Friday, May 8, 2015

Messengers from the Land of the Dead - Excerpt from 'You Cannot Die' by Ian Currie

Excerpt from You Cannot Die by Ian Currie:

According to Shakespeare, the land of the dead is one from whose domain no traveler returns. But with all due respect, the great bard was wrong---and spectacularly so. The dead do return. And because they are, in fact, so much like us, their reasons for coming back can, with a little effort be understood.

Death compacts

The British Society for Physical Research was founded in 1882. In the past century, it has collected in its files thousands of cases of apparitions of the dead. Of these, about one in twenty involves "death compacts." The motive behind such agreements is an understandable one---to find out if we survive death. Two people may arrange that, if the one who dies first finds himself still alive after the death of his body, he will attempt to appear to the other. As the S.P.R. statistics show, quite a number of these agreements have been fulfilled. Here is a typical example of such a compact:
I awoke ... and saw a brother who had been dead more than five years standing at the foot of my bed. He stood still, gazing at me earnestly.... I said, "Oh Arthur!" and jumped up to go to him, when he vanished.... My brother ... had said he would appear after death if possible.
And he did. So have a lot of other people, including a school friend of Lord Brougham, an English peer.

Brougham was traveling in Sweden with friends. Tired and chilled, they stopped at an inn for the night, where Brougham luxuriated in a hot bath before going to bed. Abs while in the tub, he had what can only be described as a remarkable experience. When at university, he and a friend, identified only as "G,." often speculated on the question of whether the dead survived, and whether, if they did, they could ever appear to the living. "We actually committed the folly," he says, "of drawing up an agreement, written in our blood, to the effect that whichever of us died first should appear to the other." After graduation, G. took a Civil Service job in India; the years passed, and Brougham had almost forgotten G's existence.
While lying in the tub and enjoying the comfort of the heat, after the ... freezing I had undergone, I turned my head round, looking toward the chair on which I had deposited my clothes, as I was about to get out of the bath. On the chair sat G., looking calmly at me. How I got out of the bath I know not, but on recovering my senses I found myself sprawling on the floor.  The apparition ... of G. had disappeared. The vision produced such a shock that I had no inclination to talk about it ... it ... was too vivid to be ... forgotten; and so strongly was I affected ... that I wrote down the whole story, with the date, 19th December... Soon after my return to Edinburgh, there arrived a letter from India, announcing G.'s death, and stating that he had died on the 19th of December.
Mrs. Arthur Bellamy of Bristol, England, made a similar agreement while still a schoolgirl with a friend, Miss W. Years later, Mrs. Bellamy, who had not seen or heard anything of her former school friend for many years, learned that she had died. Remembering their agreement, and becoming nervous, she confided in her husband, who had never seen a photograph of his wife's friend, nor heard any description of her.
A night or two afterwards ... I ... awoke, and saw a lady sitting by the side of the bed where my wife was sleeping soundly. At once I sat up ... and gazed so intently that even now I can recall her ... features ... I remember that I was much struck, as I looked intently at her, with the careful arrangement of her coiffure, every single hair being most carefully brushed down. 
After some minutes, the lady disappeared. When his wife awoke, Mr. Bellamy described their mysterious visitor.
I described here, ... all of which exactly tallied with my wife's recollection of Miss W. Finally I asked. "Was there any special point to strike one in her appearance?" "Yes, my wife promptly replied: "We girls used to tease her at school for devoting so much time to the arrangement of her hair."