Frederic William Henry Myers.

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

. (page 76 of 89)
Online LibraryFrederic William Henry MyersHuman personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) → online text (page 76 of 89)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Rev. C. B. Sanders, who was holding a protracted meeting with our pastor,
Rev. G. W. Mitchell, at Mt. Moriah Church, repaired to our house, where they
(the preachers) lodged. Mr. Sanders was suffering considerable pain in his
head and chest, and lying upon a bed, and after hours spent in conversation
and singing religious songs, and while Mr. Mitchell was temporarily absent
we think it was about eleven o'clock, or later he said, with evident amusement,
" Humph ! Brother Forsythe, like a child, knelt down to pray and has gone to
sleep." Mrs. Wheeler said to him, " How do you know ? " He replied, " Child,
you ask too many questions."

On that night, before Mr. Sanders dismissed the congregation, he proposed
that all who would join in praying for the penitents until midnight to make it
known by rising to their feet. To which Deacon Forsythe was a respondent.
Mr. Forsythe lived about two miles on an air line from our home. . . .



WALES, TENN., May 28, 1891.

I, the undersigned, hereby certify that on the night of the [24th] of August
1889, I did kneel at my chair for prayer, in my own house, between the hours of
eleven and twelve o'clock, and having been labouring day and night for a week
past, and being quite weary, in a short time I went to sleep. I went to church
next morning, and Deacon Long and myself were asked by a brother if we com-
plied with our pledge last night. I replied that I did not fully, as I went to
sleep on my knees a short time before the time expired. . . .

I had not heard then what Mr. Sanders had said about me at Mr. Wheeler's.
When we got to the church door, Mr. Wheeler was telling the incident that took
place at his house on the night before, as having occurred about the time I went
to sleep. R. H. FORSYTHE.

Mr. Mitchell writes in July 1902, that he has not been notified that
Mr. Sanders has had any recent communications from "X -f Y = Z."

936 A. For Kant's evidence in regard to the supernormal powers of
Swedenborg, see Dreams of a Spirit Seer, by Immanuel Kant, translated
by E. F. Goerwitz; edited by Frank Sewall (London: Swan Sonnen-
schein & Co. ; New York : The Macmillan Company, 1900).

The three most famous cases are : ( i ) Swedenborg's communication
to the Queen of Sweden of some secret information, which she had asked
him for, and believed that no living human being could have told him.
(2) The widow of the Dutch Ambassador at Stockholm was called upon
by a goldsmith to pay for a silver service which her husband had pur-
chased. She believed that it had been paid for, but could not find the
receipt ; so she begged Swedenborg to ask her husband where it was.
Three days later he came to her house and informed her in the presence
of some visitors that he had conversed with her husband, and had learnt
from him that the debt had been paid, and the receipt was in a bureau in
an upstairs room. The spirit had said that after pulling out the left-hand
drawer a board would appear, and on drawing out this a secret compart-
ment would be disclosed, containing his private Dutch correspondence
and the receipt. The whole company went upstairs and the papers were
found, as described, in the secret compartment, of which no one had
known before.

(3) In September, 1759, at four o'clock on a Saturday afternoon,
Swedenborg arrived at Gottenburg from England, and was invited by a
friend to his house. Two hours after he went out and then came back
and informed the company that a dangerous fire had just broken out in
Stockholm (which is about fifty German miles from Gottenburg), and
that it was spreading fast. He was restless and went out often. He
said that the house of one of his friends, whom he named, was already
in ashes, and that his own was in danger. At eight o'clock, after he had
been out again, he declared that the fire was extinguished at the third
door from his house. This news occasioned great commotion throughout
the whole city, and was announced to the Governor the same evening.


On Sunday morning Swedenborg was summoned to the Governor, who
questioned him about the disaster. He described the fire precisely, how
it had begun and in what manner it had ceased, and how long it had
continued. On Monday evening a messenger arrived at Gottenburg,
who had been despatched by the Board of Trade during the time of the
fire. In the letters brought by him, the fire was described precisely as
stated by Swedenborg, and next morning the news was further confirmed
by information brought to the Governor by the Royal Courier. As
Swedenborg had said, the fire had been extinguished at eight o'clock.

These cases are given in Kant's letter to Fraulein Charlotte von
Knobloch, which is quoted in Appendix II. of Dreams of a Spirit Seer,
the original letter being contained in Borowsky's Darstellung des Lebens
und Charakters Immanuels Kant, Konigsberg, 1804, pp. 211 to 225.

See also Documents concerning Swedenborg, by R. L. Tafel.

936 B. Frau Frederica Haufife, better known as the " Seeress of
Prevorst," was one of the most noted of the group of somnambules who
nourished in Germany in the early part of the nineteenth century. A
history of her trances was published soon after her death by Justinus
Kerner, a well-known poet and physician to whom she had come for
" magnetic" treatment, under the title of Die Seherin von Prevorst : Er'aff-
nungen uberdas innere Leben des Menschen unduber das Hereinragen einer
Geisterwelt in die Unsere (Stuttgart und Tubingen, iSap). 1 It was claimed
that the Seeress possessed supernormal powers of vision, both of distant
scenes and of the future ; she was supposed to see and converse with
discarnate spirits, who gave her information on their affairs and family
history, and physical phenomena were observed in her presence. The
evidence, however, for her supernormal powers was what would now be
considered quite inadequate. She excited even greater interest by her
supposed revelations of things spiritual. These revelations formed the
study of Gorres, Eschenmayer, and other members of a circle of mystics,
and were expounded by them in the Blatter aus Prevorst, of which
several volumes appeared from 1831 onwards. Besides the doctrine
more or less common to all the mystics of the time of the threefold
nature of man, the revelations of the Seeress included descriptions of
certain intricate systems of circles designated respectively Sun-Circles
and Life-Circles which represented symbolically spiritual conditions and
the passage of time. Diagrams of these are given in Kerner's work.
Their interpretation was furnished partly by cyphers, partly by words of
the supposed primitive universal language written in the primitive ideo-
graphs. These have some resemblance to Hebrew characters, and the

1 A second edition was published in 1832, and later ones in 1838 and 1846. An
English translation, greatly abridged, by Mrs. Crowe, was published in London in 1845.
See also The Pioneers of the Spiritual Reformation : Life and Works of Dr. Justinus
Kerner : William Howitt and his work for Spiritualism, by Anna Mary Howitt Watts
(London : The Psychological Press Association and E. W. Allen, 1883).


Seeress herself compared the language to Hebrew, and maintained that it
resembled the language actually spoken in the time of Jacob, and that it
was the common language of the inner life. She frequently spoke it in
her trances, and it is asserted that she was quite consistent in her use of
the words. It was supposed to be the primitive Nature-speech, which was
lost and forgotten with the coming of sin, but something of which can be
recovered in rare states of exaltation. There are, of course, many other
instances of this type of supposed languages, e,g. the unknown tongues
spoken in Edward living's church, 1 and the Martian and other languages
of M" e Helene Smith (see 837).

936 C. The following is another case of ecstasy, which was reported
to us along with a series of incidents suggesting an unseen protection
or guidance. The narrator, Mr. J. W. Skilton, was a railway engineer,
residing at Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.A., who had several times had
veridical dreams or impressions, which in some cases saved himself and
his train from serious accidents. One of these a premonition of an
accident was published in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. p. 333, and further
cases in vol. xi. pp. 559-567. I quote from vol. xi. p. 560. Mr. Skilton's
narrative is dated November loth, 1890.

I would say that I have been engaged a great part of my life as a loco-
motive engineer, and this happened while engaged in thrxt business. I was
engaged with two other men one day about two o'clock P.M. in taking out some
evergreen trees from a box car to take home and set out ; they were large and
heavy ; I had to run the car up on the switch rails to get them out ; but as
there was no train due till forty minutes I would have plenty of time to get
them out, and push the car back out of the way. There had been a great deal
of other freight put in the car after mine was, so it was necessary to take out
some of it before I could get at mine. I opened the car door, and a barrel of
eggs fell out on the ground, and just at that instant I saw a medium-sized
person standing at my right hand clothed in white with a bright countenance,
beaming with intelligence. I knew what he wanted in an instant, although he
put his hand on my shoulder and said, " Come with me." We moved upward,
and a little to the south-east, with the speed of lightning, as it were ; I could see
the hills, trees, buildings, and roads as we went up side by side till they
vanished out of our sight. As we passed on, this glorious being that was with
me told me he was going to show me that bright heavenly world. We soon
came to a world of light and beauty, many thousand times larger than this
earth, with at least four times as much light. The beauties of this place were
beyond any human being to describe. I was seated by the tree of life on a
square bunch of what appeared to be a green velvet moss, about eighteen inches
high ; there I saw many thousand spirits clothed in white, and singing the
heavenly songs, and I could think of but one verse that I had ever heard that
would do justice to this heavenly music, and that is this : " Hark ! what sweet
music, what a song Sounds from the bright, celestial throng ! " for it was the
sweetest song I have ever heard. I here told my attendant that it was the first

1 For a description of these, see The Lift of Edward Irving, by Mrs. Oliphant
(Hurst & Blackett, 1862).


time I had ever been perfectly at rest in my life. They did not converse by
sound, but each knew the other's thoughts at the instant, and conversation was
carried on in that way, and also with me.

After viewing the wonderful beauties of the place for some time, and the
thousands of spirits, robed in spotless white, passing through the air, for they
did not confine themselves to the surface, but went every direction as they
pleased, I wanted to see my dear mother, two sisters, and a child of mine that
had died some time before this. The request was granted at once, but I was
not allowed to converse with them. They were standing in a row in front of
me, and I looked at them and coolly estimated the distance we were apart at
thirty feet, and wondered how these things could be. They seemed very much
pleased to see me, and I shall never forget how they welcomed me when I first
saw them, although no conversation passed. About this time my attendant told
me we must go back ; I wished to stay, but he told me my time had not come
yet, but would in due time, and that I should wait with patience. At this we
started back, and were soon out of sight of that heavenly land. When we came
in sight of this world, I saw everything as it looked from a great height, such
as trees, buildings, hills, roads, and streams, as natural as could be, till we came
to the car that I had opened the door of, and I found myself there in the body,
and he vanished out of my sight. I spoke then (just as I opened my watch and
found it had been just twenty-six minutes that I had been engaged with that
mysterious one), and said I thought I had left this world for good. One of the
men said, " There is something the matter with you ever since you opened the
car door; we have not been able to get a word out of you," and that I had done
all the work of taking out everything and putting it back into the car, and one
item was eight barrels of flour I had taken off the ground alone and put them
back in the car, three feet and a half high, with all the ease of a giant. I told
them where I had been and what I had seen, but they had seen no one.

This I count the brightest day of my life, and what I saw is worth a life-
time of hardship and toil. Being in good health, and in my right mind in
mid-day, while busy about my work, and my mind not more than ordinarily en-
gaged on the great subject of eternal life, I consider this a most extraordinary
incident I was told by this mysterious person that if we are counted worthy
at death, we shall be accompanied to that bright world by one of those glorious
beings, and this is my firm belief.

Mr. Skilton writes to me that he has never had any trance save this
which he regards as " worth a lifetime of hardship and toil."

As I have elsewhere said, I incline to believe that ecstasy is the highest
condition into which a spirit still incarnate can pass. The so-called
ecstasy of hysteria I regard as merely an instance of the imperfect simula-
tions of various psychical states which the disintegrated personality of the
hysteric readily affords. True ecstasy I regard as a condition where the
centre of consciousness changes from the supraliminal to the subliminal
self, and realises the transcendental environment in place of the material.
The reminiscence of such a momentary enlightenment I regard as in-
evitably confused and coloured by pre-existing supraliminal notions. I no
more accept Mr. Skilton's picture of the unseen world as exact than I
accept Swedenborg's ; but I incline to believe that both alike were in truth


exalted into an " interior condition," where their perception of the Cosmos,
though less distinct and intelligible, was wider and profounder than
our own.

937 A. [The first volume of Alphonse Cahagnet's Arcanes de la vie
future devoiles was published at Paris in 1848, and the second, reporting
his sittings with Adele Maginot, in 1849. This medium had been long
known to him ; she had been a natural somnambulist from her childhood,
and he had " magnetised " her to put a stop to the spontaneous attacks
which were impairing her health. He found her an excellent clairvoyant,
especially for the diagnosis and cure of diseases. Later, she was chiefly
consulted by persons who wished for interviews with deceased friends. It
appears that Cahagnet took great care to report the communications, and
to obtain signed attestations from witnesses, so that the case stands on a
much higher evidential level than most early records of clairvoyants. An
account of Cahagnet's work, quoting the records of some of the best cases,
is given in an article by Mr. F. Podmore (in which he compares the
trance performances of Adele with those of Mrs. Piper) in Proceedings
S.P.R., vol. xiv. p. 50, and I give below some extracts from this

The following (says Mr. Podmore) are a few representative records :

No. 129. M.Petiet asks for M.JdrSme Petiet. Adele sees a young man, about
twenty-four or twenty-six years of age (he was thirty), not so tall as his brother
now present; auburn hair, rather long; open forehead, arched and very pro-
nounced eyebrows ; brown and rather sunken eyes ; nose rather long, pretty well
formed ; complexion fresh, skin very white and delicate ; medium-sized mouth,
round dimpled chin. " He was weak in the chest ; he would have been very
strong had it not been for this. He wears a rough grey vest, buttons with a
shank and eye such as are no longer worn. I do not think they are brass ones,
nor of the same stuff as the vest. They don't look to me very bright. His
pantaloons are of a dark colour, and he wears low quartered shoes without any

" This man was of a stubborn disposition, selfish, without any fine feelings,
had a sinister look, was not very communicative, devoid of candour, and had
but little affection for any one. He had suffered with his heart. His death was
natural, but sudden. He died of suffocation." Adele chokes as this man choked,
and coughed as he did. She says that " he must have had moxas or a plaster
applied to his back, and this accounts for the sore I see there. He had no
disease, however, in that part. The spine was sound. Those who applied this
remedy did not know the seat of the disease. He holds himself badly. His
back is round without being humped."

M. Petiet finds nothing to alter in these details, which are very exact, and
confirm him in his belief that the application of this plaster, advised by a man
who was not a doctor, brought on his brother's death, which was almost

" Signed the present report as very exact.

19 Rue Neuve-Coquenard."


Note. The buttons that Adele was unable to describe were of metal, a dirty
white ground, and surrounded by a blue circle. In this apparition there is a
remarkable fact to be noted viz., that Adele experienced the same kind of
illness as this man. I was obliged to release her by passes ; she suffered

No. 117. M. du Potet [a well-known writer on Animal Magnetism] wishes
to call up M. Dubois, a doctor, a friend of his who had been dead about fifteen

Adele said : "*I see a grey-headed man, he has very little hair on the front
of his head; his forehead is bare and prominent at the temples, making his
head appear square. He may be about sixty years of age. He has two wrinkles
on either side of his cheeks, a crease under his chin, making it look double ; he
is short-necked and stumpy ; has small eyes, a thick nose, a rather large mouth,
a flat chin, and small thin hands. He does not look to me quite so tall as M.
du Potet ; if he is not stouter, he is more broad-shouldered. He wears a brown
frock-coat with side pockets. I see him draw a snuff-box out of one of them
and take a pinch. He has a very funny walk, he does not carry himself well,
and has weak legs ; he must have suffered from them. He has rather short
trousers. Ah ! he does not clean his shoes every day, for they are covered with
mud. Taking it altogether, he is not well dressed. He has asthma, for he
breathes with difficulty. I see, too, that he has a swelling in the abdomen, he
has something to support it. I have told him that it is M. du Potet who asked
for him. He talks to me of magnetism with incredible volubility ; he talks of
everything at once ; he mixes everything up : I cannot understand any of it ; it
makes him sputter saliva."

M. du Potet asks that the apparition may be asked why he has not appeared
to him before as he had promised ? He answers : " Wait till I find out my
whereabouts ; I have only just arrived, I am studying everything I see. I
want to tell you all about it when I appear, and I shall have many things to tell

" Which day did you promise me you would do so ? " " On a Wednesday."
Adele adds : " This man must be forgetful ; I am sure that he was very absent-
minded." M. du Potet asks further : " When will you appear to me ? " "I
cannot fix the time; I shall try to do so in six weeks." "Ask him if he was
fond of the Jesuits." At this name he gives such a leap in the air, stretching
out his arms, and crying " The Jesuits," that Adele draws back quickly, and is
so startled that she does not venture to speak to him again.

M. du Potet declares that all these details are very accurate, that he cannot
alter a syllable. He says that this man's powers of conversation were inexhaus-
tible ; he mixed up all the sciences to which he was devoted, and spoke with
such volubility that, as the clairvoyante says, he sputtered in consequence. He
took little pains with his appearance ; he was so absent-minded that he some-
times forgot to eat. When any one mentioned the Jesuits to him he jumped as
Adele has described. He was always covered with mud like a spaniel. It is
not surprising that the clairvoyante should see him with muddy shoes. He
had, in fact, promised M. du Potet that he would appear to him on a Wednes-
day or a Saturday. M. du Potet has acknowledged the accuracy of this apparition
in No. 75 of the Journal du Magnttisme.

In effect, in the Journal of August loth of the same year, in reviewing

937 A] TO CHAPTER IX 575

the first volume, Du Potet gives handsome testimony to the striking
nature of the impersonation, " si bien que je croyais le voir moi-meme,
tant le tableau en 6tait saisissant. Bientot cette ombre s'est enfuie en
effrayant la somnambule ; un seul mot avail caus6 cette disparition subite,
et mon tonnement en fut port a son comble, car ce meme mot le mettait
toujours en fureur." But Du Potet, for all that, is inclined to attribute
the phenomenon to transmission of thought from his own mind ; 1 and a
few months later, 2 in reviewing the second volume, he takes occasion to
give the result of his further inquiries on this stance. Generally, the
minute description of the personal appearance and other particulars which
were prominent in Du Potet's own mind at the time were correct ; and
other details were correctly given which Du Potet might have heard, but
had certainly not remembered at the time. He had ascertained, however,
from the widow and children, that Dr. Dubois took no tobacco ; never
had a redingote of the colour described ; had no hernia, and consequently
wore no bandage. Moreover, the apparition predicted never came off.
Du Potet, however, adds expressly that Dr. Dubois was unknown in life
to Cahagnet and his somnambule.

In some cases, with the express object of excluding thought-transference,
the sitter came armed with the name of some dead person of whom he

knew nothing as in the following case. M. l'Abb6 A , mentioned at

the beginning of the record, had had a successful experiment of the same
kind at a previous sitting (No. 112).

No. 122. Pastor Rostan, who is referred to in the preceding stance in con-
nection with the conversion of M. TAbbe* A , desired in his turn to obtain an

apparition. He asked for a person unknown to him, whose name had been
given to him ; but there had been a mistake made in giving him this name; in
consequence a person appeared whose description we took, but who could not
be recognised. At least, such is this gentleman's version, and I do not imagine
that I was imposed upon. I suggested a second stance to him, especially as
he persisted in asking for a person entirely unknown to him, to such an extent
had he been influenced by M. Hubert's arguments. He then asked his maid-
servant to give him a name of one of her acquaintances who had been dead
some time : he came armed with this name, and asked for Jeannette Jex.
Adele replied : " I see a woman who is not tall, she may be between thirty and
forty years of age ; if she is not hump-backed she must be crook-backed, for
she carries herself very badly. I cannot make her turn round. Her hair is
auburn, approaching to red ; she has small grey eyes, a thick nose. She is not
good-looking. She has a prominent chin, a receding mouth, thin lips; her
dress is countrified. I see that she has a cap with two flat bands, rounded over
the ears. She must have suffered from a flow of blood to the head, she has had
indigestion. I see she has a swelling in the abdomen on the left side and in
the glands of one breast. She has been ill a long time."

M. Rostan handed over the report to his servant, and gave it back to me
after adding his signature and the following remarks :

" This is correct as regards stature, age, dress, carriage, the disease and
deformed figure. (Signed) J. J. ROSTAN."

1 Journal du Magnttisme, vol. vii. p. 89. 3 Journal du Magnitisme, vol. viii. p. 24.

5 ;6 APPENDICES [937 A

But if M. Rostan was staggered by the result of his test, his friends
apparently still ascribed the results to thought-transference, which gives
Cahagnet occasion for some argument on the subject.

There are, indeed, indications that some at least of the alleged appari-
tions were subjective inspired, that is, by the imagination of the medium,
supplemented occasionally by telepathic drafts from the sitter. We should

Online LibraryFrederic William Henry MyersHuman personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) → online text (page 76 of 89)