REAL GHOST STORIES
Collected and Edited
WILLIAM T. STEAD
Re-arranged and Introduced
ESTELLE W. STEAD
NEW YORK: GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY
During the last few years I have been urged by people in all parts of the world to re-issue some of the wonderful stories of genuine psychic experiences collected by my Father several years ago.
These stories were published by him in two volumes in 1891-92; the first, entitled Real Ghost Stories, created so much interest and brought in so large a number of other stories of genuine experiences that the first volume was soon followed by a second, entitled More Ghost Stories.
The contents of the two volumes, slightly curtailed, were, a few years later, brought out as one book; but the three volumes have long been out of print and are practically unknown to the present generation.
I remember when I was a child my Father read some of these stories aloud to us as he was making his collection; and I remember, too, how thrilled and awed we were, and how at times they brought a creepy feeling when at night I had to mount many flights of stairs to my bedroom at the top of the house.
Reading these stories again, after many years' study of the subject, I have realised what a wealth of interesting facts my Father had gathered together, and that not only the gathered facts, but his own contributions, his chapter on "The Ghost That Dwelleth in Each One of Us" and his comments on the stories, show what an insight he had into and what an understanding he had of this vast and wonderful subject.
I felt as I read that those who urged re-publication were right, that if not a "classic," as some have called it, it at least merits a place on the shelves of all who study psychic literature and are interested in psychic experiences.
I demurred long as to whether I should change the title. The word "Ghost" has to a great extent in modern times lost its true meaning to the majority and is generally associated in many minds with something uncanny—with haunted houses and weird apparitions filling with terror those who come into contact with them.
"Stories from the Borderland," "Psychic Experiences," were among the titles which suggested themselves to me; but in the end I decided to keep the old title, and in so doing help to bring the word "ghost" back to its proper and true place and meaning.
"Ghost," according to the dictionary, means "the soul of man; the soul of a deceased person; the soul or spirit separate from the body; apparition, spectre, shadow":—it comprises, in fact, all we mean when we think or speak of "Spirit." We still say "The Holy Ghost" as naturally and as reverently as we say "The Holy Spirit." So for the sake of the word itself, and because it covers everything we speak of as Spirit to-day; these two considerations take away all reason why the word should not be used, and it gives me great pleasure in re-issuing these stories to carry on the title originally chosen by my Father.
There is a large collection of stories to be drawn upon, for besides those given in the two volumes mentioned, many of equal interest and value appeared in Borderland, a psychic quarterly edited and published by my Father for a period of four years in the nineties and now long out of print.
If this first volume proves that those who advised me were right in thinking that these experiences will be a valuable addition to psychic literature, I propose to bring out two further volumes of stories from my Father's collection, and I hope to add to these a volume of stories of a later date, of which I already have a goodly store. For this purpose I invite those who have had experiences which they consider will be of interest and value for such a collection, to send them to me so that, if suitable and appropriate, they may be placed on record.
In bringing this Introduction to a close I should like to quote what my Father wrote in his Preface to the last edition published by him, as it embodies what many people are realising to-day. To them, as to him, the reality of the "Invisibles" is no longer a speculation. Therefore I feel that these thoughts of his should have a place in this new edition of his collection of Real Ghost Stories.
"The reality," he wrote, "of the Invisibles has long since ceased to be for me a matter of speculation. It is one of the things about which I feel as certain as I do, for instance, of the existence of the people of Tierra del Fuego; and while it is of no importance to me to know that Tierra del Fuego is inhabited, it is of vital importance to know that the spirits of the departed, and also of those still occupying for a time the moveable biped telephone which we call our body, can, and given the right conditions do, communicate with the physical unconsciousness of the man in the street. It is a fact which properly apprehended would go far to remedy some of the worst evils from which we have to complain. For our conception of life has got out of form, owing to our constant habit of mistaking a part for the whole, and everything looks awry."
Estelle W. Stead
Bank Buildings, Kingsway, London, W.C.2.
A PREFATORY WORD.
Many people will object—some have already objected—to the subject of this book. It is an offence to some to take a ghost too seriously; with others it is a still greater offence not to take ghosts seriously enough. One set of objections can be paired off against the other; neither objection has very solid foundation. The time has surely come when the fair claim of ghosts to the impartial attention and careful observation of mankind should no longer be ignored. In earlier times people believed in them so much that they cut their acquaintance; in later times people believe in them so little that they will not even admit their existence. Thus these mysterious visitants have hitherto failed to enter into that friendly relation with mankind which many of them seem sincerely to desire.
But what with the superstitious credulity of the one age and the equally superstitious unbelief of another, it is necessary to begin from the beginning and to convince a sceptical world that apparitions really appear. In order to do this it is necessary to insist that your ghost should no longer be ignored as a phenomenon of Nature. He has a right, equal to that of any other natural phenomenon, to be examined and observed, studied and defined. It is true that he is a rather difficult phenomenon; his comings and goings are rather intermittent and fitful, his substance is too shadowy to be handled, and he has avoided hitherto equally the obtrusive inquisitiveness of the microscope and telescope.
A phenomenon which you can neither handle nor weigh, analyse nor dissect, is naturally regarded as intractable and troublesome; nevertheless, however intractable and troublesome he may be to reduce to any of the existing scientific categories, we have no right to allow his idiosyncrasies to deprive him of his innate right to be regarded as a phenomenon. As such he will be treated in the following pages, with all the respect due to phenomena whose reality is attested by a sufficient number of witnesses. There will be no attempt in this book to build up a theory of apparitions, or to define the true inwardness of a ghost. There will be as many explanations as there are minds of the significance of the extraordinary narratives which I have collated from correspondence and from accessible records. Leaving it to my readers to discuss the rival hypotheses, I will stick to the humbler mission of recording facts, from which they can form their own judgment.
The ordinary temper of the ordinary man in dealing with ghosts is supremely unscientific, but it is less objectionable than that of the pseudo-scientist. The Inquisitor who forbade free inquiry into matters of religion because of human depravity, was the natural precursor of the Scientist who forbids the exercise of the reason on the subject of ghosts, on account of inherited tendencies to attribute such phenomena to causes outside the established order of nature. What difference there is, is altogether in favour of the Inquisitor, who at least had what he regarded as a divinely constituted authority, competent and willing to pronounce final decision upon any subject that might trouble the human mind. Science has no such tribunal, and when she forbids others to observe and to reflect she is no better than a blind fetish.
Eclipses in old days used to drive whole nations half mad with fright. To this day the black disc of the moon no sooner begins to eat into the shining surface of the sun than millions of savage men feel "creepy," and begin to tremble at the thought of the approaching end of the world. But in civilised lands even the most ignorant regard an eclipse with imperturbable composure. Eclipses are scientific phenomena observed and understood. It is our object to reduce ghosts to the same level, or rather to establish the claim of ghosts to be regarded as belonging as much to the order of Nature as the eclipse. At present they are disfranchised of their natural birthright, and those who treat them with this injustice need not wonder if they take their revenge in "creeps."
The third class of objection takes the ground that there is something irreligious and contrary to Christianity in the chronicling of such phenomena. It is fortunate that Mary Magdalene and the early disciples did not hold that theory. So far from its being irreligious to ascertain facts, there is a subtle impiety in the refusal to face phenomena, whether natural or supernatural. Either these things exist or they do not. If they do not exist, then obviously there can be no harm in a searching examination of the delusion which possessed the mind of almost every worthy in the Old Testament, and which was constantly affirmed by the authors of the New. If, on the other hand, they do exist, and are perceptible under certain conditions to our senses, it will be difficult to affirm the impiety of endeavouring to ascertain what is their nature, and what light they are able to throw upon the kingdom of the Unseen. We have no right to shut our eyes to facts and close our ears to evidence merely because Moses forbade the Hebrews to allow witches to live, or because some of the phenomena carry with them suggestions that do not altogether harmonise with the conventional orthodox theories of future life. The whole question that lies at bottom is whether this world is divine or diabolic. Those who believe it divine are bound by that belief to regard every phenomenon as a window through which man may gain fresh glimpses of the wonder and the glory of the Infinite. In this region, as in all others, faith and fear go ill together.
It is impossible for any impartial man to read the narratives of which the present book is composed without feeling that we have at least one hint or suggestion of quite incalculable possibilities in telepathy or thought transference. If there be, as many of these stories seem to suggest, a latent capacity in the human mind to communicate with other minds, entirely regardless of the conditions of time and space, it is undeniable that this would be a fact of the very first magnitude. It is quite possible that the telegraph may be to telepathy what the stage coach is to the steam engine. Neither can we afford to overlook the fact that these phenomena have in these latter days signally vindicated their power over the minds of men. Some of the acutest minds of our time have learned to recognise in them scientific demonstration of the existence of the fact that personal individuality survives death.
If it can be proved that it is occasionally possible for persons at the uttermost ends of the world to communicate instantaneously with each other, and even in some cases to make a vivid picture of themselves stand before the eyes of those to whom they speak, no prejudice as to the unhealthy nature of the inquiry should be allowed to stand in the way of the examination of such a fact with a view to ascertaining whether or not this latent capacity of the human mind can be utilised for the benefit of mankind. Wild as this suggestion may seem to-day, it is less fantastic than our grandfathers a hundred years ago would have deemed a statement that at the end of the nineteenth century portraits would be taken by the sun, that audible conversation would be carried on instantaneously across a distance of a thousand miles, that a ray of light could be made the agent for transmitting the human voice across an abyss which no wire had ever spanned, and that by a simple mechanical arrangement, which a man can carry in his hand, it would be possible to reproduce the words, voice, and accent of the dead. The photograph, the telegraph, the telephone, and the phonograph were all more or less latent in what seemed to our ancestors the kite-flying folly of Benjamin Franklin. Who knows but that in Telepathy we may have the faint foreshadowing of another latent force, which may yet be destined to cast into the shade even the marvels of electrical science!
There is a growing interest in all the occult phenomena to which this work is devoted. It is in evidence on every hand. The topic is in the air, and will be discussed and is being discussed, whether we take notice of it or not. That it has its dangers those who have studied it most closely are most aware, but these dangers will exist in any case, and if those who ought to guide are silent, these perils will be encountered without the safeguards which experience would dictate and prudence suggest. It seems to me that it would be difficult to do better service in this direction than to strengthen the hands of those who have for many years past been trying to rationalise the consideration of the Science of Ghosts.
It is idle to say that this should be left for experts. We live in a democratic age and we democratise everything. It is too late in the day to propose to place the whole of this department under the care of any Brahmin caste; the subject is one which every common man and woman can understand. It is one which comes home to every human being, for it adds a new interest to life, and vivifies the sombre but all-pervading problem of death.
W. T. Stead.
Part I.—The Ghost That Dwells in Each of Us.
Chapter I. The Unconscious Personality 17
" II. Louis V. and His Two Souls 32
" III. Madame B. and Her Three Souls 45
" IV. Some Suggested Theories 52
Part II.—The Thought Body, or the Double.
Chapter I. Aerial Journeyings 56
" II. The Evidence of the Psychical Research Society 72
" III. Aimless Doubles 86
" IV. The Hypnotic Key 101
Part III.—Clairvoyance.—The Vision of the Out of Sight.
Chapter I. The Astral Camera 108
" II. Tragic Happenings Seen in Dreams 127
" III. My Own Experience 141
Part IV.—Premonitions and Second Sight.
Chapter I. My Own Extraordinary Premonitions 145
" II. Warnings Given in Dreams 160
" III. Premonitory Warnings 179
" IV. Some Historical and Other Cases 192
Part V.—Ghosts of the Living on Business.
Chapter I. Warnings of Peril and Death 199
" II. A Dying Double Demands its Portraits! 211
Part VI.—Ghosts Keeping Promise.
Chapter I. My Irish Friend 222
" II. Lord Brougham's Testimony 231
Appendix.—Some Historical Ghosts 240
REAL GHOST STORIES.
THE GHOST THAT DWELLS IN EACH OF US.
The Unconscious Personality.
"Real Ghost Stories!—How can there be real ghost stories when there are no real ghosts?"
But are there no real ghosts? You may not have seen one, but it does not follow that therefore they do not exist. How many of us have seen the microbe that kills? There are at least as many persons who testify they have seen apparitions as there are men of science who have examined the microbe. You and I, who have seen neither, must perforce take the testimony of others. The evidence for the microbe may be conclusive, the evidence as to apparitions may be worthless; but in both cases it is a case of testimony, not of personal experience.
The first thing to be done, therefore, is to collect testimony, and by way of generally widening the mind and shaking down the walls of prejudice which lead so many to refuse to admit the clearest possible evidence as to facts which have not occurred within their personal experience, I preface the report of my "Census of Hallucinations" or personal experiences of the so-called supernatural by a preliminary chapter on the perplexing subject of "Personality." This is the question that lies at the root of all the controversy as to ghosts. Before disputing about whether or not there are ghosts outside of us, let us face the preliminary question, whether we have not each of us a veritable ghost within our own skin?
Thrilling as are some of the stories of the apparitions of the living and the dead, they are less sensational than the suggestion made by hypnotists and psychical researchers of England and France, that each of us has a ghost inside him. They say that we are all haunted by a Spiritual Presence, of whose existence we are only fitfully and sometimes never conscious, but which nevertheless inhabits the innermost recesses of our personality. The theory of these researchers is that besides the body and the mind, meaning by the mind the Conscious Personality, there is also within our material frame the soul or Unconscious Personality, the nature of which is shrouded in unfathomable mystery. The latest word of advanced science has thus landed us back to the apostolic assertion that man is composed of body, soul and spirit; and there are some who see in the scientific doctrine of the Unconscious Personality a welcome confirmation from an unexpected quarter of the existence of the soul.
The fairy tales of science are innumerable, and, like the fairy tales of old romance, they are not lacking in the grim, the tragic, and even the horrible. Of recent years nothing has so fascinated the imagination even of the least imaginative of men as the theory of disease which transforms every drop of blood in our bodies into the lists in which phagocyte and microbe wage the mortal strife on which our health depends. Every white corpuscle that swims in our veins is now declared to be the armed Knight of Life for ever on the look-out for the microbe Fiend of Death. Day and night, sleeping and waking, the white knights of life are constantly on the alert, for on their vigilance hangs our existence. Sometimes, however, the invading microbes come in, not in companies but in platoons, innumerable as Xerxes' Persians, and then "e'en Roderick's best are backward borne," and we die. For our life is the prize of the combat in these novel lists which science has revealed to our view through the microscope, and health is but the token of the triumphant victory of the phagocyte over the microbe.
But far more enthralling is the suggestion which psychical science has made as to the existence of a combat not less grave in the very inmost centre of our own mental or spiritual existence. The strife between the infinitely minute bacilli that swarm in our blood has only the interest which attaches to the conflict of inarticulate and apparently unconscious animalculae. The strife to which researches into the nature and constitution of our mental processes call attention concerns our conscious selves. It suggests almost inconceivable possibilities as to our own nature, and leaves us appalled on the brink of a new world of being of which until recently most of us were unaware.
There are no papers of such absorbing interest in the whole of the "Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research" as those which deal with the question of the Personality of Man. "I," what am I? What is our Ego? Is this Conscious Personality which receives impressions through the five senses, and through them alone, is it the only dweller in this mortal tabernacle? May there not be other personalities, or at least one other that is not conscious, when we are awake, and alert, and about, but which comes into semi-consciousness when we sleep, and can be developed into complete consciousness when the other personality is thrown into a state of hypnotic trance? In other words, am I one personality or two? Is my nature dual? As I have two hemispheres in my brain, have I two minds or two souls?
The question will, no doubt, appear fantastic in its absurdity to those who hear it asked for the first time; but those who are at all familiar with the mysterious but undisputed phenomena of hypnotism will realize how naturally this question arises, and how difficult it is to answer it otherwise than in the affirmative. Every one knows Mr. Louis Stevenson's wonderful story of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." The dual nature of man, the warfare between this body of sin and death, and the spiritual aspirations of the soul, forms part of the common stock of our orthodox belief. But the facts which recent researches have brought to light seem to point not to the old theological doctrine of the conflict between good and evil in one soul, but to the existence in each of us of at least two distinct selfs, two personalities, standing to each other somewhat in the relation of man and wife, according to the old ideal when the man is everything and the woman is almost entirely suppressed.
Every one is familiar with the phenomenon of occasional loss of memory. Men are constantly losing consciousness, from disease, violence, or violent emotion, and emerging again into active life with a gap in their memory. Nay, every night we become unconscious in sleep, and rarely, if ever, remember anything that we think of during slumber. Sometimes in rare cases there is a distinct memory of all that passes in the sleeping and the waking states, and we have read of one young man whose sleeping consciousness was so continuous that he led, to all intents and purposes, two lives. When he slept he resumed his dream existence at the point when he waked, just as we resume our consciousness at the point when we fall asleep. It was just as real to him as the life which he lived when awake. It was actual, progressive, continuous, but entirely different, holding no relation whatever to his waking life. Of his two existences he preferred that which was spent in sleep, as more vivid, more varied, and more pleasurable. This was no doubt an extreme and very unusual case. But it is not impossible to conceive the possibility of a continuous series of connected dreams, which would result in giving us a realizing sense of leading two existences. That we fail to realize this now is due to the fact that our memory is practically inert or non-existent during sleep. The part of our mind which dreams seldom registers its impressions in regions to which on waking our conscious personality has access.
The conception of a dual or even a multiple personality is worked out in a series of papers by Mr. F. W. H. Myers, to which I refer all those who wish to make a serious study of this novel and startling hypothesis. But I may at least attempt to explain the theory, and to give some outline of the evidence on which it is based.
 "Human Personality" (Longmans, Green & Co.)
If I were free to use the simplest illustration without any pretence at scientific exactitude, I should say that the new theory supposes that there are inside each of us not one personality but two, and that these two correspond to husband and wife. There is the Conscious Personality, which stands for the husband. It is vigorous, alert, active, positive, monopolising all the means of communication and production. So intense is its consciousness that it ignores the very existence of its partner, excepting as a mere appendage and convenience to itself. Then there is the Unconscious Personality, which corresponds to the wife who keeps cupboard and storehouse, and the old stocking which treasures up the accumulated wealth of impressions acquired by the Conscious Personality, but who is never able to assert any right to anything, or to the use of sense or limb except when her lord and master is asleep or entranced. When the Conscious Personality has acquired any habit or faculty so completely that it becomes instinctive, it is handed on to the Unconscious Personality to keep and use, the Conscious Ego giving it no longer any attention. Deprived, like the wife in countries where the subjection of woman is the universal law, of all right to an independent existence, or to the use of the senses or of the limbs, the Unconscious Personality has discovered ways and means of communicating other than through the recognised organs of sense.
How vast and powerful are those hidden organs of the Unconscious Personality we can only dimly see. It is through them that Divine revelation is vouchsafed to man. The visions of the mystic, the prophecies of the seer, the inspiration of the sibyl, all come through this Unconscious Soul. It is through this dumb and suppressed Ego that we communicate by telepathy,—that thought is transferred without using the five senses. This under-soul is in touch with the over-soul, which, in Emerson's noble phrase, "abolishes time and space." "This influence of the senses has," he says, "in most men, overpowered their mind to that degree that the walls of time and space have come to look real and insurmountable; and to speak with levity of these limits is in the world the sign of insanity. Yet time and space are but inverse measures of the force of the soul." It is this Unconscious Personality which sees the Strathmore foundering in mid-ocean, which hears a whisper spoken hundreds of miles off upon the battlefield, and which witnesses, as if it happened before the eyes, a tragedy occurring at the Antipodes.
In proportion as the active, domineering Conscious Personality extinguishes his submissive unconscious partner, materialism flourishes, and man becomes blind to the Divinity that underlies all things. Hence in all religions the first step is to silence the noisy, bustling master of our earthly tabernacle, who, having monopolised the five senses, will listen to no voice which it cannot hear, and to allow the silent mistress to be open-souled to God. Hence the stress which all spiritual religions have laid upon contemplation, upon prayer and fasting. Whether it is an Indian Yogi, or a Trappist Monk, or one of our own Quakers, it is all the same. In the words of the Revivalist hymn, "We must lay our deadly doing down," and in receptive silence wait for the inspiration from on high. The Conscious Personality has usurped the visible world; but the Invisible, with its immeasurable expanse, is the domain of the Sub-conscious. Hence we read in the Scriptures of losing life that we may find it; for things of time and sense are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
It is extraordinary how close is the analogy when we come to work it out. The impressions stored up by the Conscious Personality and entrusted to the care of the Unconscious are often, much to our disgust, not forthcoming when wanted. It is as if we had given a memorandum to our wife and we could not discover where she had put it. But night comes; our Conscious Self sleeps, our Unconscious Housewife wakes, and turning over her stores produces the missing impression; and when our other self wakes it finds the mislaid memorandum, so to speak, ready to its hand. Sometimes, as in the case of somnambulism, the Sub-conscious Personality stealthily endeavours to use the body and limbs, from all direct control over which it is shut out as absolutely as the inmate of a Hindu zenana is forbidden to mount the charger of her warrior spouse. But it is only when the Conscious Personality is thrown into a state of hypnotic trance that the Unconscious Personality is emancipated from the marital despotism of her partner. Then for the first time she is allowed to help herself to the faculties and senses usually monopolised by the Conscious Self. But like the timid and submissive inmate of the zenana suddenly delivered from the thraldom of her life-long partner, she immediately falls under the control of another. The Conscious Personality of another person exercises over her the same supreme authority that her own Conscious Personality did formerly.
There is nothing of sex in the ordinary material sense about the two personalities. But their union is so close as to suggest that the intrusion of the hypnotist is equivalent to an intrigue with a married woman. The Sub-conscious Personality is no longer faithful exclusively to its natural partner; it is under the control of the Conscious Personality of another; and in the latter case the dictator seems to be irresistibly over-riding for a time all the efforts of the Conscious Personality to recover its authority in its own domain.
What proof, it will be asked impatiently, is there for the splitting of our personality? The question is a just one, and I proceed to answer it.
There are often to be found in the records of lunatic asylums strange instances of a dual personality, in which there appear to be two minds in one body, as there are sometimes two yolks in one egg.
In the Revue des Deux Mondes, M. Jules Janet records the following experiment which, although simplicity itself, gives us a very vivid glimpse of a most appalling complex problem:—
"An hysterical subject with an insensitive limb is put to sleep, and is told, 'After you wake you will raise your finger when you mean Yes, and you will put it down when you mean No, in answer to the questions which I shall ask you.' The subject is then wakened, and M. Janet pricks the insensitive limb in several places. He asks, 'Do you feel anything?' The conscious-awakened person replies with the lips, 'No,' but at the same time, in accordance with the signal that has been agreed upon during the state of hypnotisation, the finger is raised to signify 'Yes.' It has been found that the finger will even indicate exactly the number of times that the apparently insensitive limb has been wounded."
The Double-Souled Irishman.
Dr. Robinson, of Lewisham, who has bestowed much attention on this subject, sends me the following delightful story about an Irishman who seems to have incarnated the Irish nationality in his own unhappy person:—
"An old colleague of mine at the Darlington Hospital told me that he once had an Irish lunatic under his care who imagined that his body was the dwelling-place of two individuals, one of whom was a Catholic, with Nationalist—not to say Fenian—proclivities, and the other was a Protestant and an Orangeman. The host of these incompatibles said he made it a fixed rule that the Protestant should occupy the right side of his body and the Catholic the left, 'so that he would not be annoyed wid them quarrelling in his inside.' The sympathies of the host were with the green and against the orange, and he tried to weaken the latter by starving him, and for months would only chew his food on the left side of his mouth. The lunatic was not very troublesome, as a rule, but the attendants generally had to straight-waistcoat him on certain critical days—such as St. Patrick's Day and the anniversary of the battle of the Boyne; because the Orange fist would punch the Fenian head unmercifully, and occasionally he and the Fenian leagued together against the Orangeman and banged him against the wall. This lunatic, when questioned, said he did his best to keep the peace between his troublesome guests, but that sometimes they got out of hand."
Ansel Bourne and A. J. Brown.
A similar case, although not so violent or chronic in its manifestation, is recorded in Vol. VII. (Part xix.) of the Psychical Research Society's Proceedings, as having occurred on Rhode Island some years ago. An excellent citizen, and a very religious lay preacher, of the name of Ansel Bourne, was the subject:—
On January 17th, 1887, he went from his home in Coventry, R.I., to Providence, in order to get money to pay for a farm which he had arranged to buy, leaving his horse at Greene Station, in a stable, expecting to return the same afternoon from the city. He drew out of the bank 551 dollars, and paid several small bills, after which he went to his nephew's store, 121, Broad Street, and then started to go to his sister's house on Westminster Street. This was the last that was known of his doings at that time. He did not appear at his sister's house, and did not return to Greene.
Nothing was heard of him until March the 14th, when a telegram came from a doctor in Norristown, Philadelphia, stating that he had just been discovered there. He was entirely unconscious of having been absent from home, or of the lapse of time between January 17th and March 14th. He was brought home by his relatives, who, by diligent inquiry were able to make out that Mr. Ansel Bourne, five weeks after leaving Rhode Island, opened a shop in Norristown, and stocked it with toys and confectionery which he purchased in Philadelphia. He called himself A. J. Brown, and lived and did business, and went to meeting, like any ordinary mortal, giving no one any suspicion that he was any other than A. J. Brown.
On the morning of Monday, March 14th, about five o'clock, he heard, he says, an explosion like the report of a gun or a pistol, and, waking, he noticed that there was a ridge in his bed not like the bed he had been accustomed to sleep in. He noticed the electric light opposite his windows. He rose and pulled away the curtains and looked out on the street. He felt very weak, and thought that he had been drugged. His next sensation was that of fear, knowing that he was in a place where he had no business to be. He feared arrest as a burglar, or possibly injury. He says this is the only time in his life he ever feared a policeman.
The last thing he could remember before waking was seeing the Adams express wagons at the corner of Dorrance and Broad Streets, in Providence, on his way from the store of his nephew in Broad Street to his sister's residence in Westminster Street, on January 17th.
The memory of Ansel Bourne retained absolutely nothing of the doings of A. J. Brown, whose life he had lived for nearly two months. Professor William James hypnotised him, and no sooner was he put into the trance and was told to remember what happened January 17th, 1887, than he became A. J. Brown again, and gave a clear and connected narrative of all his doings in the Brown state. He did not remember ever having met Ansel Bourne. Everything, however, in his past life, he said, was "mixed up." He only remembered that he was confused, wanted to get somewhere and have rest. He did not remember how he left Norristown. His mind was confused, and since then it was a blank. He had no memory whatever of his name or of his second marriage and the place of his birth. He remembered, however, the date of his birth, and of his first wife's death, and his trade. But between January 17th, 1887, and March 14th he was not himself but another, and that other one Albert J. Brown, who ceased to exist consciously on March 14th, but who promptly returned four years afterwards, when Ansel Bourne was hypnotised, and showed that he remembered perfectly all that happened to him between these two dates. The confusion of his two memories in his earlier life is puzzling, but it in no way impairs the value of this illustration of the existence of two independent memories—two selfs, so to speak, within a single skin.
The phenomenon is not uncommon, especially with epileptic patients. Every mad-doctor knows cases in which there are what may be described as alternating consciousnesses with alternating memories. But the experiments of the French hypnotists carry us much further. In their hands this Sub-conscious Personality is capable of development, of tuition, and of emancipation. In this little suspected region lies a great resource. For when the Conscious Personality is hopeless, diseased, or demoralised the Unconscious Personality can be employed to renovate and restore the patient, and then when its work is done it can become unconscious once more and practically cease to exist.
Louis V. and His Two Souls.
There is at present a patient in France whose case is so extraordinary that I cannot do better than transcribe the report of it here, especially because it tends to show not only that we have two personalities, but that each may use by preference a separate lobe of the brain. The Conscious Personality occupies the left and controls the right hand, the Unconscious the right side of the head and controls the left hand. It also brings to light a very curious, not to say appalling, fact, viz., the immense moral difference there may be between the Conscious and the Unconscious Personalities. In the American case Bourne was a character practically identical with Brown. In this French case the character of each self is entirely different. What makes the case still more interesting is that, besides the two personalities which we all seem to possess, this patient had an arrested personality, which was only fourteen years old when the age of his body was over forty. Here is the report, however, make of it what you will.
"Louis V. began life (in 1863) as the neglected child of a turbulent mother. He was sent to a reformatory at ten years of age, and there showed himself, as he has always done when his organization had given him a chance, quiet, well-behaved, and obedient. Then at fourteen years old he had a great fright from a viper—a fright which threw him off his balance, and started the series of psychical oscillations on which he has been tossed ever since. At first the symptoms were only physical, epilepsy and hysterical paralysis of the legs; and at the asylum of Bonneval, whither he was next sent, he worked at tailoring steadily for a couple of months. Then suddenly he had a hystero-epileptic attack—fifty hours of convulsions and ecstasy—and when he awoke from it he was no longer paralysed, no longer acquainted with tailoring, and no longer virtuous. His memory was set back, so to say, to the moment of the viper's appearance, and he could remember nothing since. His character had become violent, greedy, quarrelsome, and his tastes were radically changed. For instance, though he had before the attack been a total abstainer, he now not only drank his own wine, but stole the wine of the other patients. He escaped from Bonneval, and after a few turbulent years, tracked by his occasional relapses into hospital or madhouse, he turned up once more at the Rochefort asylum in the character of a private of marines, convicted of theft, but considered to be of unsound mind. And at Rochefort and La Rochelle, by great good fortune, he fell into the hands of three physicians—Professors Bourru and Burot, and Dr. Mabille—able and willing to continue and extend the observations which Dr. Camuset at Bonneval, and Dr. Jules Voisin at Bicetre, had already made on this most precious of mauvais sujets at earlier points in his chequered career.
"He is now no longer at Rochefort, and Dr. Burot informs me that his health has much improved, and that his peculiarities have in great part disappeared. I must, however, for clearness sake, use the present tense in briefly describing his condition at the time when the long series of experiments were made.
"The state into which he has gravitated is a very unpleasing one. There is paralysis and insensibility of the right side, and, as is often the case in right hemiplegia, the speech is indistinct and difficult. Nevertheless he is constantly haranguing any one who will listen to him, abusing his physicians, or preaching—with a monkey-like impudence rather than with reasoned clearness—radicalism in politics and atheism in religion. He makes bad jokes, and if any one pleases him he endeavours to caress him. He remembers recent events during his residence at Rochefort asylum, but only two scraps of his life before that date, namely, his vicious period at Bonneval and a part of his stay at Bicetre.
"Except this strange fragmentary memory, there is nothing very unusual in this condition, and in many asylums no experiments on it would have been attempted. Fortunately the physicians at Rochefort were familiar with the efficacy of the contact of metals in provoking transfer of hysterical hemiplegia from one side to the other. They tried various metals in turn on Louis V. Lead, silver, and zinc had no effect. Copper produced a slight return of sensibility in the paralysed arm, but steel applied to the right arm transferred the whole insensibility to the left side of the body.
"Inexplicable as such a phenomenon is, it is sufficiently common, as French physicians hold, in hysterical cases to excite little surprise. What puzzled the doctors was the change of character which accompanied the change of sensibility. When Louis V. issued from the crisis of transfer with its minute of anxious expression and panting breath, he might fairly be called a new man. The restless insolence, the savage impulsiveness, have wholly disappeared. The patient is now gentle, respectful, and modest, can speak clearly, but he only speaks when he is spoken to. If he is asked his views on religion and politics, he prefers to leave such matters to wiser heads than his own. It might seem that morally and mentally the patient's cure had been complete.
"But now ask what he thinks of Rochefort; how he liked his regiment of marines. He will blankly answer that he knows nothing of Rochefort, and was never a soldier in his life. 'Where are you then, and what is the date of to-day?' 'I am at Bicetre; it is January 2nd, 1884, and I hope to see M. Voisin, as I did yesterday.'
"It is found, in fact, that he has now the memory of two short periods of life (different from those which he remembers when his right side is paralysed), periods during which, so far as now can be ascertained, his character was of this same decorous type, and his paralysis was on his left side.
"These two conditions are what are called his first and his second, out of a series of six or more through which he can be made to pass. For brevity's sake I will further describe his fifth state only.
"If he is placed in an electric bath, or if a magnet is placed on his head, it looks at first sight as though a complete physical cure had been effected. All paralysis, all defect of sensibility, has disappeared. His movements are light and active, his expression gentle and timid, but ask him where he is, and you will find that he has gone back to a boy of fourteen, that he is at St. Urbain, his first reformatory, and that his memory embraces his years of childhood, and stops short on the very day on which he had the fright from the viper. If he is pressed to recollect the incident of the viper, a violent epileptiform crisis puts a sudden end to this phase of his personality." (Vol. IV. pp. 497, 498, 499, "Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research").
This carries us a good deal further. Here we have not only two distinct personalities, but two distinct characters, if not three, in one body. According to the side which is paralysed, the man is a savage reprobate or a decent modest citizen. The man seems born again when the steel touches his right side. Yet all that has happened has been that the Sub-conscious Personality has superseded his Conscious Personality in the control of Louis V.
Lucie and Adrienne.
The next case, although not marked by the same violent contrast, is quite as remarkable, because it illustrates the extent to which the Sub-conscious Self can be utilized in curing the Conscious Personality.
The subject was a girl of nineteen, called Lucie, who was highly hysterical, having daily attacks of several hours' duration. She was also devoid of the sense of pain or the sense of contact, so that she "lost her legs in bed," as she put it.
On her fifth hypnotisation, however, Lucie underwent a kind of catalepsy, after which she returned to the somnambulic state; but that state was deeper than before. She no longer made any sign whether of assent or refusal when she received the hypnotic commands, but she executed them infallibly, whether they were to take effect immediately, or after waking.
In Lucie's case this went further, and the suggested actions became absolutely a portion of the trance-life. She executed them without apparently knowing what she was doing. If, for instance, in her waking state she was told (in the tone which in her hypnotic state signified command) to get up and walk about, she walked about, but to judge from her conversation she supposed herself to be still sitting quiet. She would weep violently when commanded, but while she wept she continued to talk as gaily and unconcernedly as if the tears had been turned on by a stop-cock.
Any suggestion uttered by M. Janet in a brusque tone of command reached the Unconscious Self alone; and other remarks reached the subject—awake or somnambulic—in the ordinary way. The next step was to test the intelligence of this hidden "slave of the lamp," if I may so term it—this sub-conscious and indifferent executor of all that was bidden. How far was its attention alert? How far was it capable of reasoning and judgment? M. Janet began with a simple experiment. "When I shall have clapped my hands together twelve times," he said to the entranced subject before awakening her, "you will go to sleep again." There was no sign that the sleeper understood or heard; and when she was awakened the events of the trance were a blank to her as usual. She began talking to other persons. M. Janet, at some little distance, clapped his hands feebly together five times. Seeing that she did not seem to be attending to him, he went up to her and said, "Did you hear what I did just now?" "No; what?" "Do you hear this?" and he clapped his hands once more. "Yes, you clapped your hands." "How often?" "Once." M. Janet again withdrew and clapped his hands six times gently, with pauses between the claps. Lucie paid no apparent attention, but when the sixth clap of this second series—making the twelfth altogether—was reached, she fell instantly into the trance again. It seemed, then, that the "slave of the lamp" had counted the claps through all, and had obeyed the order much as a clock strikes after a certain number of swings of the pendulum, however often you stop it between hour and hour.
Thus far, the knowledge gained as to the unconscious element in Lucie was not direct, but inferential. The nature of the command which it could execute showed it to be capable of attention and memory; but there was no way of learning its own conception of itself, if such existed, or of determining its relation to other phenomena of Lucie's trance. And here it was that automatic writing was successfully invoked; here we have, as I may say, the first fruits in France of the new attention directed to this seldom-trodden field. M. Janet began by the following simple command: "When I clap my hands you will write Bonjour." This was done in the usual scrawling script of automatism, and Lucie, though fully awake, was not aware that she had written anything at all.
M. Janet simply ordered the entranced girl to write answers to all questions of his after her waking. The command thus given had a persistent effect, and while the awakened Lucie continued to chatter as usual with other persons, her Unconscious Self wrote brief and scrawling responses to M. Janet's questions. This was the moment at which, in many cases, a new and invading separate personality is assumed.
A singular conversation gave to this limited creation, this statutory intelligence, an identity sufficient for practical convenience. "Do you hear me?" asked Professor Janet. Answer (by writing), "No." "But in order to answer one must hear." "Certainly." "Then how do you manage?" "I don't know." "There must be somebody that hears me." "Yes." "Who is it?" "Not Lucie." "Oh, some one else? Shall we call her Blanche?" "Yes, Blanche." Blanche, however, had to be changed. Another name had to be chosen. "What name will you have?" "No name." "You must, it will be more convenient." "Well, then, Adrienne." Never, perhaps, has a personality had less spontaneity about it.
Yet Adrienne was in some respects deeper down than Lucie. She could get at the genesis of certain psychical manifestations of which Lucie experienced only the results. A striking instance of this was afforded by the phenomena of the hystero-epileptic attacks to which this patient was subject.
Lucie's special terror, which recurred in wild exclamation in her hysterical fits, was in some way connected with hidden men. She could not, however, recollect the incident to which her cries referred; she only knew that she had had a severe fright at seven years old, and an illness in consequence. Now, during these "crises" Lucie (except, presumably, in the periods of unconsciousness which form a pretty constant element in such attacks) could hear what Prof. Janet said to her. Adrienne, on the contrary, was hard to get at; could no longer obey orders, and if she wrote, wrote only "J'ai peur, j'ai peur."
M. Janet, however, waited until the attack was over, and then questioned Adrienne as to the true meaning of the agitated scene. Adrienne was able to describe to him the terrifying incident in her childish life which had originated the confused hallucinations which recurred during the attack. She could not explain the recrudescence of the hallucinations; but she knew what Lucie saw, and why she saw it; nay, indeed, it was Adrienne, rather than Lucie, to whom the hallucination was directly visible.
Lucie, it will be remembered, was a hysterical patient very seriously amiss. One conspicuous symptom was an almost absolute defect of sensibility, whether to pain, to heat, or to contact, which persisted both when she was awake and entranced. There was, as already mentioned, an entire defect of the muscular sense also, so that when her eyes were shut she did not know the position of her limbs. Nevertheless it was remarked as an anomaly that when she was thrown into a cataleptic state, not only did the movements impressed upon her continue to be made, but the corresponding or complimentary movements, the corresponding facial expression, followed just as they usually follow in such experiments. Thus, if M. Janet clenched her fist in the cataleptic state, her arm began to deal blows, and her face assumed a look of anger. The suggestion which was given through the so-called muscular sense had operated in a subject to whom the muscular sense, as tested in other ways, seemed to be wholly lacking. As soon as Adrienne could be communicated with, it was possible to get somewhat nearer to a solution of this puzzle. Lucie was thrown into catalepsy; then M. Janet clenched her left hand (she began at once to strike out), put a pencil in her right, and said, "Adrienne, what are you doing?" The left hand continued to strike, and the face to bear the look of rage, while the right hand wrote, "I am furious." "With whom?" "With F." "Why?" "I don't know, but I am very angry." M. Janet then unclenched the subject's left hand, and put it gently to her lips. It began to "blow kisses," and the face smiled. "Adrienne, are you still angry?" "No, that's over." "And now?" "Oh, I am happy!" "And Lucie?" "She knows nothing; she is asleep."
In Lucie's case, indeed, these odd manifestations were—as the pure experimentalist might say—only too sanative, only too rapidly tending to normality. M. Janet accompanied his psychological inquiries with therapeutic suggestion, telling Adrienne not only to go to sleep when he clapped his hands, or to answer his questions in writing, but to cease having headaches, to cease having convulsive attacks, to recover normal sensibility, and so on. Adrienne obeyed, and even as she obeyed the rational command, her own Undine-like identity vanished away. The day came when M. Janet called on Adrienne, and Lucie laughed and asked him who he was talking to. Lucie was now a healthy young woman, but Adrienne, who had risen out of the unconscious, had sunk into the unconscious again—must I say?—for ever more.
Few lives so brief have taught so many lessons. For us who are busied with automatic writing the lesson is clear. We have here demonstrably what we can find in other cases only inferentially, an intelligence manifesting itself continuously by written answers, of purport quite outside the normal subject's conscious mind, while yet that intelligence was but a part, a fraction, an aspect, of the normal subject's own identity.
And we must remember that Adrienne—while she was, if I may say so, the Unconscious Self reduced to its simplest expression—did, nevertheless, manifest certain differences from Lucie, which, if slightly exaggerated, might have been very perplexing. Her handwriting was slightly different, though only in the loose and scrawling character so frequent in automatic script. Again, Adrienne remembered certain incidents in Lucie's childhood which Lucie had wholly forgotten. Once more—and this last suggestion points to positive rather than to negative conclusions—Adrienne possessed a faculty, the muscular sense, of which Lucie was devoid. I am anxious that this point especially should be firmly grasped, for I wish the reader's mind to be perfectly open as regards the relative faculties of the Conscious and the Unconscious Self. It is plain that we must be on the watch for completion, for evolution, as well as for partition, for dissolution, of the corporate being.
Felida X. and her Submerged Soul.
Side by side with this case we have another in which the Conscious Personality, instead of being cured, has been superseded by the Sub-conscious. It was as if instead of "Adrienne" being submerged by Lucie, "Adrienne" became Lucie and dethroned her former master. The woman in question, Felida X., has been transformed.
In her case the somnambulic life has become the normal life; the "second state," which appeared at first only in short, dream-like accesses, has gradually replaced the "first state," which now recurs but for a few hours at long intervals. Felida's second state is altogether superior to the first—physically superior, since the nervous pains which had troubled her from childhood had disappeared; and morally superior, inasmuch as her morose, self-centred disposition is exchanged for a cheerful activity which enables her to attend to her children and to her shop much more effectively than when she was in the etat bete, as she now calls what was once the only personality that she knew. In this case, then, which is now of nearly thirty years' standing, the spontaneous readjustment of nervous activities—the second state, no memory of which remains in the first state—has resulted in an improvement profounder than could have been anticipated from any moral or medical treatment that we know. The case shows us how often the word "normal" means nothing more than "what happens to exist." For Felida's normal state was in fact her morbid state; and the new condition which seemed at first a mere hysterical abnormality, has brought her to a life of bodily and mental sanity, which makes her fully the equal of average women of her class. (Vol. IV. p. 503.)
Madame B. and Her Three Souls.
Marvellous as the cases cited in the last chapter appear, they are thrown entirely into the shade by the case of Madame B., in which the two personalities not only exist side by side, but in the case of the Sub-conscious self knowingly co-exist, while over or beneath both there is a third personality which is aware of both the other two, and apparently superior to both. The possibilities which this case opens up are bewildering indeed. But it is better to state the case first and discuss it afterwards. Madame B., who is still under Prof. Richet's observations, is one of the favourite subjects of the French hypnotiser. She can be put to sleep at almost any distance, and when hypnotised completely changes her character. There are two well-defined personalities in her, and a third of a more mysterious nature than either of the two first. The normal waking state of the woman is called Leonie I., the hypnotic state Leonie II. The third occult Unconscious Personality of the lowest depth is called Leonie III.
"This poor peasant," says Professor Janet, "is in her normal state a serious and somewhat melancholy woman, calm and slow, very gentle and extremely timid. No one would suspect the existence of the person whom she includes within her. Hardly is she entranced when she is metamorphosed; her face is no longer the same; her eyes, indeed, remain closed, but the acuteness of the other senses compensates for the loss of sight. She becomes gay, noisy, and restless to an insupportable degree; she continues good-natured, but she has acquired a singular tendency to irony and bitter jests.... In this state she does not recognise her identity with her waking self. 'That good woman is not I,' she says; 'she is too stupid!'"
Madame B. has been so often hypnotised, and during so many years (for she was hypnotised by other physicians as long ago as 1860), that Leonie II. has by this time acquired a considerable stock of memories which Madame B. does not share. Leonie II., therefore, counts as properly belonging to her own history and not to Madame B.'s all the events which have taken place while Madame B.'s normal self was hypnotised into unconsciousness. It was not always easy at first to understand this partition of past experiences.
"Madame B. in the normal state," says Professor Janet, "has a husband and children. Leonie II., speaking in the somnambulistic trance, attributes the husband to the 'other' (Madame B.), but attributes the children to herself.... At last I learnt that her former mesmerisers, as bold in their practice as certain hypnotisers of to-day, had induced somnambulism at the time of her accouchements. Leonie II., therefore, was quite right in attributing the children to herself; the rule of partition was unbroken, and the somnambulism was characterised by a duplication of the subject's existence" (p. 391).
Still more extraordinary are Leonie II.'s attempts to make use of Leonie I.'s limbs without her knowledge or against her will. She will write postscripts to Leonie I.'s letters, of the nature of which poor Leonie I. is unconscious.
It seems, however, that when once set up this new personality can occasionally assume the initiative, and can say what it wants to say without any prompting. This is curiously illustrated by what may be termed a conjoint epistle addressed to Professor Janet by Madame B. and her secondary self, Leonie II. "She had," he says, "left Havre more than two months when I received from her a very curious letter. On the first page was a short note written in a serious and respectful style. She was unwell, she said—worse on some days than on others—and she signed her true name, Madame B. But over the page began another letter in quite a different style, and which I may quote as a curiosity:—'My dear good sir,—I must tell you that B. really makes me suffer very much; she cannot sleep, she spits blood, she hurts me. I am going to demolish her, she bores me. I am ill also. This is from your devoted Leontine' (the name first given to Leonie II).
"When Madame B. returned to Havre I naturally questioned her concerning this curious missive. She remembered the first letter very distinctly, but she had not the slightest recollection of the second. I at first thought there must have been an attack of spontaneous somnambulism between the moment when she finished the first letter and the moment when she closed the envelope. But afterwards these unconscious, spontaneous letters became common, and I was better able to study the mode of their production. I was fortunately able to watch Madame B. on one occasion while she went through this curious performance. She was seated at a table, and held in the left hand the piece of knitting at which she had been working. Her face was calm, her eyes looked into space with a certain fixity, but she was not cataleptic, for she was humming a rustic tune; her right hand wrote quickly, and, as it were, surreptitiously. I removed the paper without her noticing me, and then spoke to her; she turned round wide-awake but was surprised to see me, for in her state of distraction she had not noticed my approach. Of the letter which she was writing she knew nothing whatever.
"Leonie II.'s independent action is not entirely confined to writing letters. She observed (apparently) that when her primary self, Leonie I., discovered these letters she (Leonie I.) tore them up. So Leonie II. hit upon a plan of placing them in a photographic album into which Leonie I. could not look without falling into catalepsy (on account of an association of ideas with Dr. Gibert, whose portrait had been in the album). In order to accomplish an act like this Leonie II. has to wait for a moment when Leonie I. is distracted, or, as we say, absent-minded. If she can catch her in this state Leonie II. can direct Leonie I.'s walks, for instance, or start on a long railway journey without baggage, in order to get to Havre as quickly as possible."
In the whole realm of imaginative literature, is there anything to compare to this actual fact of three selves in one body, each struggling to get possession of it? Leonie I., or the Conscious Personality, is in possession normally, but is constantly being ousted by Leonie II., or the Subconscious Personality. It is the old, old case of the wife trying to wear the breeches. But there is a fresh terror beyond. For behind both Leonie I. and Leonie II. stands the mysterious Leonie III.
"The spontaneous acts of the Unconscious Self," says M. Janet, here meaning by l'inconscient the entity to which he has given the name of Leonie III., "may also assume a very reasonable form—a form which, were it better understood, might perhaps serve to explain certain cases of insanity. Mme. B., during her somnambulism (i.e. Leonie II.) had had a sort of hysterical crisis; she was restless and noisy and I could not quiet her. Suddenly she stopped and said to me with terror. 'Oh, who is talking to me like that? It frightens me.' 'No one is talking to you.' 'Yes! there on the left!' And she got up and tried to open a wardrobe on her left hand, to see if some one was hidden there. 'What is that you hear?' I asked. 'I hear on the left a voice which repeats, "Enough, enough, be quiet, you are a nuisance."' Assuredly the voice which thus spoke was a reasonable one, for Leonie II. was insupportable; but I had suggested nothing of the kind, and had no idea of inspiring a hallucination of hearing. Another day Leonie II. was quite calm, but obstinately refused to answer a question which I asked. Again she heard with terror the same voice to the left, saying, 'Come, be sensible, you must answer.' Thus the Unconscious sometimes gave her excellent advice."
And in effect, as soon as Leonie III. was summoned into communication, she accepted the responsibility of this counsel. "What was it that happened?" asked M. Janet, "when Leonie II. was so frightened?" "Oh! nothing. It was I who told her to keep quiet; I saw she was annoying you; I don't know why she was so frightened."
Note the significance of this incident. Here we have got at the root of a hallucination. We have not merely inferential but direct evidence that the imaginary voice which terrified Leonie II. proceeded from a profounder stratum of consciousness in the same individual. In what way, by the aid of what nervous mechanism, was the startling monition conveyed?
Just as Mme. B. was sent, by means of passes, into a state of lethargy, from which she emerged as Leonie II., so Leonie II., in her turn, was reduced by renewed passes to a state of lethargy from which she emerged no longer as Leonie II. but as Leonie III. This second waking is slow and gradual, but the personality which emerges is, in one important point, superior to either Leonie I. or Leonie II. Although one among the subject's phases, this phase possesses the memory of every phase. Leonie III., like Leonie II., knows the normal life of Leonie I., but distinguishes herself from Leonie I., in whom, it must be said, these subjacent personalities appear to take little interest. But Leonie III. also remembers the life of Leonie II.—condemns her as noisy and frivolous, and is anxious not to be confounded with her either. "Vous voyez bien que je ne suis pas cette bavarde, cette folle; nous ne nous ressemblons pas du tout."
We ask, in amazement, how many more personalities may there not be hidden in the human frame? Here is simple Madame B., who is not one person but three—first her commonplace self; secondly, the clever, chattering Leonie II., who is bored by B., and who therefore wants to demolish her; and thirdly, the lordly Leonie III., who issues commands that strike terror into Leonie II., and disdains to be identified with either of the partners in Madame B.'s body.
It is evident, if the hypnotists are right, that the human body is more like a tenement house than a single cell, and that the inmates love each other no more than the ordinary occupants of tenemented property. But how many are there of us within each skin who can say?
Some Suggested Theories.
Of theories to account for these strange phenomena there are enough and to spare. I do not for a moment venture to claim for the man and wife illustration the slightest scientific value. It is only a figure of speech which brings out very clearly one aspect of the problem of personality. The theory that there are two independent personalities within the human skin is condemned by all orthodox psychologists. There is one personality manifesting itself, usually consciously, but occasionally unconsciously, and the different method of manifestation differs so widely as to give the impression that there could not be the same personality behind both. A man who is ambidextrous will sign his name differently with his right or left hand, but it is the same signature. Mr. Myers thinks that the Secondary Personality of Subliminal Consciousness is merely a phase of the essential Unity of the Ego. Some time ago he expressed himself on this subject as follows:—
"I hold that hypnotism (itself a word covering a vast variety of different states) may be regarded as constituting one special case which falls under a far wider category—the category, namely, of developments of a Secondary Personality. I hold that we each of us contain the potentialities of many different arrangements of the elements of our personality, each arrangement being distinguishable from the rest by differences in the chain of memories which pertain to it. The arrangement with which we habitually identify ourselves—what we call the normal or primary self—consists, in my view, of elements selected for us in the struggle for existence with special reference to the maintenance of ordinary physical needs, and is not necessarily superior in any other respect to the latent personalities which lie alongside of it—the fresh combinations of our personal elements which may be evoked by accident or design, in a variety to which we at present can assign no limit. I consider that dreams, with natural somnambulism, automatic writing, with so-called mediumistic trance, as well as certain intoxications, epilepsies, hysterias, and recurrent insanities, afford examples of the development of what I have called secondary mnemonic chains; fresh personalities, more or less complete, alongside the normal state. And I would add that hypnotism is only the name given to a group of empirical methods of inducing these fresh personalities."
A doctor in philosophy, to whom I submitted these pages, writes me as follows:—"There can be no doubt that every man lives a sub-conscious as well as a conscious life. One side of him is closed against examination by himself (i.e. unconscious); the other is conscious of itself. The former carries on processes of separation, combination, and distribution, of the thought-stuff handed over to it, corresponding almost exactly to the processes carried on by the stomach, which, as compared with those of eating, etc., go on in the dark automatically."
Another doctor, not of philosophy but of medicine, who has devoted special attention to the phenomenon of sleep, suggests a new illustration which is graphic and suggestive. He writes:—
"With regard to dual or multiple consciousness, my own feeling has always been that the individuals stand one behind the other in the chambers of the mind, or else, as it were, in concentric circles. You may compare it to the Jewish tabernacle. First, there is the court of the Gentiles, where Ego No. 1 chaffers about trifles with the outer world. While he is so doing Ego No. 2 watches him from the court of the Levites, but does not go forth on small occasions. When we 'open out' to a friend the Levite comes forth, and is in turn watched by the priest from the inner court. Let our emotions be stirred in sincere converse and out strides the priest, and takes precedence of the other two, they falling obediently and submissively behind him. But the priest is still watched by the high priest from the tabernacle itself, and only on great and solemn occasions does he make himself manifest by action. When he does, the other three yield to his authority, and then we say the man 'speaks with his whole soul' and 'from the bottom of his heart.' But even now the Shekinah is upon the mercy-seat within the Holy of holies, and the high priest knows it."
The latest word of the French psychologists is thus stated by M. Foueillee:—
"Contemporary psychology deprives us of the illusion of a definitely limited, impenetrable, and absolutely autonomous I. The conception of individual consciousness must be of an idea rather than of a substance. Though separate in the universe, we are not separate from the universe. Continuity and reciprocity of action exist everywhere. This is the great law and the great mystery. There is no such thing as an isolated and veritably monad being, any more than there is such a thing as an indivisible point, except in the abstractions of geometry."
Whatever may be the true theory, it is evident that there is enough mystery about personality to make us very diffident about dogmatising, especially as to what is possible and what is not.
Whether we have one mind or two, let us, at least, keep it (or them) open.
THE THOUGHT BODY, OR THE DOUBLE.
"And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter's voice, she ran in and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel (or double)."—Acts xil. 13-15.
I began to write this in the autumn of 1891 in a small country-house among the Surrey hills, whither I had retreated in order to find undisturbed leisure in which to arrange my ideas and array my facts. It was a pleasant place enough, perched on the brow of a heath-covered slope that dipped down to a ravine, at the head of which stands Professor Tyndall's house with its famous screen. Hardly a mile away northward lies the Devil's Punch Bowl, with its memorial stone erected in abhorrence of the detestable murder perpetrated on its rim by ruffians whose corpses slowly rotted as they swung on the gibbet overhead; far to the south spreads the glorious amphitheatre of hills which constitute the Highlands of the South.
The Portsmouth road, along which for hundreds of years rolled to and fro the tide of martial life between London and the great Sea Gate of the Realm, lies near by, silent and almost disused. Mr. Balfour's land, on the brow of Hindhead, is enclosed but not yet built upon, although a whole archipelago of cottages and villas is springing up amid the heather as the ground slopes towards Selborne—White's Selborne—that can dimly be descried to the westward beyond Liphook Common. Memories there are, enough and to spare, of the famous days of old, and of the not less famous men of our own time; but the ghosts have fled. "There used to be a ghost in the mill," said my driver, "and another in a comparatively new house over in Lord Tennyson's direction, but we hear nothing about them now." "Not even at the Murder Stone of the Devil's Punch Bowl?" "Not even at the Murder Stone. I have driven past it at all hours, and never saw anything—but the stone, of course."
Yet a more suitable spot for a ghost could hardly be conceived than the rim of the Devil's Punch Bowl, where the sailor was murdered, and where afterwards his murderers were hanged. I visited it late at night, when the young moon was beginning to struggle through the cloudy sky, and looked down into the ravine which Cobbett declared was the most horrid place God ever made; but no sign of ghostly visitant could be caught among the bracken, no sound of the dead voices was audible in the air. It is the way with ghosts—they seldom appear where they might be looked for. It is the unexpected in the world of shadows, as in the workaday world, which always happens.
Of this I had soon a very curious illustration. For, although there were no ghosts in the Devil's Punch Bowl by the Murder Stone, I found that there had been a ghost in the trim new little villa in which I was quartered! It didn't appear to me—at least, it has not done so as yet. But it appeared to some friends of mine whose statement is explicit enough. Here was a find indeed. I spent most of my boyhood within a mile of the famous haunted house or mill at Willington, but I had never slept before in a place which ghosts used as a trysting place. I asked my hostess about it. She replied, "Yes, it is quite true; but, although you may not believe it, I am the ghost." "You? How?" "Yes," she replied, quite seriously; "it is quite true what your friends have told you. They did see what you would correctly describe as an apparition. That is to say, they saw a more or less shadowy figure, which they at once identified, and which then gradually faded away. It was an apparition in the true sense of the word. It entered the room without using the door or window, it was visibly manifested before them, and then it vanished. All that is quite true. But it is also true that the ghost, as you call it, was my ghost." "Your ghost, but——" "I am not dead, you are going to say. Precisely. But surely you must be well aware of the fact that the ghosts of the living are much better authenticated than ghosts of the dead."
My hostess was the daughter of a well-known London solicitor, who, after spending her early youth in dancing and riding and other diversions of young ladies in society who have the advantage of a house in Park Lane, suddenly became possessed by a strange, almost savage, fascination for the occult lore of the ancient East. Abandoning the frivolities of Mayfair, she went to Girton, where she plunged into the study of Sanscrit. After leaving Girton, she applied herself to the study of the occult side of Theosophy. Then she married a black magician in the platonic fashion common to Occultists, early Christians, and Russian Nihilists, and since then she has prosecuted her studies into the invisible world with ever-increasing interest.
The Thought Body.
"I see you are incredulous," she replied; "but, if you like, I will some time afford you an opportunity of proving that I am simply speaking the truth. Tell me, will you speak to me if I appear to you in my thought body?" "Certainly," I replied, "unless I am struck dumb. Nothing would please me better. But, of course, I have never seen a ghost, and no one can say how any utterly unaccustomed experience may affect him." "Unfortunately," she replied, "that is too often the case. All those to whom I have hitherto appeared have been so scared they could not speak." "But, my dear friend, do you actually mean to say that you have the faculty of——" "Going about in my Thought Body? Most certainly. It is not a very uncommon faculty, but it is one which needs cultivation and development." "But what is a Thought Body?" My hostess smiled: "It is difficult to explain truths on the plane of thought to those who are immersed body and soul in matter. I can only tell you that every person has, in addition to this natural body of flesh, bones, and blood, a Thought Body, the exact counterpart in every respect of this material frame. It is contained within the material body, as air is contained in the lungs and in the blood. It is of finer matter than the gross fabric of our outward body. It is capable of motion with the rapidity of thought. The laws of space and time do not exist for the mind, and the Thought Envelope of which we are speaking moves with the swiftness of the mind."
"Then when your thought body appears?"
"My mind goes with it. I see, I hear, and my consciousness is with my Thought Envelope. But I want to have a proper interview while on my thought journeys. That is why I ask you if you would try to speak to me if I appear."
"But," I objected, "do you really mean that you hope to appear before me, in my office, as immaterial as gas, as visible as light, and yet to speak, to touch?"
"That is just what I mean," she replied, laughing, "that and nothing less. I was in your office the other morning at six o'clock, but no one was there. I have not got this curious power as yet under complete control. But when once we are able to direct it at will, imagine what possibilities it unfolds!"
"But," said I, "if you can be seen and touched, you ought to be photographed!"
"I wish to be photographed, but no one can say as yet whether such thought bodies can be photographed. When next I make the experiment I want you to try. It would be very useful."
Useful indeed! It does not require very vivid imagination to see that if you can come and go to the uttermost parts of the world in your thought shape, such Thought Bodies will be indispensable henceforth on every enterprising newspaper. It would be a great saving on telegraphy. When my ideal paper comes along, I mentally vowed I would have my hostess as first member of my staff. But of course it had got to be proved, and that not only once but a dozen times, before any reliance could be placed on it.
"I often come down here," said my hostess cheerfully, "after breakfast. I just lie down in my bedroom in town, and in a moment I find myself here at Hindhead. Sometimes I am seen, sometimes I am not. But I am here; seen or unseen, I see. It is a curious gift, and one which I am studying hard to develop and to control."
"And what about clothes?" I asked. "Oh," replied my hostess airily, "I go in whatever clothes I like. There are astral counterparts to all our garments. It by no means follows that I appear in the same dress as that which is worn by my material body. I remember, when I appeared to your friend, I wore the astral counterpart of a white silk shawl, which was at the time folded away in the wardrobe."
At this point, however, in order to anticipate the inevitable observation that my hostess was insane, I think I had better introduce the declarations of my two friends, who are quite clear and explicit as to their recollection of what they saw.
My witnesses are mother and daughter. The daughter I have seen and interviewed; the mother I could not see, but took a statement down from her husband, who subsequently submitted it in proof to her for correction. I print the daughter's statement first.
"About eighteen months ago (in May, 1890) I was staying at the house of my friend in M—— Mansions. Mrs. M. had gone to her country house at Hindhead for a fortnight and was not expected back for a week. I was sitting in the kitchen reading Edna Lyall's 'Donovan.' About half-past nine o'clock I distinctly heard Mrs. M. walk up and down the passage which ran from the front door past the open door of the room in which I was sitting. I was not thinking of Mrs. M. and did not at the time realize that she was not in the flat, when suddenly I heard her voice and saw her standing at the open door. I saw her quite distinctly, and saw that she was dressed in the dress in which I had usually seen her in an evening, without bonnet or hat, her hair being plaited low down close to the back of her head. The dress, I said, was the same, but there were two differences which I noticed at once. In her usual dress, the silk front was grey; this time the grey colour had given place to a curious amber, and over her shoulders she wore a shawl of white Indian silk. I noticed it particularly, because the roses embroidered on it at its ends did not correspond with each other. All this I saw as I looked up and heard her say, 'T——, give me that book.' I answered, half mechanically, 'Yes, Mrs. M.,' but felt somewhat startled. I had hardly spoken when Mrs. M. turned, opened the door leading into the main building, and went out. I instantly got up and followed her to the door. It was closed. I opened it and looked out, but could see nobody. It was not until then that I fully realised that there was something uncanny in what I had seen. I was very frightened, and after having satisfied myself that Mrs. M. was not in the flat, I fastened the door, put out the lights, and went to bed, burying my head under the bedclothes.
"The post next day brought a letter from Mrs. M. saying that she was coming by eleven o'clock. I was too frightened to stay in the house, and I went to my father and told him what I had seen. He told me to go back and hear what Mrs. M. had to say about the matter. When Mrs. M. arrived I told her what I had seen on the preceding evening. She laughed, and said, 'Oh! I was here then, was I? I did not expect to come here.' With that exception I have seen no apparition whatever, or had any hallucination of any kind, neither have I seen the apparition of Mrs. M. again."
After hearing this statement I asked Mrs. M. what she meant by the remark she had made on hearing Miss C.'s explanation of what she had witnessed. My hostess replied, "That night when I passed into the trance state, and lay down on the couch in the sitting-room at Hindhead, I did so with the desire of visiting my husband, who was in his retreat at Wimbledon. That, I should say, was between nine and half-past. After I came out of the trance I was conscious that I had been somewhere, but I did not know where. I started from Hindhead for Wimbledon, but landed at M—— Mansions, where, no doubt, I was more at home." "Then you had no memory of where you had been?" "Not the least." "And what about the shawl?" "The shawl was one that Miss C. had never seen. I had not worn it for two years, and the fact that she saw it and described it, is conclusive evidence against the subjective character of the vision. The originals of all the phantom clothes were at M—— Mansions at the time Miss C. saw me wearing them. I was not wearing the shawl. At the time when she saw it on my Thought Body it was folded up and put away in a wardrobe in an adjoining room. She had never seen it." I asked Miss C. what was the appearance of Mrs. M. She replied, "She just looked as she does always, only much more beautiful." "How do you account," said I to my hostess, "for the change in colour of the silk front from grey to amber?" She replied, "It was a freak."
I then asked Mr. C., the father of the last witness, what had occurred in his wife's experience. Here is the statement which his wife made to him, and which he says is absolutely reliable. "I was staying at Hindhead, in the lodge connected with the house in which you are staying. I was in some trouble, and Mrs. M. had been somewhat anxious about me. I had gone to sleep, but was suddenly aroused by the consciousness that some one was bending over me. When I opened my eyes I saw in shimmering outline a figure which I recognised at once as that of Mrs. M. She was bending over me, and her great lustrous eyes seemed to pierce my very soul. For a time I lay still, as if paralysed, being unable either to speak or to move, but at last gaining courage with time I ventured to strike a match. As soon as I did so the figure of Mrs. M. disappeared. Feeling reassured and persuaded that I had been deluded by my senses, I at last put out the light and composed myself to sleep. To my horror, no sooner was the room dark than I saw the spectral, shimmering form of Mrs. M. moving about the room, and always turning towards me those wonderful, piercing eyes. I again struck a match, and again the apparition vanished from the room.
"By this time I was in a mortal terror, and it was some time before I ventured to put out the light again, when a third time I saw the familiar presence which had evidently never left the room, but simply been invisible in the light. In the dark it shone by its own radiance. I was taken seriously ill with a violent palpitation of the heart, and kept my light burning. I felt so utterly upset that I could not remain any longer in the place and insisted next morning on going home. I did not touch the phantom, I simply saw it—saw it three times, and its haunting persistency rendered it quite impossible for me to mistake it for any mere nightmare."
Neither Mrs. nor Miss C. have had any other hallucinations, and Mrs. C. is strongly sceptical. She does not deny the accuracy of the above statement, but scouts the theory of a Thought Body, or of any supernatural or occult explanation. On hearing Mrs. C.'s evidence I asked my hostess whether she was conscious of haunting her guest in this way. "I knew nothing about it," she replied; "all that I know was that I had been much troubled about her and was anxious to help her. I went into a very heavy, deep sleep; but until next morning, when I heard of it from Mrs. C. I had no idea that my double had left my room." I said, "This power is rather gruesome, for you might take to haunting me." "I do not think so, unless there was something to be gained which could not be otherwise secured, some benefit to be conferred upon you." "That is to say, if I were in trouble or dangerously ill, and you were anxious about me, your double might come and attend my sick-bed." "That is quite possible," she said imperturbably. "Well," said I, "when are you coming to be photographed?" "Not for many months yet," she replied, with a laugh. "For the Thought Body to leave its corporeal tenement it needs a considerable concentration of thought, and an absence of all disturbing conditions or absorbing preoccupations at the time. I see no reason why I should not be photographed when the circumstances are propitious. I shall be very glad to furnish you with that evidence of the reality of the Thought Body, but such things cannot be fixed up to order."