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“We have set it down as a law to ourselves to examine things to the
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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by
HENRY S. Olcott. In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington, D. C.
ALFRED R. WALLACE, F.R.S.
WILLIAM CROOKES, F. R. S.
DISCOVERER OF THE METAL, THALLIUM,
To mark his admiration of the moral courage they have recently displayed, in the investigation of the phenomena called spiritual : a sentiment which he holds in common with many thousands of his fellow-countrymen.
The volume which is now laid before the reader will be found divided into Two Parts; of which the First is devoted to a detailed description of the strange things seen, heard, and felt by the author at the Eddy Homestead, in the township of Chittenden, Vermont; and the Second, to a report of a series of original investigations made by him in the city of Philadelphia, into the alleged materializations of John and Katie King, under test conditions; to an account of the Compton “transfiguration ;' and to a copious Bibliography of the Occult Sciences.
It has been no part of the author's plan to discuss modern Spiritualism in its moral aspect; but, on the contrary, to treat its phenomena only as involving a scientific question which presses upon us for instant attention. It is written neither as a defence of, or attack upon Spiritualism, or Spiritualists. It is a truthful narrative of what befell in the Eddy Homestead, from the latter part of August to the first week in December, 1874. It was observed, by a leading New York journal, of the first, and by no means the most interesting letter written by the author from that place, that it was “as marvelous a story as any to be found in History.” Its interest lay in the striking and highly sensational manifestations, of alleged spiritual origin, which it described; the equal of which will be found in every chapter of this book.
Twenty-seven years have elapsed since the Rochester fappings attracted the notice of the world, and we are
apparently not much nearer a scientific demonstration of their cause than we were then. Such consideration as men of scientific training have bestowed upon the evervarying forms of manifestation, has been mainly of a desultory character; and, while numerous converts to the new faith have been made among this class, the great body of their colleagues have held themselves aloof from the subject, as if it were something to be avoided as subversive of the established, and hence respectable, order of things.
As early as 1857, the Faculty of Harvard University pronounced the opinion that “any connection with spiritualistic circles, so called, corrupts the morals, and degrades the intellect;” and they even had the effrontery to say that they deemed it “their solemn duty to warn the community against this contaminating influence, which surely tends to lessen the truth of man, and the purity of woman.” (!) In 1869. we find so little progress made that Mr. Huxley, one of the first scientific men of England, writes to the London Dialectical Society that he neither has the time to devote to an investigation of the subject, nor does it even interest him. “The only case of 'Spiritualism,'” says Mr. Huxley, “I ever had the opportunity of examining into for myself, was as gross an imposture as ever came under my notice." The average reader will, of course, see the syllogism: Mr. Huxley never saw but one case of 'Spiritualism'; that case proved a gross fraud, and no Spiritualism; therefore, Spiritualism is a fraud! This is given as a fair specimen of the self-complacent disdain with which our scientific men view the question of the day. The American Association devoted“ hours of its Hartford meeting, last summer, to a discussion upon the social habits of the tumble-bug, and to the important fact that the Saracenia variolaris (pitcher-plant) catches bugs; but the members have no time to waste in investigating the astounding phenomenon of “ materialization,” the demonstration of whose verity would not only prove the immortality of the soul of man, but, as the Scientific American recently observed :
“If true, it will become the one grand event of the world's history; it will give an imperishable lustre of glory to the Nineteenth Century. Its discoverer will have no rival in renown, and his name will be written high above any other. . . . If the pretensions of Spiritualism have a rational foundation, no more important work has been offered to men of Science than their verification.”