Auszug aus dem folgenden Kapitel 17: Suchwörter: destruct und prophe
“…The destruction of the panorama and the death of Piglhein were prophesied to occur within a period of ten years…”
„…Die Zerstörung des Panoramas und der Tod von Piglhein waren prophezeit innerhalb eines Zeitraums von zehn Jahren...“
- von Robert Laing, einem Schotten jüdischen Ursprungs, in New Zealand wohnhaft gewesen und begegnete im April 1885 im Johanniter-Hospiz in Jerusalem Bruno Piglhein in Begleitung seiner Frau und seinen Assistenten Frosch, Krieger und Reinike.
LUCIDITY IN THE FUTURE
A Phenomenon Studied by the Society of Scientific Psychology at Munich
We shall devote this chapter to the study of a case of lucidity in the future, which has been scientifically ascertained and verified by the Society of Scientific Psychology at Munich. The following is the report of the President of this Society.
Karl du Prel left to the Society of Scientific Psychology at Munich a document which has been legally transmitted to me as President of this Society. It was contained in a packet of which the superscription, seals, &c., are minutely described further on.
In 1892 du Prel deposited this document in the hands of M. Wenglein, notary and councillor to the court at Munich, who did not wish to open it himself, although he was authorised to do so, under certain conditions, as will be seen later. I, in my turn, left it in the office of M. Ptindter, successor to M. Wenglein, who had died in the meantime. I went to the painter Hubert Frosch, whose name was inscribed on the packet as holding full powers from Baron du Prel to decide, after his death, the date for opening the document; I wished to obtain from him certain explanations as to the matter, of which I was quite ignorant, and to come to an agreement with him, in any case, as to the date of opening. M. Frosch told me that it related to some very remarkable predictions made at Jerusalem in 1885, and which had been verified in a surprising manner in almost every detail. A great part of those predictions having been realised in 1891, he found occasion, through others, to inform Baron du Prel of this affair, and the latter drew up a statement, on his information, in order to verify such of the predicted facts as had not yet been realised. Mme. Frosch confirmed to me the repeated surprises which her husband had experienced, on finding the events prophesied realised one after another ; she gave me the details of these events, which chiefly concerned the deceased painter Bruno Piglhein and his relations with Karl Frosch, all corresponding perfectly with the account given by her husband. This lady had had special reason for fixing in her memory all that her husband had so impressively related to her, after his return from the East, about these curious prophecies; for she herself played a part in them which is not indicated in the documentary account made known later. According to her husband, the prophet had predicted that she also would become a painter, would earn high distinction, and give lessons in painting.
M. Frosch had protested in vain against this prediction, asserting that such a thing would never happen. At the time when this prophecy was given M. Frosch might have been right; but as time went on and brought its vicissitudes it nevertheless was destined to be realised. Mme. Frosch became a painter of flowers of some repute, under the pseudonym of Maria Nyl, and did not lack either honours or pupils. The opening of the document was finally fixed for November 30, 1899, at half past ten in the morning, at the office of the notary M. Plindter. The following is the text of the notarial memorandum relative to the opening of the document : —
This day, November 30, 1899, there appeared before me, Dr. Franz Plindter (or Pundter?), royal notary at Munich, at my office, the undermentioned gentlemen : —
1. Ritter Eugen von Stieler, painter, of Munich.
2. Karl Hubert Frosch, painter, of Munich.
3. Karl Albert Baur, painter, of Munich.
4. Ludwig Deinhard, author, of Munich.
5. Martin Grief, author, of Munich.
6. Dr. Walter Bormann, author, of Munich.
These gentlemen requested me to state by notarial document as follows : —
Walter Bormann, in the first place, deposited a document signed by
Dr. August Ullrich, Director of the High School for Girls at
Nuremberg, and dated the 25th of this month, conferring upon him full
power to replace him at the opening of du Prel's document by the
accredited notary, and the right to act in his place as might be
The same gentleman handed to the notary a packet sealed with five private seals and bearing on its front the following superscription: "Property of the Society of Scientific Psychology at Munich. This document is to be opened at a time determined by me. In case of my decease, M. Karl Frosch will fix the time. It is to be opened in the presence of the persons whose seals are affixed to the back of the packet.
January 14, 1892.
Karl du Prel."
the back of the packet are affixed five different seals, each with a
signature, as follows : —
1. January 21, 1892, Karl Albert Baur, Hessesstrasse 1a.
2. Demhard, February 12, 1892, Georgenstrasse 13, II.
3. Paul du Prel, Herrenstrasse 13.
4. February 3, 1892, Eugen von Stieler, Fürstenstrasse 16, II.
5. Dr. A. Ullrich, Schlossstrasse 6a, I.
The gentlemen present mentioned at the commencement of this document first assured themselves that the packet handed in by Dr. Bormann was intact in every part, and, in particular, that the seals were intact; then these same gentlemen, especially those who had signed the packet on the back — that is to say, Karl Albert Baur, Ludwig Deinhard and Eugen von Stieler, as well as Dr. Bormann, empowered by Dr. August Ullrich — requested me to open the said packet in the presence of the persons assembled, the signatories of the packet having recognised as valid the authority given by Dr. August Ullrich of Nuremberg to Dr. Bormann, and Baron Carl du Prel, one of the signatories to the envelope having been declared to have died on August 5th of this year. In conformity with the invitation given me, I opened the envelope given me in the presence of the persons above mentioned and drew therefrom a sheet of large-sized letter paper, having writing on all four sides, the writing commencing as follows: — Statement: " Munich, December 27, 1891. Today at four o'clock in the afternoon the following gentlemen came to me," and ending with the words: "Perhaps again the seer purposely remains obscure and passed over in silence the clear and distinct vision that he may have had on this point.
Carl du Prel.
This document was read before the gentlemen present, word for word, by me, the notary, in the exercise of my duty, in accordance with their wish; then it was returned with the envelope to Dr. Bormann. Dr. Bormann claimed a copy of the preceding attestation, and added that in his capacity of President of the Society of Scientific Psychology of Munich he was qualified, as well as M. Deinhard, a member of the Executive Committee of that Society, their claims being officially recognised, to sign this copy. A minute to this effect was adopted and duly signed. Before signing. Dr. Bormann again handed to the notary the document mentioned in the preceding attestation and invited him to add to the present statement a certified copy of the document, and to file it among the other papers. This statement was read, adopted, and signed.
Eugen von Stieler.
Karl H. Frosch.
Karl Albert Bauer.
Ludwig Deinhard, member of the Executive Committee of the Society of Scientific Psychology.
Dr. Walter Bormann, President of the Society of Scientific Psychology.
Dr. Pundter, royal notary.
The following is the purport of the document in question, with the omission of some unimportant passages, which are left out because some persons now living are there designated, and which, moreover, contain some unrealised predictions concerning the artist Frosch.
Karl du Prel's Documents
December 27, 1891. Today at four o'clock in the afternoon, MM. Martin
Grief, author; Ernest Müller, artist; and Karl Frosch, artist,
came to me. Karl Frosch related to me as follows: —
In April 1885, I was at Jerusalem in company with the artist Bruno Piglhein and his wife, as well as the artists Joseph Krieger and René Reinike. We lodged at the German hospice. We were one day introduced to an elderly gentleman, said to be a professor at Edinburgh and an orientalist, named . . . the name is omitted in the document, because at the time of drawing it up M. Karl Frosch had forgotten it; he was afterwards easily able to ascertain the name at the hospice. It was Robert Laing, born in Scotland, but not a professor at Edinburgh, as is wrongly stated here. He was then a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and perhaps the same person as a member of the Society of Psychical Research, R. Laing, at present Professor at the Boys' High School at Christchurch, New Zealand; he joined us at our table. He often spoke of strange things — saying, for example, to M. Reinike, that he had known him in a previous existence and conversed on things relating to the transmigration of souls, so that we regarded him with astonishment, and could not help thinking that he was slightly deranged. One day, after the meal — I remember very well all the circumstances of this colloquy — he said to me: "Ah, well, 'gentlemen, your work — a panorama of Jerusalem which we had painted conjointly — your work interests me, and I am determined to consult the future as to your destiny, and what will happen to you all. "You two," he said, pointing to Piglhein and myself, "will become mortal enemies through your work." This statement made us both laugh, but he continued :
And you, this affair will be your loss,"
"Mine!" I cried.
"Not yours”, he replied, "but this gentleman's." And he pointed to Piglhein.
"And what will his loss be?" I asked. I expected it would be a fall of Piglhein from his artist's trestle or something similar.
But my interlocutor added: "The painting will be finished; but something will happen in connection with this matter, with this painting, and that will be your loss, Monsieur Piglhein."
Piglhein laughed and said: "Really, you are a pleasant companion."
His wife also laughed, and wished to know at what time this event would come to pass.
" Will the picture be finished? " I asked.
"Yes," he replied; "but the event will happen some years hence."
Mme. Piglhein laughing, said that after some years, twenty or thirty perhaps, her husband would surely die.
"No," he replied, "if I speak of some years it means five or ten years. It may be ten years, but it will not be longer, because I have seen it too distinctly, and when I see a thing clearly it happens within about ten years."
"And what will happen to me? " I asked.
"You will paint the picture three or four times and nothing unpleasant will happen to you."
"But why shall we become mortal enemies?" I asked.
"Because of this painting," he replied, "You will have to see many countries on account of this business. I have seen the sea and a boat, and that indicates a long voyage. You will find yourself on this boat with two painters, I have seen that very distinctly. The sight of these two painters struck me; they are wearing peculiar cloaks and furlined caps such as I have never seen before either in England or at Jerusalem. You seem to have suffered much from sea-sickness; you are really looking ill. You will take one of your panoramas to England, perhaps because of a proposition that will be made to you. I see that distinctly. I see St. Paul's Cathedral in London Avith its great dome. From this time you will have a lawsuit because of this picture; this suit will originate in London. There will be proceedings, and action will also be taken against you in Germany."
"What will be the result?"
"Nothing; the suits will have no results."
"What more will happen to me?"
"Nothing but good."
"How many times shall I paint the picture?" then asked M. Reinike.
"You will not even take part in its completion."
"But I wish to take part in it ; that is the purpose of my journey to Jerusalem."
"What of that! You will not take part in this painting."
At this moment Krieger, who had been absent up to now, came into the room. I related to him what had been said, and urged him to also ask for a prediction for himself. At first he refused, because he was obliged to go out again, but he presently asked:
"Shall I marry?"
"Yes, but it will not be a happy marriage. It will not be long before you are divorced." The seer urged us to write down all that he had said. He might have said many more things, he said, but he did not wish to continue since we were not willing to believe even what he had already said.
"Have you heard of second-sight?" he asked me.
have heard it said that it is common in Scotland."
"Well, I am gifted with this second-sight," remarked the seer.
I ought to add that the seer wore on his finger a ring which had been given to him by a Brahmin to whom he had rendered a service. When he desired information on any subject he had only to look at this ring, and then he saw a picture forming before him, like a dream. When it was a town, he saw it from above, over the country. Before we parted he again repeated to me once more that the words he had already used, "This affair will be your loss," did not apply to both of us, Piglhein and myself, but only to Piglhein. That was a matter of course, he observed, since otherwise what he had prophesied could not come true.
"In the five years that are to come," he added, "you will suffer much unpleasantness."
"However, I am pleased with Munich," I replied, "and I have no intention of leaving that city."
"So many unpleasant things will happen that Munich will cease to be so congenial to you. But after that you will be happier. Your life will be quiet, and you will reach a good age."
Among the events predicted, the following have since come to pass. I really made long journeys in connection with this picture, particularly to America. My colleagues, two German artists, who came from America over this matter, and invited me to make this voyage, had made for them in Munich a kind of shepherd cloaks with capes, like the peasants of the good old times used to wear, furnished with large metal clasps, almost as big as plates. They made a sensation everywhere, and also on board ship. I was really sea-sick on the voyage, and was ill for six days.
The artist Reinike did not, in fact, work on the picture. I painted it four times. One of the copies came from America to London under my name, but against my wish and desire. In connection with this a lawsuit was commenced at London. The picture was confiscated because M. Haider (who was the owner of it) had already let out the picture to an English contractor, who, by virtue of this fact, issued proceedings against the American company I was also prosecuted at the Munich court for infringement. But as the seer had said, it came to nothing. The day before the trial, when I was at dinner, I received a letter from my lawyer, Dr. Vimmer, telling me that the trial would not take place, because the plaintiff had abandoned the suit at the last moment. He therefore had to bear the heavy cost of the proceedings.
Piglhein and myself were set at variance on this occasion. As to the artist Krieger, he has married since then, but has entered an action for divorce against his wife. (On this point see the statement below made by M. Krieger. Shortly afterwards the divorce was granted, as Mr. Laing had predicted.)
I will also add that the statement of the seer concerning Piglhein's loss must not be understood in a pecuniary sense. It is sufficient to recall the question that Mme. Piglhein put on this point (as has been given above, with the seer's reply).
As in the course of these later years a great part of the prophecies in question have been realised, contrary to our expectation, I went, on the proposition of M. Martin Grief, in company with the gentlemen named above, to Dr. Carl du Prel who — in order to establish documentary evidence in favour of the reality of second-sight, in the event of the remainder of the prophecies being realised — wrote out the present statement, the accuracy of which I certify by my signature, with this reservation, that having reported the facts from memory I cannot guarantee the literal exactness of the conversations held.
K. Frosch, Artist.
Addition made by Dr. Carl du Prel
part of the prophecy which concerns M. Piglhein is couched in
abstract terms, whilst the second-sight visions are always concrete.
I conclude from this that this part of the prophecy has another source than the others, and may not be realised; perhaps agam the seer purposely remains obscure and passed over in silence the clear and distinct vision that he may have had on this point.
The document ends here. After the statement was drawn up in December 1891, and the packet had been secured with seals affixed by four persons besides Dr. du Prel, and the document deposited with the notary in 1892, the following facts occurred : —
During the night of April 27th to 28th, 1892, a fire at Vienna destroyed in a moment this picture of Jerusalem with the crucifixion of Christ, which had entailed so much labour, executed with the richest resources of art, so universally known and admired, and which Piglhein had executed with the assistance of the artists Karl Frosch and Josef Krieger. Bruno Piglhein braced himself against this stroke of fortune and conceived the idea of painting the picture again, of reproducing it more beautifully than ever, thus setting destiny at defiance. This desire was not realised, and the poor artist died of heart-disease at
Munich on July 15, 1894. (He was born at Hamburg on February 19, 1848.)
is it permissible to say that there was an agreement between these
events and the prophecy of Robert Laing? After the death of Piglhein
in 1894, Carl du Prel did not open the document, whether it was
because his engagements had caused him to forget its existence, or
whether he had not thought that these subsequent events formed a
realisation of the prophecy. This was not the way in which the artist
Frosch looked upon it; as he told me, after the destruction of the
picture as well as on the death of Piglhein, which happened nine
years after the prophecy, therefore within
the approximate limit of ten years which was fixed,
he vividly recalled the seer and wished to know if du Prel had opened
the document in order to set before the world the realisation of this
prophecy. Meeting Baron du Prel in the street one day he felt
impelled, he said, to speak to him and remind him of the facts; but
he did nothing. It is greatly to be regretted that the prophecies
were not committed to writing in 1885, as Robert Laing had asked. If
what was written by du Prel, according to the statements of M. Frosch
at the end of 1894, is compared with the events which afterwards
occurred, it cannot be said that there is an absolute realisation of
the prophecy, although there is an almost complete agreement between
the statement and the facts. M. Frosch thought that the destruction
of the picture was mentioned in the statement of the predictions, and
he formally declared this to me before the document was opened on
November 30th. As the document after being opened did not bear out
his statement, he declared he was convinced he had told the Baron of
this fact, and that no doubt du Prel had omitted to insert it in the
statement, and that he himself, on reading it through too quickly,
had failed to notice the omission, as well as some other slight
In a matter of verification of prophecies it is evident that the literal accuracy is necessary, and that all delay in drawing them up, by which their freshness is lost, is a misfortune. When the hearers of a prophecy fail to write down immediately what they have heard and await its realisation in order to pass judgment on it, two possibilities are presented to strict criticism : —
1. As the more or less enigmatical and hidden allusions concerning a prophesied fact can only be cleared up after its realisation, the true meaning of the prophecy is only revealed at that moment, and the words which relate to it also only come to the memory at the time when their explanation appears clearly and distinctly.
2. Imagination may, as the realisations are perceived, pervert the remembrance unwittingly and unconsciously, and give to the original prophecy, by altering it, however slightly, a form which makes it harmonise exactly with the event, as soon as the latter presents some points of agreement with the sense of the prophecy. It is scarcely possible that the artist Frosch did speak to the Baron du Prel of the predicted destruction of the picture, because, if such had been the case, du Prel would probably not have used the indefinite expressions contained in the document: "The painting will be finished; but something will happen in connection with this matter, with this painting, and that will be your loss, Monsieur Piglhein."
It would rather seem that the exact words of the prophet were not remembered by Frosch, which would not be astonishing after an interval of six years and a half, and that for this reason he had given to the prophecy this indefinite form, which did not completely miss its true meaning even if it did not fully express it. Moreover, M. Frosch in all sincerity declared himself, at the end of the document, that he could not guarantee the literal accuracy of the conversations which took place. If Laing had predicted the destruction of the picture, such a prophecy, some would think, would have impressed a painter destined to take so important a part in its construction too vividly for him to have forgotten it.
This objection is not without weight; but it is not final, because all of us, as years go by, gain this psychlogical experience, that even facts and events which have acted most powerfully on our mind and heart disappear from our memory, until the moment perhaps when some powerful stimulus awakens these emotions which were apparently effaced and brings them again to life.
we find that the recollection may be effaced of psychical facts much
more important than more or less imaginary predictions. If in
reality, at the moment of the drawing up of the document, the
prediction of the destruction of the picture was no longer present to
M. Frosch's memory, nothing is more natural than that it should be
revived in his mind after the fire. From that the thought that he had
informed du Prel of this prophecy is only a step. Be that as it may,
here is the declaration of M. Karl Frosch as it was drawn up by me in
" M. Karl Hubert Frosch, artist, of Munich, affirms that he clearly recollects that Mr. Laing told him of the destruction of the picture, and that the account which he gave to Baron du Prel made mention of this fact. He adds that he, moreover, asked Mr, Laing in what way the picture would be destroyed, to which he replied that he had a vision of it but had forgotten this detail.
"The prophet spoke German well, as can also be attested by M. Boyer, the proprietor of the hospice at Jerusalem.
"Munich, December 6, 1899."
The shrewd remark added to the document by du Prel concerning the abstract nature of the greater part of predictions of this character would not apply here, in case the seer had forgotten the vision, as M. Frosch says in his declaration, and had only announced the fact of the destruction. The artist Josef Krieger has also personally given his testimony, in the same way as M. Frosch, according to the recollections which remained with him : —
" The artist Joseph Krieger affirms the following with regard to the prophecies made at Jerusalem in 1885, in his presence, by the Scotchman, Robert Laing. The destruction of the panorama and the death of Piglhein were prophesied to occur within a period of ten years. Further, M. Krieger recollects that, according to the statement of the prophet, Piglhein would only paint the picture once whilst M. Frosch would paint it several times. He also recollects the elegant gesture Piglhein made by touching the front of his head, indicating that this gentleman was not in his right mind. He likewise understood that Reinike, according to the prophet, would not collaborate in the work. Finally, he confirms the prediction made with regard to himself, concerning his marriage, which was precisely realised.
"He related that Mr. Laing wore a ring at which it was his habit to look when he wished to obtain visions.
Krieger again met the prophet two years afterwards, when travelling
in Norway. He passed him in a carriage and was recognised by him, but
no words were exchanged.
"M. Krieger did not hear it stated that MM. Frosch and Piglhein would become mortal enemies, and that there would be a lawsuit, because he was obliged to be absent on an urgent matter at the time when this was said.
"Munich, December 6, 1899."
Mme. Nyl Frosch affirms that, according to the statements which her husband made to her, in the first place the seer had formally prophesied that both the picture and Piglhein would perish. Moreover, what could be the fact "in relation to this matter, to this picture," which was to bring about the loss of Piglhein? Besides the lawsuit and the destruction of the picture itself, it is difficult to imagine other possibilities. Moreover, another lawsuit of several years' duration followed the burning of the panorama, because the Austrian insurance company, the Phoenix, refused to pay the sum fixed, which amounted to 150,000 marks. They ended by paying; making only a small deduction. We do not know whether in reference to this Piglhein had any difficulties with the owner of the picture.
The confirmation of the prediction relative to the destruction of the panorama would have had a very special importance as regards the exact verification of Laing's prophecies, because the death of Piglhein, within the interval of ten years fixed by the seer, is of no great value, since many persons die in a similar lapse of time. At all events, it is of importance as far as it does not contradict the prediction; therefore it does not annul it, without, however, verifying it.
this sudden destruction of his great picture must have deeply
affected the artist, who was already suffering from heart-disease,
and might accelerate his death, is not an improbable hypothesis. It
is almost certain, from the psychological experience which we have as
to the artistic temperament. This is confirmed by Captain Halder, the
former proprietor of the panorama, who wrote me from Burghausen, near
"The loss of this, his largest work, deeply affected him. When I sent to his studio (Landwehrstrasse 23, on the morning of the 28th, the unfortunate telegram, immediately before my departure for Vienna, he embraced me, and we both wept like two children. Then he said to me: 'The wooden pavilion at 45 Goethestrasse is still standing; send immediately to stop its demolition; we will paint a new Calvary, and it will be better than the last one.' He wanted to do it for 80,000 marks (he had received 150,000 marks for the first picture). I made them stop the demolition at once, and went to Vienna, then to my partner, M. Hotop, at Dresden. I begged him to contract for the new picture, but he firmly refused."
The strong desire that Piglhein had to recommence his work proved of itself what a blow this destruction of his work had been to him. We must add to this the influence of the irritating lawsuit before the destruction of the picture, and which was equally "in relation to this matter, to this picture," as stated in the document. It is possible that the seer may have used this exact expression to indicate the lawsuit in question, and that he had also predicted the destruction of the work.
I also thought it my duty to seek for the evidence of the two other persons living at Munich, whose presence at Laing's prophecies is indicated in the document.
(Professor) Piglhein's wife, whom I visited in company of Dr. Fealk Schupp, Vice-president of the Society of Scientific Psychology of Munich, could not remember either the prophecy or the prophet; but she was of opinion that since MM. Frosch and Krieger guaranteed the reality of the fact, she had no reason to doubt its accuracy. She was certain that if any one had spoken to her husband in her presence of his approaching death, he being very excitable by reason of his heart complaint, she would have laughed heartily in order to efface this unpleasant impression. The very remarkable thing is that Mme. Piglhein is specially mentioned twice in the document as laughing at the doleful words of the prophet, which is in favour of the sincerity of her present statement as well as that of the document.
The artist Rene Reinike could not remember the prophecies, but he remembered Robert Laing very well. He stated that, young as he was, these singular events would not have had the slightest attraction for him, and that the observations of Robert Laing, who wished to assign to him, amongst other things, a previous existence among the Arabs, had simply seemed absurd to him.
In order to give greater force and evidence to the preceding events, and to offer fresh proofs of the good memory of the artists Frosch and Krieger, I asked these gentlemen to write me a description of Robert Laing, and the place where the prophecy was made. M. Karl Frosch very willingly consented. As to the appearance of the seer, he wrote with great sincerity: "I only recall that he was of medium height, with greyish hair, with a sharp look, and as he walked he bent his body slightly forward."
As M. Frosch was specially engaged upon decorative painting, he was able, with a sure hand, to draw a sketch of the dining-room, of antique aspect, with a wide and high- vaulted roof, of the hospice, which was once one of the residences of the Templars.
The artist Krieger, although he was quite willing to accede to my request, has not yet been able to do so, as he was suddenly called away to a distance.
I wrote to Mr. Laing at Christchurch, New Zealand, asking him to give
me his evidence should he be the same person as Robert Laing. I told
him nothing as to the events which had occurred and to which the
prophecies related, nor as to the tenor of these prophecies; I merely
asked him to let me know what he still remembered of the predictions
he had made. Although seers quickly forget the visions they have had,
it is permissible to think that Robert Laing would at least have
partly preserved the recollection, if not of his visions at that
time, at least of the statements ho had made to those concerned. As
soon as I receive a reply I shall at once publish it.
For the explanation of this prevision of the future, we may profitably consult the profound considerations on this subject in the second volume of du Prel's work on the Discovery of the Soul (Leipzig, 1885). With regard to the part the Brahmin's ring played in the visions, we may consider that to be purely auto-suggestive. The above-mentioned case does not unfortunately present the absolute evidential guarantees required for a purely critical examination. Nevertheless, the knowledge and the discussion of the events that are reported seem to us calculated to awaken the interest which the study of so delicate a problem as prophecy deserves, and we may learn from it that all statements in reference to such matters ought to be drawn up at the proper time and with scrupulous accuracy.
(Extract from Psych. Studien, April and May. 1900)
After having studied this very curious and well attested case of lucidity, wishing to have some more precise information as to the personality of the subject himself, and hoping to obtain from him some new experiences, I asked one of the English correspondents of the Societe Universelle d'Etudes Psychiques to find Robert Laing and put me into communication with him. The following are the particulars I received of this person who is endowed with so strange a faculty ; —
R. L. is a most curious person. He is sixty-two years of age, and a bachelor. He was shut up for some years as a madman, and willingly speaks of what he saw and the tricks he played while he was in the asylum.
has changed his name, has travelled considerably; has resided for a
number of years in the East, lived amongst the Brahmins, the Moravian
Brothers, in monasteries, in German universities, in the Latin
quarter, &c. He attaches great importance to numbers, letters,
forms, and colours: where we simply speak of a coincidence, he sees
He has read much of Rabbinical and Jewish writings. He has not only the head of the Wandering Jew — bald head and long white beard — but also, he states that he has Jewish blood in his veins. He claims to have had, at certain times in his life, the recollection, the clear vision of his previous incarnations, except, he says, for one link which is missing in the seventeenth century. He also believes that he profits by the experience and knowledge he gained during his previous existence.
He possesses a very fine collection of rings, seals, mysterious emblems, monograms, &c.
When he drinks wine he puts an enormous ring at the bottom of his glass.
This gentleman, who has read all the mystics, has a horror of prearranged and scientifically conducted experiments. He therefore refuses, as he says he has always done with Myers and others, to furnish material proofs of the Beyond and of the mysterious powers which have sometimes acted in him, and which he declares he cannot explain, although he has left a confession which is not to be opened until twenty years after his death.
Passive expectancy is his usual attitude, and he has no wish to act with a view to forcmg his powers or the forces latent in him: when he feels himself in intimate communion with the universal mind, he sees himself an instrument, a witness of the Unknown. All that he has ever been able to do in the way of reading the past, predicting the future, &c., belongs to the domain of spiritualism and not of science. He speaks of finding himself on another plane of inquiry and perception, almost in another condition of existence, with which scientific methods have nothing to do, and in fact it is only by the voice of his intuitions that he claims to walk towards the truth, the ultimate reality.
Such is the person whose expressions I have respected. He seems to have a strange mixture of Oriental, Jewish, primitive, animistic, and rationalistic Christian opinions and doctrines.
You, like myself, will regret that I have not been able to obtain from him any decisive experience.
Corresponding Member of the Societé Universelle d'Ètudes Psychiques.
Our correspondent's report is very complete, as will be seen, and gives a very clear idea of this strange personality. It is, after all, mysticism which dominates, whether it be all sincere or mixed with a certain stage effect, as is quite possible.
The most regrettable fact is that we are not able to produce any new experiments in conditions we could ourselves arrange. But we have other subjects possessing this faculty of lucidity in regard to the future, with whom we propose to arrange some methodical experiments. This question is therefore left for study, and we may expect definite results from strictly scientific experiments.