A Seance Prediction Matching a Senator's Most Unlikely Fate

Let us now look at seven very interesting cases that are well worthy of attention, even though they are almost never mentioned in the literature of parapsychology.

The Skeptic Who Kept Hearing Glorious Celestial Music

I will now discuss a case described on pages 207-210 of  Volume 1, Number 3 of the Psychical Review (February 1893).  It involves a man of some prestige and achievement who is not named but merely described as follows:

"I shall first relate some of the experiences of a gentleman eminent for his attainments in mechanical science, so eminent that in this regard he has now a national reputation among those in the same line of work. A friend and student of Herbert Spencer, on the further side of the middle milestone of life, sceptical by nature and training, a successful inventor, with his mind engrossed in the management of a large manufactory, he is the last person in the world to become the victim of imagination. "

We are told that this accomplished figure heard glorious mysterious music from no known source:

"These subjective harmonies exceeded by far anything he had ever conceived. They were heralded by long, soft, sweet chords like those which a number of bugles might produce. Other instruments joined, weaving in their sinuous, heart-piercing melodies until the volume of sweet concerted sound flooded the overpowered senses almost to the point of producing unconsciousness. The rapt listener instinctively feels that, were the ecstasy too much prolonged, on its wings the soul would float away from the senseless body. This music is not precisely like anything he has ever heard from visible orchestras. It sounds more like the violoncello and the organ than anything else. Beyond description grand, noble, majestic, like so-styled sacred music, it is never heard gay or trivial, save that sometimes it is a little like the richer, loftier tones of a heavy opera. Following the first few strains of the orchestra are voices, forming a full chorus and taking all the parts, male and female. Sometimes there are duets, sometimes solos, again responsive services from one side and then another. At times there is a tenor of remarkable sweetness and clarity ' like nothing I ever heard or dreamed,' said he, ' a voice to be recognized among a thousand.' The music comes to his inner ear, though apparently, like external music, unannounced and unexpected. It is of short duration — a few moments, at the longest."

The same accomplished figure experienced strange visions:

"Gazing into limitless space, he sees a shining golden vista peopled with angelic forms and glorious faces luminous with 'the light that never was on sea and land.'  They are the singers draped in flowing robes of grace and beauty. Love on earth and in heaven, and peace, good-will, and joy are the themes which are felt, but are untranslatable into mortal language."

The Woman Who Saw a Very Distant Death

The account below is told on pages 159-160 of Volume 2 of the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, and in the account a woman relates what was told her by an Elizabeth Broughton:

 "She woke one night and roused her husband, telling him that something dreadful had happened in France. He begged her to go to sleep again and not to trouble him. She assured him she was not asleep when she saw what she insisted on then telling him — what she saw, in fact. First a carriage accident, which she did not actually see, but what she saw was the result, a broken carriage, a crowd collected, a figure gently raised and carried into the nearest house, and then a figure lying on a bed, which she then recognised as the Duke of Orleans. Gradually friends collecting round the bed, among them several members of the French Royal family — the Queen, then the King — all silently, tearfully watching the evidently dying Duke. One man (she could see his back, but did not know who who he was) was a doctor. He stood bending over the Duke, feeling his pulse, his watch in his other hand. And then all passed away : she saw no more. As soon as it was daylight she wrote down in her journal all she had seen. From that journal she read this to me. It was before the days of electric telegraph, and two or more days passed before the Times announced 'The death of the Duke of Orleans.'  Visiting Paris a short time afterwards, she saw and recognised the place of the accident, and received the explanation of her impression. The doctor who attended the dying Duke was an old friend of hers ; and as he watched by the bed, his mind had been constantly occupied with her and her family. The reason of this was an extraordinary likeness — a likeness which had often led to amusing incidents — between several members of the Broughton family and members of the French Royal family who were present in the room. 'I spoke of you and yours when I got home,' said the doctor, 'and thought of you many times that evening. The likeness between yourselves and the Royal family was, perhaps, never so strong as that day when they stood there in their sorrow, all so natural ; father, mother, brothers, sisters, watching the dying son and brother. Here was the link between us, you see.' " 

A Man Who Seemed to Know of a Very Distant Death

The account below is found on pages 64-65 of the very interesting 1866 book The Night Side of Nature by Catherine Crowe, which has many accounts equally interesting:

"One of the most remarkable cases of presentiment I 
know is that which occurred, not very long since, on 
board one of her Majesty's ships, when lying off Ports- 
mouth. The officers being one day at the mess-table, a 
young Lieutenant P. suddenly laid down his knife and 
fork, pushed away his plate, and turned extremely pale. 
He then rose from the table, covering his face with his 
hands, and retired from the room. The president of 
the mess, supposing him to be ill, sent one of the young 
men to inquire what was the matter. At first Mr. P. 
was unwilling to speak, but, on being pressed, he con- 
fessed that he had been seized by a sudden and irresis- 
tible impression that a brother he had then in India was 
dead. 'He died,' said he, 'on the 12th of August, at 
six o'clock; I am perfectly certain of it!' No argu- 
ments could overthrow this conviction, which, in due 
course of post, was verified to the letter. The young 
man had died at Cawnpore, at the precise period mentioned."

Two Who Dreamed of a Distant Death the Day It Occurred

On page 107 of the same very interesting book, we have a remarkable account of a mother and daughter who had a similar dream on the same night:

"To revert in the meanwhile to the subject of double dreams, I will relate one that occurred to two ladies, a mother and daughter, the latter of whom related it to me. They were sleeping in the same bed at Cheltenham, when the mother, Mrs. C, dreamt that her brother-in-law, then in Ireland, had sent for her; that she entered his room, and saw him in bed, apparently dying. He requested her to kiss him, but owing to his livid appearance, she shrank from doing so, and awoke with the horror of the scene upon her. The daughter awoke at the same moment, saying, ' Oh, I have had such a frightful dream !' ' Oh. so have I !' returned the mother; 'I have been dreaming of my brother-in-law !'  ' My dream was about him too' replied Miss C. 'I thought I was sitting in the drawing-room, and that he came in wearing a shroud, trimmed with black ribbons, and approaching me he said., "My dear niece, your mother has refused to kiss me. but I am sure you will not be so unkind." ' As these ladies were not in habits of regular correspondence with their relative, they knew that the earliest intelligence likely to reach them, if he were actually dead, would be by means of the Irish papers; and they waited anxiously for the following Wednesday which was the day these journals were received in Cheltenham. When that morning arrived, Miss C. hastened at an early hour to the reading-room, and there she learnt what the dreams had led them to expect: their friend was dead; and they afterwards ascertained that his decease had taken place on that night."

A 1733 "Life Review"

One of the most common elements of near-death experiences is what is called a life review. The person having such a close brush with death will often report that he experienced a review of his life experiences, often occurring at some rapid rate.  Long before such a term "near-death experience" was even commonly used, the 1866 book The Night Side of Nature reported a case of such a near-death life review occurring in 1733. The book states the following on page 133

"In the year 1733, Johaim Schwerzeger fell into a similar state of trance, after an illness, but revived. He said he had seen his whole life, and every sin he had committed, even those he had quite forgotten — everything had been as present to him as when it happened. He also lamented being recalled from the happiness he was about to enter into; but said that he had only two days to spend in this valley of tears, during which time he wished everybody that would, should come and listen to what he had to tell them. His before sunken eyes now looked bright, his face had the bloom of youth, and he discoursed so eloquently that the minister said they had exchanged offices, and the sick man had become his teacher. He died at the time he had foretold."

The Slowly Vanishing Apparition

The following account appears on pages 124-125 of the book More Glimpses of the World Unseen by Frederick George Lee:

"The following comes to me direct from the clergyman who saw the apparition described, whose letter is dated November 15, 1875, the Rev. Arthur Bellamy, B.A., vicar of Publow, Bristol : ' Some months ago I was suddenly awoke in the night-time, and saw, as I thought, a lady sitting by our bedside. She appeared to be about thirty years of age, and had a calm, thoughtful expression on her countenance. I was particularly struck with the great care with which she appeared to have arranged her hair. After watching the apparition, with feelings more of wonder than fear, it seemed to vanish slowly away. I was perfectly awake, and a light was burning in the room, so that a mere optical delusion was out of the question.  In the morning I related the vision to my wife ; and, from my description, she had no doubt but that it was the spirit of an old schoolfellow who had recently died ; for my wife, some years previously, had agreed at school with the person in question, that the first who should die, should, if Almighty God permitted it, appear to the survivor.  I asked my wife if her friend, whom she had not met for the last sixteen years, had any peculiarity when a girl ; and she replied, 'We used to tease her at school for devoting so much time to the arrangement of her hair.' "   

The Senator and the Seance

On pages 128-130 of the book Contact with the Other World by the distinguished researcher James H. Hyslop, we have a US senator's account of his experiences at a seance.  Carl Schurz states he attended in Philadelphia a seance in which a young teenager of about 15 claimed to be in contact with the Other Side. Schurz asked that the spirit of the German poet Schiller might come forth.  The young girl wrote that the spirit of Schiller had come and asked what was wished of him. Schurz requested that some lines be quoted from his works. The young girl wrote two lines in German. A check found such lines in a work by Schiller that the young girl was almost certainly unfamilar with. 

Schurz then asked that the spirit of Abraham Lincoln come forth. The girl wrote that Lincoln was ready. Schurz asked some questions, and eventually the girl wrote the prediction that Schurz would become a US senator from Missouri. Schurz writes the following:

"Hardly anything could have been more improbable at that time than that I should be a senator of the United States from Missouri. My domicile was in Wisconsin, and I was thinking of returning there. I had never thought of removing from Wisconsin to Missouri, and there was not the slightest prospect of my ever doing so. But — to forestall my narrative — two years later I was surprised by an entirely unsought and unexpected business proposition which took me to St. Louis, and in January, 1869, the legislature of Missouri elected me a senator of the United States. I then remembered the prophecy made to me at the spirit seance in the house of my friend Tiedemann in Philadelphia which, during the intervening years, I had never thought of. I should hardly have trusted my memory with regard to it, had it not been verified by friends who witnessed the occurrence.” 

Senator Carl Schurz (credit: US Senate Historical Office)