be regarded as "not proven." Mr. Robert Dale Owen, in his recent card to the public repudiating the Holmes manifestations, considers the question of materialization to be fully demonstrated by the results attained by Mr. Crookes and myself; but I prefer to set those of the former gentleman by themselves, and far above anything I can offer as a contribution to our present stock of knowledge, for I had no such chances as his to verify the phenomena I witnessed.

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CHAPTER XI - ARE THEY PERSONATIONS?