He then gave the message, of which I can only remember that it was most touching in its expressions of deep affection and watchful care for his widow.
As we did not know this lady's present address, and could not procure it without raising inconvenient questions, my hostess and I settled that she should lock up the message, in the hope that some day we might be able to forward it.
A year later I had a most unpleasant experience of being made to feel seriously ill when I came down for a night from town, and as another clairvoyant assured me that this resulted from the message remaining undelivered and the poor old man's frantic endeavours to reach his wife's consciousness, I told my Wimbledon friend that something must be done. Either she must procure the lady's address "coute que coute," or I could not come down again to Wimbledon until this step had been taken.
Under pressure of this determination of mine the address was procured, and this led to a rather unpleasant experience.
I wrote a very courteous letter to the lady, enclosing the message, and explaining that I was quite debarred from visiting my Wimbledon friend until it was delivered, that I hoped, therefore, she would excuse my sending it, after more than a year's consideration of the question. I further intimated that although she might consider me a lunatic for my pains, I trusted there could be nothing to vex or hurt her in so touching an evidence of her husband's constant care and love, however little faith she might be disposed to place in the source from which the message was supposed to emanate.
The answer came as a shower bath on my unfortunate head.
The old lady (?) was furious. She had never heard of such wicked nonsense! "Her dear husband was quite the gentleman, both in clothes and appearance, and he was not old—not a day over sixty-eight—when he died," etc. etc.
It would have been amusing if it had not been rather pitiful to think of the poor "young" man of sixty-eight trying so hard to reach such a termagant!
Later, I heard that the military man, through whom the old lady's address had been given to my Wimbledon hostess, had asked the husband of the latter if I were a lunatic, by any chance!
And this is how some of us welcome our friends from the other side of the veil! The marvel to me is that Love can still be stronger than Death, in face of such ingratitude and stupidity!
I have already mentioned my extreme sensitiveness to the atmosphere (psychic) of rooms, especially rooms where one sleeps. I find another instance of this in my notes.
I was paying a first visit to a friend in the south of England, and a very bright, cheerful room had been allotted to me there.
From the first night I felt a strong influence of a man in the room. Kindly note that I do not say the influence of a strong man; on the contrary, the character appeared to me that of an essentially weak man—weak rather than wicked—sensual as well as sensuous—self-indulgent, and greatly wanting in grit and will power.
My hostess had two sons, one whom I knew, and the other, living abroad, whom I had never met. The influence I felt was certainly not that of the son I knew, who was both manly and strong-willed, a fine soldier, and "hard as nails," as men would say.
I feared it might be the other son, however, and took an early opportunity of asking to see a photograph of the latter. My mind was quite set at rest. It was certainly not this man's influence that I had felt so strongly in my room.
Asking my hostess, who had chiefly occupied the room, she said at once: "Both my sons have slept there at different times," adding, "I am sure you have some of your queer ideas about the room—what is the matter with it?"
I told her; "Now that I am quite convinced that neither of your sons is implicated, I will describe to you the character of a man whom I feel sure must have slept in that room and has left a strong psychic influence behind him."
I then mentioned the characteristics already given, and one or two more which have escaped my memory.
My sceptical friend looked a little surprised. She said nothing at the moment, but crossed the room to a cabinet, whence she took a photograph of a man which I had never seen, and placed it in my hands.
"I am bound to confess," she added, "that you have exactly described the character of my brother-in-law, who certainly has occupied the room more than once."
The sequel to this little incident is rather significant.
A year or two later, this lady and I, having both succumbed to influenza and bronchitis, were sent off to the same place abroad to recuperate.
Her attack had ended sooner than mine, so that I joined her there, and one of the first pieces of news she gave me was of the death of this brother-in-law, adding: "Poor fellow! He died from a very painful disease, and suffered terribly. He had grave faults, but, as you said, they came from weakness rather than wickedness. At anyrate, he was humble-minded, for he wrote a touching letter to me when I lost a very dear relation lately, wondering why such a valuable life should have been taken and such a 'useless log' as himself be left alive."
This poor man had only just passed over when I joined my friend, and I felt that he was in a very bewildered and sad state of mind. I could realise his presence so clearly, partly, no doubt, from having sensed his character so strongly, that the obvious thing seemed to be to try and help him on his new plane of life.
To the superficial mind it appears very absurd, and equally irreverent, to suppose that a faulty creature on this side the veil can help a faulty creature on the other side. Personally, I have never had any difficulty in realising the power of prayer for those who have passed beyond our mortal sight.
Surely we are one large family, whether here or there? The best way to make children love each other is to persuade them to help each other. Is it strange that the same rule should apply to the universe that applies to the tiny portion of it that we know?
Anyway, I am quite sure in this case that my prayers did help and comfort this poor man in his dark experience.
In a few weeks the position seemed to be altogether lightened. He thanked me for my sympathy and companionship, and I have never heard of him since.
The caviller will say at once: "Could not someone else have done the work equally well—either a near relation in the other sphere or a ministering angel?"
The answer is: "Certainly they could have done it equally well, probably far better."
But the point is that it happened to be the bit of work put into my hands, and at least I did my best. What more can any of us say?
Again I ask: How about the "Cui Bono" argument?
HAUNTINGS BY THE LIVING AND THE DEAD
In this same year (1896) I remember another curious incident.
I was staying in London during the season, and some girl friends were very anxious that I should meet a lady whom they knew intimately and wished me to know also. As so often happens under these circumstances, we were not in the least degree interested in each other; but that has nothing to do with my story.
The girls had asked various other friends, but this special lady was the raison d'etre of the tea-party, and they begged me to come in good time, because Mrs Halifax had several other engagements, and could not pay them a long visit.
So I dressed hurriedly in order to keep the appointment, and went to the house feeling rather bored by the whole arrangement, little dreaming that it would be the occasion of such an interesting personal experience. The lady turned out to be exceedingly prosperous and extremely uninteresting, from my point of view. Probably she would have given her ideas of me in much the same way! I realised that she had brought a son and a daughter with her, but did not know that another young man (whose face I have never seen) was also a son of hers. I talked to the mother for the conventional quarter of an hour, and then turned with relief to the other son whom she had mentioned, and with whom I found several old friends in common.
Meanwhile the room was filling up with guests; amongst these late comers I noticed the entrance of a man whose face did not impress me at all favourably. He looked dissipated and conceited. I did not speak to this man, but my strong impression about him is a factor in the story.
When the lady, par excellence, of the entertainment rose to leave the room, followed by her son and daughter, I noticed that a second young man was also in her train; but I had not seen him previously, for the very good reason that he had been sitting behind my back all the afternoon.
I did not see his face even now. My attention had been diverted from the Halifax party as they rose to take leave, and I only noticed the back of the second young man as they left the room, and was told later that this was another son of Mrs Halifax, no other comment upon him being made.
In those days I was able to do more work on the psychic plane than at present, and often tried to help sad or wandering spirits by praying for them when made conscious of their presence near me.
When I woke in the night—after this tea-party—therefore, and felt a presence near me, it did not at first alarm me in any way.
When fully awake, however, I quickly realised that this was no poor, sad, bewildered spirit, but a very malignant and revengeful one. I did not recognise the sex at the moment. In fact, my consciousness was entirely engrossed by realising that this was a question of my prayers being needed by no spirit more urgently than by my own.
Something very malignant was in the room—something or someone far too actively and insistently wrathful and malignant to listen to any prayers or entreaties.
This conviction grew so strong upon me that I lighted my candle, and getting out of bed, prayed for protection against the evil thing that was present in my room.
I think I must have remained at least ten minutes on my knees, and I can remember distinctly the feeling of alarm and hopelessness that came over me when I realised how strong were the Powers of Darkness and how little my prayers seemed to avail me.
Shortly, however, faith returned, and with it the confidence of victory. I returned to my bed quite calm and strong, and fell asleep knowing that the malignant presence was no longer there to worry and torment me.
I have always found it as easy to communicate with incarnate spirits at a distance as with discarnate ones, so on awaking in the morning, and remembering my disagreeable experience, I asked a friend, "still in the body," what was the meaning of it.
I had made up my mind that if it were in any way connected with the visitors of the previous afternoon, it must be with the dissipated-looking young man, for whom I had conceived an instinctive aversion.
To my infinite surprise his name was not given, but that of the younger Halifax son. "It was Henry Halifax. It is a spirit which was haunting him and came to you afterwards."
Now, as I had not even seen this young man, as already explained, I could not bear to think of any false and fanciful accusation being made against him; so remonstrated with my friend.
"Do be careful in giving me the name. Are you quite sure you mean Henry Halifax? Are you not thinking of Mr Loseby?" (Mentioning the name that had been given me of the other gentleman.)
"No; I mean Henry Halifax."
"But I did not even see him," I urged.
"No; but you were sitting with your back to him all afternoon. Don't you know the back is more psychically sensitive than any other part of the body?"
Nothing was said about the malignant spirit beyond the fact that it was someone "haunting" Henry Halifax.
The matter, once explained, I put it out of my head, having no special curiosity as to the reason of the haunting, and supposing it might have been some male acquaintance of his.
That morning I went down to my Wimbledon friend for a night. I arrived in time for luncheon on Saturday morning, and after a pleasant walk on the Common in the afternoon my friend suggested our coming home by a certain florist's shop, as she wished to buy some plants for her drawing-room.
I had already met this florist's wife, a very "spooky" person, who had been introduced by us to Mr Myers and the Society for Psychical Research. She was a handsome, fresh-coloured, practical woman, with nothing of the weird and pallid "ghost seer" about her comely face. But she had had some wonderful experiences, and her children also; and these had been already imparted to Mr Frederic Myers.
When the business part of our interview was concluded Mrs Levret turned to me, and said: "Well, ma'am, I am glad to see you again in these parts. Have you had any curious experiences since I saw you last?"
Now Mrs Levret had so many curious experiences of her own, as to which she was wont to be very voluble, that I had never before known her express curiosity about those of anybody else.
This just flashed through my mind as I answered her:
"No; nothing particular, Mrs Levret. By-the-by, I had a rather disagreeable experience last night, but it has been explained." And in a few words I mentioned what has been already described at length.
From my words she must have gathered that I supposed the haunting spirit to be that of a man, and that I did not attach much importance to it any way.
As we left the shop my charming hostess, who was equally beloved by those in her own class and those out of it, turned round, and said pleasantly: "We must hurry home now, Mrs Levret, but do come up to-morrow and see Miss Bates. She does not leave me till the evening, and I know you will enjoy having a talk with her."
Mrs Levret promised to come, and appeared next morning, having first ascertained that the sceptical husband of my hostess would not be upon the premises. "He does laugh at me so, ma'am," she said apologetically. So she was brought straight up to my bedroom next day, and we had an interesting talk over her own strange adventures.
Suddenly she looked up, and said: "A propos des bottes."
"How about that young man, ma'am? What are you going to do about him?"
"What young man?" I said, honestly puzzled. "And what can I do about any young man?"
The Halifax incident had so completely faded from my mind that I could not for the moment imagine what she meant.
"The young man you told me about yesterday afternoon, ma'am," Mrs Levret answered stoutly.
"But I can't do anything about him. What should I do?"
Then she took up her parable in these words:
"Well, ma'am, I have been thinking a deal about that young man since yesterday. It seemed to take a sort of hold upon me. It seems given to me, ma'am, that it is a young woman who is haunting him—a young woman who is not in his own rank in life—someone whom he wronged."
I was amazed by these words, and still more by the keen interest Mrs Levret showed in the subject.
"But what can I do in the matter, even if it be as you say?" was my next question.
"Well, ma'am, they give me to understand that the young man must be made to confess. He will never have any peace until he does. It seems to me you might get him to confess."
Now there could be no question of confession on the outer plane, as the young man was a perfect stranger to me, and there was small chance of our ever meeting again.
But I was aware that Mrs Levret was not speaking of the outer plane, so I agreed to take pencil and paper, and see if I could bring the spirit of Henry Halifax to me, and having done so, whether I could induce him to tell me the truth.
He came, but for a long time would say neither YES nor NO. "What business is it of yours?" was the constant reply to my questions. And I am bound to say it appeared a very pertinent one, from the ordinary point of view.
Clearly it was no business of mine; but Mrs Levret was so much in earnest, and had impressed me so strongly with what "had been given to her," that I felt I must persevere, in the young fellow's own interests.
So I explained that I had no wish to pry into his private affairs from any mere unworthy curiosity, but that having myself felt the malignant presence that was said to be haunting him, and being told that only confession would remove it, I hoped he would consider the matter seriously before obstinately closing the door of opportunity now open to him. "Who could foretell when he might have another chance?"
A long pause succeeded these words. I felt that the angry, irritable mood was passing over, and when my hand was next influenced to write, the words that came were not the usual curt "None of your business," but an apology for his rude reception of my efforts to help him, and a full confession, which entirely bore out Mrs Levret's impressions.
He told me that it was only too true that he had betrayed a young woman in a different rank of life from his own. She had died in child-birth the preceding midsummer, and had died cursing him for his perfidy. Ever since (it was now late in June) he had been haunted by her presence, seeing nothing, but always conscious of a malignant spirit tempting him to his own destruction. The mental agony was so great that he told me he did not think he could endure it much longer, and had almost decided to put an end to his life (little realising, poor fellow, that bad as this life might be, the next phase would be far worse for him).
After trying to soothe and comfort him, without in any way minimising the weight of his sin or attempting to lessen his remorse for it, it struck me that it would be well to try and have a little talk with his poor young victim. So saying good-bye, and promising to remember him in future, I asked mentally for her spirit to come, and then tried to influence her in the direction of forgiveness. It was a hard struggle, and no wonder.
The poor young woman had trusted him, had been deceived, and finally launched into another sphere without any preparation for it. What wonder that she haunted the man who had wronged her so terribly, through pure selfishness, and that any love she had ever borne him had long since turned to deadly hate!
It needed both time and patience to rouse even mere passive feelings towards him. I spoke of his deep remorse and misery. At first she only answered that she was very glad to hear it, because it showed she had succeeded in making her presence felt.
By degrees, however, a more womanly view of the subject seemed to come to her. After all, he was the father of her child; the poor little baby that had mercifully followed its mother into the Great Unseen. She had loved him once, by her own showing. I made the most of this point, and very slowly, very grudgingly, she gave me the promise I asked for—i.e. that she would at least cease this revengeful haunting, even if she could not yet feel more kindly towards the one who had injured her so deeply.
Having extracted this promise I felt that no more could be done for the time being, and Mrs Levret, who had been sitting in unwonted silence during both interviews, then took her leave.
I have given this case and its treatment very much in extenso, not only because it may be helpful to others dealing with erring and revengeful spirits, but because on my return to London every important point in this true narrative was amply corroborated.
It took some time and a good deal of tact before the case was complete.
First, I learned that Henry Halifax was by no means a persona grata in the house where I first met him, and that my young friends there had only been allowed to ask him under some protest, and because the rest of his family were to be present.
Asked why this should be the case, their answers were naturally vague: they only knew he was not very welcome.
Of course, I did not pursue the matter with these young people. They told me, however, that he was very much changed of late, and seemed so often moody, unhappy, and discontented.
"I am sure we should be happy enough if we had such a luxurious home and all that money," said one of them naively.
Now I happened to know rather intimately at that time another friend of the Halifax family; a woman considerably older than the young girls mentioned, and as she had some little knowledge of psychic possibilities I determined to lay the whole story before her, trusting to her honour to keep it to herself, and not to allow any prejudice against Henry Halifax to arise in her mind should she know nothing of the circumstances.
She had known the family from her childhood, and I knew, therefore, would not be influenced by the word of an outsider under these circumstances. But I discovered that the confession of Henry Halifax, the spirit, was no illusion on my part, but the absolute truth.
Young, handsome, rich, with all the world before him (he was only twenty-four at the time), this lady had been greatly puzzled by his intense depression of the last few months, and told me that he was constantly speaking of suicide. It was supposed to be a purely physical condition by his parents and others. She, however, knew an intimate man friend of his. By one of those not uncommon mistakes, whereby each one supposes the other to be in the confidence of a mutual acquaintance, she had discovered that the real trouble was mental rather than physical, and that the death of the young woman of lower social position, in child-birth, "last midsummer" was an actual fact!
Needless to say how great was her astonishment to find that the whole story had been made known to me through such a curious train of circumstances—first, my experience of the malignant spirit; secondly, my happening to go to Wimbledon next day and mention the circumstances to the wife of the florist there; thirdly, her strong and, as it proved, quite accurate impressions upon the subject; and fourthly, my two interviews:—first, with the betrayer, and then with the betrayed on the psychic plane.
Some few months later I was asked by the lady just mentioned if I should object to meeting Henry Halifax at dinner next evening.
"Not at all," was my answer. In fact, I felt it might be part of some psychic plan that I should do so. Evidently this was not the case, for at the last moment a telegram came to his hostess to say he was unexpectedly prevented from returning to town.
So we have never met at all! But I trust the confession may have been as efficacious as Mrs Levret was told that it would be. Anyway, I can testify that the gentleman in question is now happily married, and, therefore, presumably no longer haunted by the revengeful spirit, who has long since, let us trust, found happiness and peace in a higher world than this.
* * * * *
Speaking of haunting by the so-called dead reminds me of haunting by the so-called living.
In this same year (1896) I was staying in Cambridge for the first time in my life.
Oxford I have known since girlhood, but this was my first visit to the Sister University; needless to say, however, that I have met many men who have graduated there. Not knowing the town of Cambridge myself, I had never made it a subject of discussion, and ten years ago I was not even aware that such a street as Trumpington Street existed, difficult as it may be for Cambridge people to credit this statement.
In any case, most emphatically, I did not know that a very old friend of mine, who became later in life a judge, had ever lived in this street.
Having been a sailor in youth, he had gone up to Cambridge comparatively late; this was shortly before my acquaintance with him began.
Not knowing Cambridge at all, the question of where he lived there had never entered into our conversations together. Probably I took it for granted that he was living in his college (Peterhouse). The strong feeling of friendship between us had become a warmer sentiment on his side, and this led later, and inevitably, to a thorough break in our pleasant relations with each other.
Long years passed, during which I neither saw nor heard of my friend.
I knew that he had married, and had had a somewhat successful career as a barrister in London, and that was all I knew about him.
After staying for a week or two with friends in the neighbourhood of Cambridge in 1896, I had taken rooms for a month in Cambridge, inviting one of these friends to stay with me as my guest.
We came upon these special rooms in a curious way. Having worked through a list of those suggested to us by a friend, none of which quite suited, I heard, by the merest chance, that possibly I might find what I wanted in Trumpington Street, at the house of a very respectable Cambridge tradesman. We went there, but only to find that the rooms vacant could not be ready for me at the time specified, as some old customers were coming to them for three or four days.
"But I want them for a month," I expostulated.
The landlady was firm; she could not disappoint these people after promising to take them in.
In spite of my disappointment, I admired her so much for this strict sense of honour that I determined to look at the rooms in case of requiring any at a future date.
We went upstairs. The rooms were exactly what I required, and very clean and well furnished, so it ended by my agreeing to take them for a week later, although at a considerable inconvenience.
It was in this casual way that I entered the house about the middle of May 1896. My friend was not able to join me until the morning after my arrival, so I spent the first evening alone, and retired to bed rather early. I slept well enough during the earlier part of the night, but awoke about two A.M., having had a tiresome, worrying dream about the very man I have mentioned, who had certainly not been in my thoughts for many months, or possibly years.
Even when fully awake, his influence was still in the room with me, and falling asleep again, there he was once more in my dream, twitting me with my want of appreciation of him in the past, and suggesting what a much more successful career I might have had through marrying him. This sort of thing went on for the rest of the night. Either I woke up with a disagreeable start, still feeling the man's influence in the room, or sank into a troubled sleep, to be once more at the mercy of his reproaches!
When morning came I was only too thankful to get up, and when my friend arrived on her bicycle about noon, and asked me how I had slept in the strange house, I was forced to confess that my night had been much troubled by dreams about an old friend, of whom she had never heard, by-the-by.
"Oh, well, we all dream about old friends sometimes," she said, "but I'm afraid in this case your dreams were not pleasant; you look tired out! Anyway, it is a mercy that it was not F——'s!"
And so with a joke the matter dropped.
But the following night the trouble was renewed. Even then I did not in any way connect it with the room in which I was sleeping, and I said nothing next day to my friend on the subject.
But the third night matters had gone beyond a joke. The influence was stronger than ever, the gibes and reproaches more accentuated, and, in addition to these, there was on my side the exasperation engendered by three sleepless nights.
Instead of feeling depressed—as on the two previous occasions—the "worm turned" at last!
I spoke out loud in my vexation, as though the man himself were there listening to me.
"Well," I said, "I have no unkindly feeling towards you of any kind. If you have nothing better to do than to come worrying me and keeping me awake in this way, it just shows how wise I was not to marry you! You have nothing to do with my life now. And YOU CAN GO."
"Standing up" in this way to the ghost of the living had a most excellent effect, upon my mind at anyrate. I felt intensely relieved, and soon fell into a long and dreamless sleep.
This last experience first suggested the idea that this old friend must have some special connection with that house. In the morning I confessed to my friend that my second night had been as disturbed as the first, and the last the worst of all, adding: "That man is simply haunting the place. I am determined to try and find out if he ever lodged here."
This was by no means easy, as it turned out. His College career was already buried in the snows of some twenty-five years. Moreover, when I questioned the young daughter of our landlady as to how long her parents had lived in the house, she said at once: "Just seventeen years, ma'am. Father and mother came here the year I was born."
This did not help me much. I asked who had rented the house previously. Referring this question to her mother, she told me it had been taken from some people who had left Cambridge, and "Mother thought they were both dead now."
This was a second cul-de-sac for me!
But I was determined to go on with my investigations, simply grounded upon the strong conviction that such repeated experiences must have some foundation in fact.
The girl saw I looked disappointed. "Did you want to know about anyone who lived here long ago?" she ventured timidly.
"Yes; I wanted to find out whether an old friend of mine ever lodged here; he belonged to Peterhouse," was my answer.
"Ah, then, I am sure he would not have lodged here," said the girl confidently. "None of the Peterhouse gentlemen come here. It is always the Pembroke men who come to this house."
It seemed fated that I should hear no more about my living ghost.
A few days later, however, the luck turned.
I was told quite casually that Mr Pound, the well-known Cambridge chemist, had occupied our house years before, and I determined to verify this some day. As Mr Pound combined the post office with his drugs, one often went into the shop, but hitherto I had only seen his assistants.
Going in one day with my friend for some stamps, Mr Pound himself handed them to me.
Here was my chance! I must confess that I hesitated to ask such an apparently absurd question on such slender grounds. In any case, was it likely that he would remember the names of all the undergraduates in the University who might have lodged with him twenty or thirty years before? I whispered to my friend: "Shall I ask him?" but she did not hear, so even this small encouragement was denied me. I was actually turning to leave the shop, when resolution at length took the reins, and I found myself asking:
"Is it true, Mr Pound, that you lived many years ago at No. — Trumpington Street?"
"Quite true," was the ready answer. "I went there in the year fifty-five." (I quote this from memory, but it was in the fifties certainly.)
"I wanted to ask a question about a gentleman who may have lodged with you a good deal later than that—about seventy, I should think." And I mentioned the name of my friend.
Mr Pound's brow cleared at once, and he looked up with a beaming smile. "Mr Forbes," he said—"why, of course, I remember him well. He lodged with me over eighteen months." Then turning to his assistant, he told him to go into the parlour and bring out the large photograph album. There was my friend, sure enough, with his big dog—the very photograph I had of him, given me in the early days of our acquaintance.
Mr Pound was full of reminiscences. My friend had evidently been a prime favourite with him, and it was some minutes before I could squeeze in my crucial question. It seemed almost impossible to expect him to remember the exact rooms occupied by Mr Forbes, considering there were two or three "sets" of rooms in the house, in addition to several bedrooms which were let separately.
But even here Mr Pound's memory proved invaluable. "Which room he slept in? Why, of course, I remember distinctly. He had the large front sitting-room and the bedroom at the back of it; over our living-room in those days."
So I was living in Mr Forbes' sitting-room, and sleeping in the bedroom, he had occupied for more than eighteen months.
My Cambridgeshire friend was, fortunately, present as a witness that no word of mine had indicated this fact before Mr Pound corroborated my intuitive impression. She said afterwards, laughingly, that Mr Myers would certainly think I had got up a special ghost story for him the moment I set foot in Cambridge.
However this may be, both he and Professor Sidgwick were greatly interested in it, for, as they explained, there were fifty accounts of haunting by the dead to one such example of haunting by the living.
Of course, such a case presents innumerable difficulties; still the salient fact remains, that after a lapse of nearly thirty years I traced the rooms occupied by an old friend, in a city I had never before entered, and that this knowledge did not come to me by chance, but as the result of a series of investigations, started by me solely on account of the experiences that came to me in a house and in a room of which I had absolutely no previous knowledge. Those interested in these subjects will naturally ask: "Do you suppose that the spirit of Mr Forbes came to you at the moment of your remarks to him and his to you? If so, was he conscious of any such experience?"
I can answer this last question decidedly, and in the negative; for four years later, circumstances brought me once more within the orbit of Mr Forbes' life. He was then living in the north of England, and he and his wife and I have discussed the question more than once.
We can only suppose that the impression of his presence did in some way cling to the surroundings; that my sleeping there, even in complete ignorance of his tenancy, enabled me, as a "sensitive," to pick up this special influence from many others presumably present; and that the memories of the past galvanised the impression into some sort of temporary astral existence. The entity to whom I seemed to be speaking was doubtless not the Judge Forbes of later life, but some distorted image of his earlier days of disappointed and often reproachful affection.
When Mr Myers suggested that I should get Mr Pound to sign a paper mentioning that he had told me that Mr Forbes had occupied these special rooms twenty-seven years previously, the latter did so readily, only remarking that he had naturally concluded that I knew my friend had lodged with him.
"Pound will 'smell a rat' if I go," said Mr Myers.
So I went myself, and thus the story was made evidentially complete.
FURTHER EXPERIENCES IN AMERICA
My second visit to America was paid in the year of the Diamond Jubilee, 1897.
After wintering in the West Indies, I went on to America in the spring, chiefly with the view of meeting Mrs Piper for the first time, and securing a few sittings with her if possible.
 The portion of this chapter referring to "Mrs Piper and her Controls" is published by kind permission of Mr Ralph Shirley, editor of The Occult Review, in which my article under this heading appeared in March 1906.
I was writing some articles for Borderland at the time, and Mr Stead was specially anxious for me to take this opportunity of "sampling" the famous American sensitive.
This proved no easy task. My visit to Boston, unfortunately, occurred at the very time when an organised attempt was being made by the American branch of the Society for Psychical Research to get into some sort of evidential communication with the late Mr Stainton Moses through his "controls" Imperator, Rector, etc.
In vain I wrote to Dr Hodgson (to whom I carried letters of introduction) telling him of my chief reason for visiting America a second time. Even the plea that I had known Mr Stainton Moses in earth life, and that we had several intimate friends in common, was of no avail.
Dr Hodgson expressed regrets, but assured me that no sittings could be allowed under existing circumstances, and that it was impossible to make any exception to this rule.
We seemed to have arrived at a cul-de-sac, when a bright idea struck me.
Why not ask the UNSEEN themselves for a decision in the matter?
I wrote again, therefore, to Dr Hodgson, suggesting this idea, and mentioning that I should arrive in Boston on a certain date, and could be found at the Hotel Bellevue in that city.
The next day but one after my arrival, and quite early in the morning, Dr Hodgson came to call upon me.
It was my first sight of that genial and delightful personality. At the very moment of shaking hands, he said cheerily, and with a look of half-rueful amusement at his own discomfiture:
"Well, you've got to come! They insist upon it, so there is nothing more to be said."
My preconceived ideas of a critical, elderly, and white-haired professor, taking himself very seriously, were dissipated on the spot; and this was the beginning of a sincere and loyal friendship between us which lasted for nine years on this sphere, and will last, I trust and believe, through whatever forms of existence may succeed to this one.
We made arrangements at once for my joining Dr Hodgson next morning at Arlington Heights, where my first sitting with Mrs Piper took place, and where I met for the first time this refined and interesting-looking woman.
I was told that with the advent of the Imperator and Stainton Moses' controls, the character of Mrs Piper's mediumship had undergone a complete change. The former communications through the voice ceased, and gave place to automatic writing, except at the moment of return to the physical body, when a chance sentence or two might be uttered during the transition period, but that these were not always intelligible to the listener.
Mrs Piper's arm and hand became curiously "dead" and limp when unconsciousness set in; the blood departed, leaving it as white and helpless as that of a corpse. By degrees this dead look disappeared. The blood flowed once more through the veins, and as I noticed this change, the hand moved gropingly towards the pencil held out by Dr Hodgson, and finally grasped it. The latter's long practice and infinite patience were invaluable in making out the often rather illegible script. The hospitality he gave to all attempts at definite communications, however vague and shadowy at first; the infinite patience with which he repeated again and again a question not fully comprehended—all this, combined with intelligent criticism, alert, dispassionate judgment and balance of mind, made an investigator of psychic phenomena very rarely to be met in a world where most of us evince in a marked degree "les defauts de nos qualites."
To combine sympathy, patience, and receptivity with cool and critical judgment is well-nigh impossible for ordinary men and women.
Dr Richard Hodgson certainly solved the problem to a very remarkable extent.
The first thing that struck me in the two sittings I had with Mrs Piper, was the hopeless breakdown of the Thought Transference Theory, as accounting for the automatic writing.
The ostensible reason for my presence at Arlington Heights was the idea entertained by the "controls" that, having known Mr Stainton Moses in earth life, I might be able to facilitate his communications. I hope this may have been the case, but if so, it was certainly not due to any power of Thought Transference I may have possessed.
Again and again I asked for names of friends we had known in common, but nearly always in vain. Even when, in despair of getting these normally, I concentrated my mind consciously on some short and easy name, the latter was not given.
Yet next day some of these names would appear spontaneously on the script, when my mind was entirely occupied by other subjects.
References were made to Mr Moses' lack of appreciation for music, and he asked whether our mutual friend Mrs Stratton still played LISZT. He also referred to his visiting the Strattons, and finding them playing duets together, in London.
On my return to town Mrs Stratton fully endorsed the fact that Mr Moses disliked music (this was unknown to me), but she denied emphatically that she and her husband ever played duets in his presence. Mr Stratton, however, corrected this impression, and reminded her of several occasions when Mr Moses had come to them from University College, found them at the piano, and being on very intimate terms, had begged they would finish the passage or movement; and on one or two occasions this had been done.
These slight but evidential incidents, forgotten by Mrs Stratton herself, and unknown to me, were conveyed quite correctly in the automatic script through Mrs Piper—three thousand miles across the Atlantic—and nearly six years after the death of Mr Stainton Moses.
The most convincing test upon these occasions, however, was the reference to a Mrs Lane—the lady to whom Mr Moses had been engaged when he passed away.
Very few of his friends knew of this engagement, even in England. Dr Hodgson, who had never met Stainton Moses in earth life, had naturally not heard of it. It was only by chance that I knew anything of the matter, and this merely through once meeting the lady at Mrs Stratton's house some time after Mr Moses had died. On that occasion Mrs Lane had a young daughter with her; I knew nothing of any other members of the family.
During my second visit to Mrs Piper I mentioned meeting this lady—already a dim memory with me—and the "control" at once asked if I had met a sister also.
I answered "No," remarking that a young daughter had been with her.
The writing at once continued in these words:
"Well, now I am giving you this as a test: she has a sister, and one who has been the cause of the deepest sorrow of her life. You will find this is true when you go back to England."
These words were amply justified.
On applying to Mrs Stratton for information, she denied the possibility of there being any truth in the test. She said: "I have come to know Mrs Lane very intimately since you met her here. I don't believe she has any sister; anyway, I am quite sure she would have told me if a sister had caused her such sorrow as you mention."
I persevered, however, in getting at the truth of the matter by writing to Mrs Lane herself (an almost entire stranger), and asking if she cared to hear the references to herself in the Piper records; if so, would she come and lunch with me?
She came, and when I reached the passage about the sister, expecting that she would endorse Mrs Stratton's denial, I noticed, to my great surprise, that her eyes filled suddenly with tears, and that she was literally unable to speak through emotion.
The tears ran down her cheeks, when at length she said in a broken voice: "That is the most convincing test he could have given me! No! I have never mentioned that sister, even to Mrs Stratton, kind and good as she has been" (by this time I had spoken of Mrs Stratton's denial of the sister's existence). "I could not speak of her to anyone. She was the cause of the greatest sorrow in my life; but no one upon earth knew this except Mr Stainton Moses. I was engaged to him at the time, and he was the natural person to turn to in my deep tribulation. No one else ever heard of the circumstances."
At this second sitting of mine Mr Stainton Moses spoke also of a valuable watch he had possessed, and expressed some regret that it had not been given to Mrs Lane at the time of his death.
I knew nothing at all about any watch of his, but on appealing to one of his executors, an old friend of mine, found there was such a watch, which had been a presentation one, and was of considerable value. Upon the death of Mr Moses it had been given (quite with the approval of Mrs Lane) to the son of a very old and esteemed friend.
This executor also told me, as a curious coincidence, that when I was staying with the excitable sensitive in Sussex Gardens, mentioned in a previous chapter, and he and his wife had come to tea with me one afternoon (to be introduced to this remarkable lady), she had given him a similar message about the same watch, purporting to come from Stainton Moses.
I remember perfectly well having asked Mr and Mrs Harrington to come to tea with me one afternoon to meet my eccentric landlady, and I also remember his having a long talk with her whilst his wife and I were immersed in our own conversation. But I heard no details of this talk. He had merely said how much interested he had been in meeting Mrs Peters, and that she evidently had some mediumistic power.
It was certainly curious that the watch should have been mentioned, first in Sussex Gardens, London, and six years later in Arlington Heights, Boston, and that on each occasion the same wish with regard to it should have been expressed!
During this Arlington Heights sitting (the second one), Mr Moses also referred to an MS., of which I knew nothing at the time. This allusion also was verified by his other executor, the late Mr Alaric Watts, upon my return to England.
* * * * *
During this visit to America I also came across a Mr Knapton Thompson, a hard-headed Yorkshire man, who had invented a new kind of smokeless combustion stove, which must have been a good one, for our shrewd American cousins were employing him to put up these stoves in several public buildings, including the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.
Mr Thompson combined psychic proclivities with his smokeless invention, and had become greatly interested in the New York medium, Mrs Stoddart Gray, who has been already mentioned in connection with my own investigations, twelve years previous to my present visit. He had written to tell Mr Stead of his experiences, which included several in which the Julia of "Julia's Letters" had purported to be present.
Mr Stead had turned this gentleman over to me by giving me an introduction, accompanied by the request that "I should see the man and report what I thought about him and his wonderful experiences."
So I asked Mr Thompson to call upon me, and arranged to be present with him next day (Saturday) at Mrs Stoddart Gray's circle.
I found that he had taken up his abode with the medium and her son during his short stays in New York, with the openly expressed intention of finding out if there were any trickery behind the scenes. He had, however, convinced himself of her bona fides, and was deeply interested in the interviews he was able to obtain by means of these mediums, with a daughter he had lost some years previously. He was much pleased to find that I knew Mrs Gray already and could also testify to some very remarkable phenomena occurring to me at her house.
So I met him there next afternoon, with every expectation of a good sitting. These hopes, however, were entirely destroyed owing to the presence of a noisy, vulgar man, whom they called the "Whisky King." He made the most inane remarks, cracked stupid jokes, antagonised every respectable person in the room, I should suppose; and as all this took place without a word of protest from the lady of the house, one can only conclude that she considered it worth her while to endure his vulgarities.
Certainly the afternoon was spoilt for the rest of us, and I remarked upon this to a very pleasant, smart-looking young American lady when the sitting was over and we had retired to the reception-room to find wraps and galoshes, etc.
"Oh yes; wasn't he just exasperating?" she said, with ready sympathy.
She looked much too young and smart and good-looking for the ordinary type of "investigator," and I could not refrain from asking how she had come into this galere.
She explained her position readily, and it was very interesting to me.
She was a young married lady, and had first been brought to the house, six months before, by a cousin of hers who was staying with them in New York, and thought the experience might be amusing.
"We just came in for a joke," she said; "but something happened which interested me so much that I have come again several times, and until to-day have always had an interesting time."
Then she told me about her first sitting.
I had noticed upon her ungloved hand a very beautiful scarabaeus, set in fine gold, and evidently by an artist in the craft. "Yes, it is a Tiffany setting," she observed, seeing my eyes drawn to it. She took off the ring, and gave it into my hands.
"That ring is really the cause of my being here to-day," she continued. "The scarabaeus was given to me some years ago by Professor——" (she gave the name of a well-known American Egyptologist). "He made a great pet of me when I was a child, and I begged it from him. When I was going to be married last year he insisted upon having it set for me by Tiffany as a wedding present, and he then told me there was no doubt at all about its being a genuine antique. He had come across it many years before by a curious chance when travelling in Egypt, and had been assured that it was a genuine Cleopatra relic. 'I can't answer for that,' he said, laughing, 'but it is certainly many centuries old. I have no doubt it is genuine so far as age goes.' Well, the night my cousin and I came here together I did not take off my gloves until after we had gone in to the seance room, so no one could have seen my ring—and you know Mrs Gray's sittings always begin in the dark? I took my gloves off when I found we had to sit in a circle holding hands, and one of the first materialisations was announced to be that of Cleopatra." (I had seen "Cleopatra" more than once in 1886, in the same house—E. K. B.) "She rushed across the room in the complete darkness, seized my right hand, amongst all the hands in a circle of twenty people or more, almost tore this special ring from my finger, and said in a tone of indescribable grief and longing: 'Mine! Mine! Ah, Chem! CHEM!'"
This was sufficiently startling, even apart from the mention of Chem, as the ancient name for Egypt, in a milieu of this kind!
The ring was faithfully restored later in the evening; and the young lady who owned it had been sufficiently impressed by the circumstances to confide them to her kind professor, and also to pay more than one visit to Mrs Stoddart Gray since the episode had occurred, which was just six months before our meeting there.
During this second visit to America I made the acquaintance, and, I trust I may say, gained the friendship, of Miss Lilian Whiting, so well known by many thousands of grateful readers. We saw a great deal of each other in Boston, and during one of my long chats with her in her pretty sitting-room at the Brunswick Hotel, she told me of the visit of Lady Henry Somerset and Miss Frances Willard to that city, some years before our conversation. Miss Whiting also mentioned a friend who had accompanied these two ladies, and who had been taken ill, and had died very suddenly in the hospital at Boston.
"I never met the lady," said Miss Whiting, "but Miss Willard and Lady Henry told me they had been obliged to leave their friend behind owing to an attack of influenza, and asked me to call upon her someday. I went a day or two later, carrying some fruit and newspapers with me. The matron, whom I knew well, said her patient was doing splendidly, and was likely to be leaving in a few days, but that as I was a stranger, it would perhaps be better for me not to come in and see her that afternoon. So I left my little gifts, and was shocked next day to hear of her sudden and quite unexpected death. By-the-by, I believe she was Stead's 'Julia'—I am not sure about this, but somebody told me so lately."
Miss Whiting then mentioned the lady's name, which I withhold, as Mr Stead still makes use of it as a test when strangers profess to be in communication with "Julia."
The day following the seance just described as taking place in New York, Mr Knapton Thompson called at my hotel to ask me to accompany him to Mrs Stoddart Gray, as he had arranged to have a short "writing seance" that afternoon.
The son was the agent as usual. On this occasion he had an alphabet mounted on card, and pointed to the letters in turn, whilst his mother wrote them down as indicated. Thinking I would verify Miss Whiting's story if possible, my first question was:
"Can Stead's Julia give me her surname?"
"Julia O." was spelt out, and then the O was given again.
"They often do that," said Mrs Gray casually—"begin the name over again, I mean."
So it passed at that. The rest of the letters corroborated the surname mentioned by Miss Whiting.
Then I asked: "In what country did you pass away—Europe or America, or elsewhere?"
"America" was spelt out at once.
"In what city?"
"Was it in a private house, a hospital, a hotel, or where did you die?"
"In a hospital" was again spelt out.
"How long ago?"
"Five years" was the answer.
I may note here that Miss Whiting had not mentioned the number of years, only having said "A few years ago" when speaking of the event. Five years proved to be true. My last question was:
"What was your age when you passed over?"
"Twenty-three" was the answer.
This last, I felt sure, must be wrong. Miss Whiting had not mentioned any age, but it seemed to me unlikely that so young a woman should have been travelling round the country with two temperance lecturers.
When these answers were being given, Mrs Gray's son, the medium, asked if he might put one hand on my wrist to come into magnetic conditions with me.
I agreed to this, but said I should turn my eyes away from the alphabet, lest my muscles should give him any unconscious indications.
When I sent these answers to Mr Stead on returning to England, I wrote down Julia O. (ignoring the repetition of the O); and in connection with the other answers, told him, of course, of my previous conversation with Miss Whiting, which reduced the whole episode to one of possible Thought Transference.
In answering me he said: "I am glad Julia was able to give her name, even if it were Thought Transference; but, as a matter of fact, it is not her whole name which you received—she always signed her letters to me 'Julia O. O....'" This makes rather a good bit of evidence, seeing that the second O had been given, but discarded by Mrs Gray and myself as a repetition of the first letter of the surname!
To resume my experiences with Mr Knapton Thompson.
In the evening of this writing incident Mrs Gray had another public seance, at which I was again present, Mr Thompson sitting on one side of me.
After some "materialisations," for other members of the circle had appeared, Mrs Gray announced that Stead's "Julia" was present in the cabinet, and wished to speak to me.
I went up at once, and the form came out and stood in very fair light from the gas-burners. She seized my hands with every appearance of delight and eagerness, and her grasp was strong and tense. It is my peculiarity always to notice hands very accurately. They always seem to me to indicate character very closely; and apart from this, I am attracted by people who have well-shaped hands (not necessarily small ones), and find it very difficult to ignore clumsy or ugly fingers, which, unfortunately, never escape my notice.
Now the medium's hands were broad, short, and flabby, as I had had plenty of opportunities of noting in the afternoon when he held my wrist. The hands which grasped mine now were, on the contrary, well made, small, and rather narrow, the true type of the American female hand.
Mr Thompson had come up also to greet "Julia," and I whispered to him:
"Do ask Julia if there was not a mistake about her age this afternoon."
"No; you ask the question yourself, Miss Bates," he answered.
So I said rather eagerly: "Julia, do tell us, please, if there was not a mistake this afternoon in your age—the answer was twenty-three. Is that correct?"
A very emphatic shake of the head signifying "No" was the reply to this last question, but no sounds proceeded from the lips.
Disappointed by this, I asked; "Can you not speak to us?"
She made a little gesture of rather helpless dissent; and Mrs Gray, who stood by, explained that probably all her strength had gone to building up the materialised body sufficiently to make it visible to us. Julia bowed her head in assent to this, and then, still speechless, retired once more behind the curtains.
I did not mention this appearance of Julia when writing to Mr Stead on my return—I was so anxiously hoping that she might have tried to impress the fact of having appeared to me, upon his consciousness, as a test; but he said nothing about it in his first letters. So I let the matter alone for a time, determining to tell him some day, but much disappointed by the usual failure in getting corroborative evidence.
A week later, however, at the end of a long letter on other subjects, I put this short P. S. in a casual way to him:
"Did Julia ever tell you that she had appeared to me in New York?"
In answering my letter he replied—also in a P. S.:
"By-the-by, to answer your last query—yes. Julia told me weeks ago that she had appeared to you in New York, but that she could not give you her age on that occasion, because she was not accustomed to speaking through the embodiment."
Now in sending the list of questions and answers to Mr Stead I had merely marked against the answer as to her age, "twenty-three," that doubtless it was an error, but I had never hinted to him that I had asked her to correct the error in New York, or that she had been unable to speak on that occasion.
This again was a good bit of independent evidence.
I will now give a description of Mr Knapton Thompson's interview with his daughter, on the same evening that Julia appeared to me. I have already said that the magnet which drew Mr Thompson to these seances was the opportunity given to him of meeting and talking to a daughter who had passed away some years previously.
On this special evening the daughter materialised as usual, and came out from the cabinet. As Mr Thompson was sitting next to me at the time, I could distinctly hear Mrs Gray whisper to him:
"Would you not like to take your daughter into the other room, Mr Thompson? It is rather crowded here to-night. You would be quieter in there."
Mr Thompson got up at once, and greeted the materialised form, and they disappeared through the folding doors to the reception-room. Other matters of interest were occurring, and I had quite forgotten the absence of Mr Thompson in the dimly lighted room (in those days the light was always dim at first), until I found he was again occupying the seat next to my own. I had not noticed his return, and asked him at once 'what he had done with his daughter.' A good half hour must have elapsed between his disappearance and return. He said, quite simply and as a matter of course: "Oh, she did not care to come back into this crowded room. We had half-an-hour's chat, and then she de-materialised in the other room, and I returned alone."
I can only repeat that Mr Knapton Thompson was a shrewd, practical Yorkshireman, and a very successful man of business, as was proved by the orders he received in America for the stoves he had invented.
He was certainly under the impression that he could be trusted to recognise his own daughter when allowed the privilege of half-an-hour's conversation with her, tete-a-tete in a private room.
I cannot end this chapter without saying something about Keely of Philadelphia and his intuitional genius.
I had hoped to have the opportunity of meeting this wonderful man during my last stay in Philadelphia, U.S.A. (March 1897), but was disappointed in this expectation. Therefore, on the outer plane, my connection with Keely never went beyond a single interview with his wife; but this is a record of personal intuitions as well as of personal events, and I know no one with regard to whom my intuitions—absolutely lacking in any physical ground of proof, or even mental ground of comprehension—have been stronger or more obstinate.
At the time of my first visit to America, so far back as 1885, I had not the faintest conception of Keely's work, or what he claimed to have discovered or to be on the track of discovering. I never heard his name mentioned without being told at the same time that he was either a silly madman or a conscious impostor, and as I came with an entirely unprejudiced mind (for I had never heard of Keely before landing in America), it would have been natural to accept this universal opinion.
Yet something stronger than reason was always silently contradicting these assertions, when made in my presence. Friends and acquaintances alike in those days laughed at Keely's claims, and denounced his boasted discovery as pure imposture.
"'Tisn't! 'Tisn't! 'Tisn't!" that persistent little voice kept whispering in my ear all the time, like a naughty, obstinate child who contradicts from sheer ignorance—or was it a spiritual intuition? Time alone can answer that question; anyway, I kept my ideas to myself, for they had no foundation in fact at the time of which I speak.
In 1897 the position for me was altered. A sensible and dependable friend of mine—a well-known banker in Philadelphia—described to me his experiences and those of other prominent citizens during a demonstration of Mr Keely's powers; and the old insistent voice that spoke to my ignorance before, spoke now to some glimmering understanding of the claim put forth. This claim—even then jeered at by the world at large—had to wait shivering in the cold another nine years, before Mr Frederic Soddy clothed it in respectable scientific garb by speaking publicly of the possibilities in the future connected with atomic disintegration and consequent liberation of energy.
But the yelping curs of Calumny that pursued Keely during his lifetime are still upon the dead man's tracks.
"His methods were fraud and imposture, anyway"; "His wires were tubes containing compressed air," and so forth. The M.F.H. of this pack of hounds was the son of a lady whose name will always be honourably mentioned with that of Keely as one of his most generous supporters.
The initial misfortune in the whole matter was the forming and starting of the Keely Motor Company to utilise the discovery, which should first have been placed under the protection of Science.
Ignorant and impatient shareholders thought only of their own material advantages and dividends. They were Keely's first enemies, with their sensational and premature advertisements of results and "200 horse-power engines ready to patent, etc.," whilst the poor man was still struggling with his tremendous problem—i.e. to control the force that he had discovered.
He attempted this first by confining it, but it blew everything to atoms, and his own fingers off into the bargain!
Occultists—including Madame Blavatsky—always declared this latent atomic energy was a fact, but that Keely would never be allowed to demonstrate it, for the world was not yet prepared for such a tremendous dynamic force to be let loose upon it, and that the most serious abuses and disasters would follow, if once he succeeded in bringing his discovery into practical working order.
They said it would be one of two things: either Keely's experiments in this direction would continue to fail in the crucial point necessary, or that if he succeeded it would be his own death warrant, lest any mischief should accrue from his making his methods public.
In view of these pronouncements, the succeeding events in Keely's career are interesting.
The Times (U.S.A.) of 6th March 1898 contained the following announcement, under Keely's own signature:—
After twenty-five years' labour I have solved the problem of harnessing the ether (which elsewhere he says is only the medium of the force he discovered) and adapting it to commercial uses. I have finished experimenting.—My work is now completed. (Signed) JOHN W. KEELY.
On 18th November of this same year he died.
Within two months, his generous friend and patron, Mrs Blomfield Moore, followed him to another sphere. Keely's final discovery of the means of "harnessing the ether," as he calls it, was through holding it in rotation instead of in confinement.
I am allowed to quote an extract from a private letter with regard to this statement.
"This instrument ruptures the luminous envelopes of the hydrogen corpuscles, liberating the mysterious substance, which is put into such high rotation that it forms its own wall of confinement at 420,000 revolutions per second, as calculated. Independent of this rotation in the tube, where it is projected, it could be no more held in suspension than a ray of sunshine could be held in a darkened room."
I have been given to understand that a faithful account of everything that has occurred in connection with Keely's discovery has been compiled, and will be published "when the time comes for the truth to be made known."
It is, of course, possible that this disclosure may be anticipated by the arrival of another "crank and impostor" of the Keely type. Let us trust he may arise from within and not from without, scientific circles, and thus avoid his martyrdom!
Meanwhile it may be interesting to quote from a published letter of Lascelles-Scott, the Government physicist from Forest Gate, who visited Keely's workshop in the interests of Science, and who was allowed to cut and bring away with him pieces of the wire Keely was using. (Said to be tubes by the wiseacres!)
The following is the essential portion of Mr Lascelles-Scott's letter. I only omit courteous expressions of gratitude to the editor and "to the institutions and individuals alike" of the "beautiful city of Philadelphia" where he was able to carry out his investigations.
Letter from Mr Lascelles-Scott to the Editor of The Public Ledger, Philadelphia.
The only corrections of sufficient importance, to the general sense of my observations at the Franklin Institute last Wednesday night, to call for notice in your otherwise admirable report, are the following:—
Although my observations were only put forward as "preliminary," inasmuch as I have not yet completed the outlined programme I had in view, no words actually used by me justified the expression that "I had formed no very definite opinions."
On the contrary, I stated more than once the very definite opinion that Mr Keely has demonstrated to me, in a way which is absolutely unquestionable, the existence of a force hitherto unknown. (The italics are mine.—E. K. B.)
The conditions under which the experiments were carried out (as I distinctly stated) were such as to preclude the possibility of the results obtained being due to any ordinary source of power, evident or concealed.
Moreover, I satisfied myself that the rotation of the "vibrodyne" was neither due to, nor accompanied by, any traces of electricity or magnetism. So far my opinion is and was expressed as being of the most definite kind possible.
... I stated, and the statement was greeted by the audience with great and prolonged applause, that, after a little adjustment of the "Sympathetic Transmitter," it was found that by the sounding of one of the small English tuning forks I had brought with me from the other side of the Atlantic, upon the said "Transmitter," I could myself start the vibrodyne, and cause it to revolve rapidly, without Mr Keely's intervention, and I exhibited to the meeting, the fork actually used by me.—Thanking you in anticipation, etc., I am, sir, yours obediently, W. LASCELLES-SCOTT.
One would have supposed that this testimony, in addition to that of other scientists and practical electricians, would have sufficed to disintegrate Atomic Stupidity and Calumny, and liberate the forces of Humility and Sane Investigation.
But prejudiced Ignorance dies hard!
* * * * *
To end my chapter on a pleasanter note than this, I will quote from a private letter which I have been privileged to read, the beautiful words in which Keely describes his own achievements.
I have no power that is not communicated to me in the same way that this machine receives its power: through celestial radiation from the Soul of Matter, the Mind force of the Creator, whose instrument I am. I know who is leading me and making all things work together for good.
A HAUNTED CASTLE IN IRELAND
In the year 1898 I was spending a few days in Castle Rush, which has been described by Mr W. T. Stead as the most haunted castle in Ireland. It is one of the few old Irish castles still inhabited, and is naturally haunted by the ghosts of the past in every meaning of the word.
At the time of my stay I was recovering from a severe illness, and, in fact, was sent off to bed immediately upon arrival by my kind hostess, who, with true hospitality, thought more of her guest's comfort than the conventionalities of life, and would not hear of my lingering, even to make acquaintance with my host, on the dark autumnal evening of my arrival.
This had taken place after driving many miles and waiting for a dreary long time in the little inn of a small Irish township. My doctor would not hear of any railway travelling just then, so the whole forty miles from my last stopping-place had to be negotiated between the carriages of my past and present hospitable hosts.
As a matter of fact, I believe I slept in one of the haunted rooms, but it looked cheerful enough when I entered from the gloom and darkness outside; and a dainty little dinner sent up by my kind friends below, and eaten when snugly tucked in between the sheets and resting on soft downy pillows, was enough to drive all thoughts of ghostly visitors from my head.
I am thankful to say that I neither heard nor saw anything during my short visit, and should not even have known that my room had had any evil reputation but for the visit of an eccentric and clever old lady, who had been specially asked to the castle to meet me.
After luncheon we adjourned to my bedroom, at her suggestion, and she said casually:
"Ah, you have this room, I see. It was terribly haunted once, but I held a sort of little service here some time ago, and cleared them all out."
I must explain that this good lady took a very optimistic view of her own capacities and powers in general, and spoke—from the psychic point of view—with the honest pride that a flesh and blood charwoman might display on going over premises that she had thoroughly scrubbed and "cleaned out"!
One morning after breakfast, my hostess, Mrs Kent, called to me to come quickly and see a curious sight. It was a pouring wet day—one of those days when the heavens open and the rain descends in buckets! I could see nothing more remarkable than the damp, autumnal leaves, the bare trees swaying in the wind-washed spaces, and the pouring, ceaseless rain.
"Don't you see that girl over there?"
I looked again, and did see a girl just emerging from a clump of beeches, and carrying a small trunk upon her head.
"What an extraordinary day to choose for travelling," I said drily.
"Ah, that is Irish superstition!" rejoined my hostess. "That is my last kitchen-maid you see—she is walking seven miles, with that trunk on her head, sooner than wait a few hours, when I could have sent her to the station."
"Is she mad?" was my natural comment.
"Oh no! only desperately frightened. She has not been here a week yet, and she is much too terrified to be coherent. All I can make out is that nothing on earth would induce her to spend another night at Rush. I could have sent her over to Marley easily to-morrow morning at eight o'clock, but she would not hear of it. And whether she has really seen anything, or only been frightened by the stories of the other servants, I don't know. Anyway, she has certainly the courage of her opinions, and is prepared to suffer for them! I would rather meet half-a-dozen ghosts than carry that trunk on my head seven miles in this pouring rain." Then turning round carelessly, she remarked: "I suppose you have not seen or heard anything, Miss Bates, since you came? I hope not, for I am sure you are not strong enough for mundane visitors yet, let alone the other kind."
We were passing through the handsome circular hall at the time, and I said eagerly: "Oh no! Thank goodness, I've seen and heard nothing. I don't think I should be allowed to see anything whilst I am so weak and poorly."
Almost at the moment of saying these words something impelled me to place my hand upon a particular spot in the great stone wall by my side. "But there is something here I don't like," I said, tapping it—"something uncanny—but I don't know what it is."
Mrs Kent made no remark; and I thought no more of the circumstance until the following year, when I was told by Mr Stead that Mrs Kent was over in England, and had been lunching with him and asking for me.
"She was giving me a most graphic account of the way you 'spotted' those skeletons at Rush Castle," he said.
I was completely puzzled by this remark. I had never spotted a single skeleton to my knowledge, either at Rush or elsewhere, and I told him so; but he persisted in saying that Mrs Kent had told him a very different story, and that most certainly she had mentioned me as the percipient.
"She must have mixed me up with somebody else," was my final comment. "No doubt many people have queer experiences there, and she might naturally make such a mistake."
"Well, I gave her your address, and she is writing to ask you to have tea with her at the club, so you and she can fight it out there," he said; and the conversation drifted into other channels.
Next afternoon I met Mrs Kent at her club, and before leaving, fortunately remembered the curious mistake about the skeletons I had "spotted."
"But you did 'spot' them," she said, laughing. "Don't you remember my asking you if you had noticed anything curious, or heard or seen anything, during your visit? At first you said 'Thank goodness, no!' But immediately afterwards you put your hand on a particular part of the circular hall, and said: 'There is something uncanny just here—something I don't like.'"
"Yes; I remember all that. But what of it? You never told me anything about skeletons."
"Of course not—you were not in a condition of health to discuss such eerie questions just then. All the same, you had located the exact spot where only a week before your visit, my husband's agent told him that two skeletons had been found bricked up!"
She then explained that the agent had been on the estate for many years, even before the death of the late owner of Rush—her father-in-law. Having some business with her husband the week before my arrival, this agent had casually mentioned that he and the former owner had found these skeletons in the very spot indicated by me, about forty years previously, and, strange to relate, had bricked them up again instead of burying them. This last fact may account in part at least for the spooky reputation of Castle Rush.
All good psychics know that nothing disturbs a spirit so much as any informality about his funeral arrangements!
To return to my visit to Castle Rush.
Some years previously I had met, on an Orient steamer sailing from Ceylon to Naples, a brother of the owner of Rush. He was a sailor, and as hard-headed and practical a man as it has ever been my lot to meet. It was in no way through meeting him that my visit to Rush came about, but owing to my acquaintance with Mrs Kent and her family.
I had been greatly taken by the genial common-sense of this Captain Kent, and was much grieved to hear of his death when I stayed with his sister-in-law. It had occurred shortly before my visit, and under sad circumstances.
On the surface he was certainly more lacking in sentiment than anyone I ever met, but must have been capable of very deep affection. When I met him he had only been married for a few months. His wife died within two years of their marriage, and going for a short holiday to Castle Rush soon afterwards, he said to his sister-in-law:
"I shall not live a year after her, I know!" He was the last kind of man to make such a speech, as both Mrs Kent and I observed when she mentioned it to me.
"But he was quite right, all the same," she added. "He died just three days within the year from the time of his wife's death." Yet he was an exceptionally strong, sturdy, and wiry man at the time of his great sorrow.
From Castle Rush I was going to the south of Ireland to visit relations at Cork.
On the morning of my departure I was down in the drawing-room, rather wondering why I had been brought to this old Irish castle. No special object seemed to have been achieved by my visit. I did not even know then that I had discovered two skeletons! In those days I found so often some train of circumstances—a borrowed book, a stranger coming across my path, some unexpected visit paid, which were later found to have been factors in a special experience—that I was rather surprised to realise that I was leaving the "most haunted castle in Ireland" and that nothing had happened.
But in the very moment of saying this to myself a curiously insistent impression came to me quite suddenly, and "out of the blue."
The impression was that the brother of my host, Captain Kent, was wishing very urgently to communicate something through me. I did not feel equal to taking any message at the time—I have already explained that I was only just recovering from a severe illness. Lunch and a long drive to the station and a weary railway journey lay before me, so I determined to do nothing until I was safely established with my cousins near Cork.
After a long, cold, and wet journey I arrived in pouring rain, my train being more than a hour late. The kind General who came to meet me was still patiently standing on the platform, but one of the two "cars" he had engaged for me and my baggage had taken itself off! As the rain was descending in water-spouts, I need scarcely say it was the "covered car" which had driven away!
This meant a thorough wetting for my cousin and me. How all the luggage (including a large bicycle, and two people, in addition to the driver) was ever piled up on that small "outside Irish car" I have never been able to understand. Suffice it to say the miracle was performed, and we drove up a hill at an angle of about forty-five degrees into the bargain!
Clearly these were not ideal conditions for receiving automatic messages!
I was put to bed at once with hot bottles and hot soup, and soon forgot my past troubles in a long refreshing sleep.
I was still in the invalid stage of "breakfast in bed," and when this had been cleared away, the remembrance of Captain Kent flashed into my mind, and I found pencil and papers at once, in order to redeem my promise.
The message was rather a curious one, and its opening sentence evidently referred to the eccentric old lady whom I have mentioned as being asked to meet me at luncheon at Castle Rush.
So far as I can remember them, the words (very characteristic of Captain Kent's genial but rather brusque style) ran as follows:—
After speaking of the alleged hauntings at Castle Rush as having only too much foundation in fact, he went on: "It's all rubbish, that old woman saying she had cleared them all away! Nothing of the kind. There are plenty of malicious spirits about still, and now that an heir is coming to Rush they are keener than ever to try and work some mischief. No use saying anything to Tom (his brother). He will only laugh, and say it is all skittles. But tell my little sister-in-law to PRAY—PRAY—PRAY. That is all they need and all she needs either."
Now this was not exactly the message one cared to send to a rather recent acquaintance. To begin with, the reference to Mrs Kent's valued friend in the opening sentence was scarcely polite! Then again, the prophecy of an heir to Rush was one that I regretted should have been made, as it would probably only lead to disappointment. Mrs Kent's first child had been a little son, from whose loss she had never recovered. When I was staying at the castle, two nice little girls, old enough to come down to early dinner, at our luncheon hour, comprised the family. Another child was certainly expected to arrive about Christmas-time (my visit was paid in September), but Mrs Kent herself was fully convinced that this would be another girl, as she said rather sadly. It seemed a pity to disturb her mind by raising false hopes.
But, as usual, I felt bound to send the message, with the customary explanations and apologies.
Mrs Kent was greatly interested by it and by the "PRAY—PRAY—PRAY," which, as she explained to me, had a very special meaning for her. It had only struck me as an exceedingly unlikely message for the Captain Kent I had known, to send to anyone.
I am glad to be able to record that the Christmas gift did arrive in the shape of a baby boy, "heir to Rush," who is still alive and flourishing, thank God! I hear that he calls himself "the master," with a true Irish brogue, and lords it over his elder sisters in the regular chieftain style!
To this year belongs another strong impression of psychic atmosphere, left in a room which I occupied in the south of England.
It was a most comfortable room, with nothing in the least ghostly about it. Merely I had an unpleasant feeling that controversies and discussions had taken place in the room, and that a want of harmony hung about it in consequence.
On mentioning this rather tentatively to the master of the house—a very orthodox clergyman—I was told: "Oh dear, no! Nothing of the kind—you are certainly mistaken!"
But when an opportunity arose I changed my room, and felt very much more comfortable in consequence of doing so.
Several times I had noticed on the hall table, letters which had come by post addressed to another clergyman, whose name I had not heard, and who was certainly not staying in the house. Remarking upon this casually to a nice young governess one day, she said at once that the gentleman in question had spent several months with Mr and Mrs Dale in the Vicarage, but that he had died a few weeks before my arrival. "He slept in the room you had when you first came, by-the-by. I was so glad when you changed your room."
"He was a clergyman, I see," was my next remark; and I looked at the envelope which had led to this explanation.
"Yes; he was in orders, but he had become a complete agnostic for some years. During the last few weeks of his life—when he had to keep his bed—Mr Dale was always going up there, and having long arguments and discussions with him; but I don't suppose it did much good: it only worried him very much. He was too ill to listen to long arguments then, and wanted just kind, soothing words, I should have thought."
As the girl retreated to the school-room I naturally pondered over this fresh testimony to the truth of psychic atmosphere. No sensitive can question the fact, but at present we know little or nothing of the laws which condition the fact.
My friend Mr W. T. Stead kindly allows me to mention another incident connected with personal experiences of mine in the year 1898.
In the opening month of that year he lost a much-valued friend, who had worked for him loyally, both in his office and also with regard to some of his philanthropic schemes.
This lady in a fit of delirium, incident upon a severe attack of illness, threw herself out of a window in her flat. A fortnight before this sad occurrence, she had seen another resident in the same set of flats throw herself out of the window, and Mr Stead has always feared that this acted as a suggestion upon her mind in delirium, and led her to do the same thing. Her own account of the cause of her action differs somewhat from this impression, as will be seen later.
Mr Stead was naturally greatly affected by Mrs Morris' sudden death and the circumstances attending it, and having some of her hair cut off after her death, he sent portions of it to at least twelve well-known clairvoyants, hoping to receive some satisfactory solution of the mystery, and also, possibly, a sign decided upon between him and this lady. They were both interested in psychic matters, and had agreed to believe in no communications from the other side purporting to come from one or other of them, unless this preliminary sign were given.
Mrs Besant—an intimate friend of Mr Stead—was one of the oracles consulted, and was very confident of being able to find out all details, including the mystic sign.
But both she and Mr Leadbeater were as absolutely unsuccessful as less gifted mortals proved to be.
In spite of exceptional opportunities for coming in touch with the most noted psychics, in spite of the valuable clue given by hair cut after death, the test seemed quite hopeless, since twelve of the best clairvoyants had been consulted, and all had failed in turn.
A few weeks after hearing about this from Mr Stead, I was invited by an old friend in London to meet at her house, at luncheon, Miss Rowan Vincent, a non-professional sensitive, well known to many of my readers.
I had never seen this lady before, and had little speech with her during the meal.
She was talking very earnestly to a military man—the son-in-law of our hostess—whilst the latter and I were having an interesting conversation to ourselves.
General Maxwell, having a train to catch, did not accompany us to the drawing-room.
On arrival there Miss Rowan Vincent said to me very kindly: "Can I do anything for you now, Miss Bates? Shall I try if I can see anything for you?"
Something induced me, quite against my will, to say: "Do you ever get messages by writing, Miss Vincent?"
"No; I have never done so, but I can try," she answered rather eagerly.
How I bewailed my stupidity in making such a suggestion! I had diverted her mind from her own special gift, which was that of seeing a person's psychic surroundings, and had switched her on to an entirely novel and untried experiment. I had not even the excuse of being specially interested in automatic writing, which was so easily obtained at home; whereas I was greatly interested in seeing whether any of my "other side" friends could make themselves perceptible through this sensitive.
However, the mischief was done past remedy. The suggestion had taken firm root in Miss Rowan Vincent's mind, and she was not to be diverted from it. So I resigned myself patiently to the results of my own foolish remark, whilst she took pencil and paper and sat down expectantly.
Soon she looked up, the writing having already begun.
"Do you know any William? There seems to be some message from a William, as far as I can make out."
Having had a favourite cousin of that name, I told her it might be quite correct, and I should be glad to receive any message that came.
A few moments passed, and then Miss Vincent said, in a puzzled tone:
"It is not from William—the message is to some William—I cannot understand it at all." She pushed the paper rather impatiently towards me. Written upon it clearly but faintly were these words:
DEAR WILLIAM,—I want to explain to you how I came to fall out of that window—it was not my fault really—someone came up behind and pushed me out. ETHEL.
The signature was rather indistinct, but quite unmistakable to me; but then I knew the Christian name of Mr Stead's friend, and realised at once that she was taking this opportunity of sending a message to him.
I asked Miss Vincent what name was written at the bottom of the paper. "It looks like Ethel," she said, "but it is not very clear. I will ask the spirit to write it again." A very bold and unmistakable signature was at once given.
I concealed my excitement, and said quietly to Miss Vincent:
"I think I know from whom the message comes and for whom it is intended, but to make quite sure it would be very satisfactory if the spirit could give through you a sign agreed upon by the sender and the recipient and unknown to everyone else."
"Well, I will try," said Miss Vincent at once. She had scarcely touched the pencil when it began describing a circle. "There is no doubt about my having to make a circle," she said, laughing. "Oh, now I am to put a cross into it," she added.
Within a few seconds both these were given, and to our great delight—as well as to his—the sign was recognised by Mr Stead as being the one agreed upon, and which had hopelessly puzzled all the other mediums.
I must now note a curious episode connected with my friend Judge Forbes, whose astral influence I had traced clinging to the rooms he once occupied in Cambridge.
As before mentioned, he had married, and I had lost sight of him and his whole family for many years. But we had several mutual friends, through whom I had heard of the birth of his only son and only child, and later of the boy being sent to Eton, and eventually entering the army.
This was very shortly before the breaking out of the South African War, and the young fellow was one of many who were drafted from India, after a few months' service there, to help to defend their Queen's possessions and their countrymen's lives and property in South Africa.
Later, young Forbes was shut up in Ladysmith, and one cold, dismal day in January (6th January 1900) I was lying very ill in bed with a severe bronchial attack in the house of my eldest brother in Hampshire, when the latter came home one evening from the Winchester Club and told us of the celebrated sortie and the death of three young English officers. The name of Forbes of the Royal Rifles figured amongst these, and I felt convinced that it must be the only child of my old friend.
Without hesitation I prepared to write a few short lines of sympathy with the heart-broken father. In vain my sister-in-law protested against my concluding at once that it must be the judge's son, since other members of the family of the same name were known to be in the army. I had not a moment's doubt that this was the boy already mentioned, and even a silence of over twenty years seemed to present no difficulty in expressing one's deep sympathy, in the face of such a sorrow.
The real drawback lay in my weak state of health and physical inability to write more than a few lines. But in these I expressed a hope that in time my poor friend might come to realise that his boy was "as much alive and as near to him as ever—perhaps nearer."
It will indicate how entirely all relations between us had been broken off for many years, when I say that I did not even know the judge's private address, and was forced to send my letter to his court. In a day or two I received a very touching and grateful answer, pathetic not only in its grief, but even more in his frankly avowed inability to derive any consolation from the thoughts that my short note had suggested. Resignation to the inscrutable will of God was the keynote of the letter. In some far-distant future he might be permitted once more to see his beloved son, but meanwhile all was gloom and misery.
The episode was over. I had expressed my sincere sympathy with an overwhelming sorrow, I had received a most kind and appreciative answer—no more could be done in the matter.