FOR more than seven years, from 1920 to early 1928, the Elizabeth M. trance automatisms had served as a channel for transmitting memories, ideas, imagery. While Stevenson had been the one communicator who made the longest and most successful use of the pathway opened to him by this woman's superlative psychic sensitivity, two other major personalities must be acknowledged.
Without any prior hint, the first, David Livingstone, appeared on July 12, 1925, when he unexpectedly spoke, using Elizabeth's deep trance speech automatism. Here are two of the initial conversations of Dr. Hamilton and this new
"July 12, 1925. Dr. H.: 'Who is this?'
Dr. H.: 'What have you to say?'
X-E.M.: '1846 ... Kolobeng ... Medical missionary ... Livingstone ... Africa ... Backwain ...
On July 19, 1925, following Stevenson's trance output, Elizabeth, still entranced, walked about the room in a mannish way and spoke in a deep
"Dr. H.: 'Who are you?'
Dr. H.: 'What have you to say?'
X-E.M.: 'Johannas . . . Africa ... Nassick ... Shire region ... Buffaloes . . . Donkeys ... Mules ... Livingstone talking …'"
In a few minutes Elizabeth became normal and described her 'picture': "I was away and saw two or three different kinds of men... About twenty red men. And I saw a lot of animals
- some buffaloes, some donkeys and some camels. These men were amongst these animals …"
Verification came a year later. In a second-hand book shop Dr. Hamilton chanced upon a very old copy of Livingstone's
Last Journals, edited by Horace Waller, F.R.G.S., and published in 1875 by R. W. Bliss and Company, Chicago. In this book were found these facts: Livingstone had opened a mission station at Kolobeng in 1843, where he had remained until 1849. His people had been the Backwain tribe. Furthermore in the Journal Livingstone recorded the story of his preparations for his third journey of exploration into the African interior, his entry dated January 18, 1866,
"The 'Penguin' came a few days ago, and Lieutenant Garforth who is in command agreed to take me down to the Rovuma River and land me there. I have a dhow to take my animals: six camels, three buffaloes, and a calf, two mules, and four donkeys. I have thirteen sepoys, ten Johanna men, nine Nassick boys, two Shupanga men, and two Waiyaus, Wekatini and Chumah …"
The words "Shire region" were clarified by the Editor's note 'that several of these men had previously been employed by Dr. Livingstone on the Zambesi and
For the first few months Livingstone's use of trance-speech made him seem an actual presence in the
séance room. Later, once he had mastered the automatism of trance-writing, he followed the pattern already established by R.L.S. of
trance-writing and vision. These two trance personalities functioned in sequence in one prolonged trance state. At first there was evidence of some conflict of ideas, with resulting confusion. However this was
short-lived, and the demarcation between the two personalities, and the distinctive qualities of each one's material, became so clearly defined that we regarded it as highly significant that two such diverse streams of memory could be recalled and transmitted without an intermingling of their contents. We regarded this fact sufficient in itself to justify the assumption that the two trance personalities, and the medium, herself, were in truth, three separate psychological entities.
Livingstone's transmissions lacked the poetical and artistic garnishings which had so enhanced Stevenson's efforts. They were largely factual in content. Of the some 200
vision-scripts received from 1925 to 1927, almost all were subsequently verified and were found to have been based on incidents of the Scottish missionary explorer's personal life, and on experiences and events with the native tribes he had encountered in the course of his African travels. Many
difficult-to-spell tribal names and places were put through, either in the
trance-writings or the visions, such as: the story of Chief Secheles, the Makangwata country; references to superstitions in Cassange; to Arabs and slavery; to Ujiji and Tenganyiki, to Livingstone's bargaining for canoes on the Luolaba river; to his dealings with the Boers, to his visits with the Quisimas; to his meeting the Dutch in Loanda and Angolo, to his discovery of the Zambesi River; to his preaching peace to the tribe the Batoka; to his waiting for news from home; to his last illness, and his burial in Westminster Abbey.
Undoubtedly it was Elizabeth's child-like simplicity and lack of anything which could be termed intellectual background that made her so ideal a recipient for the images thrown upon the screen of her uncluttered mind. Here are examples of Livingstone's transmissions:
On November 16, 1925 (Livingstone's twenty-fifth effort), Elizabeth's writing automatism
was this: "Held over the dead their carnival." Her trance-speech: "Lake Nigami … 1853 … liver-coloured flowers." The vision which accompanied these two automatisms was
"I was at some kind of fair or carnival.... They were holding it where they had been burying somebody. It wasna (wasn't) to say, a grave yard, for I could see no stones or signs of a grave yard. Then I saw that other man (Livingstone) down at the water with a lot of dark men and such a curious boat...
A year passed before verification. In late 1926, reading Livingstone's
Missionary Travels, my mother stumbled upon these two passages:
"Having remained five days with the wretched Bakwains, seeing the effects of war, of which only a very inadequate idea can ever be formed by those who have not been
eye-witnesses of its miseries, we prepared to depart on the 15th of January, 1853. Several dogs, in better condition by far than any of the people, had taken up their residence at the water. No one would own them; there they had remained, and coming on the trail of the people, long after their departure from the scene of the conflict, it was plain they had 'held over the dead their carnival' ...
"On our way from Khopong, along the ancient river bed which forms the pathway to Boatlanama, I found a species of cactus, being the third I have seen in the
country - namely, one in the colony with a bright red flower, one at Lake Nigami, the flower which is
liver-coloured ... "
A final example: On December 13, 1925, Elizabeth spoke in
"Livingstone speaking ... presented King of Portugal ... Prince Consort ... His Royal Highness ... some of our great breed …
When she returned to a normal state, Elizabeth detailed her
"I had a beautiful picture the night! They seemed to be military men and one was all gaily dressed ... and I saw a lot of negroes and it seemed a sort of festival. I saw Livingstone ... he was the only one I knew. The man with the brightest colours was walking about like a peacock, showing off his beautiful coat and hat. Gold was on his hat and he carried a sword. Stevenson did not appear...
Months later, again reading
Missionary Travels, my mother found this passage:
"They (the Makololo) have two breeds of cattle among them. One, called the Batoka, because captured from that tribe, is of diminutive size, but very beautiful, and closely resembles the shorthorns of our own country. The little pair presented by the King of Portugal to H.R.H. the Prince Consort, is of this breed ...
As we have shown, the Stevenson and Livingstone transmissions were in essence 'puzzles' in two parts
- a written script, linked to a vision, both parts relating to literary and/or personal incidents of their earthly lives; devised with superlative imaginative skill so as to give irrefutable proof that not only had R.L.S. and D.L. survived physical death, but that they had full access to memories of their earthly lives, and an ability to weave of such memories an intricate tapestry of events and ideas so as to signify continuing life and creativity in another dimension.
In July 1926, a third communicator appeared in the Elizabeth M.
trance-sleep, when her hand was found to have written these words:
"My work has begun. This sphere is beautiful for all of us.
From that moment Stead was to become the dominant influence; and while Stevenson and Livingstone continued to manipulate ideas and portray images, they gradually withdrew to take a secondary role in the psychic manifestations. He had appeared briefly and occasionally from 1920 to 1925; in 1926 he gave short communications at
thirty-five sittings, and in 1927, he manifested forty-two times. These very positive statements indicated that he was less concerned with proof of survival, more concerned with giving instruction and advice in regard to selection of suitable group personnel, and in matters of precautionary
séance-room technique. Many of his communications simply called for patience, faithful attendance, and a properly serious, not frivolous, regard for the value of the research.
It was claimed that Stead was the director of the group of discarnate persons who were
co-operating with Dr. Hamilton and his group in their researches; that it was Stead who had shaped the general policies by means of which these discarnates strove to demonstrate their reality, that it was Stead who had urged Stevenson and Livingstone to present their memories in such a way as to indicate continuity of human personality and creative skill, that it was under Stead's guidance that Stevenson and Livingstone gradually withdrew from Elizabeth M. And it was Stead who predicted the coming of a second medium whose powers would unite with those of Elizabeth to produce materializations. When Mrs. Marshall joined the Hamilton group in January 1928, it was Stead who had laid the preliminary groundwork for her development as a materializing medium, by bringing Walter in April 1927.
The attitude which Stead had demonstrated over those years through his medium, Elizabeth M., was precisely that which one would expect from a person who in his own lifetime had held serious convictions concerning the importance of psychical research. He stated it in his very first communication, in 1920, by way of
table-tilts at an impromptu sitting in our home:
"Plato, Book X ... Allegory very true. Read Lodge... Trust his religious sense ... Myers ... Myers and Stead are here ... Stead answers Doctor's questions ...
As evidence of an intelligent communication through a table activated by unknown means, this is startling. Interpreted in the spiritistic hypothesis as a communication from
F. W. H. Myers and W. T. Stead, both pioneers in psychic research in England in the 1890's, this message is characteristic of the position of both these scholars. The reference is to be found in the tenth book of Plato's
Republic, wherein the philosopher develops a theory of life after death, clothing it in allegorical form.
Knowing nothing of Plato's writings, but aware that Myers had been a scholar of the classics, and an intimate friend of Sir Oliver Lodge, my father wrote to Sir Oliver for his opinion concerning this obscure reference. Sir Oliver
"Thank you for letting me know about the message you have obtained by
table-tilting, and which certainly seems to me to be of an evidential character... The message given is characteristic of Myers as I knew him
- I mean in its brevity and pointedness ... "
Many, many times Stead voiced his conviction for the need to help humanity realize the truth and the actuality of the survival of the human spirit beyond the door of death. Early in 1928, when Mrs. Marshall (Mary M.) had developed as a trance medium to the point where she was becoming a more trustworthy instrument for transmission, Stead spoke these words through her
"Stead-Mary M.: 'William Thomas Stead.'
T.G.H.: 'We have found it very difficult to read the writing (the Elizabeth scripts).'
Stead-Mary M.: 'It is very difficult for me to communicate. I would do better if I could come back in the material form. There is much work to be done and there are few helpers:… (it is a great work), because until everyone knows there is no death
- only a transformation - there is much to do. How can anyone disbelieve? Many are following after truth. It must be added to the religious world, not only in a scientific way, but also in a religious way. There are great opportunities for all ... Robert Louis Stevenson is here, all are here. Make more people know that there is something brighter and better to come to the weary and tired and despondent, and teach them that they must work out their own salvation before they can attain the greater heights of beauty and splendour that are in this place!
'Many friends are here to help me and also to help you!'"