Instrumental Trans Communication (ITC) is the name for the technique of contacting the SubConscious, the UnConscious & the SuperConscious, using any electronic means to capture images or to record voices (EVP : Electronic Voice Phenomenon). Listening to the sounds and the music, you go in a trance and start channeling spiritual entities, making "Blackout Poetry" (= automatic writing in reverse: you don't write words, you erase words), finding their voices on an old MP3-player.
I had a friend many years ago in India, who (like many other friends) had permitted time and separation to come between us, and alienate us from each other. I had not seen him nor heard from him for eleven years, and to all appearance our friendship was at an end.
One evening the medium I have alluded to above, Mrs. Fitzgerald, who was a personal friend of mine, was at my house. After dinner she put her feet up on the sofa – a very unusual thing for her – and closed her eyes. She and I were quite alone in the drawing-room, and after a little while I whispered softly: “Bessie, are you asleep?”
The answer came from her control “Dewdrop”, a wonderfully sharp Red Indian girl. “No ! she’s in a trance. There’s somebody coming to speak to you! I don't want him to come. He’ll make the medium ill. But it’s no use. I see him creeping round the corner now!”
“But why should it make her ill?” I argued, believing we were about to hold an ordinary séance.
“Because he’s a live one, he hasn’t passed over yet,” replied Dewdrop. “Live ones always make my medium feel sick. But it’s no use. I can’t keep him out. He may as well come. But don’t let him stay long.”
“Who is he, Dewdrop?” I demanded curiously.
“I don’t know! Guess you will! He’s an old friend of yours, and his name is George.” Whereupon Bessie Fitzgerald laid back on the sofa cushions, and Dewdrop ceased to speak.
It was some time before there was any result. The medium tossed and turned, and wiped the perspiration from her forehead, and pushed back her hair, and beat up the cushions and threw herself back upon them with a sigh, and went through all the pantomime of a man trying to court sleep in a hot climate.
Presently she opened her eyes and glanced languidly around her. Her unmistakable actions and the name “George” – which was that of my friend, then resident in India – had naturally aroused my suspicions as to the identity of the influence, and when Bessie opened her eyes, I asked softly: “George, is that you?”
At the sound of my voice the medium started violently and sprung into a sitting posture, and then, looking all round the room in a scared manner, she exclaimed: “Where am I? Who brought me here?” Then catching sight of me, she continued: “Florence! Is this your room? Oh, let me go! Do let me go!”
This was not complimentary, to say the least of it, from a friend whom I had not met for eleven years, but now that I had got him I had no intention of letting him go, until I was convinced of his identity. However, the terror of the spirit at finding himself in a strange place seemed so real and uncontrollable that I had the greatest difficulty in persuading him to stay, even for a few minutes. He kept on reiterating, shivering convulsively: “Who brought me here? I did not wish to come. Do let me go back. I am so very cold… so very, very cold!”
“Answer me a few questions,” I said, “and then you shall go. Do you know who I am?”
“Yes, yes… you are Florence!”
“And what is your name?”
He gave it at full length.
“And do you care for me still?”
“Very much. But let me go.”
“In a minute. Why do you never write to me?”
“There are reasons. I am not a-free agent. It is better as it is.”
“I don’t think so. I miss your letters very much. Shall I ever hear from you again?”
“And see you?”
“Yes… but not yet. Let me go now. I don’t wish to stay. You are making me very unhappy.”
If I could describe the fearful manner in which, during this conversation, he glanced every moment at the door, like a man who is afraid of being discovered in a guilty action, it would carry with it to my readers, as it did to me, the most convincing proof that the medium’s body was animated by a totally different influence from her own. I kept the spirit under control until I had fully convinced myself that he knew everything about our former friendship and his own present surroundings; and then I let him fly back to India, and wondered if he would wake up the next morning and imagine he had been laboring under nightmare…
These experiences with the spirits of the living are certainly amongst the most curious I have obtained. On more than one occasion, when I have been unable to extract the truth of a matter from my acquaintances, I have sat down alone, as soon as I believed them to be asleep, and summoned their spirits to the table and compelled them to speak out. Little have they imagined sometimes how I came to know things which they had scrupulously tried to hide from me.
I have heard that the power to summon the spirits of the living is not given to all media, but I have always possessed it. I can do so when they are awake as well as when they are asleep, though it is not so easy. A gentleman once dared me to do this with him, and I only conceal his name because I made him look ridiculous. I waited till I knew he was engaged at a dinner-party, and then about in the evening I sat down and summoned him to come to me. It was some little time before he obeyed, and when he did come, he was eminently sulky. I got a piece of paper and pencil, and from his dictation I wrote down the number and names of the guests at the dinner-table, also the dishes of which he had partaken, and then in pity for his earnest entreaties I let him go again.
“You are making me ridiculous,” he said, “everyone is laughing at me.”
“But why? What are you doing?” I urged.
“I am standing by the mantel-piece, and I have fallen fast asleep,” he answered.
The next morning he came pell-mell into my presence. “What did you do to me last night?” he demanded. “I was at the Watts Philips, and after dinner I went fast asleep with my head upon my hand, standing by the mantel-piece, and they were all trying to wake me and couldn’t. Have you been playing any of your tricks upon me?”
“I only made you do what you declared I couldn’t,” I replied. “How did you like the white soup, and the turbot, and the sweetbreads?”
He opened his eyes at my nefariously obtained knowledge, and still more when I produced the paper written from his dictation. This is not a usual custom of mine – it would not be interesting enough to pursue as a custom, but I am a dangerous person to dare to do anything.
The old friend whose spirit visited me through Mrs. Fitzgerald had lost a sister to whom he was very tenderly attached before he made my acquaintance, and I knew little of her beyond her name. One evening, not many months after the interview with him which I have recorded, a spirit came to me, giving the name of my friend’s sister, with this message: “My brother has returned to England, and would like to know your address. Write to him to the Club, Leamington, and tell him where to find you.”
I replied: “Your brother has not written to me, nor inquired after me for the last eleven years. He has lost all interest in me, and I cannot be the first to write to him, unless I am sure that he wishes it.”
“He has not lost all interest in you,” said the spirit. “He thinks of you constantly, and I hear him pray for you. He wishes to hear from you.”
“That may be true,” I replied, “but I cannot accept it on your authority. If your brother really wishes to renew our acquaintance, let him write and tell me so.”
“He does not know your address, and I cannot get near enough to him to influence him.”
“Then things must remain as they are,” I replied somewhat testily. “I am a public person. He can find out my address, if he chooses to do so.”
The spirit seemed to reflect for a moment; then she rapped out: “Wait, and I will fetch my brother. He shall come here himself and tell you what he thinks about it.”
In a short time there was a different movement of the table, and the name of my old friend was given. After we had exchanged a few words, and I had told him I required a test of his identity, he asked me to get a pencil and paper, and write from his dictation. I did as he requested, and he dictated the following sentence: “Long time, indeed, has passed since the days you call to mind, but time, however long, does not efface the past. It has never made me cease to think of and pray for you as I felt you, too, did think of and pray for me. Write to the address my sister gave you. I want to hear from you.”
Notwithstanding the perspicuity and apparent genuineness of this message, it was some time before I could make up my mind to follow the directions it gave me. My pride stood in the way to prevent it. Ten days afterwards, however, having received several more visits from the sister, I did as she desired me, and sent a note to her brother to the Leamington Club. The answer came by return of post, and contained (amongst others) the identical words he had told me to write down.
Will Mr. Stuart Cumberland, or any other clever man, explain to me what or who it was that had visited me ten days beforehand, and dictated words which could hardly have been in my correspondent’s brain before he received my letter? I am ready to accept any reasonable explanation of the matter from the scientists, philosophers, chemists, or arguists of the world, and I am open to conviction, when my sense convinces me, that their reasoning is true. But my present belief is, that not a single man or woman will be found able to account on any ordinary grounds for such an extraordinary instance of “unconscious cerebration”.
Florence Marryat (1833-1899) was a British novelist, playwright, spiritualist, revue singer and actress in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. She was the daughter of the famous author Captain Frederick Marryat and was particularly well known for her involvement with the spiritual movement – and mediums – of the late 19th century. Florence Marryat wrote about 90 novels, adapted some of them for the stage and even took a role in a drama she had written. Her most notable work is There Is No Death (1891) - this book is being fully published here on GhostWritings. You can read a short biography of Florence Marryat here.
A Spirit Alive in the Stalls
When I first joined Mr. d’Oyley Carte’s Patience Company in the provinces, to play the part of Lady Jane, I understood I was to have four days rehearsal. However, the lady whom I succeeded, hearing I had arrived, took herself off, and the manager requested I would appear the same night of my arrival. This was rather an ordeal to an artist who had never sung on the operatic stage before, and who was not note perfect. But as a matter of obligation and although I was very nervous about it, I consented to do my best.
At the end of the second act, during the balloting scene. Lady Jane has to appear suddenly on the stage, with the word “Away!” – I forget at this distance of time whether I made a mistake in pitching the note a third higher or lower. I know it was not out of harmony, but it was sufficiently wrong to send the chorus astray, and bring my heart up into my mouth. It never occurred after the first night, but I never stood at the wings again waiting for that particular entrance, “girded my loins together”, without a kind of dread lest I should repeat the error.
After a while I perceived a good deal of whispering about me in the company, and I asked poor Federici (who played the colonel) the reason of it, particularly as he had previously asked me to stand as far from him as I could upon the stage, because I magnetized him so strongly that he couldn’t sing if I was near him.
“Well!... Do you know,” he said to me in answer, “that a very strange thing occurs occasionally with reference to you, Miss Marryat? While you are standing on the stage sometimes, you appear seated in the stalls. Several people have seen it beside myself. I assure you it is true.”
“And when do you see me then?” I enquired with amazement.
“It’s always at the same time,” he answered, “just before you run on at the end of the second act. Of course it’s only an appearance, but it’s very queer."
I told him then of the strange feelings of distrust of myself I experienced each night at that very moment, when my spirit seems to have preceded myself upon the stage…
The Spirit in the Green Riding Habit
Being subject to “optical illusions”, I naturally had several with regard to my spirit child, “Florence”, and she always came to me clothed in a white dress. One night, however, when I was living alone in the Regent’s Park, I saw “Florence” (as I imagined) standing in the centre of the room, dressed in a green riding habit slashed with orange color, with a cavalier hat of grey felt on her head, ornamented with a long green feather and a gold buckle. She stood with her back to me, but I could see her profile as she looked over her shoulder, with the skirt of her habit in her hand. This being a most extraordinary attire in which to see “Florence”, I felt curious on the subject, and the next day I questioned her about it.
“Florence!” I said. “Why did you come to me last night in a green riding habit?”
“I did not come to you last night, mother! It was my sister Eva.”
“Good heavens!” I exclaimed. “Is anything wrong with her?”
"No, she is quite well.”
“How could she come to me then?”
“She did not come in reality, but her thoughts were much with you, and so you saw her spirit clairvoyantly.”
My daughter Eva, who was on the stage, was at that time fulfilling a stock engagement in Glasgow, and very much employed. I had not heard from her for a fortnight, which was a most unusual occurrence, and I had begun to feel uneasy. This vision made me more so, and I wrote at once to ask her if all was as it should be. Her answer was to this effect: “I am so sorry I have had no time to write to you this week, but I have been so awfully busy. We play “The Colleen Bawn” here next week, and I have had to get my dress ready for “Anne Chute”. It’s so effective. I wish you could see it. A green habit slashed with orange, and a grey felt hat with a long green feather and a big gold buckle. I tried it on the other night, and it looked so nice!”
Well, my darling girl had had her wish, and I had seen it.
It was at one time my annual custom to take my children to the sea-side, and one summer, being anxious to ascertain how far the table could be made to net without the aid of “unconscious cerebration”, I arranged with my friends, Mr. Helmore and Mrs. Colnaghi, who had been in the habit of sitting with us at home, that we should continue to sit at the sea-side on Tuesday evenings as theretofore, and they should sit in London on the Thursdays, when I would try to send them messages through “Charlie”, the spirit I have already mentioned as being constantly with us.
The first Tuesday my message was: “Ask them how they are getting on without us,” which was faithfully delivered at their table on the following Thursday.
The return message from them, which Charlie spelled out for us on the second Tuesday, was: “Tell her London is a desert without her!”
To which I emphatically, if not elegantly, answered: “Fiddle-de-dee!”
A few days afterwards I received a letter from Mr. Helmore, in which he said: “I am afraid Charlie is already tired of playing at postman, for to all our questions about you last Thursday, he would only rap out: ‘Fiddle-de-dee!’”
"There Is a Great Danger Hanging Over My Children!"
The circumstance to which this little episode is but an introduction, happened a few days later. Mr. Colnaghi and Mr. Helmore, sitting together as usual on Thursday evening, were discussing the possibility of summoning the spirits of living persons to the table, when Charlie rapped three times to intimate they could.
“Will you fetch some one for us, Charlie?”
“Whom will you bring?”
“Mrs. Ross-Church.” (Note of the editor: Florence Marryat was then married to one Mr. Ross-Church.)
“How long will it take you to do so?”
It was in the middle of the night when I must have been fast asleep, and the two young men told me afterwards that they waited the results of their experiment with much trepidation, wondering (I suppose) if I should be conveyed bodily into their presence and box their ears well for their impertinence.
Exactly fifteen minutes afterwards, however, the table was violently shaken and the words were spelt out: “I am Mrs. Ross-Church. How dared you send for me?”
They were very penitent (or they said they were), but they described my manner as most arbitrary, and said I went on repeating: “Let me go back! Let me go back! There is a great danger hanging over my children! I must go back to my children!”
(And here I would remark par parenthèse, and in contradiction of the guardian angel theory, that I have always found that whilst the spirits of the departed come and go as they feel inclined, the spirits of the living invariably beg to be sent back again or permitted to go, as if they were chained by the will of the medium.)
On this occasion I was so positive that I made a great impression on my two friends, and the next day Mr. Helmore sent me a cautiously worded letter to find out if all was well with us at Charmouth, but without disclosing the reason for his curiosity.
The facts are, that on the morning of Friday, the day after the seance in London, my seven children and two nurses were all sitting in a small lodging-house room, when my brother-in-law, Dr. Henry Norris, came in from ball practice with the volunteers, and whilst exhibiting his rifle to my son, accidentally discharged it in the midst of them, the ball passing through the wall within two inches of my eldest daughter’s head. When I wrote the account of this to Mr. Helmore, he told me of my visit to London and the words I had spelt out on the occasion. But how did I know of the occurrence the night before it took place?
And if I – being asleep and unconscious – did not know of it, Charlie must have done so!
My serial visits to my friends, however, whilst my body was in quite another place, have been made still more palpable than this. Once, when living in the Regent’s Park, I passed a very terrible and painful night. Grief and fear kept me awake most of the time, and the morning found me exhausted with the emotion I had gone through. About there walked in, to my surprise, Mrs. Fitzgerald (better known as a medium under her maiden name of Bessie Williams), who lived in the Goldhawk Road, Shepherd’s Bush.
“I couldn’t help coming to you,” she commenced, “for I shall not be easy until I know how you are after the terrible scene you have passed through.”
I stared at her. “Whom have you seen?” I asked. “Who has told you of it?”
“Yourself,” she replied. “I was waked up this morning between two and by the sound of sobbing and crying in the front garden. I got out of bed and opened the window, and then I saw you standing on the grass plat in your night-dress and crying bitterly. I asked you what was the matter, and you told me so and so, and so and so.”
And here followed a detailed account of all that had happened in my own house on the other side of London, with the very words that had been used, and every action that had happened. I had seen no one and spoken to no one between the occurrence and the time Mrs. Fitzgerald called upon me.
If her story was untrue, who had so minutely informed her of a circumstance which it was to the interest of all concerned to keep to themselves?
I was having a sitting one day in my own house with a lady friend, named Miss Clark, when a female spirit came to the table and spelt out the name "Tiny". "Who are you?" I asked, "and for whom do you come?" "I am a friend of Major M.!" (She mentioned the full name.) "And I want your help." "Are you any relation to Major M.?" "I am the mother of his child." " What do you wish me to do for you?" "Tell him he must go down to Portsmouth and look after my daughter. He has not seen her for years. The old woman is dead, and the man is a drunkard. She is falling into evil courses. He must save her from them." "What is your real name?" "I will not give it. There is no need. He always called me "Tiny"." "How old is your daughter?" "Nineteen! Her name is Emily! I want her to be married. Tell him to promise her a wedding trousseau. It may induce her to marry." The influence divulged a great deal more on the subject which I cannot write down here. It was an account of one of those cruel acts of seduction by which a young girl had been led into trouble in order to gratify a man's selfish lust, and astonished both Miss Clark and myself, who had never heard of such a person as "Tiny" before. It was too delicate a matter for me to broach to Major M. (who was a married man, and an intimate friend of mine), but the spirit came so many times and implored me so earnestly to save her daughter, that at last I ventured to repeat tlae communication to him.
He was rather taken aback, but confessed it was true, and that the child, being left to his care, had been given over to the charge of some common people at Portsmouth, and he had not enquired after it for some time past. Neither had he ever lieard of the death of the mother, who had subsequently married, and had a family. He instituted inquiries, however, at once, and found the statement to be quite true, and that the girl Emily, being left with no better protection than that of the drunken old man, had actually gone astray, and not long after she was had up at the police court for stabbing a soldier in a public-house—a fit ending for the unfortunate offspring of a man's selfish passions. But the strangest part of the story to the uninitiated will lie in the fact that the woman whose spirit thus manifested itself to two utter strangers, who knew neither her history nor her name, was at the time alive, and living with her husband and family, as Major M took pains to ascertain. And now I have something to say on ihe subject of communicating with the spirits of persons still in the flesh. This will doubtless appear the most incomprehensible and fanatical assertion of all, that we wear our earthly garb so loosely, that the spirits of people still living in this world can leave the body and manifest themselves either visibly or orally to others in their normal condition. And yet it is a fact that spirits have so visited myself (as in the case I have just recorded), and given me information of which I had not the slightest previous idea. The matter has been explained to me after this fashion - that it is not really the spirit of the living person who communicates, but the spirit, or "control", that is nearest to him: in effect what the Church calls his "guardian angel", and that this guardian angel, who knows his inmost thoughts and desires better even than he knows them himself, is equally capable of speaking in his name.
This idea of the matter may shift the marvel from one pair of shoulders to another, but it does not do away with it. If I can receive information of events before they occur (as I will prove that I have), I present a nut for the consideration of the public jaw, which even the scientists will find difiicult to crack.
Taking a look into the possibility that there may be actual communication from the dead to the living through phone calls.
In the movie poltergeist 2 the telephone is an instrument in which the dead call the family after their grandmother’s death, however; in reality this peculiar phenomena is not a unique incident, it is something that happens quite frequently having been documented and reported by a wide range of people throughout the world. In the 1970’s a parapsychologist named D.Scott Rogo, who was one of the most widely respected writer/journalists covering the all aspects of the paranormal, along with his colleague Raymond Bayless conducted a systematic inquiry into so-called phone messages from beyond the grave. They wrote a book with their finds in 1979 called ‘Phone Calls From The Dead'.
Click on the title for the full article or read it here:
The communication may take the form of a direct message conveyed psychically by one friend to the other, a message sent through a medium, or even an intuition or conviction by one friend that the other is dead. Christie-Murray keeps a register of everyone taking part in the scheme and will investigate any messages that are received.
Dr. Arthur S. Berger, president of the Survival Research Foundation in Pembroke Pines, Florida, is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone able to identify either of two code words left with the foundation by British parapsychologist Robert H. Thouless before his death in 1984. Each word is a key that will decipher a sentence encoded by Thouless; both were, or are, known only to him.
Why, not the most captious and unbelieving critic of them all can find fault with so modest and unpretending a title. Everyone believes in the occasional possibility of “curious coincidences”. It was not until the month of June, 1873, that we formed a home circle, and commenced regularly to sit together. We became so interested in the pursuit, that we used to sit every evening, and sometimes till three and in the morning, greatly to our detriment, both mental and physical. We seldom sat alone, being generally joined by two or three friends from outside, and the results were sometimes very startling, as we were a strong circle. The memoranda of these sittings, sometimes with one party and sometimes with another, extend over a period of years, but I shall restrict myself to relating a few incidents that were verified by subsequent events.
The means by which we communicated with the influences around us was the usual one. We sat round the table and laid our hands upon it, and I (or anyone who might be selected for the purpose) spelled over the alphabet, and raps or tilts occurred when the desired letter was reached. This in reality is not so tedious a process as it may appear, and once used to it, one may get through a vast amount of conversation in an hour by this means. A medium is soon able to guess the word intended to be spelt, for there are not so many after all in use in general
Some one had come to our table on several occasions, giving the name of “Valerie”, but refusing to say any more, so we thought she was an idle or frivolous spirit, and had been in the habit of driving her away. One evening, on the first of July, however, our circle was augmented by Mr. Henry Stacke, when “Valerie” was immediately spelled out, and the following conversation ensued.
Stacke said to me: “Who is this?”
And I replied carelessly: “O! She’s a little devil! She never has anything to say!”
The table rocked violently at this, and the taps spelled out: “Je ne suis pas diable.”
“Hello! Valerie, so you can talk now! For whom do you come?”
“Where did you meet him?”
“On the Continent.”
“Between Dijon and Macon.”
“How did you meet him?”
“In a railway carriage.”
“What where you doing there?”
Here she relapsed into French, and said: “Ce m’est impossible de dire.”
At this juncture Mr. Stacke observed that he had never been in a train between Dijon and Macon but once in his life, and if the spirit was with him then, she must remember what was the matter with their fellow-passenger.
“Mais oui, oui… il etait fou,” she replied, which proved to be perfectly correct.
Mr. Stacke also remembered that two ladies in the same carriage had been terribly frightened,
and he had assisted them to get into another.
Valerie continued: “Priez pour moi.”
“Parceque j’ai beaucoup peché.”
There was an influence who frequented our society at that time and called himself “Charlie”. He stated that his full name had been Stephen Charles Bernard Abbot; that he had been a monk of great literary attainments; that he had embraced the monastic life in the reign of Queen Mary and apostatized for political reasons in that of Elizabeth, and that he had been “earth bound” in consequence ever since. Charlie asked us to sing one night, and we struck up the very vulgar refrain of Champagne Charlie, to which he greatly objected, asking for something more serious.
I began: “Ye banks and braes o’ bonnie Doon.”
“Why, that’s as bad as the other,” said Charlie. “It was a ribald and obscene song in the reign of Elizabeth. The drunken roysterers used to sing it in the street as they rolled home at night.”
“You must be mistaken, Charlie! It’s a well-known Scotch air.”
“It’s no more Scotch than I am,” he replied. “The Scotch say they invented everything. It’s a tune of the time of Elizabeth. Ask Brinley Richards.”
Having the pleasure of the acquaintance of that gentleman, who was the great authority on the origin of National Ballads, I applied to him for the information, and received an answer to say that Charlie was right, but that Mr. Richards had not been aware of the fact himself until he had searched some old MSS. in the British Museum for the purpose of ascertaining the truth.
I was giving a sitting once to an officer from Aldershot, a cousin of my own, who was quite prepared to ridicule every thing that took place. After having teased me into giving him a seance, he began by cheating himself, and then accused me of cheating him, and altogether tired out my patience. At last I proposed a test, though with little hope of success.
“Let us ask John Powles to go down to Aldershot,” I said, “and bring us word what your brother officers are doing.”
“O, yes! By Jove! Capital idea! Here… you fellow Powles, cut off to the camp, will you, and go to the barracks of the 84th, and let us know what Major R. is doing.”
The message came back in about three minutes. “Major R. has just come in from duty,” spelt out Powles. “He is sitting on the side of his bed, changing his uniform trousers for a pair of grey tweed.”
“I’m sure that’s wrong,” said my cousin, “because the men are never called out at this time of the day.”
It was then , as we had been careful to ascertain. My cousin returned to camp the same evening, and the next day I received a note from him to say: “That fellow Powles is a brick. It was quite right. R. was unexpectedly ordered to turn out his company yesterday afternoon, and he returned to barracks and changed his things for the grey tweed suit exactly at .”
But I have always found my friend Powles (when he will condescend to do anything for strangers, which is seldom) remarkably correct in detailing the thoughts and actions of absentees, sometimes on the other side of the globe. I went one afternoon to pay an ordinary social call on a lady named Mrs. W., and found her engaged in an earnest conversation on Spiritualism with a stout woman and a commonplace man – two as material looking individuals as ever I saw, and who appeared all the more so under a sultry August sun.
As soon as Mrs. W. saw me, she exclaimed: “O! Here is Mrs. Ross-Church. She will tell you all about the spirits. Do, Mrs. Ross-Church, sit down at the table and let us have a seance.”
A seance on a burning, blazing afternoon in August, with two stolid and uninteresting, and worse still, uninterested looking strangers, who appeared to think Mrs. Y. had a “bee in her bonnet”… I protested, I reasoned, I pleaded – all in vain. My hostess continued to urge, and society places the guest at the mercy of her hostess.
So, in an evil temper, I pulled off my gloves, and placed my hands indifferently on the table. The following words were at once rapped out: “I am Edward G. Did you ever pay Johnson the
seventeen pounds twelve you received for my saddlery?”
The gentleman opposite to me turned all sorts of colors, and began to stammer out a reply, whilst his wife looked very confused.
I asked the influence: “Who are you?”
It replied: “He knows!... His late colonel!... Why hasn’t Johnson received that money?”
This is what I call an “awkward” coincidence, and I have had many such occur through me –
some that have driven acquaintances away from the table, vowing vengeance against me, and racking their brains to discover who had told me of their secret peccadilloes.
The gentleman in question (whose name even I do not remember) confessed that the identity and main points of the message were true, but he did not confide to us whether Johnson had ever received that seventeen pounds twelve.
I had a beautiful English greyhound called Clytie, a gift from Annie Thomas to me, and this dog was given to straying from my house in Colville Road, Bayswater, which runs parallel to Portobello Road, a rather objectionable quarter, composed of inferior shops, one of which, a fried fish shop, was an intolerable nuisance, and used to fill the air around with its rich perfume.
On one occasion Clytie stayed away from home so much longer than usual, that I was afraid she was lost in good earnest, and posted bills offering a reward for her. Charlie came to the table that evening and said: “Don’t offer a reward for the dog. Send for her.”
“Where am I to send?” I asked.
“She is tied up at the fried fish shop in Portobello Road. Send the cook to see.”
I told the servant in question that I had heard the greyhound was detained at the fish shop, and sent her to inquire. She returned with Clytie... Her account was, that on making inquiries, the man in the shop had been very insolent to her, and she had raised her voice in reply; that she had then heard and recognized the sharp, peculiar bark of the greyhound from an upper storey, and, running up before the man could prevent her, she had found Clytie tied up to a bedstead with a piece of rope, and had called in a policeman to enable her to take the dog away.
I have often heard the assertion that Spiritualism is of no practical good, and, doubtless, it was never intended to be so, but this incident was, at least, an exception to the rule.
When abroad, on one occasion, I was asked by a Catholic Abbé to sit with him. He had never seen any manifestations before, and he did not believe in them, but he was curious on the subject. I knew nothing of him further than that he was a priest, and a Jesuit, and a great friend of my sister’s, at whose house I was staying. He spoke English, and the conversation was carried on in that language.
He had told me beforehand that if he could receive a perfectly private test, that he should never doubt the truth of the manifestations again. I left him, therefore, to conduct the investigation entirely by himself, I acting only as the medium between him and the influence.
As soon as the table moved he put his question direct, without asking who was there to answer it: “Where is my chasuble?”
Now a priest’ chasuble, I should have said, must be either hanging in the sacristy or packed away at home, or been sent away to be altered or mended. But the answer was wide of all my speculations: “At the bottom of the Red Sea.”
The priest started, but continued: “Who put it there?”
“What was his object in doing so?”
“He found the parcel a burthen, and did not expect any reward for delivering it.”
The Abbé really looked as if he had encountered the devil. He wiped the perspiration from his forehead, and put one more question. “Of what was my chasuble made?”
“Your sister’s wedding dress.”
The priest then explained to me that his sister had made him a chasuble out of her wedding dress – one of the forms of returning thanks in the Church, but that after a while it became old fashioned, and the Bishop, going his rounds, ordered him to get another. He did not like to throw away his sister’s gift, so he decided to send the old chasuble to a priest in India, where they are very poor, and not so particular as to fashion. He confided the packet to a man called Elias Dodo, a sufficiently singular name, but neither he nor the priest he sent it to had ever heard anything more of the chasuble, or the man who promised to deliver it.
A young artist of the name of Courtney was a visitor at my house. He asked me to sit with him alone, when the table began rapping out a number of consonants – a farrago of nonsense, it appeared to me, and I stopped and said so. But Mr. Courtney, who appeared much interested, begged me to proceed. When the communication was finished, he said to me: “This is the most wonderful thing I have ever heard. My father has been at the table talking to me in Welsh. He has told me our family motto, and all about my birth-place and relations in Wales.”
I said: “I never heard you were a Welshman.”
“Yes, I am!” he replied. “My real name is Powell. I have only adopted the name of Courtney for professional purposes.”
This was all news to me, but had it not been, I cannot speak Welsh.
I could multiply such cases by the dozen, but that I fear to tire my readers, added to which the majority of them were of so strictly private a nature that it would be impossible to put them into print. This is perhaps the greatest drawback that one encounters in trying to prove the truth of Spiritualism. The best tests we receive are when the very secrets of our hearts, which we have not confided to our nearest friends, are revealed to us.
I could relate (had I the permission of the persons most interested) the particulars of a well-known law suit, in which the requisite evidence, and names and addresses of witnesses, were all given though my mediumship, and were the cause of the case being gained by the side that came to me for “information”.
Some of the coincidences I have related in this chapter might, however, be ascribed by the sceptical to the mysterious and unknown power of brain reading, whatever that may be, and however it may come, apart from mediumship, but how is one to account for the facts I shall tell you in my next chapter?
Before I proceed to write down the results of my private and premeditated investigations, I am reminded to say a word respecting the permission I received for the pursuit of Spiritualism.
As soon as I expressed my curiosity on the subject, I was met on all sides with the objection that, as I am a Catholic, I could not possibly have anything to do with the matter, and it is a fact that the Church strictly forbids all meddling with necromancy, or communion with the departed. Necromancy is a terrible word, is it not? Especially to such people as do not understand its meaning, and only associate it with the dead of night and charmed circles, and seething caldrons, and the arch fiend, in propria persona, with two horns and a tail.
Yet it seems strange to me that the Catholic Church, whose very doctrine is overlaid with Spiritualism, and who makes it a matter of belief that the Saints hear and help us in our prayers and the daily actionsof our lives, and recommends our kissing the ground every morning at the feet of our guardian angel, should consider it unlawful for us to communicate with our departed relatives.
I cannot see the difference in iniquity between speaking to John Powles, who was and is a dear and trusted friend of mine, and Saint Peter of Alcantara, who is an old man whom I never saw in this life. They were both men, both mortal, and are both spirits. Again, surely my mother who was a pious woman all her life, and is now in the other world, would be just as likely to take an interest in my welfare, and to try and promote the prospect of our future meeting, as Saint Veronica Guiliani, who is my patron. Yet were I to spend half my time in prayer before Saint Veronica's altar, asking her help and guidance, I should be doing right (according to the Church), but if I did the same thing at my mother's grave, or spoke to her at a seance, I should be doing wrong. These distinctions without a difference were hard nuls to crack, and I was bound to settle the matter with my conscience before I went on with my investigations.
It is a fact that I have met quite as many Catholics as Protestants (especially of the higher classes) amongst the investigators of Spiritualism, and I have not been surprised at it, for who could better understand and appreciate the beauty of communications from the spirit world than members of that Church which instructs us to believe in the communion of saints, as an ever-present, though invisible mystery. Whether my Catholic acquaintances had received permission to attend seances or not, was no concern of mine, but I took good care to procure it for myself, and I record it here, because rumors have constantly reached me of people having said behind my back that I can be “no Catholic” because I am a spiritualist.
My director at that time was Father Dalgairn, of the Oratory at Brompton, and it was to him I took my difficulty. I was a very constant press writer and reviewer, and to be unable to attend and report on spiritualistic meetings would have seriously militated against my professional interests. I represented this to the Father, and (although under protest) I received his permission to pursue the research in the cause of science.
He did more than ease my conscience. He became interested in what I had to tell him on the subject, and we had many conversations concerning it. He also lent me from his own library the lives of such saints as had heard voices and seen visions, of those in fact who (like myself) had been the victims of “Optical Illusions”. Amongst these I found the case of Saint Anne-Catherine of Emmerich, so like my own, that I began to think that I too might turn out to be a saint in disguise. It has not come to pass yet, but there is no knowing what may happen. She used to see the spirits floating beside her as she walked to mass, and heard them asking her to pray for them as they pointed to “les taches sur leurs robes”. The musical instruments used to play without hands in her presence, and voices from invisible throats sound in her ears, as they have done in mine. I have only inserted this clause, however, for the satisfaction of those Catholic acquaintances with whom I have sat at seances and who will probably be the first to exclaim against the publication of our joint experiences. I trust they will acknowledge, after reading it, that I am not worse than themselves, though I may be a little bolder in avowing my opinions.
Before I began this chapter, I had an argument with that friend of mine called Self (who has but too often worsted me in the Battle of Life), as to whether I should say anything about table-rapping or tilting. The very fact of so common an article of furniture as a table, as an agent of communication with the unseen world, has excited so much ridicule and opens so wide a field for chicanery, that I thought it would be wiser to drop the subject, and confine myself to those phases of the science or art, or religion, or whatever the reader may like to call it, that can be explained or described on paper. The philosophers of the nineteenth century have invented so many names for the cause that makes a table turn round, tilt or rap, that I feel quite unable (not being a philosopher) to cope with them. It is “magnetic force” or “psychic force”; it is “unconscious cerebration” or “brain-reading”; and it is exceedingly difficult to tell the outside world of the private reasons that convince individuals that the answers they receive are not emanations from their own brains.
I shall not attempt to refute their reasonings from their own standpoint. I see the difficulties in the way, so much so that I have persistently refused for many years past to sit at the table with strangers, for it is only a lengthened study of the matter that can possibly convince a person of its truth. I cannot, however, see the extreme folly myself of holding communication (under the circumstances) through the raps or tilts of a table, or any other object. These tiny indications of an influence ulterior to our own are not necessarily confined to a table. I have received them through a cardboard box, a gentleman’s hat, a footstool, the strings of a guitar, and on the back of my chair, even on the pillow of my bed. And which, amongst the philosophers I have alluded to, could suggest a simpler mode of communication?
I have put the question to clever men thus: “Suppose yourself, after having been able to write and talk to me, suddenly deprived of the powers of speech and touch, and made invisible, so that we could not understand each other by signs, what better means than by taps or tilts on any article, when the right word or letter is named, could you think of by which to communicate with me?” And my clever men have never been able to propose an easier or more sensible plan, and if anybody can suggest one, I should very much like to hear of it.
The following incidents all took place through the much-ridiculed tipping of the table, but managed to knock some sense out of it nevertheless. On looking over the note book which I faithfully kept when we first held seances at home, I find many tests of identity which took place through my own mediumship, and which could not possibly have been the effects of thought-reading. I devote this chapter to their relation. I hope it will be observed with what admirable caution I have headed it. I have a few drops of Scotch blood in me by the mother’s side, and I think they must have aided me here.
Click on the title and read the biography of Florence Marryat.
Click on the title to read a short and edited version of this chapter
In the month of February, 1873, there was a party of friends assembled at the house of Miss Elizabeth Philip, in Gloucester Crescent, and I was introduced to Mr. Henry Dunphy of the Morning Post, both of them since gone to join the great majority. Mr. Dunphy soon got astride of his favorite hobby of Spiritualism, and gave me an interesting account of some of the seances he had attended. I had heard so many clever men and women discuss the subject before, that I had begun to believe on their authority that there must be “something in it”, but I held the opinion that sittings in the dark must afford so much liberty for deception, that I would engage in none where I was not permitted the use of my eyesight.
I expressed myself somewhat after this fashion to Mr. Dunphy. He replied: “Then the time has arrived for you to investigate Spiritualism, for I can introduce you to a medium who will show you the faces of the dead.”
This proposal exactly met my wishes, and I gladly accepted it. Annie Thomas (Mrs. Pender Cudlip,) the novelist, who is an intimate friend of mine, was staying with me at the time and became as eager as I was to investigate the phenomena. We took the address Mr. Dunphy gave us of Mrs. Holmes, the American medium, then visiting London, and lodging in Old Quebec Street, Portman Square, but we refused his introduction, preferring to go incognito.
Accordingly, the next evening, when she held a public seance, we presented ourselves at Mrs. Holmes’ door ; and having first removed our wedding-rings, and tried to look as virginal as possible, sent up our names as Miss Taylor and Miss Turner.
I am perfectly aware that this medium was said afterwards to be untrustworthy. So may a servant who was perfectly honest, whilst in my service, leave me for a situation where she is detected in theft. That does not alter the fact that she stole nothing from me. I do not think I know a single medium of whom I have nor (at some time or other) heard the same thing, and I do not think I know a single woman whom I have not also, at some time or other, heard scandalized by her own sex, however pure and chaste she may imagine the world holds her. The question affects me in neither case. I value my acquaintances for what they are to me, not for what they may be to others; and I have placed trust in my media from what I individually have seen and heard, and proved to be genuine in their presence, and not from what others may imagine they have found out about them. It is no detriment to my witness that the media I sat with cheated somebody else, either before or after. My business was only to take care that I was not cheated, and I have never, in Spiritualism, accepted anything at the hands of others that I could not prove for myself.
Mrs. Holmes did not receive us very graciously on the present occasion. We were strangers to her – probably sceptics, and she eyed us rather coldly. It was a bitter night, and the snow lay so thick upon the ground that we had some difficulty in procuring a hansom to take us from Bayswater to Old Quebec Street. No other visitors arrived, and after a little while Mrs. Holmes offered to return our money (ten shillings), as she said if she did sit with us, there would probably be no manifestations on account of the inclemency of the weather. (Often since then I have proved her assertion to be true, and found that any extreme of heat or cold is liable to make a seance a dead failure). But Annie Thomas had to return to her home in Torquay on the following day, and so we begged the medium to try at least to show us something, as we were very curious on the subject.
I am not quite sure what I expected or hoped for on this occasion. I was full of curiosity and anticipation, but I am sure that I never thought I should see any face which I could recognize as having been on earth. We waited till in hopes that a circle would be formed; but as no one else came, Mrs. Holmes consented to sit with us alone, warning us, however, several times to prepare for a disappointment. The lights were therefore extinguished, and we sat for the usual preliminary dark séance, which was good, perhaps, but has nothing to do with a narrative of facts, proved to be so. When it concluded, the gas was re-lit and we sat for “Spirit Faces”.
There were two small rooms connected by folding doors. Annie Thomas and I were asked to go into the back room; to lock the door communicating with the landings, and secure it with our own seal, stamped upon a piece of tape stretched across the opening; to examine the window and bar the shutter inside; to search the room thoroughly; in fact, to see that no one was concealed in it – and we did all this as a matter of business.
When we had satisfied ourselves that no one could enter from the back, Mr. and Mrs. Holmes, Annie Thomas, and I were seated on four chairs in the front room, arranged in a row before the folding doors, which were opened, and a square of black calico fastened across the aperture from one wall to the other. In this piece of calico was cut a square hole about the size of an ordinary window, at which we were told the spirit faces (if any) would appear. There was no singing, nor noise of any sort made to drown the sounds of preparation, and we could have heard even a rustle in the next room.
Mr. and Mrs. Holmes talked to us of their various experiences, until – we were almost tired of waiting – something white and indistinct like a cloud of tobacco smoke, or a bundle of gossamer, appeared and disappeared again.
“They are coming! I am glad!” said Mrs. Holmes. “I didn’t think we should get anything to-night…”
My friend and I were immediately on the tiptoe of expectation. The white mass advanced and retreated several times, and finally settled before the aperture and opened in the middle, when a female face was distinctly to be seen above the black calico.
What was our amazement to recognize the features of Mrs. Thomas, Annie Thomas’ mother!
(Here I should tell my readers that Annie’s father, who was a lieutenant in the Royal Navy and captain of the coastguard at Morston in Norfolk, had been a near neighbor and great friend of my father. Captain Marryat, and their children, had associated like brothers and sisters. I had therefore known Mrs. Thomas well, and recognized her at once, as, of course, did her daughter. The witness of two people is considered sufficient in law. It ought to be accepted by society.)
Poor Annie was very much affected, and talked to her mother in the most incoherent manner. The spirit did not appear able to answer in words, but she bowed her head or shook it, according as she wished to say “yes” or “no”. I could not help feeling awed at the appearance of the dear old lady, but the only thing that puzzled me was the cap she wore, which was made of white net, quilled closely round her face, and unlike any I had ever seen her wear in life.
I whispered this to Annie, and she replied at once: “It is the cap she was buried in…”
Mrs. Thomas had possessed a very pleasant but very uncommon looking face, with bright black eyes, and a complexion of pink and white like that of a child. It was some time before Annie could be persuaded to let her mother go, but the next face that presented itself astonished her quite as much, for she recognized it as that of Captain Gordon, a gentleman whom she had known intimately and for a length of time. I had never seen Captain Gordon in the flesh, but I had heard of him, and knew he had died from a sudden accident. All I saw was the head of a goodlooking, fair, young man, and not feeling any personal interest in his appearance, I occupied the time during which my friend conversed with him about olden days, by minutely examining the working of the muscles of his throat, which undeniably stretched when his head moved. As I was doing so, he leaned forward, and I saw a dark stain, which looked like a clot of blood, on his fair hair, on the left side of the forehead.
“Annie! What did Captain Gordon die of?” I asked.
“He fell from a railway carriage,” she replied, “and struck his head upon the line.”
I then pointed out to her the blood upon his hair…
Several other faces appeared, which we could not recognize. At last came one of a gentleman,
apparently moulded like a bust in plaster of Paris. He had a kind of smoking cap upon the head, curly hair, and a beard, but from being perfectly colorless, he looked so unlike nature, that I could not trace a resemblance to any friend of mine, though he kept on bowing in my direction, to indicate that I knew, or had known him. I examined this face again and again in vain. Nothing in it struck me as familiar, until the mouth broke into a grave, amused smile at my perplexity. In a moment I recognized it as that of my dear old friend, John Powles, whose history I shall relate in extenso further on.
I exclaimed: “Powles!”
And I sprang towards him, but with my hasty action the figure disappeared.
I was terribly vexed at my imprudence, for this was the friend of all others I desired to see, and I sat there, hoping and praying the spirit would return, but it did not.
Annie Thomas’ mother and friend both came back several times; indeed, Annie recalled Captain Gordon so often, that on his last appearance the power was so exhausted, his face looked like a faded sketch in water-colors… but “Powles” had vanished altogether.
The last face we saw that night was that of a little girl, and only her eyes and nose were visible, the rest of her head and face being enveloped in some white flimsy material like muslin. Mrs. Holmes asked her for whom she came, and she intimated that it was for me. I said she must be mistaken, and that I had known no one in life like her. The medium questioned her very closely, and tried to put her “out of court”, as it were. Still, the child persisted that she came for me.
Mrs. Holmes said to me: “Cannot you remember anyone of that age connected with you in the spirit world? No cousin, nor niece, nor sister, nor the child of a friend?”
I tried to remember, but I could not, and answered: “No! No child of that age!”
She then addressed the little spirit: “You have made a mistake. There is no one here who knows you. You had better move on.”
So the child did move on, but very slowly and reluctantly. I could read her disappointment in her eyes, and after she had disappeared, she peeped round the corner again and looked at me, longingly.
This was “Florence” – my dear lost child (as I then called her), who had left me as a little infant of ten days old, and whom I could not at first recognize as a young girl of ten years. Her identity, however, has been proved to me since, beyond all doubt, as will be seen in the chapter which relates my reunion with her, and is headed “My Spirit Child”.
Thus ended the first séance at which I ever assisted, and it made a powerful impression upon my mind. Mrs. Holmes, in bidding us good-night, said: “You two ladies must be very powerful mediums. I never held so successful a seance with strangers in my life before.”
This news elated us – we were eager to pursue our investigations, and were enchanted to think we could have seances at home, and as soon as Annie Thomas took up her residence in London, we agreed to hold regular meetings for the purpose.
This was the seance that made me a student of the psychological phenomena, which the men of the nineteenth century term Spiritualism. Had it turned out a failure, I might now have been as most men are. Quien sabe? As it was, it incited me to go on and on, until I have seen and heard things which at that moment would have seemed utterly impossible to me. And I would not have missed the experience I have passed through for all the good this world could offer me…