May 5, 1927
Around the Globe
Los Angeles, world renowned for its disproportionate share of eccentrics, was reminded in the press to-day that she is not alone when it comes to the care and feeding of such.
House of Brunswick-era London was of course known for feverish devotees of Joanna Southcott, domestic servant turned prophetess, who claimed supernatural powers and dictated prophecy in rhyme. (Southcottians numbered over 100,000 at one time but practically disappeared overnight in 1890.) On Southcott’s death in 1814 she left a mysterious box to Rebecca Pengarth, sole companion, who promised it would never be opened except in a national crisis and in the presence of twenty-four bishops. (The episcopate were pressed to open the thing during the Crimean War, and again during the Great War, but they demurred.) Southcott claimed to be “the mother of the new Messiah,” and you wouldn’t want to screw that up, so don’t worry, the National Laboratory of Psychical Research didn’t open it; they had it X-rayed. Noted psychic investigator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle declined an invitation. The box, after an application of the ol’ Röntgen, showed it to contain a skull, scissors, a horse pistol, a beaded bag, rings, coins, pins, some other whatnot, and what appears to be a roll of manuscript. Could that hold the secret of messianic return?
Well, no. When finally opened, the parchment turned out to be a lottery ticket. (And there was in fact no skull—everybody knows that when you cobble together a Mystery Box, you include a skull.) Southcott descended into House of Windsor-era obscurity, save for the attentions poured upon her by the Panacea Society.
Speaking of the Great War, it was announced today in Washington by by Dr. F. Homer Curtis, founder of the Order of Christian Mystics, that blame for the World War was to be placed solely on gaseous trails left in the earth’s atmosphere by Halley’s comet in 1910. It seems the gas made humanity nervous and suspicious; and, he noted, if there’s a World War in 1929, you can blame the Pons-Winnecke comet.
Of course, PW passed by again in ’33 and ’39, and no one suffered from that, did they?