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Title: Occultism and Common-Sense
Author: Willson, Beckles, 1869-1942
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                        OCCULTISM AND COMMON-SENSE

                            BY BECKLES WILLSON


    _Past President of the Society for Psychical Research_




















The following chapters, together with Professor Barrett's comment
thereupon, which now figures as an Introduction, originally appeared in
the columns of _The Westminster Gazette_.


_By Professor W. F. Barrett, F.R.S._

_Those of us who took part in the foundation of the Society for
Psychical Research were convinced from personal investigation and from
the testimony of competent witnesses that, amidst much illusion and
deception, there existed an important body of facts, hitherto
unrecognised by science, which, if incontestably established, would be
of supreme interest and importance._

_It was hoped that by applying scientific methods to their systematic
investigation these obscure phenomena might eventually be rescued from
the disorderly mystery of ignorance; (but we recognised that this would
be a work, not of one generation but of many.) Hence to preserve
continuity of effort it was necessary to form a society, the aim of
which should be, as we stated at the outset, to bring to bear on these
obscure questions the same spirit of exact and unimpassioned inquiry
which has enabled science to solve so many problems once not less
obscure nor less hotly debated. And such success as the society has
achieved is in no small measure due to the wise counsel and ungrudging
expenditure both of time and means which the late Professor Henry
Sidgwick gave, and which Mrs Sidgwick continues to give, to all the
details of its work._

_Turning now to the author of the following pages, everyone must
recognise the industry he has shown and the fairness of spirit he has
endeavoured to maintain. With different groups of phenomena, the
evidential value varies enormously. The testimony of honest and even
careful witnesses requires to be received with caution, owing to the
intrusion of two sources of error to which untrained observers are very
liable. These are unconscious_ mal-observation _and unintentional_
mis-description. _I cannot here enter into the proof of this statement,
but it is fully established. Oddly enough, not only a credulous observer
but a cynical or ferocious sceptic is singularly prone to these errors
when, for the first time, he is induced to investigate psychical
phenomena which, in the pride of his superior intelligence, he has
hitherto scorned. I could give some amusing illustrations of this within
my own knowledge. For instance, a clever but critical friend who had
frequently scoffed at the evidence for thought-transference published in
the "Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research," one day
seriously informed me he had been converted to a belief in
thought-transference by some conclusive experiments he had witnessed.
Upon inquiring where these experiments took place I found it was at a
public performance of a very inferior Zancig who was then touring
through the provinces!_

_Mr Beckles Willson frankly tells us that "the light heart and open
mind" with which he set forth on his inquiry deserted him before he drew
his labours to a close. For, entering upon the subject as a novice, he
found himself unexpectedly confronted by the mass of evidence and the
numerous and profoundly difficult problems which the Psychical Society
have had to face. His conclusions are derived from a study of the
available evidence, and this study has convinced him--as it has
convinced, so far as I know, every other painstaking and honest
inquirer--that no theories based on fraud, illusion, nor even on
telepathy, are adequate to account for the whole of the phenomena he has
reviewed. Contrary to his prepossessions, Mr Willson tells us that he
has been led to the conclusion that the only satisfactory explanation of
these phenomena is the action of discarnate human beings--that is to
say, the Spiritualistic hypothesis._

_I can hardly suppose he means to apply this statement to more than the
small residue of phenomena which he finds inexplicable on any other
hypothesis. Assuming this restricted view to be meant, the question
arises, Is the evidence on which it is based sufficiently_ abundant,
trustworthy, _and_ conclusive, _to warrant such a far-reaching
statement? Here we must turn from the author to ascertain what has been
the conclusion arrived at by those who have given long years to a
searching experimental investigation of these phenomena, and who have
approached the subject in a scientific and judicial spirit. The most
noteworthy instance is the testimony of that shrewd and able
investigator, the late Dr Hodgson. His patient and laborious inquiry
into the trance phenomena of Mrs Piper ultimately led him to the
conclusion arrived at by Mr Willson. Dr Hodgson's well-known exposure of
Madame Blavatsky and other fraudulent mediums and his sane and cautious
judgment render his opinion of great weight. Then, again, we find that
this also was the conclusion to which Frederic Myers was gradually
driven. And long prior to this it was the conclusion arrived at by that
acute thinker, the late Professor de Morgan, and it is the conclusion
strongly held by the great naturalist, Dr A. R. Wallace, and held also
by several other eminent investigators I might name._

_So momentous a conclusion, if capable of such complete verification as
to be universally accepted by science, would obviously throw all other
discoveries into the background. I say if capable of being verified by
scientific methods, but, although the weight of opinion will, in my
opinion, ultimately lead to a very wide acceptance of this conclusion,
yet it seems to me highly probable that the experimental discovery of
the survival of human personality after death will always elude
conclusive scientific demonstration. This particular field of psychical
investigation belongs to an order other than that with which science
deals; and, this being so, it can never be adequately investigated with
the limited faculties we now possess._

_In any case, as I said in a letter published in_ The Times, _so long
ago as September 1876, before science is in a position to frame any
satisfactory hypothesis of the so-called Spiritualistic phenomena, a
number of antecedent questions will have to be investigated and decided.
Prominent among these, I urged more than thirty years ago, was the
question whether ideas or information can be voluntarily or
involuntarily transferred from one mind to another independently of the
recognised organs of perception. Experiments I had then recently made
led me to the conclusion that something new to science, which might
provisionally be called thought-transference, now known in its wider
aspect as telepathy, did really exist. This, if established, would, as I
pointed out, unquestionably solve some of the so-called spirit
communications which had so puzzled investigators. But the idea of
thought-transference was at that time just as obnoxious to official
science as Spiritualism. Mr Willson quotes the implacable disbelief,
even in the possibility of telepathy, which that great man Helmholtz
expressed to me. And it is amusing now to recall the fierce outcry
aroused by the paper I read at the British Association meeting in 1876,
when, after narrating certain apparently transcendental phenomena I had
witnessed, I asked that a committee of scientific men should be
appointed to investigate preliminary question of the possibility of
thought-transference.[1] It is true the evidence on behalf of telepathy
has since become so abundant that now few deny its probability, but even
telepathy has not yet taken its place among the recognised scientific
verities. I hope this recognition will not be long delayed, but until it
occurs it is almost as illegitimate to use telepathy, as some do so
freely, for the foundation of their theories of transcendental phenomena
as to use the spiritualistic hypothesis itself._

[Footnote 1: The Spectator, _I believe, alone, generously supported me,
and in an editorial article on 30th September 1876 expressed the hope
that "the British Association would really lake some action on the
subject of the paper, in spite of the protests of the party, which we
may call the party of superstitious incredulity_."]

_To those who have carefully studied the evidence there is, however,
little doubt that telepathy does afford an adequate explanation of
certain well-attested phenomena, such as phantasms of the living or
dying person. And telepathy, which may now be considered as highly
probable, leads on to the evidence for man's survival after death--to
this I will return later on._

_Then, again, recent investigations have established the fact that the
range of human personality must be extended to include something more
than our normal self-consciousness. Our Ego is not the simple unitary
thing older psychologists taught, but a composite structure embracing a
self that extends far beyond the limit of our conscious waking life.
Just as experimental physics has shown that each pencil of sunlight
embraces an almost endless succession of invisible rays as well as the
visible radiation we perceive, so experimental psychology has shown
that each human personality embraces an unconscious as well as a
conscious self. Mr Myers, using Du Perl's conception of a threshold, has
termed the former our_ subliminal self. _And just as the invisible
radiation of the sun can only be rendered perceptible by some agency
outside our vision, so this subliminal self reveals itself only by some
agency outside our own volition. The subliminal self not only contains
the record of unheeded past impressions--a latent memory--but also has
activities and faculties far transcending the range of our conscious
self. In this it also resembles the invisible radiation of the sun,
which is the main source of life and energy in this world._

_Certainly the everyday processes of the development, nutrition, and
repair of our body and brain, which go on automatically and
unconsciously within us, are far beyond the powers of our conscious
personality. All life shares with us this miraculous automatism. No
chemist, with all his appliances, can turn breadstuff into brainstuff or
hay into milk. Further, the subliminal self seems to have faculties
which can be emancipated from the limitations of our ordinary life.
Glimpses of this we get when the conscious self is in abeyance, as in
sleep, hypnosis, and trance. Here and there we find certain individuals
through whom this sub- or supra-liminal self manifests itself more
freely than through others; they have been termed "mediums," a word, it
is true, that suggests Browning's "Sludge." But, as scientific
investigation has shown all mesmerists and dowsers are not charlatans,
so it has shown all mediums are not rogues._

_This extension of human faculty, revealing, as it does, more profoundly
the mysterious depths of our being, enables us to explain many phenomena
that have been attributed to discarnate human beings. The question
arises, Does it explain all so-called Spiritualistic phenomena? In my
opinion, and in that of others who have given more time to their
critical investigation than I have, it does not. At present we have to
grope our way, but the ground is being cleared, and the direction which
the future explorer of these unknown regions has to take is becoming
more evident._

Occultism and Common-Sense



When I first ventured into the wide and misty domain of Occultism, with
a light heart I set forth and an open mind. My sole aim was to
ascertain, as far as the means at the disposal of an ordinary man with
little of the mystic in his composition would allow, what degree of
probability attached to published phenomena, which the ordinary laws of
Nature, as most of us understand them, could not satisfactorily explain.

At the threshold of my inquiry, one prominent and, as it seemed to me,
disconcerting fact confronted me--namely, that although for a couple of
generations "supernatural" manifestations had been promiscuously
exhibited before the public, challenging full investigation and inviting
belief; although almost every day the newspapers report some striking
case of spirit apparition or materialisation, coincident dreams,
clairvoyance, trance utterances, or possession, often seemingly well
attested; yet in spite of all this testimony academic science continued
to dispute the very basis of such phenomena. Any investigator must needs
recognise here a very anomalous situation. On the one hand are, let us
say, half-a-million people, often highly intelligent, cultured, sane
people, firmly protesting that they have witnessed certain astonishing
occult manifestations, and on the other hand the Royal Society and the
British Association, and other organised scientific bodies established
for the investigation of truth, absolutely refusing to admit such
evidence or to regard it seriously. Forty years ago Faraday, besought to
give his opinion, in this wise wrote: "They who say they see these
things are not competent witnesses of facts. It would be condescension
on my part to pay any more attention to them." Faraday's attitude was
that of Huxley, Spencer, Tyndall, and Agassiz. The first-named, however,
rather gave away his prejudice by saying: "Supposing the phenomena to be
genuine, they do not interest me." Tyndall's utterance also deserves to
be recalled: "There are people amongst us who, it is alleged, can
produce effects before which the discoveries of Newton pale. There are
men of science who would sell all that they have, and give the proceeds
to the poor, for a glimpse of phenomena which are mere trifles to the
spiritualist." He added: "The world will have religion of some kind,
even though it should fly for it to the intellectual whoredom of
spiritualism." Spencer's words were: "I have settled the question in my
own mind on à priori grounds." Professor Carpenter called spiritualism
"a most mischievous epidemic delusion, comparable to the witchcraft
delusion of the seventeenth century."

What, then, has happened to strengthen the case of the believers in
ghosts, clairvoyance, thought-transference, sensory automatism, in,
say, the last quarter of a century? What new evidence exists which would
make the mid-Victorian scientific men reconsider their position? Suppose
Faraday and Huxley, Spencer and Tyndall, were alive to-day, would they
see reason to alter their opinions?

I remember once--and I now give it as typical--overhearing a psychical
experience. It was in a first-class compartment on a train coming from
Wimbledon. One of my fellow-passengers, an intelligent, well-spoken man
of about thirty-five, was relating to three friends the following
extraordinary story. As nearly as I can recollect, I give the narrator's
own words:--

     "One week ago last Tuesday, at eleven o'clock at night, my
     wife, who had just retired to bed upstairs, called out to me:
     'Arthur! Arthur!' in a tone of alarm. I sprang up and ran
     upstairs to see what was the matter. The servants had all gone
     to bed. 'Arthur,' said my wife, 'I've just seen mother,' and
     she began to cry. 'Why,' I said, 'your mother's at
     Scarborough.' 'I know,' she said; 'but she appeared before me
     just there' (pointing to the foot of the bed) 'two minutes ago
     as plainly as you do.' Well, the next morning there was a
     telegram on the breakfast-table: 'Mother, died at eleven last
     night.' Now, how do you account for it?"

There was silence for a full minute.

"A wonderful coincidence. Your wife's hallucination coincided with her
mother's death!"

Another occupant of the carriage caught up the word:

"Yes, coincidence. A thing which mightn't happen once in a million

Nobody else ventured a remark. Yet they seemed unconvinced. There was no
one to tell them--even I did not know then--that these "coincidences"
were constantly happening, every year, perhaps every month; that an
intelligent body of men--the Society for Psychical Research--has made a
census of such hallucinations, all apparently well attested; that
newspapers devoted to occult matters constantly record these things;
that volumes--monthly, weekly, almost--fairly pour from the press
detailing, expounding, dissecting, elaborating such evidence; that the
theory of coincidence has already been rejected by many men of the first
rank of science; and that official science itself is reluctantly
reconsidering its position in more than one direction.

Yet so slowly do the masses move in intellectual life, so tardily do
truths, concerning not merely occult but physical and material
investigation, percolate through to the workaday world, that the
researches, the activities, the ascertained truths of students of
psychical phenomena are as a closed book. Perhaps the attitude of apathy
with which occult phenomena and occult science are regarded by the
average man is not unnatural. To him all miracles that are not
Scriptural and ancient and, as it were, institutional are highly
improbable, if not impossible. All super-naturalism, he will tell you,
is morbid. "There may be something in these things," he says, "but it is
not proved. As for spiritualism, my belief is that mediums are
impostors. Most of the spiritualists I have seen are 'cranks'--they are
certainly dupes--and I have no doubt that if I interested myself in
these matters I should end by becoming also a 'crank.'"

This I maintain is the position of the ordinarily educated normal man.

"The moment," wrote Lord Lytton, "one deals with things beyond our
comprehension, and in which our own senses are appealed to and baffled,
we revolt from the probable, as it appears to the senses of those who
have not experienced what we have." Now, that is just what the candid
inquirer must avoid throughout his inquiry. It is often difficult to
resist employing supernormal hypotheses; but, until normal hypotheses
are exhausted, the resistance must be made. On the other hand, it is
well to bear in mind Mr Andrew Lang's timely remark, "there is a point
at which the explanations of common-sense arouse scepticism."

At all events, not even the most materialistic man-in-the-music-hall,
with two eyes in his head, can deny that the great wave of occultism,
which twenty years ago seemed to be receding, is again returning with
greater force and volume, submerging many of the old sceptical theories
and wetting even the utterly callous and ignorant with its spray. It is
not so long ago that the very fact of hypnotism was doubted--Mesmer was
long regarded as a mere quack--but to-day the induced trance is
universally credited. To hypnotism must the miracle of telepathy now be
added? Has it really been ascertained, after a thousand experiments and
beyond the possibility of error, that a mode of apprehension exists
which has no connection with the five senses? For twenty-five years the
members of the Society of Psychical Research have carried on their
investigations of both sleeping and waking subjects, under every
conceivable condition, and are at last fain to announce that such a
mystic faculty does exist by which brain can communicate with brain
without any known sensory agency.

As to the kind of "ghost" story recorded above, what an exact analogy
it bears to the following, to be found in a recent volume of the
"Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research!" The statement was
received from a Madame Broussiloff, of St Petersburg:--

     "On the 16th (28th) of February of this year, between nine and
     ten o'clock in the evening, I, the undersigned, was sitting in
     our drawing-room--the small one--facing the large drawing-room,
     which I could see in its entire length. My husband, his
     brother, with his wife, and my mother, were also sitting in the
     same room with me round a large round table. I was writing down
     my household accounts for the day, while the others were
     carrying on some gay conversation. Having accidentally raised
     my head and looked into the large drawing-room, I noticed, with
     astonishment, that a large grey shadow had passed from the door
     of the dining-room to that of the antechamber; and it came into
     my head that the figure I had seen bore a striking resemblance
     in stature to Colonel Ave-Meinander, an acquaintance of ours,
     who had lived in this very lodging for a long time. At the
     first moment, I wished to say at once that a ghost had just
     flashed before me, but stopped, as I was afraid of being
     laughed at by my husband's brother and his wife, and also of
     being scolded by my husband, who, in view of the excitement
     which I showed when such phenomena were taking place, tried to
     convince me that they were the fruits of my fancy. As I knew
     that Meinander was alive and well, and was commander of the
     Malorossüsky 40th Regiment of Dragoons, I did not say anything
     then; but when I was going to bed I related to my mother what I
     had seen, and the next morning could not refrain from
     mentioning it to my husband.

     "Our astonishment was extreme when, on the 18th of February
     (2nd of March), we learned Nicholas Ottovitch Ave-Meinander had
     actually died after a short illness on the 16th (28th) of
     February at nine o'clock in the evening, in the town of
     Strashovo, where his regiment is stationed.

     "The above account is confirmed by the percipient's mother,
     Marie von Hagemeister, and by the husband, Colonel Alexis
     Alexeievitch Broussiloff. Both state solemnly that Colonel
     Meinander died at nine P.M. on the evening of 16th February
     (28th) at Stashovo, 1200 versts from St Petersburg."

To explain this phenomenon in the terms of telepathy, the grey shadow
seen by Madame Broussiloff was not a ghost, not the "bodiless spirit in
the likeness of a man," but "a waking dream projected from the brain of
the seer under the impulse of the dying man's thought."

But telepathy itself requires consideration and explanation. Sir William
Crookes has repeatedly given publicity to his theory of brain-waves and
to a kindred conception of ether substance, along which intelligence can
be transmitted at an almost incalculable rate of speed to virtually
interminable distances.

That mind should effect mind in a new mode may mean no more than that
brain can act upon brain by means of ethereal vibrations hitherto
unsuspected. The power itself may be but a lingering vestige of our
inheritance from primeval times, a long-disused faculty "dragged from
the dim lumber-room of a primitive consciousness, and galvanised into a
belated and halting activity."

Or, on the other hand, may not such faculty be regarded not as
vestigial, but as rudimentary? Telepathy, if we follow the gifted author
of "Human Personality," is a promise for the future, not an idle
inheritance from the past.

Our business now is, all mystic speculations apart, to consider the
phenomena in the order in which, if not yet actually accepted, they
would seem to evoke least opposition from the academic science of the
day. What is the net result of the evidence for all classes of
supernormal phenomena? That I shall endeavour to point out, as concisely
and lucidly as I can, in the following chapters.



Not least of the wonders of modern psychical research is the discovery
that nothing in all the phenomena is new--that under other names and by
other races every sort of manifestation was familiar to the most remote
peoples. This would certainly seem to meet the argument of the
physicist--it is not necessary to refer again to Professor Tyndall's
uncomplimentary phraseology--who declares that all this popular
occultism is a product of the last generation or two. Take hypnotism.
Hypnotism (or mesmerism) was formerly alleged to be an emanation from
the body--an effluence of intense will-power. The belief in such an
emanation is centuries old. "By the magic power of the will," wrote
Paracelsus, "a person on this side of the ocean may make a person on the
other side hear what is said on that side ... the ethereal body of a
man may know what another man thinks at a distance of 100 miles or
more." Twenty years ago this creed was laughed out of court by Huxley,
Tyndall, and other leading men of science. To-day we are told by those
who have witnessed the experiments of Charcot, Janet, and others that
"the existence of an aura of spirit-force surrounding the body like an
atmosphere, in some cases at all events, can be proved as a physical

Whatever the explanation, whatever the definition of this miraculous
agency, hypnotism is now universally accepted. The manifestations of its
power must convince the most sceptical. A spell-bound subject is
frequently made to share the sensations of the hypnotist, his ocular
perceptions and his sense of touch. In the hypnotic sleep the subject
easily becomes insensible to pain. A member of the Society reports that
he has seen a youth in this condition who suffered gladly the most
injurious attacks upon his own person--who would allow his hair to be
pulled, his ears pinched, his fingers even to be scorched by lighted
matches. But the same youth would next moment indignantly resent the
slightest injury upon his hypnotiser, who would at the time be standing
at the other end of the room.

One thing in common all the hypnotic methods appear to possess, the
diversion of attention from external surroundings and the working of a
sub-consciousness in a manner not characteristic of the ordinary life of
the subject. In cases described by Mr Greenwood no difficulty was
encountered in impersonations suggested to the subject unless they
savoured too much of the ridiculous. "Thus," he writes, "a suggestion
that M., the subject, was myself and that I was he succeeded; and in his
reverse capacity he continued the course of experiments upon himself,
devising several original and ingenious varieties to which I, for the
sake of the experiment, acquiesced in subjecting myself. He also behaved
with considerable dignity and verve as King Edward VII., until I threw a
match at his head, a proceeding which appeared to conflict so strongly
with dramatic verisimilitude that he lapsed back into his ordinary
hypnotic condition, nor could I reinduce the impersonation. On the other
hand, statements that he was the Emperor of China, and that he was a
nurse and I a baby, failed to carry any conviction, being either
received with passive consent or rejected with scorn." It is interesting
to note that in the waking state of the subject he explained that he was
only conscious that he was not the characters he was bidden to assume,
and if asked would have said as much, but that he was irresistibly
impelled to act as though he were.

The production of sleep in the subject at a distance is one of the
latest attested marvels of hypnotism. The long series of experiments
made in France by Professor Richet and Professor Janet would appear to
attest this power. In some trials made at Havre, in which the
experimenters were Professor Janet and Dr Gibert, the subject of the
experiment was a certain Madame B. or "Léonie," then a patient of Dr
Gibert. The facts were recorded by the late F. W. Myers and his
brother, Dr A. T. Myers, who were present:

     "We selected (he states) by lot an hour (eleven A.M.) at which
     M. Gibert should will, from his dispensary (which is close to
     his house), that Madame B. should go to sleep in the Pavilion.
     It was agreed that a rather longer time should be allowed for
     the process to take effect, as it had been observed that she
     sometimes struggled against the influence and averted the
     effect for a time by putting her hands in cold water, etc. At
     11.25 we entered the Pavilion quietly, and almost at once she
     descended from her room to the _salon_, profoundly asleep. We
     did not, of course, mention M. Gibert's attempt of the previous
     night. But she told us in her sleep that she had been very ill
     in the night, and repeatedly exclaimed: 'Pourquoi M. Gibert
     m'a-t-il fait souffrir? Mais j'ai lavé les mains
     continuellement.' This is what she does when she wishes to
     avoid being influenced.

     "In the evening (22nd) we all dined at M. Gibert's, and in the
     evening M. Gibert made another attempt to put her to sleep at
     a distance from his house in the Rue Sery--she being at the
     Pavilion, Rue de la Ferme--and to bring her to his house by an
     effort of will. At 8.55 he retired to his study; and MM.
     Ochorowicz, Marillier, Janet, and A. T. Myers went to the
     Pavilion, and waited outside in the street, out of sight of the
     house. At 9.22 Dr Myers observed Madame B. coming half way out
     of the garden gate, and again retreating. Those who saw her
     more closely observed that she was plainly in the
     somnambulistic state and was wandering about and muttering. At
     9.25 she came out with eyes persistently closed, so far as
     could be seen, walked quickly past MM. Janet and Marillier
     without noticing them, and made for M. Gibert's house, though
     not by the usual or shortest route. (It appeared afterwards
     that the bonne had seen her go into the _salon_ at 8.45 and
     issue thence asleep at 9.15; had not looked in between those
     times.) She avoided lamp-posts, vehicles, etc., but crossed and
     recrossed the street repeatedly. No one went in front of her or
     spoke to her. After eight or ten minutes she grew more
     uncertain in gait, and paused as though she would fall. Dr
     Myers noted the moment in the Rue Faure; it was 9.35. At about
     9.40 she grew bolder, and at 9.45 reached the street in front
     of M. Gibert's house. There she met him, but did not notice
     him, and walked into his house, where she rushed hurriedly from
     room to room on the ground floor. M. Gibert had to take her
     hand before she recognised him. She then grew calm.

     "On the 23rd M. Janet lunched in our company and retired to his
     own house at 4.30 (a time chosen by lot), to try to put her to
     sleep from thence. At 5.5 we all entered the _salon_ of the
     Pavilion, and found her asleep with shut eyes, but sewing
     vigorously (being in that stage in which movements once
     suggested are automatically continued). Passing into the
     talkative stage, she said to M. Janet: 'C'est vous qui m'avez
     fait dormir à quatre heures et demi.' The impression as to the
     hour may have been a suggestion received from M. Janet's mind.
     We tried to make her believe that it was M. Gibert who had
     sent her to sleep, but she maintained that she had felt that it
     was M. Janet.

     "On 24th April the whole party chanced to meet at M. Janet's
     house at three P.M., and he then, at my suggestion, entered his
     study to will that Madame B. should sleep. We waited in his
     garden, and at 3.20 proceeded together to the Pavilion, which I
     entered first at 3.30, and found Madame B. profoundly sleeping
     over her sewing, having ceased to sew. Becoming talkative, she
     said to M. Janet: 'C'est vous qui m'avez commandé.' She said
     that she fell asleep at 3.5 P.M."

Of the twenty-five trials made in the course of two months, eighteen
were wholly and four partially successful.

This somnolent state might, it is thought, have been induced by
telepathy; in fact, as we shall see, telepathy will in some quarters
have to bear the burden of most, if not all, of the phenomena under

Not only is the hypnotic subject frequently induced to do the will of
the operator, but he may actually have presented to his intelligence
certain ideas or images, material or imaginary, known only to the
hypnotiser. After following carefully all the experiments conducted by
the late Professor Sidgwick and others, in the presence of witnesses of
repute, I do not see how it is possible to deny the fact of telepathy.
In these experiments the subject or percipient was always hypnotised,
remaining so to a varying degree throughout the experiment.

Albeit, even as regards this thought-transference, we must be on our
guard against a too rash acceptance of unknown or supernormal agencies
in every bona-fide experiment. Certainly all experiments of the
hypnotiser do not _ipso facto_ prove that any new method of apprehension
has been employed. The hypnotised subject is extremely susceptible to
suggestions, and might even glean an indication of what is proceeding
through the look, the gestures, the very breathing, of those present.
The utmost precautions, therefore, were taken by the Society for
Psychical Research when it began its experimental inquiries.

The subject of the picture was always carefully chosen by one of the
experimenters--Mrs Sidgwick or Miss Alice Johnson. Any possibility of
the percipient being able to guess at the subject through chance,
association, or ideas was rigorously excluded. To prevent any hint being
unconsciously imparted by the third experimenter, Mr G. A. Smith,
silence was enjoined upon him, and he was placed behind the percipient
or in another room; yet the percipient actually saw and described the
projecting impression as if it were a real picture before his eyes. When
Mr Smith went downstairs with Miss Johnson he was asked by her to think
of an eagle pursuing a sparrow. Mrs Sidgwick, who remained upstairs with
P., the percipient, in a few minutes induced him to see a round disc of
light on the imaginary lantern-sheet, and then he saw in it "something
like a bird," which disappeared immediately. He went on looking (with
closed eyes, of course), and presently he thought he saw "something
like a bird--something like an eagle." After a pause he said: "I thought
I saw a figure there--I saw 5. The bird's gone. I see 5 again; now it's
gone. The bird came twice." Mr Smith then came upstairs, and P. had
another impression of an eagle. He was told that the eagle was right,
and there was something else besides, no hint being given of what the
other thing was. He then said that the first thing he saw "was a little
bird--a sparrow, perhaps--he could not say--about the size of a sparrow;
then that disappeared, and he saw the eagle. He had told Mrs Sidgwick so
at the time."

We see the mental machinery at work in another case, where the subject
agreed upon was "The Babes in the Wood." To begin with, P. sat with
closed eyes, but, when no impression came, Mr Smith opened his eyes,
without speaking, and made him look for the picture on a card. After we
had waited a little while in vain, Mr Smith said to him: "Do you see
something like a straw hat?" P. assented to this, and then began to
puzzle out something more: "A white apron, something dark--a child. It
can't be another child, unless it's a boy--a boy and a girl--the boy to
the right and the girl to the left. Little girl with white socks on and
shoes with straps." Mr Smith asked: "What are they doing? Is it two
children on a raft at sea?" P.: "No; it's like trees in the
background--a copse or something. Like a fairy-story--like babes in a
wood or something."

We see it in an even more pronounced degree where the subject sat on a
sailing boat. Miss Johnson, who did not know what the subject of the
picture was, asked Miss B. whether it was anything like an animal. Miss
B. said: "No; got some prong sort of things--something at the bottom
like a little boat. What can that be up in the air? Cliffs, I
suppose--cliffs in the air high up--it's joining the boat. Oh, sails!--a
sailing-boat--not cliffs--sails." This was not all uttered
consecutively, but partly in answer to questions put by Miss Johnson;
but, as Miss Johnson was ignorant of the supposed picture, her questions
could, of course, give no guidance.

Many experiments have been made in the transference of imaginary scenes,
where both operator and subject have attempted to attain a conscious
unity of ideas by means of rough drawings. A slight sketch was made,
which was then projected to the brain of the percipient, who proceeded
to reproduce the unseen, often with amazing fidelity.

In these experiments actual contact was forbidden, to avoid the risk of
unconscious indications by pressure. In many cases, however, the agent
and percipient have been in the same room, and there has therefore still
been some possible risk of unconscious whispering; but this risk has
been successfully avoided. It yet remains doubtful how far close
proximity really operates in aid of telepathy, or how far its advantage
is a mere effect of self-suggestion--on the part either of agent or
percipient. Some experimenters--notably the late Mr Kirk and Mr
Glardon--have obtained results of just the same type at distances of
half-a-mile or more. In the case of induction of hypnotic trance, Dr
Gibert, as we have seen, attained at the distance of nearly a mile
results which are commonly believed to exact close and actual presence.

Hypnotic agencies, according to Myers, may be simplified into suggestion
and self-suggestion. The same author defines suggestion as "successful
appeal to the subliminal self." Many striking cases of moral reforms
produced by this means have been recorded by Dr Auguste Voisin. For

     "In the summer of 1884 there was at the Salpêtrière a young
     woman of a deplorable type. Jeanne Sch---- was a criminal
     lunatic, filthy in habits, violent in demeanour, and with a
     lifelong history of impurity and theft. M. Voisin, who was one
     of the physicians on the staff, undertook to hypnotise her on
     31st May, at a time when she could only be kept quiet by the
     strait jacket and _bonnet d'irrigation_, or perpetual cold
     douche to the head. She would not--indeed, she could not--look
     steadily at her operator, but raved and spat at him. M. Voisin
     kept his face close to hers and followed her eyes wherever she
     moved them. In about ten minutes a stertorous sleep ensued, and
     in five minutes more she passed into a sleep-waking state, and
     began to talk incoherently. The process was repeated on many
     days, and gradually she became sane when in the trance, though
     she still raved when awake. Gradually, too, she became able to
     obey in waking hours commands impressed on her in the
     trance--first trivial orders (to sweep the room and so forth),
     then orders involving a marked change of behaviour. Nay, more;
     in the hypnotic state she voluntarily expressed repentance for
     her past life, made a confession which involved more evil than
     the police were cognisant of (though it agreed with facts
     otherwise known), and finally of her own impulse made good
     resolves for the future. Two years later (31st July 1886) M.
     Voisin wrote that she was then a nurse in a Paris hospital, and
     that her conduct was irreproachable. It appeared then that this
     poor woman, whose history since the age of thirteen had been
     one of reckless folly and vice, had become capable of the
     steady, self-controlled work of a nurse at a hospital, the
     reformed character having first manifested itself in the
     hypnotic state, partly in obedience to suggestion, and partly
     as the natural result of the tranquilisation of morbid

There is a mass of evidence to testify to the marvellous cures that have
been effected in this way. Kleptomania, dipsomania, nicotinism,
morphinomania, and several varieties of phobies have all been known to
yield to hypnotic suggestion. Nor is it always necessary that the mind
of the patient should be influenced by another person; self-suggestion
is at times equally efficacious. Here is a case in point, taken from
"Proceedings," vol. xi. p. 427. The narrator is Dr D. J. Parsons.

     "Sixteen years ago I was a little sick; took half-a-grain of
     opium, and lay down upon the bed. Soon, as I began to feel the
     tranquillising effect of the opium, I saw three men approaching
     me; the one in front said: 'You smoke too much tobacco.' I
     replied: 'I know I do.' He then said: 'Why don't you quit it?'
     I answered by saying: 'I have been thinking about it, but I am
     afraid I can't.' He extended his right arm, and placing his
     forefinger very near my face gave it a few very significant
     shakes, said, in a very impressive manner: 'You will never want
     to use tobacco any more as long as you live.' He continued by
     saying: 'You swear sometimes.' I answered: 'Yes.' He said:
     'Will you promise to quit?' I intended to say 'Yes,' but just
     as I was about to utter the word yes, instantly a change came
     over me, and I felt like I had been held under some unknown
     influence, which was suddenly withdrawn or exhausted. I had
     been a constant smoker for more than twenty years.

     "Since the occurrence of the above incident I have not touched
     tobacco; have felt ever since like it would poison me, and I
     now feel like one draw at the pipe would kill me instantly. My
     desire for tobacco was suddenly and effectually torn out by the
     roots, but perhaps I shall never know just how it was done.

     "D. J. PARSONS, M.D.

     "_Sweet Springs, Missouri._"

It would seem in the above case that the suggestibility was heightened
by the use of opium, which at the same time developed a monitory

Leading men of science now hold that the popular belief in the dangers
of hypnotism is grossly exaggerated, it being far less open to abuse
than chloroform. Nevertheless some danger is only too manifest, and
Parliament may yet be asked to do what Continental governments have
done--viz. to make the practice of hypnotism, save under proper medical
supervision, a punishable offence. As an illustration of these dangers I
may mention the testimony of an operator given before the Psychical
Research Society. Owing to the ready susceptibility of one subject he
began to fear that he might acquire an influence which might be
inconvenient to both, and so enjoined that he should be unable to
hypnotise him unless he previously recited a formula asking the operator
to do so. After several failures he states: "I eventually succeeded in
impressing this so strongly upon him that it became absolutely
effective, and the formula became requisite, for I could not, even with
the utmost co-operation on his part, influence him in the least. One
night, however, after retiring to bed I was surprised by his entering
the room with the request that I should waken him. I expressed
astonishment and asked whether he was really asleep. He assured me that
he was, and explained that while he had been conversing in the
drawing-room after dinner, other persons being present, he had
experimentally recited the formula _sotto voce_ and had immediately,
unperceived by myself or others in the room, gone off in the hypnotic
state and could not get out of it again. I protested that this was an
extremely unfair trick both on himself and on me, and to guard against
its recurrence I enjoined that in future a mere repetition of the
formula should not suffice, but that it should be written down, signed
and handed to me. This has hitherto proved completely successful, and in
the absence of the document no efforts on the part of either of us has
had any effect whatever."

It would seem, however, that the hypnotic subject is by no means
entirely at the mercy of the operator. Thus Dr Milne Bramwell, in
"Proceedings," vol. xii. pp. 176-203, cites a number of cases in which
suggestions had been refused by hypnotic subjects. He also mentions two
subjects who had rejected certain suggestions and accepted others. A
Miss F., for example, recited a poem, but would not help herself to a
glass of water from the sideboard; while a Mr G. would play one part,
but not others, and committed an imaginary crime. Dr Bramwell comes to
the following conclusion:--

     "The difference between the hypnotised and the normal subject,
     as it appears to me from a long series of observed facts, is
     not so much in conduct as in increased mental and physical
     powers. Any changes in the moral sense, I have noticed, have
     invariably been for the better, the hypnotised subject evincing
     superior refinement. As regards obedience to suggestion, there
     is apparently little to choose between the two. A hypnotised
     subject, who has acquired the power of manifesting various
     physical and mental phenomena, will do so, in response to
     suggestion, for much the same reasons as one in the normal
     condition.... When the act demanded is contrary to the moral
     sense, it is usually refused by the normal subject, and
     invariably by the hypnotised one."

The hypnotic state evinces an extraordinary extension of faculty. Dr
Bramwell's remarkable series of experiments on "time appreciation" shows
that orders were carried out by the subject at expiration of such
periods as 20,290 minutes from the beginning of the order. In her normal
state the female subject of this experiment was incapable of correctly
calculating how many days and hours 20,290 minutes would make, and even
in her hypnotised condition could reckon only with errors; yet, what is
singular to relate, even when a blunder was made in the former
calculation the order of the hypnotist was none the less fulfilled when
the correct period expired. The conclusion is not easy to avoid: that
beneath the stratum of human consciousness brought to the surface by
hypnotism there is one--perhaps two--"subliminal" strata more alert and
more capable than our ordinary workaday ego.

What light this theory of a "subliminal" self will shed on our subject
we will see when we come to discuss clairvoyance and the trance
utterances of the spiritualistic "medium."



We have seen that the hypnotic agent is able to project from his own
brain certain thoughts and images into the mind of the percipient.
"When," writes Professor Barrett, "the subject was in the state of
trance or profound hypnotism, I noticed that not only sensations, but
also ideas or emotions, occurring in the operator appeared to be
reproduced in the subject without the intervention of any sign, or
visible or audible communication.... In many other ways I convinced
myself that the existence of a distinct idea in my own mind gave rise to
some image of the idea in the subject's mind, not always a clear image,
but one that could not fail to be recognised as a more or less distorted
reflection of my own thought. The important point is that every care was
taken to prevent any unconscious muscular action of the face, or
otherwise giving any indication to the subject."

This presumed mode of communication between one individual and another,
without the intervention of any known sense, Professor Barrett, arguing
on electrical analogies, is inclined to suggest might be due to some
form of nervous induction. But is this faculty restricted in its
operation to a hypnotised subject? If it were, the significance of the
phenomena would be very much lessened. We should leave telepathy out of
our account. But it is not so restricted. The ideas and images are
capable of being projected not only to a hypnotised person, but to one
who is apparently not under any hypnotic influence whatever. Yet we
still must be careful of how we call in the aid of any "supernatural"
agency to account for the influences I am about to relate--the
translation of ideas and motor impulses from one person to another
without the aid of any known sense. The transference of pictures which
we described in the last article has been achieved in hundreds of cases
by an agent upon a hypnotised percipient. Here we have telepathy
apparently at work, but not, however, at any great distance, nor
successful in conjuring up really vivid or ominous hallucinations. The
scientific term for these is "sensory automatisms," and many instances
of these are given by Edmund Gurney, author of "Phantasms of the

At an early period the Society for Psychical Research began a "Census of
Hallucinations," which, with Gurney's book, now renders it possible for
us to consider these phenomena with some certainty. The net result of
all this investigation would seem to demonstrate that a large number of
sensory automatisms occur amongst sane and healthy persons. We will
later consider what difficulty lies in the way of attributing to
telepathy the bulk of these phenomena. There is a widely accepted theory
that telepathy is propagated by brain-waves, or, in Sir W. Crooke's
phraseology, by ether-waves, of even smaller amplitude and greater
frequency than those which carry X-rays. Such waves are supposed to pass
from one brain to another, arousing in the second brain an excitation
of image similar to the excitation or image from which they start in the
first place. It has been pointed out that on this view there is no
theoretical reason for limiting telepathy to human beings. Why may not
the impulse pass between men and the lower animals, or between the lower
animals themselves?

I myself have exhumed from the records a case in point. General J. C.
Thompson describes a remarkable apparition of a dog, with every mark of
reality, at the time when the dog was killed in a city more than a
hundred miles distant. General Thompson says:

     "Jim, the dog whose ghost I refer to, was a beautiful collie,
     the pet of my family, residing at Cheyenne, Wyoming. His
     affectionate nature surpassed even that of his kind. He had a
     wide celebrity in the city as 'the laughing dog,' due to the
     fact that he manifested his recognition of acquaintances and
     love for his friends by a joyful laugh, as distinctively such
     as that of any human being.

     "One evening in the fall of 1905, about 7.30 P.M., I was
     walking with a friend on Seventeenth Street in Denver,
     Colorado. As we approached the entrance to the First National
     Bank, we observed a dog lying in the middle of the pavement,
     and on coming up to him I was amazed at his perfect likeness to
     Jim in Cheyenne. The identity was greatly fortified by his
     loving recognition of me, and the peculiar laugh of Jim's
     accompanying it. I said to my friend that nothing but the 105
     miles between Denver and Cheyenne would keep me from making
     oath to the dog being Jim, whose peculiarities I explained to

     "The dog astral or ghost was apparently badly hurt--he could
     not rise. After petting him and giving him a kind adieu, we
     crossed over Stout Street and stopped to look at him again. He
     had vanished. The next morning's mail brought a letter from my
     wife saying that Jim had been accidentally killed the evening
     before at 7.30 P.M. I shall always believe it was Jim's ghost I

This story, circumstantially narrated by an American general, recalls Mr
Rider Haggard's celebrated dream that he saw his dog, Bob, in a dying
condition, probably about three hours after the dog's death.

But we need not pause on such bypaths as these.

Perhaps the simplest form of thought-transference at a distance is that
in which we find a vague mental unrest, unaccompanied by any visual or
auditory hallucination. Cases are not infrequently met with where the
patient suffers from acute depression and anxiety which are not
connected at the time with any definite event. _The Journal of the
Society for Psychical Research_, July, 1895, yields the following.

Miss W. writes:

     "On January 17th of this year (1895) I was haunted all day with
     an indefinable dread, amounting to positive terror if I yielded
     in the least to its influence. A little before six o'clock I
     went to my maid's room and casually inquired of her whether
     she believed in presentiments. She answered: 'Don't let them
     get hold of you; it is a bad habit.' I replied: 'This is no
     ordinary presentiment. All day long I have felt that something
     terrible is impending; of what nature I do not know. I have
     fought against it, but to no purpose. It is a terror I am
     positively _possessed_ with.' I was proceeding to describe it
     in fuller detail, when my mother entered the room with a
     telegram in her hand. One glance at her face told me that my
     foreboding had not been a groundless depression. The telegram
     was to the effect that my brother had been taken very ill at
     Cambridge and needed my mother at once to nurse him.

     "I presume that the intensity of my foreboding was due to the
     very serious nature of his illness.

     "I experienced at different times what are in common parlance
     termed 'presentiments'; but only on one other occasion has the
     same peculiar _terror_ (a chilling conviction of impending
     trouble) beset me."

This is corroborated both by the maid and Miss W.'s brother, an
undergraduate at King's College, Cambridge, who had met with a serious
accident the same afternoon. The affection between brother and sister
was, it is related, very close.

Of a well-known type of case the following is a good example. The Hon.
Mrs Fox Powys is the narrator:--

     "July 1882.

     "I was expecting my husband home, and shortly after the time he
     ought to have arrived (about ten P.M.) I heard a cab drive up
     to the door, the bell ring, my husband's voice talking with the
     cabman, the front door open and his step come up the stairs. I
     went to the drawing-room, opened it, and to my astonishment saw
     no one. I could hardly believe he was not there, the whole
     thing was so vivid, and the street was particularly quiet at
     the time. About twenty minutes or so after this my husband
     _really_ arrived, though nothing sounded to me more real than
     it did the first time. The train was late, and he had been
     thinking I might be anxious."

In response to further inquiries, Mrs Powys added:

     "To me the whole thing was very noisy and real, but no one else
     can have heard anything, for the bell I heard ring was not
     answered. It was a quiet street in town, and there was no
     vehicle of any kind passing at the time; and on finding no one
     on the landing as I expected, I went at once to the window, and
     there was nothing to be seen, and no sound to be heard, which
     would have been the case had the cab been driven off."

Here the expectation of Mr Fox Powys' arrival seems to have caused an
auditory hallucination. In other cases of a similar nature the
hallucination is visual, the percipient actually seeing the figure of
the expected person.

The authors of "Phantasms of the Living" give the following case as an
"interesting puzzle" and invite the reader to decide whether or not it
affords evidence for telepathy. The narrator, Mr W. A. S., is described
as an unexceptionable witness who has never had any other visual

     "January 14th, 1883.

     "In the month of April 1871, about two o'clock in the
     afternoon, I was sitting in the drawing-room of my father's
     house in Pall Mall. The window of the room fronted south; and
     the sun was shining brightly in at the window. I was sitting
     between the fireplace and the window, with my back to the
     light; my niece was sitting on the opposite side of the
     fireplace; and opposite me at the farther corner of the room
     was a door partly open, leading directly to the staircase. I
     saw what I supposed at the first moment to be dirty soapy water
     running in at the door; and I was in the act of jumping up to
     scold the housemaid for upsetting the water, when I saw that
     the supposed water was the tail or train of a lady's dress. The
     lady glided in backwards, as if she had been slid in on a
     slide, each part of her dress keeping its place without
     disturbance. She glided in till I could see the whole of her,
     _except the tip of her nose, her lips and the tip of her chin,
     which were hidden by the edge of the door_. Her head was
     slightly turned over her shoulder, and her eye also turned, so
     that it appeared fixed upon me. She held her arm, which was a
     very fine one, in a peculiar way, as if she were proud of it.
     She was dressed in a pale blue evening dress, worked with white
     lace. I instantly recognised the figure as that of a lady whom
     I had known some twenty-five years or more before; and with
     whom I had frequently danced. She was a bright, dashing girl, a
     good dancer, and we were good friends, but nothing more. She
     had afterwards married and I had occasionally heard of her, but
     do not think I had seen her for certainly more than twenty or
     twenty-five years. She looked much as I used to see her--with
     long curls and bright eyes, but perhaps something stouter and
     more matronly.

     "I said to myself: 'This is one of those strange apparitions I
     have often heard of. I will watch it as carefully as I can.' My
     niece, who did not see the figure, in the course of a minute or
     two exclaimed: 'Uncle A., what is the matter with you? You
     look as if you saw a ghost!' I motioned her to be quiet, as I
     wished to observe the thing carefully; and an impression came
     upon me that if I moved, the thing would disappear. I tried to
     find out whether there was anything in the ornaments on the
     walls, or anything else which could suggest the figure; but I
     found that all the lines close to her cut the outline of her
     figure at all sorts of angles, and none of these coincided with
     the outline of her figure, and the colour of everything around
     her strongly contrasted with her colour. In the course of a few
     minutes, I heard the door bell ring, and I heard my brother's
     voice in the hall. He came upstairs and walked right through
     the figure into the room. The figure then began to fade away
     rather quickly; and though I tried I could in no way recall it.

     "I frequently told the story in society, treating it always as
     something internal rather than external and supposing that the
     lady was still alive; and rather making a joke of it than
     otherwise. Some years afterwards I was staying with some
     friends in Suffolk and told the story at the dinner-table,
     saying that it was no ghost as the lady was still alive. The
     lady of the house said: 'She is not alive, as you suppose, but
     she has been dead some years.' We looked at the peerage and
     found she had died in 1871. (I afterwards found out that she
     had died in November, whereas the apparition was in April.) The
     conversation continued about her, and I said: 'Poor thing, I am
     sorry she is dead. I have had many a merry dance with her. What
     did she die of?' The lady of the house said: 'Poor thing
     indeed, she died a wretched death; she died of cancer in the
     face.' She never showed me the front of her face; it was always
     concealed by the edge of the door."

I will now concern myself with the power of an agent to project himself
phantasmally--that is, to make his form and features manifest to some
percipient at a distance as though he were actually present. In Gurney's
"Phantasms of the Living" is given at length a case of a simple nature.
Here there was not one but two percipients.

     On a certain Sunday evening in November 1881, having been
     reading of the great power which the human will is capable of
     exercising, I determined with the whole force of my being that
     I would be present in spirit in the front bedroom on the second
     floor of a house situated at 22 Hogarth Road, Kensington, in
     which room slept two ladies of my acquaintance--viz. Miss L. S.
     V., and Miss E. C. V., aged respectively twenty-five and eleven
     years. I was living at this time at 23 Kildare Gardens, a
     distance of about three miles from Hogarth Road, and I had not
     mentioned in any way my intention of trying this experiment to
     either of the above ladies, for the simple reason that it was
     only on retiring to rest upon this Sunday night that I made up
     my mind to do so. The time at which I determined I would be
     there was one o'clock in the morning, and I also had a strong
     intention of making my presence perceptible.

     "On the following Thursday I went to see the ladies in
     question, and in the course of conversation (without any
     allusion to the subject on my part) the elder one told me that
     on the previous Sunday night she had been much terrified by
     perceiving me standing by her bedside, and that she screamed
     when the apparition advanced towards her, and awoke her little
     sister, who saw me also.

     "I asked her if she was awake at the time, and she replied most
     decidedly in the affirmative, and upon my inquiring the time of
     the occurrence she replied about one o'clock in the morning.

     "This lady, at my request, wrote down a statement of the event
     and signed it.

     "This was the first occasion upon which I tried an experiment
     of this kind, and its complete success startled me very much.

     "Besides exercising my power of volition very strongly, I put
     forth an effort which I cannot find words to describe. I was
     conscious of a mysterious influence of some sort permeating in
     my body, and had a distinct impression that I was exercising
     some force with which I had been hitherto unacquainted, but
     which I can now at certain times set in motion at will.

     "S. H. B."

The account given by Miss Verity is as follows:--

     "January 18th, 1883.

     "On a certain Sunday evening, about twelve months since, at our
     house in Hogarth Road, Kensington, I distinctly saw Mr B. in my
     room, about one o'clock. I was perfectly awake and was much
     terrified. I awoke my sister by screaming, and she saw the
     apparition herself. Three days after, when I saw Mr B., I told
     him what had happened; but it was some time before I could
     recover from the shock I had received, and the remembrance is
     too vivid to be ever erased from my memory.

     "L. S. Verity."

Miss E. C. Verity says:

     "I remember the occurrence of the event described by my sister
     in the annexed paragraph, and her description is quite correct.
     I saw the apparition which she saw, at the same time and under
     the same circumstances.

     "E. C. Verity."

       *       *       *       *       *

     "The witnesses (comments Gurney) have been very carefully
     cross-examined by the present writer. There is not the
     slightest doubt that their mention of the occurrence to S. H.
     B. was spontaneous. They had not at first intended to mention
     it; but when they saw him their sense of its oddness overcame
     their resolution. Miss Verity is a perfectly sober-minded and
     sensible witness, with no love of marvels, and with a
     considerable dread and dislike of this particular form of

On another occasion the agent announced privately to the investigator
that he would project himself at a stated time. He did so; and the lady
wrote as follows:--

     "44 Norland Square, W.

     "On Saturday night, March 22nd, 1884, at about midnight, I had
     a distinct impression that Mr S. H. B. was present in my room,
     and I distinctly saw him whilst I was quite widely awake. He
     came towards me, and stroked my hair. I _voluntarily_ gave him
     this information when he called to see me on Wednesday, April
     2nd, telling him the time and the circumstances of the
     apparition, without any suggestion on his part. The appearance
     in my room was most vivid and quite unmistakable.

     "L. S. Verity."

Mr B.'s own account runs thus:

     "On Saturday, March 22nd, I determined to make my presence
     perceptible to Miss V., at 44 Norland Square, Notting Hill, at
     twelve midnight, and as I had previously arranged with Mr
     Gurney that I should post him a letter on the evening on which
     I tried my next experiment (stating the time and other
     particulars), I sent a note to acquaint him with the above

     "About ten days afterwards I called upon Miss V., and she
     voluntarily told me that on March 22nd, at twelve o'clock
     midnight, she had seen me so vividly in her room (whilst
     widely awake) that her nerves had been much shaken, and she had
     been obliged to send for a doctor in the morning.

     "S. H. B."

Another case of a similar nature is reported by the American branch of
the Society for Psychical Research:

     "On July 5th, 1887, I left my house in Lakewood to go to New
     York to spend a few days. My wife was not feeling well when I
     left, and after I had started I looked back and saw her
     standing in the door looking disconsolate and sad at my
     leaving. The picture haunted me all day, and at night, before I
     went to bed, I thought I would try to find out, if possible,
     her condition. I had undressed, and was sitting on the edge of
     the bed, when I covered my face with my hands and willed myself
     in Lakewood at home to see if I could see her. After a little
     while I seemed to be standing in her room before the bed, and
     saw her lying there looking much better. I felt satisfied she
     was better, and so spent the week more comfortably regarding
     her condition. On Saturday I went home. When she saw me she
     remarked: 'I don't know whether I am glad to see you or not,
     for I thought something had happened to you. I saw you standing
     in front of the bed the night (about 8.30 or before 9) you
     left, and as plain as could be, and I have been worrying myself
     about you ever since. I sent to the office and to the depôt
     daily to get some message from you.' After explaining my effort
     to find out her condition, everything became plain to her. She
     had seen me when I was trying to see her and find out her
     condition. I thought at the time I was going to see her and
     make her see me.

     "B. F. Sinclair."

The foregoing is corroborated by Mrs Sinclair. She states that she saw
her husband, not as he was dressed at the moment of the experiment, but
"in a suit that hung in a closet at home." The apparition caused her
great anxiety, so that her husband's view of her improved appearance was
not really true. The son, Mr George Sinclair, avers that in his
mother's vision his father's face was "drawn and set, as if he was
either dead or trying to accomplish something which was beyond him."

Another case investigated by the Society is also striking. The date is

     "'One night, two or three years ago, I came back from the
     theatre to my mother's flat at 6 S---- Street; and after I had
     been into her bedroom and told her all about it, I went to bed
     about one A.M. I had not been asleep long when I started up
     frightened, fancying that I had heard someone walk down the
     passage towards my mother's room; but, hearing nothing more,
     went to sleep again. I started up alarmed in the same way three
     or four times before dawn.

     "'In the morning, upon inquiry, my mother (who was ill at the
     time) only told me that she had had a very disturbed night.

     "'Then I asked my brother, who told me that he had suffered in
     the same way as I had, starting up several times in a
     frightened manner. On hearing this my mother then told me that
     she had seen an apparition of Mr Pelham. Later in the day Mr
     Pelham came in, and my mother asked him casually if he had been
     doing anything last night; upon which he told us that he had
     come to bed willing that he should visit and appear to us. We
     made him promise not to repeat the experiment.'

     "Mrs E., the mother, states that she was recovering from
     influenza at the time. At half-past ten, as she lay reading:

     "'A strange, creepy sensation came over me, and I felt my eyes
     were drawn towards the left-hand side of the room. I felt I
     must look, and there, distinct against the curtain, was a blue
     luminous mist.

     "'This time I was impelled to cast my eyes downward to the side
     of my bed, and there, creeping upwards towards me, was the same
     blue luminous mist. I was too terrified to move, and remember
     keeping the book straight up before my face, as though to ward
     off a blow, at the same time exerting all my strength of will
     and determination not to be afraid--when, suddenly, as if with
     a jerk, above the top of my book came the brow and eyes of Mr

     "Instantly her fears ceased. She 'remembered that Mr Pelham had
     experimented on her before at night'; and 'in one moment mist
     and face were gone.'

     "For his part, Mr Pelham explains that he 'carefully imagined'
     himself going down the steps of his house, and so along the
     streets, to Mrs E.'s flat, and to her drawing-room and bedroom;
     he then went to bed with his mind fixed on the visit and soon
     fell asleep. He has made other trials, but without any positive
     success, though during one of them Mrs E. was wakened suddenly
     by the feeling that someone was in the room, and it occurred to
     her that Mr Pelham was again experimenting."

The occurrences above related are most significant, if true, and I am
bound to say the _bona fides_ of the narrators seems to me indisputable.
Is it a spirit showing itself partially dissociated from the living
organism; evincing independence, a certain intelligence and a certain
permanence? Or is this a mere image of the agent, conceived in his own
brain and projected telepathically to the brain of the percipient? So
far, we are merely groping our way. Yet, is it not possible that we have
laid hands upon a credible explanation of the eternal mystery of
"ghosts"? We shall see.



Having partially discussed the subject of phantasms projected from the
brain of the agent to that of the percipient, I must now briefly
describe another group for which the evidence is very abundant--that of
"veridical" dreams. This is a term used to describe apparitions
coinciding with other events in such a manner as to suggest a
connection. Your dream or hallucination is said to be veridical when it
conveys an idea which is both true and previously unknown to you.

Making every allowance for the element of chance, there is a mass of
evidence which mere coincidence cannot explain away. Yet we must not
overlook the frequency of dreams, even of a striking character, which
may once or twice in a million times actually hit on the coincident
event. But besides coincidence, there is at times another normal
explanation. Mr Podmore relates how a neighbour of his on the night of
24th June 1894 dreamed President Carnot had been assassinated. He told
his family before the morning paper announcing the news had been opened.
As has been pointed out, in a case of that kind it seems possible that
the information may have reached the sleeper in his dreams from the
shouts of a newsboy, or even from the conversation of passers-by in the

Before any supernormal theory, we must admit the possibility of a normal
communication, however far-fetched it may seem. In each of the instances
about to be related the fact of the dream was either recorded by the
dreamer or related to a friend before the fact of any coincidence was

One of the best-known cases is that of Canon Warburton, who writes:

     "Somewhere about the year 1848 I went up from Oxford to spend a
     day or two with my brother, Acton Warburton, then a barrister,
     living at 10 Fish Street, Lincoln's Inn. When I got to his
     chambers I found a note on the table apologising for his
     absence, and saying that he had gone to a dance somewhere in
     the West End, and intended to be home soon after one o'clock.
     Instead of going to bed I dozed in an arm-chair, but started up
     wide awake exactly at one, ejaculating: 'By Jove! he's down!'
     and seeing him coming out of a drawing-room into a brightly
     illuminated landing, catching his foot in the edge of the top
     stair, and falling headlong, just saving himself by his elbows
     and hands. (The house was one which I have never seen, nor did
     I know where it was.) Thinking very little of the matter, I
     fell a-doze again for half-an-hour and was awakened by my
     brother suddenly coming in and saying, 'Oh, there you are! I
     have just had as narrow an escape of breaking my neck as I ever
     had in my life. Coming out of the ballroom I caught my foot,
     and tumbled full-length down the stairs.'

     "That is all. It may have been 'only a dream,' but I always
     thought it must have been something more."

A member of the Society for Psychical Research narrates that on 7th
October 1900 he woke abruptly in the small hours of the morning with a
painful conviction upon him that his wife, who was that night sleeping
in another part of the house, had burst a varicose vein in the calf of
her leg, and that he could feel the swelled place three inches long:

     "I wondered whether I ought to get up and go down to her room
     on the first floor, and considered whether she would be able to
     come up to me; but I was only partly awake, though in acute
     distress. My mind had been suddenly roused, but my body was
     still under the lethargy of sleep. I argued with myself that
     there was sure to be nothing in it, that I should only disturb
     her, and so shortly went off to sleep again.

     "On going to her room this morning I said I had had a horrid
     dream, which had woke me up, to the effect that she had burst a
     varicose vein, of which just now care has to be taken. 'Why,'
     she replied, 'I had just the same experience. I woke up at
     2.15, feeling sure the calf of my leg was bleeding, and my
     hand seemed to feel it when I put it there. I turned on the
     light in alarm, noticing the time, and wondered if I should be
     able to get up to thee, or whether I should have to wake the
     housekeeper. Thou wast in the dream out of which I woke,
     examining the place.'

     "Though I did not note the hour, two o'clock is about the time
     I should have guessed it to be; and the impression on my mind
     was vivid and terrible, knowing how dangerous such an accident
     would be."

The foregoing is thus corroborated by the lady:

     "I felt twinges of pain in my leg off and on in my sleep
     without being entirely roused till about 2.15 A.M. Then, or
     just before, I dreamt or had a vivid impression that a vein had
     burst, and that my husband, who was sleeping in another room up
     another flight of stairs, was there and called my attention to
     it. I thought it felt wet, and trickling down the leg as if
     bleeding, passed my hand down, and at first thought it seemed
     wet; but on gaining fuller consciousness found it all right,
     and that it was not more painful than often when I got out and
     stood on it. Thought over the contingency of its actually
     bursting, and whether I could so bandage it in that case as to
     make it safe to go up to my husband's room, and thought I could
     do so.

     "Looking at my watch, found it about 2.20."

As to dreams in which a death occurs there is a vast mass of testimony.
The late Dr Hodgson, on 19th July 1897, received the following letter:--

     "DEAR HODGSON,--Five minutes ago Mr J. F. Morse, who has all
     his life had dreams which were more or less verified later,
     came to my room and said: 'I believe my wife died last night,
     for I had a dream of a most remarkable nature which indicates
     it. I shall be able to let you know soon, for I shall get word
     at my office when I reach there. I will then send you word.'
     His wife is in a country place in Delaware Co. Pa. She is ill,
     but he had no idea she would not live for months, as the
     enclosed letter of July 15th will show; but she was ill, and
     would be likely to decline slowly and gradually. I will get
     this off or in the mail before I hear any more.

     "Mr Morse in his appearance looks like one who had just lost a
     dear friend, and is in a state of great mental depression, with
     tears in his eyes....

     "M. L. HOLBROOK."

On the evening of the same day a telegram was received announcing the
unexpected death of Mrs Morse at 9.15 on the evening of Friday, 16th

A prominent Chicago journalist, Mr F. B. Wilkie, reported that his wife
asked him one morning in October 1885, while still engaged in dressing,
and before either of them had left their sleeping-room, if he knew
anyone named Edsale or Esdale. A negative reply was given and then a
"Why do you ask?" She replied: "During the night I dreamt that I was on
the lake-shore and found a coffin there, with the name of Edsale or
Esdale on it, and I am confident that someone of that name has recently
been drowned there." On opening the morning paper the first item that
attracted his attention was the report of the mysterious disappearance
from his home in Hyde Park of a young man named Esdale. A few days
afterwards the body of a young man was found on the lake-shore.

This case was carefully investigated and authenticated by Dr Hodgson,
and bears some unusual features.

Of dreams that may be reasonably regarded as telepathic the following is
a striking example. It is contributed to "Phantasms of the Living" by a
Mrs Hilton--a lady engaged in active work, and not in any respect a

     "234 Burdett Road, E.

     "April 10th, 1883.

     "The dream which I am about to relate occurred about two years
     ago. I seemed to be walking in a country road, with high grassy
     banks on either side. Suddenly I heard the tramp of many feet.
     Feeling a strange sense of fear I called out: 'Who are these
     people coming?' A voice above me replied: 'A procession of the
     dead.' I then found myself on the bank, looking into the road
     where the people were walking five or six abreast. Hundreds of
     them passed by me--neither looking aside nor looking at each
     other. They were people of all conditions and in all ranks of
     life. I saw no children amongst them. I watched the long line
     of people go away into the far distance, but I felt no special
     interest in any of them, until I saw a middle-aged Friend,
     dressed as a gentleman farmer. I pointed to him and called out:
     'Who is that, please?' He turned round and called out in a loud
     voice: 'I am John M., of Chelmsford.' Then my dream ended. Next
     day when my husband returned from the office he told me that
     John M., of Chelmsford, had died the previous day.

     "I may add that I only knew the Friend in question by sight and
     cannot recollect ever speaking to him.


About a year later Mrs Hilton experienced a dream of a similar kind,
again coincident with the death of an acquaintance seen in the phantom
procession. It is worth noting "remarks Mr Gurney," that these
dreams--for all their _bizarrerie_--seem to belong to a known type.

In another category of phenomena belong precognitive dreams in which
certain events, especially deaths, are foretold. Mr Alfred Cooper, of 9
Henrietta Street, Cavendish Square, W., states, and his statement is
attested by the Duchess of Hamilton, that:

     "A fortnight before the death of the late Earl of L----, in
     1882, I called upon the Duke of Hamilton in Hill Street to see
     him professionally. After I had finished seeing him we went
     into the drawing-room where the Duchess was, and the Duke said
     to me: 'Oh, Cooper, how is the Earl?'

     "The Duchess said: 'What Earl?' and on my answering: 'Lord
     L----,' she replied, 'That is very odd. I have had a most
     extraordinary vision. I went to bed, but after being in bed a
     short time, I was not exactly asleep, but thought I saw a scene
     as if from a play before me. The actors in it were Lord L----,
     in a chair, as if in a fit, with a man standing over him with a
     red beard. He was by the side of a bath, over which bath a red
     lamp was distinctly shown.'

     "I then said: 'I am attending Lord L---- at present; there is
     very little the matter with him; he is not going to die; he
     will be all right very soon.'

     "Well, he got better for a week and was nearly well, but at the
     end of six or seven days after this I was called to see him
     suddenly. He had inflammation of both lungs.

     "I called in Sir William Jenner, but in six days he was a dead
     man. There were two male nurses attending him; one had been
     taken ill. But when I saw the other the dream of the Duchess
     was exactly represented. He was standing near a bath over the
     Earl, and, strange to say, his beard was red. There was the
     bath with the red lamp over it, it is rather rare to find a
     bath with a red lamp over it, and this brought the story to my

     "The vision seen by the Duchess was told two weeks before the
     death of Lord L----. It is a most remarkable thing. This
     account, written in 1888, has been revised by the late Duke of
     Manchester, father of the Duchess of Hamilton, who heard the
     vision from his daughter on the morning after she had seen it.



Mr Myers adds:

     "The Duchess only knew Lord L---- by sight, and had not heard
     that he was ill. She knew she was not asleep, for she opened
     her eyes to get rid of the vision, and, shutting them, saw the
     same thing again.

     "An independent and concordant account has been given to me (F.
     W. H. M.) orally by a gentleman to whom the Duchess related the
     dream on the morning after its occurrence."

One of the most interesting and well-authenticated cases of dreams
foretelling a death is that of Mr Fred Lane, understudy to that popular
actor the late William Terriss. His statement is as follows:--

     "Adelphi Theatre,

     "December 20th, 1897.

     "In the early morning of December 16th, 1897, I dreamt that I
     saw the late Mr Terriss lying in a state of delirium or
     unconsciousness on the stairs leading to the dressing-rooms in
     the Adelphi Theatre. He was surrounded by people engaged at the
     theatre, amongst whom were Miss Millward and one of the footmen
     who attend the curtain, both of whom I actually saw a few hours
     later at the death scene. His chest was bare and clothes torn
     aside. Everybody who was around him was trying to do something
     for his good. This dream was in the shape of a picture. I saw
     it like a tableau on which the curtain would rise and fall. I
     immediately after dreamt that we did not open at the Adelphi
     Theatre that evening. I was in my dressing-room in the dream,
     but this latter part was somewhat incoherent. The next morning,
     on going down to the theatre for rehearsal, the first member of
     the company I met was Miss H----, to whom I mentioned this
     dream. On arriving at the theatre I also mentioned it to
     several other members of the company including Messrs Creagh
     Henry, Buxton, Carter Bligh, etc. This dream, though it made
     such an impression upon me as to cause me to relate it to my
     fellow-artists, did not give me the idea of any coming
     disaster. I may state that I have dreamt formerly of deaths of
     relatives and other matters which have impressed me, but the
     dreams have never impressed me sufficiently to make me repeat
     them the following morning, and have never been verified. My
     dream of the present occasion was the most vivid I have ever
     experienced; in fact, lifelike, and exactly represented the
     scene as I saw it at night."

Three members of the company--Mr Carter Bligh, Mr Creagh Henry, and Miss
H---- --made statements that Mr Lane related his dream in their presence
on the morning of 16th December. Mr Lane was in the vicinity of the
Adelphi Theatre when the murderer, named Prince or Archer, who had been
employed as a super at the theatre, stabbed Terriss at the stage
entrance to the theatre. The actor was taken to the Charing Cross
Hospital, where he died almost immediately. It is interesting to note
that it was Lane himself who ran to the hospital for the doctor, and on
his return looked in at the stage entrance and saw Terriss lying on the
stairs just as he had seen him in the dream.

While I am fully alive to the possibilities of coincidence, there
certainly does not seem to be much besides levity in the theory that "it
happened to be Jones's hour to see a hallucination of Thompson when it
happened to be Thompson's hour to die," especially when, as frequently
happens, the hallucination occurs more than once to the same percipient.

A Parisian journalist, M. Henri Buisson, sends to "The Annals of
Psychical Science" an account of three premonitory dreams all of which
were told to others before they were fulfilled. In the first, which
occurred on June 8th, 1887, M. Buisson saw his grandmother "stretched
dead on her bed, with a smile on her face as if she slept." Above the
bed, in a brilliant sun, he read the date, "June 8th, 1888," just a
year later; and on that day his grandmother died quite suddenly, with
her face as calm as he had seen it in his dream.

On another occasion M. Buisson saw his mother, not dead, but very ill,
and attended by a doctor, who had died more than a year before, after
having been the family physician for thirty years. The next day M.
Buisson received a telegram saying that his mother was ill, and, in
fact, she died during the day.

In April 1907, M. Buisson dreamt that he received notice to quit his
house on pretence of a message from the Prefect of Police, and that on
looking out of the window he saw the Prefect in the street, dressed in a
leather jacket, with a soft hat, and a slipper on one foot. He also
dreamt that a fire had broken out. On the evening of the next day he
heard the fire-engines, and on following them he found the Prefect on
the spot, dressed just as in the dream, having hurt one foot, he had to
go about in a slipper.

Of still another type is the clairvoyant dream. The following is
related by Mr Herbert J. Lewis, of Cardiff:--

     "In September 1880 I lost the landing-order of a large steamer
     containing a cargo of iron ore, which had arrived in the port
     of Cardiff. She had to commence discharging at six o'clock the
     next morning. I received the landing-order at four o'clock in
     the afternoon, and when I arrived at the office at six I found
     that I had lost it. During all the evening I was doing my
     utmost to find the officials of the Customs House to get a
     permit, as the loss was of the greatest importance, preventing
     the ship from discharging. I came home in a great degree of
     trouble about the matter, as I feared that I should lose my
     situation in consequence.

     "That night I dreamt that I saw the lost landing-order lying in
     a crack in the wall under a desk in the Long Room of the
     Customs House.

     "At five the next morning I went down to the Customs House and
     got the keeper to get up and open it. I went to the spot of
     which I had dreamt, and found the paper in the very place. The
     ship was not ready to discharge at her proper time, and I went
     on board at seven and delivered the landing-order, saving her
     from all delay.

     "I can certify to the truth of the above statement,



     "(Herbert Lewis's father).

     "H. WALLIS."

(Mr E. J. Newell, of the George and Abbotsford Hotel, Melrose, adds the
following corroborative note.)

     "August 14th, 1884.

     "I made some inquiries about Mr Herbert Lewis's dream before I
     left Cardiff. He had been searching throughout the room in
     which the order was found. His theory as to how the order got
     in the place in which it was found is that it was probably put
     there by someone (perhaps with malicious intent), as he does
     not see how it could have fallen so.

     "The fact that Mr H. Lewis is exceedingly short-sighted adds
     to the probability of the thing which you suggest, that the
     dream was simply an unconscious act of memory in sleep. On the
     other hand, he does not believe it was there when he searched.

     "E. J. NEWELL."

Now, it seems to me in the above case that the dreamer's subliminal self
may have taken note of the lost landing-order without his
super-consciousness being aware of it, and that the fact returned to him
in his dream.

In R. L. Stevenson's "Across the Plains" may be found a striking chapter
on dreams. It contains an account of some of the most successful dream
experiments ever recorded. Stevenson's dreams were of no ordinary
character; they were always of great vividness, and often of a markedly
recurrent type. This faculty he developed to an unusual degree--to such
an extent, indeed, that it became of great assistance to him in his
work. By self-suggestion before sleep, we are told, the great novelist
would secure "a visual and dramatic intensity of dream-representation
which furnished him with the motives of some of his most striking
romances." But "R. L. S." is not the only one who has secured assistance
of dreams. Here is an account given by a German, Professor Hilprecht, of
an experience of a similar nature ("Human Personality," i. 376):

     "One Saturday evening, about the middle of March 1893, I had
     been wearying myself, as I had done so often in the weeks
     preceding, in the vain attempt to decipher two small fragments
     of agate, which were supposed to belong to the finger-rings of
     some Babylonian. The labour was much increased by the fact that
     the fragments presented remnants only of characters and lines,
     that dozens of similar small fragments had been found in the
     ruins of the temple of Bel at Nippur with which nothing could
     be done, that in this case furthermore I never had the
     originals before me, but only a hasty sketch made by one of the
     members of the expedition sent by the University of
     Pennsylvania to Babylonia. I could not say more than that the
     fragments, taking into consideration the place in which they
     were found and the peculiar characteristics of the cuneiform
     characters preserved upon them, sprang from the Cassite period
     of Babylonian history (_circa_ 1700-1140 B.C.); moreover, as
     the first character of the third line of the first fragment
     seemed to be KU, I ascribed this fragment, with an
     interrogation point, to King Kurigalzu, while I placed the
     other fragment as unclassifiable with other Cassite fragments
     upon a page of my book where I published the unclassifiable
     fragments. The proofs already lay before me, but I was far from
     satisfied. The whole problem passed yet again through my mind
     that March evening before I placed my mark of approval under
     the last correction in the book. Even then I had come to no
     conclusion. About midnight, weary and exhausted, I went to bed
     and was soon in deep sleep. Then I dreamed the following
     remarkable dream. A tall, thin priest of the old pre-Christian
     Nippur, about forty years of age and clad in a simple abba, led
     me to the treasure chamber of the temple, on its south-east
     side. He went with me into a small low-ceiled room, without
     windows, in which there was a large wooden chest, while scraps
     of agate and lapis-lazuli lay scattered on the floor. Here he
     addressed me as follows:--'The two fragments which you have
     published separately upon pages 22 and 26, belong together, are
     not finger-rings, and their history is as follows. King
     Kurigalzu (_circa_ 1300 B.C.) once sent to the temple of Bel,
     among other articles of agate and lapis-lazuli, an inscribed
     votive cylinder of agate. Then we priests suddenly received the
     command to make for the statue of the god Ninib a pair of
     earrings of agate. We were in great dismay, since there was no
     agate as raw material at hand. In order to execute the command
     there was nothing for us to do but cut the votive cylinder into
     three parts, thus making three rings, each of which contained a
     portion of the original inscription. The first two rings served
     as earrings for the statue of the god; the two fragments which
     have given you so much trouble are portions of them. If you
     will put the two together you will have confirmation of my
     words. But the third ring you have not yet found in the course
     of your excavations and you never will find it.' With this the
     priest disappeared. I awoke at once and immediately told my
     wife the dream, that I might not forget it. Next
     morning--Sunday--I examined the fragments once more in the
     light of these disclosures, and to my astonishment found all
     the details of the dream precisely verified in so far as the
     means of verification were in my hands. The original
     inscription on the votive cylinder read: 'To the god Ninib, son
     of Bel, his lord, has Kurigalzu, pontifex of Bel, presented
     this.' The problem was at last solved."



From the occurrence in a dream of the ideas of events which happen to
coincide with actual events, let us turn to apparitions occurring during
the waking hours of the percipient.

The late Professor Sidgwick, at the head of a committee, sent out the
following question to 17,000 educated persons not known to have had
hallucinations:--"Have you ever, when believing yourself to be
completely awake, had a vivid impression of seeing or being touched by a
living being or inanimate object, or of hearing a voice, which
impression, so far as you could discover, was not due to any external
physical cause?"

The replies demonstrate how frequent are hallucinations amongst healthy,
normal-minded persons. No fewer than 1684, or one in ten, of the
persons interrogated, had had visual and auditory and even tactile
hallucinations, realistic human phantoms, and other apparitions. We find
that, according to the age classification, of 1295 visual hallucinations
72 occurred while the percipients were under ten years of age, 217
between the ages of ten and nineteen, 300 between twenty and
twenty-nine, 143 between thirty and thirty-nine, 81 between forty and
forty-nine, 40 between fifty and fifty-nine, 22 between sixty and
sixty-nine, 5 later than seventy, and 415 at unstated ages. Some of the
hallucinations occurred immediately after waking, others while the
percipients were awake in bed; but the great bulk occurred in a fully
awakened state, and a large number appeared out of doors.

Of hallucinations of which we may say that they are due to a projection
from the agent's mind, commonly to a dying man or woman, to that of the
percipient, perhaps one of the most famous is that of Lord Charles
Beresford, as described by him to the Society for Psychical Research:

     "It was in the spring of 1864, whilst on board H.M.S. _Racoon_,
     between Gibraltar and Marseilles, that I went into my office on
     the main deck to get a pipe; and as I opened the door I saw my
     father lying in his coffin as plainly as I could. It gave me an
     awful jerk and I immediately told some of the fellows who were
     smoking just outside the usual place between the guns, and I
     also told dear old Onslow, our chaplain. A few days after we
     arrived at Marseilles, and I heard of my father's death, and he
     had been buried that very day and at the time, half-past twelve
     in the day. I may add that at the time it was a bright, sunny
     day, and I had not been fretting about my father, as the latest
     news I had of him was that although very ill he was better. My
     dear old father and I were great chums, more so than is usual
     between a man of seventy-two and a boy of twenty, our
     respective ages then."

The evidence is so bulky that we may quote only a case here and there at

     "On December 9th 1882 Mr T. G. Keulemans was living with his
     family in Paris. The outbreak of an epidemic of smallpox caused
     him to remove three of his children, including a favourite
     little boy of five, to London, whence he received in the course
     of the ensuing month several letters giving an excellent
     account of their health.

     "On the 24th of January 1881, at half-past seven in the
     morning, I was suddenly awoke by hearing his voice, as I
     fancied, very near me. I saw a bright opaque white mass before
     my eyes, and in the centre of this light I saw the face of my
     little darling, his eyes bright, his mouth smiling. The
     apparition, accompanied by the sound of his voice, was too
     short and too sudden to be called a dream; it was too clear,
     too decided, to be called an effect of the imagination. So
     distinctly did I hear his voice that I looked round the room to
     see whether he was actually there. The sound I heard was that
     of extreme delight, such as only a happy child can utter. I
     thought it was the moment he woke up in London, happy and
     thinking of me. I said to myself: 'Thank God, little Isidore
     is happy as always.' Mr Keulemans describes the ensuing day as
     one of peculiar brightness and cheerfulness. He took a long
     walk with a friend, with whom he dined; and was afterwards
     playing a game at billiards when he again saw the apparition of
     his child. This made him seriously uneasy, and in spite of
     having received within three days the assurance of his child's
     perfect health he expressed to his wife a conviction that he
     was dead. Next day a letter arrived saying that the child was
     ill; but the father was convinced that this was only an attempt
     to break the news; and, in fact, the child had died, after a
     few hours' illness, at the exact time of the first apparition."

Another case as recited by Madame D----, of St Gaudens, is to be found
in "Posthumous Humanity." She says:

     "I was still a young girl, and slept with my elder sister. One
     evening we had just retired to bed and blown out the light. The
     smouldering fire on the hearth still feebly lighted the room.
     Upon turning my eyes towards the fireplace I perceived, to my
     amazement, a priest seated before the fire and warming himself.
     He had the corpulence, the features, and the general appearance
     of one of our uncles who lived in the neighbourhood, where he
     was an archbishop. I at once called my sister's attention. She
     looked in the same direction, and saw the same apparition. She
     also recognised our uncle. An indescribable terror seized us
     both, and we cried 'Help!' with all our might. My father, who
     slept in an adjoining room, awakened by these desperate cries,
     jumped out of bed and ran in with a candle in his hand. The
     phantom had disappeared, and we saw no one in the room. The
     next morning a letter was received informing us that our uncle
     had died the previous evening.

     "At Wiesbaden, Professor Ebenan, whose old sister kept his
     house, stated that he had a friend residing forty or fifty
     miles off--likewise a professor--who was very poor and had a
     large family. On hearing that his wife was dying, Mr E---- went
     to see them, and brought back their eldest boy, for whom a
     little bed was put up in Mr E----'s room.

     "One morning, about ten days after, Mr E---- called and asked
     me: 'Do you believe that at the moment of death you may appear
     to one whom you love?' I replied: 'Yes, I do.' 'Well,' he said,
     'we shall see. I have noted the day and the hour, for last
     night after I went to bed the child said sweetly (in German):
     "Yes, dear mamma, I see you." To which I replied: "No, dear
     boy, it is I; I am come to bed." "No," he said, "it is dear
     mamma, she is standing there smiling at me," pointing to the
     side of the bed.' On his next visit Mr Ebenan told us that he
     had received a letter informing him that at that time, and on
     that evening, the wife had breathed her last."

In some cases a vague shadowy form is seen which gradually acquires
definiteness. Here is an interesting example contributed to
"Proceedings," vol. x., by a Mr T. A.:--

     "9th May 1892.

     "I saw a darkish vapour leave my father's head when he died,
     about twelve years ago, and it formed into a figure full-sized,
     and for seven consecutive nights (I) saw it in my room, and saw
     it go each night into the next room, in which he died. It
     became more distinct each night and brighter each night, till
     it was quite brilliant, even dazzling, by the seventh night. It
     lasted, say, one and a half minutes. It was quite dark when the
     phantom used to appear. I was quite awake, going to bed; [age]
     thirty two."

In other cases what is first seen is a glow of light--the apparition
subsequently appearing in it.

Mr R. W. Raper, of Trinity College, Oxford, made the following statement
to the Society for Psychical Research:--

     "'Just before Christmas 1894 I went over to Liverpool with one
     of my brothers and my sister. It was a very fine clear day and
     there was a great crowd of people shopping in the streets. We
     were walking down Lord-street, one of the principal streets,
     when, passing me, I saw an old uncle of mine whom I knew very
     little, and had not seen for a very long time, though he lived
     near me. I saw three distinct shapes hobbling past (he was
     lame), one after another, in a line. It didn't seem to strike
     me at the moment as being in the least curious, not even there
     being three shapes in a line. I said to my sister: "I have just
     seen Uncle E----, and I am sure he is dead." I said this, as it
     were, mechanically, and not feeling at all impressed. Of course
     my brother and sister laughed. We thought nothing more about it
     while in Liverpool. The first thing my mother said to us when
     getting home was: "I have some news"; and then she told us that
     this uncle had died early that morning. I don't know the
     particular hour. I saw the three shapes at about twelve in the
     morning. I felt perfectly fit and well, and was not thinking of
     my uncle in the least, nor did I know he was ill. Both my
     brother and my sister heard me say that I had seen him and
     believed he was dead, and they were equally astonished at
     hearing of his death on our return home. My uncle and I knew
     each other very little. In fact, he hardly knew me by sight,
     although he knew me well when I was a small child.'

     "The corroboration from the percipient's mother and sister is
     quite ample; the day of the agent's death coincided with the
     apparition, but the hour is not certainly known."

Another well-known case is that of Prince Victor Duleep Singh, who

     "On Saturday, October 21st, 1893, I was in Berlin with Lord
     Carnarvon. We went to a theatre together and returned before
     midnight. I went to bed, leaving, as I always do, a bright
     light in the room (electric light). As I lay in bed I found
     myself looking at an oleograph which hung on the wall opposite
     my bed. I saw distinctly the face of my father, the Maharajah
     Duleep Singh, looking at me, as it were, out of this picture;
     not like a portrait of him, but his real head. The head about
     filled the picture frame. I continued looking, and still saw my
     father looking at me with an intent expression. Though not in
     the least alarmed, I was so puzzled that I got out of bed to
     see what the picture really was. It was an oleograph
     commonplace picture of a girl holding a rose and leaning out of
     a balcony, an arch forming the background. The girl's face was
     quite small, whereas my father's head was the size of life and
     filled the frame."

The Prince's father had been in ill-health for some time, but nothing
alarming was to be expected. On the day following the dream he mentioned
it to Lord Carnarvon, and on the evening of that day Lord Carnarvon
handed him a telegram announcing the elder Prince's death. He had had an
apoplectic seizure on the previous evening and never recovered. It is
interesting to note that he had often said that he would try to appear
to his son at death if they happened to be apart. The account is
confirmed by Lord Carnarvon.

It sometimes happens that the point of hallucination is not quite
reached. The following instance, communicated to the Society for
Psychical Research, is straightforward enough:

     "'20 Rankeillor Street, Edinburgh,

     "'December 27th, 1883.

     "'In January 1871 I was living in the West Indies. On the 7th
     of that month I got up with a strong feeling that there was
     something happening at my old home in Scotland. At seven A.M. I
     mentioned to my sister-in-law my strange dread, and said even
     at that hour what I dreaded was taking place.

     "'By the next mail I got word that at eleven A.M. on the 7th of
     January my sister died. The island I lived in was at St Kitts,
     and the death took place in Edinburgh. Please note the hours
     and allow for the difference in time, and you will notice at
     least a remarkable coincidence. I may add I never knew of her

     "'A. C----N.'

     "In answer to inquiries, Mr C----n adds: 'I never at any other
     time had a feeling in any way resembling the particular time I
     wrote about. At the time I wrote about I was in perfect
     health, and in every way in comfortable circumstances.'"

There is nothing unreasonable in the assumption that telepathy is the
agency primarily concerned in these manifestations. The idea having been
received, a hallucination is built up, so to speak, by the percipient. A
truly hallucinable person can suggest to himself his own hallucinations
with no external aid, but a non-hallucinable personage cannot induce
these hallucinations at all. Dr Hugh Wingfield stated to the Society for
Psychical Research that the case of one of his patients proved that
hallucinations could be produced by self-suggestion. "He could, by a
simple effort of the mind, himself believe almost any delusion--_e.g._
that he was riding on horseback, that he was a dog, or anything else, or
that he saw snakes--if left to himself the delusion vanished slowly.
Anyone else could remove it at once by a counter-suggestion. He made,"
he adds, "these experiments without my consent, as I consider them

Hallucination is at times accompanied by curious organic effects. One of
the commonest of these is a feeling of cold--generally described as a
"chill" or "cold shudder." The following example is taken from the
Census of Hallucinations of the Society for Psychical Research:--

     FROM MISS K. M.

     (_The account was written in 1889._)

     "[About twenty years ago] I was about ten years old, and was
     staying with friends in Kensington. Between the hours of eight
     and nine P.M., we were all sitting in the drawing-room with the
     door open, [it] being a very warm evening. Suddenly I
     experienced a cold shudder, and on looking through the door
     opposite which I was sitting, I saw the figure of a little old
     lady dressed in a long brown cloak with a large brown hat,
     carrying a basket, glide down the stairs and disappear in the
     room next the drawing-room. The impression was that of someone
     I had never seen. I was talking on ordinary subjects, neither
     ill, in grief, or anxiety. There were several other people in
     the room, but no one noticed anything but myself. I have never
     had any experience of this kind before or since."

Occasionally, but very rarely, pain is described as resulting from a
hallucination. Other effects include fainting fits and tactile
impressions. Noise would appear in some cases to produce visual
hallucinations, by creating in the hearer a strong expectation of seeing
something corresponding to it, or that may account for it. From
"Phantasms of the Living" we glean the following:--

     "Between sleeping and waking this morning, I perceived a dog
     running about in a field (an ideal white and tan sporting dog),
     and the next moment I heard a dog barking outside my window.
     Keeping my closed eyes on the vision, I found that _it came and
     went with the_ barking of the dog outside; getting fainter,
     however, each time."

A weak state of health on the part of the percipient would seem to be
conducive to hallucinatory visions. Here is a case in point contributed
to the "Society for Psychical Research Proceedings," vol. x., by a
Professor G----:

     "Saw an old woman with red cloak, nursing a child in her arms.
     She sat on a boulder. Place: a grassy moor or upland, near
     Shotts, in Lanarkshire. Date: over twenty years ago. Early
     autumn, in bright sunny weather. Made several attempts to reach
     her, but she always vanished before I could get up to the
     stone. Place far from any dwelling, and no spot where anyone
     could be concealed.

     "[I was] walking; had been slightly troubled with insomnia
     which afterwards became worse. Age about thirty.

     "No one [was with me]. I heard a vague report that a woman with
     red cloak was sometimes seen on the moor. Can't now remember
     whether I had heard of that report before I saw the figure--but
     think I had not.

     "Saw many years ago (age about twenty-one), a dog sitting
     beside me in my room: saw this only once: was troubled slightly
     with insomnia at the time which afterwards became worse."

The percipient's own view, the collector tells us, is that the
experience on the moor was entirely due to "nerves," as both then and
previously when he saw the dog he had been much overworked, and in each
case a severe illness followed.

Not always does a visual hallucination take the form of a living human
form. Occasionally the object seen or the sound heard is non-human in
character. In insanity and in diseases such cases are frequently met
with, the hallucination being often of a grotesque or horrible sort.
Thus we have a case in which a young child beheld a vision of dwarfish
gnomes dancing on the wall. Among the phantasms of inanimate objects in
the collection of the late E. Gurney were a star, a firework bursting
into stars, a firefly, a crown, landscape vignettes, a statue, the end
of a draped coffin coming in through the door, and a bright oval
surrounding the words "Wednesday, October 15, Death." Geometrical
patterns, sometimes taking very complicated forms, comprise another
known type of hallucination.

As to a theory for hallucinations, the most acceptable one is that they
have their origin in the brain, and that the senses are made to share in
the deception. There is little doubt that William Blake's hallucinations
were voluntary. Gurney refers to a friend, a painter, who was able to
project a vision of his sitter out into space and paint from it. We have
already seen that a hypnotic agent can cause his subject not merely to
see things but to feel them, even to the extent of crying out with pain
when an imaginary lighted match is applied to his finger.



Thus far I have devoted myself to an investigation of phenomena for
which the theory of telepathy is not inapplicable. It is, however, when
we come to discuss hallucinations from which the idea of a living agent
is apparently excluded that I feel myself entering on even more delicate
and mysterious territory. Having dealt with phantasms of persons at the
point of death, I now propose to deal with phantasms of persons already
dead. Where, indeed, the death has been very recent, the telepathic
theory still serves, for the reception conveyed by the dying agent might
conceivably remain dormant in the sub-consciousness of the percipient,
and only be aroused in a dream or during a propitious waking moment.

This would apply to the case of a lady who saw the body of a well-known
London physician, about ten hours after death, lying in a bare
unfurnished room, which turned out to be a cottage hospital abroad. Mr
Myers, in his "Human Personality," has collected a large number of
examples of apparitions of departed spirits, upon which he lays the
utmost stress, because they, more than any other kind of evidence, tend
to support his great theory of the survival of personality. If, he
reasons, we can gain a number of well-authenticated cases of
hallucinations projected telepathically from an agent before death, an
equal amount of evidence of hallucinations projected by an agent after
death would prove the continuance of life beyond the grave! And some of
the cases which the Society of Psychical Research, both in this country
and America, have collected are certainly of an impressive character.

Unhappily, most of the best and most convincing cases are too long to be
given here; they cannot even profitably be summarised.

In one instance Mr F. G. of Boston, whose high character and good
position are vouched for by Professor Royce and Dr Hodgson, states that
nine years after the death of a favourite sister an apparition appeared
before him:

     "The hour was high noon, and the sun was shining cheerfully
     into my room. While busily smoking my cigar and writing out my
     orders, I suddenly became conscious that someone was sitting on
     my left, with one arm resting on the table. Quick as a flash I
     turned, and distinctly saw the form of my dead sister, and for
     a brief second or so looked her squarely in the face; and so
     sure was I that it was she, that I sprang forward in delight,
     calling her by name, and as I did so the apparition instantly

But that is not the most extraordinary part of the story. The visitation
so impressed the percipient that he took the next train home and related
to his parents what had occurred. He particularly mentioned a bright red
line or scratch on the right-hand side of his sister's face, which he
had distinctly seen:

     "... When I mentioned this, my mother rose trembling to her
     feet, and nearly fainted away, and as soon as she sufficiently
     recovered her self-possession, with tears streaming down her
     face, she exclaimed that I had indeed seen my sister, as no
     living mortal but herself was aware of the scratch, which she
     had accidentally made while doing some little act of kindness
     after my sister's death.... In proof, neither my father nor any
     of our family had detected it, and positively were unaware of
     the incident, yet _I saw the scratch as bright as if just
     made_. So strangely impressed was my mother, that even after
     she had retired to rest she got up and dressed, came to me, and
     told me _she knew_ that I had seen my sister. A few weeks later
     my mother died."

Now, is it not a little singular that, although both Dr Hodgson and Mr
Myers record this incident, the theory of telepathy between a living
agent and a living percipient does not occur to them? Is it not
conceivable that the mother, on whose mind the incident of the scratch
on the features of the corpse had admittedly preyed, should have
unwittingly communicated her secret to her son? In other words, the
mother projected a phantasm of her dead daughter to the mind of her son.

In the "Proceedings of the Society" there is a case which, according to
Mr Stead, "appears to suggest that the deceased are continuing to take
an interest in mundane affairs." The story is communicated by Miss
Dodson. On Sunday, 5th June 1887, close upon midnight, Miss Dodson was
roused by hearing her name called three times. She answered twice,
thinking it was her uncle. The third time she recognised the voice of
her mother, who had been dead sixteen years. "I said," continued Miss
Dodson, "'Mamma!'"

     "She then came round a screen near my bedside with two children
     in her arms and placed them in my arms and put the bedclothes
     over them, and said: 'Lucy, promise me to take care of them,
     for their mother is just dead.' I said: 'Yes, mamma.' She
     repeated: '_Promise_ me to take care of them.' I replied: 'Yes,
     I promise you,' and added, 'Oh, mamma, stay and speak to me, I
     am so wretched.' She replied: 'Not yet, my child,' then she
     seemed to go round the screen again and I remained, feeling the
     children to be still in my arms and fell asleep. When I awoke
     there was nothing. Tuesday morning, 7th June, I received the
     news of my sister-in-law's death. She had given birth to a
     child three weeks before, which I did not know till after her

Professor Sidgwick says, as the result of an interesting conversation
with Miss Dodson, that the children were of the ages corresponding with
the ages of the children of her sister-in-law; they seemed to be a
little girl and a baby newly born. The only way an ingenious sceptic can
get round this case is by supposing that a telepathic impulse from the
living brother might conceivably embody itself in the form of his
mother. But the idea of a brother in Belgium being able to transmit a
telepathic message in the assumed shape and with the voice of his
mother, who had been dead for sixteen years, and also to telepath into
existence in London the two little children who were living in his house
at Bruges, is rather a clumsy hypothesis. But what other have we?

     "Mr Theobald, an Australian, forwards to the Society a paper
     discovered amongst the effects of his uncle, now dead. The
     apparition, as will be seen, occurred on October 24th, 1860,
     and the account is endorsed on 9th November by the percipient's
     father. Further particulars sent to Mr B---- by the percipient
     (who is here called Mr D----) are dated November 13th, 1860.
     The first account seems to have been sent by the percipient to
     his father, and by the father to Mr B----"

The percipient had been identified, and confirms, as will be seen, this
early narrative, which is as follows:--

     "On the evening of Wednesday, October 24th, 1860, having
     retired to bed about nine o'clock, I had slept, I conclude,
     about two hours, making it then about eleven o'clock P.M. I was
     awoke from my sleep by a hand touching my forehead, and the
     well-known voice of Mrs B---- pronouncing my name, E----. I
     started up and sat in bed, rubbed my eyes, and then saw Mrs
     B----. From the head to the waist the figure was distinct,
     clear, and well defined; but from the waist downwards it was
     all misty, and the lower part transparent. She appeared to be
     dressed in black silk. Her countenance was grave and rather
     sad, but not unhappy.

     "The words she first uttered were: 'I have left dear John.'
     What followed related entirely to myself, and she was permitted
     by a most kind Providence to speak words of mercy, promise, and
     comfort, and assurance that what I most wished would come to
     pass. She came to me in an hour of bitter mental agony, and was
     sent as a messenger of mercy...."

Occasionally there is a curious variant, when the phantasm is auditory
and not visible. In the case published in "Proceedings of the Society
for Psychical Research," vol. iii. p. 90, Mr Wambey heard a phantasmal
voice as though in colloquy with his own thought. He was planning a
congratulatory letter to a friend, when the words "What, write to a dead
man? write to a dead man?" sounded clearly in his ears. The friend had
been dead for some days.

Gurney was much impressed by the unexpectedly large proportion of cases
where the percipient informed us that there had been a _compact_ between
himself and the deceased person that whichever passed away first should
try to appear to the other. "Considering," he adds, "what an extremely
small number of persons make such a compact, compared with those who do
not, it is difficult to resist the conclusion that its existence has a
certain efficacy."

A characteristic case is thus reported by a Mr Bellamy:

     "When a girl at school my wife made an agreement with a
     fellow-pupil, Miss W., that the one of them who died first
     should, if divinely permitted, appear after her decease to the
     survivor. In 1874 my wife, who had not seen or heard anything
     of her former school friend for some years, casually heard of
     her death. The news reminded her of her former agreement, and
     then, becoming nervous, she told me of it. I knew of my wife's
     compact, but I had never seen a photograph of her friend, or
     heard any description of her." (Mr Bellamy told Gurney in
     conversation that his mind had not been in the least dwelling
     on the compact.)

     "A night or two afterwards, as I was sleeping with my wife, a
     fire brightly burning in my room and a candle alight, I
     suddenly awoke and saw a lady sitting by the side of the bed
     where my wife was sleeping soundly. At once I sat up in the bed
     and gazed so intently that even now I can recall her form and
     features. Had I the pencil or the brush of a Millais I could
     transfer to canvas an exact likeness of the ghostly visitant. I
     remember that I was much struck, as I looked intently at her,
     with the careful arrangement of her coiffure, every single hair
     being most carefully brushed down. How long I sat and gazed I
     cannot say, but directly the apparition ceased to be, I got
     out of bed to see if any of my wife's garments had by any means
     optically deluded me. I found nothing in the line of vision but
     a bare wall. Hallucination on my part I rejected as out of the
     question, and I doubted not that I had really seen an
     apparition. Returning to bed, I lay till my wife some hours
     after awoke, and then I gave her an account of her friend's
     appearance. I described her colour, form, etc., all of which
     exactly tallied with my wife's recollection of Miss W. Finally
     I asked, 'But was there any special point to strike one in her
     appearance?' 'Yes,' my wife promptly replied, 'we girls used to
     tease her at school for devoting so much time to the
     arrangement of her hair.' This was the very thing which I have
     said so much struck me. Such are the simple facts.

     "I will only add that till 1874 I had never seen an apparition,
     and that I have not seen one since.


The following case, from "Proceedings," vol. viii. p. 178, bears a
distinct resemblance to the old-fashioned ghost stories. Mrs M., the
informant, writes under date 15th December 1891:

     "Before relating my experience of having seen a ghost, I should
     like my readers thoroughly to understand that I had not the
     slightest idea that the house in which my husband and I were
     living was haunted, or that the family residing there for many
     years before us had had any family troubles. The house was
     delightfully situated [etc.]. The house being partly new and
     partly old we occupied the old part for our sleeping
     apartments. There were two staircases leading to them, with a
     landing and window, adjoining a morning sitting-room. One night
     on retiring to my bedroom about 11 o'clock, I thought I heard a
     peculiar moaning sound, and someone sobbing as if in great
     distress of mind. I listened very attentively, and still it
     continued; so I raised the gas in my bedroom, and then went to
     the landing window of which I have spoken, drew the blind
     aside; and there on the grass was a very beautiful young girl
     in kneeling posture before a soldier, in a general's uniform,
     sobbing and clasping her hands together, entreating for pardon;
     but alas! he only waved her away from him. So much did I feel
     for the girl, that without a moment's hesitation I ran down the
     staircase to the door opening upon the lawn, and begged her to
     come in and tell me her sorrow. The figures then disappeared!
     Not in the least nervous did I feel then;--went again to my
     bedroom, took a sheet of writing paper and wrote down what I
     had seen. [Mrs M. has found and sent us this paper. The
     following words are written in pencil on a half sheet of
     notepaper:--"March 13th, 1886. Have just seen visions on
     lawn:--a soldier in general's uniform,--a young lady kneeling
     to him. 11.40 P.M."] My husband was away from home when this
     event occurred, but a lady friend was staying with me, so I
     went to her bedroom and told her that I had been rather
     frightened by some noises;--could I stay with her a little
     while? A few days afterwards I found myself in a very nervous
     state; but it seemed so strange that I was not frightened at
     the time.

     "It appears the story is only too true. The youngest daughter
     of this very old proud family had had an illegitimate child;
     and her parents and relatives would not recognise her again,
     and she died broken-hearted. The soldier was a near relative
     (also a connection of my husband's); and it was in vain she
     tried to gain his--the soldier's--forgiveness. [In a subsequent
     letter Sir X. Y.'s career is described. He was a distinguished

     "So vivid was my remembrance of the features of the soldier
     that some months after the occurrence, when I happened to be
     calling with my husband at a house where there was a portrait
     of him, I stepped before it and said: 'Why, look! There is the
     General!' And sure enough it _was_."

In a subsequent letter Mrs M. writes:

     "I did see the figures on the lawn after opening the door
     leading on to the lawn; and they by no means disappeared
     instantly, but more like a dissolving view--viz. gradually; and
     I did not leave the door until they had passed away. It was
     impossible for any real persons to act such a scene.... The
     General was born and died (in the house where I saw him).... I
     was not aware that the portrait of the General was in that room
     (where I saw it); it was the first time I had been in that
     room. The misfortune to the poor girl happened in 1847 or

Mrs M. then mentions that a respectable local tradesman hearing of the
incident remarked: "That is not an uncommon thing to see _her_ about the
place, poor soul! She was a badly used girl."

Mr M. writes as follows under date 23rd December 1891:--

     "I have seen my wife's letter in regard to the recognition of
     Sir X. Y.'s picture at ----. Nothing was said by me to her on
     the subject; but knowing the portrait to be a remarkably good
     likeness I proposed calling at the house (which was that of a
     nephew of Sir X. Y.'s), being anxious to see what effect it
     would have upon my wife. Immediately on entering the room she
     almost staggered back, and turned pale, saying--looking hard
     at the picture--'Why, there's the General!' ... Being a
     connection of the family I knew all about the people, but my
     wife was then a stranger, and I had never mentioned such things
     to her; in fact they had been almost forgotten."

Here is a case where the phantasm was visible to several persons at the
same time. It is given by Mr Charles A. W. Lett, of the Military and
Royal Naval Club, Albemarle Street, W.

     "December 3rd, 1885.

     "On the 5th April 1873 my wife's father, Captain Towns, died at
     his residence, Cranbrook, Rose Bay, near Sydney, N. S. Wales.
     About six weeks after his death my wife had occasion one
     evening about nine o'clock to go to one of the bedrooms in the
     house. She was accompanied by a young lady, Miss Berthon, and
     as they entered the room--the gas burning all the time--they
     were amazed to see, reflected as it were on the polished
     surface of the wardrobe, the image of Captain Towns. It was
     barely half figure, the head, shoulders, and part of the arms
     only showing--in fact, it was like an ordinary medallion
     portrait, but life-size. The face appeared wan and pale, as it
     did before his death, and he wore a kind of grey flannel
     jacket, in which he had been accustomed to sleep. Surprised and
     half-alarmed at what they saw, their first idea was that a
     portrait had been hung in the room, and that what they saw was
     its reflection; but there was no picture of the kind.

     "Whilst they were looking and wondering, my wife's sister, Miss
     Towns, came into the room, and before either of the others had
     time to speak, she exclaimed, 'Good gracious! Do you see papa?'
     One of the housemaids happened to be passing downstairs at the
     moment, and she was called in and asked if she saw anything,
     and her reply was, 'Oh, miss! the master.' Graham--Captain
     Towns' old body-servant--was then sent for, and he also
     immediately exclaimed, 'Oh, Lord save us! Mrs Lett, it's the
     captain!' The butler was called, and then Mrs Crane, my wife's
     nurse, and they both said what they saw. Finally, Mrs Towns
     was sent for, and, seeing the apparition, she advanced towards
     it with her arm extended as if to touch it, and as she passed
     her hand over the panel of the wardrobe the figure gradually
     faded away, and never again appeared, though the room was
     regularly occupied for a long time after.

     "These are the simple facts of the case, and they admit of no
     doubt; no kind of intimation was given to any of the witnesses;
     the same question was put to each one as they came into the
     room, and the reply was given without hesitation by each. It
     was by the merest accident that I did not see the apparition. I
     was in the house at the time, but did not hear when I was

     "C. A. W. LETT."

     "We the undersigned, having read the above statement, certify
     that it is strictly accurate, as we were both witnesses of the

     "SARA LETT,


     "(_née_ TOWNS.)"

"Mrs Lett assures me," wrote Gurney, "that neither she nor her sister
ever experienced a hallucination of the senses on any other occasion.
She is positive that the recognition of the appearance on the part of
each of the later witnesses was _independent_, and not due to any
suggestion from the persons already in the room."

The following, taken from the "Report on the Census of Hallucinations,"
may belong to either the ante-mortem or post-mortem category:--

     "At Redhill on Thanksgiving Day, between eight and nine in the
     evening, when I was taking charge of the little daughter of a
     friend, during my friend's absence on that evening, I left the
     child sleeping in the bedroom, and went to drop the blinds in
     two neighbouring rooms, being absent about three minutes. On
     returning to the child's room in the full light of the
     gas-burner from above I distinctly saw, coming from the child's
     cot, a white figure, which figure turned, looked me full in the
     face, and passed down the staircase. I instantly followed,
     leaned over the banisters in astonishment, and saw the
     glistening of the white drapery as the figure passed down the
     staircase, through the lighted hall, and silently through the
     hall door itself, which was barred, chained, and locked. I felt
     for the moment perfectly staggered, went back to the bedroom,
     and found the child peacefully sleeping. I related the
     circumstance to the mother immediately on her return late that
     night. She was incredulous, but said that my description of the
     figure answered to that of an invalid aunt of the child's. The
     next morning came a telegram to say that this relation who had
     greatly wished to see her niece had died between eight and nine
     the previous evening.

     "I had just put down the 'Pickwick Papers,' with which I had
     been whiling away the time, was free from trouble and in good

Sister Bertha, Superior of the House of Mercy at Bovey Tracey, Newton
Abbot, states:

     "On the night of November 10th, 1861, I was up in my bed
     watching, because there was a person not quite well in the next
     room. I heard a voice which I recognised at once as familiar to
     me, and at first thought of my sister. It said in the brightest
     and most cheerful tone, 'I am here with you.' I answered,
     looking and seeing nothing, 'Who are you?' The voice said, 'You
     mustn't know yet.' I heard nothing more and saw nothing, and am
     certain that the door was not opened or shut. I was not in the
     least frightened, and felt convinced it was Lucy's [Miss Lucy
     Gambier Parry's] voice.

     "I have never doubted it from that moment. I had not heard of
     her being worse. The last account had been good, and I was
     expecting to hear that she was at Torquay. In the course of the
     next day (the 11th), mother told me that she had died on the
     morning of the 10th, rather more than twelve hours before I
     heard her voice."

A case reported by Mr John E. Husbands, of Melbourne House, Town Hall
Square, Grimsby, is interesting:

     "I was sleeping in a hotel in Madeira in January 1885. It was a
     bright moonlight night. The windows were open, and the blinds
     up. I felt someone was in my room. On opening my eyes I saw a
     young fellow about twenty-five, dressed in flannels, standing
     at the side of my bed, and pointing with the first finger of
     his right hand to the place where I was lying. I lay for some
     seconds to convince myself of someone being really there. I
     then sat up and looked at him. I saw his features so plainly
     that I recognised them in a photograph which was shown me some
     days afterwards. I asked him what he wanted. He did not speak,
     but his eyes and hands seemed to tell me that I was in his
     place. As he did not answer, I struck at him with my fist as I
     sat up, but did not reach him, and as I was going to spring out
     of bed he slowly vanished through the door, which was shut,
     keeping his eyes upon me all the time. Upon inquiry I found
     that the young fellow who appeared to me died in the room I was

There is, too, the famous case of Mrs de Fréville and the gardener Bard.
The percipient, who had formerly been in the employ of this somewhat
eccentric lady, who was especially morbid on the subject of tombs and so
forth, was in the churchyard of Hinxton, Saffron Walden, on Friday, 8th
May 1885. He happened to look at the square De Fréville stone vault,
when, to his amazement, he distinctly saw the old lady, with a white
face, leaning on the rails. When he looked again she was gone, although
it puzzled him to know how she could have got out of the churchyard, as,
in order to reach any of the gates, she must have passed him. Next day
he was told that Mrs de Fréville was dead. As the apparition was seen
about seven and a half hours after death, it could, as I have suggested,
be considered a telepathic impression transmitted at the moment of death
and remaining latent in the brain of the percipient; otherwise, the
case belongs to the category of Haunting, which we will glance at in the
next chapter.



"Do I believe in ghosts?" asks Mr Andrew Lang. "One can only answer:
'How do you define a ghost?' I do believe, with all students of human
nature, in hallucinations of one, or of several, or even of all the
senses. But as to whether such hallucinations among the sane are ever
caused by physical influence from the minds of others, alive or dead,
not communicated through the ordinary channels of sense, my mind is in a
balance of doubt. It is a question of evidence."

If the evidence of "hauntings" were measurable by bulk alone, no phase
of occultism would be more completely demonstrated. It is only when we
come to examine the quality of the available data that we realise how
formidable a task it is we have undertaken. In nothing, perhaps, have
credulity and superstition been allowed so wide a scope; nowhere is it
more difficult to winnow the grain of reliable testimony from the chaff
of mythology and invention. For we must remember that the belief in
ghosts is as old as the hills themselves. It is common to all countries
and to all nations, and in the literature of every language are to be
found tales of the supernatural scarcely less plausible than many which
assail our ears to-day.

What I now set myself to investigate is that class of phenomena
seemingly attached to various localities and comprising, besides
apparitions, sights and sounds of various kinds and degrees. According
to Mr E. T. Bennett, for twenty years assistant secretary of the
Psychical Research Society, the records of the Society contain
descriptions of "a large number of cases in which the evidence of the
reality of phenomena incapable of ordinary explanation is absolutely

When the sounds are intelligible, or a sentence is spelt out in response
to the inquiry of the auditor, the _raison d'être_ of the manifestation
is more or less obvious. But there is evidence of a large number of
so-called "hauntings" where steps are heard, or noises which convey no
intelligible information. Sometimes, also, we are told that
simultaneously with the death of a friend bangs have been heard, which,
but for the coincidence of their occurrence in association with a death,
are without meaning. M. Flammarion cites several cases of this sort. The
following will serve as an illustration:--[2]

[Footnote 2: It will be found on page 178 of "L'Inconnu et les Problemes

     M. E. Deschaux relates that his grandfather "was awakened one
     evening at eleven P.M. by three very distinct raps on the door
     of his room. Astonished, he rose, lit the lamp, opened the
     door, but saw no one. Supposing that some trickster had been
     the cause of his disturbance, he returned to bed grumbling, but
     again three knocks were heard on the door. He got up quickly,
     intending that the culprit should pay dearly for his untimely
     joke, but in spite of careful search, both in the passage and
     on the staircase, he could not discover where this mysterious
     culprit had disappeared to. A third time, when he was again in
     bed, three raps were audible on the door. This time the
     grandfather had a presentiment that the sound was caused by the
     spirit of his mother, although nothing in the tidings he had
     previously received from his family incited him to this
     supposition. Five or six days after this manifestation a letter
     arrived from his own country announcing the death of his mother
     which had occurred precisely at the hour at which he had heard
     the knocks. At the moment of her death, his mother, who had a
     particular affection for him, had insisted that a dress which
     her 'boy in Paris' had some time before sent her as a present
     should be brought and placed on her bed."

Here we seem to have a distinct motive for the visitation; but on the
other hand observe how many cases we come across where the phenomena
appears to be due solely to the wanton and mischievous impulses of the
invisible agents.

There is for example the case of a house in which spiritual
manifestations, often of a disturbing character, were continually being
produced, related by Mr Inkster Gilbertson in _The Occult Review_ on the
authority of a West End physician who is called Dr Macdonald. The swish
of a silk dress and the slamming of doors were among the least important
of the phenomena from a psychical point of view, though the sound of
someone coming through a skylight and dropping on to the landing was
certainly calculated to terrify the ladies, who "came up from the
drawing-room screaming and shouting, expecting to find some dreadful
tragedy being enacted." These manifestations consisted entirely of
sounds, but at the regular sittings which were held in the house a
drawer was taken from its place in the bedroom and left on the hall
stand, the loose wooden leaves which converted a billiard-table into a
dining-table were slid off the end and deposited on the floor, and a
screen was several times seen to fold itself up without being touched.

The most peculiar occurrences, however, were the antics of certain keys
belonging to doors in the house. "The door of the front bedroom was
often found locked, and the key would disappear." The doctor kept his
eye on the key and presently saw it move round, locking the door, and
then "he saw the last of the key disappearing through the hole." At
another time the lady of the house, her children, and the maid were
locked in for some hours. "The key would be kept away for days; then it
would suddenly appear. One day it was found in Mrs Macdonald's lap; once
it was quietly laid on the doctor's head," and so forth. On one occasion
when the key was not given up the doctor called out: "Won't you send us
down the key before we go?" They were passing down the stairs and,
before they reached the bottom, the key was gently dropped on the
doctor's head. The most careful observations failed to discover the
known means by which the feats could be accomplished. The evidence of
the intelligence and of the mischievous disposition of these uncanny
tricksters was borne out by sounds of dancing being heard outside the
door just afterwards.

"The possible non-ghostly explanations," says Mrs Sidgwick, "of what
pass as ghostly phenomena may be conveniently classed with reference to
the various sorts of error by which the evidence to such phenomena is
liable to be affected. I should state these as (1) hoaxing, (2)
exaggeration or inadequate description, (3) illusion, (4) mistaken
identity, (5) hallucination.... I think, however, that anyone who has
read the evidence will at once discard the first of these alternatives
so far as the great mass of the first-hand narratives is concerned."

There are not a few cases, however, where the ghostly manifestations
have been found to be due to human agency. The following instance was
brought to my notice by a well-known firm of estate agents at Tunbridge

     "There is an old Manor House in this district which is locally
     known as the 'Haunted House.' The original mansion was,
     according to Hasted, one of the homes of the Colepepers. In
     the reign of Charles II. the mansion was rebuilt in the style
     of the period. It has, however, outlived its purpose, is out of
     repair and was for many years let in tenements to labourers. It
     is now untenanted. Some few months ago the lurid tales of
     ghostly visitors induced a local spiritualist, encouraged by
     some mischievous friends, to hold a _séance_ in the house at
     midnight, and to perambulate the rambling building from time to
     time during the night. The spirits lived up to their reputation
     and gave all kinds of manifestations which included streams of
     water from invisible buckets that met the investigator as he
     groped up the staircase and along the passages. In the end the
     whole thing was found to be a hoax and to have been organised
     by the spiritualist's friends. He is not communicative on the
     subject. The old house still stands empty and deserves a better

The classic case of haunting in England is, perhaps, that of Willingdon
Mill. Other spectre-ridden edifices in the kingdom there may well be,
but their stories, however grim and ghastly, are apt to relapse into
insignificance beside those narrated of this famous Tyneside building.

Willingdon Mill, which is situated in Northumberland nearly half-way
between Newcastle and North Shields, was built about the year 1800.
When, thirty-four years later, certain unaccountable noises and other
phenomena began to attract attention the occupants consisted of a worthy
Quaker, Joseph Proctor by name, his wife, servants and family. Joseph
Proctor used to keep a diary wherein he chronicled the strange
happenings in his house. The greater portion of this was published in
_The Journal of the Society for Psychical Research_, vol. v., but full
accounts of the affair have appeared in many publications, among which
may be mentioned Howitt's "Visits to Remarkable Places," Crowe's "Night
Side of Nature," "The Local Historian's Table Book," and Stead's "Real
Ghost Stories."

It was a servant girl that first called attention to the mysterious
noises. She positively affirmed that she had heard "a dull heavy tread
on the boarded floor of the room unoccupied above, commonly pacing
backwards and forwards and, on coming over to the window, giving the
floor such a shake as to cause the windows of the nursery to rattle
violently in their frames." This disturbance usually lasted about ten
minutes at a time. At first the girl's tale was discredited, but before
many days had elapsed every member of the family had heard precisely
what the girl described. The room was vigorously searched but no clue to
the phantom footsteps was forthcoming. Even the expedient of covering
the floor with flour was without result; the "dull, heavy tread" left no
traces upon the whitened boards.

It was not long before other unaccountable noises were heard all over
the house and ghostly figures were seen by several persons. To
illustrate the kind of occurrence that was constantly going on in the
house, and which, indeed, became so frequent that they were thought very
little of, I quote the following extracts from Joseph Proctor's

     "7 mo., 14th, 1841:--J. and E. P. heard the spirit in their own
     room, and in the room overhead, making a noise as of something
     heavy being hoisted or rolled, or like a barrel set down on its
     end; also noises in the Camproom of various and unaccountable

            *       *       *       *       *

     "8 mo., 3rd.--Since the last night there have been few nights
     during which some branch of the family has not heard our
     visitor. One night, J. P. was awoke and heard something hastily
     walk, with a step like that of a child of 8 or 10 years, from
     the foot of the bed towards the side of the room, and come back
     seemingly towards the door, in a run; then it gave two stamps
     with one foot; there was a loud rustling as if of a frock or
     night-dress. I need scarcely say the door was locked, and I am
     quite certain there was no other human being in the room save
     E. P., who was asleep. The two stamps aroused E. P. out of her
     sleep. About this time Joseph, on two or three occasions, said
     he had heard voices from underneath his bed and from other
     parts of the room, and described seeing on one occasion a boy
     in a drab hat much like his own, the boy much like himself too,
     walking backwards and forwards between the windows and the
     wardrobe. He was afraid, but did not speak.

     "Noises as of a band-box falling close at hand, as of someone
     running upstairs when no one was there, and like the raking of
     a coal rake, were heard about this time by different members of
     the family."

            *       *       *       *       *

     "8 mo., 6th.--On the night of the third, just after the
     previous memorandum was written, about 10.30 P.M., the servants
     having all retired to bed, J. and E. P. heard a noise like a
     clothes horse being thrown down in the kitchen. Soon the noises
     became louder and appeared as though some persons had burst
     into the house on the ground floor and were clashing the doors
     and throwing things down. Eventually J. P. got one of the
     servants to go downstairs with him, when all was found right,
     no one there, and apparently nothing moved. The noises now
     began on the third storey, and the servants were so much
     alarmed that it was difficult to get them to go to bed at all
     that night.

            *       *       *       *       *

     "8 mo., 6th to 12th.--My brother-in-law, George Carr, was with
     us. He heard steppings and loud rumblings in the middle of the
     night, and other noises."

A curious feature in this case was the number of apparitions seen. Thus
we have clear testimony of the presence of a lady in a lavender silk
dress, of an old bald-headed man in a flowing robe like a surplice, of a
lady in grey, and of a horrid eyeless spectre who glared fixedly at the
world through empty eyeholes. Added to these there were animals of all
sorts and descriptions, cats, monkeys, rabbits and sheep.

     "On one occasion, during the period that Thomas was courting
     Mary, he was standing at the window outside (no followers being
     allowed inside, lest fabulous reports were sent abroad). He had
     given the usual signal. The night was clear, and the stars
     beamed forth their light from a cloudless sky. Suddenly
     something appeared which arrested my father's attention.
     Looking towards the mill, which was divided from the house by
     an open space, he beheld what he supposed was a whitish cat. It
     came walking along in close proximity to his feet. Thinking
     Miss Puss very cheeky he gave her a kick; but his foot felt
     nothing and the cat quietly continued its march, followed by my
     father, until it suddenly disappeared from his gaze. Still the
     ghost was not thought of by him. Returning to the window and
     looking in the same direction, he again beheld it suddenly come
     into existence. This time it came hopping like a rabbit, coming
     quite as close to his feet as before. He determined to have a
     good rap at it, and took deliberate aim; but, as before, his
     foot went through it and felt nothing. Again he followed it,
     and it disappeared at the same spot as its predecessor. The
     third time he went to the window, and in a few moments it made
     its third appearance, not like unto a cat or a rabbit, but
     fully as large as a sheep, and quite luminous. On it came and
     my father was fixed to the spot. All muscular power seemed for
     the moment paralysed. It moved on, disappearing at the same
     spot as the preceding apparitions. My father declared that if
     it was possible for 'hair to stand on end' his did just then.
     Thinking that for once he had seen sufficient, he went home,
     keeping the knowledge of this scene to himself."

It is not to be wondered at if the queer doings at Willingdon Mill began
to be rumoured abroad. They reached the ears of a certain Dr Edward
Drury of Sunderland, who was, not unnaturally, rather sceptical. He
asked and obtained permission to sit up alone in the house one night
accompanied only by his faithful dog and with a pair of pistols in his
pocket. His opportunity came in July, 1840, when all the family, with
the exception of Joseph Proctor himself, was away from the mill. The
night was fruitful with horror, and the following letter addressed to
the miller nearly a week after the event tells its own tale:--

     "Monday Morning,

     "6th July, 1840.

     "_To_ MR PROCTOR.

     "DEAR SIR,--I am sorry I was not at home to receive you
     yesterday, when you kindly called to inquire for me. I am happy
     to state that I am really surprised that I have been so little
     affected as I am after that horrid and most awful affair. The
     only bad effect I feel is a heavy dulness in one of my
     ears--the right one. I call it a heavy dullness, because I not
     only do not hear distinctly but feel in it a constant noise.
     This I never was affected with before; but I doubt not it will
     go off. I am persuaded that no one went to your house at any
     time _more disbelieving in respect to seeing anything
     peculiar_; now no one can be more satisfied than myself. I
     will, in the course of a few days, send you a full detail of
     all I saw and heard. Mr Spence and two other gentlemen came
     down to my house in the afternoon to hear my detail; but, sir,
     could I account for these noises from natural causes, yet, so
     firmly am I persuaded of the horrid apparition, that I would
     affirm that what I saw with my eyes was a punishment to me for
     my scoffing and unbelief; that I am assured that, as far as the
     horror is concerned, they are happy that believe and have not
     seen ... it will be a great source of joy to me if you never
     allow your young family to be in that horrid house again.
     Hoping you will write a few lines at your leisure, I remain,
     dear sir, yours very truly,


To this letter the sturdy Quaker sent a characteristic reply.


     "7th mo., 9, 1840.

     "Respected Friend, E. DRURY,--Have been at Sunderland, I did
     not receive thine of the 6th till yesterday morning. I am glad
     to hear thou art getting well over the effects of thy
     unlooked-for visitation. I hold in respect thy bold and manly
     assertion of the truth in the face of that ridicule and
     ignorant conceit with which that which is called the
     supernatural, in the present day, is usually assailed.

     "I shall be glad to receive thy detail, in which it will be
     needful to be very particular in showing that thou couldst not
     be asleep, or attacked by nightmare, or mistake a reflection of
     the candle, as some sagaciously suppose. I remain,
     respectfully, thy friend,


     "_P.S._--I have about thirty witnesses to various things which
     cannot be satisfactorily accounted for on any other principle
     than that of spiritual agency."

Four days later Dr Drury wrote out a full account of his experience.


     "13th July 1840.

     "DEAR SIR,--I hereby, according to promise in my last letter,
     forward you a true account of what I saw and heard at your
     house, in which I was led to pass the night from various
     rumours circulated by most respectable parties, particularly
     from an account by my esteemed friend, Mr Davison, whose name I
     mentioned to you in a former letter. Having received your
     sanction to visit your mysterious dwelling, I went, on the 3rd
     of July, accompanied by a friend of mine, T. Hudson. This was
     not according to promise, nor in accordance with my first
     intent, as I wrote you I would come alone; but I felt gratified
     at your kindness in not alluding to the liberty I had taken, as
     it ultimately proved for the best. I must here mention that,
     not expecting you at home, I had in my pocket a brace of
     pistols, determining in my mind to let one of them drop before
     the miller, as if by accident, for fear he should presume to
     play tricks upon me; but after my interview with you, I felt
     there was no occasion for weapons, and did not load them, after
     you had allowed us to inspect as minutely as we pleased every
     portion of the house. I sat down on the third storey landing,
     fully expecting to account for any noises that I might hear, in
     a philosophical manner. This was about eleven o'clock P.M.
     About ten minutes to twelve we both heard a noise, as if a
     number of people were pattering with their bare feet upon the
     floor; and yet, so singular was the noise, that I could not
     minutely determine from whence it proceeded. A few minutes
     afterwards we heard a noise, as if someone was knocking with
     his knuckles among our feet; this was followed by a hollow
     cough from the very room from which the apparition proceeded.
     The only noise after this, was as if a person was rustling
     against the wall in coming upstairs. At a quarter to one I told
     my friend that, feeling a little cold, I would like to go to
     bed, as we might hear the noise equally well there; he replied
     he would not go to bed till daylight. I took up a note which I
     had accidentally dropped and began to read it, after which I
     took out my watch to ascertain the time, and found that it
     wanted ten minutes to one. In taking my eyes from the watch
     they became riveted upon a closet door, which I distinctly saw
     open, and saw also the figure of a female attired in greyish
     garments, with the head inclining downwards, and one hand
     pressed upon the chest as if in pain, and the other--viz. the
     right hand--extended towards the floor, with the index finger
     pointing downward. It advanced with an apparently cautious
     step across the floor towards me; immediately as it approached
     my friend, who was slumbering, its right hand was extended
     towards him; I then rushed at it, giving, as Mr Proctor states,
     a most awful yell; but instead of grasping it I fell upon my
     friend, and I recollected nothing distinctly for nearly three
     hours afterwards. I have since learned that I was carried
     downstairs in an agony of fear and terror.

            *       *       *       *       *

     "I hereby certify that the above account is strictly true and
     correct in every respect.


So intolerable became life in this uncanny house that, in 1847, Joseph
Proctor and his family moved to South Shields. For the last night of
their residence was reserved a more than usually turbulent
demonstration. "There were," says Mr Edmund Proctor, "continuous noises
during the night, boxes being apparently dragged with heavy thuds down
the now carpetless stairs, non-human footsteps stumped on the floors,
doors were, or seemed to be, clashed, and impossible furniture corded
at random or dragged hither and thither by inscrutable agency; in short,
a pantomimic or spiritualistic repetition of all the noises incident to
a household flitting. A miserable night my father and mother had of it,
as I have often heard from their own lips; not so much from terror at
the unearthly noises, for to these they were habituated, as dread lest
this wretched fanfaronade might portend the contemporary flight of the
unwelcome visitors to the new abode. Fortunately for the family this
dread was not realised."

After undergoing various vicissitudes, the house was finally divided
into small tenements, in which condition it still remains. But of late
years nothing has been seen or heard of the ghostly visitors. Perhaps,
smitten with dismay by the deterioration of their former dwelling-place,
they have taken up their abode elsewhere. For Willingdon Mill, formerly
gay with flowers and creepers, is now a wreck of its former self. The
mill is used as a warehouse; the stables and outhouses have been pulled
down; while the house stands out gaunt and forbidding, a picture of
desolation and decay.

Mr W. T. Stead, in his "Real Ghost Stories," has given us many thrilling
examples of nocturnal apparitions, and of these the uncanny experience
of the Rev. H. Elwyn Thomas, of 35 Park Village East, N. W., is well
worth repeating.

Mr Thomas, after having conducted a service at the church at Llangynidr,
accompanied three young friends of his for about half-a-mile on their
homeward way.

     "When I wished good-night to my friends, it was about twenty
     minutes to nine, but still light enough to see a good distance.
     The subject of our conversation all the way from the chapel
     until we parted was a certain eccentric old character who then
     belonged to the Crickhowell church. Many laughable incidents in
     his life had been related by my friends for my amusement, at
     which I laughed heartily again and again. I walked a little
     farther down the road than I intended, in order to hear the end
     of a very amusing story about him and the vicar of a
     neighbouring parish. Our conversation had no reference whatever
     to ghosts or ghostly things. Neither were we in the mood
     befitting a ghostly visitation. Personally I was a strong
     disbeliever in ghosts, and invariably ridiculed those who I
     then thought superstitious enough to believe in them.

     "When I had walked about a hundred yards away from my friends I
     saw on the bank of the canal (which runs parallel with the road
     for six or seven miles) what I thought at the moment was an old
     beggar. The spot was a very lonely one. The nearest house was a
     good quarter of a mile away. The night was as silent as death.
     Not a single sound broke upon the silence from any quarter. I
     could not help asking myself where this old man had come from
     to such a place. I had not seen him in going down the road.

     "I then turned round quite unconcernedly to have another look
     at him, and had no sooner done so than I saw within half-a-yard
     of me one of the most remarkable and startling sights I hope
     it will ever be my lot to see. Almost on a level with my own
     face I saw that of an old man, over every feature of which the
     putty-coloured skin was drawn tightly, except the forehead
     which was lined with deep wrinkles. The lips were extremely
     thin, and appeared perfectly bloodless. The toothless mouth
     stood half open. The cheeks were hollow and sunken like those
     of a corpse, and the eyes, which seemed far back in the middle
     of the head, were unnaturally luminous and piercing. This
     terrible object was wrapped in two bands of old yellow calico,
     one of which was drawn under the chin and over the cheeks and
     tied at the top of the head, the other was drawn round the top
     of the wrinkled forehead and fastened at the back of the head.
     So deep and indelible an impression it made on my mind, that
     were I an artist I could paint that face to-day, and reproduce
     the original (excepting, perhaps, the luminous eyes) as
     accurately as if it were photographed.

     "What I have thus tried to describe in many words, I saw at a
     glance. Acting on the impulse of the moment, I turned my face
     again towards the village, and ran away from the horrible
     vision with all my might for about sixty yards. I then stopped
     and turned round to see how far I had outdistanced it, and, to
     my unspeakable horror, there it was still face to face with me,
     as if I had not moved an inch. I grasped my umbrella and raised
     it to strike him, and you can imagine my feelings when I could
     see nothing between the face and the ground except an irregular
     column of intense darkness, through which my umbrella went as a
     stick goes through water!

     "I am sorry to confess that I again took to my heels with
     increasing speed. A little farther than the place of this
     second encounter, the road which led towards my host's house
     branched off the main road, the main road itself running right
     through the centre of the village, in the lower end of which it
     ran parallel with the churchyard wall. Having gone a few yards
     down the branch road, I reached a crisis in my fear and
     confusion when I felt I could act rationally: I determined to
     speak to the strange pursuer whatever he was, and I boldly
     turned round to face him for the third time, intending to ask
     him what he wanted, etc.,

     "He had not followed me after I left the main road, but I could
     see the horribly fascinating face quite as plainly as when it
     was close by. It stood for two or three minutes looking
     intently at me from the centre of the main road. I then
     realised fully it was not a human being in flesh and blood; and
     with every vestige of fear gone I quickly walked towards it to
     put my questions. But I was disappointed, for no sooner had I
     made towards it than it moved quickly in the direction of the
     village. I saw it moving along, keeping the same distance from
     the ground, until it reached the churchyard wall; it then
     crossed the wall, and disappeared near where the yew-tree stood
     inside. The moment it disappeared I became unconscious. When I
     came to myself, two hours later, I was lying in the middle of
     the road, cold and ill. It took me quite an hour to reach my
     host's house, which was less than half-a-mile away, and when I
     reached it I looked so white and strange that my host's
     daughter, who had sat down with her father to wait my return,
     uttered a loud scream. I could not say a word to explain what
     had happened, though I tried hard several times. It was five
     o'clock in the morning when I regained my power of speech; even
     then I could only speak in broken sentences. The whole of the
     following week I was laid up with great nervous prostration.

     "The strangest part of my story remains yet to be told. My
     host, after questioning me closely in regard to the features of
     the face, the place I had first seen it and the spot where it
     disappeared, told me that fifteen years before that time an old
     recluse, answering in every detail to my description (calicoes,
     bands and all), lived in a house whose ruins still stand close
     by where I first saw it, that he was buried in the exact spot
     in the churchyard where I saw the face disappearing, and that
     he was a very strange character altogether.

      "I should like to add that I had not heard a syllable about
     this old man before the night in question, and that all the
     persons referred to in the above story are still alive."

Here is a curious story which recently attracted my attention in
_Light_. The narrator is a Colonel X.

     "When I was a young chap I was on guard at the Tower. One night
     the sentry came to tell me that there was something very
     extraordinary going on in the White Chapel, which, in those
     days, was used as a storeroom.

     "I went out with him, and we saw the windows lit up. We climbed
     up and looked in, and saw a chapter with an altar brilliantly
     lit up, and presently priests in vestments and boys swinging
     silver censers came in and arranged themselves before an altar.
     Then the large entrance doors opened and a procession of
     persons in old quaint costumes filed in. Walking alone was a
     lady in black, and behind her was a masked man, also in black,
     who carried an axe. While we looked it all faded away, and
     there was utter darkness.

     "Of course, I talked about this vision everywhere and got so
     laughed at that I resolved to keep it to myself. One day a
     gentleman introduced himself as the keeper of the records of
     the Tower, and said that he had heard my story, but wished to
     hear it again from my own lips; and when I had told it he
     remarked: 'Strange to say, that very same vision has been seen
     by someone every thirty years since Anne Boleyn's death.'"

It not infrequently happens that houses reputed to be haunted figure in
a court of law. The late Dr Frederick Lee, in "Sights and Shadows,"
gives an account of such a case which occurred in Ireland in the year

     "A house on the marsh at Drogheda had been let by its owner,
     Miss Weir, to a Mr and Mrs Kinney, at an annual rental of £23.

     "The last-named persons took possession of it in due course;
     but two days subsequently they became aware of the presence of
     a spirit or ghost in their sleeping chamber, which, as Mrs
     Kinney asserted, 'threw heavy things at her,' and so alarmed
     and inconvenienced her, that in a very short period both
     husband and wife were forced to quit their abode.

     "This they did shortly after they had taken possession of it;
     and, because of occurrences referred to, were legally advised
     to decline to pay any rent. The landlady, however, refusing to
     release them from their bargain, at once claimed a quarter's
     rent; and when this remained for sometime unpaid, sued them for
     it before Judge Kisby.

     "A solicitor, Mr Smith, of Drogheda, appeared for the tenants,
     who, having given evidence of the facts concerning the ghost in
     question, asked leave to support their sworn testimony by that
     of several other people. This, however, was disallowed by the

     "It was admitted by Miss Weir that nothing either on one side
     or the other had been said regarding the haunting when the
     house was let; yet that the rent was due and must be paid.

     "A judgment was consequently entered for the landlady although
     it had been shown indirectly that unquestionably the house had
     the reputation of being haunted, and that previous tenants had
     been much inconvenienced and affrighted."

Another case is chronicled which took place in Dublin in 1885. Dr Lee's
account is confirmed by _The Evening Standard_ of February 23rd of that

     "Mr Waldron, a solicitor, sued his next-door neighbour, one
     Kiernan, a mate in the merchant service, to recover £500 for
     damages done to his house. Kiernan altogether denied the
     charges, but asserted that Waldron's residence was notoriously
     haunted. Witnesses proved that every night from August 1884, to
     January 1885, stones were thrown at the windows and doors and
     other serious damage done--in fact that numerous extraordinary
     and inexplicable occurrences constantly took place.

     "Mrs Waldron, wife of the plaintiff, swore that one night she
     saw one of the panes of glass of a certain window cut through
     with a diamond, and a white hand inserted through the hole. She
     at once caught up a bill-hook and aimed a blow at the hand,
     cutting off one of the fingers. Neither this finger, however,
     could be found nor were any traces of blood seen.

     "A servant of hers was sorely persecuted by noises and the
     sound of footsteps. Mr Waldron, with the aid of detectives and
     policemen, endeavoured to find the cause, but with no avail.
     The witnesses in this case were closely cross-examined, but
     without shaking their testimony. The facts appeared to be
     proved, so the jury found for Kiernan, the defendant. At least
     twenty persons had testified on oath to the fact that the house
     had been known to have been haunted."

The possible agency of small boys in the matter of stone-throwing is
apparently overlooked, while it can be easily imagined that a servant
girl, well aware of the uncanny reputation of the house she lived in,
would very soon develop a capacity for hearing mysterious sounds and
footsteps on the smallest provocation. Then again the testimony of the
plaintiff's wife was surely very damaging to her own case since she was,
presumably, endeavouring to prove that the whole of the "extraordinary
and inexplicable occurrences" were due to some mad freak on the part of
her neighbour.

On the whole I can find no class of occult phenomena of greater
antiquity and persistence than that of haunting. Even though the ghost
may not be as visible as that of Hamlet's father, yet the idea of a
perturbed spirit revisiting its former haunts or the scene of its bodily
murder finds credence amongst all peoples and epochs in the world's
history. Fable is usually the dulled image of the truth: just as what we
call presentiment or rumour is a kind of aura or van-wind of truth. On
these grounds alone I should be inclined to take the legendary evidence
for haunting seriously, just as every man who investigates its
astonishing history now perceives that witchcraft is not to be dismissed
as a mere groundless superstition. Indeed, I lay it down as a
proposition that any belief which spontaneously and universally arises
and persistently survives must have truth in the web of it. But the
modern authentic testimony for haunting is so clear and strong and the
attestors so clear-headed and indeed inexpugnable that we must really
believe the physical sounds, with their revealed significance, actually
occurred and do occur. Hallucination I put here out of the question.
Neither will the theory of telepathy between the living serve to account
for anything here.

There is some other solution of the mystery. Has it been propounded? We
shall see. Cock Lane is not now to be dismissed derisively. Nor are
these manifestations to be treated in the spirit of one of the
characters in Mr Wells' "Love and Mr Lewisham"--"Even if it be true--it
is all wrong."



No serious inquirer into the mysteries of occultism should neglect to
study the peculiar human faculty locally known as Dowsing. Science has
hitherto turned a cold shoulder to the skilled wielders of the divining
rod, and at first sight perhaps few subjects appear to be so little
worthy of investigation. To begin with it is a matter of common
geological knowledge that the mode of distribution of underground water
is very different from that imagined by the professional dowser. The
latter will locate a spring in a certain spot and give you scrupulous
details as to its depth and the amount of water it will yield. He may go
on to tell you that a few feet distant is another spring, of a totally
different depth, and that between the two no water will be found. The
assertions are ridiculed by the practical geologist, whose point of
view is admirably expressed in the following letter. The writer is the
Rev. Osmond Fisher, M.A. (author of "Physics of the Earth's Crust").

     "Harlton Rectory, Cambridge,

     "February 4th, 1896.

     "It appears to me that the assumption which underlies the
     belief in the divining rod is erroneous. It is only under
     exceptional circumstances, as among crystalline rocks, or where
     the strata are much disturbed, that underground water runs in
     channels like water in a pipe, so that a person can say, 'I am
     now standing over a spring,' whereas a few paces off he was not
     over one. What is called a spring, such as is reached in a
     well, is _usually_ a widely extended water-saturated stratum.
     Ordinarily where water can be reached by a well, there are few
     spots [in the neighbourhood] where a well would not find it.

     "The question which is really worthy of investigation in this
     and similar cases seems to be how such an idea ever originated
     and to what it owes its vitality."

From the geologist's point of view, then, the so-called "diviner" is the
merest charlatan, who, so far as the finding of water or mineral veins
is concerned, would be equally successful were he to substitute the
dice-box or the coin for his more usual implement the hazel wand. It is,
he argues, a matter of guessing--and nothing more. The question becomes
complicated when we remember that among the ardent devotees of the "rod"
are to be numbered country squires, M.P.'s, doctors, clergymen, and
farmers, who would have nothing to gain by pretending to a power which
they did not possess.

The Society for Psychical Research has devoted a considerable amount of
attention to the subject. So far back as 1884 a paper on "The Divining
Rod," prepared by Mr E. R. Pease, was read at a general meeting of the
Society. The following is an abstract:--

     "The Divining Rod is a V-shaped twig, commonly of hazelwood,
     but sometimes of steel watchspring, whalebone and other
     substances. It first came into use about three centuries ago,
     and during the seventeenth century it was the subject of much
     controversy and of numerous experiments by the learned men of
     the time. Many theories were proposed to explain its action,
     but none of them would now be regarded as plausible, and
     various test experiments which were made uniformly failed. In
     1701, the Inquisition condemned the use of the rod, and after
     this date the popularity of divining greatly diminished. In the
     seventeenth century it was used to discover murderers and
     thieves, buried treasures, lost boundaries, and other hidden
     objects, as well as metals and water springs. At present it
     appears to be chiefly used in the West of England for the
     discovery of water springs, and in America for oil wells and
     mines. Mr E. Vaughan Jenkins, of Cheltenham, has made and
     presented to the Society for Psychical Research a very valuable
     collection of evidence of its use in England for locating
     wells. He has communicated with various well-known 'diviners,'
     and has received direct from landowners, architects, builders,
     commercial firms and others, careful records of the successful
     choosing of well sites by diviners in places where professional
     geologists or local experts were hopeless of success. It seems
     also that diviners travel about the country and 'dowse' in
     localities new and strange to them.... The divining rod is
     always held in a position of extreme tension, and at the same
     time of unstable equilibrium. Slight muscular contractions
     produce violent and startling effects. It would seem therefore
     that the action of the rod may be caused by unconscious
     movements of the diviner's hands, due possibly to a sensation
     of chill on reaching water-bearing spots, or perhaps merely to
     an unwritten practical science of the surface signs of hidden

Mr Pease eventually came to the conclusion that "the evidence for the
success of dowsing as a practical art is very strong--and there seems to
be an unexplained residuum when all possible deductions have been made."
Fifty years ago Dr Mayo, F.R.S., came to a similar conclusion after
exhaustive experiments with the divining rod, both in England and
abroad, and in 1883, Dr R. Raymond, the distinguished secretary of the
American Institute of Mining Engineers, summed up the result of his
investigations in the following opinion:--"That there is a residuum of
scientific value, after making all necessary deductions for
exaggeration, self-deception and fraud" in the use of the divining rod
for finding springs and deposits of ore.

In 1892, Professor W. F. Barrett, yielding to the earnest request of the
Council of the Society for Psychical Research, began an investigation of
the matter. It was with considerable reluctance that Professor Barrett
undertook the work, since, as he has told us, his own prejudice against
the subject was not less than that of others. He hoped, however, that a
few weeks' work would enable him to relegate it

    "Into a limbo large and broad, since called
    The Paradise of fools."

Six years later Professor Barrett presented to the Society a voluminous
report, which occupies a considerable part of two volumes of the
"Proceedings." Embodied in this Report, which is a veritable masterpiece
of patient and indefatigable research, is a mass of evidence so vast
that it is only possible to pick out a case here and there at random.

The following case was sent by Miss Grantham:--

     "100 Eaton Square, London, S.W.,

     "February 1st, 1893.

     "My father (Judge Grantham) was going to dig a well on one of
     his farms. The Rev. J. Blunt was then residing in our parish,
     and as he had previously told us he was able to discover the
     presence of water underground by means of a twig, we asked him
     to go with us one day to see if he could find water. Mr B.
     began by cutting a twig out of the hedge, of hazel or
     blackthorn, V-shaped, each side about eight inches long, then
     taking hold of one end in each hand between the thumb and first
     finger, and pointing the angle to the ground, he walked about
     the field in which my father proposed digging a well, and at
     two spots the point of the twig turned right up, exactly
     reversing its previous position; in fact so strong was its
     impulse to point upwards, that we found that unless Mr B.
     relaxed his hold the twig broke off near his fingers. We put
     small sticks in these spots, and then took a boy about twelve
     years old who was in Mr B.'s employment, and who had since
     quite a child shown that he possessed this power, over the same
     ground; he had not seen the spots at which Mr B.'s twig found
     water, neither did we point them out to him, but at these
     places his twig behaved in the same way as Mr B.'s. My father,
     mother, and four or five others, then cut similar twigs out of
     the hedge, but with none of us would they divine water. My
     father then took Mr B. over some ground where he knew of the
     existence of an underground stream; he did not tell Mr B. this,
     but directly Mr B. passed over the places the twig again turned
     upwards as it had done before. A well has since been dug at one
     of the spots in the first field where the twig indicated water,
     and it was found at the depth of fifteen feet. Mr B. and the
     boy both said that they did not feel any abnormal influence
     whatever when the twig divined water.


Another case (from Somersetshire) is quoted from in _The Western
Gazette_ of 10th February 1893. Evercreech is at the foot of the

     "A well has recently been sunk on the premises of Messrs W.
     Roles & Son, of Evercreech Junction, on the site of the
     proposed milk factory. Mr Henry Smart, head gardener at Pennard
     House, was successful with the divining twig (or rod), and a
     well was sunk to a depth of 60 feet, when a spring was found
     which yielded no less than 15,000 gallons of water in ten
     hours. Water came at such a rate that a powerful pump had to be
     erected temporarily by Messrs Hill & Son, of Bruton, and was
     kept working day and night in order to keep the water down for
     the purpose of walling (the well). At the present time there is
     50 feet of water in the well, the supply increasing daily."

Professor Barrett wrote to Messrs Roles to know if a well had been sunk
previously, and if the above statement was correct. They reply that the
account is quite correct, and add: "We had previously sunk a well
without the use of the rod, to nearly the same depth, but it was
_unsuccessful_. Six yards from this useless well the diviner found the
spring which now yields enough to supply a small village if required."

The Rev. Martin R. Knapp, M.A., vicar of Holy Trinity, Dalston, writes
to Professor Barrett as follows:--

     "72 Forest Road, Dalston, N.E.,

     "November 14th, 1896.

     "In the summer of 1892, I entered on the vicarage of North
     Wootton in North Somerset, and had reason at once to look for
     water. I was advised to try a 'water-finder,' and did so. The
     dowser was a retired miller, and came provided with a number of
     forked twigs. Holding one he traversed the place, and at
     certain points the twig oscillated violently in his hands, and
     there, he professed, he should find water.

     "There was an interesting sidelight in the matter that I will
     tell you of. My builder, who came from Bath, was very sceptical
     about the whole thing. Three or four of us who were on the spot
     tried to see if the twigs would 'play up' with us.

     "We were unsuccessful till this man tried his hand, scoffing
     the while. But directly that he came to the spots the dowser
     had found the twig showed vigorous signs of animation. When his
     hand was being twisted in his efforts to keep the twig steady,
     I cried to him to hold fast, with the result that the twig
     twisted itself into two pieces.

     "At Wells, close by, lived a coachman, who was reported to have
     the power to find, not only water but minerals. He carries
     neither rod nor twig, and told me when I inquired, that his
     sensations are undoubted and extraordinary whenever he is
     directly above either water or minerals.


In answer to inquiries Mr Knapp informed Professor Barrett the builder
was a stranger to the locality, and the spots where the rod moved were
unlikely to suggest water below. The twig in the builder's hand, Mr
Knapp says, in every case corroborated the dowser's indications, and
hence he (the builder) was unmercifully chaffed, as he had treated the
whole thing with such contempt. Mr Knapp says it is possible that the
places indicated by the dowser might have been perceived by the builder,
but it was the spontaneous and vigorous movement of the twig, evidently
contrary to the holder's intention and against his will, that excited
their astonishment.

Dr Hutton, F.R.S., the distinguished mathematician--to whom the Royal
Society entrusted the gigantic labour of making an abridgment of the
whole of the Transactions of the Royal Society from its foundation in
1666 to the beginning of this century--gives the following account of
his experiments with the divining rod as used by Lady Milbanke:--

     "At the time appointed (eleven A.M., 30th May 1806) the lady,
     with all her family, arrived at my house on Woolwich Common,
     where, after preparing the rods, etc., they walked to the
     grounds, accompanied by the individuals of my own family and
     some friends, when Lady Milbanke showed the experiment several
     times in different places, holding the rod in the manner
     described elsewhere. In the places where I had good reason to
     know that no water was to be found the rod was always
     quiescent, but in other places, where I knew there was water
     below the surface, the rods turned slowly and regularly in the
     manner above described, till the twigs twisted themselves off
     below the fingers, which are considerably indented by so
     forcibly holding the rod between them.[3]

     "All the company stood close to Lady M. with all eyes intensely
     fixed on her hands and the rods to watch if any particular
     motion might be made by the fingers, but in vain; nothing of
     the kind was perceived, and all the company could observe no
     cause or reason why the rods should move in the manner they
     were seen to do.

     "After the experiments were ended, everyone of the company
     tried the rods in the same manner as they saw Lady M. had done,
     but without the least motion from any of them. And in my
     family, among ourselves, we have since then, several times,
     tried if we could possibly cause the rod to turn by means of
     any trick or twisting of the fingers, held in the manner Lady
     Milbanke did, but in vain; we had no power to accomplish it."

[Footnote 3: Dr Hutton does not say _how_ he knew that water was, or was
not, below the surface. He was not, however, one likely to make loose
and random statements. According to a footnote in _The Quarterly
Review_, vol. xxii. p. 374, it appears that the ground chosen for the
experiment was a field Dr Hutton had bought, adjoining the new College
at Woolwich, then building.]

The following is a remarkable case, and an important one from an
evidential point of view. It is not known whether the "diviner" in this
case was an amateur or not; he is now dead.

_The Bristol Times and Mirror_ of 16th June 1891 states:

     "The Anglo-Bavarian Brewery at Shepton Mallet needed a large
     water supply; accordingly excavations had been made to find
     water, but without success. About two years since, during an
     exceptionally dry season, it became absolutely necessary to
     obtain a further supply of brewing water; hence several boring
     experiments were made on the property. At the suggestion of a
     gentleman in the locality, the services of a 'diviner' were
     obtained, and although the principal members of the firm
     professed to have no faith in his 'art,' yet he was allowed to
     try the fields on the company's property, and those on the
     neighbouring estate, and discovered the well now used by the
     brewery.... The soothsayer who carried the divining rod, a
     hazel branch, was Mr Charles Sims, a local farmer, and a
     notable discoverer of wells in the district. Operations were
     immediately commenced, and, after excavating and dynamiting
     through the rock, to the depth of fifty feet, a magnificent
     spring was discovered in a fault of the rock, which proved to
     be of exceptionally fine water, and of even a finer quality
     than the town's supply."

Professor Barrett wrote to the Secretary of the brewery to make
inquiries and he replied as follows:--

     "Shepton Mallet, Somersetshire,

     "September 12th, 1896.

     "Replying to your letter in regard to a local diviner, we had
     one of the name of Sims, from Pilton, who successfully denoted
     a spot on our ground where we have had an abundant supply of
     water since. This was some eight years ago.

     "The writer of this letter also has had some considerable
     experience with Mr Lawrence of Bristol, who was one of the most
     noted divining rod men in the West of England. He also was
     successful in denoting a supply for a Bristol brewery with
     which the writer was connected; and in numerous other instances
     in the neighbourhood. Mr Lawrence bore a very high reputation.
     We believe he died a few months ago at a ripe old age.

     "The Anglo-Bavarian Brewery Ltd.,

     "J. CLIFFORD,


Having written to ask if a previous boring had been made, and if so,
what depth, and with what result, the following reply was received:--

     "Shepton Mallet, Somersetshire,

     "September 18th, 1896.

     "Replying to yours of the 14th, a boring was carried out to the
     extent of some 140 feet _without success_ on another portion of
     our premises, before it was successfully done at the spot
     indicated by the water finder; here, a well was sunk and
     abundant water obtained at a depth of 40 feet.

     "The Anglo-Bavarian Brewery Ltd.,

     "J. CLIFFORD,


In the following case, the best advice was obtained and some £1000 spent
fruitlessly searching for an underground spring prior to the dowser's
visit. The first notice of it appeared in a local newspaper, _The West
Sussex Times and Sussex Standard_, from which the following letter is

     "Warnham Lodge, Horsham,

     "January 3rd, 1893.

     "Having had very great difficulty in the supply of water to
     this house, I sent for John Mullins, of Colerne, near
     Chippenham, who, by the aid of a twig of hazel, pointed out
     several places where water could be found. I have sunk wells in
     four of the places and it each case have been most successful.

     "It may be said that water can be found anywhere--this is not
     my experience. I have had the best engineering advice and have
     spent many hundreds of pounds, and hitherto have not obtained
     sufficient water for my requirements, but now I have an
     abundant supply.

     "I certainly should not think of sinking another well without
     previously consulting John Mullins.


It is sometimes urged that only springs yielding a limited supply of
water are found by dowsers, who fix on spots where more or less surface
water can be got from shallow wells rather than run the risk of sinking
a deep well. Many of the cases already cited refute this notion, and the
following bears on the same point. It is from Messrs Beamish & Crawford,
the well-known brewers, of Cork.

     "Cork Porter Brewery, Cork,

     "December 30th, 1896.

     "In reply to your letter of 26th inst., we beg to state:

     "1. We had an old well yielding a small supply of water. It was
     about 30 feet deep.

     "2. No new well was fixed on by Mullins. He bored down to a
     depth of about 60 feet below the bottom of the old well, and
     therefore about 90 feet below the surface of the ground.

     "3. The supply of water now obtained from the new pipes sunk by
     Mullins is, as nearly as we can estimate, about 10,000 gallons
     per hour.


It goes without saying that professional dowsers are not always
successful in their quests. "I am inclined," states Professor Barrett,
"to think we may take from ten to fifteen per cent. as the average
percentage of failures which occur with most English dowsers of to-day,
allowing a larger percentage for partial failures, meaning by this that
the quantity of water estimated and the depth at which it is found have
not realised the estimate formed by the dowser."

What then is the secret of the dowser's often remarkable success? The
question is whether, after making every allowance for shrewdness of eye,
chance, coincidence, and local geological knowledge, the dowser has any
instinctive or supernormal power of discovering the presence of
underground water. Professor Barrett, who has perhaps devoted more time
to the subject than any other man living, is inclined to answer in the

"There appears to be evidence," he writes, "that a more profound stratum
of our personality, glimpses of which we get elsewhere in our
'Proceedings,' is associated with the dowser's art; and the latter seems
to afford a further striking instance of information obtained through
automatic means being more remarkable than, and beyond the reach of,
that derived from conscious observation and inference."

In another passage he adds:

    "For my own part, I have been driven to believe that some dowsers--

    "Whose exterior semblance doth belie
    The soul's immensity"

    nevertheless give us a glimpse of

    "The eternal deep
    Haunted for ever by the eternal mind."



In my inquiry so far the reader will note that I have taken one thing
for granted--the fact of telepathy. In order to convince him to the
extent to which this great scientific truth has convinced me, it would
be necessary for me to lead him through a thousand pages of evidence for
telepathic phenomena, attested by some of the leading physicists of the
day. I am aware that there are still sceptics on the subject of
telepathy, but the testimony is overwhelming, and every year sees the
ranks of scepticism growing thinner.

Not many years ago a very learned man, the late Professor von Helmholtz,
although confronted with _prima-facie_ evidence of thought transference
or telepathy, declared: "I cannot believe it. Neither the testimony of
all the Fellows of the Royal Society, nor even the evidence of my own
senses, would lead me to believe in the transmission of them from one
person to another. It is clearly impossible." An opinion in these terms
is very rare to-day. We are apt to express our incredulity in language
far more guarded and less emphatic.

About hallucinations, however, there is no scepticism. We have remarked
sensory hallucinations of an occasional nature; we now come to regard
them as a cult, for I suppose there is no manifestation in the world, no
gift, no prodigy even, that is not prone to the fate of being exploited
for particular ends.

A poet, we will say, by some rare "subliminal uprush," produces a
beautiful poem. He is at once chained to his desk by publishers and
compelled to go on producing poetry for the rest of his life. It is
inevitable that many of his manifestations will be false; and for that
reason, in spite of an occasional jewel of truth, he runs serious risks
of being denounced in the end as no poet.

I have no doubt it is the same with the producers or the agents of
occult phenomena. Sensory hallucinations may be stimulated. They may be
stimulated by intoxication and disease, or they may be stimulated by the
morbid conditions of a spiritualistic _séance_. Everything in these
conditions--the prolonged darkness, the emotional expectancy--promotes
the peculiar frame of mind apparently requisite. Constant
exercise--perpetual aspiration develops the power of seeing visions.
After a time, in well-known cases, they appear to need no inducement to
come spontaneously.

One well-known medium, Mr Hill Tout, confesses that building and
peopling _chateaux en Espagne_ was a favourite occupation of his in his
earlier days. This long-practised faculty is doubtless a potent factor
in all his characterisations, and probably also in those of many another
full-fledged medium.

Hallucinations need not be visual only; they are frequently auditory.
Miss Freer gives an account of one induced by merely holding a shell to
the ear. There is another case of a young woman in whom auditory
hallucinations would be excited on hearing the sound of water running
through a tap. Given the basis of actual sound, the hallucinable person
quickly causes it to become articulate and intelligible. Thus, is it
unreasonable to suppose that the vague, nebulous lights seen at dark
_séances_ would furnish the raw material, so to speak, for sense

Thus, we have the basis and beginning, from one point of view, of modern
spiritualism. But before we examine the question of clairvoyance or
trance utterances of spiritualistic mediums we must first of all go into
the subject of physical phenomena.

       *       *       *       *       *

So-called physical phenomena are a comparatively modern excrescence on
the main growth. It is only within the last half-century that they have
attained any considerable development. The faith in the communion and
intervention of spirits originated before their appearance and will
probably outlast their final discredit. At the best, whatever effect
they may have had in advertising the movement with the vulgar, they
seem to have exerted only a subsidiary influence in inducing belief with
more thoughtful men and women.

These physical phenomena consist chiefly of table rapping, table moving,
ringing of bells, and various other manifestations for which a normal
cause is not apparent. For a long time, in the early days of modern
spiritualism, the cult was chiefly confined to "miracles" of this sort.
One of its most notable props was the manifestations, long continued and
observed by many thousands, of the famous Daniel Dunglas Home. It is
fifty years ago now since Home came to England and began his _séances_,
which were attended by Lord Dunraven, Lord Brougham, Sir D. Brewster,
Robert Owen, Bulwer Lytton, T. A. Trollope, Garth Wilkinson, and others.
For thirty years Home was brought before the public as a medium, dying
in 1886. He seems to have been an amiable, highly emotional man, full of
generous impulses, and of considerable personal charm. His frankness and
sincerity impressed all those who came in touch with the man. Mr Andrew
Lang has called him "a Harold Skimpole, with the gift of divination."

Home dealt with both clairvoyance and physical manifestations.
Ostensibly through him came an enormous number of messages purporting to
proceed from the dead friends of certain of those attending the
_séances_. In the records of these _séances_ will be found the signed
statements of Dr Garth Wilkinson, Dr Gully, Mr and Mrs S. C. Hall, the
present Earl of Dunraven, Earl of Crawford, Dr Hawksley, Mrs Nassau
Senior, Mr P. P. Alexander, Mr Perdicaris, and others, that they had
received messages giving details of a private nature that it seemed in
the last degree probable could be known to the medium. Home's
manifestations were for the most part those which any attendant at a
spiritualistic _séance_ can witness for himself to-day. The room he used
was, compared with those used by other mediums who insisted on complete
darkness, well lighted, as he had a shaded lamp, a gas-burner, or one or
two candles lighted. The manifestations generally began with raps; then
followed a quivering movement of the table, which one present described
as like "the vibration on a small steamer when the engines begin to
work"; by another as "a ship in distress, with its timbers straining in
a heavy sea." Then, suspended in the air, the table would float, and in
its shelter musical instruments performing could be heard; the sitters
could feel their knees being clasped and their dresses pulled; many
things would be handed about the circle, such as handkerchiefs, flowers,
and even heavy bells. During the performance messages were rapped out by
the spirits, or delivered through the mouth of the medium. In this
respect, where intelligence is shown, they would partake of the nature
of trance utterance, a thing to be analysed later.

       *       *       *       *       *

Robert Bell, a dramatist and critic, having been present at one of these
_séances_, acknowledged that he had seen things which he was satisfied
were "beyond the pale of material experiences." After describing various
manifestations, hands felt under the table, touching the knees, and
pulling the clothes, bells rung by invisible agency, and various
articles thrown about the room, he proceeds to describe "levitation":

     "Mr Home was seated next the window. Through the semi-darkness
     his head was dimly visible against the curtains, and his hands
     might be seen in a faint white heap before him. Presently he
     said, in a quiet voice, 'My chair is moving--I am off the
     ground--don't notice me--talk of something else,' or words to
     that effect. It was very difficult to restrain the curiosity,
     not unmixed with a more serious feeling, which these few words
     awakened; but we talked, incoherently enough, upon some
     different topic. I was sitting nearly opposite Mr Home, and I
     saw his hands disappear from the table, and his head vanish
     into the deep shadow beyond. In a moment or two more he spoke
     again. This time his voice was in the air above our heads. He
     had risen from his chair to a height of four or five feet from
     the ground. As he ascended higher he described his position,
     which at first was perpendicular, and afterwards became
     horizontal. He said he felt as if he had been turned in the
     gentlest manner, as a child is turned in the arms of a nurse.
     In a moment or two more he told us that he was going to pass
     across the window, against the grey, silvery light of which he
     would be visible. We watched in profound stillness, and saw his
     figure pass from one side of the window to the other, feet
     foremost, lying horizontally in the air. He spoke to us as he
     passed, and told us that he would turn the reverse way and
     recross the window, which he did. His own tranquil confidence
     in the safety of what seemed from below a situation of the most
     novel peril gave confidence to everybody else; but with the
     strongest nerves it was impossible not to be conscious of a
     certain sensation of fear or awe. He hovered round the circle
     for several minutes, and passed, this time perpendicularly,
     over our heads. I heard his voice behind me in the air, and
     felt something lightly brush my chair. It was his foot, which
     he gave me leave to touch. Turning to the spot where it was on
     the top of the chair, I placed my hand gently upon it, when he
     uttered a cry of pain, and the foot was withdrawn quickly, with
     a palpable shudder. It was evidently not resting on the chair,
     but floating; and it sprang from the touch as a bird would. He
     now passed over to the farthest extremity of the room, and we
     could judge by his voice of the altitude and distance he had
     attained. He had reached the ceiling, upon which he made a
     slight mark, and soon afterwards descended and resumed his
     place at the table. An incident which occurred during this
     aerial passage, and imparted a strange solemnity to it, was
     that the accordion, which we supposed to be on the ground under
     the window close to us, played a strain of wild pathos in the
     air from the distant corner of the room."

A well-known physician, Dr Gully, who was present at this _séance_,
wrote confirming the account in _The Cornhill Magazine_ given by the
above writer.

During the ensuing forty years mediumistic performances became of common
and almost daily occurrence in this country. Two or three forms of
so-called spirit manifestation--such as materialisation, spirit
photography, and slate-writing--afterwards became connected with many of
the _séances_. But first the manifestations in daylight consisted of
raps and tiltings of a table; afterwards, when the lights were turned
out or turned very low, spirit voices, touches of spirit hands, spirit
lights, spirit-born flowers, floating musical instruments, and moving
about or levitation of the furniture.

Until Sir William Crookes began to investigate the alleged
spiritualistic phenomena, all investigation had been undertaken by
persons without scientific training. After a year of experiments he
issued a detailed description of those conducted in his own laboratory
in the presence of four other persons, two of whom, Sir William Huggins
and Sergeant Fox, confirmed the accuracy of his report. The result was
that he was able to demonstrate, he said, the existence of a hitherto
unknown force, and had measured the effect produced. At all events,
these inquirers were convinced of the genuineness of Home's powers.

Suppose we glance at the possible alternative--viz. that Home was a
conjurer of consummate skill and ingenuity. For one of the physical
phenomena, that of tilting a table at a precarious angle without
displacing various small objects resting on its polished surface, Mr
Podmore suggests an explanation. He thinks that the articles were
probably held in position on the table when it was tilted by means of
hairs and fine threads attached to Home's dress. He has various
explanations for other of the phenomena, but he confesses that there
remain a few manifestations which the hypothesis of simple trickery does
not seem to fit. In going over a mass of evidence relating to Home, the
hypothesis of conjuring seems to be rather incredible; when one bears in
mind Home's long career as a medium, how his private life was watched by
the lynx-eyed sceptics, eager to pounce upon the evidence of trickery,
and that he was never detected, it certainly seems to me, at all events,
that Home's immunity from exposure is strong evidence against the
assumption of fraud. Home was merely the type of a large class of
mediums purporting to be controlled by spirit power, whose _séances_ are
a feature of modern life.

Certain experiments of Sir William Crookes with Home came very near to
satisfying the most stringent scientific conditions, especially those in
the alteration in the weight of a board. In these experiments one end of
the board was on a spring balance and the other rested on a table. The
board became heavier or lighter as Home placed his fingers on the end
resting on the table and "willed" it, and the different weights were
recorded by an automatic register. This effect might have been produced,
says Mr Podmore, by using a dark thread with a loop attached to some
part of the apparatus--possibly the hook of the spring balance--and the
ends fastened to Home's trousers. But this particular trick does not
seem to have occurred to those experimenting, and the description of the
_séances_ does not exclude it.

Suggesting an explanation of an event does not prove that it so
occurred, and Mr Podmore adds: "It is not easy to see how the
investigators ... could have been deceived, and repeatedly deceived, by
any device of the kind suggested."

One of the most remarkable of Daniel Dunglas Home's manifestations
occurred on 16th December 1868, at 5 Buckingham Gate, London. There were
present the Master of Lindsay (now the Earl of Crawford), Viscount Adare
(the present Earl of Dunraven), and Captain Wynne. The Master of Lindsay
has recorded the circumstances, as follows:--

     "I was sitting with Mr Home and Lord Adare and a cousin of his.
     During the sitting Mr Home went into a trance, and in that
     state was carried out of the window in the room next to where
     we were, and was brought in at our window. The distance between
     the windows was about seven feet six inches, and there was not
     the slightest foothold between them, nor was there more than a
     twelve-inch projection to each window, which served as a ledge
     to put flowers on. We heard the window in the next room lifted
     up, and almost immediately after we saw Home floating in air
     outside our window. The moon was shining full into the room; my
     back was to the light, and I saw the shadow on the wall of the
     window-sill, and Home's feet about six inches above it. He
     remained in this position for a few seconds, then raised the
     window and glided into the room feet foremost and sat down."

Here is Lord Adare's account of the central incident:

     "We heard Home go into the next room, heard the window thrown
     up, and presently Home appeared standing upright outside our
     window; he opened the window and walked in quite coolly."

Captain Wynne, writing to Home in 1877, refers to this occasion in the
following words:

     "The fact of your having gone out of the one window and in at
     the other I can swear to."

It is surely not a little remarkable that an occurrence of so
extraordinary a nature should be testified to by three such clear-headed
men as Captain Wynne and Lords Lindsay and Adare. To cross from one
window to another by ordinary means was clearly impossible, and it would
be a brave conjurer indeed who would essay such a feat at a distance of
eighty-five feet from the ground. What then is the explanation? Mr
Podmore suggests that the three witnesses were the victims of a
collective hallucination; but this theory is not easy to accept, and Mr
Andrew Lang has heaped it with ridicule. "There are," he writes, "two
other points to be urged against Mr Podmore's theory that observers of
Home were hallucinated. The Society's records contain plenty of
'collective, so-called telepathic hallucinations.' But surely these
hallucinations offered visionary figures of persons and things not
present in fact. Has Mr Podmore one case, except Home's, of a
collective hallucination in which a person actually present is the
hallucination; floats in the air, holds red-hot coals and so
forth--appears outside of the window, for instance, when he is inside
the room? Of course, where conjuring is barred. Again, Home's marvels
are attested by witnesses violently prejudiced against him, and (far
from being attentively expectant) most anxious to detect and expose

If the case of Home presents difficulties to the rational sceptic, that
of William Stainton Moses, who died in 1892, presents an even harder
problem. I will refer to Moses later when we come to discuss
clairvoyance, but at first his mediumistic powers were manifested in
physical phenomena. He was a clergyman and a scholar, an M.A. of Oxford,
and for nearly eighteen years English master in University College
School. He was held in esteem and even affection by all who were most
intimately associated with him. Yet Moses was responsible for table
rapping, levitation of furniture, playing of musical instruments and
"apports"--the latter term expressing the movement or introduction of
various articles either by the request of the sitters or spontaneously,
such as books, stones, shells, opera-glasses, candle-sticks, and so
forth. All this began in 1872, and the phenomena observed at the various
_séances_ were carefully recorded by the medium's friends, Dr and Mrs
Speer, C. T. Speer, and F. W. Percival. It must be borne in mind that
Moses was in his thirty-third year before he suspected mediumistic
powers. There have been any number of hypotheses to account for the
physical phenomena furnished at these _séances_. Jewels, cameos, seed
pearls, and other precious things were brought and given to the sitters.
Scent was introduced; familiar perfumes--such as sandalwood, jasmine,
heliotrope, not always recognised--were a frequent occurrence at these
_séances_. Occasionally it would be sprayed in the air, sometimes poured
into the hands of the sitters, and often it was found oozing from the
medium's head and even running down.

In Mrs Speer's diary for 30th August there is the following record:--

     "Many things were brought from different parts of the house
     through the locked door this evening. Mr S. M. was levitated,
     and when he felt for his feet they were hanging in mid-air,
     while his head must have almost touched the ceiling."

Dr Speer also records a "levitation" on 3rd December:

     "Mr M. was floated about, and a large dining-room chair was
     placed on the table."

Mrs Speer tells us that they sat in the fire-light, and that the
_séances_ were held in more or less complete darkness. Moses' own
account of the levitation is much fuller. He says that he was fully
conscious that he was floating about the room, and that he marked a
place on the wall with a pencil, which was afterwards found to be more
than six feet from the floor. Subsequently musical sounds became a
feature of the manifestations. In September 1874 Mrs Speer gives a list
of them, mentioning ten or more different kinds, including the
tambourine, harp, fairy-bells, and many stringed instruments, and
ascribes their production to eight different spirits.

In the early materialisations of Stainton Moses we find that hands, and
occasionally the fore arm, were seen holding lights. These spirit lights
are described as hard, round, and cold to the touch. In his description
of one incident at a _séance_ Moses himself pens a significant passage,
which seems to confirm the suspicion that the spirit lights were really
bottles of phosphorised oil:

     "Suddenly there arose from below me, apparently under the
     table, or near the floor, right under my nose, a cloud of
     luminous smoke, just like phosphorus. It fumed up in great
     clouds, until I seemed to be on fire, and rushed from the room
     in a panic. I was fairly frightened, and could not tell what
     was happening. I rushed to the door and opened it, and so to
     the front door. My hands seemed to be ablaze, and left their
     impress on the door and handles. It blazed for a while after I
     had touched it, but soon went out, and no smell or trace
     remained.... There seemed to be no end of smoke. It smelt
     distinctly phosphoric, but the smell evaporated as soon as I
     got out of the room into the air."

Such candour disarms us: can there be any ground for the theory that
here was a case of self-deception on a large scale? Or is there yet an
alternative explanation? Perhaps we shall discover one.



What we have to remember is that by far the greater part of the physical
phenomena which is said to occur at a _séance_ is really nothing
extraordinary. All physical occurrences are normal that are capable of
being produced by a clever conjurer; and there is no doubt that with due
preparation such a one could achieve table rapping, introduce flowers
and move furniture. But the problem is, how, under the stringent
conditions imposed, and in the face of the close scrutiny, to which
these manifestations are subjected, they can be done. As Sir Oliver
Lodge says: "I am disposed to maintain that I have myself witnessed, in
a dim light, occasional abnormal instances of movement of untouched
objects." He goes on to say that "suppose an untouched object comes
sailing or hurtling through the air, or suppose an object is raised or
floated from the ground, how are we to regard it? This is just what a
live animal could do, and so the first natural hypothesis is that some
living thing is doing it: (_a_) the medium himself, acting by tricks or
concealed mechanism; (_b_) a confederate--an unconscious confederate
perhaps, among the sitters; (_c_) an unknown and invisible live entity,
other than the people present. If in any such action the extraordinary
laws of nature were superseded, if the weight of a piece of matter could
be shown to have _disappeared_, or if fresh energy were introduced
beyond the recognised categories of energy, then there would be no
additional difficulties; but hitherto there has been no attempt to
establish either of these things. Indeed, it must be admitted that
insufficient attention is usually paid to this aspect of ordinary,
commonplace, abnormal physical phenomena. If a heavy body is raised
under good conditions, we should always try to ascertain" (he does not
say that it is easy to ascertain) "where its weight has gone to--that is
to say, what supports it--what ultimately supports it. For instance, if
experiments were conducted in a suspended room, would the whole weight
of that room, as ascertained by outside balance, remain unaltered when a
table or person was levitated inside it? Or, could the agencies
operating inside affect the bodies outside?--questions, these, which
appear capable of answer, with sufficient trouble, in an organised
physical laboratory; such a laboratory as does not, he supposes, yet
exist, but which might exist and which will exist in the future, if the
physical aspect of experimental psychology is ever to become recognised
as a branch of orthodox physics."

Recently, Dr Maxwell, of Paris, published his researches and
observations on physical phenomena, and he states that under "material
and physical phenomena" are comprised (1) raps; (2) movements of objects
(_a_) without contact, or (_b_) only with such contact as is
insufficient to effect the particular movement in question; (3)
"apports"--_i.e._ the production of objects by some supernormal agency;
(4) visual phenomena--_i.e._ the appearance of lights and of forms,
luminous or otherwise, including among the latter the class of alleged
phenomena known as materialisations, and (5) phenomena leaving some
permanent trace, such as imprints or "direct" writings or drawings, etc.
Under the class of "intellectual phenomena" may be included such
occurrences as automatic writing, table tilting, etc.

As regards raps Dr Maxwell hazards certain conclusions, of which he says
the most certain is the close connection of the raps with the muscular
movements on the part of the sitters. Every muscular movement, even a
slight one, appears to be followed by a rap. Thus if, without anyone
necessarily touching the table, one of the sitters frees his hand from
the chain made round the table by others, moves it about in a circle
over the surface of the table, then raises it in the centre and brings
it down towards the table, stopping suddenly within a few inches of it,
a rap will be produced on the table corresponding with the sudden
stoppage of the hand. Similarly, a rap will be produced by a pressure of
the foot on the floor, by speaking, by blowing slightly, or by touching
the medium or one of the sitters. Raps produced in this way by the
sitters are often stronger than those produced by the medium himself. Dr
Maxwell suggests as a working hypothesis that there is a certain
accumulated force, and that if its equilibrium be suddenly disturbed by
the addition of the excess of energy required for the movement, a
discharge takes place producing the effect.

Dr Maxwell has made a series of experiments with Eusapia Paladino.

     "It was about five o'clock in the evening," he writes, "and
     there was broad daylight in the drawing-room at l'Aguélas. We
     were standing around the table. Eusapia took the hand of one of
     our number and rested it on the right-hand corner of the table.
     The table was raised to the level of our foreheads--that is,
     the top reached a height of at least four and three-quarter
     feet from the floor.... It was impossible for Eusapia to have
     lifted the table by normal means. One has but to consider that
     she touched but the corner of the table to realise what the
     weight must have been had she accomplished the feat by
     muscular effort. Further, she never had sufficient hold of it.
     It was clearly impossible for her, under the conditions of the
     experiment, to have used any of the means suggested by her
     critics--straps, or hooks of some kind."

Most of the phenomena discussed by Dr Maxwell were obtained through the
mediumship of Eusapia Paladino. He was a member of the committee which
met in 1896 to investigate this medium, who had just concluded the
series of performances held under the auspices of the society at
Cambridge, which were entirely unfavourable to her claims. The French
committee was made aware of the fraudulent devices which the Cambridge
investigators claimed to have discovered. He recommends all who believe
that Dr Hodgson and his Cambridge colleagues have had the last word in
the controversy to read the report which will be found in the _Annales
des Psychiques_, for 1896. The English sitters arrive at conclusions in
direct conflict with those of the French, who claim that they had long
known of the tricks "discovered" at Cambridge, and in consequence took
means to guard against them. Dr Maxwell indicts the Cambridge way of
controlling the medium, which he says consisted, for a time at least, in
affording the medium opportunities to cheat to see if she would avail
herself of them. Opportunities of which she took the fullest advantage.

Nevertheless, Dr Maxwell offers but little encouragement for the theory
of spiritualistic agency. "I believe," he says, "in the reality of
certain phenomena, of which I have repeatedly been a witness. I do not
consider it necessary to attribute them to a supernatural intervention
of any kind, but am disposed to think that they are produced by some
force existing within ourselves."

In the same way as certain psychical phenomena, such as automatic
writing, trance, "controls," crystal vision, and so forth, in which an
intelligence seems to be present independent of the intelligence of the
medium, can be shown beyond dispute to be merely manifestations of his
subliminal intelligence, frequently taking the form of a dramatic
personification; so may the agency, revealing itself in raps, movements
of objects, and other phenomena of a physical character, perhaps be
traceable, not to any power external to the medium and the sitters, but
merely to a force latent within themselves, and may be an
exteriorisation in a dynamic form, in a way not yet ascertained, of
their collective subliminal capacities.

However strange new and unknown facts may be, we need not fear they are
going to destroy the truth of the old ones. Would the science of physics
be overthrown if, for example, we admit the phenomenon of "raps"--_i.e._
audible vibrations in wood and other substances--is a real phenomenon,
and that in certain cases there may be blows which cannot be explained
by any mechanical force known to us? It would be a new force exercised
on matter, but none the less would the old forces preserve their
activity. Pressure, temperature, and the density of air or of wood might
still exercise their usual influence, and it is even likely that the
transmission of vibrations by this new force would follow the same laws
as other vibrations.

In the opinion of the leading members of this society, some of the
physical phenomena which have been adduced as among those proclaimed to
have occurred, such as "apports," scent, movement of objects, passage of
matter through matter, bear a perilous resemblance to conjuring tricks,
of a kind fairly well known; which tricks if well done can be very
deceptive. Hence extreme caution is necessary, and full control must be
allowed to the observers--a thing which conjurers never really allow.
Sir Oliver Lodge says that he has never seen a silent and genuinely
controlled conjurer; and in so far as mediums find it necessary to
insist on their own conditions, so far they must be content to be
treated as conjurers. For instance, no self-registering thermometer has
ever recorded the "intense cold" felt at a _séance_. Flowers and fruit
have made their appearance in closed rooms, but no arsenic has
penetrated the walls of the hermetically sealed tube. Various
investigators have smelt, seen, and handled curious objects, but no
trace has been preserved. We have to depend on the recollection of the
observer's passing glimpse of spirit lights, of the hearing of the
rustle of spirit garments, the touch, in the dark, of unknown bodies.
Exquisite scents, strange draperies, human forms have appeared seemingly
out of nothing, and have returned whence they came unrecorded by
photography, unweighed, unanalysed.

Briefly, then, the result of my carefully formed judgment is that a
large part of the physical phenomena heard, seen, felt at the average
spiritualistic _séance_ must be placed on a level with ordinary
conjuring. To return to the recent case of Eusapia Paladino. A number of
English scientists, interested in the reports of her _séances_, induced
her to come to England and repeat them at Cambridge. Every effort was
made to make the experiments as satisfactory as possible. They used
netting for confining the medium or separating her from objects which
they hoped would move without contact; different ways of tying her were
tried; also sufficient light was used in the _séance_ room. She refused
to submit to any of these conditions. The investigators pressed her at
each sitting to allow some light in the room, and they long persevered
in making the control in every case as complete as she would allow it to
be. She permitted a very faint light usually at the beginning, but
before long she insisted on complete darkness, and until the lights were
extinguished the touches were never felt. The sitters then held the
medium, the only method of control allowed, as firmly and continuously
as possible. This she resisted, and then every form of persuasion was
used, short of physical force, to induce her to submit. But she was
allowed to take her own way without remonstrance when the sitters were
convinced of the constant fraud practised.

It is only fair to state that recent experiments on the Continent have
convinced a number of leading scientists of the genuineness of Eusapia
Paladino's powers, and the conclusions arrived at by the Cambridge
investigators are condemned as hasty and premature.

But, even of the other class, those who have lent themselves to the
conditions of the investigator, while admitting the bona-fides of the
medium, we are by no means prepared to regard them as necessarily the
result of the action of disembodied spirits. Nor do many leading
spiritualists themselves.

For, as we have just seen, there is still another explanation for
supernormal physical movements. May there not be an unknown, or at least
an unrecognised, extension of human muscular faculty? Such a hypothesis
is no more extravagant than would have been the hypothesis of the
Hertzian waves or a prediction of wireless telegraphy a few short years

This is not all. We must remember that there is a mass of phenomena
which cannot lightly be explained away by glib references to unknown
extensions of muscular faculty. Of such is the fire ordeal, one of the
most inexplicable and best attested of the manifestations presented by
Daniel Dunglas Home. The evidence is abundant and of high quality, the
witnesses of undoubted integrity, and, from the nature of the
experiment, the illuminations of the room were generally more adequate
than in the case of the levitations and elongations. On one occasion,
Home thrust his hand into the fire, and bringing out a red-hot cinder
laid it upon a pocket-handkerchief. When at the end of half-a-minute it
was removed, the handkerchief was quite free from any traces of burning.

Not content with handling glowing embers himself, Home would hand them
on to others present at the _séance_, who were generally able to receive
them with impunity. This effectually disposes of the theory formulated
by an ingenious critic that Home was in the custom of covering his hands
with some fire-proof preparation as yet unknown to science! Even if Home
possessed and used such a preparation he would find considerable
difficulty in transferring it to the hands of his spectators.

Here is an account of a _séance_ which took place on the 9th May 1871.
After various manifestations, two out of the four candles in the room
were extinguished. Home went to the fire, took out a piece of red-hot
charcoal, and placed it on a folded cambric pocket-handkerchief which he
borrowed for the purpose from one of the guests. He fanned the charcoal
to white heat with his breath, but the handkerchief was only burnt in
one small hole. Mr Crookes, who was present at the _séance_, tested the
handkerchief afterwards in his laboratory and found that it had not been
chemically prepared to resist the action of fire.

After this exhibition--

     "Mr Home again went to the fire, and, after stirring the hot
     coal about with his hand, took out a red-hot piece nearly as
     big as an orange, and putting it on his right hand, so as
     almost completely to enclose it, and then blew into the small
     furnace thus extemporised until the lump of charcoal was nearly
     white hot, and then drew my attention to the lambent flame
     which was flickering over the coal and licking round his
     fingers; he fell on his knees, looked up in a reverent manner,
     held up the coal in front, and said, 'Is not God good? Are not
     his laws wonderful?'"

Among those who have left on record their testimony to this
manifestation are Lord Lindsay, Lord Adare, H. D. Jencken, W. M.
Wilkinson, S. C. Hall, etc. etc.

As the great mathematician Professor de Morgan once wittily and wisely

     "If I were bound to choose among things which I can conceive, I
     should say that there is some sort of action of some
     combination of will, intellect, and physical power, which is
     not that of any of the human beings present. But, thinking it
     very likely that the universe may contain a few agencies--say,
     half-a-million--about which no man knows anything, I cannot but
     suspect that a small proportion of these agencies--say, five
     thousand--may be severally competent to the production of all
     the phenomena, or may be quite up to the task among them. The
     physical explanations which I have seen are easy, but
     miserably insufficient; the spiritual hypothesis is sufficient,
     but ponderously difficult. Time and thought will decide, the
     second asking the first for more results of trial."

It is inconceivable that such a man as Stainton Moses--a hard-working
parish priest and a respected schoolmaster--should deliberately have
entered upon a course of trickery for the mere pleasure of mystifying a
small circle of acquaintances. The whole course of his previous life,
his apparently sincere religious feeling, all combine to contradict such
a supposition. Neither is it credible that such a petty swindler would
have carried out his deceptions to the end, and have left behind fresh
problems, the elucidation of which his eyes could never behold.



If much of the physical phenomena just described be well within the
scope of natural possibility, it is somewhat otherwise with the class of
manifestations I shall now touch upon. It is one thing to exert
consciously or unconsciously, as Home, Cook, Paladino, Moses and other
mediums have done, in the presence of scientifically trained witnesses,
unknown and supernormal muscular power. Table rapping, levitation,
"apports," may all be genuine enough and accounted for in a manner
which, if not wholly satisfying, is at least not unreasonable. But when
those assisting at a _séance_ actually behold with their eyes and touch
with their hands, and even photograph with a camera, the materialised
objects of the spirits with whom the medium is in communion, the pulse
of the inquirer quickens. He is now indeed approaching the crucial
problem, the crowning achievement of spiritualism. For although in a
former chapter we have the testimony of people who saw "ghosts," these
ghosts might, to my mind, clearly be the result of telepathy. They
appear on special occasions at important and significant crises, but the
claim of the spiritualistic medium is that he can casually, and on the
demand of one of the circle, produce a visible, tangible figure of a
deceased husband, wife, parent, or friend.

This materialisation is wholly a recent species of manifestation. One of
the first to testify to having seen a materialised figure at a _séance_
was the well-known S. C. Hall, who recognised during one of Home's
_séances_ the figure of his deceased sister. Other mediums repeated the
feat, and shadowy forms and faces began to appear and move about during
their dark _séances_. It is a suspicious fact that in some cases these
forms, made visible by a faintly luminous vapour, were accompanied by an
odour of phosphorus. Sceptics naturally took great advantage of the
alleged circumstance. Soon, however, a new medium, Florence Cook, was
rumoured to have produced materialised forms in a good light which
baffled all the sceptics. Miss Cook claimed to be "controlled" by a
spirit known under the name of "Katie."

We have this account from a writer who early attended to examine the
mystery fairly:

     "In a short time, however, Katie--as the familiar of Miss B.
     was termed--thought she would be able to 'materialise' herself
     so far as to present the whole form, if we arranged the corner
     cupboard so as to admit of her doing so. Accordingly we opened
     the door, and from it suspended a rug or two opening in the
     centre, after the fashion of a Bedouin Arab's tent; formed a
     semicircle; sat and sang Longfellow's 'Footsteps of Angels.'
     Therein occurs the passage, 'Then the forms of the departed
     enter at the open door.' And, lo and behold! though we had left
     Miss B. tied and sealed to her chair and clad in an ordinary
     black dress somewhat voluminous as to the skirts, a tall,
     female figure, draped classically in white, with bare arms and
     feet, did enter at the open door, or rather down the centre
     from between the two rugs, and stood statuelike before us,
     spoke a few words, and retired; after which we entered the
     Bedouin tent and found pretty Miss B. with her dress as before,
     knots and seals secure, and her boots on! This was Form No. 1,
     the first I had ever seen. It looked as material as myself; and
     on a subsequent occasion--for I have seen it several times--we
     took four very good photographic portraits of it by magnesium
     light. The difficulty I still felt, with the form as with the
     faces, was that it seemed so thoroughly material and

It is not my intention to speak of the multitude of early
materialisations. As Mr Podmore points out, at these manifestations
practically no precautions were taken against trickery. There was
nothing, so far as can be discovered, to throw any hindrance in the way
of the medium, if she chose, impersonating the spirit by exhibiting a
mask through the opening of the curtain or by dressing herself up and
walking about the room. Nor were there any collateral circumstances to
justify belief in the genuineness of the manifestations.

Nevertheless, Miss Cook's claims attracted the attention of Sir William
Crookes. He attended several _séances_--one, once, at the house of Mr
Luxmoor, when "Katie" was standing before him in the room. He had
distinctly heard from behind the curtain the sobbing and moaning
habitually made by Miss Cook during such _séances_. At another _séance_,
held at his own house, 12th March 1874, "Katie," robed in white, came to
the opening of the curtain and summoned him to the assistance of her
medium. The man of science instantly obeyed the call, and found Miss
Cook, attired in her ordinary black velvet dress, prone on the sofa. On
another occasion he declares he saw two forms together in a good light;
more than this, he actually procured a photograph of "Katie." But of
this I will speak later, when I come to discuss spirit photography.

One of the most noted materialising mediums of to-day is Charles Miller,
of San Francisco, of whom a certain Professor Reichel has recently
written a lengthy account.

Miller's _séances_ are described as very conclusive. At the first one,
after Miller had retired into the cabinet, "the curtain was pulled
aside, showing the medium asleep, and six fully developed phantoms
standing beside him. Two spoke German to friends from their native
land," and one discussed matters of a private nature with Professor
Reichel. Similar occurrences were many times repeated, and
dematerialisations were often "made before the curtain, in full view of
the sitters" and "in ample light to observe everything." Professor
Reichel says:

     "In the _séances_ with Mr Miller I heard the spirits speak in
     English, French, and German, but I have been assured repeatedly
     that in a _séance_ of seventy-five persons, representing many
     of the various nationalities in San Francisco, twenty-seven
     languages were spoken by materialised spirits, addressing
     different sitters."

Equally good results were obtained in a room taken at the Palace Hotel,
for a special testsetting, the results of which were communicated to
Colonel de Rochas, and again when Mr Miller visited the Professor at Los
Angeles. The following incidents are of special interest, as throwing
light on the forces made use of in the production of the phenomena, and
in reference to allegations of fraud or personation:--

     "A sitting took place at noon. Before it began, and while
     Miller was standing in front of the cabinet, I heard 'Betsy's'
     voice whisper: 'Go out for a moment into the sun with the
     professor.' Accordingly I took Mr Miller by the arm, and
     together we went out into the sunshine. After a few moments we
     returned, and at the moment we entered the dark room the
     writer, as well as everyone else present, saw Mr Miller
     completely strewn with a shining, white, glittering, snowlike
     mass, that entirely covered his dark cheviot suit. This
     singular occurrence had been witnessed repeatedly--even when
     the medium had not previously been in the sun. At such times it
     appeared gradually after the room had been darkened."

This snowlike mass the author regards as "the white element of
magnetism, which the phantoms use in their development." He also says:

     "In another _séance_ held by Miller, 'Betsy' told me that she
     would show me something that often happened in _séances_ with
     other materialisation mediums--namely, that the medium himself
     frequently appeared disguised as a spirit. She asked me to come
     to the curtain, where she told me that the medium himself would
     come out draped in white muslin, and the muslin would then
     suddenly disappear. This was verified. When the medium came out
     in his disguise, I grasped him by the hand, and like a flash of
     lightning the white veiling vanished."

Reichel quotes Kiesewetter to the effect that in these cases "there is a
kind of pseudo-materialisation, in which the medium, in hypnosis, walks
in a somnambulistic condition, playing the part of the spirit, in which
case the mysterious vanishing of the spiritual veilings points to an
incipient magical activity on the part of the _psyche_."

Large numbers of Miller's materialisations were photographed, showing,
besides the fully materialised forms, "several spirits who could not be
seen with the physical eyes, one of whom was immediately recognised."

       *       *       *       *       *

The experiments of Sir William Crookes and others by Mr Cromwell Varley,
with various mediums, supply us with the best proof we have that medium
and spirit possess separate identities. Of course there were, and are
still, numerous so-called exposures of mediums in the act of
materialisation. On other occasions the materialised form has been
seized and found to be the medium himself.

A typical incident of this kind was the exposure of the mediums William
and Rita, which took place in Amsterdam, under circumstances which made
it difficult for the most hardened believer to lay all the blame upon
the spirits. The incident took place in the rooms of a spiritualist; the
members of the circle were spiritualists; and it was aggrieved and
indignant spiritualists who made the facts public. Suspicion had been
aroused; one of the sitters clutched at the spirit form of "Charlie,"
and grasped Rita by the coat collar. Up to this point, no doubt, the
spiritualist theories already referred to were elastic enough to cover
the facts. But when the mediums were searched there were found in their
pockets or hidden in various parts of their clothing--on Rita a nearly
new beard, six handkerchiefs, assorted, and a small, round scent bottle,
containing phosphorised oil, bearing a resemblance all too convincing to
"Charlie's" spirit lamp; on Williams a dirty black beard, with brown
silk ribbon, and several yards of very dirty muslin--the simple
ingredients which represented the spiritual make-up of the repentant
pirate, John King--together with another bottle of phosphorised oil, a
bottle of scent, and other "properties."

But we have not to deal here with the obviously fraudulent features of
modern spiritualism. Years ago Mr H. W. Harrison summed up the position.
He pointed out that there were two classes of so-called
materialisations: (1) forms with flexible features, commonly bearing a
strong resemblance to the medium, which move and speak. These are the
forms which come out when the medium is in the cabinet; (2) Forms with
features which are inflexible and masklike (the epithet is not Mr
Harrison's) and which do not move about or speak. Such inflexible faces
are seen chiefly when the medium is held by the sitters, or is in full
view of the circle. Mr Harrison then continues: "We have patiently
watched for years for a living, flexible face, in a good light, which
face bore no resemblance to that of the medium, and was not produced on
his or her own premises. Hitherto this search has been prosecuted
without success. Mr A. R. Wallace and Mr Crookes have witnessed a great
number of form manifestations, without once recording that off the
premises of the medium they have seen a living, flexible, materialised
spirit-form bearing no resemblance to the sensitive. Neither has Mr
Varley made any such record."

       *       *       *       *       *

The presumption must be one of fraud, especially when conditions are
laid down which serve to prevent full investigation. I have before me
the printed conditions of a North London Spiritualistic society:

     "As a member of the society you must bear in mind that you will
     be bound _in honour_ to accept all the rules laid down by our
     Spirit controls, and by the leader of the meeting, as to the
     conditions under which the meetings are held, such as the
     darkened room, the holding of hands so as to form a strongly
     magnetic ring in front of the medium, etc.--and it is
     interesting to note that the great Mesmer, when he was
     conducting his experiments in magnetism more than one hundred
     years ago, had discovered the advantage of 'a circle' formed in
     this way, for he writes: 'The power of magnetism is augmented
     by establishing a direct communication between several persons.
     This can be done in two ways: the more simple is to form a
     chain, with a certain number of persons made to hold each
     other's hands; it can also be done by means of the 'baquet' (a
     mechanical contrivance invented by himself)."

     "No one should ever attempt to touch a spirit unless invited to
     do so by the spirits themselves, and the circle, once formed,
     must never be broken by unloosing of hands. If this becomes
     _really_ necessary at any time, permission should first be
     asked, when the controlling spirit will give instructions as to
     how it is to be carried out."

I cannot forbear from quoting further the following passage addressed to
members of the society:--

     "You will greatly assist us in obtaining good results if you
     will kindly use a little discretion in the matter of your food,
     especially on the day of the meeting, when fish, vegetables,
     fruit (especially bananas), and light food of that description
     are most helpful, but meat, wine, beer, or spirits (wine and
     spirits especially) should be carefully avoided; and we find
     that it is better to make a good meal in the middle of the day,
     a substantial tea at 5.30, and supper after the meeting, as by
     following this plan the members of the circle are able to give
     off more of the spiritual _aura_ which is used by the controls
     in building up the forms which appear to us, each member of the
     circle contributing his or her share unconsciously.

     "The use of non-actinic light, such as that obtained from a
     small dark lantern, is defended on the grounds that the actinic
     rays coming from the violet end of the spectrum are so rapid in
     their movements that they immediately break up any combination
     of matter produced under such circumstances. Any form of light,
     except the red, or perhaps the yellow, rays would have this
     effect. That is one reason why the cabinet is employed,
     because that would shut off any form of light from the medium
     whilst the forms are building up; although on several
     occasions, from time to time, when the form has thus been built
     up fully, we have been able to use a red light strong enough to
     illuminate the whole of the room."

So long as spiritualists, as I have before remarked, maintain this
attitude, so long must they meet with incredulity on the part of
official science. In nearly all these private circles the precautions
taken against trickery are absurdly lacking, and, as we have just seen,
frequently purposely omitted. Thus we have to fall back in considering
the genuine character of the phenomena on the good faith of the medium.
When the medium is known to be a man of blameless life, and has long
been before the public undetected in any deception, the presumption
would certainly appear to be in favour of his bona-fides. But of what
value is this presumption should the medium not be conscious of his
actions when his impersonation of this or that character is wholly
undertaken by his secondary or subliminal self? Here we begin to have
glimmerings of the great truth which may conceivably underlie the
parable of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and investigations into the marvels of
multiple personalities lead us further towards the light.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the whole, the conclusion I have arrived at is that, where the
element of fraud is eliminated, we might rationally seek for an
explanation in hallucination. Take the famous case of Archdeacon Colley
and Mr Monck. The Archdeacon actually declared that he saw the psychic
or spirit form grow out of his left side:

     "First, several faces, one after another, of great beauty
     appeared, and in amazement we saw--and as I was standing close
     up to the medium, even touching him--I saw most plainly,
     several times, a perfect face and form of exquisite womanhood
     partially issue from Dr Monck, about the region of the heart.
     Then, after several attempts, the full-formed figure, in a
     nebulous condition at first, but growing solider as it issued
     from the medium, left Dr Monck and stood, a separate
     individuality, two or three feet off, bound to him by a slender
     attachment, as of gossamer, which, at my request, 'Samuel,' the
     control, severed with the medium's left hand, and there stood
     embodied a spirit form of unutterable loveliness, robed in
     attire spirit-spun--a meshy webwork from no mortal loom, of a
     fleeciness inimitable, and of transfiguration whiteness truly

Now, as Mr Podmore somewhat satirically points out:

     "It is difficult to believe that the exquisite spirit form
     which presented itself to Mr Colley's glowing imagination was
     merely a confection of masks, stuffed gloves, and muslin,
     actuated by a jointed rod, but we cannot help remembering, if
     Mr Colley did not, that articles of this kind had, a
     twelve-month previously, been found, under compromising
     circumstances, in the possession of Dr Monck."

The recognitions which take place at _séances_ are undoubtedly to a
large extent sense deceptions. There is now a professional medium at
whose _séances_ spirit faces are constantly being recognised. Of course
the performance takes place in the dark. A faintly illuminated slate
shows the profiles against the background, and one or other of the
members generally recognises it. The mouth and chin of the female faces
shown at these _séances_ are generally veiled, but this does not appear
to affect the recognition.

On the whole, the testimony for and against the reality of spirits at
the better class of _séance_ is pretty evenly balanced. I hesitate to
disturb it, although remarking, parenthetically, that the believers have
the most, if not the best, of the literature on the subject.

And for those who are deeply perplexed there is always the theory of
hallucination to fall back upon.



If the claim of the spiritualists to having achieved the materialisation
of the spirits of deceased persons were restricted to the mere ocular,
oral, and tactile evidence of the dark _séance_, the theory of
hallucination would account for much that is perplexing. But the problem
becomes complicated when the spiritualists come forward with proof that
their senses have not misled them. It is only a few months since that a
young man in the north of England, on photographing his mother and
sisters, was greatly startled to find his late father's face also on the
plate. He had not made use of the camera, we are told, for eighteen
months. Recently, too, a professional photographer in London was
commissioned to photograph a grave which was surmounted by a beautiful
basket of flowers. To his consternation, within the handle appeared the
facial lineaments of the deceased.

The earliest spirit photograph, as far as can be ascertained, dates from
1862, when an American photographer named Mumler, on developing a
photograph of himself, discovered the likeness of a cousin who had been
dead some dozen years previously. The case was investigated by Dr Mumler
of Boston, who considered that many of the "spirit photographs"
afterwards taken by Mumler were genuine, but that others were, in our
modern phrase, indubitably faked. This was put down to Mumler's desire
to cope with the unusual demand and satisfy his host of sitters.

Mumler, after twelve years' experience, writing to Mr James Burns, says:

     "I have been investigated by the best photographers in America,
     and have their testimony in my favour, given under oath; I have
     been tried in a court of justice, and been honourably
     acquitted; and, lastly, I have the evidence of thousands of
     people who have had pictures taken, and recognised the
     likenesses of their spirit friends, many of whom never had a
     picture taken during life. I have been a humble instrument in
     the hands of the Almighty, to place a link in the great chain
     of evidence that binds the two worlds together. Flowers, birds,
     and animals have frequently appeared upon the plates and one
     lady was delighted to recognise by her side her faithful old
     black retriever."

Not till ten years later did a photographer named Hudson succeed, with
the aid of a medium, in producing spirit pictures. The _modus operandi_
appeared simple. The sitter was posed before the camera, and the picture
was subsequently developed, when besides the sitter's own image there
appeared another figure or figures usually draped, with the features
blurred or only partly distinguishable. Usually these figures were
recognised unhesitatingly by the sitters as portraits of deceased
relatives or friends. Afterwards the practice of spirit photography
received a rude shock. They were examined carefully by professional
photographers, and some of them were found to bear clear marks of double
exposure, the background in each case being visible through the dress of
the sitter--a fatal defect in spirit photography. Moreover it was found
that in some cases the medium had dressed up to play the rôle of spirit.
Whereupon several of those who had professed to recognise the "ghosts"
now hastened to repudiate their recognition. But spirit photography was
not to be quashed so easily. The experiments went on, and faces and
figures appeared on the developed plate which seem to have considerably
baffled the experts. Sir William Crookes now resolved to put the matter
to a test by attempting to obtain a photograph of "Katie," the famous
"control" of Miss Cook, the medium. The young lady gave a series of
sittings in May 1874 at Sir William's house for the purpose. These
sittings took place by electric light, no fewer than five cameras being
simultaneously at work. The medium lay down on the floor behind a
curtain, her face muffled in a shawl. When the materialisation was
complete "Katie" would appear in the full light in front of the

     "I frequently," writes Sir William Crookes, "drew the curtain
     on one side when Katie was standing near; and it was a common
     thing for the seven or eight of us in the laboratory to see
     Miss Cook and Katie at the same time, under the full blaze of
     the electric light. We did not on these occasions actually see
     the face of the medium, because of the shawl, but we saw her
     hands and feet; we saw her move uneasily under the influence of
     the intense light, and we heard her moan occasionally. I have
     one photograph of the two together, but Katie is seated in
     front of Miss Cook's head."

I have not seen these photographs of "Katie," but Mr Podmore has, and
when comparing them with contemporary portraits of Miss Cook herself he
is inclined to consider the likeness between the two sets unmistakable.
"The apparently greater breadth of 'spirit' face," he writes, "may well
be due to the fact that, whereas Miss Cook wore hanging ringlets,
'Katie's' hair is effectually concealed by the drapery, which in most
cases comes down over the forehead, and falls in two thick folds on
either side of the head, something like the headgear of a sphinx. Again,
as Miss Cook, when photographed, wore her ordinary dress, which
concealed her feet, the apparent difference in height on some occasions
between herself and the spirit figure cannot be relied upon. One piece
of evidence would, indeed, have been conclusive--that the ears of the
spirit form should have appeared intact, for Miss Cook's ears were
pierced for earrings. But the encircling drapery effectually concealed
both the ears and the hair of the spirit 'Katie.'"

The evidence for photographs of invisible people which we sometimes hear
abduced as adequate is surprisingly feeble. For instance, in a recent
anonymous and weak book, said to be written by a member of the Society
for Psychical Research, two photographs are reproduced which are said to
have been obtained under what are considered crucial conditions; but the
narrative itself at once suggests a simple trick on the part of the
photographer--viz. the provision of backgrounds for sitters with vague
human forms all ready depicted on them in sulphate of quinine.

Sir Oliver Lodge is of opinion that it is by no means physically
impossible that some of these temporary semi-material accretions might
be inadequate to appeal to our eyes, and yet be of a kind able to
impress a photographic plate; but here he confesses that the evidence,
to his mind, wholly breaks down, and he admits that he has never yet
seen a satisfying instance of what is termed a spirit photograph; nor is
it easy to imagine the kind of record apart from testimony which in such
a case would be convincing, unless such photographs could be produced at

A conviction of fraud having entered the minds of the sceptically
inclined, the exposure of a certain Parisian photographer, Buguet, shook
the faith of the credulous. Buguet enjoyed in London an extraordinary
success. Many leading people sat to him and obtained "spirit
photographs," by them clearly recognisable, of their deceased
relations. No less than forty out of one hundred and twenty photographs
examined by Stainton Moses were pronounced by the sitters to be genuine
likenesses of spirits, and baffled the scrutiny of the sceptics.
Nevertheless Buguet was arrested and charged by the French Government
for fraudulent production of spirit photographs. At his trial Buguet
disconcerted the whole spiritualistic world by confessing, he said that
the whole of his spirit photographs were obtained by means of double
exposure. To begin with, he employed three or four assistants to play
the part of ghost. Nevertheless, in spite of his confession, in spite of
the trick apparatus confiscated by the police, at Buguet's trial witness
after witness, people high in the social and professional world, came
forward to testify that they had not been deceived, that the spirit
photographs were genuine. They refused to doubt the evidence of their
own eyesight. One M. Dessenon, a picture dealer, had obtained a spirit
portrait of his wife; he had been instantly struck with the likeness,
and had shown it to the lady's relatives, who exclaimed at once on its
exactness. The judge asked Buguet for an explanation. The prisoner
replied that it was pure chance. "I had," he said, "no photograph of
Madame Dessenon." "But," cried the witness, "my children, like myself,
thought the likeness perfect. When I showed them the picture, they
cried, 'It is mamma!' I have seen all M. Buguet's properties and
pictures, and there is nothing in the least like the picture I have
obtained. I am convinced it is my wife." As a result, many
spiritualists, including Stainton Moses and William Howitt, refused to
consider the case one of fraud. They regarded Buguet as a genuine medium
who had been bound to confess to imaginary trickery. Yet after this
spirit photography as a profession has not flourished in this country.
There is one professional who is responsible for many ghost pictures.
But in his productions appear unmistakable signs of double exposures.
You see the pattern of the carpet and the curtain of the study visible
through the sitter's body and clothes. In one instance at all events,
where the ghost represents a well-known statesman, the head has
obviously been cut from the photograph and the contour draped to hide
the cut edges. But the phenomena of spirit photography are abundant
enough in private circles.

I have before me as I write a number of reputed spirit photographs
obtained by private persons both with and without the aid of a
professional medium. In one sent me by a gentleman resident at Finsbury
Park, which is a very impressive specimen of its kind, the fact of a
double exposure is obvious to the least experienced in dark-room
matters. Notwithstanding, the photographer has apparently made a
speciality of this kind of work.

     "In my collection [he writes] of over two thousand specimens
     are portraits of Atlantean priests, who flourished about 12,000
     years ago, Biblical patriarchs, poets, Royalties, clerics,
     scientists, literary men, etc., pioneer spiritualists, like
     Emma H. Britten, Luther Marsh, Wallace, and John Lamont. The
     latest additions are, I am happy to say, my kind old friend
     Mrs Glendinning, and a worthy quartette of earnest workers in
     Dr Younger, Mr Thomas Everitt, Mr C. Lacey, and David Duguid."

One of the most curious instances of a ghost photograph occurred in the
summer of 1892. Six months previously a lady had taken a photograph of
the library at D---- Hall. She kept the plate a long time before
developing it, and when developed it showed the faint but clearly
recognisable figure of a man sitting in a large arm-chair. A print from
the photograph was obtained and shown, when the image was immediately
recognised as the likeness of the late Lord D----, the owner of
D---- Hall. What was more, it was ascertained that Lord D---- had
actually been buried on the day the photograph was taken. A copy of the
photograph was sent to Professor Barrett, who examined it and reported
(1) that the image is too faint and blurred for any likeness to be
substantiated; (2) that the plate had been exposed in the camera for an
hour and the room left unguarded; (3) that actual experiments show that
an appearance such as that on the plate could have been produced if a
man--there were four men in the house--had sat in the chair for a few
seconds during the exposure, moving his head and limbs the while.

Another ghost picture described by Mr Podmore was probably caused in a
similar way. A chapel was photographed, and when the plate was developed
a face was faintly seen in a panel of the woodwork, which the
photographer recognised as a young acquaintance who had not long since
met with a tragic death. "In fact," writes Mr Podmore, "when he told me
the story and showed me the picture, I could easily see the faint but
well-marked features of a handsome melancholy lad of eighteen. A
colleague, however, to whom I showed the photograph without relating the
story, at once identified the face as that of a woman of thirty. The
outlines are in reality so indistinct as to leave ample room for the
imagination to work on; and there is no reason to doubt that, as in the
ghost of the library, the camera had merely preserved faint traces of
some intruder who, during prolonged exposure, stood for a few seconds in
front of it."

In spite of all the damaging _exposés_ and these discouraging
explanations many intelligent persons the world over will still go on
believing in the genuineness of spirit photography. Let me give a few
examples of their testimony. M. Reichel, to whom allusion has already
been made, states that at one of Miller's _séances_ in America, held on
29th October 1905, those present suddenly heard a great number of voices
behind the curtain:

     "Betsy told us that sometimes there are Egyptian women and
     sometimes Indians who come in a crowd to produce their
     phenomena. On October 29th and again on November 2nd I sent for
     a San Francisco photographer, Mr Edward Wyllie, to see what
     impression would be made on a photographic plate by the beings
     who appeared. Some remarkable pictures were taken by
     flashlight. Besides the fully materialised forms, there were
     shown on the photographs several spirits who could not be seen
     by the physical eyes.

     "In one of the latter figures I instantly recognised an uncle
     of mine, whom I had made acquainted with spiritualism about
     twelve years previously, through the assistance of another

A correspondent sends me an interesting account of investigating
materialised spirits in daylight:

     "Miss Fairlamb (afterwards Mrs Mellon) was the medium, and the
     photographs of 'Geordie' and others taken in the garden in
     broad daylight were quite successful. The conditions must have
     been most harmonious, as 'Geordie' afterwards, when twilight
     came on, walked about the lawn, and even ventured into the
     house, returning to the tent, which served as a cabinet, with
     an umbrella and hassock in his hands."

Dr Theodore Hausmann, one of the oldest physicians in Washington,
U.S.A., has devoted many years to this particular phase of mediumship.
He places himself before his camera in the study and photographs his
spirit visitors, who have included his father, son, and President
Lincoln. The opening paragraph in an article he wrote is as follows:--

     "Grieving parents, the bereaved widow and mother, will only be
     too happy if they can see the pictures of those again who were
     so dear to their hearts, and whose image gradually will vanish
     if nothing is left to renew their memories."

There have been many touching letters from relatives of grateful thanks,
who imagine themselves in this way to have received portraits of their
dear ones who have passed away.

In a work which I have come across in which spiritualism is by no means
supported Mr J. G. Raupert acknowledges:

     "That as regards spirit photographs, he 'obtained many striking
     pictures of this character, under good test conditions, and
     attended by circumstances yielding unique and exceptionally
     valuable evidence.... The evidence in favour of some of these
     psychic pictures is as good as it is ever likely to be, and,
     respecting some of these obtained by the present writer, expert
     photographic authorities have expressed their verdict. Sir
     William Crookes has obtained them in his own house under
     personally imposed conditions, and many private experimenters
     in different parts of the world have been equally successful."

This from an avowed opponent is striking testimony to some kind of
manifestation which is not, in intent, at least, fraudulent.



It was natural that out of all these mystic practices--those I have
already indicated and the others I am about to indicate--a cult or
religion should have been moulded. To this cult has been given the name
of spiritualism (or spiritism, as some of the newer devotees prefer to
call it). Its great outstanding feature and essential mystery is, of
course, physical mediumship. The creed of the believer in disembodied
spirits is that the medium acts as the passive agent for certain
physical and intellectual manifestations which do not belong to the rôle
of the visible, tangible world in which we live. One of the forms of
those manifestations is clairvoyance; others are materialisation--_i.e._
the actual incarnation of spiritual forms--physical manifestations such
as table rapping, levitation, slate writing, etc., trance utterances
and spirit photography.

From the physical phenomena to the intellectual phenomena of

Clairvoyance literally means clear seeing; but in spiritualism it has a
technical meaning, and may be either objective or subjective. In the
terminology of the cult, objective clairvoyance is described as "that
psychic power or function of seeing, objectively, by and through the
spiritualism sensorium of sight which pervades the physical mechanism of
vision, spiritual beings and things. A few persons are born with this
power; in some it is developed, and in others it has but a casual
quickening. Its extent is governed by the rate of vibration under which
it operates; thus, one clairvoyant may see spiritual things which to
another may be invisible because of the degree of difference in the
intensity of the powers."

Further, "subjective clairvoyance is that psychic condition of a person
which enables spirit intelligences to impress or photograph upon the
brain of that person, at will, pictures and images which are seen as
visions by that person, without the aid of the physical eye. These
pictures and images may be of things spiritual or material, past or
present, remote or near, hidden or uncovered, or they may have their
existence simply in the conception or imagination of the spirit
communicating them."

Putting aside, however, all "supernatural" explanation, let us consider
how we can best account for the fact, if fact it be, of clairvoyance.
What we see is this: that under given conditions the mouth of a man or
woman by no means above, and often below, the intellectual average
utters, and the hand writes of, matters absolutely outside the normal
ken of the minds of such a man or woman. Evidence for this phenomena is,
to put it bluntly, staggering. If, unknown to a living soul, your wife
or sister accidentally dropped half-a-sovereign down a deep well, and
whilst she was still continuing to hug her little secret to her bosom
you were present at a clairvoyant sitting where the medium in a trance
informed you of the circumstances, you would no doubt be astounded.
Well, the manifestations of a conjurer are occasionally astounding. No
matter how our reason is baffled at first, it behoves us not only to
seek a natural explanation of the fact but also to ascertain and
authenticate the fact itself. But a man may not implicitly trust his

I soon found that merely having been a witness of a mysterious
phenomenon no more qualified me for passing judgment upon it, or even
furnished me with a more advantageous standpoint from which to deliver
my opinions, than a man who has first seen the ocean and even tasted it
can explain why it is salt. No, a man after all, unless he is equipped
with unusual facilities, had best stick to the recorded testimony of the
cloud of witnesses. Amongst these witnesses, who are also acute and
experienced investigators, are Lord Rayleigh, Mr Balfour, Sir William
Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge, Alfred Russel Wallace, Dr Hodgson, Frederic
Myers, Professor Hyslop, M. Camille Flammarion, Professor Richet,
Professor William James, Professor Janet, Mr Frank Podmore and
Professor Lombroso. I think it fair to assume that these men represent
the white light of human intelligence of the decade. They have made a
special study of the matter, and they all seem to be agreed that in the
case of trance lucidity and clairvoyance the normal mind of the writer
or speaker is not at work. Yet there certainly would seem to be an
operating intelligence, having a special character and a special

What, then, is that operating intelligence? By what means does it obtain
its special knowledge? Sir Oliver Lodge formulates two answers to the
second question.

1. By telepathy from living people.

2. By direct information imparted to it by the continued, conscious,
individual agency of deceased persons.

These he regards as the chief customary alternative answers. But there
is a wide, perhaps an impassable, gulf between these two alternatives.
We can here do no more than glance at the nature of the evidence.

The mystery of mediumship has probably received more attention from M.
Flournoy, Professor of Psychology in the University of Geneva, than from
anyone else, not excepting Janet and Hodgson, and our English
investigators. Certainly his opportunities for studying at close
quarters subjects of a more normal type than the Salpetrière patients
are unparalleled. M. Flournoy's most famous case is that of Hélène

     "Hélène [he writes] was as a child quiet and dreamy, and had
     occasional visions, but was, on the whole, not specially
     remarkable. She is, to all outward appearances at the present
     time, healthy even to robustness. From the age of fifteen she
     has been employed in a large commercial establishment in
     Geneva, and holds a position of some responsibility. But it is
     in 1892 that her real history begins. In that year she was
     persuaded by some friends to join a spiritualistic circle. It
     soon appeared that she was herself a powerful medium. At first
     her mediumship consisted in seeing visions, hearing voices, and
     assisting in tilting the table, whilst still retaining more or
     less consciousness and subsequent memory of her experiences.
     Shortly after M. Flournoy's admission to the circle, in the
     winter of 1894-95, Miss Smith's mediumship advanced a stage,
     and she habitually passed at the _séance_ into a trance state,
     retaining subsequently no memory of her visions and doings in
     that state. Her development followed at first the normal
     course. She delivered messages of a personal character to her
     sitters, purporting to emanate from deceased friends and the
     like. She offered numerous proofs of clairvoyance. She was from
     time to time controlled by spirits of the famous dead. Some of
     her earliest trances were under the guidance and inspiration of
     Victor Hugo. Within a few months the spirit of the poet--too
     late, indeed, for his own post-mortem reputation, for he had
     already perpetrated some verses--was expelled with ignominy by
     a more masterful demon who called himself Leopold. The newcomer
     was at first somewhat reticent on his own past, and when
     urgently questioned was apt to take refuge in moral platitudes.
     Later, however, he revealed himself as Giuseppe Balsamo, Count
     Cagliostro. It then appeared that in Hélène herself was
     reincarnated the hapless Queen Marie Antoinette, and that
     others of the mortals represented Mirabeau, Prince of Orleans,

     "It is Hélène's extra-planetary experiences, however, which
     have excited most attention, and which furnished to the
     attendants at her circle the most convincing proofs of her
     dealings with the spiritual world. In November 1894, the spirit
     of the entranced medium was wafted--not without threatenings of
     sea-sickness--through the cosmic void, to arrive eventually on
     the planet Mars. Thereafter night after night she described to
     the listening circle the people of our neighbouring planet,
     their food, dress, and ways of life. At times she drew pictures
     of the inhabitants, human and animal--of their houses, bridges,
     and other edifices, and of the surrounding landscape. Later she
     both spoke and wrote freely in the Martian language. From the
     writings reproduced in M. Flournoy's book it is clear that the
     characters of the Martian script are unlike any in use on
     earth, and that the words (of which a translation is furnished)
     bear no resemblance, superficially at least, to any known
     tongue. The spirits--for several dwellers upon Mars used
     Hélène's organism to speak and write through--delivered
     themselves with freedom and fluency, and were consistent in
     their usage both of the spoken and the written words. In fact,
     Martian, as used by the entranced Hélène, has many of the
     characteristics of a genuine language; and it is not surprising
     that some of the onlookers, who may have hesitated over the
     authenticity of the other revelations, were apparently
     convinced that these Martian utterances were beyond the common
     order of nature."

All his powers M. Flournoy bent to elucidate the mystery. He made up his
mind that Hélène must somewhere have come across one of the works
containing Flammarion's speculations concerning Mars. The landscapes
were suggested by Japanese lacquer and Nankin dishes. As for the
language, it is just such a work of art as one might form by
substituting for each word in the French dictionary an arbitrary
collocation of letters, and for each letter a new and arbitrary symbol.
The vowel and consonant signs are the same as in French; so are the
inflections, the grammar, the construction. (Take, for example, the
negative ke ani=ne pas, the employment of the same word zi to express
both la "the" and là "there.") If it is childish as a work of art, it is
miraculous enough as a feat of memory. But the reader has not forgotten
what the subliminal self is capable of achieving as regards time
appreciation mentioned in an early chapter. When, however, it comes to
Hélène's telepathic and clairvoyant powers, M. Flournoy, in spite of his
long investigation, can find no explanation of the supernormal to fit
the case. Her mediumship since 1892 included manifestations of all
kinds. They began with physical phenomena, but they soon ceased. Her
clairvoyant messages during trance are certainly of a remarkable
character. Her reception of distant scenes and persons, of which she was
apparently unacquainted, has been carefully investigated and
authenticated by numerous persons of reputation. It is this aspect of
spiritualism which has of recent years commanded most attention from
trained observers. The trance utterances of such well-known clairvoyants
as the late Stainton Moses, Mrs Thompson, and Mrs Piper have been
subjected to rigid and precise inquiry, and on the whole it is on this
type of evidence that the strongest arguments of the genuineness of
spiritualism really rests. It is at once the most impressive, the most
interesting, and the most voluminous.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of Stainton Moses I have already spoken. This medium was, as we have
seen, a man of character and probity, English Professor at the
University College School for eighteen years, a man who was never
detected in the slightest fraud, and who died in 1892 regretted by a
host of intimate friends. Stainton Moses left a mass of published
testimony to his pretended communications from the spirits of deceased
persons. He attached great importance to the evidence for
spiritualistic doctrines. Altogether the "controls" or communicators
numbered thirty-eight. Some of these Moses or other members of the
circles had known in life; others--such as Swedenborg, Bishop
Wilberforce, and President Garfield--were historical personages. Besides
these there was a class of individuals of no particular importance, and
apparently unknown to the medium and his friends. Yet it is worthy of
remark that the spirits by whom Moses was "controlled" never withheld
any data which would faciliate verification. For instance, at one
_séance_ a spirit put in an appearance by raps, giving the name
"Rosmira." She said that she lived at Kilburn and had died at Torquay on
10th January 1874. She said that her husband's name was Ben, and that
his surname was Lancaster. It turned out that a fortnight before the
whole particulars were to be found in the "Death" notices in _The Daily
Telegraph_. "Mr Moses' spirits," comments Mr Podmore in his "History of
Spiritualism," habitually furnished accurate obituaries, or gave such
other particulars of their lives as could be gathered from the daily
papers, from published biographies, or from the _Annual Register_ and
other works of reference. All the spirits, indeed, gave their names,
with one exception--an exception so significant that the case is worth
recording. _The Pall Mall Gazette_ for 21st February 1874 contains the
following item of intelligence:--

     "A cabdriver out of employment this morning threw himself under
     a steam-roller which was being used in repairing the road in
     York-place, Marylebone, and was killed immediately."

     "Mr Moses was present at a _séance_ that evening, and his hand
     was controlled, ostensibly by the spirit of the unhappy
     suicide, to write an account of the incident, and to draw a
     rough picture of a horse attached to a vehicle. The name of the
     dead man, it will be seen, does not appear in the newspaper
     account, and out of the thirty-eight spirits who gave proofs of
     their identity through the mediumship of Mr Moses this
     particular spirit alone chose to remain anonymous."

But a great part of Moses' mediumistic career was taken up with trance
utterances purporting to come from various spirits. These writings,
couched in clear, vigorous English, seems to flow readily "without any
conscious intervention on the part of the mortal penman." In fact, so
far was this so that he was able to read a book, or otherwise occupy his
mind, during their production.

The claims of the celebrated medium Mrs Thompson were carefully
investigated by a competent observer, Mrs A. W. Verrall, the wife of an
eminent Cambridge scholar, and herself of no mean scholastic

I will endeavour to summarise Mrs Verrall's conclusions as follows:--

     Mrs Verrall says that Mrs Thompson was unable to ascertain the
     correct statements of facts which have been grouped under the
     four following heads:--

     (_a_) Things known to the sitter and directly present in his

     (_b_) Things known to the sitter but not immediately present in
     his consciousness.

     (_c_) Things that have been well known to the sitter but are at
     the moment so far forgotten as only to be recalled by the
     statements of the medium.

     (_d_) Things unknown to the sitter.

With regard to things under head (_a_) Mrs Verrall says:

     "Some very clearly marked instances have come within my own
     observation; the cases are not very numerous, but the response
     from the 'control' to what has been thought but not uttered by
     me has been so rapid and complete that, were it not for the
     evidence of the other sitter, I should have been disposed to
     believe that I had unconsciously uttered the thought aloud.

     "Thus, on one occasion, 'Nelly' said that a red-haired girl was
     in my house that day, and I was wondering whether a certain
     friend of my daughter's, who is often at the house, would be
     there, when 'Nelly' added: 'Not So-and-so,' mentioning by name
     my daughter's friend, exactly as though I had uttered the
     passing thought. Again, when 'Nelly' was describing a certain
     bag given to me for my birthday, something she said made me for
     a moment think of a small leather handbag left in my house by a
     cousin and occasionally used by me, and she said: 'You had an
     uncle that died; it was not long after that.' The father of the
     cousin whom I had just thought of is the only uncle I have
     known, but his death long preceded the giving to me of the bag
     as a birthday present, which was what she had quite correctly
     described till my momentary thought apparently distracted her
     attention to the other bag. I have had in all some five or six
     instances of such apparently direct responses as the above to a
     thought in the sitter's mind; but when at 'Nelly's' suggestion
     I have fixed my attention on some detail for the sake of
     helping her to get it, I have never succeeded in doing anything
     but what she calls 'muggling her.'"

Another difficulty arises from the fact that mediums and their controls
not infrequently receive impressions as pictures, and these pictures are
liable to be misinterpreted. Mrs Verrall writes in her report of her
sitting with Mrs Thompson:

     "Merrifield was said to be the name of a lady in my family. The
     name was given at first thus: 'Merrifield, Merryman,
     Merrythought, Merrifield; there is an old lady named one of
     these who,' etc. Later, 'Nelly' said: 'Mrs Merrythought, that's
     not quite right; it's like the name of a garden'; and after in
     vain trying to give her the name exactly, she said: 'I will
     tell you how names come to us. It's like a picture; I see
     school children enjoying themselves. You can't say Merryman
     because that's not a name, or Merrypeople.' 'Nelly' later on
     spoke of my mother as Mrs Happyfield or Mrs Merryfield with
     indifference" ("Proceedings," part xliv. p. 208).

It is probably for this reason that so much use is made in spirit
communications of symbolism. The passage in which Mr Myers deals with
the use of symbolism in automatic messages, in his work on "Human
Personality," should be studied in this connection. He points out that
there is "no a priori ground for supposing that language will have the
power to express all the thoughts and emotions of man." And if this is
true of man in his present state, how much more does it apply to man in
another and more advanced state? With reference to automatic writings he
says: "There is a certain quality which reminds one of _translation_, or
of the composition of a person writing in a language in which he is not
accustomed to talk."

As a result of her investigations, Mrs Verrall declares:

     "That Mrs Thompson is possessed of knowledge not normally
     obtained I regard as established beyond a doubt; that the
     hypothesis of fraud, conscious or unconscious, on her part
     fails to explain the phenomena seems to be equally certain;
     that to more causes than one is to be attributed the success
     which I have recorded seems to me likely. There is, I believe,
     some evidence to indicate that telepathy between the sitter and
     the trance personality is one of these contributory causes.
     But that telepathy from the living, even in an extended sense
     of the term, does not furnish a complete explanation of the
     occurrences observed by me, is my present belief."

Instances of clairvoyance in children are remarkably numerous. A few
weeks ago the Rome correspondent of _The Tribune_ reported that a boy of
twelve, at Capua, "was discovered sobbing and crying as if his heart
would break. Asked by his mother the reason of his distress, he said
that he had just seen his father, who was absent in America, at the
point of death, assisted by two Sisters of Charity. Next day a letter
came from America announcing the father's death. Remembering the boy's
vision, his mother tried to keep the tale a secret lest he should be
regarded as 'possessed,' but her efforts were vain, several persons
having been present when he explained the cause of his grief."

The explanation of telepathy would hardly seem to fit the case, since
the father's death must have occurred at least eight or ten days
previous to the vision.

I shall reserve for my next chapter what may be regarded as the classic
illustration of the marvels of clairvoyance--that of Mrs Piper.



Almost alone amongst mediums of note, Mrs Piper of Boston has never
resorted to physical phenomena, her powers being entirely confined to
trance manifestations. No single medium, not even Hélène Smith, has been
subjected to such close and continuous observation by expert scientific
observers. In 1885, this lady's case was first investigated by Professor
William James, of Harvard (brother of the famous novelist). Two years
later Dr Hodgson and other members of the Society for Psychical Research
began their observation of her trance utterances. This course of
observation has continued for twenty years, and nearly all Mrs Piper's
utterances have been placed on record. The late Dr Hodgson was
indefatigable in his labours to test the genuineness of the phenomena.
He spared no pains, and died, I believe, convinced that all means of
accounting for them had been exhausted.

There is so much evidence concerning Mrs Piper, who, two years ago came
to England at the invitation of the Society for Psychical Research, and
was subjected to numerous tests, that I hesitate how best to typify its
purport. Most striking is a letter to Professor James in the Society's
"Proceedings" from a well-known professor, Shaler of Harvard, who
attended a _séance_, with a very open mind indeed, on 25th May 1894, at
Professor James's house in Cambridge (Boston).

Professor Shaler was disposed to favour neither the medium nor even the
telepathic theory. He writes:

     "MY DEAR JAMES,--At the sitting with Mrs Piper on May 25th I
     made the following notes:--

     "As you remember, I came to the meeting with my wife; when Mrs
     Piper entered the trance state Mrs Shaler took her hand. After
     a few irrelevant words, my wife handed Mrs Piper an engraved
     seal, which she knew, though I did not, had belonged to her
     brother, a gentleman from Richmond, Virginia, who died about a
     year ago. At once Mrs Piper began to make statements clearly
     relating to the deceased, and in the course of the following
     hour she showed a somewhat intimate acquaintance with his
     affairs, those of his immediate family, and those of the family
     in Hartford, Conn., with which the Richmond family had had
     close social relations.

     "The statements made by Mrs Piper, in my opinion, entirely
     exclude the hypothesis that they were the results of
     conjectures, directed by the answers made by my wife. I took no
     part in the questioning, but observed very closely all that was

     "On the supposition that the medium had made very careful
     preparation for her sittings in Cambridge, it would have been
     possible for her to have gathered all the information which she
     rendered by means of agents in the two cities, though I must
     confess that it would have been rather difficult to have done
     the work.

     "The only distinctly suspicious features were that certain
     familiar baptismal names were properly given, while those of an
     unusual sort could not be extracted, and also that one or two
     names were given correctly as regards the ceremony of baptism
     or the directory, but utterly wrong from the point of view of
     family usage. Thus the name of a sister-in-law of mine, a
     sister of my wife's, was given as Jane, which is true by the
     record, but in forty years' experience of an intimate sort I
     never knew her to be called Jane--in fact, I did not at first
     recognise who was meant.

     "While I am disposed to hold to the hypothesis that the
     performance is one that is founded on some kind of deceit, I
     must confess that close observation of the medium made on me
     the impression that she was honest. Seeing her under any other
     conditions, I should not hesitate to trust my instinctive sense
     as to the truthfulness of the woman.

     "I venture also to note, though with some hesitancy, the fact
     that the ghost of the ancient Frenchman who never existed, but
     who purports to control Mrs Piper, though he speaks with a
     first-rate stage French accent, does not, so far as I can find,
     make the characteristic blunders in the order of his English
     words which we find in actual life. Whatever the medium is, I
     am convinced that this 'influence' is a preposterous scoundrel.

     "I think I did not put strongly enough the peculiar kind of
     knowledge that the medium seems to have concerning my wife's
     brother's affairs. Certain of the facts, as, for instance,
     those relating to the failure to find his will after his sudden
     death, were very neatly and dramatically rendered. They had the
     real-life quality. So, too, the name of a man who was to have
     married my wife's brother's daughter, but who died a month
     before the time fixed for the wedding, was correctly given,
     both as regards surname and Christian name, though the
     Christian name was not remembered by my wife or me.

     "I cannot determine how probable it is that the medium, knowing
     she was to have a sitting with you in Cambridge, or rather a
     number of them, took pains to prepare for the tests by
     carefully working up the family history of your friends. If she
     had done this for thirty or so persons, I think she could,
     though with some difficulty, have gained just the kind of
     knowledge which she rendered. She would probably have forgotten
     that my wife's brother's given name was Legh, and that of his
     mother Gabriella, while she remembered that of Mary and
     Charles, and also that of a son in Cambridge, who is called
     Waller. So, too, the fact that all trouble on account of the
     missing will was within a fortnight after the death of Mr Page
     cleared away by the action of the children was unknown. The
     deceased is represented as still troubled, though he purported
     to see just what was going on in his family.

     "I have given you a mixture of observations and criticisms; let
     me say that I have no firm mind about the matter. I am
     curiously and yet absolutely uninterested in it, for the reason
     that I don't see how I can exclude the hypothesis of fraud,
     and until that can be excluded no advance can be made.

     "When I took the medium's hand, I had my usual experience with
     them--a few preposterous compliments concerning the clearness
     of my understanding, and nothing more."

Among those who have made a careful study at first hand of Mrs Piper's
clairvoyance besides Dr Hodgson and Professor James are Sir Oliver
Lodge, the late Frederic Myers, Mrs Sidgwick, Walter Leaf, Professor
Romaine Newbold, and Professor J. H. Hyslop, and all of these have
recorded their conviction that the results are not explicable by fraud
or misrepresentation.

Another account which sheds light on what occurs at Mrs Piper's séances
is furnished by Professor Estlin Carpenter, Oxford. It is dated 14th
December 1894:

     "DEAR PROFESSOR JAMES,--I had a sitting yesterday with Mrs
     Piper at your house, and was greatly interested with the
     results obtained, as they were entirely unexpected by me.
     Various persons were named and described whom we could not
     identify (my wife was present); but the names of my father and
     mother were correctly given, with several details which were in
     no way present to my mind at the time. The illness from which
     my father was suffering at the time of his death was
     identified, but not the accident which took him from us. A
     penknife which I happened to have with me was rightly referred
     to its place on the desk in his study, and after considerable
     hesitation Mrs Piper wrote out the word _organ_ when I asked
     concerning other objects in the room. She added spontaneously a
     very remarkable item about which I was in no way thinking--viz.
     that on Sunday afternoons or evenings (her phrase was
     'twilight') we were accustomed to sing there together. She
     stated correctly that my mother was older than my father, but
     died after him; and she connected her death with my return from
     Switzerland in a manner that wholly surprised me, the fact
     being that her last illness began two or three days after my
     arrival home from Lucerne. She gave the initials of my wife's
     name rightly, and addressed words to her from her father,
     whose first name, George, was correct. She also desired me, in
     my father's name, not to be anxious about some family matters
     (which have only recently come to my knowledge), though their
     nature was not specified. Finally, though I should have
     mentioned this first, as it was at the outset of the interview,
     she told me that I was about to start on a voyage, and
     described the vessel in general terms, though she could not
     give its name or tell me the place where it was going. I saw
     enough to convince me that Mrs Piper possesses some very
     extraordinary powers, but I have no theory at all as to their
     nature or mode of exercise."

Another who visited Mrs Piper was the famous French author, M. Paul
Bourget, who was astonished at what he heard. He happened to have on his
watch-chain a small seal which had been given him by a painter, long
since dead, under the saddest circumstances, of whom it was impossible
the medium could ever have heard; yet no sooner had she touched the
object than she related to him the circumstance. One could quote case
after case in the Society's reports, but in all the time Mrs Piper has
been under such rigid scrutiny not one suspicious instance or one
pointing to normal acquisition of facts has been discovered.

Some have boldly hazarded the conjecture that Mrs Piper worked up the
_dossiers_ of her sitters beforehand; inasmuch as she could easily
obtain her facts in many ways; by reading private letters, for instance,
or information derived from other mediums, or by employing private
inquiry agents. These things are said to be habitually done by
professional clairvoyants, by either going themselves or sending an
agent in the capacity of, say, a book canvasser, to some town or
district, and get all the information they can, to return some months
later and give clairvoyant sittings. There is a belief, and it is
possibly correct, that there is an organisation which gives and
exchanges information thus obtained by the members of the Society.
Perhaps this may account for the extraordinary good fortune of some
spiritualists in obtaining "tests." Some sitters who went to Mrs Piper
had visited other mediums previously. But one may be sure that all
precautions were taken to ensure against her knowing the names of the
sitters, so that she could not use any information, even if she had
obtained any, in this way. Those best qualified to judge are convinced
that her knowledge was not gained in this way, partly because of the
precautions used and partly by reason of the information itself.

As has been said, Mrs Piper was under the close scrutiny of Dr Hodgson
for many years, and nothing of the kind has ever come to light. Also Dr
Hodgson arranged beforehand her sittings for more than ten years, never
telling her the names of the sitters, who in almost every instance were
unknown to her by sight, and were without distinction introduced under
the name of "Smith." She made so many correct statements at many
individual sittings, and the proportion of successful sittings is so
high, that it is very difficult to attribute fraud to her. About dates
she appears to be very vague. She prefers to give Christian names to
surnames, and of the former those in common use rather than those out of
the way. As her descriptions of houses or places are generally failures,
she seldom attempts them. Mrs Piper seems to be weakest, indeed, just
where the so-called medium is most successful. Her strongest points are
describing diseases, the character of the sitter, his idiosyncrasies,
and the character of his friends, their sympathies, loves, hates, and
relationships in general, unimportant incidents in their past histories,
and so on. To retain such information in the memory is very difficult,
and to obtain it by general means well-nigh impossible.

Many of the personalities or "controls" of Mrs Piper speak, write, and
act in a way extraordinarily in consonance with those characters as they
were on earth. In other words, her "controls" have well-differentiated
identities. Each has a different manner, a different voice, different
acts, different ways of looking at things; in fact, has a different
character. For example, there is the spirit of G. P., a young journalist
and author who died suddenly in February 1892. A few weeks later his
spirit possessed Mrs Piper's organism, and although he was unknown to
Mrs Piper in life, yet for years since then he has carried on numerous
prolonged conversations with his friends, including Dr Hodgson, and
supplied numerous proofs of his knowledge of the concerns of the
deceased G. P. G. P.'s personal effects, MSS., etc., are referred to, as
well as private conversations of the past, and, moreover, he suddenly
recognises amongst those attending Mrs Piper's _séances_ those whom he
knew during life. Dr Hodgson was unable to find any instance when such
recognition has been incorrectly given. But G. P. is only one of several
trance personations speaking through Mrs Piper's organism and recognised
by friends.

After a contemplation of Mrs Piper's trance utterances alone we are
inevitably faced by a choice of three conclusions: either (1) fraud (and
fraud I hold here to be absolutely inadmissible); or (2) the possession
of some supernormal power of apprehension; or (3) communication with
the spirits of deceased persons.

Dr Hodgson was driven by sheer force of logic to accept the third of
these hypotheses. Others who have studied the phenomena have followed.
Dr J. H. Hyslop has published a record of the sittings held with Mrs
Piper in 1898 and 1899. His report contains the verbatim record of
seventeen sittings, and no pains have been spared to make the record
complete. It has exhaustive commentaries and accounts of experiments
intended to elucidate the supposed difficulties of trance communication.
Professor Hyslop finally arrives at the conclusion, after an extensive
investigation, during which no item of the evidence has failed to be
weighed and no possible source of error would seem to have escaped
consideration, that spirit communication is the only explanation which
fits all the facts, and he altogether rejects telepathy as being

       *       *       *       *       *

I hope that those who have so far followed me in this brief inquiry into
the mysteries of occult phenomena will recognise the impartiality with
which I have endeavoured to conduct it. I said in the beginning that I
set out with a light heart as well as an open mind. I had no idea of the
extent of the territory, I knew little of its voluminous literature, of
the extraordinary ramifications of occultism, of the labours of the many
learned men who have spent their whole lives in seeking to separate fact
from superstition. My mind was light because, frankly, I believed--with
a sort of inherent, temperamental belief--that, however much the
testimony concerning coincident dreams, hallucinations, mediumistic
manifestations, materialisation, and clairvoyance might mystify, it was
all capable of normal explanation--there was nothing supernatural about
it. And so throughout the inquiry I sought to show how, chiefly,
telepathy was a working hypothesis in most of the manifestations, while
for the physical ones, such as table rapping, levitations, and the rest,
an unknown extension of human muscular power might possibly exist to
solve the mystery. So far I strode forward with some confidence. But
now the time has come when my confidence deserts me. Telepathy breaks
down. It is a key which by no amount of wriggling will turn the lock.
"It is not," as one leading inquirer has said, "that telepathy is
insufficient: it is superfluous." If the existence of disembodied
spirits is proved, then all the other phenomena are also proved.

If the case of Mrs Piper--under rigid surveillance for years--has
convinced some of the profoundest intellects of the day--men who began
by being sceptical--that disembodied spirits are responsible for her
utterances, it would certainly tend to convince me. But I carefully
guarded myself from conviction until I had read the evidence--even to a
_résumé_ of this medium's utterances last year in London under the
auspices of the Society for Psychical Research--and I assert with
confidence that no metaphysical theory has ever been formulated that
will account for these manifestations save one--the survival of the
human personality after death. Once Mrs Piper is admitted as genuine,
then it follows that the spiritistic manifestations which have puzzled
mankind, not merely for generations or during the modern cult of
spiritism, but ever since primitive times, become, as it were,

"It does seem to me," said Mr Balfour, in his famous Society for
Psychical Research address, "that there is at least strong ground for
supposing that outside the world, as we have, from the point of science,
been in the habit of conceiving it, there does lie a region, not open
indeed to experimental observation in the same way as the more familiar
regions of the material world are open to it, but still with regard to
which some experimental information may be laboriously gleaned; and even
if we cannot entertain any confident hope of discovering what laws these
half-seen phenomena obey, at all events it will be some gain to have
shown, not as a matter of speculation or conjecture, but as a matter of
ascertained fact, that there are things in heaven and earth not hitherto
dreamed of in our scientific philosophy."


_And so our little tour into the occult is ended and we return into the
glare of common things--things which we know and can touch and find a
practical use for. If only a little of this light we hold so cheap were
to illumine the tenebrous fastnesses we have just left, then, perhaps
we, in our dull worldly way, might be able to assimilate the mystic to
the common, the unseen to the seen, the unknown to the known. But we are
not vouchsafed this white light; yet, even in the shadows to which our
eyes have grown accustomed, we have heard enough to make us wonder and
maybe make us doubtful when some voice, even such a voice as Matthew
Arnold's, cries out to us: "Miracles are touched by Ithuriel's
spear"--"Miracles do not happen."_

_True, miracles do not happen: but there are events of frequent
occurrence in this age, as in all ages of which we have a record, which
are miraculous in the sense of their being supernormal--for which
science offers no consistent explanation. Is not hypnotism a miracle? Is
not telepathy a miracle? Is not the divining rod a miracle? Would Sir
William Ramsay or Sir James Crichton-Browne throw these manifestations
into the limbo of humbug and charlatanism? And supposing they, and such
as they, continue incredulous--is not incredulity a fixed quantity in
any society? Were men ever unanimous in their impressions--in their
prepossessions, in the chromatic quality with which they steep every
surrounding fact before they allow their critical faculties to be
focussed upon it?_

_It may be objected by the reader that I who have led him on this little
tour into the wilderness of the occult have myself seen no ghosts. Where
are my own experiences? Where the relation of my own personal contact
with hypnotists, telepathists, mediums, mysteries? Would not that have
been of interest? It may be so: if the phenomena appertaining to those
in their best and most convincing quality were always to appear on a
casual summons and if I were confided in by the public at large as a
sane, unprejudiced witness._

_Granted that I have seen no ghosts, I have at least done this: I have
met the men--better men--who have. That at the beginning was the real
purpose of my brief itinerary. I designed less a tour into the occult
itself than an examination of witnesses for the occult whom I met on
the literary bypaths of occultism. This I hope I have done, not
satisfactorily--very hurriedly--yet honestly, and wanting like a
returned traveller to tell folks more ignorant than myself of what I had
heard of wonders which each man must, in the last resort, see for
himself and meditate upon for himself._

_The blind leading the blind--yea--but--he who hath ears let him hear!_

_One word more. I should like to see a census of all the minds which
embrace a belief in the truth of supernormal phenomena. It would
astonish the sceptic. It would reveal to him that the attitude of
society at large towards spiritualism and the other world is not the
attitude of any but a fraction of the component parts of society--not
even the evenly balanced attitude of Huxley towards God Almighty. We
should see something quite different; something even distinct and apart
from religion. We should see men, often without any religion at all
properly speaking, breaking out into the ejaculation of Hamlet to
Horatio and refusing to believe that certain occurrences in their
experience are to be explained away by chance or delusion. And even in
religious men the conviction seems to me secular rather than arising
from orthodox faith._

_"Far be it from me," wrote Emerson, "the impatience which cannot brook
the supernatural, the vast: far be it from me the lust of explaining
away all which appeals to the imagination and the great presentiments
which haunt us. Willingly I, too, say Hail! to the unknown artful powers
which transcend the ken of the understanding." Amen!_

_Only yesterday I picked up a book, a sort of literary autobiography, by
the author of "Sherlock Holmes," to find the following passage:--_

_"I do not think the hypothesis of coincidence can cover the facts. It
is one of several incidents in my life which have convinced me of
spiritual interposition--of the promptings of some beneficent force
outside ourselves which tries to help us where it can."_

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