Frederic William Henry Myers.

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found him in the same bedroom. On this occasion I had been praying with
him, and his wife was kneeling at the opposite side of the bed to myself. As I
was saying the last words of the prayer, we (the woman and myself) distinctly
saw a small table, which stood about a yard from the foot of the bed, rise two
or three inches from the ground and come down with a violent thump upon the
floor, so loudly that the man, who was lying with his eyes closed, started up and
asked, with some terror, what had occasioned it. On examining the table, I
found that a glass with medicine in it, which stood upon the table with several
other articles, had been so shaken that some of the contents were spilt. My
first idea was that something had been thrown down in the room below, where
my wife, a sister of the woman's, and an aged uncle were sitting. On going
downstairs and inquiring, I found that this was not so ; that they had been all
sitting perfectly quiet in the room, and thought we had thrown down something
in the bedroom. There was no one else in the house. The man died about a
week after this took place.

E. T. VAUGHAN, Vicar of Langleybury.

Mr. Vaughan writes later :

June 2Jth, 1888.

I enclose according to your wish a statement from Mrs. Vaughan of what
she remembers of the curious incident. I am sorry to say the widow, though
she still lives in this village, is not capable of writing down a statement of what
she saw and heard that evening, though she can give a very clear account of
the circumstances to any one who examines her orally. The man's name was
John Wilson, a bricklayer in the employ of the Earl of Clarendon. He died
on December 7th, 1881, about a week after the strange occurrence. I have
never since experienced any similar phenomenon.


Mrs. Vaughan writes under the same date as follows :

In confirmation of the story of Wilson's deathbed, I can say I was sitting in
the room below the sick man's with two other people (his sister-in-law and
uncle), in perfect silence, as every word read in the room above could be dis-
tinctly heard by us. Just as the last words of the prayer were being said, we
were startled by a loud and sudden noise, as if some heavy piece of furniture
had fallen in the room above. My first impression was that the man was taken
worse, and that his wife, moving hastily to him, had knocked over a table.
None of us spoke, though we started and looked at each other, and expected
to hear some one called ; but almost the next minute I heard Mr. Vaughan
address the man on leaving, and come downstairs with the wife. I went to


meet them with her sister, and though nothing more was said by any of us
" good-bye," I saw by all the faces that something unusual had happened. A
soon as we were out of the house I said to Mr. Vaughan, " What was that
noise just as you were reading the prayers ? " and he told me the story you
have heard, and it formed the principal topic of our long walk home, won-
dering what it was, and trying to explain it, without in the least coming to
any conclusion but greater wonder. E. L. VAUGHAN.

This is a brief and simple incident; but it is particularly hard to
explain by ordinary causes such as an earthquake or a mistaken


The following scheme is not put forth as expressing deliberate con-
victions, supported by adequate evidence. Its speculative character has,
in fact, excluded it from my text, yet I hope that it may not be without
its use. For many men the difficulty of belief is not so much in defect of
trustworthy evidence as in the unintelligibility, the incoherence of the
phenomena described, which prevents them from being retained in the
mind or assimilated with previous knowledge.

I have myself felt the full force of this objection, and I believe that
some effort to meet it has become absolutely needful. Undoubtedly a
record of facts without theories is the first essential. But the facts in-
dividually are like " stones that fall down from Jupiter," isolated marvels,
each of which seems incredible until we have made shift to colligate
them all.

" Truth," as we have in this research constant need to remember,
" emerges more readily from error than from confusion ;" and it is in the
place of absolute confusion wandering as we are per incertam lunam, sub
luce malignd that I point to pathways which may lead somewhither,
though it be with much of error by the way.

With this apology, made once for all, I enter upon a task whose pro-
visional and hazardous character no one can feel more strongly than

Let us begin, then, by taking the most generalised view possible of all
these phenomena. They appear, at any rate, to depend upon the presence
of living human beings ; and they are therefore in some sense phenomena
of life. If, then, they are phenomena of life, they must be in some way
derived from, or must bear some analogy to, the vital phenomena, the
faculties and functions with which we are familiar in the experience of
every day. Yet to say this brings us little nearer to our aim. Spirits
may have ruled Mr. Moses' mind and body just as truly as our own
conscious will rules our mind and body. 1 But the results which they pro-
duced were so different from any results which we can produce that it is
hard to know where to begin the comparison. Is there not some middle

1 This Appendix was written originally with a special view to the phenomena alleged
to occur in the case of Mr. W. Stainton Moses. EDITORS.


term, some intermediate series, with which both these extreme series may
have points of resemblance ?

It is here that we ought to feel the advantage of previous discussions
on man's own supernormal faculties, on the powers of the Self below
the threshold of ordinary consciousness. We have traced these powers in
detail; we have noted the extension of the normal spectrum of con-
sciousness beyond both red and violet ends, in response to subliminal
control. Perhaps the profounder conception of the Self thus gained may
help us to bridge over that gulf between the performances of the ordinary
man and those of the so-called medium which heretofore has involved so
difficult a leap. We may find that the spirit's power over the organism
which it controls or "possesses," while possibly going much further than
any subliminal power in the organism itself, as known to us, may yet
advance along similar lines, and receive explanation from hypnotic or
telepathic phenomena. I will endeavour, then, to set side by side, in
tabular form, the main heads of vital process or faculty as exercised (i)
under normal or supraliminal control ; ( 2 ) under subliminal and telepathic
control ; (3) under what is claimed as disembodied or spiritual control.

In arranging this scheme my first object is to bring all such phenomena
as we actually have before us into intelligible connection ; introducing by
the way a few of the explanations given to Mr. Moses by his guides.
Those explanations, however, are for the most part slight and vague,
and our experimental knowledge of the phenomena is, of course, merely
nascent and fragmentary. My scheme, therefore, cannot aim at complete
logical arrangement. It - must involve both repetitions and lacunae ;
nor can it be such as the physiologist would care to sanction. But it
will, at least, be a first attempt at a connected schedule or rational index
of phenomena apparently so disparate that the very possibility of their
interdependence is even now constantly denied.



1. Supraliminal or empirical consciousness; aware only of the

material world through sensory impressions.

2. Physical nutrition, including respiration.

(a) Physiological and pathological processes and products.

3. Physical expenditure ; action on material and etherial environment.

(a) Mechanical work done at the expense of food assimilated.
() Production of heat, odour, sound, chemical changes, as the

result of protoplasmic metabolism.
(t) Production of etherial disturbances ; as emission of light

and generation of electrical energy.


4. Action on the incarnation of life on the planet.

(a) Reproduction, as physiological division.

5. Mental nutrition ; sensory receptivity.

(a} Ordinary sense-perception.
() Memory.

6. Mental expenditure ; response to stimuli.

(a) Intra-cerebral response ; ideation.
(^) Emotion ; will ; voluntary innervation.

7. Modifications of supraliminal personality.

(a) Birth ; as physiological individuation.
() Sleep ; with dreams, as oscillations of the conscious threshold.
(<:) Metamorphoses ; as of insects and amphibians ; and poly-
morphism, as of hydrozoa ; multiplex personality.
(^) Death ; as physiological dissolution.


1 . Subliminal consciousness ; obscurely aware of the transcendental

world, through telepathic and telaesthetic impressions.

2. Physical nutrition modified by subliminal control.

(a) Suggestion, self-suggestion, psycho-therapeutics.
() Stigmatisation.

3. Physical expenditure modified by subliminal control.

(a) Mechanical work modified by psychical integration or dis-
integration ; hysteria.

() Production of heat, and other specific effects upon matter,
subliminally modified.

(r) Emission of light, and generation of electrical energy

4. Action on the incarnation of life on the planet

(a) Prenatal suggestion through intermediate organism of

5. Mental nutrition (sensory and supersensory receptivity) subliminally


(a) Hyperaesthesia ; anaesthesia ; analgesia.

(b) Hypermnesia ; manifested in dreams or automatisms.

(f) Telepathy ; veridical hallucinations ; sensory automatism.
(d) Telaesthesia or clairvoyance ; perception of distant scenes ;
retrocognitioft ; precognition.

6. Mental expenditure; response to stimuli modified by subliminal


(a) Subliminal ideation ; the inspirations of genius.
() Motor automatism ; concurrent consciousness ; hyperboulia.
(^) Extradition of will-power beyond the organism ; telergy ;


7. Modifications of subliminal personality.

(a) Birth ; as spiritual individuation.

(b) Sleep and trance ; self-suggested or telepathically suggested ;

with clairvoyant visions.

(c) Ecstasy.

(</) Death ; as irrevocable self-projection of the spirit.



1. Subliminal consciousness, discerning and influenced by dis-

embodied spirits in a spiritual world, who co-operate in pro*
ducing objective phenomena.

2. Physical nutrition modified by spirit-control.

(a) Spirit-suggestion; psycho- therapeutics.

(b) Stigmatisation.

(^) Novel and purposive metastasis of secretion.

3. Physical expenditure modified by spirit-control.

(a) Mechanical efficiency increased and fulcrum displaced.

(b) Control over individual material molecules ; resulting in

abrogation of ordinary thermal laws, and in aggregation
and disaggregation of matter.

(f) Control over etherial manifestations ; with possible effects in
the domains of light, electricity, gravitation, and cohesion.

4. Action on the incarnation of life on the planet.

(a) Pre-conceptual suggestion or self-suggestion.
() Ectoplasy or Materialisation ; temporary extradition or con-
centration of vital energy.

5. Mental nutrition modified by spirit-control.

(a) Ordinary sensory perception spiritually controlled.
() Memory controlled ; retrocognition spiritually given.

(c ) Sensory automatism spiritually controlled ; phantasms of the

dead, &c.

(</) Telaesthesia developed into perception of spiritual environ-
ment ; precognition.

6. Response to stimuli spiritually controlled.

(a) Ideation inspired by spirits.

(b) Motor automatism spiritually controlled ; possession.

(c) Extension of will-power into the spiritual world ; prayer.

7. Modifications of personality from spiritual standpoint.

(a) Birth ; as descent into generation.

() Sleep and trance induced, and visions inspired, by spirits.

(r) Precursory emergence into completer personality; ecstasy

with perception of spiritual world.
(rf) Death ; as birth into completer personality.
(e) Vital faculty fully exercised in spiritual world.



( i ) Supraliminal or Empirical Consciousness; aware only of the Mate-
rial World through Sensory Impressions. Beginning with the series of
manifestations of supraliminal or " normal " faculty normal merely in
the sense that it is more habitually observed than the subliminal I must
needs make my first heading simply Consciousness. We must assume
this starting-point from which to work, and we must briefly point out the
limits within which this supraliminal consciousness is circumscribed. It
is, as I hold, largely an outcome of the struggle for existence ; a fraction
of the potential consciousness of each individual life, selected and developed
by planetary evolution and earthly needs. I am conscious of some of
my points of relation to this material world, because without such aware-
ness my ancestors could never have subsisted here. I am unconscious
of my profounder, my cosmic relations, if such there be, because while my
ancestors were struggling upwards from the brute such knowledge would
have been to them a bewilderment rather than a help. Nay, even the
spectrum of ordinary consciousness, as I have termed it, extending from
where it fades at the red end into unconscious organic processes to where
it fades at the violet end among psychical hints and indications which
we can no longer follow, even that habitual range of perception is in-
terspersed with many dark belts and lines. For that range of perception
has been contrived by Nature, so to say, on no scientific principle, but
merely so as to give, at the least physiological expense, a rough notion of
some superficial features of a molar world. We gradually learn, indeed,
by reason and calculation, that this apparently molar world consists (for
our intelligence) of at least two interpenetrating environments, molecular
and etherial ; but to the supraliminal consciousness all that lies beyond
the range of eye and ear is matter of inference and artifice, not of direct


(a) Physiological and Pathological Processes and Products. In an en-
vironment thus conceived we have to build up and to expand the energies
of body and mind, apparently inseparably united to form a personality
which we have as yet no reason to suppose to be of more than earthly
scope. The nutrition of the body is the first necessity, but most of the
mechanism of this nutrition lies now beneath the conscious threshold
beyond the red end of our imaginary spectrum. Even upon the body
with which it popularly identifies itself the supraliminal consciousness
gazes as a mere outsider. We can do no more than register our own
idiosyncrasies, and employ observed tendencies of our inward mechanism
to repair its own aberrations. We become familiar with certain processes
and reactions, physiological and pathological ; but why the elements of


our body are thus associated and dissociated we know not ; nor can we
(speaking broadly) produce any reaction by means other than those
which the organism itself habitually employs.


(a) Mechanical Work Done at the Expense of Food Assimilated. Our
body, thus built up by nutrition (including respiration) from its original
germ, has acquired energy which it can expend on its environment, both
molecular and etherial ; as well as exerting an obscurer form of action, of
which we shall speak later, on the world of life to which the germ belongs.
The most fully conscious and purposive form which the body's energy
takes is that of mechanical work upon molar masses. Here we can, to a
great extent, compute its work like an artificial engine's ; noting that the
relation between food absorbed and work done is never such as to threaten
disturbance of the general law of Conservation of Energy.

(^) Production of Heat, Odour, Sound, Chemical Changes, as the Result
of Protoplasmic Metabolism. The animal body exerts various effects, other
than mechanical, upon different kinds of living and lifeless matter. It
generates and imparts heat both by conduction and by radiation; it
propagates sound-waves and odours which specifically affect certain
prepared surfaces ; it may generate electric charges and electric currents ;
both in its higher and lower forms it effects, without as well as within its
own periphery, certain chemical associations and dissociations whose range
is unknown.

(f) Production of Etherial Disturbances ; as Emission of Light and
Generation of Electrical Energy. One of these specific effects, exerted
not on the molecular but on the etherial world the production of light
is important enough, in view of what is to follow, to be placed under a
heading by itself. It will be convenient, however, to defer dealing with
this topic until a later stage in our discussion. The development of
electro-motive force of considerable magnitude, as for instance, in some
species of fishes, is a rare phenomenon ; but electrical manifestations of
a feeble kind occur in the muscles and nerves of all animals, and even in
the tissues of some plants.


(a) Reproduction as Physiological Division. The living organism has
one further power ; of all its powers at once the most complex and the
most subliminal. It can influence by reproduction the incarnation of life
upon this planet. From the supraliminal standpoint we can speak of re-
production only as of an elaborate process of physiological division. But
the distinction between supraliminal and subliminal knowledge and pur-
pose, where the subliminal purpose has sometimes been held to be no


merely individual aim, has here been guessed by philosophers in the
illusion which Nature, for her own ends, throws around her children ;
leading them by roads which they blindly follow towards an end which,
for aught she cares, they may even desire to shun.


(a) Ordinary Sense Perception. From the nutrition and expenditure
of the bodily organism let us turn to the nutrition and expenditure of the
mind, which, however inseparable its connection with the body may be
deemed, even if we regard it merely as a concatenation of " highest-level
brain-centres " must yet, for clearness' sake, be treated separately in any
scheme of vital function. The nourishment of the mind (or highest-level
centres) is through sensory impressions, which reach it from without through
definite channels so soon as they attain a definite intensity.

() Memory. The residual changes which these impressions leave
constitute the physical basis of memory; and supraliminal memory
normally contains the residue only of supraliminal impressions.


(a) Intra-cerebral Response', Ideation. To these stimuli, freshly
impinging, or become in a sense fixed and inherent, we find the mind
or highest centres reacting, first in ideation, or intra-cerebral re-

() Emotion ; Will ; Voluntary Innervation. Next we find them
reacting in emotion and in will, or motor innervation, which energises
beyond the brain, and gives orders to voluntary muscles, to eyes and
tongue and hands and limbs, which express the intelligent personality
within. These orders are supraliminally conceived in molar terms, but
they receive a molecular obedience. We say to the hand, Write ! But
the answer is not a mere puppet-like movement of such molar mechanism
as we could ourselves conceive, but like the inward ideation itself
depends upon a rearrangement of molecules such as no science can at
present trace or explain.


(a) Birth ; as Physiological Individuation. And, finally, both body
and mind may pass through we know not how many phases without losing
what we regard as the identity of either. Birth in this scheme we must
regard as physiological individuation, obliging the new animal to seek
food for itself, and thus compelling, in higher animals, a rhythmically
recurring increase of alertness which we term the waking state.

() Sleep ; with Dreams, as Oscillations of the Conscious Threshold.
But an abeyance in sleep of the supraliminal control perpetually recurs,


and is needful to the organism's preservation. And in the temporary
obliteration of the conscious threshold thus induced, the fragmentary
ideation immediately below the waking level makes itself manifest in
dream (and the subliminal control becomes dominant in various ways and
in varying degrees).

(f) Metamorphoses, as of Insects and Amphibia, and Polymorphism, as
of Hydrozoa : Multiplex Personality. Even profounder changes occur in
animal metamorphoses, where the struggle for existence brings to the
surface at different stages of life different selections from the potential
syntheses of faculty included in the original germ, those, namely, which
are adapted to the environment in which the particular stage is passed.
In the higher animals the variations that occur as the infant progresses
through youth to maturity are much less marked and more gradual. In
some few abnormal men, however, cerebral rearrangements may some-
times bring about sudden and complete changes in the superficial
character and memory. These differ from the metamorphoses of the
lower animals in having, as a rule, no relation to different stages of life,
and remind us rather of the polymorphism of a colonial Hydrozoon, in
which the different attributes and characteristics of a single complete
organism are distributed among the various individuals of the colony.
The man with a multiplex personality is like a single individual of such
a colony, in that only certain elements of his ordinary self are manifest
at once, the rest being for the time submerged.

(</) Death; as Physiological Dissolution. And ultimately the indi-
vidual organism loses the power of self-adaptation to its environment ;
physiological dissolution ensues; and from the supraliminal standpoint
we discern no energy which is not dispersed in lower forms at death.

Of thus much, then, and of thus much only of ourselves, the struggle
for earthly existence has compelled us to be aware. It is an empirical
or superficial cognisance ; and here, as truly as anywhere in nature, " all
that we know is phenomenal of the unknown."


(i) Subliminal Consciousness; obscurely aware of the Transcendental
World, through Telepathic and Telcesthetic Impressions. Let us turn now
to our second scheme ; that which is to represent for us vital function
under the nascent control of a subliminal consciousness, and amid the
dimly-guessed operations of a transcendental world. The subliminal
faculties whose existence I infer from our evidence will be traced in detail
as we proceed. Here at the beginning I must merely explain on what
principle I have assigned to some of these faculties and not to others
a source in the subliminal self, or in telepathic action from other embodied
minds, rather than in any extra-terrene or spiritual intervention. This
distinction is often obscure ; but I have here drawn the line so as to avoid

926 A] TO CHAPTER IX 513

unduly favouring my own argument. I am endeavouring to show that
certain subliminal processes which I hold to be going on in each of us do
form a real intermediate class between the processes of normal life and
those attributed to spirit-control. I have, therefore, here left to the
account of spirit-control all that can be at all plausibly claimed for it ;*
believing that the remaining phenomena, those which seem almost indis-
putably referable to a source within ourselves, will be enough to carry us
half-way across the apparently impassable gulf which separates Mr. Moses'
and similar experiences from the experiences of the mass of mankind.

For these phenomena will not only in themselves show great accessions
of power, but also will give plain indication of still more marked develop-

Online LibraryFrederic William Henry MyersHuman personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) → online text (page 68 of 89)