As Dr. Beard has scorned (in his scientific
grandeur) to answer the challenge sent to him by your humble servant
in the number of The Daily Graphic for the 13th*
of October last, and has preferred instructing the public in general
rather than one "credulous fool" in particular, let her
come from Circassia or Africa, I fully trust you will permit me to
use your paper once more in order that by pointing out some very spicy
peculiarities of this amazingly scientific exposure, the public might
better judge at whose door the aforesaid elegant epithet could be
most appropriately laid.
For a week or so an immense excitement, a thrill of sacrilegious
fear, if I may be allowed this expression, ran through the psychologized
frames of the Spiritualists of New York. It was rumoured in ominous
whispers that G. Beard, M. D., the Tyndall of America, was coming
out with his peremptory exposure of the Eddys' ghosts andthe
Spiritualists trembled for their gods!
The dreaded day has come, the number of The Daily Graphic
for November the 9th is before us. We have read it carefully, with
respectful awe, for true science has always been an authority
for us (weak-minded fool though we may be), and so we handled the
dangerous exposure with a feeling somewhat akin to that of a fanatic
Christian opening a volume of Büchner. We perused it to the last:
we turned the page over and over again, vainly straining our eyes
and brains to detect therein one word of scientific proof or a solitary
atom of overwhelming evidence that would thrust into our Spiritualistic
bosom the venomous fangs of doubt. But no, not a particle of reasonable
explanation or of scientific evidence that what we have all seen,
heard and felt at the Eddys' was but delusion. In our feminine modesty,
still allowing the said article the benefit of the doubt, we disbelieved
our own senses, and so devoted a whole day to the picking up of sundry
bits of criticism from judges that we believe more competent than
ourselves, and at last came collectively to the following conclusion:
The Daily Graphic has allowed Dr. Beard in its magnanimity
nine columns of its precious pages to provewhat? Why, the following:
First, that he, Dr. Beard, according to his own modest assertions
(see columns second and third) is more entitled to occupy the position
of an actor intrusted with characters of simpletons (Molière's
"Tartuffe" might fit him perhaps as naturally) than to undertake
the difficult part of a Prof. Faraday vis-à-vis the
Chittenden D. D. Home.
Secondly, that although the learned doctor was "overwhelmed
already with professional labours" (a nice and cheap reclame,
by the way) and scientific researches, he gave the latter another
direction, and so went to the Eddys. That, arrived there, he played
with Horatio Eddy, for the glory of science and the benefit of humanity,
the difficult character of a "dishevelled simpleton," and
was rewarded in his scientific research by finding on the said suspicious
premises a professor of bumps "a poor harmless fool"! Galileo,
of famous memory, when he detected the sun in its involuntary imposture
chuckled certainly less over his triumph than does Dr. Beard over
the discovery of this "poor fool" No. 1. Here we modestly
suggest that perhaps the learned doctor had no need to go as far as
Chittenden for that.
Further, the doctor, forgetting entirely the wise motto, Non bis
in idem, discovers and asserts throughout the length of his article
that all the past, present and future generations of pilgrims to the
"Eddy homestead" are collectively fools, and that every
solitary member of this numerous body of Spiritualistic pilgrims is
likewise "a weak-minded, credulous fool"! Querythe
proof of it, if you please, Dr. Beard? AnswerDr. Beard has said
so, and Echo responds, Fool!
Truly miraculous are thy doings, indeed, O Mother Nature! The cow
is black and its milk is white! But then, you see, those ill-bred,
ignorant Eddy brothers have allowed their credulous guests to eat
up all the "trout" caught by Dr. Beard and paid for by him
seventy-five cents per pound as a penalty; and that fact alone might
have turned him a littlehow shall we saysour, prejudiced?
No, erroneous in his statement, will answer better.
For erroneous he is, not to say more. When, assuming an air of scientific
authority, he affirms that the séance-room is generally
so dark that one cannot recognize at three feet distance his own mother,
he says what is not true. When he tells us further that he saw through
a hole in one of the shawls and the space between them all the manuvres
of Horatio's arm, he risks finding himself contradicted by thousands
who, weak-minded though they may be, are not blind for all that, neither
are they confederates of the Eddys, but far more reliable witnesses
in their simple-minded honesty than Dr. Beard is in his would-be scientific
and unscrupulous testimony. The same when he says that no one is allowed
to approach the spirits nearer than twelve feet distance, still less
to touch them, except the "two simple-minded ignorant idiots"
who generally sit on both ends of the platform. To my knowledge many
other persons have sat there besides those two.
Dr. Beard ought to know this better than anyone else, as he has sat
there himself. A sad story is in circulation, by the way, at the Eddys'.
The records of the spiritual séances at Chittenden have
devoted a whole page to the account of a terrible danger that threatened
for a moment to deprive America of one of her brightest scientific
stars. Dr. Beard, admitting a portion of the story himself, perverts
the rest of it, as he does everything else in his article. The doctor
admits that he had been badly struck by the guitar, and, not being
able to bear the pain, "jumped up," and broke the circle.
Now it clearly appears that the learned gentleman has neglected to
add to the immense stock of his knowledge the first rudiments of "logic."
He boasts of having completely blinded Horatio and others as to the
real object of his visit. What should then Horatio pummel his head
for? The spirits were never known before to be as rude as that. But
Dr. B. does not believe in their existence and so lays the whole thing
at Horatio's door. He forgets to state, though, that a whole shower
of missiles were thrown at his head and that"pale as a
ghost," so says the tale-telling recordthe poor scientist
surpassed for a moment the "fleet-footed Achilles" himself
in the celerity with which he took to his heels. How strange if Horatio,
not suspecting him still, left him standing at two feet distance from
the shawl! How very logical!
It becomes evident that the said neglected logic was keeping company
at the time with old mother Truth at the bottom of her well, neither
of them being wanted by Dr. Beard. I myself have sat upon the upper
step of the platform for fourteen nights by the side of Mrs. Cleveland.
I got up every time "Honto" approached me to within an inch
of my face in order to see her the better. I have touched her hands
repeatedly as other spirits have been touched, and even embraced her
nearly every night.
Therefore, when I read Dr. Beard's preposterous and cool assertion
that "a very low order of genius is required to obtain command
of a few words in different languages and so to mutter them to credulous
Spiritualists," I feel every right in the world to say in my
turn that such a scientific exposure as Dr. Beard has come out with
in his article does not require any genius at all; per contra,
it requires a ridiculous faith on the part of the writer in his own
infallibility, as well as a positive confidence in finding in all
his readers what he elegantly terms "weak-minded fools."
Every word of his statement, when it is not a most evident untruth,
is a wicked and malicious insinuation built on the very equivocal
authority of one witness against the evidence of thousands.
Says Dr. Beard, "I have proved that the life of the Eddys is
one long lie, the details need no further discussion." The writer
of the above lines forgets, by saying these imprudent words, that
some people might think that "like attracts like." He went
to Chittenden with deceit in his heart and falsehood on his lips,
and so judging his neighbour by the character he assumed himself,
he takes everyone for a knave when he does not put him down as a fool.
Declaring so positively that he has proved it, the doctor forgets
one trifling circumstance, namely, that he has proved nothing whatever.
Where are his boasted proofs? When we contradict him by saying that
the séance-room is far from being as dark as he pretends
it to be, and that the spirits themselves have repeatedly called out
through Mrs. Eaton's voice for more light, we only say what we can
prove before any jury. When Dr. Beard says that all the spirits are
personated by W. Eddy, he advances what would prove to be a greater
conundrum for solution than the apparition of spirits themselves.
There he falls right away into the domain of Cagliostro: for if Dr.
B. has seen five or six spirits in all, other persons, myself included,
have seen one hundred and nineteen in less than a fortnight, nearly
all of whom were differently dressed. Besides, the accusation of Dr.
Beard implies the idea to the public that the artist of The Daily
Graphic who made the sketches of so many of those apparitions,
and who is not a "credulous Spiritualist" himself, is likewise
a humbug, propagating to the world what he did not see, and so spreading
at large the most preposterous and outrageous lie.
When the learned doctor will have explained to us how any man in
his shirt-sleeves and a pair of tight pants for an attire can possibly
conceal on his person (the cabinet having been previously found empty)
a whole bundle of clothes, women's robes, hats, caps, head-gears,
and entire suits of evening dress, white waistcoats and neckties included,
then he will be entitled to more belief than he is at present. That
would be a proof indeed, for, with all due respect to his scientific
mind, Dr. Beard is not the first dipus that has thought of catching
the Sphinx by its tail and so unriddling the mystery. We have known
more than one "weak-minded fool," ourselves included, that
has laboured under a similar delusion for more than one night, but
all of us were finally obliged to repeat the words of the great Galileo,
"E pur, se muove!" and give it up.
But Dr. Beard does not give it up. Preferring to keep a scornful
silence as to any reasonable explanation, he hides the secret of the
above mystery in the depths of his profoundly scientific mind. "His
life is given to scientific researches," you see; "his physiological
knowledge and neuro-physiological learning are immense," for
he says so, and skilled as he is in combating fraud by still greater
fraud (see column the eighth), spiritualistic humbug has no more mysteries
for him. In five minutes the scientist had done more towards science
than all the rest of the scientists put together have done in years
of labour, and "would feel ashamed if he had not." (See
same column.) In the overpowering modesty of his learning he takes
no credit to himself for having done so, though he has discovered
the astounding, novel fact of the "cold benumbing sensation."
How Wallace, Crookes and Varley, the naturalist-anthropologist, the
chemist and electrician, will blush with envy in their old country!
America alone is able to produce on her fertile soil such quick and
miraculous intellects. "Veni, Vidi, Vici!"
was the motto of a great conqueror. Why should not Dr. Beard select
for his crest the same? And then, not unlike the Alexanders and the
Cæsars of antiquity (in the primitive simplicity of his manners),
he abuses people so elegantly, calling them "fools" when
he cannot find a better argument.
A far wiser mind than Dr. Beard (will he dispute the fact?) has suggested,
centuries ago, that the tree was to be judged according to its fruits.
Spiritualism, notwithstanding the desperate efforts of more scientific
men than himself, has stood its ground without flinching for more
than a quarter of a century. Where are the fruits of the tree of science
that blossoms on the soil of Dr. Beard's mind? If we are to judge
of them by his article, then verily the said tree needs more than
usual care. As for the fruits, it would appear that they are as yet
in the realms of "sweet delusive hope." But then, perhaps
the doctor was afraid to crush his readers under the weight' of his
learning (true merit has been in all times modest and unassuming),
and that accounts for the learned doctor withholding from us any scientific
proof of the fraud that he pretends to be exposing, except the above-mentioned
fact of the "cold benumbing sensation." But how Horatio
can keep his hand and arm ice cold under a warm shawl for half an
hour at a time, in summer as well as in any other season, and that
without having some ice concealed about his person, or how he can
prevent it from thawingall the above is a mystery that Dr. Beard
doesn't reveal for the present. Maybe he will tell us something of
it in his book that he advertises in the article. Well, we only hope
that the former will be more satisfactory than the latter.
I will add but a few words before ending my debate with Dr. Beard
for ever. All that he says about the lamp concealed in a bandbox,
the strong confederates, etc., exists only in his imagination, for
the mere sake of argument, we suppose. "False in one, false in
all," says Dr. Beard in column the sixth. These words are a just
verdict on his own article.
Here I will briefly state what I reluctantly withheld up to the present
moment from the knowledge of all such as Dr. Beard. The fact was too
sacred in my eyes to allow it to be trifled with in newspaper gossiping.
But now, in order to settle the question at once, I deem it my duty
as a Spiritualist to surrender it to the opinion of the public.
On the last night that I spent with the Eddys I was presented by
Georgo Dix and Mayflower with a silver decoration, the upper part
of a medal with which I was but too familiar. I quote the precise
words of the spirit: "We bring you this decoration, for we think
you will value it more highly than anything else. You will recognize
it, for it is the badge of honour that was presented to your father
by his Government for the campaign of 1828, between Russia and Turkey.
We got it through the influence of your uncle, who appeared to you
here this evening. We brought it from your father's grave at Stavropol.
You will identify it by a certain sign known to yourself."
These words were spoken in the presence of forty witnesses. Col.
Olcott will describe the fact and give the design of the decoration.
I have the said decoration in my possession. I know it as having belonged to my father. More, I have identified it by a portion that,
through carelessness, I broke myself many years ago, and, to settle
all doubt in relation to it, I possess the photograph of my father
(a picture that has never been at the Eddys', and could never possibly
have been seen by any of them) on which this medal is plainly visible.
Query for Dr. Beard: How could the Eddys know that my father was
buried at Stavropol; that he was ever presented with such a medal,
or that he had been present and in actual service at the time of the
war of 1828?
Willing as we are to give every one his due, we feel compelled to
say on behalf of Dr. Beard that he has not boasted of more than he
can do, in advising the Eddys to take a few private lessons of him
in the trickery of mediumship. The learned doctor must be expert in
such trickeries. We are likewise ready to admit that in saying as
he did that "his article would only confirm the more the Spiritualists
in their belief" (and he ought to have added, "convince
no one else"), Dr. Beard has proved himself to be a greater "prophetic
medium" than any other in this country!
H. P. BLAVATSKY.
23, Irving Place, New York City,
November 10th, 1874.
* This appears to be
a misprint, unless the challenge had been made on the 13th, and was
only repeated in the letter of Oct. 27th. EDS.
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