Book: "The Survival of Man"

Author: Sir Oliver Lodge FRS

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- Section Four -

Automatism and Lucidity

Chapter 22

Illustrations of Manner


          SINCE Mr. Myers's death on 17th January 1901, he has communicated through a considerable number of mediums, especially through Mrs. Thompson, Mrs. Verrall, Mrs. Holland and Mrs. Piper. But his communications are too long and important to be summarised here. Some very early attempts are quoted in the larger editions of this book.

I will only quote here, from page 213 Of Proc., vol. xxi., an extract from the script of Mrs. Holland in India which was written on January 5th and 6th, 1904, by the Myers control:

"Oh, if I could only get to them - could only leave you the proof positive that I remember-recall-know-continue . . . I have thought of a simile which may help you to realise the 'bound to earth condition' which persists with me. It is a matter very largely, of voluntary choice - I am, as it were, actuated by the missionary spirit; and the great longing to speak to the souls in prison - still in the prison of the flesh - leads me to 'absent me from felicity awhile.'"

This clearly expresses the idea of "service" which I wish to emphasise, and indicates the reason for the labour bestowed by departed intelligences on the construction and communication of proofs of identity. 

General Remarks, Addressed to Religious Objectors

Good and earnest though moderately intelligent religious people sometimes seek to pour scorn upon the reality of any of these apparent communications - not for any scientific reason, but for reasons born of prejudice. They think that it is not a worthy occupation for "just men made perfect" "who have entered into felicity" to be remembering trivial and minute details, under circumstances of exceptional difficulty, for the purpose of proving to those left behind the fact of survival and the continuance of personal identity. It is taken for granted that saints ought to be otherwise occupied in their new and lofty and favoured conditions

What may or may not be possible to saints, it is hardly for me or other gropers among mere terrestrial facts to surmise: nor am I anxious to imagine that all our communicators belong to the category of "perfected and glorified saints," - it seems to me, I confess, singularly unlikely; nor is it necessary to suppose that such exercises as we report - even if they are fully an entirely what they pretend to be-constitute any large proportion of the activity of the people who are professedly concerned in their production - people who are confessedly far from perfection and who have still much to learn. And as regard dignity and appropriateness, does it not sometimes happen that an Archbishop or a Savant is found willing to play a frivolous childish game, and otherwise to disport himself, in spite of his being on the brink of eternity in a world of sorrow and sin?

But seriously, is it not legitimate to ask these good people whether, if an opportunity of service to brethren arises, an effort to seize it may not be made even by saint? Whether this notion of perennial service is no in accordance with their own doctrines and beliefs? and whether they are not impressed by that clause in till, creed of most Christians which roundly asserts that their Master descended into Hades? for purposes which in another place are suggested. Whereby they may learn that, even after such a Life and Death as that, Felicity was not entered into save after an era of further personal service of an efficient kind. Those who interpret the parables in such a way as to imagine that dignified idleness is the occupation of eternity that there will be nothing to do hereafter but idly to enjoy the beatific contemplation and other rewards appropriate to a well-spent life or to well-held creeds, free from remorse of every kind, and without any call for future work and self-sacrifice, - such people will probably some day find themselves mistaken, and will realise that as yet they have formed a very inadequate conception of what is meant by that pregnant phrase "the joy of the Lord."

Further Comments

Those who think that there is anything sensational or specially emotional in these communications are mistaken. The conversation is conducted on the same lines as a telephonic conversation: it is liable to the same sort of annoying interruptions, and likewise to the same occasional surprising gleams of vividness, - a happy turn of phrase, for instance, a tone of the voice, and other unmistakable and unexpected revelations of identity-forged or real-such as may be conveyed by an appropriate nickname or by some trivial reminiscence. When this happens, and when relatives are present, their emotions are certainly perturbed.

These remarks are general, and are applicable to this whole group reported on by me: they are not limited in their application to any one particular series.

I have not the slightest interest in attempting to coerce belief of any kind. The facts will make different kinds of appeal to different people, and to some they will not appeal at all. These will regard the whole business with contempt and pity. They are within their rights in doing so if they have conscientiously read this and the other records. As a rule however that is where they are apt to fail; and when a person's knowledge of a subject is small, we may be pardoned for holding his opinion concerning it in light esteem.

Among messages interesting to me are some concluding observations, part of which were carefully and laboriously reported by the "Nelly" control of - Mrs. Thompson, - the words (repeated below) sounding odd in a childish voice.

(Myers) "I could not say it, but they were translating like a schoolboy does his first lines of Virgil - so terribly confused and inaccurate. But somehow I could not help it. It was not me communicating, yet I saw it going on. . . . I can only think the things, and, false things may creep in without my knowing it."

(Nelly) "He said it was not he, but neither was it fraud. He does not want you to stop the phenomenon, he wants to study it. You are not to say it was wrong and get it stopped. He likes to watch the somnambulistic thing at work it is not he that is doing it, and yet he is looking on. He does not see how it is worked, but he finds this more interesting than the genuine communications. He did not rattle the curtains either . . . but it was not cheating, and he does not want you to make them think that they are cheats. He does not know how it is worked, but he is studying and he thinks it will help a great deal if he can understand how the cheating things that are not cheats are done. . . .

(And then came the laborious sentence)

He says he is finding out how honest non-phenomena are to be accounted for. Apparently dishonest phenomena are phenomena of extreme (interest) apart from the spirit which purports to be communicating."

Whatever their origin, these words do, in my judgment, represent the truth about a good many of these phenomena - that is to say, that they are riot precisely what their surface-aspect implies, yet neither are they fraud. They are attempts at doing something rather beyond the power of the operators, - who arrive approximately at their aim without achieving what they want exactly. They are trying to get something definite through, let us say, and something like it comes. Occasionally they hardly know how it comes, it is a puzzle to them as to us, and often they don't know what it is that we have got. Sometimes they too seem to be spectators, aware of the result, and to be worried by the misconception and misunderstanding which they see will arise, but which they are powerless to prevent, except, as here, by trying to instruct us and awaken our intelligences into a condition in which we too can understand and grapple with the unavoidable difficulties of the situation. "I can only think the things": seems to me likely to be an accurate description of the method. It is a telepathic method, and the reproduction by voice or pen is a supplementary and only barely controllable process.

Manner of the Stainton Moses Group

It will be of interest to those familiar with the script of Stainton Moses to see the names of his old controls cropping up. Not only Imperator and Rector, but "Prudens" also, who appears to act as an accomplished messenger. I conjecture, however, that whatever relationship may exist between these personages and the corresponding ones of Stainton Moses, there is little or no identity. For instance, a "Doctor" is represented as communicating or controlling, but he appears neither to have, nor to claim, any connexion with the nonmedical "Doctor" of Stainton Moses; sometimes at any rate this Piper one is called "Dr. Oliver," and is probably intended to represent a deceased medical man of Boston. It is rather a puzzle to me why Mrs. Piper's personalities should have assumed the same set of names. In general characters they are similar; but I see no very close resemblance in detail. And hitherto the Piper "Imperator" has not given to us the same old earth-name as did the original "Imperator" to Stainton Moses. So that it would appear as if they did not very seriously pretend to be identical.

It is seldom nowadays that there is any marked change of control, such as occurred with Phinuit sometimes. The utterances appear to consist of first-person reporting on the part of Rector, who speaks or writes after the fashion of a dignified and gentle old man.

It may be noted that in America, with the advent of the Stainton Moses controls, the atmosphere of a sitting sometimes became rather markedly "religious". This can be illustrated by the following close of an American Voice-Sitting in 1906, reported to me by Mr. Dorr:- 

("Hodgson" terminating his communication)

Well, I will be off. Goodbye for the present.

(Rector resumes.) All right. That is first-rate. Took him a long time to turn round and get out. He dislikes to go more than anybody I ever saw. The last moment he kept talking to me and talking to me. He could not give it up.


Father, in Thy kindness guide Thy children of earth, bestow Thy blessings on them, teach them with Thy presence and Thy power to receive suffering, pain, illness and sorrow, teach them to know that Thy presence is always with them. May Thy grace and everlasting love be and abide with them now and evermore.

Farewell. We depart, friends, and may the blessings of God be bestowed on you. Farewell.

Manner of the Hodgson Control

The atmosphere of a sitting is always serious, but only occasionally solemn; usually it is of an even tenor, and sometimes it is hearty and jovial. The following is a characteristic Hodgson greeting extracted from a sitting with Mr. Dorr and Henry James, Jr., at Boston in 1906:-

Ha! Well, I did not expect to me you so soon. Good morning, Harry! I am delighted to see you.

H. J. Jr. Is that you, Mr. Hodgson?

Yes, it is a great delight to me to see your face once more. How is everything with you, first rate?

H. J. Jr. Very well.

Why, I feel as though I was one among you. Hello George!

G. B. D. Hello!

You people don't appreciate my spirit of fun! But I am Hodgson, and I shall be Hodgson to the end of all eternity, and you cannot change me no matter what you do.

H. J. Jr. I think we appreciate it, Mr. Hodgson.

Well, I hope you do-if you don't, you have lost something, because I am what I am, and I shall never be anything else, and of all the joyous moments of my whole existence, the most joyful is when I meet you all.

This sort of thing is of course not in the least evidential, and yet if I were asked to invent some scheme of salutation more natural and characteristic of Hodgson's personality I should not be able to improve upon it.

Manner of the Impersonation Generally

As illustrating the dramatic activity of the hand in an extreme case-though it is always very marked, for the band is full of "personality" (p. 202) - I quote the following contemporaneous note made by Mrs. Sidgwick during a sitting in which the Myers, control, at length after much effort, had just succeeded in giving Abt Vogler as the name of a poem he was referring to.

"The hand is tremendously pleased and excited and thumps and gesticulates. The impression given is like that of a person dancing round the room in delight at having accomplished something."

But indeed the writing which immediately followed this success is worth quoting. The record runs thus:-

"(Rector communicating)

He pronounced it for me again and again just as you did, and he said, Rector get her to pronounce if for you and you will understand, he whispered it in my ear.

E. M. S. Just as you were coming out?

Just as I left the light.

Volgor, yes.

E. M. S Good.

(Myers communicating)

Now dear Mrs. Sidgwick in future have no doubt or feat of so-called death as there is none as there is certainly.

With regard to the misspelling which occurs here and elsewhere, the difficulty is readily imaginable but it is thus expressed by Rector, later, when he is repeating the name of a poem. The record runs thus:-

"Abt. ABT. Volg.

(Hand expresses dissatisfaction with this.)


(Rector communicating)

You see I do not always catch the letters as he repeat
them. R.

E. M. S. No, I see.

Therefore when I am registering I am apt to misspell.

E. M. S. I see

But if you ask me to correct it of course I can. R."

With regard to "fishing" and making use of indications given by the sitter, it seems likely that with the most transparent honesty this would be likely to happen because Rector, or any other scribe, is evidently in the position of receiving ideas by a sort of dictation, and need not always be able clearly to discriminate their source, whether from the ultra-material or from the material side. For instance the Myers, control attempted to speak about the Odes of Horace, and did so; but Rector, after writing "Odes" without difficulty, appeared doubtful about the word, and wrote "Odessus", "Odesesis," etc., and finally half accepted Mrs. Sidgwick's suggestion "Odyssey"; - a good instance of how ready Rector is to accept a misleading suggestion, even when what he has independently written is right; and also of discontinuity of consciousness between Rector and the real communicator, who in this case was obviously trying to talk about the Odes of Horace, in order to connect them with the quotations



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