AT THE sitting of April 10, 1940, Dawn had been in an unusually deep trance when an unfamiliar control spoke these words:
"Yes! Yes! We will write! Three new persons will join your writing group. Stead wants to rewrite some of the things he wrote in life. He will take charge of the first writings. Give us paper and pencils What is written . . . is written again."
Here we had a clear, definite statement outlining a proposed course of action leading to certain desired results. Who the three new writers were to be, what they would write about, what Stead wanted to rewrite, and what was meant by the phrase, "what is written is written again," no one had the slightest notion. Hopefully the group continued to sit regularly, waiting for something along this line to appear, but for some unknown reason there were no writings. Presently, growing tired of unproductive
sťances, Dawn withdrew, the sittings were discontinued, and the writing experiment was held to have been a failure. But our unseen directors were not so easily put off. In 1920, at the start of my father's investigation of the Poole mediumship, Myers and Stead came together. Through table-tilts they made three claims: one, that the Allegory in Book 10 of Plato's
Republic set forth in symbolic language the nature of the next stage of life; two, that Lodge was an inspired religious teacher who should be followed; and three, that Stead would help in our investigations. And we had strong reason to believe that Myers and Stead had been the guiding minds behind the work with Mrs. Poole from 1921 to 1927. They came when Dawn joined the group in 1928. Now they were to show themselves again.
One day in August, 1941, Dawn telephoned my mother to tell her that the night before, soon after she had retired, she had a psychic experience. Standing near her bed she saw a tall, dark-eyed man whom she took to be Robert Louis Stevenson. She said, "What can I do for you, Robert Louis?" The man replied: "I am not Robert Louis Stevenson. I am Frederick William Myers and I have come to ask you to go on with your work." Then he vanished.
Obviously deeply impressed by this experience, Mrs. Marshall at once offered to sit for this new work, whatever it was to be. Needless to say my mother, delighted at this turn of events, lost no time in contacting Mr. Reed and Mr. and Mrs. Wither. In a few days the group reassembled.
This time Stead spoke through Dawn. He asked my mother to tell Dawn that they urgently wanted her to go on with her work, that they planned to continue with the writings, provided that they could be sure of two things: her willing co-operation and a trance state sufficiently profound to allow
their thoughts and phraseology to be clearly expressed. A week later Stead followed up this plea in the automatic writing:
"For a long time I have awaited this opportunity, and now it has been given me . . . Automatic writing is a wonderful work, and a true way of testing
Nor was this all. At a sitting in late December, 1941, "Walter" stated that Oliver Lodge was present(1). When the trance writing was studied, it too was found to be a declaration of intention. Presented in a style so different from Dawn's usual straightforward manner of talking or writing, so Lodge-like in choice of vocabulary, in noble sounding phrases and concepts this script immediately impressed us with the thought that in spiration from a Lodge-like mind, for a few moments at least, must surely have dominated the organism of the entranced automatist.
(1) Sir Oliver Lodge died in 1940.
Lodge Script of December 1941
Which is more essential, spirit or body?(2) Is spirit permanent and the body transitory? Is the body the important thing and the soul and mind mere ephe(mera)? The question of death appeals to every mind, its processes, the sensations which they cause in the human being, body and mind; what it brings to humanity-consciousness or oblivion; what, if anything, lies beyond. These are all contained in one profound inquiry: What is death? This series will reveal the truth."
(2) This theme, the permanence of personality as opposed to the transitory nature of material experience is developed in a number of Lodge's books, particularly in
"Reason and Belief" and "Man and the Universe". Therefore the incorporation of this concept into the text of a Dawn script is regarded as evidential of the presence of Lodge.
Going back to the words spoken on April 10, 1940, the three statements need further explanation: "Three new persons will join your writing group." "Stead wants to rewrite some of the things he wrote in life." "What is written is written again.
When the series was completed in 1944 and there had been time to study them. the meaning of these three statements became quite clear:
Three new communicators did join the group of writers. The first, signing himself "H.G." at the beginning, and in his final script "Henry Gratton," wrote some of the scripts of May and June, 1942; the second. "Peter Campbell," was apparently the author of a single script in October. 1942; and the third "T.G." or "T.G.H." wrote a long series in 1943 and 1944.
(2) Stead did rewrite some of the things he had written in life, although it took us some time to verify this statement.
In Stead's lifetime possibly his most widely read book had been,
After Death, sub-titled, Letters from Julia. It was more popularly known by the sub-title. Stead had received it through his pronounced gift for automatic writing as "letters" from his deceased friend, Julia Ames, in 1892 and 1893. Two years after Stead's death by drowning, when the
Titanic went down in mid Atlantic after striking an iceberg, his daughter, Estelle Stead, brought out a new and enlarged edition of
Letters from Julia.
In the early 1920's my parents read this book. After my mother had studied all the Dawn scripts she found that some of the ideas and descriptions they contained were vaguely familiar. So she read again the Stead-Dawn scripts side by side with
Letters From Julia. She discovered that not only did the Dawn writings contain many direct quotations, but also many rephrasings or paraphrasings of whole sections of
Letters From Julia. Thus Stead rewrote some of the things he had written in life.
At once the question arises: how much did the sitters and our medium know of Stead and the "Julia" letters? Could the Stead quotations have been picked out of the sitters' minds, in some telepathic fashion by our medium in her trance state, and woven into the fabric of the scripts? Speaking for the sitters, I can say this: none of them, except my mother, knew of the "Julia" letters.
And as for the conditions under which the scripts came, the sittings were held in complete darkness. The medium became entranced before the writings were done. She had no memory of doing the writing, much less of what had been written. She was never told, until years later, what her hand had written. No one knew which communicator would be doing the writing. No one asked ahead of time that any one particular subject be discussed in the writings. The communicators varied from week to week.
Thus the group had no way of anticipating who was coming, or what was to be given; we took the scripts as they came. Only much later, long after all the scripts had been put through, were they rearranged in a logical order. As for Mrs. Marshall, this letter (which she wrote to my mother as a reply to the request "Tell us what you know about psychics, and about Stead and Lodge") speaks for itself:
"May 15, 1945"
Dear Mrs. Hamilton:
I do not know that I have really read any book on psychic. I had a book called Raymond given to me many years ago since that time I have given it away I also got the loan of one from a friend of mine I forgot what it is called I read it one night & returned it next day as she wanted to send it to a friend & about Mr Stead I know he went down in the
Titanic and he was born in England and was Editor or sever papers & he was on a peace mission to America of some kind when the
Titanic went down she struck an iceberg I also know he was interested in spiritusm and that he wrote books about it but I never read any of them I dont even know the names of any of them all I ever read about spirituslm was in the two worlds years ago when I lived in england and I used to attend the meetings on sunday during the last war then I came to Canada with my husband and family I went to a meeting at 671 Main street I went there quite a few times then I met Dr and a few other's
I hope this answers yours questions I dont know anything else I can tell you about the writers of Phychic books as I dont read them and I have never borrowed any from any one except the one I borrow from Mrs Dewar on Hart Avenue
(3) "What is written is written again." As my parents' interest and participation in psychic exploration began to expand, more and more books on the subject began to find their way to our library. Like
Letters From Julia, one other book acquired at that time was later found to have a special significance and to have played an important part in the Dawn trance writings. It was
Letters From A Living Dead Man.(3)
(3) Letters From
"A Living Dead Man", written down by Elsa Barker, Mitchell Kennerley, New York, 1918, and Rider, England. 1914.
As she studied the assembled Dawn - T.G. scripts of 1943 and 1944, my mother had the feeling (as she later told me) that she had read some of the material before, but where? Acting on a hunch, she read again
Letters From A Living Dead Man, then compared it with the "Julia" letters and the
She found that just as Stead had worked into his Dawn scripts many parts of the original
Letters From Julia, so T.G. had skilfully incorporated into his scripts not only material making reference to Letters From Julia, but also material making reference to many parts of
Letters From A Living Dead Man.
In the Oliver Lodge scripts we came upon several lines from
The Ring, a very famous poem by Tennyson, Poet Laureate of England in the nineteenth century, which must have held particular significance for Lodge. In our reading we discovered he had quoted them several times in certain of his books and lectures.
R.L.S. also contributed his share. In his scripts we found abbreviated quotations from his personal letters, his poems and, in one instance, an obscure poem reproduced almost perfectly through Dawn, and finally a quotation from a minor English poet. All these points will be explained fully in later chapters.
Thus, one by one, and each in his own way, the unseen writers fulfilled the statement of April 1940, "What is written is written again." And perhaps this whole complex business may become somewhat less complex if I in turn paraphrase that sentence and say, "What has been written in the past, has been written again," for that is exactly what happened.
While all our writers claimed to be deceased personalities (and two of them had been known to us as established communicators for many years) I realise, of course, that this claim cannot be substantiated on a fully conclusive basis. Nevertheless both the subjective and the objective evidence for the survival of these individuals was profoundly impressive.
The cumulative effect of fact piled on fact over a long period of years was such that, in the end, one was forced to admit the probabilities were very great indeed that these souls were living, and communicating with us by means of the various channels opened to them by the Hamilton inquiry.
In short, we found it impossible not to believe that the writers of the scripts were the people they claimed to be W. T. Stead, R. L. Stevenson, T. G. Hamilton, Oliver Lodge and the others. And it follows inevitably that it is from this point of view that these Dawn scripts are now offered.
As far as we have been able to discover, never before in the annals of psychical research had it been possible to show with such certainty the depth, height and width of the mental influence of extremely literate minds on a mind that was almost completely non-literate. Our automatist, I repeat, was an unlearned, non-reading woman who, under any circumstances whatsoever could not possibly have written the scripts which came through her hand during her trance state.
The literary ability shown in the many well-constructed sentences, the subject matter, the abstract philosophical concepts, all these were completely beyond the reach of her knowledge and intellectual development. For her in her normal state of consciousness they simply did not exist.
That the teachings found in these scripts agree in the main with teachings recorded in earlier revelatory writings (particularly parts of
Letters From Julia and Letters From A Living Dead Man) in no way detracts from the revelatory value of these later writings. Rather now is the emphasis reversed. Because the Dawn scripts show inspiration to be a fact, where the earlier writings through other automatists agree with the Dawn scripts, these earlier efforts now stand on this new and strengthened foundation of
It would appear that these survived friends deliberately set out to
prove inspiration by greatly transcending our medium's power of thought and self-expression; that they strove to have us glean from their output the tremendous fact that life for them had objective reality; that they strove to impress on us that they were human beings who remembered, who searched the records dealing with life beyond death, and who, where they found truth, there placed their imprimatur.
Thus we find Stead placing his stamp of approval on certain sections of
Letters From Julia which he had written automatically during his lifetime. We find Stevenson condensing certain passages from
Letters From Julia and quoting other writers whose ideas concerning death appeal to him, and we find T.G.H. making use of selected passages from Letters From Julia and paraphrasing certain sections of
Letters From a Living Dead Man.
Each writes from his point of view in his original way and, as well, each skilfully incorporates into his account many quotations taken from these writings of an earlier period, but so rearranged or requoted as to give new and telling emphasis. Issuing from the hand of the sleeping Dawn, the old and the new were made one. In her normal state Dawn had absolutely no memory of what her hand had written while she was entranced. She was never told until years later that the older teachings and writings had been used in this fashion.
To emphasise that we did not stand alone in regarding these Dawn scripts as being truly phenomenal, I offer the following letter from the late Rev. W. R. Wood(4) a well-known minister of the United Church of Canada, who wrote this testimonial in 1946:
(4) For many years the Rev. Wood was a close friend of the Hamilton family, and was deeply interested in our psychical research. His main work was penal reform and rehabilitation of prisoners at the Stoney Mountain Penitentiary, 25 miles north of Winnipeg.
"I know the work that Mrs. Hamilton has in hand at the present time (May, 1946) and have studied with some care the scripts which she has received through the hand of the psychic Dawn.
"Dawn was for a fairly long period the most powerful medium in the Glen Hamilton group. During those years when they were obtaining materialisations - which have been the most distinctive feature of their researches-she was constantly engaged in this work, going into trance, speaking for the main controls, and in many ways showing herself to be an exceptionally gifted medium.
"Like Dr. Hamilton's first medium Elizabeth M. (Mrs. Poole) Dawn was of Scottish birth, of good character, a good wife and mother, but possessing a very elementary education, and wholly unread in all types of literature, including the psychical. There is no reason to believe that at any stage of her life she had even a fragmentary acquaintance with the writings of such men as Lodge, Stead, or Stevenson. I cannot think that she would ever have attempted to read for herself any of their works.
"It is this that makes supremely wonderful the production of the things we find in these scripts. Their range of thought, their literary form, and the writers' intimate acquaintance in some cases with certain books and poems, and the skill with which selected passages have been incorporated into the scripts, are features which simply cannot be associated with the mentality of the medium.
"I have had more or less continuous opportunities of estimating the range of Dawn's thinking, and have no hesitation in giving as my considered opinion, that these writings on a whole, are in every sense beyond her capacity, so far as mental power is concerned. In my judgement they constitute quite incontrovertible evidence of a process of inspiration.
"I am impressed too, with what appears to be the fact that some of these writings constitute a new phenomenon: the reissuing, in modified paraphrased form, of parts of earlier communicated writings, with a view, apparently, to fresh emphasis on their truth, is something I have not heard of till now. Such phenomena will, I am sure, prove highly significant to many thinkers, and make more rational our concept of the survived personality - a personality which in many instances would appear to retain a natural interest in our physical existence and in aiding man's progress upward toward knowledge, goodness, and beauty, and thus toward
God." (Signed) "W. R. Wood.
Source: "Is Survival a Fact?" by Margaret Lillian
Hamilton (1969, Psychic Press).