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vol. 3, p. 153
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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The Spirits of Sleeping Mortals

Strange Powers Manifested. – Physical Effects Produced by Spirit of a Mesmeric Sensitive

A few months ago Prince Wittgenstein published a remarable article, setting forth how the spirit of his sleeping sister manifested at one of his seances, but knew nothing of the circumstance in her normal state. A few more facts are now given about the production of results at a distance, involving issues of the most important nature in their bearing upon the whole of the present philosophy of Spiritualism. D. G. Fitzgerald writes as follows to the Spiritualist, on the physical effects produced by the spirit of a mesmeric sensitive. He says, —

“The most powerful mesmerist I have ever known was H. E. Lewis, a negro, through whom the late Lord Lytton obtained many of his semi-spiritual experiences. The phenomena obtained through the agency of Lewis had frequently an important bearing upon the now more fully developed facts of Spiritualism. I was introduced to him some twenty years ago by Mr. Henry Thompson, of Fairfield, himself a very powerful mesmerist. I was then an ardent investigator of the phenomena of mesmerism, and was also laying the foundation of my present assured convictions in relation to Spiritualism. Determined to sift to the bottom the genuineness of certain phenomena above referred to, I took an apartment in Lewis’ house in Baker Street, and myself made arrangements for several lecturing excursions in localities with which Lewis was unacquainted.

“In February, 1856, we went to Blackheath, where an incident occurred which I think will be of interest to you. We put up at a tavern, where, in the evening, Lewis mesmerized a number of persons in the coffee-room, gave some striking illustrations of electro-biology, and succeeded in greatly interesting some of the inhabitants of the locality. It was arranged that a hall should be taken for a lecture to be given on the following day, an audience being guaranteed by the habitues of the coffee-room in question. The lecture took place, and after the more ordinary experiments in mesmerism and electro-biology had been very successfully exhibited, Lewis proceeded to illustrate some of the phenomena of clairvoyance and somnambulism, in the person of a young woman— a perfect stranger to him—who, with others, had come upon the platform from among the audience. While she was in the ‘deep sleep,' he ordered her to ‘go home’ and to describe what she saw there. She described a kitchen, in which were two persons occupied with some domestic duties. ‘Do you think you could touch the person nearest to you?’ inquired Lewis. The only answer, I think, was an indistinct murmur. Placing one hand on her head, and the other over the region of the solar plexus, he then said, ‘I will you to touch her on the shoulder, you must do so, you shall do so.’ Presently the girl laughed, and said, ‘I have touched her, they are so frightened.’ Turning to the audience, Lewis asked whether any one in the hall knew the young woman, and, on receiving an answer in the affimative, requested that a ‘deputation’ should proceed to her abode, and ascertain the truth or falsity of her statement. The persons who went on this errand afterwards returned to the hall, and stated that everything described by the girl had actually taken place, and that the household in question was in a state of great perturbation, one of its members declaring that, while occupied in the kitchen, she had been touched on the shoulder by a ghost.

“The young woman who was the ‘sensitive’ on this occasion was servant to Mr. Taylor, shoemaker, of Blackheath. In my note-book I find likewise the name of Mr. Bishop, dentist, also of Blackheath, who at the time offered to testify to the truth of the foregoing incident.”


In Human Nature for this month, in an interesting article signed “M. A. (Oxen.),” the following letter by the Comte de Bullet, Hotel de l’Athenee, Rue Scribe, Paris, is published, — I, the undersigned, William Julian, Count de Bullet, certify to having obtained at M. Buguet’s. Photographer, Boulevard de Montmartre, by ordinary method, of photography, at several sittings, the following portraits:—

1. The double of my sister, now living at Baltimore, U.S.A.

2. My uncle.

3. M. de Layman, an intimate friend.

4. One of my aunts.

In assurance of which, I freely sign the present attestation.

C. J. de Bullet

Paris Dec. 10, 1874.

The writer of the article says, —

I was so much interested in the fact of the double of a living person being presented, that I took pains to get some further information. Mr. Gledstanes has kindly enabled me to give precise facts as to this most remarkable occurrence, which has been repeated again and again, once notably at a sitting on New Year’s Day, at which he was present I wrote to the Comte de Bullet, asking him to be so kind as to give me precise information on these points; 1. Whether his sister was probably asleep at the time when the photograph was taken? 2. Whether he had himself seen the double at any other time or place? 3. Whether the likeness was one about which no doubt could exist, and if it were recognized by others than himself? 4. Whether he had ever made the experiment of endeavoring to impress his thoughts on his sister by exercise of will-power? 5. Whether the phenomenon in question had occurred more than once?

To these questions the Count sent the following reply —

Paris, Jan. 15, 1875.

My dear Sir, —I have received your esteemed letter of the 9th inst., and shall be happy if what I have observed in the interesting science of Spiritualism may be of some use to you.

Answering to the first question in your letter. I can say that it is probable that my sister was asleep at the time the photograph was taken, for I calculated the hour—12 noon here gives 6 o’clock at Baltimore.

Respecting the second question. I have never seen her double on any occasion, though I have very often felt her impression by intuition, always at a time when she would be likely to be asleep.

As to question three, the likeness is so striking that every one who knows her has instantly recognized it. I have her likeness now in eight different positions, in large size (8 in. by 5 in.), and there is not the slightest doubt about the likeness.

In answer to the fourth question, I have never tried to impress thoughts on the mind of my sister. Between her and me, since childhood, there has always existed the deepest affection. We have always corresponded, and her children are most affectionate and devoted to me.

I go to M. Buguet before noon, and when I pose before the camera, I simply put mentally the question I wish, or ask her to come to me if possible. On one plate she appears with a card in her hands, with her answer, which is written quite distinctly. The writing is in French, except when she does not wish M. Buguet to know its contents; then she writes in English.

On New Year’s Day I went to Buguet and said, mentally. “You read my thoughts, my dear sister, and it would be a grand New Year’s gift for me if you could come to me with all your children.” When the operation was done she appeared on the plate with her three daughters. I sat a second time and she came with her two boys, making in all her five children—all perfect likenesses. The drain on the medium was severe, for there was seven portraits in all. On the plate with her daughters she appeared holding a card on which is written, “Your desire is realized; receive the felicitations of my children,” signed with her name. Here I would observe that M. Buguet did not know whether she had any children nor how many, nor how they were divided—three girts and two boys.

On the 10th of this month I sat again, and asked my sister, if possible, to come with my mother, who lives about 1,200 miles distant from her. She came with a card in her hands with this written on it, “Your thoughts to-day are for our dear mother. I will do all I can to gratify you by helping her to appear. Come on Tuesday at 10 o’clock.” (10 o’clock here would give 4 o’clock at the residence of my mother. She is in the habit of getting up early, and that explains my sister fixing the early hour of 10 here). I sat at the time appointed, and she came with my mother standing by her side.

All these facts I give you are the result of the most rigorous investigation, and I can avouch all I say.

C. J. de Bullet

If, then, it be a fact that the spirits of the millions of persons in the world are actively engaged during the sleep of their bodies, and have the power to produce physical and mental effects under certain conditions, what a vast amount of invisible, intelligent power exists in the universe without our necessarily being obliged to call in the theory of the existence of the spirit, of the departed to produce phenomena. What <... continues on page 3-154 >

Editor's notes

  1. image by unknown author. A sketch of a city
  2. The Spirits of Sleeping Mortals by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 2, March 18, 1875, p. 21