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Saturday, May 26, 2012

H. F. Saltmarsh - Cross-Correspondences


H. F. Saltmarsh - Cross-Correspondences
The Plan Behind the Cross-Correspondences
- H. F. Saltmarsh -
          THE UNIQUE and peculiarly interesting feature of this series is that they purported to be experiments invented and arranged on 'the other side.'

On January 17th, 1901, Frederic Myers died. He had, during his life, played a leading part in scientific psychical research and had an intense desire to discover objective evidence of survival such as would establish high logical probability, in fact, what would be considered as proof in any science of observation. He, himself, fully believed in survival, although he knew that the evidence available was not sufficient to compel general belief. In the communications which purport to come from him through automatic writing we can see again and again the passionate longing to prove his continued existence, and to convince his friends on earth of his identity. For example, inMrs. Holland's script of January 12th, 1904, Myers, purporting to communicate, writes:
If it were possible for the soul to die back into earth life again I should die from sheer yearning to reach you to tell you that all that we imagined is not half wonderful enough for the truth,[1]
and through Mrs. Piper,
I am trying with all the forces ... together to prove that I am Myers,[2] and again through Mrs. Holland, Oh, I am feeble with eagerness - how can I best be identified.[3]
[1] Proc, SPR, Vol. XXI, p 233.
[2] Proc, SPR, Vol. XXII, p 105.
[3] Proc, SPR, Vol. XXI, p 234.

Now Myers, as an experienced psychical researcher, was fully aware of the difficulty of eliminating the possibility of explaining away evidential messages by telepathy or clairvoyance. The matter stands thus. The very large bulk of those cases wherein evidence of a supernormal kind is put forward as proving personal survival, consists of communications of knowledge which is not in the possession of any living person concerned, but was, or could have been, possessed by the individual from whose surviving spirit the messages purport to come.

Now, it is clear that for such communications to be of any value as evidence, the information conveyed must be capable of verification, and this implies that some living person must know the facts or else that some record exists or some circumstances from which the facts may be inferred.

But if this be so, it is always possible to hold that the information was conveyed telepathically to the mind of the medium from the living person who knew the facts, or else that the medium clairvoyantly became aware of the record or circumstances in which it is embodied. We have to bear in mind that it is not only the ordinary supraliminal knowledge of living persons which is available, but also the subliminal; further that a telepathic impression may be received and lie dormant in subliminal mind of the percipient, emerging into ordinary consciousness only after a lapse of time, sometimes of quite considerable length.

In these circumstances it is hard to imagine any possible evidence which could bring unequivocal proof of survival. Now Myers, as I have said, was fully aware of all this, and what makes these experiments so peculiarly interesting is that, if we take the statements of the communicators at their face value, it looks as though his surviving spirit had invented a means of getting over the difficulty and had endeavoured to carry it out.

I must, however, lay stress on the words 'at their face value.' Whether this represents a true picture of what actually occurred and whether the spirit of Fred Myers survived his bodily death and carried over into his new mode of existence his memories, affections and interest in psychical research, must be decided on the evidence itself.

When reading the reports of the cases and the scripts of the various automatists, one can hardly help feeling that it was indeed Myers, Gurney, Sidgwick and the rest, who once had lived on earth and worked enthusiastically for psychical research, continuing their labours from the other side, and making strenuous endeavours to prove their identity.

But feelings are not enough, in fact, they should be sternly put aside by those who seek scientific knowledge. I shall have to speak of the dramatic personation later and try to assess its evidential value, but until it has been subjected to severe criticism its persuasive influence must be discounted.

Briefly, the plan which purports to have been devised by Myers and his associates on the other side is as follows.

Suppose a message in cryptic terms be transmitted through one automatist, and another message, equally incomprehensible, through a second at about the same time, and suppose that each automatist was ignorant of what the other was writing, we have then two meaningless messages entirely disconnected with each other.

Now, if a third automatist were to produce a script which, while meaningless taken by itself, acts as a clue to the other two, so that the whole set could be brought together into one whole, and then show a single purpose and meaning, we should have good evidence that they all originated from a single source.

It may be looked at like this. Two people are each given one piece of a jigsaw puzzle, taken separately each piece is meaningless, nor will they fit each other. A third person is then given a third piece, and when the pieces are all brought together, it is found that they not only fit each other, but that when fitted they exhibit a coherent picture showing evidence of design and purpose.

It is quite obvious that telepathy between the automatists, in so far as their supraliminal knowledge is concerned, would not explain these facts, for none of them is able to understand the meaning of their own particular fragment, and so could not possibly convey to the other automatists the knowledge required to supply the missing portions. In most cases the puzzle - for the very essence of the whole thing is that they are puzzles - has been solved by an independent investigator, in fact, frequently the automatists themselves have remained in ignorance of any scripts but their own.

It is true that this independent source might possibly be the subliminal mind of one of the automatists, or that of some living person. We can only form a tentative decision on this point when we have studied the actual cases as we have to rely entirely on internal evidence, i.e., the nature and characteristics of the messages.

A case such as this where three automatists are concerned would be the ideal type of Cross Correspondence, as they are called, and it must be admitted that up to the present no perfect example has been found.

A less convincing form of cross correspondence would be where two automatists independently produce scripts which, taken separately, are meaningless, but when put together are found to be complementary and mutually explanatory. Of this type we have several good examples.

Besides these cross correspondences there are a large number of instances where the script of two or more automatists has references to the same subject at about the same time. In such cases the complementariness is reduced to simple reference to a single topic, and, in the absence of other evidence, we should have no hesitation in explaining them, provisionally at least - for all explanations are provisional at the present stage of our knowledge - as being due to telepathy between the automatists.

That telepathy does occur I have little doubt, but the cases seem to form a series of ascending complexity until we reach a point at which the hypothesis of simple telepathy fails. Where the line should be drawn it is impossible to say.

This, then, is the scheme or plan which, by their own account, was invented by the communicators on the other side, and we have passages in the scripts to bear this out. For example, the automatist is sometimes exhorted 'to weave together' and told that singly they can do little. In Mrs. Verrall's script we find:
Record the bits and when fitted they will make the whole;[4]
again,
I will give the words between you neither alone can read but together they will give the clue he wants.[5]
[4] Proc, SPR, Vol. XXI, p. 385.
[5] Ibid., p. 382.

Moreover, there occurs in several instances instructions to the automatist to send her script, either to one of the other automatists, or else to one of the investigators, in fact, it was on account of such instructions that in one or two cases the automatists were first brought together.

I will conclude these preliminary explanations by quoting a few passages from a paper by Miss Alice Johnson, Proceedings, Vol. XXI, June, 1908, wherein the theory of Cross Correspondences is fully discussed for the first time. On page 375, she says:
'The characteristic of these cases - or at least of some of them - is that we do not get in the writing of one automatist anything like a mechanical verbatim reproduction of phrases in the other; we do not even get the same idea expressed in different ways - as well might result from direct telepathy between them. What we get is a fragmentary utterance in one script, which seems to have no particular point or meaning, and another fragmentary utterance in the other, of an equally pointless character; but when we put the two together, we see that they supplement one another, and that there is apparently one coherent idea underlying both, but only partially expressed in each.'
On page 377, she writes:
'Now, granted the possibility of communication, it may be supposed that within the last few years a certain group of persons have been trying to communicate with us, who are sufficiently well instructed to know all the objections that reasonable sceptics have urged against the previous evidence, and sufficiently intelligent to realize to the full all the force of these objections. It may be supposed that these persons have invented a new plan - the plan of cross-correspondences - to meet the sceptic's objections...

'We have reason to believe ... that the idea of making a statement in one script complementary of a statement in another had not occurred to Mr. Myers in his lifetime, for there is no reference to it in any of his written utterances on the subject that I have been able to discover... Neither did those who have been investigating automatic script since his death invent this plan, if plan it be. It was not the automatists that detected it, but a student of the scripts; it has every appearance of being an element imported from outside; it suggests an independent invention, an active intelligence constantly at work in the present, not a mere echo or remnant of individualities of the past.'
And on page 389,
'Assuming that the controls are actually trying to communicate some definite idea by means of two different automatists, whom at the same time they were trying to prevent from communicating telepathically with one another, what the controls have to do is to express the factors of the idea in so veiled a form that each writer indites her own share without understanding it. Yet the expression must be so definite that, when once the clue is found, no room is left for doubt as to the proper interpretation.

'It will be seen that, ex hypothesi, the idea must be prevented from reaching the subliminal consciousness of the automatists; yet we cannot be certain in any case that it has been so prevented, as we can only interrogate their supraliminal consciousnesses. It is conceivable, however, that the controls are more capable than living persons of manipulating their own telepathic faculties. Just as we in ordinary conversation can say what we like and abstain from saying what we wish not to say; so it is possible that the controls can telepathically convey certain things to the automatists, stopping short at whatever point they choose, and thus excluding subliminal comprehension of the underlying ideas.'
Note: 
H. F. Saltmarsh's "Evidence of Personal Survival from Cross-Correspondences" (London: G. Bell, 1938).


Three Simple Cross-Correspondence Experiments
- H. F. Saltmarsh -          
TO THOSE of my readers who are sufficiently interested [in cross-correspondences] I would suggest three experiments.

First. Let them try to construct cross correspondences normally. Thus, let an author be chosen with whose works they are well acquainted, and then some topic or quotation be picked out. Then from another book by the same author or from a different part of the same book other quotations must be sought which bear allusively on this topic, yet avoid direct mention of it. Punning references may be employed. When this had been done let the two sets be submitted to some person, who will play the part of investigator, to see whether the puzzle can be solved. Should he fail to do so, a further clue can be sought which will bind it all together into a coherent and intelligible whole.

If this experiment be tried, it will, I think, be found that a good deal of research, knowledge and ingenuity is required and that, in the words of Mrs. Willett's 'Verrall' communicator, 'This sort of thing is more difficult to do than it looked.'

Second. Choose a book by an author with whose works you are well acquainted, and from it pick a passage by chance. You could open it at random and, with the eyes shut, put your finger on the page, then take the passage indicated. Do the same thing with another such book and then try to work out a cross correspondence between the two passages. This experiment will give an indication of how far pure chance is likely to have been responsible for the concordance found between the scripts of the automatists.

The third experiment is to try to obtain automatic writing.

Quite a large proportion of those who have tried have succeeded in obtaining automatic writing, but there is no reason to suppose that in any except a very few cases there was anything else involved beyond some level of the subliminal mind of the writer.

The process is quite easy; one simply sits holding a pencil with the hand resting on a sheet of paper in the attitude of writing and allows the mind to drift. Conscious attention must be withdrawn from the hand. Probably nothing will result from the first attempts, but with perseverance there is a fair chance of success.

Once the first scrawling motions are made experience will show what are the best conditions and the best methods. A planchette could also be tried, or some form of ouija board.

But I would add a most emphatic warning. Leave it all severely alone unless you are prepared to maintain a cool, detached and preferably rather sceptical attitude towards the phenomena. It should be treated seriously, of course, but not emotionally. If the experimenter is prone to see in every script messages from the dead or weighty pronouncements from august spiritual beings, then the experiment had better be dropped.

Scripts must be judged from the nature of their contents and in so judging it should be borne in mind that there is a level of the subliminal mind which is apt to be rather 'tricky' and is not above staging a false impersonation.

The very large bulk of the matter which comes through most automatists is only a kind of dream stuff, it is only on very rare occasions and with very few specially gifted automatists that anything supernormal, such as telepathy or clairvoyance, may occur. If the automatist is imbued with the idea that the spirits of the dead will communicate through the scripts, it is quite likely that the subliminal mind will endeavour to 'oblige' by supplying plausible sounding messages.

Where it is possible, those who desire to try the experiment should seek guidance and advice from some experienced person.

I repeat my warning: leave it alone altogether unless you are quite sure that you can adopt and maintain the cool, detached, scientific attitude, otherwise you will run the risk of self-deception and possible mental and moral disturbance.
Note: 
The above article was taken from H. F. Saltmarsh's "Evidence of Personal Survival from Cross-Correspondences" (London: G. Bell, 1938).


Summary and Discussion of the Cross-Correspondences
- H. F. Saltmarsh -

  WE MUST now address ourselves to the task of summing up the evidence and arguments on both sides.

I should first, perhaps, explain what I consider to be my position in the matter. I could have approached it from the standpoint of an advocate briefed to argue in support of one particular view - say the hypothesis that the scripts were inspired by, and the information contained therein derived from, the surviving personalities of Myers, Gurney, Verrall, and the others. Had this been so, I should have tried to present the evidence in the light most favourable to that view, although I should not have suppressed any that was unfavourable. As regards the arguments, I should have felt it permissible to put forward only those which supported my case, leaving those against it to 'counsel' on the other side. If I mentioned hostile arguments at all, it would have been only when I considered that I was able to refute them.

But I do not conceive that my duty lies in this direction; my function is more that of a judge who has to sum up the evidence and arguments on both sides, leaving it to the jury to decide.

The judge may indicate his own personal opinion, but if he be truly impartial, he should lay as much stress on those points which tell against it as on those which support it.

In speaking of a jury, I mean, of course, the readers of this book (with my usual caution, I feel bound to put in the proviso, 'if there be any') but the analogy is not quite exact.

A jury in an English Court has to find one way or the other, in a Scottish Court there is a third alternative, viz. 'Not proven,' but the juryman here is not called upon to do this; the utmost that can be expected of him is that he should decide on the relative probabilities of the alternative hypotheses, of which there may, of course, be more than two. It is not at all likely that he will in any case be able to assess these probabilities at a definite figure, and thus give a mathematically exact verdict, the most that he will be able to say is that such and such a view is highly probable. It will be lucky if he can go even as far as this, most likely he will have to be content with finding that the balance of probability lies in a particular direction.

As I said at the very outset, the scientific method cannot yield certainty, and in this matter, as in many others, we have to be, and are, content to act upon probable hypotheses.

The first point to be noticed is that the cases which I have cited are only a sample of a considerably larger number. I think that this sample is fairly representative of the whole, and I have included in it some which appear to me to be of a lesser evidential value than was assigned to them by the original investigators.

I have been most anxious not to overstate the case.

The sample is, in my opinion, sufficiently large to enable the reader to form his judgment, and I doubt whether he would have been aided in doing so had the whole number been put before him, as those which have been omitted do not contain any facts of a different type.

To repeat evidence over and over again increases its weight in one respect only, though this respect is of great importance, viz. as against chance. Were we to find in the scripts of several automatists one or two scattered cases of cross correspondence, we might reasonably attribute them to chance coincidence, but should they occur in large numbers, the tenability of that hypothesis is much lessened. Further, when this large number of cross correspondences is accompanied by definite indications of intention, and indeed, by explicit statements in the scripts that they are parts of a planned experiment, then explanation by chance alone can be confidently rejected.

That the number of cross correspondences which occurred in the scripts of this period is sufficient to exclude chance, is a matter which the jury must decide, and in making their decision they must bear in mind quality as well as quantity.

When the topic mentioned is highly specific and not a mere commonplace, the possibility of chance coincidence is much lessened; thus, though two automatists might very likely make references to the works of some poet, say Tennyson, in their scripts of a particular short period, that they should both refer, not only to the same poem, but also to one particular passage or subject in the poem, is much more unlikely. This, as we have seen, is precisely what happened.

In my opinion the chance hypothesis has very little to recommend it, though it is, of course, abstractly possible. I have little doubt that the jury will be nearly unanimous in their verdict against it. However, it is for each individual juryman to decide for himself.

The next hypothesis is that of collusion or fraud.

Here we are, I think, on even firmer ground. Precautions to avoid any of the automatists acquiring knowledge of the contents of the scripts of others were taken. Where, in any particular case, an automatist was in possession of such knowledge, the fact has been mentioned and allowance made. The reader will doubtless call to mind several instances of this.

But apart from this, the character of those engaged affords an amply sufficient refutation of the hypothesis. I cannot imagine that anyone would seriously suggest that all those engaged in the experiment deliberately set out to deceive. I do not think that I need add anything to the comments which I have already made on this point.

In my opinion the hypothesis of fraud is so fantastic that it need only be mentioned to be dismissed. Of course, anyone is entitled to believe what absurdities he pleases, but there are consequences entailed by doing so; one of these consequences is that no attention need be paid to the judgment of a person who seriously entertains ridiculous beliefs.

The next point to be considered, is the nature of the evidence and the possibility of mistake in reporting. This possibility, which presents a very real difficulty in most spontaneous cases, hardly arises here. When we are dealing with eye-witness accounts of alleged supernormal happenings, there is always a possibility of mal-observation, and - even more important - of bad reporting, exaggeration, lapse of memory, and so on.

But with the scripts of automatists none of these possibilities exists; there is the permanent objective evidence of the documents themselves. They can be examined and studied at leisure. It is true that in a few instances, particularly with Mrs. Piper, there was some uncertainty in reading a word here and there, and, in the spoken matter of the waking stage, difficulty of hearing, but these form a very small proportion of the whole and wherever they occurred they were noted and allowance made.

Thus, it is that, from the point of view of the evidence itself, these cross-correspondence cases stand at a far higher level than the bulk of the material with which psychical research has to deal. The scripts are there for anyone to examine, the only question is their interpretation, and to this question we must now turn.

Even if, in face of the assertions of the automatists themselves, it is denied that they were automatically written in the sense described on page 19, we still have to account for the concordance between them. Conscious collusion would have been fraudulent, and this we have ruled out, chance coincidence we have already discussed; it remains, therefore, to find another hypothesis.

In the case of Mrs. Piper the writing was done in conditions which rendered it practically impossible for her to have known what was being written; with the other automatists I do not think that any reasonable person would doubt their word. I am not, of course, suggesting that Mrs. Piper's word is in any sense untrustworthy, but the professional medium must be prepared to be subject to a type of criticism which is not levelled against the non-professional.

As a matter of personal opinion, I fully accept the statements of all the automatists; whether this opinion be shared by my readers is for them to decide, but even if they disagree it does not materially affect the issue.

The main task is, therefore, to explain how the concordance between the scripts of the different automatists arose.

The first hypotheses to be tested are those of clairvoyance and direct telepathy, or mind reading.

We have other evidence that these phenomena occur, and if it can be shown that either of these hypotheses, or a combination of both taken together, can be made to account for the facts, then, by the canons of scientific method, we must accept that explanation provisionally.

Further, we must be prepared to allow some stretching of the ordinary conception of clairvoyance and telepathy; we know so little of the conditions in which they occur and of their modus operandi, that we cannot lay down any hard and fast limits. Whether the stretching which is required is reasonable or not is a question for the jury to answer.

Clairvoyance has been defined as 'the supernormal acquisition of knowledge about objective concrete situations'.

Let us see what would be entailed by supposing that the cross correspondences were due to the exercise of this faculty by one or other of the automatists. Automatist A writes a script - that is an objective concrete situation - Automatist B clairvoyantly becomes aware of that script and is thus able to make references in her own script to some topic contained therein. Of course this all takes place subliminally.

Moreover, it is quite possible that the script of Automatist B might make the reference oblique and allusive, such a thing is not beyond the powers of the subliminal mind.

To take a specific instance: in the 'Ave Roma Immortalis' case, Mrs. Holland might have become clairvoyantly aware of Mrs. Verrall's scripts, and recognized them as having reference to Roman history; her own script comments thereon as one might say: 'Hullo! - Rome.' The succeeding words: 'How could I make it any clearer without giving her the clue,' are, perhaps, more difficult to account for, but it is not beyond possibility that they arose from subliminal invention, particularly if the writer had knowledge of the cross-correspondence idea.

But when one comes to apply the hypothesis to the more complex cases, difficulties rapidly increase. Clairvoyance would give knowledge only of what had actually been written, so that if the concordance between the scripts is not merely one of identity or simple reference to the same topic, some further amplification of the hypothesis must be made. Where the concordance consists of appropriate complementary quotations, the question whether the clairvoyant automatist had normal knowledge of their source immediately arises. Where this was so we might suppose that the elaboration was performed by her subliminal mind, but when no normal knowledge was possessed, as, for example, in Mrs. Holland's scripts, which appeared to derive from Browning's 'Aristophanes' Apology,' a poem which she had not read, we should have to suppose that a further act of clairvoyance was performed to give her supernormal knowledge of that poem. But in that case, how did she know where the words which she clairvoyantly perceived in the script of the first automatist came from? To recognize the quotation implies some knowledge of the source.

It is quite true to say that actual concrete records, such as books and documents, were in existence in almost all cases, and thus might, in the abstract, be available to clairvoyant perception, but the difficulty is to account for that perception being turned in the proper direction.

Where there are several scripts concerned, or in cases where the cross correspondence involves more than two automatists, a further crop of difficulties arises.

Until we can lay down with some certainty the limits of possible clairvoyance, we cannot say definitely that explanation by that hypothesis is impossible, but if we have to make a large number of unsupported assumptions which ascribe to the faculty powers far exceeding anything of which we have independent evidence, then its plausibility becomes much weaker and we are compelled to test other hypotheses.

If we can find one which covers the facts without entailing similar assumptions, or which involves a smaller number, we must accept it provisionally, provided that its antecedent improbability is not so great as to outweigh its advantages in this respect. Let us, therefore, test the hypothesis of telepathy between the automatists. On this hypothesis simple correspondence is easily explicable, but in the more complex cases, where the corresponding reference in the second script is indirect and allusive, we must suppose that the matter had been previously elaborated in the subliminal mind of the agent automatist, i.e. the one who sends the message. This, in itself, is not impossible, nor, in fact, too improbable to be accepted in most of the cases, and were it not for one or two facts which appear to be incompatible with it, it is the explanation which I, personally, should be inclined to accept.

But these facts must be covered somehow, they cannot be ignored.

For example, in the 'autos ouranos akumon' case, Mrs. Verrall was led by the scripts to discover a connection between Tennyson's 'In Memoriam' and Plotinus, which she had not before suspected. Can we assume that her subliminal mind knew of this connection before, as the result of some study and research, she became supraliminally aware of it? In the 'One-horsed dawn' case, she was normally ignorant of the fact that 'herb moly' had any connection until a long time after it had appeared in the script.

In the 'Lethe' case the appropriateness of the conjunction of the names of Dante, Swedenborg and St. Paul was not recognized until the clue given in the script directed Mrs. Verrall's research.

There is one point on which I have already touched, but perhaps insufficiently stressed. The suggestion that the puzzles were devised and the communications inspired by the subliminal mind of someone living involves the ascription of intent to deceive. We must assume, therefore, that this campaign of deception was carried on consistently over a period years, during which the personnel exceeding twenty of the group of automatists changed from time to time as fresh recruits came in or members dropped out. Several of the recruits were unknown to the members of the group before joining it, and in some cases they never became personally acquainted. Yet the plan of cross correspondences was consistently carried on.

It is true that if it were within the power of a hypothetical disembodied mind, or group of minds, to initiate and carry out the plan, it is, so far as we can see, equally within the power of an embodied mind. There is no reason to suppose that the enfranchisement from the prison of the flesh endows the surviving mind with added powers of telepathy. It may be so, but in the absence of any evidence, we must not assume it.

The point is that the embodied mind must have had the intention to deceive, and it is hard to suppose that this intention would persist over so long a period covering so many changes.

Even more significant, perhaps, than the fact that changes in the group of automatists produced so little change in the character of the communications, is the striking change which followed the death of Dr. Verrall. He had, in his lifetime, taken no very active part in the business, he was interested and gave advice, but was neither an automatist nor an investigator, properly speaking.

But immediately after his death we have two important cases, the 'Statius' and the 'Ear of Dionysius,' wherein he purports to appear as communicator, and in these cases there is exhibited a manifest difference in style which differentiates them sharply from those which purport to come from the Myers group.

On the other hand, the death in 1916 of Mrs. Verrall, one of the principal automatists, made very little difference in the character of the communications.

While these facts are not conclusive as against the telepathic hypothesis, for it is possible that if the subliminal mind of someone living were responsible for the phenomena, that mind might have appreciated the point, and utilized it as an aid in its plan of deception, they seem to me to render that hypothesis considerably less plausible.

Further, some of the most characteristic individual possessions of the human mind are the associations which it makes between ideas. These associations are the result of past history and are as clear an indication of psychical individuality as finger-prints are of physical. No two persons will make exactly the same associations between ideas, because no two persons have ever had exactly the same history.

If, then, we come across peculiar and unusual associations which we subsequently discover to have been made by some particular individual, there is good reason to ascribe to that individual's mind some share in their origin.

In many cases we find associations which had been made by Myers in his lifetime, and were thus normal for him, but which were unlikely to have been made by the automatist; so that unless we can show that they could have been derived from the latter's knowledge of Myers' works or history, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that his mind was somehow responsible for their appearance in the script.

In the 'Statius' and 'Ear of Dionysius' cases, the knowledge shown and the associations made were all clearly appropriate to the mind of Dr. Verrall, or, in the latter case, to Prof. Butcher's as well. It is not impossible that they might have been derived from the subliminal mind of Mrs. Verrall, but in that case we must credit her with supernormal knowledge of the classical works and books of reference from which alone that knowledge could have been drawn.

That many of the cases are in the nature of literary puzzles can hardly be doubted, and if this be so, some mind or minds must have designed them. It is too improbable to be seriously suggested that the coherence and design which is exhibited in the more complex cases was simply due to chance. It is constantly claimed that these puzzles have been set by that mind which inspired the scripts and the claim seems, on the whole, to be justifiable.

There was no person living who consciously and supraliminally designed the puzzles, so we are left with two alternatives, viz., that they were designed by the subliminal mind of someone living, or by the surviving mind of a deceased person. I think that we may reasonably narrow down these alternatives by restricting the possible authorship to members of the group of automatists and investigators on the one hand, and the surviving personalities of Myers and his associates on the other. It is, of course, possible that the source was quite extraneous to either of these groups, but there is no indication of any evidence that it was so.

Now any mind which possessed the requisite classical and literary knowledge could have designed the puzzles, and there were in both groups persons who fulfilled this condition. It is true that in the case of the living group there are some instances where the knowledge was not supraliminally possessed, as for example, the connection between 'In Memoriam' and 'Plotinus' and the others which I mentioned a few pages previously, but as we have no means of determining the extent of the subliminal knowledge of any person, this cannot be held to be decisive.

In speaking, as I have done, of a group of surviving personalities, it must be understood that I do so only as an hypothesis. Unless such hypothesis is a priori impossible or of so high an antecedent improbability as to be unworthy of serious consideration, it is permissible so to speak. There are those who, on other grounds, have already come to the conclusion that the death of the body entails the final extinction of anything which could be called a personality or mind, and for these no evidence, such as has been here presented, will avail to influence their decision. They are quite right in taking this attitude so long as they remain satisfied that the grounds of their original conclusion are adequate. For them survival is either impossible, or so improbable as to be practically impossible, so there is nothing more to be said about the matter.

However, there are many others, equally competent, who do not accept this conclusion, and for them the evidence of cross correspondences may possess validity. As it is only such persons, if any, who are likely to read this and similar books, it is to them alone that I address my remarks.

We have now arrived at the position that the two most probable hypotheses which we can make to account for the facts are telepathy between the automatists and/or the investigators, combined with subliminal in excess of supraliminal knowledge, and inspiration of some sort from the surviving personalities of Myers and his group. Both these hypotheses, we have agreed, are not so antecedently improbable as to be rejected a priori, and it only remains to weigh one against the other and to make a provisional decision based on an estimate of their relative probabilities.

We have, as I see it, four relevant questions to answer.

First. What is the probability that any member of the living group subliminally invented the plan of cross correspondences, devised the literary puzzles and foisted them on the other members of the group? In considering this question it must be remembered that if responsibility for the invention and execution of the plan be ascribed to the subliminal mind of one of the living group, we must also ascribe to that mind the intention to deceive.

Second. What was the probability that a member of the living group possessed the requisite subliminal addition to his or her normal knowledge? In all cases I think that it may be said that some member of the other group had the necessary knowledge when alive.

Third. Were the associations displayed more appropriate to one group than to the other, and what was the probability in the matter?

Fourth. Was the dramatic personation exhibited by the scripts such as to warrant us in ascribing authorship, and, if so, with what degree of probability?

Regarding the first question, we have independent evidence which tends to show that the subliminal mind may indulge in deception of this kind, although I do not know of any instances where it was carried to anything approaching the pitch and elaboration here shown, nor carried on continuously over so long a period of years.

As a rule these other cases of deception are simple impersonations, as when messages purporting to come from the surviving personalities of deceased human beings are given through a medium or automatist.

Moreover, there is the question of selection of the material for the puzzles and the combination of the various parts into a coherent whole. This represents a formidable task for some of the more complex cases. However, the fact that this task was actually performed by some mind, shows that it is not beyond the powers of the subliminal, for we cannot admit that the supraliminal is necessarily superior in intelligence, if anything the reverse may be true.

But I suggest that it may seem unreasonable to attribute to the same level of consciousness intellectual powers of a very high order and a rather stupid spirit of trickery and deception. One would not expect a scientist of the first rank to publish a set of false statements and fallacious inferences, cunningly designed to deceive, for the sole purpose of bolstering up an erroneous hypothesis.

There is some internal evidence in the scripts which bears on the matter. If we study the 'Statius' and 'Ear of Dionysius' scripts, I think that we get a strong impression that the author of these was well acquainted with the plan but had had no actual experience of carrying it out. This seems to be the obvious meaning of the words used in the first script in the 'Ear of Dionysius' case: 'This sort of thing is more difficult to do than it looked.'[1] If the communications were in some way inspired by Dr. Verrall, this remark is singularly appropriate.

[1] Proc., SPR, Vol. XXIX, p. 199.

The communicator's style and technique in these two cases seem somewhat different from those shown in the cases attributed to Myers. This is what we might expect if they were inspired by Dr. Verrall.

The second and third of these questions have been discussed pretty fully in passing, and it is unnecessary to add much here.

The 'Ear of Dionysius' case is, perhaps, the best evidence on the matter, not only on account of the richness of detail but also of the inaccessibility of the source of the knowledge. That source was a highly technical work by an American scholar, such that it would be read by few even among classical students; the clue was given by the name of Philoxenus of Cythera, a classical poet of whom very little is known.

The answer to the third question depends, of course, upon the attitude taken up as regards the second. If one of the automatists possessed the requisite subliminal knowledge, she might have made the associations. On the other hand, in the absence of such knowledge it is highly unlikely that they would have occurred by mere chance.

It must be remembered that where there are two or more independent conditions of which the probability has been assessed, the combined probability is the product and not the sum of the individual probabilities Thus, suppose that we assessed the probability in Question 1 as 3 to 1 against a member of the living group having devised the puzzles, i.e. probability = 1/4, and in Question 2 as 4 to 1 against such member having the requisite subliminal knowledge, i.e. probability 1/5 the combined probability against assigning authorship to that group is 1/20 or 19 to 1 against.

I do not suppose that any reader will feel disposed to attempt to assign a numerical value to any of these probabilities, such a thing is clearly impossible, but it is well to bear in mind that two independent probabilities reinforce each other to a greater extent than by mere addition.

The conditions contained in Questions 3 and 4 are not wholly independent, so the mode of combination of their probabilities would not be the same as for 1 and 2. However, if they be in the same sense they lend added weight, if they be in the opposite sense they may detract, but not necessarily to the same extent as they would add. For example, if we felt pretty sure that no member of the living group devised the puzzles or had the requisite subliminal knowledge, the fact that the dramatic personation was poor need not seriously upset our confidence. It might be that dramatic personation was not being aimed at.

Common sense is the only guide in this matter, mathematical treatment is not applicable.

Concerning the fourth question, some further discussion is necessary. It must be remembered that some of the automatists, in particular Mrs. and Miss Verrall and all the investigators, were personally acquainted with Myers and other members of the group in their lifetimes; of the other automatists, Mrs. Piper must have known Myers fairly well, for she stayed at his house for some weeks, she was also well acquainted with Hodgson as she had had a long series of sittings with him in America.

It must be admitted that in the case of Myers the characteristics or, as I have called it, the dramatic personation shown in the scripts is very unequal.

But in this connection I would refer to the remarks made by Sir Oliver Lodge, quoted on page 91, wherein he points out that the Myers personalities which come through the different automatists are not all exactly the same; the Myers element is in no case pure and undiluted.

The most striking instance of dramatic personation is in the 'Statius' case, concerning which Rev. M. A. Bayfield, a most intimate friend of Dr. Verrall's, writes[2]: 'These additional reasons for assigning to Dr. Verrall the scripts which we are examining can, I fear, be fully appreciated only by those who knew him somewhat intimately, for they consist in the exhibition in, the scripts of two traits of his personality which, highly characteristic though they are, would not be likely to come under the notice of an ordinary acquaintance, or be known by hearsay to a stranger.' Concerning certain passages in the script, he writes[3]: 'All this is Verrall's manner to the life in animated conversation.' 'When I first read the words quoted above I received a series of little shocks, for the turns of speech are Verrall's, the high-pitched emphasis is his, and I could hear the very tones in which he would have spoken each sentence.'

[2] Proc., SPR, Vol. XXVII, p. 244.
[3] Ibid., p. 246.

He sums up in these words[4]: 'It remains to mention one more point which also impresses me strongly. We have here an extraordinarily faithful representation of Verrall in respect of a peculiar kind of impatience and a habit of emphasis which he had in conversation, and of his playfulness and sense of humour. In what way are these lifelike touches of character introduced? How are they worked into the essential matter of the scripts? Have they the air of being inserted by an ingenious forger (the unprincipled subliminal of some living person) with a purpose, in order to lend convincing uraisemblance to a fictitious impersonation; or do they give us the impression of being spontaneous and genuine? Unless I am inexcusably mistaken, no one accustomed to estimate the internal evidence afforded by a document of doubtful origin could hesitate as to the answer.' 'To me, at least, it is incredible that even the cleverest could achieve such an unexampled triumph in deceptive impersonation as this would be if the actor is not Verrall himself.'

[4] Proc., SPR, Vol. XXVII, p. 249.

It is, of course, difficult for those who have no acquaintance with the dramatis personae to form a judgment in this matter, but I think that the opinion of one who, like Mr. Bayfield, counted Dr. Verrall as his 'oldest and dearest friend' must carry considerable weight.

Mrs. Willett's acquaintance with Dr. Verrall was very slight, far too slight for her to have had so intimate a knowledge of his personality as to reproduce his characteristic mannerisms to the extent shown in the scripts, so that unless we can ascribe the whole thing to telepathy from some living mind, there seems a high probability that it was somehow inspired by the surviving consciousness of Dr. Verrall.

Finally, before submitting the case to the jury for their verdict, there is one general consideration which must be mentioned. We can understand, or at least we think that we can understand, pretty well what is meant by communication from a living person, whether from the supraliminal or subliminal part of the mind. It is true, perhaps, that if we tried to state definitely what is implied by this partition of the mind, we might get into serious difficulties. I, personally, think that we should most certainly do so.

But without going into the metaphysics of the thing, we have a rough idea sufficient for the purposes of the hypothesis.

We have experience of countless instances of supraliminal mental events and we also have experiential knowledge of other events which look as though they were mental yet are clearly not supraliminal. It is these which we call subliminal. We may not understand fully their nature or modus operandi, but they are sufficiently familiar for us to feel at home with them.

The same may be said, though in a somewhat less degree, of telepathy; we do not understand it, but we have come across it sufficiently frequently for us to employ the conception of it in our hypotheses without feeling much discomfort.

Thus it is that we can put forward the explanation of telepathy from the living, combined with subliminal knowledge in excess of the normal, and feel more or less satisfied that we know what we are talking about.

But communication from, or inspiration by, the surviving consciousness of deceased human beings is a very 'different pair of shoes.' I know that many, perhaps most, people would, at first sight, see no particular difficulty in the conception of survival, whether they accept it as fact or not. They might say: 'I know what I mean when I talk about the mind or consciousness of a living human being, I also know what I mean when I talk about his body; the two things are clearly distinguishable. By survival, therefore, I mean that the first goes on existing when the second has been destroyed.'

This attitude, however, involves a good many assumptions, both explicit and implicit, for which we have no sufficient warrant.

The only minds of which we have any experiential knowledge are embodied minds, we have no certain knowledge of a disembodied one. We do not know that the conditions of space and time to which we are accustomed prevail in the state of existence which the hypothetical disembodied mind must occupy; neither do we know that the familiar categories of cause and effect, sameness and difference and of number, apply in that state. They may do so but until we have some definite experience on which to found them, our opinions on the matter can never be more than assumptions, which, however plausible they may be, are not based on experiential knowledge.

Moreover, experience seems to be subject to certain fundamental laws or principles: these have been variously formulated; as an example I would cite the law known as the 'Law of Contradiction.' This states that two contradictory propositions cannot both be true at the same time; or the law of 'Excluded Middle.' A either is B or is not B.

These laws appear to us to be self-evidently true; we cannot conceive an exception. Yet we have no right to assume that they necessarily apply in a state of existence of which we have no knowledge whatsoever: the King's writ may run all over his dominions, but not necessarily across the frontier.

To discuss the matter further, would take us too far out on the perilous waters of metaphysical speculation, but I can give one example. Speaking for myself I think that I have an inescapable conviction of being one and only one person, my moods may vary but behind them all is one and only one 'me.' I cannot conceive myself as being split up into two, or as merging into someone else's self. I am I and no one else. Of course I may be unique in this, but I imagine that most people feel the same.

But Sir Oliver Lodge speaks of the Myers personalities as manifested through the various automatists not being all the same: there is some part of Myers present but the personality of the script is a compound or mixture[5].

[5] It should be noted that this opinion, expressed by Sir Oliver Lodge, is only one possible interpretation of the facts. They may be explained equally well in the following manner. We derive our conception of the communicating personality solely from the internal evidence of the scripts. It is as though we were forming an estimate of the character of someone, of whom we had no other knowledge, by reading letters which he had written. Now, if these letters had been the joint production of two people, say, that they had been written by a secretary, not from dictation, but from notes supplied, they would exhibit a compound or mixture of characteristics. The scripts may be looked upon as being of this nature, the communicator inspires them in some way, but the automatist acts as secretary rather than as a mere amanuensis, and thus contributes a considerable share of the internal characteristics.

We may be unable, with our embodied minds, to conceive how two separate personalities can merge into one, yet if disembodied minds exist at all, the conditions of their existence may, for all that we know, be such that the hard and fast lines of demarcation between individualities no longer prevail. If, while I am in the body, I am I and no one else, it does not necessarily follow that when freed from the body this will remain true. It might be, as some have held, that the disembodied mind or soul is somehow reabsorbed into a cosmic soul and yet retains its personality.

Moreover, the me which I recognize as myself in this life is a composite entity, it is composed of both mental and physical factors. This is immediately obvious if one considers how great is the influence on the self of the state of bodily health, what sweeping change in character may be produced by drugs or injury to the brain. But, although it is generally agreed that there is a factor in the manifested personality due to the physical organism, there is wide divergence of opinion as to its extent and importance.

The tendency of physiologists and some psychologists is to assign to the physical the predominant share in the partnership, many authorities even go so far as to reduce mind to the level of a sort of by-product, an epiphenomenon as it is called, of the working of the cerebro-neural organism. If, however, these extreme views should be correct it is of little use to discuss the question of survival, for, while survival may remain conceivably possible, it seems so highly improbable as to be hardly worth consideration.

To discuss the matter in all its aspects is quite beyond the scope of this book, but I have thought it right thus briefly to mention it, so that, in considering their verdict on the evidence put before them, my readers may avoid falling into the error of assuming that the naive, uncritical hypothesis of survival, i.e. that that which survives is an exact replica of the personality which was manifested in this life, is the only possible alternative to complete extinction.

They are at liberty to hold that evidence establishes a probability that there is some sort of survival of personality, while leaving undefined the exact nature of that personality and the conditions in which it exists.

That so large a tincture of agnosticism should pervade our opinions is, in my opinion, inevitable and not undesirable. Though it may be that the 'me' which I have recognized as myself in this life may cease to be after physical death, there may be a larger 'me' which survives[6].

[6] See last sentence of the passage from Human Personality, quoted on p. 12.

To some this may appear an unsatisfactory conclusion, and extinction of that which they have been accustomed to regard as being their total and only self, an unwelcome thought, but it must be remembered that if that self no longer exist it can no longer suffer any pain or disappointment, while, if there be a larger self which survives, that survival may be far more satisfying to it than would be any continuance of the partial manifestation which played its fleeting part in this life.

This then is the case for survival as presented by the evidence of cross correspondences and automatism, and I leave it to the jury of my readers to form their own opinions.
Note: 
The above article was taken from H. F. Saltmarsh's "Evidence of Personal Survival from Cross-Correspondences" (London: G. Bell, 1938).


D. Scott Rogo - Some Personal Thoughts on Survival


Some Personal Thoughts on Survival
- D. Scott Rogo -
          NO STUDENT of the psychic field can study the evidence for survival without coming to some personal conclusions. Parapsychologists rarely agree on very much and the survival issue is no exception. A few researchers adamantly reject the idea of survival, while a handful of others seem favourably disposed to the notion. The majority of parapsychologists, however tend to remain simply (and safely) agnostic. Because of the very nature of the controversy, any conclusions a student of the field ultimately reaches must be partially subjective and totally individual.

The survival issue actually consists of two very separate aspects, since the existence of some sort of life after death does not necessarily imply that communication between the dead and the living is possible. So the controversy can be broken down in the survival aspect proper and its spiritistic corollary. I personally believe that the latter is the more fruitful area of exploration, since any data bearing on it also bears critically on the former

My own sentiments are decidedly favourable to the survival notion, although I am no longer as firm about my position as I was ten years or so ago. There is more and more evidence accumulating to suggest that out-of-body experiences are only rarely veridical; that near-death survivors might be responding to auditory cues (provided by doctors and nurses) when they experience their souls leaving the body; and that deathbed visions could well be archetypal psychological experiences. These lines of sceptical inquiry and thinking have certainly not robbed these phenomena of their importance but they suggest that we should keep our scepticism well-honed. A good lesson might be learned from the mass of research poured into the study of the out-of-body experience during the years following the Kidd bequest. If nothing else, the combined weight of this research showed that the OBE is not as clear-cut and discrete a phenomenon as we had thought. Some of the evidence directly suggested that some aspect of the mind can temporarily leave the body; but the results of other projects failed to isolate anything consistent or measurable about this 'aspect'. Rarely is anything clear-cut in parapsychology, which is one reason why the survival issue has long remained so controversial.

What kind of data can serve as evidence for survival, then? Many researchers believe that no single line of evidence nor single case study can prove the validity of the survival hypothesis. The evidence they argue, must be evaluated as a whole and as an intertwining complex of facts, figures and cases.

The crucial issue researchers face today is actually the same one parapsychologists grappled with in the 1880s and well into the 1920s. Do any cases exist that cannot be explained as the result of our own ESP capabilities? The super-ESP hypothesis states that our ESP powers are not constrained by any limiting factors. It may have access to any piece of information or complex of information existing anywhere in the world, it’s past or present. This information can then be processed unconsciously before being presented into consciousness by way of a 'spiritistic' message. Spirit communicators, trance personalities and deathbed visions may therefore be projections from our own minds, carefully structured through the collection of psychic information.

The idea that we possess super-ESP is only a theory, and it is one that has come in for a fair share of criticism of late. But there is also considerable evidence that ESP can succeed at very complex tasks in the laboratory. So while the idea of super-ESP may seem extravagant, it follows logically from what parapsychologists have learned about the sixth sense. For this reason I prefer to adopt the idea that the ultimate evidence for survival rests on only two types of cases:

1. Spontaneous cases of post-mortem contact in which the motivation for the communication rests more with the deceased agent than with the witness.

2. Cases in which the witness suddenly develops or takes on a skill possessed by the deceased agency. There is simply no evidence that ESP can he used to acquire a skill. ESP is an information channel, while a skill is a learned attribute developed through practice.

Two classic cases fitting these criteria exist within parapsychology's rich literature and a good case for survival could be based on either of them.

Probably the most celebrated case of spontaneous contact with the dead was the Chaffin Will affair which was first reported in 1927[1]. The report concerned the North Carolina estate of James L. Chaffin who died in 1921. The terms of his will stated that his property should go to his third son (Marshall), which left his wife and three other sons virtually disinherited. This document was written and witnessed in 1905. The terms of the will were carried out, but in 1925 - four years after his death - Chaffin's apparition began appearing to one of his other sons, James P. Chaffin, Jr. The apparition materialized by the young mans bedside dressed in an old overcoat he had often worn in life. The figure only spoke on the occasion of its second appearance. Its message was that, 'You will find my will in my overcoat pocket.' This overcoat was in the possession of yet another brother. The lining of the coat was sewn up and a handwritten note was found inside which simply said: 'Read the 27th chapter of Genesis in my daddies old Bible'. The search was on again. The bible was located in the possession of Chaffin's widow and it was examined in front of two independent witnesses. No one was very surprised when a rough handwritten will dated 1919 was found there. This testament divided the estate equally among the Chaffin children. The will was presented in court, upheld, and the Chaffin estate redistributed. The authenticity of the will was so unchallengeable that Marshall's family didn't contest it.
[1] Reported in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 1927, 36, 517-24.

The standard non-survivalistic explanation for this case is that James P. Chaffin simply learned about the will through clairvoyance. His unconscious mind then produced the apparition as a mediating vehicle through which the information could be relayed into consciousness. This theory may seem glib, but it really cannot explain many of the main features of the case. For instance, it can't explain why the information only emerged four years after Chaffin's death and not immediately after the terms of the will were first made known, when James P. Chaffin's motivation to learn about the will would have been at its peak. Nor can any sort of super-ESP theory explain why young Chaffin's ESP powers focused on the overcoat pocket and not directly on the bible. And why did the communication confuse the message in the overcoat pocket with the will itself? Remember, the apparition said that the will was in the overcoat pocket. This was not literally true. Some commentators on the case also overlook the fact that even after the will was found, the apparition of James Chaffin appeared a final time. He was still apparently concerned about the injustice to his family.

Now if we assume that James Chaffin really was speaking from beyond the veil, all the oddities in the case begin to make perfect sense. We know that memory is often a fragile power and that two obviously related memories can easily become confused over time. The deceased Chaffin could easily have become confused between the will and the message he had left in his overcoat pocket. In fact, I feel that this little bit of confusion can only be explained by accepting that James Chaffin's surviving personality was the source of the information. The survival theory can also explain why the apparition appeared after the will was found … at a time when James P. Chaffin no longer had any need or motivation to produce the apparition. The deceased man may simply have been unaware that the will was now in his family's possession.

Many of these same motivational factors can be found in the Teresita Basa case, where the surviving personality of the murdered woman had a greater motivation to see justice done than Mrs Chua probably did. Mrs Chua hadn't known Teresita very well and she wasn't even working at the hospital when the critical messages were received. She therefore wasn't in any immediate danger from the murderer who was still working on the staff.

Now to turn our attention to the second type of case I cited above. Cases of people who have suddenly developed unusual skills after allegedly making contact with the dead are rare. Only a few such cases appear in the literature but some of them are extremely impressive. There are several reports in the older literature on mediumship concerning trance mediums who suddenly began speaking in foreign languages. These were languages familiar to the 'communicators' speaking through them, but beyond the knowledge or skill of the sensitives. This phenomenon was more commonly reported from the spiritualist press than from the 'official' reports of the SPR, so 'polyglot' mediumship was not documented as thoroughly as it could have been. Nonetheless, a few cases still managed to hold up under critical scrutiny.'[2]
[2] Bozzano, Ernesto. Polyglot Mediumship (London: Rider, n.d.)

Today in our own times, psychics gifted with unusual skills inherited from their 'spirit' contacts abound:

1. Rosemary Brown is an English lady who composes sometimes excellent music under the tutelage of Europe's great composers of the past. She has little formal musical training, yet even many musicologists have been impressed by the quality of her productions.

2. Emma Conti is an Italian psychic who 'receives' poetry from the spirit of Emily Dickinson. She has won forty-six literary awards for her poetry, even though she never even attended high school.

3. Matthew Manning is best known today as a psychic healer. When his powers first developed in England when he was a teenager he began drawing detailed and exquisite etchings in the style of several deceased artists.

The problem with all of these cases is the same, though. Psychology knows relatively little about our creative capacities, or the nature of unconscious creativity, so it is virtually impossible to trace the true source of these inspired powers. Just because some psychics believe that their creations come from the spirit world doesn't necessarily make it so. It should be noted, though, that both Rosemary Brown and Emma Conti have purportedly channelled through evidential messages from their 'spirit' contacts.

There does exist, nonetheless, a very similar case in the historical annals of psychic science that overcomes this problem.

The now famous Thompson/Gifford case dates back to 1905[3]. Frederic Thompson was born in Massachusetts in 1868 and worked as a jeweller. He was also a Sunday painter of sorts, though only a mediocre one. Sometime in 1905 he suddenly found his mind and body invaded by a foreign intelligence. He developed an overwhelming urge to sketch and paint and soon began attributing these compulsions to his alter ego, whom he named 'Mr Gifford'. He adopted the name from Robert Swain Gifford, a celebrated landscape artist whom he had met on two occasions out in the country near New Bedford. These compulsions were often accompanied by visionary landscapes which served as the models for his paintings. Some of the resulting artistic achievements surmounted anything created by virtue of his own meagre talents, but it wasn't until he learned about Gifford's death that he became concerned about his sanity. When Thompson discovered that his strange compulsions developed shortly after Gifford's death, he sought out Professor James H. Hyslop at the American Society for Psychical Research in New York. Hyslop was not too impressed by Thompson's story and at first believed the case would contribute more to the burgeoning field of abnormal psychology than to psychical research. Despite this, his interest was sufficiently aroused for him to explore Thompson's claims further. Hyslop was primarily interested in the art work, so in 1907 he took possession of several of Thompson's paintings and sketches for further analysis.
[3] Hyslop, James H. A case of veridical hallucinations. Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research, 1909, 3, 1-469.
Frederic Thompson's sketch closely matches the unfinished painting by Robert Swain Gifford, 1907.
These paintings became the focal point of the case, for several art experts who saw them spontaneously remarked on their similarity to the work of the late R. Swain Gifford. But the true denouement of the case came when Hyslop and Thompson began exploring the life and work of the deceased artist. They eventually discovered that some of the sketches now in Hyslop's possession matched unfinished paintings left by the artist at the time of his death. They were still in the possession of his widow, who had never shown them publicly. She had kept them at their long-time residence on a privately owned island just off the New England coast. Some of Thompson's other sketches were of actual locations later found on the island.

The strange case of Frederic Thompson is more complex than any brief summary can communicate. Professor Hyslop was also experimenting with several trance mediums in Boston, New York and Virginia during these months. He began receiving several evidential messages from R. Swain Gifford, while Frederic Thompson found himself suddenly undergoing odd out-of-body experiences. It looked as if the deceased artist was trying to prove his identity through any channel available to him.

My own opinion about this extraordinary case is fairly clear-cut. Even if we entertain the possibility that Frederic Thompson was a powerful psychic, there seems no motivation for why he suddenly assimilated Gifford's personality in so bizarre a manner. The deceased artist would have had a greater motivation to continue on with his work, and naturally he would have chosen a fellow artist (of sorts) whose hand he could most readily guide. It is also hard to fathom why Thompson began undergoing out-of-body experiences during this time, though this development is perfectly explicable if we assume that Gifford was attempting to control and possess him. The connection with Gifford's sudden intrusion in his life also explains Thompson's sudden artistic genesis.

Impressive reports of similar cases of 'spirit' return highlighted the early literature of psychical research. It is certainly a pity that cases of similar quality are uncommon today. This may result from the fact that contemporary parapsychologists simply aren't as interested in ferreting them out and investigating them as were the founders of the field. I can well imagine how a researcher today would respond to the claims of someone like Frederic Thompson. The whole case looked very much like one of bizarre psychopathology. The psychic underpinnings of the events were only revealed because Hyslop decided to explore the case in further depth despite his initial cynicism. Researchers today rarely have the time or inclination to look into such cases so thoroughly. It is certainly interesting and revealing that not a single parapsychologist investigated the Teresita Basa case even after it had achieved nationwide publicity!
Descriptions of death and survival are consistent across cultural frontiers: this anonymous Chinese print shows the astral body separated from the physical body but still connected by a cord.
Just about the only contemporary researcher interested in studying cases bearing on the survival issue is Dr Ian Stevenson at the University of Virginia. Since he has been focusing on reincarnation-type cases, his contributions to other areas of survival research have been minimal. Recently, though, he and his colleague Dr Satwant Pasricha, have issued a report on a third case for which only the survival theory seems a tenable explanation. This report concerns the strange trances of Uttara Huddar, a teacher and administrator in Nagpur; India[4]. She has been undergoing episodes since 1973 in which she takes on the personality and 'becomes' a woman named Sharada who lived in nineteenth-century Bengal. These trances can last from a few hours to several days and 'Sharada' has communicated a number of details about her life and her relations. Detailed genealogical research has proved that many of the names she has offered designate people who really existed in the Bengal district years ago. It is extremely doubtful that Ms Huddar could have had access to this information. 'Sharada' also speaks in Bengali, which is a dialect distinct from the Marathi tongue spoken by Ms Huddar. Experts have testified that Sharada speaks the language correctly and uses a vocabulary consistent with someone from the nineteenth century. Ms Huddar apparently once had some passing familiarity with written Bengali script, but not with the spoken language.
[4] Stevenson, Ian, and Pasricha, S. A preliminary report on an unusual case of the reincarnation type with xenoglossy. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 1980, 74, 331-48.

The case of Sharada's uncanny return is still unfolding and it is destined to become a classic. The only problem is whether or not it is an example of reincarnation or genuine spirit possession. Dr Stevenson prefers the former theory, although any decision on the matter would be arbitrary. The important point is that some form of survival is implied by adopting either explanation.
Despite such cases, I don't think that the survival controversy will ever really be definitively resolved by any single case or line of future research. I believe the real case for survival lies buried in the field's rich archives and historical literature. It is interesting to note that two of the three cases outlined in this chapter date back well over fifty years to the true heyday of survival research. The cases and studies made during those years outstrip much of the related work coming out of parapsychology today. Although my views have vacillated considerably over the years, I still find the survival theory to be the most cogent explanation for some of these cases. But merely coming to the personal opinion that we ultimately survive death is really not an end in itself, it only leads one to ask a host of even more provocative and difficult questions:

What aspect of the personality actually survives?

Do we possess a soul, or is just a complex of personality traits and drives released at death?

Do we survive death permanently, or do we undergo a second and more permanent annihilation?

What is the nature of the 'next' world?

These are the true essentials of the survival issue, but they are issues upon which parapsychology has little right to comment. Precious little evidence from the field's past or present literature sheds any light on them.

To me, the greatest mystique of the survival controversy is just this fundamental impenetrability. Because of its very nature, I doubt if the issue will ever be resolved to everyone's satisfaction. That time will only come when we discover a reliable method by which we can consistently contact the dead, and that day will probably never come. It is obvious that the human mind is too complex and inconsistent a tool to use, but nothing better seems to be on the immediate horizon. So parapsychology's best bet would be to explore further those lines of evidence already under consideration. There is still much we need to learn about trance mediumship, near-death and related out-of-body experiences, deathbed visions and cases of the reincarnation type. Perhaps some day a case of post-mortem contact will come to light so staggering and impressive that whether we survive the shock of death will no longer be in question. But I can't honestly say whether this is a genuine possibility or merely a momentary exercise in unabashed speculation or optimism. The case for survival is impressive but not yet proven.
Note: 
The above article was published in D. Scott Rogo's "Life After Death. The Case for Survival of Bodily Death" (London: Guild Publishing, 1986).

Everard Feilding - The Case of Abbé Vachère


The Case of Abbé Vachère
 - Everard Feilding -
 Abbé Vachère
          IT IS sometimes suggested that the Society for Psychical Research does not publish as many reports as it should of investigations of the numerous cases of supposed supernormal phenomena, especially physical phenomena, reported to it. The reason for this reticence - at all events in my own case as regards such investigations (and they have been a good many) as I have undertaken, and I think probably in the case of others - is the disinclination one feels to put before the public a case in an incomplete form, without conclusions, or without evidence sufficient to lead fairly clearly to a conclusion of some kind. Now, since the case dealt with in this paper is precisely one of these incomplete investigations and one upon which I was unable, even in my own mind, to come to any kind of conclusion, or to decide which of all the possible hypotheses about its character seemed the most probable, or the least improbable, I should, although it is, I think, the strangest in the whole course of my experience, never have troubled myself to write, nor troubled anyone else to consider the facts. Had it not been for the publication of a book upon it by a German writer, Dr. Birven. Dr. Birven has been able to supply many more facts for consideration. He has even attempted an explanation of the whole case. And though I do not find myself either able to accept his explanation or in any better position to advance one of my own, I think the case now sufficiently documented to justify me in asking you to hear about it.

My own knowledge of the matter began in 1913 with a letter from a German friend who asked if I had heard of the "blood miracles" which had been happening for the last two years at Mirebeau en Poitou, near Poitiers, and described how several oleographs of the Sacred Heart in the possession of the Abbé Vachère appeared to be continually bleeding; how, further, the Hosts consecrated at Mass by the Abbé had on several occasions dripped or become covered with blood, and how the stone plaster figure of the dead Christ, part of a Pietà in a neighbouring grotto, had recently bled, while the accompanying figure of the Virgin had wept. I later secured an introduction to the Abbé from a German priest who had visited him and seen these marvels, and in May of 1914, finding myself in Paris with Mr. W. B. Yeats and Mrs. MacBride (formerly Maud Gonne), I suggested to them that we should go to Mirebeau and see them ourselves. We were courteously received by the Abbé, who told us the following story, the details of which I have filled in from a written record received later, and from other sources.

The Abbé Cesaire de Grateloup, of excellent descent; in his younger days acting as a tutor in various noble families in Belgium and elsewhere; later, a person of considerable activity in certain ecclesiastical matters and in good favour in Rome, where he was given the title of Monsignore; now, at the age of over 60, lived in retirement in a little house at Mirebeau.

In 1906 two pictures of the Sacred Heart had been given to him in Rome by a pious friend. One of these he fastened to the wall above the altar in his little private chapel at Mirebeau. On September 8, 1911, when going to say Mass at 6.30 a.m., the Abbé noticed on the forehead of the face of Christ some dark red marks. That afternoon these marks appeared to liquefy. At 6 a.m. on September 10 the Abbé and others found on the forehead fresh wounds from which blood oozed. On September 11 a further wound had developed from which blood oozed "as from a little spring." On September 13 so many wounds appeared on the brow that it seemed as if a crown of thorns had been added. On September 14 a wound appeared on the heart, while on the afternoon of September 15 blood began to flow from the hands also. Almost every day fresh wounds and fresh traces of blood were seen. On October 16 new phenomena were produced: at Mass, the Host was stained with blood, and at half-past two in the afternoon the Abbé saw the lips of the Christ open and heard a voice issuing from them, uttering lamentations. These latter events were the precursors of many others of similar character. The words from time to time spoken from the picture by the voice, which the Abbé called la Voix du Bon Maître (which no one heard but himself), were written down by him and consisted of lamentations over the indifference and defects of the clergy, and over the sins of France, accompanied by menaces of a terrible punishment shortly to fall upon her. On October 17 and 18, tears flowed abundantly from the eyes.

For some time past the fame of these events had been spreading, and visitors came in crowds from far and near to the house, asking to see the picture. On October 13 the Abbé wrote to the Bishop of Poitiers-Monseigneur Humbrecht, who had just assumed the episcopate, informing him of what was happening, and October 19 he received instructions to deliver the picture at once to the Superior of the Seminary at Poitiers to be kept under observation, and he obeyed forthwith.

On December 15 the picture was restored to the Abbé with strict injunctions that it should not be shown to anyone. It was therefore kept in a special room. The bleeding, however, was resumed at irregular intervals, and the other manifestations, that is, the bleeding of the Host and the utterances of the Voice, were frequently repeated. On May 27, 1912, the Host, after consecration, developed a rent of four or five centimetres in length. The Abbé deposited it on the altar, procured a fresh Host and recommenced consecration, and as Mass proceeded, blood flowed from the former Host on the corporal (white cloth) on which it lay. It was left there and on several occasions emitted a fresh flow of blood, which, as I was to see a year afterwards, became eventually so abundant as to reach the front edge of the altar and run down till caught by pieces of linen placed at the foot of it. This altar was in consequence abandoned by the Abbé, who thenceforward said his Mass at a dresser at the side of the chapel.

On March 14, 1913, the Abbé received a decree of the Holy Office (Inquisition) ordering him to deliver the picture again to the Bishop, and the Vicar General came to claim it. In February, however, the Abbé, who was engaged in building a series of large Stations of the Cross on a hill at Gâtine, about three-quarters of a mile from his house, and had a cottage there which he used as a kind of recreation room for the workmen, had pinned up in this room a replica of the picture of rather smaller size. Until March 19 nothing abnormal had happened to this picture, but on that day the carpenter came to the Abbé and reported that it in turn had suddenly begun to bleed and weep. The Abbé told us that, having been so much bothered in consequence of what happened to the first picture, he at first refused to pay any attention, but at length, the next day, he went up and found it was as stated, and that since then the bleeding had continued at irregular intervals.

His recital of the foregoing occupied about an hour. We then asked if we could see the picture. He assented, but said he did not know if it was bleeding at the moment, as he had not been up to Gâtine to visit it for some days and there was often an interval of several days between the manifestations. He fetched a large key and led us to the cottage, which was locked and empty. I went straight to the picture and found on it several drops of what looked like blood and scrum standing at the bottom of discoloured channels down which they had run. The Abbé made no objection to my drying these in a handkerchief for later analysis, and we waited some time to see if a fresh flow would take place, but in vain.

On our return to Mirebeau, the Abbé took us into the tiny chapel, decorated with frescoes painted by himself, and hung with a great number of ex voto lamps sent as thank-offerings for graces received. He removed the altar-cloth, disclosing beneath it a Host, saturated with what looked like congealed blood, which caused it to adhere to the corporal on which it lay. From it issued a stream of the same fluid a foot or more in length, this being, the Abbé told us, the result of the further effusions which had followed the original manifestation. In addition to this were several other hosts, preserved in a pyx, also more or less heavily stained with blood.

After the Abbé had solemnly warned Mrs. MacBride, who lived in Paris, to leave it at once, for terrible events were presently to take place, we took our leave.

On our return to England I delivered my samples to the Lister Institute for analysis and received the following somewhat discouraging communication from Mr. E. E. Atkin, bacteriologist:
8. vii. 14. "An extract from the handkerchief gave no precipitate with anti-human scrum which therefore precludes the possibility of its being human blood. I have also tried out anti-horse, -sheep and -ox sera, but they give no positive reaction. There are no other tests of the same delicacy as the precipitin tests for blood. I have also made a spectroscopic test but the colour is too faint to decide one way or the other." ... And, 15. vii. 14 - "I can say from the test I performed ... that it is definitely not human blood - there is no doubt about this result."
A further report from Mr. E. Ross stated that one of the samples revealed an organism usually found only in extremely foul water.

This was something of a damper. But six years later the same analyst, Mr. Atkin, as will be seen, gave a contrary report on fresh samples, thus confirming the conclusions of other investigations reported in Dr. Birven's book. I scarcely know which is the more disconcerting, to be told that it is, or that it is not human blood. If the truth of the hypothesis of the Abbé and his supporters be assumed, that the manifestation is miraculous and of divine origin, would it be more, or less, in accordance with that hypothesis that the red matter should prove to be blood, and human blood? I do not know. Why should blood be expected at all? And if blood, why human blood? If human blood, then whose? Christ's? I think that to believers in the doctrine of transubstantiation the notion that the Host, which is already through transubstantiation the Body of Christ, should emit untransubstantiated blood (or, if in fact transubstantiated, simulating an untransubstantiated appearance), would be philosophically inadmissible and absurd, as well as religiously shocking. Is it conceivable that if the Abbé really believed that the blood was Christ's natural blood he would allow all and sundry to take samples of it for analysis? And on the other hand, if the manifestations were deliberate fraud, what substance would be chosen to lend them the maximum verisimilitude? Obviously, human blood, if attainable.

A few weeks later, war broke out - to those to whom the bolt fell from an unclouded sky a not unimpressive fulfilment of the Abbé's prophetic warnings. I became involved in the natural turmoil and not for nearly two years could I pay further attention to this matter.

At Easter, 1915, I was granted a week's leave, and by way of a complete change from Naval censorship decided on a flying visit to Mirebeau. I wrote and informed the Abbé of what I contemplated. He replied briefly that he hoped I would not come. Nevertheless, without further warning, I went. I was shown at once into the garden, where I found him piously saying his Rosary. He was not at all pleased to see me, but gradually thawed and explained that owing to the tracasseries of the Bishop of Poitiers, he had been made the victim of a continuous and vindictive persecution. This prelate, Monseigneur Humbrecht, he represented as a person of extreme prejudice and invincible stupidity. "Que peut-on s'attendre d'un évêque qui condamne les boy-scouts?" he asked triumphantly. "Boche de nom, et Boche d'esprit." This Bishop had not only condemned him without so much as conducting any sort of inquiry, but had denounced him not only to Rome - with the result that he had been excommunicated - but also to the civil French authorities, the ground for the latter move being apparently that among the devotes to "the Cause" was a French lady married to a German, and therefore bearing a German name, who had bought the land at Gâtine on which the Stations of the Cross had been erected and on which stood the cottage containing the picture. This association with the enemy had therefore rendered the Abbé suspect. Not only had the land been sequestrated, but he himself had been visited by the police and an investigation made into the following charges: 1: that the platform on which the Calvary stood was really a masked gun-emplacement; 2: that a wireless installation was concealed in the arms of the large crucifix, and 3: that an underground passage had been made from Gâtine to the Castle of Chinon! He feared that if now he were visited by another foreigner, even one wearing the naval uniform of an ally, he would become a still more suspicious character.

I asked about the picture, which he told me he had had to remove from Gâtine and had placed in his chapel. We thereupon went into the chapel to inspect it. It was, as on the former occasion that I had seen it, covered with wet "blood." I stayed at Mirebeau three nights. On almost each occasion that I visited the picture I found it wet. I would dry it, and spent much time watching over it to see if the blood would start afresh, but in vain. At last I asked the Abbé to allow me, after drying the picture, to lock and seal the door of the chapel. He was furious. It was an insult to his honour. Never, even if the Pope himself wished to do it, would he permit seals to be placed in his house. But, inconsistently enough, he said he had no objection to my locking the door and keeping the key. I had to be content with this. I dried the picture, locked the door with a large key and secretly inserted a little piece of paper in the hinge, which would fall if, by the aid of a duplicate key, the door were opened. Some hours afterwards I returned, and found the picture again wet. But the piece of paper had fallen. The temptation to inform the Abbé was irresistible and I foolishly did so. He nearly exploded with rage, but said that his sacristan, not knowing that the door was locked, had tried to get in and he had heard him shake the door. No doubt, he said, this had caused the dislodgement of my paper. I replaced the paper and shook the door to try, and the paper fell, so I was no further advanced.

Peace was externally concluded with the Abbé and I saw much of him during my stay. Notwithstanding the negative conclusions to which, altogether apart from the inherent difficulty of supposing that pictures should bleed of themselves, my own experiences with the analysis, the failure of the picture to bleed under observation, and the above incident with the paper, now led me, I found it increasingly difficult to believe that this simple, almost childish-minded, pious but volcanic old priest could be consciously perpetrating frauds which, associated as they must be with the most sacred and intimate elements of his faith, could not but be repugnant to him. I did my best to inquire about his reputation in the neighbourhood. I found that he was respected for his charity to the sick poor, whom he treated with herb medicines of his own. Also that the fact that he had been condemned by the Bishop and excommunicated and termed "Vitandus" (to be avoided), by Rome had naturally alienated all the croyants, by whom he was subjected to a rigorous boycott. On the other hand, the fact that he was championing a miracle had also exasperated the incroyants. So between the two the time he was having can only be described as thin. Having heard that a leading inhabitant had, among others, witnessed the "bleeding" in the absence of the Abbé, I called on him and asked for details. He seemed an educated, level-headed man belonging to neither of the above sections. Wishing to satisfy himself of the truth of the stories he had heard, he had taken advantage, he told me, of the Abbé's temporary absence from Mirebeau to let himself into the cottage at Gâtine. He found the picture perfectly dry, but stayed in the room to watch events and at the end of about two hours saw blood ooze out and run down to the bottom of the picture.

The aspect of the Host lying on the altar had changed much since I had seen it the previous year. According to the Abbé it had again on occasions sent out fresh effusions of blood, the stream of which had flowed as far as the front edge of the altar and run down till absorbed in linen cloths placed beneath. (See photographs, p. 128 of Dr Birven's book.)

Duty recalled me to England in three days and in 1916 moved me to Egypt. That autumn I made arrangements from there that Mademoiselle J. Lichnerowicz, a French lady well known to me, should go and spend as long a time as she could manage at Mirebeau, not disclosing that she came from me. Typed extracts from her sprightly correspondence describing two visits, the first for a few days after Christmas, 1916, and the second for six or seven days in May, 1917, are to be found in the Society's Library. I translate some extracts. On the way she called on the Bishop to get his point of view. "He received me very graciously," she writes, "but with the grace of a bear. He is a fat and vulgar man... After telling me that there was nothing in it, he ended by admitting that there was blood, real human blood according to the experts. As for his explanation, it was that Lucifer is a powerful savant, who amuses himself with mystifying mankind... I arrived at Mirebeau unexpected, and found the phenomenon going on. There was nobody there except the Abbé's cousin, who left us alone the whole day long ..." I had particularly requested her to try and observe the beginning of the bleeding, or its continuance during a longish time. "I saw a linen cloth become covered with blood before my eyes, as follows. The Abbé had, while I watched him, placed a piece of white linen under the picture, and in front of me the blood continued to flow with sufficient speed to soak into (imbiber) the whole of the linen in the space of about an hour. It seems that such intense manifestations as these are rare ..." "I confess I don't see how any kind of trick could have been performed before my eyes like this." It may be noted that the picture was an oleograph pinned unglazed to a simple wooden frame standing on the vestment chest. The frame could be taken in the hand and examined back and front in every way.

In May my correspondent wrote again that she had returned to Mirebeau, this time confessing that she was my emissary. "Nothing comparable to what I saw in December... The most remarkable manifestation was our being able to put blood on forty-eight pictures like the enclosed." [Accompanying the letter were some specimens, of little photographs of the picture, each marked with a blood-stain, which it was the Abbé's practice to send out to soldiers at the front as a kind of pious protective talisman.] "The Abbé and I drew the blood from the little cavity of the buffet on the left cheek ... [The dried blood formed scabs in certain places, and it was from these scabs that the wet blood seemed to flow.] ... "I have spoken to the workmen who saw the thing when the picture was at Gâtine. They were ready to affirm under oath that they were the first witnesses of the manifestations on the present picture. However, they still had doubts and accordingly, in the Abbé's absence, they had a false key made so as to be able to let themselves into the house at all hours and the result was that they were entirely convinced... I went to Mass, arriving too soon. The picture ... was quite dry. During the Holy Sacrifice I was so placed that I could unfortunately not well see the picture. The priest himself could not see it well, as it was hidden by the crucifix. After the prayers the Abbé called me. He said the blood was again flowing. But I did not myself see it actually start. Some large drops issued from the heart, from the left of the forehead and from the place of the buffet on the cheek, apparently from a source under the scab. They flowed extremely slowly. But a sort of little pool had soaked on to the [linen] stuff, easily distinguishable by its scarlet colour from the dark dried background. During the hour that I stayed there, the drops made very little progress in their downward path, barely three or four centimetres. They increased very perceptibly in size without however presenting anything comparable to what I saw on December 29 [above described]... At two o'clock I went to look at the picture again. The drops had stopped running, had merged into the former deposit and all was dry. I then stayed with the Abbé, not leaving him, and at three o'clock we went together to the chapel. There was a flow at the place of the buffet on the cheek in the little cavity made by the hollow of the pictures on the coagulated liquid which is in relief. We each put a drop of this blood on to replicas of the picture [described above]. As one removed the blood with a finger it seemed to re-form. We obtained [enough for] forty-eight of these pictures before the little well ran dry..."

In 1919 I returned to England, married in November, went to the South of France for a honeymoon and, on our return journey early in January 1920, visited Mirebeau for a couple of nights. We found things as before. The Abbé who, maintaining that the decree of excommunication had been founded on false information, rejected its authority and refused to obey its injunction to abstain from saying Mass - was still vitandus. The former Bishop had been moved from Poitiers - the Abbé said it was in disgrace, because he had been running an opposition miracle, a voyante whom he had sent up to Paris on what the Abbé pronounced the preposterous mission of persuading the authorities to add the emblem of the Sacred Heart to the national flag of France, "that flag which," he said, "should wave over Frenchmen of whatever colour, croyants and incroyants alike." [I had certain doubts that the Abbé's view might be tinged with a sense that the Sacred Heart was his own special preserve, and as the Bishop had become an Archbishop, of Besançon, the disgrace was certainly veiled.] The new Bishop, he said, was a more amiable man and a gentleman, but, until the Abbé had yielded to the extent of submitting himself to the decree, would have no commerce with him. I had called on him in Poitiers, hoping to hear his view of the case. His secretary was sent down to see what I wanted. When he learnt that I was on my way to see a man who was "vitandus" he refused to see me unless I undertook not to go. And when the secretary learnt that I preferred to see the Abbé rather than the Bishop our interview ended abruptly, and with some heat on both sides.

The Abbé received us in the most friendly manner. The blood phenomena, he said, were going on as formerly. Indeed, a small statue of the Infant Jesus which, it being Christmas time, was lying on the steps of the altar in the little chapel, had also taken to bleeding. The Abbé escorted us to the chapel. The picture near the door had by now become almost entirely covered with blood streams, but was dry. He led us to the altar to see the little statue, and left us examining this for two or three minutes. My wife kept the tail of her eye on him. She reported afterwards that while I was looking at the statue, on which were several blood-stains, she saw the Abbé approach a ledge on which stood some flowers and then, approaching the picture, make a motion towards it with his hand. He called us to come and see the picture, saying it had begun to bleed. We found on it several drops of red fluid. At the place where my wife had seen the Abbé first stand she found behind the flowers a small pot of water, and her conviction was that while he thought we were engaged in examining the statue, he had seized the opportunity of dabbing the picture with water, and that this, falling on the congealed blood, had dissolved it and reddened. It will thus be seen that so far as any personal observation of either my wife or myself went, the conclusion must be regarded as entirely negative. I had never seen the beginning of the bleeding, nor the movement of the blood, nor been able to control the beginning in the absence of the Abbé. My attempt to do so with the piece of paper in the door hinge had failed, while the Abbé's refusal to permit the scaling of the door was obviously a suspicious circumstance. Finally, my wife's report, although not conclusive in view of the extremely short time that elapsed between the supposed addition of water and the finding of it coloured, was still more suspicious.

On our return to England I again submitted samples of blood, of which I had taken more abundant specimens. Mr. Atkin, the assistant bacteriologist of the Lister Institute, who had pronounced on the first specimen given in 1914 not to be blood, now reported, after a description of the method used, that there was little doubt that the substance was, or contained, human blood. Dr. Schutze, of the same Institute, performed an independent analysis and reported that "on this occasion it has been possible to type the blood and say definitely that it belongs to Group IV, the largest of the four in Western countries, containing about forty per cent. of all persons; consequently should any suspected person be found to be of the same group it will mean very little, but should he be diagnosed as of another group, it will exclude him as source of supply... If at any time you would wish me to establish the grouping of any individual associated with the picture I should be only too glad to do so."

I had in various ways tried to get the case examined by some competent authority, clerical or lay. In 1916 I wrote to Cardinal Merry del Val, who was intimate with my family, telling him of my own observations and asking the ground of the excommunication. He replied that he had always thought the Abbé a bit toqué and a coureur de miracles, but would otherwise say nothing.

In 1917 I wrote to Cardinal Gasquet who took much kind pains, but was thwarted in his efforts to obtain a proper examination by the Abbé's obstinate refusal, notwithstanding my urgent recommendation, to submit to the Decree forbidding him to say Mass.

In 1917 I saw the Cardinal, who told me that the traditions of secrecy of the Holy Office were so severe that although Cardinal Merry del Val was an old friend of his he could tell him nothing about the case. I told him I had thoughts of setting some sensational newspaper on to the case, or turning it, faute de mieux, into a Press stunt. He was rather amused and thought it quite a good idea, or that it might force the hands of the Vatican.

I wrote to Mlle Lichnerowicz urging her to return and observe further and that as soon as I could get a little more evidence to go on and establish a really good prima-facie case that was what I proposed to do, "and then we shall have all the Vatican picking up its skirts and rushing to Mirebeau to be in at the finish." Mlle Lichnerowicz failing, I then had recourse to the Institut Général Psychologique of Paris and tried, with the Abbé's enthusiastic support, to persuade Professor Courtier to undertake a serious investigation of the whole affair, with the bait of being in at the birth of a miracle, or, alternatively, of exposing a monstrous and blasphemous fraud.

He wrote promising to make a journey to Mirebeau, but never did.

At length in April, 1920, I heard from the Abbé that he had just returned from Rome, that he had there been able to refute many calumnies about himself, that the Pope had sent him sympathetic messages to the effect that an inquiry was necessary, and that the Bishop of Poitiers should be communicated with, and finally that he had been asked, in deference to the Holy Office, to cease saying Mass, and that he had promised to do so, a promise he was now observing. And that is the last I heard of the Abbé till a letter I wrote him about a year later was returned marked "Décédé."

I learn from Dr. Birven's book that on June 5, 1920, the Abbé had arrived at a hotel in Aix-la-Chapelle, presented himself that morning at the Cathedral and there said Mass, after which he went to the house of a widow lady where two rooms were put at his disposal for himself and his servant, and where he might meet various friends from different parts of Germany. There, says Dr Birven, in these entirely strange surroundings, the language of which he did not understand, there appeared shortly after his arrival the same strange, inexplicable phenomenon which for nine years had been associated with him... A small statue of the Sacred Heart belonging to the lady of the house and also a picture of the same on the wall, began to issue blood at the wounds and at the heart - real human blood as was attested by a number of analyses. These bleedings, which took place in daylight, happened in such a way that at the places named small drops seemed to issue forth and then to run down in little streams ... Also watery tears were found in the eyes. Those appearances lasted as a rule from half an hour to an hour, when the mysterious source of the liquid gradually closed and the blood coagulated. These phenomena were repeated for several days. They attracted numerous onlookers, who were witnesses of them, and although these had the bleeding objects just before their eyes and could take both statue and picture in their hands and examine them from every side, they were unable to discover anything suspicious or to perceive the slightest possibility of a natural explanation.

Among the spectators were numerous priests who, knowing of the Abbé's excommunication, of which he made no secret, were very sceptical in his regard. A tremendous excitement arose in the city, and great crowds besieged the Platz in front of the house ... With his departure in the afternoon of June 11 the blood ceased to flow. The newspapers were flooded with every kind of suggestion from people who had not seen the thing happen, but those who had seen it remained under the conviction that no natural explanation was possible. The only explanation which, assuming fraud, could possibly account for it, namely that blood had been secreted on a paint brush and put on to the pictures, was not seriously put forward, obviously because in face of the occurrences it was considered too preposterous (plump) and was unsupported by the slightest evidence... Although here was an opportunity for an ecclesiastical investigation for which the Abbé had long been clamouring, the Archbishop of Cologne, who was urgently begged by a messenger from Aix to investigate the affair, merely telegraphed that the Abbé was excommunicated and should be avoided by the faithful.

Dr. Birven, from whose book the above description is summarized, then gives a detailed account of the Abbé Vachère's past; of the beginning of the blood phenomena; the action of the Bishop; the excommunication without examination; the efforts of the Abbé to obtain a proper enquiry, and the persecution by both ecclesiastical and lay authority during the war; of the fantastic promptings of the voice of le Bon Maître ordering him to build a great basilica to cost sixty millions and an immense monstrance of silver (of both of which he showed me the deplorable designs); of the Stations of the Cross and Calvary at Gâtine seized by the authorities as German property, and his futile efforts to raise sufficient money to buy them back, and of his sudden death on June 17, 1921, of a stroke of apoplexy. His little property, the house and chapel and the picture and Hosts, and other objects associated with the blood phenomena went to his relative, Mademoiselle Philippot, who maintained them intact, waiting for the long desired enquiry so that the Abbé, like Joan of Arc, might posthumously be rehabilitated. This lady, however, died in 1927 intestate. The property fell to be divided between three distant relations and was scattered. Of the fate of the picture Dr. Birven says nothing; the two Hosts that lay so long on the altar were taken by the parish priest, and by him respectively destroyed and consumed.

The author considers the evidence in detail and after discussing, on this evidence, all the alternative explanations of fraud whether conscious or unconscious (i.e., in a state of temporary spontaneous amnesia), on the part of the Abbé himself, or by tricks played by his entourage, concludes in favour of the reality of the phenomena. He dismisses, however, the theory that they were of miraculous origin, if the word "miraculous" be held to connote divine action of deliberate religious significance, and with this view I think that even the most convinced believer in miracles would find it impossible not to agree. The inherent futility of the manifestations; the fantastic, almost childish instructions given by the Voice associated with them - such as to stop the war by petitioning Joffre to parade the picture along the trenches; the failure of the prophecies in detail (excepting always the triumphant success of the main prophecy of the war itself and of its final issue in the victory for France), and the ultimate collapse of the whole drama through the defeat and death of the unfortunate Abbé must suffice to disillusion on this score even the most devoted of his adherents. For much the same reason must, I think, the Bishop's theory of the agency of Lucifer equally be set aside. For, ex hypothesi of the Bishop himself. Lucifer is a "savant" and no fool.

As Dr. Birven shows, the phenomena in themselves are not without parallel in history. Raphael has made famous one instance of a Host shedding blood during Mass in the fresco of The Miracle of Bolsena in the Vatican, where also is a somewhat similar picture, "The Mass of Pope Gregory I" by Andrea Sacchi. Nearer our own time and having a far closer resemblance to the case of the Abbé Vachère are the phenomena of the bleeding crucifix of the ecstatic nun, Columba Schonath of Bamberg (1730-1787), and the bleeding Hosts of the so-called workman prophet, Eugene Vintras of Tillysur-Seulles, whom readers of Maurice Barre's La Colline inspirde will remember as figuring in that deeply interesting book. (See also for further details of both the latter cases pp. 145, 146 of Dr. Birven's book and also Vintras, Heresiarque et Prophete, Maurice Garçon, Paris.)

Dr. Birven's own theory to account for the manifestations seems to be shortly as follows: He relates the circumstances of a correspondence which took place through an intermediary between the Abbé and the stigmatised German religious secress Rosalie Putt, whom he treated as a kind of oracle and to whom, with a childlike unquestioning faith, he attributed boundless influence with the Almighty. Extracts from his letters are given in the book and seem to me almost overwhelmingly conclusive of the Abbé's bona fides, confirming the impression made on me, and apparently on every one else by his personality. Dr. Birven believes that this association, together with the constant contemplation of the picture, produced in the Abbé, already predisposed by nature to a love of the marvellous, a condition of psychological dissociation which resulted in hallucinations of hearing and in the externalization, in the form of the voice of le Bon Maître, of his own fantastic imaginings, and he eventually finds in a dialogue between le Bon Maître and the Abbé himself, what he believes to be the key to the whole mystery. "Si je te demandais," says the Voice, "le sacrifice de ta vie, jusqu'à l'effusion de ton sang, me Paccorderais-tu?" "Oui, Seigneur," replies the Abbé, "mais de grâce ne me donnez pas une telle mission" (See in SPR library copy of Paroles de Notre Seigneur prononcées depuis 1911 et concernant tous les évènements présents et futurs.) This, says Dr. Birven, starts the idea of effusion of blood. I cannot adequately deal here with his argument, but it appears to amount to a contention that the Abbé, as a result of this idea mingling with his religious fervour and disequilibrated system, becomes a stigmatic, and that by some kind of telekinetic action the blood, instead of appearing on his own body, is transferred to the picture. By thus baldly stating his theory, I fear I do Dr. Birven an injustice. I have not the space to follow the steps by which he seeks to make it reasonable. It is not unsupported by parallel claims made by modern scientific experimenters in spiritualism and in suggestion. It seems to me, however, to overlook the fact that, according to the Abbé's own account, the bleeding preceded the Voice, and that before the Voice, with its exhortation to an apostolate of sacrifice, there was no particular exciting cause to throw the Abbé into a condition where stigmatization, even on his own body, let alone on a picture, would be likely to be provoked. Further, although there may be warrant for believing that matter may be transported from one place to another by some occult force, to suppose that a person's blood can be transported, unknown to him and without leaving any trace on him, to a picture sometimes at least a kilometre distant and there accurately deposited upon appropriate places, involves an excursion into regions so transcendental that I must confess myself unable to reach them. Dr. Birven is the editor of a magazine Hain der Isis (J. Wiesike, Brandenburg, Havel), devoted to Magic and the Occult, and claims that the Abbé was, unknown to himself, a magician. Having proclaimed his conviction of the authenticity of the phenomena, Dr. Birven finds himself, I suppose, before the necessity of offering some kind of explanation of them. As a mere reviewer I am glad to feel myself able to evade this necessity. And as a layman and no magician there is no explanation which seems to me less improbable than the rest. Finally, like so many other problems in psychical research, I have to leave it at that, a shadow just eluding the grasp I thought I was about to close upon it.
Note: 
The article above was taken from "Transactions of the Fourth International Congress for Psychical Research. Athens 1930" published by the Society for Psychical Research on behalf of the International Congress Committee.