The New Revelation
Arthur Conan Doyle

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To all the brave men and women, humble
or learned, who have the moral
courage during seventy years to
face ridicule or worldly disadvantage
in order to testify
to an all-important truth

March, 1918


Many more philosophic minds than mine have thought
over the religious side of this subject and many more
scientific brains have turned their attention to its
phenomenal aspect. So far as I know, however, there
has been no former attempt to show the exact relation
of the one to the other. I feel that if I should
succeed in making this a little more clear I shall have
helped in what I regard as far the most important
question with which the human race is concerned.

A celebrated Psychic, Mrs. Piper, uttered, in the
year 1899 words which were recorded by Dr. Hodgson at
the time. She was speaking in trance upon the future
of spiritual religion, and she said: "In the next
century this will be astonishingly perceptible to the
minds of men. I will also make a statement which you
will surely see verified. Before the clear revelation
of spirit communication there will be a
terrible war in different parts of the world. The
entire world must be purified and cleansed before
mortal can see, through his spiritual vision, his
friends on this side and it will take just this line of
action to bring about a state of perfection. Friend,
kindly think of this." We have had "the terrible war
in different parts of the world." The second half
remains to be fulfilled.

A. C. D.













The subject of psychical research is one upon which
I have thought more and about which I have been slower
to form my opinion, than upon any other subject
whatever. Every now and then as one jogs along through
life some small incident happens which very forcibly
brings home the fact that time passes and that first
youth and then middle age are slipping away. Such a
one occurred the other day. There is a column in that
excellent little paper, Light, which is devoted to
what was recorded on the corresponding date a
generation--that is thirty years--ago. As I read over
this column recently I had quite a start as I saw my
own name, and read the reprint of a letter
which I had written in 1887, detailing some interesting
spiritual experience which had occurred in a seance.
Thus it is manifest that my interest in the subject is
of some standing, and also, since it is only within the
last year or two that I have finally declared myself to
be satisfied with the evidence, that I have not been
hasty in forming my opinion. If I set down some of my
experiences and difficulties my readers will not, I
hope, think it egotistical upon my part, but will
realise that it is the most graphic way in which to
sketch out the points which are likely to occur to any
other inquirer. When I have passed over this ground,
it will be possible to get on to something more general
and impersonal in its nature.

When I had finished my medical education in 1882, I
found myself, like many young medical men, a convinced
materialist as regards our personal destiny. I had
never ceased to be an earnest theist, because it seemed
to me that Napoleon's question to the atheistic
professors on the starry night as he voyaged to Egypt:
"Who was it, gentlemen, who made these stars?" has
never been answered. To say that the Universe was made
by immutable laws only put the question one degree
further back as to who made the laws. I did not, of
course, believe in an anthropomorphic God, but I
believed then, as I believe now, in an intelligent
Force behind all the operations of Nature--a force so
infinitely complex and great that my finite brain could
get no further than its existence. Right and wrong I
saw also as great obvious facts which needed no divine
revelation. But when it came to a question of our
little personalities surviving death, it seemed to me
that the whole analogy of Nature was against it. When
the candle burns out the light disappears. When the
electric cell is shattered the current stops. When the
body dissolves there is an end of the matter. Each man
in his egotism may feel that he ought to survive, but
let him look, we will say, at the average loafer--of
high or low degree--would anyone contend that there was
any obvious reason why THAT personality should
carry on? It seemed to be a delusion, and I was
convinced that death did indeed end all, though I
saw no reason why that should affect our duty towards
humanity during our transitory existence.

This was my frame of mind when Spiritual phenomena
first came before my notice. I had always regarded the
subject as the greatest nonsense upon earth, and I had
read of the conviction of fraudulent mediums and
wondered how any sane man could believe such things. I
met some friends, however, who were interested in the
matter, and I sat with them at some table-moving
seances. We got connected messages. I am afraid the
only result that they had on my mind was that I
regarded these friends with some suspicion. They were
long messages very often, spelled out by tilts, and it
was quite impossible that they came by chance. Someone
then, was moving the table. I thought it was they.
They probably thought that I did it. I was puzzled and
worried over it, for they were not people whom I could
imagine as cheating--and yet I could not see how the
messages could come except by conscious pressure.

About this time--it would be in 1886--I came
across a book called The Reminiscences of Judge
Edmunds. He was a judge of the U.S. High Courts and a
man of high standing. The book gave an account of how
his wife had died, and how he had been able for many
years to keep in touch with her. All sorts of details
were given. I read the book with interest, and
absolute scepticism. It seemed to me an example of how
a hard practical man might have a weak side to his
brain, a sort of reaction, as it were, against those
plain facts of life with which he had to deal. Where
was this spirit of which he talked? Suppose a man had
an accident and cracked his skull; his whole character
would change, and a high nature might become a low one.
With alcohol or opium or many other drugs one could
apparently quite change a man's spirit. The spirit
then depended upon matter. These were the arguments
which I used in those days. I did not realise that it
was not the spirit that was changed in such cases, but
the body through which the spirit worked, just as it
would be no argument against the existence of a
musician if you tampered with his violin so that
only discordant notes could come through.

I was sufficiently interested to continue to read
such literature as came in my way. I was amazed to
find what a number of great men--men whose names were
to the fore in science--thoroughly believed that spirit
was independent of matter and could survive it. When I
regarded Spiritualism as a vulgar delusion of the
uneducated, I could afford to look down upon it; but
when it was endorsed by men like Crookes, whom I knew
to be the most rising British chemist, by Wallace, who
was the rival of Darwin, and by Flammarion, the best
known of astronomers, I could not afford to dismiss it.
It was all very well to throw down the books of these
men which contained their mature conclusions and
careful investigations, and to say "Well, he has one
weak spot in his brain," but a man has to be very self-
satisfied if the day does not come when he wonders if
the weak spot is not in his own brain. For some time I
was sustained in my scepticism by the consideration
that many famous men, such as Darwin himself, Huxley,
Tyndall and Herbert Spencer, derided this new
branch of knowledge; but when I learned that their
derision had reached such a point that they would not
even examine it, and that Spencer had declared in so
many words that he had decided against it on a
priori grounds, while Huxley had said that it did not
interest him, I was bound to admit that, however great,
they were in science, their action in this respect was
most unscientific and dogmatic, while the action of
those who studied the phenomena and tried to find out
the laws that governed them, was following the true
path which has given us all human advance and
knowledge. So far I had got in my reasoning, so my
sceptical position was not so solid as before.

It was somewhat reinforced, however, by my own
experiences. It is to be remembered that I was working
without a medium, which is like an astronomer working
without a telescope. I have no psychical powers
myself, and those who worked with me had little more.
Among us we could just muster enough of the magnetic
force, or whatever you will call it, to get the table
movements with their suspicious and often stupid
messages. I still have notes of those sittings and
copies of some, at least, of the messages. They were
not always absolutely stupid. For example, I find that
on one occasion, on my asking some test question, such
as how many coins I had in my pocket, the table spelt
out: "We are here to educate and to elevate, not to
guess riddles." And then: "The religious frame of
mind, not the critical, is what we wish to inculcate."
Now, no one could say that that was a puerile message.
On the other hand, I was always haunted by the fear of
involuntary pressure from the hands of the sitters.
Then there came an incident which puzzled and disgusted
me very much. We had very good conditions one evening,
and an amount of movement which seemed quite
independent of our pressure. Long and detailed
messages came through, which purported to be from a
spirit who gave his name and said he was a commercial
traveller who bad lost his life in a recent fire at a
theatre at Exeter. All the details were exact, and he
implored us to write to his family, who lived, he said,
at a place called Slattenmere, in Cumberland. I
did so, but my letter came back, appropriately enough,
through the dead letter office. To this day I do not
know whether we were deceived, or whether there was
some mistake in the name of the place; but there are
the facts, and I was so disgusted that for some time my
interest in the whole subject waned. It was one thing
to study a subject, but when the subject began to play
elaborate practical jokes it seemed time to call a
halt. If there is such a place as Slattenmere in the
world I should even now be glad to know it.

I was in practice in Southsea at this time, and
dwelling there was General Drayson, a man of very
remarkable character, and one of the pioneers of
Spiritualism in this country. To him I went with my
difficulties, and he listened to them very patiently.
He made light of my criticism of the foolish nature of
many of these messages, and of the absolute falseness
of some. "You have not got the fundamental truth into
your head," said he. "That truth is, that every spirit
in the flesh passes over to the next world exactly as
it is, with no change whatever. This world is full
of weak or foolish people. So is the next. You need
not mix with them, any more than you do in this world.
One chooses one's companions. But suppose a man in
this world, who had lived in his house alone and never
mixed with his fellows, was at last to put his head out
of the window to see what sort of place it was, what
would happen? Some naughty boy would probably say
something rude. Anyhow, he would see nothing of the
wisdom or greatness of the world. He would draw his
head in thinking it was a very poor place. That is
just what you have done. In a mixed seance, with no
definite aim, you have thrust your head into the next
world and you have met some naughty boys. Go forward
and try to reach something better." That was General
Drayson's explanation, and though it did not satisfy me
at the time, I think now that it was a rough
approximation to the truth. These were my first steps
in Spiritualism. I was still a sceptic, but at least I
was an inquirer, and when I heard some old-fashioned
critic saying that there was nothing to explain, and
that it was all fraud, or that a conjuror was
needed to show it up, I knew at least that that was all
nonsense. It is true that my own evidence up to then
was not enough to convince me, but my reading, which
was continuous, showed me how deeply other men had gone
into it, and I recognised that the testimony was so
strong that no other religious movement in the world
could put forward anything to compare with it. That
did not prove it to be true, but at least it proved
that it must be treated with respect and could not be
brushed aside. Take a single incident of what Wallace
has truly called a modern miracle. I choose it because
it is the most incredible. I allude to the assertion
that D. D. Home--who, by the way, was not, as is
usually supposed, a paid adventurer, but was the nephew
of the Earl of Home--the assertion, I say, that he
floated out of one window and into another at the
height of seventy feet above the ground. I could not
believe it. And yet, when I knew that the fact was
attested by three eye-witnesses, who were Lord
Dunraven, Lord Lindsay, and Captain Wynne, all men of
honour and repute, who were willing afterwards to
take their oath upon it, I could not but admit that the
evidence for this was more direct than for any of those
far-off events which the whole world has agreed to
accept as true.

I still continued during these years to hold table
seances, which sometimes gave no results, sometimes
trivial ones, and sometimes rather surprising ones. I
have still the notes of these sittings, and I extract
here the results of one which were definite, and which
were so unlike any conceptions which I held of life
beyond the grave that they amused rather than edified
me at the time. I find now, however, that they agree
very closely, with the revelations in Raymond and in
other later accounts, so that I view them with
different eyes. I am aware that all these accounts of
life beyond the grave differ in detail--I suppose any
of our accounts of the present life would differ in
detail--but in the main there is a very great
resemblance, which in this instance was very far from
the conception either of myself or of either of the two
ladies who made up the circle. Two communicators sent
messages, the first of whom spelt out as a name
"Dorothy Postlethwaite," a name unknown to any of us.
She said she died at Melbourne five years before, at
the age of sixteen, that she was now happy, that she
had work to do, and that she had been at the same
school as one of the ladies. On my asking that lady to
raise her hands and give a succession of names, the
table tilted at the correct name of the head mistress
of the school. This seemed in the nature of a test.
She went on to say that the sphere she inhabited was
all round the earth; that she knew about the planets;
that Mars was inhabited by a race more advanced than
us, and that the canals were artificial; there was no
bodily pain in her sphere, but there could be mental
anxiety; they were governed; they took nourishment; she
had been a Catholic and was still a Catholic, but had
not fared better than the Protestants; there were
Buddhists and Mohammedans in her sphere, but all fared
alike; she had never seen Christ and knew no more about
Him than on earth, but believed in His influence;
spirits prayed and they died in their new sphere before
entering another; they had pleasures--music was
among them. It was a place of light and of laughter.
She added that they had no rich or poor, and that the
general conditions were far happier than on earth.

This lady bade us good-night, and immediately the
table was seized by a much more robust influence, which
dashed it about very violently. In answer to my
questions it claimed to be the spirit of one whom I
will call Dodd, who was a famous cricketer, and with
whom I had some serious conversation in Cairo before he
went up the Nile, where he met his death in the
Dongolese Expedition. We have now, I may remark, come
to the year 1896 in my experiences. Dodd was not known
to either lady. I began to ask him questions exactly
as if he were seated before me, and he sent his answers
back with great speed and decision. The answers were
often quite opposed to what I expected, so that I could
not believe that I was influencing them. He said that
he was happy, that he did not wish to return to earth.
He had been a free-thinker, but had not suffered in the
next life for that reason. Prayer, however, was a
good thing, as keeping us in touch with the spiritual
world. If he had prayed more he would have been higher
in the spirit world.

This, I may remark, seemed rather in conflict with
his assertion that he had not suffered through being a
free-thinker, and yet, of course, many men neglect
prayer who are not free-thinkers.

His death was painless. He remembered the death of
Polwhele, a young officer who died before him. When he
(Dodd) died he had found people to welcome him, but
Polwhele had not been among them.

He had work to do. He was aware of the Fall of
Dongola, but had not been present in spirit at the
banquet at Cairo afterwards. He knew more than he did
in life. He remembered our conversation in Cairo.
Duration of life in the next sphere was shorter than on
earth. He had not seen General Gordon, nor any other
famous spirit. Spirits lived in families and in
communities. Married people did not necessarily meet
again, but those who loved each other did meet again.

I have given this synopsis of a communication to
show the kind of thing we got--though this was a very
favourable specimen, both for length and for coherence.
It shows that it is not just to say, as many critics
say, that nothing but folly comes through. There was
no folly here unless we call everything folly which
does not agree with preconceived ideas. On the other
hand, what proof was there that these statements were
true? I could see no such proof, and they simply left
me bewildered. Now, with a larger experience, in which
I find that the same sort of information has come to
very, many people independently in many lands, I think
that the agreement of the witnesses does, as in all
cases of evidence, constitute some argument for their
truth. At the time I could not fit such a conception
of the future world into my own scheme of philosophy,
and I merely noted it and passed on.

I continued to read many books upon the subject and
to appreciate more and more what a cloud of witnesses
existed, and how careful their observations had been.
This impressed my mind very much more than the
limited phenomena which came within the reach of
our circle. Then or afterwards I read a book by
Monsieur Jacolliot upon occult phenomena in India.
Jacolliot was Chief Judge of the French Colony of
Crandenagur, with a very judicial mind, but rather
biassed{sic} against spiritualism. He conducted a
series of experiments with native fakirs, who gave him
their confidence because he was a sympathetic man and
spoke their language. He describes the pains he took
to eliminate fraud. To cut a long story short he found
among them every phenomenon of advanced European
mediumship, everything which Home, for example, had
ever done. He got levitation of the body, the handling
of fire, movement of articles at a distance, rapid
growth of plants, raising of tables. Their explanation
of these phenomena was that they were done by the
Pitris or spirits, and their only difference in
procedure from ours seemed to be that they made more
use of direct evocation. They claimed that these
powers were handed down from time immemorial and traced
back to the Chaldees. All this impressed me very
much, as here, independently, we had exactly the
same results, without any question of American frauds,
or modern vulgarity, which were so often raised against
similar phenomena in Europe.

My mind was also influenced about this time by the
report of the Dialectical Society, although this Report
had been presented as far back as 1869. It is a very
cogent paper, and though it was received with a chorus
of ridicule by the ignorant and materialistic papers of
those days, it was a document of great value. The
Society was formed by a number of people of good
standing and open mind to enquire into the physical
phenomena of Spiritualism. A full account of their
experiences and of their elaborate precautions against
fraud are given. After reading the evidence, one fails
to see how they could have come to any other conclusion
than the one attained, namely, that the phenomena were
undoubtedly genuine, and that they pointed to laws and
forces which had not been explored by Science. It is a
most singular fact that if the verdict had been against
spiritualism, it would certainly have been hailed
as the death blow of the movement, whereas being an
endorsement of the phenomena it met with nothing by
ridicule. This has been the fate of a number of
inquiries since those conducted locally at Hydesville
in 1848, or that which followed when Professor Hare of
Philadelphia, like Saint Paul, started forth to oppose
but was forced to yield to the truth.

About 1891, I had joined the Psychical Research
Society and had the advantage of reading all their
reports. The world owes a great deal to the unwearied
diligence of the Society, and to its sobriety of
statement, though I will admit that the latter makes
one impatient at times, and one feels that in their
desire to avoid sensationalism they discourage the
world from knowing and using the splendid work which
they are doing. Their semi-scientific terminology also
chokes off the ordinary reader, and one might say
sometimes after reading their articles what an American
trapper in the Rocky Mountains said to me about some
University man whom he had been escorting for the
season. "He was that clever," he said, "that you
could not understand what he said." But in spite
of these little peculiarities all of us who have wanted
light in the darkness have found it by the methodical,
never-tiring work of the Society. Its influence was
one of the powers which now helped me to shape my
thoughts. There was another, however, which made a
deep impression upon me. Up to now I had read all the
wonderful experiences of great experimenters, but I had
never come across any effort upon their part to build
up some system which would cover and contain them all.
Now I read that monumental book, Myers' Human
Personality, a great root book from which a whole tree
of knowledge will grow. In this book Myers was unable
to get any formula which covered all the phenomena
called "spiritual," but in discussing that action of
mind upon mind which he has himself called telepathy he
completely proved his point, and he worked it out so
thoroughly with so many examples, that, save for those
who were wilfully blind to the evidence, it took its
place henceforth as a scientific fact. But this was
an enormous advance. If mind could act upon mind
at a distance, then there were some human powers which
were quite different to matter as we had always
understood it. The ground was cut from under the feet
of the materialist, and my old position had been
destroyed. I had said that the flame could not exist
when the candle was gone. But here was the flame a
long way off the candle, acting upon its own. The
analogy was clearly a false analogy. If the mind, the
spirit, the intelligence of man could operate at a
distance from the body, then it was a thing to that
extent separate from the body. Why then should it not
exist on its own when the body was destroyed? Not only
did impressions come from a distance in the case of
those who were just dead, but the same evidence proved
that actual appearances of the dead person came with
them, showing that the impressions were carried by
something which was exactly like the body, and yet
acted independently and survived the death of the body.
The chain of evidence between the simplest cases of
thought-reading at one end, and the actual
manifestation of the spirit independently of the body
at the other, was one unbroken chain, each phase
leading to the other, and this fact seemed to me to
bring the first signs of systematic science and order
into what had been a mere collection of bewildering and
more or less unrelated facts.

About this time I had an interesting experience,
for I was one of three delegates sent by the Psychical
Society to sit up in a haunted house. It was one of
these poltergeist cases, where noises and foolish
tricks had gone on for some years, very much like the
classical case of John Wesley's family at Epworth in
1726, or the case of the Fox family at Hydesville near
Rochester in 1848, which was the starting-point of
modern spiritualism. Nothing sensational came of our
journey, and yet it was not entirely barren. On the
first night nothing occurred. On the second, there
were tremendous noises, sounds like someone beating a
table with a stick. We had, of course, taken every
precaution, and we could not explain the noises; but at
the same time we could not swear that some
ingenious practical joke had not been played upon us.
There the matter ended for the time. Some years
afterwards, however, I met a member of the family who
occupied the house, and he told me that after our visit
the bones of a child, evidently long buried, had been
dug up in the garden. You must admit that this was
very remarkable. Haunted houses are rare, and houses
with buried human beings in their gardens are also, we
will hope, rare. That they should have both united in
one house is surely some argument for the truth of the
phenomena. It is interesting to remember that in the
case of the Fox family there was also some word of
human bones and evidence of murder being found in the
cellar, though an actual crime was never established.
I have little doubt that if the Wesley family could
have got upon speaking terms with their persecutor,
they would also have come upon some motive for the
persecution. It almost seems as if a life cut suddenly
and violently short had some store of unspent vitality
which could still manifest itself in a strange,
mischievous fashion. Later I had another singular
personal experience of this sort which I may describe
at the end of this argument.[1]

[1] Vide Appendix III.

From this period until the time of the War I
continued in the leisure hours of a very busy life to
devote attention to this subject. I had experience of
one series of seances with very amazing results,
including several materializations seen in dim light.
As the medium was detected in trickery shortly
afterwards I wiped these off entirely as evidence. At
the same time I think that the presumption is very
clear, that in the case of some mediums like Eusapia
Palladino they may be guilty of trickery when their
powers fail them, and yet at other times have very
genuine gifts. Mediumship in its lowest forms is a
purely physical gift with no relation to morality and
in many cases it is intermittent and cannot be
controlled at will. Eusapia was at least twice
convicted of very clumsy and foolish fraud, whereas she
several times sustained long examinations under every
possible test condition at the hands of scientific
committees which contained some of the best names of
France, Italy, and England. However, I personally
prefer to cut my experience with a discredited medium
out of my record, and I think that all physical
phenomena produced in the dark must necessarily lose
much of their value, unless they are accompanied by
evidential messages as well. It is the custom of our
critics to assume that if you cut out the mediums who
got into trouble you would have to cut out nearly all
your evidence. That is not so at all. Up to the time
of this incident I had never sat with a professional
medium at all, and yet I had certainly accumulated some
evidence. The greatest medium of all, Mr. D. D. Home,
showed his phenomena in broad daylight, and was ready
to submit to every test and no charge of trickery was
ever substantiated against him. So it was with many
others. It is only fair to state in addition that when
a public medium is a fair mark for notoriety hunters,
for amateur detectives and for sensational reporters,
and when he is dealing with obscure elusive phenomena
and has to defend himself before juries and judges who,
as a rule, know nothing about the conditions which
influence the phenomena, it would be wonderful if a man
could get through without an occasional scandal. At
the same time the whole system of paying by results,
which is practically the present system, since if a
medium never gets results he would soon get no
payments, is a vicious one. It is only when the
professional medium can be guaranteed an annuity which
will be independent of results, that we can eliminate
the strong temptation, to substitute pretended
phenomena when the real ones are wanting.

I have now traced my own evolution of thought up to
the time of the War. I can claim, I hope, that it was
deliberate and showed no traces of that credulity with
which our opponents charge us. It was too deliberate,
for I was culpably slow in throwing any small influence
I may possess into the scale of truth. I might have
drifted on for my whole life as a psychical Researcher,
showing a sympathetic, but more or less dilettante
attitude towards the whole subject, as if we were
arguing about some impersonal thing such as the
existence of Atlantis or the Baconian controversy. But
the War came, and when the War came it brought
earnestness into all our souls and made us look more
closely at our own beliefs and reassess their values.
In the presence of an agonized world, hearing every day
of the deaths of the flower of our race in the first
promise of their unfulfilled youth, seeing around one
the wives and mothers who had no clear conception
whither their loved ones had gone to, I seemed suddenly
to see that this subject with which I had so long
dallied was not merely a study of a force outside the
rules of science, but that it was really something
tremendous, a breaking down of the walls between two
worlds, a direct undeniable message from beyond, a call
of hope and of guidance to the human race at the time
of its deepest affliction. The objective side of it
ceased to interest for having made up one's mind that
it was true there was an end of the matter. The
religious side of it was clearly of infinitely greater
importance. The telephone bell is in itself a very
childish affair, but it may be the signal for a very
vital message. It seemed that all these phenomena,
large and small, had been the telephone bells
which, senseless in themselves, had signalled to the
human race: "Rouse yourselves! Stand by! Be at
attention! Here are signs for you. They will lead up
to the message which God wishes to send." It was the
message not the signs which really counted. A new
revelation seemed to be in the course of delivery to
the human race, though how far it was still in what may
be called the John-the-Baptist stage, and how far some
greater fulness and clearness might be expected
hereafter, was more than any man can say. My point is,
that the physical phenomena which have been proved up
to the hilt for all who care to examine the evidence,
are really of no account, and that their real value
consists in the fact that they support and give
objective reality to an immense body of knowledge which
must deeply modify our previous religious views, and
must, when properly understood and digested, make
religion a very real thing, no longer a matter of
faith, but a matter of actual experience and fact. It
is to this side of the question that I will now turn,
but I must add to my previous remarks about personal
experience that, since the War, I have had some
very exceptional opportunities of confirming all the
views which I had already formed as to the truth of the
general facts upon which my views are founded.

These opportunities came through the fact that a
lady who lived with us, a Miss L. S., developed the
power of automatic writing. Of all forms of
mediumship, this seems to me to be the one which should
be tested most rigidly, as it lends itself very easily
not so much to deception as to self-deception, which is
a more subtle and dangerous thing. Is the lady herself
writing, or is there, as she avers, a power that
controls her, even as the chronicler of the Jews in the
Bible averred that he was controlled? In the case of
L. S. there is no denying that some messages proved to
be not true--especially in the matter of time they were
quite unreliable. But on the other hand, the numbers
which did come true were far beyond what any guessing
or coincidence could account for. Thus, when the
Lusitania was sunk and the morning papers here
announced that so far as known there was no loss of
life, the medium at once wrote: "It is terrible,
terrible--and will have a great influence on the war."
Since it was the first strong impulse which turned
America towards the war, the message was true in both
respects. Again, she foretold the arrival of an
important telegram upon a certain day, and even gave
the name of the deliverer of it--a most unlikely
person. Altogether, no one could doubt the reality of
her inspiration, though the lapses were notable. It
was like getting a good message through a very
imperfect telephone.

One other incident of the early war days stands out
in my memory. A lady in whom I was interested had died
in a provincial town. She was a chronic invalid and
morphia was found by her bedside. There was an inquest
with an open verdict. Eight days later I went to have
a sitting with Mr. Vout Peters. After giving me a good
deal which was vague and irrelevant, he suddenly said:
"There is a lady here. She is leaning upon an older
woman. She keeps saying 'Morphia.' Three times she
has said it. Her mind was clouded. She did not mean
it. Morphia!" Those were almost his exact words.
Telepathy was out of the question, for I had entirely
other thoughts in my mind at the time and was expecting
no such message.

Apart from personal experiences, this movement must
gain great additional solidity from the wonderful
literature which has sprung up around it during the
last few years. If no other spiritual books were in
existence than five which have appeared in the last
year or so--I allude to Professor Lodge's Raymond,
Arthur Hill's Psychical Investigations, Professor
Crawford's Reality of Psychical Phenomena,
Professor Barrett's Threshold of the Unseen, and
Gerald Balfour's Ear of Dionysius--those five alone
would, in my opinion, be sufficient to establish the
facts for any reasonable enquirer.

Before going into this question of a new religious
revelation, how it is reached, and what it consists of,
I would say a word upon one other subject. There have
always been two lines of attack by our opponents. The
one is that our facts are not true. This I have dealt
with. The other is that we are upon forbidden ground
and should come off it and leave it alone. As I
started from a position of comparative materialism,
this objection has never had any meaning for me, but to
others I would submit one or two considerations. The
chief is that God has given us no power at all which is
under no circumstances to be used. The fact that we
possess it is in itself proof that it is our bounden
duty to study and to develop it. It is true that this,
like every other power, may be abused if we lose our
general sense of proportion and of reason. But I
repeat that its mere possession is a strong reason why
it is lawful and binding that it be used.

It must also be remembered that this cry of illicit
knowledge, backed by more or less appropriate texts,
has been used against every advance of human knowledge.
It was used against the new astronomy, and Galileo had
actually to recant. It was used against Galvani and
electricity. It was used against Darwin, who would
certainly have been burned had he lived a few centuries
before. It was even used against Simpson's use of
chloroform in child-birth, on the ground that the Bible
declared "in pain shall ye bring them forth."
Surely a plea which has been made so often, and so
often abandoned, cannot be regarded very seriously.

To those, however, to whom the theological aspect
is still a stumbling block, I would recommend the
reading of two short books, each of them by clergymen.
The one is the Rev. Fielding Ould's Is Spiritualism
of the Devil, purchasable for twopence; the other is
the Rev. Arthur Chambers' Our Self After Death. I
can also recommend the Rev. Charles Tweedale's writings
upon the subject. I may add that when I first began to
make public my own views, one of the first letters of
sympathy which I received was from the late Archdeacon

There are some theologians who are not only opposed
to such a cult, but who go the length of saying that
the phenomena and messages come from fiends who
personate our dead, or pretend to be heavenly teachers.
It is difficult to think that those who hold this view
have ever had any personal experience of the consoling
and uplifting effect of such communications upon the
recipient. Ruskin has left it on record that his
conviction of a future life came from Spiritualism,
though he somewhat ungratefully and illogically added
that having got that, he wished to have no more to do
with it. There are many, however--quorum pars parva
su--who without any reserve can declare that they
were turned from materialism to a belief in future
life, with all that that implies, by the study of this
subject. If this be the devil's work one can only say
that the devil seems to be a very bungling workman and
to get results very far from what he might be expected
to desire.


I can now turn with some relief to a more
impersonal view of this great subject. Allusion has
been made to a body of fresh doctrine. Whence does
this come? It comes in the main through automatic
writing where the hand of the human medium is
controlled, either by an alleged dead human being, as
in the case of Miss Julia Ames, or by an alleged higher
teacher, as in that of Mr. Stainton Moses. These
written communications are supplemented by a vast
number of trance utterances, and by the verbal messages
of spirits, given through the lips of mediums.
Sometimes it has even come by direct voices, as in the
numerous cases detailed by Admiral Usborne Moore in his
book The Voices. Occasionally it has come through
the family circle and table-tilting, as, for example,
in the two cases I have previously detailed
within my own experience. Sometimes, as in a case
recorded by Mrs. de Morgan, it has come through the
hand of a child.

Now, of course, we are at once confronted with the
obvious objection--how do we know that these messages
are really from beyond? How do we know that the medium
is not consciously writing, or if that be improbable,
that he or she is unconsciously writing them by his or
her own higher self? This is a perfectly just
criticism, and it is one which we must rigorously apply
in every case, since if the whole world is to become
full of minor prophets, each of them stating their own
views of the religious state with no proof save their
own assertion, we should, indeed, be back in the dark
ages of implicit faith. The answer must be that we
require signs which we can test before we accept
assertions which we cannot test. In old days they
demanded a sign from a prophet, and it was a perfectly
reasonable request, and still holds good. If a person
comes to me with an account of life in some further
world, and has no credentials save his own assertion, I
would rather have it in my waste-paperbasket than
on my study table. Life is too short to weigh the
merits of such productions. But if, as in the case of
Stainton Moses, with his Spirit Teachings, the
doctrines which are said to come from beyond are
accompanied with a great number of abnormal gifts--and
Stainton Moses was one of the greatest mediums in all
ways that England has ever produced--then I look upon
the matter in a more serious light. Again, if Miss
Julia Ames can tell Mr. Stead things in her own earth
life of which he could not have cognisance, and if
those things are shown, when tested, to be true, then
one is more inclined to think that those things which
cannot be tested are true also. Or once again, if
Raymond can tell us of a photograph no copy of which
had reached England, and which proved to be exactly as
he described it, and if he can give us, through the
lips of strangers, all sorts of details of his home
life, which his own relatives had to verify before they
found them to be true, is it unreasonable to suppose
that he is fairly accurate in his description of his
own experiences and state of life at the very
moment at which he is communicating? Or when Mr.
Arthur Hill receives messages from folk of whom he
never heard, and afterwards verifies that they are true
in every detail, is it not a fair inference that they
are speaking truths also when they give any light upon
their present condition? The cases are manifold, and I
mention only a few of them, but my point is that the
whole of this system, from the lowest physical
phenomenon of a table-rap up to the most inspired
utterance of a prophet, is one complete whole, each
attached to the next one, and that when the humbler end
of that chain was placed in the hand of humanity, it
was in order that they might, by diligence and reason,
feel their way up it until they reached the revelation
which waited in the end. Do not sneer at the humble
beginnings, the heaving table or the flying tambourine,
however much such phenomena may have been abused or
simulated, but remember that a falling apple taught us
gravity, a boiling kettle brought us the steam engine,
and the twitching leg of a frog opened up the train
of thought and experiment which gave us electricity.
So the lowly manifestations of Hydesville have ripened
into results which have engaged the finest group of
intellects in this country during the last twenty
years, and which are destined, in my opinion, to bring
about far the greatest development of human experience
which the world has ever seen.

It has been asserted by men for whose opinion I
have a deep regard--notably by Sir William Barratt--
that psychical research is quite distinct from
religion. Certainly it is so, in the sense that a man
might be a very good psychical researcher but a very
bad man. But the results of psychical research, the
deductions which we may draw, and the lessons we may
learn, teach us of the continued life of the soul, of
the nature of that life, and of how it is influenced by
our conduct here. If this is distinct from religion, I
must confess that I do not understand the distinction.
To me it IS religion--the very essence of it. But
that does not mean that it will necessarily crystallise
into a new religion. Personally I trust that it
will not do so. Surely we are disunited enough
already? Rather would I see it the great unifying
force, the one provable thing connected with every
religion, Christian or non-Christian, forming the
common solid basis upon which each raises, if it must
needs raise, that separate system which appeals to the
varied types of mind. The Southern races will always
demand what is less austere than the North, the West
will always be more critical than the East. One cannot
shape all to a level conformity. But if the broad
premises which are guaranteed by this teaching from
beyond are accepted, then the human race has made a
great stride towards religious peace and unity. The
question which faces us, then, is how will this
influence bear upon the older organised religions and
philosophies which have influenced the actions of men.

The answer is, that to only one of these religions
or philosophies is this new revelation absolutely
fatal. That is to Materialism. I do not say this in
any spirit of hostility to Materialists, who, so far as
they are an organized body, are, I think, as earnest
and moral as any other class. But the fact is
manifest that if spirit can live without matter, then
the foundation of Materialism is gone, and the whole
scheme of thought crashes to the ground.

As to other creeds, it must be admitted that an
acceptance of the teaching brought to us from beyond
would deeply modify conventional Christianity. But
these modifications would be rather in the direction of
explanation and development than of contradiction. It
would set right grave misunderstandings which have
always offended the reason of every thoughtful man, but
it would also confirm and make absolutely certain the
fact of life after death, the base of all religion. It
would confirm the unhappy results of sin, though it
would show that those results are never absolutely
permanent. It would confirm the existence of higher
beings, whom we have called angels, and of an ever-
ascending hierarchy above us, in which the Christ
spirit finds its place, culminating in heights of the
infinite with which we associate the idea of all-power
or of God. It would confirm the idea of heaven and of
a temporary penal state which corresponds to
purgatory rather than to hell. Thus this new
revelation, on some of the most vital points, is
NOT destructive of the beliefs, and it should be
hailed by really earnest men of all creeds as a most
powerful ally rather than a dangerous devil-begotten

On the other hand, let us turn to the points in
which Christianity must be modified by this new

First of all I would say this, which must be
obvious to many, however much they deplore it:
Christianity must change or must perish. That is the
law of life--that things must adapt themselves or
perish. Christianity has deferred the change very
long, she has deferred it until her churches are half
empty, until women are her chief supporters, and until
both the learned part of the community on one side, and
the poorest class on the other, both in town and
country, are largely alienated from her. Let us try
and trace the reason for this. It is apparent in all
sects, and comes, therefore, from some deep common

People are alienated because they frankly do not
believe the facts as presented to them to be true.
Their reason and their sense of justice are equally
offended. One can see no justice in a vicarious
sacrifice, nor in the God who could be placated by such
means. Above all, many cannot understand such
expressions as the "redemption from sin," "cleansed by
the blood of the Lamb," and so forth. So long as there
was any question of the fall of man there was at least
some sort of explanation of such phrases; but when it
became certain that man had never fallen--when with
ever fuller knowledge we could trace our ancestral
course down through the cave-man and the drift-man,
back to that shadowy and far-off time when the man-like
ape slowly evolved into the apelike man--looking back
on all this vast succession of life, we knew that it
had always been rising from step to step. Never was
there any evidence of a fall. But if there were no
fall, then what became of the atonement, of the
redemption, of original sin, of a large part of
Christian mystical philosophy? Even if it were as
reasonable in itself as it is actually unreasonable, it
would still be quite divorced from the facts.

Again, too much seemed to be made of Christ's
death. It is no uncommon thing to die for an idea.
Every religion has equally had its martyrs. Men die
continually for their convictions. Thousands of our
lads are doing it at this instant in France. Therefore
the death of Christ, beautiful as it is in the Gospel
narrative, has seemed to assume an undue importance, as
though it were an isolated phenomenon for a man to die
in pursuit of a reform. In my opinion, far too much
stress has been laid upon Christ's death, and far too
little upon His life. That was where the true grandeur
and the true lesson lay. It was a life which even in
those limited records shows us no trait which is not
beautiful--a life full of easy tolerance for others, of
kindly charity, of broad-minded moderation, of gentle
courage, always progressive and open to new ideas, and
yet never bitter to those ideas which He was really
supplanting, though He did occasionally lose His temper
with their more bigoted and narrow supporters.
Especially one loves His readiness to get at the spirit
of religion, sweeping aside the texts and the forms.
Never had anyone such a robust common sense, or such a
sympathy for weakness. It was this most wonderful and
uncommon life, and not his death, which is the true
centre of the Christian religion.

Now, let us look at the light which we get from the
spirit guides upon this question of Christianity.
Opinion is not absolutely uniform yonder, any more than
it is here; but reading a number of messages upon this
subject, they amount to this: There are many higher
spirits with our departed. They vary in degree. Call
them "angels," and you are in touch with old religious
thought. High above all these is the greatest spirit
of whom they have cognizance--not God, since God is so
infinite that He is not within their ken--but one who
is nearer God and to that extent represents God. This
is the Christ Spirit. His special care is the earth.
He came down upon it at a time of great earthly
depravity--a time when the world was almost as wicked
as it is now, in order to give the people the
lesson of an ideal life. Then he returned to his own
high station, having left an example which is still
occasionally followed. That is the story of Christ as
spirits have described it. There is nothing here of
Atonement or Redemption. But there is a perfectly
feasible and reasonable scheme, which I, for one, could
readily believe.

If such a view of Christianity were generally
accepted, and if it were enforced by assurance and
demonstration from the New Revelation which is coming
to us from the other side, then we should have a creed
which might unite the churches, which might be
reconciled to science, which might defy all attacks,
and which might carry the Christian Faith on for an
indefinite period. Reason and Faith would at last be
reconciled, a nightmare would be lifted from our minds,
and spiritual peace would prevail. I do not see such
results coming as a sudden conquest or a violent
revolution. Rather will it come as a peaceful
penetration, as some crude ideas, such as the Eternal
Hell idea, have already gently faded away within our
own lifetime. It is, however, when the human soul
is ploughed and harrowed by suffering that the seeds of
truth may be planted, and so some future spiritual
harvest will surely rise from the days in which we

When I read the New Testament with the knowledge
which I have of Spiritualism, I am left with a deep
conviction that the teaching of Christ was in many most
important respects lost by the early Church, and has
not come down to us. All these allusions to a conquest
over death have, as it seems to me, little meaning in
the present Christian philosophy, whereas for those who
have seen, however dimly, through the veil, and
touched, however slightly, the outstretched hands
beyond, death has indeed been conquered. When we read
so many references to the phenomena with which we are
familiar, the levitations, the tongues of fire, the
rushing wind, the spiritual gifts, the working of
wonders, we feel that the central fact of all, the
continuity of life and the communication with the dead,
was most certainly known. Our attention is arrested by
such a saying as: "Here he worked no wonders
because the people were wanting in faith." Is this
not absolutely in accordance with psychic law as we
know it? Or when Christ, on being touched by the sick
woman, said: "Who has touched me? Much virtue has
passed out of me." Could He say more clearly what a
healing medium would say now, save that He would use
the word "Power" instead of "virtue"; or when we read:
"Try the spirits whether they be of God," is it not the
very, advice which would now be given to a novice
approaching a seance? It is too large a question for
me to do more than indicate, but I believe that this
subject, which the more rigid Christian churches now
attack so bitterly, is really the central teaching of
Christianity itself. To those who would read more upon
this line of thought, I strongly recommend Dr. Abraham
Wallace's Jesus of Nazareth, if this valuable
little work is not out of print. He demonstrates in it
most convincingly that Christ's miracles were all
within the powers of psychic law as we now understand
it, and were on the exact lines of such law even in
small details. Two examples have already been
given. Many are worked out in that pamphlet. One
which convinced me as a truth was the thesis that the
story of the materialization of the two prophets upon
the mountain was extraordinarily accurate when judged
by psychic law. There is the fact that Peter, James
and John (who formed the psychic circle when the dead
was restored to life, and were presumably the most
helpful of the group) were taken. Then there is the
choice of the high pure air of the mountain, the
drowsiness of the attendant mediums, the transfiguring,
the shining robes, the cloud, the words: "Let us make
three tabernacles," with its alternate reading: "Let
us make three booths or cabinets" (the ideal way of
condensing power and producing materializations)--all
these make a very consistent theory of the nature of
the proceedings. For the rest, the list of gifts which
St. Paul gives as being necessary for the Christian
Disciple, is simply the list of gifts of a very
powerful medium, including prophecy, healing, causing
miracles (or physical phenomena), clairvoyance, and
other powers (I Corinth, xii, 8, 11). The early
Christian Church was saturated with spiritualism, and
they seem to have paid no attention to those Old
Testament prohibitions which were meant to keep these
powers only for the use and profit of the priesthood.


Now, leaving this large and possibly contentious
subject of the modifications which such new revelations
must produce in Christianity, let us try to follow what
occurs to man after death. The evidence on this point
is fairly full and consistent. Messages from the dead
have been received in many lands at various times,
mixed up with a good deal about this world, which we
could verify. When messages come thus, it is only
fair, I think, to suppose that if what we can test is
true, then what we cannot test is true also. When in
addition we find a very great uniformity in the
messages and an agreement as to details which are not
at all in accordance with any pre-existing scheme of
thought, then I think the presumption of truth is very
strong. It is difficult to think that some fifteen or
twenty messages from various sources of which I
have personal notes, all agree, and yet are all wrong,
nor is it easy to suppose that spirits can tell the
truth about our world but untruth about their own.

I received lately, in the same week, two accounts
of life in the next world, one received through the
hand of the near relative of a high dignitary of the
Church, while the other came through the wife of a
working mechanician in Scotland. Neither could have
been aware of the existence of the other, and yet the
two accounts are so alike as to be practically the

[2] Vide Appendix II.

The message upon these points seems to me to be
infinitely reassuring, whether we regard our own fate
or that of our friends. The departed all agree that
passing is usually both easy and painless, and followed
by an enormous reaction of peace and ease. The
individual finds himself in a spirit body, which is the
exact counterpart of his old one, save that all
disease, weakness, or deformity has passed from it.
This body is standing or floating beside the old body,
and conscious both of it and of the surrounding
people. At this moment the dead man is nearer to
matter than he will ever be again, and hence it is that
at that moment the greater part of those cases occur
where, his thoughts having turned to someone in the
distance, the spirit body went with the thoughts and
was manifest to the person. Out of some 250 cases
carefully examined by Mr. Gurney, 134 of such
apparitions were actually at this moment of
dissolution, when one could imagine that the new spirit
body was possibly so far material as to be more visible
to a sympathetic human eye than it would later become.

These cases, however, are very rare in comparison
with the total number of deaths. In most cases I
imagine that the dead man is too preoccupied with his
own amazing experience to have much thought for others.
He soon finds, to his surprise, that though he
endeavours to communicate with those whom he sees, his
ethereal voice and his ethereal touch are equally
unable to make any impression upon those human organs
which are only attuned to coarser stimuli. It is a
fair subject for speculation, whether a fuller
knowledge of those light rays which we know to exist on
either side of the spectrum, or of those sounds which
we can prove by the vibrations of a diaphragm to exist,
although they are too high for mortal ear, may not
bring us some further psychical knowledge. Setting
that aside, however, let us follow the fortunes of the
departing spirit. He is presently aware that there are
others in the room besides those who were there in
life, and among these others, who seem to him as
substantial as the living, there appear familiar faces,
and he finds his hand grasped or his lips kissed by
those whom he had loved and lost. Then in their
company, and with the help and guidance of some more
radiant being who has stood by and waited for the
newcomer, he drifts to his own surprise through all
solid obstacles and out upon his new life.

This is a definite statement, and this is the story
told by one after the other with a consistency which
impels belief. It is already very different from any
old theology. The Spirit is not a glorified angel or
goblin damned, but it is simply the person himself,
containing all his strength and weakness, his
wisdom and his folly, exactly as he has retained his
personal appearance. We can well believe that the most
frivolous and foolish would be awed into decency by so
tremendous an experience, but impressions soon become
blunted, the old nature may soon reassert itself in new
surroundings, and the frivolous still survive, as our
seance rooms can testify.

And now, before entering upon his new life, the new
Spirit has a period of sleep which varies in its
length, sometimes hardly existing at all, at others
extending for weeks or months. Raymond said that his
lasted for six days. That was the period also in a
case of which I had some personal evidence. Mr. Myers,
on the other hand, said that he had a very prolonged
period of unconsciousness. I could imagine that the
length is regulated by the amount of trouble or mental
preoccupation of this life, the longer rest giving the
better means of wiping this out. Probably the little
child would need no such interval at all. This, of
course, is pure speculation, but there is a
considerable consensus of opinion as to the
existence of a period of oblivion after the first
impression of the new life and before entering upon its

Having wakened from this sleep, the spirit is weak,
as the child is weak after earth birth. Soon, however,
strength returns and the new life begins. This leads
us to the consideration of heaven and hell. Hell, I
may say, drops out altogether, as it has long dropped
out of the thoughts of every reasonable man. This
odious conception, so blasphemous in its view of the
Creator, arose from the exaggerations of Oriental
phrases, and may perhaps have been of service in a
coarse age where men were frightened by fires, as wild
beasts are seared by the travellers. Hell as a
permanent place does not exist. But the idea of
punishment, of purifying chastisement, in fact of
Purgatory, is justified by the reports from the other
side. Without such punishment there could be no
justice in the Universe, for how impossible it would be
to imagine that the fate of a Rasputin is the same as
that of a Father Damien. The punishment is very
certain and very serious, though in its less severe
forms it only consists in the fact that the grosser
souls are in lower spheres with a knowledge that their
own deeds have placed them there, but also with the
hope that expiation and the help of those above them
will educate them and bring them level with the others.
In this saving process the higher spirits find part of
their employment. Miss Julia Ames in her beautiful
posthumous book, says in memorable words: "The
greatest joy of Heaven is emptying Hell."

Setting aside those probationary spheres, which
should perhaps rather be looked upon as a hospital for
weakly souls than as a penal community, the reports
from the other world are all agreed as to the pleasant
conditions of life in the beyond. They agree that like
goes to like, that all who love or who have interests
in common are united, that life is full of interest and
of occupation, and that they would by no means desire
to return. All of this is surely tidings of great joy,
and I repeat that it is not a vague faith or hope, but
that it is supported by all the laws of evidence which
agree that where many independent witnesses give a
similar account, that account has a claim to be
considered a true one. If it were an account of
glorified souls purged instantly from all human
weakness and of a constant ecstasy of adoration round
the throne of the all powerful, it might well be
suspected as being the mere reflection of that popular
theology which all the mediums had equally received in
their youth. It is, however, very different to any
preexisting system. It is also supported, as I have
already pointed out, not merely by the consistency of
the accounts, but by the fact that the accounts are the
ultimate product of a long series of phenomena, all of
which have been attested as true by those who have
carefully examined them.

In connection with the general subject of life
after death, people may say we have got this knowledge
already through faith. But faith, however beautiful in
the individual, has always in collective bodies been a
very two-edged quality. All would be well if every
faith were alike and the intuitions of the human race
were constant. We know that it is not so. Faith means
to say that you entirely believe a thing which you
cannot prove. One man says: "My faith is
THIS." Another says: "My faith is THAT."
Neither can prove it, so they wrangle for ever, either
mentally or in the old days physically. If one is
stronger than the other, he is inclined to persecute
him just to twist him round to the true faith. Because
Philip the Second's faith was strong and clear he,
quite logically, killed a hundred thousand Lowlanders
in the hope that their fellow countrymen would be
turned to the all-important truth. Now, if it were
recognised that it is by no means virtuous to claim
what you could not prove, we should then be driven to
observe facts, to reason from them, and perhaps reach
common agreement. That is why this psychical movement
appears so valuable. Its feet are on something more
solid than texts or traditions or intuitions. It is
religion from the double point of view of both worlds
up to date, instead of the ancient traditions of one

We cannot look upon this coming world as a tidy
Dutch garden of a place which is so exact that it can
easily be described. It is probable that those
messengers who come back to us are all, more or
less, in one state of development and represent the
same wave of life as it recedes from our shores.
Communications usually come from those who have not
long passed over, and tend to grow fainter, as one
would expect. It is instructive in this respect to
notice that Christ's reappearances to his disciples or
to Paul, are said to have been within a very few years
of his death, and that there is no claim among the
early Christians to have seen him later. The cases of
spirits who give good proof of authenticity and yet
have passed some time are not common. There is, in Mr.
Dawson Roger's life, a very good case of a spirit who
called himself Manton, and claimed to have been born at
Lawrence Lydiard and buried at Stoke Newington in 1677.
It was clearly shown afterwards that there was such a
man, and that he was Oliver Cromwell's chaplain. So
far as my own reading goes, this is the oldest spirit
who is on record as returning, and generally they are
quite recent. Hence, one gets all one's views from the
one generation, as it were, and we cannot take them as
final, but only as partial. How spirits may see
things in a different light as they progress in the
other world is shown by Miss Julia Ames, who was deeply
impressed at first by the necessity of forming a bureau
of communication, but admitted, after fifteen years,
that not one spirit in a million among the main body
upon the further side ever wanted to communicate with
us at all since their own loved ones had come over.
She had been misled by the fact that when she first
passed over everyone she met was newly arrived like

Thus the account we give may be partial, but still
such as it is it is very consistent and of
extraordinary interest, since it refers to our own
destiny and that of those we love. All agree that life
beyond is for a limited period, after which they pass
on to yet other phases, but apparently there is more
communication between these phases than there is
between us and Spiritland. The lower cannot ascend,
but the higher can descend at will. The life has a
close analogy to that of this world at it its best. It
is pre-eminently a life of the mind, as this is of the
body. Preoccupations of food, money, lust, pain,
etc., are of the body and are gone. Music, the Arts,
intellectual and spiritual knowledge, and progress have
increased. The people are clothed, as one would
expect, since there is no reason why modesty should
disappear with our new forms. These new forms are the
absolute reproduction of the old ones at their best,
the young growing up and the old reverting until all
come to the normal. People live in communities, as one
would expect if like attracts like, and the male spirit
still finds his true mate though there is no sexuality
in the grosser sense and no childbirth. Since
connections still endure, and those in the same state
of development keep abreast, one would expect that
nations are still roughly divided from each other,
though language is no longer a bar, since thought has
become a medium of conversation. How close is the
connection between kindred souls over there is shown by
the way in which Myers, Gurney and Roden Noel, all
friends and co-workers on earth, sent messages together
through Mrs. Holland, who knew none of them, each
message being characteristic to those who knew the
men in life--or the way in which Professor Verrall and
Professor Butcher, both famous Greek scholars,
collaborated to produce the Greek problem which has
been analysed by Mr. Gerald Balfour in The Ear of
Dionysius, with the result that that excellent
authority testified that the effect COULD have been
attained by no other entities, save only Verrall and
Butcher. It may be remarked in passing that these and
other examples show clearly either that the spirits
have the use of an excellent reference library or else
that they have memories which produce something like
omniscience. No human memory could possibly carry all
the exact quotations which occur in such communications
as The Ear of Dionysius.

These, roughly speaking, are the lines of the life
beyond in its simplest expression, for it is not all
simple, and we catch dim glimpses of endless circles
below descending into gloom and endless circles above,
ascending into glory, all improving, all purposeful,
all intensely alive. All are agreed that no religion
upon earth has any advantage over another, but that
character and refinement are everything. At the same
time, all are also in agreement that all religions
which inculcate prayer, and an upward glance rather
than eyes for ever on the level, are good. In this
sense, and in no other--as a help to spiritual life--
every form may have a purpose for somebody. If to
twirl a brass cylinder forces the Thibetan to admit
that there is something higher than his mountains, and
more precious than his yaks, then to that extent it is
good. We must not be censorious in such matters.

There is one point which may be mentioned here
which is at first startling and yet must commend itself
to our reason when we reflect upon it. This is the
constant assertion from the other side that the newly
passed do not know that they are dead, and that it is a
long time, sometimes a very long time, before they can
be made to understand it. All of them agree that this
state of bewilderment is harmful and retarding to the
spirit, and that some knowledge of the actual truth
upon this side is the only way to make sure of not
being dazed upon the other. Finding conditions
entirely different from anything for which either
scientific or religious teaching had prepared them, it
is no wonder that they look upon their new sensations
as some strange dream, and the more rigidly orthodox
have been their views, the more impossible do they find
it to accept these new surroundings with all that they
imply. For this reason, as well as for many others,
this new revelation is a very needful thing for
mankind. A smaller point of practical importance is
that the aged should realise that it is still worth
while to improve their minds, for though they have no
time to use their fresh knowledge in this world it will
remain as part of their mental outfit in the next.

As to the smaller details of this life beyond, it
is better perhaps not to treat them, for the very good
reason that they are small details. We will learn them
all soon for ourselves, and it is only vain curiosity
which leads us to ask for them now. One thing is
clear: there are higher intelligences over yonder to
whom synthetic chemistry, which not only makes the
substance but moulds the form, is a matter of
absolute ease. We see them at work in the coarser
media, perceptible to our material senses, in the
seance room. If they can build up simulacra in the
seance room, how much may we expect them to do when
they are working upon ethereal objects in that ether
which is their own medium. It may be said generally
that they can make something which is analogous to
anything which exists upon earth. How they do it may
well be a matter of guess and speculation among the
less advanced spirits, as the phenomena of modern
science are a matter of guess and speculation to us.
If one of us were suddenly called up by the denizen of
some sub-human world, and were asked to explain exactly
what gravity is, or what magnetism is, how helpless we
should be! We may put ourselves in the position, then,
of a young engineer soldier like Raymond Lodge, who
tries to give some theory of matter in the beyond--a
theory which is very likely contradicted by some other
spirit who is also guessing at things above him. He
may be right, or he may be wrong, but be is doing his
best to say what he thinks, as we should do in
similar case. He believes that his transcendental
chemists can make anything, and that even such
unspiritual matter as alcohol or tobacco could come
within their powers and could still be craved for by
unregenerate spirits. This has tickled the critics to
such an extent that one would really think to read the
comments that it was the only statement in a book which
contains 400 closely-printed pages. Raymond may be
right or wrong, but the only thing which the incident
proves to me is the unflinching courage and honesty of
the man who chronicled it, knowing well the handle that
he was giving to his enemies.

There are many who protest that this world which is
described to us is too material for their liking. It
is not as they would desire it. Well, there are many
things in this world which seem different from what we
desire, but they exist none the less. But when we come
to examine this charge of materialism and try to
construct some sort of system which would satisfy the
idealists, it becomes a very difficult task. Are we to
be mere wisps of gaseous happiness floating about
in the air? That seems to be the idea. But if there
is no body like our own, and if there is no character
like our own, then say what you will, WE have
become extinct. What is it to a mother if some
impersonal glorified entity is shown to her? She will
say, "that is not the son I lost--I want his yellow
hair, his quick smile, his little moods that I know so
well." That is what she wants; that, I believe, is
what she will have; but she will not have them by any
system which cuts us away from all that reminds us of
matter and takes us to a vague region of floating

There is an opposite school of critics which rather
finds the difficulty in picturing a life which has keen
perceptions, robust emotions, and a solid surrounding
all constructed in so diaphanous a material. Let us
remember that everything depends upon its comparison
with the things around it.

If we could conceive of a world a thousand times
denser, heavier and duller than this world, we can
clearly see that to its inmates it would seem much the
same as this, since their strength and texture would be
in proportion. If, however, these inmates came in
contact with us, they would look upon us as
extraordinarily airy beings living in a strange, light,
spiritual atmosphere. They would not remember that we
also, since our beings and our surroundings are in
harmony and in proportion to each other, feel and act
exactly as they do.

We have now to consider the case of yet another
stratum of life, which is as much above us as the
leaden community would be below us. To us also it
seems as if these people, these spirits, as we call
them, live the lives of vapour and of shadows. We do
not recollect that there also everything is in
proportion and in harmony so that the spirit scene or
the spirit dwelling, which might seem a mere dream
thing to us, is as actual to the spirit as are our own
scenes or our own dwellings, and that the spirit body
is as real and tangible to another spirit as ours to
our friends.



Leaving for a moment the larger argument as to the
lines of this revelation and the broad proofs of its
validity, there are some smaller points which have
forced themselves upon my attention during the
consideration of the subject. This home of our dead
seems to be very near to us--so near that we
continually, as they tell us, visit them in our sleep.
Much of that quiet resignation which we have all
observed in people who have lost those whom they
loved--people who would in our previous opinion have
been driven mad by such loss--is due to the fact that
they have seen their dead, and that although the
switch-off is complete and they can recall nothing
whatever of the spirit experience in sleep, the
soothing result of it is still carried on by the
subconscious self. The switch-off is, as I say,
complete, but sometimes for some reason it is hung up
for a fraction of a second, and it is at such
moments that the dreamer comes back from his dream
"trailing clouds of glory." From this also come all
those prophetic dreams many of which are well attested.
I have had a recent personal experience of one which
has not yet perhaps entirely justified itself but is
even now remarkable. Upon April 4th of last year,
1917, I awoke with a feeling that some communication
had been made to me of which I had only carried back
one word which was ringing in my head. That word was
"Piave." To the best of my belief I had never heard
the word before. As it sounded like the name of a
place I went into my study the moment I had dressed and
I looked up the index of my Atlas. There was "Piave"
sure enough, and I noted that it was a river in Italy
some forty miles behind the front line, which at that
time was victoriously advancing. I could imagine few
more unlikely things than that the war should roll back
to the Piave, and I could not think how any military
event of consequence could arise there, but none the
less I was so impressed that I drew up a statement
that some such event would occur there, and I had it
signed by my secretary and witnessed by my wife with
the date, April 4th, attached. It is a matter of
history how six months later the whole Italian line
fell back, how it abandoned successive positions upon
rivers, and how it stuck upon this stream which was
said by military critics to be strategically almost
untenable. If nothing more should occur (I write upon
February 20th, 1918), the reference to the name has
been fully justified, presuming that some friend in the
beyond was forecasting the coming events of the war. I
have still a hope, however, that more was meant, and
that some crowning victory of the Allies at this spot
may justify still further the strange way in which the
name was conveyed to my mind.

People may well cry out against this theory of
sleep on the grounds that all the grotesque, monstrous
and objectionable dreams which plague us cannot
possibly come from a high source. On this point I have
a very definite theory, which may perhaps be worthy of
discussion. I consider that there are two forms of
dreams, and only two, the experiences of the released
spirit, and the confused action of the lower faculties
which remain in the body when the spirit is absent.
The former is rare and beautiful, for the memory of it
fails us. The latter are common and varied, but
usually fantastic or ignoble. By noting what is absent
in the lower dreams one can tell what the missing
qualities are, and so judge what part of us goes to
make up the spirit. Thus in these dreams humour is
wanting, since we see things which strike us afterwards
as ludicrous, and are not amused. The sense of
proportion and of judgment and of aspiration is all
gone. In short, the higher is palpably gone, and the
lower, the sense of fear, of sensual impression, of
self-preservation, is functioning all the more vividly
because it is relieved from the higher control.

The limitations of the powers of spirits is a
subject which is brought home to one in these studies.
People say, "If they exist why don't they do this or
that!" The answer usually is that they can't. They
appear to have very fixed limitations like our own.
This seemed to be very clearly brought out in the
cross-correspondence experiments where several writing
mediums were operating at a distance quite
independently of each other, and the object was to get
agreement which was beyond the reach of coincidence.
The spirits seem to know exactly what they impress upon
the minds of the living, but they do not know how far
they carry their instruction out. Their touch with us
is intermittent. Thus, in the cross-correspondence
experiments we continually have them asking, "Did you
get that?" or "Was it all right?" Sometimes they have
partial cognisance of what is done, as where Myers
says: "I saw the circle, but was not sure about the
triangle." It is everywhere apparent that their
spirits, even the spirits of those who, like Myers and
Hodgson, were in specially close touch with psychic
subjects, and knew all that could be done, were in
difficulties when they desired to get cognisance of a
material thing, such as a written document. Only, I
should imagine, by partly materialising themselves
could they do so, and they may not have had the
power of self-materialization. This consideration
throws some light upon the famous case, so often used
by our opponents, where Myers failed to give some word
or phrase which had been left behind in a sealed box.
Apparently he could not see this document from his
present position, and if his memory failed him he would
be very likely to go wrong about it.

Many mistakes may, I think, be explained in this
fashion. It has been asserted from the other side, and
the assertion seems to me reasonable, that when they
speak of their own conditions they are speaking of what
they know and can readily and surely discuss; but that
when we insist (as we must sometimes insist) upon
earthly tests, it drags them back to another plane of
things, and puts them in a position which is far more
difficult, and liable to error.

Another point which is capable of being used
against us is this: The spirits have the greatest
difficulty in getting names through to us, and it is
this which makes many of their communications so vague
and unsatisfactory. They will talk all round a
thing, and yet never get the name which would clinch
the matter. There is an example of the point in a
recent communication in Light, which describes how
a young officer, recently dead, endeavoured to get a
message through the direct voice method of Mrs.
Susannah Harris to his father. He could not get his
name through. He was able, however, to make it clear
that his father was a member of the Kildare Street Club
in Dublin. Inquiry found the father, and it was then
learned that the father had already received an
independent message in Dublin to say that an inquiry
was coming through from London. I do not know if the
earth name is a merely ephemeral thing, quite
disconnected from the personality, and perhaps the very
first thing to be thrown aside. That is, of course,
possible. Or it may be that some law regulates our
intercourse from the other side by which it shall not
be too direct, and shall leave something to our own

This idea, that there is some law which makes an
indirect speech more easy than a direct one, is
greatly borne out by the cross-correspondences, where
circumlocution continually takes the place of
assertion. Thus, in the St. Paul correspondence, which
is treated in the July pamphlet of the S.P.R., the idea
of St. Paul was to be conveyed from one automatic
writer to two others, both of whom were at a distance,
one of them in India. Dr. Hodgson was the spirit who
professed to preside over this experiment. You would
think that the simple words "St. Paul" occurring in the
other scripts would be all-sufficient. But no; he
proceeds to make all sorts of indirect allusions, to
talk all round St. Paul in each of the scripts, and to
make five quotations from St. Paul's writings. This is
beyond coincidence, and quite convincing, but none the
less it illustrates the curious way in which they go
round instead of going straight. If one could imagine
some wise angel on the other side saying, "Now, don't
make it too easy for these people. Make them use their
own brains a little. They will become mere automatons
if we do everything for them"--if we could imagine
that, it would just cover the case. Whatever the
explanation, it is a noteworthy fact.

There is another point about spirit communications
which is worth noting. This is their uncertainty
wherever any time element comes in. Their estimate of
time is almost invariably wrong. Earth time is
probably a different idea to spirit time, and hence the
confusion. We had the advantage, as I have stated, of
the presence of a lady in our household who developed
writing mediumship. She was in close touch with three
brothers, all of whom had been killed in the war. This
lady, conveying messages from her brothers, was hardly
ever entirely wrong upon facts, and hardly ever right
about time. There was one notable exception, however,
which in itself is suggestive. Although her prophecies
as to public events were weeks or even months out, she
in one case foretold the arrival of a telegram from
Africa to the day. Now the telegram had already been
sent, but was delayed, so that the inference seems to
be that she could foretell a course of events which had
actually been set in motion, and calculate how long
they would take to reach their end. On the other
hand, I am bound to admit that she confidently
prophesied the escape of her fourth brother, who was a
prisoner in Germany, and that this was duly fulfilled.
On the whole I preserve an open mind upon the powers
and limitations of prophecy.

But apart from all these limitations we have,
unhappily, to deal with absolute coldblooded lying on
the part of wicked or mischievous intelligences.
Everyone who has investigated the matter has, I
suppose, met with examples of wilful deception, which
occasionally are mixed up with good and true
communications. It was of such messages, no doubt,
that the Apostle wrote when he said: "Beloved,
believe, not every spirit, but try the spirits whether
they are of God." These words can only mean that the
early Christians not only practised Spiritualism as we
understand it, but also that they were faced by the
same difficulties. There is nothing more puzzling than
the fact that one may get a long connected description
with every detail given, and that it may prove to be
entirely a concoction. However, we must bear in
mind that if one case comes absolutely correct, it
atones for many failures, just as if you had one
telegram correct you would know that there was a line
and a communicator, however much they broke down
afterwards. But it must be admitted that it is very
discomposing and makes one sceptical of messages until
they are tested. Of a kin with these false influences
are all the Miltons who cannot scan, and Shelleys who
cannot rhyme, and Shakespeares who cannot think, and
all the other absurd impersonations which make our
cause ridiculous. They are, I think, deliberate
frauds, either from this side or from the other, but to
say that they invalidate the whole subject is as
senseless as to invalidate our own world because we
encounter some unpleasant people.

One thing I can truly say, and that is, that in
spite of false messages, I have never in all these
years known a blasphemous, an unkind, or an obscene
message. Such incidents must be of very exceptional
nature. I think also that, so far as allegations
concerning insanity, obsession, and so forth go, they
are entirely imaginary. Asylum statistics do not
bear out such assertions, and mediums live to as good
an average age as anyone else. I think, however, that
the cult of the seance may be very much overdone. When
once you have convinced yourself of the truth of the
phenomena the physical seance has done its work, and
the man or woman who spends his or her life in running
from seance to seance is in danger of becoming a mere
sensation hunter. Here, as in other cults, the form is
in danger of eclipsing the real thing, and in pursuit
of physical proofs one may forget that the real object
of all these things is, as I have tried to point out,
to give us assurance in the future and spiritual
strength in the present, to attain a due perception of
the passing nature of matter and the all-importance of
that which is immaterial.

The conclusion, then, of my long search after
truth, is that in spite of occasional fraud, which
Spiritualists deplore, and in spite of wild imaginings,
which they discourage, there remains a great solid core
in this movement which is infinitely nearer to positive
proof than any other religious development with
which I am acquainted. As I have shown, it would
appear to be a rediscovery rather than an absolutely
new thing, but the result in this material age is the
same. The days are surely passing when the mature and
considered opinions of such men as Crookes, Wallace,
Flammarion, Chas. Richet, Lodge, Barrett, Lombroso,
Generals Drayson and Turner, Sergeant Ballantyne, W. T.
Stead, Judge Edmunds, Admiral Usborne Moore, the late
Archdeacon Wilberforce, and such a cloud of other
witnesses, can be dismissed with the empty "All rot" or
"Nauseating drivel" formulae. As Mr. Arthur Hill has
well said, we have reached a point where further proof
is superfluous, and where the weight of disproof lies
upon those who deny. The very people who clamour for
proofs have as a rule never taken the trouble to
examine the copious proofs which already exist. Each
seems to think that the whole subject should begin
de novo because he has asked for information. The
method of our opponents is to fasten upon the latest
man who has stated the case--at the present instant it
happens to be Sir Oliver Lodge--and then to deal
with him as if he had come forward with some new
opinions which rested entirely upon his own assertion,
with no reference to the corroboration of so many
independent workers before him. This is not an honest
method of criticism, for in every case the agreement of
witnesses is the very root of conviction. But as a
matter of fact, there are many single witnesses upon
whom this case could rest. If, for example, our only
knowledge of unknown forces depended upon the
researches of Dr. Crawford of Belfast, who places his
amateur medium in a weighing chair with her feet from
the ground, and has been able to register a difference
of weight of many pounds, corresponding with the
physical phenomena produced, a result which he has
tested and recorded in a true scientific spirit of
caution, I do not see how it could be shaken. The
phenomena are and have long been firmly established for
every open mind. One feels that the stage of
investigation is passed, and that of religious
construction is overdue.

For are we to satisfy ourselves by observing
phenomena with no attention to what the phenomena mean,
as a group of savages might stare at a wireless
installation with no appreciation of the messages
coming through it, or are we resolutely to set
ourselves to define these subtle and elusive utterances
from beyond, and to construct from them a religious
scheme, which will be founded upon human reason on this
side and upon spirit inspiration upon the other? These
phenomena have passed through the stage of being a
parlour game; they are now emerging from that of a
debatable scientific novelty; and they are, or should
be, taking shape as the foundations of a definite
system of religious thought, in some ways confirmatory
of ancient systems, in some ways entirely new. The
evidence upon which this system rests is so enormous
that it would take a very considerable library to
contain it, and the witnesses are not shadowy people
living in the dim past and inaccessible to our cross-
examination, but are our own contemporaries, men of
character and intellect whom all must respect. The
situation may, as it seems to me, be summed up in a
simple alternative. The one supposition is that
there has been an outbreak of lunacy extending over two
generations of mankind, and two great continents--a
lunacy which assails men or women who are otherwise
eminently sane. The alternative supposition is that in
recent years there has come to us from divine sources a
new revelation which constitutes by far the greatest
religious event since the death of Christ (for the
Reformation was a re-arrangement of the old, not a
revelation of the new), a revelation which alters the
whole aspect of death and the fate of man. Between
these two suppositions there is no solid position.
Theories of fraud or of delusion will not meet the
evidence. It is absolute lunacy or it is a revolution
in religious thought, a revolution which gives us as
by-products an utter fearlessness of death, and an
immense consolation when those who are dear to us pass
behind the veil.

I should like to add a few practical words to those
who know the truth of what I say. We have here an
enormous new development, the greatest in the history
of mankind. How are we to use it? We are bound in
honour, I think, to state our own belief,
especially to those who are in trouble. Having stated
it, we should not force it, but leave the rest to
higher wisdom than our own. We wish to subvert no
religion. We wish only to bring back the material-
minded--to take them out of their cramped valley and
put them on the ridge, whence they can breathe purer
air and see other valleys and other ridges beyond.
Religions are mostly petrified and decayed, overgrown
with forms and choked with mysteries. We can prove
that there is no need for this. All that is essential
is both very simple and very sure.

The clear call for our help comes from those who
have had a loss and who yearn to re-establish
connection. This also can be overdone. If your boy
were in Australia, you would not expect him to
continually stop his work and write long letters at all
seasons. Having got in touch, be moderate in your
demands. Do not be satisfied with any evidence short
of the best, but having got that, you can, it seems to
me, wait for that short period when we shall all be re-
united. I am in touch at present with thirteen
mothers who are in correspondence with their dead
sons. In each case, the husband, where he is alive, is
agreed as to the evidence. In only one case so far as
I know was the parent acquainted with psychic matters
before the war.

Several of these cases have peculiarities of their
own. In two of them the figures of the dead lads have
appeared beside the mothers in a photograph. In one
case the first message to the mother came through a
stranger to whom the correct address of the mother was
given. The communication afterwards became direct. In
another case the method of sending messages was to give
references to particular pages and lines of books in
distant libraries, the whole conveying a message. The
procedure was to weed out all fear of telepathy.
Verily there is no possible way by which a truth can be
proved by which this truth has not been proved.

How are you to act? There is the difficulty.
There are true men and there are frauds. You have to
work warily. So far as professional mediums go, you
will not find it difficult to get recommendations.
Even with the best you may draw entirely blank. The
conditions are very elusive. And yet some get the
result at once. We cannot lay down laws, because the
law works from the other side as well as this. Nearly
every woman is an undeveloped medium. Let her try her
own powers of automatic writing. There again, what is
done must be done with every precaution against self-
deception, and in a reverent and prayerful mood. But
if you are earnest, you will win through somehow, for
someone else is probably trying on the other side.

Some people discountenance communication upon the
ground that it is hindering the advance of the
departed. There is not a tittle of evidence for this.
The assertions of the spirits are entirely to the
contrary and they declare that they are helped and
strengthened by the touch with those whom they love. I
know few more moving passages in their simple boyish
eloquence than those in which Raymond describes the
feelings of the dead boys who want to get messages back
to their people and find that ignorance and
prejudice are a perpetual bar. "It is hard to think
your sons are dead, but such a lot of people do think
so. It is revolting to hear the boys tell you how no
one speaks of them ever. It hurts me through and

Above all read the literature of this subject. It
has been far too much neglected, not only by the
material world but by believers. Soak yourself with
this grand truth. Make yourself familiar with the
overpowering evidence. Get away from the phenomenal
side and learn the lofty teaching from such beautiful
books as After Death or from Stainton Moses'
Spirit Teachings. There is a whole library of such
literature, of unequal value but of a high average.
Broaden and spiritualize your thoughts. Show the
results in your lives. Unselfishness, that is the
keynote to progress. Realise not as a belief or a
faith, but as a fact which is as tangible as the
streets of London, that we are moving on soon to
another life, that all will be very happy there, and
that the only possible way in which that happiness can
be marred or deferred is by folly and selfishness
in these few fleeting years.

It must be repeated that while the new revelation
may seem destructive to those who hold Christian dogmas
with extreme rigidity, it has quite the opposite effect
upon the mind which, like so many modern minds, had
come to look upon the whole Christian scheme as a huge
delusion. It is shown clearly that the old revelation
has so many resemblances, defaced by time and mangled
by man's mishandling and materialism, but still
denoting the same general scheme, that undoubtedly both
have come from the same source. The accepted ideas of
life after death, of higher and lower spirits, of
comparative happiness depending upon our own conduct,
of chastening by pain, of guardian spirits, of high
teachers, of an infinite central power, of circles
above circles approaching nearer to His presence--all
of these conceptions appear once more and are confirmed
by many witnesses. It is only the claims of
infallibility and of monopoly, the bigotry and pedantry
of theologians, and the man-made rituals which take the
life out of the God-given thoughts--it is only
this which has defaced the truth.

I cannot end this little book better than by using
words more eloquent than any which I could write, a
splendid sample of English style as well as of English
thought. They are from the pen of that considerable
thinker and poet, Mr. Gerald Massey, and were written
many years ago.

"Spiritualism has been for me, in common
with many others, such a lifting of the mental
horizon and letting-in of the heavens--such a
formation of faith into facts, that I can only
compare life without it to sailing on board
ship with hatches battened down and being kept
a prisoner, living by the light of a candle,
and then suddenly, on some splendid starry
night, allowed to go on deck for the first time
to see the stupendous mechanism of the heavens
all aglow with the glory of God."



I have spoken in the text of the striking manner in
which accounts of life in the next phase, though
derived from the most varied and independent sources,
are still in essential agreement--an agreement which
occasionally descends to small details. A variety is
introduced by that fuller vision which can see and
describe more than one plane, but the accounts of that
happy land to which the ordinary mortal may hope to
aspire, are very consistent. Since I wrote the
statement I have read three fresh independent
descriptions which again confirm the point. One is the
account given by "A King's Counsel," in his recent
book, I Heard a Voice (Kegan Paul), which I
recommended to inquirers, though it has a strong Roman
Catholic bias running through it which shows that our
main lines of thought are persistent. A second is the
little book The Light on the Future,
giving the very interesting details of the beyond,
gathered by an earnest and reverent circle in Dublin.
The other came in a private letter from Mr. Hubert
Wales, and is, I think, most instructive. Mr. Wales is
a cautious and rather sceptical inquirer who had put
away his results with incredulity (he had received them
through his own automatic writing). On reading my
account of the conditions described in the beyond, he
hunted up his own old script which had commended itself
so little to him when he first produced it. He says:
"After reading your article, I was struck, almost
startled, by the circumstance that the statements which
had purported to be made to me regarding conditions
after death coincided--I think almost to the smallest
detail--with those you set out as the result of your
collation of material obtained from a great number of
sources. I cannot think there was anything in my
antecedent reading to account for this coincidence. I
had certainly read nothing you had published on the
subject. I had purposely avoided Raymond and
books like it, in order not to vitiate my own results,
and the Proceedings of the S.P.R. which I had read
at that time, do not touch, as you know, upon after-
death conditions. At any rate I obtained, at various
times, statements (as my contemporary notes show) to
the effect that, in this persisting state of existence,
they have bodies which, though imperceptible by our
senses, are as solid to them as ours to us, that these
bodies are based on the general characteristies of our
present bodies but beautified; that they have no age,
no pain, no rich and poor; that they wear clothes and
take nourishment; that they do not sleep (though they
spoke of passing occasionally into a semiconscious
state which they called 'lying asleep'--a condition, it
just occurs to me, which seems to correspond roughly
with the 'Hypnoidal' state); that, after a period which
is usually shorter than the average life-time here,
they pass to some further state of existence; that
people of similar thoughts, tastes and feelings,
gravitate together; that married couples do not
necessarily reunite, but that the love of man and
woman continues and is freed of elements which
with us often militate against its perfect realization;
that immediately after death people pass into a semi-
conscious rest-state lasting various periods, that they
are unable to experience bodily pain, but are
susceptible at times to some mental anxiety; that a
painful death is 'absolutely unknown,' that religious
beliefs make no difference whatever in the after-state,
and that their life altogether is intensely happy, and
no one having ever realised it could wish to return
here. I got no reference to 'work' by that word, but
much to the various interests that were said to occupy
them. That is probably only another way of saying the
same thing. 'Work' with us has come usually to mean
'work to live,' and that, I was emphatically informed,
was not the case with them--that all the requirements
of life were somehow mysteriously 'provided.' Neither
did I get any reference to a definite 'temporary penal
state,' but I gathered that people begin there at the
point of intellectual and moral development where they
leave off here; and since their state of happiness was
based mainly upon sympathy, those who came over in
a low moral condition, failed at first for various
lengths of time to have the capacity to appreciate and
enjoy it."


This form of mediumship gives the very highest
results, and yet in its very nature is liable to self-
deception. Are we using our own hand or is an outside
power directing it? It is only by the information
received that we can tell, and even then we have to
make broad allowance for the action of our own
subconscious knowledge. It is worth while perhaps to
quote what appears to me to be a thoroughly critic-
proof case, so that the inquirer may see how strong the
evidence is that these messages are not self-evolved.
This case is quoted in Mr. Arthur Hill's recent book
Man Is a Spirit (Cassell & Co.) and is contributed
by a gentleman who takes the name of Captain James
Burton. He is, I understand, the same medium (amateur)
through whose communications the position of the buried
ruins at Glastonbury have recently been located.
"A week after my father's funeral I was writing a
business letter, when something seemed to intervene
between my hand and the motor centres of my brain, and
the hand wrote at an amazing rate a letter, signed with
my father's signature and purporting to come from him.
I was upset, and my right side and arm became cold and
numb. For a year after this letters came frequently,
and always at unexpected times. I never knew what they
contained until I examined them with a magnifying-
glass: they were microscopic. And they contained a
vast amount of matter with which it was impossible for
me to be acquainted." . . . "Unknown to me, my mother,
who was staying some sixty miles away, lost her pet
dog, which my father had given her. The same night I
had a letter from him condoling with her, and stating
that the dog was now with him. 'All things which love
us and are necessary to our happiness in the world are
with us here.' A most sacred secret, known to no one
but my father and mother, concerning a matter which
occurred years before I was born, was afterwards
told me in the script, with the comment: 'Tell your
mother this, and she will know that it is I, your
father, who am writing.' My mother had been unable to
accept the possibility up to now, but when I told her
this she collapsed and fainted. From that moment the
letters became her greatest comfort, for they were
lovers during the forty years of their married life,
and his death almost broke her heart.

"As for myself, I am as convinced that my father,
in his original personality, still exists, as if he
were still in his study with the door shut. He is no
more dead than he would be were he living in America.

"I have compared the diction and vocabulary of
these letters with those employed in my own writing--I
am not unknown as a magazine contributor--and I find no
points of similarity between the two." There is much
further evidence in this case for which I refer the
reader to the book itself.


I have mentioned in the text that I had some recent
experience of a case where a "polter-geist" or
mischievous spirit had been manifesting. These
entities appear to be of an undeveloped order and
nearer to earth conditions than any others with which
we are acquainted. This comparative materialism upon
their part places them low in the scale of spirit, and
undesirable perhaps as communicants, but it gives them
a special value as calling attention to crude obvious
phenomena, and so arresting the human attention and
forcing upon our notice that there are other forms of
life within the universe. These borderland forces have
attracted passing attention at several times and places
in the past, such cases as the Wesley persecution at
Epworth, the Drummer of Tedworth, the Bells
of Bealing, etc., startling the country for a time--
each of them being an impingement of unknown forces
upon human life. Then almost simultaneously came the
Hydesville case in America and the Cideville
disturbances in France, which were so marked that they
could not be overlooked. From them sprang the whole
modern movement which, reasoning upwards from small
things to great, from raw things to developed ones,
from phenomena to messages, is destined to give
religion the firmest basis upon which it has ever
stood. Therefore, humble and foolish as these
manifestations may seem, they have been the seed of
large developments, and are worthy of our respectful,
though critical, attention.

Many such manifestations have appeared of recent
years in various quarters of the world, each of which
is treated by the press in a more or less comic vein,
with a conviction apparently that the use of the word
"spook" discredits the incident and brings discussion
to an end. It is remarkable that each is treated as an
entirely isolated phenomenon, and thus the
ordinary reader gets no idea of the strength of the
cumulative evidence. In this particular case of the
Cheriton Dugout the facts are as follows:

Mr. Jaques, a Justice of the Peace and a man of
education and intelligence, residing at Embrook House,
Cheriton, near Folkestone, made a dugout just opposite
to his residence as a protection against air raids.
The house was, it may be remarked, of great antiquity,
part of it being an old religious foundation of the
14th Century. The dugout was constructed at the base
of a small bluff, and the sinking was through ordinary
soft sandstone. The work was carried out by a local
jobbing builder called Rolfe, assisted by a lad. Soon
after the inception of his task he was annoyed by his
candle being continually blown out by jets of sand,
and, by similar jets hitting up against his own face.
These phenomena he imagined to be due to some gaseous
or electrical cause, but they reached such a point that
his work was seriously hampered, and he complained to
Mr. Jaques, who received the story with absolute
incredulity. The persecution continued, however,
and increased in intensity, taking the form now of
actual blows from moving material, considerable
objects, such as stones and bits of brick, flying past
him and hitting the walls with a violent impact. Mr.
Rolfe, still searching for a physical explanation, went
to Mr. Hesketh, the Municipal Electrician of
Folkestone, a man of high education and intelligence,
who went out to the scene of the affair and saw enough
to convince himself that the phenomena were perfectly
genuine and inexplicable by ordinary laws. A Canadian
soldier who was billeted upon Mr. Rolfe, heard an
account of the happenings from his host, and after
announcing his conviction that the latter had "bats in
his belfry" proceeded to the dugout, where his
experiences were so instant and so violent that he
rushed out of the place in horror. The housekeeper at
the Hall also was a witness of the movement of bricks
when no human hands touched them. Mr. Jaques, whose
incredulity had gradually thawed before all this
evidence, went down to the dugout in the absence of
everyone, and was departing from it when five stones
rapped up against the door from the inside. He
reopened the door and saw them lying there upon the
floor. Sir William Barrett had meanwhile come down,
but had seen nothing. His stay was a short one. I
afterwards made four visits of about two hours each to
the grotto, but got nothing direct, though I saw the
new brickwork all chipped about by the blows which it
had received. The forces appeared to have not the
slightest interest in psychical research, for they
never played up to an investigator, and yet their
presence and action have been demonstrated to at least
seven different observers, and, as I have said, they
left their traces behind them, even to the extent of
picking the flint stones out of the new cement which
was to form the floor, and arranging them in tidy
little piles. The obvious explanation that the boy was
an adept at mischief had to be set aside in view of the
fact that the phenomena occurred in his absence. One
extra man of science wandered on to the scene for a
moment, but as his explanation was that the movements
occurred through the emanation of marsh-gas, it did not
advance matters much. The disturbances are still
proceeding, and I have had a letter this very morning
(February 21st, 1918) with fuller and later details
from Mr. Hesketh, the Engineer.

What is the REAL explanation of such a matter?
I can only say that I have advised Mr. Jaques to dig
into the bluff under which he is constructing his
cellar. I made some investigation myself upon the top
of it and convinced myself that the surface ground at
that spot has at some time been disturbed to the depth
of at least five feet. Something has, I should judge,
been buried at some date, and it is probable that, as
in the case cited in the text, there is a connection
between this and the disturbances. It is very probable
that Mr. Rolfe is, unknown to himself, a physical
medium, and that when he was in the confined space of
the cellar he turned it into a cabinet in which his
magnetic powers could accumulate and be available for
use. It chanced that there was on the spot some agency
which chose to use them, and hence the phenomena. When
Mr. Jaques went alone to the grotto the power left
behind by Mr. Rolfe, who had been in it all
morning, was not yet exhausted and he was able to
get some manifestations. So I read it, but it is well
not to be dogmatic on such matters. If there is
systematic digging I should expect an epilogue to the

Whilst these proofs were in the press a second very
marked case of a Polter-geist came within my knowledge.
I cannot without breach of confidence reveal the
details and the phenomena are still going on.
Curiously enough, it was because one of the sufferers
from the invasion read some remarks of mine upon the
Cheriton dugout that this other case came to my
knowledge, for the lady wrote to me at once for advice
and assistance. The place is remote and I have not yet
been able to visit it, but from the full accounts which
I have now received it seems to present all the
familiar features, with the phenomenon of direct
writing superadded. Some specimens of this script have
reached me. Two clergymen have endeavoured to mitigate
the phenomena, which are occasionally very violent, but
so far without result. It may be some consolation to
any others who may be suffering from this strange
inflition, to know that in the many cases which
have been carefully recorded there is none in which any
physical harm has been inflicted upon man or beast.


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