During his 50 years of psychical research, Sir William Fletcher Barrett (February 10, 1884 – May 26, 1925) observed many types of phenomena. In his reminiscences, read at a private meeting of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) on June 17, 1924, less than a year before his death, Barrett said: “I am personally convinced that the evidence we have published decidedly demonstrates (1) the existence of a spiritual world, (2) survival after death, and (3) of occasional communication from those who have passed over… It is however hardly possible to convey to others who have not had a similar experience an adequate idea of the strength and cumulative force of the evidence that has compelled [my] belief.”
Barrett was the prime-mover in the founding of the SPR in 1882, serving as vice-president and editor of the Society’s Journal during its first year and president in 1904. He also encouraged Professor William James of Harvard to organize the American branch of the SPR in 1884.
Born in Jamaica, British West Indies, Barrett moved to England during his youth and studied under the famous physicist, John Tyndall, serving as Tyndall’s assistant from 1862 to1867. He lectured on physics at the Royal School of Naval Architecture before becoming professor of physics at the Royal College of Science in Dublin in 1873. He taught at the Royal College for 37 years, retiring in 1910.
In 1899, Barrett developed a silicon-iron alloy known as stalloy, used in the commercial development of the telephone and transformers, and also did pioneering research on entoptic vision, leading to the invention of the entoptiscope and a new optometer. He was a fellow of the Royal Society, Philosophical Society, Royal Society of Literature as well as a member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers and the Royal Irish Academy. He was knighted for his contributions to science in 1912.
Barrett began to take an interest in psychic phenomena in 1874 after hearing of the research of renowned scientist William Crookes (later Sir William) with mediums. “In fact I began the whole investigation of these phenomena convinced that [mal-observation or hallucination] was their true explanation, and it was not until after stretching this hypothesis to illegitimate lengths that I found the actual facts completely shattered my theory,” Barrett explained his early views.
Then 29, Barrett began experimenting with hypnosis, more popularly known as “mesmerism” in those days. He observed a young girl under hypnosis correctly identify a playing card randomly taken from a pack and placed in a book that was put next to her head. He also observed another hypnotized person correctly identify fourteen cards taken at random from a pack. As a scientist, he found such results very disturbing. However, while many of his scientific colleagues simply scoffed at anything paranormal, Barrett was open-minded and determined to find some rational and scientific explanation. As he explained his 1917 book On the Threshold of the Unseen, his prior theories really began to fall apart sometime in 1876 when a prominent English solicitor (lawyer) named Clark spent the summer at a residence near his in Dublin. Clark’s 10-year-old daughter, Florrie, produced various paranormal phenomena, including levitations and spirit “raps” that spelled out messages from an “intelligence” calling himself “Walter.”
As a result of his experiments in hypnosis and his investigation of Florrie Clark, Barrett prepared a paper to deliver to the British Association for the Advancement of Science. The Association rejected the paper as well as Barrett’s request to present it orally to the group. After Crookes, Alfred Russel Wallace (co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution), and Lord Rayleigh protested the Association’s action, Barrett was allowed to deliver the paper but not publish it.
Barrett continued his investigation with other mediums, including Hester Travers Smith, Gladys Osborne Leonard, Kathleen Goligher, and Geraldine Cummins. In his 1917 book, he recalled the sitting with Goligher, who was being studied then by Dr. William Crawford of Queen’s University. The sitting involved a small family circle gathered in a room illuminated with a bright gas flame burning in a lantern. “They sat round a small table with hands joined together, but no one touching the table,” Barrett explained. “Very soon knocks came and messages were spelt out as one of us repeated the alphabet aloud. Suddenly the knocks increased in violence, and being encouraged, a tremendous bang came which shook the room and resembled the blow of a sledge hammer on an anvil. A tin trumpet which had been placed below the table now poked out its smaller end close under the top of the table near where I was sitting. I was allowed to try and catch it, but it dodged all my attempts in the most amusing way, the medium on the opposite side sat perfectly still, while at my request all held up their joined hands so that I could see no one was touching the trumpet, as it played peep-boo with me. Sounds like the sawing of wood, the bouncing of a ball, and other noises occurred, which were inexplicable.”
The table then began to rise from the floor some 18 inches and remained suspended in the air. “I was allowed to go up to the table and saw clearly no one was touching it, a clear space separating the sitters from the table,” Barrett continued the explanation. “I tried to press the table down, and though I exerted all my strength could not do so; then I climbed up on the table and sat on it, my feet off the floor, when I was swayed to and fro and finally tipped off. The table of its own accord now turned upside down, no one touching it, and I tried to life it off the ground, but it could not be stirred, it appeared screwed down to the floor. At my request all the sitters’ clasped hands had been kept raised above their heads, and I could see that no one was touching the table. When I desisted from trying to lift the inverted table from the floor, it righted itself again on its own accord, no one helping it. Numerous sounds displaying an amused intelligence then came, and after each individual present had been greeted with some farewell raps the sitting ended.”
Barrett said that he could not imagine how the cleverest conjurer could have performed what he experienced, especially since it was clear to him that there was no elaborate apparatus in the room. Moreover, Dr. Crawford had been observing the Goligher circle for six months or more before his observations. “That there is an unseen intelligence behind these manifestations is all we can say, but that is a tremendous assertion, and if admitted destroys the whole basis of materialism,” Barrett added.
In this book, Deathbed Visions, first published in 1926, the year after his death, Barrett reported on a number of intriguing cases in which a dying person appears to see and recognize some deceased relative or friend, some of them involving instances where the dying person was unaware of the previous death of the spirit form he saw. “These cases form, perhaps, one of the most cogent arguments for survival after death, as the evidential value and veridical (truth telling) character of these visions of the dying is greatly enhanced when the fact is undeniably established that the dying person was wholly ignorant of the decease of the person he or she so vividly sees,” Barrett stated in the book, now something of a classic in the field.
Several weeks after his death, Barrett’s wife, Lady Florence Barrett, a prominent, obstetric surgeon and Dean of the London School of Medicine for Women, began receiving very evidential messages from Sir William through the mediumship of Mrs. Leonard. Over the next eleven years, she sat with Leonard every few months, taking verbatim notes as Sir William communicated. She also received evidential messages from several other mediums. A book, Personality Survives Death, published in 1937 by Longmans, Green and Co. of London, resulted from these sittings.
Lady Barrett asked Sir William how she might satisfy people that she was really talking to him. He replied that it depends on the type of mind, commenting that reference to a tear in the wallpaper in his old room might satisfy some people and not others. Lady Barrett noted that a month before his death he had pointed out a tear in the wallpaper in one corner of his room. Sir William then said that some higher minds have gone well beyond the need for such trivial verification, mentioning another distinguished British physicist, still in the flesh, Sir Oliver Lodge. “Lodge is nearer the bigger, greater aspect of things than most,” he stated.
Sir William further explained that his objective in communicating with his wife was not simply to add to the mass of evidence already given concerning the survival of consciousness at death but to help find a working philosophy to guide those on earth who are struggling with finding a purpose in life. “It seems to me from where I am most people are not even struggling but meandering on purposelessly, blindly, because they have no definite philosophy as a starting point,” he communicated. He went on to say that knowledge of the afterlife opens the gates of inspiration and makes the intuition keener. With that comes greater enthusiasm, greater understanding of the beauties of life, even the perceiving of beauty where ugliness had appeared to exist.
“Life on my side seems so extraordinarily easy compared to earth,” Sir William offered in a 1929 sitting, “because we simply live according to the rules of love.”
– Michael E. Tymn
About the author
Visions Seen by the Dying of Persons Known by Them to be Dead, and Deathbed Visions Seen by Others
“I believe no soul is left to wing its viewless flight to Paradise in solitude. I believe the Gloria in Excelsis of the shining host of God welcomes the disembodied spirit upon the confines of the new world. I remember hearing once of a little dying child shrinking timidly from the idea of going alone; but just before the end there came a spirit of sublime confidence, a supernatural opening of vision, a recognition of some companionship, and the little one cried out: ‘I am not afraid; they are all here.’ ... I believe the chamber of the dying is filled with the holy angels.”
There are a great many records authenticated by those who have attended the last moments of a dying friend or patient, wherein shortly before death an ecstatic vision seems to have been granted to the dying person, whose face lights up with joy and apparent recognition of some relative before he passes into the Unseen. It is needless to quote a great number of cases, as doubtless many of my readers will be familiar with instances. Such cases are not confined to one country or one nation, but they appear to be more or less common all over the world. Here for instance is a case which occurred amongst the Cree Indians of Saskatchewan: The Assistant Matron of the Ahtahkakoops Indian Hospital, Sandy Lake Reserve, Saskatchewan, Canada, writes to me on January 28, 1925, about a patient in the hospital, as follows: “He was a Cree Indian lad, about 20 years of age, son of Chief Papewyn, of a neighbouring Reserve. He was in the last stage of phthisis and had been brought here to be cared for till the finish.
He was placed in a wigwam about a 100 yards distant.” At last the supreme day arrived. It was evening and I was with him. He was lying quietly in his bed when suddenly he sat up, stretched forth his arms with a yearning gesture, while an ecstatic smile broke over his face. It was not simply a smile of pleasure, but something far beyond it.
The veil was lifted, and no one who was looking on could fail to realize that it was a glorious vision that met his gaze. He then lay back in his bed, looked at me with a smile, and passed away. He had been calm and collected during the day, there was no delirium; it was an unclouded glimpse of that higher life into which he was just entering.
Signed R. Hutchinson. Assistant Matron
Some interesting cases of visions seen by dying persons are given in a little book by Mrs. Joy Snell, who was a nurse in a large hospital, and the cases she narrates are her own personal experiences, and not narratives related at second hand. Mrs. Snell seems to be a careful and conscientious recorder, and she has kindly furnished me with the names and other particulars of the cases given anonymously in her book.
I quote below a few of these cases as given by her: “I recall the death of a woman (Mrs. Brown, aged 36) who was the victim of that most dreadful disease, malignant cancer. Her sufferings were excruciating, and she prayed earnestly that death might speedily come to her and end her agony.
Suddenly her sufferings appeared to cease; the expression of her face, which a moment before had been distorted by pain, changed to one of radiant joy. Gazing upwards, with a glad light in her eyes, she raised her hands and exclaimed, ‘Oh, mother dear, you have come to take me home. I am so glad! ’ And in another moment her physical life had ceased.
“The memory of another death which occurred about the same time comes back to me. It was that of an old soldier (Mr. Auchterlonie, aged 59) who was in the last stages of tuberculosis brought on by exposure while fighting his country’s battles.
He was brave and patient but had frequent paroxysms of pain that were almost unendurable, and he longed for the relief which he knew death alone could bring him. One of these spasms had seized upon him, and his features were convulsed with agony as he fought for breath, when he suddenly grew calm. A smile lit up his face, and looking upwards he exclaimed, with a ring of joy in his voice, ’ Marion, my daughter! ’ Then the end came. His brother and sister were at the bedside. The sister said to the brother, ’ He saw Marion, his favourite daughter. She came and took him where he will suffer no more.’ And she added fervently, ‘Thank God! he has found rest at last.” (In Chapter 6 other cases related by Mrs. Snell will be found).
Miss R. Canton, of Garway Road, London, W., sends me the following case, which I quote in her own words, as follows: “Some years ago I went to see a cousin of mine at Acton, who was very ill, and I was told by her sister that on the previous evening as she sat down on a chair by the bedside, the invalid exclaimed, ’ Oh, don’t J‚ Oh, you have sent Mother away, she was sitting there!’ and she continued to seem much distressed. My aunt had died some years previously. The dying girl told me about this herself when we were alone.”
The following is a case of Vision of the Dying, translated from La Revue Spirite for January, 1925.
Mr. A. R. Besancon writes as follows:
“‘At the commencement of February, 1915, at M., when I was only ten years old, I had the grief of losing my mother. Her death was accompanied by circumstances which I take the liberty of relating. My mother was attended by my grandmother during her illness. One night the latter was surprised at hearing my mother, who was sleeping in the next room, pronounce certain sentences, among others this: “Marie, I can see you at last, I am glad you have come. Help me.” (Marie was my sister who died a few years before this.) Grandmother thought it was a dream; she rose and approached my mother’s bed, and to her great surprise she found her in a perfectly normal state. My mother even told her the satisfaction she had had in seeing her daughter. Later on in the night the conversation was resumed, but we paid no further attention. But on the next morning, Mother was no more.
Moreover, during the same night, one of my aunts who lived in the neighbouring village of V., had the clear impression of seeing mother.
“She passed,” she said to me the following day, “beside my bed without speaking, then went to embrace my two daughters and disappeared.” Such are the facts.’”
The following case is quoted from Mr. Richard Pike’s Life’s Borderland and Beyond:
“In the summer of 1883, a young man named Giles, of Nottingham, had the misfortune to lose several children after long and painful periods of illness. The two eldest, Fred and Annie, aged respectively seven and eight, had died and been buried for some weeks when his little boy of four years old showed symptoms of approaching death.
“The father and mother were constantly by his side, as will be readily believed, to mitigate the little fellow’s sufferings as much as possible. On the night when he died the father came to his bedside with the customary medicine, when the little boy, sitting upright in bed, cried out: ‘There’s Fred and Annie.’ ‘Where, my boy?’ asked the father. Don’t you see them there‚ there?’ said the lad, pointing to the wall, ‘they’re waiting for me to go to them,’ and the next minute the little sufferer fell back on the pillow dead. It should be mentioned that the father saw nothing of the apparition to which his dying boy so vividly pointed, but he quite believes its reality.
Mrs. Kinloch, of Boundary Road, St. John’s Wood, N.W., sends me instances of Visions of the Dying, which had been told her, and which I quote in her words:
“My sister‚ who has recently passed over‚ who was with our mother when she died, told me that on the day before her death she suddenly called out, ‘Oh, look at your father over there/ and pointed to a corner of the room, but my sister could see nothing.
“A poor woman whom I knew told me the other day that just before her mother died, she said suddenly, ‘Tom, bring the boat nearer; I can’t get in.’ ‘Tom’ was her husband. “In this case, and the next three cases, the apparitions seem to have had a more or less premonitory purpose. The incident was related to the editor of the review Psychica, who considered it so interesting that she requested the lady to repeat it by letter, which she willingly did, only requesting that nothing more than her initials should be published, though her name and address were known to the editor of the review.
The letter is as follows:
“With reference to the incident I related to you, which happened several years ago, the following are the facts just as they occurred: “I lost my daughter when she was seventeen years of age; she had been ill for some five years, and for eight months before her death had been confined to her bed. During all this time, and up to her death, she maintained a remarkable degree of intelligence and will. A fortnight before her death, one evening when I was leaning over the head of her bed, I asked her what she was thinking of, seeing her absorbed. She replied, ‘Little mother, look there,’ pointing to the bed curtains.
I followed the direction of her hand and saw a man’s form, completely white, standing out quite clearly against the dark curtain. Having no ideas of spiritism, my emotion was intense, and I closed my eyes not wishing to see any longer. My child said to me, ’ You do not reply.’ I had the weakness to declare to her, ‘I see nothing’; but my trembling voice betrayed me doubtless, for the child added with an air of reproach, ’ Oh, little mother, I have seen the same thing for the last three days at the same hour; it’s my dear father who has come to fetch me.’ “My child died 15 days later, but the apparition was not repeated; perhaps it attained its greatest intensity on the day I saw it.
Signed Z. G.
The editor of Psychica remarks: “The lady who signs this letter is not a credulous person, and she declares that she saw the vision near the bed of her dying child at a time when her thoughts were far from the creation of a phantasmal form.
Editor of Psychica
Mr. Hans Hamilton, who translated the above extract, remarks: ” The interest of this case lies in the fact of the apparition having taken place 15 days before death; in its being visible to two persons; and in the fact that there is not the least suspicion of either delirium or coma on the part of the dying girl.” A striking case of collective hallucination (that is to say, a vision seen by the relatives of the dying person as well as by the dying person herself) is given in the Proceedings S.P.R. for 1889.
The narrator, Miss Emma Pearson, writes an account of her aunt’s illness and death, which is here given considerably abridged:
“My aunt, Miss Harriet Pearson, who was taken very ill at Brighton in November, 1864, craved to be back in her own home in London, where she and her sister Ann (who had died some years previously) had spent practically all their lives. I accordingly made the necessary arrangements, and had her moved home. Her two nieces (Mrs. Coppinger and Mrs. John Pearson), Eliza Quinton the housekeeper, and myself did the nursing between us.
She became worse and worse. On the night of Dec. 23rd Mrs. John Pearson was sitting up with her, while Mrs. Coppinger and I lay down in the adjoining room, leaving the door ajar to hear any sound from the next room. We were neither of us asleep, and suddenly we both started up in bed, as we saw someone pass the door, wrapped up in an old shawl, having a wig with three curls each side, and an old black cap. Mrs. Coppinger called to me, ‘Emma, get up, it is old Aunt Ann! I said, ‘So it is; then Aunt Harriet will die today!’ As we jumped up, Mrs. John Pearson came rushing out of Aunt Harriet’s room, saying, ‘That was old Aunt Ann. Where has she gone? ’ I said to soothe her, ‘Perhaps it was Eliza come down to see how her old mistress is.’ Mrs. Coppinger ran upstairs and found Eliza asleep. Every room was searched ‚ no one was there; and from that day to this no explanation has ever been given of this appearance, except that it was old Aunt Ann come to call her sister. Aunt Harriet died at 6 p.m. that day.” Eliza Quinton, the housekeeper, confirms the above statement, and adds: ” We searched in every room but could not find anyone in the house.
Miss Harriet died on the evening of that day, but before that she told us all that she had seen her sister, and that she had come to call her.” This last statement is further confirmed by Miss Emma Pearson in a later letter, in which she states that she remembers her Aunt saying that her sister had come for her, for she had seen her.
In the following case the premonitory purpose seems to be strongly marked:
Louise F., aged forty eight, died after an abdominal operation in January, 1896. During her illness she frequently asked that, when cured, she might take her little niece Lily, aged three years and three months, of whom she was very fond, to live with her in the country. About a month after the death of her aunt little Lily, who was intelligent and precocious and in quite good health, often stopped in her play to look fixedly out of the window. Her mother asked her what she was looking at, and she answered, “It is Aunt Louise, who holds out her arms to me and calls me.” Her mother, much frightened, tried to distract her attention, but the child drew her chair to the window and continued to look for several minutes. Her brother, M. F., who gave me these details, said, “I was then eleven years old and my little sister said, ’ What! Don’t you see Tata?’ as she called her aunt. Of course I could see nothing.” For some months nothing further was seen by the child, the visions ceased. Towards May 20th, little Lily fell ill, and when in bed she looked up to the ceiling saying that she saw her aunt calling her, surrounded by little angels.
“Mother, how pretty I” she said. From day to day her illness increased, but she always repeated, “My aunt has come to fetch me; she is holding out her arms to me,” and as her mother wept, she said, ” Don’t cry, Mother, it is very beautiful, there are angels round me.” She died on the 9th of June of tubercular meningitis, four and a half months after the death of Louise F.
Such is the story told by her brother, M. F., confirmed by his sister, G. F., and her mother.
The family lived very quietly in a country town. None of them know anything of psychic science.
The following case was first printed in the Religio-Philosophical Journal May 5,1894. Mr. B. B. Kingsbury, who contributed it, states that the informant is a member of the Presbyterian Church, and her husband confirmed her statement of voices heard by the little boy calling him. Mr. Kingsbury adds that both his informants, Mr. and Mrs. H., are worthy of the highest credit. The father is somewhat of a ” sensitive,” and the mother has had two or three clairvoyant experiences herself.
The statement just as it was given by the mother runs as follows:
“Had I ever doubted that there is a life beyond, my doubt would have been removed by what I call a vision. In 1883 I was the mother of two strong, healthy boys. The eldest was a bright boy of two years and seven months. The other a darling baby boy of eight months. August 6th, 1883, my baby died. Ray, my little son, was then in perfect health. Every day after baby’s death (and I may safely say every hour in the day) he would say to me, ‘Mamma, baby calls Ray.’ He would often leave his play and come running to me, saying, ‘Mamma, baby calls Ray all the time.’ Every night he would waken me out of my sleep and say, ‘Mamma, baby calls Ray all the time. He wants Ray to come where he is; you must not cry when Ray goes, Mamma; you must not cry, for baby wants Ray.’ One day I was sweeping the sitting room floor, and he came running as fast as he could run, through the dining room where stood the table with baby’s high chair (which Ray now used) at the side. I never saw him so excited, and he grabbed my dress and pulled me to the dining room door, jerked it open, saying, ‘Oh, Mamma, Mamma, come quick; baby is sitting in his high chair.’ As soon as he opened the door and looked at the chair, he said, ‘Oh, Mamma, why didn’t you hurry; now he’s gone; he laughed at Ray when he passed the chair; oh, he laughed at Ray so nice. Ray is going with baby, but you must not cry, Mamma.’ Ray soon became very sick. Nursing and medicine were of no avail. He died Oct. 13th, 1883, two months and seven days after baby’s death. He was a child of high intelligence and matured far beyond his years. Whether it is possible for the dead to return, and whether my baby came back and was seen by his little brother or not, we leave for others to judge.”
Dr. Hodgson, whose name is well known to all psychical researchers as one of the most careful and critical investigators, made inquiries regarding the case, and in reply to Dr. Hodgson’s inquiries, Mrs. H. wrote:
December 13th 1894
When the child ran to me telling me the baby was sitting in his chair at the table, there was no one in the house but the servant girl, little Ray, and myself. I told the girl nothing about it and she did not hear the child, but as soon as my husband came to dinner I told him. After that we talked freely of the matter to several of our friends Little Ray knew nothing of death; we had never spoken of it to him in any way; the last time I took him to the baby’s grave, shortly before he was taken sick, we were sitting by the grave, and I thought, ‘Oh, if I could only take baby up and look at it for just one minute, I would feel so glad.’ Instantly Ray said to me, ‘Mamma, let us take baby up and look at it just one minute; then we will feel better.’ Just as we were leaving the grave he smoothed it with his little hand, and said, ‘Ray is going to lie down and sleep right here beside little brother, but you must not cry, Mamma’ He is now lying just where he said he would.
P.S.‚ I wish to say that I have never known much of what is called modern Spiritualism, but was born and reared a Presbyterian and still belong to that Church, of which I am an active member.
Dr. Hodgson also wrote to Mr. H., who replied as follows:
Feb. 2nd, 1895.
I can truly say that my wife related it about Ray seeing baby in the chair] to me the day it occurred when I came to dinner, I frequently heard our little boy tell his mamma that the baby called him all the time.
W. H. H.
The following corroboration was also received by Dr. Hodgson:
116 Summit Street
Feb. 25th, 1895
I can truly say that Mrs. and Mr. H. often spoke to me of Ray seeing the baby in the chair before he took sick. They told me the next day after it happened.
Mrs. J. H. Shulters.
The following case was given by Dr. Paul Edwards, and was published in the Journal Light for April, 1906:
“While living in a country town in California (U.S.A.) about the year 1887, I was called upon to visit a very dear lady friend who was very low and weak from consumption. Everyone knew that this pure and noble wife and mother was doomed to die, and at last she herself became convinced that immediate death was inevitable, and accordingly she prepared for the event. Calling her children to her bedside she kissed each in turn, sending them away as soon as goodbye was said. Then came the husband’s turn to step up and bid farewell to a most loving wife, who was perfectly clear in her mind. She began by saying ‘Newton’ (for that was his Christian name) ... ‘do not weep over me, for I am without pain and am wholly serene. I love you upon earth, and shall love you after I have gone. I am fully resolved to come to you if such a thing is possible, and if it is not possible I will watch you and the children from Heaven, where I will be waiting when you all come. My first desire now is to go. . . . I see people moving all in white. The music is strangely enchanting. Oh! here is Sadie; she is with me‚ and‚ she knows who I am.’ Sadie was a little girl she had lost about ten years before.
‘Sissy!’ said the husband, ‘you are out of your mind.’ Oh, dear! why did you call me here again?’ said the wife, ‘now it will be hard for me to go away again; I was so pleased while there‚ it was so delightful‚ so soothing.’ In about three minutes the dying woman added, ‘I am going away again and will not come back to you even if you call me.’ “This scene lasted for about eight minutes, and it was very plain that the dying wife was in full view of the two worlds at the same time, for she described how the moving figures looked in the world beyond, as she directed her words to mortals in this world.
“... I think that of all my death scenes this was the most impressive‚ the most solemn.”
My friend Miss Dallas has sent me some cases of Visions of the Dying which occurred to persons she knew. In one case the face of her friend’s mother, just before death, suddenly lighted up with an intense brilliancy. When this had passed away, the dying woman opened her eyes and said that she had looked into Heaven, and had seen many people they knew who had passed over, and also that many of the things she had seen it was impossible to describe. Shortly after this she died.
In another case Miss Dallas tells of a widow, living with her youngest surviving son, Jim, then dying of consumption. Miss Dallas visited the mother shortly after her son’s death, and recorded the following in her notebook the same day: ” Jim had died on a Thursday, and on the previous Sunday his end appeared to be near, but he revived, and told his mother that he had seen something beautiful. Again he had a relapse, and on reviving he said he had seen two of his sisters and a brother who had died previously, but he added, ‘Mother, I cannot find Bessie.’ His mother told Miss Dallas that Bessie had died twelve years before, when Jim was still a child. Not long after this Jim died.”
The following case is taken from the Journal of the American S.P.R. for July, 1909 (p. 422).
The editor, Prof. Hyslop, relates how the original letter came into his possession, and remarks that it may be taken as documentary evidence of the incident narrated. The original letter was enclosed in one addressed to the editor of the Open Court, a well known American periodical. In it the writer, Mr. William C. Church, states that the letter he forwards was written to the late Captain J. Ericsson, inventor of the Monitor, by Lady Ellen Chute, a relative of his wife, and concerns the death of Ericsson’s sister-in-law, Louisa Browning. The Amelia referred to in the letter was the wife of Captain Ericsson; who had died in July, 1867, many years previously; and Aunt Louisa Browning was the sister of Amelia.
November 5th, 1883
“Dear Capt. Ericsson, “Since I last wrote to you our fond aunt, Louisa Browning, died on Sunday morning, October 28th, at the age of 78. On her deathbed she appeared to see her deeply loved sister [Capt. Ericsson’s wife, Amelia], who had gone before. Those watching by her heard her say‚ though she had before been quite unconscious‚ ‘Oh, Amelia! Amelia!’ and she reached out her hand to welcome someone their earthly eyes were not permitted to see, and then all was over. . . .
Yours very sincerely, Ellen Chute
In the case 1 here abridged, the singing and voice of the unseen visitant were heard by the mother as well as by her dying child; and a cousin of the deceased child appears to have had a vision of the child and heard a premonitory intimation of her death.
“Mrs. G., with her two little girls, Minnie and Ada, of the respective ages of eight and nine years, had been staying in the country on a visit to her sister-in-law, but having taken a house near London, she sent the two children with their nurse off by an early train, following herself by one a few hours later. Towards the evening of the same day, one of the little girls walked into the room of the house which they had quitted in the morning, where a cousin to whom she was much attached was sitting at his studies, and said to him, ‘I am come to say goodbye, Walter; I shall never see you again.’ Then kissing him she vanished from the room. The young man was greatly startled and astonished, as he had himself seen both the little girls and their nurse off by the morning train, “At this very time of the evening both the children in London were taken suddenly ill, while playing in their new home, a few hours after they had arrived. The doctor called in pronounced their complaint to be smallpox of the most malignant kind. They both died within the week, but the youngest, Minnie, died first. The day after she was buried, the poor bereaved mother was anxiously watching the last hours of the one still left, for whom she well knew no chance of life remained. Suddenly the sick child woke up from a kind of stupor, and exclaimed, ‘Oh, look, Mamma, look at the beautiful angels!’ pointing to the foot of the bed. Mrs. G. saw nothing, but heard soft sweet music, which seemed to float in the air. Again the child exclaimed: ‘Oh, dear Mamma, there is Minnie! She has come for me ‘; she smiled and appeared greatly pleased. At this moment Mrs. G. distinctly heard a voice say, ‘Come, dear Ada, I am waiting for you!’ The sick child smiled once again and died without a struggle.” Some time before their death the poor mother overheard a childish conversation between the two little ones, in which the youngest, Minnie, said to the other that she felt sure she should die first, and would be certain to come and fetch her sister. This conversation was long remembered by the mother, as it was strikingly confirmed by the actual facts. It is, of course, possible that expectancy on the part of the mother (if at the time she recalled her children’s conversation) may discount the evidential value of this striking case.
It has been recorded of the celebrated mathematician, Prof. De Morgan, that during the last two days of his life there were indications of his passing through the experience which he had himself considered worthy of investigation and of record. He seemed to recognize all those of his family whom he had lost‚ his three children, his mother and sister, whom he greeted, naming them in the reverse order to that in which they left the world. No one seeing him at that moment could doubt that what he seemed to perceive was, to him at least, visible and real. Mrs. De Morgan in her book, From Matter to Spirit, relates the following incident, which she gives as it was told by the mother of the dying child.
“On the morning on which John died, having bade all the family farewell, he lay for some time quite quiet, and then he spoke, his voice sounding strong and clear, and was evidently replying to some question which he had heard asked. We were astonished and awestruck. We felt that he saw and heard an angel invisible to us. Then he spoke again and said, ‘Mother, here is Grandmother come! You must see her! And she is with such a great company, and they say that they are come to take me away with them.’ Soon after that he gently breathed his last.” The Rev. W. G. Horder relates the following incident, and says: “A friend of mine, of a mind naturally indisposed to faith, and at the time quite sceptical about a future life, tells me of the following incident, which made a deep impression upon him, and even wakened belief in immortality:” His brother, a young man of about 25 years of age, had been seized with brain fever, which at last rendered him quite unconscious for about 24 hours, but just before death he raised himself in his bed, resting himself upon his hand and said, ’ Who is that at the bottom of my bed? ’ His mother, who was sitting by his bedside, said, ‘There is no one there, my dear.’ He said, ‘Don’t you see Emma ’ (a departed sister) ’ standing at the foot of the bed? ’ She said, ’ No, there is no one there, my dear.’ ‘Yes, there is,’ he said, ’ it is Emma. I am coming, I am ready’; and fell back and died.” a The following three cases were sent to me by Mrs. Shepherd Munn, widow of the late Vicar of Orleton, Brimfield, Herefordshire, to whom all the people concerned in the narratives were known personally. She writes as follows:
“A young boy, aged fourteen, named Charles Dyer, who lived with his parents at Orleton, was dying of consumption, and had wasted away very rapidly in four or five months. During the whole of that period he was very bright, full of interest in all around, and did not seem to be aware of his rapidly failing strength. About a week before he died he slept in a room off his mother’s, with no door between‚ he called her, and when she went in, he was full of excitement about a door he could see at the corner of his room, which he said was ’ opening wider and wider, and when it is open wide I shall be going through it, Mother.’ ” On the morning of the day he died, his mother having left the room to fetch him something, heard him call and hastening back, found him sitting up in bed, looking towards the corner of the room, and he said to her, ‘There is a nice old man come for me; he is holding out his arms for me. I must go. Don’t fret, Mother ‘; and he fell back gently on his pillow and was gone, without any struggle for breath, and with a smile of joy on his face, which remained. “His mother was full of ecstasy, and came down to the Vicarage that same morning to tell me of it. The impression this experience made upon her has continued to the present day, and has influenced her life for the better.”
The following case, also related to me by Mrs. Shepherd Munn, took place some years previous to the last, but is connected with the same family.
“An old man, named John George‚ grandfather of the consumptive boy, Charles Dyer, already referred to‚ lay dying. He and his wife, Mary Ann George, had had a great sorrow that same year in the death of their youngest son, Tom, a young man who had been killed on the railway line on which he worked.”
The dying man had been quiet for some time as though sleeping, when he suddenly looked up, opened his eyes wide, and looking at the side of the bed opposite to where his wife was, exclaimed, ‘Why, Mother, here is Tom, and he is all right, no marks on him. Oh, he looks fine.’ Then after another silence he said, ’ And here’s Nance too.’ A pause, then ’ Mother, she is all right. She has been forgiven.’ And very soon after he passed away, taking with him a sorrow which had long pressed upon the mother’s heart, for Nance had fallen into sin, and had died soon after the child was born, and as the poor mother thought ‘never having had time to repent.’”
The next case is also given by Mrs. Shepherd Munn, and it also, like the two preceding cases, occurred in Orleton, Herefordshire.
“A woman, named Mary Wilding, was dying of cancer. She was passionately fond of her husband, Charles Wilding. They had worked together, brought up their children, saved some money, and bought a nice little house in Orleton, where they spent some comfortable and happy years together.
When she realized that she would die and leave ‘Charlie’ she became very unhappy and made them all very miserable by fretting and constantly complaining of her fate.
“One day as the end drew near, when a sister of hers, who was helping to look after her, happened to be alone in the room with Mary Wilding, she suddenly looked up with such a bright expression of face and said, ‘Oh, Emmie, Mother is here; she has come for me, and is going to take me with her. She never lost the feeling of confidential joy, and passed away the day after quite peacefully.” Dr. Hyslop narrates the following case, which he received from a friend whose testimony he had no reason to question: “I called this afternoon (May 14th, 1906) upon a lady whose child, a boy of nine years old, had died two weeks previously. He had been operated upon for appendicitis some two or three years ago, and had had peritonitis at the same time. He recovered and was apparently quite well for a time.
Again he was taken ill, and was taken to hospital and operated upon. He was perfectly rational, recognizing his parents, the doctor and the nurse ‚ after recovering from under the influence of the anaesthetic. Feeling that he was going, he asked his mother to hold his hands until he should be gone. Soon he looked up and said, ’ Mother, dear, don’t you see little sister over there? “No, where is she?” Right over there. She is looking at me.’ Then the mother to pacify him said she saw the child. In a few minutes his face lighted up full of smiles, and he said, ‘There comes Mrs. C.’ (a lady of whom he was very fond, who had died nearly two years before), ’ and she is smiling just as she used to. She is smiling and wants me to come.’ In a few moments he said, ‘There’s Roy! I’m going to them. I don’t want to leave you, but you’ll come to me soon, won’t you? Open the door and let them in. They are waiting outside,’ and he was gone.” The mother confirms this narrative, and inquiry brings out the following facts. The ” little sister ” he refers to had died four years before his own birth. Roy is the name of a friend of the child, who had died about a year previous.
The following case is taken from the Life of the Rev. Dwight L. Moody, the celebrated Evangelical preacher of the United States.
The last moments of Mr. Moody are described by his son, the biographer, as follows:
“Suddenly he murmured, ‘Earth recedes, heaven opens up before me. I have been beyond the gates. God is calling. Don’t call me back.
It is beautiful. It is like a trance. If this is death it is sweet. “Then his face lit up and he said in a voice of joyful rapture, ’ Dwight! Irene! I see the children’s faces’ (referring to his two little grandchildren, who had gone before). Turning to his wife he said, ‘Mamma, you have been a good wife to me, and with that he became unconscious.”
The following case is related by Mr. Alfred Smedley in his book of Reminiscences (pp. 50, 51). He gives an account of his wife’s last moments, and states:
“A short time before her decease, her eyes being fixed on something that seemed to fill her with pleasant surprise, she exclaimed,’ Why! there is sister Charlotte here, and Mother and Father, and brother John and sister Mary I And now they have brought Bessie Heap!! They are all here.
Oh! how beautiful! Cannot you see them? ’ she asked. ’ No, my dear; I very much wish I could.’ I answered. ‘Cannot you see them?’ she again asked in surprise; ’ why they are all here, and they are come to bear me away with them!’ Then she added, ‘Part of our family have crossed the flood, and soon the other part will be gathered home, and then we shall be a family complete in heaven!’ “I may explain here that Bessie Heap had been the trusted family nurse, and my wife had always been a favourite with her.
“After the above ecstatic experience my wife lingered for some time. Then fixing her gaze steadily upward again, and lifting up her hands, she joined the convoy of angel friends, who had come to usher her into that brighter spiritual world of which we had learned so little.” The next case is given on the authority of Dr. Wilson of New York, who was present at the death a few years ago of the well known American tenor, Mr. James Moore, who was a patient of his. Dr. Wilson gives the following narrative:
“It was about four o’clock, and the dawn for which he had been watching was creeping in through the shutters, when, as I bent over the bed, I noticed that his face was quite calm and his eyes clear. The poor fellow looked up into my face, and taking my hand in both of his, he said,’ You’ve been a good friend to me, Doctor. You’ve stood by me.’ Then something which I shall never forget to my dying day happened, something which is utterly indescribable. While he appeared perfectly rational and as sane as any man I have ever seen, the only way that I can express it is that he was transported into another world, and although I cannot satisfactorily explain the matter to myself, I am fully convinced that he had entered the Golden City‚ for he said in a stronger voice than he had used since I had attended him, ’ There is Mother! Why, Mother, have you come here to see me? No, no, I’m coming to see you. Just wait, Mother, I am almost over. I can jump it. Wait, Mother! On his face there was a look of inexpressible happiness, and the way in which he said the words impressed me as I have never been before, and I am as firmly convinced that he saw and talked with his mother as I am that I am sitting here.
“In order to preserve what I believed to be his conversation with his mother, and also to have a record of the strangest happening of my life, I immediately wrote down every word he had said.
His was one of the most beautiful deaths I have ever seen.”
My friend, Mrs. Carter, of St. Erth, Hayle, Cornwall, sends me the following case, which occurred on April 13, 1924, when she was present, and she wrote the following notes a few days later. She says:
“On Sunday, April 13th, I went to Hillside to sit with a Mr. Williams, who was dying of consumption, so that those belonging to him might have a little rest. He was in a state of great physical distress, and unable to lie down, and could only breathe with the greatest difficulty, with his head leaning down to within a few inches of the mattress.
“He suddenly raised himself and stretched out his hands, and said very clearly, as though speaking to someone present and whom he was glad to see, Edmund! my dear brother Edmund! I was alone with him at the time, but when the family returned to the room later I at once related to them what he had said, and then learnt from them that his brother Edmund was dead.
“During the time that I was with him‚ from 3.15 to 9.15‚ although breathing very heavily all the time, he appeared to be quite conscious when he spoke, and called for the different members of his family. He knew me quite well, and kissed my hand and called me by my name. He also asked to have water at intervals, and asked for hot tea.
In spite of his great bodily distress, his trust in God remained quite unshaken, and it was very moving to hear him say at intervals, ’ Dear Lord, let me go! ’ ” I was told that before I arrived he had exclaimed, ’ Mrs. Hooper! ’ She had been a great friend of his, and died here about 18 months or two years ago. He died about ten hours after I had left.
“The following account of the last days of a little child was published in the Journal of the American S.P.R., edited by Dr. James H, Hyslop (Vol. XII, No. 6), and a considerably abridged report was compiled by Miss H. A. Dallas, a summary of which is given below:
“Daisy Irene Dryden was born in Marysville, Yuba County, California, on September 9th, 1854.
She died in San Jose, California, on October 8th, 1864, aged ten years and twenty nine days.
“Her mother writes: ‘In the summer of 1864 Daisy was attacked by bilious fever. After five weeks of illness the fever left her, and for two weeks she seemed to continue to gain strength. She smiled and sang and seemed like herself again, until one afternoon, as her father sat by her bed, he noticed a singular expression on her face. It was one of both pleasure and amazement. Her eyes were directed to one place above the door Her father asked, ” Daisy, what is it? What do you see? ” She replied softly, ” It is a spirit—it is Jesus. And He says I am going to be one of His little lambs.” “Yes, dear,” said her father, “I hope you are one of His Lambs.” “Oh, papa!” she exclaimed, “I am going to heaven, to Him.” “‘That night she was taken with enteritis and only lived four days. She suffered much for the first twenty four hours, being unable to retain food, water, or medicine. From that time on she had very little pain. Her poor little body had in fact become so attenuated that there was little left for the disease to work upon. But her mind was very active and remarkably clear. Her faculties appeared sharpened. She could remember recitations she had learned in school, always having been fond of memorizing poetry. And when Lulu sang to her from the Sunday School Hymnal, she would give the name of the song and the page on which to find it.
“‘She loved to have us read the Scriptures to her. I read, in John xiv, “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart I will send Him unto you.” At this she looked up to me so heavenly as she said, ” Mamma, when I go away the Comforter will come to you; and maybe He will let me come too sometimes; I’ll ask Allie about it.” She often said this after this time, when she felt uncertain about anything. Allie was her brother who had passed to the other life at the age of six, of scarlet fever, seven months before. He seemed to be with her a great deal of the time during those last three days, because when we asked her questions which she could not answer she would say, “Wait till Allie comes, and I will ask him.” On this occasion she waited only a short time and then said, “Allie says I may go to you sometimes; he says it is possible, but you will not know when I am there; but I can speak to your thought.”
“‘As I have said, Daisy lingered on the borderland for three days, after the first agonizing twenty four hours had passed. Her physical frame had become so emaciated that there was only enough to hold the spirit in its feeble embrace; and it was manifested to us, as it were, through the thin veil of the attenuated flesh which enwrapped it.
During this time she dwelt in both worlds, as she expressed it. Two days before she left us, the Sunday School Superintendent came to see her.
She talked very freely about going, and sent a message by him to the Sunday School. When he was about to leave, he said, “Well, Daisy, you will soon be over the’ dark river.” After he had gone, she asked her father what he meant by the ” dark river.” He tried to explain it, but she said, ” It is all a mistake; there is no river; there is no curtain; there is not even a line that separates this life from the other life.” And she stretched out her little hands from the bed, and with a gesture said, “It is here and it is there; I know it is so, for I can see you all, and I see them there at the same time.” We asked her to tell us something of that other world and how it looked to her, but she said, ” I cannot describe it; it is so different, I could not make you understand.” “‘One morning while I was in the room, putting it in order, Mrs. W., one of our kind neighbours, was reading to her these words from the Testament: “Let not your heart be troubled. In my Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you” (John xiv, i, 2). Daisy remarked, “Mansions, that means houses. I don’t see real houses there; but there is what would be places to meet each other in. Allie speaks of going to such and such a place, but says nothing of houses. You see, perhaps the Testament tells about mansions so we will feel we are going to have a home in heaven, and perhaps when I get there I’ll find a home. And if I do, the heavenly flowers and trees that I love so much here‚ for I do see them, and that they are more beautiful than anything you could imagine‚ they will be there.” I said, “Daisy, don’t you know the Bible speaks of heaven being a beautiful city? ” She said, “I do not see a city,” and a puzzled look came over her face, and she said, “I do not know; I may have to go there first.”
“‘Mrs. W., a kind neighbour, the one who had read of the mansions to Daisy, and who was with us a great deal, told Mrs. B., a neighbour of hers, about Daisy’s inner sight being open. Mrs. B. was a lady who did not believe in a future state. She was, moreover, in deep distress, having just lost her husband and a son who was about twelve years old, named Bateman. She came with Mrs. W. one evening, and, sitting beside the bed, began to ask questions. Daisy said to her: ” Bateman is here, and says he is alive and well, and is in such a good place, he would not come home for anything. He says he is learning how to be good.” Mrs. B. then said, ” Ask him if he has seen his father.” Daisy replied, “He says he has not, he is not here, and says to you, ‘Mother, don’t fret about me, it is better I did not grow up.’ “This communication set the mother to thinking and she became a firm believer in a future state.
“‘The following morning, when alone with Daisy, Mrs. W., who had brought Mrs. B. to see her, asked Daisy how she could think Mrs. B.‘s son was happy. “For,” said she, ” when he was here, you know he was such a bad boy. Don’t you remember how he used to swear, and steal your playthings, and break them up? You know we did not allow him to play with you nor with my children, because he was so bad.” Daisy replied, ” Oh, Aunty, don’t you know he never went to Sunday School, and was always hearing so much swearing? God knows he did not have half a chance.” The same day her Sunday School teacher Mrs. H., who also was with her a great deal, was sitting beside her, when Daisy said to her, ” Your two children are here.”
Now, these children had gone to the other life several years before, and if they had lived in this world would have been nearly grown up. Daisy had never heard anyone speak of them, nor did the mother have any pictures of them, so she could not have known anything whatever about them before seeing them in the spiritual world. When asked to describe them, her description of them as full grown did not agree with the mother’s idea of them, so she said, ” How can that be? They were children when they died.” Daisy answered, “Allie says, ‘Children do not stay children; they grow up as they do in this life.’” Mrs. H. then said, “But my little daughter Mary fell, and was so injured that she could not stand straight.” To this Daisy replied, ” She is all right now; she is straight and beautiful; and your son is looking so noble and happy.” “‘Once she said: ” Oh, papa, do you hear that? It is the singing of the angels. Why, you ought to hear it, for the room is full of it, and I can see them, there are so many; I can see them miles and miles away.” “Mrs. W., already mentioned, who had lost her father a short time previous, wanted to know if Daisy had seen him, and brought his picture to let her see if she could recognize him. But in the evening, when she came again, Daisy told her she had not seen him, and that Allie, whom she had asked about him, had not seen him, but that Allie had said he would ask someone who could tell him about him. In a moment Daisy said, “Allie is here and says, ‘Tell Aunty her father wants her to meet him in heaven, for he is there.’ Mrs. W. then said, “Daisy, why did not Allie know at once about my father? ” “Because,” replied she, “those who die go into different states or places and do not see each other at all times, but all the good are in the state of the blessed.” “‘During those last days of illness Daisy loved to listen to her sister Lulu as she sang for her, mostly from the Sunday School song book. Lulu sang one song, the chorus of which was:
Oh! come angel band,
Come and around me stand,
Oh I bear me away on your snowy wings
To my immortal home.
When she had finished, Daisy exclaimed, “Oh, Lulu, is it not strange? We always thought the angels had wings! But it is a mistake; they don’t have any.” Lulu replied, “But they must have wings, else how do they fly down from heaven? ” “Oh, but they don’t fly,” she answered, “they just come. When I think of Allie, he is here.” “‘Once I inquired, “How do you see the angels?” She replied, “I do not see them all the time; but when I do, the walls seem to go away, and I can see ever so far, and you couldn’t begin to count the people; some are near, and I know them; others I have never seen before.” She mentioned the name of Mary C., the sister of Mrs. S., who was a neighbour of ours in Nevada City, and said, “You know she had such a bad cough, but she is well now, and so beautiful, and she is smiling to me.” “‘I was then sitting beside her bedside, her hand clasped in mine. Looking up so wistfully to me, she said, ” Dear Mamma, I do wish you could see Allie; he is standing beside you.” Involuntarily I looked round, but Daisy thereupon continued, “He says you cannot see him because your spirit eyes are closed, but that I can, because my body only holds my spirit, as it were, by a thread of life.” I then inquired, ” Does he say that now?” “Yes, just now,” she answered. Then wondering how she could be conversing with her brother when I saw not the least sign of conversation, I said, “Daisy, how do you speak to Allie? I do not hear you or see your lips move.” She smilingly replied, “We just talk with our think.” I then asked her further, “Daisy, how does Allie appear to you? Does he seem to wear clothes?” She answered, “Oh, no, not clothes such as we wear.
There seems to be about him a white, beautiful something, so fine and thin and glistening, and oh, so white, and yet there is not a fold, or a sign of a thread in it, so it cannot be cloth. But makes him look so lovely.” Her father then quoted from the Psalmist: “He is clothed with light as a garment.” “Oh, yes, that’s it,” she replied.
She often spoke of dying, and seemed to have such a vivid sense of her future life and happiness that the dread of death was all dispelled. The mystery of the soul’s departure was to her no more a mystery. It was only a continuation of life, a growing up from the conditions of earth life into the air and sunshine of heaven.
The morning of the day she died she asked me to let her have a small mirror. I hesitated, thinking the sight of her emaciated face would be a shock to her. But her father, sitting by her, remarked, “Let her look at her poor little face if she wants to.” So I gave it to her. Taking the glass in her two hands, she looked at her image for a time, calmly and sadly. At length she said, “This body of mine is about worn out. It is like that old dress of Mamma’s hanging there in the closet. She doesn’t wear it any more, and I won’t wear my body any more, because I have a new spiritual body which will take its place. Indeed, I have it now, for it is with my spiritual eyes I see the heavenly world while my body is still here.
You will lay my body in the grave because I will not need it again. It was made for my life here, and now my life here is at an end, and this poor body will be laid away, and I shall have a beautiful body like Allie’s.” Then she said to me, “Mamma, open the shutters and let me look out at the world for the last time. Before another morning I shall be gone.” As I obeyed her loving request, she said to her father, ” Raise me up, Papa.” Then, supported by her father, she looked through the window whose shutters I had opened, and called out, ” Goodbye, sky. Goodbye, trees. Goodbye flowers. Goodbye, white rose. Goodbye, red rose. Goodbye, beautiful world,” and added, “how I love it, but I do not wish to stay.” “That evening, when it was half-past eight, she herself observed the time, and remarked, “It is half-past eight now; when it is half-past eleven Allie will come for me.” She was then, for the time being, reclining on her father’s breast, with her head upon his shoulder. This was a favourite position, as it rested her. She said, “Papa, I want to die here. When the time comes, I will tell you.” “Lulu had been singing for her, and as half past eight was Lulu’s bedtime she arose to go.
Bending over Daisy, as she always did, she kissed her, and said, “Goodnight.” Daisy put up her hand and, stroking tenderly her sister’s face, said to her, “Goodnight.” When Lulu was halfway up the stairs, Daisy again called out after her, in a clear, sweet, earnest tone, “Goodnight and goodbye, my sweet, darling Lulu.” At about a quarter past eleven she said, “Now, Papa, take me up; Allie has come for me.” After her father had taken her, she asked us to sing. Presently someone said, “Call Lulu,” but Daisy answered promptly, “Don’t disturb her, she is asleep,” and then, just as the hands of the clock pointed to the half-hour past eleven, the time she had predicted that Allie was to come to take her with him, she lifted up both arms and said, “Come, Allie,” and breathed no more. Then tenderly laying her loved but lifeless form upon the pillow, her father said, “The dear child has gone,” and added, “she will suffer no more,”
There are one or two specially interesting points about this case‚ like Case 1 in Chapter 2‚ the dying child kept a consciousness of the visions which came to her, together with clear recognition of her earthly friends, and ability to converse with them sensibly. With Daisy Dryden the double consciousness lasted a few days, whereas in the case of Mrs. B. it only lasted an hour or two.
Again the descriptions Daisy gave of her vision evidently did not accord with her preconceived ideas of a spiritual world, yet it did not once occur to her to doubt the reality of what she was learning of a life apart from a material body‚ and the possession of a spiritual body.
On p. 118 of The Nurseries of Heaven is the following statement made by her mother: “Although she was on the whole a good child, possessing ordinary good sense, yet in no way was she more remarkable than many other children. Her dying experience, therefore, was not the outgrowth of a life highly spiritual, nor was it one which had been educated in the least degree on the lines of mysticism or modern spiritualism. “Her father was so deeply impressed ” what she most undoubtedly said, heard and revealed to them,” that he began a careful study of the New Testament in the original Greek, and published a series of articles later on the subject.”
The following incident taken from the American S.P.R. Journal for 1918 (Vol XII, p. 623), was reported by Dr. E. H. Pratt, of Chicago:
“My sister Hattie, while attending school at Mt. Carroll Seminary, suffered an attack of malignant diphtheria. She was brought home to be under our father’s care, but he was unable to save her, and after a few days of extreme suffering her spirit took its flight into what seems to most of us such a dark, impenetrable expanse of appalling immensity. A deathbed scene occurred, so wonderful, realistic, and impressive, that although I was but ten years of age at the time, my memory picture of that event is as vivid and distinct as though it were taken but yesterday.
“Her bed was in the middle of the living room, and my mother, father, younger sister, and a few friends were standing about it, gazing earnestly upon my sister’s dear features, as the light of life gradually went out, and the ashy pallor of death settled over them. Hattie’s going out was not abrupt. It was a gradual fading away, very calm and apparently free from pain. Although her throat was so choked up with diphtheritic membrane that her voice was very thick, and it required close attention to catch all of her words, her mind seemed unusually clear and rational.
“She knew she was passing away, and was telling our mother how to dispose of her little personal belongings among her close friends and playmates, when she suddenly raised her eyes as though gazing at the ceiling toward the farther side of the room, and after looking steadily and apparently listening for a short time, slightly bowed her head, and said, ‘Yes, Grandma, I am coming, only wait just a little while, please.’ Our father asked her, ‘Hattie, do you see your grandma?’ Seemingly surprised at the question she promptly answered, ‘Yes, Papa, can’t you see her? She is right there waiting for me.’ At the same time she pointed toward the ceiling in the direction in which she had been gazing. Again addressing the vision she evidently had of her grandmother, she scowled a little impatiently and said, ‘Yes, Grandma, I’m coming, but wait a minute, please.’ She then turned once more to her mother, and finished telling her what of her personal treasures to give to different ones of her acquaintances. At last giving her attention once more to her grandma, who was apparently urging her to come at once, she bade each of us goodbye. Her voice was very feeble and faint, but the look in her eyes as she glanced briefly at each one of us was as lifelike and intelligent as it could be. She then fixed her eyes steadily on her vision but so faintly that we could but just catch her words, said, ‘Yes, Grandma, I’m coming now.’ Then without a struggle or evidence of pain of any kind she gazed steadily in the direction she had pointed out to us where she saw her grandma, until the absence of oxygen in her blood stream, because respiration had ceased, left her hands and face all covered with the pallor of lifeless flesh.
“She was so clear headed, so positive of the vision and presence of her grandma, with whom she talked so naturally, so surprised that the rest of us could not see grandma, the alternation of her attention and conversation between her grandma and father and mother were so distinctly photographed upon the camera of my brain that I have never since been able to question the evidence of the continuance of distinct recognizable life after death. Her grandmother had died a few years previously, and before that she and grandma had always been such close friends, and the recognition of each other as Hattie left her body to join her dearly beloved grandma in the realms beyond the vision of our physical eyes was so unquestionable and complete in every detail that it seems impossible to account for the remarkable event on any theory except that her grandma was alive and so completely like herself while on earth that Hattie’s recognition of her was instantaneous and unquestionable, a real genuine experience.”
The following case was communicated to the American S.P.R. by Mr. S. B. Bennett (see American S.P.R. Journal for 1918, Vol.XII, p. 607)
December 15, 1906
Mr. G. H. Tench died in 1902, after years of patient though intense suffering of cancer. He lived in Wilkes-Barre, but was formerly a near neighbour of mine in West Pittston, during a portion of the time he was a foreman under me enjoying mutual confidence and esteem. He received deserved promotion by another Coal Co., but our personal relation remained the same.
“During the last weeks I watched with him as often as I could, going back and forth by rail.
While suffering intensely he would not take narcotics nor stimulating medicine, saying, ‘I have lived Hall Tench and I am going to die that way.’ The night the end came he roused his younger son, telling him to call the family as he was going away.
He talked entirely rationally to them and was fully conscious. Later a brother came to the house and upon entering the room G. H. Tench said, ’ Goodbye, Will; I am going soon,’ and closed his eyes. The family thought the end had come, but after a short interval he opened his eyes and, looking over and above the bed foot, with raised head and every appearance of interest, said clearly and distinctly, ’ Why, they’re all plain people.’ This closed the scene, which was described to me by his wife soon after the funeral.
Now Tench was not a religious man, although attended by a Methodist minister at the last, but a moral, upright man in every relation of life, thoroughly courageous, as was shown by his refusal to have his sensibilities dulled in his suffering.
Not highly educated, nor a great reader, yet I have no doubt he had thought about conditions he had to face, and was likely to have imbibed the wings and harp idea. Is it not possible that he at the last expressed surprise that the people waiting for him should be ‘all plain people’? I give you this as a fact.
S. B. Bennett
The following narrative was recorded in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research (1918, p. 603), having been sent to Prof. Hyslop by Mr. Rud. C. Gittermann, a member of the English S.P.R. He writes as follows:
“My father died in Germany on March 18th, 1892, and my mother then came to live with us at Odessa. Shortly after she fell ill, and died on May 6th of the following year, 1893. Both she and my father had always been most sceptical of anything concerning the existence and survival of the soul.
“A few minutes before her death she regained consciousness (having been in a state of coma for two hours previously), raised herself in her bed, stretched out her arms, and with a happy smile on her face, cried out, ‘Papa! Papa!’ just as if she suddenly saw him in front of her. Immediately after she fell back into the arms of my wife, and expired.
“My mother used to call her husband ‘Papa,’ just as we children did.
“I certify that this is a perfectly true account of what took place.
Rud. C. Gittermann
The following abridged account of the last days of the American poet, Horace Traubel, is taken from a fuller narrative in the American S.P.R. Journal for 1921 (Vol. XV, pp.114-123).
Horace Traubel (1858-1919) was the Boswell of Walt Whitman; he was also author of a number of volumes of poems of the Whitman type, which some of his own disciples regard as equalling those of his master. He was also the founder of the well known Contemporary Club of Philadelphia.
The abridged account was contributed by Mrs. Flora Macdonald Denison, who was present at the deathbed, to the April-May issue of a Magazine entitled, “The Sunset of Bon Echo,” as follows: “All day on August 28th Horace was very low spirited. Anne’s illness and the going of the Bains was too much for him. Mildred was with him a good deal and we decided not to leave him a minute. He had been brought in from the veranda but absolutely radiant, and on seeing me, he called out, ‘Look, look, Flora, quick, quick, he is going!’ What, Horace! I said, ‘what do you see? I cannot see anyone!’ Why just over the rock Walt appeared, head and shoulders and hat on in a golden glory‚ brilliant and splendid. He reassured me‚ beckoned to me, and spoke to me. I heard his voice but did not understand all he said, only “Come on.” Frank Bain soon came in and he repeated the story to him. All the rest of the evening Horace was uplifted and happy. So often Horace would say,’ Do not despise me for my weakness’ but now he was quite confident, even jocular, as I handed him a drink.
“On the night of September 3rd Horace was very low. I stayed for a few hours with him. Once his eyes rolled; I thought he was dying, but he just wanted me to turn him. As I did so, he listened and seemed to hear something. Then he said, ‘I hear Walt’s voice, he is talking to me’ I said, ‘What does he say? ‘He said,’ Walt says, “Come on, come on.’’ After a time he said, ‘Flora, I see them all about me, Bob and Bucke and Walt and the rest.” Colonel Cosgrave had been with Horace in the afternoon and had seen Walt on the opposite side of the bed, and felt his presence. Then Walt passed through the bed and touched the Colonel’s hand, which was in his pocket. The contact was like an electric shock. Horace was also aware of Walt’s visible presence and said so. There was no gloom about the house. No one seemed depressed. A feeling of triumph, of pride, and of exultation permeated the atmosphere.”
A letter was afterwards received by Mr. Walter Prince of the American S.P.R., from Col. Cosgrave, confirming the statement given by Mrs. Flora Denison as above.
There are several cases of which records have been preserved in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research and elsewhere, in which an account is given of those watching beside a dying relative having had a vision of spirit forms near the bed.
In one case two women watching by their dying sister, Charlotte, saw a bright light and within it two young faces hovering over the bed, gazing intently at Charlotte; the elder sister recognized these faces as being two of her brothers, William and John, who had died when she was young. The two sisters continued to watch the faces till they gradually faded away like a washed out picture, and shortly afterwards their sister Charlotte died.
Publisher: White Crow Books
Published July 2011
Size: 229 x 152 mm