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REAL GHOST STORIES (Collected and Edited by William T. Stead) online

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead

Chapter II. The Evidence of the Psychical Research Society.

In that great text-book on the subject, "The Phantasms of the Living," by Messrs. Gurney, Myers, and Podmore, the phenomenon of the Thought Body is shown to be comparatively frequent, and the Psychical Research Society have about a hundred recorded instances. I will only quote here two or three of the more remarkable cases mentioned in these imposing volumes.

The best case of the projection of the Thought Body at will is that described, under the initials of "S. H. B.," in the first volume of the "Phantasms," pp. 104-109. Mr. B. is a member of the Stock Exchange, who is well known to many intimate friends of mine as a man of high character. The narrative, which is verified by the Psychical Research Society, places beyond doubt the existence of powers in certain individuals which open up an almost illimitable field of mystery and speculation. Mr. B.'s story, in brief, is this:--

"One Sunday night in November, 1881, I was in Kildare Gardens, when I willed very strongly that I would visit in spirit two lady friends, the Misses V., who were living three miles off in Hogarth Road. I willed that I should do this at one o'clock in the morning, and having willed it I went to sleep. Next Thursday, when I first met my friends, the elder lady told me she woke up and saw my apparition advancing to her bedside. She screamed and woke her sister, who also saw me." (A signed statement by both sisters accompanies this narrative. They fix the time at one o'clock, and say that Mr. B. wore evening dress.)

"On December 1st, 1882, I was at Southall. At half-past nine I sat down to endeavour to fix my mind so strongly upon the interior of a house at Kew, where Miss V. and her sister lived, that I seemed to be actually in the house. I was conscious, but I was in a kind of mesmeric sleep. When I went to bed that night I willed to be in the front bedroom of that house at Kew at twelve, and make my presence felt by the inmates. Next day I went to Kew. Miss V.'s married sister told me, without any prompting from me, that she had seen me in the passage going from one room to another at half-past nine o'clock, and that at twelve, when she was wide awake, she saw me come into the front bedroom where she slept and take her hair, which is very long, into my hand. She said I then took her hand and gazed into the palm intently. She said, 'You need not look at the lines, for I never had any trouble.' She then woke her sister. When Mrs. L. told me this I took out the entry I had made the previous night and read it to her. Mrs. L. is quite sure she was not dreaming. She had only seen me once before, two years previously, at a fancy ball.

"On March 22nd, 1884, I wrote to Mr. Gurney, of the Psychical Research Society, telling him I was going to make my presence felt by Miss V., at 44, Norland Square, at mid-night. Ten days afterwards I saw Miss V., when she voluntarily told me that on Saturday at midnight she distinctly saw me, when she was quite wide awake. I came towards her and stroked her hair. She adds in her written statement, 'The appearance in my room was most vivid and quite unmistakable.' I was then at Ealing."

Here there is the thrice-repeated projection at will of the Thought Body through space so as to make it both visible to, and tangible by, friends. But the Conscious Personality which willed the visit has not yet unlocked the memory of his unconscious partner, and Mr. B., although able to go and see and touch, could bring back no memory of his aerial flight. All that he knew was that he willed and then he slept. The fact that he appeared is attested not by his consciousness, but by the evidence of those who saw him.