Frederic William Henry Myers.

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

. (page 60 of 89)
Online LibraryFrederic William Henry MyersHuman personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) → online text (page 60 of 89)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

he traversed to get to my house.

The following is copied from my journal :

October 2ist, 7.30 P.M. I write, " M. O. is now mentioning your name to
Sig n * R." Two hours after I meet M. O., who says he spoke of me to Sig R.
about 7.30, a propos of a letter which he had received that evening, and which
contained a reference to me. I had not seen him all the day, knew nothing of
the letter, nor that he was with Sig M R. when I was writing.

February 26th, i P.M. I write, " I am poisoning myself. Think of me."
The writing begins with a name I cannot decipher, but which I guess.

March \gth. To-day a friend of the person whose name I guessed told me
spontaneously that that person had attempted to poison herself several days ago.
On the 26th, when I had the communication, she was at Bologna, and made the
attempt later at Rovigo. I do not know if it was the first attempt, nor, if it
was so, whether she had decided to do it when I wrote. I had no reason to
suppose that A. G. would wish to take her own life. Unfortunately I have had
no more communications from her which might have given me more details.

March 17 th. I write, " Run to the Club. Go." I have not been to the
Club for more than a month, and intended to go to bed at once. My friend,
A. L., who rarely goes to the Club, had this evening assisted at a conference


on Guido Bonatti. Association of ideas made him think of me, and he went
to the Club believing he would find me there. I obeyed the telepathic order,
and thus discovered what had caused it.

May %>th. Morning. A communication partly illegible. " You will re-
ceive . . . Ang Go to-day, which will tell you about M., because she

has been talking to him."

Ang Go is at Venice. Many days ago I had charged her to say

certain things to M. if she met him. He lives at Venice. On this evening

(the 8th) I received a card from Ang Go , relating her conversation

with M., whom she had met by chance. After the " You will receive to-day " in
the automatic writing, there are several attempts at a word. Now I know all
about it, I can see that the word is meant for " postcard."

[The postcard was kept and reads :

" VENICE, May -jtk, 1893."
(Postmark, VENICE, May 8M.)

" I found M. and told him what you charged me to say. He told me he
had written to you before leaving, and that he would write again and send you
his portrait Yours, ANGELINA."]

February $th, 1894. Venice. {I lived at Padua while receiving the previous
communications.) The automatic writing informs me that my mother at
Padua has had something the matter with her hand. [About twenty days later
I verified this. No one had told me of it.]

Unfortunately I have not kept all the original writings before January 1893,
I have preserved only those which were verified. This is due to my then inex-
perience, for I thought it useless to preserve unverifiable communications. I
remember that till January 1893 false communications were rare, and the
unverifiable ones were numerous.

From the beginning of 1893 till February 5th, 1894, against twenty-seven
communications verified, I have recorded eight false ones, eighteen which I
could not verify, five which were wholly or partly correct, but where I am
not certain that the information may not have reached me in some normal
but unnoticed manner, and two which were correct but not exact.

I reckon that from October 1892 till^ January 1893 there may have been
five false announcements. Thus there may have been altogether thirteen false

I conclude from my personal experiences that the principal cause of failure
is the intervention of the normal consciousness, which occurs most easily when
the writing is slow and illegible, or when the communication is desired. I do
not remember ever having received a truthful message when I wished for it.
The true telepathic cases were always spontaneous, and improved by the exer-
cise of the faculty. A true message was nearly always followed by other true
ones; then came a false one, which caused discouragement, and initiated an
annoying series of falsehoods, till another success restored confidence.

I have observed that confidence is the best condition for obtaining psychical

[Signor Bonatti is a friend of Dr. Ermacora, who has been sometimes present
when he was writing automatically; on one or two occasions when the writing
was of telepathic origin. Signor Bonatti cannot obtain much confirmation,
partly on account of the lapse of time, and partly because the supposed agents.
are persons whom he has lost sight of.]


857 A. From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ix. pp. 67-8.
Professor H. writes to Dr. Hodgson in 1889 :

I write you the details of another matter told me by a friend, Hon. Z., of

C . He is one of the leading members of the Bar, has represented

his State several times in the National Congress, and has a very clear, dis-
criminating, and vigorous intellect. He does not believe in Spiritualism, but
regards its phenomena as illusions or hallucinations. In his youth, in 1854,

he had taught a winter's term in his native town of P , and in the spring

returned to Q to complete his fit for college in the Academy in that

place. One evening after his return to Q , a party of young people to the

number of eight were gathered about a table to witness the trance-writing
of one of their number, a Miss A., a very beautiful girl of eighteen years
of age, and the music teacher of the Academy. She wrote the name of Mr.

Z.'s father, , who had died in 1845, an ^ whom no one in the room

save his son could have known. I may add that none of the party save

my friend knew anything about P or its inhabitants. Mr. Z. declared

that he did not believe his father had anything to do with the writing. At
this Miss A., who sat on the opposite side of the table from Mr. Z., arose,
came about to his side, drew her pencil several times rapidly across the two
middle fingers of his left hand, returned to her seat, and wrote quickly,
" Does this convince you ? " Mr. Z. said that those two fingers were gone
from his father's left hand, having been cut off in his boyhood. Mr. Z. was
startled, but still expressed his disbelief. Miss A. then wrote H. T. Y.'s

name, and continued : " Killed on day of , sliding down M

Hill, running off embankment, broke his neck ; Rev. Mr. W. attended

funeral; text: book , chap. , verse ." Both date and text

were given with particularity. Mr. W. was a Congregationalist clergyman

of P , and Mr. Y.'s family were active and leading members of his

church. Mr. Y. had been one of Mr. Z.'s pupils that winter in P , and with

the other boys had coursed M Hill, a very steep hill near the school-
house, and covered with glare ice from summit to foot. Near the foot was
an embankment wharfed up to sustain the road-bed, and that was a very
dangerous place to slide by. Mr. Z. had repeatedly warned the boys of the
danger, but had not deemed it best to forbid their sliding. He had worried
over the matter a great deal, and was exceedingly relieved when school closed
without any accident having happened. Mr. Z. looked up the text and
found it entirely inappropriate to a funeral occasion. H. T. Y. is living

to-day, and is the head of the K School of Technology. This fact made

Mr. Z. scout the whole affair as unworthy of his notice ; but to me it seems
to indicate a telepathic explanation of both occurrences. I asked Mr. Z. if
either his father or Mr. Y. were in his mind at the time. He replied, " No,"
they came into his mind with a shock of surprise when their names were
written. We must so suppose the telepathic communication to be without
consciousness on the part of the agent.

The Hon. Z. of this case writes as follows :

This statement by Professor H. is correct, and I cannot improve it, or make
it more correct by re-writing. Now you may use these facts, but I earnestly
desire you not to make use of any names or places.


858 A. My next case comes from Dr. Ermacora, of Padua. I quote
it from Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ix. pp. 68-70.

PADUA, June iTth, 1892.

. . . Signora Maria Manzini, residing here in Padua, has been for a few
months experimenting with automatic writing, and is habitually controlled by
a personality which announces itself under the name of Elvira.

On April 2ist, 1892, Signora Maria Manzini received a letter from Venice
informing her that her cousin, Maria Alzetta, was seriously ill with phthisis.
It was long since Signora Manzini had heard news of this cousin, and she
only knew that, having been left a childless widow, she had remarried and
had two children by her second husband. On the evening of the same day
Signora M. was writing in my presence, under the control of Elvira, and asked
questions as follows :

Q. Can you tell me if my cousin's illness is really serious ? After a pause
of about a minute and a half the answer came. A. She has a very short time
to live, and she leaves three lovely children.

Q. Did you first know this when I received news of the illness ? A. No,
I have known it for many days, but did not mention it for fear of paining Maria
[the medium].

Q. Why, then, were you so slow just now in answering my question ? A.
I went to see how she was, so as to be able to tell you precisely.

Next day Signora M. wrote to Venice offering to go and see the invalid.
On the 24th she received an answer expressing a desire for her arrival, and
stating that the invalid -was at the hospital. She wrote again to ask on what
days it was allowed to visit the hospital patients. Before an answer arrived
Signora M. wrote in my presence (April 28th) under Elvira's control, and we
put the following questions :

Q. How is the invalid at Venice ? Do you know why the answer to my
letter has not arrived ? and do you know on what day it is allowed to visit the
hospital? A. The invalid's condition is the same. There is little hope. She
has undergone a serious operation ; there is danger. To-morrow morning
Maria will receive a letter. Visitors such as she are received every day at
the hospital.

Q. Do you mean because Maria is a relation of the invalid's ? A. No, but
because she comes from a distance.

Failing to see what connection there could be between pulmonary disease
and a surgical operation, we asked :

Q. If the patient is in a consumption, what operation can she have under-
gone ? A. She is in a consumption ; but the operation was necessitated by
the birth of her last little girl.

Next morning Signora M. received a postcard from Venice containing
these words: " Amalia inquired at the hospital and was told that you and your
mother would be received on any day, as strangers from another city, if you
will come when it suits you."

The date of the letter's arrival and the news contained in it thus corre-
sponded with the prediction. But an embarrassing circumstance remained.
When the postman delivered this letter he said that he had in fact brought
it to the house on the previous evening, but finding no one at home he had
taken it away with him again till the following morning. Thus the messages
from Elvira had been received after the postman had endeavoured to deliver


the letter. Had, then, the fact that the letter was already in Padua deter-
mined the communication which announced its approaching delivery and part
of its content?

On April 3oth Signora M. went to Venice and found that her cousin had
really had a third child a few months previously, and after its birth had been
ill in a way which had ultimately needed a surgical operation. Another small
detail previously communicated to Signora Manzini by Elvira was likewise
found to be true. Signora Manzini made no mention whatever of her own
experiments, and her cousin at Venice continued entirely ignorant of them.

On that same evening, April 3Oth, on Signora Manzini's return from Venice
to Padua, I was anxious to inquire from the " control " as to the effect of the
presence in Padua of the letter which had been announced on the evening of
the 28th for the following morning. Under the control of Elvira, Signora M.
wrote the following answer : " I did not know that the letter had arrived; but
I was sure that Maria would receive it next morning, because those who wrote
it had intended that it should reach her in the morning. They had intended
to post it in the evening, but instead of that they posted it directly it was
written. I was, in fact, mistaken ; for it was a mere chance that it was actually
received in the morning."

I then requested Signora M. to write to her friends at Venice in the fol-
lowing terms : " I would beg you to satisfy a feeling of curiosity on my part
with regard to a presentiment which I had about your last letter. I should
like to know whether it was posted at the hour which you originally intended,
or whether you changed your intention and posted it at a different hour. Will
you please tell me all you remember about this ? "

The following answer was received on May 2nd :

" I had meant to post my last letter to you in the evening, but, fearing to
forget it, I posted it at mid-day, when I had occasion to go out."

To resume the facts. Automatic writing informed us of facts entirely
unknown to our ordinary consciousness ; namely, the fact that the invalid had
three children, and the fact that she had undergone an operation. Thus far
we might invoke telepathy and clairvoyance as the explanation. Then there
was a true prediction of the arrival of a letter, and of part of its content. But
although the letter was delivered on the morning specified, it had, in fact,
already arrived in Padua when the communication was made, and its non-
delivery in the evening was due to accident. Clairvoyance would not explain
this incident, as that power might have been expected to reveal the presence of
the letter in Padua. Neither was there an indication of so-called psychometry
an influence from the nearness of the letter itself. But, lastly, an automatic
message explains the incident in the simplest manner, and that explanation
turns out to be the true one. DR. G. B. ERMACORA.

859 A. The following account of Miss A.'s experiences is quoted from
Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ix. (1893) pp. 73-92.

Statement of Miss A. as to her Automatic Writing.

i . Origin of the Writing. About eight years ago we first heard that people
could sometimes write without knowing what they wrote ; and that it was
supposed that departed friends could communicate in this way. We deter-
mined to try whether any of us could write thus. We tried first with a


planchette, and when my mother's hand and my hand were upon it we got
writing easily. We did not at first get any message professing to come from
any spirit known to us.

2. Mode of Writing. We soon ceased to use the planchette, and I was able
to write alone. I can now generally, but not always, write when I sit quiet
with a pencil in my hand. The writing often comes extremely fast; at a much
faster rate than I could keep up by voluntary effort for so long a time. I have
to turn over the pages of the large paper which I generally use, and to guard
the lines of writing from running into each other, but except for this there is no
need for me to look at the paper, as I can talk on other subjects while the
writing is going on. I can always stop the writing by a distinct effort of will.
One curious thing is that my hand is never in the least tired by automatic

3. Character of the Script. I get various handwritings; I may have had a
dozen altogether. I may divide these simply into two classes.

A. Large and scrawly hands, which seem to aim at ease of writing, rather
than at indivuality, and do not divide their words, but run on without a break.
Such are the hands of the so-called "guides " and of other "spirits " who write
frequently. (Whatever the sources of this writing may be, I must use the terms
which the writing uses in order to avoid constant roundabout phrases.) These
large running handwritings do differ somewhat both from my own handwriting
and from each other ; but they most of them have a general resemblance to a
large, rapid scrawl of my own, with an alteration in the shape of some letters so
as to avoid breaks in the continuous scrawl. I can almost always tell who is
writing ; but there are differences in energy, in little details of management of
the paper, &c., which help me to distinguish, even before the end of the mes-
sage comes, when the signature shows me who has been writing. When the
pronoun "we" is used there is no signature, as that represents "the guides."

B. There are also several handwritings which keep a strongly individual
character, sometimes plainly of an assumed kind ; I mean writing in a way in
which no one would have written in life. Thus John Longland wrote in an odd,
twisted, serpentine way and very small. We unluckily burnt all his writings
except one scrap, as we did not believe that he was a real person. A spirit
calling himself Detorno makes all the letters square.

Then, again, when the guides are writing in reply to a private question put
by some friend of mine they write wrong side up, so that the friend sitting
opposite to me can read the writing and I cannot. They seem to write this
way just as easily as the other. Sometimes there is mirror-writing. Some-
times each word in a sentence is written backwards, and sometimes the whole
sentence is written backwards, beginning with the last letter of the last word.
In a few cases only have we thought that the handwriting resembled what the
supposed spirit wrote in life. This was especially so in the case of a communi-
cation claiming to come from my grandfather, whose handwriting I had never
seen. My mother produced an old signature of his, and certainly it was like ;
but there was not enough of the automatic writing to make us quite sure.
When the " spirit" or "control," or whatever it is, leaves me I cannot make it
come again, and writing from spirits known to us on earth is rare in comparison
with writing from the guides, or from quite unknown spirits giving fantastic
names. Sometimes they give what they say were their real earth-names ; and
then we can sometimes identify them ; although there is, of course, this diffi-


culty, that if they are obscure we cannot find them, or if they are well known,
people who give me credit for more knowledge of history than I possess may
think that I knew all about them, and that the messages come from my own

[The Countess of Radnor adds :

I think Miss A. has considerably understated the number of distinctly and
remarkably different types of handwriting that have come through her hand.
I enclose a list of thirteen names of " guides," each one of whom has a charac-
teristic handwriting, invariably the same, however great the length of time
that elapses between the communications. In addition to these there have
been many instances where personalities the so-called dead, or occasionally
the living have written in distinct handwrittings. H. M. RADNOR.]

4. Drawings. Sometimes my hand is moved to draw instead of to write.
The impulse in such cases is quite equally distinct. I never know what I am
going to draw till the picture is half finished. My hand begins at odd, un-
expected places; for instance, with shading in a corner, or at the ear of a
profile; and approaches the principal lines in a way which no artist would
choose. There is no rubbing out or alteration of what is once done, but if
whatever moves my hand does not like the picture, it suddenly scrawls it all
over and begins again on another piece of paper. Sometimes twenty or thirty
pieces of paper have been spoilt in this way, even when the picture was all
but finished ; so that if I think that a picture is pretty I sometimes beg some
one to take it away from under my hand for fear it should be scrawled on. I
have no natural gift for drawing, and have only received a few lessons as a
child. I could not even copy some of these automatic drawings. I have never
of myself painted in oils, but sometimes I am moved to paint automatically in
water-colour or oils. I put out a number of oil colours in a row, and my brush
goes to them automatically and dabs one wet colour on. the top of another,
making a picture which is odd enough, but much less muddled than might be
supposed ; in fact, artists have said that it was curious that a distinct picture
could be produced in that way. When I paint thus there is no drawing or
outline, only the brush-work. These drawings and pictures have a certain
boldness and strangeness about them, but they are certainly not like the work
of a regular artist.

5. Connection of Written with other Messages. The writing sometimes
explains or completes other phenomena, as, for instance, figures seen, or
sentences begun by raps. Sometimes, on the other hand, raps will come when
I wish to have writing. But the writing will hardly ever explain or in any way
allude to what really most needs explanation, namely, the crystal-visions. The
guides who write seem to know nothing about these visions.

6. Subject of the Writing. The great mass of the writing consists of
teachings as to religion and philosophy. This is what my guides seem to wish
to give, and it is strange that it should be so, as my own thoughts have not
been much directed to such matters.

Another large part of the writing consists in a kind of fantastic description
of the way in which a world was made. The name given with these writings
is Gelalius. I suppose that this is a kind of romance. It is very different
from anything that I should myself ever write or dream of, nor am I at all fond
of reading romances of that kind. The writing professes to be copied from a
book open at that particular chapter, and sometimes a passage will be con-

VOL. II. 2 F


tinued weeks or months after the first part of it was written, as if the book had
chanced to be open again at that same place.

Some of the messages, however, deal with earthly matters. Some give
general advice, some give medical advice, and some show a knowledge of
things in the past or present which I do not possess. Some of these messages
have been curiously right; some have been partly right, but confused or inter-
rupted ; and some have been wrong altogether. The sense of time seems
confused, so that it is hard to say whether the incidents are meant to have
happened long ago, or lately, or to be still in the future. Many of the messages
we have not tested, as they were about things which did not interest us. Often,
for instance, there would be messages about events in the newspapers which I
had not thought or cared about.

As to what I have called " general advice," I think that this has always
been good when it related to the conduct of the automatic writing itself. I
should be told, I mean, when to write and when not to write, and what people's
presence was desirable, and so forth. The advice is often quite different from
what we wish; forbidding us to ask people whom we had desired to ask.
There has been one very curious case where we were repeatedly told [by a de-
ceased relative of his] to " send for " a gentleman whom I will call Mr. C. D., of
whom we knew nothing, except that we had seen his name in the papers in quite
a different connection. It so chanced that a friend of ours knew Mr. C. D.
and brought him to see us, but for some years there seemed to be no particular
result. Lately, however, Mr. C. D.'s presence has very greatly helped the phe-
nomena ; and the advice given so long ago has turned out important in a way
which we could not possibly have foreseen.

On matters not connected with these phenomena I should always carefully
read what the writing told me, but I should not go by it unless it seemed
sensible. It does not always advise either what I wish or what I think wise ;
but generally it is wiser than I.

7. Medical Advice has often been given by a control calling himself
" Semirus," and this has been often successful ; which is strange, since I am
quite ignorant of medicine, and often do not know the names either of
diseases or of drugs mentioned. Of course I cannot be quite sure that I
have never read the words, but certainly when I have written them I have
often not known what they meant.

At other times the facts relating to the illness have been quite outside
my knowledge. One friend has given an instance of this kind [printed later] ;
but I have not liked to ask others, as what Semirus says is generally meant

Online LibraryFrederic William Henry MyersHuman personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) → online text (page 60 of 89)