More Nineteenth Century Evidence for ESP


"The phenomenon of thought-transmission is an established fact and unanimously admitted by all the philosophers who have taken the trouble to study it conscientiously and thoroughly, and only obstinate and superficial minds could persist in denying it after so much experience and so many positive proofs."
    Camille Flammarion, Death and Its Mystery: Before Death, page 114

In a previous post I discussed evidence for extrasensory perception from the nineteenth century. Let us look at some more evidence for telepathy from that century. 

One of the most compelling cases is told on pages 126-128 of Volume 8 of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research.  A Thomas Garrison tells us this:

"On the night of my mother's death there was a meeting in Fordland, and myself and wife attended the preaching. We had then one child, a baby a year old....About ten o'clock, just before the meeting closed, while the congregation was singing, I felt the first desire to see my mother....And then the impulse to go to her became so strong that I gave the baby to a neighbour-woman and left the church without telling my wife. She was in another part of the house. The train going west which would have taken me [to] Rogersville, seven miles of the distance to my mother's place, was due at 10.30 p.m., but before I got home and changed my clothes and returned to the depot, the cars had left the station. I still felt that I must see my mother and started down to railroad track alone, and walked to Rogersville. Here I left the railroad and walked down the wagon way leading from Marshfield to Ozark, Mo. It was about 3 o'clock a.m. when I reached my mother's house. I knocked at the door two or three times and got no response. Then I kicked the door, but still made no one hear me. At last I opened the door with my knife and walked in and lighted a lamp. Then my sister, Mrs. Billie Gilley, the only person who had been living with my mother, awoke and I asked her where mother was. She replied that she was in bed, and I said  'She is dead,' for by that time I felt that she could not be alive. She had never failed to wake before when I had entered the room at night. I went to my mother's bed and put my hand on her forehead. It was cold. She had been dead about three hours the neighbours thought from the condition of her body."

Commenting on this case, Camille Flammarion stated, "So here is a man who, without any known cause, without 
any normal reasons, leaves a religious service which he is 
attending, gives his child to a neighbor to hold, does not tell 
his wife, and goes twenty miles on foot at night to rush to his 
mother who has just died !"  

On page 124 of Death and Its Mystery: Before Death by the astronomer Camille Flammarion, we have an account of a man whose mental efforts seemed to have resulted in an apparition of himself. We read this account by J. M. Russell: 

"I was living in Scotland ; my mother and sisters were in Germany....It happened that for two years I was not able to see my family, according to my custom. All at once I decided to leave, but my family knew nothing of my intention. ...The thought came to me to wish with all my strength to appear to one of my sisters, in such a way as to apprise them of my arrival. I thought of her with all the intensity possible, I wished with all my might to be seen by one of them. I believe I did not concentrate my thought for more than ten minutes. I left by the Leith steamship one Saturday evening, toward the end of April, 1859.... I reached the house at about six o'clock on the morning of the following Tuesday. I entered without being seen, for the door was open, and made my way into the room. One of my sisters was sitting with her back turned to the door; she turned about when she heard me and on seeing me stared at me, turned pale as death, and dropped what she held in her hand. I had said nothing until now. Then I spoke : 'It's I,' I said. 'Why are you so frightened?' At that she answered: 'I thought I was seeing you as Stinchen [another of my sisters] saw you Saturday.' In answer to my questions she told me that on Saturday evening, toward six o'clock, my sister had distinctly seen me enter through a door into the room where she was, open the door of another room where my mother was, and shut the door behind me. She had dashed after what she believed to be me, calling me by my name, and was absolutely stupefied when she did not see me with my mother. My mother could not understand my sister's excitement. They looked for me everywhere, but naturally could not find me."

This account is by no means unique. In my previous post on nineteenth century evidence for ESP, I quoted two other accounts in which other people reported the same thing: that after they had made an intense mental effort to kind of project their presence to some other person, that such a person had reported seeing an apparition of the person making the attempt. 



On page 133 of Death and Its Mystery: Before Death by the astronomer Camille Flammarion, we have this account by Commander T. W. Aylesbury:

"At the age of thirteen, I fell overboard from a ship that was approaching the isle of Bali, to the west of Java, and I was almost drowned. After having sunk several times, when I came up to the surface of the water I called my mother, at which the boat's crew was very much amused; and they teased me many times about it, sparing no sarcasm. Several months later, on my return to England, I told the whole story to my mother and said at once: 'While I was under the water I saw you all sitting in this room; you were working on something white. I saw you all — Mother, Emily, Eliza, and Ellen.' His mother confirmed his statement. 'I heard you call me,' she said, 'and I sent Emily to look out at the window.' The time, considering the difference in longitude, corresponded to the hour at which the voice had been heard."

Aylesbury's sister gave this account corroborating his account:

"I recall the incident perfectly. It made such an impression upon me that I shall never forget it. We were seated and working peacefully, one evening, when first we heard a feeble cry of 'Mother!' We raised our eyes and said: 'Did you hear some one cry "Mother"?' The words had hardly left our lips when the voice called again, 'Mother!' twice in succession. The last cry was stamped with terror, it was like a cry of agony. We all rose and my mother said, 'Go to the door and see what it is.' I ran into the street and searched for several minutes, but everything was silent and I saw no one; the evening was fine, without a breath of air. Mother was very much upset by this experience."

This seems to be an interesting case of an increase in telepathy at the time of an altered state of consciousness.  There is a great deal of evidence that ESP can show up more often during altered states of consciousness such as hypnotic trances. In modern tests using what is called the ganzfeld protocol, in which people are tested for ESP under conditions of sensory deprivation,  subjects score an average of about 32% in tests in which the expected chance result is only 25% (see page 472 of this link for a statistical figure of 32.2% averaged over 10 experimental studies).

On page 135 of Death and Its Mystery: Before Death by the astronomer Camille Flammarion, we have an account by a husband who was suddenly "seized with intolerable anguish" at half-past eight o'clock on December 22, being struck with the impression that his wife was in anguish. At 9 o'clock on that day he wrote a letter to his wife, saying this:

"You must have been thinking of me, earnestly calling me, perhaps with anguish. Is it pain? Is it danger? Oh, tell me what you wanted of me at that hour ! I came home in great distress, all upset."

The husband then found out that at about eight o'clock on that day, his wife had discovered that her baby had been accidentally scalded by hot water. 

On page 138 of the same book we have an account of a wife who had a vision of her husband falling from a horse. Later that day she found out that just such a thing had happened. 

On page 139 of Death and Its Mystery: Before Death by the astronomer Camille Flammarion, we have an account by a Professor de Sanctis: 

"I was once at Rome with my family, which had remained in the country. As the house had been robbed the year before, my brother was in the habit of sleeping there. One evening he told me he was going to the Costanzi Theater. I had come in alone and was beginning to read when I was suddenly seized with terror. I struggled against it and was beginning to undress, but I remained obsessed by the thought that the theater was on fire and my brother in danger. I put the light out; but, growing more and more disturbed, I lit it again, contrary to my usual custom, and decided to await my brother's return before I went to sleep. I was truly frightened, just as a child might be. At half-past twelve I heard the door open, and what was my astonishment when my brother told me about the panic that had been caused by the outbreak of a fire, which had coincided with the hour of my anxiety."

On page 139-140 of Death and Its Mystery: Before Death by the astronomer Camille Flammarion, we have an account by a Dr. Quintard: 

"A child of seven, Ludovico, possessed a gift for solving problems similar to that of the celebrated Inaudi. The child's father finally noticed one day, first, that he hardly listened to the reading of the problems that were given him, and, secondly, that his mother's presence was the one condition necessary for the success of the experiment. She always had to have the required solution under her eyes or in her mind. From this he deduced that his son did not calculate but divined, or, to be more exact, that the mother transmitted her thought to him; and he resolved to make sure of the matter. Consequently, he asked her to open the dictionary and ask the boy which page she was looking at, and the boy answered at once : 'It is page four fifty-six,' which was correct. Ten times he repeated this and ten times we obtained the same result. When a sentence of any length was written on a tablet it was enough for it to pass under the mother's eyes for the child, when questioned, even by a stranger, to be able to repeat the whole of it." 


I have had personal experiences very strongly suggesting telepathy between me and family members (a daughter and a sister), and at this link (which includes some other fascinating accounts of ESP) you can read my accounts of what seemed like telepathy between me and a family member. 

On page 140-141 of Death and Its Mystery: Before Death by the astronomer Camille Flammarion, we have an astonishing account by Joseph Doutaz, who claimed to have had a dream of the words written by his father a short time ago: 

"It was in the middle of November of the year 1859. At the time I was eighteen years old. I went to bed and to sleep.....I saw the sorrowful face of my dear old father....'My dear Joseph,' he said, 'it is with great sorrow that I am writing to tell you that your poor sister, Josephine, is dying in Paris.' I was awakened by this vision but said to myself at once: "Ah! bah ! it is a dream !' At that I went to sleep again. But behold, the same vision appeared again, exactly as at first, with the same sorrowful look and the same words: 'My dear Joseph,' etc., 'but your mother does not yet know the sad news.' 'This time,' I said, jumping out of bed, 'I no longer believe it's a dream,' and under the painful impression of a sorrowful reality, I dressed and looked at my watch : it was half -past twelve. When day had come I set out for the college...I opened the package at once. It was accompanied by a letter from my father, written in great haste; I read: 'Dear Joseph, it is with great sorrow that I am writing to tell you that your poor sister Josephine is dying in Paris.'"


On page 149 of Death and Its Mystery: Before Death by the astronomer Camille Flammarion, Canon Warburton tells this remarkable story:

"At exactly one o'clock I awoke with a start, crying out, 'By Jupiter! he has fallen!' I saw my brother, who came out of a drawing-room on to a brilliantly lighted landing, catch his foot on the first step of the stairway and fall head first, breaking the fall with his elbows and hands. I had never seen the house and I did not know where it was. Thinking very little of the accident, I went to sleep again. A half-hour later I was waked up by the abrupt entrance of my brother, who exclaimed : 'Ah, there, you are ! I nearly broke my neck. As I was leaving the ball-room I caught my foot and fell full length down the stairway.' " 

On page 156 of Death and Its Mystery: Before Death by the astronomer Camille Flammarion, Rod Fryer gives this account (corroborated by a statement of his brother):

"One of my brothers was away from home, when one afternoon, at about half-past five, I was astonished to hear myself called distinctly by my name. I recognized the voice of my brother so clearly that I ran all over the house to find him ; but as I did not find him, and knowing that he was forty miles from there, I ended by believing it an illusion, and thought no more of it. When my brother arrived, six days later, he told me that he had just escaped a very serious accident. As he was getting off the train his foot had slipped and he had fallen his entire length on the platform. 'What is very curious,' he said, 'is that when I felt myself falling I called you.' This fact did not strike me at the moment, but when I asked him at what hour it had happened he named an hour which exactly corresponded with that in which I had heard him."

Summarizing some nineteenth century experimental results discussed in his book Psychical Research, scientist Sir William Barrett stated the following on page 68:

"Summing up the result of the numerous Liverpool experiments, Mr. Guthrie states that 437 trials were made with objects, colours, drawings, numbers, pains, tastes, etc. ; of these 237 were correctly transferred and a few others partly correct. Entire corroboration of these results have been obtained by many other independent and competent observers, both at home and abroad. Hence though not yet officially recognized by science, no doubt of the reality of thought-transference can be left on the mind of any diligent and thoughtful student, however critical he may be."

In many nineteenth experiments subjects placed under hypnosis seem to display dramatically better telepathic abilities. An example is described on pages 73-74 of Barrett's book:

"One of the most interesting experiments was made when in 
answer to my request that she would mentally visit London and go to Regent Street, she correctly described the optician's shop of which I was thinking. As a matter of fact, I found, upon subsequent inquiry, that the girl had never gone fifty miles away from her remote Irish village. Nevertheless, not only did she correctly describe the position of this shop, but told me of some large crystals of Iceland spar ('that made things look double') which I knew were in the shop, and that a big clock hung outside over the entrance, as was the case. It was impossible for the subject to gain any information of these facts through the ordinary channels of sense, as there was no conversation about the matter. My friend, the late Mr. W. E. Wilson, F.R.S., was present when these experiments were made in his father's house, and in answer to my request he subsequently wrote to me confirming them, saying, 'We proved beyond all doubt that the subject was able to read the thoughts of the mesmerizer.' "