Frederic William Henry Myers.

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

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ANNIE HARRIS.

743 A. From Phantasms of the Living, vol. i. p. 522, footnote. The
account was written down, a few months after the occurrence, from the
dictation of the percipient Sister Bertha, Superior of the House of Mercy
at Bovey Tracy, Newton Abbot who read it through on December 291)1,
1885, pronounced it correct, and signed it.

On the night of the loth of November, 1861 (I do not know the exact hour),.
I was up in my bed watching, because there was a person not quite well in the
next room. I heard a voice, which I recognised at once as familiar to me, and
at first thought of my sister. It said, in the brightest and most cheerful tone,
" I am here with you." I answered, looking and seeing nothing, " Who are
you ? " The voice said, " You must n't know yet." I heard nothing more, and
saw nothing, and am certain that the door was not opened or shut. I was not



744A] TO CHAPTER VII 377

in the least frightened, and felt convinced that it was Lucy's [Miss Lucy Gambier
Parry's] voice. I have never doubted it from that moment. I had not heard
of her being worse ; the last account had been good, and I was expecting to
hear that she was at Torquay. In the course of the next day (the i ith), mother
told me that she had died on the morning of the loth, rather more than twelve
hours before I heard her voice.

The narrator informs us that she has never in her life experienced any
other hallucination of the senses. Mrs. Gambier Parry, of Highnam Court,
Gloucester, step-mother and cousin of the " Lucy " of the narrative,
writes :

Sister Bertha (her name is Bertha Foertsch) had been living for many years
as German governess to Lucy Anna Gambier Parry, and was her dearest friend.
She came to us at once on hearing of Lucy's death, and told me of the mysterious
occurrence of the night before.

744 A. From Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 619. This case, if
telepathically originated, is an interesting instance of the appearance of a
phantasm to certain percipients on local, not personal, grounds. The
account comes from Miss Edith Farquharson, who writes :

June 1885.

In the year 1868, No. 9 Drummond Place, Edinburgh, was in the occupa-
tion of Mr. Farquharson, formerly a Judge of the High Court of Jamaica. On
the night of Good Friday in that year, two of his daughters, Miss Edith Far-
quharson, her sister Marianne [now Mrs. Henry Murray], and a little cousin,
Agnes Spalding, aged six years, were sleeping in a room at the top of the
house. About 11.45 P-M., the two sisters were awakened by hearing loud
screams from the child, who was sleeping on a mattress placed on the floor
beside their bed. The mattress was against the door leading into a dressing-
room ; this door was locked and sealed with white tapes and black wax ; it had
been thus closed by a member of the family to whom the house belonged
before Mr. Farquharson entered upon his tenancy. The death of the head
of the family, and the delicacy of health of one of the daughters, had caused
them to wish to leave Edinburgh and spend the winter in Torquay.

On hearing the child's screams of terror, Miss M. F. touched her sister and
said, "Do you hear the child screaming?" Miss E. F. replied that she did,
and turned her head round to listen better. When the child was asked what
she was screaming about, she said, " I am wide awake, and I have seen a
figure which was leaning over me," and when further questioned where the
figure went to, said, " Round the side of your bed."

Miss E. F., when she turned round, saw a figure slide from near the child's
bed and pass along the foot of the bed whereon she and her sister were. (At
the first moment she thought it was a thief.) The latter, on hearing her say in
French, " // y a quelqu*un" was so terrified that she hid her head under the
bed-clothes.

Miss E. F. describes the figure as being dressed in a rough brown shawl
held tightly round the bust, a wide-brimmed hat, and a veil. When the child
was questioned afterwards she gave the same account of the costume. Miss
E. F. says that after passing along the foot of the bed with a noiseless gliding



3 ;8 APPENDICES [744 A

motion, the figure disappeared into the darkness. Except the door which was
locked and sealed, the only door of exit to the room was one which was quite
close to the bed ; at right angles with the door and with the head of the bed
was a large hanging cupboard.

Both the ladies got up instantly. They found the door of their room closed
as they had left it. Their brother's room was next to theirs ; they knocked at
his door to rouse him, at the same time keeping a sharp look-out on the door
of their own room to see that no one escaped. The whole party then made a
thorough search in the room and cupboard, found nothing disturbed, and once
more retired to rest. The next morning the page-boy said that he had been
unable to sleep all night on account of the sounds he heard of some one
scratching at his window. He declared that he had shied all his boots and
everything he could lay hold of in the direction whence the noise came, but
without effect. He could stand it no longer, and went to the room where some
of the women servants slept, begging to be let in. They had heard nothing,
however, though they, like himself, slept in the basement of the house.

The whole family were hardly assembled on the Saturday morning, when
the son-in-law of the late owner of the house arrived, and asked to see Mr.
Farquharson. He wished particularly to know exactly what day this gentle-
man and his family intended leaving the house (their term would expire the
following week), for he had just received a telegram informing him that his
sister-in-law had died that night, and they were anxious to bring her body there
immediately for burial.

With respect to this last paragraph, the narrator's father writes :

The above is a correct statement of the occurrence.

C. M. FARQUHARSON.
Miss Farquharson continues :

The possible solution of what we presume to have been an apparition of
this lady is, that the bedroom occupied by the Misses Farquharson being the
one she habitually used, in her dying moments she desired to visit it once
more, or else that there was something in the dressing-room which she
particularly wished for. EDITH A. FARQUHARSON.

The following independent account is from Mrs. Murray :

COBO, GUERNSEY, June z\th, 1885.

Our home was in Perthshire; but in the winter of 1868 my father took a
house for four mouths in Drummond Place, No. 8 [? 9] in Edinburgh, in order
to give us a change. The house belonged to General Stewart, who had a
delicate daughter, and he let it, to take the daughter to Torquay for the winter.
We did not know the Stewarts, so our imagination could not have assisted in
any way to account for the curious apparition that was seen. I myself did not
see it, but I was in the room with my sister and little cousin, who both did.
My belief is that Providence prevented my seeing it, as I am of a very nervous
temperament, and it might have had a very bad effect on me if I had. Well,
the apparition took place on Good Friday night at about twelve o'clock. This
little cousin, who was only about six years old, had come into town from the
country, and as our house was very full she had a shake-down beside our bed
on my side. I was the first to be awakened by hearing her calling out in a



744A] TO CHAPTER VII 379

frightened way. So I said, "What is the matter, Addie?" " Oh," she said,
" Cousin Marianne, I am so frightened. A figure has been leaning over me,
and whenever I put out my hands to push it off it leant back on your bed ! "
At this I was alarmed and awoke my sister, who lifted her head from her pillow
and looked up, when she saw a figure gliding across the foot of our bed
wrapped in a shawl, with a hat and veil on. She whispered to me in French,
" // y a quelquun" thinking it was a thief, whereat we both jumped out of bed
together and went to the next room to get our brother, Captain Farquharson.
His bedroom door had a shaky lock which made a noise, so he had barricaded it
with a portmanteau. While he was coming to our help, we kept our eyes fixed
on our door in case any one should have escaped, but we saw nothing, and after
our all searching every corner of the bedroom we came to the conclusion that
no one had been there, for everything was intact. We then questioned little
Addie as to what she had seen, and what the figure was like. She described it
as that of a lady with a shawl on and a hat, and a veil over her face, and said
that as I spoke she had gone across the foot of the bed in the same direction
that my sister had seen her go. This child, I must tell you, had been most
carefully brought up by her mother, and was not allowed to read even fairy
tales for fear of having foolish ideas in her head, which makes the thing more
remarkable, for she had certainly never heard of a ghost. . . .

Then the next morning we were relating our adventures, when a ring came
to the door, and the servant said a gentleman wanted to speak to my father.
This gentleman was a Mr. Findlay, who had married a Miss Stewart. He
came to ask when we were to leave, for he knew it was about the time, as he
had received a telegram that morning to say that Miss Stewart had died in
Torquay during the night, and they wanted to bring her body to Edinburgh.
We heard afterwards from friends of the Stewarts that the bedroom we had
had been hers. I forgot to mention that the child's bed lay across the door
of a small room which had been locked up by the Stewarts, and they had put
tapes across and sealed them with black wax.

We have none of us ever had any hallucinations either before or after this
strange affair. MARIANNE MURRAY.

We find from the Scotsman and the Edinburgh Courant that Miss
Stewart died on April n, 1868, the day following Good Friday. If the
death took place in the course of a few hours after midnight, " during the
night " would of course be the natural expression.

The above account was first printed in \htjournal S.P.R., soon after
which we received a letter from a lady who stated that she had heard of
the incident "just as related in the Journal " within a few days of its
occurrence from some cousins of the Miss Farquharsons, who had been
told by the house-agent that the description of the lady in the large hat
and veil exactly resembled Miss Stewart. Mrs. Murray, however, says :
" I do not think any of us mentioned it to Mr. Boyd [the agent]. I have
no reason to believe that the dress of the figure was in any way char-
acteristic of Miss Stewart." Thus it appears that the resemblance of the
figure seen to the lady who died is entirely problematic. Its association
with her depends only on the coincidence of its appearance in her old
home on the night of her death. It must also be observed that in this



380 APPENDICES [744 B

case the apparition was seen shortly before the death, though it seems to
belong to the same general category as the other cases in this section.

744 B. From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 57. The following in-
cident occurred to a gentleman personally known to me. The initials here
given are not the true ones. On October i2th, 1888, Mr. J. gave me viva
voce the following account of his experience in the X. Library, in 1884,
which I took down from memory next day, and which he revised and
corrected :

In 1880 I succeeded a Mr. Q. as librarian of the X. Library. I had never
seen Mr. Q., nor any photograph or likeness of him, when the following in-
cidents occurred. I may, of course, have heard the library assistants describe
his appearance, though I have no recollection of this. I was sitting alone in
the library one evening late in March, 1884, finishing some work after hours,
when it suddenly occurred to me that I should miss the last train to H., where
I was then living, if I did not make haste. It was then 10.55, anc * the last train
left X. at 11.5. I gathered up some books in one hand, took the lamp in the
other, and prepared to leave the librarian's room, which communicated by a
passage with the main room of the library. As my lamp illumined this passage,
I saw apparently at the further end of it a man's face. I instantly thought a
thief had got into the library. This was by no means impossible, and the
probability of it had occurred to me before. I turned back into my room, put
down the books, and took a revolver from the safe, and, holding the lamp
cautiously behind me, I made my way along the passage which had a corner,
behind which I thought my thief might be lying in wait into the main room.
Here I saw no one, but the room was large and encumbered with bookcases.
I called out loudly to the intruder to show himself several times, more with the
hope of attracting a passing policeman than of drawing the intruder. Then I
saw a face looking round one of the bookcases. I say looking round, but it
had an odd appearance as if the body were in the bookcase, as the face came
so closely to the edge and I could see no body. The face was pallid and
hairless, and the orbits of the eyes were very deep. I advanced towards it, and
as I did so I saw an old man with high shoulders seem to rotate out of the end
of the bookcase, and with his back towards me and with a shuffling gait walk
rather quickly from the bookcase to the door of a small lavatory, which opened
from the library and had no other access. I heard no noise. I followed the
man at once into the lavatory ; and to my extreme surprise found no one there.
I examined the window (about 14 in. X 12 in.), and found it closed and fastened.
I opened it and looked out. It opened into a well, the bottom of which, tea
feet below, was a sky-light, and the top open to the sky some twenty feet above.
It was in the middle of the building, and no one could have dropped into it
without smashing the glass nor climbed out of it without a ladder but no one
was there. Nor had there been anything like time for a man to get out of the
window, as I followed the intruder instantly. Completely mystified, I even
looked into the little cupboard under the fixed basin. There was nowhere
hiding for a child, and I confess I began to experience for the first time what
novelists describe as an " eerie " feeling.

I left the library, and found I had missed my train.

Next morning I mentioned what I had seen to a local clergyman, who on
hearing my description, said, "Why, that's old Q.! " Soon after I saw a photo-



745A] TO CHAPTER VII 381

graph (from a drawing) of Q., and the resemblance was certainly striking. Q.
had lost all his hair, eyebrows and all, from (I believe) a gunpowder accident.
His walk was a peculiar, rapid, high-shouldered shuffle. Later inquiry proved
he had died at about the time of year at which I saw the figure.

I have no theory as to this occurrence, and have never given special atten-
tion to such matters. I have only on one other occasion seen a phantasmal
figure [that of his mother, seen when he was a boy of ten].

When I saw the figure of [Q.] I was in good health and spirits.

The evidential value of the above account is enhanced by the fact that
the principal assistant in the library, Mr. R., and a junior clerk, Mr. P.,
independently witnessed a singular phenomenon, thus described by Mr. R.
in 1889 :

A few years ago I was engaged in a large building in the , and during

the busy times was often there till late in the evening. On one particular
night I was at work along with a junior clerk till about i r P.M., in the room
marked A on the annexed sketch [sketch omitted]. All the lights in the place
had been out for hours except those in the room which we occupied. Before
leaving we turned out the gas. We then looked into the fireplace, but not a
spark was to be seen. The night was very dark, but being thoroughly accus-
tomed to the place we carried no light. On reaching the bottom of the stair-
case (B), I happened to look up ; when, to my surprise, the room which we had
just left appeared to be lighted. I turned to my companion and pointed out
the light, and sent him back to see what was wrong. He went at once and I
stood looking through the open door, but I was not a little astonished to see
that as soon as he got within a few yards of the room the light went out quite
suddenly. My companion, from the position he was in at the moment, could not
see the light go out, but on his reaching the door everything was in total dark-
ness. He entered, however, and when he returned, reported that both gas and
fire were completely out. The light in the daytime was got by means of a glass
roof, there being no windows on the sides of the room, and the night in ques-
tion was so dark that the moon shining through the roof was out of the ques-
tion. Although I have often been in the same room till long after dark, both
before and since, I have never seen anything unusual at any other time.

Mr. P. endorses this : " I confirm the foregoing statement."
Mr. R. states that he has never had any other hallucination. The
light was seen after the phantom ; but those who saw the light were not
aware that the phantom had been seen, for Mr. J. mentioned the circum-
stance only to his wife and to one other friend (who has confirmed to us
the fact that it was mentioned to him), and he was naturally particularly
careful to give no hint of the matter to his assistants in the library.

745 A. From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iii. p. no. The narrative is
written by General Sir Arthur Becher, of St. Faith's Mede, Winchester.

April nth, 1884.

General Sir A. Becher, who held a high appointment on the Staff in India,
went, accompanied by his son and A.D.C., to the Hill Station of Kussowlie,



3 82 APPENDICES

about March 1867, to examine a house he had secured for his family to reside
in during the approaching hot season. They both slept in the house that night.
During the night the General awoke suddenly and saw the figure of a native
woman standing near his bed, and close to an open door which led into a bath-
room. He called out, " Who are you?" and jumped out of bed, when the
figure retreated into the bath-room, and in following it the General found the
outer door locked and the figure had disappeared.

He went to bed again, and in the morning he wrote in pencil on a door-post,
" Saw a ghost," but he did not mention the circumstance to his wife.

A few days after, the General and his family took possession of the house
for the season, and Lady Becher used the room the General had slept in for her
dressing-room. About 7 P.M. on the first evening of their arrival, Lady Becher
was dressing for dinner, and on going to a wardrobe (near the bath-room door)
to take out a dress, she saw, standing close by and within the bath-room, a
native woman, and, for the moment thinking it was her own ayah, asked her
" what she wanted," as Lady Becher never allowed a servant in her room while
dressing. The figure then disappeared by the same door as on the former
occasion, which, as before, was found locked ! Lady Becher was not much
alarmed, but felt that something unusual had occurred, and at dinner mentioned
the event to the General and his son, when the General repeated what had
occurred to him on the former occasion. That same night their youngest son,
a boy about eight years of age, was sleeping in the same room as his father
and mother, his bed facing an open door leading into the dressing-room and
bath-room, before mentioned, and in the middle of the night the boy started up
in his bed in a frightened attitude and called out, " What do you want, ayah?
what do you want?" in Hindustani, evidently seeing a female figure in the
dressing-room near his bed. His mother quieted him and he fell asleep, and
the figure was not seen by us on that occasion, nor was it ever again seen,
though we lived for months in the house. But it confirmed our feeling that
the same woman had appeared to us all three, and on inquiry from other occu-
pants we learned that it was a frequent apparition on the first night or so of the
house being occupied.

A native Hill, or Cashmere woman, very fair and handsome, had been
murdered some years before in a hut a few yards below the house, and
immediately under the door leading into the bath and dressing-room, through
which, on all three occasions, the figure had entered and disappeared. My son
sleeping in another side of the house never saw it.

I could give the names of some other subsequent occupants who have told
us much the same story.

Subsequently Sir Arthur Becher writes :

WINCHESTER, May \$th, 1884.

I write to say Lady Becher does not desire to write anything more person-
ally on the subject of the " Ghost Story " I before detailed, as she says my
account of it was given in connection with and entirely in accordance with her
recollection of the circumstances. The woman appeared to me in the night,
and in the ordinary light of a room without any blinds or shutters.

In answer to inquiries, he further tells us that the bath-room door was
locked on the inside ; that the rooms were on the ground floor ; but that



745B] TO CHAPTER VII 383

there was no exit but by the doors referred to. Also that the child had
certainly not heard of the ghost before he saw it.

745 B. From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 178. The following
narrative was sent to us with the true names, but with a request to conceal
them, and some local details, on account of the painful nature of the
incident described. Our informant, whom I will call Mrs. M., writes
under date December i5th, 1891.

Before relating my experience of having seen a ghost, I should like my
readers thoroughly to understand that I had not the slightest idea that the
house in which my husband and I were living was haunted, or that the family
residing there for many years before us had had any family troubles. The
house was delightfully situated [&c.]. The house being partly new and partly
old, we occupied the old part for our sleeping apartments. There were two
staircases leading to them, with a landing and window, adjoining a morning
sitting-room. One night on retiring to my bedroom about 11 o'clock, I thought
I heard a peculiar moaning sound, and some one sobbing as if in great distress
of mind. I listened very attentively, and still it continued ; so I raised the gas
in my bedroom, and then went to the landing window of which I have spoken,
drew the blind aside ; and there on the grass was a very beautiful young girl in
a kneeling posture before a soldier, in a general's uniform, sobbing, and clasp-
ing her hands together, entreating for pardon ; but, alas ! he only waved her
away from him. So much did I feel for the girl, that without a moment's
hesitation I ran down the staircase to the door opening upon the lawn, and
begged her to come in and tell me her sorrow. The figures then disappeared !
Not in the least nervous did I feel then ; went again to my bedroom, took a
sheet of writing-paper and wrote down what I had seen. [Mrs. M. has found
and sent us this paper. The following words are written in pencil on a half
sheet of notepaper: " March I3th, 1886. Have just seen visions on lawn : a
soldier in general's uniform, a young lady kneeling to him. 11.40 P.M."]
My husband was away from home when this event occurred, but a lady friend
was staying with me, so I went to her bedroom and told her that I had been
rather frightened with some noises ; could I stay with her a little while ? A few
days afterwards I found myself in a very nervous state ; but it seemed so
strange that I was not frightened at the time.

It appears the story is only too true. The youngest daughter of this very
old, proud family had had an illegitimate child ; and her parents and relatives
would not recognise her again, and she died broken-hearted. The soldier was
a near relative (also a connection of my husband's) ; and it was in vain she
tried to gain his the soldier's forgiveness. [ In a subsequent letter Sir X. Y.'s
career is described. He was a distinguished officer.]

So vivid was my remembrance of the features of the soldier that some
months after the occurrence, when I happened to be calling with my husband at
a house where there was a portrait of him, I stepped before it and said : " Why,
look ! There is the General ! " And sure enough it was.

In a subsequent letter Mrs. M. writes :

I did see the figures on the lawn after opening the door leading on to the
lawn : and they by no means disappeared instantly, but more like a dissolving
view, viz , gradually; and I did not leave the door until they had passed away.



3 8 4 APPENDICES [745 C

It was impossible for any real persons to act such a scene. . . . The General



Online LibraryFrederic William Henry MyersHuman personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) → online text (page 51 of 89)