Frederic William Henry Myers.

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

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Bienfaisance," which is in no way within my official survey, and whose autho-
rities, in such cases as this, themselves send for the police or the magistrate ;


I sent a letter to my colleague, Dr. Sundblatt, the head physician of this
hospital. Without explaining my reason, I simply asked him to inform me
whether there had been any recent case of suicide at the hospital, and, if so,
to give me the name and particulars. I have already sent you a copy of
his reply, certified by Dr. Sundblatt's own signature. The original is at
M. Nartzeff's house, with the protocols of the seances.


Document IV. Copy of Dr. Th. Sundblatt's letter to Dr. Touloucheff.

November ityh, 1887.

MY DEAR COLLEAGUE, On the i6th of this month I was on duty; and on
that day two patients were admitted' to the hospital, who had poisoned them-
selves with phosphorus. The first, Vera Kosovitch, aged thirty-eight, wife of a
clerk in the public service . . . was taken in at 8 P.M. ; the second, a servant in
the insane ward [a part of the hospital], Anastasie Pe're'liguine, aged seventeen,
was taken in at 10 P.M. This second patient had swallowed, besides an in-
fusion of boxes of matches, a glass of kerosine, and at the time of her admission
was already very ill. She died at i P.M. on the I7th, and the post-mortem
examination has been made to-day. Kosovitch died yesterday, and the post-
mortem is fixed for to-morrow. Kosovitch said that she had taken the phos-
phorus in an excess of melancholy, but Pe're'liguine did not state her reason for
poisoning herself. TH. SUNDBLATT.

Copy of letter certified by Th. Sundblatt and Alexis Nartzeff.

Document V. Letter of M. A. Nartzeff to M. Aksakoff, May i6th, 1890.

[M. Nartzeff writes a letter in English and one in French, which I abridge
and combine.]

I n answer to your letter I inform you that my aunt's housekeeper is not a
housekeeper strictly speaking, but rather a friend of the family, having been
nearly fifteen years with us, and possessing our entire confidence. She could
not have already learnt the fact of the suicide, as she has no relations or friends
in Tambof, and never leaves the house.

The hospital in question is situated at the other end of the town, about
five versts from my house. Dr. Sundblatt informs me, on the authority of
the Prods -verbal of the inquest, that Pe're'liguine was able to read and write.
[This in answer to M. Aksakoffs inquiry whether the deceased could have
understood alphabetic communication.]

Sittings were held at Tambof, April i885~October 1889, but in no other
instance were irrefutable proofs obtained. Generally the manifestations were
of a trivial character. Twice or thrice we received communications apparently
serious, but on inquiry these were found to be untrue.

It is remarkable that this veridical message should have stood alone,
but its correctness obviously was not due to chance.

868 B. From the Journal S.P.R., vol. ix. pp. 280-84.

The following case was sent to us by Dr. H. D. R. Kingston, of
Macra, Eltham, Kent, an Associate of the S.P.R. Of the narrator,
Mr. F. Hodgson, he says :

Mr. F. Hodgson was then (1889) a photographer at Wynberg. He had
at one time been employed as photographer to the Challenger expedition


during part of the voyage, and he had also gone in the same capacity with
Mr. Palgrave on a Commission to Great Namaqualand and to Damaraland.
I have copies of many of the photographs he then took, the negatives of
which are the property of the Colonial Government. I found him a careful
and competent man in developing some scientific photographs of my own, and
also particularly intelligent, and I should say perfectly trustworthy as a witness.
You will see that he has made up the case with some care . . .


The narrative was enclosed in a letter to Dr. Kingston, dated Wynberg,
July 1 890, and is as follows :

Statement re curious manifestations in house of Mrs. Kamp, beginning on
night of June i4th, and still continuing, though greatly diminished in power.

On Saturday night, June I4th, 1890, Alida Sophia Kamp, widow, residing
in Wolfe Street, Wynberg, her daughter, Sophia Alida Kamp, and Catherine
Mahoney, who resides in the same house, retired to rest at a little before
ii P.M., and, from the time of retiring to rest until that of rising, were
unable to sleep on account of strange and unearthly noises, for which they
could find no explanation, although they instituted a rigorous search for the
cause. The noises, as they described them to me next morning, resembled the
dragging about of chairs in their bedrooms and the dragging about of heavy
boxes over an uneven floor in the loft over their heads. This loft, which I
know, having been in it, contains absolutely nothing which could account for
the noises, even had there been any one upstairs to drag anything it contained
about ; but owing to the way in which this loft is fastened up, it would have
been quite impossible for any one to enter it. I could not on the Sunday
morning, from their description of what they had heard, find any rational
solution of the mystery, and, at their request, consented to occupy one of the
bedrooms that night (Sunday, i^th).

Before retiring, however, I suggested that we should hold a stance in the
room in which I was about to sleep. This was agreed to, and we formed a
circle consisting of Christian Kamp (son of Alida Sophia Kamp), Alida Sophia
Kamp, Catherine Mahoney, and myself, and Janet Kamp, wife of Christian
Kamp (seating ourselves around a small table). The table very shortly showed
an inclination to move about, and in fact did sway about considerably, but this
was all we could obtain, so we dropped the sitting.

We, however, decided after deliberation to hold a stance in the adjoining
bedroom, but this time Catherine Mahoney declined to sit, so that we had only
[four] out of the former [five] sitters. The results were, however, better, as we
soon had distinct raps and at once asked the communicating influence to rap
three times if it could communicate its name to us if we established an easy
code. The three raps came at once, and I (who acted as conductor) then
asked it to give one rap at each letter forming its name on my going audibly
through the alphabet. The result was LEWIS, which caused Mrs. A. S.
Kamp to think it was her departed husband, whose name had been Louis.
This hypothesis, however, I was not inclined to accept, as I thought her
husband, if present, would not have wrongly spelt his name. We, however,
could not get the influence to change his orthography, so we had to proceed to
ask if it would spell out any message by the same code, to which three raps
responded, and we again proceeded. The result was TO WARN, at


which stage of the proceedings Mrs. Kamp showed signs of great uneasiness,
thinking the message was a warning of her coining death, and being still
persuaded that her late husband was communicating. As I did not know
positively to the contrary, and was afraid some unpleasant communication was
about to be given, we dropped the stance, I intending to resume it at some
future time with sitters not related to the family.

Shortly after we all retired to our beds, and I kept a candle burning in
my room until past midnight, as I had an interesting novel to read. I then
blew it out and was asleep in a few minutes. Shortly after 2 A.M. (Monday)
I was awakened by the sound of a chair being dragged over the floor of
the room in which I slept, followed almost immediately by a sound as of
some very heavy body being dragged about in a room overhead (a very loud
noise which would have awakened anybody). Miss Kamp then called out
from the adjoining room, which was only divided from mine by a wooden
partition, " Do you hear the noise ? What can it be ? " Just after she had
spoken I heard a sound like a half full box of matches falling on the floor.
I decided it was about time to get up and investigate, so sprung out of bed
and felt for the matchbox in the candlestick and [found] it was not there.
I had carefully placed it there on going to bed and was at a loss to account
for its disappearance. I had some others, however, in the pocket of my
waistcoat, and knowing where I had hung this garment I went to it, and
taking the matches out of the pocket, struck a light and lighted the candle.
I then found the other box of matches lying on the floor about two feet
from the candlestick. It seemed to me also that a chair in the room
occupied a somewhat different position to what it had done when I fell
asleep, but of this I could not be sure ; but, to be sure whether it moved
again, I placed some empty scent bottles, which I found on a shelf, one
against each leg of the chair. I then went to sleep again, and on again
waking found the chair had been moved quite four inches to the N.W., as
all the legs were away from the bottles I had placed against them. Of course,
as regards the falling of the matchbox and the actual change of position of
the chair, I can only give you my unsupported testimony, but those who slept
in the next room will be able to testify to having heard the apparent moving of
the chair in my room before they heard me jump up to investigate. This
occurred on Sunday night, June ijth.

Now comes the strangest part of the affair. Up to this time none of us
could make out why any one of the name of Lewis should disturb our rest,
as none of us were or had been intimately acquainted with any one of that
name, unless we were prepared to accept the very hypothetical idea that it
was the late Mr. Kamp, who had forgotten how to spell his name properly
(a theory which would not have said much for the educational establishments
of the shadowy land).

On Monday morning, June i6th, I got my copy of the Cape Times as
usual, and, among other items of news, found an account of the death of a
man, NAME UNKNOWN, who had been killed by an engine, on the night of the
I4th, near Woodstock, at about 8.45 P.M. None of us at the time in any way
connected this with the noises which had disturbed us, as there was no
apparent connection.

In Tuesday's issue of the same paper there was the account of the inquest
on this man (still name unknown). On Tuesday evening I was sitting in Mrs.
Kamp's shop, when a coloured woman came in and in the course of conversa-


tion said, " Did Mrs. Kamp hear of the man that was killed on the railway on
Saturday night ? " " Yes ! " said Mrs. Kamp, " I see they don't know who he
was." " Oh yes ! " said the coloured woman, " his name is Jim Lewis. I know
him, because he lived with my sister." This set us all on quite a new track,
and we began to wonder what connection there might be between the events.
In favour thereof the facts were these :

1. This man had been killed at 8.45 P.M. on the night of the \%th.

2. Mrs. Kamp did not close her shop till ten that night, and retired to rest
about eleven, and from that hour the noises commenced.

3. None of us heard of the accident until we read of it on the \6th.

4. Never until the night of the I4th had any nocturnal disturbances occurred
in the house.

5. The disturbing spirit on the evening of the i $th gave the name of Lewis.
I should have mentioned, perhaps, that on Tuesday night, I7th inst., we

held another stance, at which Christian Kamp, Mr. Hay, and myself sat. On
this night also we got the name of Lewis spelt out, and the message, " / am
unhappy because they do not know who I am." On being interrogated further,
he said that he was the spirit of the man Lewis killed on the railway. At the
time I did not attach much importance to this stance, as we got scarcely any-
thing fresh, but it is as well to mention it.

Thursday's (i9th) issue of Cape Times contained the completion of the
inquest on this man, and stated that his name was RICHARD YOUNG. Mrs.
Kamp then had another interview with the woman (his sister-in-law) who had
told her (Mrs. Kamp) previously that the man's name was Jim Lewis, and
asked her why she had said his name was Lewis, when it turned out his name
was Young. On this the woman got quite indignant, and declared positively
that his name was Jim Lewis, no matter what name the paper might give him ;
that she had known him a long time, as he was her brother-in-law.

I am finishing this on July 24th, 1890, and the nocturnal disturbances still
continue in the house of Mrs. Kamp, and no amount of investigation can assign
any but a spiritual origin to them.

We, the undersigned, having read the above, declare it to be a true account
of the occurrences therein described.





We, the undersigned, declare that we sat at a stance in the house of Mrs.
Kamp (Alida Sophia Kamp) on the night of June isth, 1890, and that we heard
raps which spelt out the name of Lewis and the words TO WARN.





We, the undersigned, sat at a stance in the house of Mrs. Kamp (Alida
Sophia Kamp) on the night of Tuesday (June i;th), and the name of Lewis
was then spelt out by raps, and the message, " I am unhappy because they
don't know who I am," and the communicating influence further stated that he
had been killed by an engine on the night of the I4th.




We, the undersigned, sat at a stance on the night of Wednesday, June i8th,
in the house of Alida Sophia Kamp, and the communicating influence rapped
out the name of Lewis, and stated that it was the spirit of a man of that name
who had been killed by an engine on the night of June I4th.




868 C. I may here briefly refer to the case of the " Woodd knock-
ings," given in full in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. pp. 538-42. In
several families there is a tradition that some special sign precedes or
accompanies the transition of the head of the house, or of certain of its
members ; and in the case of the Woodd family I have received evidence
of the persistence of the same type of " warning " which took the form
of knocks during a period of three centuries. Seven cases were
recorded in detail respectively in about 1661, 1664, 1674, 1784, 1872,
1893, and 1895. Of the three most recent instances circumstantial
and corroborative evidence is given, which seems to make it clear that
the knocks were not ordinary sounds misinterpreted. Such cases sug-
gest that there may be in some families a hereditary aptitude for the
same type of percipience.

869 A. The following is part of an account which was printed in the
Journal S.P.R., vol. iii. pp. 216-19 (February 1888), having been fur-
nished to me at that time by Mrs. FitzGerald of 19 Cambridge Street,
Hyde Park Square, London, W., and her son Mr. Desmond FitzGerald,
at one time a member of the Council of the S.P.R. Mrs. FitzGerald
revised the abstract of her papers before they were printed in the Journal,

Mrs. FitzGerald and her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Desmond FitzGerald, have
been for some years in the habit of sitting quietly together to receive messages
by slight tilts of a table. Mr. FitzGerald has occasionally joined the group,
but strangers have rarely been admitted, and the communications have been
throughout of a very private kind. . . .

I cite a case in connection with a Mr. E., an intimate friend of
Mrs. FitzGerald's, whose true name has been communicated to me.

Mr. E., when on his deathbed, sent for Mrs. FitzGerald to come and see
him. She visited him in his chambers in the Albany and said farewell, he
being then past hope, and his death expected at any moment. He blessed her
and promised to watch over her. Afterwards his spirit was one of the habitual
and most trusted communicants, and Mrs. F. believed herself able to feel sure
of his identity when he came. After many such messages, she alluded one day
to his death in the Albany. " I did not die in the Albany," was tilted out.
Shocked at what seemed the intrusion of some lying spirit in the friend's name,
Mrs. F. solemnly repeated the question, "You died in the Albany, did you
not?" The answer was an emphatic No. This was repeated several times,
and then Mrs. F. was so pained and bewildered at the breakdown of her
cherished belief in this spirit's identity and trustworthiness that for a con-

47 8 APPENDICES [869 B

siderable time she sought no further communication. She had no thought
of testing the truth of the message, as she considered that she absolutely knew
that Mr. E. had died in his chambers. It was not till some months later
that a common friend accidentally mentioned that Mr. E. had been removed
from the Albany at his own wish, when almost at the point of death, with the
idea that he would be better nursed in a private house.

It is deeply to be regretted that Mrs. F. did not inquire from the communi-
cating spirit where he had died. If the address had been given the test would
have been excellent. No further facts, it appears, can now be got from Mr.
E.'s spirit. The coincidence is therefore reduced to a single fact ; but that one
fact is a striking one, and cannot be said to have been in Mrs. Fit/Gerald's

869 B. The following case was printed in the Journal S.P.R., for
May 1899 ( v l' * x - PP- 65-8), having been sent to us by Mr. Michael
Petrovo-Solovovo, of St. Petersburg, now Hon. Secretary for Russia to
the S.P.R.

Mr. Solovovo writes :

In the following pages I have endeavoured to present all the evidence
obtainable concerning an instance of an automatic message, which appears at
first sight to be due to some other cause than " unconscious cerebration."

The amount of information unknown contained in the following message is
certainly very slight, but still the unexpectedness of the fact that it was in the
sea and not in a river that the soldier was drowned may be considered entitled
to some weight. The most interesting feature of the case, however, appears to
me to have been the circumstance that the mediums did not see the letters of
the alphabet. This is stated by both of them as well as by the third person
present at the sitting. . . .

Now, a message obtained under such conditions would involve at the very
least telepathy in a strangely continuous form from M. Starck [to his wife
and daughter] ; and makes it increasingly possible that the " veridical " part of
the communication may have sprung from a supernormal source too ; whilst
otherwise we might have put it down with more plausibility either to uncon-
scious reasoning or to chance coincidence.

Most of the " Skrytnikoff case " as presented here appeared in No. 48 of the
Rebus (a Russian Spiritistic paper, the editor of which is well known to me), in
1898. . . .


Extract from a letter by Lieut. -Col. Starck to Baron N. Rausch von Trau-
benberg. Rebus, No. 48, 1898, p. 417.

On January 22nd, 1898, I made Z and J * sit down at a table. I

wrote down the alphabet, placed upon it a saucer with a pointer and their
hands upon it and the writing began. Though a firm believer, from what I
had read, in mediumistic phenomena, I was still amazed. I bandaged their
eyes with the same result ; the letters are pointed out exactly and correctly ; the
mental contents are present. No trance. All the writers are in a perfectly
normal state. They are keeping their hands on the saucer with eyes blind-

1 M. Starck's daughter and wife.


folded ; I read and write down. I put down questions aloud or in writing, and
get answers which I do not expect, and the contents of which do not correspond
to either Z.'s or J.'s mental level. I am looking upon it as a mystification
by whom, I do not know; then suddenly we get: "I have the honour to
present myself, Your High Nobility, 1 Skrytnikoff." This appeared so unex-
pectedly and had such a meaning that I had to get up from [sheer] emotion
and to suspend the sitting for about five minutes. Skrytnikoff was a soldier
who had served in my regiment here, in Caucasia, and was drowned in Pzezu-
appe river in June or July of last year when I was no more on active service ; I
had learnt about this event by accident, and had only once spoken about it in
the autumn. We sit down at the saucer again and get : " I was drowned in
the sea, far away." I feel perplexed. From what had been communicated to
me at the time of the occurrence I thought he had been drowned in the river.
Then I get: " Doubovik (the local chief of district, i.e. prtstav). Go to him."
In the morning I go to Doubovik, and without saying what the matter was,
I ask whether he knows anything about Skrytnikoff who was drowned and
receive, as I expected, a negative answer, because in such cases inquests, &c.,
are held by the military authorities themselves. During our conversation in
the office the secretary interferes and says : " No, I think there is something
about Skrytnikoff in the papers." A search is made in the papers and a prods
verbal found by the bailiff or desiatnik of Lazarevskoe village, of no special
importance, but in which the sentence occurred : " The horse swam out, but he
[Skrytnikoff] was carried into the sea." Now this is very natural: the river,
which is generally shallow, but swift and deep during high water, must have
carried him into the sea.


Extract from Lieut. -Col. Starch's letter to M. Aksakoff, dated Sept. t,th
[i7/^], 1898. Sotchi [Black Sea province Tchernomorskaya Youbernia\
Rebus, No. 48, 1898, p. 417.

SIR, My relative, Baron N. A. Rausch von Traubenberg, has informed me
of your wish to print the contents of my letter to him concerning the soldier
Skrytnikoff who was drowned, and has asked me to send you my consent.
This I do at present with, of course, my whole signature : and beg you should
it be of interest to append to my letter: (i) An attestation by Doubovik, the
then chief of the Sotchi district : (2) a copy of the proccs verbal j and (3) the
original leaf of paper with the notes of the sitting. ... In the original [account]
of the sitting the signature [S.'s] is unfinished because I got up from the table in
great excitement ; I was struck by the unexpectedness and the reality of the
message, though I had read almost everything on the subject and felt quite
sure of the possibility of such phenomena. The following words were obtained
after I had sat down at the table again; my wife and daughter having not left
the table at all. I only told them there was something convincing in the mes-
sage. Then I was extremely astonished by the information as to his having
been drowned in the sea, whilst I was quite sure this had occurred in the river,
as the only information I had accidentally had on the subject from a former
colleague of mine was to the effect that Skrytnikoff was drowned in Pzezuappe
river, his chiefs being convinced of it till now. I knew no details whatever
about . . . Skrytnikoff, and only the idea as to his having been drowned in a

1 A Russian military formula.


river could have originated in my head and among my household and this
only as a transitory long since forgotten impression ; it was once mentioned
in the autumn, and I am not even quite sure of it.

The proces verbal gave me but little that was new, but the words " he was
carried away by the water into the sea," gave my thoughts an impulse [in the
direction] that it had actually been so, i.e. that he was drowned in the sea :
there is not more than half a verst from the spot where the river is crossed to
the sea, it being a mountain stream and in high water. Of course he was
quickly carried into the sea; his weapon (a sabre, I think) being found cast
ashore on the sea coast, not far from the river. A year before I had been his
chief, and am sure he felt kindly towards me as the other soldiers did.

The present message was, I think, obtained at the third seance. The condi-
tions were as follows : the alphabet written, not in order, on a leaf of paper,
and a saucer with a pointer upon it ; my wife and daughter, with eyes blind-
folded, kept their hands upon the saucer, and I wrote down the letters. . . .

[M. Starck further states that his daughter is now sixteen and in good
health.] [Signed] N. STARCK.

M. Starck's letter was followed in the Rebus by a copy of the proces verbal
drawn up by Mouhortoff, a police official, which states that in the night of
September 7th (igth) Peter Skrytnikoff, a soldier of the Vardony military post,
when crossing Pzezuappe river, was carried away by the water together with

Online LibraryFrederic William Henry MyersHuman personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) → online text (page 64 of 89)