Bozzano, Professor Ernesto - Psychic phenomena at the moment of death – 43
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Ernesto Bozzano - Psychic phenomena at the moment of death [110 cases suggesting survival after death]
Sixth category - Examples of apparitions of the deceased that occurred shortly after a death and were perceived in the house where the corpse lies
55-th case. - The following case, which I draw from Vol. V, p. 422, Proceedings of the S. P. R., is also the only one I know of:
August 1886. On Saturday, October 24, 1868, we took leave of our friends (the Marquis de Lys) with whom we lived at Malvern Well, to go to Cheltenham, residence of a brother-in-law of my husband, Mr. Georges Copeland. He had been ill for some time after a paralysis attack that reduced him to helplessness, although his mental faculties remained perfectly healthy. This last circumstance was the cause that his friends often went to visit the patient, in order to soften his misfortune as much as possible. Taking advantage of the short distance between us, we decided to do the same.
However, we were informed that the patient already had other people at home. We then decided to go to Cheltenham without warning, but stay in an apartment, before being prevented by an invitation from him. We rented several rooms in the vicinity of Mr. Copeland's home. After that, we were making ready to leave the hotel, when several bottles of medicine on a table attracted our attention. We asked if there were any sick people in the house, and we were told that a certain Mrs. A., staying at the hotel with her daughter, had been ill for some time, although it was not very serious, but there was no danger. After that moment, we did not think about it anymore.
Shortly afterwards we went to see Mr. Copeland, who, in the evening, came to pronounce the names of our two hotel neighbors. Mr. Copeland then said to know Mrs. A. He explained that she was a widow of a doctor practicing at Cheltenham, and that one of her daughters was married to a college teacher, a certain Mr. V. I recalled then having known Mrs. V. on the occasion of a reception at Dr. Barry's, and having noticed her because of her great beauty, while conversing with the mistress of the house. That was all I knew about these ladies.
On Sunday morning, at lunchtime, I observed that my husband seemed to be worried. When lunch was over, he asked me: "Did you hear a chair being moved out a moment ago? The old lady who lived below died on her own chair last night and was dragged to her room on the chair".
I was very impressed. It was the first time I had ever been near a corpse, so I wanted to move without delay. Several of our friends, upon hearing of the fact, had graciously offered us hospitality but my husband opposed it, observing that moving is always a trouble, that my fears were foolish, that he had no pleasure in moving on a Sunday, that it was not generous to leave because a person had died, and that, at last, if such a thing had been happening to us, we would not have missed it. Anyway, we had to stay.
I spent the day with the brother-in-law and nieces. We did not return to the hotel until bedtime. Right away after falling asleep, as usual, I woke up in the middle of the night with no apparent cause, and I saw clearly at the foot of the bed an old gentleman with a greasy, rosy and smiling face, holding his hat in his hands. He was dressed in a sky-blue suit, an antique cut with metal buttons, and underneath a light waistcoat, and similar trousers. The more I looked at him, the better I could see the smallest details of his face and clothes. I didn't feel too impressed. After a while, I tried to close my eyes for a minute or two. When I reopened them, the old gentleman was gone. A few moments later, I went back to sleep. When the morning came, I decided not to tell anyone anything about what had happened to me, until I saw one of my nieces, to whom I told the fact to find out if by any chance there was no resemblance between Doctor R. and the gentleman of my vision. Although this idea seemed absurd to me, I wanted to know the truth. I met my niece Mary Copeland (now Mrs. Brandling), back from church, and I immediately asked her: "Didn't Dr. R. look like an old gentleman with a greasy, rosy, smiling face?"
She trembled with astonishment: "Who can have told you?" she cried out, saying that he looked more like a good campaign maker than a doctor. How strange that such a vulgar-looking man should have had such a beautiful creature as his daughter!
This is the strictly accurate account of the fact that happened to me... My two nieces are still alive, and must remember all of this exactly. Of course, I am not in a state to explain this fact. The old lady's body was lying in the room immediately below ours. What surprises me above all is that I was so little impressed by the fact that I was able to go back to sleep a few moments later without disturbing anyone. (Signed: Mrs. Bacchus.)
Mrs. Bacchus's husband thus confirms the event:
"Leamington, September 27,1886.
I read my wife's account of what happened in Cheltenham when we were there in 1868. This responded exactly to what my wife told me in the morning, which followed the fact that I remember perfectly. I also remember that the same morning she told her niece all the details of the event."
(Signed: Henry Bacchus.)
For more details, and other testimony, I refer to the Proceedings, at the place already mentioned.
In the aforementioned fact, the most important detail from a theoretical point of view is the recipient's statement that she has never known and never had any idea of the aspect of the late Dr. R. - which would lead her to admit the objective reality of the apparition, by rejecting the hypothesis of a phenomenon of hallucinatory autosuggestion provoked in Mrs. Bacchus by the unpleasant thought of having Mrs. R.'s corpse near her, except that we want to seek the cause of vision in a phenomenon of transmission of thought coming from Mrs. R.'s daughter, a thought that could be turned to the memory of his father, or to the transmission of an analogous image perceived in a dream by the same person - an interpretation that should not be rejected, although it seems quite gratuitous.