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HISTORIC GHOSTS AND GHOST HUNTERS

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Porscha Campbell
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« Reply #90 on: November 15, 2009, 05:16:35 am »

In a voice shaken by sobs, she now unfolded her story, and pitiful enough it was. She was, it appeared, the sister of Knight's first wife, who had died in Norfolk leaving a new born child that survived its mother only a few hours. At Knight's request she then went to keep house for him, and presently they found themselves very much in love with each other. But in the canon law they discovered an insuperable obstacle to marriage. Had the wife died without issue, or had her child not been born alive, the law would have permitted her, even though a "deceased wife's sister," to wed the man of her choice. As things stood, a legitimate union was out of the question. Learning this, they resolved to separate; but separation brought only increased longing. Thence grew a rapid and mutual persuasion that, under the circumstances, it would be no sin to bid defiance to the canon law and live together as man and wife. This view not finding favor with their relatives, and becoming apprehensive of arrest and imprisonment, they had fled to London and had hidden themselves in its[Pg 87] depths. Surely, she concluded, with a desperate intensity, surely fair-minded people would not condemn them; surely all who knew what true love was would feel that they could not have acted otherwise?

This confession, though it did not in the least diminish her landlady's regard for her, worked indirectly in a most disastrous way. Whether driven by necessity, or emboldened by the belief that his lodgers were at his mercy, the clerk soon afterward approached Knight for a small loan; and, obtaining it, repeated the request on several other occasions, until he had borrowed in all about twelve pounds. Payment he postponed on one pretext and another, until the lender finally lost all patience and informed him roundly that he must settle or stand suit. Then followed an interchange of words that in an instant terminated the pleasant connection of the preceding months. Parsons was described as "an impudent scoundrel who would be taught what honesty meant." Parsons described himself as "knowing what honesty meant full well, and needing no lessons from a fugitive from justice." White with rage, Knight bundled his belongings together, called a hackney coach, and[Pg 88] within the hour had shaken the dust of **** Lane from his feet, finding new lodgings in Clerkenwell and at once haling his whilom landlord to the debtors' court.

A little time, and all else was forgotten in the serious illness of his beloved Fanny. At first the physician declared that the malady would prove slight; but she herself seemed to feel that she was doomed. "Send for a lawyer," she urged; "I want to make my will. It is little enough I have, God knows; but I wish to be sure you will get it all, dear husband."
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« Reply #91 on: November 15, 2009, 05:16:46 am »

To humor her, the will was drawn, and now it developed that the disease which had attacked her was smallpox in its worst form. No need to dwell on the fearful hours that followed, the fond farewells, the lapsing into a merciful unconsciousness, the death. They buried her in the vaults of St. John's Clerkenwell, and from her tomb her husband came forth to give battle to the relatives who, shunning her while alive, did not disdain to seek possession of the small legacy she had left him. In this they failed, but scarcely had the smoke of the legal canonading cleared away, before he was called upon to meet a[Pg 89] new issue so unexpected and so mysterious that history affords no stranger sequel to tale of love.

The first intimation of its coming and of its nature was revealed to him, as to the public generally, by a brief paragraph printed in a mid January, 1762, issue of The London Ledger:

"For some time past a great knocking having been heard in the night, at the officiating parish clerk's of St. Sepulchre's, in **** Lane near Smithfield, to the great terror of the family, and all means used to discover the meaning of it, four gentlemen sat up there last Friday night, among whom was a clergyman standing withinside the door, who asked various questions. On his asking whether any one had been murdered, no answer was made; but on his asking whether any one had been poisoned, it knocked one and thirty times. The report current in the neighborhood is that a woman was some time ago poisoned, and buried at St. John's Clerkenwell, by her brother-in-law."

Instantly the city was agog, and for the next fortnight The Ledger, The Chronicle, and other newspapers gave much of their space to[Pg 90] details of the pretended revelations, though they were careful to refer to names by blanks or initials only.[H] These accounts informed their readers that the knocking had first been heard in the life time of the deceased when, during the absence of her supposed husband, she had shared her bed with Clerk Parsons's oldest daughter; that she had then pronounced it an omen of her early death; that it did not occur again until after she had died; that, if the soi-disant spirit could be believed, the earlier knocking had been due to the agency of her dead sister; and that, in her own turn, she had come back to bring to justice the villain who had murdered her for the little she possessed. In commenting on this amazing story, the papers were prompt to point out that the knocking was heard only in the presence of the afore-mentioned daughter, now a girl of twelve; and while one or two, like The[Pg 91] Ledger, inclined to credence, the majority followed The Chronicle in denouncing the affair as an "imposture."
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« Reply #92 on: November 15, 2009, 05:16:58 am »

The outraged husband, as may be imagined, lost not a moment in demanding admission to the séances which were proceeding merrily under the direction of a servant in the Parsons family and a clergyman of the neighborhood. He found that the method practised was to put the girl to bed, wait until the knocking should begin, and then question the alleged spirit; when answers were received according to a code of one knock for an affirmative and two knocks for a negative. It was in his presence, then, though not at a single sitting, that the following dialogue was in this way carried on:

"Are you Miss Fanny?"—"Yes."

"Did you die naturally?"—"No."

"Did you die by poison?"—"Yes."

"Do you know what kind of poison it was?"—"Yes."

"Was it arsenic?"—"Yes."

"Was it given to you by any person other than Mr. Knight?"—"No."

"Do you wish that he be hanged?"—"Yes."

[Pg 92]

"Was it given to you in gruel?"—"No."

"In beer?"—"Yes."

Here a spectator interrupted with the remark that the deceased was never known to drink beer, but had been fond of purl, and the question was hastily put:

"Was it not in purl?"—"Yes."

"How long did you live after taking it?"—Three knocks, held to mean three hours.

"Did Carrots" (her maid) "know of your being poisoned?"—"Yes."

"Did you tell her?"—"Yes."

"How long was it after you took it before you told her?" One knock, for one hour.
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« Reply #93 on: November 15, 2009, 05:17:14 am »

Here was something tangible, and Knight went to work with a will to refute the terrible charge brought by the invisible accuser. As reported in The Daily Gazetteer, which had promised that "the reader may expect to be enlightened from time to time to the utmost of our power in this intricate and dark affair," the maid Carrots was found, and from her was procured a sworn statement that Mrs. Knight had said not a word to her about being poisoned; that, indeed, she had become unconscious twelve hours before her death and remained unconscious to the end. The[Pg 93] physician and apothecary who had attended her made affidavit to the same effect, and described the fatal nature of her illness. It was further shown that her death at most benefited Knight by not more than a hundred pounds, of which he had no need, as he was of independent means.

Altogether, he would seem to have cleared himself effectually. Still the knocking continued, and night after night the accusation was repeated. He now resorted, therefore, to a radical step to convince the public that he was the victim of a monstrous fraud.

Asserting that little Miss Parsons herself produced the mysterious sounds, and that she did so at the instigation of her father, he secured an order for her removal to the house of a friend of his, a Clerkenwell clergyman. Here a decisive failure was recorded against the ghost. It had promised that it would knock on the coffin containing Mrs. Knight's remains; and about one o'clock in the morning, after hours of silent watching, during which the spirit gave not a sign of its presence, the entire company adjourned to the church. Only one member was found of sufficient boldness to plunge with Knight into the gloomy depths[Pg 94] where the dead lay entombed; and that one bore out his statement that never a knock had been heard. The girl was urged to confess, but persisted in her assertions that the ghost was in nowise of her making.

Afterward, when the knocking had been resumed under more favorable auspices, word came from the unseen world that the fiasco in the church was ascribable to the very good reason that Knight had caused his wife's coffin to be secretly removed. "I will show them!" cried the desperate man. With clergyman, sexton, and undertaker, he visited the vaults once more and not only identified but opened the coffin.

Meanwhile all London was flocking to **** Lane as to a raree-show, on foot, on horseback, in vehicles of every description. Some, like the celebrated Dr. Johnson who took part in the coffin opening episode in Clerkenwell, were animated by scientific zeal; but idle curiosity inspired the great majority. The gossiping Walpole, in a letter to his friend Montagu, has left a graphic picture of the stir created by the newspaper reports.
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« Reply #94 on: November 15, 2009, 05:17:28 am »

"I went to hear it," he writes; "for it is not an apparition but an audition. We set out[Pg 95] from the opera, changed our clothes at Northumberland House, the Duke of York, Lady Northumberland, Lady Mary Coke, Lord Hertford, and I, all in one hackney coach, and drove to the spot; it rained in torrents; yet the lane was full of mob, and the house so full we could not get in; at last they discovered it was the Duke of York, and the company squeezed themselves into one another's pockets to make room for us. The house, which is borrowed, and to which the ghost has adjourned, is wretchedly small and miserable; when we opened the chamber, in which were fifty people with no light but one tallow candle at the end, we tumbled over the bed of the child to whom the ghost comes, and whom they are murdering by inches in such insufferable heat and stench. At the top of the room are clothes to dry. I asked if we were to have rope dancing between the acts. We heard nothing; they told us (as they would at a puppet show) that it would not come that night till seven in the morning, that is, when there are only prentices and old women. We stayed, however, till half an hour after one."

The skepticism patent in this letter was shared by all thinking men. Letter after[Pg 96] letter of criticism, even of abuse, was poured into the newspapers. No less a personage than Oliver Goldsmith wrote, under the title of "The Mystery Revealed," a long pamphlet which was intended both to explain away the disturbances and to defend the luckless Knight. The actor Garrick dragged into a prologue a riming and sneering reference to the mystery; the artist Hogarth invoked his genius to deride it. Yet there were believers in plenty, and there even seem to have been some who thought of preying on the credulous by opening up a business in "knocking ghosts."

"On Tuesday last," one reads in The Chronicle, "it was given out that a new knocking ghost was to perform that evening at a house in Broad Court near Bow Street, Covent Garden; information of which being given to a certain magistrate in the neighborhood, he sent his compliments with an intimation that it should not meet with that lenity the **** Lane ghost did, but that it should knock hemp in Bridewell. On which the ghost very discreetly omitted the intended exhibition."

Whether or no he took a hint from this publication, it is certain that, finding all other means failing, Knight now resolved to try to[Pg 97] lay by legal process the ghost that had rendered him the most unhappy and the most talked of man in London. Going before a magistrate, he brought a charge of criminal conspiracy against Clerk Parsons, Mrs. Parsons, the Parsons servant, the clergyman who had aided the servant in eliciting the murder story from the talkative ghost, and a **** Lane tradesman. All of these, he alleged, had banded themselves together to ruin him, their malice arising from the quarrel which had led him to remove to Clerkenwell and enter a lawsuit against Parsons. The girl herself he did not desire punished, because she was too young to understand the evil that she wrought. Warrants were forthwith issued, and, protesting their innocence frantically, the accused were dragged to prison.

Their conviction soon followed, after a trial of which the only obtainable evidence is that it was held at the Guildhall before a special jury and was presided over by Lord Mansfield. Then, "the court desiring that Mr. K——, who had been so much injured on this occasion, should receive some reparation," sentence was deferred for several months.[Pg 98] This enabled the clergyman and the tradesman "to purchase their pardon" by the payment of some five hundred or six hundred pounds to Knight. But the clerk either would not or could not pay a farthing, and on him and his, sentence was now passed. "The father," to quote once more from the meager account in The Annual Register, "was ordered to be set in the pillory three times in one month, once at the end of **** Lane, and after that to be imprisoned two years; Elizabeth his wife, one year; and Mary Frazer, six months to Bridewell, and to be kept there to hard labor." Thus, in wig and gown, did the law solemnly and severely place the seal of disbelief on the **** Lane ghost; which, it is worth observing, seems to have vanished forever the moment the arrests were made.
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« Reply #95 on: November 15, 2009, 05:17:50 am »

But, looking back at the case from the vantage point of chronological distance and of recent research into kindred affairs, it is difficult to accept as final the verdict reached by the "special jury" and concurred in by the public opinion of the day. It is preposterous to suppose that for so slight a cause as a dispute over twelve pounds Clerk Parsons[Pg 99] and his associates would conspire to ruin a man's reputation and if possible to take his life; and still more preposterous to imagine that they would adopt such a means to attain this end. Of course, they may have had stronger reasons for being hostile to Knight than appears from the published facts. Yet it is significant that when the clerk was placed in the pillory he seemed to "be out of his mind," and so evident was his misery that the assembled mob "instead of using him ill, made a handsome collection for him."

The more likely, nay the only defensible solution of the problem, is that he, his fellow sufferers, and Knight himself were one and all the victims of the uncontrollable impulses of a hysterical child. The case bears too strong a resemblance to the Tedworth and Epworth disturbances to admit of any other hypothesis. Not that the Parsons girl is to be placed on exactly the same footing as the Mompesson children and Hetty Wesley, and held to some extent responsible for the mischievous phenomena she produced.

On the contrary, the more one studies the evidence the stronger grows the conviction that in her we have a striking and singular in[Pg 100]stance of "dissociation." She was, it is very evident, strongly attached to the unfortunate Mrs. Knight, doubtless felt keenly the separation from her, and, whether consciously or subconsciously, would cherish a grudge against Knight as the cause of that separation. The news of Mrs. Knight's death would come as a great shock, and might easily act, so to speak, as the fulcrum of the lever of mental disintegration. Then, dimly enough at first but soon with portentous rapidity, her disordered consciousness would conceive the idea that her friend had been murdered and that it was her duty to bring the slayer to justice. From this it would be an easy step to the development, in the neurotic child, of a full fledged secondary personality, akin to that found in the spiritistic mediums of later times.

Now, for the first time, her faculties would seem to her astonished parents to be in the keeping and under the control of an extraneous being, a departed, discarnate spirit; and in this error she and they would be confirmed by the suggestions and foolish questions of those who came to marvel. It needed another great shock—there being in those days no Janet or Prince or Sidis to take charge of the case[Pg 101]—the shock of the arrest and imprisonment of her parents, to effect at least partial reintegration and the consequent disappearance of the secondary self, the much debated, malevolent **** Lane ghost.
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« Reply #96 on: November 15, 2009, 05:18:07 am »

FOOTNOTES:

[H] It is proper to observe that the name Knight given to the leading actor in this singular drama rests on inference merely. Doubtless from a fear of libel suits, the contemporary newspapers and magazines speak of him only as Mr. ——, or Mr. K——, there being, so far as the present writer has been able to discover, only one publication (The Gentleman's Magazine) so bold as to refer to him as Mr. K——t. Nowhere is his identity made clear. Judging from the prominence of those who rushed to his defense, he would seem to have been a person of considerable importance.

The Annual Register for 1762.
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« Reply #97 on: November 15, 2009, 05:18:33 am »

VI

The Ghost Seen by Lord Brougham

It is comparatively easy, when seated before a roaring fire in a well-lighted room, to sneer ghosts out of existence, and roundly affirm that they are without exception the fanciful products of a heated imagination. But the matter takes on a very different complexion, when in that same room and without so much as the opening of a door, one is unexpectedly confronted by the figure of an absent friend, who, it subsequently appears, is about that time breathing his last in another part of the world. Especially would it seem impossible to remain skeptical if there existed between oneself and the friend in question a compact, drawn up years before in an access of youthful enthusiasm, binding whichever should die first to appear to the other at the moment of death.

This, as all students of ghostology are aware, has frequently been the case; and it was precisely the case with the ghost seen by the[Pg 103] famous Lord Brougham, the brilliant and versatile Scotchman, whose astonishingly long and successful career in England as statesman, judge, lawyer, man of science, philanthropist, orator, and author won him a place among the immortals both of the Georgian and of the Victorian era.

At the time he saw the ghost he was still a young man, thinking far less of what the future might hold than of the pleasures of the present. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a more unlikely subject for a ghostly experience. From his earliest youth, his father, a most matter of fact person, sedulously endeavored to impress him with the belief that the only spirits deserving of the name were those which came in oddly labeled bottles; and in support of this view the elder Brougham frequently related the adventures of sundry persons of his acquaintance who had engaged in the mischievous pastime of ghost hunting. Added to the natural effect of such tales as these was the inherent exuberance of Brougham's disposition and the bent of his mind to mathematics and kindred exact sciences.

It was at the Edinburgh high school that he first met his future ghost, who at the time[Pg 104] was a youngster like himself, and became and long remained his most intimate friend. The two lads were graduated together from the high school, and together matriculated into the university, where, in the intervals Brougham could spare from his favorite studies and recreations, and from the company of the daredevil students with whom he soon began to associate, they continued their old time walks and talks.

On one of these walks, the conversation happened to turn to the perennial problem of life beyond the grave and the possibility of the dead communicating with the living. Brougham, mindful of the views maintained by his father, doubtless treated the subject lightly, if not scoffingly; but one word led to another, until finally, in what he afterward described as a moment of folly, he covenanted with his friend that whichever of them should happen to pass from earth first would, if it were at all possible, show himself in spirit to the other, and thus prove beyond peradventure that the soul of man survived the death of the body.
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« Reply #98 on: November 15, 2009, 05:18:58 am »

So far as Brougham was concerned, this undertaking was speedily forgotten in the[Pg 105] pressure of the many activities into which he plunged with all the ardor of his impetuous nature. His days were given wholly to the pursuit of knowledge; his nights to the pursuit of pleasure, as pleasure was then counted by the roystering young Scotchmen, whose favorite resort was the tavern, and whose most popular pastime was filching signs, bell handles, and knockers, and stirring the city guard to unwonted energy. Under such conditions neither the death pact nor the solemn minded youth with whom he had made it could remain long in his memory; and it is not surprising to find that with the end of college life and the removal of his boyhood's friend to India, where he entered the civil service, they soon became as strangers to each other.

Brougham himself remained in Edinburgh to read for the law, and incidentally to develop with the aid of an amateur debating society the oratorical talents that were in time to make him the logical successor of Pitt, Fox, and Burke in the House of Commons. He continued none the less a lover of pleasure, some of which, however, he now took in the healthy form of long walking trips through the Highlands. In this way he acquired a desire for[Pg 106] travel, and when, in the autumn of 1799, an opportunity came for an extended tour of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, he grasped it eagerly. Together with the future diplomat, Lord Stuart of Rothsay, then plain Charles Stuart and the boon companion of many a pedestrian excursion, he sailed for Copenhagen late in September, and by leisurely stages made his way thence to Stockholm, alive to all the varied interests of the novel scenes in which he found himself; but encountering little that was exciting or adventurous, until, after a prolonged sojourn in the Swedish capital and a brief visit to Göteborg, he started for Norway.
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« Reply #99 on: November 15, 2009, 05:19:12 am »

By this time the weather had turned so cold that the travelers resolved to bring their tour to a sudden end, and to press on as rapidly as the bad roads would permit to some Norwegian port, where they hoped to find a ship that would carry them back to Scotland. Accordingly, leaving Göteborg early in the morning of December 19, they journeyed steadily until after midnight, when they came to an inn that seemed to promise comfortable sleeping accommodations. Stuart lost no time in going to bed; but Brougham decided[Pg 107] to wait until a hot bath could be prepared for him.

Plunging into it, and forgetful of everything save the warmth that was doubly welcome after the cold of the long drive, he suddenly became aware that he was not alone in the room. No door had opened, not a footstep had been heard; but in the light of the flickering candles he plainly saw the figure of a man seated in the chair on which he had carelessly thrown his clothes. And this figure he instantly recognized as that of his early playmate, the forgotten chum who, as he well knew, had years before gone from the land of the heather to the land of the blazing sun. Yet here he sat, in the quaintly furnished sleeping chamber of a Swedish roadside inn, gazing composedly at his astounded friend. At once there flashed into Brougham's mind remembrance of the death pact, and he leaped from the bath, only to lose all consciousness and fall headlong to the floor. When he revived, the apparition had disappeared.

There was little sleep for the hard headed Scotchman that night. The vision had been too definite, the shock too intense. But, dressing, he sat down and strove to debate the[Pg 108] matter in the light of cold reason. He must, he argued, have dozed off in the bath and experienced a strange dream. To be sure, he had not been thinking of his old comrade, and for years had had no communication with him. Nor had anything taken place during the tour to bring to memory either him or any member of his family, or to turn Brougham's mind to thoughts of India. Still, he found it impossible to believe that he had seen a ghost. At most, he reiterated to himself, it could have been nothing more than an exceptionally clear cut dream. And to this opinion he stubbornly adhered, notwithstanding the receipt, soon after his return to Edinburgh, of a letter from India announcing the death of the friend who had been so mysteriously recalled to his recollection, and giving December 19 as the date of death. More than sixty years later we find him, in his autobiography commenting on the experience anew, granting that it was a strange coincidence but refusing to admit that it was anything more than the coincidence of a dream.
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« Reply #100 on: November 15, 2009, 05:19:28 am »

It was in his autobiography, by the way, that he first referred to the confirmatory letter. This fact, taken in connection with his repu[Pg 109]tation for holding the truth in light esteem and with several vague and puzzling statements contained in the detailed account of the experience itself as set forth in his journal of the Scandinavian tour, has led some critics to make the suggestion that his narrative partakes of the nature of fiction rather than of a sober recital of facts. Against this, however, must be set Brougham's complete and invincible repugnance to accept at face value anything bordering on the supernatural. He took no pleasure in the thought that he had possibly been the recipient of a visit from a departed spirit. On the contrary, it annoyed him, and he sought earnestly to find a natural explanation for an occurrence which remained unique throughout his long life. No one would have been readier to point out the futility of the apparition if the absent friend had really continued hale and hearty after December 19. And it is therefore reasonable to assume that had he wished to falsify at all, he would have given an altogether different sequel to the story of his vision or dream, as he preferred to call it, though the evidence which he himself furnishes shows that he was not asleep.

[Pg 110]

The question still remains, of course, whether he was justified in dismissing it as a sheer chance coincidence. If it stood by itself, it would obviously be permissible to accept this explanation as all sufficient. But the fact is that it is only one of many similar instances. This was strikingly brought out only a few years ago through a far reaching inquiry, a "census of hallucinations," instituted by a special committee of the Society for Psychical Research.

Enlisting the services of some four hundred "collectors," the committee instructed each of these to address to twenty-five adults, selected at random, the query, "Have you ever, when believing yourself to be completely awake, had a vivid impression of seeing or being touched by a living being or inanimate object, or of hearing a voice; which impression, so far as you could discover, was not due to any external physical cause?" In all, seventeen thousand people were thus questioned, and almost ten per cent. of the answers received proved to be in the affirmative. More than this, it appeared that out of a total of three hundred and fifty recognized apparitions of living persons, no fewer than sixty-five were "death[Pg 111] coincidences," in which the hallucinatory experience occurred within from one hour to twelve hours after the death of the person seen.
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« Reply #101 on: November 15, 2009, 05:19:52 am »

Sifting these death coincidences carefully, the committee for various reasons rejected more than half, and at the same time raised the total of recognized apparitions of living persons from three hundred and fifty to thirteen hundred. This was done in order to make generous allowance for the number of such apparitions forgotten by those to whom the question had been put, investigation showing that the great majority of hallucinations reported were given as of comparatively recent occurrence, and that there was a rapid decrease as the years of occurrence became more remote.

As a final result, therefore, the committee found about thirty death coincidences out of thirteen hundred cases, or a proportion of one in forty-three. Computing from the average annual death-rate for England and Wales, it was calculated that the probability that any one person would die on a given day was about one in nineteen thousand; in other words, out of every nineteen thousand apparitions of living persons, there should occur,[Pg 112] by chance alone, one death coincidence. The actual proportion, however, as established by the inquiry, was equivalent to about four hundred and forty in nineteen thousand, or four hundred and forty times the most probable number, and this when the apparitions reported were considered merely collectively as having been seen at any time within twelve hours after death. Not a few, as a matter of fact, were reported as having been seen within one hour after death, and for these the improbability of occurrence by chance alone was manifestly twelve times four hundred and forty. In view of these considerations the committee felt warranted in declaring that "between deaths and apparitions of dying persons a connection exists which is not due to chance."[J]

Had Lord Brougham lived to study the statistics of this remarkable census of hallucinations, he might have formed a higher opinion of his ghost; but he would also have been in a better position to deny its supernatural attributes. For, if the Society for Psychical Research has made it impossible to doubt the[Pg 113] existence of such ghosts as that which he beheld during his travels in Sweden, it has likewise made discoveries which afford a really substantial reason for asserting that they no more hail from the world beyond than do ghosts that are unmistakably the creations of fancy or fraud. This results from the society's investigations of thought transference or telepathy, to use the term now commonly employed.
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« Reply #102 on: November 15, 2009, 05:20:11 am »

At an early stage of the experiments undertaken to determine the possibility of transmitting thought from mind to mind without the intervention of any known means of communication, it was found that when success attended the efforts of the experimenters the telepathic message was frequently received not in the form of pure thought but as a hallucinatory image; and what is still more important in the present connection, it was further found possible so to produce not merely images of cards, flowers, books, and other inanimate objects, but also images of living persons.

Thus, as chronicled with corroborative evidence in the society's "Proceedings," an English clergyman named Godfrey telepathi[Pg 114]cally caused a distant friend to see an apparition of him one night; the same result was achieved by a Mr. Sinclair of New Jersey, who, during a visit to New York, succeeded in projecting a phantasm of himself which was clearly seen by his wife in Lakewood; and similarly a Mr. Kirk, while seated in his London office, paid a telepathic visit to the home of a young woman, who saw him as distinctly as though he had gone there in the flesh. In all of these, as in other cases recorded by the society, the persons to whom the apparitions were vouchsafed had no idea that any experiment of the kind was being attempted.

Indeed, there is on record an apparently well authenticated instance of the experimental production of an apparition not of the living but of the dead. This occurred in Germany many years ago, when a certain Herr Wesermann undertook to "will" a military friend into dreaming of a woman who had long been dead. The sequel may be related in Herr Wesermann's own words:

"A lady, who had been dead five years, was to appear to Lieutenant N. in a dream at 10.30 P.M., and incite him to good deeds. At half-past ten, contrary to expectation, Herr[Pg 115] N. had not gone to bed but was discussing the French campaign with his friend Lieutenant S. in the ante-room. Suddenly the door of the room opened, the lady entered dressed in white, with a black kerchief and uncovered head, greeted S. with her hand three times in a friendly manner; then turned to N., nodded to him, and returned again through the doorway.
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« Reply #103 on: November 15, 2009, 05:20:30 am »

"As this story, related to me by Lieutenant N., seemed to be too remarkable from a psychological point of view for the truth of it not to be duly established, I wrote to Lieutenant S., who was living six miles away, and asked him to give me his account of it. He sent me the following reply:

"'On the thirteenth of March, 1817, Herr N. came to pay me a visit at my lodgings about a league from A——. He stayed the night with me. After supper, and when we were both undressed, I was sitting on my bed and Herr N. was standing by the door of the next room on the point also of going to bed. This was about half-past ten. We were speaking partly about indifferent subjects and partly about the events of the French campaign. Suddenly the door of the kitchen opened without[Pg 116] a sound, and a lady entered, very pale, taller than Herr N., about five feet four inches in height, strong and broad of figure, dressed in white, but with a large black kerchief which reached to below the waist.

"'She entered with bare head, greeted me with the hand three times in complimentary fashion, turned round to the left toward Herr N., and waved her hand to him three times; after which the figure quietly, and again without any creaking of the door, went out. We followed at once in order to discover whether there were any deception, but found nothing. The strangest thing was this, that our night-watch of two men whom I had shortly found on the watch were now asleep, though at my first call they were on the alert; and that the door of the room, which always opens with a good deal of noise, did not make the slightest sound when opened by the figure.'"[K]
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Porscha Campbell
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« Reply #104 on: November 15, 2009, 05:20:49 am »

It is also significant that, as was made evident by the census of hallucinations, by far the larger number of apparitions reported are those of persons still alive and well. In these cases, nobody being dead, it[Pg 117] is absurd[L] to raise the cry of spirits, and the only tenable hypothesis is that, through one of the several causes which seem to quicken telepathic action, a spontaneous telepathic hallucination has been produced. Now, the experiments conducted by the society and by independent investigators have shown that telepathic messages often lie dormant for hours beneath the threshold of the receiver's consciousness, being consciously apprehended only when certain favoring conditions arise; as, for example, when the receiver has fallen asleep, or into a state of reverie, or when, tired out after a long day's work, he has utterly relaxed mentally. This is technically[Pg 118] known as "deferred percipience," and, considered in conjunction with the discoveries mentioned, it is amply sufficient to dislodge from the realm of the supernatural the ghost seen by Lord Brougham, and every ghost that is not a mere imposter.

In the Brougham case the exciting cause of the hallucination seems to have been the death pact. As he lay dying in India, the mind of the whilom schoolboy would, consciously or unconsciously, revert to that agreement with the friend of his youth, and thence would arise the desire to let him know that the plighted word had not been forgotten. Across the vast intervening space, by what mechanism we as yet do not know, the message would flash instantaneously, to remain unapprehended, perhaps for hours after the death of the sender, until, in the quiet of the Swedish inn and resting from the fatigues of the journey, Brougham's mental faculties passed momentarily into the condition necessary for its objective realization.

Then, precisely as in experimental telepathy the receiver sees a hallucinatory image of the trinket or the book; with a suddenness and vividness that could not fail to shock him,[Pg 119] the message would find expression by the creation before Brougham's startled eyes of a hallucinatory image of the friend who, as he was to learn later, had died that same day thousands of miles from Sweden. Knowing nothing of the possibilities of the human mind, as revealed, if only faintly, by the labors of a later generation, it was inevitable he should believe he had no alternative between dismissing the experience as a peculiar dream or admitting that in very truth he had looked upon a ghost.
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