The Squaw Hollow Sensation, Part 5 – A Visit and Translation Problems

“Mountain Democrat,” June 28, 1879

“Last Saturday eight persons – three ladies and five gentlemen – went from this city out to Ringgold, for the purpose of an interview with Dr. Von Herbst and the person whom he recently resuscitated after burial for centuries, as recounted in a former number of the “Democrat.” The Doctor had issued invitations to some 40 or 50 persons whose names had been suggested as those inclined to scientific investigation and inquiry. It appears that a majority of those thus invited shared the prevailing impression that the account we published was a hoax. The eight who went were more than repaid for their trip, but their names shall be withheld from publication until the Doctor shall have fulfilled his intention of delivering a series of public lecturers, in which he will exhibit his restored subject, together with cerements in which he as swathed, and the inscriptions on papyrus which were inclosed with the body with those cerements; together also with one or more specimens of the unrestored subjects. Sethos – with the inscriptions abundantly prove to be the name of the restored subject – is fast recovering the faculties and powers which for so long a period had lain dormant. His first attempts at locomotion were comically like those of an infant. His vocal articulation is as yet a cooing sound of an infantile plaint. And yet, to those with whom he has been brought into personal contact, he has manifested a strange intelligence and power that have inspired a mixture of wonder and of terror, both during such intercourse and afterwards. Dr. Von Herbst is fully convinced that Sethos, although he cannot respond to or understand the language of those with whom he has been brought into contact, has nevertheless perfectly comprehended their thoughts. This has opened up a new field for the zealous little scientist, to which he has addressed himself with accustomed ardor, and he has promised to communicate to us and our readers the results of his observations and researches. In the meantime, however, he has not suspended his resuscitating experiments, though he failed to restore the three subjects – including the female – first operated upon after the restoration of Sethos. After becoming convinced of the impossibility of restoring these, however, he called in a couple of local physicians, and in their presence performed a critical dissection that convinced him those three subjects died a natural death from disease, and he has never claimed or supposed that he could restore animation except where it had been artificially suspended. We shall – and we are confident that all of our intelligent readers will – wait with lively interest his promised demonstration that Sethos is endowed with the wondrous power of psychical telegraphy, in which it is dimly hinted the Egyptian and Eleusinian mystics were, the enthusiastic Professor undertakes to establish beyond all possibility of successful controversy.”

(Note: The name Sethos is not specific to one person or entity, since it is a Greek word applied to a number of Egyptians and others. Why it is used as a name for this mummy is, therefore, a bit confusing.

Seth, the son of Adam and Eve, is only one person in the Bible sometimes called Sethos in Greek. Sethos of the Three Brothers was the father of Ramses I, who was the father of Seti I, who is also called Sethos in Greek. Seti I’s mummy is said to be the finest of the surviving mummies, but it was not found until 1881, two years after this story was published. Finally, the Egyptian god Set, often Sethos in Greek, was the God of Chaos and also protected the Sun God Ra on his nightly trip through the Underworld. Set drowned and dismembered his brother, the god Osiris, who he then tossed into the Nile River. Isis, his sister and the wife of Osiris, reassembled him).

Two weeks after this article, the following appeared in the newspaper.

“Mountain Democrat,” July 12, 1897

“IN THE ORIGINAL – The linguist of our staff having been quite ill, and undergoing a copius administration of Dr. Jacob Zeisz’s (Note: Jacob Zeisz owned a Placerville brewery) medicines since the 4th, we are compelled to publish the following communication from Dr. Von Herbst without translation, relying on our German patrons to communicate its content to their non-Teutonic neighbors:

(Note: we will not attempt to insert it here in German, but will provide it to anyone who wishes to translate it).

“We did have it translated and here it is in ‘idiomatic and modern English’:

“To the publisher of the Mountain Democrat.

“A few weeks ago, I gave my promise to your newspaper to submit a short report regarding the latest experiments I conducted on my reawakened (brought back to life) mummy, Sethos. I have completed those. But since I couldn’t find a German here who could translate it into proper English, I have to send it to you in German in the hope that you will give it to someone else to translate. My English knowledge is quite limited so that I don’t dare to translate it myself.
Loerder von Herbst, R.S.B.

(Note: The person translating it noted that it was in archaic German, but, because of the inconsistencies, probably not written by someone with German as a first language. The meaning of R. S. B. was not understood and the name Loerder was unfamiliar to the translator).

“Mountain Democrat,” July 19, 1879


“Following is the translation, as accurate as we could obtain on short notice, of the communication from Dr. Loerder Von Herbst, relative to his further experiments at Ringgold on the revived mummy of Squaw Hollow:

“My experiments in communicating with the revived mummy have been interesting, but before the general reader is asked to assume my belief in their truth it will be proper for me to show something of the means by which the revelations were made. The medium of information was “Psychic Telegraphy,” by which force it is possible for one being to communicate with another, though that other be a perfect stranger, provided there be intelligence to operated on, though there be not the usual capacity for communicating thought by language or mutually understood physical signs. To convince you of this I must lay down a few principles of reasoning to guide you while you follow my narration. In argument you must grant premises and debate conclusion. If the premises are proved and the deduction of a conclusion is logical, I must claim the conclusion as just, no matter how outrageous and illogical it would seem if presented alone. Let me quote briefly from the learned Dr. Ely Van De Warker: “We must grapple with this psychological problem from a few fixed points, like points of a triangulation to measure distance which otherwise may remain unknown. We must reason from the known to the unknown. These fixed points are to be found in anatomy and physiology,” and, I will add, philosophy (Note: Dr. (Edward) Ely Van De Warker was a well known and prominent New York physician of that time specializing in women’s health issues).  “Now,” you ask, “what is psychology?” Psychology is the science of the mind and its attributes, and is a science derived by the mind from the mind in studying itself. The attributes of the mind are various, and we shall consider some special organs, their functions, and how and by what means they act. The force you of course understand to be nerve force, or psychic electricity. Psychic electricity gives rise to psychic telegraphy. As the brain is the great organ of sensibility and thought, I shall include with it the spinal marrow and the nerves springing from both. The cerebrum is the brain of consciousness and and voluntary action, where certain parts are devoted to certain specific uses, and within is an unexplored country called the sensorium. The nerves that spring from the brain are all connected with the sensorium, the functional parts and the bodily organs. They are of the same matter as the brain, and in their ramifications may be compared to the many wires of a telegraph line; and such in fact they are, a most perfect line. The peculiarity of the folds or convolutions of the cerebrum is, that the more carefully you examine them the more clearly you see that they are made up of mere collections of nerves bound together. The cerebellum, on the other hand, where nervous or psychic force is generated, has a most marvelous resemblance to a voltage pile, for it is made up of thin plates of laminae of a grayish substance, between which the nerves run in and out, and coiled about them are the insulating bands, making in fact, a complete battery. The eye is a cleverly arranged micro-telescope, the ear, on the other hand, being a telephone. The impression of light or noise is made on the eye or ear, and there the delicate little spread of nerves takes up the beating of each wave and conveys it to the sensorium. Speaking of impressions, it might be not out of place to consider what they are and how they are made.
1st – Impingement on any elastic substance produces an impression!
2nd – All matters are elastic!
3rd – All motion is impingement.

“Ergo – Every motion or tremor of matter striking or impinging against any other materialized force, produces an impression or record; something is left to show what has taken place. The impression, true, may vary in magnitude or apparent importance, from the disintegration of two stars on striking together, to the almost inappreciable impression made on the eye or other receptive substance by the delicate vibration caused by tiny and multitudinous waves of light or sound. Expose a sheet of yellow paper, on which a key or other small object is laid, to the bring sunlight for a few moments, and, on looking at it carefully in a perfectly dark room, you will find the picture of the key or other object impressed. Shut the paper in a book, and on taking it out at the end of a century the apparition will again be manifest. This is a physical impression, and similar ones are always taking place, objects being perfect records of impressions of all their surroundings. There have been picture-readers, or developers of invisible impressions, in different ages of the world. The most celebrated of these, of whom we have authentic knowledge, was the wife of Professor Denton, a record of the experiments with whom make up his book, “The Soul of Things.” She, by holding to her head an object, could see distinctly the various active events that had take place near enough to make an impression. In this manner, when given a piece of rock taken by a gentleman from the Yellow Jacket Mine after the great fire, she, being blindfolded and know knowing what part of the world the rock had come, accurately described the terrific underground scene with most startling vividness.”

(Note: In April of 1869 a fire broke out in the Yellow Jacket Mine in the Gold Hill area of Nevada. It spread to two adjacent mines, the Kentuck and Crown Point, and killed 34 miners).

(Note: William and Elizabeth M.F. Denton wrote “The Soul of Things; or Psychometric Researches and Discoveries” in 1863. “The theory of this book, is that every material substance retains impressions of all persons, beings, and objects that have ever been in juxtaposition with it or sustained by any relation to it; that this record of its entire history, including human character and experiences, remains forever legible; and that the power of reading such records – if not latent in all – exists in some human organisms. This power is termed psychometry.”
[The North American Review / Volume 97, Issue 201, October 1863, Page 587])

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