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

V A sitting with Mrs Piper--The hypothesis of thought-transference--Incidents.

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The reader may not be displeased to have a specimen of these strange conversations between human beings and the invisible beings, who assert that they are the disincarnated spirits of those who day by day quit this world of woe. It will not be difficult to give the reader a specimen of them. At least one half of the fourteen or fifteen hundred pages dedicated to the Piper case in the _Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research_ are composed of reports of sittings, either taken down in shorthand or given in great detail. In some of these reports even the most insignificant exclamations of those present are noted.

I have chosen the 47th of the sittings which took place in England, not because it is peculiarly interesting, but because Professor Lodge's published report of it is not too long, and I have no room for more extended developments.

The account of this sitting will perhaps disappoint some readers. "What!" they will say, "is that all that spirits who return from the other world have to say to us? They talk as we do. They speak of the same things. They are not spirits." This conclusion would perhaps be too hasty. I do not assert that they are spirits or that they return from another world. I know nothing about it. But if this other world existed we should expect that there would not be an abyss between it and our own. Nature makes no leaps. That is surely a true principle in, and for, all worlds.

We have a means, although an imperfect one, of endeavouring to discover if the communicators are really returning spirits. It is to ask them to prove their identity by relating as large a number of facts as possible concerning their life upon earth. The investigators of the Piper case have for fifteen years devoted themselves to this task, apparently easy, in reality difficult and ungrateful.

In the earlier experiments in the Piper case the conversation almost always takes place between the sitters and Dr Phinuit. Dr Phinuit does not willingly give up his post, though he does so sometimes. When he is giving information which he says he has received from other spirits he sometimes talks in the third person; sometimes, on the contrary, he reports word for word in the first person. This detail must not be forgotten in reading the reports. The following is a report of the 47th sitting in England.

The sitters are Professor Oliver Lodge and his brother Alfred Lodge. The latter takes notes. The phrases between parentheses are remarks made by Professor Lodge after the sitting.[12]

Phinuit.--"Captain,[13] do you know that as I came[14] I met the medium going out, and she's crying. Why is that?" O. L.--"Well, the fact is she's separated from her children for a few days and she is feeling rather low about it."

Phinuit.--"How are you, Alfred? I've your mother's influence strong. (Pause.) By George! that's Aunt Anne's ring (feeling ring I had put on my hand just before sitting) given over to you. And Olly dear,[15] that's one of the last things I ever gave you. It was one of the last things I said to you in the body when I gave it you for Mary. I said, 'For her, through you.'" [This is precisely accurate.]

O. L.--"Yes, I remember perfectly."

Phinuit.--"I tell you I know it, I shall never forget it. Keep it in memory of me, for I am not dead. Each spirit is not so dim (?) that it cannot recollect its belongings in the body. They attract us if there has been anything special about them. I tell you, my boy, I can see it just as plain as if I were in the body. It was the last thing I gave you, for her, through you, always in remembrance of me." (Further conversation and advice ending, "Convince yourself,[16] and let others do the same. We are all liable to mistakes, but you can see for yourself. There's a gentleman wants to speak to you.")