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at our interview as a young lady of about twenty. Miss Browne cannot
remember the incident in her fifth year, but told me that she had some-
times written automatically since that date ; her arm used to feel numb
while doing so.

872. I give in 872 A another instance of a little girl, only four
years of age, who had no knowledge of her letters, and who wrote
several significant words " Your Aunt Emma."

873. I now quote in full a general account of his experiences in
automatic writing by a Mr. W., from whom I have already cited a minor
experience, also of a motor type, in 823. Dr. Hodgson visited and had
long talks with him, and formed the highest impression of his ability
and care. Some of the automatic messages are perhaps best explicable
on the hypothesis of subliminal telaesthesia, others by telepathy from
living minds, while others are at least primd facie referable to a source
in the mind of a departed person, from whom they professed to come.
Whether there are in reality so many different origins of a series of
messages given to one automatist, or whether any one explanation can be
made to cover them all, is a matter to which we shall have to return in
the next chapter.

(From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. pp. 242-48.)

N.Y., November \$th, 1891.

DR. RICHARD HODGSON, DEAR SIR, Recently I learned that you are
the Secretary of the American Branch of the Society for Psychical Research.
Being interested in the subject, I concluded to write to you, offering a state-
ment of my own experience. As so-called spiritual manifestations are viewed
unfavourably here, and as it would be much to my detriment if my connection
with the subject were to become known, I ask that my name be withheld from
the public.

For the past five years I have been a so-called writing medium. The
writing is involuntary on my part, and the thoughts expressed are not mine
that is, as far as I know they are not mine.



873] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 173

Sometimes, instead of writing, off-hand pen work will be done, but it is not
of a very high order. In the writing the penmanship is generally very good,
and the thoughts expressed are generally good, and are sometimes valuable.
As you are undoubtedly familiar with this class of writing, I will not go into
details, but will leave you to inquire for such facts as you see fit.

I am anxious to find a satisfactory explanation of this, and I hope the
Society may yet be able to furnish one.

As an indication of the trend of my thoughts, I will add that for the past
thirteen or fourteen years I have been a student of the works of Herbert Spencer
and other great men of liberal views, and that I am an evolutionist, so called.

If you think my experience will be of use, please call for it. You may send
questions, or you may state in a general way the outline of what will be of use.

N.Y., December 22nd, 1891.

DR. RICHARD HODGSON, SIR, . . . Five years ago I was in Vermont on
business, and while there made a visit at the home of a relative. In the even-
ing, for amusement, a planchette was produced and operated. Pretty soon it
was written that I was a writing medium, and I was requested to try with a
pencil. I took a pencil in my hand and to my surprise I found I could write
some in the " automatic " manner. The writing was not very good and was
accompanied with more or less breaks and difficulties. It was written that
practice would make it much freer and better. This I found to be so. Persons
in the room asked as to dates on pieces of money and other similar tests, and
the answers were generally correct. After that I wrote some almost daily for
some time and soon became quite a ready writer in this manner.

On one occasion, not long after, a friend, of whose life I had known nothing
until about that time, proposed to ask some questions mentally and see if the
answers written would be correct. It was written that the spirit of his wife was
present. I inquired (mentally) for her name. In reply her name was written
out in full, correctly. I did not know her name : I knew that he was a widower,
and I knew no more of his wife or the matters inquired about. My friend then
asked (mentally) where she died and when ? The answers were correct. He
then asked, " What was the cause of her death ? " The answer, " Heart
disease," was correct. He then asked for the circumstances of her death. It
was written that she died suddenly, at night, by the side of him, in bed, and
that the first thing he knew of herydeath was when he found her dead in the
morning. This was correct. He asked for her age, size, and for any particular
mark by which she could be identified ? The answer was correct as to age and
size, and as to identification it was written that she had a large scar near the
knee, caused by a burn. This was also correct.

Many other questions were asked and answered ; and whether he asked the
questions aloud, or mentally to himself, the answers were strictly correct in
almost every instance. There was no one but us two present.

On another occasion, about the same time, I made inquiry (I was alone)
touching a case I was then investigating. Briefly, the facts are these :
A wealthy widow, Mrs. X., had died at her summer cottage with no one
present save her sister and a neighbour. She left a will : by its terms this
sister was to receive several thousand dollars. Our client, Mrs. Y., was also
a legatee and the executrix of the will ; and as such it was her duty to collect
in all assets. Our client knew it to be a fact that the deceased had in cash
in her possession a short time before her death about $700. After Mrs. X.'s



174 CHAPTER VIII [873

death no money was found, and the sister who was with her claimed there
was no money; that Mrs. X. bad no money at the time of her death about
her, except some $15. Our client saw this sister and questioned her closely,
but to no purpose. I did not see or know this sister until some time after
the writing I am about to give. The question was, what had become of the
$700 ? Alone by myself I asked for the facts, which were written out much in
detail, but in substance the facts as written were these : That the deceased had
on her person at the time of her death about $600; that she had spent the
other $100 ; that immediately after her death her sister, Mrs. Z., had stolen the
$600 from her dead body ; that she had since spent some of it and deposited
the balance, some $500, in a bank in the village of A. In the course of a few
days we made inquiry, and learned that Mrs. Z. had made the deposit there,
but had recently drawn it out. We then cited her before the Surrogate, and
she swore that just before the death of Mrs. X. (the same night she died) Mrs.
X. gave her the money, $520, to give to a nephew as a present; that there was
only $520; that she had just given it to the nephew. We commenced a suit
against her for the money ($520) and recovered it. The jury did not believe
her defence and made her pay. I have only stated so much of the case as
seems to bear on the " automatic " writing. The question is, where did I get
the knowledge of the theft, the amount and the deposit in the bank ? I may
add that we afterwards learned she did spend some money about that time
that we always thought was some she took in addition to the $520, and it
would have made the sum stolen about $600.

About four and a half years ago an aunt of mine, Miss T., learned that she
had a cancer growing on her breast. She had it cut out, and soon was
apparently in very fair health. After a few months she began to fail very
much ; was about the house, but was very generally run down. Cancer did not
reappear. She was not said by her doctors to be in any immediate danger ;
but for some reason I made inquiry, and to my surprise it was written that she
was very badly off, and that she would only live a very short time. I inquired
the cause, &c., and it was written that her system was poisoned through and
through with cancerous matter. I inquired as to when she would die ? The
answer was that it was impossible to tell just when, that the most that
could be said was that she would live about thirty days, judging from a
careful examination of her case made at that time. It was written that she
would certainly die, that she could not possibly get better or live much longer
than thirty days. Within the next week or so I inquired on several occasions
as to the matter, but the answers were always to the same effect and positive.
My aunt declined fast and died at the time set within a day, and I think it was
just thirty days. She was abed only ten days or so. A post-mortem showed
she died from cancerous poisoning.

On many occasions I have made inquiry as to whether certain sick ones
would die or recover ; and if die, when ? Generally the answers proved very
correct.

About a year ago I was writing (for the spirit of deceased friend, Mr. A. so
claimed). After some writing of a friendly nature, it was written substantially
as follows : " There is one thing that I wish you could do for me, but I don't
see how you can, and that is, stop my son " (name fully given) " from drinking."
I answered (by thought), " Why, I am surprised. He doesn't drink, does he ?
that is, not any to speak of, any way ? " A. : " Yes, I am sorry to say he drinks



873] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 175

a good deal too much." Q. : " Where does he do his drinking mostly?" A. ;
" At the B. Hotel." I said I never heard of his drinking. A. : " Well, you
watch and inquire, and you will find out that he does." " I should be very glad
to be of some service in the matter." A. : " If I see a chance where you can I
shall certainly call on you."

Upon investigation I found this was all true.

In May 1887, while looking for authorities on an obscure point in a case
I was then preparing for trial, it was written in substance : " I know where the
authority is that you need.'' Q. : "Where?" A.: "In 'Wendell's Reports,'
vol., page." Q. : " Who are you ? " A. : " I am A. B." The volume and
page, as well as the name, were given in full; the name was that of an old
lawyer that I had known well. The case cited was just what I needed. I had
never seen or heard of the case before to my best knowledge. There are
twenty-six volumes of " Wendell's Reports," of about 700 pages each.

I frequently find as I am examining indexes for judgment-debtors, grantees
or grantors, &c., in clerks' offices, and elsewhere, that there is the same
manifestation of intelligence in another form. Let me explain : Say I am
searching an index under the head of " S," looking for the name of Stearns,
John J. By placing my hand or finger on the book, drawing it along down
over the names, with no thought of the work in hand, as soon as my finger
passes the name desired my finger will stop. My eyes must be directed
towards the book, but no matter how listless or absent-minded I may be, still
at such times my finger will stop at the name in question. When contrasted
with ordinary searching the unconscious intelligence that seems to be behind
this is very marked.

Once, being much in doubt, I asked, " What ails ? " (one of my sons)

" What shall I do for him ? " The answer was, " You had better not try to do
anything for him, but go and get Dr. T. He will know what to do." I called
Dr. T. He examined him and immediately gave an emetic. The contents of
the stomach showed that digestion had been stopped, or rather, that the food
had not digested at all. The boy recovered rapidly. Dr. T. said it was well I
t called him. The boy had been rather suddenly taken ill a few hours after a
hearty meal and soon after a severe fright or mental strain.

In a contested case over a certain clause or bequest in the will of C. we
had been defeated and were about to appeal to the Court of Appeals, our
highest court. It was my opinion, also my partner's, that we would win on
the appeal ; but upon inquiry it was written that we should be beaten, and
this opinion was expressed on several occasions, with very good reasons
assigned. We were advised not to appeal. We brought the appeal and were
defeated.

I have made many inquiries as to whether certain sick persons would re-
cover or die. The answers have been very correct, generally. Writing touching
the future is generally stated to be but an opinion, based on known facts, and
fallibility is freely admitted. When opinions are written the reasons assigned
are very frequently not only new to me, or unthought of, but are generally good
reasons.

I have had a good deal of experience and made a good many tests. Those
I have given are a fair sample, I think, of the writing that proved to be true.
Many statements made were false and many predictions made proved untrue;
of these I have given no illustration, but could if necessary. I have done most



i;6 CHAPTER VIII [873

of my writing when no one was present. Perhaps I should state that it has
been repeatedly written not to believe any writing or statement unless my own
good judgment approved of it. I have written a good deal touching a future
state, political and philosophical matters. Of all this I have not spoken, as it
does not seem of much importance for our present purposes. In passing I will
say that much of it was apparently very good, and quite reasonable.

December 2$tk.

On Christmas Eve there was, as you are probably aware, a railway accident
near Hastings, a little way out from New York City, in which twelve persons
were killed and another has since died from injuries received. This last-men-
tioned person resided near me. The news of the injury to this person reached
me on Christmas Day. Telegrams in the afternoon were favourable, and indi-
cated a recovery. I made inquiry as to the matter, and it was written in
substance that the person would not recover. I suggested that telegrams
indicated a recovery. The answer was : " Yes ; but we have made an
examination, and are of opinion that no recovery will take place." Telegrams
the second day were still more favourable, but my writing did not change
in opinion. The party died at nine o'clock on the evening of the 26th, . . ,

January zgth, 1892.

DR. R. HODGSON, DEAR SIR, In reply to your inquiry for such facts as I
may be able to give, touching the experiences given you by my husband, as
automatic writer, I will state :

Not long after he began to write, some five years ago, I saw a sheet of paper
upon which was written a full account of the robbing of the body of the dead
sister. I read the account carefully. My husband said that he had written it
automatically ; that he had asked for the facts and that was the answer. The
account of it, as written out for you by my husband, is the same in substance
as what I saw and read, except it is very much shortened. I had the paper for
some time, and, I think, until after the facts as given were proven true ; but it
was destroyed long ago. I attended the trial of the suit brought to recover the
money. His account given you I believe to be correct.

The lady, Miss T., who had a cancer, was my aunt. The account of her
sickness and death are correctly given you by my husband, but I saw no
writing, although my husband told me at the time he had written something
concerning her, and he stated that it was written that she would die and told
when. I do not recall the time set, but I recollect her death occurred at the
time predicted.

I recollect the time referred to when our son was sick. I saw my

husband doing some writing on that occasion, and it was written to go and get
Dr. T. The account as written out for you by my husband is, as I recollect it,
true in every respect.

Concerning the accident of Christmas Eve, I remember that on Christmas
Day, after we heard of the accident, my husband did some writing. He said
he had inquired as to Mr. E.'s condition, &c., and that it was written that E.
would die, that he was internally and dangerously injured. On the next day
the answers that he received as to Mr. E.'s condition were to the same effect.
The telegrams received during the same time indicated that he would recover
one reported him out of danger. E. died about nine on the night of the 26th.



873] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 177

I have known my husband to write out correctly quite a good many things
that were out of the knowledge of ordinary persons, but of the circumstances
which he has given to you I do not now recall anything further.

[MRS. W.]

January 2<)th, 1892.

DR. RICHARD HODGSON, DEAR SIR, I recollect the occasion referred
to by Mr. W. I think it was about five years ago. We were alone ; he
spoke of the queer writing he was doing. After some talk on the subject
Mr. W. consented to try his skill. I inquired what spirits were present, and
Mr. W.'s hand wrote that my wife was. I inquired for her name, and he wrote
Adelia O. B., which was correct. I also inquired [when] she died, and where
and under what circumstances, and I asked for a description of her. Mr. W.
wrote out answers to all the questions as I asked them. As I recall it, I
asked most of the questions by thinking. He wrote that she died of heart
disease, and the date of her death was correctly given, as was also her per-
sonal appearance. And it was written that she died in bed with me ; that the
first I knew of her death was when I awoke in the morning. He also wrote
that there was a large scar near the knee on the left leg.

I recollect that the answers were correct, although I don't recollect all the
words used, perhaps. I am very certain that Mr. W. did not know anything
about my wife. I had not lived within twenty miles of him, neither had I known
him until several years after the death of my wife. It puzzled me how he was
able to answer as he did, as I have no reason to think he had any knowledge
on the subject. I will add that the height, colour of eyes and hair, and the
entire personal description given were exceedingly exact and correct.

Mr. W. also wrote on that occasion what purported to come from an old
friend of mine that he went fishing with me to Lake Ontario, that I tipped the
boat over near shore and got him wet. This was true, but I hadn't thought of
it in a long time. Mr. W. never heard of it, I am confident, until he wrote
it out. S. H. BRITTON.

As soon as Mr. Britton called my attention to the tipping over of the boat
I recalled that I wrote about it at the time. W.

Mr. W. adds later :

NEW YORK, February tfk, 1892.

I began my automatic writing with my left hand, and have ever since
been able to write in that manner with my left hand, but I am naturally right-
handed, and I can write more rapidly and readily with my right hand,
although the ideas expressed, &c., are of as high an order, as far as I have
observed, when written with one hand as when written with the other.

In automatic work, when the mechanical ability to form letters is not re-
quired, as, for instance, in running the hand down an index, I find my left hand
is fully the equal of my right. Perhaps I should state that I met with a serious
injury to my right hand many years ago, by which I lost the two first fingers
and greatly crippled my hand otherwise.

The reason that I did my first automatic writing with my left hand was that
the planchette directed me to do so. I wrote a day or two with my left hand,
and then I tried my right, and since that I have generally written with my
right. I can write some slowly in the natural manner with my left hand, but
have never done so but very little. The special point I wish to call attention to

VOL. II. M



i;8 CHAPTER VIII [874

is, that the ideas automatically written are of as high an order, written with one
hand, as with the other. . . .

Another experience of Mr. W.'s is given in 873 A.

It is plain that if we admit that departed spirits can still see and judge
of earthly matters, and can impress their knowledge on incarnate minds,
we should have a single explanation which would cover all Mr. W.'s
experiences as here recorded. It is to be noted, moreover, that the
premonitions, of which he gives several instances, are such as might fall
within the scope of a discarnate spirit, with intelligence comparable with
our own, but able to examine certain diseased organisms more thoroughly
than any earthly physician could do. This, it may be observed, was not
the case with the premonitions given to Lady Mabel Howard (851 A),
which involved a complexity of incident which looks as though it must
lie beyond the calculation of an intelligence like our own, however fully
informed of existing circumstances.

874. Deferring till the next chapter any further discussion of this
problem, I give here in 874 A a well-evidenced case of a prediction by
table-tilting of a precise date of death, at a distance of forty days.

875. I next quote a case which illustrates the continued terrene
knowledge on the part of the dead of which other instances were given in
the last chapter.

(From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. vi. pp. 349-53. The narrative is a transla-
tion from an article in Psychische Studien, December 1889, pp. 572-77, by the
Editor, the Hon. Alexander Aksakoff.)

The case belongs not to the category of facts which are known only to the
deceased, but to the category of those which could only be imparted by the
deceased, for it relates to a political secret concerning a living person, which
was revealed by an intimate friend of that living person for the purpose of
saving him. I shall set forth this case in all possible detail, because I consider
it a most convincing one in support of the Spiritualistic hypothesis. I will
even express myself still more strongly. I consider that it affords as absolute
a proof of identity as it is possible for evidence of this kind to present.

My readers are already acquainted with my sister-in-law, Mrs. A. von
Wiesler, from the part she took in the family stances held with me in the
years 1880-1883, after the decease of my wife. She has an only daughter,
Sophie, who at the time of those stances was completing her studies. She
had taken no part, either at our seances or at any others, and she had not
read anything about Spiritualism. Her mother also had not joined in any
stances except our own. One evening in October 1884, during the visit of a
distant relative, the conversation turned upon Spiritualism, and in order to
please him a trial with the table was arranged. The sdance, however, gave
no satisfactory result. It only showed that the two ladies were able to get
something. On Tuesday evening, January ist, 1885, Mrs. von Wiesler being
alone with her daughter, in order to divert her mind from some matters
which made her anxious, proposed to hold a little stance. An alphabet was
written out on a sheet of paper, a saucer with a black line as pointer served
as a planchette, and, behold, the name Andreas was indicated. This was



875] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 179

quite natural, for Andreas was the name of Sophie's father, the deceased
husband of Mrs. von Wiesler. The communication presented nothing re-
markable, but it was nevertheless resolved to continue the stances once a
week, on every Tuesday. For three weeks the character of the communica-
tions remained unchanged. The name Andreas was continually repeated.

But on the fourth Tuesday January 22nd in . place of the customary
name, Andreas, the name " Schura " was spelt out, to the great astonishment
of both sitters. Then, by quick and precise movements of the pointer, these
words were added :

" It is given to thee to save Nikolaus."

" What does this mean ? " asked the astonished ladies.

" He is compromised as Michael was, and will like him go to ruin. A band
of good-for-nothing fellows are leading him astray."

"What can be done to counteract it?"

" Thou must go to the Technological Institute before three o'clock, let Niko-
laus be called out, and make an appointment with him at his house."

This being all addressed to the young lady, Sophie, she replied that it
would be difficult for her to carry out these directions on account of the slight
acquaintanceship which existed between her and Nikolaus's family.

" Absurd ideas of propriety ! " was " Schura's" indignant reply.

" But in what way shall I be able to influence him ? " asked Sophie.

" Thou wilt speak to him in my name."

" Then your convictions no longer remain the same ? "

" Revolting error ! " was the reply.

I must now explain the meaning of this mysterious communication.
" Schura " is the Russian pet name for Alexandrine. Nikolaus and Michael
were her cousins. Michael, quite a young man, had unfortunately allowed
himself to become entangled by the revolutionary ideas of our Anarchists or



Online LibraryFrederic William Henry MyersHuman personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) → online text (page 25 of 89)