Our Second American Adventure
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
Arthur Conan Doyle tells his second tour of America and Canada (one year after the first one) from 3 april and 4 august 1923 where travelling from New York to Rochester, Hydesville, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver and Canada.
- 1 Editions
- 2 Illustrations
- 3 Reviews
- 4 Our Second American Adventure
- 4.1 Dedication
- 4.2 Preface
- 4.3 I. New York
- 4.4 II. A Lonely Interlude
- 4.5 III. To The Rockies
- 4.6 IV. Colorado
- 4.7 V. The Mormons
- 4.8 VI. South California
- 4.9 VII. Los Angeles
- 4.10 VIII. San Francisco
- 4.11 IX. Oregon and Washington
- 4.12 X. The West of Canada
- 4.13 XI. Jasper Park
- 4.14 XII. Across Canada
- 4.15 XIII. The Final Stretch
- 4.16 Appendix. Further Note upon the Jonson SΓ©ance
- Our Second American Adventure (15 february 1924, Hodder & Stoughton Ltd. [UK]) 9 photos
- Our Second American Adventure (march 1924, Little, Brown and Co. [US]) 9 photos
Our Second American Adventure
TO MY FRIEND JOHN McK. BOWMAN
IN RECOGNITION OF HIS KINDNESS AND HOSPITALITY
This volume is the third and last of a trilogy. In the first, The Wanderings of a Spiritualist, I have described our psychic travels in Australia and New Zealand in the year 1921. In the second, Our American Adventure, I give the account of our first campaign in the United States in 1922, which covered only the Eastern States. Finally, the present volume deals with the events of 1923, when our party reached the Pacific Coast and returned by way of Canada. In the three years we have traversed at least 50,000 miles, or twice the girth of the globe, and I have addressed nearly a quarter of a million of people.
We live in the time of dawn, and year by year the overwhelming importance of this psychic question is forcing itself upon the public attention. These volumes taken together contain such a range of psychic experience as few men have been privileged to enjoy and may therefore help to meet the demand for wider knowledge, while many subjects of general interest have served to give variety to our adventures. But if I were left without a reader in the present, I would none the less place these events upon record, for I am convinced that the day will come β and is indeed almost here β when an enlightened mankind will read with sympathy and* interest the struggles of those who acted as the pioneers of truth, and will marvel at the dull apathy upon the part of contemporary science and religion which hung so long like a dark shroud between the people and the glorious new knowledge which had been revealed to them.
Apart from our psychic adventures I had an opportunity of investigating β or at least of getting into contact with β several new developments of human thought and experience which must be of interest to all who follow the work of pioneers. The first is the Abrams system of medicine which bases diagnosis upon the difference of etheric vibrations, and throws a strong light upon the mysterious phenomenon of psychometry. The second is the original work of Dr. Wickland and his brave wife upon obsession and its relation to lunacy. The third is the alleged discovery of a carved figure of an iguanodon together with giant fossil remains, which would certainly need complete corroboration before acceptance. The last is the singular observation of Dr. Littlefield as to the action of thought upon the microscopic mineral crystals of the blood. I am a reporter rather than a supporter in each instance, but all of them I believe, come from honest and single-minded men.
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
I. New York
A Stormy Voyage β Importance of the Work β A Sensational Interruption Excursion to Rochester β Rev. Vale Owen Mr. Ticknor's Mediumship β A Failure β A Girl Medium β My Wife's Great Audience β Jesuit Conjurer
As I write this I am rolling through the flat arable land of Ohio and Indiana. It is the end of April, there is no longer a trace of winter, but the leaves are hardly showing yet on the trees. The fields are full of brown 'pigs with numerous litters. Everywhere the farmers are ploughing.
The world is full of dull suffering and the chastening patience which bears it. If this were indeed the end of all, how grim would be the joke! Consider the case of these Ohio farmers, who are more lucky than most. You see their homesteads in the fields, bare and unattractive. The city is afar. Of walks or natural beauties there are none. A long winter of dullness leads up to a hardworking year, busy from early morning to late at night, and with so little to show for it that I am told the majority of the farms are deeply mortgaged; and yet these are kings among men compared with the average fate of their fellows. We do indeed deserve the compensation which we are to get.
I must look back from these later April days, and detail our experience from the day when the Olympic, after a stormy voyage, landed us on April 3rd upon the familiar wharf of New York. We were glad to be ashore, for the constant head winds, rising to a sharp gale, had made the journey unpleasant, and I had the further misfortune to have a heavy fall upon a wet deck early in our voyage which twisted my knee and laid me on my back for two days. Old dogs must not play with puppies. However, we were full of health and courage as the huge ship warped herself alongside, and Ave saw the faces of kind friends waiting for us ashore. One of them in his eagerness for results had brought down a medium for me to test, though what I was to do with her or how I was to begin was not clear. Finally, after the usual trouble, mitigated to some extent by official goodwill ("God's own country, but the devil's own custom-house"), we got clear and found ourselves in the palatial Biltmore Hotel, where we enjoyed the princely hospitality of Mr. Bowman, the proprietor. Jack Bowman, as he is familiarly called, is a very wonderful person, president of thirteen hotels, any one of which would swamp the energies of an ordinary man, centre of many other great enterprises, and yet a well-known sportsman and rider to hounds. The bond between .him and us was that he knew the truth of what I taught by his own personal experience.. Hence it was that his own private suite had been put at our disposal, with permission to leave my family there while I was working the cities which lie between New York and Chicago. It was an enormous convenience to me, for what was I to do with my little caravan, when often I would be only one day in a town and then speed on to the next one?
Need I introduce our little group? Some readers have perhaps shared our adventures in Australia. Others perhaps have read Our American Adventure, which records our first psychic descent upon this continent. My wife was always with me to uphold me, as zealous and as wonderful as ever. At close range she makes a far better missionary than I, with her great sympathetic heart and her intense human grip of the whole subject. The three children were there β Denis, Malcolm, and Billy. The latter, after much thought, had announced on her tenth birthday that she had decided after all to be a girl, and ceased to sign her notes to me "Your loving son." However, "Billy" sticks, and will, I suppose, continue to do so. Finally, we had Miss French with us, a competent lady, who assisted us when she was not the victim of the Atlantic. With so large a party and twenty pieces of baggage, it was indeed a comfort to get to our headquarters, and to be able deliberately to plan out the future and face any difficulties which might lie before us.
My conviction of the imperative importance of the work had increased, not lessened, with the years, and in spite of growing age I felt keener upon my mission than when I started it six years before. Fuller experience and deeper thought all confirmed me in my conclusions. I was convinced not only that God had sent a second revelation into the world which had been derided by mankind because it was not in the form that they expected, and because human fraud or folly occasionally defaced it, but it became more and more clear to me that this new message was in some respects as important as that which came 2,000 years ago. In ethics it could not be greater. The ethics of Christ seem to me final, though one could hardly imagine such a change of heart in the world as would ever allow them to be practised. They have suffered much, too, as it seems to me, by overstatement and exaggeration. Where one is asked to do what is clearly impossible, one loses heart and neglects what is possible. Thus to love your neighbour if he jostles you and treads on your toes is obviously impossible and could never have been meant by so eminently sane a teacher as Jesus. "Make the best of your neighbour," or "Be patient with your neighbour" β that is surely the most that He can really have meant. Or again, when He is so severe against the rich, surely there is a great deal lost of His real meaning. Riches in themselves are often the symbol of industry or self-denial the greatest of virtues. What was really meant was surely that the rich man had to recognize the responsibility of riches β that if he did not do so he would be called sharply to account for it. I think we could get down to the real practical things in the teaching of the Great Master if Ave would all agree to put a commonsense interpretation upon the things which are impractical or impossible. The conscientious objectors in the Great War were perfectly logical Christians, as Christianity is expounded; and yet if their view had prevailed, a great military despotism would have been reared upon the ruins of constitutional liberty. When one hears of the Christ hurling the money-changers out of the Temple β an act which led to His own death β one can see that His general laws were to be adapted to the occasion.
However, this is a digression. The point which I wished to make was that the new revelation is so important in that it brings definite knowledge, detailed knowledge, concerning our fate in the future. It is knowledge which man has a right to. Possibly he had it before, at some stage of his progress. I have often thought that the early Christians had it and lost it. But now, at any rate, we have it clear and it is our privilege to try to pass it on. I can more and more see that real Christianity is not a dogma or belief, but a habit of mind. If your mind is sweet and kindly, you are a Christian, whatever you may call yourself: and if it is not, no knowledge of texts or attendance in churches will make you one.
I had not originally intended to give any lectures in New York, as it seemed to me that after seven lectures the year before I had surely covered the ground already. My time is limited and the work unlimited, so that one does not wish to plough the same furrow twice. The financial side cannot, however, be entirely neglected, and in our new venture the travel expenses would be heavy and the distances great. It seemed reasonable, therefore, since we had to be in New York in any case, that I should do as my manager, Mr. Lee Keedick, advised and test whether there were still some who wished to hear further upon these matters.
I arrived on the Wednesday and spoke at Carnegie Hall on the Friday, giving my ordinary lecture, which is half philosophical and half photographic. There was scant time for preparation, but the Press, as usual, had used me very well, and the papers were most kindly in their welcome. The hall was about three-quarters full, and as it is a very large place I was quite satisfied with the result. My reception was very cordial, and the lecture and photographs were received with interest, until just at the end a rather unusual scene took place. It was at the moment when I showed Mrs. Dean's photograph of the cloud of faces around the Cenotaph upon the occasion of the two minutes' silence on November 11th, 1922 As the picture flashed upon the screen I was amazed at the distinctness of the faces, and I was conscious myself of a most remarkable nervous thrill, which was felt equally, I believe, by all the audience, and which in the dusk of the great hall produced a noticeable psychic atmosphere. There was a general movement and murmur with a sound of in ken breath as the picture showed up, and then a high female voice cried, "Don't you see them? Don't you see the Spirits?" Other voices at once broke out in vague clamour, and for a moment it seemed as if there would be a scene, so I intervened with a few steadying words. The lights were at once put up, as this was the last picture to be shown. It was then found that a lady in one of the front rows was in a deep trance. My wife and others attended to her when the hall had been cleared, and she gradually recovered. Her own account of what had occurred was most instructive, for if we may accept it, it was not her own voice at all which had called out to the audience. She declared that for some time she had been possessed when in trance by the deceased mother of some dead soldier who was most anxious to convey to other bereaved mothers what had become of their sons. It was this entity who had now taken possession of her, and through her had addressed the audience. This is a statement which we can by no means check, but what is quite certain is the very remarkable feeling which even sceptics experienced at the moment of the exhibition of the picture. I am usually pretty flat-footed upon the ground, but I never felt more near to exaltation than at that moment.
The incident made a considerable stir in the papers, and many of them commented upon the eerie atmosphere at the moment of the interruption.
One result was that my photographic lecture upon the Sunday night was crammed to the doors and it became necessary to repeat it, which I did on the following Sunday with equal success. It really looked as if New York could absorb any quantity of psychic teaching and as if I could continue filling this great hall indefinitely, but my programme was already made out for the country and so I had to go on.
As it was, this extra photographic lecture in New York involved me in a hard problem, for I had already been booked to speak at Rochester, which is 200 miles away, on the Saturday. Thus I had to travel all night on Friday, speak on Saturday, travel all night on Saturday, speak in New York on Sunday, and finally travel all night on Monday in order to reach Cleveland on the Tuesday. Thus I had only one night in four in bed, with incessant Press and platform work in between. However, I stood it very well and was none the worse for the extra pressure. It is when things are slack, not when they are tense, that I feel the strain.
I was interested in my sally to Rochester, for this city is near the place where the Hydesville rappings occurred in 1848, the first time in modern days that actual systematic intercourse has taken place between the two spheres. I had imagined that it was on the edge of the town, when it was actually twenty miles away, so that I had not time in my hasty visit to see the place. The Fox house has been removed by pious hands to Lilydale and the spot is unmarked by any monument. As to the Americans generally, they are quite ignorant of the whole thing, and they open their eyes with surprise when I assure them that this is not some imported religion, but that its origin was entirely American. Still wider do the eyes open when I go on to assure them it was far the most important thing which ever came out of their Continent. The years, however, will justify me: of that I am sure.
Rochester will always be a place of deep interest for the student of psychic history. To these small farmers of Hydesville it was the great metropolis, and thither they went in the summer of 1848, when the curiosity and interference of their neighbours made their little house uninhabitable. Here the strange rappings, so insignificant in themselves, but so final in their roofs of independent intelligence, amazed the populace, and aroused those murderous passions which every fresh psychic development, from the time of Jesus, has stirred to fury. The whole town was convulsed with excitement and the two little girls, only twelve and fourteen years of age, were summoned before three meetings Corinthian Hall and were forced to show their powers, each meeting ending by the appointment of a Committee of Examination. Each Committee in turn was forced to admit the reality of the phenomena. So high did the feeling run that there was talk, very serious talk, of lynching or at least of tarring and feathering the girls. A few brave men gathered round for their protection and eventually smuggled them out and concealed them. The story reflects little credit on the American mob, but they were at least no more brutal than the English mob who at Liverpool and elsewhere chased the Davenports from the stage. Probably the Spiritualists were fortunate in that their early trials were in so temperate a State as New York. Had they ventured into Illinois or Missouri, as the Mormons did, they might have had their martyrs, and the Fox sisters might have perished as did the brothers Smith. I know no clearer sign of the existence of positive forces of evil than the insensate rage which is excited in some minds by the development of any new spiritual idea, and it is usually the priests of the older dispensation who lead in this devil's work.
While at Rochester I made the acquaintance of Mr. Burr, a practical lawyer and also a convinced mystic, who is the President of the Spiritual bodies of New York State. I also met Mr. Ebwood, an excellent type of spiritualistic clergyman. He has a fine church seating 1,200 people Most churches of all denominations have a good psychic atmosphere, but I can never remember so fine a one as in this church, and I sat for some minutes enjoying great spiritual peace. It might have been an ante-room to Heaven. There is a good grass plot outside the church, and it seemed to me that if Hydesville is too remote, some small but effective monument might be erected here. But alas! the greatest possible argument which our opponents can use against Spiritualism, and one which none of us can deny, is that it has not prompted its adherents to make those sacrifices of work, time, and money which all other great rising movements have demanded. But the time may come. At present, our richer adherents have certainly cause for shame, for they have left it to the same small group of men to do all the work and, out of modest resources, to find all the money. Their own tenets and knowledge will teach them that this also has to be answered for in the beyond.
On leaving America the year before I had, in response to an appeal, given several of my psychic photographs to Mr. Rose, a Unitarian clergyman in New Jersey, simply for the sake of propagation of the blessed knowledge. This Mr. Rose had a brother, also a clergyman, in Rochester, and my feelings may be imagined when I saw that he had a huge printed notice outside his church to say that he would show on the day after my lecture the "Doyle psychic photographs" in his church as a free entertainment. It was hard to see why, in face of this, anyone should pay to come to my lecture at all. In reply to my remonstrance as to the ingratitude of turning my own gift against myself in such a way, both brothers had the effrontery to say that it was a good advertisement for my lecture, and that it would do me good. These are the incidents which make a man cautious and rather cynical, for it is not the first time that favours I have granted or hospitality which I have shown have been turned against myself. In spite of this unpleasant incident the lecture passed off very well, though it was held in a huge hall, which strained my voice to the uttermost.
Rochester should be called Eastman Town, or Kodak Town, for that industry completely dominates it. One inhabitant offered to show me the home of Mr. Eastman, and stared in blank surprise when I answered that I would be much more interested to see the home of Mr. Fox, if it was only within reach. I fear the general atmosphere of Rochester is very material and that it is in no way worthy of the great event which occurred so near to it. There must surely have been some strong psychic ferment working in New York State between the years 1820 and 1850. In that period Andrew Jackson Davis, the great seer, had his revelations at Poughkeepsie, Mormonism came from Palmyra, Spiritualism came from Hydesville, and many lesser spiritual developments took shape. It is a curious and interesting speculation why this other-world breath should have come upon this particular district within so limited a space of time. How few people could have realized that it was far the most notable thing in the world between the age of the Napoleonic wars and that of the railways.
When I arrived at the Biltmore Hotel I found that my revered friend and co-worker, the Rev. Vale Owen, was ill. I was shocked by his appearance, for he was ghastly in colour and seemed to have hardly strength to raise himself. He was suffering quite as much from the doctor as from the disease, for he had been treating himself. I reversed all his regimen and within a couple of days he had turned the corner. On the second evening I attended a sΓ©ance with him, the medium being Mr. John Ticknor, whose powers I analysed (and underrated) in Our American Adventure. Mr. Vale Owen's father came back and, addressing his son through the lips of the unconscious Ticknor, said, "Why did you not take the old red medicine which always did you good at home?" "I could not get it made up," said Vale Owen. "That's easy enough," said the father. "I think I could give you the list of the ingredients. There was bismuth β yes, there was bismuth. Write it down. Then there was capsicum. Yes. There was chalk. Then there was sugar of milk."
This is an excellent mixture for the purpose. Vale Owen says there was a red mixture in use in the family. He could not say for certain what its ingredients were. But Ticknor knows nothing of drugs. Surely the whole incident was highly evidential.
Mr. Ticknor has rooms in the Biltmore, and his wife takes full notes of the sittings, so that the seances were ideally convenient and we enjoyed more than one, which greatly deepened my respect for Ticknor's powers. He is, as I have explained, a business man, and president of a considerable company, a very alert man of affairs until he allows his psychic powers to prevail. Then he sinks into an ever-deepening trance, various personalities manifesting through him. Of these the most constant and notable are Colonel Lee, who professes to have been a veteran of the Union war, an abolitionist and a New Englander from Springfield, and Black Hawk, a Canadian Indian. On one occasion I took Ticknor's pulse carefully before, during, and after his trance state. Here is the very interesting result:
(Colonel Lee in control) 120
(Colonel Lee passes out) Imperceptible. A thrill rather than a beat. Alarmingly weak.
(Black Hawk in control) 100 (bounding)
(Black Hawk passes out) 100
(Return to normal life) 84
This result may be β and I understand has been β checked by other doctors and in itself is a sufficient and complete answer to personification, though not final as regards the objection of secondary personalities, which can only be judged by the knowledge shown, and is in my opinion, very amply guarded against by the actual evidence.
We had several sittings with Mr. Ticknor and I was deeply impressed with the results. It was clear to me that his powers, as we now saw them in a sympathetic and united circle, were quite different from those which I had tested and prematurely judged on my last visit. Colonel Lee is an interesting but rather pedantic and prosaic old gentleman who speaks only for himself. Black Hawk, however, not only speaks for himself but is the janitor and usher, bringing messages in his rough, brusque fashion from other waiting spirits. On this occasion we got him to talk of his own life, and he told us some points about it in the blunt, rather sullen way that a rude man of action might adopt. The story of his marriage and the loss of his wife was so simple and natural that it brought tears to all our eyes. It was "after the long traverse" that he came to Fort Garry and loved the daughter of the old Scotch factor whose father would not hear of such a match; but the daughter thought otherwise, and they were secretly married by a priest. Then he told how she died when they were alone in the woods, and how he made her grave and laid her in it by a lake. "It was a cold bed for one so fair." He went to the fort and a soldier made a wooden cross for him. It was all very simple and convincing. I asked him where he was married. "Saint Boniface Church," said he. When in Winnipeg afterwards I found that there actually was an old church of that name.
I must enlarge a little upon this mediumship of Mr. Ticknor's because I want to emphasize the wealth of evidence which was brought to us, and to make the reader understand how impossible it would be that this should be collected by normal means, since this busy American business man is able to give as much to Mr. Vale Owen or to any one else with whom he is in sympathy. There came first several relatives, Louise, Annette β names correct but nothing very evidential, though there were several allusions which were beyond the medium's knowledge, and yet may have been within the possible range of coincidence. Then there came the names of several of my wife's family which have never been in print and could not have been got by any normal means. Then came my mother. "Do you remember our last talk? I had been ill but was better. You felt my pulse. It was before you went to Australia." All these points were correct.
Then there came a well-known English publicist who died some little time ago. When I first mentioned the incident to the Press a name was given, but never with my authorization, for unless a man has been a Spiritualist in his lifetime it seems hardly fair to quote him after he has passed over. Therefore, I gave no name for publication, though one was supplied by reporters which I neither affirm nor deny I have exact records of what he said, but much of it was so intimate about his own family, and so remote from anything which I knew or could possibly check without a gross intrusion, that I must simply leave it as I got it. Apart from this, there was some part which was evidential and some part where he seemed to be confusing me with someone else. He began by giving correctly the name of a small place which he owned in the country, which could hardly, one would think, have been known normally by Mr. Ticknor. He then complained of the psychic atmosphere of New York. "I am trying to speak through the miserable veil which lies over this city." I fear there is a miserable veil over most cities, but there are regions of New York, full of low-class, ill-digested immigration, which must be particularly material. He then addressed Vale Owen and said that he was not known in America as widely as he deserved. "Your books ought to be more known out here. When I was alive I was too busy to look after this sort of thing." He then said he had taken me to the Beefsteak Club, and that I had driven up to town with him once in his motor, both of which points were wrong, though he may well have been thinking of someone else. "It seems to me you came with Reading once. I knew him well, and we had many luncheons together. I am trying to solidify myself so as to memorize better. I want to strengthen my confidence in my own memory.
"you were not too busy to attend to these vital things. I was, I could not see the value of it. I was too busy. That is my message to America through you. Don't be too busy! I was so full of the things which do not matter that I had no time for the things that do matter. That is my message."
I have duly given the with to the best of my ability, but it was difficult for me when it was mixed with so much that was so private that I could not use it. But if you were to take the whole of those seances, and if you were to analyse all the statements which were given to myself, to Mr. Vale Owen, or to a Mr. Winter who was present, it would not be an exaggeration to say that 90 per cent, of the definite assertions were true, and that this is as much as any living memory would be likely to furnish. I was sorry to read an article in the Proceedings of the American Psychic Research Society speaking slightingly of Mr. Ticknor's mediumship. It varies with the company β the company, by the way, should blame itself now and then β but on the whole it has seemed to me a very remarkable trance demonstration.
Another amateur medium whom I tested while in New York was Mrs. Simonson. She also stood the ordeal very well, but it was not possible, as we were a mixed company, to get very detailed results, and what came to me personally was very scanty. Several of the other guests, however, were much surprised at the accuracy of what she told them. With a very dark complexion and flashing black eyes this lady is more like the popular idea of a seeress than most mediums with whom one comes into contact.
Upon the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic we held a little meeting in honour of that great pioneer W. T. Stead, in front of the slab which has been inscribed in his honour outside Central Park. We had discovered a New York photographer, Mr. Collins, who had some psychic powers, and we tried for a spirit effect, but without success. The result is worth reproducing, however. The gentleman on the left with the books is Mr. Percy Bullen, of the London Press, who organized the experiment. In front of Mr. Vale Owen is Mr. Ticknor, whose powers as a medium I have described, and in front of him again is Mr. Edwards, formerly Dean Edwards, of Detroit, who is now one of the leaders of the American Psychic Research Society, which is fortunate in having a real Spiritualist among its directors. Now perhaps it will cease to be negative in its results, and give an example to our own parent Society, which has been stagnant or retrograde ever since Frederic Myers passed away.
I have noted that one friend, the Rev. R. Russell, of Philadelphia, had met me at the docks with a lady medium. He kindly postponed the interview for some days until We should be settled, and then he brought her with her chaperone to the hotel, where we had a very interesting evening. She was a Miss Ridley, and claimed to be a direct descendant of the Protestant martyr.
Her mediumship was of the direct-voice variety, for which she used no trumpet, but the sound appeared to come from the region of her solar plexus, a deep hollow voice, which might, so far as I heard it that evening, have been produced in some singular fashion by the lady herself were it not that the matter discussed seemed to be quite foreign to her knowledge. She was a slight, girlish person, with a gentle lisping speech and a shy manner, but her control, talking through her mouth, was rough and brusque, and her independent voice was deep and resonant, so that three independent kinds of sound were uttered.
Each of us was summoned to her in turn and each of us had impressive evidential messages. It was indeed a remarkable sight to see one of the most hard-headed business men of New York stooping over this frail girl, and chuckling heartily as the voice of an old friend spoke to him of little escapades which they had had together in their boyhood. Altogether the sΓ©ance was very remarkable, and none of us had a doubt that Miss Ridley's power was a very real one. One can but trust that she may long have Mr. Russell's wise supervision and use her gifts in the highest possible way.
Through the courtesy of Mr. Bowman, I was taken out for a day's exercise at the Biltmore Country Club. These institutions are extraordinarily luxurious in America, and this particular one is so exclusive that the entrance fee is somewhere about two hundred pounds It was a splendid edifice, some ten miles from the city, with everything in it which man could need, including a well-fitted boxing-ring where many a tough amateur match has been settled. There is a fine golf-links, only just recovering from the ravages of winter. The professional, Butchart, a good specimen of a Dundee man, and I were matched against two club players, and, in spite of my efforts, Butchart carried me to victory. He is the finest club maker in America, and he presented me with a brassey which was one of his best. What pleased me much was that when we went to lunch, Butchart, as a matter of course, joined us as one of the party, and very entertaining company he was, as he explained in a rich Scotch Doric how he had coached the Imperial family at Potsdam, was caught by the war, and had to put in four years in Ruhleben. He shared my opinion that Prince Henry was a fine fellow, a lover of England, and had no sympathy with the war party.
We are much disappointed at the appearance of New York, which seems to have deteriorated greatly in the course of a year. We were as impressed by its efficiency last year as by its slovenly want of order this year, and it can hardly depend upon the effect of winter since the season is the same. Central Park, which seemed so well managed, is now strewn with paper, uncared-for, with grass trodden down and dirty, untidy walks. A wooden house half dismantled occupies a prominent site. In the asphalt of the streets there are huge holes which would send a bicycle or motor' cycle head-over-heels and which give a motor-car a bad shake if it blunders one. The police seem as smart as ever, but otherwise there is great and obvious deterioration in the city, but the people are extraordinarily long-suffering. They grumble freely, but nothing is done. On the other hand, the motor roads round New York, and indeed round every American city, are extraordinarily good β far ahead of the average roads in England. They reach their climax in the west, where from San Diego in the south to Seattle in the north, considerably more than 1,000 miles, there is a broad asphalted road which might be a racing-track all the way.
My wife was asked to send out a broadcast wireless message upon spirit-teaching whilst we were at New York, and she did so from the Westinghouse Instalment on the top of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. To me it was very impressive. The stars were above, the lights of the huge city below, and as I listened to those great truths ringing out in her beautifully modulated voice it was more like an angel message than anything I could imagine. Her deep convictions sent a thrill into her words which could not have been lost upon her unseen audience of 500,000 souls. Echoes came back to us afterwards β one from the lonely woods in the north of Quebec β saying that the message had struck home. She said:
"During the war my husband was much impressed by the need the world had for fuller knowledge of the nature of death. He had studied the question for many years, and it was the only subject upon earth on which we differed, as I regarded it as uncanny. After my brother's death, early in the war, evidence came to me which placed it beyond doubt that my husband was right and that the dead could both live and communicate. I knew the immense consolation that this new knowledge was to me, and when he proposed that we should devote our lives to this end, I eagerly agreed.
"It was not altogether easy. It meant leaving our beloved home and greatly reducing our income. But we have the joy that we have given joy and passed on God's truth to many aching hearts and have proved immortality to many who had lost all confidence in the hereafter.
"The first thing the knowledge of Spiritualism does for you is to remove all fear of death. A Spiritualist fears death no more than walking into the next room β it is promotion to a life far more lovely and happy than the earth-life; therefore to us death is a happy prospect rather than a horrible dread.
"The second blessing which comes from the knowledge of Spiritualism is that the fear of God which the Churches try to impress so upon the hearts and minds of humanity is removed; fear of God is eliminated, and love and an infinite sense of God's closeness and tender understanding of all our faults and difficulties raise a great and real love in our hearts for Him.
"The third blessing which it brings you is that it bridges death β it shows you how to communicate with any beloved ones who have passed on to the higher life.
"The fourth blessing is that through getting into touch with those who have passed on we are made to understand the wonderful life of happiness β of real human happiness β which lies ahead of us; that we shall live with those we have loved upon this earth; that the power to love is only intensified, not lessened, over there; that those who jar and irritate us here arc not with us there β only those who love and are in true sympathy are together in the higher life. There every trouble which we have borne upon earth will be made up a thousand-fold in a wonderful human happiness.
"So many people in this world never have had the beautiful and sweet things of life; it is all grey drudgery and fighting against difficulties in grey surroundings. Let such people take heart and realize that if only they just try to be honest and kind to those around them then everything is going to be made up to them in happiness beyond all description. Nobody carries a chequebook over to the other world β we only carry over the results of our daily actions. Intolerance, bigotry, selfishness, cruelty, will take the person to a lower and greyer sphere, where that man or woman will have to dwell until they have got rid of these evil qualities; but the man who is kind and decent to those around him, whose actions never hurt the lives of others, although he may never go in for formal religious displays β that man by his kindly daily life is creating a wonderful future of happiness for himself when in God's own time he is called to the higher world.
"Every gift that we have in us is God-given; therefore we carry it on with us and develop it to the fullest under the most congenial and happy surroundings. Those who have passed on all tell us that it is the land of fulfilled hopes, the great recompense for all the trials and greyness of this earth-life.
"If I were offered all the wealth of New York in exchange for the knowledge which Spiritualism has brought me, I would rather live in a two-roomed shack than part with the intense comfort, the glorious vision of that wonderful future world I know of which lies ahead of me.
"Now I would just say to any poor mourners who are listening: don't grieve too much over the loss of your dear ones β your tears and grief will cloud their great peace and happiness in the higher world. Remember this: this earth-life is, as it were (they tell us), our school-life where our characters are developed and trained by sorrows and difficulties, and when we lose our beloved ones it is just as though they had left before the end of the term and have gone home, where in God's own time we shall go to them. There will never be any more partings after this life. From the next higher life, when we have developed and spiritualized still more, we pass on to still a higher and even happier sphere, and so on until we reach heights of glory that the human mind cannot conceive."
On April 10th I was the guest of the Dutch Treat Club, which holds luncheons at which the visitor is not so much the entertained as the entertainer. Such hospitalities are hard to live up to, for if one gives of one's best one encroaches on one's strength; and if one does not, one causes disappointment.
Some two hundred pressmen, and city men, were assembled β a very critical audience of cynical men of the world. I thought it best simply to tell of some of the things which had happened to myself, and then to appeal to them whether there was any sense in ignoring or denying such happenings. I was assured afterwards that my earnest, if artless, address produced a considerable effect. "Well," said one of them afterwards, "that a crowd of hard cases like us should listen to all that, and that you should get away with it, was wonderful." It would certainly be a hard audience to deceive, but they knew that I spoke the truth as I saw it, and they were big enough to consider it, if not to accept it.
The New York Press had been very good to me, but I found the usual sort of critics, captious, argumentative materialists and the like, with occasional instances of real intellectual criticism which were worth answering. One of the most absurd and also most pertinacious of my critics was a Mexican Jesuit named Heredia, who, having some knowledge of amateur conjuring, imagined that the laboratory experiments of a Crawford or a Geley could be all explained by his parlour tricks. He was rash enough, however, to go down to the office of the Scientific American and offer to show them how Hope did his psychic photographs. Mr. Bird, the editor, had actually sat with me and got a psychic photograph from Hope, so he knew what the real process was like, by personal experience. Father Heredia went into the dark-room, took a plate, and ordered Mr. Bird to put his name upon it. "Now," said the conjuror, "I had best put my name too," upon which he signed it, placing his left hand across the plate as he did so.
It was so perfectly obvious that some luminous material to make an impression upon the plate was concealed in his left hand that Mr.. Bird laughed at the clumsy trick. And yet this absurdity was cabled all over America. Bird's explanation never quite caught it up, and where-ever I went I was liable to be told that psychic photographs had been exposed by Father Heredia, who could produce them quite as well as Hope or Mrs. Dean. Truth may win in the end, but alas many people never see the finish!
II. A Lonely Interlude
Cleveland β The Dancing Craze β Atlantean Colonel β Pittsburg β Mayor Hylan β Historical Fort β Cincinnati β A Great Medium β Prohibition β Riley the Poet β Indianapolis β Miss Ada Besinnet
In spite of all I left behind I was glad to pull out from New York on April 15th, because I was eager to get on with my job. Cleveland was the first stage, a noble city with nearly 1,000,000 inhabitants.
When I arrived the dancing craze had broken out and the world's record was being beaten hour by hour. I went down to the hotel where the performance was going on, and again the next day, when I found the same wretched dancers, male and female, still shuffling round, after having been at it all night. A jingling, discordant band was hammering out rag-time, a dense crowd of people were peering over each other's shoulders, and in the cleared circle in the middle were these poor dancers with bedraggled dresses and swollen ankles, painfully step-step-stepping to the music. The women competitors had men partners who relieved each other, and the tired creatures sank their heads upon these partners' breasts and seemed to sleep while their feet still mechanically carried on.
It was repulsive in a way, as all pain which one cannot relieve is repulsive; but it was fine too as an exhibition of pluck, for some of them, though they had danced for sixty hours with only a few minutes' interval, would wake up from time to time, smile at the crowd, and assume a careless air of false jollity. Occasionally the girls (they were mostly girls) would stop and have their eyes syringed, for it was there that the dry heat seemed to try them most. I read afterwards that one competitor had fainted and two others in some other town had respectively gone mad and died. I am sure I was not surprised. The ultimate record was about 100 hours of continuous dancing. I wonder if that performer ever wanted to dance again.
Cleveland is a grim city of iron and shipping, and it is in these busy, material places that the spiritual message is most needed. There was an excellent audience, and if I did not get it across it was my own fault. Many curious psychic types called upon me at my hotel β indeed my experience in eccentrics must surely be unique. There was one solemn-looking old Colonel from the South, a dignified figure in a frock coat, with a very liquid cold in the head which was painfully obvious. It seemed no concern of mine, but as a matter of fact it proved to have a very personal interest, for I caught it and suffered for some weeks.
The Colonel thought he was an Atlantean by origin, and that his mother, with some name like a patent medicine, had been Queen of that country. I tolerated him by day, but when, sniffing loudly, he appeared at my door at night with a long message from his mother, my relations with the Colonel became strained.
From Cleveland you pass down the busy Alleghany Valley, and see the Beaver and Ohio Rivers, the former name, like Beverley in England, commemorating the creatures who once were found there. As you come deeper into the iron country you seem to be descending into one of Dante's circles, and a glance at sooty, smoking Pittsburg makes it very clear why Carnegie lived in Scotland. From the river-side it is a terrible-looking place, but one is agreeably surprised when one reaches the hinterland to find what fine buildings there are, technical colleges, libraries, galleries, and all sorts of amenities to mitigate the atrocities of modem industrialism.
On the whole, Pittsburg, bad as it is, compares favourably with our own dreadful northern towns, whose brick lanes I knew so well in the days of my medical novitiate.
It is a curious thing how saturated both halves of the Bible are with Spiritualism. There is a good society called the Gideons, who distribute Bibles to hotel bedrooms and have often placed me in their debt. At Cleveland I opened my Bible at random, and made a note of the place so clear was the reference. It was 2 Chronicles xxxiv. 22: "So Hilkiah went to Huldah the prophetess " β to inquire God's will. It is surely clear that the consultation of mediums was their ordinary routine and a matter of course. I had one amusing conversation with an amateur medium. He assured me that society took a great interest in his powers and would ask him to dinner simply in order to exploit him and have a thrilling evening. "They dine me, and then they point to the wood-pile." I thought the phrase well worth remembering.
Prohibition seems to greatly increase the economic power of Pittsburg. I am not clear that this is an advantage, since the more one set of men do, the less there is for some other set of men. But for what it is worth I record that the workmen now appear on Monday and not, as was once their wont, on Tuesday. Personally I am of opinion that God sent a man into this world that he might improve in mind and in spirit, and not that he should make screws and rivets. Therefore every possible scheme for shortening labour, so long as honest, hard work is done, has my support. I have heard people with black coats talk with great scorn about the eight-hour day, quite ignoring the fact that they themselves limit their hours very severely from ten to four with a good hour cut out for lunch. Actually it has been officially stated here by the steel magnates that twelve hours a day is the proper rate for a worker. To their credit the Christian Churches have protested against so monstrous a slavery; but things have come to a bad pass with the human race when in the greatest nation upon earth so barbarous a decision could be reached.
Whilst I was at Pittsburg the New York papers reached me, and I was amazed to learn that my wife, the most gentle soul upon earth, was at open war with Mr. Hylan, the Mayor of New York, and had by universal consent given him a very severe and at the same time restrained public rebuke. I did not know whether to be amused or horrified. Hylan has attacked me once or twice before, voicing no doubt the prejudice of the more bigoted Roman Catholics, for I had never met the man and he could have no personal motive. His attacks did not worry me at all, and as he is, whether for good or bad, the head of the great community whose guest I was, it seemed to me that I should not forget my obligations, however much he might forget his. My wife shared my view; but when in my absence he made some public references to "that man Doyle" and to spiritual things of which he was clearly ignorant, she let herself go, and gave the Press an interview in which she said, among other things, that she had travelled in twenty-three countries and had only once, in Constantinople in 1907, seen streets in so shocking a state as those of the city over which Mayor Hylan presided. He would be well employed in looking after them instead of abusing a guest. It was a well-balanced and reasonable rebuke, and I was proud of her as I read it. Her remarks were not unpopular; indeed, she told me when we met that her telephone was kept busy all day by the people who wished to offer congratulations.
I have spoken of the queer people who haunt me. We true Spiritualists are usually a very sane and well-balanced lot. But there is a floating fringe of mystics of various types who do not belong to any Spiritual organization or subscribe to any human creed, and they are certainly very weird people. One of them brought round the announcement of a poem he had written about the creation of the world. Among the Press opinions about it β self-written for all I know β was one: "It is a decided improvement upon the earlier and cruder effort of John Milton." The poor Spiritualists get blamed for all the aberrations of these people, who were just as numerous before Spiritualism was ever heard of. So far as religion goes, there is nothing vague or far-fetched about the belief of the real Spiritual Churches. This consists in all countries of seven well-defined principles. They are: (1) the Fatherhood of God, (2) the brotherhood of man, (3) the survival of personality, (4) the power of communion, (5) personal responsibility, (6) compensation and retribution, (7) eternal progression. The general adoption of these seven propositions would mark a very great advance in human thought.
I had one small adventure in Pittsburg, for a flashlight photographer insisted upon taking me in my bedroom, with the result that thick clouds of smoke rolled out of the open window and there was a general rush of bell-boys on an alarm of fire.
Another small incident which stands out in my memory was that when the time came in my lecture for the Cenotaph photo to be shown there came an agitated cry from the operator at the far end of the room to say that the photo was not there. There was nothing for it but to summon him up with the box, and I sat down and found the picture while the two thousand spectators waited, with the courteous patience which is characteristic of an American crowd. Save for this one contretemps the evening was a great success.
The most interesting object in Pittsburg is the old British fort down by the river which was the nucleus of the town. It was a frontier defence of the colonies in the old days, and it was in an attempt to relieve it when it was besieged by the French and the Indians that Braddock and his army were ambuscaded and destroyed in the woods a few miles off. I had not time to visit the place, but I inspected the old grey fort, which is quite a small building, a sort of a sunken martello tower, loopholed for musketry without any embrasure for cannon. The whole story of Braddock, the futile gallantry, the incapacity of rigid militarism to adapt itself to novel conditions, the debonnaire bravery of the young officers, the superior craft of the colonial militia, is very like a page from South Africa.
That rising officer, George Washington, was at the head of the colonials, and perhaps the sight of British soldiers in defeat may have helped to raise dangerous thoughts in his mind, though it was only the folly of the statesmen on both sides which brought them to a head and in the inscrutable wisdom of Providence deprived the English-speaking race of the position of being the peaceful arbiters of the world.
From Pittsburg my pilgrimage carried me on to the great city of Cincinnati. These three, Cleveland, Pittsburg, and Cincinnati, are all approaching the one-million mark β which means that each is about as large as Glasgow. It is a very busy commercial place, and yet I was aware of a strong psychic interest, though the papers were less kindly in their comments than usual. I was driven around by a rising authoress, Mrs. Margaretta Tuttle, who is rapidly winning a conspicuous place in American fiction. She possesses considerable psychic power of her own. My old friend Mr. Howard Saxby, who was there at my previous visit thirty years before, was to have taken the chair at my meeting, but was very ill. I called upon him, and succeeded by laying hands upon him (a gift which comes to me in great force at times) in completely alleviating his symptoms, so that he wrote next day hoping that he was cured; but there was some deep-lying cause for his condition and the relief that I could give was unfortunately only a temporary one.
Mr. Holmyard, whom I have mentioned in Our American Adventure, is a native of Cincinnati and an indefatigable worker at psychic subjects. In his company and that of Mr. Ault, a prominent citizen of the town, I visited Mrs. Pruden, who is certainly one of the great mediums of the world. Her slate-writing performance was even more remarkable than that which she gave me last year. All the questions which I wrote down were duly answered between the closed slates, and a running fire of raps was kept up all the time. Finally we asked her to sit at the other side of the room, but the raps continued merrily in full light right under our hands as they lay upon the table. What say you to that, Mr. Sceptic? "This is not your last visit to America. You will come again two years hence," said the seeress. It was not my intention, and prophecy is the least reliable of psychic gifts. I have great hopes that Mrs. Pruden may come to London, where her pleasant personality and her remarkable powers, which are less sensitive to hostile influences than those of most mediums, would make her a very desirable demonstrator of psychic truth.
There are at least two other mediums in the town of whom I had excellent reports, though I was unable to give them a test. I called upon one of them, but she was entertaining visitors and did not feel that she could get her best psychic results while so preoccupied. A police raid was made upon these sensitives after my departure, and possibly on account of my coming, for the notice my views receive incites every bigot to call upon the police to enforce the mediaeval laws. I do not know what the result may have been, but I do know that there is no class of case where a just magistrate should be more wary than in these. The police are out for a conviction, they know that a medium will have no chance of getting back upon them afterwards, and they can easily overthrow the evidence of any Spiritualists present, who are usually timid folk who fear publicity. A frame-up is the easiest thing in the world. When one remembers the case of Hope and the doctored packet of Imperial dry plates one realizes the dangers which surround a medium, and how helpless he is in getting redress even from a society of honourable gentlemen, like the London Society for Psychic Research.
My English mail brings me an account of the parliamentary debate upon Prohibition with the great majority against it. The matter will not end there. The question has certainly come to stay. To anyone actually living among American conditions much of the debate sounded unreal and absurd. Stories about whisky in walking-sticks may amuse an audience, but a walking-stick alone without the whisky is an uncommon object in an American street. All these tales about the evasion of the law are probably true enough, but they apply to at the most 10 per cent. of the population. The other 90 per cent. obey the law, exactly as decent people in England would do, and the result among us would, I think, be the abolition of those slums which are a disgrace to our civilization. The whole standard of life depends upon the question, for at present in very many cases only a fraction of the wages reaches the home, and the wife and children degenerate to that extent. When the beer-money is all available for food and dress, how much higher will the average be? As a compromise, when there are no saloons or public-houses and the liquor is bought from Government stores, as in British Columbia, and not consumed in public, the wife will at least have some say in the matter, and that false good-fellowship be avoided which degrades both him who gives and him who receives. All our spiritual teaching is, as it seems to me, in vacuo unless we hitch it on to material things, to the need of betterment in the poorer classes, to the League of Nations for avoidance of war, to the fundamental thesis that, whatever the cost, the bulk of the people shall be placed in such a position that they can develop their minds and their spirits, for which purpose they were placed in the world. Christianity has lost touch with this need, but we must for ever insist upon it, if we are to be the compelling force which we might be.
From Cincinnati, which had been made pleasant by the attentions of Mr. Horgan, of the Sinton Hotel, my path led to Indianapolis, a favourite of mine in former days, but I did not re-establish touch with any single soul whom I could remember of old. A very capable lady, Mrs. Talbot, was running the lecture, and she would seem to be psychic, for she assured me that on the night that she signed the contract she found her bedroom, before she had gone to sleep, flooded with purple light. Such impressions may be subjective, but she was a shrewd business lady with no hysteria in her nature. Purple is, of course, the colour which in occult language signifies teaching, so there was some meaning in the episode, if it was indeed objective.
I used to know Whitcomb Riley, the poet, and now I visited his grave with some flowers. They have buried him on the summit of a high hill whence the pilgrim can get a long view of the fertile plains of Indiana. "Everything in Jim Riley came by contraries," said one who professed to know him well. "He wanted just to sink into the earth unnoticed, and here they have planted him on a hill. He never liked children. He could write verses about them, but he didn't want to see them. But they would organize processions to the child-poet. Jim would look out of his window and cry, 'My God! Here are a bunch of these brats coming after me again.'" So said my informant, and it seemed a comical situation. I well remember my first interview with him, when he sat hunched up at one end of my unmade bed, and I at the other, and we discussed with the eagerness of youth the work of all our peers. I couple him with Eugene Field as one of the remarkable Bohemians of America. I still preserve the poem which the latter wrote for me which wound up:
"Oh, had we met on the other side, what rapture had been mine,
For I was broke in London in the fall of '89."
Indianapolis and Columbus both gave me good meetings, and it was a great joy to be able to wire to my people and to say that they could now make for the Auditorium which was our tryst in Chicago. I was very weary of my lonesome round.
But one very great pleasure remained. I was within a hundred miles of that great medium Miss Ada Besinnet, and she had set a night apart for me β an invitation not to be resisted. She had extended her courtesy to Mr. Malcolm Bird, of the Scientific American, who was rapidly acquiring so much actual psychic experience that if he should criticize our movement he is a critic whom we will be obliged to listen to with respect β which is not too common an experience. We were greatly favoured that evening, for we had the whole gamut of the medium's powers, the Powerful voices, the wonderful musical performances, the brilliant lights, the fitful materializations, the written messages, the continuation of the songs when a bandage was over the lady's lips, and finally the whole heavy table was lifted bodily into the air. It was a very impressive exhibition, and Mr. Bird was as interested as I was.
We went from the sΓ©ance to the train, and the next morning I found my wife and family all well and happy at the Chicago hotel. The first and most lonely stage of my adventure was over.
III. To The Rockies
Young Medium β A Wonderful Voice β The Magicians β "Scientific American" Inquiry β Crucibles of Crime β Chicago Jail β Sad Scenes β "Donkey and Carrot" System β St. Louis An Inland Voyage β Kansas City β Pike's Peak
On the first day I was in Chicago I received a telephone call from a stranger who said that he was in touch with a young man, aged twenty, a Mr. Bruce Kemp, who was, as he declared, a very remarkable trumpet medium. Would I test him? As Mr. Bird was in Chicago, I thought the opportunity a good one, so I fixed an appointment for the next morning at eight at our private sitting-room in the Auditorium Hotel. With the hour there came the two young men, the older very zealous and intelligent, the younger a charming American lad of the best type, clean, well groomed, amiable, with a bright smile and a pleasant manner. He had with him his three-jointed zinc trumpet and a little water-tray in which he stood it mouth downward. This was new to me, though I had seen mediums several times pour water down their trumpets. The children were allowed, as a great treat, to be present, and we formed our circle β Mr. Bird, myself, my wife, three children, the friend of Kemp, and young Kemp himself. The sitting-room proved to be too light, so we adjourned to a bedroom where the conditions were better. Kemp does not go into trance and chats away all the time, though he declares that he feels sleepy. There was some delay in the opening, and we had just begun to think that the novel surroundings were going to check the results, when they suddenly burst upon us with almost alarming violence. The children were talking baseball, and the young American had just made us all laugh by saying that some conceited player had dislocated his elbow trying to pat himself on the back, when our merriment was checked by a roar like that of a lion which burst from the centre of the circle. Mr. Randall, in his book on Mrs. French's mediumship, has said that one might as well imagine a rabbit barking like a mastiff as fancy the voice he heard coming from a weak old lady. Certainly I can repeat the simile, for no sane person could imagine that the tremendous sound which we heard came from the gentle American lad. It was so deafening and pitched in so strange a key that it was inaudible, but when I could catch the words they were innocent enough, for they were to the effect that my boys were baseball fans. I had been warned that Red Foot, for that was the name of the Indian control, had a war-whoop which simply shook the building, and I trembled at its effect in the crowded Auditorium Hotel. I therefore hastened to say, "Red Foot, I am not in my own wigwam. We must not talk too loud or others will hear." He answered with a roar that he understood that, and that he would not show his real power as it might frighten the little girl, and he was a good Indian, who never frightened anyone. "What sort of Indian?" I asked. "Iroquois," he answered. The Iroquois happen to be a hobby of mine, so we chatted for some time about the Five Nations, he roaring out his answers with an explosive force which no human larynx could imitate. He described the battle with the pale-faces in which he lost his life. Also how he was buried on four sticks elevated above the ground. Dogs and horses, squaws and papooses, were all in the next world, which was like the happy hunting-ground they had imagined. Altogether he said nothing which was new to me, but it was corroborative and the voice utterly beyond imitation. I sat grasping from time to time the young medium's hand, but the voice travelled all around the room. He discoursed about rattlesnakes in answer to an appeal from Denis, and gave us a sentence in the Indian tongue. Finally he tried to introduce voices of others who wished to speak with us, but this part was not a success, as we did not recognize one or two names which came through. However, the Chief himself was most convincing and no sceptic could possibly have denied the independence of his voice and individuality. Mr. Kemp and his friend assured us that after sitting long filaments of white matter are found sometimes in the water with which the trumpet is replaced. This must surely be ectoplasm, and seems to show that whereas this curious substance dissolves in air when light gets at it, it might perhaps be more durable in water. A promising line of inquiry opens up there, for it may be that there are other liquids or gases in which it would be more constant still. I would suggest in any case staining the water red, since ectoplasm will bear red light in a sΓ©ance.
I had some difficulty afterwards in determining what is the wisest course for a youth with such a gift to follow. Of course, in any world which was not in the dark ages, the answer would be simple. He has a rare gift, a gift of inestimable value to the world, a clear sign of power independent of physical law as we understand it. Of course he, a man in a million, should be employed in demonstrating his power. But this means taking money for his gift, for how else could he live, and thus he becomes a professional medium, and a mark for every policeman who seeks promotion and for every ignorant or bigoted magistrate whose foolish remarks on spiritual things might make a paragraph in the papers. Fines and the penitentiary β that might be the end of his God-given power. Of course the real solution is to have the mediums licensed by the spiritual bodies and to have these licences inspected by the police and withdrawn in case of abuse. At present the inspired and the faker, the true apostle and Simon the magician, the angel who spoke to Mary and the Witch of Endor, are all classed together in one comprehensive condemnation. It is a problem which calls most urgently for solution.
I had promised myself a few days of rest with my family in Chicago after the very hard time that I had in my lonely round, but it was not to be, for all sorts of pressing things came upon me. I think that I really might have had to lie up, so weary was I, had it not been for the kindness of Mrs. Blaine, daughter-in-law of a former Foreign Secretary of the United States, who put a car at our disposal and enabled us to get some drives along the lovely shores of Lake Michigan. We visited the beautiful parks and inspected the full-size model of Columbus's ship. It is a remarkable reproduction, and floats at anchor in one of the lakes. On the whole I was surprised to find it so large, and I was less impressed by the daring of Columbus than before I saw it. It looks nearly as large as the whaler Hope in which I spent seven months in stormier waters than the Atlantic.
Much time is spent in idle controversy, going over old points again and again, but it has to be done or the public imagine that you are silenced. The Sunday Herald brought a long attack by one Joseph F. Rinn, mostly upon the photographs, and stuffed with every sort of inaccuracy and distortion. This had been broadcasted all over the Hearst papers with four million readers, so I had to spend the whole Sunday in answering it point by point, hoping that the same papers would give me space. I do not know whether Mr. Rinn's malevolence is professional or religious, but certainly a more unfair article I never read in my considerable experience. I have offered to put up a thousand dollars if he can produce a picture under Hope conditions to the satisfaction of the Scientific American. This may bring him up with a round turn.
It is curious how these conjurors β with the single honourable exception of Mr. Howard Thurston β attack the truths of our movement. Perhaps it is that their tricks bring them into contact with the fake mediums and not with the real ones. Or it may be a sort of professional jealousy. It will be recalled that the early Christians were continually vilified by the magicians, as it is mentioned both in the New Testament and repeatedly in the early Fathers. I have no doubt that the situation then was exactly the same as now, and that the real psychic powers or "spiritual gifts," to use their own term, of the Christians aroused the jealousy of the gentlemen who in those days extracted the rabbits from the hats.
I was very anxious that Mr. Bird, of the Scientific American, should have an experience with Mrs. Pruden before he returned, so he went on to Cincinnati by night with his usual wholehearted energy in order to keep an appointment at ten in the morning. I was uneasy, for I was aware how elusive these things are, and how difficult to furnish on demand. However, to my great joy on Monday I had a card from Bird: "Altogether extraordinary, both in phenomena and in extent of control." So that is one more point gained in this long uphill game. They cannot continue to think that I am a credulous fool so long as my observations are corroborated by such a man as Bird.
Bird is not only part Editor of the Scientific American, but he is Secretary and leading spirit of the Committee chosen to investigate the physical phenomena of Spiritualism. I fear that nothing can be hoped for from that body, for the supremely Important thing is to conciliate the Spiritualists before such investigation is so to secure co-operation. The Scientific American has not done this. There is no one whom the Spiritualists regard as a friend on the Committee, and several enemies, so that they do not look on it as an impartial body. Of course it should have been equally chosen from both sides to make it fair. As matters stand it is most difficult to get mediums to come. I have tried my best, even to the extent of offering to defray the expenses, but they regard it as a trap. It was a capital error to put Houdini, who has been most violent in his expressions of contempt and hostility, upon such a body. Dr. Carrington, though he acted well in the matter of Eusapia, is not popular with Spiritualists. Dr. Prince, and Professor MacDougal have been so many years without declaring themselves in public that it seems hopeless that they should do so now. There remain only Mr. Comstock and Mr. Bird, open-minded, clear-headed men. But, alas! the mischief is done, and unless some system of travelling sub-committees is arranged the inquiry will end in fiasco.
I have heard a great deal about the shocking conditions of American jails and I had read a very terrible book called Crucibles of Crime, by one Fishman, who had himself been a jail inspector and knew the inside of every jail in the Eastern States. His story was a dreadful one, worse than one reads of the mediaeval conditions in England or the modern ones in Turkey. I could not believe that it was true. Now, alas! I have seen with my own eyes and I know that it is true. When one sees a cruel act performed, it is not the feelings of the sufferer so much as the mental degeneration of the inflictor which causes horror, and so in this case it is not the terrible fate of the prisoners so much as the callous indifference of the public which is dreadful. "Out of sight, out of mind"; and so long as they push their black sheep into some isolated fold, the subject is pursued no further. But a very speedy revenge comes back upon them, for crime is contagious; the small sinner becomes the large sinner, and sooner or later the community pays the price.
The Chicago jail is a large, dark building close to the city offices, in the most crowded district. Through the courtesy of Mr. Ericson I gained admission, and was received by Warden West-brook, who impressed me at once as an admirable man who, with his wife, was doing all that was possible to ameliorate the conditions for which he was not responsible. The ultimate blame rests with the voters, who can by a referendum erect an institution which will indeed be worthy of their great city. The prison left a dreadful impression upon my mind. What right can we have to treat our fellow-man so! What feeblest reflection of the teaching or spirit of Christ is there in such an institution β a manure-heap where human garbage is thrown to reek and fester, cared for by no one so long as it is decently concealed. You may conceal your cesspool as you will, but if there is seepage it will spread death which will creep back in time to you. And so it is here.
Bearing Crucibles of Crime in mind, I was on the lookout for the points, and even in one visit was able to get some sure data. One great relief I found. It was that Warden Westbrook seemed to be a real good fellow, who was as anxious for reform as anyone. No weakling, Westbrook, but a strict disciplinarian, tempered by humanity and justice. He has a worthy wife, whom I did not see, but whose good deed in the shape of a pile of well-thumbed books, a thousand in all, was shown to me. The Westbrooks have only been there a year, and before that there was not a book in the prison. Think of it!
When I first saw the Warden he was seated behind the table of his office, a broad-shouldered, clean-shaven, strong-faced man with a humorous mouth and eye. He had a box beside him in which he had various objects of interest, taken from prisoners, and these he exhibited to me one by one.
"This is a rope made out of the strands of a sheet," said he. "It is strong enough to hold a man. You see," he explained, "there is a crowded district outside, and if they can sling a rope out of the window, and someone is waiting outside, there is no saying what they may not pull up, dope, or a gun, or moonshine. I am having meshes put between the bars to stop that game. Look at these saws," he went on, showing half a dozen of them, small but efficient. "They could eat through a bar in no time. There is a length of bar cut out by one of them. And here's an imitation gun. Looks the real thing, does it not? The man that made that held up two warders with it, but the third saw it was a dud and knocked him down. Now come along with me, Sir Arthur, and don't blame me if you don't like anything, for we can't all get our own way in this world."
We first saw a shut-in, badly ventilated space in which a number of youths, white and coloured, were playing handball with great vigour. There may have been sixteen players and about sixty were looking on, lounging against walls or seated on a long bench.
"These are the boys," said the Warden. "I make each of them have a game to keep fit."
"How long have they in this play-room?"
"Five hours a day. It used to be four. I added one."
"What do they do the other nineteen?"
"Sit in their cells. They can read."
"Are they all mixed together, whether they are small offenders or utterly depraved?"
"We have no means of separating them."
I saw the stooping, sniggering groups with their sidelong glances and cynical young faces. One can guess how the poison spreads.
It was not a pleasant sight, and yet that foetid play-ground was by far the healthiest spot in the entire building.
We passed on to examine the cells. The prisoners were out for their few hours in the central enclosed roofed space called the Bull-pen. In their absence we could examine the dreadful places in which they passed their nineteen hours out of every day.
"There are 375 cubic feet of air in each cell," said Dr. Knapp, who attended us. "The minimum for adults is 500 cubic feet."
"And we have as many as five in each cell when the place is crowded before assizes," said the Warden. "There are three beds, one above the other and two on the floor. They can just cram in."
"But there is no window; no light: what do they do for nineteen hours?"
"Plan deviltry, I expect."
"Have they no work β nothing to occupy their minds or to improve them?"
"No, sir; they do nothing."
"Well, the labour unions would object," said Dr. Knapp.
"Can books be sent in?"
"No, sir. They would get dope in the books. Even in their private letters they stick two pages together and when we hold it up to the light there is the powdered dope."
The doors were framed with thick bars and the food was pushed underneath them, as is done with animals in the Zoo. There is no table. An open closet is at one end of the cell, which is better than the night bucket, which is in general use in many American jails, but none the less, imagine the conditions in that tiny unventilated cell with several occupants.
Perhaps my disgust and horror showed too clearly on my face. "After all," said the Warden, "they are criminals. They should keep out of jail."
"But they are men, I understand, who have not been tried."
"Well, I daresay ten per cent. may get clear, but the most are old crooks β a good many murderers among them. Come and see them. Here they are in the Bull-pen."
There is a separate Bull-pen on each floor. It is simply the enclosed square with the cells all round, very dark and roofed in. It was crowded with men, some sitting on the floor with their backs against the walls, the most walking drearily round and round, hopeless and purposeless, for what good can exercise do when fresh air is utterly wanting.
"That window had not been opened for thirteen years when I came," said the Warden. "Somebody escaped through it once."
"You do get escapes, then?"
"Mighty few. There was Tom O'Connor. He got off. He got an automatic somehow. You see, it is a crowded street outside and they have their friends there to help them. O'Connor strong-armed one man and hands-upped another, and got down the food-lift and away at the back."
"Where is he now?"
"Well, that's what we all want to know. There is a ten thousand dollar reward. He was a murderer, but he was a wonder."
We had been standing in front of the Bullpen. I was glad to get away from it. There was a sullen, hopeless, listless misery about it all which clung round one like an evil mist. I should think that in the lower circles of Hell there can be nothing worse than the Chicago Jail Bullpen. I only observed a few natural and happy human faces within the building. They were youths who were employed in the laundry and other establishments. Work, occupation β anything to get away from the constant brooding where the mind bites into itself. I cannot think how they preserve their sanity.
We were shown the hospital of the prison. Will it be believed that there is no natural ventilation and no window at all. "Good God!" cried Dr. Knapp, as he looked around it. It was at that point that I exclaimed that the architect who designed that building should be in it.
One of the things which struck me most was the partition through which prisoners hold interviews with friends. These are two very fine grills, sixteen inches apart. Each of them is divided into such a small metal mesh that one could hardly see a person through it, and yet these indomitable and ingenious people manage to pass dope and even liquor by rubber tubes, guided by hat pins, and connecting mouth to mouth as the two stoop to the screen. It seems incredible, and yet it is so true that the Warden has seen a man stagger away from the screen in consequence of the liquor he had just imbibed. I was shown a cuspidor in a passage into which a visitor used to drop dope, the prisoner getting it afterwards at his leisure. There is a similar barred grill in the room where prisoners see their lawyers; put up at the request of the lawyers themselves, as they had no wish to be assaulted by desperate clients who might think that they had not received the professional attention that they deserved and so might give them a little professional attention in return. When one surveys this building with all its mediaeval arrangements, one hears with surprise that it is really a modem one. I have been over Sing-Sing, which is as bad and in some ways worse, but Sing-Sing dates back to the earlier half of last century. The Chicago Jail was perpetrated in 1895, though there is an earlier section now hardly used at all, which belongs to 1870. One wonders whether those who designed and built it ever had the idea in their minds that it was the fate of human flesh and blood with which they were dealing and that living men and women had to exist for months at a time in these unsanitary cages which they were planning out. Their only excuse was that they may not have realized it, or had not the imagination to see the result of their own actions, for it would take a heart and a conscience of leather to do such a thing in cold blood.
They were not bad fellows, some of those prisoners. I think I am a judge of a man, and I saw several faces with a little soul still left to shine out of the eyes. But how could it last in such an atmosphere? Surely the foetid gloom around, the constant attrition of mind, the sense of wrong, the foulness and horror day after day, must kill it out. And yet what a chance it is really to isolate the young criminal, to work upon him, to get his feet firm upon an upward path. But nothing of this is possible in the present condition of Chicago Jail.
We passed through the kitchen, where the fare seemed rough but wholesome, and was the one redeeming feature of the place. They can have what they will, in reason, from outside, if they have the money to buy it. As it comes in, it is examined for dope, which has added greatly to the difficulties of prison management. I saw a long strip of it extracted from the back of a magazine. I fear my sympathies were with the doper, for what can a poor devil do in such a place save to grasp at any chance of liberating his mind and soul, even if his poor body be held in the rack?
We had a short survey of the women's quarters, where a stalwart but kind-looking matron presided. There was more amenity in this part of the prison and the inmates actually ate off a table. But the wicked little cells were as bad as ever. I was shut up in one in Sing-Sing and I know what it means for five minutes. Imagine what it feels like for nineteen hours of the day and thirty days of the month.
One isolated wing was inspected by us β no better than the others β which is reserved for ex-policemen who are prisoners, and also for witnesses for the prosecution who are in custody. It was explained that if either of these classes were loose among the general crowd in the Bullpen, they would be more likely to figure in an inquest than in a trial.
The Warden had a sense of humour. It seemed incongruous to laugh amid all that misery, and yet the comic will intrude. This was his story. A workman dropped a bit of cement from the upper floor where he was mending the pipe, and it fell on the solid head of a negro below. It would have killed a white. The negro looked up and said, "See here, white man, have a care. You made me bite my tongue." "No wonder they are hard to beat in the prize-ring," said I to the warden.
I came away sunk in deep melancholy. At the last minute I was introduced to some lady of local fame who is troubling her mind about cigarette smoking. Fancy anyone worrying about such a trifle with a slice of Hell right under her nose. I don't suppose Chicago is worse than a hundred others. But to say that there are other Hells is no excuse for this particular Hell. The matter seems to me to be very much where it was in England before Howard, Mrs. Fry, and other reformers took it up. Now, we want an American Howard and all will be well.
What is the object of a jail? Is it to improve a prisoner or is it to brutalize him? Surely there can be but one answer to the question, for the sake of the public as well as of the criminal. Then why should you obviously and deliberately brutalize him and give him no chance whatever of improving, thereby ruining him, and making it almost certain that you will have him on your hands as a criminal for life? Duty and interest seem to me to point in the one direction, and that is that the man be regenerated if human effort can do so. What would Christ think of such a place as Chicago Jail? And what would he think of Christian ministers and Christian people who give Him lip service and yet suffer such a place to contradict and insult every idea for which Christianity should stand.
It must come down. It is too bad to rectify. Only total reconstruction could meet the case. A great, proud city like Chicago, which could set the world such an example of courage and constancy as it did after the awful fire of 1873, would surely think little of such a task as rebuilding a jail. If the present central site were sold, and the jail built out in the suburbs, the difference in values might perhaps go some way to cover the cost. But whatever the cost, the self-respect of the city must come first.
I do not wish to exaggerate or to be sentimental. I realize that the criminal must not be coddled. I realize that too great a comfort in jails might put a premium on crime. But while guarding against this, the main object, reformation, has to be kept in view. Discipline by all means, kindly but firm. But with it should go segregation of the innocent, separation of boys from men, intelligent work, intellectual uplift, good literature, physical attention, cultivation of self-respect-all of them now neglected.
I have always had some views which are, so far as I know, my own about the system of prisons. One thing is clear in my mind. The really habitual criminal should NEVER be let out. How absurd it is to release a man who has thirty times committed assault and battery. When the thirty-first case occurs, as it speedily will, is it not the community rather than the criminal which has been guilty, since it let the man loose knowing well what he would do? I would have humane, permanent prisons, and in them I should comfortably install for life those who have shown that they were quite incorrigible. In short, I should treat them as the incurable lunatics that they really are.
I do not know how far the English Borstal system has been tried in America. I had occasion recently to make a surprise visit to a Borstal establishment near Maidstone, and was deeply interested in the result. Young offenders are all sent there, instead of to jail. They have a good, firm, fatherly governor, of the military type, and collegians as well as wardens are in touch with them. They farm their own fields, have their own trades, run their own band, have their great playing, fields and football teams β indeed it is in some ways like a very strict public school. The results are very good and many of the lads are reclaimed altogether from criminal ways. Some effort in this direction might be worth while in Chicago. I did not come as a censorious critic. I find much in American institutions which we in England could well imitate. But these are our unfortunate brothers and sisters. As Baxter says: "There, but for God's grace, are ourselves." Let us raise them up tenderly and try to put them on their feet once more. My memory will be haunted by the vision of that crowded Bullpen, the lounging figures, the hopeless faces, until that happy day when I learn that Chicago has set her hand to the task and that humanity and good sense have prevailed.
The Editor of the Chicago Daily News wrote to me later that my article on the prison, of which the foregoing is a summary, was "considered an impressive account of the extraordinary conditions prevailing, and it will doubtless have its effects as regards reform."
Our plans after leaving Chicago were that the family should go on to Colorado Springs and await me there β thirty-six hours ahead β while I cleared up St. Louis and Kansas City, the two intermediate big towns. We parted, therefore, and I again found myself alone with Mr. Erskine. It is a method of progress which I call the "donkey and carrot" system β as you are helped on your way by the thought of a pleasant welcome down the road.
St. Louis struck me very much by its size and its amenities. There is a feeling of energy in the air and one is conscious that one is in a city with a great future. It has also a not inconsiderable past, for it is one of the chains of settlements which the French built so as to hem in the English-speaking colonies. Then with a line of forts on the Canadian border and another line down to New Orleans, they could at their leisure build up a Western empire, holding the Americans to the east of the great river. It was a well-considered plan, and it was broken mainly by the power of the British army and navy, which again and again in history cleared the ground for the future United States, for which, I may add, they have had mighty little thanks. But to forget or ignore a fact does not alter it.
The Hotel Chase at St. Louis is a really fine one, and treated us with consideration. It stands on the edge of the lovely park which was used for the 1903 exhibition, and some kind friends took me for a drive over it. I inspected an admirable art museum, with facsimiles of many European masterpieces, and a number of American paintings, one of which, a scene in the French Revolution by Story, was of very great power. I also saw the huge open-air theatre with 14,000 seats where opera is performed. An irascible prima donna in a head wind must be a funny sight. They say, however, that you can hear very well as a rule. It is just like the old Greek theatre under the Acropolis in general design, but it has two large trees growing through the stage, which must greatly aid the sylvan scenes. I should have liked to see a natural play, but alas! I had my own stage to fill.
My stay in St. Louis was enlivened by the society of several cinema men, who would, I should imagine, in a less dry climate, have been a lively crowd, and who even in the present depressing circumstances managed to he very amusing. One, who had been a jockey at some period, gave us some funny experiences with the negroes on southern race-tracks, especially the adventures of some negro tout who used to get his information "out of the oats box," to use his own expression, and pass on for a fee the plans of the horses to his fellows. When the information proved wrong, he had to invent excuses to avoid trouble. "Yes, sir, your horse was beat by six inches, sir. But it wasn't really beat at all. It was .just unfortunate. Did you see that race, sir?"
"See it! I had two dollars on it. You bet I saw it."
"Well, then, if you saw it, you would notice the rumps of them horses was dead a line when they passed the post. It was a dead-heat at that end, but you backed a short horse. That was all that was the matter."
Another amusing St. Louis story was of a drummer selling potted milk. "It came from a contented cow," was his slogan. His fellow-drummer was selling some imitation beer. "I wish I had a slogan like yours," he said. "Well," said the other, "I've seen your stuff and tasted it. You might say it came from a discontented horse."
Yet another was of a man who pretended to be wonderfully well read. Some friends put him to the test. "Have you read Thackeray's Pendennis?" "Sure." "Have you read Dickens's Pickwick?" "Sure." "Have you read Scott's Emulsion?" "Sure."
St. Louis left a very pleasant memory in my mind, for the good company, for the beautiful city, and finally for the lecture, since the spacious American Theatre was sold out, with absolutely not one seat left unfilled. It was as appreciative as it was numerous.
There was one other pleasant incident which I connect with St. Louis. A two-masted schooner, 40 tons burden, had been brought up from the Caribbean Sea by its remarkable navigator, Captain Parker. He is Captain, but he is also cabin-boy, for there is no one else on the boat save his fine, sunburned, upstanding wife and their young son. These three live aboard and have always lived aboard, the boy having been born there. They are just able among them to hoist the big mainsail, using all their strength. They cruise out on the Atlantic and fear no weather, throwing out a sea-anchor and using oil when the waves become too obstreperous. They carry guns to prevent the sharks or whales absolutely taking possession, and in their floating home they are free of every care, earning a small living by doing a bit of sea-peddling. He seemed a fine specimen of a sea-dog, and with such a wife and such a home should be, as he looked, a happy man. How he had worked up the river all those many hundreds of miles is a mystery. It must have taken a wonderful and constant supervision to keep her in the channel, for she has only her sails to drive her. I spent a very pleasant hour on the little craft.
They tell me the Mississippi is a nice, clear, innocent stream until it is corrupted by the Missouri. St. Louis lies twenty miles under the point of junction, and so you see it broader and deeper but very much uglier than before, with a vile, oily, coffee-coloured current. Yet it is imposing for its size, and it is spanned by four great bridges which are themselves very wonderful to see.
Another night in the train β I gradually grow to tolerate these journeys β and we were in Kansas City, with the photographers at the station and the Pressmen with their "Say now, Mr. Doyle, what is this spiritualism anyhow?" My chief trouble is that I have to begin at the very beginning with every one of them; and if I don't, in all good faith they make the most amazing blunders which are repeated by the other papers, and so on world without end. On the whole, however, the young fellows are very helpful and intelligent, so I will not grumble.
Kansas City is a young giant of a town, half-formed and sprawling, but with the seeds of greatness in it. Stockyards are its central industry. It is wonderfully equipped with parks which are the real glory of the city, so that you drive for miles among really beautiful country without leaving the city bounds. The city possesses one supremely fine work of art erected upon a bluff in one of the parks. It is a bronze of a mounted Indian scout, life-size, leaning forward with his hand shading his eyes as he looks across the plain below. It is a really splendid statue. Two things amaze me: the one that American cities have such fine works of art in the open air, the other that, having them, they seem to take no pride in them, for one cannot get a model or an adequate photograph in the whole town. You will find stacks of picture post-cards of Studebaker's thirty-floor skyscraper, which outside the town no one in the world cares a half-penny about, save as an awful example of what may happen, while this fine "Indian Scout" or the splendid soldier monuments at Cleveland or Indianapolis are not to be had. In London or Paris they would be in the window of every fancy shop and sell readily as souvenirs. I wrote a letter to the Star expounding these views, so I hope I may have done a little good.
I had an interesting interview with a Mrs. Randall, of Kansas City, who referred me to one of the chief physicians of the town for corroboration of her story. Early in this year she died. For quite a long time there was no sign of life in her body. Then she returned to life. She brought back with her a perfectly clear recollection of what had occurred to her. She remembered floating out in her etheric body, and noting the silver cord which still held her to the natural body. She at once met her sister and father, both of them dead. In the company of her sister she floated off to see her brother, still alive, who was working in some factory in the city. She saw him, saw the men about him, and note a number of details all of which proved to be true. She then returned to her own chamber, and after an argument in which her sister begged her to remain dead, while her father counselled return, she re-entered her body and is now strong and well.
Psychic scholars will remember an exactly similar case of a cataleptic physician given by Funk in his Psychic Riddle. I have had at different times quite a number of letters from people in my audience detailing similar experiences. It amazes me when I read scientific men like my friend Sir Frederick Treves writing that there is no evidence at all of what occurs after death. There is a great deal of very cogent evidence if they would only put their prejudices out of their minds and carefully examine it.
There were some points noted by Mrs. Randall in her curious experience which are worth recording, that they may be compared with other observations. One was that spiritual bodies did not seem to pass through walls and solid obstacles, but that they passed out of the door, though it seemed to be an etheric double of the door, opening and shutting independently of the material one. This observation fits in with some others and also with some old customs such as opening the window of a death-room for the exit of the soul. She observed that the spirits stood aside to let a mortal pass, and did not allow them to walk through them as usually supposed. Mrs. Randall has now printed a detailed account of the adventure, and it is an interesting and restrained narrative.
It was at Kansas City that I first began to notice a change in the American fauna. Driving in the great park, I perceived a black-and-white bird with a red head, about the size of a thrush, which stood close on the bark of a tree and was clearly some variety of woodpecker. I also saw a brilliant scarlet bird, like a small parrot. There were ground-squirrels also, which I mistook at first for stoats. Next day in our journey through Kansas I saw many new birds, especially one very large bird of prey, which rose close to the railway line. I supposed it was a buzzard. One touch of real nature far transcends the works of man, and the latter only thrill when, as in the case of the "Indian Scout," they copy nature.
It was a long journey now, a clear twenty-four hours, to Colorado Springs, and it marked the dividing line of my tour, for I was at last well over the border and in the real west of the States. Kansas is a beautiful dominion, and we rolled all day through a land of rich farms until the enclosures at last vanished and it was real prairie around us, though still of course in use for arable and grazing. It is wonderful soil, deep rich loam, and for long it needed no treatment, but those days are past and the rotation of crops with the use of phosphates and nitrogen is now as needful as elsewhere. The sight of these vast plains, which extend from the Mississippi to the mountains for so many hundreds of miles makes one feel how improbable it is that any great race of men can ever have occupied America. There is not one vestige of the past. Once or twice I saw old mounds which may have been barrows but never once were there such prehistoric forts as lie so thickly in Britain or such dΓ©bris-mounds as mark the buried cities of the East. It is very difficult to account for this unless, it may be that these huge plains were under water at the time when Atlantis flourished. If Atlantis were as great a country as Plato says, then surely its outposts, at least, would be marked all over the Continent, just as Roman outposts are marked everywhere in Europe. On these great flat plains even a small erection would stand forth clear, but no sign of antiquity ever appears to break their monotony.
It is wonderful to see the mountains appear, wonderful to us from the observation-car of the train, but how infinitely more so to those weary emigrants who saw upon some blessed morning the snow-white cap in the sky which marked Pike's Peak, a hundred miles ahead of them. Pike must have been an adventurous soul β a soldier in the regular army who died fighting against the Canadians in 1813. It was in 1806 that he made his expedition westward and first of all his race saw the distant peak which is named after him. The early emigrants and gold-seekers took it as their guide and made for it from Omaha and the other starting-points on the river. "Pike's Peak or Bust," they printed on their wagons, and the legend of "Bust, by God!" occasionally adorned some broken-down equipment.
The town of Colorado Springs, which now numbers some 60,000 inhabitants, and has every promise of greatness, lies right under the mountain, which is, of course, only one peak in this mighty range which extends from the Arctic in the north to Mexico in the south. Indeed the whole South American Andes would seem to be its continuation β a huge 5,000-mile wrinkle in the earth's skin. They have run a railway up Pike's Peak, and the view over the plains must be superb, but the season prevented our making the ascent, as the snow still blocked the line. Already, however, we were on a mountain-top, for the town stands at over 6,000 feet, though the ascent on the railway has been so gradual that one is amazed to step from the train and feel the thin, clear air of altitude β the air of the Engadine.
Strange Geology Wonderful Drive β Denver β Houdini β Psychic Photographer β A Long Trek β Gorge of the Arkansas β The Desert
It was a joy to find my people at the Antlers Hotel, an excellent establishment where they had been very comfortable. As I had to lecture that evening and start for Denver next morning, they had a motor-car all ready so that I might see the very wonderful sights of the place. The geology is certainly marvellous, and I never bewail my own ignorance so much as when I find myself among such wonders. White pinnacles of sandstone with strange ironstone caps, like lids, upon the top of them, huge red slabs, also, I think, of sandstone, cut into queer shapes, limestone caves, a coal-mine, granite outcrops β it was like a geologist's nightmare, and I could make nothing of the jumble of the strata, which looked as if a giant had stirred them all up with a porridge-stick, after cutting them into slices with a cleaver. There were few wild-flowers as yet, though the anemones lay in thick beds, but the fauna were delightful, little gophers who sat with white waistcoats at the door of their houses and whistled with surprise when they saw you, their small cousins the chipmunks, bushy-tailed squirrels, lovely bluebirds, grey pigeons with curious rounded tails-but not a snake anywhere, to the grief of the boys and the relief of their mother.
There were several enthusiastic Spiritualists in the town, and one good clergyman, Mr. Taft, who seemed to be more interested in psychic things than is usual with his profession. There was also a good voice medium, a Mrs. Gainor, with whom we had a sitting in the afternoon. The voice, a deep male voice, was remarkably clear, but it gave us nothing of a strictly evidential character. There was a luminous patch which moved round the room and seemed to be a formless cloud of phosphorescence. The sitting was interesting without being absolutely convincing, but I am told that the medium can do much better.
A dreadful thing has happened to us. We had a thermos flask of whisky which we kept in case of exhaustion, and lo! sin has been punished and it has broken among our baggage. Our offence smells to high heaven, and we go about obvious and self-announced bootleggers. It is the funnier, as neither of us is in the least addicted to spirits, though a glass of good wine has always been welcome to me. We can but hope that time and fresh air will gradually relieve us of the stigma.
The journey from Colorado Springs to Denver by motor was a dream. I had imagined that it would be a climb, but the road, an excellent one, runs from south to north along the base of the mountains, the great ruddy, wrinkled bastion with white caps here and there always on our left. Short of the great mountains is one continual rocky formation breaking out all over the plain, sandstone and limestone tortured into every kind of queer shape by aerial erosion, by ice action, by water power, and by every agent which is used to break down the rocks. The country out of which these strange pinnacles and castles rear themselves is green rolling prairie, with scrub oak and fir trees scattered over it. The distance was seventy miles, and we only passed two small towns, Castle Rock and Littleton, the latter famous as a centre for pedigree cattle. I understand now for the first time that when the emigrants had made Pike's Peak they did not at once plunge into the mountains, but they kept to the level and skirted along them until they came to a suitable pass which had been already mapped out by the wonderful trappers and pioneers who were the vanguard of the race.
Denver is a large city which is rapidly growing and will be enormous. A splendid State House, with a golden dome which rivals that of Boston, dominates the town. We met here the Houdinis. He had been performing in California and was now on his way back. He seemed to have been impressed by some photographs which he had himself taken in Los Angeles and which showed psychic effects. I did not, however, find them very convincing. We went in the evening to see him perform his usual marvellous and hair-raising feats, which place him in a class by himself among illusionists.
Denver is fortunate in the possession of a remarkable psychic photographer, an eighty-year-old Scotsman named Alexander Martin, whose results are known to psychic students in England. I called upon him and found him a sturdy little bit of Scotland, living in very modest surroundings. I had hoped for a sitting, but he is very busy with some material work, and finds that it combats his psychic powers. I gave the old man passes for my lecture and I showed some of his own results upon the screen.
We came away from Denver very much impressed by the beauty of this town. The parks are magnificent and public buildings so fine that they are built rather for the future than for the present. It is a great health-resort for pulmonary cases, but they are not much in evidence and everyone seems very prosperous and happy. They could hardly be unhappy in such glorious air. The psychic atmosphere of the place seemed good also, and many were deeply interested in the great problem. Our next step was a long one-600 miles to Salt Lake City β and it involved a day and a night on the train. However, we are all getting used to this kind of thing and the children positively enjoy it. I fear I shall never get so far as that, and I often find myself thinking with pleasant anticipation of the days to come when I can order my own life in my own way, my task done, if it can ever be done. The first eighty miles took us back to Colorado Springs and thence to Pueblo, a busy iron-city to the south. It had been the scene of a terrible cloud-burst a few years ago, and we could see the marks upon the outer walls of the brick houses to show how high the flood had risen. It averaged about twelve feet, and the mighty torrent rushed through the town at the rate of thirty miles an hour, carrying the wooden houses along with it and drowning hundreds of people.
From Pueblo the line turns right into the mountains running up the gorge formed by the Arkansas River. It is surely one of the finest routes in the world, and the skill of the engineers is amazing. There are several places where there is just room for the river and the railway through gorges where the granite cliffs rise for 2,000 feet on either side. Here and there a dark band of iron is visible, slashed across the ruddy face of the cliff. How did it get there? We have not, as it seems to me, begun to understand the real formation of our globe, and, as usual, disguise our ignorance with long names. This journey through the gorge of the Arkansas is a wonderful experience and it is made more pleasant by the fixing of an open observation-car to the rear of the train, though you have to buy a pair of tinted protective glasses before you dare use it, as the smoke comes back upon you. Sometimes you may see wild mountain sheep on the crags, but none appeared to us, though we did see several large birds of prey which were probably buzzards, though we should like to call them eagles.
It is an amazing line, for it climbs over the 10,000 foot level without any cogs β the highest normal railroad, I am told, in the world. When near the top we saw Leadville in the distance, which is surely the most lofty of towns. It has 5,000 inhabitants, turns out over a million pounds worth of gold every year, and is nearly 10,000 feet in the air. It would be interesting to have the health statistics of such a community.
When you have climbed to this summit you are at the great Divide. A marsh of melted snow lies all around you, from which the Arkansas gets its springs, and flows down to the Gulf of Mexico. Pass on a few miles and the slope is westward and every stream discharges into the Californian Sea.
The breadth of the Rockies is a surprise to me. You cannot look at a map without appreciating their length, but to travel for days and see the ranges running from east to west parallel with your train is a surprise. An enormous tuck seems to have been taken in the earth's outer garment at this spot. Why here more than elsewhere? There are unsolved mysteries at every turn.
When you are clear of the Arkansas Pass and down on the farther side you get your first view of the American Desert. It is much like that of Egypt. I saw it in early morning, with subdued and delicate tints of lemon, of melon, and of cinnamon lying over it, yellow deepening to brown or warming to pink, with low, distant hills of sandstone. It is a place of death β a terrible place. Once I saw a man striding across it. He walked past the train but never glanced up. He was tall and thin, walking swiftly, as one who knows he has to cover certain ground in a certain time lest a worse thing befall him. Some poor hobo or tramp, I suppose, who had no railroad fare and took his life in his hands in order to get across. There are bones and skulls scattered about from animals which have died upon the trail.
The line ascends again as you approach the Mormon country, until you come to "Soldiers' Summit," which marks the spot where United States troops were placed in order to overawe the Mormons in 1858. They had fairly settled then into their land of promise, and the more violent spirits among them showed a strong disposition to defy the central Government. However, a peace was patched up, and there was no actual fighting. With all respect to the American soldiers, it was, I think, just as well for them, for our own experience has been that the mounted farmer in his own country is an opponent from whom little honour is to be gained. I know America would in the end have crushed the Mormons, but it would have been after a difficult and chequered campaign, and the compromise was a wise one.
Now we ran down into the wonderful Utah Valley, which was hailed by Brigham Young, the moment he saw it from under the canvas tilt of his wagon, as being the promised land. "Stop here! We go no farther," he cried. There is a great deal in the whole story which reminds one of the exodus of the Boers from Cape Colony, and when I saw a group portrait of the surviving pioneers taken in 1897 I seemed to recognize the familiar South African faces, the shaggy-bearded, patriarchal men and the stern, hard-worked housewives who cared for them. The flight of the Boers from the British settlements, across the Karoo amid the Kaffirs, is very parallel to the flight of the Mormons from American civilization across the Plains amid the Red Indians, and to match either of them one has to go back to the flight of the Children of Israel from the Egyptians across the desert of Sinai amid the Midianites and the other savage people who opposed them. The old wheel of history is for ever turning.
V. The Mormons
The Mormons β Their Toleration Great Audiences β The Tabernacle Seagull Monument β Salt Lake β Book of Mormon β Analysis of the Causes of Mormonism β Smith's Inspiration
We were amazed as we drove from the station to see what a splendid city the Mormons have raised. As a fact they are only 40 per cent. of the city inhabitants, but they are so united and their average character is so high that they are still predominant, though the Gentile majority rather resent that predominance and are even now organizing to dispute it. In the country round, however, the farmers are 80 per cent. Mormons, so that it is right and proper that the State offices should be nearly all held by members of that faith. I could not find anywhere the least trace of persecution, and a fine spirit of tolerance was shown in many things. The most personal instance was that the Mormon Church had allowed me to speak in their Tabernacle. When I remembered how often I and other Spiritualists have been refused permission to speak in ordinary secular halls which happened to be under the control of some Christian religious body, I could not but contrast the good feeling of the Mormons, who put their own special assembly-hall at my disposal. It was the more magnanimous because in my early days I had written in A Study in Scarlet a rather sensational and overcoloured picture of the Danite episodes which formed a passing stain in the early history of Utah. This could have been easily brought up to prejudice opinion against me, but as a matter of fact no allusion was made to it save by one Gentile doctor, who wrote and urged me to make some public apology. This of course I could not do, as the facts were true enough, though there were many reasons which might extenuate them. I thought it better to leave the matter alone and confine my attention and remarks to the present.
There are points, to which I will allude later, which Spiritualism and Mormonism have in common. One of the most obvious and most material is that they both took their origin in the north of New York State, the one in 1820 and the other in 1848, Within a distance of only a few miles from each other. It is certainly most curious that two movements which have each extended their influence over the whole world, and which do not emanate from each other but are superficially independent, should both have sprung from the rustics of one agricultural district. I say "superficially," because I think that if the Mormons understood the philosophy of Spiritualism, and if they considered the possibility of Smith, their founder, being medium, they would be able to get a connected and reasonable explanation of all that occurred, which would in no way detract from its dignity or other-world origin.
The interest in my lecture seemed to be very great and 5,000 people at the very lowest estimate assembled in the Tabernacle to hear me. I have never addressed a more responsive and intelligent audience. Both of the papers the next day, in describing the scene, used the expression "spellbound," from which I hope that it was granted to me to rise to the occasion. I had felt very weary since I began to talk in high altitudes, and I was still at 4,000 feet, so for the first time I asked my audience to excuse me in the middle and took five minutes' rest, while the great Mormon organ, one of the greatest in the world, played a beautiful and spiritual voluntary. This new arrangement, introduced between the philosophical and the photographic halves of my lecture, acted very well, and I got through less weary than usual; while as to my audience, one of the papers said the next day that the whole subject had fascinated them so that they lingered behind and would hardly leave the building. When one considers that the whole population of the town is 120,000 and that more than 5,000 were at the lecture, it was certainly a remarkable occasion and a record for any paid performance in the hall.
I would say a word as to the place itself, which is as strange and effective as many other points connected with these wonderful people. It is as big, roughly, as the Albert Hall, but it is shaped like an enormous oval ship upside-down, with a smooth keel for the roof. Perhaps a whale back would be a better simile. No nails were used and it is entirely bolted together with wood. So perfect are the acoustic properties that the least whisper goes to the back of the building, and it is a perfect joy to stand on the rostrum and feel how easily one can command one's audience. Next morning I heard from all parts how effective my exposition had been as an argument. I was assured by many that they quite accepted my view. One good Mormon solemnly prayed over me and called a blessing on my work. A Gentile doctor, a man of character and distinction, told my wife that it had opened his eyes to the real meaning of life and that he would go hundreds of miles to hear me speak of it again. It is such expressions which justify us and give us strength and courage to go on with the work. There are times when the dead wall of materialism seems impenetrable, and then one actually sees a few bricks drop out and one takes heart once more.
The huge temple, to which none but Mormons are admitted, did not interest me much, though it is a stately building with the angel Moroni twelve feet high upon the topmost pinnacle. I was charmed, however, with the little seagull monument which stands in the temple grounds. It seems that the early settlers were on one occasion in danger of absolute famine because an invasion of locusts was eating up their rising crops. Just as they were in despair there came a huge cloud of seagulls from the lake and descended upon the insects, devouring them and saving the harvest. In memory of it this beautiful seagull monument was created, and the gull is now a sacred bird in the valley, having saved the State, even as the goose once saved Rome. No one is now allowed to shoot a gull in Utah.
Everything about Salt Lake City seemed to me wonderful and unusual, even the railway-station. Fancy an English railway-station of a city which is not larger than Coventry with two magnificent frescoes spanning each end of the waiting-room. One is of the pioneer band coming through the end of the pass with their wagons, while the leaders look down on the Land of Promise. The other is the joining-up of the trans-continental line in 1869. Each is a really splendid work of art. That is one of the things which our railways must learn from the Americans. They are not there merely as a money-making means of transport. They must adorn cities as well as serve them. If they take the public money, they must give beauty as well as services. When one looks at the great marble station at Washington and then compares it with Waterloo or Victoria, one understands what a gulf separates our ideas and how much we have to learn.
The most interesting document the Mormons possess and the one which is of most value to the historian is Joseph Smith's own account of the whole matter. I think that it is impossible for anyone with a discriminating mind to read a long narrative without understanding whether it is written honestly or not. Here is a long, plain statement by a man who finally sealed his faith with his blood. I am prepared to take it up to a point at its face value, but I am also prepared to maintain that the writer, from his ignorance of psychic matters, lost all sense of proportion and misinterpreted to a great extent the evidence which was put before him. We have to remember that when apparitions from the other world, teachers or angels, come through, they usually assume some very high name, meaning perhaps that this message is in the name of that High Person. This is the "Angel of the Lord" of Scriptures. When such an apparition appeared before the little girl at Lourdes it gave the impression of the Virgin Mary. When it appeared before Joan of Arc it gave the impression of St. Michael. When it appeared before Swedenborg it claimed to be God. So in the case of Joseph Smith it is easy to grant that he saw an apparition and that he believed that apparition to be the Father and the Son. It is only this latter belief which I would dispute. I am sure that he believed it honestly, but that he was not aware of the strange way in which things are done from beyond.
Having made this concession, everything resolves itself into a plain case of mediumship with all its attendant signs. He was fifteen years of age, that period of puberty when both in males and females the outbreak of psychic power is most common. In his first and greatest revelation "thick darkness gathered round me." "When I came to myself again I found myself lying on my back, looking up to heaven." Is it not clear that this was a mediumistic trance and that the experiences which he had corresponded with his own earnest spiritual nature, and were essentially of the same type as those of other teachers like Swedenborg or Davis?
What was the message? It was really the same which we have got ourselves, but which we have been able to interpret more fully because we have had a far wider experience, and have been able to systematize and compare many examples of what to Smith was an isolated miracle. The message was that the Christian Creeds had wandered very far away from primitive spiritual truths and that while "they retain the form of Godliness they deny the power thereof," which expresses in other words what we mean when we say that ritual and forms have completely driven out that direct spirit-communion and power which are the real living core of religion.
Smith seems to have had no further psychic experience for three years, during which he admits very frankly that he was no better than his neighbours, though he refused to be bullied out of the fact that he had actually seen a vision. At the end of that time, being in his eighteenth year, he had a whole night of trance. In the course of it he saw a high spirit, who gave the name Moroni and who claimed to have lived upon earth some 1,400 years ago β a perfectly possible apparition.
Moroni appeared clad in that brilliant white which is familiar in spiritual accounts, and which occurs so often in the psychic descriptions of the Bible. Thus far we can closely follow and approve the sequence of events. Then there comes a passage which rings untrue, in which Smith gives those long portions of the Bible which Moroni quoted, and shows where they were as in the original and where they differed. This would imply that Smith knew the Bible by heart and also that he remembered with verbal accuracy all that Moroni said, which is surely incredible. We will take it that he simply means to give general impressions as to how far Moroni endorsed or disputed the texts.
But now we come to the core of the matter, which leaves Smith either a deliberate impostor or a most privileged mortal. Moroni declared that a book written upon gold or metallic plates was to be found at a certain place. Also that there were two stones with them which were Urim and Thummim, and gave the power of interpretation of the book. Of course the idea that Urim and Thummim, the mystic stones of the Hebrews, were used for such ends was not novel, and may well have reached the ears of a youth who lived in a community where religious questions were much discussed. The disappearance of Moroni is described with a precision of detail which carries the conviction of some actual experience to the mind. Next day the medium "found my strength so exhausted as to render me entirely unable to work." "I fell helpless to the ground and for a time was unconscious of anything." This psychic exhaustion is of course a familiar symptom and once again fits Joseph Smith's experience into the known signs of mediumistic power. The spirit-message had told Smith where the plates were deposited, and, according to his account, he went there and saw the hillside exactly as indicated in the vision.
They were in a stone box under another stone on the western slope of the hill, which was near Palmyra in the State of New York. The top of the box was actually above ground, but presumably it was covered by the stone above it. With a lever Smith prised the box up. Inside were the Urim and Thummim, which are not more particularly described as far as I know, save that they were fixed in silver bows, and these again on some sort of breast-plate. All this is in accordance with Jewish tradition, easily accessible.
There are points given, however, which impress me, though I admit they are by no means final. When a man invents he usually gives essentials for his story and no more. A novelist, for example, does not give details which have no bearing upon his plot. Yet Smith ends his description with the words: "In the bottom of the box were laid two stones crossways of the box and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with them." It would take a De Foe, as it seems to me, to imagine those superfluous stones.
To continue his statement, he reburied the box, on spirit-orders, but visited it for the next four years once every year. Here again, unless there is some truth in it, one sees no possible object in this detail. On each occasion he claims that he saw and conversed with his materialized guide, even as Davis claimed that he conversed with his teacher near Poughkeepsie. At the end of four years, on September 22nd, 1827, he was permitted to dig up and carry off the plates with many straight injunctions as to their use and guardianship. He held them, according to his statement, till May 2nd, 1838, or more than ten years, when the messenger came for them and he surrendered them to him.
We naturally ask who saw the plates during that long time? The Mormons have their answer. Three witnesses, Oliver Cordery, David Whitmore, and Martin Harris claim that they saw not only the plates but also Moroni himself. Eight others β four of the Whitmer family, three of the Smith family, and Hiram Page β solemnly affirm that they saw the plates, "which have the appearance of gold, of curious workmanship." The moderation of this description increases our respect for their testimony. It must be admitted that if Smith was charged to expose the plates to no danger of robbery, he could not, in his humble circumstances, display them to all the world.
Smith says that he got to work at once on his translation, which was made possible in some unexplained way by the Urim and Thummim. There was a double task, to Copy the characters from the plates, and secondly to translate the result. We are not told why the translation could not be done direct from the plates. But in any case the labour was prodigious, since the printed book is 522 pages of close print. How such a weight of metal as this represents could be carried by one man is not explained.
At this point there occurs a very important incident. There was a well-to-do farmer named Harris who was impressed by the evidence; he obtained leave to take not the plates, but a copy of the original and a copy of the translation to Professor Anthon, a learned man of New York. Anthon said that the original was Egyptian and that the translation was very exact. He examined some of the untranslated script and said it was Egyptian, Chaldean, Assyrian and Arabic. He gave a certificate to that effect. On learning that it was all a spiritual revelation he tore his own certificate up and would have no more to do with the matter. A Dr. Mitchell, who was consulted by Harris, gave the same evidence as Anthon. I do not see how one can ignore this statement or doubt that Harris actually had with him a document which was in Egyptian characters, and which had been translated by the unlettered farm-hand.
In 1829 Joseph Smith took a schoolmaster, Oliver Cordery, into his complete confidence, and from that time Cordery helped in the heavy work of the translations, so that, if they were fraud, from that day onwards Smith was in the power of Cordery. The latter seems, however, to have continued to be a faithful and reverential follower, and to have actually seen the same visions as Smith and to have shared his ministry, which formed them into a priesthood. At this point, as it seems to me, the decay of the system begins to manifest itself, for clearly, instead of being a message of hope and knowledge for the whole human race such as we bring by Spiritualism, it is tending towards the discredited and old-world idea of a special priestly caste, of formal sacraments, and of a new sect, complete in itself and antagonistic to the other sects. It is curious that this decline should have come within a month of the accession of Oliver Cordery.
From now onwards there came the period of conversions, of organization, of growth, and of edicts delivered by priestly authority, a source of strength, no doubt, when coming from an inspired saint, but dangerous, as all history has shown, when carried on as a custom. These same edicts in latter days were responsible for polygamy, which had nothing whatever to do with the original teaching of Smith's revelation, but was entirely a later growth, and is now honestly repudiated. But the memory of it remains to show the danger of so-called inspirational teaching in worldly matters. The course of events from now onwards is part of the general history of the last century, the numerous persecutions which these people endured, their growth and their courage, their industry and their prosperity, their migrations under persecutions from Ohio to Missouri and from Missouri to Illinois, their vain appeals to the law to protect them, the murder of their leaders, including Smith, their flight across the western desert, and their establishment in the Valley of the Salt Lake. It is a very wonderful story, and they may well claim that at every stage of it a protecting hand seemed to be extended to them. The great leadership of Brigham Young, one of the most many-sided characters of history, starter of irrigation, starter of co-operative stores, guide to his people in every difficulty, had much to do with their preservation and success. One reads of it as part of history, and it is quite a surprise when some elderly man or woman tells you that their own father and mother had tramped all the way from Omaha or Council Bluffs. But there is still the important point to be discussed, what about the book of Mormon? What story does it tell? How far are the facts narrated in it credible in view of our present knowledge of history and ethnology? It strains us. No one can deny that it strains us. And yet, knowing the wonderful things that have happened in the world, one cannot say that it is absolutely impossible. I fancy few Gentiles have read the Mormon revelation. I have done so, and would record my impressions.
The translation has been done on a Biblical model, with a repetition of all the "Los" and "Verilies" and "it came to pass" which make scriptural reading so tiresome and ruin it as a narrative. But the story itself is a remarkable one, and it is told in a number of books which have cross-references to each other which give them cohesion. Thus in the book of Halaman one finds names and places which have occurred already in the book of Nephi, and so on. If it were all an elaborate invention, it would take immense and unnecessary labour to make such agreements. Let us see what the story is that is told and how far it is credible. It narrates how two families left Jerusalem about 600 years before Christ, how they came to the Red Sea, and how eventually they made their way to America, apparently the West Coast of the Southern Continent. Here they prospered exceedingly, intermarrying no doubt with natives and forming in time two nations, the Nephites and the Lemanites, which gradually advanced northwards over the Isthmus and into Mexico and North America. These migrations lasted 1,000 years. A long series of wars wore them down, and the Nephites were finally exterminated in New York State, where Moroni, the last chief, buried the records of his people. The Lemanites degenerated, mixed with lower races and became the Red Indians. Such is the general narrative.
On the purely secular side there is some support. The buried cities of Yucatan and Central America with their pyramids, and the general suggestion of Oriental construction and ornament upon them, might be quoted. Their date is generally agreed as being not very ancient, and quite within the scope of the Mormon narrative. I have even read that Egyptian demotic characters have been found among the Mayan records. If that be true, it would certainly be a remarkable corroboration of the Egyptian script of the plates.
Then again there is the ethnology of the Red Indians. Some of them are very Semitic in appearance. I should like to have the opinion of some learned linguist as to whether any Indian words could be traced to an ancient Hebrew root. That would bear very directly upon the question. So also might those inscriptions upon the rocks in the upper waters of the Amazon.
At any rate, it can be said that there is some coincidence in favour of the Mormon account, though I admit the exceeding improbability of such a voyage at such a time. At any rate, it is not a manifest absurdity, like that theory that turns the blue-eyed, brown-haired Anglo-Celtic race into the descendants of the ten long-nosed, swarthy tribes of Israel.
So much for the historic side. It is on the side of revealed religion that the record is weak, so weak that there are only two possible explanations, the first that the whole thing from start to finish is a fraudulent fabrication, the second that Joseph Smith had a record, as is vouched for by so many, and that he worked into it his own religious memories and conceptions. Any other view seems to be untenable. For consider. These fugitive Jews came to America in 600 B.C. And yet we have not only the whole Christ-story imbedded in this narrative, but long extracts from St. Paul, like Moroni chap. x, where the spiritual gifts are given in Paul's own words, or Moroni vii, where the splendid passage upon charity has been stolen and disfigured. Yet there is no record of any communication with Europe or Judaea which might have carried this knowledge. The book is filled with those expressions which disfigure the cruder forms of Christianity, "the lamb of God," "the precious blood," "atonement by blood," and all the other reflections from the pagan worship of Mythra. The Church of Rome is alluded to in the usual abusive style of the extreme sectarians as the Mother of Harlots, and so forth. That all this came independently in early America before the year A.D. 500 is surely a monstrous contention. But if it is an interpolation of Joseph Smith, forging for pious ends, as so many have done before him, then how can we tell where the forging begins and ends? I write this in no carping spirit, for I like the Mormons and I respect their ways, but one must say truth as one sees it.
In the numerous messages, delivered under alleged inspiration, by Smith there are many passages which seem to me to be true, as they coincide with the spirit-information which we have ourselves received. Thus in one passage he describes how death confers no knowledge upon a man, but he finds his mental outfit the same as before. This was both new and true. Then, again, he declares that spirit is itself a superfine matter, and here again we are in agreement. True marriage carries on, but the tepid or cold marriage dissolves. That also we know. There are very many resemblances in our teaching. But in dealing with inspiration one has always to bear in mind St. Paul's profound saying that the prophet (i.e. the medium) should keep his spirits subject to him and not be subjected by them. One's own conscience and judgment must keep constant guard. For want of this some of the early Spiritualists received counsels as to free love which cast a deserved slur upon the growing movement. So was it with Smith. He had revelations which could have come from no high source. "If he have ten virgins given him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him. Therefore is he justified. But if one or other of the ten virgins after she is espoused shall be with another man, she has committed adultery and shall be destroyed." This is from Joseph Smith's edict of July 12th, 1843. Can one condone this? or can one wonder that the Gentile farmers, out of whose families the ten virgins might possibly come, felt hotly towards men who put forward such doctrines, though they might be justified, no doubt, like some other wicked things by a reference to the Old Testament?
I believe, then, that Smith was a true medium, but that his controls were not always reliable, nor did he have sufficient character to check them as they should be checked. I believe that if ever there was a record on plates, they were certainly tampered with and were much smaller than the translation. But I am also ready to think that the ultimate result has been to produce as decent a law-abiding community as is to be found at present in any part of the world. But the whole problem is an intensely interesting one, and I commend it to the attention of some more advanced psychic student than myself. I shall always retain a memory of the tolerance and courtesy which I received in Salt Lake City. As to the relations between the Gentiles and Mormons in Utah, I have a document before me signed by all the representative Gentiles, many of them British, which says, "We denounce as absolute lies the charges against the Mormons of sexual immorality, or murder or other depravity, or of tyrannous control in the fields of religion, commerce, morals, or society, and we protest against a continuance of this unfounded and wicked propaganda." This should be noted by a certain section of the British Press.
Before leaving the subject one should take note of the fact that the Mormons have the same regard for the Bible that other Christian denominations have, and that the book of Mormon is not supposed to supplant it, but rather to corroborate and enlarge it. It was in this idea of corroboration, as it seems to me, that a pious fraud may have crept in, on exactly the same principles as the Christian theologians doctored the Gospels in order to support certain doctrinal points in the Church. This short analysis of the Mormon revelation from the point of view of a sympathetic Spiritualist may perhaps induce some Mormon scholar to take up psychic matters and to check my observations from his own point of view. It seems tome that such a line of thought may help such men to understand the real origin of their own movement without in any way derogating from its essential truth. It may also serve as a warning against the indiscriminate adoption of supposed revelations, which, in the case of polygamy, have done so much harm to the movement. It is, I am told, spreading in Mexico, California, and other places, and I for one think that the world will be none the worse in consequence.
VI. South California
Trying Journey β Los Angeles β "Covered Waggon" β Marvellous SΓ©ance β Jonson's Powers β Catalina Island β A New View of Insanity
In the journey from Salt Lake City one passes rapidly out of the irrigated cultivated region and finds oneself in a stretch of desert which is sometimes a mere flat plain covered with tufts of sagebrush and greasewood, and at other times breaks into rocky canons with weather-worn limestone cliffs. The sagebrush and greasewood form little olive-green bushes, very much alike to the eye, but with this important difference, that sagebrush grows on ground which may be reclaimed, while greasewood is a sign that the land is hopeless. Apparently a great part of this plain is the bed of a huge salt-water lake, cut off from the ocean and elevated 5,000 feet in the air by some gigantic push from below. The salt water evaporated, save for such residual lakes as still remain, and the salt or alkali has impregnated the soil so that the only cure is to soak it in fresh water and so gradually get it clear. When this can be done it will make an enormous difference in the United States, for no one can realize unless they have passed over it how great is the surface which is now barren and useless β a mere impediment to communication. The snows of Canada have perhaps saved her from a similar misfortune. This journey was rather a trial to us, for we varied from over 5,000 feet on the crest of the pass down to some hundreds of feet below the sea-level when we passed the terrible Death Valley which skirts California. We were a very weary group when at last we ran from desert into irrigation and from irrigation into natural verdure, with oranges glowing on the trees, and cactus-palms and strange semi-tropical growths on every side. Just a day after leaving the Land of the Saints we were in what some have called the Land of the Sinners β the famous home of the cinema industry.
There is a huge Ambassador Hotel, sister of that which received us hospitably in New York last year, and there we took up our quarters. It has all that luxury which is characteristic of the best American hotels, and which is rather wasted upon a person of simple tastes like myself. However, a nice swimming-pool out of doors and a small golf course are adjuncts which everyone can appreciate. The grounds were already rich in flowers, and the lawns looked beautifully green after our journey through mountains and deserts. There were beautiful birds and butterflies to please the eye, and Malcolm on the first day captured a yellow swallowtail which gave him great joy. On the evening of the first clear day we went to see "The Covered Waggon," a very remarkable film which shows how the country was occupied, and the trials of the early emigrants. I could not imagine anything more educational, or a greater source of legitimate pride to an American. The glories of the battlefield seem sordid things compared to grand human efforts which culminate in some permanent and beneficent effect. It is typical of the courtesy of these people that, having heard we were coming, they had prepared a film of welcome and threw it on the screen at the beginning of the performance. It was an enormous theatre, with an audience of several thousands, and one got extras at this, the source of the cinema industry, which one cannot get further afield. For example, all the Indian chiefs concerned in the production were standing in a long line upon the stage when the curtain rose. I examined them carefully with my glasses and was much interested. It is impossible to look at a number of them, especially the women, without feeling that they are Asiatic, half Chinese, half Esquimaux. Surely, then, North America was largely peopled from Behring's Straits? And yet there is that strain with the Dante nose and chin. They are not Mongolian or Turanian. Are they not rather suggestive of the Semite? In that case there would be some slight corroboration for the Mormon view. Semites from the south may have intermarried with Mongols from the north. It will be fascinating in the next world when we can get a broader and clearer view of such matters. We had received an invitation from Mr. Baker, President of the Society of Advanced Psychic Research, to attend one of their meetings at Altadena, about fifteen miles from Los Angeles. They had as mediums Mr. and Mrs. Jonson, the former having the reputation of being one of the most powerful materializing mediums in the world, while his wife had also considerable psychic powers which supplemented his own. I had heard of Jonson in Toledo, whence he came for his health's sake, to the Pacific coast, and I had long been anxious to test his capacities. Having done so, I can now say with confidence that there was no exaggeration in what I had heard and that I have added one more to that long succession of tremendous psychic impressions which it has been my privilege to receive.
The circle was a large one, some twenty-four people, who met together once a week, so that it had that great additional power which comes from working together. They were all people of education and standing. The scene was impressive when we arrived, for it was the custom of the circle to put a white surplice over their clothes. The effect in the dim light was solemn and striking. Jonson and his wife were two pleasant, kindly, elderly persons. He had been sent from Toledo for his health, but his hand-grip was one of the most powerful I can recall, so I fancy that he has nothing now to complain of. His credentials as a medium are high, for his results have been obtained in all sorts of places and conditions.
Among other things I learned that at one time a United States Secret Service man had been told off to watch the Jonsons, also that the house had been shadowed by detectives to find accomplices, but all in vain.
There was at the end of the room a small passage which led elsewhere. The sides of this passage were small lockers. The door at the end which I examined was wired up with a stout wire, which passed through the key, round the handle, and round a staple, so that it seemed entirely impassable. This passage may have been six feet long and four broad. This was used as a cabinet.
After some remarkable music the manifestations began, the light being from a red lamp, which enabled one to see the outline of our neighbours but not the detail of their faces. The medium and his wife came out and sat in full view outside the curtain which shrouded the little recess which I have described. Presently this curtain opened abruptly and a white-robed figure came out into the room. I have an exact record of the proceedings before me taken in shorthand by a lady present, and I abridge the actual facts.
The white-robed figure swayed after its entrance, almost like a dress hung up and blown by the wind. It then seemed to gather strength and form. It advanced about four feet into the room. The medium and his wife, as I repeat, were clearly visible, seated outside the cabinet under twenty pair of eyes. It was explained to me that this white figure was Viola, the guide who controlled the circle. She began to talk in a loud whisper, greeting various sitters by name, and they returning the greeting in the same courteous tones as if they were addressing an honoured human being. She explained that she had much to do, and that she must make way for others. She then faded away, but whether into the cabinet or just short of it I could not say for certain.
There now came several figures in quick succession. The first of these was a little old lady wearing spectacles. I stood up and greeted her, at a point about ten feet from the cabinet. I could see her very plainly and she seemed like any other old lady, save for a certain stiffness in her bearing. She was claimed as the mother of one of the circle. She was clad in black.
An instant afterwards came a second old lady clad in white. She was recognized as the mother of Professor Larkin, the astronomer, who was present. My wife and I both advanced to her, and she laid her hand upon our heads, as in blessing. To my wife's question she answered in a whisper that she was very happy. The next, clad in white, was a large woman who claimed to be the sister of one of the company. The two sisters stood just in front of me, both in white, and certainly in general figure they were very alike, though I could not clearly discern the features. All these figures had, I may say, something subtly inhuman about them. Their faces varied from chalk to wax, they were mask-like, and their bearing was curiously stiff and constrained. In fact they looked like wax-works save that they glided about and occasionally spoke.
The next materialization was a dear little girl clad in white with a coloured sash. She seemed far more human than the others. I could conceive her as an impersonation which was unthinkable with her predecessors. She gave the name of Crystal Dahlgren, and said she had died in South Dakota, but could not say when. She sat on the floor, her bare legs crossed, and chatted with the company. Asked what she had been doing, she said, "Oh, learning, progressing learning about God." "Don't you know," she said in a high childish voice, "that life is God? If you see God in everything, how could you lose your way? If your spirit is stronger than your flesh, it controls the body. Body is matter and matter all goes to nothing, and so spirit is everything and spirit lives."
My wife then asked the little girl some questions.
"Do you live in a house on the other side?"
"Are there lots of beautiful flowers where you live?"
"Very beautiful β in God's garden."
"Tell us about the birds. You love birds?"
CRYSTAL, (with animation). Birds are very beautiful. Birds are God's messengers of light. God's messengers to sing with cheer when you are sad. Birds are beautiful and (to me) oh, I know. You are the man that knows about fairies, are you not?
A. C. D. Yes, dear.
C. I know about fairies.
A. C. D. You can see them, can't you?
C. Oh yes β listen. Do you know where fairies come from?
A. C. D. No, I don't. I would like to know. I wish you would tell me.
C. Listen. Fairies are the little lives that have never had earth-life. They are the cherubs in God's kingdom. They have wings because they have never had earth-life, and they don't understand how to gather the electrons, so God supplies them with wings to propel them.
A. C. D. Are they about us in this world?
C. Always about you, the good fairies. Don't you hear the flutter of their wings?
A. C. D. No, do you?
C. If your ears are attuned, then you hear. Did you never hear fairy music?
A. C. D. No, I am afraid not. Couldn't you materialize a fairy some time?
C. Perhaps. I don't know. They are so light. You see them in the ether and in the atmosphere, but to come into the mortal! I do not know about the vibration. It might be too strong. Sometimes when you have the photographic plate that is very sensitive you find them in the atmosphere. Don't you, Mr. Man?
A. C. D. Quite so, my dear. So far as I understand it, you do.
A. C. D. The birds are not afraid of you?
C. Oh no, they sit all over me.
PROF. LARKIN. Are you near the stars?
C. I go near to them.
PROF. Are there people in the moon?
C. Little tiny dark people, because it is so cold. They can't grow.
She then asked for music and interpolated some beautiful bird notes or whistles. As she rose to go, Mr. Baker said he had a box of candy for her. He gave it to me to present and she took it with a little curtsey, as a school-girl might take a prize. She then faded out before our eyes. I traced the box of candies as far as the floor and then it disappeared.
Mrs. Jonson then said that someone had come for me. A small female figure in a very timid way advanced from the curtains. It came out about five feet in a hesitating fashion. I came forward and looked eagerly at it. I could not doubt that the general outline of head and shoulders was that of my mother. I looked hard at the features in the dim red light, and they seemed to be fluid and forming themselves before my eyes, but I could not swear to this. The general effect was beyond all doubt. I said, "Is it you, mother?" She threw up her hands and danced up and down in an ecstasy of delight. Then she vanished and I returned to my seat with no doubt in my mind that the form had reproduced my mother, though I admit that the effect was not an absolutely certain one in the same sense as it was when I saw every smallest detail of her face in the presence of Miss Bessinet. Mr. Baker's son Billy followed. He was very visible in a grey suit and black knotted tie, which was his characteristic dress in life. I presume that the ideoplastic substance can in an instant take any form desired. He was introduced to us. We did not of course know him in life, but we found ourselves beyond all doubt talking to a very pleasant young American lad. After a few words he stepped up to me and laid a bit of candy in my hand. "I think the little lady sent this back to this gentleman," said he. It had actually been suggested by Mr. Baker that one piece should be rematerialized for me. We saw the young face now so clearly that we were able to remark upon his likeness to his father. The dialogue then ran thus:
A. C. D. Do you know my Kingsley?
BILLY. I certainly do, sir.
A. C. D. You will give him our love.
BILLY. I think I will let him bring it to you, sir.
A. C. D. That would be best of all.
BILLY. And Raymond β I know him.
A. C. D. It is wonderful to see you.
BILLY. Thank you, sir. I am glad to bring you pleasure.
MRS. BAKER. What can you give us in the way of a talk?
BILLY. Oh my, you overwhelm me, mother.
LADY D. Who is the chief guide helping my husband in his work on the platform?
BILLY. He has a wonderful Arabian who stands at his back and helps in these mysteries. They are not really mysteries, sir β just everyday occurrences. God's natural law, nothing supernatural, but it has got to be proved natural law, and will be. It is all God's plan β very simple plan, sir, but mortals try to make it complex.
LADY D. The movement is spreading, is it not?
BILLY. Very rapidly.
LADY D. Before long the whole world will be convinced?
BILLY. The world is convinced, but it will not admit it. Many who know this is the truth for motives of policy will cling to the old doctrines. But it is coming.
He then gave an interesting discourse on vibrations, saying that if they were not tuned aright it was impossible for them to come through β hence the varying results.
A. C. D. May I ask a question, Mr. Billy?
BILLY. I am just plain Billy.
A. C. D. You told me about an Arab guide. I am interested because I have already been told through my wife's hand that I have an Arab as guide.
BILLY. He is standing by you now. He is a very wonderful Arab.
A. C. D. I amg lad of the corroboration. Can you give me his name?
BILLY. Haveyou never received messages from him?
A. C. D. He has written through my wife's hand.
BILLY. He is your guardian spirit, sir.
A. C. D. So I understand, and that he is an Arab and was very distinguished thousands of years ago.
BILLY. His name is given as Ali Ben Hassen.
A SITTER. Billy, there is someone at the back of me now. I can feel it.
BILLY. That is the Arab, and he is very pleased that I am telling about him. He is a wonderful, wonderful guide. He is bringing a wonderful power. He and you, Lady Doyle, working together, are going to help Sir Arthur in his work more than ever before.
He then spoke at some length on the greatness of the ancients, saying that they were greater chemists and artists than we are to-day. "Your modernism is only a return to the olden times."
LADY D. Will you ask this Arab to take care of my husband's health? His work is a great strain upon him β and of the children.
BILLY. My dear madam, place your children in God's care, and fear not. Fear is the greatest evil of mankind.
After some further talk Billy asked for music β "Lively, please; I don't like funeral music" β and so vanished, after eighteen minutes of conversation.
I now had a very interesting experience. During the war I had been brought into contact with a young officer, Captain Cubitt, to whom I taught these truths. They consoled him greatly. He was killed in action. I had often wondered why he had not come back to me to confirm all I had told him. Now a figure emerged from the cabinet. I was asked to advance. I was naturally thinking of my own son and brother and could not recognize the man in front of me. Then the face grew clearer and I cried, "Is it Cubitt?" He nodded and seemed pleased. At first he could not speak, but presently he said in a whisper that he had tried to come back but had failed. I asked him if he had found things as I taught him. He nodded very emphatically.
Several other figures materialized, making fourteen in all, of all sexes and ages, from the one small cabinet while the medium was visible outside. There were more than twenty witnesses. How absurd it is that such vital things should occur, supported by such testimony, and that men of science should be engaged in studying how many varieties of moths there are in the world, and scorning this new knowledge as something below their intelligence.
On the whole I should pronounce the Jonsons to be the strongest materializing mediums whom I have ever met or have ever heard of, though I learn from my reading that such manifestations were common a generation ago.
I chanced to learn that another investigator, Mr. Holley, of Detroit, had been introduced to the circle. This gentleman is a practical man of affairs, and I therefore communicated with him to find out how far his impressions were the same as my own. I found that he was as satisfied as I was that the phenomena were beyondsuspicion, but he thought, as I did, that in explaining them to any third person it might be difficult to get over the fact that another door opened into the cabinet, even though we knew that it was, to all appearance, securely fastened. I therefore wrote to Mr. Baker for some reassurance on this point. I give an extract from his reply.
"During the past winter the door has remained wired constantly. It is wired in such a way that the wire can only be taken off by heavy pliers, as it not only extends through the key but is wound round and round. The hinges are on the cabinet side of the door and cannot be reached in any way from the bedroom. All our members have free access to the entire house and we use those bedrooms for our wraps. We know positively that no one can come in or go out during these meetings. The mediums live entirely alone without even a maid. This little passage is the only natural place for the cabinet."
Of course what I had seen made these assurances quite superfluous, but I obtained this additional information as to the door in order to reassure any reader who had not seen the phenomena β who might think there was some loophole for substitution or impersonation by means of the wired door.
In the first year of its existence this society had experience of 135 different materializations, of which only 14 were unidentified.
At the risk of wearying the reader I give this sitting at some length, not only because it was one of the most remarkable which I have attended during my life, but also because it meets so many of the objections which people quite honestly but ignorantly make, about no information ever coming through from the other side. A great deal of information was conveyed in this single sitting, and yet it was only one of a series. I claim that this information when collected and carefully reported is the most important teaching which has come to this earth for two thousand years. 
We had some days before the opening lecture, so it was decreed that I should have a complete rest.
On May 17th we drove down to Port Los Angeles, which is twenty miles from the city, an interesting journey, which brought us to the point of embarkation for Catalina Island, which was our goal. This Port Los Angeles is going to be a mighty harbour, and already its export of oil and import of lumber are among the greatest in the world. It was crowded with tankers and timber-ships, and great works were going on which would enlarge it and give better wharfage. It is not generally known in England how vast is the economic expansion in this quarter. Only a few years ago the new oil-fields were discovered, and now the whole shore-line of this region is bristling with derricks. They have to sink as deep as 3,000 or 4,000 feet to get the oil, and if we accept the view that this oil is the residue of former animal life, this fact gives a striking illustration of the time that organic life has been upon the globe. Much of this vast continent would seem to have a subterranean sea of oil, showing that at one time it has been the scene of a luxuriant and wonderful vitality, which is indicated also by those huge prehistoric remains which are nowhere so enormous and so numerous as in the western half of America.
Economically it is of course a gold-mine, but however prolific Nature may have been in the past, it is difficult to think that the supply is inexhaustible. At present the drain upon it is enormous. As we steamed out of the harbour we passed one great Rockefeller freighter bound for New York via Panama, with 100,000 barrels on board. We learned on enquiring that though much money was made in oil companies, much was also lost, and that nearly as much money was sunk in the ground as ever came out of it. Sometimes there is no oil and the sinking is pure waste, sometimes the drill breaks or disconnects and cannot be picked up again, sometimes there are disastrous fires. These affect the small men only, however, and the large companies, which have broad interests, think nothing of paying several hundred per cent, per annum on their original capital.
Catalina Island lies twenty-five miles from the mainland. It was a fine though cloudy day, the ocean was smooth, and the passage very pleasant as we were allowed the privilege of the captain's bridge. The children were delighted to see the fins of numerous "sharks," so called. Personally I thought they were really large dogfish, which are the jackals of the ocean. A number of pelicans flew near the ship and a few flying fish skimmed over the gentle Pacific heave.
There is a good hotel, the St. Catherine, at Avalon, which is the little town at which one lands. The whole place belongs to Mr. Wrigley, the Chewing-gum King, who is said to have given a million pounds to buy out all other interests. He has a fine house upon one of the hills. His enormous wealth is a sign of the prevalence of this horrible habit of chewing which does much to disfigure American life in the eyes of the traveller, and to discount the appearance of the fine men and pretty women who make up the nation. Venus would look vulgar if she chewed, and Shakespeare a lout. There was never so hopelessly undignified a custom. A man may drink and look a king among men, he may smoke and look a fine fellow and a sportsman, but the man, or, worse still, the woman, who chews becomes all animal at once. And yet the habit is incredibly prevalent. I have seen seven out of ten people, young and old, ruminating like cows, in the single line of a tram-car. Therefore, as I love both the Americans and their country, I have no love for Mr. Wrigley, who has demoralized the one by his products and disfigured the other by his advertisements. But surely it is a passing habit, like the expectoration of the last generation, or the snuff-taking of our ancestors, and it will remain only as an ugly and ludicrous memory.
Catalina Island has a general resemblance to Capri, though less precipitous. It rises at its highest to 2,000 feet, and it is the home of thousands of wild goats which are rounded up from time to time. The length of the island is 15 miles, and the breadth about 8. It has been cleverly exploited as a pleasure-resort, and its glass-bottomed boats are famous the world over. They are good-sized steamers and the people sit in rows, their backs to the ocean, staring down into the glass tanks, consuming Mr. Wrigley's products while they admire, through the crystal water, the wonders of the deep. It is certainly very beautiful β the huge fronds in slow rhythmical motion, the deep blues and greens where the vegetation opens out, the unconscious fish who go about their lawful occasions, with no regard at all to the boat above them. It is a huge natural aquarium and I have seen nothing like it. None of the fish were large β nothing over five or six pounds β but some were very brilliant, especially the golden perch, of a beautiful orange-red. The striped rock-bass were the most numerous, and we caught glimpses far below us of strange sea-slugs and sea-cucumbers crawling on a sandy bottom. Later we turned out-board, and watched a great colony of sea-lions which lay basking on the rocks, some of them barking at us as we passed. Finally, we wound up our experiences by an amazing exhibition of diving by a white man named Adargo, who was an islander, and may from his swarthy appearance have had some of the great Spanish blood in him. He swam down forty feet fifty-six is his record, and a world record, I believe β and there gathered some shells for us, finally lying on his back at the bottom, with his mouth open, gazing up at us. He can keep under water for three minutes. The shells were ornamental Abalones, and we were glad to bring a couple away with us as a remembrance of a remarkable experience.
In the evening we set forth in a launch with a powerful searchlight in order to attract flying fish. We cruised close to the shore, as the creatures avoid their larger enemies by coming to the shallows. It was really a very wonderful spectacle, unlike any that we have seen in our travels. The brilliant beam of light lit up the craggy, dim-coloured base of the cliffs, while the stretch of sea between was broken continually by the shining streaks of the flying fish. The only simile which would convey the impression would be to imagine a deep blue tropical sky criss-crossed by shooting stars, each of which came to an end in a little silvery explosion. It was an excursion which none of us would forget. We were amused by the patter of the guide who has to explain matters to the tourists. Such people are usually a nuisance, but this particular one had a wit of his own. His last words were: "If you liked the excursion, please tell your friends; but if you didn't like it, then keep quiet about it."
Next morning we had a long boating excursion down the coast of the island to a point where it narrows to an isthmus, across which we walked. Some white-headed fish-eagles flew over the boat and some wild goats were seen in the distance, but otherwise there was no great sign of life. Round the hotel in the morning we had seen some alleged humming birds, tiny creatures, but more drab in colour than I had expected. The boys rummaged everywhere for a rattlesnake, but to our relief they failed to find one. I told them the old story of "Is this nigger a-fishin', or is this fish a niggerin'?" to point my moral that there were two sides to a snake hunt. It had already been pointed at the Bronx Gardens in New York, where our particular friend, the keeper of the snakes, had been bitten by a rattler. He would certainly have died had it not been that by a perfect miracle there was in New York at the moment on a visit a Brazilian doctor who is the greatest authority in the world upon the subject, and who had some rattlesnake serum among his luggage. A few injections of this saved the man's life.
Our jaunt down the coast left us with a vague remembrance of deep blue sea, of cinnamon and melon cliffs, of scrub oak vegetation, with occasional gum trees, of limestone caves with the sea foaming into them, and of little coves with sandy beaches at the mouth of steep wooded valleys. In one of these clearings there was recently found an Indian burial-ground with 250 skeletons, though how they could have lived on this mountainous island is hard to understand. They must have been fugitives from the mainland. At the isthmus we saw a sinister old Chinese junk, anchored there as a curiosity. She was built, it was said, in 1530, and so solidly that she was still seaworthy. In size she seemed about the same tonnage as Columbus' ship of a generation before. Her more recent history was entirely of piracy, slavery, mutiny, and finally use as a floating prison β a most disreputable old bit of ocean flotsam.
So ended our adventures at Catalina, save that we went fishing on the last morning, with no success save for one very large mackerel. We were invited into the Tuna Club, however, where the trophies are kept, and there we were shown what we might have got had we been more fortunate or more skilful. Enormous sword-fish taken on a thin line and played often for ten hours, tuna-fish of 300 pounds which average an hour in the taking, a huge deep-sea bass of 350 pounds, long snouty barracoota, yellow-tails, rock-cod, ribbon-fish, dolphins (reminiscent of old Greek coins), ghost-fish, sun-fish (looking as if they had been cut in two and the front end had never got over the wonder of it), sucker-fish, pilot-fish β every kind of queer fish adorn the walls of that angler's paradise, which is presided over by an ancient picture of Izaak Walton, who would certainly have thought he had a nightmare had he really seen the horrible un-English creatures around him.
I have mentioned that an Indian graveyard was found upon the island. I had an opportunity of studying the photographs of the skeletons. One of them was a man seven feet in height, so they were clearly a very different race from those old savages whose stocky figures and gorilla-like skulls were being uncovered at that very moment at Santa Barbara, where an old mound was explored. The Catalina skeletons were all found with their knees drawn up to their chins, which was, if I remember rightly, the attitude of all British savages of the Neolithic period. Perhaps the bent knee has always been the symbol of prayer, and this attitude was universally adopted in early days as a propitiation of the gods. Each skeleton had an Abalone shell with it, in which were deposited some of its earthly treasures, sordid and mean, but the principle the same as thereat King Tut with his throne and his chariot.
On May 19th our short holiday came to an end, and we reluctantly turned our backs upon what will always be to all of us one of the dream-places of the world. That evening we were back once more at the Ambassador Hotel at Los Angeles, with a very full week of work before me, but a fine reservoir of renewed strength with which to meet it.
On Sunday, May 20th, I had a long talk with Doctor Wickland and his remarkable wife. Dr. Wickland is doing pioneer psychic work as an Alienist, and is about to bring out a book which may cause ridicule in this generation and respect in the next one. He is convinced that many forms of lunacy are produced by obsession exactly as portrayed in the New Testament. That is the starting-point of his system, and it is one which is founded upon a great deal of direct experiment and observation. The next stage is the discovery that static electricity makes the obsessing entity very uncomfortable. He leaves the victim more readily if he has another habitation, even though it only serves as a half-way house, before he entirely disappears. These seem to be the three main planks of his platform.
The procedure then is as follows. The sufferer is placed on a platform with static electric attachments. The controlling spirit is reasoned with, kindly in the first place, more severely afterwards. Meanwhile Mrs. Wickland is placed in trance. If the entity is still obstinate, electricity is gently applied, he leaves the sufferer and possesses Mrs. Wickland, from whom he is expelled by the powers of her own natural spirit, as it returns to her body. This brave lady is 61 years of age, and I have never seen anyone healthier and saner at the age, so it is clear that this self-sacrificing and dangerous task has not hurt her.
I have never met anyone who has such wide experience of the lower class of "Invisibles," as he calls them, as Dr. Wickland, for he is working with them every day. "They are not wicked for the most part," said he, "though you get a mean one now and then. They are simply ignorant. They don't know where they are and they can't believe they are dead. They are dreadfully puzzled and worried like people in a wild dream. 'I wish I had taken more carbolic acid,' cried one; did not take enough or I would not still be living.'" These words came through on November 11th. The woman, who gave her name and address, had died from suicide on the 8th. The doctor verified it, though he had never heard of her before. They are to be treated, as everyone should be treated, with love. They are usually quite amenable to that and to argument. For some reason they find that it is not a single spirit, but a colony which takes possession of a person. "My name is Legion," says the New Testament. Dr. Wickland claims to have expelled as many as fifteen from one person. It opens up a vista of medical possibilities, all depending upon the practical recognition of Spiritualism.
VII. Los Angeles
Journey to San Diego β Remarkable Mirages β Goldwyn Studio β Mrs. Wagner's Mediumship β Dr. and Mrs. Wickland β A Wonderful Exhibition β Return of an Evil Spirit--The Fairbanks β Testimony of a Clairvoyant β The Oil-fields
On May 21st I was booked to lecture at San Diego, a very rising town upon the Mexican border, which is said to have the finest harbour in Western America. It is an awkward distance-140 miles β from Los Angeles, but a kindly Spiritualist, Mrs. Finlay, volunteered to take us over in her motor-car. This gave us an opportunity of seeing closely all this section of California, which is chiefly devoted to orange cultivation. A good deal of it, however, where the irrigation does not extend, is still desert of a wild and hilly description. It should be and has been the haunt of bad men, for the border is close and there is no practical extradition, so that the bandit or hold-up man can "get away with it." Crimes of this sort are surprisingly common, and on the day we motored from the Catalina terminus we observed that a ear had been held up and a passenger shot on the same road that very morning. However, nothing of the sort came to distract the serenity of our drive, which was very beautiful in the latter part, running for fifty miles beside the ocean. We lunched at an isolated wooden inn, where the proprietor bustled out and announced himself as "Fra Lancasheer β Oldham, y' know." He was very interested to mow that I had lectured there.
We suffer greatly in England from the intrusion of vulgar advertisements where they spoil the scenery, but the Americans are far worse used than we. It is really shameful that a few should for their personal gain ruin the aesthetic and artistic pleasure of the whole nation. It matters little that the flat plains of Ohio or Illinois should be disfigured by Mr. Wrigley, of Chicago, or by Mr. Dodge, of Detroit, and Possibly the farmers derive some income from turning their fields into hoardings, but when on a lovely summer day you find your whole view of the Pacific, in a country which is as exquisite as the Riviera, broken by such legends as "Hot Dog," "Frankfurter Sausage," "Why Not a Kelly Car?" "Cheap Eats and Drinks," and so forth, it is time for that poor worm, the Community, to turn and to protect its helpless and lovely Mother Nature. In one respect the American ads. are less offensive than our own, since they are innocent and do not press upon your notice any of our various forms of alcohol.
We were greatly interested during our drive by the most vivid mirage. that. I have ever seen. A great lake with trees rising from it lay on our left at a mile distance, but vanished as we approached. It was incredibly realistic, even to the shadow of the trees on the water. Again it appeared upon the asphalted road which turned into a pool, showing reflections as a pool would do. There was hardly a cloud in the sky and no possibility of refraction from a distance. What is it? People take it for granted, but do not attempt to explain it. I have seen a vision of hills and water in the Sahara when there was no water in that direction for a thousand miles. Could it be that the vibrations of heat might create a condition in which we get a glimpse of some other world than ours? I know how wild such a theory may seem, and yet, as Tyndall says, Imagination is the pioneer of all scientific knowledge.
The lady with whom we drove, a very charming and cultured woman, who had served in France during the war, was a living example of the success of our mission. She had dropped into a lecture of mine in New York last year, had been interested, had arranged a sitting with Miss Besinnet in Toledo, had beyond all doubt seen her two dead brothers, had brought in succession her father, her mother, and her husband to verify it, and finally had converted a number of her friends, including people of some influence. Thus from one single centre does the knowledge spread. Her mother's life had been saved, she assured me, by the comfort which had been brought.
The lecture at San Diego was a great success, the theatre being entirely sold out and the audience most receptive and intelligent. A question from one gentleman was handed me before the lecture, and I did not answer it, for I really could not. I quote it as an example of how the finer points of psychic knowledge are penetrating the community. He said, "I am unable to differentiate between the spirit-picture which a clairvoyant sees and the similar vision seen by the psychometer when holding an inanimate object in his hand." I leave the question as a problem for the advanced psychic student.
By two o'clock on Tuesday, May 22nd, I was back in Los Angeles, having travelled 300 miles by road and given a lecture of one and a half hours, which was not a bad record for my sixty-fourth birthday. They are kind folks, these Americans. The manager of the hotel conveyed a great birthday cake up to our room. He had mercifully put only one candle on the top. "We just guessed at the age," said he. I assured him that otherwise we could not have seen the cake.
We spent one morning in going over one of the great cinema studios. This particular one was the Goldwyn. They are certainly amazing places, and things are done with a thoroughness which deserves success. It was a wonderful experience to come out of a hot, dusty suburb all plastered with the price of lots and every sort of hideous modern defacement, to pass through a door, and to find ourselves in the presence of Philip, Mary, and their court all seated motionless around their banquet table, with every dress and jewel and plate and goblet finished off to the last possible degree of perfection. No tinsel and nothing tawdry. Even so they lived. It was like stepping back in a moment to the actual scene. The courtiers whispered. A wounded courier arrived with news from Don Juan. The sulky King glowered. The Queen picked daintily at her plate. It was a wonderful vision, and then in a moment we were back among town lots and chewing gum once more, with great hoardings which implore me to preserve that school-girl complexion.
In another shed they were preparing a scene in an old dugout of the German War. A man stood amid the rafters and beams waving his hands in a strange way. "What is he doing'?" "He is weaving spiders' webs." So he was β and very good webs, too. So far have they pushed realism.
In the evening of May 23rd I opened my campaign in the Trinity Auditorium, with a very large audience. Nothing could have gone better, and I had the pleasure of confining myself to the philosophic exposition without photographs, which gives me time to develop my argument and my experiences. I have seldom felt more in touch with my audience, and they were so quick and intelligent that the applause often came before I had time to make my point.
We had a sΓ©ance on May 24th with a Mrs. Inez Wagner, who is pastor of a Spiritualist church and a strong trumpet medium. Denis came with us, and besides my wife Mrs. Finlay, the lady who took us to San Diego, and her mother, Mrs. Evans, were present. There were lights, most of which were invisible to me, but Denis, whose psychic perceptions are very acute, could see them and report them as quickly as the medium. The lights had not been out more than a few minutes when the deep masculine roar of the spirit-control broke forth, welcoming us. It was a sound which no woman could produce, and I was the only man present. As he control-spirit was an Irishman, I asked him, "What about poor old Ireland? Is she to have peace at last?" "Yes, she is," he answered. "We have had spirit-conferences sitting over Ireland day and night endeavouring to get peace ideas imposed upon the leaders. We have succeeded. There will be no civil war with Ulster. All will unite in time." I give the prophecy as received, though I have never looked upon prophecy as one of the certain gifts of the spirit. Even the early Christian circle went sadly astray upon that, for they foretold the immediate end of the world.
We had a number of messages which came from John Doyle, Richard Doyle, Mary Doyle, Charles Doyle. These are just the names that were got in New York in one of Mr. Ticknor's meetings, and this fact makes it the more probable, as I pointed out before, that the spirit-control, who has unlimited power of reference to literature, may bring names when the personalities are not actually present. That it is not the medium who does the reference is shown by the fact that nothing short of omniscience concerning what has been printed could give all the details I have at various times received. I believe the spirit-control has practical omniscience concerning all such sources and can reproduce it all. If this is not so, why is it that the references are so often to things which have in some way at some time appeared in print?
The control clearly knew intimate details about our own little circle. "We will do Billy's eyes good," said one message. "Malcolm will write cinema plots on psychic subjects," said another. What could this Californian medium, a complete stranger, know in her own normal self about Billy or Malcolm?
Mrs. Evans's son Nelson came through and spoke in a very convincing way. He said that he had met in spirit my son Kingsley at Ocean-side. Now Oceanside was the littleplace where we had stopped for lunch on our way to San Diego, and Nelson Evans had said to his sister in advance that he was coming in the motor with us. Kingsley, I know, is often with us also. Clearly they met when we walked by the beach at Oceanside. The medium had no means of knowing we had ever been at Oceanside β the one place where we got out of our motor. This seems to me highly evidential.
Mrs. Wagner seemed to me a good woman and an honest medium, and her control was certainly a very striking personality. She stood her trumpet in a dish of water, as the young Chicago medium did. I examined the water afterwards and found a well-marked sediment, though whether this was ectoplasmic or not I know not.
One other incident in this successful sΓ©ance is worth recording. My wife had seen a photograph of the late Nelson Evans and had at once said, "But I know him. I know his face quite well." This was unknown to the medium. When Nelson Evans came in spirit he said, "I have met Lady Doyle before. We have met before my death during sleep-time when our etheric bodies were liberated." This, if it was a coincidence, was certainly very remarkable. I am told that the Rev. Dr. Herrick is as good a medium as Mrs. Wagner. If this is so, Los Angeles is well provided for.
On the evening of May 24th we had one of the most curious of all our strange experiences in America. This arose from a visit to Dr. Wickland and his remarkable wife, of whom I have already spoken. I examined many of Dr. Wickland's papers, and saw the platform and the machine for static electricity by means of which obsessing spirits are driven out of the patients. I sat on the platform, received a shock, and entirely sympathized with the entities in their desire to quit. Dr. Wickland has gathered several very intelligent assistants round him, especially a Mr. Goetz, whose own child had been made normal by these means. They all agreed as to the marvellous cures effected. The matter is well worthy of the most serious attention of the medical profession, for the proofs seem to stand close scrutiny and the treatment offers good hopes where all other hope is gone. The doctor and his wife are not charlatans, but are absolutely unselfish, people who are urged on by a very pure desire to help humanity. If he makes his point, and I believe he will, his name will live with that of Harvey or Lister or any other great revolutionary teacher in the science of Medicine β and yet his whole system is but a return to a principle which was a commonplace in the days of the Christ.
A very large company, some forty at the least, assembled in the evening for the psychic demonstration which was given by Mrs. Wickland. It was certainly a most extraordinary performance and left us all in a state of amazed admiration. After some music Mrs. Wickland, in ordinary l i le a very gentle and sweet-faced, grey-haired lady, went into trance. She then proceeded to act a play in some Slavonic language, of which she knows nothing in her normal condition. They lay contained eleven characters and so wonderful was her expression and her pantomime that there was no difficulty in following the plot. It was a morality play, depending upon the marriage of Love (the lady) and Wisdom (the man), being interrupted by the ruffian Selfishness and his woman Frivolity, who murder the lovers, and are in turn brought to justice. I have seen all the greatest actresses of my generation-Modjeska, Bernhardt, Druse, Terry β but I do not think that any one of them would have played these eleven parts, without a stage or a costume, in so convincing a way. The spirits' own account is that they are a band of strolling players on the other side, who represent this play before the undeveloped dead in order to teach them the moral, and that they use the wonderful mediumship of Mrs. Wickland in order to demonstrate their power to us mortals. It was very impressive.
The play did not end the wonders of the evening. After a pause the medium was obsessed by a new entity. In a moment she assumed the manner, the language, and, so far as it was possible for a gentle, refined lady, the appearance of a tough of the worst sort. She was violent, aggressive, and abusive β wanted to know "Where the hell am I?" and who the folk were who were staring at him. Clearly this was one of those numerous earthbound spirits who do not know they are dead, and who are brought by higher spirits for instruction to human circles which can get into touch with such low forms far better than angels can. After some pressure he gave his name, Jacky Williams. No, he wasn't dead. What damned nonsense! He had seen a light and some chap had said, "You go in there and you will get what will do you good." He felt himself and realized he was dressed like a woman. "Well, what next?" he cried, and roared with laughter. "My memory seems sorta gone!" said he. "I've been walkin' and walkin', and God knows where I've been." He was reasoned with and talked gently to, and then suddenly the change came. "Oh, mother, mother!" cried the medium, her hands and eyes raised in the air. "Oh, mother, it's You? Oh, forgive me, mother, for the sorrow I have brought you!" He fell on his knees in an agony, and poured his whole soul out in contrition. It was a most moving scene, and I am sure there were few dry eyes in the room. "See the beautiful hall!" he cried. "Oh, how beautiful! And the ladies and gentlemen! Oh, mother, am I to go in there?" presently the mother took possession of the medium and thanked us all. "Thank God, I have him now. He was the only one I could not find. It was Dr. Peebles who did it. Dr. Peebles brought him in here." The episode was a wonderful and convincing instance of spirit-power and psychic law. Dr. Wickland assured us that these spirits who did not know that they were dead, but who imagined they were in some terrible long-drawn nightmare, were common among the unspiritual. I le had one case β an ex-priest β where the man had been dead seventy-five years and still insisted that he was alive. Our opponents do not realize the price they may have to pay.
I carried away with me from the Wicklands some stenographic accounts taken from the hundreds of records where various entities had spoken through Mrs. Wickland. One of the most interesting was Mrs. Eddy, who, whether one agrees with her or not, must have been a remarkable woman. I do not believe in effects without causes, and, as in the case of Mormonism, I cannot think that a movement which affects the whole world came from total error. However little sympathy I may personally have for Mrs. Eddy's character, her posthumous views are interesting as being far more reasonable and measured than they were in life. She still upheld β and no doubt rightly β the creative power of mind, and how by thinking of a thing, such as a disease, we may actually cause it. The curious fact that many doctors have died of the conditions which they specially investigated β Liston, for example, of an aneurism would seem to bear upon this. "A doctor tells you you have gall-stones. You concentrate your mind upon gall-stones, gallstones, until you can think of nothing else. You have in your mind a creative power. You may create your own condition." So far the posthumous Mrs. Eddy seems to be on firm ground. She bewails, however, that she cut loose from the spiritual. "I made a mortal error there," she said. "I feel so sad. I do wish I could tell them to open the door for the spirit of understanding, and not keep on just reading and reading and concentrating." Finally she bewailed the present tendency of her Church. "My people are running to commercialism, and it is money, money, money. I closed the door for my people and it is hard. If I had used my psychic power I could have helped thousands." I confess that I like the spirit-lady very much more than the mother of the great million-pound pile in Boston, with her foolish utterances alternating with the wisdom of Jesus upon the walls.
We spent the morning of May 25th in examining some of those great cinema studios which are the pride of Los Angeles, and some of those great impersonators who are the pride of the cinema studios. We first made the acquaintance of Douglas Fairbanks and his wife, better known as Mary Pickford, who are, I suppose, at this moment, the most popular conception of the ideal male and female. We came to the conclusion that the popular conception was quite right and that the public had got a perfectly true reaction. It would be hard to meet two people who have been less spoiled by universal praise and by sudden wealth. Save for Houdini, I know no one who has performed such reckless, dare-devil acts as Fairbanks, and one only fears that some day he may lose that nerve which carries him through. He told me that only once had he been shaken, and that was after leaping over a narrow gorge in the Colorado canon with a 2,000 feet drop. He landed on a small ledge only a foot or two across, and when he looked down he was physically sick. As a rule, however, his feats leave him quite unshaken.
We were greatly impressed by the atmosphere of good-feeling and happiness which prevailed in this huge place, where hundreds of men are employed. It filters down from the two chiefs who rule the male and the female art. No cross word is ever allowed. All are brothers working to a common end. Such a community all smiling and interested in their work under that deep blue sky and in that perfect climate seem to me to be nearer the communities of which we read in the beyond than any earthly institution which we have encountered. We found Mary Pickford intensely psychic herself, with many gifts of the spirit, while Fairbanks had a robust open mind which only asked for definite experience. We indicated how to get it.
Among the employees was an enormous negro, aged twenty, who seemed to me, when stripped, to be the most powerful man I had ever seen. He weighed 240 pounds, was 6 feet 4 inches high, and as active as a cat. Fairbanks beckoned to him to come with me into a room that we might examine his proportions. I saw him shrink away and look at me with fear in his eyes. When we got into the room he still looked askance at me. "This is the spook-man," said he, and then later, "I wouldn't like one in my room at night." His fear was very real, and I felt that if I had slowly approached this Hercules with my eyes fixed upon him he would have bolted with a howl. It gave me an insight into the power of those Voodoo priests and magicians who have sway over just such formidable babies as poor Sam. He had the brain of a child of ten, but his body-was terrific.
From the Fairbanks studio we passed on to that of Jacky Coogan, the dear little boy whose natural vivacity has won the hearts and admiration of the world. It is said that he has already earned some millions of dollars for his parents. He is now only eight years old, and very small at that, but bright and alert to the last degree. He seemed very patient over what must have seemed stupid drudgery from his point of view, and he readily accepted every idea suggested to him. They asked me to be photographed with him, so I employed the time telling him a gruesome Sherlock Holmes tale, and the look of interest and awe upon his intent little face is an excellent example of those powers which are so natural and yet so subtle. Long may Jacky remain a dear, natural child, uncontaminated by his prosperity.
On May 26th I was entertained to lunch by the business men of Los Angeles at the City Club. I told them the story which they probably knew already of the Los Angeles man who was admitted to heaven, but Peter whispered to him as he passed, "I am afraid you will be disappointed." We had a very pleasant function and I made some new friends. From the point of view of my mission these meetings, even though I confine myself to mundane subjects, do good, as they show the public that I am not a wild-eyed visionary, but a man of affairs like themselves. Many of them asked me where they could hear me speak about Spiritualism, so I had clearly awakened interest.
I had a long conversation afterwards with a Dr. Jacquelin, who is one of the leading authorities upon dietetics. He has been a psychic student for many years and has had some remarkable experiences. The following seems to me to be unique. His wife died quite suddenly in a Paris hotel, and the stricken husband, crazy with grief, mourned in a frantic fashion over the dead body. The hour of the death was 3.15. When he returned to America the wife came back through a Canadian medium who knew nothing of the circumstances. "Dearest," she said, "you thought I was dead at 3.15. My senses were really alive until half-past three, and never shall I forget my suffering as I saw your grief and was unable to allay it." I see no loophole for any explanation here save that a direct message had come from the dead wife β a message which gives us a curious lesson in the permanence of the senses at the time of dissolution.
I also made the acquaintance of Mr. Hobson, who in his youth served in the Navy, and bottled up Cervera's fleet in a Cuban port, for which he became the most kissed man in the United States. He seemed even now a fine, upstanding, energetic fellow. He is at present endeavouring to bottle up something far more dangerous than poor overmatched Cervera ever was, and that is the dope habit. He tells me that the menace is terrific, that there are several million of addicts in the States, and that they are rapidly increasing. Dr. Jacquelin confirmed this, and added that it had even penetrated into the schools. The great difficulty is that some of these dopes β heroin, for example β are a synthetic product of coal-tar, and that no activity at the Custom Houses can prevent the addict getting his supply. The only cure seemed to be in education, for if a man or woman realized that the first sniff of that white powder might really be the first step to a dreadful lingering death, that first step might not be taken.
There are moments when I realize how directly I am helped on my mission, a matter for which I can take no personal credit whatever, though it is an eternal subject for wonder and congratulation. Before we left, in my own home circle through the hand of my wife, I had assurances not only that our own friends on the other side and our own guides were coming with us, but that some exalted spirits would assist us. My guide wrote: "A much stronger guard than I will be with you upon the whole journey. They are very, very high. They are among God's chosen band." On a later date we got: "Don't ever fear. Such wonderful guards will be round you. Some very, very high souls arc coming specially down to work through you. I am only one of the lesser ones. It is a great band."
So much for prophecy. Now for performance. Mr. Carl Bronson, of Los Angeles, is a well-known musician, and has the blessed gift of clairvoyance. He wrote a report of my second lecture from that point of view, recording his very detailed psychic impressions in the Evening Herald. He said: "I have the, to me, natural faculty of seeing spirits in the air, much as one would see living beings moving about in an, expanse of clear water." He then described how he could trace a barrier of protection built up round me by my own aura, which, he explains, is necessary for every speaker and singer, so as to hold their own personality and not get confused and mixed by the tumultuous thoughts of the crowd.
"As he warmed up to his subject, a lilac aura, almost ultra-violet, began to exude from him, outlining his form. This aura widened or narrowed during the lecture as the speaker grew impressive or not. When he endeavoured to explain some very abstruse point, his efforts to 'put it across would cause distinct flashes tog low out from this very central aura.
"The psychic formations around the speaker indicated clearly that he is receiving great assistance from the usually unseen world, and that he is in no sense a hobbyist, but has gradually prepared himself for the work in hand. The dull shadows of love of notoriety were entirely absent from his aura, nor did material accretion enter its drab beam into his frank glow.
"Many spirits of a yet higher plane than he perhaps dreamed stood interestedly about him last night, and their golden bodies contrasted markedly with the duller glows of the friends on the astral plane who are helping him. I could recognize those spirits of the higher planes, but I could not those of the astral, so that I cannot tell him who the friends are, being able only to see their forms.
"I have never been in what is called a trance, and see these things as anyone else sees in daylight. Last night the spirits of high realms came out strong enough round Sir Arthur to make shadows on the old Trinity walls as they passed about the lighted auditorium."
This prophecy in our own circle and its corroboration from an independent witness of high character must surely impress others as it has impressed us.
The day after the lecture a friend, Mr. Carey, took us in two motors to see the Ventura oilfields, which lie seventy miles north in the Santa Barbara direction. We were a large and cheerful party, as not only the children but Mr. Erskine and Miss French were able to come also. The country to the north is a series of low hills amid which the excellent road winds. We have no motor roads like those round Los Angeles, and the number of motors is prodigious. When we crowned a hill and looked back we could see the whole long road dotted thickly, even when we were fifty miles from the city, for it was Sunday and everyone was out. There were no bicyclists and no pedestrians.
Land speculation seems a huge industry. Every few hundred yards there were placards imploring people to buy and offering special advantages; while every mile or two there were little tract-houses, as they are called, for seeing clients and effecting sales. I fancy land-sharks are as numerous as in the days of Martin Chuzzlewit. On one lot there was printed up: "Don't be taken in. Don't buy. There is no water." I fancy that man had been swindled, but I fancy also that he ran about an equal chance of being sand-bagged or of getting his money back so as to be rid of him.
We made our way to Ventura, where we lunched in a pleasant beach hotel with a blue sea before us, and the outlying islands, which are almost uninhabited and are overrun by wild boar and wild goats. After lunch we visited the oil-wells. The oil is so pure that at one well it was 98 per cent. paraffin, and could be emptied straight into the tanks of the motor-cars without any treatment. At one point we saw thick dark oil issuing from the ground in a sort of bog, from which a thin stream of oil oozed down the hill. One can conceive how common is the product when one observes that no one took the trouble to place a tin receptacle which could catch it. The system of leasing is that the landowner lets the oil producers have the use of the land on condition that they pay him one-quarter of the gross results. Our friend, Mr. Carey, was selling some land in this way and generously promised that a proportion of his profits, if oil results, should be devoted to the Spiritual cause, I being his trustee in the matter. I pointed out that the official Spiritualist organization of America would be better able to handle it, but he assured me that the gift was personal. Whether this comes to anything or not, the generous intention is the same, and it might possibly develop into a fund which would be of great service to a movement so starved for money as ours. Within a year or so we should know exactly how this matter develops, but it is, of course, a lottery. Meanwhile, it has made this Ventura excursion a notable episode for me, for I am weighed down sometimes by the number of individuals and institutions who urgently need sustaining. All our workers are wretchedly paid, and many who have worked and can do so no longer are in dire need, while our churches are a disgrace to the richer members of our community.
Apart from the oil incident, our long day's trip was a very wonderful experience, and the children, whilst we were investigating wells, thought they had actually got a rattlesnake. The two boys pursued it into some long grass and were still hunting for it when we returned. It was, they had discovered, not a rattler, but a small mottled snake, which they declared was harmless. I was glad when the creature got away, for the boys are very fearless and would have seized it in their hands, while we were by no means convinced that it was so innocent.
The drive back was long, but the beauty of it all will ever haunt us: the masses of purple Bourgainvillea over the pretty wayside houses, the groups of eucalyptus, which took both our sight and our nostrils back to Australia, the long lines of the pepper trees like weeping willows, showering their long green tresses to the very ground upon either side of the smooth black road, the dense banks of roses, the geraniums grown into shrubs as large as rhododendrons, all the beauties of subtropical vegetation. How I wished that I had the brain of a Russel Wallace and could read more clearly the illuminated page of Nature. Since we drove from Colombo to Candy we have not seen such a panorama.
The sequel of the day was a good example of the pressure on our lives. When we arrived after our 150-miles road journey at our hotel, we found that the Sunday paper had contained a damaging but entirely untrue attack upon the photographs by a Dr. Reynolds, who seemed to be an example of what Mr. de Brath has called "the obsession of fraud." It was necessary to answer this at once, which was not difficult, but took some time and attention, for one cannot afford to make mistakes oneself, however wild the statements of our adversaries may be. The answer was half written when we found that it was time to keep an appointment at the Spiritualist Church, where we had promised to attend a service and to speak. Without our evening meal we sprang into a cab and reached the place, where two hours were occupied in a long service, which, like nearly all Spiritual Church services, was in great need of being reorganized and standardized. It ended by an attempt at a psychic photograph which resulted in complete failure. After ten, still unfed, we reached our hotel again, and found a pressman waiting in the hall for my answer to Dr. Reynolds. I darted upstairs, finished my reply, handed it in after eleven, and so assured that it should appear next day β which is very necessary when a false statement has to be corrected. Finally, we gave our dinner up as hopeless and postponed it till breakfast.
The last lecture in Los Angeles was a triumph. It began in a curious way. The property man had placed a heavy reading-desk with electric fittings, a table, and a chair in the centre in front of the screen, not realizing that the pictures were going to be thrown on at once. They obscured the view of the audience and the man had disappeared. Therefore, after looking round for him in vain, I set to work and shifted them all myself, disconnecting the electric lead and replacing it in a new socket, to the great amusement of my huge audience, who roared with laughter when, after it was all done, the astonished head of the property man appeared round the wings. It was clear that I had popular sympathy in the attack made upon me, for there was general cheering when I refuted the statements made. What was most pleasant of all, the new friends whom we had made, Mr. Carey, Dr. and Mrs. Wickland, Mrs. Finlay, and others, crowded round us to bid us farewell. Never shall we forget Los Angeles.
There was some pleasing evidence also that Los Angeles would not forget us, and at the risk of seeming to throw bouquets at ourselves I must quote the opening of the very first letter which we received from Dr. Austin, one of the most intellectual of her citizens. "You made a most profound impression," said he. "Already the people are asking when you will come again. Los Angeles fell in love with Lady Doyle. Please remember that the prayers of many thousands here will follow you in your work and that every Spiritualist feels personally indebted to you." Equally pleasing was another letter which reached us by the same post from Mr. Carey, whose kind intentions I have described. I had recommended him to Mrs. Wagner, for evidence. "One of the greatest events of my life was experienced this morning at a meeting with Mrs. Wagner. While sitting quietly with her the deep bass voice of her control filled the room. I afterwards heard beyond doubt the voice of my mother and of my grandfather, John Carey, who says that he has been guiding me for years. They mentioned things that I know no one on earth-life could be familiar with."
So ended our Los Angeles visit. l cannot forecast the fate of this town, for there seems no limit to its possible expansion. At present its wonderful residential qualities are said to have been especially found out by the farmers of Iowa, and quite an appreciable proportion of the population is said to be from that single State. As other States make the same discovery, Los Angeles will become ever greater, until perhaps town and port become one. The administration seems to be clean, though one paper, which suggested that I should visit the jail, declared that I had best put a clothes-peg on my nose. From this I fear that the blot which disfigures so many American cities is not absent from this one. I trust that I am mistaken.
One other curious incident occurred at the last moment. A Dr. Perrin, whom I had never seen before, called at my hotel. He was an elderly gentleman, a veteran of the Civil War and a friend of General Lee. He asked me if it were true that I made no personal gain from my religious work. I assured him that it was. He said that in that case he desired to present me, as a token of his esteem, with 100 acres of good land upon his estate near Phoenix in Arizona. I need not say that I gratefully accepted. So that is how I became an American landowner, though whether at my age I shall ever see my estate is very problematical.
VIII. San Francisco
Literary Associations β A Seeress β Tamalpais β Wonderful Panorama β Californian Professors β The Stanford Bequest β Prediction of Catastrophe β Successful Lectures β Opposition β An Interesting Mystic β Dr. Abrams β Giant Remains β A Venerable Chairman
The journey from Los Angeles to San Francisco is about as far as from London to Dundee, and includes a climb over a considerable range of hills, so it took us from eight in the morning till nearly eleven at night. I retain a panoramic view of the long journey, as seen between snatches of sleep β a hundred miles of barren hills with oil-derricks dotted over them, a hundred miles of wonderful ocean breaking into spray just under the train, the great loops which carried us over the Santa Lucia Mountains, the famous Lick Observatory, the beautiful fruit district, and then finally salt water on both sides of the train as we drew up to the City of the Golden Gate. If I come to be bedridden I shall always have memory pictures on which to ponder. We were all very weary when we arrived at eleven at night, but none the less the relentless Press-gang was there. It was very late before we were safe in our rooms of the famous Clift Hotel.
It was wonderful for me to wake in San Francisco. It has always been one of my dream-cities, for it has the glamour of literature, without which matter is a dead thing. It was here that Bret Harte's heroes swaggered and drank and gambled and pistolled each other in the early gold-days. Jack Oakhurst's gambling saloon was in one of these streets, and Colonel Starbottle, one of the creations of American literature, posed upon those sidewalks. Here, too, one comes within touch of another of the Immortals. Here was the bay down which Jack London worked in an oyster-pirate β most envied of all boys. Here, too, was the Golden Gate, the opening of many a sea-story, with the Farallones on the far skyline. There it was that the master-pirate in Jack London's narrative went down with his schooner, and there also Frank Norris steered his bark in his splendid Shanghaied. Was it not from here also that Stevenson set sail in The Wrecker? The glamour of Romance is all over the waterfront and the bay.
The Press of San Francisco is very numerous, very enterprising, and very intelligent. Never since I left New York had I been subjected to such a cross-fire of questions, and my h ead was dazed and inclined to ache before I had finished with them. However, it is all excellent propaganda, and there is no other possible way in which I could broadcast my knowledge more effectively. All were very cordial and anxious to reproduce my views correctly. "There is no doubting the sincerity of the man," said the Bulletin. "There is no question as to his believing that which he is teaching is truth. With him it is no question of belief β it is knowledge." "He is clear in thought, normal in habit, direct and forcible in expression." There was much which was too flattering for reproduction, but it all indicates the desire to be hospitable and fair in the reproduction of my views. There was no jarring note in the first comments, and if I did not carry my message to the public it was certainly no fault of these interviewers.
When I was at last clear I found two occult teachers, Dr. and Mrs. Homer Curtiss, who were waiting with their motor to give us our first glimpse of the town. Mrs. Curtiss is a true psychic with very sensitive and direct impressions, while her husband is a man of intellect who turns her teaching into literary form and gives it to the world both by books and by lectures. The Voice of Isis and The Realms of the Living Dead are among their many works. So far as I could place them among the mystic thinkers, they are Theosophists who are in rebellion against certain recent theosophical developments. I think every latitude should be given to every possible branch of thought which grows upwards from the great spiritual trunk, but it seemed to me that the lady was simply an inspirational Spiritualistic medium of a high type, and that all her teaching, which is most remarkable, comes into the same class of literature as Vale Owen's Life Beyond the Veil, or Stainton Moses's Spirit Teachings. However, so long as we are all working to the downfall of materialism, what does it matter what name we go under? My only regret is, however, that so long as our more gifted teachers remain independent, the Spiritual Churches are left in the hands of those who are often little fitted to guide them.
Some of the examples of Mrs. Curtiss's powers were most extraordinary, and there was one which remains particularly in my mind. She was returning with her husband from a voyage down the Washington coast when they passed a place which was notorious for wrecks. Mrs. Curtiss at four in the morning found her whole cabin filled with the spirits of people who were earthbound, or rather, one would say, water-bound, having perished there and never having been able to raise themselves higher for want of instruction or spirituality. One of these poor creatures presented a vision before her eyes of the manner of her drowning. She had been shut in her cabin by the jamming of the door, and never did Mrs. Curtiss see such a picture of horror as the phantom, a young woman, dashed herself screaming against the woodwork. At the same time Mrs. Curtiss heard a voice crying, "Tell them how I died. Tell them how Lizzie died." Mrs. Curtiss and the doctor recorded this and other experiences at the time, including, by the way, the fact that two old-time buccaneers or pirates were among their ghostly visitants. There was a sequel to the story. Some time later, after one of their lectures, the doctor and his wife found themselves waiting amid a group of people for a tram-car. Suddenly she heard the same voice, "Tell them how I died." She at once narrated the circumstance, on which some woman in the group cried, "Why, that must be Aunt Lizzie. She went to Alaska and we never knew what became of her."
There seems no loophole for chance or for telepathy in this story, but what is rem is the power of foresight possessed by the spirit that Mrs. Curtiss would come into contact with her people, unless indeed it was the other way round, and she brought her people to meet those who had been given her message.
It is a nice question whether San Francisco does not stand first in natural beauty of all cities in the world. I speak of natural advantages only and not of historical glamour, which would make many European cities pre-eminent. But taking Nature alone, here is a harbour which is second only to that of Sydney; here is beautiful hill-scenery in the very city itself; and finally there is Tamalpais, the one and only Tamalpais, which should be ascended by the traveller if he has only a single clear day in the city of the Golden Gate. Our whole party went up it on the day after our arrival, and we were agreed that in all our wanderings we had never had a more glorious experience.
You cross the harbour in a ferry, the trip taking you twenty minutes, and find yourself in a small town called Sausalito β there is a welcome dignity in these Spanish names. There the railroad begins, and after a short journey you change into a mountain-train and begin your ascent. The line is curved so skilfully that at no place is the rise more than one in seven, and no cogs are needed. It would charm a botanist β would that I were one! β to note how you start from subtropical palms and cacti and yuccas, mounting up through the various flora, the tanbark oaks, the bay trees with their delicious scents, the eucalypti of various orders, and the maples, until you emerge into rhododendrons and firs and heaths and ferns with wild lupin and kingcups, and much to remind us of the dear uplands of Sussex. One is faced here with the eternal problem as to how on earth this high altitude vegetation ever got there, whether blown by the winds or brought by the birds, or how. In isolated mountains in the heart of Africa you will find, as I understand, all our upland English shrubs and flowers. It is one more mystery of Nature.
Finally, after an hour of slow clanking progress we were at the inn on the top of the mountain, 2,600 feet above the Bay, which lay in its glory, with many convolutions and gulfs and extensions, more like some motionless model of the world than the world itself. There were wonderful gradations of colour there, the deep blue of the sea, the olive-green of the dried-up plains and foothills, the deep green of the fir groves on the mountainside, and the drabs and yellows of the sands. Seven counties were visible, and a mountain a hundred miles away stood up as a white cone upon a clear day. The great city lay below us on its promontory, and we saw Oakland across the bay, and all the outlying towns in which the business men have their homes. It was a truly majestic sight, the powers of Nature and of man, each admirable in its own domain.
We walked round the crest of the mountain, and then descended in a car which ran by its own gravity, a delightful mode of progression when it continues for nearly an hour. The end of this wonderful toboggan course was the Muir Woods, where in a cleft of the hill the great Sequoias lie. All words are futile to describe the tremendous majesty of the great redwoods, and mere figures such as 300 feet as their height, or the fact that a hollow trunk can contain thirty-six people, leaves the imagination cold. One has to be alone or with some single very intimate companion to get the true impression, the deep silence of the grove, the shadowy religious light, the tremendous majesty of the red columns, the vistas between them, the solemn subconscious effect produced by their two thousand years of age. There are no insects in their bark, and nothing, not even fire, can destroy them. We saw scars of old brush fires upon their flanks, and noted that considerable oaks near by had no such scar, which gave an idea of how many years had elapsed since that mark was branded on them. We wandered for two hours along the borders of the clear trout-stream which runs through the Redwood Grove.
The whole mountain has been most reverently and excellently developed by a private company, the representative of which, Mr. Whitmore, acted as our guide. It could not have been better done, for it has been made accessible and yet tenderly guarded from all vulgarity. One is not allowed to pick a flower in the Redwood Grove. The latter place has been taken over by the Government, and one feels that it should all be national property. The only place which I can recall resembling Tamalpais is the famous Tibidabo Hill above Barcelona; but the Californian effect is on a far grander scale.
San Francisco seems very alive and very sensitive, for the intellectual effect of our arrival, which was only fully visible upon the third day, reminded me of an ants' nest stirred up with a stick. Every one of the papers, and they were many, was filled with every kind of challenge, argument, denunciation, and protest, with an occasional little whisper of agreement. The defence had to be conducted by myself, with very effective aid from my wife, who gave some admirable interviews dealing with the matter from the feminine side. Public opinion, especially the more educated public opinion, seemed reactionary and ill-informed. I have not usually troubled the reader with the eternal controversies which strewed our path, but for once I will give an attack and a reply, as they contain in a narrow space the essentials of the matter. The opinions were those of some of the intellectuals of the City.
Dr. Ray Lyman Wilbur: There is no scientific basis for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's claims to spirit-communication. Nobody has ever seen a ghost. Nothing has ever been checked up by science to prove the spiritistic hypothesis.
Sir Oliver Lodge was an eminent physicist, but as men grow older, and the death of some dear one comes into their lives, their scientific sense changes into a more emotional state.
When the discovery of radium, or the X-ray, or any such natural phenomenon is made, some scientist with the right apparatus can easily demonstrate it to his fellows. But when Spiritualists undertake to prove their claim, it must always be through some mediums operating under conditions they, themselves, control. If Spiritualism is fundamentally true, why isn't it as demonstrable as the other discoveries?
There is .a standing offer of $5,000 from the Scientific American to anyone proving that spints can communicate with mortals. It hasn't been won by anyone, and it won't.
Prof C. J. West, Stanford University: I'm a decided sceptic. I don't see anything in this prediction. I'll take my chances with the world-catastrophe.
Chester Rowell, U.C. Regent: I don't know anything about it, and I suspect that Sir Arthur knows about as much as I do. My attitude toward spirit-communication is one of complete scepticism. I wouldn't say it is impossible; but when I see anyone on the stage demonstrating it I'm inclined to doubt, particularly if he does it exceedingly well.
Sir Oliver Lodge and others claim to have evidence which satisfies them, but the evidence is so vague that I am always very sceptical.
Prof. Geo. Adams, Professor of Philosophy at U.C.: It's all bunk. I haven't the slightest interest or faith in it. It is my personal belief, which is worth as much as you care to give it, that it is imagination, that's all.
Father Ricard, Santa Clara University: I have no faith in Spiritism. No court in the world would give them a verdict. The evidence is deceitful, because they always conceal their identity. We have positive evidence that they even lie, for they deny the truth set down by the Church. Poor Sir Arthur is being made a blind victim, a dupe.
Dr. J. E. Coover, Head of Department of Psychic Research, Stanford University: Conan Doyle's theories are not within the realm of science; they hinge on religion. The great body of evidence offered by Spiritualists cannot be accepted by science. Spiritualistic studies are so often taken up by those seeking comfort and solace through communication with friends and relatives who have died.
There are so many causes that can bring about abnormal psychological conditions and supernormal phenomena. Psychological cases, pathological conditions, and often so-called manifestations and communications come about through hypnotism.
The further I investigate the more I believe that it is these "other" causes that bring about spiritualistic phenomena. Scientifically, such manifestations are impossible, I believe.
But it's a personal matter. One cannot make statements about Spiritualists in general. But I can only say that spiritualistic evidence in general so far has not proved acceptable to science.
Spirit-photography is a most unsavoury chapter in spiritualistic studies. Because so much fraud has been exhibited in this way.
Being a scientist, I cannot judge Conan Doyle's theories from his standpoint. I am a great admirer of Sir Doyle as a man of letters; as a scientist I cannot accept him.
Prof. Warner Brown, Instructor in Psychology, University of California: There's no scientific proof of Conan Doyle's spiritualistic theories. His so-called spirit-photographs don't prove anything, because he can't show how they were taken. Cameras, everyone knows, can produce any manner of freak effects.
Spiritualists are apt to be influenced by affection, emotion, grief over the dead one with whom they are trying to communicate.
To this I answered as follows:
"I should like to say a word to each of my adversaries.
"Dr. Wilbur declares that there is no scientific basis for my beliefs. Well, he has a right to his opinion.
"On the other hand, Hare, Crookes, Lombroso, Morselli, ZΓΆllner, Lodge, Chas. Richet, and many other men of the first eminence in science disagree with him. They have all written books on the subject and conducted long investigations. Has Dr. Lyman Wilbur done so? If not, is it not unscientific to pronounce a strong opinion without investigation in the teeth of so many eminent men who have investigated?
"Professor West will take his chances of any purifying catastrophe. So will we all. But surely he cannot deny the fact of the world-war, or that it was caused by material rather than spiritual values prevailing in the world. If once, why not again?
"Chester Rowell says he knows nothing about it β and imputes the same to me. Well, if I don't, it is not for want of thirty-six years of study and experiment. What is there vague when I say that I have seen, in the presence of witnesses, my mother within three feet of me, after her death. I should not have thought our assertions were vague.
"Professor Adams declares that it is all bunk. Has he read Schrenck-Notzing's book on materializations with its 200 photographs? Has he read Professor Crawford's three books on the physical manifestations at Belfast? Has he read the TraitΓ© sur Metapsychique, by Chas. Richet, Professor of Physiology at Paris University? Is it sensible or dignified to call the conclusions of such men 'bunk'?
"Is not this sort of mental arrogance and intolerance the kind of thing which every new advance of knowledge has had to face?
"Father Ricard looks upon me as a blind dupe. Harsh critics use the same words to the members of his own faith. But mere exchange of compliments of this sort cannot advance us.
"As a fact, Catholicism is founded entirely upon Spiritualism, with saints as mediums and phenomena as miracles. No one can read the pre-Nicene fathers of the Church without understanding this, as I could demonstrate by many quotations.
"Dr. Coover cannot accept me as a scientist and I fear that I cannot accept him as a psychic scientist.
"He belongs to the school that is always proving negatives and are never capable of attaining what is positive. Seventy years ago men of this type were engaged in disproving mesmerism. Then every child who went to a village entertainment saw that mesmerism was a fact, so it was accepted, but the name was changed to hypnotism. Now, Dr. Coover invokes that to explain such phenomena as Sir Wm. Crookes's two years' experience with a materialized spirit, or Geley's casts taken from the materialized hand of an ectoplasmic figure. Is Dr. Coover aware that within the last few months one hundred scientific men, including twenty-three professors of great universities, have admitted that ectoplasm has been clearly shown them at Munich? What has this to do with hypnotism?
"I do not wish to be offensive in any way to Dr. Coover, but I cannot refrain from expressing the disappointment which is felt by thousands of psychic students throughout the world at the fact that the endowment in the Stanford University has not been used in a more active way for the exploration of real psychic knowledge.
"We feel that it is in reactionary hands, and that San Francisco might equal Munich or Paris in psychic study if the money were used to better advantage.
"Dr. Warner Brown comments upon my psychic photographs. If he had seen them, his opinion would be more valuable."
One's nerves get a little frayed with the constant travel and contention, and it is, I fear, noticeable in some increase in asperity in my arguments; but I think that in the past these ignorant gentlemen who lay down the law about a subject of which they know nothing in so offensive and absurd a way have been treated too kindly. They deserve to be shown up as the dolts that they are in psychic matters, however deserved their reputation may be in other branches of science.
It will be observed that one of my critics talks of an impending catastrophe to which I had alluded.  This also may be a sign that I need rest, for I had not Intended to speak of this, and yet in talking to the Press I had allowed myself to be Carried away farther than I should have gone. However, since the mischief, if any, is done, I can now comment upon it. If I have avoided the subject, it is because I have wished to discard sensationalism and emotion from my message, and to appeal to reason and evidence for its acceptance. So many fanatical sects have at various times prophesied the end of the world that one shrinks from such company. And yet it is a fact which we cannot get away from that we have had persistent messages in our home circle, which has never yet deceived us, to the effect that just as polluted air can only be cleared by a tempest, so the dense materialism of this world can only be spiritualized by some tremendous convulsion which will shock mankind into sober thought as to his life here and what is its purpose. The war is represented as having been the first move in this direction, but up to now, so far as we can see, it has not had any very marked effect. Some even think that the world is worse rather than better, though personally I do not agree. There are many bruised hearts, and the bruised heart begets the spiritual soul. But much has still to be done, and the great presiding powers will not leave a task incomplete. Therefore we are told that something more serious is coming, unless it is alleviated by sudden spiritual repentance. Nothing can exceed the solemnity of the warnings received or the terror of the catastrophe predicted, which will partly lie in human and partly in natural convulsions, with some psychic accompaniment which will bring the two worlds closer and more visible to each other than has ever been the case before. "Worse than Atlantis" is the expression used. Then the survivors of the race will understand that the pleasure of the body and the acquisition of wealth are not the ends of life, and that any system built upon such material ideas must be remodelled from its very foundations. Such is the message, and since we received it we have had it echoed back to us in a most singular way from independent recipients, one from London, one from Paris, one here in California. After all, it is but the message of the Revelation put into modern form, if we may take it that a great Armageddon war, a hideous catastrophe, and a millennium of the race were the three outstanding points in St. John's vague vision.
On closer acquaintance I have found San Francisco far less psychic than Los Angeles, the relation of the two places in matters of spirit being rather like those between the material Melbourne and the more sensitive Sydney. San Francisco, of all places, should know what possible horrors lie around us, for their fire and earthquake in 1906 seem to have been the limit. It brought out fine virtues of courage and energy, for a grander city rose upon the ashes of the first one.
We extended our psychic experience by a sitting with Dr. and Mrs. Curtiss. They have in their cosy little house what I imagine that every house will have in time β a room devoted entirely to psychic purposes. We saw a similar one at Los Angeles. It was a privilege to enter so pure an atmosphere, and the results obtained through the normal voice-mediumship of Mrs. Curtiss were very inspiring. We had an address which was very beautiful and thoughtful, followed by some spiritual messages, given in reply to questions which were in no case evidential, but were always lofty and intellectual.
Mrs. Curtiss's psychic powers take very practical forms upon occasion. Only three years ago she was motoring with her husband through Mississippi, and had come to a small townlet named Demopolis, where they halted for lunch. The accommodation in the inn was very bad, but the lady announced that she would go no farther. She could not tell why, but the impulse to remain was irresistible. It ended in their staying. Next morning when they opened their paper they found that there had been a terrific tornado between Demopolis and their destination, which was Meridian. The road had been swept clear, and great trees twisted on their roots showed what the fate of their little motor would have been. Many lives had been lost, and there is no doubt that theirs might have been among them but for the psychic prevision.
There had been so fierce a discussion in the papers that there seemed every prospect of some opposition at my first San Francisco meeting. The authorities evidently thought so also, as quite a strong force of police were in waiting. The circumstances were depressing β a huge, barn-like hall, which had been the scene of a boxing-match the night before, a bare platform, and a cold atmosphere. However, there were stronger forces at my back, and we triumphed. It was a very great success, and the audience soon thawed and finally became quite enthusiastic. When I had finished, they thronged the platform, and it was no easy matter for our party β for the boys and their mother were on the platform β to get through. I quite expected that the whole frail structure would collapse. Dr. Curtiss and his wife came with us on to the platform and he made an admirable chairman. One pleasing incident was that Dr. Marion Thrasher, a well-known local thinker and writer, announced his complete conversion. He should be a valuable ally, for he has an excellent brain and pen. "Since our Saviour has been on earth there has been no message so important as this," writes Dr. Thrasher. That is true; but I wish I were a more capable messenger.
The second lecture, half photography and half philosophy, was not as well attended as we hoped for. The hall is not very central, which is against us, and the ignorant and abusive attitude of some of the correspondents in the papers, has not helped us. I am the more sorry as our affairs have been admirably handled by Mr. Paul Elder, whose book-shop is the centre of intellectual light in the city. I hope that it will become the centre of spiritual light also, for it is sadly needed in the pervading darkness. Save for Cole's Arcade in Sydney, I cannot recall any more helpful literary atmosphere. Though the numbers have been disappointing, we have been delighted by the individual converts and testimony which have come to us. In reference to my statement that the dying see their loved ones waiting for them, one experienced nurse wrote: "I have often witnessed the last moments of the dying, and can corroborate your statement that they do see the spirits of their loved ones. Truly our belief in the world beyond is the greatest comfort to those of us who live so much in the shadows, and your message to the world is as one of God's messengers." Such words from a real worker make up for many ironies and misrepresentations in the Press.
One of the few signs of psychic life, apart from the Curtiss family, which I observed in San Francisco was in the case of one Wallace, who lives, however, in the back country amid Nature, where the conditions are more favourable. He came in to see me, a tall, thin, handsome man with the face of an ascetic poet and with a large black bag in his hand, which surely contained the most remarkable material of any bag upon this planet. It took me the best part of a day to analyse it. Mr. Wallace appears to be an inspirational sensitive, and as such he receives messages which purport to be from dwellers not merely in our own familiar spirit-spheres, but from other planets and even from the planets of Aldeboran and other stars. The inspirations come in short sentences which are written in extraordinary and often very ornamental writing, sometimes running from right to left. These are signed with strange names, the names of the planet attached. Often, however, the messages are from our own spheres, and have the signatures in facsimile, and even the portraits of the senders, attached. Mr. Willson, a friend of Mr. Wallace's, assures me that certain historical names, dates, etc., have been proved correct, though Mr. Wallace had no conscious knowledge of them. I did not, however, have this important point, which is the only gleam of actual evidence, from Mr. Wallace's own lips.
Some of the messages show wit and brainpower in a high degree. I copied a few as samples.
"Every immortal truth sits in judgment upon you at the precise moment when you pompously assume to judge it."
"Death is the entrance to a more conscious life."
"At death the cage is buried, but the bird is free and sings above the grave."
"The brain-bound Materialist is subnormal."
"When a new good thought is uttered, all hell roars its disapproval." This last made me think of some correspondents in the San Francisco Press.
But what are we, as psychic students and fearless followers of truth, to make of such a case as this? That Mr. Wallace is absolutely honest is beyond all question. He has taken enormous pains and devoted his life, at great loss to himself, to this work. What, then, are the alternatives? The first is that this all comes from his own subconscious self. I am not prepared to deny this possibility, but it only removes the problem one stage back, since we should then have to ask what put it into his subconscious self. The second is that he has a very active and intelligent control upon the other side who uses these names freely in order to give weight to his own messages. This also I am not prepared to put lightly aside, for I greatly suspect controls of simulation and personation. Finally, there is the possibility that the explanation given is the real one. My days of faith are done, however, and I do not see how this can be proved. Anyhow, I have not the faintest doubt of Mr. Wallace's honesty nor of the rare power, beauty, and depth of his messages, which are sufficient to fill several large books.
One interesting fact is that Alfred Russel Wallace professes to be one of his inspirers, and had mentioned my name to him as one to whom he should go. Now as Alfred Russel Wallace is said to be continually with me (vide my Australian experiences), and as Mr. Wallace did not know this, we do get some little suggestion either of proof or of remarkable coincidence.
Our visit to San Francisco with its very material atmosphere had left a sad impression upon our minds β and I can well say "our," for the whole of our party were conscious of the same strong psychic reaction. It was only on the last day that a gleam came through the clouds which brought great peace and joy into my soul, for it seemed to me that I saw better things ahead, and some hope that this dark place of the earth might in truth become the mother of future light. It is hardly fair to blame America for the state of San Francisco, for its population is cosmopolitan and its seaport attracts the floating vice of the Pacific; but be the cause what it may, there is much room for spiritual betterment.
The incident which brought me consolation was a visit to Dr. Abrams, whose name is well known as a pioneer along strange paths in science, as has been vouched for by Sir James Barr and other European authorities. Abrams is a genius. One recognizes the inscrutable signs, so subtle and yet so sure. He is a man about sixty, clean-shaven, heavily spectacled, a constant cigarette smoker, quick in movement, volcanic and tempestuous when angered, but self-contained and contemplative by nature. He exhibited to me some of his wonderful discoveries, which have ended in his forming a school of medicine entirely his own, which will soon, as I understand, establish branches in every country. I was much impressed by what he showed me, not in mere explanations or arguments, but in objective experiments. I am such an ignoramus in electricity that I fear to make an attempt to convey the ideas to the reader, but I will try to give the conclusions of this remarkable brain, so far as I followed them.
The particular thing which he was showing to me was the vibration of disease which varies with cancer, syphilis, or whatever it may be, and can be recorded on an instrument like a wireless receiver. This form of receiver is called a radio heterodyne, and consists, so far as I could see, of two receivers acting together, which would be soundless so long as they did act together, but would give a buzz the moment that the vibrations affecting them were not the same. That is roughly the idea, though technically, of course, much has to be added to make it complete. Now as to the working of it, which I saw with my own eyes. You take a little bit of cancer in a bottle. You approach it to the loose antenna hanging from the radio receiver. When it gets a few inches off, you hear a loud buzz, like an angry hornet. Keep it there. The buzz will be repeated every four seconds. That is cancer.
Suppose you take a bit of syphilitic tumour. Approach it to the antenna. There comes a buzz every thirty seconds. That is syphilis.
Pass the antenna over the clothes of a man in whose pocket is concealed a morsel of cancer. The machine will buzz when it comes over the place. Thus you diagnose both the seat and the nature of the disease with one action. If I had not seen it, I could hardly have given it belief. The buzz can be turned into a roar by a megaphone. A bellow in the air coming every four seconds may be the death-warrant of the cancer victim.
The vibrations of life and of death are different. Thus you hold a living plant to the antenna of the machine. There is no sound. The vibrations are harmonious. Now tear it in two. There is a scream from the instrument. It is the death-cry of the plant. The mind is stunned as it tries to grasp all that may be reached along such a line of thought.
But here is the climax. We have in our home circle and elsewhere been assured for some time that a visible proof was coming which the whole world must accept as to the truth which we have been preaching about the nature of death. Dr. Abrams claims that my arrival in San Francisco turned his attention to the possibility of furnishing such a proof. Fie was a week ago a materialist with no belief in future life. Now he is with me in my opinion. It is his own research along his own line, showing vibrations of life and death, which has converted him. I will not anticipate his results. He will no doubt give them to the world. But surely my visit to San Francisco has been most gloriously justified if it has ended in 12 converting one of the most progressive minds in America, and starting him upon an independent line of demonstration. Dr. Abrams came to my photographic lecture in the evening, where I was able to give him further assurance that I had not been a blind guide.
I cannot give all the new lights which Dr. Abrams threw upon science by what he has called "electronic" methods, but there was one experiment which impressed me much. When he had removed the cancer bottle, he again placed the wire at the spot where the bottle had been, and lo! there came the four-second responses as before. This seemed to me most suggestive. Clearly the cancer bottle had left something behind it, and that something was, in my opinion, its own etheric double which still sent out etheric vibrations and so affected the receiver. But this exactly corresponds with the theory which I ventured to put forward in a magazine article that the ether is a permanent, immovable thing, and that it takes the impress of what occurs, so that a spot where violent emotion has been aroused may have a lasting impression, which can be perceived by a sensitive for centuries after. Dr. Abrams's cure is a horseshoe magnet which he uses exactly as a maid would use a broom, sweeping away and breaking up etheric images and clearing the field for fresh. ones. The psychic atmosphere of a haunted house might perhaps be amenable to this magnetic vacuum cleaner.
A New York engineer assured a friend, with what truth I know not, that he had examined one of Abrams's instruments, and that it was quite heterodox from an electrical point of view, loose wires, etc. "But the darned thing worked," he added, "and that, after all, is everything."
It was a day of great sensations, for on my return from Dr. Abrams with my brain fermenting with all I had seen, I found a Mr. Hubbard waiting for me at the Clift Hotel with a narrative as wonderful as that of Abrams, but in a very different line of thought. This gentleman, a solid, middle-aged man, had been exploring the depths of the Colorado Canon. There is a side canon which runs into the other at an angle. It is sunk 1,000 feet deep, but the Colorado River, once on that level, is now 3,000 feet deeper, cutting its way through silurian deposits to the granite bed-rock of the world. Therefore this gorge is a very old one geologically, and it is at a point where the limestone joins on to the old red sandstone. Here Hubbard explored with a local guide named Hull. In some inaccessible corner he claims that he discovered a petrified body, not less than eleven feet long. Hull declared that he had found another one eighteen feet long, but it had been buried afterwards in a landslide. Hubbard declares further that he got clear human footmarks which were nineteen inches long and nine inches across, mixed with those of some large animal which he thought was an elephant. He also found rude drawings upon the cave walls, one of an elephant and another of what certainly resembles an iguanodon, or other early monster. He photographed the latter and gave me a copy. Of Hubbard's honesty I have not the faintest doubt, and yet it is hard to accept such conclusions. Time, of course, will settle it, but, if proved, it bids fair to change our views both anthropological and zoological.
Mr. Hubbard tells me that in Bancroft's fifth volume of his History of the Pacific States there is a long account of an Indian tradition about a people called the Quinanes, who were giants, and that these people, on account of their size and strength and ferocity, terrorized and ill-used the people who were the predecessors of the Aztecs. These huge people were drunkards, and on some occasion a conspiracy was set on foot by which all their leaders were made drunk at a banquet and in this way were murdered. If Mr. Hubbard makes good his case for the big men in the canon, it may prove to have been some branch of these Quinanes, who left this legend behind them.
Both my lecture at Oakland across the bay on my second last night and my last photographic lecture at San Francisco were very successful. At the former, the chair was taken by Dr. Van Der Naillen, an old gentleman of Belgian origin, who was ninety-six years of age, a good advertisement of the life-preserving properties of Californian air, which seems to extend from the Redwood to the human. Van Der Naillen was mentioned by Wallace in his account of his travels in America in 1886, where he commended his book on Himalayan botany. The dear old fellow proceeded after the lecture, to my mingled pleasure and horror, to give me what he called an accolade or embrace before the whole audience. It was a new performance to me, and proved that I was not so old or hardened that I had got beyond blushing.
I am glad I went to San Francisco, if only for the sake of meeting the Curtiss group, Dr. Thrasher, and Dr. Abrams. The adhesion of Abrams with his precise objective methods might mark a crisis in the whole movement. It was midnight after my last lecture when we crossed the bay in the ferry to get our Portland train. Looking back we saw the league-long field of lights, the great twinkling sky-signs, all beating upwards against an overhanging cloud. A burning house flared on the sea-front. The whole effect was sinister and terrible in the extreme. It is the last that we shall ever see of San Francisco.
The Pacific Fleet was lying in the bay, and the town had for days been crammed with the slender but wiry lads who man the ships, with their smart blue uniforms and their hideous hats. Why on earth does a rich Government impose such an absurd pork-pie headgear upon their helpless servants? It cannot aid recruiting. The ships themselves seemed to be the last word in naval construction β a very formidable squadron. The sixteen-inch guns in the larger ships are mounted in threes, one turret behind the other, so that there is a salvo of six. So placed they are less affected by the roll of the ship and more easily controlled; but, on the other hand, a single shell-burst might possibly affect the muzzles of the whole six great guns. I always rejoice at any sign of American naval strength, for I am very sure that, in spite of all the racial traitors and the hyphenates, when it came to the real pinch in a world-war, the English-speakers would be together. There are many, however, who think that the battleship has become a death-trap. Two aeroplane bombs of 2,000 lb. apiece sank the Ost Friedland, a German ironclad upon which the Americans practised in times of peace. How can this be avoided in time of war? Tiny submerging ships may be the type of the future.
IX. Oregon and Washington
The Great White Lodge β General Drayson's Astronomical Views β Rosicrucians β Mediumship of Mrs. Downes β Future of Portland β Dr. Littlefield's Investigations β The Lally Photographs β United States as a Neighbour β Future of the United States
Just as you change the palm to the eucalyptus in passing from Los Angeles to San Francisco, so the eucalyptus in turn gives way to the fir tree as one passes on to Portland. It was a long journey, two nights and a day in the train, but the scenery made amends, for it was very beautiful, with remarkable views of Mount Lassen, the only live volcano in the United States, and Mount Shasta, a beautiful snow-peak, which has streams of real soda-water, which one is permitted to sample as one passes. My people went on straight to Seattle, but I had to lecture at Portland and Tacoma, so I alighted at the former city, a very dishevelled man, on the morning of Friday, June 8th.
It is a fine city, strong and solid, with a strong, solid population. One feels that one is getting into the North, with the fir-tree characters as well as flora. I drove in the morning to the various points of vantage and had a good view of it all. The town sits on a river, and is one hundred miles from the sea, but fair-sized ships can get up and there is a great trade, chiefly in lumber. The psychic atmosphere seemed good, and though in the evening my audience was less than I am accustomed to, the type seemed very high, and the papers were more unanimous in sober, helpful, sympathetic criticism than in any place I can recall.
At the station a small, bearded, elderly figure flitted up to me. "I have a message for you, but not from myself," said he. "It is that you have the blessing of the Great White Lodge in your endeavours." Then he flitted away. The last time I saw that man was among the hills of Surrey, and I knew that he was a profound occult student. Verily there are some strange happenings upon the path which I have chosen.
The American papers are very full of alleged change of climate, encroachments of ice, and general signs of a glacial epoch. The subject has come up again and again of late. I wonder that among all the speculations and all the quotations from men of science, none seem to be aware of the work of the late General Drayson, a pioneer of Spiritualism and a very capable astronomer. He was teacher of astronomy to the young sappers and gunners of Woolwich. He was a clear and original thinker, and though his views never got the attention they deserved in his lifetime, they are by no means dead, for several books and pamphlets have appeared upon them lately β one by Admiral de Horsey, called Draysoniana, and another by Major Marriott, of Exeter.
Drayson's view, roughly expressed, was that there had been a mistake made as to the point round which the polar axis turns in the heavens, and that it is as much as six degrees out. This he supports with a wealth of argument which to me at least was very convincing, and he shows that if this be granted, we can at once solve quite a number of smaller astronomical difficulties.
It enables us to calculate the tilt of the earth at any period, and on that tilt the glacial epochs depend. These epochs are periodical, and ice always cleans the slate of history. The cold finger will one day erase all the ambitions and finally the existence of our northern races. The interval, according to these calculations, between one glacial epoch and the next one is roughly 26,000 years. We are now almost half-way, so that it is about 13,000 years from the last, and in 13,000 years we shall be deep in another. But the process is slow, and we are now actually turning the corner, so that from this time onward, century by century, the change will be felt, though it probably will not become pressing in its effects for four or five thousand years. Such are the views of General Drayson, and only those who have studied them with an open and attentive mind know how convincing they appear.
I have spoken of the little bearded messenger of the White Lodge. He flitted into my vision once more at the hotel and beckoned me in search of psychic adventure. I followed. On our way I learned much of the Order of Rosicrucians, of its former power, of the rift which had come by the disclosure of secret knowledge, of its extinction by orders of the White Lodge, and of its present survival in groups of individuals, rather than as an organization. They were the secret psychic workers of the world, striving against dark forces, and aiding the coming dawn and the development of what they called the new Aquarian epoch in the sidereal year. The psychic epochs, I learned, were always known by Zodiacal names, and this Aquarian one was that which was to see the substitution of knowledge instead of faith, and also, as I gathered, the end of the competitive commercial era, and the beginning of an age of equal opportunity for all men. I have long felt myself that our psychic movement must inculcate some practical betterment of humanity, greater equality in each country, League of Nations for all, if it is to fulfil its full mission. Were I sure that it could be done without such convulsions as would be worse than the disease, I should be whole-hearted for radical changes. I was, therefore, good soil for the little man to cultivate.
Presently, amid many mean streets, we entered a humble dwelling and found two female members of the secret cult, middle-aged, kind-eyed women. The little bearded man sat down, and so did I. After a long desultory talk, the seeress, whom my friend had introduced as being his own equal, and therefore very high in the order, rose up and began to talk, conveying messages which purported to come from a great spirit who used her. His well-known earth-name was given me in confidence. The address, which lasted quite half an hour, was solemn and impressive. There was no attempt at evidence and no request for it from me. The main thesis was that I was a teacher sent down specially for the work that I was doing. That work was superficial, but all the more valuable as people must first learn the psychic alphabet. Afterwards I would myself be conducted deeper into hermetic mysteries and would teach them. The Aquarian age was the age when mysteries were to be revealed. Evil prevailed so much, and the purpose of life had been so completely forgotten, that there was imminent danger of a cataclysm, for when a thing was too bad to mend, it was destroyed. The social economic state of the earth was as much in need of complete change as the psychic, and unless the big-brained people learned to use their God-given powers for the people and not for amassing wealth for themselves, there was a bad fate coming upon them, as well as upon those who opposed psychic change. There was an air of menace in the messages and they were spoken with authority. There was a prophecy spoken of my son Denis, and a blessing was given to me and my work, with the information that there was a body called the Order of the White Star of Love upon the Astral spheres which was specially devoted to earthly medium-ship, and that if ever I invoked it, I should get help. It was a strange scene, and I could not help thinking how far we romancers are behind the facts of life β I, huddled in an arm-chair, the little bearded man stenographing at the table, a woman sitting with a face of adoration, another standing and saying things which were not of this world, all in a plain American dwelling-room. I came away a little bewildered, for indeed there was no evidence at all, and I am not a credulous person, but I knew that little bearded man.
On the evening of my clear day in Portland I went to test a local medium. Since I had spent my morning with the Rosicrucians, I think that my worst enemy must admit that I am active in pursuit of psychic knowledge. Mrs. M. T. Downes, the sensitive in question, lives at Oregon Town, but kindly travelled 150 miles that day in order to meet me at the house of a Swedenborgian gentleman who was interested in Spiritualism, as every Swedenborgian should be, since his prophet was obviously an excellent clairvoyant medium. There were five other people present. Mrs. Downes was of the familiar mediumistic type, very buxom and motherly. She narrated with a good deal of humour how a hand-organ had floated around the room at one of her meetings. A tough character in the audience had pursued it and knocked his head against it, so that when the light was turned on he was found lying bathed in blood with the organ on the top of him. "He thought I was carryin' it," said the medium, "I being so built for skippin' aroun' in the dark."
She is a trumpet-medium of ordinary type, but of considerable power. Within a few minutes of the light being turned down a male voice was speaking loudly and the trumpet was floating in the air, touching each of us in turn, though we sat all round the room at a distance from the medium, who talked incessantly. There was no trance. The presiding control was for a wonder not a Red Indian but a Dr. Wiseman, whose phraseology was limited to that of the medium, which was true also of all the other visitants. This is invariably so where there is no trance. The others, who were sober, level-headed people, assured me that they had often had evidential messages beyond all possible question. I could not go so far as that, but I could say that it was so near to it that it would appear an absolute miracle for Mrs. Dowries to know in any normal manner the things which came through her. It is the actual information upon which one must judge, and one must refuse to be influenced by one's natural repugnance when one's highly educated son comes to one talking broad North-western American. Trumpet phenomena come through the medium and get their tinge in passing, if the medium remains normal. In trance, on the other hand, it is usual to have what St. Paul calls "the word of knowledge" and "the word of wisdom" quite beyond the manner or power of the speaker, as when Professor William James lectured me through the lips of the young married lady of Brooklyn.
It was an in-and-out performance, but the medium was very weary from her long drive. Her son had driven her, but she would not let aim be present because she said people might always say he was an accomplice. Certainly she had no accomplice present; for I knew everyone in the room, and certainly also we were touched actually, as Mrs. Downes could not possibly have reached us. Apart from the accuracy of the messages, there was ample and final evidence of the presence of preternatural power; but as I have said, the messages themselves, though occasionally good, were never final. James Hyslop and Ward Beecher were among those who manifested and sent some long messages, but as my notes were taken on my knee n the dark the report is rather incoherent. The latter alluded to my fears of a coming catastrophe, and said, "1925 is the danger year; after that things will mend." I do not take dates very seriously in such messages, but it is worth recording.
Portland left a pleasant impression on my mind, but I see before it a long period of material development which may stand in the way of its soul. With its wonderful waterways, its iron, and its electric-power falls, together with the wealth of lumber, it will become rich. What doth it profit a man or a town? Who is the better if another Pittsburg is developed, one more hideous smudge upon the map? I do not see the New Jerusalem with spouting chimneys. However, Portland is a fair city with sturdy folk therein, and the higher may develop rather than the lower. So one can say also of Tacoma, a sister-city, which rests upon the same general foundations.
I was amused at Tacoma to hear the very comfortable hotel spoken of as an old building with some veneration. It was as a fact about forty years old. These things are, after all, a matter of comparison, and when one remembers that the whole State was a wilderness of primaeval forest only eighty years ago, one can understand the point of view. It is really one of the most wonderful things in the world how Nature has been subdued by man in so short a time in this western region of America.
Strange meetings and new ideas seem to strew my path. I have put on record Abrams with his all-important vibrations, which for the first time give a scientific basis for psychometry, and also Hubbard with his giant aboriginals. Now comes Dr. Littlefield, of Seattle, with his marvels of photomicroscopy and thought images, which are really the most incredible of the three wonders β so incredible that had I not met Littlefield, been assured of his sanity and seen his photographs, I should hesitate to put it down upon paper. Even now it leaves me very mixed in my mind, and yet it may become more reasonable when other factors come to our knowledge. So it often is when we get the first glimpse of some new truth.
Littlefield's attention was first drawn to some strange properties which reside in the blood by studying the methods of a farmer who could always staunch bleeding in men or animals by will-power. "Upon what," asked Littlefield, "did this will-power act?" By some process of thought which I have not explored he came to the conclusion that it was upon the saline constituents of the blood. He then began experimenting upon these salts, sulphates of sodium and potassium, chlorides of the same, and the others, with the following amazing results, which could surely be easily checked by others, unless indeed (as is very possible) they depend upon some personal psychic quality in Littlefield himself.
If you take distilled water and saturate it with one of these salts, and then let it dry, so that the crystals may be deposited upon a glass slide, these crystals will arrange themselves into any form which your own mind may direct. This form will be microscopic and the results only preserved through microphotography. You need not be near the slide to produce the result. Distance is immaterial. Such was the astounding statement of Dr. Littlefield.
His assertions are supported by a great number of photographs, which are perfectly clear and sometimes very artistic representations of objects, a chicken, a dove, an eagle, a lion. I confess that I did not know what to make of them. I could not deny the evidence of my own senses, and I found the doctor as steady-eyed, slow-spoken, and impressive a man as I have ever met; rather of the deliberate, self-contained New England type than of the impulsive West.
But there is a further assertion. The salts will answer questions, and very profound questions. He asks them some such problem as how man ever came upon earth. A strange diagram which seems to have meaning in it will be given in reply. These seemed to me obscure and uncertain when compared with the definite thought-images, and it was possible to make the objection that they were wholly fanciful, which could not possibly be alleged of the others.
When Littlefield thought of elementary forms of life he was able to actually produce them β or their simulacra. Does not this throw a strange, direct light upon the origin of life upon this or other planets? You have the evolution of the mineral, the formation of salts, the presence of water, and then the outside will which we can call the will of the Creator acting upon the salts and fashioning them to His purpose. It is vague and obscure, but I here is some possible rift in the clouds which cover our physical beginnings. I hope that in my leisure if I can be said ever to have any leisure β I may work along these wonderful lines.
Seattle is a most vigorous city of 350,000 inhabitants, solid, well ordered, and admirably laid out. Puget Sound at that point has only the breadth of a river, and one does not realize that one is really upon the shore of the Pacific. It is the nearest American port to Alaska, and the growth of the Yukon has no doubt had much to do with the rapid development of this point of outfit and departure.
One of my best psychic photographs had come from Seattle. A Mrs. Lally had died at the age of seventy-six, and her body in its coffin, with the flowers around it, had been photographed by a local photographer named Kanouse. He took six plates, time-exposures by electric light. A member of the family stood by the coffin for each plate, so that they might have a souvenir. When the plates were developed, it was found that not only was there a different human figure in each, but that each also contained a different spirit-figure, representing various deceased friends of the dead woman. In the final plate she came back herself, and is seen clearly standing behind the open coffin in which her discarded natural body is visible. It seems a very remarkable evidence of continuity of life.
I had naturally made every enquiry as to the reliability of this photograph. The monstrous blasphemy entailed in a fake and the apparent impossibility of collecting the photographs of all these dead friends were strong arguments for the honesty of the medium. On the top of this I got the testimony of everyone concerned, and a certificate of genuineness from the President of the local Psychic Research Society, so that I was very sure of my ground. Some weeks before my arrival some Seattle people protested against my exhibiting it in the town on the ground that it was fraudulent. This made me cautious, so when I reached the town I examined all the circumstances myself, and interviewed Mr. Kanouse, the medium. Finally, I showed the pictures in the evening to a very great and enthusiastic audience, and I am sure that I was able to convey to them my own impression that the argument in favour of the honesty of the medium was overpoweringly strong. Incidentally I endeavoured to get a photograph on my own from Mr. Kanouse, but the result was not a success. These things cannot be commanded, and there is no better proof of honest work than its variability. I should look with suspicion upon a medium who could guarantee his results. Though I got no actual face upon my plate, there were a number of those hazy clouds which we may call ectoplasmic, and which are certainly signs of psychic power.
It was a solemn moment for me when at the end of my lecture I told my audience that it was the last time I should speak upon an American platform, and that my mission was now at an end. I could but pray that in the long furrow which I had broken some seed would grow in time. It was with a great feeling of affection and respect for the United States and its varied peoples that I and my little group got aboard the Princess Victoria on the morning of June 12th, and saw the coast of Washington sinking behind us.
One cannot approach Canada from the south without the reflection that the Americans have, on the whole, been magnanimous in their relations both with the smaller State and with the British Empire. To point the moral, let us imagine that an. Imperial Germany had lain to the south of the Dominion. Can we not imagine the threatenings, the pressure, the massing of troops, the paid agitators, the fomented troubles, the flood of secret-service money, all the devices by which an annexation movement could be stimulated. It is only when we think of this that we can realize the nobility of the attitude of the United States, and appreciate the fact that on a line 3,000 miles long which separates a very large State from a much smaller one, there is not anywhere a single military post.
I am assured with that assurance which has never yet deceived me that the time will come, and that soon, when there will be no frontier there. This will come about not through an annexation of Canada, but through a closing-up by common consent of the English-speaking States and their dependencies under some such general title as the United States of Africa, America, Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales. Such a State must recognize the present United States as containing the centre of gravity of the race, and as being, upon a counting of votes, the predominant partner. But each part would retain its own complete self-government with liberty of secession a liberty which would, I am sure, never be exercised. That one part is nominal republic and another part nominal monarchy need in no way interfere. All that would be needed would be some small central Council which would give guidance upon the matters which affected all. There would naturally be diehards on both sides who would never never consent, Americans who would invoke the shades of Washington and Hamilton, British who would see in it the absorption and extinction of their Empire. Both would have a strong and plausible case, especially the British, who in a vote would become subordinate. But when the results are placed against these objections, the end of all bickerings, the insurance against dangers, the power of guiding the world into paths of peace, then I am convinced that the good sense of the nations would gradually overcome all prejudice. But strong men will be needed before the job is carried through. We have had bilingual nations. Is there any real difficulty in having one which is under two flags, each equally honoured by the other, with army and navy in common. It will surely come in God's own time, but the pleonastic name of Anglo-Saxon must give way to the really comprehensive one of Anglo-Celtic.
X. The West of Canada
An Old Comrade β Vancouver β Ancient Forest β Ectoplasmic Medium β Canadian Farming β Edmonton β Canadian Liquor Laws β Renan's St. Paul β Calgary β Alberta Coal-fields
Much as I love America, it always gives one a thrill to be under the Union Jack once more with one's feet on British soil. Very British indeed is Victoria, with a population which is largely residential and includes a number of ex-service men who desire cheap living in some pleasant spot. There is certainly room in Canada, and still more in America, for a city which will exclude industries, cultivate the amenities, and cater entirely for the mental and bodily needs of a non-working population. Los Angeles would have been such a place, but already the advertisements are gleefully announcing that its future is secured as many industries are developing, which is exactly what may militate against its more beautiful future. Victoria, however, is quite uncontaminated, and the retired wheat-grower or miner in the evening of his days could find no more pleasant waiting-place.
On landing I was accosted by a sturdy resident who gave the name of Grant and explained that he had been one of my medical orderlies in South Africa, also that he and I had been the two fullbacks of the Langman Hospital team. In this genial company I drove round the beautiful town, where the broom formed acres of golden cloud upon the hillsides of a more vivid yellow than I have ever seen before. I had a lesson in geography, for, having a vague idea that the town was on an island, I was on the point of asking how long it would take us to run round it. Luckily I forbore, for I found out afterwards that it is the island of Vancouver, and that it is exactly the same size as England. The northern part is almost unexplored forest, full of bears, cougars, and other interesting objects.
I had a splendidly intelligent audience in a charming theatre that night, and came away by the night boat with very pleasant impressions of the place. I do not see how it can ever develop very largely until the hinterland is all settled, but it has a fine, steady, orderly growth of its own, and is much visited by Americans and by business-men from China and Japan who put their children to school here. There is no place on the American Continent which is so British, and the deep British patriotism which is far too solid for flag-wagging infuses the whole people, as was shown when, without provocation, they rose and sang "God save the King!" at the end of my lecture. I slept in the Vancouver boat that night, and was awakened by someone who had a clairaudient message for me from Charles Dickens. I wish I could suffer fools more gladly β but I apologized next morning.
Vancouver is lovely. There is no other word for it. High, snow-capped mountains dominate the town, and the land-locked, green-shored bay with its pellucid water makes a wonderful setting. The town itself is very American in appearance with its high buildings. Here also there can be no great expansion until Western Canada is more populous, but sooner or later Vancouver will certainly be another San Francisco. The meeting in the evening was a splendid one with an attendance of 3,000; but it was in a huge barn of a place which could hold 10,000, and the strain upon my voice and on my strength was very great. I began to feel it, and I looked forward eagerly to the rest which was promised me at Jasper. It was a pleasure to me here to get in touch with the Leckie brothers, distant relatives of my wife, who did splendid work with the Canadians in the War. General Leckie, the elder, had just gone to hospital with some complaint, and we were shocked to hear a few weeks later that he was dead. In all our great army I do not think:here was a more gentle or a more valiant man. I learned from all sides that my Vancouver lectures had produced a considerable effect. I was amused to hear that a boxing-man had attended, under the impression apparently that the author of Rodney Stone was bound to deal with some sporting subject, instead of which he found himself in a clinch with Spiritualism, and unable to break away. "Well, I'm clean knocked out!" was his final exclamation.
There is a park on the very outskirts of the town where a bit of primaeval forest β a very large bit too β has been preserved. It is a really wonderful place, and makes all ornamental parks look very small, for it has giant cedars, hundreds of them, centuries old. Some of them are nearly as big as the redwoods of California, and we were all photographed in one hollow trunk which can comfortably contain a motor-car. We were told that there were thirty miles of bridle paths through this wonderful forest.
In accordance with my custom I endeavoured, in spite of our limited time, to explore the psychic possibilities of the place. There seemed to be a good many enthusiastic and experienced Spiritualists. It is curious how little the so-called upper and educated classes know of the wonderful things in the world around them. They seem to me to be all either materialists, who have no hope and no belief, or else they lie petrified in the grip of some formal Church which has forgotten the meaning of the very words it uses. It is the poorer class and the lower-middle class who have some hold of the spiritual things. I was interested to learn that the Japanese fishermen who come across take clairvoyance as a matter of course, and are much shocked at the irreligious ignorance of the whites. There was one medium with a reputation, and arrangements had been made for me to test his powers. His name was Clarence Britton, and he was a disciple of Farmer Riley. Farmer Riley came from Michigan and was a very strong materializing medium. I happened to meet a young lady whose family had entertained Farmer Riley, and she was full of his wonderful powers. His fate is instructive. A Researcher pounced upon the ectoplasmic figure as it emerged from the condensing cabinet, with the result that Farmer Riley became paralysed and finally died. I have known quite half a dozen mediums who have suffered bodily harm through these violent and ignorant interruptions, and no medium will be safe until an enlightened jury brings in a verdict of manslaughter against the man who ventures upon so dangerous an experiment, unless there is excellent reason to suspect fraud.
Clarence Britton is a tall, thin, dreamy man with visionary eyes and a weary manner, which was accounted for when I learned that he had very unwisely held a sitting the night before. I had therefore only the fag end of his powers, and yet they were very arresting. I examined his cabinet, a square of curtains erected in the middle of the room β the house belonging to an independent Spiritualist. No one was in it and no one could approach it unseen, for the light was fairly good. There were some twenty people crammed into the room, but Denis and I were in the front row and within six feet of the opening. A number of faces of various types and the upper halves of bodies, black-bearded, white-bearded, and feminine appeared between the curtains, in various sorts of dress, white shirt-fronts and black ties predominating. Sitters in the room confidently recognized them, and there were loud, joyful greetings. These faces seemed to dematerialize by sinking down to the ground, and I saw them all the way through the slit of the curtains. It might, however, be objected that if they were masks they could have been manipulated in this way. I forgot to say that the proceedings began by my strapping the medium's wrists together behind his back, but I cannot swear that the binding was effectual.
No figure ventured outside the cabinet, though I had the assurance of my neighbours that they usually did so. There came one which was claimed by no one, and which on the contrary claimed me. It was hard to see details, but I must admit that the general form was much like that of my mother, and Denis thought the same. I could not swear to it, however, as I could swear to seeing my mother with Miss Besinnet in London. Altogether it was a tantalizing experience, because one felt that one was always on the edge of proof and yet could never quite get it. The nearest to it was when the control said she would sing in the cabinet with a mouth-organ accompaniment. The duet must surely have been the work of two persons. I asked the medium afterwards whether he could play the mouth-organ, and he very frankly said that he could. Presuming, then, that he played the instrument, whose voice was it which accompanied β the voice of a child, gentle and thin? This seemed to me to be the most evidential sign of spirit-presence which came to us. If Mr. Britton thinks I have done less than justice to his powers β which I think is very probable β he must blame himself for exhausting them in advance.
I had several talks with Canadian farmers while in the West. Farming is a gamble in every country, but the prizes in Canada are very great and the blanks are few. At the same time they do occur. One poor man told me how he had 47 acres under wheat, and how on the very eve of the harvest a local hail-tornado absolutely levelled the whole lot to the ground and so ruined him. Another in 1920 had a splendid crop of wheat and oats, 40 bushels of the former to the acre, and 320 acres in all. The bottom fell out of the market on account of the economic conditions of Europe, and he sold for 24 cents a bushel on an average that which it had taken him 65 cents a bushel to produce. Ruin once again! But after all these are the rare exceptions, and a good man in a good year can make a long start towards independence.
I was brought into contact also with some up-to-date mining men when I was at Vancouver, and was much interested in all that I learned. The sterile mountains which form the whole eastern border of British Columbia may well prove to be the treasure-chest of Canada, though the lid has been difficult to open. Whenever it has been opened a peep of something wonderful has been obtained. I lunched with Mr. Tives, of the Pioneer Mine, a gold-mine which is paying 55 per cent, upon a capital of a million pounds. There are many others, gold, silver, lead, and copper, coming along, though the development of the country has been held back by the wildcat schemes of the Hooley enterprise. None the less the stuff is there, and sooner or later will come out.
The system is that prospectors work all over the country, and when they get good ore bring it to the capitalist. The capitalist then advances a few hundred dollars for further development. When the property is well tested, the capitalist raises the money to run the mine, giving the original finder an interest in the venture. Colonel Leckie assured me, to my great surprise, that seaplanes are used in the mining operations. Surely no two things further apart could be imagined. But there are lakes in every valley, and the engineer can often save himself weeks of difficult trails by flying straight from one lake to another.
We passed through wonderful mountain scenery from Vancouver to Jasper Park, where I left my family. I went on 250 miles to Edmonton, where I was to lecture next night. Jasper Park is the happy valley, the wonderful playground of Western Canada, and it is ruled over by Colonel Rogers, an old friend, whom I have known since the South African War, when he came out with the Canadian contingent. He is king over a country which is larger than an English shire, which contains wonderful scenery, unspoiled nature, and wild creatures which have never learned to fear man. To this paradise I will return. I pass on now to Edmonton.
Here the Macdonald Hotel, built by the Canadian National Railway, was a great addition to the town as I had known it ten years before, but otherwise I fear there had not been very much growth. It is bound to come, however, as Edmonton is the capital of a grand province and is destined for great things. The war threw everything back, and afterwards came Bolshevik troubles among the foreign colliers and other workers who were supported by Russian money. The outbreaks at Johannesburg shortly afterwards looked as if the Red forces were systematically attacking the British Empire by endeavouring to weaken its further outposts. They directed their appeals in Canada to the returned soldiers, but far from giving help to the revolutionists, the soldiers rallied to the side of law and order. There are still the seeds of trouble, but it will never be serious.
They were taking down a wing of the jail at Edmonton, because they found it uninhabited since Prohibition was adopted in Alberta. In England one always quotes America on prohibition, but people forget that most of Canada has also gone dry, and is very much the better for the experience. Alberta is entirely dry. So is Manitoba. In British Columbia there is a curious system by which the Government sells liquor, the purchaser having to get a card for which he pays two dollars. On the back of the card is inscribed how much he consumes. One sees no liquor in the hotels, and, of course, the public-house or saloon-bar is entirely done away with, which is a splendid thing in itself. For any country which desires a compromise I think that the British Columbia card system is well worth considering, since any profit derived goes to the good of the general community.
One cannot be in Edmonton without hearing about wheat. All Canada is expecting this to be the bumper crop, and it will be a terrible disappointment if anything stands in the way. Five hundred million bushels is the total aimed at. I am told that if a man had taken up a farm at the price which can still be obtained for decent ground β say four dollars an acre β he might by the profits of a single good year clear his whole farm, while several good years in succession would give him a competence for life. The successful farmer in Great Britain, if there is such a person, could not do better than send one of his younger sons out here with a modest capital to start with. He would, with any luck, get his money repaid and his boy would have a chance of a real career. So well do the farmers do in some of the northern parts that they can afford to live like gentlemen in Victoria and Vancouver for the winter and then return to run their farms when the snow has cleared.
I had not expected much success in Edmonton, but as a matter of fact the large hall was completely sold out and I had a splendid audience. I detected the presence of some opposition, but that is always welcome. Several Spiritualists came up afterwards, and two who were clairvoyant described lights and figures seen upon my platform. It is well to accept such things with some reserve, but their constant independent repetition convinces me that these forces of which I am so conscious do sometimes at least impress themselves upon others.
I have been spending my lonely days reading Renan's Vie du St. Paul. He makes the wanderings of the great apostle very clear, very real, but he seems to me to have not the least idea of his methods. Renan with all his learning and sympathy was still a Frenchman, cynical and materialistic. The whole psychic world was closed to him β that world in which Paul spent half his existence. Puzzled by the miracles, Renan actually puts forward the view that Paul and Barnabas did conjuring tricks in order to impress the people. He says, "Les prestiges auxquels il nous est malheureusement interdit de douter que Paul et Barnabas eurent plus d'une fois recours." If this were indeed so, how could Renan respect Paul or write a book in his honour? What would be thought of an advocate of Spiritualism who supported his thesis by bogus phenomena? He would be a rogue, and so would Paul, if what Renan says were true. But it is not true, and one has only to read Paul's list of the spiritual gifts, and understand what is implied by his trances, to realize that he was in as close touch with things of the spirit as Renan was alien from them.
I took the trouble to look up the references upon which Renan bases his monstrous theory. They were Rom. xv. 19 and 2 Cor. xii. 12. The first says, "Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem... I have fully preached the gospel of Christ." The second says, "Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds." Are they not both what would be said by one who had psychic or, as we should say, "mediumistic" powers, and attributed them, as such higher powers should be attributed, to the Spirit of God? How densely ignorant of psychic matters a man must have been to think that these were allusions to conjuring tricks! And this is the most famous biographer of Paul! It only shows that even the cleverest man is incapable of really understanding the New Testament unless he has some knowledge of psychic possibilities.
I met a Dr. Porter in Edmonton who told me of a curious experience. He had a sudden presentiment that his father in New Brunswick was dead. He was so sure of it that he went round to tell his brother, but he found him already greatly agitated because he had seen a vision of the old man with a log across him. The two brothers set forth to consult with a third brother, but found that he also had had a warning. Of course the inevitable telegram of confirmation came later. What can one make of such a case, save that a number of receivers are all attuned to the same mysterious transmitter?
From Edmonton to Calgary, two hundred miles, is one long stretch of wheat-lands, with the wheat now six inches high, straight and green and beautiful. The usual farm is one hundred and sixty acres, but many farmers have taken larger ones and find it difficult to handle them. Men and money β these are the two crying needs of the North-west. But the men must be the right men, men of the soil who know the great secret of how to get the most from Nature.
It is from the Scandinavian and North-German races that the best material is now drawn. The queer Russian Dukhobors are also excellent material, so long as they are sane; but every now and then, exactly like the Red Indians, they have epidemics of frenzy, when they strip off their clothes and are guilty of every sort of absurdity. In their normal state they are decent, quiet folk, vegetarians and abstainers, with a good knowledge of agriculture. There are thousands of them, but there is some tendency now for them to be absorbed into the general population.
I sat the whole day, June 19th, in the observation-car with Mr. "Billie Brown," of the railway, absorbing local knowledge. There are coal-mines on the very edge of the track from which coal can be shovelled right on to the tender, at a cost of under ten shillings a ton. I should think no other railroad in the world has such an advantage as that. An astute American named Drumheller had obtained a hold over the coal district, and drew royalties at the rate of nearly a shilling a ton over the whole output, which must have made him a very wealthy man.
Every few miles down the track was a huge wooden tower for storing grain. The farmer brings it in his wagon, and it is graded, valued, and paid for then and there. It is then stored in the elevator, which is divided into compartments for wheat, rye, and barley, and the various grades of each. Then it is shot into the railway-trucks, which have a mark upon them to show how much can be held, for these various grains have very different weights, and a load of rye could be carried where an equal bulk of wheat would burst the bottom out of the car. It all seemed to be very carefully regulated and handled.
The Mayor of Calgary, Mr. Webster, took me round, and I was able to see the place well and appreciate its great possibilities. It has now 70,000 inhabitants, about the same as Tacoma, but it has a greater aspect of bustle and growth than the American town. If the oil-wells develop, as is hoped, it will soon become a very great place; but here the war, as at Edmonton, has stopped all growth, and it is only just beginning to pick up again. These oil-wells are thoroughly proved in Wyoming and Montana, and they have now crept up to the Canadian border, but the strata seem to sink as one goes northward, so that the borings become deeper. However, there is no doubt at all that the oil is there, and it is only a question of time when it is flowing freely. Meanwhile, the Imperial Oil Company has built a huge refining station and prepared many vats at Calgary, so all is ready for its reception. 
My lecture at Calgary was perhaps the least happy of my tour. Everything seemed to go wrong. The night was wet, the hall was awkward, the attendance poor, the price too high, the operator broke my favourite slide β in fact an evil influence seemed to be predominant. However, I did my part as well as I could, and that is all for which I am responsible. Here at Calgary, to my sorrow, I took leave of Mr. Erskine, who had been my very gentle, patient, and efficient companion all through. He had now to return to New York, and I was to do the short remainder of my lecture-schedule without him.
We came back, Mr. Billie Brown and I, on a different line from Calgary to Edmonton, so that I might see the coal-fields. The line runs down a long, winding valley, crossing a stream which must have driven the original engineer nearly crazy. There are seventy wooden bridges in twenty miles on account of the misguided meanderings of this wretched stream, which must at one time have been a very great river, for the marks of tremendous water-power were all around us. It has exposed soft cliffs of sandstone, those subcretaceous sands which were the home and finally the winding-sheet of the great dragons of the prime. The sand cliffs lie in well-defined strata which change to bands of dark peat. These in turn harden to coal, which lies about a hundred feet below the surface. There are about thirty mines in operation, all centring upon the town of Drumheller.
This development is really of enormous importance to Canada, for no coal has ever been discovered in the great Central Provinces of Quebec and Ontario, so that the Dominion is entirely dependent upon the Maritime Provinces in the east and these Alberta mines β until you get over to the Pacific coast, where coal abounds.
The Alberta coal is lignite and merely useful for domestic purposes, as it is only bituminous coal which can be burned on the railroads. The miner gets roughly from a pound to thirty shillings a day, but his work is intermittent, for the supply is now greater than the demand, and for months in the year the mines shut down altogether.
It is a monotonous country, for there are few trees, save for dwarf oaks and birches with low brushwood full of scuttling little animals. Very few birds are seen. Wild-roses are luxuriant on both sides of the track, and the fields are full of blue campanulas. Most beautiful are the occasional pellucid ponds with broad margins of marsh ragwort jasper set in gold.
I had a feeling of discouragement after this Calgary lecture, as if I had missed fire and was perhaps going stale and losing some of that inner force which is needed to send forth a message. The papers, however, were unusually kind next day. "One thousand pairs of eyes gazed spellbound on the photographs. In the darkened room, crowded with many persons deeply concentrated upon them, the pictures had a marvellous effect." So much for the slides. I even had some bouquets for myself to cheer me up. "Many commented on Sir Arthur's charm as a speaker, the forcefulness of his delivery and effectiveness of his style." "A humorous remark acted like a spring releasing extreme tension. It was clearly indicative of the rapt attention paid the speaker, a tribute to his remarkable power as an accomplished, forceful orator, if nothing else." So, after all. I had made some impression in Calgary. As to oratory, it is a thing of which I never think. My one ambition is to make a plain, truthful statement in an earnest way, and that is about the most I ever attain.
XI. Jasper Park
A Rocky Mountain Paradise β The Opal Lake β Billy and the Bear β Otto the Packer β Trip into the Wilds β Athabasca Falls β Isolated Soldier β Colonel Rogers
Jasper Park is not sufficiently known in England, nor does the average Englishman show sufficient enterprise in regulating his holidays. How many there are who would think nothing of spending a few hundred pounds in the south of France. And what do they get thereby? The most conventional change of surroundings, the atmosphere usually of one grand hotel instead of another similar hotel, and nothing fresh or novel to carry away, as a permanent record. But think what the same money would give if that traveller changed his view of the possible! The glorious voyage in ships which seem now to be impervious to weather, the journey up the wonderful St. Lawrence, the panorama of Canada, and then, if the total vacation be two months, a clear month or the best part of it of real virgin forest, of untamed nature, with tracts still open for exploration within one's reach in which it would be hardly an exaggeration to say that man has never travelled. The packer, the packhorse, the bed of fir boughs, the tent beside the stream, the great unknown ranges, and as a base of supplies and a permanent residence if need be, as good an hotel as man could desire. The paragraph sounds like an advertisement written to order, and yet it is but a cold statement of our own unbiassed view. Man, woman, and children, we all look on Jasper as the wonderland.
I sit and write on the balcony of my log hut, which sounds simple and primitive, but it is none the less provided with electric light, heat radiators, and hot water. There is a row of them, in each of which one enjoys one's own family privacy, and then at the end of the row the low-lying wooden hotel with good table and good service. In front of me is the most remarkable lake of any I know, and I have a good many on my visiting-list. Its colours are never the same from hour to hour-emerald-green, copper-green, lapis-lazuli blue, pure olive, and then suddenly a touch of pink which turns it all into one huge opal. Its still surface is broken now by one dark, moving spot. It looks human, but no swimmer would stay long in those chill waters. It is a beaver. And there is another one over yonder. And there on the bank, that careless pile of sticks, is their house. You could throw a stone into it from my writing-table. Behind it a fir wood stretches upward. In this wood, within sight of the hotel, Billy found herself yesterday walking parallel with a bear. Like the brave little Brownie that she is, patrol leader of the Crowborough patrol, and with the honour of that distinguished corps to uphold, she walked past the bear to call her brothers. "I wasn't really frightened, mammie, but my voice sounded different somehow." Dennis and Malcolm darted off to get β not a rifle, for no weapon is allowed in this paradise, but a kodak. With this they pursued the bear, clicking at it while it lumbered through the wood. Such are the little surprises at Jasper. Malcolm had seen another bear the day before and pursued it with the same cheerful gallantry.
I look up even as I write, and the lake, which was opal when last I glanced, is now striped lilac and green. It is some strange effect of the mountains around, I suppose, but never have I seen such subtle and varied shades. A chipmunk is standing on the step leading to my balcony, its bright little eyes watching me, and its bushy tail in the air. Malcolm comes in to report a four-foot pike in the lake, where it is likely to remain in spite of his patient efforts to get it to eat a large mother-of-pearl spoon. You need not walk a hundred yards to see wild Nature, for wild Nature comes to you in Jasper.
But if one wishes something more active and virile one presses a button, and up there starts the spirit of the place, the incarnation of the wilderness. It is Otto, bear hunter and packer, son of an old-time trapper. Otto is a little like a bear himself, very massive, his legs curved to the saddle, his shaggy cow-boy shapps giving them an animal effect and his large weather-tanned face speaking of wind and sun and open spaces. He is at your service.
What do you require? One night out? A week out? Two months out? Horses, men, and provisions will be ready to-morrow. There are few words, short and gruff and to the purpose. But Otto and his outfit will be there.
Perhaps after my long strain I might have been wiser to spend my week in quiet commune with Nature. The lake, the mountains, and the woods are enough, even from a balcony. But the call of Otto and the wild was too direct. The second day of my return saw us off The motor took us seven miles, and there the road ended. A bunch of horses, five saddle and three pack, were waiting with Otto himself, a cowboy friend named Scott, and a young cook, each of them of course with his own mount. So we took the trail to have our short experience of the simple life.
It was rather a strenuous experience, especially for an elderly man who was utterly out of condition, but it was very glorious none the less. We did forty miles of very rough trails in the three days, and saw no soul during that time, nor any house, save a solitary Warden who lives alone with his wife, deep in the forest, keeping guard over its interests, especially in the matter of fire. We visited the head-waters of the Athabasca River and saw the wonderful falls, seldom reached by tourists, where the great stream narrows in a limestone gorge and flings itself with a deep roar over a hundred feet of cliff. It is an awesome place to look down at, and the dark woods around are awesome too, but they echoed now to the happy laughter of the children. It was a wonderful memory in their young lives, and Otto declared that they were the youngest and cheeriest bunch who had ever been out with him. Billy behaved like a little heroine, and though her horse rolled once while she was mounted, she extricated herself and remounted without a whimper. The boys, too, took to the life of the trail as to the manner born. It is amazing how quickly human nature can go back to its beginnings.
We did some thirteen miles out the first day, ten the second, and thirteen back the third, and though the distances are small, the trails were very bad, and we were climbing, descending, passing through bog, and picking our way among rocks all the time. I felt quite at home in the saddle, though I must admit to some difficulty in getting on and off it. My wife was always a fine horsewoman, so there was no difficulty there. Colonel Rogers had kindly lent me an English saddle, which was a great help. Of all ingenious methods of torture, to put a large man into an undersized stock saddle is the worst. I have endured it twice and know what I say. One does not realize it at the start and gets out of reach of help before one understands what is coming to one. Then it is a long, slowly increasing agony of spine and thighs which brings you back drooping over your pommel and done to the world. Let the tourist beware!
But it is a vivid memory, the brown path winding among the green trees, the sunlight coming in vivid pools of light among the shadows, the great slate-grey river roaring upon one side of us, the chain of still green lakes, the halt for the welcome wayside meal, and everywhere the flowers. There were "roses, roses, all the way," as dear old Lewis Waller used to say. Surely the wild-rose should be the emblem of Alberta. Vivid scarlet lilies and "Indian paint-brushes" flowered among the mosses and low tangle of cranberry bushes and Indian tea shrubs with small white blossoms. It was a panorama of beauty. And then at night the camp-fire glaring upon the overhanging trees and the roar of the falls to lull one to sleep upon a bed of spruce branches, with all the clamour and contention of the world as far away as if it were a distant dream.
The Warden at Athabasca Falls was an ex-British officer named Wells, who lived in great loneliness save for his charming little Canadian wife. He had been wounded at Delville Wood, had been sent out to East Africa and had found some harder work there than any he had seen in France. It is astonishing how little people know about this tremendous war which has changed the whole face of the world. I suppose we are too near the picture to see the details, and that fifty years will enable us to get the focus. How many know that, humanly speaking, the fate of Africa was decided in a great pitched battle at Buneo-Yita, where all the British forces drew together and all the German forces faced them, and they fought until both sides were bled white and exhausted, but the British remained on the field. Each army may have been about five thousand, and each lost more than half its number. The Askaris were formidable soldiers, for the Germans put them through an iron discipline. But the Houssas were formidable also. Both sides had splendid men to lead them. Four Nigerian battalions, King's African Rifles, Indians, and the 24th London (Frontiersmen) were the main body of the British forces on that momentous day, and at the end there were not five cartridges left per man. "A close-run affair," as the Duke used to say.
I had hoped β and no doubt my readers had also β that I had got a rest from psychic work at Jasper, but we were both destined to be disappointed, for I had a request from the staff of the hotel and from the workmen that I should speak to them, and such a request, however unsought, is a call. We had a meeting therefore, some sixty present, including waiters, waitresses, chauffeurs, carpenters, bell-boys, and others. I pictured to them the glorious fate which lies ahead of every one of us, if we do but walk decently straight, and I hope I brought some light into lives which, even amid the beauties of Jasper, have no doubt troubles of their own. Some intelligent questions were asked at the end, the head waiter winding up the proceedings by declaring that hell had exploded. So that is official. There was, I understand, a great aftermath of discussion and even of experiment.
The animal life in Jasper is wonderful, but the motor-cars have driven much of it off the main roads and you have to go quietly into the forests to see it. This does not apply, however, to the bears, who come down to rummage in the hotel dump, where sometimes several at a time may be seen. I explained to Colonel Rogers that while he was right no doubt to forbid any injury to the bears, one would like to be assured that there was a reciprocity agreement. If the bears are going to concentrate round the hotels, timid folk will take to the hills. Colonel Rogers told me that recently he had imported a herd of elk. There were some wild bull elks over the hills seventy miles away, yet in a few weeks they had found and mixed with the new herd, crossing two ranges 4,000 feet high on the way. Science has much to learn as to such methods of communication.
It was a sad night when we pulled out of Jasper. As we looked back there was Edith Cavell Mountain, white and serene, with the great white angel-shaped glacier upon her brown breast. One bright star twinkled in a violet sky. "It is rotten leaving Jasper. Insects, bears, horses, people, we love them all." So spoke Malcolm and voiced the sentiment of all.
XII. Across Canada
The Prairie Winnipeg Baseball Game β Remarkable Psychic Phenomena Religious Circle β Fort William β Montreal β The Catholic Atmosphere β Tom Moore β A Poltergeist β Summing up
It is a very long stretch from Jasper to Winnipeg, but we did it in one stage with great com fort, thanks to the continual attention of' the Canadian National Railway. Canada has certainly suffered very heavily from the war, and it was sad to see how little progress has been made in all that long line of townlets which I described in 1914 as so many starters all toeing the line β the Grand Trunk Line and ready to start on their race for greatness. It was still hard to pick a winner, though Wainwright, Biggar, and Watrous were emerging from the ruck, and Saskatoon, as the capital of Saskatchewan, was in a class by itself. The Mayor and a deputation, with great courtesy, came down to give us greeting as we passed, and a very lively community they seemed to represent. The prairie becomes wearisome at last, but it is interesting to see the silent invasion from treeland which begins about a hundred miles west of Winnipeg. The trees came first singly here and there, exactly like the outriders of an army, then in solid clumps, like the supports, and finally the whole great plain is covered by them as they stream, self-planted, from east to west.
Winnipeg is rising superior to the war and we found many beautiful new buildings. The whole town is more like a real garden city than any I have seen. As you look over it from the high windows of the Fort Garry Hotel, it is difficult to realize that it is really a considerable city, and not a wood with occasional high buildings projecting from among the trees. We came upon it on Dominion Day, when all business was suspended and everyone was in festivity, so we fitted ourselves into the picture and attended the international baseball match between Winnipeg and Minneapolis in the morning. Both sides seemed to me to be surprisingly good, and the fielding, catching, and throwing-in were far superior to that of good English cricket teams. Of course in catching they are aided by the great glove on the left hand, but every cricketer knows the difficulty of judging a long catch, and when I say that not one was misjudged or dropped by either side out of at least fifty, it will show how high was the standard. I wish more and more that this game could acclimatize in Britain, for it has many points which make it the ideal game both for players and spectators. I have all the prejudices of an old cricketer, and yet I cannot get away from the fact that baseball is the better game.
While I love the game of baseball and would be glad to see it popular in England, I hope we shall always play it in a clean, straight way. It has been greatly purified now in America, but in the past it has been full of what we should call dirty tricks, which seem to have been condoned far too easily by public opinion. The famous pitcher, Mathewson, has written an excellent book of reminiscences which tells of a good many of these, some of which he seems to consider quite justifiable. Thus he narrates with amusement that in the case of a certain pitcher he was put off his game by the opposing team learning that there was a painful incident connected with a drum in his early life, and all "rat-tat-tatting" together whenever he began to pitch. It is humorous, no doubt, but I hope our alleged want of humour will be maintained in matters of sport. On another occasion the visiting team discovered a hidden wire under the turf on the home team's field, by which messages and signals were conveyed to the coacher or manager. The manager simply laughed when the wire was traced up to his table by an indignant fieldsman. It was no uncommon thing to mix soap with the earth round the pitcher's box, so that when he rubbed his hands they would become more slippery and not drier.
The crowd's ideas of sport became as debased as those of the players, and the throwing of bottles at the fielders became not uncommon. Of late, however, there has been marked improvement, which is due, it is said, to the players being drawn from a higher class, many college-bred men being attracted by the high pay. A fine player may be bought by one club from another, and twenty thousand pounds is not an unusual price. Of this sum he would only get a part, but he would receive in addition a salary which might easily be from one to two thousand a year. He has to work very hard for the money, his tobacco is cut off, he is in constant hard training, and he is lucky if he gets through the season uninjured. They say that baseball players of the first class do not live to a great age. Mathewson himself has developed tubercle, though he has now sufficiently recovered to coach a team in Boston.
On our first night in Winnipeg we attended a circle for psychical research which has been conducted for two years by a group of scientific men who have obtained remarkable results. The medium is a small, pleasant-faced woman from the Western Highlands of Scotland. Her psychic gifts are both mental and physical. The circle, which contained ten persons, including my wife and myself, placed their hands, or one hand each, upon a small table, part of which was illuminated by phosphorus so as to give some light. It was violently agitated, and this process was described as "charging it." It was then pushed back into a small cabinet made of four hung curtains with an opening in front. Out of this the table came clattering again and again entirely on its own, with no sitter touching it. I stood by the slit in the curtain in subdued red light and I watched the table within. One moment it was quiescent. A moment later it was like a restless dog in a kennel, springing, tossing, beating up against the supports, and finally bounding out with a velocity which caused me to get quickly out of the way. It ended by rising up in the air while our finger-tips were on it and remaining up for an appreciable period.
Many of Crawford's Belfast experiments have been duplicated by this group of scientists, which is the more important in view of Dr. Fourrier d'Albe's failure to get the same results. The doctor who presided had a butcher's scale in the room. The table weighed 12 1/2 pounds. He suspended it to the scale and was able, simply by psychic power, to increase the registered weight to 46 pounds and to decrease it to 7 pounds. He made one novel observation, which was that the raps which accompany the experiments persist and even increase when the weight increases, but disappear when the weight is below the normal.
On the mental side the peculiarity of the sittings is that little quotations which can be traced to R. L. Stevenson's works are rapped out by the medium. So far as is known, the little Scotch woman knows nothing normally of R. L. S., because she is not of a literary turn. Quotation after quotation has been actually verified. One curious line came through which has not yet been located. It is: "It will come at last like grey hairs or coffin nails." It sounds like Stevenson, but I cannot place it.
The man who goes upon occult paths does certainly have an extraordinary variety of experience. Let me briefly narrate that which happened on the morning of July 4th, the day after my lecture at Winnipeg, which had been a remarkably successful one to a very crowded house. I had heard of a strange circle and of a very remarkable medium, whom I will call Mrs. Bolton. At 9 a.m. one of her devotees, who are absolutely wholehearted in their belief and devotion, was at the hotel door with a car. After a four-mile drive we alighted at a lonely villa on the extreme outskirts of the town, where there were six other men and three women to meet us. The men were all alert, middle-aged or young, evidently keen men of business who might have been accountants or merchants. Yet here they were from ten o'clock onwards on a working day giving themselves up to what was in their eyes infinitely more important than business.
We sat around the room, and presently Mrs. Bolton entered, a woman of the Blavatsky type of rounded face, but less heavy. She seemed gentle and amiable. She sat down while "Lead, kindly Light" was sung. Then she sank into a trance, from which she quietly emerged with an aspect of very great dignity and benevolence. I have never seen more commanding eyes than those which fixed us each in turn. "It is the Master. It is the High Spirit," whispered my neighbours. Standing up, and greeting each of us in turn with very great dignity, the medium, or the entity controlling her, proceeded to baptize a child nine weeks old belonging to one of the circle. The mother might have stood for a model of reverence and awe. She then handed round bread and wine, as in the Sacrament. The wine, as I was assured by all, was simply water drawn from the domestic supply. It had now become faintly red with an aromatic odour and taste. At every meeting this miracle of changing the water into wine was performed, according to the unanimous testimony of these very same workaday men of the world, who declare that they themselves have drawn the water. I could not give a name to the taste and smell, which were very pleasant. It was certainly non-alcoholic.
We then had a long address, which was in the medium's own voice and dialect, but purported to come from the high control. My growing deafness made me miss some of it, but what I heard was dignified and impressive. After speaking for nearly an hour, a second control took possession. He was more smiling and homely but less majestic and dignified than the higher one. The latter, by the way, unbent in a very charming way when he blessed a little boy who was present, saying, "I remember when I was a little boy myself once." The second control gave messages relating to worldly things to several of the circle, who received them with deep reverence. They assured me that they never failed to be true. He spoke of conditions at death. "The dark valley on the other side waits for all. I am in the glorious city at the end. Those who are prepared by knowledge, as you are, soon pass the Valley. But some linger very long."
Then after some ceremonies which I may not describe the sΓ©ance ended, and Mrs. Bolton, the plain, homely, uneducated Lancashire woman, came back into her own body. What is one to say of such a performance? It was against all my prepossessions, for I have a deep distrust of ritual and form and sacraments, and here were all these things; yet they were solemn and moving, and nothing can exceed the absolute faith of these men and women. Their faith is founded, as they assure me, upon long experience in which they have seen miracle after miracle, including materializations of these high personages. I cannot claim that I saw anything evidential with my own eyes, and yet I am convinced that my informant was speaking truth so far as he saw it, when he claimed that he poured water into the chalice and that it had been transformed. It all left me with mixed feelings, but the conviction that I had been on the fringe of something very sacred and solemn was predominant. It is true that these high Spirits occasionally used Lancashire speech, but as one of them said, "We cannot open brain-cells which have never been opened. We have to use what is there."
When I considered the wonderful psychical phenomena of the one circle seen with my own eyes and the religious atmosphere of the other, I came away with the conclusion that Winnipeg stands very high among the places we have visited for its psychic possibilities. There are several Spiritualist Churches and a number of local mediums of good repute.
A long spell of travel through the country which was prairie in its first part and forest in its second brought us to Port Arthur, which with its twin town Fort William, only four miles away, marks the head of the great chain of lakes. Long before one reaches it one sees the mountainous wheat elevators in which much of the western harvest is stored until it can be shipped eastwards. They have been called the "Castles of Commerce," and from a distance they look like a combination of the great keep of a Norman fortress, with the pillars of Luxor built into it. There is one which is alone sufficient to hold the bread-supply of the whole population of the United Kingdom for five days.
When one reaches Port Arthur one feels that one is at last in touch with ancient Canada, the Canada of Parkman, for when that great historian wished to describe the extreme edge of the human world in those old days he speaks always of Thunder Bay. "The tribes were all up, from the Iroquois of the British Border to the wild Ojibbeways of Thunder Bay." This curve of Lake Superior is Thunder Bay, and up yonder on the wooded bill are the remains of the mission which was planted so long ago by the heroic Jesuit pioneers, who at the cost of their own lives, brought the first civilization into the wilderness.
It is surprising how wild the country is quite close to this great inland port. We made a very adventurous motor journey in the afternoon to see the lake among the mountains whence the water-supply is obtained. It is only a few miles off, and yet so difficult of access that I was assured that very few of the inhabitants had ever visited it. There, lying among virgin woods, the moose, the deer, the bear, and the beaver are common objects. We saw nothing but small game, and yet it was an exciting experience β the more exciting when the motor broke down and I had only just time to get back to deliver my evening lecture. It was touch and go, but all's well that ends well.
It was a long stretch from Port Arthur to Montreal, but again the amenities of the National Railway made it easy for us, and the two days of confinement were not unduly unpleasant. We stopped for some hours at Toronto, and had time to renew our acquaintance with that magnificent city, which seems to have taken to giddy ways, for she has erected an enormous glittering sort of Coney Island place along the lake-side, which was in full swing as we passed, with many thousands of people on swings and switchbacks and other diversions. If money paid to the saloons diminished the family standard, then it seems to me that these profitless excitements must have the same effect; yet it must be admitted that the monotony of modern economic life does call for some stimulant, if it be only taken in reason.
It was a joy to feel the glamour of history once more as we entered Montreal. On the first day we ascended the mountain and looked down on what is one of the most wonderful views in the world β and I can speak now with some knowledge. At your feet lies the old grey town, which is spreading fast upon either flank, and which is impressive in its wealth of domes and spires. Beyond is the glorious St. Lawrence, studded with green islands, and winding east and west as far as eye can reach, while those low hills and forests upon the far southern skyline are over the frontier in the States. It is no mushroom city this. It contains buildings which would be considered venerable and historical even by a European standard. Its actual foundation was in 1642. That was the year when King and Parliament had definitely drawn their swords and stood face to face to fight it out. In France the dynasty of the great Cardinals was in progress. In America the Virginians were beginning to make themselves comfortable and to export, as well as consume, their rum and tobacco. The Dutch were building up something on the island of Manhattan, soon to become New York. The Pilgrim Fathers were working like beavers to maintain themselves on the barren shores of New England, as bleak and hard as their own religion. The Spaniards were swarming over the south. And here, under our eyes, as we stand on Mount Royal, we could have seen eighteen men landing from a small ship which lay out in the stream. The leader, Maisonneuve, unbuckles his great sword, takes off his broad-brimmed hat, and kneels down at the river edge, with his faithful seventeen behind him. That was the birth of Montreal.
One feels at once in this city that vibrant sense of religious earnestness and fierce self-assertion which the dominant Catholic Church always brings with it. It is logical enough, for if your religion is really and literally true, then it must predominate over everything else. There is a good deal of virtue, however, in the "if." On our first day there was an assembly of Papal Zouaves, who marched past the hotel, some twelve hundred of them, well-uniformed, well-armed, led by very smart officers, and headed by the flag of France. I was sorry to observe, however, that very few of the breasts of the men were decorated with those medals which would show that when France and Belgium were really at death's door they had made some sacrifice to save them. The France of Canada is the France of Louis XIV and of Madame de Maintenon, of ruffling seigneurs, of intriguing abbes, and of persecuted Huguenots. She has no use for the France of free thought and free institutions. This became very clear in the hour of doom. On the same day that we saw the brave show of the Zouaves, who are ready to fight for a temporal power which no longer exists, we saw also two lines of gloomy-looking men who walked in single file on either side of the street in long procession. These were Orange men, and represented that reaction which an aggressive religion will always call forth.
We drove up the beautiful shores of the St. Lawrence, and saw the villages and villas which adorn them. One small house of stone was pointed out in which Tom Moore dwelt and where he wrote the "Canadian Boat Song." No medallion marks it. This I have endeavoured to amend by a letter to the press. I must confess that I never knew before that Moore had been to Canada. There is the stone house also of La Salle, the intrepid man who first explored the Great Lakes. It is the only building left of the old Lachine. The rest went up in fire on that dreadful night of rain and torture when the Iroquois sacked the hamlet, and the burghers of Montreal heard the cries of the victims and saw the distant glare of the fires in which they were consumed.
A singular case of poltergeist haunting came under my notice whilst at Montreal. It had occurred to a couple, the man an experienced journalist, the wife a rather nervous lady of middle age. They lived alone, their only child having gone out into the world. These people were haunted by a very active and mischievous but at the same time harmless spirit or spirits. The box of bricks which had been their child's toy was dragged out and fantastic buildings erected, which were put up again as soon as dismantled. When one of these buildings was photographed, a queer little mannikin figure came out in the photograph behind the bricks, and beside it what looks like a female head. There seemed to be two haunters, for presently direct writing began to appear upon pieces of paper scattered over the house. I examined these and found distinctly two scripts, one of a grown-up person and the other of a child, which corresponded with the photograph. A picture of a house was also drawn, an extraordinary high, thin erection of twelve stories, with "the Middlesex House" written underneath. It was very well drawn. Occasionally the pranks were of a less harmless nature. The electric lights were switched off at untoward moments, and the pictures were stripped from the walls. Twice the husband was assaulted by pillows until his incredulity had been buffeted out of him. Prayer seemed of no avail. Unhappily it seldom is in such cases. I have notes of one where a large fur hearthrug was the centre of the disturbance. A priest was brought in to exorcise the force, and whilst he was in the midst of his exorcism the rug sprang at him and enveloped his head and shoulders, so that he ran terrified from the house. One is dealing with a mischievous and rather malicious child, and reason together with kindness is the only weapon. In this particular case at Montreal the couple were finally compelled to abandon the house. The haunting seemed to be local, for it did not follow them.
I had not expected large audiences at Montreal, as the heat was great, and as the community is largely Roman Catholic, and of the opinion that the psychic phenomena which occur within its own ranks are saintly, while those experienced by others are diabolical. However, the two lectures were splendidly attended, and the second was quite full. It was my last appearance in this series, and so it was rather a solemn moment for our little party. I took the occasion to thank with all my heart the Canadian and American Press and public for the splendid way in which they had treated me.
I had spoken altogether about forty times, though only thirty-five were advertised lectures. I had travelled, allowing for my return journey, just 15,000 miles. The lectures I had done in less than a hundred days, and without an hour of sickness or even of weakness or depression. At my age the record was a good one, and I am well convinced that I was sustained in the task. I was forced to be an abstainer, and I am always spare in my diet, with a preference for vegetarian food, which aids one in endurance. On the top of my work I had kept so full a diary that this volume was practically all written from day to day as the events passed. If it were not for that it would be a wild jumble of memories in my mind. There can be little merit in a narrative so rapidly scrawled, but I am convinced that the day will come when an account of the psychic condition of this era will be of deep interest to our descendants, who will reap what we have sown.
We found the Province of Quebec, like every other spot we touched, divided on the ethics of the liquor question. They agree with everyone else that the saloon or public-house should be abolished. They are, however, more liberal in their views than any place north of Mexico, and as a consequence one can order beer or wine with one's meals at the hotels. One cannot order spirits, but these can be bought at Government establishments without any difficulty, though I fancy the quantity is limited. Our humble order of a single bottle cost exactly a pound, but it was of the best. There were no cardboard formalities, and in this the system differs from British Columbia, and also in the wine-and-beer licence to hotels. In Manitoba they have just had a popular vote on the subject, and the result is in favour of Government sale, but no hotel licences. If we cannot hit upon a good system at home, it is not for want of having every conceivable combination to choose from.
When Montreal had been given a full ventilation of our subject, both by my words and by a sympathetic Press, our tour was done. I cannot imagine anything which could have been added to make it a more complete success. I did not, of course, expect to make sudden conversions although there were actually a good many such. My own perception of the truth had come slowly, and I must allow other people the same pace. I had three very definite objects. One was to help and confirm those who were already Spiritualists. The second was to aid those who had some knowledge already, and to make it easier for them to realize what that knowledge would lead to. The third was to present our case to those who knew nothing about it, and to persuade them that there really was something there which could not be answered by jokes or by sneers, and that it was worthy of study and attention. In each of these objects I felt that I had thoroughly succeeded. When I contrasted the tone of the Press and the greater intelligence shown by the public on the occasion of my second visit, I could not doubt that the promises made by our unseen guides had been amply fulfilled.
We were now at a loose end, for it was more than three weeks before our departure and the cities were unendurable at this time of year. But an admirable place for rest and recuperation had been provided for us. I have already mentioned a Mr. Holley, of Detroit, who was interested in the Jonson Circle. Mr. Holley is at the head of the firm which makes the special carburettors for the Ford cars. We had corresponded over psychic matters, and now he showed his practical interest by motoring over with his charming wife from Loon Lake House, a holiday resort in the north of New York State, and attending my final lecture. His suggestion was that we should now take rooms at Loon Lake House, which we were very happy to do. On July 12th we were over the American frontier, and late that night we had reached the very remarkable establishment where I write these lines.
XIII. The Final Stretch
Loon Lake β a Remarkable Woman β George M. Holley β Spiritualistic Teaching β New York β John McK. Bowman β Final SΓ©ance β Central Police Headquarters β The Adriatic
Imagine on the banks of a large and beautiful lake, and amidst a huge forest, a straggling wooden hotel with annexes which mark its growth. In the wood around are many comfortable bungalows, each of them with sleeping-room for a family, and with a sitting-room. Folk in the bungalows come up to the central establishment for all meals. So long as you are in your own bungalow, you are absolutely undisturbed.
Such is the general idea, but it is in the details that the virtue lies. The lake provides fishing, boating, canoeing, and swimming, all very welcome to this amphibious family. There are horses and beautiful rides. There are golf and tennis at the very door. Above all, in spite of the fact that there are several hundred guests, of the very best American class, there is no formality whatever. It is there that I see a welcome difference from anything which I have seen at home. A lady in the evening may wear her most beautiful frock and she is quite in the picture. On the other hand, a man may wear the flannels or golf costume which he has worn all day, and that also is perfectly normal. Dinner-jackets are taboo. Thus the stupid formalities which take up so much of our time are done away with and life is reduced to its proper simplicity.
The proprietor and creator of this paradise is certainly one of the most remarkable persons whom I have met in my travels, and yet it would be difficult to represent upon paper the effect which she has produced upon everyone who comes into contact with her. She is a little old lady, very quiet and demure, reminding me of Lady Dorothy Nevill in her general suggestion of mid-Victorian, quiet efficiency. She says little, but what she says is clear and prompt. Nothing is done in the whole vast establishment which does not come from her. No room can be engaged without her knowledge and assent, yet she never fusses, and is always the same gentle, inscrutable figure. There is great kindness and common sense in the little old body. "There are no Don'ts here," says she to the children. One man, with great diffidence, brought a huge dog, which came up silently beside him and looked over the counter of the bureau. The owner, unaware of the dog's presence, was immensely complimented when the little old lady said, as she advanced, "No nobler head has ever looked over this counter." Animals and children they are always welcome.
On the other hand she is a disciplinarian, and is a certificate of character if you are a habituΓ© of Loon Lake House. If anyone is objectionable. she says gently, "I fear that Loon Lake House will not welcome you any more." That is final, and the offender departs. "Oh, but that is what we wish to avoid," she said to one man who declared that he was coming again. It is a very healthy influence, and there will never be any scandals or anything but honest good fellow-ship at Loon Lake, thanks to quiet, masterful little Mrs. Mary Chase.
Of course, I gave a lecture at Loon Lake. Do what I will or go where I will, I cannot escape that. There seemed to be a very general interest in the subject, and Mr. George Holley is a splendid addition to our cause, for America badly needs leaders, and he has the mental qualifications which would make him one. though it is the scientific side of the question which interests him at present. I expect that under his influence Detroit may become one of the centres of the movement.
So at last the days were fulfilled and our second tour in America drew to a close. I write these words on the day before we leave this earthly paradise and descend to the heat and noise of New York, whence in a week the good ship Adriatic will bear us homeward. I see no immediate prospect of any rest, however, as an International Spiritualist Congress is summoned for Liege in Belgium and thither we must go.
I leave America feeling that there is a quiet ferment going on throughout the whole vast country, and that some great man and finally some great thing will arise out of it. Mankind cannot go on indefinitely envisaging facts which are as clear as the sun at noonday, and yet acting as if they did not exist. It is an absolute fact that every sort of evidence, physical and mental, exists to show quite clearly that the soul survives the body unchanged and can communicate back to us. My own experiences have made me as sure of that as I am of my own present existence. It is an absolute fact that when we do communicate with these emancipated souls they all tell us of a fate very different from any which we learn from the Churches, and that they flood us with posthumous knowledge which is most reasonable, most consoling, and most consistent, though it comes from so many sources. If this knowledge is correct, as so many of us believe, then who can possibly deny that it constitutes the greatest guidance which God has sent for two thousand years to His bewildered children? It has not come as we might have expected, nor is it such as we could have foreseen; but God's ways are not our ways, and there are surely solid reasons at the back of it all.
One question we may fearlessly ask, and that is, What religious revelation in the world had ever one-tenth of the sanction which this one has? We draw our knowledge not from Hebrew prophets, who lived three thousand years ago under different conditions and using a different tongue, but we get it direct ourselves either from our own loved ones who have just passed over, or from high teachers who give their credentials. These teachers do not preach mysteries or demand impossible faith, but they tell us what is consistent, reasonable and beautiful, and they accompany their teachings with signs of preternatural power which we can ourselves see, and to which many thousands of us testify. Has not this, then, all the signs of a God-given revelation to a most material, stupid, undeserving world, sunk in indolence and money-grubbing, with the spiritual faculties almost atrophied for want of use. But the central glow is still there, and it is our task to clear off the ashes and tend the sacred flame once more. If we succeed, well and good. If we do not β if foolish men continue to perpetuate that organized selfishness which now constitutes the world, and to have faith in external form instead of internal spirit, then there is a chastening close at hand which will make the world-war, the first stroke of the scourge, seem insignificant. So the voices tell us, and they do not lie.
A very short epilogue will finish the record of our adventures. From Loon Lake we descended upon torrid New York, and must certainly have looked a strange band of wanderers. I carried a new form of ouija-board under my arm, which an inventive genius had sent me. Billy bore a sort of tureen in front of her in which swam a live tortoise brought from San Francisco, Denis carried the head of a wild sheep picked up in Catalina Island, while Malcolm bore a great box with a hundred varieties of moths caught in his travels. Our entrance caused a sensation in the fashionable Biltmore Hotel.
I have already stated that Mr. John McK. Bowman, the President of this and many other hotels, was sympathetic to my psychic views, and had shown us wonderful hospitality, putting his own rooms at our disposal. I was able to make him some small return now, for learning that Miss Besinnet was passing through on her way to Canada, a sΓ©ance was rapidly arranged and Bowman had for the first time the experience of the marvels of this lady's mediumship. For three hours we had every conceivable evidence from those whom the world regards as "dead" β we heard them, we saw them, we had messages from them, we had manifestations of their physical power, which culminated in their raising the heavy table into the air. As we came out, dazed with our experience, into the brilliant Fifth Avenue with its hurrying crowds, I said to Bowman, "Is it not marvellous to think of the ignorance of these people as to the possibilities of the world that they are in!" Exaltavit humiles, and there is many a humble worker who has a fuller grasp of these vital matters than the savant or the man of the world.
I spent one interesting morning at the New York police headquarters, where I made the acquaintance of Mr. Enright, the courteous and very efficient chief. The police are now a credit and not a discredit to the city, and it is to the Commissioner that the change is mainly due. He is a broad-minded man, and has refused to allow himself to be an instrument for the persecution of our people. When at headquarters I looked over the rooms of Dr. Carleton Simon, who is in charge of the Anti-dope Department. The record of every known addict is filed in his office. It is a growing and a desperate evil, and Dr. Simon is of opinion that we have taken it too lightly in England, and that it has got a firmer grip in this country than we are aware of. It is like some great lowering cloud coming down upon the world and bringing forth tribulations in its train. God knows we have enough already.
And so at last, our mission done, we went on August 4th aboard the Adriatic, captained by an old friend, Commander Beadnell. It was an uneventful voyage with, I need not say, a psychic lecture sandwiched into the middle of it. There was hardly an incident to recall, save that a thresher whale swam beside the ship, almost touching it, for some miles outside Queens-town. On August 13th we were on English soil once more, and the second American adventure was at an end.
Appendix. Further Note upon the Jonson SΓ©ance
I have mentioned in the text that a competent observer, Mr. George M. Holley, a well-known business man of Detroit, who was not at that time a Spiritualist, experimented with Jonson. On comparing our notes and our conclusions, we found that we were in very close agreement. He shared my view that in order to get conclusive proofs it would be necessary to use a cabinet which had not a back door, however securely the latter might seem to be occluded.
It is only fair to the Jonsons, however, to state that this condition appears to have been completely fulfilled during the long series of sittings which Admiral Usborne Moore, a very experienced observer, had with these mediums in 1909. His experiments were checked by Mr. Yaryan, who had been chief of the secret police under the Grant Government, and who had watched these mediums carefully for years and assured him that they were genuine.
In these seances Admiral Moore tells us that "the cabinet is about seven yards from the top of the staircase in one corner of the room... It is practically impossible for confederates to come this way, for they would have to pass the sitters to reach the cabinet." Under these conditions he experienced exactly similar phenomena to those which Mr. Holley and I independently observed in California, so that it is reasonable to conclude that the occluded door played no part in the matter.
Mr. Yaryan the detective said: "The forms that manifest to the sitter each have a peculiar gait and movement of the limbs. If the conditions are not good, you may not see the features plainly enough to identify your friend by looking at his or her face, but you know them by distinctive movements, dress, and carriage." (This applies exactly to what I have said of my mother's appearance in the text.) "Is it conceivable," Yaryan continues, "that Jonson can produce enough confederates to imitate these features at every sΓ©ance?...How can we account for the unerring certainty with which the proper form, dress, and movements are manifested? The expense and the difficulty of finding the histrionic ability in the neighbourhood forbid the theory of personation. The expense alone would prohibit such an idea."
Finally summing up his impressions, the Admiral says: "It is hardly necessary for me to say that the Jonsons have been accused of fraud like all other professional mediums, good, bad, and indifferent. I have never heard of any instance where a definite charge has been brought and proved. All I know of are the usual slanders by other competing mediums, by well-intentioned friends of the sitters, and writings, private and public, by critics of the arm-chair order. These latter are quite safe. They know they will not be prosecuted for libel... Any cowardly ink-slinger can assail any medium with impunity."
He adds: "Not one of the forms looks mortal. The faces were not unpleasing, but the features, expression, and colour were distinctly uncanny." That was also my impression. While endorsing the mediumship of the Jonsons to this extent and while certain that what I saw myself was genuine, I would make it clear that no one can give a permanent certificate of character to any medium. There are lapses of psychic power, which is essentially intermittent in character, and no one can say in advance how far any man might be tempted to substitute pretence for reality.
As to the actual mode of operation in these materializations, I do not see that we have advanced any further than the views propounded by early investigators in the sixties, though we have added some long words to the dictionary. The spiritual forces give and always have given explanations which have not been improved upon by our earthly science. These explanations are that a vapour which used to be called animal magnetism or odyllic force, but is now called ectoplasm, issues from certain specially endowed persons, in this case the Jonsons; that it is collected in a confined space, the cabinet, by the presiding spirit-control; that the spirits wishing to manifest themselves have been already assembled; that a simulacrum of each earth-form is built up in succession by the experienced control in the shape of an ectoplasmic mould, this simulacrum being more or less like the original; that the manifesting spirit then inhabits its own simulacrum for a longer or shorter period, using it as a temporary body; that it is then dissolved and a fresh form built up; and that finally the medium is exhausted by the constant emission and so the proceedings cease. This is the teaching which we get from the other side, and I do not know anything which covers the facts more completely.
- Riley's friends vigorously deny this anecdote, and their denial should be put on record.
- Vide Appendix. Note on Jonson's mediumship.
- These remarks were just four months before the most disastrous earthquake of all time.
- It is stated, since my visit, that the prospects have become much less favourable.