new age spirituality

This Classic work is now copyright expired and therefore in the public domain.

Mrs. Piper & the Society for Psychical Research by Michael Sage

XIV The communications of Mr Robert Hyslop--Peculiar expressions--Incidents.

page 1 of 5 | Mrs. Piper & the Society for Psychical Research - home

After we have read the report of Professor Hyslop, weighed the slightest facts with him, discussed the arguments for and against with him, we cannot be surprised at his having ended by adhering to the spiritualist hypothesis; in other words, we cannot be surprised that, in spite of his previous prejudice, he should have ended by exclaiming, "I have been talking with my father, my brother, my uncles. Whatever supernormal powers we may be pleased to attribute to Mrs Piper's secondary personalities, it would be difficult to make me believe that these secondary personalities could have thus completely reconstituted the mental personality of my dead relatives. To admit this would involve me in too many improbabilities. I prefer to believe that I have been talking to my dead relatives in person; it is simpler." This is the conclusion at which Professor Hyslop has arrived, and he takes the reader with him, in spite of himself. As may be imagined, I do not pretend to do the same in a hurried sketch like the present. Here, as was the case with George Pelham, the incidents quoted are only examples selected from a great number; some important detail of the said incidents may even be accidentally omitted. If the forgotten detail lays the incident open to some great objection, the reader must blame me only for it, and turn to Professor Hyslop's book for himself.[78]

Professor Hyslop's father, Mr Robert Hyslop, was a private person in the strictest sense of the word; he never did anything to attract public attention to him; he did not write in the papers, and never, or hardly ever, lived in towns. He was born in 1821, and lived on his farm in Ohio till 1889, when he went into a neighbouring State. He returned to his old home in August 1896, ill with a sort of cancer of the larynx. The old home then belonged to his brother-in-law, James Carruthers, and he died there on the 29th of the same month. In 1860 he had contracted a spinal affection, the result of over-exertion, and this had degenerated, some years later, into locomotor ataxy; he lost by degrees the use of one of his legs and used a crutch; there was afterwards an improvement, but he could never walk without a stick. In 1876 he had a slight attack of apoplexy, which affected his hearing, one ear being quite deaf. Three years before his death he further had the misfortune to lose his voice, probably from paralysis of the larynx. A year before his death a fresh affliction was added to all the others; he thought it was catarrh, but it was probably cancer of the larynx; and it was accompanied by frequent spasms which threatened his life.

In short, for thirty-five years at least, Mr Robert

Hyslop was an invalid. His life was by necessity passed indoors, or at least on his farm. This life was necessarily without events calculated to attract a stranger's notice. There was consequently very little possibility that the medium could obtain information about him by normal means. But when an obscure man like Mr Robert Hyslop returns from the Beyond to establish his identity by relating a number of small facts, too slight and unimportant to have been observed outside his intimate circle, such a man furnishes us with a much stronger presumption in favour of a future life than a personage in public life could do. Even if the latter only reported incidents of his private life, it would be easier to suppose that the medium had been able to procure them. During nearly all his life, but principally during the last twenty years, the thoughts of Mr Robert Hyslop turned on a small number of subjects--his solicitude for his family; the administration of his farm, which gave him much care; the fulfilment of his religious duties, in which he never failed; and lastly, political events, which much interested him, because they naturally reacted upon his private affairs. Consequently the greater part of the facts I shall quote belonged to one or other of these four categories of his preoccupations.