A New Revelation

Author(s): Doyle, Arthur Conan


The New Revelation
New Revelation
To all the brave men and women,
humble or learned, who have had the
moral courage during seventy years to
face ridicule or worldly disadvantage in
order to testify to an all-important
March, 1918.
The New Revelation Contents
The New Revelation Preface
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
The Search
The New Revelation. Chapter I
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 séance. 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 puts 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
séances. 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 affect 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
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
had 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 séance, 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 severity 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 séances, 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 Poslethwaite," 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 Mahommedans 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
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
Chandenagur, with a very judicial
mind, but rather biassed 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 at 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 deathblow
of the movement, whereas being an
endorsement of the phenomena it met
with nothing but 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
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 séances with very amazing results,
including several materialisations
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
*Vide Appendix III.
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 one 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 in themselves 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 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 experiences 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
One other incident of the early war
days stands out in my memory. A lady
had died in a provincial town in whom
I was interested. 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
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
These 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 are no
more to do with it. There are many,
however — quorum pars parva sum — who
without any reserves 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.
The Revelation
The New Revelation Chapter II
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-paper--
basket 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 link
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 old 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 revelation.
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 caveman
and the drift-man, back to that
shadowy and far-off time when the man--
like ape slowly evolved into the ape-like
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 broadminded
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 live.
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 now say, 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 séance? 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 were taken (who formed the psychic
circle when the dead was restored
to life, and were presumably the most
helpful of the group). 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.
The Coming Life
The New Revelation Chapter III
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 like as to be
practically the same.*
*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 séance 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 latter point 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 duties.
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 scared 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
ecstacy 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 pre-existing 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 world.
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 herself.
Thus the account we get 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 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, is 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
séance room. If they can build up
simulacra in the Séance 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
analagous 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 he 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 to what we desire, but they
exist none the less. But when we come to
examine this charge of materialism and
to 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 emotions.
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 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.
Problems and Limitations
The New Revelation Chapter IV
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 are all gone. In
short, the higher is palpably gone, and
the lower, the sense of fear, of sensual
impression, of self preservation, are
functioning all the more vividly because
they are relieved from the higher
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 intelligence.
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
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 cold-blooded 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
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 inaccessable 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. This 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
to 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 he 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."
Supplementary Documents
The Next Phase of Life
Supplementary Documents
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
recommend 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
characteristics 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."
I would add to this recent testimony
yet another little book, "Do Thoughts
Perish," which has just passed through
my hands. Although anonymous, the
writer is clearly a lady of much experience
and character. The dates of her
communications show that they must
have been written at the same time as
Raymond and quite independently of it.
Yet the main description of the feelings
and experience of the young soldiers just
passed over are quite identical with
those of Raymond. How does the hostile
critic account for this absolutely independent
agreement between unconnected
Automatic Writing
Supplementary Documents
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
"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.
The Cheriton Dugout
Supplementary Documents
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,
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 re-opened 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 arraging 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 story.
Whilst these proofs were in the Press
a second very marked case of a Poltergeist
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 infliction, 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.
Since the above was written a third
clergyman, with some knowledge of
occult matters, has succeeded by sympathetic
reasoning and prayer in
obtaining a promise from the entity that
it will plague the household no more.
It remains to be seen how far the cure
will be permanent.
Printed in England by C. TINLING & CO., LTD.,
63, Victoria Street, Liverpool,
and 187, Fleet Street London.


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A New Revelation

Document Information

Document ID 657
Title A New Revelation
Year group 1900-1950
Genre Expository prose
Year of publication 1918
Publisher Hodder and Stoughton
Place of publication London
Wordcount 20284

Author information: Doyle, Arthur Conan

Author ID 437
Forenames Arthur Conan
Surname Doyle
Gender Male
Year of birth 1859
Place of birth Edinburgh
Mother's place of birth Ireland
Father's place of birth England
Occupation Author, physician
Father's occupation Artist
Education University
Locations where resident Edinburgh, England
Religious affiliation Catholic, spiritualist