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bered for a few moments, in symbolic form, and then rapidly forgotten, as
the sleeper returned fully into the normal waking state. What is to be

212 CHAPTER IX [930

noted is that the personality of sleep to which I attribute the spiritual
excursion, seems at first to have been " controlling " the awakened
organism. In other words, Professor Thoulet was partially entranced or
possessed by his own spirit or subliminal self.

I quote from Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. pp. 503-5, a translation of
the original account of the case in the Annales des Sciences Psychiques
(September-October 1891).

Professor Thoulet writes to Professor Richet as follows :

April I7/A, 1891.

. . . During the summer of 1867, I was officially the assistant, but in reality
the friend, in spite of difference in age, of M. F., a former officer in the navy,
who had gone into business. We were trying to set on foot again the ex-
ploitation of an old sulphur mine at Rivanazzaro, near Voghera, in Piedmont,
which had been long abandoned on account of a falling in.

We occupied the same rooms, and our relations were those of father and
son, or of elder and younger brother. . . .

I knew that Madame F., who lived at Toulon, and with whom I was slightly
acquainted, would soon be confined. I cannot say I was indifferent about this
fact, for it concerned M. F. ; but it certainly caused me no profound emotion ;
it was a second child, all was going well, and M. F. was not anxious. I myself
was well and calm. It is true that a few days before, in Burgundy, my mother
had fallen out of a carriage ; but the fall had no bad consequences, and the
letter which informed me of it also told me there was no harm done.

M. F. and I slept in adjoining rooms, and as it was hot we left the door
between them open. One morning I sprang suddenly out of bed, crossed my
room, entered that of M. F., and awakened him by crying out, " You have just
got a little girl; the telegram says . . ." Upon this I began to read the
telegram. M. F. sat up and listened ; but all at once I understood that I had
been asleep, and that consequently my telegram was only a dream, not to be
believed ; and then, at the same time, this telegram which was somehow in my
hand and of which I had read about three lines aloud, word for word, seemed
to withdraw from my eyes as if some one were carrying it off open ; the words
disappeared, though their image still remained ; those which I had pronounced
remained in my memory, while the rest of the telegram was only -a. form.

I stammered something ; M. F. got up and led me into the dining-room,
and made me write down the words I had pronounced ; when I came to the
lines which, though they had disappeared from my memory, still remained
pictured in my eye, I replaced them by dots, making a sort of drawing of them.
Remark that the telegram was not written in common terms ; there were about
six lines of it, and I had read more than two of them. Then, becoming aware
of our rather incorrect costume, M. F. and I began to laugh, and went back to
our beds.

Two or three days after I left for Tore"e ; I tried in vain to remember the
rest of the telegram ; I went on to Turin, and eight or ten days after my dream
I received the following telegram from M. F., " Come directly, you were right."

I returned to Rivanazzaro and M. F. showed me a telegram which he had
received the evening before; I recognised it as the one I had seen in my
dream ; the beginning was exactly what I had written, and the end, which was
exactly like my drawing, enabled me to read again the words which I saw again.


Please remark that the confinement had taken place the evening before, and
therefore the fact was not that I, being in Italy, had seen a telegram which
already existed in France this I might with some difficulty have understood
but that I had seen it ten days before it existed or could have existed ; since
the event it announced had not yet taken place. I have turned this phenomenon
over in my memory and reasoned about it many times, trying to explain it, to
connect it with something, with a previous conversation, with some mental
tension, with an analogy, a wish, and all in vain. M. F. is dead, and the
paper I wrote has disappeared. If I were called before a court of justice about
it, I could not furnish the shadow of a material proof, and again the two
personalities which exist in me, the animal and the savant, have disputed on
this subject so often that sometimes I doubt it myself. However, the animal,
obstinate as an animal usually is, repeats incessantly that I have seen, and I
have read, and it is useless for me to tell myself that if any one else told me
such a story I should not believe it. I am obliged to admit that it happened.

Professor at the Facultf des Sciences at Nancy.

Professor Richet adds :

M. Thoulet has lately confirmed all the details contained in his letter. He
has no longer any written trace of this old story, but the recollection of it is
perfectly clear. He assured me that he had seen and read the telegram like a
real object. . . .

931. Next I quote a case where a kind of conversation is indicated
between the sleeper and some communicating spirit ; recalling the scraps
of conversation sometimes overheard (as it were) between Mrs. Piper and
some "control" when she is in the act of awaking from trance. These
moments " between two worlds " are often, as will be seen, of high signi-
ficance. In the case here cited we seem to see Mr. Goodall at first
misapprehending a message, and himself automatically uttering the
misapprehension, and then receiving the needed correction from his
invisible interlocutor.

From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. pp. 453-5. The following narrative
was communicated by Mr. Edward A. Goodall, of the Royal Society
of Painters in Water Colours, London :

May 1888.

At Midsummer, 1869, 1 left London for Naples. The heat being excessive,
people were leaving for Ischia, and I thought it best to go there myself.

Crossing by steamer, I slept one night at Casamicciola, on the coast, and
walked next morning into the town of Ischia.

Liking the hotel there better than my quarters of the previous night, I
fetched my small amount of luggage by help of a man, who returned with me
on foot beside an animal which I rode one of the fine, sure-footed, big
donkeys of the country. Arrived at the hotel, and while sitting perfectly still
in my saddle talking to the landlady, the donkey went down upon his knees as
if he had been shot or struck by lightning, throwing me over his head upon the
lava pavement. In endeavouring to save myself my right hand was badly
injured. It soon became much swollen and very painful. A Neapolitan

214 CHAPTER IX [932

doctor on the spot said no bones were broken, but perfect rest would be
needful, with my arm in a sling. Sketching, of course, was impossible, and
with neither books, newspapers, nor letters I felt my inactivity keenly.

It must have been on my third or fourth night, and about the middle of it,
when I awoke, as it seemed at the sound of my own voice, saying, " I know I
have lost nty dearest little May." Another voice, which I in no way recog-
nised, answered, " No, not May, but your youngest boy"

The distinctness and solemnity of the voice made such a distressing impres-
sion upon me that I slept no more. I got up at daybreak, and went out,
noticing for the first time telegraph-poles and wires.

Without delay I communicated with the postmaster at Naples, and by next
boat received two letters from home. I opened them according to dates out-
side. The first told me that my youngest boy was taken suddenly ill; the
second, that he was dead.

Neither on his account nor on that of any of my family had I any cause for
uneasiness. All were quite well on my taking leave of them so lately. My
impression ever since has been that the time of the death coincided as nearly
as we could judge with the time of my accident. 1

In writing to Mrs. Goodall, I called the incident of the voice a dream, as
less likely perhaps to disturb her than the details which I gave on reaching
home, and which I have now repeated.

My letters happen to have been preserved.

I have never had any hallucination of any kind, nor am I in the habit of
talking in my sleep. I do remember once waking with some words of mere
nonsense upon my lips, but the experience of the voice speaking to me was
absolutely unique. EDWARD A. GOODALL.

Extracts from letters to Mrs. E. A. Goodall from Ischia :

Wednesday, August nth, 1869.

The postman brought me two letters containing sad news indeed. Poor
little Percy. I dreamt some nights since the poor little fellow was taken from
us. ...

August itfti.

I did not tell you, dear, the particulars of my dream about poor little Percy.

I had been for several days very fidgety and wretched at getting no letters
from home, and had gone to bed in worse spirits than usual, and in my dream
I fancied I said : " I have lost my dearest little May." A strange voice seemed
to say : " No, not May, but your youngest boy," not mentioning his name. . . .

Mr. Goodall gave me verbally a concordant account of the affair,
and several members of his family, who were present at our interview,
recollected the strong impression made on him and them at the time.

932. The next case is precisely a miniature case of possession.
(Compare Mr. Cameron Grant's experience, in 736 B.)

From the Journal S.P.R., vol. viii. pp. 278-280.

" The following account " (writes Dr. Hodgson) " was sent to me by
Mr. John E. Wilkie at the suggestion of one of our American members

1 Mr. Goodall thinks that the mule's sudden fall, otherwise unexplainable, may have
been due to terror at some apparition of the dying child.


who is well known to me, and who speaks in the highest terms of Mr.
Wilkie as a witness : "

WASHINGTON, D.C., April nth, 1898.

In October 1895, while living in London, England, I was attacked by
bronchitis in rather a severe form, and on the advice of my physician, Dr.
Oscar C. De Wolf, went to his residence in 6 Grenville Place, Cromwell Road,
where I could be under his immediate care. For two days I was confined to
my bed, and about five o'clock in the afternoon of the third day, feeling some-
what better, I partially dressed myself, slipped on a heavy bath robe, and went
down to the sitting-room on the main floor, where my friend, the doctor,
usually spent a part of the afternoon in reading. A steamer chair was placed
before the fire by one of the servants, and I was made comfortable with pillows.
The doctor was present, and sat immediately behind me reading. I dropped
off into a light doze, and slept for perhaps thirty minutes. Suddenly I became
conscious of the fact that I was about to awaken ; I was in a condition where I
was neither awake nor asleep. I realised fully that I had been asleep, and I
was equally conscious of the fact that I was not wide awake. While in this
peculiar mental condition I suddenly said to myself : " Wait a minute. Here
is a message for the doctor." At the moment I fancied that I had upon my lap
a pad of paper, and I thought I wrote upon this pad with a pencil the following
words :

" DEAR DOCTOR, Do you remember Katy McGuire, who used to live with
you in Chester? *She died in 1872. She hopes you are having a good time in

Instantly thereafter I found myself wide awake, felt no surprise at not
finding the pad of paper on my knee, because I then realised that that was
but the hallucination of a dream, but impressed with that feature of my thought
which related to the message, I partly turned my head, and, speaking over my
shoulder to the doctor, said : " Doctor, I have a message for you."

The doctor looked up from the British Medical Journal which he was read-
ing, and said: "What's that?"

" I have a message for you," I repeated. " It is this : ' Dear Doctor : Do
you remember Katy McGuire, who used to live with you in Chester? She died
in 1872. She hopes you are having a good time in London.' "

The doctor looked at me with amazement written all over his face, and said :

" Why, what the devil do you mean ? "

" I don't know anything about it except that just before I woke up I was
impelled to receive this message which I have just delivered to you."
" Did you ever hear of Katy McGuire ? " asked the doctor.
" Never in my life."

" Well," said the doctor, " that's one of the most remarkable things I ever
heard of. My father for a great many years lived at Chester, Mass. There
was a neighbouring family named McGuire, and Katy McGuire, a daughter of
this neighbour, frequently came over to our house, as the younger people in a
country village will visit their neighbours, and used to assist my mother in the
lighter duties about the house. I was absent from Chester from about 1869 to
about 1873. I had known Katy, however, as a daughter of our neighbour and
knew that she used to visit the house. She died some time during the absence
I speak of, but as to the exact date of her death I am not informed."

That closed the incident, and although the doctor told me that he would

216 CHAPTER IX [932

write to his old home to ascertain the exact date of Katy's death, I have never
heard from him further in the matter. I questioned him at the time as to
whether he had recently thought of Katy McGuire, and he told me that her
name had not occurred to him for twenty years, and that he might never have
recalled it had it not been for the rather curious incident which had occurred.
In my own mind I could only explain the occurrence as a rather unusual coin-
cidence. I was personally aware of the fact that the doctor's old home had
been in Chester, Mass., and had frequently talked with him of his earlier ex-
periences in life when he began practice in that city, but never at any time
during these conversations had the name of this neighbour's daughter been
mentioned, nor had the name of the neighbour been mentioned, our conversa-
tion relating entirely to the immediate members of the family, particularly the
doctor's father, who was a noted practitioner in that district.


Dr. De Wolf, in reply to Dr. Hodgson's first inquiry, wrote :


DEAR SIR, In reply to your letter of the 27th inst., I regret that I cannot
recall with any definite recollection the incident to which Mr. Wilkie refers.

I do remember that he told me one morning he had had a remarkable
dream or conference with some one who knew me when a young lad.
Very truly yours, OSCAR C. DE WOLF.

Dr. Hodgson then sent Mr. Wilkie's account to Dr. De Wolf, with
further inquiries, to which Dr. De Wolf replied as follows :


DEAR SIR, Mr. Wilkie's statement is correct except as to unimportant
detail. My father practised his profession of medicine, in Chester, Mass., for
sixty years dying in 1890. I was born in Chester and lived there until 1857,
when I was in Paris studying medicine for four years. In 1861 I sreturned to
America and immediately entered the army as surgeon and served until the
close of the war in 1865. In 1866 I located in Northampton, Mass., where I
practised my profession until 1873, when I removed to Chicago.

Chester is a hill town in Western Mass., and Northampton is seventeen
miles distant. While in Northampton I was often at my father's house
probably every week and during some of the years from 1866 to 1873 I knew
Katy McGuire as a servant assisting my mother.

She was an obliging and pleasant girl and always glad to see me. She
had no family in Chester (as Mr. Wilkie says) and I do not know where she
came from. Neither do I know where or when she died but I know she is
dead. There is nothing left of my family in Chester. The old homestead still
remains with me, and I visit it every year.

The strange feature (to me) of this incident is the fact that I had not thought
of this girl for many years, and Mr. Wilkie was never within 500 miles of

We had been warm friends since soon after my location in Chicago, where
he was connected with a department of the Chicago Tribune. I came to
London in 1892 and Mr. Wilkie followed the next year as the manager of Low's


American Exchange, 3 Northumberland Avenue. His family did not join him
until 1895, which explains his being in my house when ill.

Mr. Wilkie is a very straightforward man and not given to illusions of any
kind. He is now the chief of the Secret Service Department of the U.S.
Government, Washington, D.C.

Neither of us were believers in spiritual manifestations of this character,
and this event so impressed us that we did not like to talk about it, and it has
been very seldom referred to when we met. Very truly yours,


933. These cases, then, may serve as illustrations both of the
incipient stages of a trance which may develop into ecstasy on the one
hand or possession on the other, and of the different aspects of possession
according as it is regarded as a more developed form of motor automatism
or as a special intensification of telepathic action. We have first, in
Mrs. Luther's case, a partial and temporary control by the subliminal
self, exhibiting probably telepathic influence, but with no indications of
any psychical excursion or invasion; in Professor Thoulet's case we
find a fuller control by the subliminal self, with a manifestation of
knowledge suggesting some spiritual excursion ; in Mr. Goodall's case
there seems to be a telepathic conversation between his subliminal self
controlling his utterance and some perhaps discarnate spirit ; and finally,
in Mr. Wilkie's case, there is the definite superposition, as it were, of
a discarnate spirit's message upon the automatist in such a way that we
are led to wonder whether it was the mind or the brain of the automatist
that received the message. The first step apparently is the abeyance of
the supraliminal self and the dominance of the subliminal self, which may
lead in rare cases to a form of trance (or of what we have hitherto
called secondary personality) where the whole body of the automatist
is controlled by his own subliminal self, or incarnate spirit, but where
there is no indication of any relation with discarnate spirits. The next
form of trance is where the incarnate spirit, whether or not maintaining
control of the whole body, makes excursions into or holds telepathic
intercourse with the spiritual world. And, lastly, there is the trance of
possession by another, a discarnate spirit. We cannot, of course,
always distinguish between these three main types of trance which, as
we shall see later, themselves admit of different degrees and varieties.

934. The most striking case known to me of the first form of
trance possession by the subliminal self is that of the Rev. C. B.
Sanders, whose trance-personality has always called itself by the name
of " X + Y = Z," and of whom I give an account in 934 A. The life
of the normal Mr. Sanders has apparently been passed in the environ-
ment of a special form of Presbyterian doctrine, and there seems to
have been a fear on the part of Mr. Sanders himself lest the trance
manifestations of which he was the subject should conflict with the
theological position which he held as a minister; and indeed for

218 CHAPTER IX [935

several years of his early suffering " he was inclined to regard his peculiar
case of affliction as the result of Satanic agency." On the part of some
of his friends also there seems to be a special desire to show that
" X + Y = Z " was not heterodox. Under these circumstances it is perhaps
not surprising that we find so much reticence in " X + Y = Z " concern-
ing his own relations to the normal Mr. Sanders. What little explanation
is offered seems to be in singular 'harmony with one of the main tenets
advanced in this book, since the claim made by " X -f Y = Z " is obviously
that he represents the incarnate spirit of Mr. Sanders exercising the higher
faculties which naturally pertain to it, but which can be manifested to the
full only when it is freed from its fleshly barriers. This frequently occurs,
he says, in dying persons, who describe scenes in the spiritual world, and
in his own experience when " his casket " is similarly affected, and the
bodily obstructions to spiritual vision are removed.

The suggestion which I made in the case of Anna Winsor (see vol. i.,
237 and 237 A) that the intelligence controlling her sane right arm
was her own subliminal self may now perhaps appear less strange than
it did at the outset of our inquiry ; but whereas in that case the supra-
liminal self was only partially in abeyance, the supraliminal self of Mr.
Sanders seems to become completely dormant during his trances.

935. In this case then the subliminal self seems to take complete
control of the organism, exercising its own powers of telepathy and
telaesthesia, but showing no evidence of direct communication with
discarnate spirits. We must now pass on to the most notable recent
case where such communication has been claimed, that of Swedenborg,
to whose exceptional trance-history and attempt to give some scientific
system to his experiences of ecstasy I referred in Chapter I. (section 105).

And here I meet with a kind of difficulty which is sure to present itself
sooner or later to all persons who endeavour to present to the world what
they regard as novel and important truths. There is sure to be some
embarrassing likeness or travesty of that truth in the world already.
There are sure to be sects or persons, past or present, holding something
like the same beliefs on different grounds ; on grounds which one may
find it equally difficult to endorse and to disavow.

I have indeed already been able to admit without reluctance that the
" humble thinkers " of the Stone Age, the believers in Witchcraft, in
Shamanism, have been my true precursors in many of the ideas upheld
in this book. But these spiritual ancestors are remote and unobtrusive ;
and it may be easier to admit that one is descended from an ape than
that one is own brother to a madman. Swedenborg is, in fact, a madman
in most men's view, and this judgment has much to support it. The
great bulk of his teaching, almost the whole content of Arcana Cxlestia,
has undergone a singularly unfortunate downfall. A seer, a mystic,
cannot often be disproved ; his visions may fall out of favour, but they
still record one man's subjective outlook on the universe. Swedenborg's


wildnesses, on the other hand, were based upon a definite foundation
which has definitely crumbled away. No one now regards the Old
Testament as a homogeneous and verbally inspired whole ; and unless
it be so, the spiritual meaning which Swedenborg draws from its every
word by his doctrine of Correspondences is not only a futile fancy, but
a tissue of gross and demonstrable errors. And yet, on the face of it, was
not all this error more amply accredited than any of the utterances of
possession or the recollections of ecstasy which I shall be able to cite
from modern sensitives? Swedenborg was one of the leading savants
of Europe ; it would be absurd to place any of our sensitives on the same
intellectual level. If his celestial revelations turn out to have been non-
sense, what are Mrs. Piper's likely to be ?

936. I might, of course, save myself from this dilemma by re-
pudiating Swedenborg's seership altogether. The evidential matter
which he has left behind him is singularly scanty in comparison with
his pretensions to a communion of many years with so many spirits
of the departed. I do not, however, accept this means of escape from
the difficulty. I think that the half-dozen " evidential cases " scattered
through the memoirs of Swedenborg are stamped with the impress of
truth, and I think, also, that without some true experience of the
spiritual world Swedenborg could not have entered into that atmos-
phere of truth in which even his worst errors are held in solution.
Swedenborg's writings on the world of spirits fall in the main into two
classes, albeit classes not easily divided. There are experiential writings
and there are dogmatic writings. The first of these classes contains ac-
counts of what he saw and felt in that world, and of such inferences
with regard to its laws as his actual experience suggested. Now,
speaking broadly, all this mass of matter, covering some hundreds of

Online LibraryFrederic William Henry MyersHuman personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) → online text (page 30 of 89)