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People From the Other World
Henry S. Olcott
PART 1THE EDDY MANIFESTATIONS
THE EDDY FAMILY
SEVEN miles north from Rutland, in a grassy valley shut in by the slopes of the Green Mountains, lying high above the tidewater, is the little hamlet of Chittenden. There is nothing about it worthy of notice, and its sole claim to notoriety lies in the fact that it is the nearest post-town to the homestead farm of the Eddy family of spiritual mediums, whose fame has spread over the whole country. The people of the vicinage are, apparently with few exceptions, plain, dull, and uninteresting, seeming to know nothing and to care less about the marvelous things that are happening under their very eyes, or even the history of their section. Inhabiting a rugged country which exacts much hard labor for small pecuniary returns, they go the round of their daily duty, and trouble themselves about nothing except to get the usual modicum of food and sleep. Their rare occasions of enjoyment are the days of the county fair, the elections, " raisings," huskings, and like country assemblages. Their religion is intolerant, their sect Methodist; within the pale of which body all persons are good, without which all are
bad. The liberalizing influences that in more thickly settled localities have, for the past ten or twenty years, been leavening the whole religious world, seem to be unfelt in this secluded region. Towards the heterodox these people have no yearning bowels of compassion. Their weapons are both spiritual and carnal; and I judge from the sad story of the Eddy children that these zealots, if suddenly driven out of their beloved church, would feel more at home under the wing of Mahomet than elsewhere, for when prayer has failed of conversion they have resorted to fire and the lash to bring the lamb within the fold. I recently visited this place in the interest of the New York Sun, and spoke of the relations between the Eddys and their neighbors in the following terms:
"There is nothing about the Eddys or their surroundings to inspire confidence on first acquaintance. The brothers Horatio and William, who are the present mediums, are sensitive, distant, and curt to strangers, look more like hard-working rough farmers than prophets or priests of a new dispensation, have dark complexions, black hair and eyes, stiff joints, a clumsy carriage, shrink from advances, and make newcomers feel ill at case and unwelcome.
* They are at feud with some of their neighbors, and as a rule not liked either in Rutland or Chittenden. *
They are in fact under the ban of a public opinion that is not prepared or desirous to study the phenomena as either scientific marvels or revelations from another world." *
When I first began to write about these mediums, I became convinced that they had never done anything to deserve the reprobation of their neighbors, for a number of reports reflecting upon their character, upon being sifted, were discovered to be untrue. I could see prejudice so ill concealed by the narrators, and ignorance of the domestic life, to say nothing of the mediumistic
18 19 portraits of Eddy brothers
faculty of the members of the family, so plainly revealed, that perhaps I went to unnecessary lengths in my defense of their reputations. But since I began the work of revising my matter for this volume, I have met a former citizen of Chittenden, and a man of good character, now a resident of a distant city, who is knowing to the fact that some seven or eight years ago two of the Eddys gave an exhibition, or exhibitions, of certain of the commoner tricks of mediums, themselves included; and I was furnished with the names of witnesses who can corroborate the statement. It is not surprising, therefore; that a simple-minded people, prejudiced against everything that smacks of diabolism, and looking upon the Eddy ghostroom as a Chamber of Horrors, should hastily adopt the opinion that if they were false in the lesser " phenomena" they must be in all; and conclude that a family who could publicly confess their dishonesty, for pay, had good reason to adopt a forbidding aspect to strangers, especially those who would be likely to discover the trickery which furnishes them a support. I am not, I am happy to say, of that class of pseudo-investigators which rejects the chance of finding truth in these marvels because mediums occasionally cheat. It has often, and justly, been said that the circulation of counterfeit coin is no proof that the genuine does not exist, but the reverse; and the reports of most intelligent writers agree in the statement that nearly all public mediums occasionally simulate their phenomena when, from any cause, they cannot produce the real ones. Judge Edmonds and Mr. Robert Dale Owen both told me some years since that they had detected one of the best physical mediums in the United
States, in trickery, thus corroborating my own experience with the same person; and a well-known artist in Hartford says that he discovered Home, one of the greatest mediums ever known, in acts of deception, both before his departure for Europe, and during a subsequent visit to this country. As to this matter of the Eddy self- exposures, the parties interested tell me that their exposure was a mere pretense, resorted to for the purpose of raising money when they were in a very needy condition. In a word, they cheated the public with a sham exposure when it would not come to see them in their character of mediums. There can be but one opinion of such behavior as this; and, therefore, while my narrative will contain all that can be said on behalf of the remarkable mediumship, or apparent mediumship, of these boys, the reader will find that I shall not rely upon any of their manifestations that could be imitated by them, in working up my conclusions as to the reality of the phenomena. Such a course would be a waste of time and thought.
I separate the medium from the man, considering him beyond a certain point an irresponsible being; that is, if there is any such thing as mediumship. In neglecting this I think most investigators have hitherto erred. If it be true that persons of certain temperaments in this world may be controlled by persons in the other, then the mediums, being controlled, are not free agents, but machines. A person of this kind may, therefore, be a very bad man but a very good machine. Furthermore, if the medium's actions while serving as such are beyond his control, he may, unless he be entranced, observe them just as any spectator, and, observing, may
learn to imitate, with more or less perfection according to his natural intelligence and endowments.
Thus I observed the Eddys at first in their double capacity, and determined at the outset not to allow anything they might say or do, or any of their surroundings, uncongenial with my own tastes or habits, to bias my verdict upon their claims as spiritual mediums.
When I say that my first reception by the family was most inhospitable; that during my visit of five days I never felt sure that at any moment I might not be requested to leave; that I was made to feel like an intruder whose room was preferable to his company; that I was struggling against all the prejudice one naturally would feel against persons who claimed to be able to summon an army of spirits from the other world; that I sat silent when members of the family made ungracious and threatening speeches against persons who might misrepresent them, clearly meaning me; that for fear my mission might be cut short and my ability to do my duty to my employers destroyed, I breathed not a word of my purpose to write for the newspaper, and left the place without having had a single opportunity to draw out their side of the story from the Eddys, the public has reason to admit that in saying what I did in their favor I was at least actuated by no feelings of partiality.
I was glad, when my second visit was so unexpectedly brought about, that things were just as they had been at the beginning, for I had heard all the evil stories in circulation and sifted them thoroughly, and was in a condition of mind to do justice to people who
had not always acted so as to make friends, had few real ones, and fewer opportunities granted to lay their pathetic tale before the world. It was not because I had sympathy with their beliefs, nor that their welfare was a matter of greater personal concern than that of any other decent people, but because, in common with every one else, my good wishes went with the weak and oppressed, and this family had been worried and torn by the spirit of intolerance, as a sheep by wolves. Manhood revolts at the persecutions, cruelties, and indignities they have been called to suffer in consequence of the direful inheritance of mediumship that was bequeathed them in their blood--an inheritance that made their childhood wretched, and, until recently, life itself a heavy burden. To explain my meaning I will give some particulars of the family history as they have been communicated to me by the surviving children.
Zephaniah Eddy, a farmer living at Weston, Vt., married one Julia Ann Macombs, a girl of Scotch descent who was born in the same town. She was first cousin to General Leslie Combs, of Kentucky, who changed his name to its present form, and was distantly related to a noble Scotch family. About the year 1846 Mr. Eddy sold his farm and removed to the present homestead in the town of Chittenden. Mrs. Eddy inherited from her mother the gift of "foreseeing," as it is called among the Scotch, or more properly "clairvoyance," for she not only had previsions of future events, but also the faculty of seeing the denizens of the mysterious world about us, from whom she claimed to receive visits
as commonly as though they were ordinary neighbors. Not only this, but she could also hold speech with them, hear them address their conversation to the inner self within her, utter warnings of impending calamities, and sometimes bring tidings of joy. Her mother before her possessed the same faculties in degree, and her great- great-great-grandmother was actually tried and sentenced to death at Salem for alleged "witchcraft" in the dark days of 1692, but escaped to Scotland by the aid of friends who rescued her from jail. Zephaniah Eddy was a narrow- minded man, strong in his prejudices, a bigoted religionist, and very little educated.
His new wife instinctively withheld from him all knowledge of her peculiar psychological gifts, and for a time after their marriage she seemed to have lost them. But they returned after the birth of her first child stronger than ever, and from that time until the day of her death they were the source of much misery.
Mr. Eddy at first made light of them, laughed at her prognostications, and forbade her giving way to what he declared was the work of the Evil One himself. He resorted to prayer to abate the nuisance, or, as he styled it, to "cast the devil out of his ungodly wife and children," and, that failing, to coercive measures, that proved equally inefficacious.
The first child that was born had the father's temperament, but each succeeding one the mother's, and each, at a very tender age, developed her idiosyncrasies. Mysterious sounds were heard about their cradles, strange voices called through the rooms they were in, they
would play by the hour with beautiful children, visible only to their eyes and the mothers, who brought them flowers and pet animals, and romped with them; and once in a while, after they were tucked away in bed, their little bodies would be lifted gently and floated through the air by some mysterious power. In vain the father stormed and threatened: the thing went on. He called his pious neighbors together--Harvey Pratt, Rufus Sprague, Sam Parker, Sam Simmons, Charles Powers, and Anson Ladd--and prayed and prayed that this curse might be removed from his house. But the devil was proof against entreaty and expostulation, and the harder they prayed the wickeder the pranks he played. Then the infuriated parent resorted to blows, and, to get the evil spirit out of them, he beat these little girls and boys until he made scars on their backs that they will carry to their graves. It seemed as if the man would go crazy with rage.
By and by, things got so bad that the spirits would "materialize" themselves in the room, right in the father's view, and, not being able to handle them after his usual fashion, his only refuge was to leave the chamber. The children could not go to school, for before long, raps would be heard on the desks and benches, and they would be driven out by the teacher, followed by the hootings and revilings of the scholars. This, it will be remembered, was just what happened to the children of the unfortunates who were hung for witchcraft at Salem, the sins (?) of the parents being cruelly visited upon the children.
One night, when Horatio was four years old, a little
creature covered with a white fur suddenly appeared in the room where he and three of the other children were sleeping, jumped upon their bed, sniffed at their faces, and then began growing larger and larger until it turned into a great luminous cloud, that gradually shaped itself into a human form. The children screamed, and the mother running in hastily with a candle, the shape disappeared. So year after year things went on, full of trouble and sorrow for all in the unhappy house. No wonder that I found them "curt," "repellant," and "sensitive," and suspicious and calculated to arouse suspicion. I think I would be likewise under like circumstances.
Poor Mrs. Eddy's misfortunes did not cease with her husband's death in 1860, but followed her even into her grave, as she one day in a prophetic vision told the children it would in the exact manner in which it happened. When her death occurred (January 1st 1873) it was intended that she should be buried by the Spiritualists, certain of whom had promised to be present, but it so happened that they were detained away, and two Methodist friends of the husband's acted as sole pall-bearers. As they were about to lower the coffin into the grave these two worthies fell into dispute about a lawsuit that they had just had, and one, in his eagerness to get at his antagonist, dropped his rope and the poor lady was dumped end over end into the pit, and the coffin turned bottom side
One surprising instance of the cruelty begotten by ignorance, is afforded in the means resorted to once to bring William Eddy out of a trance. Pushing, pinching, and blows proving in vain, Anson Ladd, with the father's
permission, poured scalding hot water down his back, and, as a last heroic operation, put a blazing ember from the hearth on his head. But the lad slept on, and the only effect of this cruelty was the great scar that he has shown me on his crest.
The father's scruples did not interfere with his willingness to turn a thrifty penny by an exhibition of the diabolical gifts of his progeny, for, after the Rochester knockings of 1847 had ushered in the new dispensation of Spiritualism, he hired three or four of the children out to one showman, who took them to nearly all the principal cities of the United States, and to another who took them to London for a brief season.
The children got all the kicks and he all the ha'pence in this transaction, and a sorry time it was for them. Passed through the merciless hands of scores of "committees of skeptics," bound with cords by " sailors of seven years' experience," and riggers "accustomed to tic 'knots where human life was at risk," of carpenters with a fancy for other knots than those in their boards, of inventors who knew all sorts of "ropes" in addition to their particular steam-engines or threshing-machines, and suchlike illuminati, their soft young metacarpal bones were squeezed out of shape, and their arms covered with tile scars of melted wax, used to make the assurance of the bonds doubly and trebly sure. These wrists and arms are a sight to see. Every girl and boy of them has a marked groove between the ends of the ulna and radius and the articulation of the bones of the hand, and every one of them is scarred by hot sealing-wax. Two of the girls showed me scars where pieces of flesh had been
pinched out by handcuffs used by "committees"--fools who seem to have been unable to discover suspected fraud without resort to brutal violence on the persons of children.
And then the mobbings they have passed through! At Lynn, Mass.; South Danvers; West Cleveland, Ohio., where William was ridden on a rail and barely escaped a coat of tar and feathers; at Moravia, N. Y.; at Waltham, Mass., where they had to fly for their lives; at Dunville, Canada-in all which places their "cabinet" (a simple, portable closet, in which they sit for the manifestations) was smashed. They make no account in this catalogue of suffering, of the places where they were stoned, hooted at, and followed to their hotels by angry crowds. At South Danvers they were fired upon by hidden assassins, and William has the scar of a bullet in his ankle and Mary one in her arm to show for their picnic in that tolerant locality ! Horatio carries his memento of that place in a stab wound in his leg, and Lynn supplied him with the two tokens of a scar on his forehead, where a brick hit him, and a broken finger, the third, on his right hand.
Ah! these committees are often honorable gentlemen, as may be inferred from the fact that once when applying the " flour-test "- the placing of flour in the medium's hands after his wrists are tied, to detect him if he disengages his hands and plays upon the instruments himself-aquafortis was mixed in the flour, and shockingly burned Horatio's fingers; and once, when the musical instruments, horns, &c., were rubbed with rouge, so that the mediums might be betrayed by their discolored
hands if they should touch them, one of the committee, pretending to make a last examination of the knots, rubbed the hands of both the boys with rouge. In this instance, however, the base trick availed nothing, for, aware of what had been done, the Eddys called for the audience to look at their hands before the cabinet doors were closed, and the culprit was exposed.
The reader will understand, from what I have said of their childhood experiences, that these poor creatures had little or no educational advantages, and their numerous correspondents will not be surprised at the illiteracy shown in their letters. They will be surprised, on the other hand, when I say that I have heard words in six foreign tongues spoken, and conversation sustained in the same, by rappings by some of the phantoms whose appearance before me, during my present visit to the Eddy homestead, I shall describe in future chapters of this true story.
The Daily Graphic was pleased to say of a letter of mine from this place, that "the story is as marvelous as any to be found in history," an opinion that was reiterated by several of the most respected journals in other cities. I risk nothing in now saying that what I am about to narrate is far more extraordinary in every respect, and I expect to tax the public indulgence as to my veracity to the utmost. But I shall at least take good care to be within the limits of the truth, so that my story may be verified by any future investigator who is willing to scan closely, move cautiously to conclusions, and " nothing extenuate nor aught set down in malice." I went to Chittenden to discover the truth as to the "Eddy manifestations,"
and as I find things, so shall I describe them, caring nothing how much my own prejudices are affected by the result.
The sketches that illustrate this chapter represent the Eddy homestead as viewed from the south-east,* rear, and north side. The house is the first frame building erected in Chittenden township, and for many years was a wayside inn. It comprises a main building and a rear extension, or L, of two stories, of which the lower is divided into a dining-room, kitchen, and small cupboard or pantry; and the upper, thrown into one room, is known as the "circle-room," or among the profane, as " the ghost shop." In the rear view, the kitchen door is seen at the hither end of the L part, and the square window in the gable-end gives light into the "cabinet" or narrow closet in which William Eddy sits when the materializations occur. 30 31-32 picture
TREATMENT OF PUBLIC MEDIUMS
THE story of the persecutions, mobbings, hardships and trials through which the Eddy children were obliged to pass, carries a moral with it, which the intelligent reader can hardly have overlooked. It must have been apparent that we are not dealing with the case of charlatans who have recently taken to the business of trickery for the sake of gain, for these girls and boys seem to have inherited their peculiar temperaments from their ancestry, and the phenomena common to most genuine 11 mediums " of the present day, attended them in their very cradles. It will scarcely be said that children who, like Elisha, were caught up and conveyed from one place to another, and in whose presence weird forms were materialized as they lay in their trundle-bed, were playing pranks to tax the credulity of an observant public, which was ignorant of their very existence. It will not be seriously urged, I fancy, against youth, whose bodies were scored with the lash cicatrized by burning wax, by pinching manacles, by the knife, the bullet and by boiling water,
who were starved, driven to the woods to save their lives from parental violence; who were forced to travel year after year and exhibit their occult powers for others' gain; who were mobbed and stoned, shot at and reviled; who could not get even an ordinary country school education like other children, nor enjoy the companionship of boys and girls of their own age;--it will not be urged against such as these that they were in conspiracy to deceive, when they had everything to gain and nothing to lose by abandoning the fraud and being like other folk. The idea is preposterous; and we must infer that, whatever may be the source of the phenomena, they are at least objective and not subjective - the result of some external force, independent of the medium's wishes, and manifesting itself when the penalty of its manifestation was to subject the unfortunates to bodily torture and mental anguish.
We must turn back to Fox's "Book of Martyrs" if we would catch the diabolical spirit that has been exhibited towards these men during the fifteen years that they traveled the country to exhibit their wonderful gifts; for, while our times are not those of the Eighth Harry's cruel daughter, the feeling of intolerance in the Church towards these latter-day heretics, is, substantially the same as that which sent Ridley and Latimer Bradford and crammer to the stake, and caused Calvin to procure the death of his learned fellow-Protestant, Servetus. This is the first time within my knowledge, that this side of the medium question has been discussed, and in the hope that the example may be imitated, I will show some of the barbarities inflicted upon these Eddy boys by "committees."
To understand the matter, persons who have never attended a public spiritist exhibition should be told what the performance is like. In a public hall, upon the platform, is set up a wardrobe, or " cabinet," made of half-inch walnut, seven feet high, six feet wide, two feet deep, and resting on trestles eighteen inches high, to permit a full view tinder the cabinet and satisfy the spectator that there is no communication through traps with its interior. The front is composed of three doors, the side ones swinging to right and left respectively, and the centre one to right. At each end inside is a narrow board seat, supported on cleats, and one of like width runs the width of the cabinet against the back wall. In the upper half of the centre door is a diamond-shaped opening, behind which hangs a black velvet curtain. The mediums enter, and, seating themselves on the end seats, are firmly bound hand and foot by a committee selected by the audience, the cords being passed through auger-holes in the bench. Various musical instruments are placed within, beyond reach of the bound mediums, and, the doors being closed, a variety of curious phenomena occur. The instruments are vigorously played upon, loud percussive noises are heard, bands arc thrust out of the opening, and other exhibitions occur that a strange force is at work. The cabinet doors, self-unbolted, suddenly open, and the two mediums are discovered sitting as before, with not a single knot disturbed.
The committees selected by vote of the audience, usually embrace men who are supposed to be unusually acute, such as detectives; skilful knot-tiers, such as
sailors and riggers; and those whose education and intelligence are likely to make them competent to fathom the philosophical mystery. In looking over the scrapbooks of the Eddys, I find the newspapers, as a rule, reporting such choice of committeemen, and I also find there the evidences of the unnecessary cruelties practiced in the interest of " science," " religion,", "fairplay," and particularly of what these gentry are pleased to call "the truth."
The reader will please observe that I have not relied upon the diaries or verbal statements of the Eddys themselves in making these strictures, but solely upon the testimony of the editorial descriptions of the whole press, for the journals of nearly every section are represented in this modern Book of Martyrs. Such details of the handcuffings and ligatures, the blisterings and acid corrosions, the torture of constrained positions, of mouth-gags and halter-nooses, as the newspapers did not supply, I have filled in after getting the necessary explanations from the mediums, and the drawings were made from life.
I cannot refrain from making a single quotation from Horatio's diary, under date of November, 1867, for it shows the patient, uncomplaining spirit that possessed the poor farmer-boy under his sufferings. It seems the most appropriate introduction I could make to these sketches. He says: "This day we suffered very much by severe tying and abuse from those who professed to be Spiritualists. But we like martyrs, bore our pain with fortitude. We thanked the Divine Power for preserving us from the gross treatment of our enemies. No mortal
36 37-38 picture
knows what brutish tying we submitted ourselves to. It would have made mother's heart bleed if she had known what her children were passing through in Canastota."
How they were treated by the Canastota committee sketch NO. 4 will show.
Horatio was kept with one hand tied to his neck and tile other to his manacled feet for three-quarters of an hour, the cord around his neck being so tight as to half choke him.
The Little Falls, N. Y., investigators tried the pretty device shown in sketch No. 1.
The medium is tied to a wooden T cross, by whip-cord passing through holes bored for the purpose. He was kept so for the space of an hour, until, owing to the tightness of the ligatures at the wrists, the blood trickled from under his finger-nails.
Sketch NO. 3 will recall a scene of rope-tying, to the minds of the good people of Albany, N. Y., who attended a seance at the house of John McClure; a certain Doctor Perkins being the operator. Here the medium is tied down by his fingers to the floor, the tapes being secured to the latter by tacks, and another tape leading to the door-knob. The worthy Doctor kept this patient in this position some two hours, and it is not surprising that his wrists were so swollen in consequence that he was kept in pain several days thereafter.
Sketch NO. 2 shows a common device of the wily committee men of Moriah, N. Y., and numerous other I places, and the drawing requires no word of comment.
Moriah, N. Y. (perhaps I do not get the name just right, but the Eddys cannot help me), is also responsible
for the cheerful " bucking " antidote, against charlatanry, seen in sketch No. 6, in which attitude the victim was obliged to stay two mortal hours, the spirits refusing to manifest themselves under such disturbed conditions, and the committee, with astonishing cruelty, declaring they would keep him there until they did. This happened at the house of Esak Colvin.
In sketch No. 5 we have an illustration of ingenious barbarity worthy of the palmy days of the Inquisition:
Two pairs of handcuffs each, on the wrists and ankles, a rope running through the links of each and passing out of the cabinet at top and bottom, and a halter-noose around the neck, drawn just tight enough to choke without quite strangling, made an applauding public feel secure against "humbug." Bristol, Conn., richly deserves the credit for this apparatus, and the additional statement that it was applied for the space of nearly two and a half hours.
Here, finally, in sketch No. 7, we have an effectual device to prevent the exercise of ventriloquial powers in imitation of spirit- voices, which has been tried in so many places (not to mention Sing Sing and other penitentiary establishments) that I forbear to recount them, lest I might weary.
And now let us drop this disagreeable part of our subject.
It matters little to me how the skeptical may undertake to account for these Chittenden mysteries-that concerns themselves alone. They may attribute them to electricity, but if so, they will have to encounter scientists like Varley, the electrician of the Atlantic cable, who,
40 41-42 picture
after testing them by every electrical apparatus, with twenty-six years' experience to guide him, declares that that subtle agent has nothing whatever to do with their production; of the late Professor Hare, who made the same statement after two years of careful inquiry; of Elliotson, Puysegur, Crookes, Bell, Collier, Gully, the French Academicians, and the London Dialectical Society. If they say it is " animal magnetism "they must face an army of specialists who have exhausted every endeavor to explain away the phenomena as coming under this category. The knee-pan, toe-joint and knuckle worthies, as a class, die a natural death as soon as we get beyond the mere Rochester rappings of 1847, and I feel confident that if Professors Huxley and Tyndall would spend a fortnight at Chittenden, they would see their protoplasms and such-like scientific soothing-syrups flying out of the window upon the entry of the first materialized ghost from William Eddy's closet.
It is scarcely exaggeration to say that this family of mediums, if we may believe their story, is the most remarkable as to psychological endowments of which mention is made in the history of European races. Perhaps among the Chinese, and certain tribes of India (the Yogiswaras, for instance) and of Egypt, parallel cases may be found, but such have not met my eye in the course of a somewhat extensive reading in this branch of literature.
The Eddys represent about every phase of mediumship and seership:--rappings; the disturbance of material objects from a state of rest ; painting in oil and water-colors under influence; prophecy, the speaking of strange tongues; the healing gift , the discernment of
spirits; levitation, or the floating of the body in free air; the phenomena of instrument playing and the show of hands; the writing of messages on paper upborne in midair, by pencils held by detached hands; psychometry, or the reading of character and view of distant persons upon touching scaled letters ; clairvoyance; clairaudience, or the hearing of spirit-voices; and, lastly, and most miraculous of all, the production of materialized phantom forms, that become visible, tangible, and often audible by all persons present.
Much account has been made of the story told by Lord Dunraven and Lord Adair (and, I may mention, confirmed to me personally by the latter gentleman), of Mr. Home's having been " floated " out of one third-story window at Ashley House and into another; but what will be thought of Horatio Eddy having been carried, one summer night, when he was but six years old, a distance of three miles to a mountain top, and left to find his way home next day as best he could ; of his youngest brother Webster, when a grown man, being carried out of a window and over the top of a house from the presence of three witnesses (from two of whom I have the story), and landed in a ditch a quarter of a mile off; of William being carried to a distant wood and kept there unconscious for three days, and then carried back again; of Horatio being " levitated " twenty-six evenings in succession, in Buffalo, in the Lyceum Hall, when fast bound in a chair, and hung by the back of the chair to a chandelier hook in the ceiling, and then safely lowered again to his former place on the floor? Of Mary Eddy being raised to the ceiling of Hope Chapel, in New York city, where she
wrote her name ? Of her little boy, Warren, five years old, who is floated in dark-circles, screaming to be let down all the while ? Of a little son of Stephen Baird, of Chittenden, a neighbor of theirs, who has been handled in the same way ?
Mr. Home is not the only one besides the Eddys who has been thus transported through mid-air, for, since 1347, authenticated reports will be found in the books of a like thing happening to Edward Irving, Margaret Rule, St. Philip of Neri, St. Catharine of Columbina, Loyola, Savonarola, Jennie Lord, Madame Hauffe, and many others whose names I do not at present recall, and in the absence of a library cannot transcribe.
Does any one care to ask me what I think? I answer, Nothing; I watch and wait and report, holding myself open to conviction in the spirit which the great Arago describes in an old article on Mesmerism: " The man who, outside of pure mathematics, pronounces the word 'impossible,' is wanting in prudence."
I make no apology for having now devoted two preliminary chapters to personal details respecting the Eddy family history; for the intelligent reader, before he could give credence to the miraculous events that I shall describe as occurring in their presence, would of necessity ask what sort of people they are--whether they were of suspicious antecedents, whether they had amassed a fortune by their exhibitions, whether they are making money by them now, or what motive impels them to continue in their present public relation ? I stated above that they traveled for the profit of others; by which I meant to say that when William,
Horatio, and Mary were young children, their father, having failed to cowhide their demons out of them, hired them out to a showman for four years, they receiving nothing but their bare expenses; and that at the expiration of that time they were hired by various other speculators, and during the ensuing eleven years received an average of under ten dollars a month apiece. I mean, furthermore, to say that their house and farm would not sell for $3,500 all told; that they do all their housework themselves; that half their visitors are poor and sponge on them for board, and, the other half paying eight dollars per week, the family have saved enough to put some necessary repairs on the house; and finally that they unite in saying that the greatest good fortune that could befall them would be to have their mediumship cease, so that they might work like other farmers and enjoy life like them. They are the galley-slaves of the invisible powers back of the " manifestations," who not only obsess them at their caprice by day while about household duties, and in the evening during the regular circles, but pursue them in the silent watches of the night, playing the pranks of the old-time poltergeists, and making it uncertain whether or no they will wake in bed or in the crotch of some tree on the summit of an adjacent mountain.
The sketches which accompany this chapter represent with fidelity the appearance of the dining-room, kitchen, and pantry, or buttery, over which extends the one large room where the nightly circles are held. They are intended to show that no trapdoors afford to confederates the opportunity of communication from below.
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The dining-room communicates directly with a large apartment in the main part of the house, now used for a general sitting and reception room, but which, until the new hall was built, was the circle-room. The kitchen and pantry are side by side, beyond the dining room, and separated from it by a lathed and plastered partition, with doors joining from each into it. There is also a door which gives communication from the kitchen to the pantry through their dividing longitudinal partition. The ceilings of kitchen and pantry are lathed and plastered. The kitchen is an odd, dingy little place with smoky walls and a worn floor, but it affords a retreat for the family when the house is crowded with visitors; and such of the latter as at such times are privileged to sit with "the boys" about the cooking-stove, and smoke a pipe, and chat upon the day's topics, are regarded with much of the same envy as the favorite at Court, who is passed by obsequions lackeys into the presence, while the rest cool their heels in the corridor.
I have had my days of favor, like the courtier, and passed many a pleasant hour in this little kitchen, in an atmosphere so dense with pipe smoke that we could barely see each other across the room. I have sung my songs and told my comic stories, and heard Horatio sing his songs, and William tell, in his own pathetic way, of the cruelties he suffered in boyhood, and I really fancied that by keeping on my good behavior, I might be allowed to do my work pleasantly and thoroughly. But-however, I will not anticipate.
If the reader will turn to the rear view of the Eddy homestead, he will observe in the gable of the L extension, just over the square window of William's cabinet, two other windows. These light a cock-loft over the circle-room. I confess that it never occurred to me to go up there and see what sort of place it might be, as after careful inspection of the room itself I was satisfied that no communication existed between the two; but one afternoon a lady visitor, subject to trance obsessions, and professing to be influenced by a spirit at the time, called my attention to the fact that, with all my shrewdness, I had overlooked this cock-loft. Though I could not imagine how spirit or mortal could detect the omission in the penciled notes in my pocket diary, I nevertheless went up a ladder in the adjoining vestibule, and, creeping through ancient cobwebs, from rafter to rafter, I saw that there was nothing worth coming to see. The mystery could not be solved there.
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I take it for granted that the conductors of two of the great New York dailies would not have successively engaged me to investigate and describe the phenomena at the Eddy homestead, if they had supposed me either of unsound mind, credulous, partial, dishonest, or incompetent; and I, therefore, beg the numerous company of correspondents who have addressed me upon the subject, to spare themselves the trouble, and me the annoyance, of their letters.
"Proffered advice stinks," sayeth an old Arabian proverb more notable for strength than refinement. I know what I am about, and mean to tell just what I saw and how I saw it. To the impertinent people, of many localities, whom I never laid eyes upon, who ask of me to have secret writings read, lucky lottery numbers disclosed, and to write theses upon Spiritualism, to remove their skepticism, I have nothing to say except that their letters go into the nearest grate. I certainly do not care the value of a brass farthing what they believe or disbelieve. If I truthfully report the facts, each has the same chance as myself to make his theory to fit them.