is no death, what seems so is transition
This life of mortal breath
Is but a suburb of the life Elysian
Whose portal we call death."
IT MUST be borne in mind that competent psychical researchers in other parts of
the world besides the United Kingdom have for many years past been at work, and
obtained what they deemed to be conclusive evidence of survival. In this chapter
I will cite a fragment of the evidence that comes to us from America and Russia.
investigator of psychical phenomena has given more time to the critical
investigation of the evidence on behalf of survival than the late Dr. Hodgson
during his residence in the United States. In fact he made this subject
practically his sole occupation for many years before his death. He was so far
from being credulous that he detected and exposed many spurious phenomena, and
in my opinion he carried his scepticism too far as regards other mediums than
Mrs. Piper, with whom he had innumerable sittings. At first he attempted to
explain away the results he obtained through Mrs. Piper; but ultimately was
driven to the spirit hypothesis. His own words are:
tried the hypothesis of telepathy from the living for several years... I have
no hesitation in affirming with the most absolute assurance that the 'spirit'
hypothesis is justified by its fruits and the other hypothesis is not."
conclusion at which Dr. Hodgson arrived, after his prolonged and critical
experimental study of Mrs. Piper, he summed up in the following words.
the present time I cannot profess to have any doubt but that the chief
'communicators' to whom I have referred in the foregoing pages [of his report]
are veritably the personalities that they claim to be, that they have survived
the change we call death, and that they have directly communicated with us
whom we call living, through Mrs. Piper's entranced organism."(1)
"Proc S.P.R.," Vol. XIII, P. 406
improbable sceptics may consider this conclusion, we must remember that Dr.
Hodgson began his long and arduous investigation with just the same doubt and
even disbelief in the "spiritualistic" hypothesis as any of his
critics may entertain. Moreover he was not only a remarkably sane and shrewd
investigator, but one specially skilled in exposing fraud and illusion. This was
shown, as I have remarked, by his exposure of various alleged spiritualistic
phenomena which had mystified and baffled some of the ablest enquirers. Hence
those who have not had Dr. Hodgson's experience have no right to place mere
notions of what is probable and improbable, or possible and impossible, against
his deliberate opinion, arrived at after many years of patient and painstaking
it appeared that any other competent investigator, after an equally exhaustive
research, had come to an opposite conclusion, sceptics would be justified
in their hesitancy to accept the experimental evidence of survival after death.
But this is precisely what cannot be adduced. On the contrary, so far as I know,
every trained observer, of any nationality, who has devoted years to a similar
experimental research, either has arrived at practically the same conclusion as
Dr. Hodgson and other able investigators, or has been forced to admit that the
phenomena in question are at present wholly inexplicable.
Dr. Hodgson's death his work in America has been chiefly carried on by his
friend Dr. J. H. Hyslop, formerly Professor at Columbia University. Dr. Hyslop,
who now lives in New York, has devoted his life to this work and is pre-eminent
as an able, courageous and indefatigable worker at psychical research. Amid his
amazingly voluminous contributions to the "Proceedings" and
"Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research," there are
numerous papers affording striking evidences of survival after death. This
evidence has driven him to abandon the agnostic views he formerly held and
become a convinced believer in the spirit hypothesis. As Dr. Hyslop is a trained
psychologist his opinion is all the more valuable.
the last six years Dr. Hyslop has had constant sittings with a lady, Mrs.
Chenoweth (pseudonym), who has developed strong mediumistic powers. The
following is a brief narrative of one of the evidential cases of survival
obtained through Mrs. Chenoweth, whose entire trustworthiness and honesty are
not disputed. This case illustrates the trivial nature of the incidents given to
Hyslop states that he received a letter from a lady in Germany, of whom he had
never heard before, asking him if he could recommend a psychic, as she had
recently lost her husband, and in her great distress wanted to find some
evidence that would assure her of her husband's continued existence. Dr.
Hyslop answered that he knew of no psychic in Germany, but if she would come
to America he would arrange for sittings with a psychic in whom he had
confidence. The lady replied that this was impossible, but gave the name
(different from her own) and address of a sister in Boston, U.S.A., who might
take her place.
Dr. Hyslop arranged for the sister to meet him, but gave her no information of
the psychic's name or address, nor did he give any information to the psychic
(Mrs. Chenoweth) of the visitor or the object of the sitting. Before admitting
the visitor Dr. Hyslop put Mrs. Chenoweth into a trance state, when the normal
faculties are in abeyance; in fact, Dr. Hyslop was satisfied that the medium
did not even know whether her visitor was a man or a woman.
writing by Mrs. Chenoweth's hand began and the unseen communicator indicated
that a gentleman was present who was anxious to make his existence known to
his wife, that he was a philosopher and a friend of the late Professor William
James of Harvard, that his mother was dead, and to indicate his identity
pointed to a cavity in his mouth where a tooth had been extracted. Of course
none of these facts were known to Dr. Hyslop, but in the hope they might apply
to the husband of the lady who wrote to him, he communicated them to the widow
in Germany and found they were all correct; her husband had been a lecturer on
philosophy, was a friend of Prof. W. James and had lost a tooth, though the
cavity was not visible. Then the unseen communicator stated the gentleman just
before his decease, had great pain in his head, with confusion of ideas and
longed for home, adding that he was not away from home where he died, but it
was not like his home. All this turned out to be true, he died in his old home
in Germany and not in his home in America.
some striking evidence of identity came, the communicator stated the deceased
wished to prove that he was not a fool to believe in spirit, and that he was
greatly interested in some records which had been lent to him "by his
friend James." In response to Dr. Hyslop's enquiries the widow wrote that
before her husband's death Prof. James had lent him some records to read which
had impressed him. All present at the sitting were of course wholly ignorant
of this and of the other incidents. The unseen communicator went on to say
that he was fond of fixing things and putting clocks to right; that he used to
annotate his books and apparently attempted to sign his name, for the letters
T. h. came. In reply to enquiries the widow wrote to Dr. Hyslop that her
husband did fuss a great deal about clocks, that he annotated his books and
always read with a pencil in his hand. Now the name of the deceased was Tausch,
the first and last letters of which were given.
on the communicator made great efforts to give his name, by automatic writing
through the entranced Mrs. Chenoweth, and without any help from Dr. Hyslop
(who of course knew the name but no other particulars) there came "Taussh,
Tauch and Taush," phonetically correct. Dr. Hyslop then addressed the
communicator in German and got replies in German, among them that the visitor
was his "Geschwister," which was correct, though Mrs. Chenoweth
(through whom of course the automatic writing came) only knew four words of
German, not included in these replies. Other points of interest establishing
identity also came, such as that the deceased used to carry a small bag
containing his manuscripts and reading glass, and that he had taken a long
railway journey shortly before his death. In reply to enquiry Mrs. Tausch
wrote that her husband always used to carry a small bag in which he put his
manuscripts and eyeglasses, and that he had taken a long rail journey shortly
before his death.
Hyslop says, all the incidents described were unknown to him and required
confirmation by correspondence with Mrs. Tausch in Germany, the only living
person who knew their truth. Nor in all his years of sittings with Mrs.
Chenoweth has Dr. Hyslop ever had any communications containing similar
incidents to those above described. The name might have been filched by
telepathy from Dr. Hyslop's mind, but there is no evidence that Mrs. Chenoweth
has the slightest telepathic percipience. Even if Mrs. Chenoweth had known the
name and address of Mrs. Tausch in Germany (which of course she did not), she
could not have communicated with her, as only 36 hours elapsed from the first
to the last sitting. There was no one in America who could have given her the
agree with Dr. Hyslop that no adequate explanation of this case by telepathy or
subliminal knowledge or collusion on the part of the medium can be given, and
that the simplest and most reasonable solution is that the information was
derived from the mind of the deceased person.
I must draw to a close my imperfect selection from the mass of first-hand
evidence that is being accumulated in proof of spirit identity.
following case is chosen because it comes from wholly independent and able
investigators in Russia. Here too any explanation based on collusion, telepathy,
or the knowledge of those present, is out of the question. Unfortunately the
evidence is somewhat lengthy, but as it combines the manifestation of physical
phenomena with evidence of the identity of the communicating intelligence, it
forms an important link between the two classes of phenomena. No paid or
professional mediums were present, and the bona fides of all taking part
appears to be unquestionable.
case is quoted from Vol. VI. of the "Proceedings" of the S.P.R., where
the reader will find other similar evidential cases in a valuable paper by Mr.
F. W. H. Myers.
sitting was held in the house of M. A. Nartzeff, at Tambof, Russia, on Nov.
18th, 1887. M. Nartzeff belongs to the Russian nobility and is a landed
proprietor; his aunt, housekeeper and the official physician to the
municipality of Tambof were the only other persons present.
sitting began at 10 p.m. at a table placed in the middle of the room, by the
light of a night-light placed on the mantelpiece. All doors were closed. The
left hand of each sitter was placed on the right hand of his neighbour, and
each foot touched the neighbour's foot, so that during the whole of the
sitting all hands and feet were under control. Sharp raps were heard in the
floor, and afterwards in the wall and the ceiling, after which the blows
sounded immediately in the middle of the table, as if someone had struck it
from above with his fist; and with such violence, and so often, that the table
trembled the whole time.
Nartzeff asked, "Can you answer rationally, giving three raps for yes,
one for no?" "Yes." "Do you wish to answer by using the
alphabet?" "Yes." "Spell your name." The alphabet was
repeated, and the letters indicated by three raps - "Anastasie
Pereliguine." "I beg you to say now why you have come and what you
desire." "I am a wretched woman. Fray for me. Yesterday, during the
day, I died at the hospital. The day before yesterday I poisoned myself with
matches." "Give us some details about yourself. How old were you?
Give a rap for each year." Seventeen raps. "Who were you?"
"I was housemaid. I poisoned myself with matches." "Why did you
poison yourself?" "I will not say. I will say nothing more."
this a heavy table which was near the wall, outside the chain of hands, came
up rapidly three times towards the table round which the chain was made, and
each time it was pushed backwards, no one knew by what means. Seven raps (the
signal agreed upon for the close of the sitting) were now heard in the wall;
and at 11.20 p.m. the sťance came to an end.
follow the signatures of all those present, with their attestation).
who were present also signed the following attestation:
undersigned having been Present at the sťance of November 18th. 1887, at the
house of M. A. N. Nartzeff, hereby certify that they had no previous knowledge
of the existence or the death of Anastasie Pereliguine, and that they heard
her name for the first time at the above mentioned sťance."
were then made as to the truth of the message purporting to have come from an
unknown suicide. Dr. Touloucheff, the official Physician who was present at
the sitting, and who signed the above documents, states that at first he did
not believe there was any truth in the message. For he writes:
my capacity as physician of the municipality I am at once informed by the
police of all cases of suicide. But as Pereliguine had added that her death
had taken place at the hospital, and since at Tambof we have only one
hospital, that of the Institutions de Bienfaisance, which is not within my
official survey, and whose authorities, in such cases as this, themselves send
for the police, or the Magistrate: I sent a letter to my colleague, Dr.
Sundblatt, the head physician of this hospital, and without explaining my
reason simply asked him to inform me whether there had been any recent case of
suicide at the hospital, and, if so, to give me the name and particulars. The
following is a copy of his reply, certified by Dr. Sundblatt's own signature.
(Signed) "N. TOULOUCHEFF."
dear Colleague, - On the 16th of this month I was on duty; and on that day two
patients were admitted to the Hospital, who had poisoned themselves with
phosphorus. The first, Vera Kosovitch, aged 38, wife of a clerk in the public
service ... was taken in at 8 p.m; the second, a servant named Anastasie
Pereliguine, aged 17, was taken in at 10 p.m. This second patient had
swallowed, besides an infusion of boxes of matches, a glass of kerosene, and
at the time of her admission was already very ill. She died at 1 p.m. on the
17th, and the post-mortem examination has been made today. Kosovitch died
yesterday, and the post-mortem is fixed for tomorrow. Kosovitch said that she
had taken the phosphorus in an access of melancholy, but Pereliguine did not
state her reason for poisoning herself. (Signed) "TH. SUNDBLATT."
M. Nartzeff was asked if the housekeeper, who was at the sitting, could
possibly have heard of the suicide, he replied as follows:
answer to your letter I inform you that my aunt's housekeeper is not a
housekeeper strictly speaking, but rather a friend of the family, having been
nearly fifteen years with us, and possessing our entire confidence. She could
not have already learnt the fact of the suicide, as she had no relations or
friends in Tambof, and never leaves the house.
hospital in question is situated at the other end of the town, about 5 versts
from my house. Dr. Sundblatt informs me, on the authority of the procesverbal
of the inquest, that Pereliguine was able to read and write. (This was in
answer to the inquiry whether the deceased could have understood alphabetic
are few cases which in my opinion afford so simple and striking a demonstration
of the identity of the discarnate personality as the foregoing. There was no
professional medium; all the witnesses concerned give their full names; they are
persons of repute, and after the facts were published their testimony was never
of the Discarnate
who remain in doubt as to the value of the evidence adduced in the foregoing
chapters should remember that it is, and probably always will be, impossible to
obtain such conclusive logical demonstration of survival after death as will
satisfy every agnostic. But "formal logical sequence" as Cardinal
Newman said in his "Grammar of Assent," is not, in fact, the method by
which we are enabled to become certain of what is concrete... The real and
necessary method ... is the accumulation of probabilities, independent of each
other, arising out of the nature and circumstances of the particular case which
is under review," and so the truth of the spirit hypothesis, and of
spirit-identity, like the truth of all disputed matters, is to be judged in this
way, - that is, by the whole evidence taken together.(1)
concluding this chapter I wish to draw attention to a valuable and brightly
written work in two volumes, strangely entitled "On the Cosmic
Relations," by Mr. Henry Holt, the widely esteemed American publisher. In
this work Mr. Holt gives a mass of evidence obtained by himself, as well as by
Dr. Hodgson and others, that has convinced him of the existence of super-normal
phenomena, and the impossibility of explaining away by telepathy or otherwise
the evidence on behalf of survival after bodily death.
Kant knew nothing of telepathy or psychical research, but even his critical mind
admitted that "in regard to ghost stories, while I doubt any one of them,
still I have a certain faith in the whole of them taken together." -
"Dreams of a Spirit Seer", p. 88.
article above was taken from Barrett's "On the Threshold of the
Unseen." Published by Kegan Paul in 1918.