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

XV The "influence" again--Other incidents--Statistics.

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At this point I must return to a fact which is surprising on any hypothesis we may prefer: the utility of presenting to the medium objects which have belonged to the person from whom we wish to obtain the supposed communications. Phinuit used to say that he found the "influence" of the dead persons on these objects, and the "influence" was all the stronger if the object had been worn or carried long, and if it had passed through few hands; different successive "influences" seem to weaken one another. I have said that we are totally ignorant of the nature of this "influence," but I have also said that it might not improbably be supposed to consist of vibrations left by our thoughts and feelings upon material objects. However this may be, Phinuit seemed to read this "influence," and draw from it the greater part of the information he gave. Generally, in spite of his affirmations to the contrary, he did not appear to be in direct relation with the communicators at all. Since the disappearance of the Phinuit _régime_ and the appearance of that of Imperator, the presentation of small objects is still of use; but it must be remarked that it has never been indispensable, and that communicators often appear without having been attracted by any "influence." But under the present system the information received appears to be much less read from the "influence"; there is much more sense of the real presence of the communicators. Of what use, then, are the small objects given to the medium? Neither the controls nor the communicators have explained, which is a pity. Under the new system managed by Imperator and his helpers such small articles seem chiefly useful for "holding" the communicator, for preventing his going away, and for maintaining a certain cohesion in his thoughts. Rector constantly repeats, "Give me something to keep him and clear up his ideas." The communicator would apparently need a _point de repère_ in order to remain at the desired place, and this _point de repère_ would be furnished him by some object he has often used, the "influence" left on which he seems to perceive more clearly than anything else. According to George Pelham, we may also suppose that the communicator somehow perceives the mind of the sitter, but this mind is imprisoned in matter, and greatly clouded by it; the communicator only recognises the mind of the sitter when it is functioning actively, if I may thus express it; when the sitter is thinking, and, above all, thinking of the communicator. This is why, when the communicator perceives that his ideas are becoming confused, he constantly says reproachfully to the sitter, "Oh! why don't you speak? Say something to me, help me. You want me to work for you, but you will not do anything for me." The dead cousin of Professor Hyslop, Robert MacClellan, says to him, for example, "Speak to me, for Heaven's sake. Help me to reach you." Analogous passages are very numerous.

I return to Professor Hyslop's report. The most important communicator after his father during the sittings was his uncle Carruthers, whose name, however, was always mangled by Rector, and given as _Clarke_ or _Charles_. This uncle had died only twenty days before the first sitting.[80] At his first communication he inquires anxiously about his wife Eliza, Robert Hyslop's sister, whom his death had left desolate. "It is I, James," he says to the inquirer. "Give my love to Eliza; tell her not to get discouraged, she will be better soon. I see her often in despair." Professor Hyslop asks, "Do you know why she grieves?" "Yes, because I left her; but I did not really leave her. I wish I could tell you all I would like ... you would not think I had left entirely. Will you comfort her? She ought not to be left lonely." "Yes, I will comfort her." "I am so glad!" At that time Professor Hyslop did not guess that his aunt was so completely alone and in such deep despair. He only found this out on inquiry.