Visions Of The Dead
( Originally Published 1918 )
AFTER considering these out-of-the-body experiences, and assuming for the moment that they represent something real, it is natural to suppose that death is the same thing, save that the withdrawal becomes permanent. Thus we no longer have the testimony of the one spiritual body, or astral vehicle, or whatever we like to call it, as the returning experient saw his own in the first-hand cases?
Such visions are fairly common. I will quote a few, first discussing shortly the question of terminology.
There is no completely satisfactory word for the kind of phenomena which we now come who has had the experience. He does not return to the body to tell the tale. But may it not be that someone left on this side, happening to have the "sixth sense" or whatever i is that is required, may see the departed spirit, or its to. "Visions" will do for some of them, but they are not limited to things seen; sometimes they are things heard. "Sensory Automatisms" prejudges the question, involving the assumption that the phenomena are self-produced. "Hallucination" is almost equally objectionable, for to most people it implies subjectivity. Some attempt has been made to remove this impression, and, as used by some S.P.R. workers, it is non-committal; but Gurney's definition supports the popular view, for he calls a hallucination a "percept which lacks, but which can only by distinct reflection be recognized as lacking, the objective basis which it suggests." But that is just the point. Some hallucinations, though lacking a basis material enough to impress other people's senses, do undoubtedly point to an objective basis of some sort, as Myers himself thought. They are not entirely subjective.
Yet it is not always possible to prove objectivity. For instance, consider the following
"My dear wife died on September 1st last, and my little boy, aged six years, often talks to me about seeing his dead mother, and tells me she often sleeps with him; and he also talks about her coming to his bedroom to see him. He is, I may say, a most level-headed little fellow, and has never been frightened with tales about ghosts or other things, and is also a most truthful boy. His dead mother was a most earnest Christian, and she brought her little boy up to believe in God the Father Almighty, the Eternal Lord, and yet he talks of these things, but only as if he is pleased to see his dear mother. I also have a constant feeling that there is something that she wants me to know, to tell me." W. YATES.
We cannot altogether dismiss the idea that the child's experiences may have been wholly due to a vivid imagination stimulated by his natural affection, particularly in view of their frequency. On the other hand, they may have had an "objective" basis, as the child thought. A similar story is related of Charlotte Bronte when a child of five.
"One day in the autumn or winter succeeding Mrs. Bronte's death, Charlotte came to her nurse, wild and white with the excitement of having seen `a fairy' standing by baby Anne's cradle. When the two ran back to the nursery, Charlotte flying on ahead, treading softly not to frighten the beautiful visitant away, no one was there besides the baby sleeping sweetly in the depths of her forenoon nap. Charlotte stood transfixed, her eyes wandered incredulously around the room.
" `But she was here just now!' she insisted. `I really and truly did see her!' And no argument or coaxing could shake her from the belief."
It seems very likely that the "fairy" was the baby's mother, still watching over her child, and momentarily visible to Charlotte. In view of what we now know about apparitions which are really evidential, we must not dismiss off hand such experiences as this, though non-evidential in the strict sense.
And the percipient is not always a child. In the following case it was an alert business man. The happiness of the released spirit is noteworthy, confirming the feelings of those who have quitted the body temporarily in illness, like Mr. Huntley, whose experiences have been quoted, and Captain Burton, whose experience will be quoted later (pp. 155-62). As to subjective hallucination—I cannot dismiss the incident offhand as subjective. In fact, I am not yet convinced that anything is subjective—i.e., wholly unconnected with, and independent of, anything outside the experient's own mind. If anything like what we know as causation extends throughout the mental as well as the physical plane, I think some cause, beyond material brain changes—dubious and hypothetical, but no doubt probable—must be allowed to be likely. In this following case I see no good reason for denying that the surviving spirit of the dead woman was the cause of the vision. The narrator is a good witness, and is editor of an American newspaper.
"The most surprising, solemn, and comforting event of my life was the seeing of the spirit of my dead wife.
"Something over four years ago (in 1907), at eleven o'clock of a bright, clear forenoon in St. Luke's Hospital in El Paso, Texas, my loved wife died. I was at her bedside when she passed away. I was bending over her at the time. Almost instantly, before I had hardly become erect, I felt a most peculiar' sensation. It is impossible to describe the sensation. It seemed as if some powerful penetrating rays were passing, with a rapid but steady movement not like a shock or flash, through my head and body, as far down as the lower part of the chest. There was no sensation of pain, heat, or cold.
"As this feeling came upon me I seemed to see in a mist like a white fog shutting out the things I would naturally see. This fog rolled away on all sides from the figure and face of what I saw. It was my wife, or at least her spirit. I saw the head, face, and part-way down the figure.
"You know when you see anything. I saw this spirit just as clearly, plainly, distinctly, as I could see you if you were to come into this room as I write now, and stand about eight feet from me. There was no mistake about it.
"It was different light from ordinary day-light. It was much like seeing a person in an exceedingly bright, powerful white light made by some burning gas.
"The figure was erect or standing, apparently about eight feet or a little less away. My whole attention was concentrated upon what I saw; and now, after four years, I can recall in memory the face and expression then, better than I can recall the face and expression of my wife when she was alive.
"The face of the spirit was more beautiful and glorious than anything I have ever seen on earth. Relief (for I know she must have dreaded death), joy, and victory were in the flashing eyes and wonderful smile. It was indeed the face of an angel. It was beyond description.
"The first thing I noted was the eyes, which were turning away from looking at me to look at her own form lying upon the bed. Why I was not to look into those joyous eyes I know not. She had a peculiar white streak in her black hair, and this I saw plainly in the spirit. I saw her teeth as she smiled looking down upon her form on the bed.
"There was one great difference in the face of the spirit, or rather, two differences between the face of the spirit and her face when alive. The spirit looked younger by twenty years. Instead of the poor, frail, emaciated face, there was the face of one in health, in the prime of life, and I distinctly saw a rosy colour in the cheeks. The whole form and face was shining, not with the steady light of a lamp, but with streams of light that seemed to radiate from the spirit, blurring the outlines slightly and then restoring them to perfect clearness and shape. I once looked into a tube in which there was some radium—so I was told —and could see what I called throbs of light in the tube. Well, as I thought afterwards about seeing the spirit, it was as if I had seen it by throbs of light which made it seem as if the light streamed in every direction from the face and figure.
"The other difference I noted, besides the look of health and youth, was the greatly quickened intelligence of the spirit. The flash of the eyes was so bright, the smile and expression so vivid, that they made me feel like a slow, inferior being.
"The image did not last long—only a few seconds—but long enough for me to note with perfect clearness the things I have described. Then the being or spirit seemed to vanish as a cloud of smoke from my cigar vanishes or grows thin and invisible in the air. There was some-thing horrible in this as the image grew thin and indistinct ; it seemed like a floating mist, with hollows where the eyes were. It was like a ghost as that is often described.
"There is one more thing to tell you, though I did not think of it at the time. When my wife died I was sitting by her side, in a chair near the bed. I was looking at her face, which was nearly in front of me, but a little to the right and, of course, a little lower—say two feet—than my face. Well, I did not turn my eyes or face from that direction as I sat up more erect in my chair. Then, without turning my head or looking up, I saw the spirit very much to the right and somewhat above me, as much so as a person would be who stood on the bed at near the feet of the lifeless form. So I did not see the spirit by a light that came through the eyes. Still I saw it, and saw it plainly.
"As the sensation or influence came upon me I nearly lost my balance or power of keeping erect; but after it passed away I felt no ill effects. There came a wonderful calmness upon me.
"Of course I did not fully realize and comprehend all these things at the time. It was some time afterwards that I realized that I did not see the spirit with my eyes.
"Here is what I most firmly believe. Light is an impression made upon the brain, usually by rays of light ; but that in this case of my seeing a spirit the brain received an impression, the same as sight, and that this was done by the passing the wall of the skull of concentrated rays of some sort; and that by these rays I really saw something that existed, but which was invisible when only the ordinary rays of light were used.
"I am not a Spiritualist. I am a plain business man, successful in a small way. However, I believe in God and His Son Jesus Christ. I read the Bible and believe in prayer.
"One thing more : there were several others in the room besides myself, but none of them saw the spirit. They were all at the foot of the bed, while. I was at the side, so that rays coming from the spirit would not pass through them."
The narrator regards his vision—quite reasonably, in my opinion—as a deliberate and purposed act on the part of the released spirit. Certainly it had a helpful consolatory effect. In fact, the narrator says, elsewhere, that he was so passionately devoted to his wife that he thinks he would have lost his reason at her death if he had not seen her spirit "in such joy." The sceptic may say it was a subjective hallucination. Admittedly nothing can be proved either way. But, to my mind, the sub-j ective hallucination theory seems the most unsupported of guesses—indeed, is little more than a collection of imposing polysyllables—while, on the other hand, there is sense and reason in the spiritistic interpretation. The mechanism of it —the how of it, ether waves or what not—remains obscure. But so it does on any theory. We hope to learn something of the process in due time, when we have amassed more facts.
The next case is similar to the foregoing, with the addition of a "guardian angel"—perhaps some pre-deceased relative, or a spirit specially occupied in looking after children on that side.
[From first letter.]
"I am sending you the date when my daughter Marjorie passed away. I have seen her since she passed from the flesh, and have spoken to my parents of it, but to no one else, as I am very reticent on these subjects unless the person is interested; but something urges me to write to you, and if you care for me to describe what I have actually seen I will do so."
[From second letter.]
"Strange to say, there were two Marjories in the same class at Sunday school—mine being one of them—who died the same week with the same complaint, diphtheria. The night following the day she was buried—it would be about twelve o'clock—I was wide awake and casually looking up at the ceiling of the bedroom, and all at once there came to my notice a light almost like a star, and it gradually expanded into a beautiful girl-form shrouded in a burning glow. I sat upright in bed, intent on watching; then came another light and opened out in exactly the same way, and they stood, or rather hovered, side by side. And to the back of them was the outline of a Mother-Angel with wings, as though in charge of them. I particularly noticed that neither of the girl-forms had any wings at all, but they were full of life. Then I began to wonder which was Marjorie; but I had no sooner had the thought than one of the forms gradually folded up, as it were, and disappeared; and on looking round to my Sadie, whom I was sleeping with, I saw the same thing appear right on a level with her face—the spirit of Marjorie, who had moved from ceiling to bedside to assure me it was her, and that she had come to see her little sister whom she loved. It struck me as the most wonderful thing that she knew exactly what I was thinking of and was determined to force herself to my notice by hovering round in different positions... . I watched her for fully an hour, and I am fully convinced that she is a Light in Heaven, and that this was nothing short of a vision to show me what child-life really was after it leaves this world; and, although I am only a bread-winner, I would rather own this secret than I would possess all the wealth of England, for it shows me how very temporary everything is in this flesh condition, and how very real everything is in the Spirit world, although not visible to the ordinary eye. If only that little scene on the wall could have been painted, it would have put away any possible doubt for thousands, of Life after Death. Possibly even this little account of a true experience will be a guide to someone in these dark days. I hope it may be."
-(Mrs.) A, HOLDEN.
In the next case—third experience—the withdrawal of the "spiritual body" seems to have been perceived.
"On three occasions I have had curious experiences. First, six weeks after her death I became conscious of my sister-in-law, standing in bright sunshine, rather taller than in life. She said, or transmitted, for I cannot imagine or recollect that I heard her voice : `The other life is very different from what you think.' I was not afraid, and I spoke to no one about it. I had not loved her particularly, and I had not thought about the other life.
"On the next occasion I went to see an old friend who had lost his wife—a cousin of my husband's—again not a special friend. As I left him at his gate I was conscious of a wonderful companionship of great warmth, which went with me to the turn of the road and then ceased. But I said nothing; but, believe me, it was much more than seeing.
"The third experience, again different, was at the death of my only brother. His wife tended him, so I sat with my attention riveted on him for long hours except when his wife was forced to stand and move, when I held his hand. I saw then something like a film, or a `bellying sail,' leaving his frame and rising, and clearing as it rose till I could see it no. more. When I sat between him and the window I saw it—when I sat with him between me and the window I could not see it. These experiences were divided by years, and I did not seek them ; in two my emotions were not concerned. An old man, a clergyman, to whom I told my strange sight (at my brother's death) some years after, and who is experienced in some of the older wisdom which is now misdoubted, told me that I had seen the withdrawal of the astral body."
G. M. VERNON.
The following case bears out rather strikingly the evidence which I have had through sensitives regarding the appearance of spirits. Ordinary people not long dead seem usually to appeared dressed pretty nearly as in their earthly days ; but more advanced and longer-dead beings are dressed in robes "white and glistering," as in the description of the Trans-figuration. The experient in this next case does not seem to have been influenced by orthodox notions, for—as was natural in a freethinker—she thought only of graveclothes!
"Some time ago I undertook duties that taxed me to the uttermost. Later, the injuries of an accident made it physically impossible for me to do them. Not knowing at that time how grave these injuries were, I day by day attempted the impossible. One night my pain was so great I could not rest in any position, so spent it kneeling on the bed, my head resting on a pile of cushions. Near dawn I fell asleep, but my own moaning soon awakened me; I heard myself saying in a kind of wail, `I cannot lift it—I cannot lift it!' (The short sleep had been a nightmare dream of lifting heavy weights from the floor—and to lift anything caused me the greatest pain.)
"As soon as I heard my own cry I became wide awake, and, somehow, I at once knew I was not alone ; looking to the door, I saw my mother quite plainly. My own feeling was delight; at once I cried, `Is that you, Mumsie?' She was looking at me with an indescribable look of tenderness and compassion. She raised her hand, and in a voice of pity, but of firmness and command, she said (pointing, as it were, to the weights of my dream), `Put them down and come away.' Meantime I felt astonished, and looked at her more carefully. It was then I noticed she seemed to be fading away, but before going she repeated still more commandingly, `Come away.'
"In a moment all my feeling of that duty and responsibility fell from me, and never returned; I felt my work there was done now that my mother had come from her grave to put an end to my agony of suffering. Having put my hand to a plough it is not my custom to look back, and I know I should otherwise have struggled on until in a short time I died, as my doctor can tell you I would have done.
"I have often dreamt of my mother, but in the dreams she wears her ordinary garments, and when I wake I know it was a dream ; but when I see her when I am wide awake she always seems in long white garments—perhaps her grave clothes, they are very white—and there is always a light around her, and I always know I am wide awake. This is the most striking of these kind of appearances, though there have been others less vivid.
"In the matter of telepathy, that happens so often that I do not speak of it. People think one strange if one says much of these things. And it is strange they happened to me, for I would not believe in them until the absolute truth of them has at last forced me to believe there is something more than nature and materialism—the supernatural ; and that admission is the beginning of all religions. The greater part of my life I have been an agnostic, for in my small way I could not accept as truth what I had not realized to be the truth ; but now my belief in God could not be shaken. Once one has proof of the supernormal, as I have had, all becomes easy.
"It is strange that such experiences should happen to me, for during my life I have liberally been sprinkled with such names as `freethinker,' `agnostic,' `strong-minded,' `too practical,' and the like. I do not know that they were deserved, I being only an ordinary simple person with a desire to find truth; but that is difficult when one's knowledge and opportunities for gaining it are limited."
In the next case a spirit was visible to two percipients, which is unusual. Unfortunately, the second one is dead, and we have no first-hand account of him. It will be noted that the experiences did not fit in with Mrs. Irvine's own ideas, which were orthodox. The modern evidence supports the notion of Paradise as a pleasant intermediate state—where, e.g., the repentant thief would go at once after death (Luke xxiii. 43) —and not as the ultimate heaven of unalloyed bliss, for which few, if any, mortals are fitted at the end of their earthly sojourn.
"Some years ago I was very seriously ill. It was not thought possible that I could live; but suffice it to say that I had not the slightest fear of death. This is precisely what occurred. My husband was sitting by the bedside, and quite suddenly I heard my father's footsteps coming through the hall. They came through the hall, then on each step of the stair, and along the landing, and then I saw him go and stand at the foot of my bed with both hands folded, leaning on the bedrail. It was not a dream, nor was I in the least delirious. But he stood there, looking so radiantly happy. I looked at him and then at my husband. There was no speech at all between us, but we all understood each other quite clearly. It was mental communication.
"My husband said to me in surprise, `Well, that is your father, although you told me you had buried him.' I said, `We did bury him, in Rotterdam. I saw him put into the ground.'
"Then my father, with the most radiant smile, said, `Oh, there is no death beyond the grave.'
`I answered in a flash, `Isn't there?' He said, `No; merely a stepping over the border. And it is so beautiful beyond.'
"But I never had any doubt about it. Still, it was a great joy for me to know that he was so supremely happy. And he repeated, `Oh, it is so beautiful beyond.' And then he disappeared. But he seemed to convey the idea that no words could express—the joy and the bliss.
"The expression on his dear face was sufficient for me to know that. For I worshipped my precious father.
"He had had a terribly heavy cross to bear all his life here, and he did not deserve it. So good a man, so true, so upright, so cultured and refined.
"I always felt it an honour to be the daughter of so noble a man.
"I got better gradually, and I was sorry to find that I had to remain in this world.
"But I am absolutely convinced that his dear soul lives. I am for ever longing to go to him; so that death has no terrors for me.
"Later, during a much more severe illness, in the same year that Queen Victoria died, I saw also my father and my sister. She died two years after my father. His death took place in 1896.
"During this next terrible illness I saw them both sitting together at a small table, and it was spread with a spotless white cloth. They were not speaking, but looked perfectly happy and so contented. I put my face between the two and said, `What are you waiting for?'
"My sister looked up with the sweetest smile, and said, `We are waiting for you.' I said, `Are you happy here?' She looked up again and said, `Oh, so happy!"
"I then said to her, `Would you not like to come back?' And the joy on her face was quite overcast as she said, with quite a shudder, I could never come back.' I said, `Couldn't you?' She said, `No! Never come back!' I said, "Not for Joe's sake? Poor Joe, he is so miser-able.' It was her husband I had referred to. And she seemed to be quite a long time in realizing whom I was referring to. When she grasped it she gave such a loud groan, and looked at me with such reproachful eyes, which said so plainly, `Why did you come and disturb me here?'
"That was all I ever saw in the way of departed spirits. I never craved to see them. I never prayed to see them. I believe if I had been told I should see them I would have been terrified. One thing that struck me forcibly was that they had no idea of time. They didn't know whether they had been there a day, or a year, or a thousand years. And that brings the words of the Bible to my mind—that `a thou-sand years are as a day in His sight.'
"But what perplexes me is, they being in heaven (for to my mind they are; and according to the old orthodox faith in which I was born and reared), I believe they are at perfect rest and peace in that promised land ; still, that being so, how then could my sister be made unhappy there—if only for one brief moment? She seemed to have quite forgotten her husband. He was passionately fond of her, and could not have been more kind or tender to-wards her.
"Why, then, did she groan at the remembrance of his loneliness? Through the space of all those years since 1901, I can hear that groan now whenever I think about it.
"We are told that there shall be no sorrow there and that God shall wipe away all tears.
And we sing in our hymns : `Oh, what the joy and the glory must be, Those endless Sabbaths, the blessed ones see!'
"Why, then, can they be made to sorrow?
"Yet one other experience, if I do not tire you too much with the length of these pages.
"When a child of fifteen years of age I was also very, very ill, and on the occasion then I saw the most delightful Vision. Where my spirit was I cannot say, but I do think I have been permitted to draw aside the curtain and to peep into Paradise. Possibly the difference lay in my age, being then a child. But it was the most delightful scene. There were numbers of children, and some were weaving garlands of flowers, some were gathering flowers, and some were playing together. But what I heard then has never left me—the music, oh, the music! I shall never, never forget.
"No one can ever understand, perhaps, how sorry I was to recover. My father took me to the Continent as soon as I was able to travel, and he asked me to tell our relatives there all about it. I did so, and to many more besides. I would gladly die to-morrow if I could, if only to be able to hear what I heard then and to see also what I saw then. I was enchanted with the Land beyond the grave.
"After the Titanic went down, and the news came through, I distinctly heard a message (I suppose from another world, for I do not know where else it could come from; it seemed to be whispered in the air). It was, `There's something worse to follow.'
"And last February, on the 22nd, quite early in the morning, I awoke suddenly by hearing my name (Christian name) called so loudly—and then a second time—and even a third time—so loudly was it called that I sat straight up in bed and thought it was someone calling me from the road. Then, with my eyes wide open, I saw the most fearful blaze of fire; the whole city was surrounded with flames. It was a horrible spectacle. It really terrified me, and had the most haunting effect on me for fully fourteen days.
"A few days later a friend came to see me, but, she being of a highly nervous temperament, I never speak of such things to her. She was exceedingly pale and agitated, and asked if she could speak to me alone. I said, `Surely you can.' Then she asked, `Would I not laugh at her or think her foolish?' I assured her that I never laughed at sincerity. She then told me the selfsame thing—that she had seen miles and miles of flame and fire; and she was unspeakably alarmed.
"Of course, I am convinced that sooner or later this will occur. But whether it will be this city or not I cannot say.
"I should be glad to know whether anyone else has had similar experiences. Last October I also became aware that an elderly lady friend of mine was in great trouble, so much so that she was on the verge of losing her reason. The knowledge came to me like a flash, and I set off at once on my bicycle to go and see her, for she has always said I could comfort her when nobody else could. When I arrived I told her, and also her daughters, what I had come for. and why I had come, and she replied, `Oh, Mrs. Irvine, it's perfectly true.' Then she regarded me very gravely and said, `I do really think you are uncanny.'
"And this is what most people tell me. Therefore I am very reticent regarding these things. I have spoken to one or two clergymen, and others connected with the City Mission, and asked if they could tell why I should be so favoured, if favour it could be called. And one replied: `We all know the King, but the King does not know us. Those of his friends and servants who live daily with him in and about his Palace are naturally familiar with his ways. Is that not so?' I said, `Yes.'
"Then he looked at me and said: `Have you got your answer?'
"It puzzled me just at first to know what he meant, then I grasped it.
"As I have already stated in my previous letter, from the earliest days of my child-hood I have drifted involuntarily to the things Eternal, and things temporal have no weight with me.
"My hand aches with writing, and I fear you will be tired with reading."
M. E. IRVINE.
The foregoing experiences are not evidential in the strict sense, a normal explanation being at least possible. In the next case there is a certain evidentiality, for the percipient did not know of the death of the person who appeared; and, even if she could have inferred it, the detail about the thumb could not have been known. The weakness of the narrative is in its remoteness, which leads us to wonder whether memories are reliable enough to have transmitted it to us correctly. But it was clearly a striking experience, and one not likely to have been much altered as to its main feature, which is the evidentially important one.
`I have been reading Sir Oliver Lodge's book, `The Survival of Man,' and was particularly interested in Mrs. Severn's experience of communicated sensation, related in Chap-ter V., because of an experience that my aunt —long since dead—had when she was a girl. I heard the story more than once, and am quite sure of the details. My aunt was ailing and obliged to keep to her bed. Her great friend, Elizabeth S., was at the same time lying seriously ill a mile or two away. One day my aunt surprised her sisters by running downstairs in her nightdress. 'Oh!' she exclaimed, `Elizabeth S. is dead. I have seen her. She came to my bedside and she has bitten my thumb.' Very soon a messenger arrived to say that Elizabeth had died, and the time coincided with my aunt's vision. Later, they learned that the dying girl had bitten her own thumb. This must have happened seventy or eighty years ago. I have the greatest respect for my aunt, who was a saintly and very intelligent woman, and had, moreover, a sceptical turn of mind, but I never quite accepted the story as a real experience. Mrs. Severn's similar story makes me think it may have been very real.
"I think that possibly this may be interesting to you in your investigations."
(Mrs.) A. WOOD.
This does not quite fulfil the requirements of Dr. Samuel Johnson in a very sensible pas-sage on the subject, but it comes near, for the vision did convey knowledge not normally possessed or naturally inferable. This is what Johnson said:
"I make a distinction between what a man may experience by the mere strength of his imagination and what imagination cannot possibly produce. Thus, suppose I should think I saw a form and heard a voice cry, `Johnson, you are a very wicked fellow, and unless you repent you will certainly be punished' ; my own unworthiness is so deeply impressed upon my mind that I might imagine I thus saw and heard, and therefore I should not believe that an external communication had been made to me. But if a form should appear and a voice should tell me that a particular man had died at a particular place and a particular hour, a fact which I had no apprehension of, nor any means of knowing, and this fact, with all its circumstances, should afterwards be unquestionably proved, I should, in that case, be persuaded that I had supernatural intelligence. imparted to me."
The next case does very nearly come up to Dr. Johnson's standard.
"I may say first that I am an active man of business, well over sixty; that I have never even attended a spiritualist seance; but that when I was younger I was sufficiently interested in the literature of psychic phenomena to accept as proved that personality can express itself and present itself by means which are out-side what we have been taught to regard as physical laws, and therefore presumably exists (perhaps not universally, but only under special development) independently of corporeal existence. On the other hand, I have a fairly keen perception as to the value of evidence, and amongst friends who have been attracted by professional spiritualists I have found frequently a great readiness for self-deception, and have been convinced that their `mediums' are often charlatans whose powers are based upon a mixture of hypnotic suggestion, thought-reading, and craftiness. My. attitude towards psychic phenomena is one of reservation. I do not doubt that unidentified and exceptional forces exist, but I have a full life and have been quite content to await the results of scientific investigation. Such things do not occupy my mind. My only personal approach to them is that throughout my life I have been conscious that I have with many people an intuitive and rapid perception of what is in their thoughts, or what they feel, whether they are in the house or in a given room. The perception is not referable to any of the ordinary senses. I think dogs do the same thing in their degree. The senses known to us do not exhaust the channels of perception and communication.
"Now for the facts which I venture to submit for your consideration.
"I have known for nearly forty years a gentleman named Henry Vint, the head of an important firm having offices in Lombard Street.
We have always been very cordial friends, but as we grew older we were both of us less in the City and our lives diverged some-what, so that it may be eighteen months since we last met. In June last I met his partner in the street, and, knowing that one of Vint's sons had been wounded, I stopped to ask for news. He told me that Mr. Vint had taken his son down to the seaside. Next month I went to my house in Devonshire for ten weeks, and Vint's name was never mentioned there, so I had no kind of communication about him from any source from June onwards.
"On September 13th, two days after I had returned, I had been at a Board meeting in the City, and was hurrying down Lombard Street at 1.55 to another. My thoughts were entirely occupied with business, when I saw Mr. Vint approaching me a few paces off, quite as usual, coming from his office. I went forward to shake hands, but—he was not there! I was baffled for a moment, then instantaneously there came very clearly before my eyes (I can see it still) a picture of him, quite cut off from our surroundings, at a little distance, and resting on nothing. He appeared as a very sick and suffering man with flushed face. I was filled with a sense of deep sympathy and sorrow for him, and felt so uneasy that I resolved to inquire after him. Next morning I learnt that he had been attacked with meningitis on the night of the 12th, or rather early morning on the 13th, for the attack began after midnight, and had died three or four hours before my vision. He had visited his office for the last time on the 11th, was very unwell, and walked with his partner's help along the same street where I saw him, supernormally, forty-eight hours later, when he was dead. I wrote down my account the day after my vision.
"The curious points seen : (1) The double appearance, first as an ordinary man among others in the street—the street which had been the centre of his thoughts for forty years—and next as a sick and very suffering man in a `vision' detached from all surroundings and a little way off, so as to be somewhat under life size; a vision which I carried with me as I continued to walk, until I took my seat at the Board. (2) Although Mr. Vint had died three or four hours before, I did not see him as a dead man, but as a suffering one, and the vision did not make me think he was dead, but only that he was in trouble, and I felt exceedingly sorry for him; I speculated whether some bad news of his sons at the front had crushed him and brought on some illness. (3) Although we had been friends, and he was a particularly kind and sympathetic man, there was no special relation between us to account for my experience.
"It appears to me that the hypothesis which best corresponds to the facts is (1) that V.'s `persona' did return to the familiar environment after his death—his business life had concentrated on that street ; (2) that it happened to me to come into local contact with the psychic influence created, and that amongst all others in the street I was the only one at the moment between whom and Mr. Vint there was enough friendship and sympathy to bring about perception of his presence and response as would have occurred in life; (3) that the `persona' was still dominated by the great pain suffered a few hours before, and he desired that I should upderstand and feel for him ; (4) that fifty yards away the clerks in his office knew that he was dead, and probably the news was known to others in the City also, consequently telepathy from some of them would have been reasonable if my impression had been of his death, but, this not being so—for I had no thought that it meant death until I heard next morning—the telepathic theory seems unlikely. In fact, the cause of his death was not known that day, being revealed only by a post mortem, so the pain and flushed face couldy hardly be telepathic from anyone in the City.
"The first impression showed V. just as I usually saw him, in City clothes, walking as he usually did; the second was quite different, clearer and more persistent, but in a different plane—a vision of something out of reach, and it was a vision of what had passed some hours before, at his house in another part of London four miles away, during the night of acute suffering only alleviated by morphia.
"As to my own frame of mind, I was walking smartly, in an abstracted mood, bent on business, when my mind was suddenly switched off and was for the time entirely occupied by these impressions, though I know of no reason or suggestion that could account for them.
"Moreover, though I totally reject materialistic conceptions of Existence, my feelings and instincts, at the time and since, forbid me to believe either (1) that the whole experience was a pure coincidence, or (2) that it was supernatural. On the contrary, the occurrence was as matter-of-fact as if I had found a friend taken ill in the street."
Mr. Grey's careful account and thoughtful comments leave little that need be said. While mostly agreeing with his theory as to explanation, I should, however, say that in my view Mr. Vint's appearance was probably not in any way an asking for sympathy, nor, of course, was the manner of his appearance any indication that he was still suffering. Bodily suffering ceases when the bodily functions cease. On the other hand, I believe, on other evidence, that for some little time after death the spirit remains to some extent in similar conditions, and is likely to manifest them if perceived by a psychic sensitive. For some time after death Mr. Vint, though no longer suffering bodily, would think of himself as he had been when going through those stressful hours, and Mr. Grey saw his thought of himself, so to speak. Probably this thought fluctuated; he would sometimes think of himself as he was before his short illness, and Mr. Grey's momentary vision of him thus was a perception of that thought.
As to whether he meant to show himself to his old friend, of course we cannot say. I should doubt it, or at least I should say that it is not necessary to suppose so. In a similar case known to me the percipient heard loud knockings, without seeing anything, for a few hours after her brother's death by accident, some miles away, and she was frightened into serious illness. There is reason to believe that a released spirit does not always know what effect it is producing in the material world by the exercise of its new and changed powers; and the same applies to etherial effects, which is what "sights" are—adopting for the moment a physical view of the telepathic process. It is therefore likely enough that Mr. Vint did not will to appear, but, his thought being occupied with himself and the place of his old activities, that thought became momentarily perceptible to his friend, whose mind happened to be in a passive and receptive condition, and, moreover, was in harmony with Mr. Vint's by sharing the same locality-thoughts.
No doubt if Mr. Grey had had another vision of his friend a few days later he would have seen him younger and well-looking, correspondent with his progress, having shaken off the unpleasant old earth-conditions, as Captain Stuart progressively shook off his Gallipoli experiences, in the narrative by Mrs. Guthrie already quoted (pp. 29-44).
Mr. Grey has had only one other psychical experience, and that was of a different order, perhaps even more interesting than the fore-going, for it was a precognition, and seems to involve a theory of the unreality of Time, to which I happen to incline. It does not prove this, of course—no single experience can—but it is one of many facts which suggest it.
Mr. Grey says :
"I was going to stay with friends, the father and mother of a young family, who all lived with my friend's father, to whom I was much attached. The old gentleman was away on a visit, and I was to occupy his bedroom.
"As I drove up to the house I saw with a great shock that all the blinds were drawn down, and I was filled with apprehension. Then my eyes seemed to clear, and I saw that I was mistaken ; the blinds were not down. At eight o'clock next morning my host met me with a telegram. His father, who had left home in good health, had died in the night. They were starting for Lancashire, and when I had helped them off I departed. As I looked back every blind was down, just as I had seen the house on arriving the previous evening.
"The thing sounds trivial, but on that single occasion I had a most depressing presentiment of death, which I have never forgotten, though it is thirty-six years ago."
The next three cases have similar evidential quality, true information being conveyed by the visions.
"Can you give me any explanation of the fact that, when anyone I care for very much is passing away, they call me with an audible voice? The first time this happened was some years ago. A young friend was ill a hundred miles away, but we had no idea that he was near death. One afternoon I was sitting quietly in the drawing-room with my mother when he came and stood beside me, saying: `Good-bye, Fanny; I am going now.' I jumped up and said to my mother: `Cyril has just passed away? Look at your watch.' She did, and the next morning we heard he had gone, and at the very time I heard him speak.
"A short time ago I was nursing a gentleman at Hanley. Having left to go to Birmingham, one night I heard him call my name with a loud voice. In this case it was the same : he had died at that time.
"Now, within the last few weeks, the same thing occurs. I have had a brother living in Canada for several years. A few weeks ago I could not get him out of my thoughts ; every night when I closed my eyes I could see him, and one night I awoke and could see a form in my room. Then I got really anxious, and sat down next morning to write a long letter to him. But, alas! before I could post it came the news of his death.
"In each of these cases, which are absolutely true and happened exactly as described, the person seemed quite near to me; in fact, far more so than when living in the body. I have been reading an article in which it is stated that the spirit remains in the place where it has lived. I do not favour this thought at all. I like to think of it rather as being free, not con-fined to any given place."
(MISS) FANNY MILL.
Some of the incidents next to be described suggest both the survival and the clairvoyance of animals. This raises many puzzling questions, which I do not feel called on to attempt to answer. I quote what is told me, and the reader may invent his own theory. I do not see any a priori impossibility about animals possessing supernormal faculties, nor about their having a sort of soul which survives. On the other hand, it is clear that proof of these things would be difficult.
"I am sending you a truthful account of my psychic experiences. You have only my bare word for the following, but it is true:
"My husband one day brought home a large white bulldog, and told me he was going to make a pile of money by matching this dog with another fighter. He was a dear, affectionate dog (name Carlo), and I loved him. He won several fights, then lost; and my husband poisoned him and threw his body into the river. Some years after this, when I had almost forgotten poor Carlo, one night some-thing awoke me, and I saw a very peculiar light shining around where I lay. I sat up, and was greatly astonished to see Carlo, life-size, just as he used to look, sitting on the rug beside the bed. He looked steadily at me for some time, then slowly faded away. The next morning my husband was arrested. Perhaps Carlo had come as a warning. (My husband is a bad man. I have left him and shall never return to him. He is in America.)
"My husband had a brother, Frank, who had been ill for over two years, but we had not heard that he was any worse. One night I had gone to bed, but could not sleep (my husband was out and did not come in till 4 A.M.), and I turned on the light and was going to read awhile, when I saw Frank sitting on the chair by the bedside. He looked so natural I really thought he was there, and I said aloud : `Why, Frank, how in the world did you get here?' And as I spoke he arose from the chair and went slowly down as if through the floor. I was greatly troubled at this vision, and wondered what it meant. When my husband came in I told him what I had seen. He laughed at me and said I had been dreaming. Well, next day he came home earlier than usual and said : `Janet, I just met my mother; she had come to tell me Frank died last night.'
"I see light—sometimes long flashes—with my eyes either closed or open. Before I feel the presence of a spirit I always see a light. When I feel them, as I often do very strongly, I always have the idea that, if my photograph could be taken at the time, another form would be seen in the picture." JANET HOLT.
This is reminiscent of Mrs. Guthrie's similar seeing of a "light." There is some connexion, though I have not the least idea what, between a perception of light and these veridical psychic experiences, for the two are associated in accounts from people who know nothing of others' experiences and who are quite unaware of the frequent connexion. It may be that the spirit, in manifesting, is acting on the ether as we act on matter when we communicate with each other by speech, and that the first thing produced by such action is light, which is, of course, an etherial pulsation.
Somewhat akin to the survival of animals is the clairvoyance of animals, of which I now give a few instances.
"One July, about four or five years ago, I had been talking with a friend on the subject of the possibility of summoning to oneself the spirits of the beloved dead by concentrating one's thought on them. I had never tried to do this, because I feared it might not be happy for the spirit if it succeeded. However, I was tempted to try. On a July evening, therefore, when I was alone, I made the experiment. It was still daylight enough to see everything with perfect distinctness. I sat outside a window that opens down to the ground upon a terrace. The nearest tree is a chestnut, a dozen yards away—there is a good deal of open terrace. In front of me lay my dog, a large and powerful, highly intelligent animal, mainly sheep dog, with about a quarter setter in his composition. He loved to lie there in the summer evenings, and we always had great difficulty in persuading him to come in at bedtime. I sat there and concentrated my thoughts on a specially dear friend I had lost some three years before. For one instant I felt a sensation—so brief as to be difficult to realize or describe—almost as if some touch came on my brain. I don't think I should have thought anything of it but for what happened next. Almost directly afterwards the dog became very much disturbed, in a way that was quite novel. He looked over his shoulder, then in front of him in the direction of the chestnut tree; his head was drawn back as if he shrank from something—his eyes were full of fear. He looked as if he was watching something moving in the direction of the tree—his eyes seemed focussed on something near. All was, to my eyes and ears, absolutely still and quiet. If any animal or human being had been about the dog would certainly have rushed to bark at it, and also to growl, for he was most inconveniently determined to defend me from any danger, real or imaginary—particularly under such circumstances, my being alone. But instead of doing this he rose, and, walking past me through the open window, flopped down very decidedly in the middle of the room. Certainly he saw something invisible to me—something that alarmed and puzzled him."
(Mrs.) R. E. WELDON.
Perhaps Balaam's ass, after all, was not so unique a quadruped as one might think. The next case is similar to the last.
"Last evening I was sitting in my drawing-room with three lady friends; one had a little pet dog with her, and about 10 P.M. the dog suddenly became excited and barked ever so—a most unusual thing. The dog could not be quiet. At last one friend, who is very psychical, said, `Someone is here,' and went over to the direction where the dog kept looking, and sat down and closed her eyes. Presently she said, `I see someone ; he has on a helmet and a red coat, and he wants some= thing.' Then suddenly this psychical friend went into what, I suppose, was a trance; she stuttered painfully and was quite unconscious, and said, `Oh, it's dreadful. Help!' I said, `What is his name?' She kept saying, `Owen.' I know no one of that name. She was greatly distressed for his (whoever he was) trouble and danger. When she said, 'Help!' I replied, `What can I do?' She said, `Pray!' I then knelt and prayed aloud for us all and for him. She suddenly became calm and conscious, and did not know how she had been, though felt very upset."
E. L. PRIESTLEY.
The above occurred in a very old house in an ancient city. I think it was once a monastery or abbot's house. There seems no explanation of who the supposed spirit was, and there is no special tradition of any haunt. In the next case the dog recognized the spirit, but apparently did not see it exactly as the human percipient did.
"I have had some unusual experiences, but will only trouble you with the following :
"My father, General Barlow, died in Lon-don at midnight on July 21st, 1898. The following night, at exactly the same time, I was lying awake (I had not been asleep) in a room opening into his; a large lamp was burning brightly, and my poodle was lying asleep by my low bedside. Suddenly my father stood by my side ; my dog started up, went straight to the communicating door, and stood watching for, I suppose, a few seconds, then came back, looked at me with a most curious expression in his eyes, and lay down again.
"In the following September I had moved to Sandhurst, to a place I had taken for my father and of which he was very fond. In the afternoon of a bright September day I was sitting in the hall, which is lighted by large north and south windows, and my dog again lying by my side. Again my father stood by me, and said, `Well, here we are in the new home;
I am glad.' Again my dog started up, did not look at me as he would have done had I spoken, but went at once to the foot of the stairs where he used to watch for my father, and stood fixed at attention; then came back, looked at me in the same strange way, and lay down close at my feet. I have read of cases where animals showed fear, but my dog showed only recognition; had he not recognized my father he would at once have warned me, as he always did if he heard any unusual sound. (Had you known him you would have recognized a very decided `personality.') "
E. H. BARLOW.
In most cases of haunting the experience is confined to one or two people, and subjective hallucination plus expectancy may be alleged. But in one case sent to me the spectre was seen on eight occasions by seven individuals—two of them seeing it at the same time, unknown to each other. The venue was the house of a sceptical doctor, who is an unbeliever no longer. I prefix to the narrative a more or less relevant and rather amusing letter which appeared in the Medical Press for May 30th, 1917: