Frederic William Henry Myers.

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

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larity. Messages so written extended over many pages, and in their course
there is no correction, no fault in composition, and often a sustained vigour
and beauty of style.

I am not, however, concerned to contend that my own mind was not
utilised, or that what was thus written did not depend for its form on the
mental qualifications of the medium through whom it was given. So far as I
know it is always the case that the idiosyncrasies of the medium are traceable
in such communications. It is not conceivable that it should be otherwise.
But it is certain that the mass of ideas conveyed to me were alien to my own
opinions, were, in the main, opposed to my settled convictions, and, moreover,


that in several cases information, of which I was assuredly ignorant, clear,
precise, and definite in form, susceptible of verification, and always exact, was
thus conveyed to me. As, at many of the stances, spirits came and rapped
out on the table clear and precise information about themselves, which we
afterwards verified, so, on repeated occasions, was such information conveyed
to me by this method of automatic writing.

I argue from the one case to others. In one I can positively assert and
prove the conveyance of information new to me. In others I equally believe
that I was in communication with an external intelligence which conveyed to
me thoughts other than my own. Indeed, the subject-matter of many of the
communications printed in this volume will, by its own inherent quality, pro-
bably lead to the same conclusion.

I never could command the writing. It came unsought usually, and when
I did seek it, as often as not I was unable to obtain it. A sudden impulse,
coming I know not how, led me to sit down and prepare to write. Where the
messages were in regular course I was accustomed to devote the first hour of
each day to sitting for their reception. I rose early, and the beginning of the
day was spent, in a room that I used for no other purpose, in what was to all
intents and purposes a religious service. These writings frequently came then,
but 1 could by no means reckon upon them. Other forms of spirit-manifesta-
tion came too ; I was rarely without some unless ill-health intervened, as it
often did of late years, until the messages ceased.

The particular communications which I received from the spirit known to
me as " Imperator " mark a distinct epoch in my life.

I have noted in the course of my remarks the intense exaltation of spirit, the
strenuous conflict, the intervals of peace, that I have since longed for, but have
seldom attained, which marked their transmission. It was a period of educa-
tion in which I underwent a spiritual development that was in its outcome a
very regeneration. I cannot hope, I do not try, to convey to others what I
then experienced. But it may possibly be borne in upon the minds of some
who are not ignorant of the dispensation of the spirit in their own inner selves,
that for me the question of the beneficent action of external spirit on my own
self was then finally settled. I have never since, even in the vagaries of an ex-
tremely sceptical mind, and amid much cause for questioning, ever seriously
entertained a doubt.

947 A. From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. pp. 106-7.

I will now give the account of " Rector " one of the alleged remoter
spirits as to a quotation from a closed and unknown book. This spirit
was, as described above, very intimately associated with Mr. Moses, and
habitually wrote for " Imperator," and for the group of guides generally.
His handwriting came more and more to resemble that of Mr. Moses
himself. To him, moreover, was attributed the power of reading in
books unknown to Mr. Moses, and of writing out matter there found
through Mr. Moses' hand.

Q. Can you read ?

A. " No, friend, I cannot, but Zachary Gray can, and Rector. I am
able to materialise myself, or to command the elements."
Q. Are either of those spirits here ?


A. " I will bring one by-and-by. I will send . . . Rector is here."

Q. I am told you can read. Is that so ? Can you read a book ?

A. [Spirit handwriting changed.] " Yes, friend, with difficulty."

Q. Will you write for me the last line of the first book of the ^feneid ?

A. " Wait Omnibus errantem terris etfluctibus cestas."

[This was right.]

Q. Quite so. But I might have known it. Can you go to the book-case,
take the last book but one on the second shelf, and read me the last para-
graph of the ninety-fourth page ? I have not seen it, and do not even know
its name.

A. " I will curtly prove by a short historical narrative, that Popery is a
novelty, and has gradually arisen or grown up since the primitive and pure
time of Christianity, not only since the apostolic age, but even since the
lamentable union of kirk and the state by Constantine."

[The book on examination proved to be a queer one called "Roger's
Antipopopriestian, an attempt to liberate and purify Christianity from Popery,
Politikirkality, and Priestrule." The extract given above was accurate, but
the word " narrative " substituted for "account."]

Q. How came I to pitch upon so appropriate a sentence ?

A. " I know not, my friend. It was by coincidence The word was
changed by error. I knew it when it was done, but would not change."

Q. How do you read? You wrote more slowly, and by fits and starts.

A. "I wrote what I remembered, and then I went for more. It is a special
effort to read, and useful only as a test. Your friend was right last night ; we
can read, but only when conditions are very good. We will read once again,
and write and then impress you of the book : ' Pope is the last great writer
of that school of poetry, the poetry of the intellect, or rather of the intellect
mingled with the fancy.' That is truly written. Go and take the eleventh
book on the same shelf. [I took a book called Poetry, Romance, and Rhetoric.]
It will open at the page for you. Take it and read, and recognise our power,
and the permission which the great and good God gives us, to show you of our
power over matter. To Him be glory. Amen."

[The book opened at page 145, and there was the quotation perfectly true.
I had not seen the book before : certainly had no idea of its contents.] [These
books were in Dr. Speer's library. F. W. H. M.]

It is plain that a power such as this of acquiring and reproducing
fresh knowledge interposes much difficulty in the way of identifying any
alleged spirit by means of his knowledge of the facts of his earth-life.
948 A. [Abridged from Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. pp. 69-93.]
In his little book on " Spirit Identity " (1879), Mr. Moses had collected
some of the most impressive of these cases of identity, and added some
interesting matter as to the subjective side of his experiences. The
book was never widely known ; and when the small edition was exhausted
Mr. Moses postponed the re publication, on the ground that the book
was imperfect, and that he had no time to improve it. I repeatedly
pressed him on the subject; and when last we spoke of it (October isth,
1886), he said that he would some time re-write the book, and would
consult me as to further passages of MS. to be published. The book



was never re-written ; but an essay called " The Identity of Spirit," found
among Mr. Moses' papers, and apparently intended to be read to the
London Spiritualist Alliance, in some degree fulfils his expressed intention.
I communicated this paper first to Light, the newspaper of which Mr.
Moses was Editor until his death. I have carefully compared it with
the MSS. on which it rests, and have found it accurate. I have also
discussed it with Mrs. Speer, who helped Mr. Moses in its compilation
and vouches for facts of verification, &c., not recorded in the MS. From
this paper I cite the following instances. I add in square brackets a few
notes where I have been able to bring some independent corroboration.

(1) It was in August 1872, that I first became acquainted with evidence of
Spirit Identity. Dr. and Mrs. Speer and I were then sitting regularly almost
every evening. A friend of Mrs. Speer's, of whom I had never heard, came
and wrote through my hand her name, "A. P. Kirkland." Dr. Speer said, " Is
that our old friend ? " Then I wrote. " Yes. I came to tell you that I am
happy, but I can't impress our friend to-night." The handwriting then
changed, and there came communications from Mr. Callister (a friend of mine);
and from my cousin, T. J. S. ; and from another spirit, which I do not think it
of importance to mention here.

With regard to these communications, they were distinct in style, and it is
of importance to notice that the handwriting of Miss Kirkland was very similar
to her own, which I had never seen, and that of Mr. Callister, on being ques-
tioned as to his identity, recalled to my memory a fact which had escaped it,
and referred to a conversation, the last I had had with him on earth. This I do
not adduce as evidence of identity, nor do I withdraw it as such.

This was on August 2ist, 1872, and on September 4th in the same year
there came a little sister of Dr. Speer's, particulars respecting which case are
printed in "Spirit Identity," p. 59, as follows:

(2) " I pass to a case in which a spirit who first manifested her presence on
September 4th, 1872, has remained in permanent communication with us ever
since. I note this case because we have the advantage of prolonged inter-
course to aid us in forming an opinion as to identity, and because the spirit has
not only given an unequivocal proof of her characteristic individuality, but has
evidenced her presence in various ways. This is a remarkable case, too, as
tending to prove that life once given is indestructible, and that the spirit which
has once animated a human body, however brief its tenure, lives on with unim-
paired identity.

" The spirit in question announced herself by raps, giving a message in
French. She said she was a sister of Dr. Speer's, and had passed away at
Tours, an infant of seven months old. I had never heard her mentioned, and
her brother had forgotten her existence, for she lived and died before his birth.
Clairvoyants had always described a child as being in my company, and I had
wondered at this, seeing that I had no trace of any such relation or friend.
Here was the explanation. From the time of her first appearance she had
remained attached to the family, and her clear, joyous little rap, perfectly indi-
vidual in its nature, is never-failing evidence of her presence. It never varies,
and we all know it at once as surely as we should know the tone of a friend's
voice. She gave particulars of herself, and also her four names in full. One
(Stanhope) was new to her brother, and he verified it only by reference to

VOL. II. 2 P


another member of the family (Mrs. Denis). Names, and dates, and facts were
alike unknown to me. I was absolutely ignorant of the fact of the existence of
any such person."

(3) On an evening in the month of January 1874, I repeatedly said to Mrs.

Speer, "Who is Emily C .? Her name keeps sounding in my ear." Mrs.

Speer replied that she did not know any one of that name. " Yes," I said very
emphatically, " there is some one of that name passed over to the world of
spirit." She could give me no information, and I was disturbed, in the way in
which I always am when such things take place. This is one of the many
cases occurring about this time. When the evening paper came in we looked
(as we frequently did) at the obituary. I may say that our minds were set on
this subject of identity. At our daily sittings fact on fact was given to prove it
and to remove any doubts. It became a regular thing for us to receive a
message giving such facts as an obituary notice would contain. We therefore
looked for them, and we found an announcement of the death of " Emily,

widow of the late Captain C C ." On a subsequent evening in the

following year, the date of which I can produce, but which I have not by me at
the moment, she returned again. Dr. Speer and I had gone out for a walk in
the afternoon I was then staying with him at Dudley Villa, Shanklin, Isle

of Wight and at our stance in the evening came " Emily C C ." I

inquired what brought her, and her answer was rapped out on the table, " You
passed my grave." Here I should explain that at this time I never went near
a graveyard but I attracted some spirit, identified afterwards as one whose
body lay there. I said, " No, that is impossible ; we have been near no grave-
yard," and Dr. Speer confirmed my impression. The communication, however,
was persistent, and we agreed that we would take the same walk the next day.
We did so, and at a certain place I had an impulse to climb up and look over
a wall, which quite shut out from the view of the ordinary passer-by what was
behind it. I climbed up and looked over, and my eye fell at once on the grave

of " Emily C C ," and on the dates and particulars given to us, all

exactly accurate.

(4) Another instance similar in kind though this is of a personal friend
of Mrs. Speer's is the case of Cecilia Feilden. (See " Spirit Identity," p. 58.)
We were then at Shanklin, sitting regularly every evening, when on January
ist, 1874, there came a fresh sound, a little ticking sound in the air, close to
Mrs. Speer. We inquired what it might represent, and were told that it
indicated the presence of Cecilia Feilden, who had died 17 years ago. We
asked why she came, and were told that she had been attracted to her old
friend, Mrs. Speer, through me, and in consequence of Dr. Speer's and my
presence at her grave at Bonchurch that afternoon. She answered many
questions, and finally rapped out, " I must now depart. Adieu." This word
Miss Feilden always used at the end of her letters. Mrs. Speer tells me that
she seldom concluded a letter otherwise. I had never known her, or heard of
her until Dr. Speer pointed out her grave. When we rose from the table we
found that a piece of marked paper, which we had put down under the table,
had written upon it the words, "passed 17 years."

(5) Again, there is the case of Henry Spratley. We were then the same
circle, sitting in the same way, on January 2nd, 1874, and I can aver that not
one of us had ever heard of this person. He had lately departed (December
*873), and it was alleged that he had been brought by the controlling spirit,


" Imperator," for purposes of evidence, and in pursuance of a plan intended
to break down my persistent scepticism. We had from him messages of the
usual type, saying simply who he was, when he was born, and when he died.
We found it difficult, I remember, to verify the facts, but in the end Mrs. Speer
succeeded in doing so by writing (i) to the Post Office, making a general in-
quiry, to which no answer came; (2) to the vicar of Maidenhead, with no
reply (we afterwards discovered that he was on his holiday) ; (3) to the
" present occupant of Moor Cottage," the address given to us by the spirit ;
(4) to his nearest surviving representative, who wrote back with some surprise
to say that all things were quite true. " My father lived here till he died on
December 24th."

(6) Another account to which I should like to refer is that of Kosamira
Lancaster :

" On February 28th, 1874, and following evening a spirit came by raps, and
gave the name of ' Rosamira.' She said that she died at Torquay on January
loth, 1874, and that she had lived at Kilburn. She stated that her husband's
name was ' Lancaster.' At this time I was troubled about details, and so I
asked her husband's Christian name, and I got ' Ben,' and then the power
failed. (The obituary showed that the full name was Benjamin.) I then
passed under the control of ' Imperator,' and he said that he had tried as far as
he could to bring this spirit to us. Afterwards the truth of the statements was
verified by me, and they were found to be absolutely exact ; and it is, perhaps,
important to say in this connection that not only were they (t.e. the facts)
literally true, but that nothing was said that was not true ; nor was there any
surplusage of detail only plain, definite, positive facts."

[We have verified this death from an announcement in the Daily Telegraph
of January I5th, 1874, of course published long before the name was given by
raps at the stance. It is therefore quite possible that the name should have
been unwittingly seen by Mr. Moses, and here reproduced from his subliminal
memory. F. W. H. M.]

(7) I will now quote the case given in " Spirit Identity," p. 193 (Appendix
III.), of a " Man Crushed by a Steam-roller," as contributed by an eye-witness
of the stance [F. W. Percival] to the Spiritualist of March 27th, 1874.

" On the evening of Saturday, February 21 st, a few friends met together at
the house of Mrs. Makdougall Gregory, 21 Green Street, Grosvenor Square, W.
The party numbered six in all, and included the Baron Du Potet, and
the gentleman to whose mediumship we are indebted for the ' Spirit Teachings '
which have appeared from time to time in your columns. There was no
intention of having a stance, and ordinary topics were the subject of conversa-
tion, when suddenly, in the middle of dinner, this gentleman surprised us by
saying that he felt a spirit standing near him between himself and the Baron
(who sat on his right); whether good or bad he could not tell, but the influence
was by no means pleasant. The spirit was also perceived by the Baron,
to whom it conveyed the impression that it was in a state of great distress,
and that it was the spirit of a person then alive. Nothing more was said
at the time, but the medium continued to feel a disagreeable influence
near him, and spoke of it to me when dinner was over. As soon as we
reached the drawing-room he was impelled to sit down and write ; and
when a pencil and paper had been brought, his hand was moved backwards
and forwards with great rapidity, and an object was roughly ('rawn on the paper


which resembled a horse fastened to a kind of cart or truck. Several attempts
were made to depict it more clearly, and then the following sentences were
written: 'I killed myself I killed myself to-day Baker Street medium
passed.' Here the writing became unintelligible, as the medium grew more
and more agitated, until at length he rose from his seat in a state of trance,
and exclaimed in broken sentences : ' Yes, yes. Killed myself to-day, under
a steam-roller. Yes, yes. Killed myself blood, blood, blood.' The control
then ceased, but the medium felt the same unpleasant influence for some
hours afterwards, and could not entirely shake it off for some days. In
reference to the communication, I may state that, although the medium had
passed through Baker Street in the afternoon, neither he nor any one present
was aware that a man had committed suicide there in the morning by throwing
himself under a steam-roller. A brief notice of the occurrence appeared in the
Pall Mall Gazette in the evening, but none of the party had seen that paper.
It is worth remarking that on the front of the steam-roller which was used
in Baker Street a horse is represented in brass, and this, perhaps, may serve
to account for its appearance in the medium's drawing where we should
certainly not expect to find it."

[It appears that the deceased was a cab-driver, and the drawing more
probably had reference to this, as Mr. Podmore suggests in Studies in
Psychical Research, p. 131, footnote. See also the reference to this case in
the entry connected with Blanche Abercromby, section 949. F. W. H. M.]

(8) Out of a profusion of cases here is one of a different kind. In the year
1880, one Thursday afternoon (date unknown), Dr. and Mrs. Speer and I had
dined together, and the party included a lady who had been visiting a con-
nection of Dr. Speer's family in that spring. There she had seen, and been
much attracted to, a lovely little girl about seven months old. The child used
to be brought in after dinner, and the lady in question grew very fond of her.
Between the time of leaving her friends and coming to London the child
passed away. It is important to notice that none of these points had ever
been mentioned to, or were known by, myself. On the occasion to which I
refer, this lady had risen from her seat and was about to place herself in
another chair, when I suddenly called out, " Don't sit down on it, don't sit
down on it. Little Baby Timmins." None of us knew its first name, and they
asked me. I said " Marian ; the grandmother has brought it." I then sud-
denly came out of the trance in which I had been, and in my own natural
voice so different to the voice in which I had been speaking said, " Mrs.
Speer, will you have some coffee?" quite ignorant of all that had passed. We
wrote, and then found out a fact unknown to any of us, that the child's
name was Marian. I do not put this forth as a complete piece of evidence, for
the lady may have heard and forgotten the name.

[Mrs. Speer has described to me this incident, which is remarkable as the
only observed case where Mr. Moses had a sudden access of unconsciousness
during ordinary life, although he himself mentions others. F. W. H. M.]

As evidence from another point of view, I may mention that I have had
repeated cases of signatures which are veritable fac-similes of those used by
the persons in life ; such, for example, are the signatures of Beethoven, Mozart,
and of Swedenborg, in connection with Judge Edmonds. It is remarkable
that his signature, or rather initials, in my book are those which he used, and
that Swedenborg's signature, a very peculiar one, is a fac-simile of his known
handwriting ; quite unknown, however, to me.


948 B. I add two other cases not included by Mr. Moses in his paper
on "The Identity of Spirit." (From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. p. 100.)

(i) Fanny Westoby. This case was described by Mr. Moses to
Edmund Gurney and myself, while it was still fresh, on our first meeting
with him, May Qth, 1874.

On the evening of April 8th, 1874, while at Bedford with his father and
mother, Mr. Moses, who had been receiving messages about ancient religions

during the day, began to ask a question, " I should 1 ," when a meaningless

drawing was made in place of intended words.

Q. What is all that ? And why was I stopped ?

A. " A spirit wishes to communicate, and we are commanded to perm-it her.
She is not able to write with ease, but will communicate through us. Her name
is Fanny Westoby. Do you know the name ? "

Q. I do not remember.

A . " Your mother knows her well. She is a cousin of hers. She passed
from your earth May 1 5th last.

Q. Was she married ?

A. " Yes, her maiden name was Kirkham."

Q. Fanny Kirkham. Yes, I have a dim remembrance. She used to live
at Markby.

A. " She says that she was born in Alford, in the house now occupied by
Sam Stevenson. She then lived at Markby, and, having married, at Belchford.
She passed away at Horncastle, at 63 years of age. You do not remember
her, when, in the year 1845, y u went to see her at Markby. Her mother,
Elizabeth Kirkham, was then just released from a lingering illness, and your
mother had gone to condole with her cousin. You were taken round the farm,
and rode on a goat (she is anxious on this point), and she threw you in sport
into a heap of wheat which was being threshed. The result was that you
were severely bitten by the harvest bug. She is very anxious that you should
recall this to your mother."

Q. I will. But is it wise?

A. "You will not be able to induce her to search into this matter, but you
may satisfy yourself that what is said is true."

Q. Has she any message?

A. " She says, ' I lost much of my opportunity for progress through the
gratification of bodily appetite, which cast me back. My course of progress is
yet to come. I find my present life not very different from yours. I am nearly
the same. I wish I could influence Mary, but I can't get near her.' "

Q. Can she assure me that she is F. W. ?

A. "She can give you no further evidence. Stay, ask your father about
Donnington and the trap-door."

Q. I have not the least idea what she means. All the better. I will ask.
Any more ? Is she happy ?

A. " She is as happy as may be in her present state."

Q. How did she find me out ?

A. "She came by chance, hovering near her friend [i.e. Mrs. Moses], and
discovered that she could communicate. She will return now."

Q. Can I help her ?


Online LibraryFrederic William Henry MyersHuman personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) → online text (page 79 of 89)