[To the Editor of THE DAILY GRAPHIC.]
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 30th of October last, and 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 see your paper once more, in order that by pointing out
some very spicy peculiarities of this amazingly scientific exposure, the public might
better judge to whose door the aforesaid elegant epithet could be more appropriately laid.
For a week or so an immense excitement, a thrill of sacrilegious fear, if I am allowed
this expression, ran through the psychologized frames of the Spiritualists of New
York. It was rumored in ominous whispers that J. Beard, M.D., the Tyndall of
America, was coming out with his peremptory exposure of the Eddys ghosts, and - the
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 (weaked-minded fool though
we may be), and so we handled the dangerous exposure with a feeling somewhat akin to the
one of the fanatic Christian opening a volume of Buchner. 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 Eddies was but a delusion. In our feminine
modesty, still allowing the said article to 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 believed 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 on its precious pages to prove - what? 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 (Molieres Tartuffe might fit him perhaps as
naturally) than to undertake the difficult part of a Professor Faraday vis-a-vis
the Chittenden, D. D. Home.
Secondly, that notwithstanding the learned doctor was overwhelmed already with
professional labors (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 business to go so 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! Query - The proof of it, if you
please, Dr. Beard? Answer - Dr. 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 by him seventy-five cents per pound as a penalty; and that fact alone might have
turned him a little - how shall we say, sour, 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 seance 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
maneuvers of Horatios arm he risks to find himself belied 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 any one else, as he has sat there
himself. A sad story is in circulation, by the way, at the Eddys. The
records of the Spiritual seances at Chittenden have devoted a whole page to the account of
a terrible danger that has 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 in everything else in his article. The doctor
admits that he has 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 himself 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 then Dr.
B. does not believe in their existence and so puts the whole thing to Horatios
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 record - the
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, not being wanted, none of them, 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
an inch to 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. Beards 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 there 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 the
most 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 the
like. He went to Chittenden with deceit in his heart and falsehood on his lips, and
so, judging his neighbor by the character he assumed himself, he takes every one 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
Where are his boasted proofs? When we contradict him by saying that the
seance-room is far from being as dark as he pretends it to be, and that the spirits have
repeatedly called out themselves through Mrs. Eatons 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 in 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 implied 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 that he did not
see, and so thrusting 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 possible conceal on his person (the cabinet having
been previously found empty) a whole bundle of clothes, womens 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
Oedipus that had thought of catching the sphinx by its tail and so unriddle the
mystery. We have known more than one weak-minded foot, ourselves
included, that has labored 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 he 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 this scientist has done more towards science than all the rest of the
scientists put together have done in years of labor, and would feel ashamed if he
had not. (See same column.) In the overpowering modesty of his learning,
he takes no credit upon himself for having done so, though he has discovered the
astounding, novel fact of the cold benumbing the 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 would not Dr. Beard select for his crest the
same? And then, not unlike the Alexanders and the Caesars of the 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 more wise mind than Dr. Beard (shall 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, stands 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. Beards 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 days modest and
unassuming), and that accounts for the learned doctor withholding from us any scientific
proof of the fraud that he pretends 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 thawing - all the above is a mystery that Dr. Beard doesnt 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
I will add but a few words before ending my debate with Dr. Beard forever. All
that he says about the lamp concealed in a band-box, the strong confederates, &c.,
&c., exist but in his imagination, for the mere sake of argument, we suppose.
False in one false in all, says Dr. Beard on column the sixth. These
words are a just verdict to 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 George 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 shall
recognize it, for it is the badge of honor 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 fathers grave at Stavropol. You shall identify it by a certain sign
known to yourself. These words were spoken in the presence of forty
witnesses. Colonel Olcott will describe the fact and give the design of the
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, advising the Eddys to take a few
private lessons of him in the trickery of mediumship. The learned doctor must be
expert in all 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.