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The flower apports of Yolande, d Esperance s control, were generally very impressive. On her instructions white sand and plenty of water were always held in readiness in the cabinet. On August 4, 1880, in the presence of William Oxley of Manchester, she directed a Mr. Reimers to pour sand into a water carafe, which he did until it was about half full. Then he was instructed to pour in water. Yolande took it, placed it on the floor, covering it lightly with the drapery she took from her shoulders. The Circle was directed to sing. While singing they observed the drapery to be rising from the rim of the carafe. Yolande several times came out of the cabinet to examine the thing growing under the drapery. Finally she raised the drapery altogether and disclosed a perfect plant, its roots firmly grown and packed in the sand. She presented it to Oxley. Through raps, instructions were given not to discuss the matter but sing something and be quiet. They obeyed. More raps came and told them to examine the plant again. To their great surprise they observed a large circular head of bloom, forming a flower fully five inches in diameter, that had opened while the plant stood on the floor at Oxley's feet. The plant was 22 inches in height, with a thick woody stem that filled the neck of the water carafe. It had 29 leaves, each smooth and glossy. It was impossible to remove the plant from the water bottle, the neck being too small to allow the roots to pass; indeed the comparatively slender stem entirely filled the orifice. The plant was a native of India, an Ixora Crocata. It had some years of growth. We could see where other leaves had grown and fallen off, and wound-marks which seemed to have healed and grown over long ago. But there was every evidence to show that the plant had grown in the sand in the bottle as the roots were naturally wound around the inner surface of the glass, all the fibres perfect and unbroken as though they had germinated on the spot and had apparently never been disturbed. The plant was photographed. It lived for three months under the care of Mr. Oxley's gardener and then shrivelled up.
THERE IS NO DEATH
I was having a sitting one day in my own house with a lady friend, named Miss Clark, when a female spirit came to the table and spelt out the name Tiny.
Who are you'' I asked, and for whom do you comet
35 I am a friend of Major M---" (mentioning the full name), and I want your help.
Are you any relation to Major M---?"
I am the mother of his child.
What do you wish me to do for you?
Tell him he must go down to Portsmouth and look after my daughter. He has not seen her for years. The old woman is dead, and the man is a drunkard. She is falling into evil courses. He must save her from them.
What is your real name''
I will not give it. There is no need. He always called me 'Tiny' ."
How old is your daughters''
Nineteen! Her name is Emily! I want her to be married. Tell him to promise her a wedding trousseau. It may induce her to marry.
The influence divulged a great deal more on the subject which I cannot write down here. It was an account of one of those cruel acts of seduction by which a young girl had been led into trouble in order to gratify a man's selfish lust, and astonished both Miss Clark and myself, who had never heard of such a person as Tiny before. It was too delicate a matter for me to broach to Major M (who was a married man, and an intimate friend of mine), but the spirit came so many times and implored me so earnestly to save her daughter, that at last I ventured to repeat the communication to him. He was rather taken aback, but confessed it was true, and that the child, being left to his care, had been given over to the charge of some common people at Portsmouth, and he had not inquired after it for some time past. Neither had he ever heard of the death of the mother, who had subsequently married, and had a family. He instituted inquiries, however, at once, and found the statement to be quite true, and that the girl Emily, being left with no better protection than that of the drunken old man, had actually gone astray, and not long
36 after she was had up at the police court for stabbing a soldier in a public-house-a fit ending for the unfortunate offspring of a man's selfish passions. But the strangest part of the story to the unitiated will he in the fact that the woman whose spirit thus manifested itself to two utter strangers, who knew neither her history nor her name, was at the time alive, and living with her husband and family as Major M--- took pains to ascertain.
And now I have something to say on the subject of communicating with the spirits of persons still in the flesh. This will doubtless appear the most incomprehensible and fanatical assertion of all, that we wear our earthly garb so loosely, that the spirits of people still living in this world can leave the body and manifest themselves either visibly or orally to others in their normal condition. And yet it is a fact that spirits have so visited myself (as in the case I have just recorded), and given me information of which I had not the slightest previous idea. The matter has been explained to me after this fashion---that it is not really the spirit of the living person who communicates, but the spirit, or control, that is nearest to him: in effect what the Church calls his guardian angel, and that this guardian angel, who knows his inmost thoughts and desires better even than he knows them himself, is equally capable of speaking in his name. This idea of the matter may shift the marvel from one pair of shoulders to another, but it does not do away with it. If I can receive information of events before they occur (as I will prove that I have), I present a nut for the consideration of the public jaw, which even the scientists Will find difficult to crack. It was at one time my annual Custom to take my children to the sea-side, and one summer, being anxious to ascertain how far the table could be made to act without the aid of unconscious cerebration, I arranged with my friends, Mr. Helmore and Mrs. Colnaghi, who had been in the habit of sitting with us at home, that we should continue to sit at the sea-side on Tuesday evenings as
37 theretofore, and they should sit in London on the Thursdays, when I would try to send them messages through Charlie, the spirit I have already mentioned as being constantly with us.
The first Tuesday my message was, Ask them how they are getting on without us, which was faithfully delivered at their table on the following Thursday. The return message from them which Charlie'--' spelled out for us on the second Tuesday, was: Tell her London is a desert without her, to which I emphatically, if not elegantly, answered, Fiddle-dedee! A few days afterwards I received a letter from Mr. Helmore, in which he said, I am afraid 'Charlie' is already tired of playing at postman, for to all our questions about you last Thursday, he would only rap out, Fiddle-de-dee'."
The circumstance to which this little episode is but an introduction happened a few days later. Mr. Colnaghi and Mr. Helmore, sitting together as usual on Thursday evening, were discussing the possibility of summoning the Spirits of living persons to the table, when Charlie rapped three times to intimate they could.
Will you fetch some one for us, Charlie''
Whom will you bring?''
How long will it take you to do so?
It was in the middle of the night when I must have been fast asleep, and the two young men told me afterwards that they waited the results of their experiment with much trepidation, wondering (I suppose) if I should be conveyed bodily into their presence and box their ears well for their impertinence. Exactly fifteen minutes afterwards, however, the table was violently shaken and the words were spelt out. I am Mrs. Ross-Church. How dared you send for me? They were very penitent (or they said they were), but they described my manner as most arbitrary, and said I went on repeating,
38 Let me go back! Let me go back! There is a great danger hanging over my children! I must go back to my children! (And here I would remark par parenthese, and in contradiction of the guardian angel theory, that I have always found that whilst the spirits of the departed come and go as they feel inclined, the spirits of the living invariably beg to be sent back again or permitted to go, as if they were chained by the will of the medium.) On this occasion I was so positive that I made a great impression on my two friends, and the next day Mr. Helmore sent me a cautiously worded letter to find out if all was well with us at Charmouth, but without disclosing the reason for his curiosity.
The facts are that on the morning of Friday, the day after the seance in London, my seven children and two nurses were all sitting in a small lodging-house room, when my brother in-law, Dr. Henry Norris, came in from ball practice with the volunteers, and whilst exhibiting his rifle to my son, accidentally discharged it in the midst of them, the ball passing through the wall within two inches of my eldest daughter's head. When I wrote the account of this to Mr. Helmore, he told me of my visit to London and the words I had spelt out on the occasion. But how did I know of the occurrence the night before it took place? And if I--being asleep and unconscious did not know of it, Charlie must have done so.
My aerial visits to my friends, however, whilst my body was in quite another place, have been made still more palpable than this. Once, when living in the Regent's Park, I passed a very terrible and painful night. Grief and fear kept me awake most of the time, and the morning found me exhausted with the emotion I had gone through. About eleven o'clock there walked in, to my surprise, Mrs. Fitzgerald (better known as a medium under her maiden name of Bessie Williams), who lived in the Goldhawk Road, Shepherd's Bush. I couldn't help coming to you, she commenced, for I shall not be easy until I know how you are after the terrible scene you have
39 passed through. I stared at her. Whom have you seen?,, I asked. Who has told you of it? Yourself, she replied. I was waked up this morning between two and three o'clock by the sound of sobbing and crying in the front garden. I got out of bed and opened the window, and then I saw you standing on the grass plat in your night-dress and crying bitterly. I asked you what was the matter, and you told me so and so, and so and so. And here followed a detailed account of all that had happened in my own house on the other side of London, with the very words that had been used, and every action that had happened. I had seen no one and spoken to no one between the occurrence and the time Mrs. Fitzgerald called upon me. If her story was untrue, who had so minutely informed her of a circumstance which it was to the interest of all concerned to keep to themselves? When I first joined Mr. d'Oyley Carte's Patience Company in the provinces, to play the part of Lady Jane, I understood I was to have four days rehearsal. However, the lady whom I succeeded, hearing I had arrived, took herself off, and the manager requested I would appear the same night of my arrival. This was rather an ordeal to an artist who had never sung on the operatic stage before, and who was not note perfect. However, as a matter of obligation, I consented to do my best, but I was very nervous. At the end of the second act, during the balloting scene, Lady Jane has to appear suddenly on the stage, with the word Away!' I forget at this distance of time whether I made a mistake in pitching the note a third higher or lower. I know it was not out of harmony, but it was sufficiently wrong to send the chorus astray, and bring my heart up into my mouth. It never occurred after the first night, but I never stood at the wings again waiting for that particular entrance but I girded my loins together, as it were, with a kind of dread lest I should repeat the error. After a while I perceived a good deal of whispering about me in the company, and I asked poor
40 Federici (who played the colonel) the reason of it, particularly as he had previously asked me to stand as far from him as I could upon the stage, as I magnetized him so strongly that he couldn't sing if I was near him. Well! do you know, he said to me in answer, that a very strange thing occurs occasionally with reference to you., Miss Marryat. While you are standing on the stage sometimes, you appear seated in the stalls. Several people have seen it beside myself I assure you it is true.
But when do you see me? I inquired with amazement. "It's always at the same time, he answered, just before you run on at the end of the second act. Of course it's only an appearance, but it's very queer. I told him then of the strange feelings of distrust of myself I experienced each night at that very moment, when my spirit seems to have preceded myself upon the stage.
I had a friend many years ago in India, who (like many other friends) had permitted time and separation to come between us, and alienate us from each other. I had not seen him nor heard from him for eleven years, and to all appearance our friendship was at an end. One evening the medium I have alluded to above, Mrs. Fitzgerald, who was a personal friend of mine, was at my house, and after dinner she put her feet up on the sofa---a very unusual thing for her—and closed her eyes. She and I were quite alone in the drawing room, and after a little while I whispered softly, Bessie, are you asleep? The answer came from her control Dewdrop, a wonderfully sharp Red Indian girl. No! she's in a trance. There's somebody coming to speak to you! I don't want him to come. He'll make the medium ill. But it's no use. I see him creeping round the comer now.
But why should it make her ill? I argued, believing we were about to hold an ordinary seance.
Because he's a live one, he hasn't passed over yet," replied Dewdrop, and live ones always make my medium feel sick.
41 But it's no use. I can't keep him out. He may as well conic. But don't let him stay long.
Who is he, Dewdrop? I demanded curiously.
"I don't know! Guess you will! He's an old friend of yours, and his name is George. Whereupon Bessie Fitzgerald laid back on the sofa cushions, and Dewdrop ceased to speak. it was some time before there was any result. The medium tossed and turned, and wiped the perspiration from her forehead, and pushed back her hair, and beat up the cushions and threw herself back upon them with a sigh, and went through all the pantomime of a man trying to court sleep in a hot climate. Presently she opened her eyes and glanced languidly around her. Her unmistakable actions and the name George (which was that of my friend, then resident in India) had naturally aroused my suspicions as to the identity of the influence, and when Bessie opened her eyes, I asked softy, George, is that you? At the sound of my voice the Medium started violently and sprung into a sitting posture, and then, looking all round the room in a scared manner, she exclaimed, Where am I? Who brought me here? Then catching sight of me, she continued, Mrs. Ross--Church! Florence! Is this your room? O! let me go! Do let me go!
This was not complimentary, to say the least of it, from a friend whom I had not met for eleven years, but now that I had got him I had no intention of letting him go, until I was convinced of his identity. But the terror of the spirit at finding himself in a strange place seemed so real and uncontrollable that I had the greatest difficulty in persuading him to stay, even for a few minutes. He kept on reiterating, Who brought me here? I did not wish to come. Do let me go back. I am so very cold (shivering convulsively), so very, very cold.
Answer me a few questions, I said, and then you shall go. Do you know who I am?
Yes, yes, you are Florence.
42 And what is your name?'' He gave it at full length. And do you care for me still?
Very much. But let me go.
In a minute. Why do you never write to me?'
There are reasons. I am not a free agent. It is better as it is."
I don't think so. I miss your letters very much. Shall I ever hear from you again?
And see you?
Yes; but not yet. Let me go now. I don't wish to stay. You are making me very unhappy.
If I could describe the fearful manner in which, during this conversation, he glanced every moment at the door, like a man who is afraid of being discovered in a guilty action, it would carry with it to my readers, as it did to me, the most convincing proof that the Medium's body was animated by a totally different influence from her own. I kept the spirit under control until I had fully convinced myself that he knew everything about our former friendship and his own present surroundings; and then I let him fly back to India, and wondered if he would wake up the next morning and imagine he had been labouring under nightmare.
These experiences with the spirits of the living are certainly amongst the most curious I have obtained. On more than one occasion, when I have been unable to extract the truth of a matter from my acquaintances I have sat down alone, as soon as I believed them to be asleep, and summoned their spirits to the table and compelled them to speak out. Little have they imagined sometimes how I came to know things which they had scrupulously tried to hide from me. I have heard that the power to summons the spirits of the living is not given to all media, but I have always possessed it. I can do so when they are awake as well as when they are asleep, though it is not so easy. A gentleman once dared me to do this with him,
43 and I only conceal his name because I made him look ridiculous. I waited fill I knew he was engaged at a dinner party, and then about nine o'clock in the evening I sat down and summoned him to come to me. It was some little time before he obeyed, and when he did come, he was eminently sulky. I got a piece of paper and pencil, and from his dictation I wrote down the number and names of the guests at the dinner table, also the dishes of which he had partaken, and then in pity for his earnest entreaties I let him go again. You are making me ridiculous, he said, everyone is laughing at me.
But why? What are you doing? I urged.
I am standing by the mantel-piece, and I have fallen fast asleep, he answered. The next morning he came pell-mell into my presence.
What did you do to me last night? he demanded. I was at the Watts Phillips, and after dinner I went fast asleep with my head upon my hand, standing by the mantel-piece, and they were all trying to wake me and couldn't. Have you been playing any of your tricks upon me?
I only made you do what you declared I couldn't, I replied. How did you like the white soup and the turbot, and the sweetbreads, etc., etc."
He opened his eyes at my nefariously obtained knowledge, and still more when I produced the paper written from his dictation. This is not a usual custom of mine--it would not be interesting enough to pursue as a custom---but I am a dangerous person to dare to do anything.
The old friend whose spirit visited me through Mrs. Fitzgerald had lost a sister to whom he was very tenderly attached before he made my acquaintance, and I knew little of her beyond her name. One evening, not many months after the interview with him which I have recorded, a spirit came to me, giving the name of my friend's sister, with this message, My brother has returned to England, and would like to know your address. Write to him to the Club,
44 Leamington, and tell him where to find you. I replied, Your brother has not written to me, nor inquired after me for the last eleven years. He has lost all interest in me, and I cannot be the first to write to him, unless I am sure that he wishes it.
He has not lost all interest in you, said the spirit; he thinks of you constantly, and I hear him pray for you. He wishes to hear from you.
That may be true, I replied, but I cannot accept it on your authority. If your brother really wishes to renew our acquaintance, let him write and tell me so.
He does not know your address, and I cannot get near enough to him to influence him.
Then things must remain as they are, I replied somewhat testily. I am a public person. He can find out my address, if he chooses to do so.
The spirit seemed to reflect for a moment; then she rapped out, Wait, and I will fetch my brother. He shall come here himself and tell you what he thinks about it. In a short time there was a different movement of the table, and the name of my old friend was given. After we had exchanged a few words, and I had told him I required a test of his identity, he asked me to get a pencil and paper, and write from his dictation. I did as he requested, and he dictated the following sentence, Long time, indeed, has passed since the days you call to mind, but time, however long, does not efface the past. It has never made me cease to think of and pray for you as I felt you, too, did think of and pray for me. Write to the address my sister gave you. I want to hear from you.
Notwithstanding the perspicuity and apparent genuineness of this message, it was some time before I could make up my mind to follow the directions it gave me. My pride stood in the way to prevent it. Ten days afterwards, however, having received several more visits from the sister, I did as she desired me, and sent a note to her brother to the Leamington
45 Club. The answer came by return of post, and contained (amongst others) the identical words he had told me to write clown. Will Mr. Stuart Cumberland, or any other clever man, explain to me what or who it was that had visited me ten days beforehand, and dictated words which could hardly have been in my correspondent's brain before he received my letter? I am ready to accept any reasonable explanation of the matter from the scientists, philosophers, chemists, or arguists of the world, and I am open to conviction, when my sense convinces me, that their reasoning is true. But my present belief is, that not a single man or woman will be found able to account on any ordinary grounds for such an extraordinary instance of unconscious cerebration.
Being subject to optical illusions, I naturally had several with regard to my spirit child, Florence, and she always came to me clothed in a white dress. One night, however, when I was living alone in the Regent's Park, I saw Florence (as I imagined) standing in the centre of the room, dressed in a green riding habit slashed with orange colour, with a cavalier hat of grey felt on her head, ornamented with a long green feather and a gold buckle. She stood with her back to me, but I could see her profile as she looked over her shoulder, with the skirt of her habit in her hand. This being a most extraordinary attire in which to see Florence, I felt curious on the subject, and the next day I questioned her about it.
Florence! I said, why did you come to me last night in a green riding habit?''
I did not come to you last night, mother! It was my sister Eva.
Good heavens! I exclaimed, is anything wrong withher?
No! she is quite well.
How could she come to me then?
She did not come in reality, but her thoughts were much with you, and so you saw her spirit clairvoyantly.
My daughter Eva, who was on the stage, was at that time
46 fulfilling a stock engagement in Glasgow, and very much employed. I had not heard from her for a fortnight, which was a most unusual occurrence, and I had begun to feel uneasy. This vision made me more so, and I wrote at once to ask her if all was as it should be. Her answer was to this, effect: I am so sorry I have had no time to write to you this week, but I have been so awfully busy. We play 'The Colleen Bawn' here next week, and I have had to get my dress ready for 'Anne Chute.' It's so effective. I wish you could see it. A green habit slashed with orange, and a grey felt hat with a long green feather and big gold buckle. I tried it on the other night, and it looked to nice, etc., etc.
Well, my darling girl had had her wish, and I had seen it.
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