from "THERE IS NO DEATH"
1 from Chapter 8
tells how the author was reunited
with her daughter, Florence, through the mediumship
of six different mediums. Her daughter who died
at the age of ten days first appeared to her at
the age of ten through the mediumship of Mrs. Holmes
(materialization). She then came through Florence
Cook (materialization), Mabel Collins (trance medium),
Mr. Charles Williams (materialization), Mr. William
Eglinton (spirit writing) Mr. Arthur Colman.(materialization).
Eventually she appeared at the age of nineteen and
sat on the lap of her mother who estimated her weight
at ten stone (114 lbs). In every case Florence was
able to show the rare and unique facial deformity
with which she had been born even though in the
spirit world she was perfect.
Extract 2 from Chapter 28 tells how
Marryat has been helped by the experiences to overcome
all fear of death.
The full book (247 pages) which descibes many other
experiences with physical mediums can be downloaded
from Survival ebooks
FREE Download "There Is No Death"
MY SPIRIT CHILD
The same year that John Powles died, 1860, I passed
through the greatest trouble of my life. It is quite
unnecessary to my narrative to relate what that
trouble was, nor how it affected me, but I suffered
terribly both in mind and body, and it was chiefly
for this reason that the medical men advised my
return to England, which I reached on the 14th of
December, and on the 30th of the same month
a daughter was born to me, who survived her birth
for only ten days.
The child was born with a most peculiar
blemish, which it is necessary for the
purpose of my argument to describe. On the left
side of the upper lip was a mark as though a semicircular
piece of flesh had been cut out by a bullet-mould,
which exposed part of the gum. The swallow also
had been submerged into the gullet, so that she
had for the short period of her earthly existence
to be fed by artificial means, and the jaw itself
had been so twisted that could she have lived to
cut her teeth, the double ones would have been in
front. This blemish was considered to be of so remarkable
a type that Dr. Frederick Butler of Winchester,
who attended me, invited several other medical men
from Southampton and other places, to examine the
infant with him, and they all agreed that a similar
case had never come under their notice before. This
is a very important factor in my narrative. I was
catechized as to whether I had suffered any physical
or mental shock, that should account for the injury
to my child, and it was decided that the trouble
I had experienced was sufficient to produce it.
The case, under feigned names, was fully reported
in the Lancet as something quite out of the common
My little child, who was baptized by the
name of Florence, lingered until the 10th of January,
1861, and then passed quietly away, and
when my first natural disappointment was over I
ceased to think of her except as of something which
might have been, but never would be again. In this
world of misery, the loss of an infant is soon swallowed
up in more active trouble.
Still I never quite forgot my poor baby, perhaps
because at that time she was happily the "one
dead lamb of my little flock.
In recounting the events of my first seance
with Mrs. Holmes, I have mentioned how a
young girl much muffled up about the mouth and chin
appeared, and intimated that she came for me, although
I could not recognize her. I was so ignorant of
the life beyond the grave at that period, that it
never struck me that the baby who had left me at
ten days old had been growing since our separation,
until she had reached the age of ten years.
The first seance made such an impression on my mind
that two nights afterwards I again presented myself
(this time alone) at Mrs. Holmes' rooms to attend
another. It was a very different circle on the second
occasion. There were about thirty people present,
all strangers to each other, and the manifestations
were proportionately ordinary.
Another professional medium, a Mrs. Davenport, was
present, as one of her controls, whom she called
Bell, had promised, if possible, to show her face
to her. As soon, therefore, as the first spirit
face appeared (which was that of the same little
girl that I had seen before), Mrs. Davenport exclaimed,
There, 'Bell .... .. Why! I said, that's the little
nun we saw on Monday. "O! no! that's my 'Bell',
persisted Mrs. Davenport. But Mrs. Holmes took my
side, and was positive the
spirit came for me. She told me she had been trying
to communicate with her since the previous seance.
I know she is nearly connected with you,
she said. Have you never lost a relation of her
age? Never! I replied; and at that declaration the
little spirit moved away, sorrowfully as before.
A few weeks after I received an invitation from
Mr. Henry Dunphy (the gentleman who had introduced
me to Mrs. Holmes) to attend a private seance given
at his own house in Upper Gloucester Place, by the
well-known medium Florence Cook. The double
drawing-rooms were divided by velvet curtains, behind
which Miss Cook was seated in an armchair, the curtains
being pinned together half-way up, leaving a large
aperture in the shape of a V. Being a complete stranger
to Miss Cook, I was surprised to hear the voice
of her control direct that I should stand by the
curtains and hold the lower parts together whilst
the forms appeared above, lest the pins should give
way, and necessarily from my position I could hear
every word that passed between Miss Cook and her
The first face that showed itself was that of a
man unknown to me; then ensued a kind of frightened
colloquy between the medium and her control.
Take it away. Go away! I don't like you. Don't touch
me— you frighten me! Go away! I heard Miss
Cook exclaim, and then her guide's voice interposed
itself, Don't be silly, Florrie. Don't be unkind.
It won't hurt you, etc., and immediately
afterwards the same little girl I had seen at Mrs.
Holmes' rose to view at the aperture of the curtains,
muffled up as before, but smiling with her eyes
at me. I directed the attention of the company to
her, calling her again "my little nun,"
I was suprised, however, at the evident distaste
Miss Cook had displayed towards the spirit, and
when the seance was concluded and she had regained
her normal condition, I asked her if she could recall
the faces she saw under trance. Sometimes, she replied.
I told her of the little nun, and demanded the reason
of her apparent dread of her. I can hardly tell
said Miss Cook; I don't know anything about her.
She is quite a stranger to me, but her face is not
fully developed, I think. There is something
wrong about her mouth. She frightens me.
This remark, though made with the utmost carelessness,
set me thinking, and after I had returned
home, I wrote to Miss Cook, asking her to inquire
of her guides who the little spirit was. She replied
Dear Mrs. Ross-Church, I have asked Katie
King, but she cannot tell me anything further about
the spirit that came through me the other evening
than that she is a young girl closely connected
I was not, however, yet convinced of the spirit's
identity, although John Powles constantly assured
me that it was my child. I tried hard to communicate
with her at home, but without success. I find in
the memoranda I kept of our private seances at that
period several messages from Powles referring to
Florence. In one he says, Your child's want of power
to communicate with you is not because she is too
pure, but because she is too weak. She will speak
to you some day. She is not in heaven.
This last assertion, knowing so little as I did
of a future state, both puzzled and grieved me.
I could not believe that an innocent infant was
not in the Beatific Presence—yet I could not
understand what motive my friend could have in leading
me astray. I had yet to learn that once received
into Heaven no spirit could return to earth, and
that a spirit may have a training to undergo, even
though it has never committed a mortal sin. A further
proof, however, that my dead child had never died
was to reach me from a quarter where I least expected
it. I was editor of the magazine London Society
at that time, and amongst my contributors was Dr.
Keningale Cook, who had married Mabel Collins, the
now well-known writer of spiritualistic novels.
One day Dr.Cook brought me an invitation from his
wife (whom I
had never met) to spend Saturday to Monday with
them in their cottage at Redhill, and I accepted
it, knowing nothing of the proclivities of either
of them, and they knowing as little of my private
history as I did of theirs. And I must take
this opportunity to observe that, at this period,
I had never made my lost child the subject of conversation
even with my most intimate friends.
The memory of her life and death, and the troubles
that caused it, was not a happy one, and of no interest
to any but myself .So little, therefore, had it
been discussed amongst us that until Florence reappeared
to revive the topic, my elder children were ignorant
that their sister had been marked in any way differently
from themselves. It may, therefore, be supposed
how unlikely it was that utter strangers and public
media should have gained any inkling of the matter.
I went down to Redhill, and as I was sitting
with the Keningale Cooks after dinner, the subject
of Spiritualism came on the tapis, and I was informed
that the wife was a powerful trance medium,
which much interested me, as I had not, at that
period, had any experience of her particular class
of mediumship. In the evening we sat together, and
Mrs. Cook having become entranced, her husband took
shorthand notes of her utterances.
Several old friends of their family spoke through
her, and I was listening to them in the listless
manner in which we hear the conversation of strangers,
when my attention was aroused by the medium
suddenly leaving her seat, and falling on her knees
before me, kissing my hands and face, and
sobbing violently the while. I waited in expectation
of hearing who this might be, when the manifestations
as suddenly ceased, the medium returned to her seat,
and the voice of one of her guides said that the
spirit was unable to speak through excess of emotion,
but would try again later in the evening. I had
almost forgotten the circumstances in listening
to other communications, when I was startled by
hearing the word Mother! sighed rather than spoken.
I was about to make some excited reply, when the
her hand to enjoin silence, and the following communication
was taken down by Mr. Cook as she pronounced the
words. The sentences in parentheses are my replies
Mother! I am Florence. I must be very quiet.
I want to feel I have a mother still. I am so lonely.
Why should I be so? I cannot speak well. I want
to be like one of you. I want to feel I have a mother
and sisters. I am so far away from you all now.
(But I always think of you, my dear dead baby.)
That's just it—your baby. But I'm
not a baby now. I shall get nearer. They tell me
I shall. I do not know if I can come when you are
alone. It's all so dark. I know you are there, but
so dimly. I've grown all by myself. I'm not really
unhappy, but I want to get nearer you. I know you
think of me, but you think of me as a baby. You
don't know me as I am. You've seen me, because in
my love I have forced myself upon you. I've not
been amongst the flowers yet, but I shall be, very
soon now; but I want my mother to take me there.
All has been given me that can be given me, but
I cannot receive it, except in so far—
Here she seemed unable to express herself. (Did
the trouble I had before your birth affect your
Only as things cause each other. I was with you,
Mother, all through that trouble. I should be nearer
to you, than any child you have, if I could only
get close to you. (I can't bear to hear you speak
so sadly, dear. I have always believed that you,
at least, were happy in Heaven.)
I am not in Heaven! But there will come a day,
Mother —I can laugh when I say it—when
we shall go to Heaven together and pick blue flowers—blue
flowers. They are so good to me here, but if your
eye cannot bear the daylight you cannot see the
buttercups and daisies.
I did not learn till afterwards that in the spiritual
language blue flowers are typical of happiness.
The next question
asked her was if she thought she could write through
me. I don't seem able to write through you, but
why, I know not.
(Do you know your sisters, Eva and Ethel?'') No!
no! in a weary voice. The link of sisterhood is
only through the mother. That kind of sisterhood
does not last, because there is a higher.
(Do you ever see your father?'')
No! he is far, far away. I went once, not more.
Mother dear, he'll love me when he comes here. They've
told me so, and they always tell truth here! I am
but a child, yet not so very little. I seem composed
of two things—a child in ignorance and a woman
in years. Why can't I speak at other places? I have
wished and tried! I've come very near, but it seems
so easy to speak now. This medium seems so different."
(I wish you could come to me when I am alone, Florence.)
You shall know me! I will come, Mother dear. I shall
always be able to come here. I do come to you.,
but not in the same way."
She spoke in such a plaintive, melancholy voice
that Mrs. Cook, thinking she would depress my spirits,
said, Don't make your state out to be sadder than
it really is. Her reply was very remarkable.
I am, as I am! Friend! when you come here, if you
find that sadness is, you will not be able to alter
it by plunging into material pleasures. Our sadness
makes the world we live in. It is not deeds that
make us wrong. It is the state in which we were
born. Mother! you say I died sinless. That is nothing.
I was born in a state. Had I lived, I should have
caused you more pain than you can know. I am better
here. I was not fit to battle with the world, and
they took me from it. Mother! you won't let this
make you sad. You must not. ("What can I do
to bring you nearer to me?)
I don't know what will bring me nearer, but I'm
already by just talking to you. There's a ladder
of brightness every step. I believe I've gained
just one step now. O! the Divine teachings are so
mysterious. Mother! does it seem strange to you
to hear your 'baby' say things as if she knew them?
I'm going now. Good-bye!
And so Florence went. The next voice that spoke
was that of a guide of the medium, and I asked her
for a personal description of my daughter as she
She replied, Her face is downcast. We have tried
to cheer her, but she is very sad. It is the state
in which she was born. Every physical deformity
is the mark of a condition. A weak body is not necessarily
the mark of a weak spirit, but the prison of it,
because the spirit might be too passionate otherwise.
You cannot judge in what way the mind is deformed
because the body is deformed. It does not follow
that a canker in the body is a canker in the mind.
But the mind may be too exuberant—may need
a canker to restrain it.
I have copied this conversation, word for word,
from the shorthand notes taken at the time of utterance;
and when it is remembered that neither Mrs. Keningale
Cook nor her husband knew that I had lost a child—that
they had never been in my house nor associated with
any of my friends—it will at least be acknowledged,
even by the most sceptical, that it was a very remarkable
coincidence that I should receive such a communication
from the lips of a perfect stranger.
Only once after this did Florence communicate
with me through the same source. She found congenial
media nearer home, and naturally availed herself
of them. But the second occasion was almost more
convincing than the first.
I went one afternoon to consult my solicitor in
the strictest confidence as to how I should act
under some very painful circumstances, and he gave
me his advice. The next morning as I sat
at breakfast, Mrs. Cook, who was still living at
Redhill, ran into my room with an apology for the
unceremoniousness of her visit, on the score that
she had received a message for me the night
before which Florence had begged her to
deliver without delay. The message was to this effect:
Tell my mother that I was with her this afternoon
at the lawyer's, and she is not to follow the advice
given her, as it will do harm instead of good. Mrs.
Cook added, I don't know to what Florence alludes,
of course, but I thought it best, as I was coming
to town, to let you know at once.
The force of this anecdote does not lie in the context.
The mystery is contained in the fact of a secret
interview having been overheard and commented upon.
But the truth is, that having greater confidence
in the counsel of my visible guide than in that
of my invisible one, I abided by the former, and
regretted it ever afterwards.
The first conversation I held with Florence had
a great effect upon me. I knew before that
my uncontrolled grief had been the cause of the
untimely death of her body, but it had never struck
me that her spirit would carry the effects of it
into the unseen world.
It was a warning to me (as it should be to all mothers)
not to take the solemn responsibility of maternity
upon themselves without being prepared to sacrifice
their own feelings for the sake of their children.
Florence assured me, however, that communion
with myself in my improved condition of happiness
would soon lift her spirit from its state of depression
and consequently I seized every opportunity of seeing
and speaking with her.
During the succeeding twelve months I attended
numerous seances with various media, and my spirit
child (as she called herself) never failed to manifest
through the influence of any one of them, though,
of course, in different ways.
Through some she touched me only, and always
with an infant's hand, that I might recognize it
as hers, or laid her mouth against mine that I might
feel the scar upon her lips; through others she
spoke, or wrote, or showed her face, but I never
attended a seance at which she omitted to notify
Once at a dark circle, held with Mr. Charles
having had my dress and that of my next neighbour,
Lady Archibald Campbell, pulled several times, as
if to attract our attention, the darkness
opened before us, and there stood my child, smiling
at us like a happy dream, her fair hair waving about
her temples, and her blue eyes fixed on me.
She was clothed in white, but we saw no more than
her head and bust, about which her hands held her
drapery. Lady Archibald Campbell saw her as plainly
as I did.
On another occasion Mr. William Eglinton
proposed to me to try and procure the spirit-writing
on his arm. He directed me to go into another room
and write the name of the friend I loved best in
the spirit world upon a scrap of paper, which I
was to twist up tightly and take back to him.
I did so, writing the name of John Powles. When
I returned to Mr. Eglinton, he bared his arm, and
holding the paper to the candle till it was reduced
to tinder, rubbed his flesh with the ashes. I know
what was expected to ensue. The name written on
the paper was to reappear in red or white letters
on the medium's arm. The sceptic would say it was
a trick of thought-reading, and that, the medium
knowing what I had written, had prepared the writing
during my absence.
But to his surprise and mine, when, at last
he shook the ashes from his arm, we read, written
in a bold, clear hand, the words—'Florence
is the dearest, as though my spirit child
had given me a gentle rebuke for writing any name
but her own.
It seems curious to me now to look back and remember
how melancholy she used to be when she first came
back to me, for as soon as she had established
an unbroken communication between us, she developed
into the merriest little spirit I have ever known,
and though her childhood has now passed away, and
she is more dignified and thoughtful and womanly,
she always appears joyous and happy.
She has manifested largely to me through the mediumship
of Mr. Arthur Colman. I had known
her during a dark seance with a very small private
circle (the medium being securely held and fastened
the while) run about the room, like
the child she was, and speak to and kiss
each sitter in turn, pulling off the sofa and chair
covers and piling them up in the middle of the table,
and changing the ornaments of everyone present—placing
the gentlemen's neckties round the throats of the
ladies, and hanging the ladies' earrings in the
buttonholes of the gentlemen's coats—just
as she might have done had she been still with us,
a happy, petted child, on earth.
I have known her come in the dark and sit
on my lap and kiss my face and hands, and let me
feel the defect in her mouth with my own.
One bright evening on the 9th of July—my birthday—
Arthur Colman walked in quite unexpectedly to pay
me a visit, and as I had some friends with me, we
agreed to have a seance. It was impossible
to make the room dark, as the windows were only
shaded by venetian blinds, but we lowered them,,
and sat in the twilight. The first thing we heard
was the voice of Florence whispering—A present
for dear Mother's birthday, when something was put
into my hand. Then she crossed to the side of a
lady present and dropped something into her hand,
saying, And a present for dear Mother's friend!
I knew at once by the feel of it that what Florence
had given me was a chaplet of beads, and knowing
how often, under similar circumstances, articles
are merely carried about a room, I concluded it
was one which lay upon my drawing-room mantelpiece,
and said as much. I was answered by the voice of
Aimee, the medium's nearest control.
You are mistaken, she said, "'Florence has
given you a chaplet you have never seen before.
She was exceedingly anxious to give you a present
on your birthday, so I gave her the beads which
were buried with me. They came from my coffin. I
held them in my hand. All I ask is that you will
not show them to Arthur until I give you leave.
He is not well at present, and the sight of them
will upset him.
I was greatly astonished, but, of course, I followed
her instructions, and when I had an opportunity
to examine the
beads, I found that they really were strangers to
me, and had not been in the house before. The present
my lady friend had received was a large, unset topaz.
The chaplet was made of carved wood and
steel. It was not till months had elapsed that I
was given permission to show it to Arthur Colman.
He immediately recognized it as the one he had himself
placed in the hands of Aimee as she lay in her coffin,
and when I saw how the sight affected him, I regretted
I had told him anything about it. I offered to give
the beads up to him, but he refused to receive them,
and they remain in my possession to this day.
But the great climax that was to prove beyond all
question the personal identity of the spirit who
communicated with me, with the body I had brought
into the world, was yet to come. Mr. William Harrison,
the editor of the Spiritualist (who, after seventeen
years' patient research into the science of Spiritualism,
had never received a personal proof of the return
of his own friends, or relations) wrote me word
that he had received a message from his lately deceased
friend, Mrs. Stewart, to the effect that if he would
sit with the medium Florence Cook, and one
or two harmonious companions, she would do her best
to appear to him in her earthly likeness and afford
him the test he had so long sought after.
Mr. Harrison asked me, therefore, if I would join
him and Miss Kidlingbury—the secretary to
the British National Association of Spiritualists—in
holding a seance with Miss Cook, to which I agreed,
and we met in one of the rooms of the Association
for that purpose. It was a very small room, about
8 feet by 16 feet, was uncarpeted and contained
no furniture, so we carried in three cane-bottomed
chairs for our accommodation. Across one comer of
the room, about four feet from the floor, we nailed
an old black shawl, and placed a cushion behind
it for Miss Cook to lean her head against. Miss
Florence Cook, who is a brunette, of a small, slight
figure, with dark eyes and hair which she wore in
a profusion of curls, was dressed in light grey
merino, ornamented with
She informed me previous to sitting, that she had
become restless during her trances lately, and in
the habit of walking out amongst the circle, and
she asked me as a friend (for such we had by that
time become) to scold her well should such a thing
occur, and order her to go back Into the cabinet
as if she were a child or a dog and I promised her
I would do so. After Florence Cook had sat down
on the floor, behind the black shawl (which left
her grey merino skirt exposed), and laid her head
against the cushion, we lowered the gas a little,
and took our seats on the three cane chairs. The
medium appeared very uneasy at first, and we heard
her remonstrating with the influences for using
her so roughly.
In a few minutes, however, there was a tremulous
movement of the black shawl, and a large white hand
was several times thrust into view and withdrawn
again. I had never seen Mrs. Stewart (for whom we
were expressly sitting) in this life, and could
not, therefore, recognize the hand; but we all remarked
how large and white it was. In another minute the
shawl was lifted up, and a female figure crawled
on its hands and knees from behind it, and then
stood UP and regarded us. It was impossible, in
the dim light and at the distance she stood from
us, to identify the features, so Mr. Harrison asked
if she were Mrs. Stewart. The figure shook its head.
I had lost a sister a few months previously, and
the thought flashed across me that it might be her.
is it you, Emily? I asked; but the head was still
shaken to express a negative, and a similar question
on the part of Miss Kidlingbury, with respect to
a friend of her own, met with the same response.
Who can it be? I remarked curiously to Mr. Harrison.
Mother! don't you know me? sounded in Florence's
whispering voice. I started up to approach her exclaiming,
"O! my darling child! I never thought I should
meet you here! But she said, Go back to your chair,
and I will come to you? I reseated myself, and Florence
crossed the room
come and sat down on my lap. She was more
unclothed on that occasion than any materialized
spirit I have ever seen. She wore nothing on her
head, only her hair, of which she appears to have
an immense quantity, fell down her back and covered
her shoulders. Her arms were bare and her feet part
of her legs, and the dress she wore had no shape
, but seemed like so many yards of soft thick muslin,
wound round her body from the bosom to below the
knees. She was a heavy weight—perhaps ten
stone—and had well covered limbs. In fact,
she was then, and has appeared for several years
past, to be, in point of size and shape, so like
her oldest sister Eva, that I always observe the
resemblance between them. This seance took place
at a period when Florence must have been about seventeen
"Florence, my darling, I said, is this
really you'' Turn the gas, she answered, and look
at my mouth. Mr. Harrison did as she desired, and
we all saw distinctly that peculiar defect on the
lip with which she was born—a defect, be remembered,
which some of the most experienced members the profession
had affirmed to be so rare as never to have fallen
under their notice before.
She also opened her mouth that I might see
she had no gullet. I promised at the commencement
of my book to confine myself to facts, and leave
the deductions to be drawn from them to my readers,
so I will not interrupt my narrative to make any
remarks upon this controvertible proof of identity.
I know it struck me dumb, and melted me into tears.
At this juncture Miss Cook, who had been
moaning and moving about a good deal behind black
shawl, suddenly exclaimed, I can't stand this any
longer, and walked out into the room.
There she stood in her dress and crimson ribbons
whilst Florence sat on my lap in white drapery.
But only for a moment, for directly the medium,
was fully in view, the spirit sprung up and darted
behind the curtain. Recalling Miss Cook's injunctions
to me, I scolded her heartily for leaving her seat,
until she crept back,
whimpering, to her former position. The shawl had
scarcely closed behind her before Florence reappeared
and clung to me saying, Don't let her do that again.
She frightens me so. She was actually trembling
Why, Florence,' I replied, do you mean to tell me
you are frightened of your medium? In this world
it is we poor mortals who are frightened of the
I am afraid she will send me away, Mother,
she whispered. However, Miss Cook did not disturb
us again, and Florence stayed with us for some time
longer. She clasped her arms round my neck, and
laid her head upon my bosom, and kissed me dozens
of times. She took my hand and spread it out, and
said she felt sure I should recognize her hand when
she thrust it outside the curtain, because it was
so much like my own.
I was suffering much trouble at that time, and Florence
told me the reason God had permitted her to show
herself to me in her earthly deformity was so that
I might be sure that she was herself, and that Spiritualism
was a truth to comfort me.
"Sometimes you doubt, Mother, she said, and
think your eyes and ears have misled you; but after
this you must never doubt again. Don't fancy
I am like this in the spirit land. The blemish left
me long ago. But I put it on tonight to make you
certain. Don't fret, dear Mother. Remember I am
always near you. No one can take me away. Your earthly
children may grow up and go out into the world and
leave you, but you will always have your spirit
child close to you.
I did not, and cannot, calculate for how long Florence
remained visible on that occasion. Mr. Harrison
told me afterwards that she had remained for nearly
twenty minutes. But her undoubted presence was such
a stupendous fact to me, that I could only think
that she was there—that I actually held in
my arms the tiny infant I had laid with my own hands
in her coffin—that she was no more dead than
I was myself, but had grown to be a woman.
So I sat, with my arms tight round her, and my heart
beating against hers, until the power
decreased, and Florence was compelled to give me
a last kiss and leave me stupefied and bewildered
by what had so unexpectedly occurred. Two other
spirits materialized and appeared after she had
left us, but as neither of them was Mrs. Stewart,
the seance, as far as Mr. Harrison was concerned,
was a failure.
I have seen and heard Florence on numerous
occasions since the one I have narrated, but not
with the mark upon her mouth, which she assures
me will never trouble either of us again.
I could fill pages with accounts of her pretty,
caressing ways and her affectionate and sometimes
solemn messages; but I have told as much of her
story as will interest the general reader.
It has been wonderful to me to mark how
her ways and mode of communication have changed
with the passing years. It was a simple child who
did not know how to express itself that appeared
to me in 1873. It is a woman full of counsel and
tender warning that comes to me in 1890. But yet
she is only nineteen. When she reached that age,
Florence told me she should never grow any older
in years or appearance, and that she had reached
the climax of womanly perfection in the spirit world.
Only tonight—the night before Christmas Day——as
I write her story, she comes to me and says, Mother!
you must not give way to sad thoughts. The Past
is past. Let it be buried in the blessings that
remain to you.
And amongst the greatest of those blessings I reckon
my belief in the existence of my spirit-child.
WHAT GOOD DOES IT DO?
My friends have so often asked
me this question, that I think, before I close this
book, I am justified in answering it, at
all events, as far as I myself am concerned.
How often have I sat, surrounded by an interested
audience, who knew me too well to think me either
a lunatic or a liar; and after I have told them
some of the most marvelous and thrilling of my experiences,
they have assailed me with these questions, But
what is it? And what good does it do? What is it?
There, my friends, I confess you stagger me! I can
no more tell you what it is than I can tell you
what you are or what I am. We know that, like Topsy,
we grew. We know that, given certain conditions
and favourable accessories, a child comes into this
world, and a seed sprouts through the dark earth
and becomes a flower; but though we know the cause
and see the effect, the greatest man of science,
or the greatest botanist, cannot tell you how the
child is made, nor how the plant grows. Neither
can I (or any one) tell you what the power is that
enables a spirit to make itself apparent. I
can only say that it can do so, and refer you to
the Creator of you and me and the entire universe.
The commonest things the earth produces are all
miracles, from the growing of a mustard seed to
the expansion of a human brain. What is more wonderful
than the hatching of an egg . You see it done every
day. It has become so common that you regard it
as an event of no consequence. You know the exact
number of days the bird must sit to produce a live
chicken with all its functions ready for nature's
use, but you see nothing wonderful in it. All birds
can do the same, and you would not waste your time
in speculating on the wondrous effect of heat upon
a liquid substance which turns to bone and blood
and flesh and feathers.
If you were as familiar with the reappearance of
those who have gone before as you are with chickens,
you would see nothing supernatural in their manifesting
themselves to you, and nothing more miraculous than
in the birth of a child or the hatching of an egg.
Why should it be? Who has fixed the abode of the
spirit after death? Who can say where it dwells,
or that it is not permitted to return to this world,
perhaps to live in it altogether?
Still, however the Almighty sends them,
the fact remains that they come, and that thousands
can testify to the fact. As to the theory advanced
by some people that they are devils, sent to lure
us to our destruction, that is an insult to the
wisdom or mercy of an Omnipotent Creator. They cannot
come except by His permission, just as He sends
children to some people and witholds them from others.
And the conversation of most of those that I have
talked with is all on the side of religion, prayer,
and selfsacrifice. My friends, at all events, have
never denied the existence of a God or a Saviour.
They have, on the contrary (and especially Florence),
been very quick to rebuke me for anything I may
have done that was wrong, for neglect of prayer
and church-going, for speaking evil of my neighbours,
or any other fault. They have continually inculcated
doctrine that religion consists in unselfish
love to our fellow creatures, and in devotion to
I do not deny that there are frivolous and
occasionally wicked spirits about us. Is it to be
wondered at? For one spirit that leaves this world
calculated to do good to his fellow creatures, a
hundred leave it who will do him harm. That is really
the reason that the Church discourages Spiritualism.
She does not disbelieve in it. She knows it to be
true; but she also knows it to be dangerous.
Since like attracts like, the numbers of
thoughtless spirits who still dwell on earth would
naturally attract the numbers of thoughtless spirits
who have left it, and their influence is best dispensed
Talk of devils. I have known many more devils in
the flesh than out of it, and could name a number
of acquaintances who, when once passed out of this
world, I should steadfastly refuse to have any communication
I have no doubt myself whatever as to what it is,
or that I have seen my dear friends and children
as I knew them upon earth. But how they come or
where they go, I must wait until I join them to
ascertain, even if I shall do it then.
The second question, however, I can more
easily deal with, What good is it? The only wonder
to me is that people who are not stone-blind to
what is going on in this world can put such a question.
What good is it to have one's faith in Immortality
and another life confirmed in an age of freethought,
scepticism and utter callousness? When I look around
me and see the young men nowadays—ay, and
the young women too—who believe in no hereafter,
who lie down and die, like the dumb animals who
cannot be made to understand the love of the dear
God who created them although they feel it, I cannot
think of anything calculated to do them more good
than the return of a father or a mother or a friend,
who could convince them by ocular demonstration
that there is a future life and happiness and misery,
according to the one we have led here below.
Oh, but, I seem to hear some readers exclaim, we
do believe in all that you say. We have been taught
so from our youth up, and the Bible points to it
in every line.
You may think you believe it, my friends, and in
a theoretical way you may; but you do not realize
it, and the whole of your lives proves it.
Death, instead of being the blessed portal
to the Life Elysian, the gate of which may swing
open for you any day, and admit you to eternal and
unfading happiness, is a far-off misty phantom,
whose approach you dread, and the sight of which
in others you run away from. The majority of people
avoid the very mention of death. They would
not look at a corpse for anything; the sight of
a coffin or a funeral or a graveyard fills them
with horror; the idea of it for themselves makes
them turn pale with fright. Is this belief in the
existence of a tender Father and a blessed home
waiting to receive them on the other side?
Even professed Christians experience what
they term a natural horror at the thought of death!
I have known persons of fixed religious principles
who had passed their lives (apparently) in prayer,
and expressed their firm belief in Heaven waiting
for them, fight against death with all their mortal
energies, and try their utmost to baffle the disease
that was sent to carry them to everlasting happiness.
Is this logical? It is tantamount in my idea to
the pauper in the workhouse who knows that directly
the gate is open to let him through, he will pass
from skilly, oakum, and solitary confinement to
the King's Palace to enjoy youth, health, and prosperity
evermore; and who, when he sees the gates beginning
to unclose, puts his back and all his neighbours'
backs against them to keep them shut as long as
Death should not be a horror to any one;
and if we knew more about it, it would cease to
be so. It is the mystery that appalls us. We see
our friends die, and no word or sign comes back
to tell us there is no death, so we picture them
to ourselves mouldering in the damp earth till we
nearly go mad with grief and dismay. Some people
think me heartless because
I never go near the graves of those whom
I love best. Why should I? I might with more reason
go and sit beside a pile of their cast-off garments.
I could see them, and they would actually retain
more of their identity and influence than the corpse
which I could not see. I mourn their loss just the
same, but I mourn it as I should do if they had
settled for life in a far distant land, from which
I could only enjoy occasional glimpses of their
And I may say emphatically that the greatest
good Spiritualism does is to remove the fear of
one's own death. One can never be quite
certain of the changes that circumstances may bring
about, nor do I like to boast overmuch. Disease
and weakness may destroy the nerve I flatter myself
on possessing; but I think I may say that as matters
stand at present I have no fear of death whatever,
and the only trouble I can foresee in passing through
it will be to witness the distress of my friends.
But when I remember all those who have gathered
on the other side, and whom I firmly believe will
be present to help me in my passage there, I can
feel nothing but a great curiosity to pierce the
mysteries as yet unrevealed to me, and a great longing
for the time to come when I shall join those whom
I loved so much on earth.
Not to be happy at once by any manner of means.
I am too sinful a mortal for that, but to
work out my salvation in the way God sees best for
me, to make my own Heaven or hell according as I
have loved and succoured my fellow creatures here
Yet however much I may be destined to suffer,
never without hope and assistance from those whom
I have loved, and never without feeling that through
the goodness of God each struggle or reparation
brings me near to the fruition of eternal happiness.
This is my belief, this is the good that the certain
knowledge that we can never die has done for me,
and the worst I wish for anybody is that they may
share it with me.