Book: "The Survival of Man"

Author: Sir Oliver Lodge FRS

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- Section Two -

Experimental Telepathy of Thought-Transference

Chapter 5

Spontaneous Cases of Thought-Transference


          A NEW fact of this sort, if really established, must have innumerable consequences: among other things it may be held to account for a large number of phenomena alleged to occur spontaneously, but never yet received with full credence by scientific authority.

Such cases as those which immediately follow, for instance, we now begin to classify under the head "spontaneous telepathy," and it is natural to endeavour to proceed further in the same direction and use extended telepathy as a possible clue to many other legendary occurrences also; as we shall endeavour to show in the next chapter.

Two Cases

As stepping stones from the experimental to the spontaneous cases I quote two from a mass of material at the end of Mr. Myers's first volume, page 674; the first concerning a remote connexion of my own.

On the 27th of April, 1889, we were expecting my sister-in-law and her daughter from South America. My wife, being away from home, was unable to meet them at Southampton, so an intimate friend of the family, a Mr. P., offered to do so. It was between Derby and Leicester about 3.30 p.m. MY wife was travelling in the train., She closed her eyes to rest, and at the same moment a telegram paper appeared before her with words, " Come at once!, your sister is dangerously ill." During the afternoon I received a telegram from Mr. P. to my wife, worded exactly the same and sent from Southampton 3.30 p.m. to Bedford. On my wife's arrival home about 9 p.m. I deferred communicating it until she had some refreshment, being very tired., I afterwards made the remark, "I have some news for you" and she answered, Yes, I thought so, you have received a telegram from Mr. P.!" said, " How do you know ?" She then told me the contents and her strange experiences in the train, and that it impressed her so much that she felt quite anxious all the rest of the journey.

With regard to the above, my wife had no idea of her sister being ill, and was not even at the time thinking about them, but was thinking about her own child she had just left at a boarding school. Also the handwriting my wife saw, she recognised at once to be Mr. P.'s. But then, again. he would have been writing on a white paper form, and the one she saw was the usual brown coloured paper.


In reply to inquiries, Mr. F. Lodge wrote as follows :-

The letter sent you, with account of vision, I wrote from my wife's dictation. After it occurred in the train she took notice of the hour, and from the time marked on the telegram of its despatch from Southampton, we at once remarked it must have occurred as Mr. P. was filling in a form at Southampton. Mr. P. is now in South America constructing a railway line, and will not return to England for about a year . The occurrence was mentioned to him.

Two years having elapsed, my wife could not say the exact time now, but it was between 3 and 4 p.m., although when it happened, we did notice from the telegram that the time corresponded.


The second case illustrates the communicating of sensation, -a possibility verified in the Liverpool experiments of Mr. Malcolm Guthrie, already referred to on pages 27-43. In addition to impressions of pictures and objects, a pinch or other pain, or a taste caused by some food or chemical, was there often transferred from agent to percipient, Contact was usually found essential for success in these experimental cases ; but, to guard against normal sensation, the agent and percipient were arranged in separate rooms, with a specially contrived and padded small hole in the wall so that they could hold hands through it. Some early experiments of this kind are narrated in the first volume of Proceedings, S.P.R., page 275; but I myself was present at many others of the same kind.

Here follows an account of the incident which happened to Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Severn ; the narrative having been obtained through the kindness of Mr. Ruskin. Mrs. Severn says:

October 27th 1883

I woke up with a start, feeling I had had a hard blow on my mouth and with a distinct sense that I had been cut, and was bleeding under my upper lip, and seized my pocket-handkerchief, and held it (in a little pushed lump) to the part as I sat up in bed; and after a few seconds, when I removed it, I was astonished not to see any blood, and only then realised it was impossible anything could have struck me there, as I lay fast asleep in bed, and so I thought it was only a dream - but I looked at my watch, and saw it was seven, and finding Arthur (my husband) was not in the room, I concluded (rightly) that he must have gone out on the lake for an early sail, as it was so fine.

I then fell asleep. At breakfast (half-past nine), Arthur came in rather late, and I noticed he rather purposely sat farther away from me than usual, and every now and then put his pocket-handkerchief furtively up to his lip, in the very way I had done. I said, 'Arthur, why are you doing that? and added a little anxiously, ' I know you have hurt yourself I but I'll tell you why afterwards.' He said 'Well, when 1 was sailing, a sudden squall came, throwing the tiller suddenly round, and it struck me a bad blow in the mouth, under the upper lip, and it has been bleeding a good deal and won't stop.' I then said, 'Have you any idea what o'clock it was when it happened? and he answered, 'It must have been about seven.' then told what had happened to me, much to his surprise, and all who were with us at breakfast.

It happened here about three years ago at Brantwood.


The episode is duly authenticated, in accordance with the rule of the S.P.R., by concurrent testimony (Proc. S.P.R., vol. ii., p. 128; also Phantasms, i. 188.

Another Case

A case of clairvoyance or distant telepathy was told me by my colleague, Professor R. A. S. Redmayne (now Sir R. Redmayne, H.M. Chief Inspector of Mines), as having happened in his own experience when he was engaged in prospecting for mines in a remote district of South Africa accompanied only by a working miner from Durham. His account is here abbreviated:

So far as they could keep a record of weeks the solitary two used to play at some game on Sundays, instead of working, but on one particular Sunday the workman declined to play, saying he did not feel up to it, as he had just had an intimation of his mother's death, - that she had spoken of him in her last hours saying that she "would never see Albert again."

My informant tried to chaff his assistant out of his melancholy, since it was a physical impossibility that they could receive recent news by any normal means. But he adhered to his conviction, and in accordance with North Country tradition seemed to regard it as natural that he should thus know.

Weeks afterwards complete confirmation came from England, both as to date and circumstance; the words of the dying woman having been similar to those felt at the time by her distant son.

The occurrence made a marked impression on my informant and broke down his scepticism as to the possibility of these strange occurrences.
Fortunately, I am able to quote confirmatory evidence of this narrative; for very soon after the verification Professor Redmayne wrote an account of it to his father, and from this gentleman I have received a certified copy of the letter:

Letter from Professor Redmayne to his father

21st Nov., 1891

I have a curious and startling thing to tell you:- About 6 weeks ago, Tonks said to me one morning, "My mother is dead, Sir. I saw her early this morning lying dead in bed and the relatives standing round the bed; she said she would never see me again before she died.- I laughed at him and ridiculed the matter, and he seemed to forget it, and we thought (no) more of it, but Tonks asked me to note the date, which I did not do. Last Wednesday, however, Tonks received a letter from his wife telling him that his mother was dead and had been buried a week, that she died early one Sunday morning about six weeks since and in her sleep; but before she fell asleep she' said she would never see " Albert" again. About a fortnight since I told some people what Tonks had told me, giving it as an instance of the superstitiousness of the Durham pitmen, and they were startled when, the other day, I told them the dream had come true. I will never laugh at anything like this again.
The above is an extract from a letter from my son R. A. S. Redmayne written from Mgagane, Natal, S.A., and dated November 21St [1891].

August 1st, 1902, HAREWOOD, GATESHEAD

Professor Redmayne has also been good enough to get a certificate from the workman concerned, in the form of a copy of the main portion of the above letter, with the following note appended:-

The above extract correctly relates what occurred to me whilst living in Natal with Mr. Redmayne.

Date August 21st, 1901

Witness to above Signature N. B. PADDON, Seaton Delaval

Garibaldi's dream of the death of his mother at Nice, when he was in mid-Pacific, is a historical instance of the same kind (G. M. Trevelyan, Garibaldi and the Thousand, P. 18).



Contents / Preface / Chapter 1 / Chapter 2 / Chapter 3 / Chapter 4 / Chapter 5 / Chapter 6 / Chapter 7 / Chapter 8 / Chapter 9 / Chapter 10 / Chapter 11 / Chapter 12 / Chapter 13 / Chapter 14 / Chapter 15 / Chapter 16 / Chapter 1 7 / Chapter 18 / Chapter 19 / Chapter 20 / Chapter 21 / Chapter 22 / Chapter 23 / Chapter 24 / Chapter 25

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