Frederic William Henry Myers.

Human personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) online

. (page 47 of 89)
Online LibraryFrederic William Henry MyersHuman personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) → online text (page 47 of 89)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


very old, but not definitely ill. Miss Hawkins- Dempster corrected her
first statement as to the exactness of the coincidence by informing us that
Mrs. H. died in the morning of the same day on which the apparition
was seen.

Miss Hawkins-Dempster mentioned what she had seen to her sister,
who thus corroborates :

July iyh, 1892.

I heard of my sister Miss C. L. Hawkins-Dempster's vision of Mr. H. in the
drawing-room at 7.30 P.M. on New Year's Eve, 1876-77, immediately after it
happened, and before hearing that Mrs. H. died the same day, the news of
which reached us later that evening. H. H. DEMPSTER.

We have verified the date of death at Somerset House.
I had an interview with the Misses Hawkins- Dempster on July i6th,
1892, and wrote the following account of it the next day :

Miss C. Hawkins-Dempster's veridical experience is well remembered by
both sisters. The decedent was a very old lady, who was on very intimate
terms with them, and had special reasons for thinking of Miss C. Hawkins-
Dempster in connection with the son whose figure appeared. He was at the
other side of the world, and almost certainly had not heard of his mother's
death at the time.

The figure was absolutely life-like. Miss Hawkins-Dempster noticed the
slight cast of the eye and the delicate hands. The figure rested one hand on
the back of a chair and held the other out Miss Hawkins-Dempster called
out, "What can I do for you?" forgetting for the moment the impossibility
that it could be the real man. Then she simply ceased to see the figure.

She was in good health at the time, and her thoughts were occupied with
business matters.

" Here " (say the writers of the " Report ") " the apparition followed the
death by some hours, so that, if Mrs. H. was the agent, the telepathic im-
pression must either have remained latent for some time, or have been
produced by the agent after death."

722 A. From the Journal S.P.R., vol. vii. p. 188. The following
case was sent to us from Brazil by Professor A. Alexander, the witnesses
being persons well known to him. He informs us that the incident is
"of a type rather frequent among Brazilian Catholics," and the votive



722A] TO CHAPTER VII 347

candle seems indeed a natural thing to dream of under the circumstances
described, but the exact place where the candle was to be found and
the fact of its having been already partly burnt were not likely to be
guessed. The account of the dreamer, Donna Nery, is as follows :

BARBACENA, March z6M, 1895.

In January 1894, the decease occurred of Fe'licite' G., a young Belgian lady,
who was married to a nephew of mine. After the death of his wife, the latter
came to our house at Barbacena, bringing with him much luggage belong-
ing to the deceased, and he stayed here with his children for some days.

Some two months afterwards I have no means of ascertaining the exact
date I went to a soirie and returned home about two o'clock in the morning,
having passed some pleasant hours in which all thoughts of sadness were tem-
porarily swept from my memory. On that very night, however, I had a vivid
dream of Felicite*. It seemed to me that she entered the room where I really
lay asleep, and, sitting down on the bedside, asked me, as a favour, to look
into an old tin box under the staircase for a certain wax candle, which had
been already lighted, and which she had promised to Our Lady. On my
consenting to do so, she took leave of me, saying, " Ate" o outro mundo (Till
the other world)." l I awoke from the dream much impressed. It was still
dark, but I could no longer sleep.

On that day, the others having gone out, I called a servant and ordered her
to search in the tin box, which had, in fact, been placed under the staircase,
and which had belonged to Fe'licite'. No one had opened the box before. It
was full of old clothes and cuttings, among which it was by no means probable
that we should find a wax candle. The servant turned over these clothes at
first without result, and I was already beginning to think that my dream was of
no importance, when, on straightening out the clothes so that the box might be
closed, I saw the end of a candle, which I at once ordered her to take out. It
was of wax of the kind used for promises [to saints] and, what was a still
more singular coincidence, it had already been lighted.

We delivered the candle to Monsenhor Jose" Augusto, of Barbacena, in
performance of my niece's pious vow thus curiously revealed in a dream.

(Signed) GUILHERMINA NERY.

Senhor Nery writes:

BARBACENA, March 26tfi, 1895.

I recollect that, on the occasion, my wife told me of the dream, much
impressed by it. It is exactly what is written.

(Signed) DOMINGOS NERY.

Professor Alexander adds :

At my request, Catharina, the servant referred to in the above account, was
called to be examined. I found that she was a mere child. On being ques-
tioned she confirmed the narrative of her mistress, and recollected the cir-
cumstance of finding the wax candle in the tin box.

Jose", a black boy, declared that he carried the candle to Monsenhor Jose"
Augusto, who told him to give it to the sacristan.

A. ALEXANDER.

i "Till soon," "Till to-morrow," "Till the return," &c, are the expressions
generally used in Brazilian leave-taking. A. A.



34 8 APPENDICES [722 B

722 B. Dr. Binns, an author of some scientific repute in his day, gives
the following narrative in his Anatomy of Sleep, p. 462, adding that
" perhaps there is not a better authenticated case on record." It consists
of a letter written, October 2ist, 1842, by the Rev. Charles M'Kay, a
Catholic priest, to the Countess of Shrewsbury. The Earl of Shrewsbury
sent -on the letter to Dr. Binns. It is quoted by Dale Owen {Footfalls,
p. 294). I abbreviate it here:

In July, 1838, I left Edinburgh to take charge of the Perthshire missions.
On my arrival in Perth I was called upon by a Presbyterian woman, Anne
Simpson, who for more than a week had been in the utmost anxiety to see a
priest. [This woman stated that a woman lately dead (date not given) named
Maloy, slightly known to Anne Simpson, had " appeared to her during the
night for several nights " urging her to go to the priest, who would pay a
sum of money, three and tenpence, which the deceased owed to a person not
specified.]

I made inquiry, and found that a woman of that name had died, who had
acted as washerwoman and followed the regiment. Following up the inquiry I
found a grocer with whom she had dealt, and on asking him if a female named
Maloy owed him anything, he turned up his books, and told me she did owe
him three and tenpence. I paid the sum. Subsequently the Presbyterian
woman came to me, saying that she was no more troubled.

725 A. From Phantasms of the Living, vol. i. p. 556. The account
was received in 1882, from Captain G. F. Russell Colt, of Gartsherrie,
Coatbridge, N.B.

I was at home for my holidays, and residing with my father and mother,
not here, but at another old family place in Mid-Lothian, built by an ancestor
in Mary Queen of Scots' time, called Inveresk House. My bedroom was a
curious old room, long and narrow, with a window at one end of the room and
a door at the other. My bed was on the right of the window, looking towards
the door. I had a very dear brother (my eldest brother), Oliver, lieutenant in
the 7th Royal Fusiliers. He was about nineteen years old, and had at that
time been some months before Sebastopol. I corresponded frequently with
him ; and once when he wrote in low spirits, not being well, I said in answer
that he was to cheer up, but that if anything did happen to him, he must let me
know by appearing to me in my room, where we had often as boys together sat
at night and indulged in a surreptitious pipe and chat. This letter (I found
subsequently) he received as he was starting to receive the Sacrament from a
clergyman who has since related the fact to me. Having done this, he went to
the entrenchments and never returned, as in a few hours afterwards the storm-
ing of the Redan commenced. He, on the captain of his company falling, took
his place, and led his men bravely on. He had just led them within the walls,
though already wounded in several places, when a bullet struck him on the
right temple and he fell amongst heaps of others, where he was found in a sort
of kneeling posture (being propped up by other dead bodies) thirty-six hours
afterwards. His death took place, or rather he fell, though he may not have
died immediately, on the 8th September 1855.



725A] TO CHAPTER VII 349

That night I awoke suddenly, and saw facing the window of my room, by
my bedside, surrounded by a light sort of phosphorescent mist, as it were, my
brother kneeling. I tried to speak but could not. I buried my head in the
bedclothes, not at all afraid (because we had all been brought up not to believe
in ghosts or apparitions), but simply to collect my ideas, because I had not
been thinking or dreaming of him, and, indeed, had forgotten all about what I
had written to him a fortnight before. I decided that it must be fancy, and
the moonlight playing on a towel, or something out of place. But on looking
up, there he was again, looking lovingly, imploringly, and sadly at me. I tried
again to speak, but found myself tongue-tied. I could not utter a sound. I
sprang out of bed, glanced through the window, and saw that there was no
moon, but it was very dark and raining hard, by the sound against the panes.
I turned, and still saw poor Oliver. I shut my eyes, walked through it, and
reached the door of the room. As I turned the handle, before leaving the
room, I looked once more back. The apparition turned round his head slowly
and again looked anxiously and lovingly at me, and I saw then for the first
time a wound on the right temple with a red stream from it. His face was of a
waxy pale tint, but transparent-looking, and so was the reddish mark. But it
is almost impossible to describe his appearance. I only know I shall never
forget it. I left the room and went into a friend's room, and lay on the sofa
the rest of the night. I told him why. I told others in the house, but when I
told my father, he ordered me not to repeat such nonsense, and especially not
to let my mother know.

On the Monday following l he received a note from Sir Alexander Milne to
say that the Redan was stormed, but no particulars. I told my friend to let me
know if he saw the name among the killed and wounded before me. About
a fortnight later he came to my bedroom in his mother's house in Athole
Crescent, in Edinburgh, with a very grave face. I said, "I suppose it is to
tell me the sad news I expect ; " and he said "Yes." Both the colonel of the
regiment and one or two officers who saw the body confirmed the fact that the
appearance was much according to my description, and the death-wound was
exactly where I had seen it. But none could say whether he actually died at
the moment. His appearance, if so, must have been some hours after death, as
he appeared to me a few minutes after two in the morning. Months later, a
small prayer-book and the letter I had written to him were returned to Inveresk,
found in the inner breast pocket of his tunic which he wore at his death. I have
them now.

The account in the London Gazette Extraordinary of September 22nd,
1855, shows that the storming of the Redan began shortly after noon on
September 8th. and lasted upwards of an hour and a half. We learn from
Russell's account that " the dead, the dying, and the uninjured were all
lying in piles together " ; and it would seem that the search for the
wounded was still continuing on the morning of the pth. The exact time
of Lieutenant Oliver Colt's death is uncertain.

Captain Colt mentioned several persons who could corroborate this

1 Communication with the Crimea was then conducted by telegraph for only part of
the way.



350 APPENDICES [727 A

narrative. We received the following letter from his sister, Mrs. Hope, of

Fermoy :

December \zth, 1882.

On the morning of September 8th, 1855, my brother, Mr. Colt, told myself,
Captain Ferguson of the 42nd regiment, since dead, and Major Borthwick of
the Rifle Brigade (who is living), and others, that he had during the night
awakened from sleep and seen, as he thought, my eldest brother, Lieutenant Oliver
Colt of the Royal Fusiliers (who was in the Crimea), standing between his bed
and the door ; that he saw he was wounded in more than one place I remember
he named the temple as one place by bullet-wounds ; that he aroused himself,
rushed to the door with closed eyes and looked back at the apparition, which
stood between him and the bed. My father enjoined silence, lest my mother
should be made uneasy ; but shortly afterwards came the news of the fall of the
Redan and my brother's death. Two years afterwards, my husband, Colonel
Hope, invited my brother to dine with him ; the former being still a lieutenant
in the Royal Fusiliers, the latter an ensign in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
While dining they were talking of my eldest brother. My husband was about
to describe his appearance when found, when my brother described what he
had seen, and to the astonishment of all present, the description of the wounds
tallied with the facts. My husband was my eldest brother's greatest friend, and
was among those who saw the body as soon as it was found.

It will be seen that this corroboration varies from the previous account
in two points, which, however, do not greatly affect its value. The date
was really September 9th, not the 8th but it is very natural that the
vision should have become associated with the memorable date, which was
of course the 8th ; and the figure was kneeling, not standing.

727 A. The following case (quoted from Phantasms of the Living,
vol. ii. p. 216, foot-note) was received from the Rev. Arthur Bellamy, of
Publow Vicarage, Bristol, in February 1886; but the particulars were first
published in 1878.

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

A night or two afterwards as I was sleeping with my wife, a fire brightly
burning in the room and a candle alight, I suddenly awoke, and saw a lady
sitting by the side of the bed where my wife was sleeping soundly. At once I
sat up in the bed, and gazed so intently that even now I can recall her form
and features. Had I the pencil and the brush of a Millais, I could transfer to
canvas an exact likeness of the ghostly visitant. I remember that I was much
struck, as I looked intently at her, with the careful arrangement of her coiffure,
every single hair being most carefully brushed down. How long I sat and
gazed I cannot say, but directly the apparition ceased to be, I got out of bed to



727B] TO CHAPTER VII 351

see if any of my wife's garments had by any means optically deluded me. I
found nothing in the line of vision but a bare wall. Hallucination on my part
I rejected as out of the question, and I doubted not that I had really seen an
apparition. Returning to bed, I lay till my wife some hours after awoke and
then I gave her an account of her friend's appearance. I described her colour,
form, &c., all of which exactly tallied with my wife's recollection of Miss W.
Finally I asked, " But was there any special point to strike one in her appear-
ance ? " " Yes," my wife promptly replied ; " we girls used to tease her at school
for devoting so much time to the arrangement of her hair." This was the very
thing which I have said so much struck me. Such are the simple facts.

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

We have also seen an account written by Mrs. Bellamy in May 1879,
which entirely agrees with the above, except that she " thinks it was a
fortnight after the death " that the vision occurred, and that the light was
" the dim light of a night-lamp." She says, " The description accorded
in all points with my deceased friend." In conversation, Mr. Bellamy
described the form as seen in a very clear light ; and this may account
for his idea that the room itself was lighted by fire and candle.
Gurney adds :

This experience, as I have said, may have been purely subjective ; and
identification of a person's appearance by mere description is generally to be
regarded with great doubt. But in view of the circumstances, and especially
of the fact that Mr. Bellamy has never had any other hallucination, two
alternative hypotheses seem at least worth suggesting. (i) Believers in
telepathic phantasms may suspect Mr. Bellamy's experience to have been
conditioned by his wife's state of mind possibly even by a dream, forgotten on
waking, in which her friend figured. (2) Believers in the possibility of post-
mortem communications, if they believe that this was one of them, might
further suppose that Mr. Bellamy's experience depended on a psychical in-
fluence exercised in the first instance on Mrs. Bellamy, though acting below the
level of her normal consciousness. To me, I confess, this appears a more
reasonable supposition than that a direct influence (so to speak) missed its
mark, and was exercised on Mr. Bellamy by a stranger who cared nothing
about him.

727 B. The following is another case which seems analogous to a
deflected fulfilment of a compact, though we do not know that any compact
to appear had been made, but only that the dying person had had a strong
desire to see her niece before she died. The case is taken from the
" Report on the Census of Hallucinations," Proceedings S.P.R., vol. x.
p. 263. The account, given by Miss S. Money, was written in 1890.

47 UPPER BAKER STREET, REGENT'S PARK, N.W.

At Redhill on Thanksgiving Day, between eight and nine in the evening,
when I was taking charge of the little daughter of a friend, during [my] friend's
absence for that evening, I left the child sleeping in the bedroom, and went



352 APPENDICES [727 B

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

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

No one was in the house but myself, the child, and one servant, who, at the
time, was in the kitchen, dressed in black.

This is the only experience of this nature I have ever had.

P.S. The writer cannot give the date in figures without reference to an
almanac of that year, but is certain that this occurred on the evening of
Thanksgiving Day for the recovery of the Prince of Wales [i.e., February
27th, 1872.] S. MONEY.

In answer to our inquiries, the collector, Miss B. Garnett, writes :

HIGHLANDS, CLARENDON ROAD, LEWISHAM, S.E.,
December 2Oth, 1890.

I obtained lately an interview with Miss Money, and wrote down her replies
to the four questions enclosed. This was all the information she was able to
give. I should state that Miss Money's rather interesting experience was told
me long before I was asked to collect answers for the Society, and then merely
was told by her in the course of conversation, when I had been expressing my
scepticism about all so-called spiritual manifestations. She then said she had
been utterly sceptical until she herself met with this experience.

The replies enclosed were :

1. The child's mother died about ten or eleven years ago.

2. Miss Money did not even know of the existence of the aunt at the time
of [her] experience.

3. Miss Money has scruples about giving the name without permission.
She states that the aunt was a single woman, and a step-sister of the father of
the child, and that the aunt was not living near.

4. As the lady (the aunt) was no acquaintance of Miss Money's, and as she
heard no further details, she knows of no further way of proving the fact. Miss
Money lost sight of the parents, having been abroad herself for many years
afterwards.

Miss Garnett says further, in speaking of the original account, which
was first given to her verbally by Miss Money, " It was clearly and re-
peatedly given, amid many critical suggestions on my part. I may add
that Miss Money's testimony on any subject is one that I have always



728A] TO CHAPTER VII 353

found reliable. I merely add this because there are so many people who
seem scarcely able to help exaggerating in the direction of the particular
bias of their minds."

Mr. Podmore called on Miss Money on February 2nd, 1892, and
heard full particulars of the incident from her. He further ascertained
that no corroboration is now obtainable, and that Miss Money has failed
to obtain permission to give the name of the lady who died. We have
therefore been unable to verify the date of the death.

728 A. From the " Report on the Census of Hallucinations," Pro-
ceedings S.P.R., vol. x. p. 383. " In the case we have next to quote "
(say the writers of the "Report"), "unless we accept the hypothesis of
chance-coincidence the evidence for the agency of the dead is certainly
strong, because any other explanation compatible with the veracity of
the narrators requires a very complicated and improbable hypothesis as
regards the sub-conscious action of Senhor Cabral's mind. The case
came into our collection merely as a tactile hallucination : but the main
interest of it depends on the coincident experience of Donna Feliciana
Fortes. It seems doubtful from the account given whether she had a
hallucinatory vision, or merely a mental vision, but for our present pur-
pose this is unimportant."

From SENHOR ULYSSES J. C. CABRAL.

RUA ESCOBAR 48, Rio DE JANEIRO, March izth, 1892.

[After relating his first meeting in June 1886, with " Deolinda," a child
whom he had found in great poverty and had taken charge of, and her death
from consumption shortly afterwards, Senhor Cabral continues: ]

Some months passed, and my family (which now included my wife's other
sister, Amelia) went to stay at a plantation belonging to friends. I escorted
them thither, and returned to attend to my obligations in the city. In order
not to be alone, I accepted the invitation of my friend, Barboza de Andrade,
and went to live with him in S. Christovam. One month afterwards, a sister
of Barboza's, who was ill, came into his house. She grew daily worse, and
after the lapse of a few months had sunk so low that we had to sit up with her
at night.

One night, when I had taken my turn at nursing, I felt sleepy, and went
to lie down. Two sisters, Donnas Anna Ignez Dias Fortes and Feliciana Dias
(now deceased), took my place. I had made their acquaintance but a few
days before. After stretching myself on the bed, I was filled with a feeling of
unbounded joy. I was happy, and could not imagine what was the cause of
my happiness. I had a sensation as if some one were holding my head and
placing something round it.

Astonished at my experience, I called to the ladies who were watching in
the next room, and Donna Feliciana, though from the place where she was
seated she could not see me, answered me back, " I see at your bedside a
spirit child clothed in white. She places on your head a crown of roses. She
says her name is Deolinda, and she conies to thank you for the kindness and



Online LibraryFrederic William Henry MyersHuman personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) → online text (page 47 of 89)