Banner of Light, May 13, 1876
[Note: for some background, see “The Russian Investigation & “Psychophobia” in Russia”]
To the Editor of The Banner of Light:
Dear Sir,—I take the earliest opportunity to warn mediums generally—but particularly American mediums—that a plot against the cause has been hatched in St. Petersburg. The particulars have just been received by me from one of my foreign correspondents, and may be relied upon as authentic.
It is now commonly known that Professor Wagner, the geologist, has boldly come out as a champion for mediumistic phenomena. Since he witnessed the wonderful manifestations of Brédif, the French medium, he has issued several pamphlets, reviewed at great length Colonel Olcott’s People from the Other World, and excited and defied the anger of all the Scientific Psychophobists of the Imperial University. Fancy a herd of mad bulls rushing at the red flag of a picador, and you will have some idea of the effect of Wagner’s Olcott pamphlet upon his colleagues!
Chief among them is the Chairman of the Scientific Commission which has just exploded with a report of what they did not see, at séances never held! Goaded to fury by the defense of Spiritualism, which they had intended to quietly butcher, this individual suddenly took the determination to come to America, and is now probably on his way. Like a Samson of science, he expects to tie our foxes of mediums together by the tails, set fire to them and turn them into the corn of those Philistines, Wagner and Butleroff.
Let me give mediums a bit of friendly caution. If this Russian Professor should turn up at a séance, keep a sharp eye upon him, and let everyone do the same; give him no private séances at which there is not present at least one truthful and impartial Spiritualist. Some scientists are not to be trusted. My correspondent writes that the Professor “goes to America to create a great scandal, burst up Spiritualism and turn the laugh on Prof. Wagner, Messrs. Aksakoff and Butleroff.” The plot is very ingeniously contrived: he is coming here under the pretext of the Centennial, and will attract as little attention as possible among the mediums.
But, Mr. Editor, what if he should meet the fate of Hare and become a Spiritualist! What a wailing would there not be in the Society of Physical Sciences! I shudder at the mortification which should await my poor countrymen.
But another distinguished Russian scientist is also coming, for whom I bespeak a very different reception. Professor Kittara, the greatest technologist of Russia, and a member of the Emperor’s Privy Council, is really sent by the government to the Centennial. He is deeply interested in Spiritualism, very anxious to investigate it, and will bring the proper credentials from Mr. Aksakoff. The latter gentleman writes me that every civility and attention will be shown Professor Kittara, as his report, if favorable, will have a tremendous influence upon public opinion.
The unfairness of the University Commission has, it seems, produced a reaction. I translate the following from a paper which Mr. Aksakoff has sent me:
From the St. Petersburg “Berjevëya Viedomostji” (Exchange Reports).
“We hear that the Commission for the investigation of mediumism, which was formed by the Society of Physical Sciences attached to the University, is preparing to issue a report of its labors (?!). It will appear as an appendix to the monthly periodical of the Chemical and Physical Societies. Meanwhile, another Commission is being formed, but this time its members will not be supplied from the “Physical Science Society,” but from the Medical Society. Nevertheless, several members of the former will be invited to join, as well as the friends of mediumism, and others who would be able to offer important suggestions pro or con. We hear that the formation of this new Commission is warmly advocated, its necessity having been shown in the breach of faith by the “Physical Science Society,” its failure to hold the promised forty séances, its premature adoption of unfair conclusions, and the strong prejudices of the members.”
Let us hope that this new organization may prove more honorable than its predecessor (peace to its ashes!).
H. P. Blavatsky.