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fifty years ago, was a great admirer of Brainard, and seemed to have an account
of his life, but I am quite certain that I never opened the book and knew
nothing of the dates, which are all correct, as well as his having been a mis-
sionary to the Susquehannahs.

In another letter Mr. Wedgwood writes :

I see the name is Brainard, not ard, as I had supposed, and this removes a
difficulty in the writing. Planchette had written Braine, and said that was
right as far as it went, which it would not have been if the name had been
Brainard. My daughter has sent me extracts from his life, stating that he was
born in 1718, and not 1717 as planchette wrote. But Mrs. R.'s Biographical
Dictionary says that he died in 1747, aged 30.

Mrs. R. writes that she had no knowledge whatever of David Brainerd
before this.

Extract from Biographical Dictionary sent by Mr. Wedgwood :

Brainerd, David. A celebrated American missionary, who signalised him-
self by his successful endeavours to convert the Indians on the Susquehanna,
Delaware, &c. Died, aged 30, 1747.

It is perhaps noteworthy in connection with the last sentence of the
planchette-writing that in the life of Brainerd by Jonathan Edwards
extracts given from his journal show that he wrote a good deal, e.g.
" Feb. 3, 1744. Could not but write as well as meditate," &c. " Feb. 15,
1 745. Was engaged in writing almost all the day." He invariably speaks
of comfort in connection with writing.

864 A. Experiments by Professor Rossi- Pagnoni. I give extracts
from the report on these experiments by Mr. H. Babington Smith, C.S.I.,
a member of the Council of the S.P.R. published in Proceedings S.P.R.,
vol. v. pp. 549-65.

Professor Rossi-Pagnoni is Director of the Ginnasio or Public School
at Pesaro, a small town on the east coast of Italy, a little to the north


of Ancona. In the year 1871 he was led to take an interest in Spiritualism,
and began daily to practise automatic writing under the advice and direc-
tion of a friend who had frequently obtained communications from spirits,
as he believed, by that means. He held a lead pencil in his hand, allow-
ing its point to rest on a sheet of paper, but not touching the table with
his arm, and waited for results. For the first forty-three days the move-
ments of the pencil were incoherent and unintelligible. On the forty-
fourth a name was written ; and from that time onwards the facility and
distinctness of the writing increased, and communications of considerable
length were often obtained.

These experiments, and also experiments in table-rapping, which had
been tried by Professor Rossi and a small circle of friends, were discon-
tinued in the year 1877, owing to the increased claims of scholastic duties
upon the Professor's time. In 1886 he found leisure to resume them and
was then joined by Dr. Moroni, Municipal doctor at Pesaro, who brought
to the sittings a hypnotic subject of his, named Isabella Carzetti. The
sittings gradually developed into spiritualistic seances, with Carzetti in the
hypnotic state as speaking medium, purporting to be controlled by the
spirits of deceased persons. Mr. Smith, however, after examining the
evidence, concluded that the medium showed no proof of any super-
normal powers.

In the year 1877 Professor Rossi published a pamphlet entitled,
Intorno at Fenomeni Spiritici, Lettera air Onorando Signor Conte Terenzio
Mamiani. This contains, besides other matter, reports of the more
striking results obtained in the earlier series of experiments, which were
concerned chiefly with automatic writing.

In November, 1888, Mr. Smith paid a short visit to Pesaro and had
the opportunity of seeing and making extracts from the records of the
sittings and other documents. Among these were the original automatic
manuscripts, which have been preserved from the beginning.

The following are some of the cases of automatic writing :

In April 1872 a friend asked Rossi to evoke the spirit of a relation, formerly
living near Modena, who had been dead about two years. " I had never known
her," says Rossi, " and my friend told me what I was to ask her on his account.
I did as I was asked, and after the answer was obtained, to my great astonish-
ment (for a similar thing had never happened before) I felt my hand impelled
to draw, one after the other, two flowers, with their little leaves. After this
addio was written, and the movement ceased. The following day I took the
answer to my friend and told him of the curious drawings. ' Do not be sur-
prised,' said he. ' Know that she was very fond of drawing, and also every
time that she writes by my hand, she makes me draw something.' "

This account is confirmed by a document dated December 28th, 1888, and
signed by Cesare Perseguiti, barrister, who states that he is the friend men-
tioned by Rossi, and that the account of the incident is perfectly true in all

4 6o APPENDICES [864 A

With regard to the character of the writing produced, Rossi says
(Letter to Mamiani, p. 133) :

It is not necessary for me to say that my ordinary handwriting is ugly
and always of one pattern. Nevertheless, when writing as a medium, I have
had very various forms of caligraphy according as various beings made com-
munication. When these beings presented themselves again, often unex-
pectedly and after a long interval, they reproduced their former handwriting.
Moreover, in that uncomfortable position of hand and arm I have had cali-
graphic forms so perfect that I could not reproduce them when writing at

This statement by itself is too vague to be of much value as evidence ;
but the following documents confirm it, and give more precise informa-
tion as to the persons whose writing was reproduced, and as to the degree
of likeness obtained :

PESARO, January isf, 1889.

I have a lively recollection of having come sometimes to your house in
1873, to take part in spiritualistic experiments with the table and with writing.
One evening, after some experiments with the table, I asked you to summon
my dear writing-master, Luigi Brunetti, to write. He had at that time been
dead for some years. . . . You set yourself to try the experiment, the pencil
resting vertically upon the paper, and your wrist and elbow raised. When the
motion of the hand, which you assured us was spontaneous, began, there
appeared, after the signature of Brunetti, some lines of writing of various sizes.
The first was extremely small so that a magnifying glass was necessary to
read it and to see its great precision. The following lines were of middle size,
and the last large. This, I recollect, was a beautiful verse. I remember that
I immediately bore witness to those present in accordance with the truth
that, specially in the larger character, the manner of writing and the hand of
my dear master were clearly to be seen.

So much for the truth, which now, also, I willingly confirm.


Professor of Writing and Book-keeping at the Royal
Technical School of Pesaro.

When Mr. Smith was at Pesaro he saw the original MS. here referred
to, and states that the writing was pretty and regular, and entirely different
from Professor Rossi's usual hand.

PESARO, January 2nd, 1889.

I comply with your wish and willingly declare, as I have a lively recol-
lection of the fact, that towards the end of 1873 I had occasion to go to your
house. . . . You showed me certain communications, written in pencil, which
you said you had received from the spirit of the lamented Signer Alessandro
Paterni, uncle of my wife. I said that the writing of the name and surname
seemed to me very like the real signature of my deceased connection. You
asserted that you had never seen his signature, and, in fact, it was very pro-
bable that it was entirely unknown to you.



In the following case a message, apparently telepathic, was received
by means of raps and automatic writing.

(Letter to Mamiant, p. 143) :

On November 2ist, 1873, about half-past ten in the evening, Rossi was in his
study. He had been correcting proofs for more than an hour, and was tired
and rather cold. In consequence he intended, when his work was finished, not
to go to the cafe, as was then his custom almost every evening about eleven, but
to warm himself a little with a walk through the streets. He then perceived two
slight but very distinct raps close to him on a side door opening into an inner
room in which there was no one. He paid no attention to these, trying to
persuade himself that they were due to natural causes. Half-an-hour after-
wards he had finished his work and was going out ; but at the moment when
he had his hand upon the door of his rooms, to shut it after him, he heard a
loud knock upon it as if given with the fist. He had no doubt that this was
spiritualistic in character, and returning at once to his room, sat down to write.
He fully expected to receive a warning against going out that evening for fear
of some dangerous encounter. Instead, however, of any such warning the
following message appeared : " My sincere friendship leads me to warn you
that you are desired by S. 1 (i.e. Stanislao Cecchi) : go, therefore, to see him."
This message was signed with the name of a dead person in whose name
messages had been obtained on other occasions. Rossi considered it extremely
improbable that Cecchi (an acquaintance with whom he was not then intimate)
would wish to see him ; but went at once to the caft where he was generally to
be found at that hour. As he approached, he saw Stanislao and some friends
coming out of the cafi. " He had no sooner seen me," continues Rossi, " than
he came to meet me, and said he had need of a certain favour from me.
Knowing from some conversations which I had had with him that he was a
disbeliever (in Spiritualism), I caught at the opportunity and answered that I
would willingly do him the service, on condition that he would at once accom-
pany me to my house. . . . We went to my house together, we entered into the
room together, and I showed him on my table the message which had caused
me to go in search of him. . . . He subsequently gave an account of the
occurrence to some friends, though without adopting my explanation, and, so
far as he was able, loyally bore witness to its truth."

Stanislao Cecchi is now dead, and therefore direct confirmation of this
account cannot be obtained; but in a letter written in 1889, a friend of
his Carlo Cinelli at Professor Rossi's request gives his recollections
of what he had heard from Cecchi at the time, and these correspond with
Professor Rossi's account.

865 A. The next case is taken from Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ix.
p. 107, being there quoted from an article in the Arena for August 1891,
entitled " Psychic Experiences," by Sara A. Underwood ; * with In-

1 I believe that the name, and not merely the initial, was written. The initial only
is given in the printed account, because at that time Professor Rossi was not at liberty
to publish the name. H. B. S.

2 See also Automatic or Spirit Writing, -with other Psychic Experiences, by Sara
A. Underwood (Chicago, 1896).


troductory Remarks by B. F. Underwood (known to me), who writes
thus :

The statements in this paper as to what was written in my presence pur-
porting to be communications from "spirits," and as to the circumstances
under which it was written, are scrupulously correct. The " communications,"
it is certain, are from an intelligent source. Mrs. Underwood is the person by
whose hand they are put in form. That she is not labouring under a mistake
in thinking that she is unconscious of the thought expressed until she has read
the writing, if, indeed, such a mistake in a sane mind is possible, I am cer-
tain. Sometimes, owing to the illegibility of the writing, she has to study out
sentences. The writing varies in style, not only on different evenings, but on
the same evening ; it is apparently the writing of not fewer than twenty per-
sons, and generally bearing no resemblance whatever, so far as I can judge, to
Mrs. Underwood's handwriting, which is remarkably uniform. The communi-
cations are unlike in the degrees of intelligence, in the quality of thought, and in
the disposition which they show. Detailed statements of facts unknown to
either of us, but which, weeks afterwards, were learned to be correct, have
been written, and repeated again and again, when disbelieved and contradicted
by us. All the writing has been done in my presence, but most of it while I
have been busily occupied with work which demanded my undivided attention.
The views expressed are often different from my own, and quite as frequently,
perhaps, opposed to Mrs. Underwood's views.

Mrs. Underwood writes as follows :

The modus operandi\s the simplest possible. As I remembered that Mr.
Underwood was rather averse to the planchette experiments of former years,
thinking them unwholesome and deteriorating in their tendency, I at first said
nothing to him of my new psychical experiments, though these were made
oftenest in his presence in the evening when we both sat at one writing table,
near each other, busied with our individual literary work. As I experimented
in his absence as well as in his presence, I soon found that I got the most
coherent writings when he was present. Indeed I could get nothing coherent,
and very frequently nothing at all, when he was away, but when he was present
the communications began to grow strangely interesting, and as he was called
upon repeatedly, I felt obliged to invite his attention, when the most surprising
answers were given, which roused his curiosity and interest. It has been ex-
plained that his presence is necessary for me to obtain writing, as " blended
power is best." Two or three times, at the suggestion of this intelligence, we
have asked two of our intimate literary friends non-Spiritualists to be pre-
sent, but each time with comparative failure ; afterwards we were informed
that the cause of failure was the introduction of persons unused to the condi-
tions, who broke up the harmonious relations necessary to communication ; in
time they could be of help.

It would take a volume to present all the interesting statements as to an
advanced stage of existence, only hidden from us because of the inadequacy
of our sense perceptions, and by the conditions imposed upon us at this stage
of our progress, which have been given from this source. Explanations have
been made why communication through the agency of certain persons, though
not through all, is possible. The conditions, it is alleged, are not entirely de-
pendent upon the superior intelligence or morality of the persons with whom


the intelligences can become en rapport. These invisibles declare that they are
as seriously and anxiously experimenting on their side to discover modes of
untrammelled communication with us, as we on our side ought to be, if what
they write be true, and if such a thing is possible. " Spirits " they persistently
insist upon being called. In this paper I can give only a statement of
some things which do not seem explicable on the hypothesis of mind-
reading, thought-transference, hypnotism, or subconsciousness. In all these
experiments I have been in a perfectly normal state. The only physical
indication of any outside influence is an occasional slight thrill as of an
electric current from my shoulder to the hand which holds the waiting
pen. Step by step I have been taught a series of signals to aid me in
correctly reading the communications. I have no power to summon at will
any individual I wish. I have repeatedly, but in vain, tried to get messages
from some near and dear friends. It has been explained that on their side,
as on ours, certain " conditions " must exist in order to get in "control."
When " eh ? " is written I know that the operator at the other end of the line
is ready to communicate. When in the middle of a sentence or a word
" gone " or " change " is written, I understand that the connection is broken,
and I must not expect the completion of that message. When a line like this

is drawn, it is a sign that that sentence is completed or the communication

ended. So with other things. Rhymes are often unexpectedly written, especially
if the " control " professes to be a poet, and they are dashed off so rapidly that
I do not understand their import until the close, when I can read them over.
Impromptu rhyming is a feat utterly impossible to either Mr. Underwood or
myself. Names persistently recur which are unknown to us. Many different
handwritings appear, some of them far superior to my own. When I first
began to get communications I destroyed, in a day or two after they were
written, the slips of paper containing the writing, but as the developments
became more interesting, Mr. Underwood suggested that they be preserved
for reference. I acted on this suggestion, and thus in the instances of facts
given outside our own knowledge, I am enabled to give the exact wording of
each communication. Our questions were asked viva voce, and as they were
often suggested by what had been previously written, I either at the time or
soon afterwards wrote them just above the reply. I am not, therefore, trust-
ing at all to memory in the statements I shall make.

A gentleman of this city (whom I will call John Smith, but whose real
name was a more uncommon one) with whom Mr. Underwood had been
acquainted many years, but of whose family relations he knew little, died
here more than a year ago. Mr. Underwood had met him but once in the
year previous to his death, he having been away on account of failing health,
staying, we understood, with a daughter recently married, whose home was
in Florida. The first name of this married daughter, or of any of Mr.
Smith's daughters except one, was unknown to Mr. Underwood. I had met
one of his daughters whose name I knew to be Jennie. I also knew that
there was another named Violet. I was not sure, however, whether this was
the name of the married one, or of another unmarried, but had the impres-
sion that Violet was unmarried. One evening, while waiting for automatic
writing with no thought of Mr. Smith in my mind, and Mr. Underwood sitting
near me at the table with his thoughts concentrated on an article he was
preparing, this was written : "John Smith will now enter into conversation with


B. F. Underwood." I read this to Mr. Underwood, who laid aside his pen,
and in order to test the matter, asked if Mr. Smith remembered the last time
they met, soon after his return from the South, and a short time previous to
his death. There was some delay in the answer, but soon reply came, " On
Madison Street." " Whereabouts on Madison?" was asked. " Near Washing-
ton." " At what hour ? " " About 10 A.M., raining." As it was rarely that Mr.
Underwood was in that part of the city at so early an hour, and especially on a
rainy day, I doubted the correctness of this reply, but Mr. Underwood recalled
to my mind the unusual circumstance which made it necessary for him to be in
that vicinity on the day and at the hour named, on which he and Mr. Smith,
he distinctly remembered, last met. Only a few words passed between them on
account of the rain. After this, writing, purporting to be from Mr. Smith,
came frequently. Very soon something was written which induced Mr.
Underwood half sportively to inquire whether there was anything which
troubled Mr. Smith, anything which he wished he had done, but had omitted,
before his death. The answer came, " One thing change deeds on Violet's
account. None of my wife's are at my daughter's disposal. All in her own
disposal." Mr. Underwood asked if it was meant that he had not left his
property for he was a man of some wealth as he now wished he had. " You
are right," was written, " want all my girls to share alike." " Which daughter
do you refer to ? " was asked. "Went away from her in Florida Violet," was
the answer. I remarked, " Why, I thought Violet was one of the unmarried
girls, but it must be that that is the name of the married daughter." Then Mr.
Underwood was strongly urged to call on Mr. Smith's married son, James, with
whom Mr. Underwood had a slight acquaintance, and tell him of this com-
munication. " Clearly state my desire that my daughter Violet share equally
with her sisters." Of course this was utterly out of the question. At that time
we had no intention of informing any one of our psychic experience, and if
we had, Mr. James Smith would have thought us insane or impertinent to come
to him with so ridiculous a story, the truth of which we ourselves strongly
doubted. Pages were, however, written concerning the matter in so earnest
and pleading a manner that I came to feel conscience-stricken at refusing to
do what was asked, and to shrink from seeing Mr. Smith's name appear.
Once was written, " Say to James that in my new position, and with my new
views of life, I feel that I did wrong to treat his sister Violet as I did. She
was not to blame for following out her own convictions, when I had incul-
cated independent thought and action for all." This and other sentences of
the kind seemed to convey the idea that Violet had in some way incurred his
displeasure by doing according to her own will in opposition to his. This
was puzzling to us, as we knew that in her marriage, at least, the daughter we
thought to be Violet had followed her father's wishes.

A few weeks later, however, came an unlooked-for verification of Mr.
Smith's messages. In a conversation between Mr. Underwood and a business
friend of Mr. Smith, who was well acquainted with all his affairs, regret was
expressed that so wealthy a man had left so little for a certain purpose. Mr.
Underwood then inquired as to what disposition had been made of his property,
and was told that he had left it mainly to his wife and children so much to this
one, and that. " But Violet," continued Mr. Underwood's informant, " was left
only a small amount, as Mr. Smith was angry because she married against his
wishes." " Why," remarked Mr. Underwood, " I understood that he approved


of the match, and the fact that he accompanied herself and husband to
Florida, and remained with them some time, would seem to indicate that."
" Oh, you are thinking of Lucy, the eldest girl ; her marriage was all right, but
Violet, one of the younger daughters, going to Florida with her [Lucy's] hus-
band, fell in love with a young man of whom her father did not approve,
so she made a runaway marriage, and on account of his displeasure, Mr.
Smith left her only a small sum." The intelligence writing was aware of facts
unknown to either Mr. Underwood or myself, and no other persons were in the
room when these communications were given.

In the Arena for June 1892 Mr. Underwood continues :

My presence has been and is now one of the conditions of Mrs. Underwood's
getting connected and coherent writing. Only a few words and a sentence or
two have been written occasionally in my absence. Once when I was absent
from home the peculiar sensation which bad always been felt in Mrs. Under-
wood's right hand before the writing began, was felt in the left hand, with
which a name was written with letters reversed, and she could read it only
when impressed to do so. She held it before the mirror. It was the name of
a person two hundred miles distant, who was still alive, but, as was subse-
quently learned, in an unconscious state at the time, and very near death,
which occurred two or three days afterwards.

The word " death " is never used except with " so-called " before it, or
"which is a new birth," or some other explanatory or qualifying expression.
The writing purports to be from extra-mediumistic and extra-mundane sources
from invisible human beings who once inhabited this earth. The writing
always, whether purporting to be from a person of high or low degree, claims
that the controlling intelligence is a spirit a discarnate human being. Any
intimation that the communicating intelligence may be the medium's sub-
conscious ego, a fraction of which only rises to the level of conscious knowledge,
is met. with responses to the effect that it is strange anybody can believe such
a vagary. One claim, to which there has never been exception in any writing
purporting to be a message, is that a " spirit," a discarnate human being, moves
the hand that holds the pen. Generally names and dates are not given ; and
when they are, they are as liable to be wrong as correct. In answer to questions

Online LibraryFrederic William Henry MyersHuman personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) → online text (page 62 of 89)