Case no. 53
The Glastonbury Case
This case is one in which the medium could not have known the facts, as they were not known to anyone in the world.
In 1907, F. Bligh Bond and his friend, Captain J. Allen Bartlett, devoted considerable time to the study of the ruins in the diocese of Bath and Wells, and their history, as the former was hoping to obtain the position of Honorary Architect for that district.
They read up all information to be found concerning the ruined Glastonbury Abbey from the works of medieval writers to those of the nineteenth century.
Captain Bartlett possessed the gift of automatic writing and, by his hand, Johannes (1497-1534), a monk of Glastonbury, purported to provide them with much information not to be found in any of the authorities previously consulted, that led to the discovery of the Edgar Chapel — which had been completely lost, previous excavation having failed to reveal its existence.
At a sitting held in January, 1908, before the excavations of Bligh Bond and Bartlett commenced, a detailed description of the Chapel was given in medieval English and Latin. The Chapel was situated at the east end of the Abbey. A door existed five paces behind the reredos. The Chapel extended thirty yards to the east; the ending of the Chapel had walls at an angle. The first part, built by Abbot Bere, was seventy or seventy-two feet long, and there was an eastward extension made later by Whyting, the last Abbot having these particular walls. This part had poor and thin foundations, the ceiling was of crimson and gold; and the chamber, seventy feet in length, had four bays, etc.
Excavations did not commence till June, 1908, a month after the fulfillment of Johannes’ prediction that F. B. B. should receive his appointment as Director of Excavations “when the cuckoo cometh to the woods of Mere”: and all these statements were, one after another, found to be correct, and no books or documents were in existence that could have given such information as would have led to the discovery of the Edgar Chapel, which had been the despair of antiquaries for half a century.
The Hon. Everard Feilding, who was Secretary of the S. P. R. at that period, followed the case with keen interest and he wrote to Bligh Bond that “there is no question but that the writing about the Edgar Chapel preceded the discovery of it by many months. I was present, if you remember, at what I believe was the beginning of the recrudescence of Bartlett’s automatism, and that was before you were appointed to the work. I remember your telling me when you were appointed how interesting it was, as you were then able to test some of the statements made. No, there is no doubt whatever in my mind on that point. . . .” The discovery was credited to the emergence of latent knowledge derived from the study of the documents, and the Trustees of the National Church took no action; but in 1922, when further revelations came through another medium, unfamiliar with the Abbey history, that revealed the Norman wall of Herlewin, Bligh Bond was relieved of his appointment as Director of Excavations. All work was suspended for six years; many landmarks were removed, including those of the angular extension of the Edgar Chapel. Stones were taken away, trenches filled, while other records were allowed to perish through exposure. The moral of the case should not require much emphasizing to the discerning reader.
To complete the case, F. B. B. has added the following, which may be verified in detail by any member of the Council of the Somerset Archaeological Society who is willing to testify:
“At the annual meeting of the Somerset Archaeological Society in July, 1939, the Council was moved by the then Chairman, who was also Director of Excavations in succession to Bligh Bond, to procure the vote of members to a resolution approving the destruction of the evidence on the site, and thus justifying the action of the Trustees, on the alleged ground that Bond had made an imaginary record to validate his own theories.
“Of this, Bond had had no notice and he had not been asked to state his case. But being warned in time he attended the meeting and was able to satisfy his critics and forestall the hostile resolution. No account of these proceedings was printed in the 1939-40 volume: only the text of a resolution submitted by himself, calling upon the Office of Works, as the paramount authority over the ruins, to make full inquiry into the whole matter and, if possible, have the evidence reinstated.”
Case no. 54
The Patience Worth Case
This case puzzled not only psychical researchers but scientists and psychologists also, and those who opposed the survival theory were given, in this instance, a difficult case to explain away when Patience Worth — purporting to be a peasant girl who had lived her early life in Dorset, England, and killed by Indians in America, when she emigrated there in the seventeenth century—controlled Mrs. John H. Curran, a medium of St. Louis, Missouri. This woman’s education had been limited: her reading never exceeded that of the average American woman of her class, and she had travelled little.
She first performed on the ouija-board, but later took to communicating and dictating, in direct speech, a number of books of outstanding literary merit, with extreme rapidity, over a wide range of subjects. The following works are to her credit: The Sorry Tale, Hope True-Blood, Light from Beyond, The Pot upon the Wheel, and Telka, the latter a 70,000-word poem in the Anglo-Saxon language of three centuries ago, dictated for the purpose of proving Patience Worth to be a personality independent of the medium, as in it she did not use any words that had come into use since her day—a feat she considered beyond the powers of anyone now living in the world.
Dr. W. F. Prince, considering it to be a masterpiece, wrote: “The characters in Telka live, we see and know them; one of them is not the replica of another. . . . On the contrary, the characters of Maeterlinck—and I may refer to him because he has a great reputation as a great writer—are usually pale wraiths and we all admit Maeterlinck is a great artist . . . but it will be discovered that Patience Worth as judged by Telka is a greater.”
Professor Schiller of Oxford observed regarding the antiquated language of Telka: “It is certainly impressive to be told that one of her tales, Telka, extending to 70,000 words, exhibits a vocabulary ‘as to ninety per cent of the Anglo-Saxon origin,’ and contains no word of later entry into the language of 1600 except ‘amuck’ (which is first recorded in the second half of the seventeenth century), and no word wrongly formed among those which are on record. When we are told further that the ‘Authorized Version’ has only seventy-seven per cent of Anglo-Saxon, and that it is necessary to go back to Layamon (1205) to equal Patience Worth’s percentage, we realize that we are face to face with what may be fairly called a philological miracle.”
And this amazing idyllic poem of 70,000 words (270 pages) in blank verse, judged by competent critics to be superior to analogous works by Maeterlinck, was dictated in the brief time of thirty-five hours! Once, when the early chapters of a novel far advanced were mislaid, Patience Worth dictated them again, and when the missing documents were found, it was seen that the second dictation was an exact replica of the first.
The critics attacked the case with three hypotheses: secondary subconscious personality, subliminal consciousness, and cosmic consciousness. Professor Schiller reviewed the three hypotheses, particularly the latter, concluding: “If Patience Worth be a selection from the Absolute, so is everyone else, and therefore, so far as this argument goes, she is as good a ‘spirit’ as any!”
The conclusion of Dr. W. F. Prince was: “Either our concept of what we call the subconscious mind must be radically altered so as to include potencies of which we hitherto have had no knowledge, or else some cause operating through, but not originating in, the subconsciousness of Mrs. Curran must be acknowledged.” Professor Allison, of Manitoba University, who personally studied the case, thought she “must be regarded as the outstanding phenomenon of the age,” and Dr. Usher, Professor of History in Washington University, considered The Sorry Tale, a work of 350,000 words, the greatest story penned of the life and times since the Gospels were published.”
The claim of Patience Worth to be a personality who once lived on this earth does not depend entirely upon her works—great though their value is—but upon the fact that some of her statements concerning her home and her environment have been verified.
Case no. 55
The Buttons Case
This case was written by Mrs. Margaret Deland for the Clark University Symposium which was held at Clark University, Worcester, Mass., in November and December, 1926:
“In her paper for the Symposium, Mrs. Deland makes use of the ingenious argument of a scientific sieve through which, by means of the familiar tags ‘clairvoyance,’ ‘intuition,’ ‘coincidence,’ ‘telepathy,’ etc., she essays to push various incidents of ouija-board spellings, automatic writings, visions, and so on, in the contention that if any refuse, even after ‘some pushing and straining,’ to pass through the meshes of this sieve it is a logical deduction that this residuum argues for the theory of survival.
We will let her tell this ‘button’ incident in her own words”:
“I know a story,” she says. “. . . It is concerned with a baby’s rompers.
About a year and a half ago a friend—whom I will call Molly—and I were sitting with Mrs. Piper in Boston, and Molly’s sister, Lucy, who had died, ‘purported’ (as the saying is) to write with the entranced Mrs. Piper’s hand. She said that the day before she had seen her mother in another town, doing so and so. The statement was correct; but as Molly happened to know exactly what her mother had been doing at the time she, of course, credited the information to mind-reading on the part of Mrs. Piper. Then another personality began to write but paused to say: “Lucy has gone again to find Mother and see what she is doing.’
“I, rather surprised, said, ‘What now!’ There was no reply; the other communicator just went on writing about his own affairs, then after some twenty minutes paused to say abruptly:
“I said, as nearly as I can remember, ‘Well, Lucy, did you see your mother? What was she doing?’ Mrs. Piper’s hand wrote:
” ‘Mother just looked at morning news (here followed a drawing of newspaper) and laid it on a little table. Picked up what looked like a box of buttons (here the hand drew seven little circles suggesting buttons) and shook them. Looked into it. Picked up two or three and sat down in a chair to put them in another place.’ “Later this was reported to Lucy’s mother, who said that at the time this was being written in Boston, she may have been reading a paper; she generally did about that hour, but she couldn’t be certain. But she was certain that she had taken up a little tray of buttons, perhaps a dozen, shaken it, because (she remembered) some ravellings were clinging to the buttons, then picked out two, and sat down to sew them on to her little granddaughter’s rompers. To me, these buttons for a baby’s bloomers lie as residuum in the sieve, when golden crowns or harps would have slipped through! No eye of flesh saw that simple domestic scene. Mrs. Piper in Boston knew nothing of Lucy’s mother, nor of her occupation; nor did Lucy’s sister Molly have any idea what was going on in Cambridge at eleven o’clock that April morning. Yet here is a statement coincidental with an event: ‘She picked up a box of buttons and shook them.’ ”
Case no. 56
The X— Case
After the death of Professor James H. Hyslop on June 17, 1920, Miss Gertrude O. Tubby, his secretary, believing that after the post-mortem Hyslop would still be interested in psychical research, decided to inaugurate a scheme of cross-correspondence in which his cooperation was necessary.
Hyslop, five hours after his death, seized his first opportunity of revealing himself when Miss Tubby, making an ostensible casual, friendly call on Mrs. G. C. Saunders, of New York, was given pertinent and highly evidential information, the medium being unaware of Hyslop’s death.
Thereafter, through various mediums in the United States, Hyslop always indicated his presence with the sign X; and Miss Tubby, deciding to cast her net over a wider area, planned a trip to England and France for the purpose of allowing Hyslop to prove himself through mediums to whom Miss Tubby was a total stranger. To be on the safe side, it was agreed between them that no communication on foreign soil would be considered genuine—even though it contained apparent evidence —unless the sign X was also given. Miss Tubby, a true disciple of Hyslop, shrouded herself in anonymity: only three persons in England and none in France were aware of her impending visit, and all the psychical researchers in New York were pledged to strict silence.
Miss Tubby, arriving in London, made an appointment with ‘Mrs. Hester Travers-Smith over the telephone, stating that she had been recommended by a friend in the United States to have a sitting with her. No name was given and she was sure her anonymity was well protected.
The sitting took place on Tuesday, July 8, 1924. Miss Tubby offered the medium some small articles (in a cardboard box wrapped in oil-silk) that had belonged to Hyslop. The first name spelled out was one that Miss Tubby did not expect, “Ernest Ainslee.” Though he had communicated through this medium before, the significant feature of his name was that he was a friend of the lady, Laura, who was Miss Tubby’s hostess in London, whose name was specially mentioned and whose presence was also desired. “Ernest” was unacquainted with Miss Tubby and a request for her Christian name brought out at first the incorrect answer,
“Marion,” but when informed of his error he replied, “Not Laura’s Gert!” Miss Tubby stated that this expression spoke volumes. “I was ‘Gert’ to Laura and to no one else. She had given me the somewhat absurd nickname from our early acquaintance, before I knew of it myself. But ‘Ernest Ainslee’ had passed from this life a perfect stranger to me. Hence for him to address me as ‘Gert’ would have been entirely inappropriate, but to refer to me as Laura’s Gert’ is highly evidential. Mrs. Travers-Smith had never been informed of any intimacy between Laura and me, and would not normally hit upon this, even had she known who I was.”
Miss Tubby’s mission was not to contact strangers, evidential though their communications were, so she sat tight and waited. Then quite dramatically the apparent owner of the packet appeared on the scene asking some questions. Miss Tubby retaliated by asking for a name; it came, very slowly, a letter at a time — “HYSLOP.” Then after the sitter had shown her appreciation by shouting, “Hooray! That is good,” the full name, “JAMES H. HYSLOP,” followed. Next came a piece of information that Miss Tubby considered very evidential, but the sign had not been given.
Just as the sitting was concluding, and Miss Tubby had almost given up hope, it came—“X.”
Later, Miss Tubby proceeded with her investigations of different mediums in England and France, and assessing her work at the end of the tour found that in dealing with twenty-seven mediums she obtained ninety-six items of cross-references.
Publisher: White Crow Books
Published January 2018
Size: 229 x 152 mm