[The following letter was addressed to a contemporary journal by Mme.
Blavatsky, and was handed to us for publication in The Daily Graphic,
as we have been taking the lead in the discussion of the curious subject
of Spiritualism-EDITOR "DAILY GRAPHIC."
AWARE in the past of your love of justice and fair
play, I most earnestly solicit the use of your columns to reply to an article
by Dr. G. M. Beard in relation to the Eddy family in Vermont. He, in denouncing
them and their spiritual manifestations in a most sweeping declaration,
would aim a blow at the entire spiritual world of to-day. His letter appeared
this morning (October 27th). Dr. George M. Beard has for the last few weeks
assumed the part of the "roaring lion" seeking for a medium "to
devour." It appears that to-day the learned gentleman is more hungry
than ever. No wonder, after the failure he has experienced with Mr. Brown,
the "mind-reader," at New Haven.
I do not know Dr. Beard personally, nor do I care to know how far he
is entitled to wear the laurels of his profession as an M. D., but what
I do know is that he may never hope to equal, much less to surpass, such
men and savants as Crookes, Wallace, or even Flammarion, the French
astronomer, all of whom have devoted years to the investigation of Spiritualism.
All of them came to the conclusion that, supposing even the well-known phenomenon
of the materialization of spirits did not prove the identity of the persons
whom they purported to represent, it was not, at all events, the work of
mortal hands; still less was it a fraud.
Now to the Eddys. Dozens of visitors have remained there for weeks and
even for months; not a single séance has taken place without
some of them realizing the personal presence of a friend, a relative, a
mother, father, or dear departed child. But lo! here comes Dr. Beard, stops
less than two days, applies his powerful electrical battery, under which
the spirit does not even wink or flinch, closely examines the cabinet (in
which he finds nothing), and then turns his back and declares most emphatically
"that he wishes it to be perfectly understood that if his scientific
name ever appears in connection with the Eddy family, it must be only to
expose them as the greatest frauds who cannot do even good trickery." Consummatum est! Spiritualism is defunct. Requiescat in pace! Dr. Beard has killed it with one word. Scatter ashes over your venerable
but silly heads, O Crookes, Wallace and Varley! Henceforth you must be considered
as demented, psychologized lunatics, and so must it be with the many thousands
of Spiritualists who have seen and talked with their friends and relatives
departed, recognizing them at Moravia, at the Eddys', and elsewhere throughout
the length and breadth of this continent. But is there no escape from the
horns of this dilemma? Yea verily, Dr. Beard writes thus: "When your
correspondent returns to New York I will teach him on any convenient evening
how to do all that the Eddys do." Pray why should a Daily Graphic reporter be the only one selected by G. M. Beard, M. D. for initiation into
the knowledge of so clever a "trick"? In such a case why not publicly
denounce this universal trickery, and so benefit the whole world? But Dr.
Beard seems to be as partial in his selections as he is clever in detecting
the said tricks. Didn't the learned doctor say to Colonel Olcott while at
the Eddys' that three dollars' worth of second-hand drapery would be enough
for him to show how to materialize all the spirits that visit the Eddy homestead?
To this I reply, backed as I am by the testimony of hundreds of reliable
witnesses, that all the wardrobe of Niblo's Theatre would not suffice to
attire the numbers of "spirits" that emerge night after night
from an empty little closet.
Let Dr. Beard rise and explain the following fact if he can: I remained
fourteen days at the Eddys'. In that short period of time I saw and recognized
fully, out of 119 apparitions, seven "spirits." I admit that I
was the only one to recognize them, the rest of the audience not having
been with me in my numerous travels throughout the East, but their various
dresses and costumes were plainly seen and closely examined by all.
The first was a Georgian boy, dressed in the historical Caucasian attire,
the picture of whom will shortly appear in The Daily Graphic. I recognized
and questioned him in Georgian upon circumstances known only to myself.
I was understood and answered. Requested by me in his mother tongue (upon
the whispered suggestion of Colonel Olcott) to play the Lezguinka, a Circassian
dance, he did so immediately upon the guitar.
Second A little old man appears. He is dressed as Persian merchants
generally are. His dress is perfect as a national costume. Everything is
in its right place, down to the "babouches" that are off his feet,
he stepping out in his stockings. He speaks his name in a loud whisper.
It is "Hassan Aga," an old man whom I and my family have known
for twenty years at Tiflis. He says, half in Georgian and half in Persian,
that he has got a "big secret to tell me," and comes at three
different times, vainly seeking to finish his sentence.
Third A man of gigantic stature comes forth, dressed in the picturesque
attire of the warriors of Kurdistan. He does not speak, but bows in the
oriental fashion, and lifts up his spear ornamented with bright-coloured
feathers, shaking it in token of welcome. I recognize him immediately as
Jaffar Ali Bek, a young chief of a tribe of Kurds, who used to accompany
me in my trips around Ararat in Armenia on horseback, and who on one occasion
saved my life. More, he bends to the ground as though picking up a handful
of mould, and scattering it around, presses his hand to his bosom, a gesture
familiar only to the tribes of the Kurdistan.
Fourth A Circassian comes out. I can imagine myself at Tiflis, so
perfect is his costume of "nouker" (a man who either runs before
or behind one on horseback). This one speaks more, he corrects his name,
which I pronounced wrongly on recognizing him, and when I repeat it he bows,
smiling, and says in the purest guttural Tartar, which sounds so familiar
to my ear, "Tchoch yachtchi" (all right), and goes away.
Fifth An old woman appears with Russian headgear. She comes out
and addresses me in Russian, calling me by an endearing term that she used
in my childhood. I recognize an old servant of my family, a nurse of my
Sixth A large powerful negro next appears on the platform. His head
is ornamented with a wonderful coiffure something like horns wound
about with white and gold. His looks are familiar to me, but I do not at
first recollect where I have seen him. Very soon he begins to make some
vivacious gestures, and his mimicry helps me to recognize him at a glance.
It is a conjurer from Central Africa. He grins and disappears.
Seventh and last A large, grey-haired gentleman comes out attired
in the conventional suit of black. The Russian decoration of St. Ann hangs
suspended by a large red moiré ribbon with two black stripes-a ribbon,
as every Russian will know, belonging to the said decoration. This ribbon
is worn around his neck. I feel faint, for I think I recognize my father.
But the latter was a great deal taller. In my excitement I address him in
English, and ask him: "Are you my father?" He shakes his head
in the negative, and answers as plainly as any mortal man can speak, and
in Russian, "No; I am your uncle." The word "diadia"
was heard and remembered by all the audience. It means "uncle."
But what of that? Dr. Beard knows it to be but a pitiful trick, and we must
submit in silence. People that know me know that I am far from being credulous.
Though an Occultist of many years' standing, I am more sceptical in receiving
evidence from paid mediums than many unbelievers. But when I receive such
evidences as I received at the Eddys', I feel bound on my honour, and under
the penalty of confessing myself a moral coward, to defend the mediums,
as well as the thousands of my brother and sister Spiritualists against
the conceit and slander of one man who has nothing and no one to back him
in his assertions. I now hereby finally and publicly challenge Dr. Beard
to the amount of $500 to produce before a public audience and under the
same conditions the manifestations herein attested, or failing this, to
bear the ignominious consequences of his proposed exposé.
124, East Sixteenth Street, New York City
October 27th, 1874
H. P. Blavatsky