CLAIRVOYANCE AND CLAIRAUDIENCE.
Because they seem to be so closely akin, I will mention clairvoyance and clairaudience together. It is not strange that these words are looked upon with suspicion, in view of the fact that there are persons who advertise the pos session of these powers as a business, and who seem to place them on a level with the cheapest kind of fortune-telling. But any one who has carefully studied the matter is aware of the fact that such powers as go by the names of clairvoy ance and clairaudience do actually exist. As to what the explanation of these facts may be, no one, I suppose, is as yet in a condition to determine. Every one who is familiar with these matters is aware that visions and voices both may be mere hallucinations. It is not this kind of phenomena that I have in mind. I refer rather to those cases where persons do really see without the ordinary use of the eyes, and hear without the ordinary use of the ears. For example, to make the matter specific and concrete, I know of a woman who, lying in her bed and being perfectly blind, sees people coming on the street, and tells her friends about them, saying that when they call, she either does or does not wish a personal interview. Cases like this are repeatedly verified. This same woman will take a sealed letter in her hands, or perhaps hold it above her head, and read the contents. In some cases this is not telepathy, be cause the contents of the letter are such as nobody on the face of the earth is familiar with. Special experiments to determine this latter point have been car ried out, and the results have been success ful. Similar things are true concerning clairaudience; but these matters need not be gone into in further detail.
This is one of the earliest and com monest of all the phenomena associated in the popular mind with"spir itualistic"claims. They are frequently referred to in the most slighting manner, and are supposed to be beneath the dig nity of spirtis. How it happens that those who contemptuously repudiate the spiritistic hypothesis in all its forms should happen to be so familiar with what is appropriate to the dignified action of inhabitants of the other world, does not appear. If John Smith or George Wash ington or Queen Victoria while in this world wished to enter the room of a friend, it was not considered beneath their dignity to tap on the door. The most august presiding officers of import ant assemblies do not consider it beneath their dignity to rap with the gavel in order to attract attention. If in any of these cases there were nothing but raps, then the fact might be open to objection. But it seems to be the simplest and most natural method of announcing one's pre sence in this world; and why it may not be as simple and natural in the case of some invisible person who wishes to make his presence known I have never been able clearly to understand. That these raps do occur, everybody knows. I am aware of the fact that they are commonly believed to be the result of some sort of trick. It has been solemnly asserted in some quarters that mediums have been known to produce these effects by some remarkable activity of their toe-joints. All this may be, and I do not care to argue in regard to the matter, beyond making the statement that the method of produc ing these sounds is not so interesting to me as the fact of the intelligence which they display. If toe-joints can accurately answer questions concerning matters which the owner of the said joints has had no way of knowing anything about, then it seems to me even more remark able than the theory which it is thus as sumed to explain. In more than one instance I have been told in this way a great many things about friends no longer living in the body, which I am perfectly certain the psychic did not know, and by no possibility ever could have known. So this fact must take its place along with a great many others as one of those which seems to me to deserve a more acceptable explanation than it has thus far popularly received.
Some years ago, when I was living in Boston, I had been preaching in the city of Washington. On my way home I called with a note of introduction upon a New York lady. She had been a noted psychic, but had married, and was living a quiet family life at this time. It was known, however, that she would some times sit to please a personal friend. I had never seen her before, and though she knew who I was, she had no way of being acquainted with my friends. I was received in the back parlour. We had conversed a few moments when raps began to be heard, apparently on the floor, on the walls, on the table, and in different parts of the room. A carpenter was at work on a conservatory leading out of this back parlour, so the lady suggested that we go to a quieter place in the front of the house. She sat in a low rocking chair on one side of the room, while I sat on the other, with the centre table be tween us. She suggested that I take some note-paper and a pencil and try some experiments to see if I could get into communication with the supposed author of the raps. I sat where she could not see what I was writing. She told me to write down the names of a lot of per sons, living or dead, but somewhere among them to include the name of some friend who might be supposed to wish to communicate with me. I wrote a dozen or twenty names. I had hardly written the first letter of the name of a friend who had died within a few months, when instantly three raps were heard. Follow ing this method, I wrote down names of places, when the raps again indicated to me the place where this friend had died. In this way fact after fact was communi cated, which the psychic could have had no possible way of knowing. This may serve as a specimen of what purports to be communication by means of raps. I have had equally inexplicable experiences with a good many other psychics, and through the following of very different methods. The only point of import ance,. to be noted is that these raps are under the control of some intelligence, and communicate things which the person through whom the raps are produced, or, if you will, by whom they are produced, could never have known.
The history of the world is full of re ported apparitions, or ghosts. Do such things as ghosts exist? I am per fectly certain that they do. This does not mean that I am ready to explain their origin or nature. I simply recognise the fact. To illustrate one very important distinction, let me recall to the reader's mind the generally accepted theory of vision. The seeing of a chair, for in stance, is supposed to coincide with cer tain molecular movements of the particles of the brain. In seeing the same chair, it is supposed that these brain movements are always substantially the same. If now, as the result of some stimulus or suggestion, the brain particles should fall into this special relation to each other, it is supposed that the subject would see the chair whether it was really there or not. Every student of the effects of fever or Indian hemp or opium knows that the great majority of visions are purely subjective. Some men have the power voluntarily to produce a vision that seems to them external to them selves. It is said that there are those who can call up a favourite picture and seem to place it on the wall as though it were an objective fact, and look at and enjoy it. Such imaginative power, how ever, I suppose, is very rare. The point to be kept in mind is only this, - that. most of the visions which people see do not represent any real objective fact. To make my position perfectly clear, let me say this: If, at the present moment, I should suddenly see before me the form of some friend who has died, however real it might appear to be, I should as sume that it was simply subjective, - this in case I were the only one seeing it. But if there were other persons in the room, and without any hint or suggestion on my part they also should see it, then the chances would become very great that it was some actual thing, and not an hal lucination. To recur to the illustration of the chair once more. It is conceivable that the brain particles might fall into such relation to each other as would pro duce in my case the vision of the chair; but that the brain particles of three or four other people in the room should sud denly assume identical positions without any objective cause, - this is to suppose a case in which the chances would be thou sands to one against its happening. But there are instances proved as true beyond any reasonable question,where the ghostly vision has been what is called"veridical." There has been satisfactory evidence that it represented some objective reality. I know of cases proved beyond question where there has been the appearance of a form corresponding to the time of the death of a friend, this death being en tirely unexpected. One case of this sort would naturally be disposed of as a coin cidence merely. Two, or three, or four cases might be regarded in a similar way. But after a sufficient number of them the coincidence theory breaks down and be comes less probable than the supposition that there was a real apparition which co incided with the fact of death. In a good many reported cases the fact of death is made clear in some way beyond the mere coming of the apparition itself.
I have among my notes a case which occurred some years ago in the State of Maine. Two sisters were living in sepa rate towns a good many miles apart. One of them was in poor health, and did not expect to recover. She had pro mised, in case she passed away, that if it were possible she would announce the fact to her sister. One evening in the winter, about nine o'clock, this sister, who was well, went to the room where her daughters were sleeping, waked them up, and said,"Your aunt is dead. She has just appeared to me and announced the fact." The family lived several miles from the post-office, and the snow was deep, so that it was a day or two before any news was received. When it did come, however, it announced the fact that the sister in question had died at the time when the apparition had been seen.
I will not trouble the reader with specific proofs of the cases which I present, though I have them in such shape as would make them good evidence in a court of justice.
Another case of which I have authentic record seems to me somewhat remarkable. There was a certain judge living in a cer tain town in the State of Florida. He had no children of his own, but made a great pet of the two-or-three-year-old little boy of an intimate friend. The judge had not been well, but no appre hension was felt regarding his condition. One evening the little boy had been put to bed and was asleep. The father and mother heard him crying and went in to find out what was the matter. They found him sitting up in his bed and sob bing as though some dreadful thing had happened. When they could quiet him sufficiently to get an explanation, he said,"Judge Blank says he is dead. He has been here and told me that he is dead." The parents, of course, naturally took this to be only a bad dream; but the next morning it was found that the judge had died at the hour when the little child had been wakened from his sleep.
It is well known that at the time of death it is common for those who are passing through this experience to see visions of those who have preceded them. I have known and made record of a great many cases of this kind, but generally there is no way of proving that they are anything but subjective. Now and then, however, there are conditions which seem to point to another explanation. In a city not far from Boston, a little girl nine years of age was dying. She had been talking with her father and mother, and had been saying that she wanted such a little friend to have some one of her play things, and another another. Among these playmates was a little girl named Jenny, about her own age. She had specified such things as she wished Jenny to have as keepsakes. Then, as she be gan to sink, she called out that she saw the faces of friends, one after another; grandpa and grandma appeared; and then, starting with sudden surprise, she turned to her father and said,"Why, papa, why did n't you tell me that Jenny had gone? Here is Jenny, come to meet me." She had had no idea that there was anything the matter with Jenny; but as a matter of fact she had died only a little while before. They had scrupulously kept this fact from the little girl for fear that the knowledge of it might have a depressing effect upon her. It seems to me that in this case there is an element which is of unusual and apparently evidential value. There was every reason why she might have imagined she saw her grandfather and grandmother; but there was no reason for her imagining that she should see Jenny, and the fact that she had just left things for her and the surprise of her ex clamation shows that it was something not to be accounted for in the ordinary way.
There is one other case which is of a very extraordinary kind. It occurred about a couple of years ago here in the immediate vicinity of New York. There was a certain young man who had been studying abroad. He had been at Hei delberg University. He was of anything but an imaginative temperament. Tall and stalwart in build, he had a reputation as an athlete. His favourite studies were mathematical, physical, and electrical. He had returned home from abroad, and so far as anybody knew was in perfect health. He was at the summer home of his mother. It was his habit after dinner to go out on the piazza and walk up and down while smoking his pipe. One even ing he came quietly in, and without talk ing with anybody went up to bed. The next morning he went into his mother's room before she was up, and laid his hand on her cheek in order quietly to awaken her. Then he said: "Mother, I have something very sad to tell you. You must brace yourself and be strong to bear it." Of course she was startled, and asked him what he was talking about. He said: "Mother, I mean just what I am saying. I am going to die, and very soon." When his mother, shocked and troubled, pressed him for an explanation, he said: "Last night, when I was walking up and down the piazza smoking, a spirit appeared and walked up and down by my side. I have received my call, and am going to die." The mother, of course, was seriously troubled, and wondered whether anything might be the matter with him. She therefore sent for the doctor and told him the story. The doctor made a care ful examination, said there was nothing the matter, treated the whole thing as a bad dream or an hallucination, told them to pay no attention to it, and said that within a few days they would be laughing at themselves for letting such a thing worry them. The next morning the young man did not seem quite as well as usual, and the doctor was sent for a second time. Again he said there was nothing the matter, and tried to laugh them out of their fears. The third morn ing the young man appeared in still poorer condition, and the third time the physician was summoned. He now dis covered a case of appendicitis. The young man was operated on and died in a couple of days. From the time of the vision until his death not more than five days had gone by. Some time after this experience the mother visited a psychic here in New York. She made no pre vious appointment, but went as a perfect stranger and waited her turn. The son claimed at once to be present, and told his mother a whole series of very remark able things, which by no possibility could the psychic ever have known. Then, in answer to the question,"Who was it that you saw that night?"(the question being purposely so framed as not to seem to refer to anybody out of the body) he at once replied: "It was my father." The father had been dead for some years, and the mother had been married again.
There is one other"ghost story"to which I will refer. A young lady parish ioner of mine in Boston some years ago was sitting at her piano musing and play ing one Sunday in the early evening.
The family were all out, and even the servants were not in the house. Her pet dog was lying on a chair beside her. As she sat at the piano, her back was toward the front of the house and the door lead ing into the hall. Her attention was attracted by the action and attitude of the dog. He started up, the hair bristled upon his back, and he began to growl, looking all the time toward the front of the house. Upon noticing this, she turned to find out what it was that had alarmed her pet. Then she saw the shad owy outlines of three figures in the front parlour and near the door leading into the hall. She thought she recognised one of them before they faded and disappeared. Meantime the dog had become so alarmed that he had hidden himself under the sofa, from which place of refuge he was induced to come only after a great deal of effort on his mistress's part. The signifi cance of this incident lies in the fact that there was apparently something there which the animal could see before his mistress discovered it, and without any suggestion from any ordinary human source.
Voices have been heard which corre sponded to the cry of some distant friend in cases of distress or at some great crisis of experience. Stories of this sort, as everybody knows, have been told by novelists. Charlotte Brontë gives us an instance of it in Jane Eyre. Her heroine hears the cry of Rochester, and it is made the turning-point in one part of the book. If one does not know that such things can happen, he regards it merely as the in vention of the writer; but I am familiar with facts in this direction, so that I know that such things do occur. A cry. has been heard from the State of Indiana to Michigan, preceding a telegraphic mes sage which called one friend to another in a time of peculiar distress. It was found afterwards that the definite words of the call which were uttered aloud in Indiana corresponded precisely to those which were heard some hundreds of miles away.