An Amazing Experiment

Author: Charles Drayton Thomas | Publisher: Psychic Press Ltd | Published: ND | Pages: 115. 

Part 5: Fifth Type of Forecast

From the Morrow's Public Press | How were the Forecasts Accomplished? | The Garage Proprietor | The Fulfilment | My Suggested Explanation | The Plan | Further Speculations

 - Charles Drayton Thomas -

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A further class of forecast includes experiments which discarnate intelligences undertake for purposes of their own.

A Communicator's Experimental Forecasts of the Morrow's Public Press

          MANY EXAMPLES of forecasts about the morrow's Press are discussed in my book, Some New Evidences for Human Survival. They impressed the late Sir William Barrett, F.R.S., who made a close examination of them and then wrote a preface to the book. Referring to the Times forecasts he wrote:

Here we meet a rare and unexpected phase of psychic faculty. Not only is travelling and telepathic clairvoyance displayed, but in many cases actual prevision. The tests refer to certain words that will be found in a given column of the front page of the Times, or Daily Telegraph, the next day. The sitting usually lasted from 3 to 5 p.m., and as it seemed doubtful if any part of the next day's paper would then be in type I communicated with the Times publisher as to this, sending him the hour and details of a test given a few months before. The Times manager most kindly took up the matter, and the correspondence reveals that collusion was impossible, and that it was doubtful if some of the words selected were even in type at the time of the sitting with Mrs. Leonard.... The important feature of these newspaper tests is that the information conveyed, though possessed by the discarnate personality, was in many cases utterly unknown to the sitter or the medium.

I will give an illustration of a newspaper test from my own experience. In the sitting with Mrs. Leonard on August 5, 1921, I was told that in the Times of the next day, half-way down the second column, would be found the name of a friend of mine, now passed over, whom I knew a few years ago; "a friend Sir William knew very well and liked greatly, whose books he has, and of whom he was thinking quite lately". The next morning, on opening the Times, exactly half-way down the second column was the name DRUMMOND. Henry Drummond, whose books are widely known and are in my library, was an old and beloved friend of mine. Shortly before this sitting on August I noticed he had written his name on his birthday, May 17, in my copy of George Macdonald's Diary of an Old Soul, so that I was thinking of him lately.

Feda continued, "There is another name in the first page of the Times to-morrow; a quarter of the way down the second column is the name Taylor; this will remind Sir William of someone he knew in connection with studies he made some years ago, someone older than himself." In the next morning's Times, a quarter of the way down the first (not the second) column was the name TAYLOR in capital letters. Colonel Taylor was a friend, older than myself, who was on the Council of the S.P.R. and well known both to Mr. Myers and myself. As he lived in Cheltenham he kindly wrote me a full report of some interesting experiments in dowsing which he conducted at Cheltenham, and which will be found on page 189 of my second report 'On the So-called Divining Rod' published in 1900. The interesting point is that the actual name, Taylor, was given by the control; its exact position in the Times was indicated, only in the first and not the second column of the first page. Here again chance coincidence affords no explanation as reference to other copies of the Times clearly demonstrated.

I now give the following abbreviated example of a Times test which will enable readers to understand their general lay-out.

It was on February 13, 1920, at three o'clock in the afternoon, that J.D.T., speaking through Feda at my sitting with Mrs. Leonard, gave the details thus:

1. "Look in the first page of to-morrow's Times, and in column two near the top you'll see the name of a minister with whom I was friendly when at Leek".

Next morning I noticed the name Perks in the position specified. My mother's memory and a reference to my father's old diary showed this name to be entirely apposite.

2. "One quarter down column two find the name of your father, your own and your mother's, also that of an aunt. All within two inches". 

Just 1 1/2 inches below one quarter down were the names John and Charles, which met the first half of the test. Then came Emile Sauret, which presumably suggested Emily and Sarah, my aunt and mother. And these four names fell within a space 1 1/4 by 1 1/2 inches; which justified the statement that they would be found all within two inches.

3. "Near these is the word Grange". 

This failed, as no such name appeared.

4. "On column one, not quite half-way down, is your mother's maiden name, or one very like it".

My mother's maiden name was Dore (without the accent). Exactly one inch short of half-way down the first column was the name Dorothea. This is not Dore, yet the first part is "very like it", as the test claimed it would be.

5. "Somewhere above that is named a place where your mother passed some years of her girlhood".

Four inches above the preceding test-word, Dorothea, was Hants. Almost the whole of my mother's girlhood was spent in two Hampshire towns.

6. "Close to the foregoing is a name which suggests an action which one might make with the body in jumping".

Within three inches of Hants, and on a level with it in the adjoining column, is a place-name Cumnock, which (by way of a pun) suggests a knock such as might result from a clumsy jump.

7. "Towards the bottom of column one is named a place where you went to school". 

In the last line of column one was Lincolnshire. For three years I attended a school in Lincolnshire.

8. "In the vicinity is mentioned a - shall I say a teacher, rather than a schoolmaster - of yours whom you will remember well".

This distinction between master and teacher was good; for, before moving to Lincolnshire, my schoolmaster at Baldock had a son Joseph who sometimes taught the juniors of whom I was one. Joseph was not a master yet he taught me. I was especially fond of Joseph, who was somewhat of a hero in my eyes.

This test was successful, for the name Joseph appeared in the same advertisement with the above Lincolnshire.

9. "There is a word close by which looks to your father like Cheadle".

This was a failure; for I could find no such name.

10. "Higher in column one, say two-thirds down, is a name suggesting ammunition".

Exactly where described is the ecclesiastical title Canon, which is given there twice.

11. "Between that and the teacher's name is a place-name, French, looking like three words hyphened into one".

Between the foregoing Joseph and Canon was the name Braine-le-Chateau.

12. So far we have had eleven tests, of which but two were failures. Finally came something which seems really more astonishing than all else, considering the exact description of its position and the fact that such a thing might not appear in the Times from one year's end to another. It was an error in type, the word page being printed as paae.

"About the middle of this page, the middle both down and across, is a mistake in print; it cannot be right. Some wrong letters inserted or something left out, some kind of mistake just there".

What did I find next day? Within three inches of the centre of this page, slightly below half-way down column three, was a short notice in italics of which the final words were, "on the next page". But the word page is imperfect, the letter "g" being minus its tail and looking like an awkward "a"', thus - 'paae'. I inspected a second copy of the paper and found there the same error.

During the period of many months in which these tests from the Times were being given, visits to the Times office were made by several of us in order to ascertain at what hour the type for these pages was usually in position. We ascertained that even an unimpeded access to the works at 5 p.m. would not enable anyone to learn what would be the ultimate position of any particular advertise merit or name. For at this hour many of these items were only existing on separate pieces of paper in the office or the linotype department. Scrutiny of the type-trays later in the evening would make possible a more or less likely idea of the position which this material would finally take. But at that time my sitting had ended and the notes were already in the post on their way to the Society for Psychical Research.

The following Editorial Note appears at the dose of my article on these tests in the Journal of the above Society for May, 1921.

"Readers of Mr. Drayton Thomas's paper may ask what procedure is followed in regard to setting up in type such advertisements in the Times as are referred to in the 'tests'. Sir William. Barrett, F.R.S., has kindly forwarded to us two letters he received from the manager of the Times which throw light upon this question. The first letter is as follows:

Printing House Square, E.C.4. October 19th, 1920.
The small advertisements in the Times (which include Births, Deaths and Marriages) arrive at all hours of the day, and we commence setting them at 5 p.m. I should think that often quite half of them are set before 8 p.m., and sometimes even a larger proportion than this. Beyond this, you may notice that many announcements are ordered to appear for two or three insertions. Consequently, some of them are in type for two days.

If you care to give me any particular instances, I will gladly make an inquiry.

(Sir William made further inquiry, the result of which established the fact that the ultimate position of the names or advertisements would not be normally known until late in the afternoon. Thus the possibility of collusion or fraud may be dismissed as inadequate to explain the facts)."

The Editorial note in the Journal ended thus, "As to what methods Mr. Drayton Thomas's Communicators have adopted to acquire the knowledge necessary for their purpose, we are unfortunately quite in the dark".

As I, too, was quite in the dark about this, it was natural that I should ask at my later sittings if an explanation could be given. It is important to state that the advertisements chosen for these tests had not appeared in previous issues of the paper.

How were the Forecasts Accomplished?

I have no satisfactory answer to this question and can only give the substance of what was said by my father during several conversations on the subject. He said:

I am not yet aware exactly how one obtains these tests. I sometimes think I am seeing, when really it is not something seen, but the operation of a power of materialising the thought of it. I see, not the thing itself, but something which I have created through sensing it. I am able to develop the idea sensed until it becomes visible to me. But more than this, I have glimpsed an idea which I should like to work out more fully, namely, that I can in this way see things which are shortly going to be. It is much as when you realise the coming of a man whose shadow you see approaching round a corner; since the shadow suggests a man, you know that a man will almost immediately appear. It seems to me that we on this side have a power, capable of development, by which it is possible to interpret the 'shadows' of things to be but not actually existing at the moment. I have seen shadows and thought them the actual objects. I wish to discover what produces this 'shadow' of the object. I suspect, but am not sure that whatever is about to materialise on earth has its spiritual counterpart, which is reflected, say on the atmosphere or ether, but not visible to all. Admitting that each object may have such a counterpart, you will ask how an event yet to happen can have its counterpart? I think in the same way that an intention may be sensed by a sensitive before it is put into action. The things I see are frequently but the immaterial counterparts of things which are about to take form; some of my tests from the Times might be called shadows of a substance. When you see a shadow it is but an outline, and you do not look for details, and that explains the difficulty of these tests; we cannot always sufficiently observe detail.

On one occasion I thought I saw the complete page set up; it certainly appeared to be so, and I noticed items in it which I believe proved correct. But on returning to the office a little while after - for I frequently go twice to make sure of the tests - I found that the page was not yet set up, and this astonished me and was most perplexing.

When the test items are chosen they are not yet existing in the form they will have taken when the paper is published, and so I have to put myself in a position to know that which will be, rather than that which is. Of course my calculations may be wrong, or the positions may be changed subsequently. I sense what appear to me to be sheets and slips of paper with names and various information on them. I notice suitable items and, afterwards, visualise a duplicate of the page with these items falling into their places. It seems to me that it is an ability which throws some light upon foretelling, a visualising of what is to be, but based upon that which already is.

I think there is little difference whether your sitting is in the afternoon or evening, for my conclusion is that I do not obtain the tests from the actual preparations for printing. What I certainly know is that, when I go to the office, whether earlier or later, I can feel that certain matter is there and that its position in the paper will be so-and-so. Although I use the word "feel", yet it is also a "seeing". Consider how with sensations on earth all is feeling first, but, if carried further, consciousness reaches the stage of seeing and hearing. Men say, "I see", when they grasp an idea. They imply that they see with the mind's eye. I think that what I experience is a extension of that. But remember that it is imperative I should have something upon which to work, for I cannot see with my mind's eye condition which is not present there. I can only see or feel that for which there is a foundation

These tests are done by a process not easy for those on earth to follow, and which relates to "a near future which is not present", somewhat symbolised by the shadow of a man round a corner. I think there is an etheric foreshadowing - if one may use the expression - of thing about to be done.

I think the method used for newspaper test may be said to depend upon "an ability to psychometrise the ever-present NOW". No everyone could do this; it is a power which has to be developed.

It would probably be impossible to get any thing very far ahead, but only within a certain number of hours, and I cannot say how many.

The above summarises many conversations we had on the subject during which my father tried to enlighten me as to the way in which he had accomplished these remarkable forecasts of the morrow's Press.

Most writers will be familiar with the influence of subconscious processes in their work. For when they have accumulated a mass of material which needs sorting out and setting in order before being finally written up, they presently find that it begins to present itself to their mind's eye in a more or less ordered form. Of this they make a brief outline and are able afterwards to begin writing their material in full.

In some such way it may be that my father found his selected material for the Times Tests presenting itself to his clairvoyant vision and falling into its relative positions in the visualised columns of the page.

It will be understood that these experiments with the morrow's Press were designed for a certain limited purpose. My father once remarked about them, "It is only occasionally that we take the trouble to do it, in order to interest you and let you see that it can be done. That is all. It enabled you to realise that we could see things that you did not yet know and that in some cases no one knew. For, as Etta has told you, our whole objective is to prove survival and that the human soul over here is still interested in the same people and things and conditions in which it was interested while on earth. That is what we aim to prove, and that there can be communication between the two planes of life, with beneficial results to both".

On consideration it will be realised that to give from six to a dozen of these test references at a single sitting, and to keep up this feat over scores of sittings with an average of three successes out of every five attempts, demanded an effort of memory. First the memory of the name or word chosen for the test, together with its associations; then the position it would take on the printed page. And this in addition to the care required to ensure that what was given should be correctly transmitted through the medium to me.

Two sets of memory were combined in these tests. Memory of things known to the Communicator in former days, and memory of what had been selected for the test amid the prepared material for the morrow's Press. Although evidence of the Communicator's identity and his independence of any telepathic influence from the mind of persons on earth would seem to have been the primary object in devising these tests, yet they have for us a further interest, and that is their evidence of an ability to foresee that which was not as yet, but which would be within a few hours time.

It would seem that events which will come to pass in the future do, in some sense difficult to picture, already exist.

They have been foretold; this is a fact repeatedly noticed by those engaged in psychical research. Distinguished men have discussed the problem and I would give the reference to their works had it been calculated to assist the reader in solving the mystery. Their gropings after a solution are interesting on account of their different ways of presenting the problem, but although ingenious they all end in much the same way and may be summarised as follows. Some events in the future are fixed and certain to happen, while others are liable to alteration by human action in the meantime. Should events of the latter class be foretold, the event may falsify the prediction. As we cannot tell which events - are unalterably fixed and which are liable to change or modification, there is no means of being sure that any prediction will come to pass in the way described by the forecast. 

The Garage Proprietor

The following incident exemplifies a type of forecast which amazes us, not only by its exact fulfilment when all chances are against it, but even more on account of its seeming triviality.

We once owned a house in Ramsgate. My parents occupied it until my father's death. Later it was sold and my mother rented a house on the sea-front. I frequently visited her, and always put my car in a near-by garage.

The Forecast
Feda: Your mother says she feels you may be hearing about Ramsgate and the old days there. She feels it strongly; it is strange how she feels it. Not very interesting, but will take your mind back to her other house there, also some talk about property.

Here are the stenographer's paragraphs relating to the above:

Feda: Your mother says, I just wanted to say that I felt that you might be hearing some news from people at Ramsgate.

C.D.T.: Oh, really?

Feda: Yes, and she is not sure if it's important news and she is not even sure if it's coming from Ramsgate, but it will be about Ramsgate and about the old days at Ramsgate. She felt it very strongly, she says. It's strange how she feels it. (Here I suggested that possibly the idea originated in my having recently read some of the letters she wrote me from Ramsgate long ago).

Feda: She thinks not, because she knew about those old letters... She feels something more than that, something from other people, something from outside.

C.D.T.: I will look out for it with interest.

Feda: Yes, it will be interesting because she has mentioned it; but she doesn't think very interesting otherwise. She thinks that it may specially be about property there. You remember the other house she had?

C.D.T.: Very well.

Feda: She feels that there may be some allusion to it, or something that will take your mind back to that other house. That's what she feels.

Note in the above how appropriate to the later event are the words:

"hearing some news about Ramsgate" 

"not important"
"not sure if it's coming from Ramsgate"
"thinks it may specially be about property there"
"feels that there may be some allusion to it (her old house Birkdale) or something that will take your mind back to that other house".

The Fulfilment

Exactly three weeks after the above was spoken at my sitting a gentleman accosted me in Bromley High St. He introduced himself as the proprietor of the garage I had so regularly used at Ramsgate, and we exchanged reminiscences of cars and of my driving with my mother. He inquired about her and then asked if we still had our old house. I replied telling him of its sale and the house my mother afterwards rented. From this he proceeded to tell me that he was living just outside Bromley but had decided to go back to Ramsgate and was now enquiring about houses there. He then showed a letter which had that morning come from a house-agent and which offered him a house and a bungalow. We spent some time discussing the relative merits of these two properties.

Only after we parted did I realise that this conversation had fulfilled the forecast so recently given.

I am well aware that ultra-critical people may assign this forecast to the action of "delayed telepathy" between this gentleman and the medium or me. And indeed there seemed to be a possibility, which I saw on reflection, of some such telepathic explanation. It might be something as follows; Seeing me in Bromley he proposes to speak when opportunity offers. On receiving a letter from the house-agent about properties in Margate and Ramsgate he decides to discuss it with me should we shortly meet. This intention, being fairly strong and directed to me, reaches my aura where it remains psychically decipherable. Let us therefore suppose that Feda during the sitting becomes aware of it, but mistakenly attributes it to my mother who is then speaking.

I did not consider this suggestion in any way satisfactory; it seemed to raise more difficulties and improbabilities than it solved But it decided me to put questions should I again meet the garage Proprietor. A meeting came about accidentally this morning and I write this immediately on reaching home. He had seen me in Bromley, but that was four years ago on his first arrival in the neighbourhood. As he had not seen me again he concluded that I no longer lived here.

This disposes of the telepathy hypothesis and absolves the gentleman from any thoughts about me which could have brought about the forecast, whether directly or indirectly.

How then shall the forecast be explained? My mother, on being asked this at a later sitting, could only reply that she had felt it strongly, but did not know how the idea came to her.

My Suggested Explanation

On thinking the matter over there emerged from my store of memories one which seemed to form the basis for a reasonable hypothesis. My sister had long ago described how plans were made in higher spheres and passed thence to those whose work lay with earth. "Suppose," she said, "the thought is sent that the poor in London should almost immediately be assisted in some special way. It goes forth as an impersonal message urging help to the needy. As it is passed down through the spheres it gains individuality until it would be caught by some who, when on earth, were in touch with London conditions and possibly by some whose friends were living there in poverty. The next step will be that promptings are given strongly to social workers, or charitable persons, who so become impressed with the idea that something should be done".

More was said, but the above suffices for our purpose. It indicates that some of the plans made in the Beyond require human cooperation and that therefore human minds have to be impressed.

It would be natural that, general directions should be given out by beings of greater experience and wisdom and passed down to others for application in detail. The latter may not always understand the plans in which they thus take part and help bring into effect. This is the method adopted by National Governments when higher officials issue general directions which are carried out in detail by subordinates.

If such be actually the case, we can understand how it is that some Communicators give forecasts which they themselves do not understand, but merely "feel", and also that some of these dimly perceived directions may have a scientific or experimental purpose in view.

One can realise that the impressing of human minds is not easy. Some would have more aptitude for it than others. In my long experience of receiving messages from first-time Communicators it has been noticeable that, while some did well, most did it indifferently and many failed to be effective. This being so when it is a case of impressing the Control during the favourable conditions of a sitting, how much more uncertain must be the impressing of men and women who are in the midst of their daily avocations and preoccupied!

To quote my sister again, "We have to learn the effect of our power and to what extent it may be distorted or interfered with on your side". Many will prove unreceptive and others unresponsive.

Another statement may be suggestive when added to the foregoing. We are told that in the Beyond there are Groups of people who were interested in psychic studies while here and who still pursue them. One can imagine how such persons will wish to discover to what extent their telepathy is reliable when directed to minds on earth. To discover this they would need to experiment. And each new arrival who elected to work for earth would find it necessary to practise this art.

The Plan

With the foregoing in mind let us picture how the particular forecast we are discussing might have been planned.

Certain facts would be already known to the planners.

1. That the Garage Proprietor and I both resided in Bromley.
2. That he was hoping to get a house in Ramsgate.
3. That he would remember me, my mother and her house.

The problem of the planners would therefore be:

A. To bring about our meeting.
B. To impress him to speak to me.
C. To induce him to refer to Ramsgate days, our house there and property.

Should they succeed in this it would be evidence to them that their telepathic effort was successful; if it failed they must learn how to become more effective.

The plan succeeded as foretold. The Garage Proprietor was led to cross my path. While walking along the street I noticed a slightly familiar face approaching. Not recollecting the name, or the place where I had seen him, I should certainly have passed by had he not accosted me. It was he who spoke to me and asked if I did not recognise him. So the telephathic influence would seem to have been exerted on him and not on me. I was taking my usual shopping route, whereas he was rarely in Bromley. I have seen him but once since and that was a few days after. That he should on this very morning have received the letter offering him a choice of properties made it the ideal day for bringing about the fulfilment of the forecast.

How long previously this was planned we cannot guess, but its fulfilment was twenty-one days after my receiving the forecast.

Further Speculations

How came the plan to be made the subject of a forecast? It may be that to make my mother "feel it strongly" and then tell me of it at the sitting was an exceptional addition to ordinary procedure. Possibly the planners were testing their ability to impress my mother from their higher sphere; if so, that would account for her receiving the impression vaguely and without full detail.

Another suggestion would be that my mother happened to catch the thought which was directed to me. It will be remembered that my father had caught the idea of a building close to our house, and that the event proved that my next-door neighbour had been planning to build a garage close to our fence. Many similar instances could be given.

Again, it is conceivable that the planners wished to draw my attention forcibly to the subject of precognition with a view to emphasizing the fact of their planning for earth. Certainly this incident, together with others about the same time, did very definitely cause me to begin a study of precognition.

Whether the above speculations are in accord with fact or not, it is, I consider, highly probable that such plans are frequently decided on even if rarely made the subject of forecasts. Can we suppose that ardent investigators of psychic problems lose their interest when transported to another realm of life? Would they not be curious to investigate from their new standpoint? Others may have done it before, but each who wished to work for the good of humanity would need to learn for himself how to influence human minds. Until this could be done with some degree of certainty no important work for earth could be undertaken. Such experimental practice might well be sometimes made the subject of a forecast, as providing a more definite mark at which to aim. And the fact that the majority of forecasts relate to unimportant matters is in accord with this suggestion; for it is just such trivial forecasts which prove most arresting to us on account of their unlikelihood and which also least interfere with the usual course of our lives!

It is often said that coming events cast their shadow before. True, but what makes a shadow? Always it is a light behind. What, then, is the light behind these arresting instances of foretelling? I think it is the planning of thoughtful, well-wishing people in the Life Beyond.

It does not follow that those planning such events should be desirous of telling us beforehand. Such forecasts are infrequent; yet we must realise that the opportunity of informing us is not frequent nor is communication always easy.

In Human Personality, Vol. 2, p. 275, F. W. H. Myers says, "Experiments, I say, there are; probably experiments of a complexity and difficulty which surpass our imagination; but they are made from the other side of the gulf, by the efforts of spirits who discern pathways and possibilities which for us are impenetrably dark. We should not be going beyond the truth if we described our sensitives as merely the instruments, our researchers as merely the registrars, of a movement which we neither initiated nor can in any degree comprehend".

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