Frederic William Henry Myers.

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

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at the time to a friend. On July 2ist I find the following account. " I went
into the drawing-room, where my father and sisters were sitting, about nine in
the evening, and sat down on a couch close to the bow window. A few minutes
after, as I sat reading, I saw the figure come in at the open door, cross the
room and take up a position close behind the couch where I was. I was
astonished that no one else in the room saw her, as she was so very distinct to
me. My youngest brother, who had before seen her, was not in the room.
She stood behind the couch for about half-an-hour, and then as usual walked
to the door. I went after her, on the excuse of getting a book, and saw her
pass along the hall, until she came to the garden door, where she disappeared.
I spoke to her as she passed the foot of the stairs, but she did not answer,
although as before she stopped and seemed as though about to speak." On
July 3ist, some time after I had gone up to bed, my second sister E., who had
remained downstairs talking in another sister's room, came to me saying that
some one had passed her on the stairs. I tried then to persuade her that it
was one of the servants, but next morning found it could not have been so, as
none of them had been out of their rooms at that hour, and E.'s more detailed
description tallied with what I had already seen.



392 APPENDICES [751 A

On the night of August 1st, I again saw the figure. I heard the footsteps
outside on the landing about 2 A.M. I got up at once, and went outside.
She was then at the end of the landing at the top of the stairs, with her side
view towards me. She stood there some minutes, then went downstairs,
stopping again when she reached the hall below. I opened the drawing-room
door and she went in, walked across the room to the couch in the bow window,
stayed there a little, then came out of the room, went along the passage,
and disappeared by the garden door. I spoke to her again, but she did not
answer.

On the night of August 2nd the footsteps were heard by my three sisters
and by the cook, all of whom slept on the top landing also by my married
sister, Mrs. K., who was sleeping on the floor below. They all said the next
morning that they had heard them very plainly pass and repass their doors.
The cook was a middle-aged and very sensible person ; on my asking her the
following morning if any of the servants had been out of their rooms the night
before, after coming up to bed, she told me that she had heard these footsteps
before, and that she had seen the figure on the stairs one night when going
down to the kitchen to fetch hot water after the servants had come up to bed.
She described it as a lady in widow's dress, tall and slight, with her face hidden
in a handkerchief held in her right hand. Unfortunately we have since lost
sight of this servant ; she left us about a year afterwards on her mother's death,
and we cannot now trace her. She also saw the figure outside the kitchen
windows on the terrace-walk, she herself being in the kitchen ; it was then
about eleven in the morning, but having no note of the occurrence, I cannot
now remember whether this appearance was subsequent to the one above
mentioned.

These footsteps are very characteristic, and are not at all like those of any
of the people in the house ; they are soft and rather slow, though decided and
even. My sisters would not go out on the landing after hearing them pass,
nor would the servants, but each time when I have gone out after hearing them,
I have seen the figure there.

On August sth I told my father about her and what we had seen and heard.
He was much astonished, not having seen or heard anything himself at that
time neither then had my mother, but she is slightly deaf, and is an invalid.
He made inquiries of the landlord (who then lived close by) as to whether he
knew of anything unusual about the house, as he had himself lived in it for a
short time, but he replied that he had only been there for three months, and
had never seen anything unusual. . . .

On the evening of August nth we were sitting in the drawing-room with
the gas lit but the shutters not shut, the light outside getting dusk, my brothers
and a friend having just given up tennis, finding it too dark ; my eldest sister,
Mrs. K., and myself both saw the figure on the balcony outside, looking in at
the window. She stood there some minutes, then walked to the end and back
again, after which she seemed to disappear. She soon after came into the
drawing-room, when I saw her, but my sister did not. The same evening
my sister E. saw her on the stairs as she came out of a room on the upper
landing.

The following evening, August I2th, while coming up the garden, I walked
towards the orchard, when I saw the figure cross the orchard, go along the
carriage drive in front of the house, and in at the open side door, across the



751 A]



TO CHAPTER VII 393



hall and into the drawing-room, I following. She crossed the drawing-room
and took up her usual position behind the couch in the bow window. My
father came in soon after, and I told him she was there. He could not see the
figure, but went up to where I showed him she was. She then went swiftly
round behind him, across the room, out of the door, and along the hall,
disappearing as usual near the garden door, we both following her. We
looked out into the garden, having first to unlock the garden door, which my
father had locked as he came through, but saw nothing of her.

On August 1 2th, about 8 P.M., and still quite light, my sister E. was singing
in the back drawing-room. I heard her stop abruptly, come out into the hall,
and call me. She said she had seen the figure in the drawing-room close
behind her as she sat at the piano. I went back into the room with her and
saw the figure in the bow window in her usual place. I spoke to her several
times, but had no answer. She stood there for about ten minutes or a quarter
of an hour; then went across the room to the door, and along the passage,
disappearing in the same place by the garden door.

My sister M. then came in from the garden, saying she had seen her
coming up the kitchen steps outside. We all three then went out into the
garden, when Mrs. K. called out from a window on the first storey that she had
just seen her pass across the lawn in front and along the carriage drive towards
the orchard. This evening, then, altogether four people saw her. My father
was then away, and my youngest brother was out.

On the morning of August I4th the parlour-maid saw her in the dining-
room, about 8.30 A.M., having gone into the room to open the shutters. The
room is very sunny, and even with all the shutters closed it is quite light, the
shutters not fitting well, and letting sunlight through the cracks. She had
opened one shutter, when, on turning round, she saw the figure cross the room.
We were all on the look-out for her that evening, but saw nothing; in fact,
whenever we had made arrangements to watch, and were especially expecting
her, we never saw anything. This servant, who afterwards married, was inter-
viewed by Mr. Myers at her own house. . . .

On August I pth we all went to the seaside, and were away a month, leaving
three servants in the house.

When we came back they said that they had heard footsteps and noises
frequently, but as the stair-carpets were up part of the time and the house was
empty, many of these noises were doubtless due to natural causes, though by
them attributed to the figure.

The cook also spoke of seeing the figure in the garden, standing by a stone
vase on the lawn behind the house.

During the rest of that year and the following, 1885, the apparition was
frequently seen through each year, especially during July, August, and
September. In these months the three deaths took place, viz. : Mr. S., on
July I4th, 1876; the first Mrs. S. in August, and the second Mrs. S. on
September 23rd.

The apparitions were of exactly the same type, seen in the same places and
by the same people, at varying intervals.

The footsteps continued, and were heard by several visitors and new
servants who had taken the places of those who had left, as well as by myself,
four sisters and brother; in all by about twenty people, many of them not
having previously heard of the apparition or sounds.



394 APPENDICES [751 A

Other sounds were also heard in addition which seemed gradually to increase
in intensity. They consisted of walking up and down on the second-floor
landing, of bumps against the doors of the bedrooms, and of the handles of the
doors turning. . . .

During this year, at Mr. Myers's suggestion, I kept a photographic camera
constantly ready to try to photograph the figure, but on the few occasions I
was able to do so, I got no result ; at night, usually only by candle-light, a
long exposure would be necessary for so dark a figure, and this I could not
obtain. I also tried to communicate with the figure, constantly speaking to
it and asking it to make signs, if not able to speak, but with no result. I also
tried especially to touch her, but did not succeed. On cornering her, as I aid
once or twice, she disappeared.

Some time in the summer of this year (1886), Mrs. Twining, our regular
charwoman, saw the figure, while waiting in the hall at the door leading to the
kitchen stairs, for her payment. Until it suddenly vanished from her sight,
as no real figure could have done, she thought it was a lady visitor who had
mistaken her way. Mr. Myers interviewed her on December 29th, 1889, and
has her separate account.

On one night in July 1886 (my father and I being away from home), my
mother and her maid heard a loud noise in an unoccupied room over their
heads. They went up, but seeing nothing and the noise ceasing, they went
back to my mother's room on the first storey. They then heard loud noises from
the morning-room on the ground floor. They then went half-way downstairs,
when they saw a bright light in the hall beneath. Being alarmed, they went
up to my sister E., who then came down, and they all three examined the
doors, windows, &c., and found them all fastened as usual. My mother and
her maid then went to bed. My sister E. went up to her room on the second
storey, but as she passed the room where my two sisters L. and M. were
sleeping, they opened their door to say that they had heard noises, and also
seen what they described as the flame of a candle, without candle or hand
visible, cross the room diagonally from corner to door. Two of the maids
opened the doors of their two bedrooms, and said that they had also heard
noises; they all five stood at their doors with their lighted canales for some
little time. They all heard steps walking up and down the landing between
them ; as they passed they felt a sensation which they described as " a cold
wind," though their candles were not blown about. They saw nothing. The
steps then descended the stairs, re-ascended, again descended, and did not
return.

In the course of the following autumn we heard traditions of earlier
haunting, though, unfortunately, in no case were we able to get a first-hand
account. . . .

We also now heard from a carpenter who had done jobs in the house in
Mrs. S.'s time, that Mrs. S. had wished to possess herself of the first Mrs. S.'s
jewels. Her husband had called him in to make a receptacle under the boards
in the morning-room on the ground-floor, in which receptacle he placed the
jewels, and then had it nailed down and the carpet replaced. The carpenter
showed us the place. My father made him take up the boards ; the receptacle
was there, but empty. . . .

During the next two years, 1887 to 1889, the figure was very seldom seen,
though footsteps were heard ; the louder noises had gradually ceased. From



751 A] TO CHAPTER VII 395

1889 to the present, 1892, so far as I know, the figure has not been seen at all;
the lighter footsteps lasted a little longer, but even they have now ceased. The
figure became much less substantial on its later appearances. Up to about
1886 it was so solid and life-like that it was often mistaken for a real person.
It gradually became less distinct. At all times it intercepted the light ; we
have not been able to ascertain if it cast a shadow.

Proofs of Immateriality.

1. I have several times fastened fine strings across the stairs at various
heights before going to bed, but after all others have gone up to their rooms.
These were fastened in the following way : I made small pellets of marine glue,
into which I inserted the ends of the cord, then stuck one pellet lightly against
the wall and the other to the banister, the string being thus stretched across
the stairs. They were knocked down by a very slight touch, and yet would
not be felt by any one passing up or down the stairs, and by candle-light could
not be seen from below. They were put at various heights from the ground
from six inches to the height of the banisters, about three feet. I have twice
at least seen the figure pass through the cords, leaving them intact.

2. The sudden and complete disappearance of the figure, while still in full
view.

3. The impossibility of touching the figure. I have repeatedly followed it
into a corner, when it disappeared, and have tried to suddenly pounce upon it,
but have never succeeded in touching it or getting my hand up to it, the figure
eluding my touch.

4. It has appeared in a room with the doors shut.

On the other hand, the figure was not called up by a desire to see it, for
on every occasion when we had made special arrangements to watch for it,
we never saw it. On several occasions we have sat up at night hoping to see
it, but in vain, my father, with my brother-in-law, myself with a friend three
or four times, an aunt and myself twice, and my sisters with friends more than
once ; but on none of these occasions was anything seen. Nor have the
appearances been seen after we have been talking or thinking much of the
figure.

The figure has been connected with the second Mrs. S. ; the grounds for
which are :

1. The complete history of the house is known, and if we are to connect
the figure with any of the previous occupants, she is the only person who in
any way resembled the figure.

2. The widow's garb excludes the first Mrs. S.

3. Although none of us had ever seen the second Mrs. S., several people
who had known her identified her from our description. On being shown a
photo-album containing a number of portraits, I picked out one of her sister
as being most like that of the figure, and was afterwards told that the sisters
were much alike.

4. Her step-daughter and others told us that she especially used the front
drawing-room in which she continually appeared, and that her habitual seat
was on a couch placed in a similar position to ours.

5. The figure is undoubtedly connected with the house, none of the perci-
pients having seen it anywhere else, nor had any other hallucination.

In writing the above account, my memory of the occurrences has been



39 6 APPENDICES [751 B

largely assisted by reference to a set of journal letters written [to Miss
Campbell] at the time, and by notes of interviews held by Mr. Myers with my
father and various members of our family. R. C. MORTON.

Of the accounts given by the other witnesses, I quote only part of
Miss Campbell's statement, as follows :

77 CHESTERTON ROAD, NORTH KENSINGTON, W.,
March 31 st, 1892.

... On the night on which Miss Morton first spoke to the figure, as stated
in her account, I myself saw her telepathically. I was in my room (I was then
residing in the North of England, quite one hundred miles away from Miss
Morton's home), preparing for bed, between twelve and half-past, when I
seemed suddenly to be standing close by the door of the housemaid's cupboard,
so facing the short flight of stairs leading to the top landing. Coming down
these stairs, I saw the figure, exactly as described, and about two steps behind
Miss Morton herself, with a dressing-gown thrown loosely round her, and
carrying a candle in her hand. A loud noise in the room overhead recalled
me to my surroundings, and although I tried for some time I could not resume
the impression. The black dress, dark head-gear, widow's cuffs and hand-
kerchief were plainly visible, though the details of them were not given me by
Miss Morton till afterwards, when I asked her whether she had not seen the
apparition on that night. (Signed) CATHERINE M. CAMPBELL.

To this account Miss Morton adds :

Miss Campbell was the friend to whom I first spoke of the apparition. She
suggested to me that when next I saw her I should speak ; but of course she
had no idea when this would be. She wrote an account to me the next day of
what she had seen, and asked me if I had not seen the figure that night ; but
naturally did not know that I had done so, until she received my reply. Miss
Campbell asks me to say that this is the only vision she has had, veridical or
otherwise.

751 B. In the Journal S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 146, November 1893, an
account was given by Miss M. W. Scott, of Lessudden House, St.
Boswell's, Roxburghshire, of an apparition seen several times by herself,
and occasionally by others, on a country road near her home. Her first
experience was in May 1892, when, walking down a short incline on her
way home, she saw a tall man dressed in black a few yards in front of her.
He turned a corner of the road, being still in view of her, and there
suddenly disappeared. On following him round the corner, Miss Scott
found a sister of hers, also on her way home, who had just seen a tall man
dressed in black, whom she took for a clergyman, coming to meet her on
the road. She looked away for a moment, and on looking towards him
again could see no one anywhere near. Miss Scott on overtaking her
found her looking up and down the road and into the fields in much
bewilderment. It appeared that they had not seen the man at exactly
the same moment nor in exactly the same place, but from their description
of the surroundings it seems impossible that it could have been a real
person, who had contrived to get away unnoticed.



751 B] TO CHAPTER VII 397

In July of the same year at about the same place, Miss Scott, walking
with another of her sisters, saw a dark figure approaching them, dressed in
black, with a long coat, gaiters and knee-breeches, a wide white cravat
and low-crowned hat; the sister also saw the upper part of the figure,
which seemed to fade away into the bank by the side of the road as they
looked at it.

Again, in June 1893, walking alone on the road in the morning, Miss
Scott saw a dark figure some way in front, which she recognised as the
apparition when she got nearer to it. She made a determined effort
to overtake it, but could not get nearer than a few yards, as it then
seemed to float or skim away. At length, however, it stopped, turned
round and faced her ; then moved on a few steps, and turned and looked
back again, finally fading from her view by a hedge. She was able to
notice fully the details of the dress, knee-breeches, black silk stock-
ings and shoe-buckles, like the dress of Scottish clergymen about a
century ago.

The apparition was also said to have been seen at different times by
some children and other persons in the neighbourhood ; but of this no
first-hand accounts were forthcoming. There was also a legend that a
child had been murdered close by ; " but," Miss Scott wrote, " this fact is
quite beyond the recollection of the oldest inhabitant of the neighbourhood,"
and it seems not unlikely that it was invented to account for the ghost.

We received later several other accounts of a similar apparition having
been seen by various persons at different times in the same place ; and in
the Journal S.P.R., vol. ix. pp. 299-306, all the further evidence on the
subject that had reached us up to that date (October 1900) was printed.
I proceed to quote some of this.

Miss Louisa Scott the sister who shared Miss M. W. Scott's first
experience wrote as follows :

LESSUDDEN HOUSE, ST. BOSWELL'S, August itfA, 1894.

... A young lady, who is a governess in this neighbourhood, told me this
afternoon of a meeting she had had with [the ghost] this spring. She was
returning home along the haunted road at about a quarter-past four in the
afternoon, when she was attracted by seeing in front of her a rather tall old
man, dressed in a long black cloak, with one cape which came to a little
below his shoulders ; his hat, as on the occasions when my sisters and I saw
him, was low-crowned, and the brim slouched over his eyes. My informant
was much interested in this peculiar-looking person, and did not take her
eyes off him, whilst she watched him walk backward and forward between
the turn of the road and a heap of stones about a hundred yards lower
down ; he repeated this six times, the last time stopping as if he were
speaking to a man who was cutting the hedge at the time. What struck
Miss Irvine as peculiar was that the man who was hedge-cutting did not
look round, and seemed quite unconscious of the other's presence. Miss
Irvine walked on, and was going to pass the old man, when, to her astonish-
ment, he vanished when she was only about three yards from him. . . .



398 APPENDICES [751 B

Miss Irvine sent soon after her own account of her experience. By an
unfortunate accident, the first sheet of her letter was lost ; but the latter
part is as follows :

GREYCROOK, ST. BOSWELL'S, ROXBURGHSHIRE.

This seemed to me stranger than ever and I wondered what I had seen, for
he was nowhere in the field. On returning home I described the old gentle-
man to some friends who were likely to know if a person answering my descrip-
tion lived in the neighbourhood, but was told, "No." He was dressed rather
like a clergyman, wore a long black cloak with cape and slouched hat, his
hands in his coat pockets. I had never seen anything of the kind before,
though I had frequently walked the same road and at all hours. This happened
about four o'clock in the afternoon. I have not again seen him. . . .

MARY BLAMIRE IRVINE.

In August 1898, Miss M. W. Scott wrote that about a fortnight earlier,
when coming down the " haunted " road in the dusk, she had heard foot-
steps walking beside her, but could see nothing. She had also seen the
apparition again in the spring of 1897. She described this in December
1899, as follows :

. . . My sister and myself were paying an afternoon visit at a friend's house
situated near the haunted road, and having rather overstayed our time, the
dusk was just beginning to fall . . . ; it being then suggested that we should
take a shorter cut home, we gladly availed ourselves of the permission to walk
through the park and wood which open out of and enter the evil-reputed road.
Upon coming to the end of the park, there is a small gate and narrow
pathway, separated from the road by a hedge and some trees ; the space
between being only a few yards, a pedestrian on the other side is distinctly
visible. At the other end of the wood, again, there is another gate, which
[leads to] the small incline and angle of the road, and, looking either way,
the whole expanse is clearly defined. Just about this time we had nothing
supernatural in our thoughts and were talking and laughing gaily together.
Suddenly . . . our conversation seemed gradually to cease, for when we were
quite half-way down the wood, I noticed a man's figure walking alongside
of me between the hedge on the other side, which, either real or unreal, I was
determined not to lose sight of. ... In a moment I recognised the ghastly
features of the apparition. I cannot tell how he was clothed, or if he wore a
hat ; my eyes seemed fixed only on the profile from just below the forehead.
Instinctively I felt he moved beside me, but heard no sound or footsteps of
any kind. My sister saw nothing, and not being equal to the occasion, I
made no remark, until we had almost reached the end of the boundary, then
exclaimed in French, "L'Aomme/" At that moment the ghost must have
vanished, for when we opened the gate to pass through not a living soul
was there ; had it been a person of either sex, we were perfectly certain to
have met. It was very strange my companion should perceive nothing
unusual, though she remarked about me " staring into space." It is quite
impossible to account for this phantom it is no illusion formed by a dis-
ordered brain or based upon imagination or defective light ; the sun had
certainly set, the dusk slightly fallen, but giving quite sufficient power for mutual
recognitions. The man had walked calmly on, looking straight in front of him,



Online LibraryFrederic William Henry MyersHuman personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) → online text (page 53 of 89)