THE LAST twenty-five years have seen a remarkable growth of general interest in the area of human behaviour and experience labelled "paranormal," as evidenced by the large number of publications now available, offering not only personal accounts of genuine psychic experiences, but also scientific reports outlining both quantitative and qualitative studies of physical and mental psychical phenomena, such as materialisations, telepathy, clairvoyance and other types of extrasensory perception.
Judging from the printing history of many such books they have appealed to a wide reading audience. No doubt there are numerous good reasons for this commendable state of affairs. I suggest that one important factor has been the cumulative effect of the work of qualified researchers who have been investigating quietly for many years, experimenting, observing and evaluating their results. And today, more than one hundred years after the first serious and objective scientific inquiries were undertaken in the 1850s by trained minds such as Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, as a result of those efforts, a large body of factual information relating to psychic phenomena has been amassed.
These have served to underline the importance of, and the need for discovering, the mental and spiritual components of man. This challenge is presently being met by universities in various parts of the civilised world where there are now departments established specifically for the study of parapsychology only recently recognised by orthodox science as a legitimate scientific discipline. And so while there are great numbers of people who still ridicule and deride, there is, at the same time, a growing number who are genuinely and deeply interested in the progress of this young science.
In view of this changing climate, I feel the moment opportune to offer a detailed report of one particular type of paranormal phenomena, deep-trance automatic writing. This was received in abundance and studied in great detail and with extreme care by my parents, Dr. and Mrs. T. Glen Hamilton, of Winnipeg, Canada, during their investigations of the psychic faculties of two remarkably gifted ladies, Mrs. Elizabeth Poole and Mrs. Mary Marshall.
My father died in 1935. Even though he gained international recognition during the last six years of his life, it is highly unlikely that any who may read this present account will ever have heard of my parents. Nor will they have had the opportunity to examine any of my father's published articles, nor to have read our book
Intention And Survival.
In order that I may offer a suitable introduction to this essay, in this opening chapter I propose to give a brief survey of his work as a public servant and as a medical doctor; a resume of events which led to the discovery of our mediums; a short outline of their psychic development and of my father's experimental methods; and a comprehensive tabulation of the paranormal phenomena he observed and recorded.
Thomas Glendenning Hamilton was born in the Province of Ontario in November, 1873, the fourth of six children. When he was eight years old the entire family left a comfortable home near Toronto to take up an extensive farming acreage on the plains of Saskatchewan. In 1886 the father and the only daughter died. The following summer a severe drought caused widespread crop failure. His widow, discouraged by sorrow and hardship, sold the farm and in 1888 moved with her five sons to Winnipeg. Here the boys were able to complete their public schooling and go on to university.
After teaching school in rural Manitoba for two years, my father entered Medical College and graduated in 1903. Following a year's internship in the Winnipeg General Hospital, he established a practice of medicine, obstetrics and surgery in EImwood, a city suburb already showing signs of vigorous growth both in population and in various civic enterprises. In 1906 he married Lillian Mae Forrester, a graduate of the Winnipeg General Hospital School of Nursing. 1 was an infant when they moved into our big home in 1910. In 1912 my brother Glen Forrester was born; and in 1915 came twin sons James Drummond and Arthur Lamont.
My father was Elmwood's first doctor. His opportunity for further community service arose from the fact that he happened to be living in this new, expanding district. In 1906 he was elected to the Winnipeg Public School Board, on which he was to serve for ten years. During his term as its president he saw established free medical examinations for public school students. In 1915 he was elected Member for Elmwood to the Manitoba Legislative Assembly, retaining his scat until 1920. In his five years in the House he helped in several important pieces of legislation: the Mothers' Allowance Act; the Workmen's Compensation Act; Votes for women, and he helped to pilot through the House the Act making the Medical College part of the University of Manitoba.
Considerable as were these civic and parliamentary achievements, his real work of service was to be in the fields of medicine and surgery, where he was soon to become an esteemed and valued member. In 1919 he was appointed Lecturer and Examiner in Clinical Surgery at the Medical College. In 1920 he was named to the surgical staff of the Winnipeg General Hospital. In 1921 he was elected secretary of the Manitoba Medical
Association, and that same year had the honour of being elected first president of the newly-formed University of Manitoba Alumni Association. In 1921, as president of the M.M.A., he founded its monthly magazine, the
Manitoba Medical Review. In 1922 he was appointed to the executive committee of the Canadian Medical Association, a position which he held until 1933, and which brought him into close contact with many of the leading doctors across Canada. Also, in 1922 he was made a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. His life was indeed an exceptionally full one.
". . . What men put into life is much more important than what they attempt to take out of it. By speech, by example, by action, Hamilton gave without counting the cost. He had to follow wherever the gleam beckoned, conscience his only mentor. Such men are rare, and precious . . ."
Wrote the editor of the
Manitoba Medical Review at the time of my father's death; and for the many medical men who knew him these words voiced a just appreciation.
His first contact with psychic literature happened in his undergraduate years, when he chanced on some articles written by W. T. Stead in the
Review of Reviews. Then in 1918 he came upon the Patience Worth publications, at that time attracting wide attention. These stimulated his curiosity to the extent that in 1919 he devised and carried out some simple experiments in thought-transference with his friends Professor W. T. Allison of the English Department of the University of Manitoba, and the Rev. D. N. McLachlan, then pastor of our church. To his surprise he found telepathy to be a fact.
Then he began to read reports of the leading European and American investigators, Myers, Crookes, Hyslop, Barrett, Flammarion, Crawford, Lodge. To his further surprise he discovered a wide range of authoritative findings whose existence he had not even suspected, and which offered a good deal of reliable evidence for the reality of supernormal happenings, and which moreover, tended to support humanity's age-old belief in the survival of the human personality.
Then, as is so often the way, my parents' first personal psychic experience seemed to come about purely by chance. With two friends they casually tried table-tipping one night in our home in late 1920. To their utter astonishment, by way of table-tilts they received this message:
"Plato Book Ten . . . Allegory very true ... Read Lodge ... Trust his religious sense ... Myers ... Myers and Stead here ... Stead answers Drs. questions."
From their reading my parents by that time knew of course that Myers and Stead had been active researchers in England in the early days of the British Society for Psychical Research; and they admired greatly Lodge's writings on this subject. Of Plato they knew nothing, and the reference to the allegory was to them quite meaningless. By now quite curious to track it to its source, they acquired a copy of the
Republic, looked up the allegory in Book Ten(1) and found that it set forth the philosopher's argument that the physical world is but the shadow of a more enduring reality which constitutes the world of the spirit, and that continuing life must follow bodily death if we are to believe in the justice of a divine God.
(1) See Appendix, page 151, for the appropriate excerpts from the Jowett translation of Plato's
This unexpected message now found to contain so significant a reference could not they felt be lightly dismissed. My parents knew that Myers and Lodge had been close friends, and that Lodge had made a very careful study of the famous Myers cross-correspondences which had come through three different mediums shortly after Myers' death in 1901 (messages referring to obscure passages in classical Greek and Roman literature, Myers' special field). They felt therefore that Lodge was the one person qualified to pass an opinion on the worth of their table-tilt message. They at once wrote to him of their strange, unexpected experience and invited his comment. In due course his answer came:
"I thank you for letting me know about the message you obtained by table-tilting, and which certainly seems to me to be of an evidential character. The message given is characteristic of Myers as I knew him ... I mean in its brevity and
As far as my father was concerned, that was that. There he was prepared to let the whole matter rest.
In the meantime, W. J. Crawford's reports(2) of his studies of telekinesis (supernormal movement of objects) had been added to our growing library. After reading them, my mother, as she told me later, had been struck by apparent similarities of behaviour between Crawford's medium, Kathleen Goligher, and Mrs. Elizabeth Poole, our little Scottish neighbour and good friend, who had been present at my parents' first impromptu sitting. The thought occurred to her that perhaps Mrs. Poole might have a psychic potential which could be developed with regular sittings. Mrs. Poole appeared quite willing to try. The two met once a week in our home for several months.
(2) W. J. Crawford:
"The Reality of Psychic Phenomena" and "Experiments in Psychical
Science", Dutton, New York, U.S.A., 1918 and England, 1919.
Nothing unusual happened, and my mother was about to give up her idea, when one evening in mid-July, 1921, the table suddenly tilted up on two legs and remained so for several minutes in spite of strong downward pressure from my mother. She called my father to see this for himself, and again the same thing happened. This peculiar behaviour of the table hinted strongly that Mrs. Poole did have some kind of psychic potential; and as my parents were by now curious to know more about whatever force it was that could make a table act in this fashion, and as Mrs. Poole was quite willing to continue coming to our home weekly, they invited a small group of close friends to form a circle and continue the
My mother's hunch was soon to prove correct. As the weeks went by, Mrs. Poole's psychic faculty, whatever it was, did develop, for the table movements became stronger and more varied, and more table-tilt messages were received. Finally, after eight months and some forty
sťances, by March, 1922 my father had declared himself satisfied as to the reality of three distinct types of phenomena:
(1) Powerful movements of the ten-pound wooden table under Mrs. Poole's manual contact; (2) strong independent actions of the table after she had removed her hands and while she was under his strict manual control; (3) raps which showed intelligence.
The first two types interested him profoundly. He concluded, conditionally, that some kind of energy was operating the table at a distance from Mrs. Poole, and that this force appeared to be under some kind of intelligent control.
But of the third category, raps manifesting intelligence, he was extremely critical from the start.
While he admitted that such raps might be paranormal in origin, he positively refused to admit at this time to himself or to any of his associates that "Myers" and "Stead" might actually be communicating. He went so far as to admit that such a possibility might exist, but he demanded much more in the way of proof.
This was as far as he was prepared to go. Because he felt that the widespread prejudice which then prevailed against this type of investigation would in the end destroy his reputation as a medical man, and because he also believed Mrs. Poole's psychic powers to have become exhausted, he now put a stop to the sittings and firmly shut the door on any further inquiry. To put it bluntly, he had had enough.
Nine months passed. Then in January, 1923, at an impromptu sitting in our home for a friend visiting us from another city, non-contact raps signalled: "Go on with your work ... More ahead ... Stead." My mother told me that never before had she seen my father so impressed, and that when they were alone and able to speak freely he had said:
"Lillian, I must give in. There is more here than meets eye or ear. Find me a group of people who will take this matter seriously and I will see what I can do about finding time to experiment further. What is ahead I do not know, but I must admit, to myself at least, that here is a region of fact which must be investigated along scientific lines."
The busy physician and surgeon was soon to take on the exacting task of psychic researcher.
Very quickly a new series of sittings began, but now under much stricter conditions of control. Where earlier meetings had been held informally in our living-room, now a room on the second floor of our home was set aside exclusively for this purpose and was kept locked between
sťances. It was furnished with the usual, three-sided, open, undraped wooden cabinet, a twelve-pound plain unvarnished wooden table, and a number of plain wooden chairs arranged in a partial circle facing the cabinet.
Mrs. Poole occupied a chair in the cabinet. Her hands were controlled continuously by the sitters placed next to her. All sitters linked hands and kept unbroken this contact for the entire time of the
sťances. A rheostat-controlled ruby coloured ceiling light gave illumination which could be varied from good red light to complete darkness, the usual condition during the sittings.
The added and important control feature was a battery of plate cameras equipped with a variety of lenses, focused on the cabinet. These were placed at varying heights on metal stands outside the circle at the back of the room. They were under my father's complete oversight, as he did all his own loading, developing, printing and enlarging.
High-speed flash bulbs provided intense illumination. Instantaneous ignition was made possible by a hand-operated pushbutton device my father had designed. A recording secretary took as complete as possible verbatim notes of the events of each
sťance. From April, 1923 on, many table-movements, including complete non-contact levitations occurred. Of these some thirty were photographed from different angles.
About this same time events took an unforeseen turn when Mrs. Poole unexpectedly and spontaneously began to pass into what my father quickly recognised as a genuine mediumistic trance. This became a regular occurrence each week. At first the trance-sleep lasted only a few minutes. Then, as the weeks went on, it became deeper and more prolonged. At the point of her deepest sleep she was temporarily "invaded" or "displaced" by a "trance personality" or "control" who demonstrated through her organism by way of two unusual and apparently paradoxical features:
(a) a motor automatism, where her right hand slapped the
sťance table and indicated certain letters as my father repeated the alphabet. These were later found to give a telegram-like message, at that time meaningless to us all. Before long the hand-automatism was displaced by a writing automatism, and again it displayed short terse phrases. When we questioned Mrs. Poole after her trance was over, she showed absolutely no memory of the automatism having taken place, and no memory of any words her hand had written.
(b) a deep-trance vision. This appeared to be impressed on our medium's consciousness at the point where, to the observers, the trance sleep was the deepest. She was, therefore, by definition, unconscious of anything happening in the room. As far as we could tell the vision manifested simultaneously with the hand automatism. However there was this
difference. When she awoke she retained memory of the vision long enough to recall its details and to tell us in her own simple words all that she had seen and heard in what to her was a vivid dream. Within a few minutes of the telling her "picture" faded, leaving her with nothing more than a confused blurred image. When these visions first came they meant nothing to any of us, although later my parents would discover an exceedingly close connection between the details given in the script and those revealed in the trance vision.
The first trance personality making use of this method of double communication claimed to be Robert Louis Stevenson, the noted Scottish man of letters. My parents discovered that the trance writings were made up of certain key words which delineated a basic idea or theme (later found to have been suggested by a line from a poem or an essay, or an event in Stevenson's life). The simultaneous trance visions were pantomimes in which R.L.S. (or characters from his writings) frequently played a leading role, with the actions and the setting dramatising the theme found in the written script, Mrs. Poole apparently was the spectator of the action.
Occasionally the communicator would interchange the functions of the two automatisms, and the vision would give the basic idea, complemented by the words in the script. Whichever way the double communication came, this close and fundamental relationship was always maintained. After observing the R.L.S. communicator at work for a period of some years, my parents were able to identify the steps in this particular technique of communication:
(a) Implantation of the vision in the medium's mind during the period of trance sleep.
(b) Use of the writing automatism to outline a basic memory which was either personal or literary and frequently
(c) Retention and recall of the vision by the medium on her return to normal consciousness.
(d) The blotting out of any memory of the trance writing and of the vision by some sort of post-hypnotic suggestion, presumably originating in the mind of the trance control.
The dual automatism demonstrated a unique feature, a new type of cross-correspondence, not between two different mediums, but between two distinct channels found within the one organism-two channels whose head waters apparently originated with the R.L.S. communicator. In the trance and in the post-trance state Mrs. Poole appeared to have been subjected to some sort of hypnotic suggestion which could have had its origin only in the mind of the "control." She saw what
he willed her to see. She wrote what he willed her to write. She remembered what
he willed her to remember. She forgot what he willed her to forget.
For two years the R.L.S. communicator dominated the trance state. In July, 1925 the trance became longer. A striking new development was noted as a second personality appeared using the same method of dramatising incidents from his fife and works, and giving the name "David Livingstone." In 1926 and 1927 two more personalities appeared in the same fashion, "W. T. Stead" and "Camille
While Stevenson, Livingstone and, to a lesser extent, Flammarion had presented information pertaining to their personal lives and professional activities, Stead appeared to be more immediately concerned with plans for our group, its future efforts and the part he expected to play in these plans in the months ahead. From July, 1926 to the end of 1927 he wrote occasionally through Mrs. Poole's hand. His comments were brief and to the point, and indicated that he had a very definite course of action in mind. A script dated July 28, 1926 said this:
"My work has begun ... This sphere is beautiful for all of us ... Keep the same number of sitters if you want good pictures ... It will take time ...
And a few weeks later came:
"Have good people you can rely on ... all good people." And later this: "You must have the same sitters and a picture medium . . . Your medium is good, but I don't know yet."
The night this was written, Mrs. Poole had reported that she had seen Stead in our
sťance room with a camera, taking pictures.
And at a later sitting this:
"You will have wonderful results ... Have patience."
In the first half of 1927 came these:
"Have you a good assistant medium? Your medium and group have good influence, I am her friend .... I will guide her through her class ... If she had more assistance ... a part-time medium, it would do the circle much good."
"Give us assistance ...
You will have a picture when the other medium comes ... (italics mine, M.L.H.) Your medium is a very rare one, but is not a picture medium ... If you get another to assist her she would be good ... Keep on ... Have patience."
As 1927 drew to its close came this last one:
"We are all in the Better Land, dear brothers. A few more years and we shall all meet again . . . I come here because these are friendly people, good people ... We have great difficulty in getting those with common interests. The Scots are among the best communicators. Go on with your work ... You do good work for your fellow men ... W. T. Stead."
In other words, in that year and a half period, Stead had told us to be patient, to carry on, that in due course a second medium would appear whose gifts would augment those of Mrs. Poole, and that
eventually we would be able to see and to photograph materialised forms!
Before I go on with my story, let me quickly summarise what had come up to this point by way of the Poole trance writings and visions. A survey of our records shows that from late 1923 to the end of 1927, 388
sťances had been held, during which 591 trances had occurred. Out of these had come 977 trance products of a purely mental type, of which 479 were later found to be associated with the fife and writings of the famous Scottish man of letters, Robert Louis Stevenson; 218 had reference to the life and the travels in Africa of the missionary-explorer, David Livingstone; 212 pertained to W. T. Stead, known in England not only as Editor of the
Review of Reviews, but also prominent as a psychic researcher; 77 referred to Camille Flammarion, famous French astronomer, also noted for his concern with the paranormal.
The longer they studied and discussed these hundreds of trance products, the more my parents came to realise that not only did they present an extremely complex puzzle to be solved, but that if the many facts were proven to be true, then the implications were staggering indeed. Could these happenings have had as their source some area of the sub- or
super-consciousness of our medium, and/ or of our sitters? If the references to Stevenson, Livingstone and Flammarion could be tracked down and verified, what could they be taken to mean, and how to account for the exceedingly involved and intricate plans of presentation that a study of the complete records revealed?
Naturally the first person one considers was our medium Mrs. Poole, her background, formal schooling, interests and reading habits. Here I draw on my own memories. Mrs. Poole had told us that she was born of Lowland stock in County Ayr, near the Scottish-English border, married when quite young, and in 1904 came to Canada with her husband and three small children, and settled in a modest home in our
Mr. Poole's position as janitor of an apartment block earned only a limited income. To add to it Mrs. Poole hired out as a practical nurse. It was in this capacity that my father first met her. He was very impressed by the fine capabilities she showed in caring for infants and small children. From then on he frequently engaged her services for his obstetrical cases. Before long she was welcomed into our family circle and soon became a second mother to me and my brothers.
I remember her as a plump, jolly, little person with a delightful sense of fun. She was a real tease and relished practical jokes; she had a ready wit and a robust and occasionally a coarse sense of humour. Her affection for us all was boundless. I never will forget her loving devotion as she nursed us through the usual childhood illnesses. I recall her constant cheerful presence during the winter of 1918-19 when we were all very ill with the vicious influenza which swept the North American continent in epidemic proportions, and which was fatal to my young brother Arthur Lamont early in 1919 when he was little more than three years of age.
So it was that long before her extraordinary psychic faculty had begun to develop under my father's oversight in so unexpected a fashion, we had come to know her very well indeed, and to accept her for what she was, a transparently honest, kind and loving little person, devoted to her family and her friends.
Her days were filled with household and nursing duties. Newspaper headlines, an occasional magazine story or a juvenile type of book appeared to be the full extent of her reading, indicating to us that her interest in literary matters was practically nil. Her infrequent letters to us betrayed her ignorance of basic grammar, her inability to spell correctly and showed her difficulty in expressing herself in writing. Obviously then she had received only a most elementary schooling.
Knowing all these things, my parents felt justified in concluding that she demonstrated an intellectual level only slightly above that of illiteracy. On the other hand, however, as well as showing an affectionate nature, one of the qualities which made Mrs. Poole a true friend, and which at the same time must be considered as a factor in making her a great medium, was the complete trust she gave to those whom she liked. It was this attitude which caused her to make most willingly and cheerfully the many sacrifices of her time which my father's experiments demanded. This same attitude of trust appeared to have carried over into the trance state.
Apparently she came to regard the psychic entities as friends. She trusted them completely and on the whole appeared to enjoy her psychic experiences, although there were times when she suffered from extreme physical fatigue (if and when the telekinetic phenomena were unduly prolonged or brilliant). There were other times when she found some of the mental trance experiences quite unpleasant or distasteful.
This was not a matter of simple-mindedness. The fact that her nursing activities were undertaken in order that her children might be helped towards the educational opportunities that her girlhood economic limitations had denied her, demonstrated the strong moral fibre and drive she had.
From many years of close friendship and of personal observation of her daily goings and comings, we thus knew beyond all doubt that there was nothing whatsoever in any of her normal pursuits which could in any way be held accountable for the remarkable amount of biographical and literary material which poured through her trance experiences. By discreetly questioning her we ascertained that she had never read anything about our communicators, anything written by them, nor ever discussed their writings. Thus we had every reason to believe that such information, as the trance products conveyed, lay completely beyond the bounds of her acquired knowledge.
From the outset of my parents' inquiry, my father had made a firm rule that the trance products were never to be discussed in any detail with her. Mrs. Poole herself had never expressed any opinion as to the nature and origin of her psychic experiences. These she accepted as they came. She passed on to us such purely descriptive information as she was able to give. As for the sitters, while they were business and professional people whose standing in their respective callings was of the highest, not one possessed the highly specialised knowledge which would have been necessary to produce the trance communications, if such could have been summoned in some obscure telepathic fashion by our medium in her trance.
Given the stable and harmonious conditions of the
sťance room, all that the sitters could be reasonably sure of was that Mrs. Poole would pass into a trance, that her hand would write, that she would see a "picture" which she would later describe to us. The material projected came unasked and the content of the double communication could not be foreseen. It varied greatly from week to week, and its complexity became apparent only after the details were studied later.
As so many bits and pieces of information began to accumulate, the next step was to try to track them to their sources, for verification was essential if they were to have any meaning. On our bookshelves at that time we had only the usual Stevenson juvenile classics,
Child's Garden of Verse, Kidnapped, and of course Treasure
Island. The volumes of the Letters, Essays and Poems were not in our home and we knew nothing of them. This was equally true of the Stevenson biographies, for we were acquainted only with such facts as were common public
Since my father was already carrying a heavy load of professional responsibilities, to say nothing of the time he was also giving to his study of psychic phenomena, to my mother fell this most important task of literary and biographical research. This she began late in 1924. As time allowed, she continued it for many years. At first she spent hours each week in the reference department of the Winnipeg Public Library. Soon realising that her task was going to require much more time, she gradually built up a sizeable reference library of her own so that she could work at home with the
sťance records before her.
This meant acquiring all the available books by or about Robert Louis Stevenson. The Livingstone
Journals, by then long out of print, my father located in secondhand bookshops in other cities. The Flammarion books were bought, as was whatever material could be found relating to W. T. Stead. All such material was kept in a place apart, and only my parents had access to it. Eventually a high percentage of the information conveyed through the Poole trance was verified.(3)
(3) For a discussion of the Poole mediumship see Chapters 12-14 of
"Intention and Survival", by T. Glen Hamilton, MacMillan's of Canada, November, 1942.
At first, fascinated as they were by them, they viewed these manifestations with marked sceptical reservations as to their probable origins. But when so high a percentage had been found to be highly detailed and completely accurate references to professional and biographical events in the lives of the communicators, they had to admit in all honesty that their earlier attitude of scepticism and disbelief was no longer valid.
At this point they abandoned it entirely. Courageously they took that difficult yet necessary and all-important step, and spoke out boldly for the survival hypothesis as being the only one which could account satisfactorily and fully for all the valid phenomena they and their group had observed by way of Mrs. Poole's remarkable psychic sensitivity. The climate of the times did not make this an easy decision, but they could do nothing else if they were to be faithful to the truth. Indeed, by now, they freely admitted that the Stevenson and Livingstone efforts alone had convinced them that individual man does indeed survive bodily death.
By 1928, not only had my parents come to accept our communicators as living beings, but they had also come to regard them as determined and purposeful experimenters who had deliberately organised a long and complex series of trance products and had presented them in a steady flow through an almost completely illiterate mind so as to establish beyond shadow of doubt the reality of continuity of memory, personality, and a creative function in a
beyond death state.
Thus, in my mother's words They, our communicators, had provided irrefutable negation to the hypothesis advanced by those
super-critics of mediumistic faculties, those critics who postulate-not communication from another state-but an all-embracing telepathic power on the part of the medium, a power which apparently can surmount time and space to dip into some unknown cosmic reservoir of knowledge, and out of this create at the medium's will, false lineaments of a once-living man! . . ."
As fact after fact was given through Mrs. Poole, as fact after fact was verified, for my parents the
simpler explanation now became the more scientific. Stevenson, Livingstone and the others
had survived death, and had so devised their material as to bear witness to this fundamental truth:
survival is a fact; mind, will and imagination continue to manifest in creative output; and under certain conditions communications between the here and the hereafter are possible and do occur.
For my parents and their associates the reality of telekinesis had been firmly established by the variety and brilliance of the table phenomena. And the intricate functioning of extraneous discarnate intelligences had been amply demonstrated in the trance products. All these things had opened the door to a strange new world of the mind and its influence on both animate and inanimate matter.
However, my father held Stead to be quite mistaken in his statement that a good materialisation medium would be forthcoming whose psychic powers would supplement those of Mrs. Poole. No such person was known to us. And of the many photographs of non-contact table movements not one had revealed any indication of the presence of teleplasm, that basic energy-substance which we now know is essential for materialised forms to become stabilised and made visible to the human eye. Considering these things, and also feeling at this point that his study of the Poole mediumship had gone as far as he could carry it, my father courteously but consistently ignored Stead's urgings, and quietly made his plans to disband the group.
But again a totally unforeseen event caused him to reverse this decision. Instead he soon found himself being led ever more deeply into hitherto unexplored regions of the paranormal. For this part of my story we go back to the year 1923.
At that time my parents had heard of another Scotswoman, Mrs. Mary Marshall, who occasionally gave "readings" as a form of entertainment at private social gatherings. One of my mother's friends had had such a "reading" in which Mrs. Marshall made certain specific predictions which came true a few days later. When they had heard the full details of this incident, my parents suspected that Mrs. Marshall might have a faculty for precognition.
At once they arranged to be introduced to her and lost no time in inviting her to join our group in the hope that this gift might develop under controlled conditions and be observed scientifically. But the demands of her three children left her little free time. She attended our meetings only very occasionally. When she did come, nothing out of the ordinary ever happened. On the other hand these infrequent visits to our home gave us the opportunity to get to know her better. I can remember that she was at first a little shy, but poised and dignified, good-natured and cheerful.
Before long the shyness disappeared. She grew more at ease with us, and what was to be a long friendship started to grow. Soon she was telling us about her early life in the Old Land,(4) how she, her husband and children had come to Winnipeg after World War I, and of the struggle they had to establish themselves and to educate their children.(5)
(4) See Appendix, Page 152, for Mrs. Marshall's story of her girlhood.
(5) One of the Marshalls' happiest and proudest moments came when their second son George graduated in arts, then gained his degree in theology and became minister of Riverview United Church in Winnipeg. Here he served with distinction until his untimely death at 48 in 1959. In his memory one of the church halls is named the "George Marshall Room."
All she could tell us of her psychic gift was the fact that from childhood she had been able to "see" and to "hear" in a way she did not understand and could not explain. She freely acknowledged that she knew nothing of the literature, methods, or scientific terminology of psychic research. And she made it very clear that she had not the slightest interest in such matters.
Of her obscure gift of prophecy, and of the trance state she had experienced infrequently, she seemed more than a little afraid. When in January, 1928 she was able to attend our meetings on a regular weekly basis, no doubt the fact that my father, his brother, Dr. J. A. Hamilton, and my mother, a graduate nurse, were always present at the
sťances, did much to calm her anxiety, for she knew that she would be carefully watched over should trance occur again.
As soon as she became a group member, her psychic development took an unexpected direction. Instead of the
hoped for precognitive function, she began to show a marked response to clairaudient and clairvoyant stimuli. There was a spontaneous, rapid deepening of her trance, apparently due to the impact of an entirely new trance personality, completely different from any other so far encountered in the Poole
Both women stated that they had seen and heard this personality on many separate occasions, as well as when they were together at a
sťance. Both described him as a fair-haired, blue-eyed young man of rather stocky build. Both said he impressed them as being full of humour and mischief, slangy in his speech, quick-tempered and "ready with his
Early in February, 1928, Mrs. Marshall reported that she had seen him in the
sťance room playing on a tin whistle. By mid-March she said she had seen him again and had heard him say to her that "she must do her stuff!" On April 2 she telephoned to tell us that he had appeared to her in her home and said that he was "Walter," deceased brother and chief control of "Margery" (Mrs. L. R. G. Crandon) of
At our next sitting, she described him fixing an electric bell, and reported him as saying we "would all hear the bell ring." Then she repeated his words, presumably directed at my father, "You are to get the bell fixed!" This remark, "fix the bell," we took to indicate that "Walter" was bent on producing some sort of objective event of a paranormal nature. What this was to be, or how it was to be done, no one had the slightest idea.
Then, speaking through Mrs. Marshall's trance, as a start "Walter" demanded that my father construct a bell-box on the same plan as the
Scientific American one used in the "Margery" test sťances in Boston in 1925. He indicated that if this were done he would ring the bell by supernormal means.
At this point, difficulties arose from the attitude of my father. For one thing, he saw no reason to believe that this "Walter" was the Boston "Walter." For another, he did not believe that our new trance control could produce what amounted to a major demonstration of mind controlling some form of energy. Finally, by now my father was very tired and in need of a complete rest. Quite apart from heavy professional demands, not only had he given much time to the Poole investigation, but from 1926 on he had been obliged by public demand to give many lectures describing not only his own findings but those of researchers elsewhere.
It was with a good deal of reluctance that he finally yielded to the pressure put on him by this new control, made a bell-box(6) and placed it on the
sťance room table. At the next two sittings, while the sitters' hands were linked, the bell rang in various long and short combinations.
(6) Patterned after the
"Scientific American" model, the bell-box was made of wood and measured 6 in. high, 10 in. wide, 14 in. long. It held an electric door-bell powered by one or more dry cell batteries. The circuit could be closed and the bell rung only by depressing an over-lid hinged at one end to the lid proper, and supported by a spring. This required ten grams of pressure.
But "Walter" was not at all pleased to have the bell-box on the table. At the first May
sťance, Mrs. Marshall reported that she had heard him say most indignantly: "Unless you put the box on the cabinet wall as I asked, I will not come back! They won't believe you! They said my sister spoke with her ears!"
These words really startled my father. Whoever "Walter" was, he certainly knew of the need for secure contra-fraudulent techniques in the
sťance room. And he certainly appeared to be fully acquainted with an incident which had happened in Boston two years before.
My father had visited the Crandons when he was in Boston in 1926. They had told him in a private conversation that Professor William MacDougall, of Harvard University, had explained the direct voice phenomena by saying that Margery "spoke with her ears!" Needless to say my father was deeply impressed by our new control's positive and direct reference to this item of private information, known to no one else in our
sťance room but my parents.
At the next sitting in May, 1928, this came through the Poole automatic writing:
"You and your fat women! . . . Some mediums! ... Not like my sister! ... Walter Stinson."
This was quite true! Both Mrs. Poole and Mrs. Marshall were quite stout; both dressed plainly and unpretentiously. On the other hand, as I remember vividly when my father, my brother Jim and I visited Boston in the summer of 1928, Mrs. Crandon was tall, slender, strikingly handsome and most stylishly dressed.
A few days after "Walter's" outburst, my father finally did as he had asked and placed the bell-box on a shelf at the very top of one of the cabinet walls. Then he left to attend a meeting at our church, and so was not present when the bell rang many times while both mediums were under complete manual control and while all the sitters' hands were linked. Mrs. Marshall remarked that she heard "Walter" say rather dryly:
"Pity the Old Man isn't here! He won't believe you!"
In May Stead reappeared and once again spoke of his concern for our future work with these words through Mrs. Marshall's trance:
"God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform ... Not my doing but the angels ... William Thomas Stead ... It is difficult for me to communicate ... I would do better if I could come back in the material form ... There is much work to be done and few helpers ... great ... because until everyone knows there is no death, only a transformation, there is much to do. How can anyone disbelieve?
"Many are following after truth. It must be added to the religions of the world not only in a scientific way but in a religious way. There are great opportunities for all . . . Robert Louis Stevenson is here ... all are here. Make more people know that there is something brighter and better to come to the weary and tired and despondent, and teach them that they must work out their own salvation before they can attain the greater heights of beauty and splendour that are in this place. Many friends are here to help me and also to help you ... Good night."
From June, 1928 on, the bell-ringing phenomenon became a constant feature of each sitting, keeping time to a song the group was singing, or matching the rhythm of music being played on the phonograph. So far the cameras had not been used. Then in July, at "Walter's" suggestion, and at a signal which he and my father had agreed upon at an earlier sitting, my father took a flashlight photograph of the cabinet and the medium while the bell was ringing. The bell continued to ring for two seconds after the exposure had been made. The photograph taken by the quartz lens camera revealed very fine cords connecting Mrs. Marshall's head to one corner of the bell-box some three feet above.
Greatly impressed by this photo of a most unusual materialisation phenomenon, my father questioned "Walter" very closely about it at the next sitting. "Walter" (through Mrs. Marshall's trance) explained that he had constructed a functional teleplasmic cord in order to convey from the medium the psychic energy necessary for him to depress the over-lid of the bell-box, close the electrical circuit, and make the bell ring as requested in various long and short combinations.
In the face of this positive demonstration of unseen mind in control of psychic energy, and with a permanent photographic record of a teleplasmic cord performing a stated function, namely, the transmission of some kind of energy from its biological source, our medium, to a point three feet above her head, and the application of this energy in a mechanical way so as to activate the lid and cause the bell to ring for all to hear, my father at last gave way. His very sceptical attitude towards "Walter" changed completely. From this moment on he was to give his full and willing co-operation. This marked a turning point in our work.
Impressive as had been the phenomena with Mrs. Poole, far more was in store for us than we could ever have imagined. We were completely unprepared for the great things which were to follow. With my father's acceptance of "Walter" as a full partner in a joint effort, the psychic manifestations began to increase in magnitude and complexity in ways no one could anticipate.
From now on both Mrs. Poole and Mrs. Marshall were entranced simultaneously prior to and during the bell-ringing. As this had become a regular occurrence, we felt we had strong grounds for believing that the energy for the bell-phenomenon was supplied in some way by the trance state of the two women, and that this energy was manipulated in some way unknown to us by the controls. This proved to be only the beginning.
Early in October, "Walter" said that he had planned to try something new and far more difficult. On October 29, 1928, he signalled for a flashlight photograph. I can recall vividly, as if it had all happened only yesterday, how, after the sitting, the group members waited while my father developed the plates. Long after midnight, he came down the stairs and stood in the archway of our living-room, held up the plates, still dripping water from their final rinse.
There was a feeling of high excitement, and indeed of awe, as we crowded towards him, looked at them, saw our first photograph of a tiny piece of teleplasm resting on Mrs. Marshall's neck. In that tiny teleplasm were the blurred but recognisable features of Stead! A month later came a second tiny face, later found to be an excellent likeness of the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the Baptist evangelist who had frequently communicated through Mrs Poole's clairvoyance and deep trance(7)
(7) For a discussion of the Spurgeon manifestations, see Chapter 5,
"Intention and Survival." by T. Glen Hamilton.
Next, other of our group members, who had shown above average psychic potential, now began to display unmistakable signs of trance onset. Soon three in particular (identified in the reports as "Ewan," "Victor" and "Mercedes") became regularly entranced, and were controlled, sometimes by "Walter," at other times by other entities whom "Walter" said were his assistants.
With the resources of these "secondary" or "auxiliary" mediums added to those of our primary psychics Poole and Marshal], there developed a situation which appears to be without parallel in the records of scientific research (as far as my parents had been able to determine at that time, and my own fairly extensive reading in more recent years has not caused me to alter this opinion).
This my father labelled a "group mediumship," that is, the simultaneous deep trances of a number of sitters. Somehow brought into being by "Walter" and the unseen scientists he claimed he was working with, this group mediumship apparently provided a large reservoir of psychic energy on which they could draw at will and work with in a fashion we could not understand.
And the results? Most amazing objective realities, ranging from what appeared to be simple teleplasmic formations, to those which indicated extreme complexity, all materialising under the strictest methods of medium- and group-control my father and his associates could devise, and all recorded from various angles by a number of different types of cameras and lenses. Stead's predictions, made at the end of 1927, months before Mrs. Marshall had become a regular group member, had indeed been fulfilled!
Some of the teleplasms appeared to be extruding from, or attached to, Mrs. Marshall's face or neck. Others appeared to be hanging from the back wall of the cabinet. Still others were separated from the medium. They ranged from small masses, about the size of a Canadian silver dollar, to large extrusions three to four feet in height and several inches thick.
All the forms exhibited mass and density, and cast normal shadows in the direction away from the source of the flashfight. Of the sixty odd masses photographed over a six-year period, nineteen were amorphous or unorganised, ten were imitative, three were functional or utilitarian (such as the cords of the bell-phenomenon) and more than twenty-one were highly differentiated. These latter were of two types: those containing tiny face forms later found to be unmistakable likenesses of individuals known to have been dead for many years; and those taking on the full appearance of hair, veiling and clothing.
Basically all these striking manifestations appeared to owe their existence to and to depend on the utilisation of bodily and nervous energy which, in some yet-to-be-understood fashion, could be brought under the direct manipulation of dIscarnate, personalities working in a beyond-death state, and by them rendered objective and visible for a brief time in our
three-dimensional, physical world.
How had these all come about? In my opinion, our results were due to a number of factors: the rare combination of exceptionally gifted mediums, a pleasant, harmonious and stable atmosphere in the sittings resulting from the friendly interest and mutual trust which formed a bond between our sitters, our mediums and our unseen associates, plus a very important additional factor (which, 1 believe, had a marked effect in producing positive results). This was the free exchange of ideas between the incarnate and the discarnate workers, and the willing co-operation extended by our group to the trance controls.
Our mediums were the open channels through whom clear, concise dialogue was maintained with the unseen workers. The experimental methods were outlined and put forward by Crookes, Myers, Stead and the others, with "Walter" as their technician and spokesman. After discussion and frequently argument, the methods would be modified and eventually accepted by my father. This involved teamwork of the most exacting kind. While it meant that my father, to a certain degree, was deprived of the power to initiate experimental methods and thus to a degree himself became a technician, nevertheless the results more than justified the means.
As many of my readers may know, the pioneer European
investigators - Baron von Schrenck-Notzing of Munich in the early 1900s, Professor Charles Richet in Paris in the first two decades of the 20th century, Professor Eugene Osty and Professor Gustave Geley in Paris in the 1920s - had successfully photographed many teleplasmic structures under excellent conditions of control, had issued their reports, but had tended to ignore the part played in such matters by the trance controls. Much as he admired the work of these outstanding researchers, my father had often said to us that he felt this omission to have been a vast mistake. He felt that the phenomena must be reported as a whole. To him that meant describing all aspects of the manifestations, including the vital part played by the extraneous mind agencies.
Therefore, in writing of my father's work, this aspect of our case takes no second place. For nothing happened in the
sťance room in Winnipeg without discarnate mind-action as its cause. Nothing was due to chance; all was planned, and planned ahead. For the first time in the more than one hundred years of this new research,
intention on the part of the unseen communicators was irrefutably demonstrated. One by one, their statements of intention were fulfilled through planned activity which resulted in the diversified subjective and objective phenomena we observed and recorded over a period of many
While their purposive activities had the immediate result of producing certain psychic phenomena, behind these again could be discerned their ever-present desire to demonstrate a continuing existence following bodily death. And behind this again lay an even deeper and nobler
motive - the enlightenment of humanity. If man knew that he lived on, if mankind could move from faith into knowledge, then surely life on earth would take on a new and most glorious significance!
And so our unseen co-workers strove constantly and in many ways to reaffirm for us the fact that death is
not the end of life, but the open door to another state which offers endless opportunity to increase knowledge, endless opportunity to strengthen moral fibre, and endless opportunity for spiritual progress, by working to serve others.
No investigator could have been less of a propagandist than my father. Yet during the last six years of his life he spoke many times to groups of people not only in our own city and province but in many other centres. Long before he became a researcher, he had been widely recognised for his unselfish efforts in matters of public welfare. Thereby he had earned the respect and gratitude of his fellow-citizens and their acknowledgment of him as a man of honour and integrity.
Once he had entered the hazardous field of the study of paranormal phenomena, his honesty compelled him to speak for the truth of the events he had observed, strange as many of them were. His quiet courage helped him to weather the storms of incredulity and of adverse criticism that had arisen at first in some uninformed quarters. But in the face of his already proven professional and scientific standing, prejudice and unbelief broke down. As a consequence, thoughtful and studious people came in increasingly large numbers to hear him lecture on his discoveries. Indeed, this in itself came close to being a phenomenon.
True as this was of the everyday outside world (and reports in the Winnipeg newspapers of 1929 to 1935) bear ample testimony to this fact) it was equally true of the inside world of medicine in which he moved and had his professional being. Here too was recognised his work as a psychic researcher. It was on an invitation from the Winnipeg Medical Association that in May, 1926 he read his first paper, dealing with Mrs. Poole's telekinesis.
For him even to consider making public a report of five years' work took rare courage indeed. He expected at the least, ridicule and, quite possibly, open hostility. As he said: ". . . I did not know whether I would have a shred of professional prestige left when I was through. As matters turned out my audience doubted neither my sanity nor my sincerity, and listened with tolerance and well-balanced scepticism . . ."' Of that lecture and the effect it had on those who heard it, Dr. Bruce Chown(8) later wrote this:
(8) Dr. Bruce Chown received his B.A. from McGill University, his M.D. from Manitoba. In 1933 he was appointed Professor of Pediatrics at our Medical School. In the last twenty-five years he has devoted much time to research into the nature of blood, especially the Rh negative factor. In 1963 his international standing in this field was recognised when he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate at the May convention of the University of Manitoba. In 1968 the Gardner Foundation awarded him a grant of $25,000.00 for further research. On October 10, 1968 his medical colleagues in Winnipeg honoured him at a testimonial dinner.
"His was no easy task. He had faced derision and ridicule and smilingly turned their thrusts on the sword of his truth. The first address I heard him give on his psychic experiences was some years ago before the Winnipeg Medical Society, at a time when he had already been investigating these phenomena for some years. He mentioned no ghost, no spirit, no personality, but he talked about a table that moved at request, that rushed across the room, then leaped into the air, that defied the efforts of strong men to hold it; and as he talked showed photographs of these actions. He offered neither explanation nor theory, simply facts. That night he had many converts."
Soon other medical groups extended invitations for his lecture. These he accepted, because to him truth was no one person's exclusive domain. In September, 1926 he repeated his paper on "Telekinesis" for the Medical Society of Brandon, Manitoba. A month later he spoke again to that body on the topic, "An Analysis of the Trance State from the Medical Point of View." Also he presented a discussion of certain materialisation phenomena studied by Schrenck-Notzing of Munich, Geley and Richet of Paris, and other medical investigators in Europe.
In January, 1928 he read a paper on "Materialisations" before the Winnipeg Medical Society, and repeated it to the Medical Group of Dauphin, Manitoba. By now he did not hesitate to say that he believed that some of the facts he had uncovered gave evidence for survival. In support of my father's work as a researcher, in 1930, Dr. Rennie Swan in his presidential address to the Winnipeg Medical Society, said this:
"In recent years we here in Winnipeg have heard much regarding psychic research and the evidence for survival after death. I wish to pay tribute to our friend and fellow-member Dr. T. Glen Hamilton for the efforts he has been and is making along this line of thought and discovery. Whatever criticism may be made of his work, no one can even attempt to deny the truth of the wonderful phenomena which have come under his observation. We know our man. We know that he is in this work as a student and investigator, and we have nothing but admiration and praise for him, and let me say, thanks."
These warm and heartening words were to be followed by still another event that pointed to further support from the medical fraternity. The British Medical Association was to meet in Winnipeg in August 1930. As part of the entertainment being planned for visiting delegates, my father was asked by the programme committee not only to exhibit his numerous photographs of telekinesis and teleplasms, but also to address a luncheon meeting which interested delegates and their friends might attend. This took place on August 27, when more than five hundred crowded into the concert hall of the Fort Garry Hotel. Dr. Rennie Swan, who acted as chairman, later wrote:
"His address at the crowded cosmopolitan meeting of educated men and women was one of the high spots of his life. I felt extremely proud of him that day, and was happy that
I was in a very humble way privileged to share it with him."
And writing of that same event in the
British Psychic Science Quarterly some months later, Mr. H. A. V. Green, Q.C., of Winnipeg said:
"There is no doubt that a step forward in the acknowledgement of psychic research by organised science as a genuine ground for investigation calling for the services of the most highly trained observers, has been made by the recognition extended to Dr. Hamilton by members of the British Medical Association attending its ninety-eighth meeting in Winnipeg."
As word went abroad about his discoveries-particularly those teleplasms which showed likenesses of people known to have been dead for many years-groups in other cities pressed on him invitations to speak. In November, 1929, under the auspices of the New York section of the American Society for Psychical Research, he addressed an audience numbering more than three hundred; his subject, "Teleplasms." A year later he spoke to some four hundred in Carnegie Hall, New York. Two days later he repeated the address to five hundred in Dartmouth College, Washington; and on December 5, 19 30 he spoke to a smaller group at Teachers' College, Columbia University.
While few who heard him were likely to be immediately convinced of survival, or for that matter even feel inclined to take an interest in that particular aspect of his inquiry, only rarely did anyone suggest that the phenomena were other than genuine. On the whole the public reaction seemed to be: "Here is a subject for inquiry. Here is a qualified investigator. Let him proceed with his inquiry."
Nor was the interest limited to cities on this continent. My father had long been a corresponding member of the American and British Societies for Psychical Research, and had written for both organisations. From 1929 to 1933 he had written a series of scientific papers on his studies of the Poole and Marshall phenomena which were published in the
British Psychic Science Quarterly. Professor Haslinger of Graz, Austria, translated these into German. By invitation from the Psychical Research Society of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, an exhibit of our photographs was set up in that group's centre.
Then in the summer of 1932 my parents took a long-overdue holiday and journeyed to England. Once again such great interest was shown in his researches that by invitation he addressed two large groups, one at Wigmore Hall, the other at the London Spiritualist Alliance. He was interviewed by re, porters from the London
Daily Mail with the result that a series of newspaper articles on his work appeared, headlined by the title, "The Doctor Of A Thousand
It was during this visit to England that Stanley de Brath (then Editor of the
British Psychic Science Quarterly) in introducing my father to a meeting at the Psychic College in London in July 1932, said this:
"Materialisations exist. The discoveries of Baron von Schrenck-Notzing, of Madame Bisson, of Dr. Gustave Geley, of Professor Richet, and now of Dr. Glen Hamilton, have convinced me of this fact."
This appraisal is important. Mr. de Brath, a civil engineer who had formerly held a position of responsibility under the British Government in India, was himself a researcher. He was well acquainted with Dr. Eugene Osty, then head of the Paris Metapsychic Institute, and with Dr. Gustave Geley, both highly regarded French investigators, and had translated from the French Geley's book,
Clairvoyance and Materialisation. He had known Richet personally. He had discussed and shared Richet's detailed knowledge of various types of psychical phenomena, including telekinesis and teleplasms. He had translated into English Richet's great work,
Thirty Years of Psychical Research.
He knew all the authoritative Continental investigators. Particularly heartening to my father was the recognition Mr. de Brath accorded him in an editorial comment in January, 1933 in the B.P.S.
"Dr. Glen Hamilton's experiments are so rigidly scientific that they deserve the very closest attention from all who are anxious to penetrate the as yet unsolved mystery of the connection between mental and physical phenomena."
And in May 1935, in an editorial at the time of my father's death he wrote this:
"His researches were characterised by an exceptional scientific ability and most careful elimination of all possibilities of errors." And in a private letter to my mother at that same time this: "His work in psychic research will endure. It was so thorough and scientific in its methods that it must remain a standard work in the records."
Distinguished men and women also came to talk on these matters to my parents in the privacy of our home. Among these were Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Henry Gauvain, eminent British authority on tuberculosis among children, the Rev. Einar Kvaarvan, president of the Icelandic Psychical Research Society and well-known Icelandic poet, Professor Yohan Masee of Indore Theological Seminary, Central India, Harold Samuel, the noted concert pianist and authority on Bach, W. L. MacKenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada, and many others known in the professional, artistic and political circles of Britain, the United States and Canada. To all these people my father spoke freely of his work and the interpretation he placed on many of the phenomena.
Mr. F. Bligh Bond, the well-known English psychic investigator and at that time Editor of the A.S.P.R.
Journal, visited Winnipeg in 1931 and, attended several of our seances. His words give what seems to be a comprehensive and just summing up of my father's work and his standing as a researcher. In the May, 1935 issue of the
Journal Mr. Bond wrote:
"Dr. Glen Hamilton approached the study of psychical phenomena as a sceptic, but one with an open mind, convinced only that here was a proper subject for investigation . . . Always he demanded the objective approach. Until a phenomenon could by dint of repetition and renewed testing be accepted as a proven fact, he would not build upon it. He came to accept the hypothesis of human survival, but regarded the phenomena of the
sťance room as the product of laws as yet unexplained.
"He affords us the example-all too rare-of a member of one of the most conservative of professions, the medical, with complete courage of his convictions, demonstrating the truth as to the reality of psychic phenomena with entire disregard of any self-interested motive.
"And he achieved a great thing: he never forfeited the respect of his professional colleagues, but on the contrary succeeded in an exceptional degree in winning their attention to the unfamiliar and (to many) subversive facts, so carefully and exhaustively presented by him. Thus Dr. Glen Hamilton will be remembered as one who has done as much or more to reconcile orthodox medical opinion to the study of psychic phenomena than any other man since the days of Sir William Barrett.
"The fact that he was a past president of the Manitoba Medical Society undoubtedly gave his views weight, but it was his personal qualities of integrity, sober judgement and infinite capacity for taking pains to make his experiments perfect that won him the regard of his fellows and a status of repute in psychical research.
"To these qualities of his we would add that kindly and sympathetic spirit and unfailing courtesy which disarmed criticism and doubtless contributed to the influence he exercised over those unprepared for his conclusions."
But it is to Dr. Bruce Chown, a medical colleague and fellow-researcher in the psychic experiments, that we turn for what is perhaps the most impressive appraisal of Dr. Hamilton as man and scientist. Writing in the
Canadian Medical Journal in July, 1935 he said this:
"What shall I say of this man, this elder, this excellent physician, this soul, honest, unaffected, friendly and enduring and courageous? ... This is not the place to discuss his investigations in themselves, although it will be for these that he will be known to history. From table rappings he passed from observations on the apparent animation of dead things, to trance speech and writing, to the photography of masses extruded from the body of mediums, later moulded into the likeness of known dead. These phenomena were all genuine.
"The yellow fog of doubt that hangs around all mediumistic doings was dispelled by the character of the man. Day after day, week after week, year after year, when the ordinary day's work was done, he observed, recorded, analysed. I often wondered how he had the patient stubbornness to persist. There lived in him a quality of mind rare in any age, even in the man who is the professing scientist: an endurance and an eagerness to carry this, his heart's load, on top of a great load of professional and social duties, showing forth a man of powerful character, a strong and steady personality."
While he fully recognised the many implications which a proof of survival held for orthodox religion, Dr. Hamilton felt at that time in his researches (1934) that the relationship between religion, metaphysics and psychic science was not yet sufficiently defined, nor was the subject far enough advanced to stress too greatly this aspect. While he was quite willing (after several years of modified scepticism) to grant the intelligences an audience and to work harmoniously with them, he felt that his immediate task was to collect data, as these two quotations from his own writings will now show. In his address to the delegates of the British Medical Association, held in Winnipeg in August, 1930, he said
"I wish to state that in all these investigations I had the able and untiring assistance of a number of men and women of this city whose standings in the various callings and professions to which they severally belong is of the highest. Let me also say that the mediums whose faculties have made the success of these researches possible have, from first to last, given unreservedly of their time and talents solely in the interests of truth, without thought of reward of any kind. I wish further to state that we entered upon these researches activated entirely by a spirit of curiosity to know the facts for ourselves. Sentimentalities and religious beliefs played no part."
And from a paper he had been preparing to give to the Winnipeg Psychical Research Society in April 1935 came these words, written shortly before he died:
"I make no claim to infallibility; far from it. My equipment for this research was in many ways much less than it should have been. But of one thing I am certain. No one came to this subject with a more open mind. No one approached it with less pride of intellect and achievement. No one was more moved by a deep inborn curiosity
to discover the truth for the sake of truth alone, unmoved by emotional bias.
"I exercised an untrammelled choice in the matter of the mediums whom I observed, and a constant and complete control of the physical conditions of each and every experiment in which we took part. I used to the fullest extent my critical faculties in the examination and evaluation of results, and held above all a fixed determination to repeat productive
sťances over and over again until the phenomena were established not once but many times. Only by this attitude, as I saw it, could health in these matters be maintained.
"Of still another thing I am certain: this standard of workmanship I maintained throughout. We started with facts and with facts we have ended. In 1918, commencing with experiments in telepathy, we passed in 1921 to telekinesis, those amazing movements of material objects without any visible or known physical cause. These we studied from time to time for many years. They were found to be genuine occurrences, the product of a combination of supernormal forces and intelligences not usually open to scrutiny.
"We went on to subjective phenomena, brought about spontaneously by the appearance of deep trance in our leading medium. To these also we gave close attention not once but hundreds of times. These likewise were found to be genuine manifestations of a psychic nature coming from a region in the human organism that lay beyond the reach of the normal self.
"Following this came our unexpected entry into the teleplasmic field. Five years, 1928-1933, we gave to this study. Through all these stages unseen intelligences led us, directed us, co-operated with us, and did their best to maintain rigorous conditions of
sťance techniques - intelligences claiming to be the dead.
"Reluctant at first, as are most investigators in the beginning, to face these most astounding agencies and their equally astounding claims, we were forced-if worthwhile phenomena were to be secured and made available for examination - to capitulate and walk humbly before their greater knowledge in these matters.
I make no apology for this state of affairs; I cannot, for it was not of our doing; they came, and that was the end of the matter. Either we worked with them or backed away, afraid of the issue; and we chose the former course.
"If there be those who deem my findings too incredible for belief or too unusual or bizarre for their liking, may I remind them in all courtesy that these are not my facts, but Nature's, and as Nature's, they can accept or reject them. Mother of us all, who can question her integrity? I for one, knowing what I do, cannot do so. What she offers I am willing to look at. But I can, if I choose, take my time about making up my mind concerning the value of these facts to science and to myself personally.
"Unequipped to some extent as I was for so great an adventure, I venture to hope that my work has not fallen too short of the mark of the high calling the various remarkable phenomena we were called upon to witness has set for us. We have given of our best, and more than this cannot be given by any man.
"Truth walks abroad lodged within many garments. All garments may not at first sight appear equally beautiful, But these removed, she stands forth pure and undismayed, her hand pointing to paths that may yet lead us to places of discovery greater than anything science as a whole has yet thought possible. That our small share in this enfoldment may lead to still greater discoveries is my earnest hope. How far off these great days are I cannot venture to surmise, but that they will come
I am certain."
My father's health had begun to fail in 19 34. On April 7, 19 3 5, he died of a heart attack when he was a little more than
sixty one years of age. A tragic blow to us all-to his family, to his friends, to his profession, and to his research, which by that time had become an absorbing interest. Our complete acceptance of survival made the period of readjustment much easier. Within the year my mother had re-formed the experimental group, and would carry on for several more years with the help of Dr. Bruce Chown and Mr. Hugh Reed.
Then came the tremendous upheaval, tragedy and sorrow of World War II. Yet in spite of the many months of personal anxiety we knew as a family while my brother Glen was serving in England as a volunteer Medical Officer, my mother and my younger brother James (by now holding his M.Sc., from the University of Toronto) had begun work on a book which would tell as fully as possible the story of the Hamilton researches up to the end of 1934.
The text was based on extracts from earlier published papers, newspaper articles, lectures and the verbatim
sťance records, and was copiously illustrated with many of the original flashlight photographs of the Poole and Marshall trance, and of the telekinetic and materialisation phenomena. The introduction was written by the well-known Winnipeg lawyer, H. A. V. Green, Q.C. The book was finally published in 1942 by MacMillian's of Canada, with the title,
Intention and Survival.
As this name suggests, the theme of the report was tracing the statements of intended activity made by the trance intelligences, outlining the steps which led to the fulfilment of these statements of intention with the appearance and the recording of the various phenomena. The book was well received by reviewers across Canada, the United States, Great Britain and parts of Western Europe, and it had a steady sale. Unfortunately it has been out of print for some time.
Due to wartime restrictions at the time of printing, we found it necessary to limit the size of the book. As a result, discussion of one particular phenomenon, deep-trance automatic writing, had to be greatly curtailed. The purpose of this present essay is to offer a full discussion of the automatic writings which manifested through Mrs. Marshall at intervals from 1931-1933, and from 1942-1944.
Quite as impressive in their own way as were any of the other phenomena appearing in the Hamilton group, these automatic scripts also appeared to be the result of a plan of action deliberately set in motion by our unseen associates. Their coming was found to have been foretold by a series of predictions, or statements of intention.
When the series had been completed and studied, we could clearly see the steps which had been taken to present the material. We also discovered definite references in the Marshall scripts to certain of the Poole communicators who had appeared up to the end of 1927, as well as definite links with certain of the personalities who had demonstrated by way of the materialisation and trance speech of Mrs. Marshall.
Finally, when we surveyed the entire Poole-Marshall output from 1920-1944, unmistakably we could trace the steps of a master programme which appeared to have been carefully designed by our communicators to eliminate as thoroughly as possible any unconscious or subconscious mental activity on the part of either mediums or sitters which might slant or colour the contents of the scripts.
In my opinion, it is this
prediction feature which makes the Hamilton inquiry unique. As far as I have been able to discover, never before in the history of a prolonged scientific inquiry into the nature of paranormal phenomena has this prediction feature played so prominent a part. In the pages which follow, the reader will be able to judge this for himself.
Source: "Is Survival a Fact?" by Margaret Lillian
Hamilton (1969, Psychic Press)