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People From the Other World by Henry S. Olcott

 

CHAPTER XXIII - TESTS CONTINUED

OF all Mr. Crookes' statements concerning his three years' experiences with the spirit "Katie King," none excited more wonder than that about his being allowed to cut off a lock of her hair. The very idea that so immaterial a thing as a spirit-a something less substantial than the very wind that blows, a breath, a hazy vapor, which, even when seen by mortal eye, has seemed no more solid than the mist of morning- that this unsubstantial nothing should not only be able to exert dynamic energies, but hand over to the bold philosopher a ringlet cut from her own head, as a maiden might give a tress to her lover, was on its face absurd. But, nevertheless, it was true, and the same favor has been extended to several others, by this and other spirits. I have already stated that I saw the "Witch of the Mountain" give one of her grizzly locks to Judge Bacon, and the incident related above, in this chapter, tells of seven different keepsakes of the same kind being given by the spirits, at one time, to one person. The artist in one of his sketches represents old Mrs. Cleveland in the act of cutting a lock from Honto's

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head. I know of at least three different persons to whom Honto gave pieces of her own flair, a portion of one of which I have now in my possession. It is of a stiff, wiry texture, entirely free from gray, and has been fully identified, by an expert of twenty years' experience in the manufacture of hair goods, as of Indian origin. His affidavit is as follows:

STATE OF VERMONT, SS COUNTY OF RUTLAND

Henry Williams, being duly sworn, deposes and says that he is a native of New York city, a hair-worker by trade. That he worked four years for - Raufuss, of Chatham street, New York, the largest hair-manufacturer in the said city : and ten years for Edward Phalon, also of the said city. Altogether, he has had twenty years experience in the manufacture of hair, and is so familiar with the hair of various kinds used in the trade, as to be able to detect the nationality and quality of any specimen exhibited to him.

And deponent, having been allowed to examine a specimen of hair shown him by Mr. H. S. Olcott, and designated as "No. I," declares the same to be of Indian origin, and from its length and quality, must have been taken from the head of a squaw. The sample marked " No. 2," deponent cut himself from the head of an Indian squaw in the city of Albany, N. Y., on the 16th instant, at the request of said Olcott, for purposes of comparison. Specimen

" No. 3," deponent says is American hair. The specimen " No. 1 " he would know anywhere as Indian, and he cannot be mistaken as to the fact. HENRY WILLIAMS. Witness: M. L. SALSBURY,

STATE OF VERMONT, SS COUNTY OF RUTLAND

Personally appeared Henry Williams, of Rutland, County of Rut. land, State of Vermont, to me known, and made oath to the above affidavit, this 9th day of December, 1874.

G. R. BOTTUM, Notary Public.

The Specimen No. 1 referred to, is the lock purporting to have been cut from Honto's head. " Specimen No.2" was cut by Mr. Williams, at my request, from the head of an Indian woman, who lives, during

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the winter months in Albany, N. Y., and in summer goes into camp with her tribe. " Specimen No. 3 " was cut by me from William Eddy's head. I submitted the first and third specimens to the expert without explanation, and his judgment was given upon them immediately after they carne into his hands. When he pronounced No. 1 Indian hair, I tried to discourage the idea, by suggesting that it was taken from some old wig, or from the forelock of a colt's head, but he persisted, and said he would make his affidavit to the fact of its real origin, in any court, at any time.

I may also mention the rather interesting circumstance, that, a few days since, I handed this Honto hair to a boy clairvoyant, fourteen years of age, and the son of a physician, who instantly said: "Why, this hair came from a spirit's head!" I said: " Nonsense! How could I get hair from a spirit's head?" to which he replied: "I don't know; but this did come from a spirit; and there she is, in that room, smiling at me, and holding her hair out for me to compare this with. It's the same, identical hair." I said : "I see no spirit. If she is here, ask her name." The lad conversed with great earnestness with the invisible presence, and finally said:  Pahontus?-Pahotus?-what do you say it is? Ah ! yes-Honto-that's it. She says it is Honto. She gave it to another man, and he gave it to you." Now, I had not mentioned a word concerning the hair to the boy, or any one else in the room; in fact, I had never exchanged a word with him before; the hair was in my locket, and taken out and handed to him without comment. The theory of mind-reading is sufficient,

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perhaps, to account for the incident; but as it is interesting in this connection, I relate it.

Another of the series of mechanical experiments attempted by me was suggested by Mr. Crookes' first article in his Quarterly. He said: "The Spiritualist tells of rooms and houses being shaken even to injury by superhuman power. The man of science merely asks for a pendulum to be set vibrating when it is in a glass-case and supported on solid masonry."

It occurred to me, that in the absence of the means to try so conclusive an experiment as this, I might at least get the spirits to ring a bell under a glass cover, and I was promised that this should be done. Accordingly, on the evening of October 12th, in the light-circle that followed William's materializing seance, I placed my small table-gong upon a tambourine, and inverted a tumbler over it. I was not allowed to hold the tambourine myself, and so, in my eyes, all value in the experiment as a scientific test was destroyed.

William Eddy took my place, and I was asked to step a little back. The light was then ordered to be lowered, and we waited for some minutes in silence. At length I heard a faint sound as of the bell struck inside the tumbler. It was almost inaudible, but still an unmistakable sound, and while we listened it was repeated twice almost as feebly. But finally the little bell rang out twice so that all could hear it, and all agreed that the sound came from within the tumbler.

This inconclusive result of what should have been an interesting experiment, is of a piece with many things that happened to me in the course of my long

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and wearisome investigation at the Eddy house. So far from the importance of my labor being recognized, and all reasonable facilities afforded, I was kept constantly at a distance, as though I were an enemy instead of an unprejudiced observer. As to the family realizing any feeling of gratitude for my disinterested defense of their character before the public, the idea apparently never crossed their minds. On the contrary, I was constantly made to feel that my toleration as a member of the household was a favor for which I should be grateful, and all the kind and polite treatment I could give them, individually and collectively, scarcely availed to make them grant me one favor more than they bestowed upon any visitor. Other persons of both sexes, strangers to them, were at different times permitted to sit close to the platform, upon it, and within two feet of the cabinet door; to shake hands with Honto, to dance with her, to look into her very eyes, feel her hair, and measure heights with her, while I never enjoyed one of these favors. I never had a private seance under test conditions, and a dozen simple but crucial tests, reflecting in nowise upon the honor of the mediums, but calculated to place them in an honorable light, and satisfy the most doubting skeptic of the genuineness of the phenomena, were not even mentioned by me, for fear that I might get my dismissal before my work was done.

It was this state of things that kept me in that gloomy house, amid such unpleasant conditions, two months, to get what I might and ought to have secured in two weeks. I stayed and bore everything because, having

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once undertaken to accomplish a given thing, it was not my nature to abandon the task while life remained.

I have said this much in no spirit of complaint, but only from a sense of justice to all concerned ; to myself, because the public should know that I have neither been favored beyond others nor have any personal preferences to gratify in saying what has been said in favor of these Eddy boys; to the mediums, because it seems to me that if they were nothing but common tricksters, their first impulse, would have been to curry favor with me and try to influence the tone of my writing. I have also been prompted to this explanation, by the fact that various newspapers have given their readers to understand that a greater reliance might be placed upon my story, from the fact that my intimacy with the Eddys, and the superior facilities granted me, put me, as it were, inside the ring, and I had seen, heard, and felt more than any ordinary observer could possibly have done. For what I have seen, heard, or felt, I am in nowise indebted to the favor of the Eddy family, but simply to fair natural powers of observation, supplemented by a sort of grim, bulldog stubbornness, and a determination to do impartial justice, that kept me at a post I had once assumed.

But it affords me pleasure whenever I receive evidence from disinterested persons that is corroborative of the genuineness of the Eddy manifestations. I am more than willing to have my personal prejudices against the brothers, as individuals, overborne by proofs of their real mediumistic powers. Of such a nature, is the following certificate from a well-known architect of Hartford, who visited Chittenden a twelvemonth since

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HARTFORD, CONN., December 24th, 1874 COL. H. S. OLCOTT

DEAR SIR-In answer to your request for a statement from me of what I saw at the Eddys', in Chittenden, I have this to say:

My first and only visit to those remarkable mediums, was in the fall of 1873. I attended the light and dark sťances held during three evenings. The facilities afforded me for close and careful investigation were unusually good. It was my privilege to examine Wm. Eddy on two occasions before he entered the "cabinet," which was an old closet, off the south room, clown stairs, and under the stairs. In my examination of Mr. Eddy's person, just before his entering the closet, I went as far as a decent regard for propriety would permit. I removed his coat, unbuttoned his vest, placed my hands beneath the waistband of his pants, and fully satisfied myself that all the clothing he had about him was his usual farm dress-a brown check gingham shirt, coat, pants, and vest. Any person after making such an examination as I did, could have but one conclusion, and that, that Wm. Eddy could not possibly have concealed about his person, the different costumes that were afterwards seen during the sťances. The closet being examined before and after the seance, and nothing found but its bare walls, the idea of trickery on the part of Wm. Eddy was too silly to be entertained for one moment.

The closet has been often described by different writers. I did not measure it, but judge its size to be 4 by 8 feet. It was evidently plastered when the house was built, rather coarsely done (the marks of the trowel being plainly seen), flush down with the base boards, which were perhaps 7 inches wide. The floor was the same undisturbed old work, put down when the house was erected. To talk of panels, traps, or possible openings where a confederate could assist, is worse than nonsense ; nothing of the kind could possibly be there without being detected by an experienced architect like myself. If costumes were taken in there, it must have been when from fifteen to twenty individuals were looking at the door, and as I sat directly opposite and within ten feet of it, I can safely say that such a thing was impossible. The different costumes seen during the three evenings of my stay, would have filled a large sized Saratoga trunk. The first object seen each night, and that in less than ten seconds after Wm. Eddy had disappeared behind the shawl which hung over the door, was a clean, white, naked hand and arm, thrust out from behind the shawl. It was evidently a lady's hand and arm. Honto made her appearance next, on each evening. The second night she lighted a friction match which had been placed in the closet for her use, and held the blazing stick directly before her face so that every person in the room saw her Indian face with perfect distinctness.

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After retiring behind the shawl, an Indian woman next appeared, dressed entirely different and in the exact costume of the squaws of the St. Regis tribe. This was a striking and sudden change, and a very remarkable incident withal. The dress was a blue petticoat or underskirt, with a yellow border around the bottom, and a yellow stripe woven into the cloth, six or seven inches above ; moccasins, leggins, and the usual tape windings around and above the ankles, were all to be seen. It was not Honto, but some other Indian maiden. The change of costume must have been made in less than one minute, if it was a trick. The forms of men neatly dressed in black, came out, with their white linen bosoms and cuffs plain enough to be seen, to satisfy all that they were not Wm. Eddy, who ever else they might be. One person, nearly half a head taller than Wm. Eddy, came out, and was recognized by several people from Rutland. I saw the features plainly of several persons, who, had I ever known them, I could have recognized at once; my position being so near, and being fortunately blest with good eyes.

In Horatio's light seance, it was my privilege to sit for the ring test. I positively know the ring was in a gentleman's hand in front of me, when I prepared for the test by taking Horatio's right hand in my right, and his left hand in my left (I am particular about this, for the reason that I have seen the performance differently described). The gentleman holding the ring passed it up, and I saw, while holding both of Horatio's hands, a hand above the curtain take the ring from the gentleman, and with a sudden shudder on the part of Horatio, the ring flew from his right arm, on to mine with such force, that it hurt me severely , as it struck the joint of my thumb in passing over. A guitar lying in my lap, the strings all in sight, and a lamp burning on the table within three feet of myself, played a correct and lively accompaniment to several dance tunes, whistled by a party present. The head of the instrument was held by Horatio's muffled hand; but the strings were struck in the usual place, directly over the hole in the body of the instrument. I could plainly distinguish that as the point of greatest vibration, and also see flashes of electrical light on the strings.

I saw an iron or steel ring fall from Horatio's arm in the broad light. His arms were bound tightly behind his back. The ring was most assuredly on his arm, or else a dozen witnesses didn't know what they saw. A sudden shudder came through him, but no perceptible motion of his hands or arms, and the ring fell upon the floor, and rolled some distance away. These are a few of the essential points I fully and distinctly remember.

Truly yours, S. W. LINCOLN

One of the sketches upon the opposite page represents

370  371-372 drawing


Mme. de Blavatsky playing the parlor-organ, with Honto as a spectator at very close quarters.

Among the latest and most startling phases of the manifestations, is the actual playing upon a parlor organ by the materialized spirit-girl Honto, herself. The first instance of the kind occurred on the evening of October 27th. Mr. Ralph, of Utica, Mr. Pritchard, of Albany, and old Mrs. Cleveland, were all sitting on the platform, that evening, but were requested to take their seats among the audience, and the benches were ordered pushed a little farther back than usual. Honto then reappeared (she had been out before doing some of her usual tricks), examined the instrument with attention, and, with one foot working the pedal, played a few notes. She then retired to the cabinet, reappeared, and, taking a chair that Mr. Ralph placed for her, sat down and played a wild, disconnected melody as an accompaniment to her voice.

This being her first attempt at singing, the effect was weird in the extreme. Her notes were harsh, wailing, and discordant, and it was almost enough to freeze one's blood to hear it. She repeated this performance four times that evening, and it has been a feature of each night's seance up to the present time. On the evening of the 21st instant, I saw her dance, play the organ, smoke a cigar, make a lot of shawls and tissues, dance a jig with Horatio, take a bracelet from a lady visitor as a present, and heard her sing. Surely, enough for one spirit to do at one performance; a leading woman in a variety show could hardly be asked for more!

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CHAPTER XXIV - PSEUDO-INVESTIGATORS