CHAPTER III SPEECH WITH THE DEAD
It was in the year 1892 that I met Emily S. French. She was a woman then over 60 years of age, in delicate health, and very deaf. While she was conscious that she possessed powers out of the ordinary, she had little more comprehension than I of that into which the force would develop. At the suggestion of a number of prominent citizens, I was asked to meet Mrs. French and explain, if I could, the unusual phenomena obtainable.
In one of our early investigations we sat in a dark room, three of us forming a half circle, she facing us. After a time, seeming whispers were faintly heard, and the gentleman sitting with me insisted that he recognized his wife’s voice. It was unsatisfactory to me, but I was interested and immediately made an investigation of the character of the psychic. Finding her of good family and of more than ordinary education, I determined to know how the phenomenon was produced. Of course, at that time I could not comprehend the direct voice, nor the possibility of speech with the so-called dead. I was then agnostic. As I look over the situation now, I see that I had neither the experience nor the ability to appreciate the facts, any more than the average reader of this book can comprehend some of the statements made in it. I had to learn, first, that the afterlife is etheric, and that people take into the afterlife the same spirit body which they had in this life divested of the outer flesh garment. In those days I did not know that we have etheric bodies.
I found in the beginning that Mrs. French stood very much in awe of the play of this psychic force. One always fears things which he does not understand, and not understanding the unusual phenomena present, she was often very much afraid. I investigated far enough to find that she was possessed of a vital force unknown to me. She was just as much in the dark regarding it as I, and just as much interested. Accordingly she undertook to join me in an investigation, to devote her time without money and without price to the mastery of that force in the hope that good might come. Out of that compact came over twenty years of continued work, and experiences which to me seem worthy of record.
It has been said that we have but five senses. That is to say, the average individual has but five senses developed; some persons, however, have seven. To the five accepted senses I add “psychic sight” and “psychic hearing.” Mrs. French possessed both of those. At times she could see people moving in the afterlife, not with her physical eye, of course, but by means of psychic sight. She could perceive them so acutely that they were just as real to her as if an impression came upon the retina. This is true, because she could see and describe these people in the dark just as well as in the light. Again, she had psychic hearing, for I have been able on many occasions in the broad daylight to carry on conversations with persons out of the body (she repeating their words) as satisfactorily as if they were still in their physical bodies, and in such talks I have gone frequently far beyond the knowledge of the psychic.
In the beginning spirit speech was faint from the sphere beyond. I was able to get in touch with only a very ordinary class of spirit people, and I often became impatient that those I most desired did not come. I did not then understand as I now do my own limitations, for now I know that instruction was being given me as fast as I could grasp it. When a new fact was stated, the law and the conditions making such fact possible were explained. The first propositions were very simple, but as the years rolled by, we made great progress. We learned how to form the required environment; there was a whisper and then a voice; then the voice took tone and individuality. In course of time those of the group with whom I was accustomed to have speech were easily recognized.
There was one person in particular with whom from the very first time I worked with Mrs. French I was desirous of talking. This was my mother who left this life in 1873. Time went on, and she did not come. Finally she requested me to meet with Mrs. French under the necessary conditions on May 26, 1896, saying that she would come and go over many things in which we were mutually interested.
About ten o’clock on the appointed morning the Brown Building in Buffalo, then being repaired, collapsed. The street was full of rumors that many people had been killed. The number was put, I think, at six or seven. Of course, there was no way of ascertaining the truth until the debris could be removed and this would require many days.
Mrs. French and I were scarcely seated that evening when my mother greeted me in her own direct voice, and said with great regret that owing to the accident that morning she must forego the pleasure of our visit until a later time, we could be of great help to those whose lives had been crushed out; they needed assistance. Of course, I readily acquiesced in the suggestion. There was perhaps ten minutes of silence; then a voice, choking and coughing, broke the stillness and cried,
“My God, the building is falling, the building is falling. This way, this way.” The situation was tense and startling. I half rose to my feet. Another voice answered in a strange tongue. The words were not distinguishable, but it seemed to me as if someone was responding to the first call, which was followed in a moment by a woman’s voice crying out in great fear, “We will all be killed ! Help me, help me.”
This was the beginning of what we term our mission work, that is, helping to restore consciousness to those who in leaving the old body are not readily able to regain that condition. There was then, aiding in this work, as I have since learned, a group of seven spirit co-workers who had brought to us these unfortunate people whose spirit-bodies had been crushed out in the fall of this building. We were to restore them to a normal mental condition, and acting upon the suggestion of the spirit coworkers I quietly talked with them. After a time I told them what had occurred and brought them to a realization of their situation. Eventually they came to understand that in the fall of that building their spirits had been forced from their physical bodies, and when they came to realize that in the catastrophe they had gone out of earth-life, their sorrow was beyond words. One told me on that evening that four people, namely: William P. Straub, George Metz, Michael Schurzke, a Pole, and Jennie M. Griffin, a woman, had lost their lives in the fall of the building. This was verified some days later.
After talking with me, voice to voice, they realized that they had gone through the change called death. Then their friends in the afterlife came, were recognized, and took them and gave them such consolation as was possible under the unfortunate circumstances.
I asked the leader of the spirit group how it was that the voices when first heard seemed so strained, and speech so broken, why there was so much choking. He replied that a person, crushed out of the physical body suddenly, finishes as soon as consciousness and the mental condition are restored, sentences left unuttered when dissolution came; that in the awakening he takes on the identical state in which he passed out.
After they had gone Mrs. French said:
“I see behind you a man probably fifty-five or more years old, strong character I should judge, who has been listening to this conversation. He is looking at you with amazement. He does not seem to understand.”
I said to her, “Does he know me?” She replied, “He answers, ‘Yes’.” “Does he give his name?” “No, not yet.”
Of course, being in absolute darkness and not possessing psychic sight or psychic hearing, I could neither see nor hear him, but I asked, “Did he reside in Buffalo?” She answered, “No.”
I then inquired concerning other localities, and named residents of a city where I had lived for some years, asking,
“Was he a resident of that city?” and Mrs. French replied saying:
“He says that he lived there.”
Then I repeated the names of many of my acquaintances, trying to identify the individual who was then present, with an idea that I might have speech with him. Finally Mrs. French said:
“I see the letters H. G. B.”
I quickly recalled the individual described and spoke his name. He had been a leading citizen of a neighboring city, a large manufacturer. I recalled many evenings spent at his house with his family, and particularly did I recall his voice. On Sunday evenings he enjoyed the gathering of young people, and at such times there was often singing of popular songs, and many of the old hymns. His voice was unusual, deep, resonant, and he sang very well. It was a voice which, having once been heard, could never be mistaken. He had been out of the body then about five years. After a little time he moved around apparently to the side of Mrs. French, and greeted me. That deep masculine voice would have been recognized if he had not given his name; there was no mistake. He spoke my name as familiarly as he ever did in earth life, and I greeted him as cordially as I ever had in his home.
I had believed that this man had led an exemplary life, for this was the general impression which prevailed in the community where he resided, and I thought he, of all men, would find the best conditions after dissolution. However, he did not yet realize that he had separated from his physical body. He knew some great change had taken place, but he had absolutely no conception of what it was, although five years had elapsed since it occurred. He told me that his wife and children no longer recognized him in his own home, that he spoke to them, that he called to them, that he got on his knees and shrieked their names, but he could not apparently touch them, he could not make them realize his presence; they passed him apathetically. His inability to make himself known in the home where he had always been the dominant personality, the indifference with which he was treated not only by his own family but by others with whom he came in contact, had driven him nearly to desperation. He could not understand the situation at all, and he was fearful that he was verging on insanity, if not completely insane. All was darkness about him, all things were unnatural, and he had become frantic. It was a delicate task to bring this man to a realization of the great change that had taken place, because his present condition was so intensely real. He was the same man, he had the same intellect, the same personality, apparently the same body. Why should he be ignored and overlooked by all whom he had known?
It was only after many explanations that he came to a realizing sense that he had left the physical world of men. Having in mind the exemplary life which he had led, I told him that I could not understand why he should find himself in such a mental state, and he replied that he had not lived the life for which he had been given credit.
A member of the spirit group present said:
“The wrong done in earth-life binds him to the earth condition. While he has left his physical body, he has not left the earth and its environment, and having no knowledge of the great beyond to which he has journeyed, he has never progressed beyond the earth plane where he formerly lived, and he cannot comprehend while in that mental state the change that has come to him.”
It appeared that he had never left his home, and the narrow environment about it, but in a half awakened, half conscious state had wandered from one to another until by good fortune he had been told that if he would attend upon our work, he would understand the change that had come into his life. With this unusual experience we said “Good Night” to our group of co- workers, and I walked homeward in deep thought.
What shall be said of our civilization that teaches nothing of the conditions prevailing in the afterlife?