Osty, Dr Eugene - Supernormal faculties in Man – Mme Morel sees a theft
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Supernormal faculties in Man- Dr Eugene Osty
Passing through Bourges in the morning of January 10th, 1919, and on visiting my sister-in-law, Mlle F. G., a member of the American organization for help to refugees, I found great excitement in the Central Hotel where the offices of administration- were installed on the ground floor.
Between midnight and 8 a.m. the cupboard in the office had been opened by use of a tool whose traces were visible, and a metal box, containing 5000 francs in money and 2000 francs in cheques, had been stolen.
The French police suspected some employee of the hotel, thinking that the theft could only have been committed by someone in the house, and because on searching the servants' quarters they had found some packets of cigarettes of an uncommon American brand (these having come from the same cupboard a few days before, without its having been broken into), a ring, and a note for 1000 francs.
As I was leaving for Paris next day I thought this might be a good example for testing metagnomy. I cut about fifteen inches of a thin string stretched between two nails inside the cupboard. It was in these circumstances that I put the string into the hands of Mme Morel on January 12th, asking her:
"See what was witnessed by this object on the night between the 9th and 10th of January."
". . . I see a man, not very young, very grieved, anxious, and vexed . . .not very tall, his hair is light and thin, rather fresh complexion. . I see something shining over his eye. . . ."
I then perceived that Mme Morel was referring to M. Louis M., for whose son she had held so many seances. I said: "No, that is not the person. I want to know what happened on the night of the 9-10th January in the room where I took this thing."
"Ah! I see a terrible drama a death passes before me . . someone asphyxiated and stifled . . . I see a person whose eyes are closed; he does not breathe . he is dead . . . it is not a voluntary death, sudden, not natural . . ."
The thin string suggested a vision of strangulation. If I had not known the matter in hand I should have let this fabulation develop, although I should have been much astonished that so thin a string could have served such a purpose. But acting on what I knew and to put the subject on the right track without giving any suggestive matter, and to avoid any further objectless mental working, I said: "I took this string from a cupboard where there has been a theft. See the scene of the theft."
" . . . Yes, I see a cupboard. . . . It has been forced . . . I see two persons like two shadows . . they are not strangers to the room, they know it. . . . They do not go back into the house by the door. .. I do not see them go in . . they are in the house They go out by an opening, close by the cupboard . . . it is a large opening, a window. It is in the morning, it is not yet daylight . . . the cupboard was forced in order to steal. . . Papers and money have been taken.
He who did the active part is a man with light chestnut hair, dark eyes, irregular features, a square and rather flat face; his clothing is like unbleached serge . . he seems to have a long cloak of the same colour. . . . The other does not move, so to speak . . . he is quite young, or seems quite young, a mere youth, looks cunning. He has a subordinate part ; he touches nothing. . . ."
On January 15th the American police, warned about the theft, took up the affair. They arrested a young American chauffeur, J--, aged seventeen, who had disappeared with his car a few days before. Some days later they issued a warrant against an American, Captain S., the suspected thief. He was arrested at Brest at the end of January. In June, 1919, an American court-martial tried both men at Nevers.
Captain S. was sentenced to two years imprisonment for the theft at Bourges. According to the evidence he had passed most of the night enjoying himself in the hotel, and must have gone into the office about 3 a.m., forced the cupboard, and left by the window, which was found partly open by the night porter, at daybreak.
The chauffeur, J--, was acquitted of the theft, but had to avow that on the morning of the 11th he had taken Captain S.to Paris and had received 1000 francs for so doing.
The physical characteristics of these two men were as given by Mm. Morel. It was stated in evidence that Captain S. was assiduous in attendance at the American Red Cross. No one would have thought of suspecting him.
When Mlle G. received the account of the seance on January 14th she held the visions of the sensitive to be an error. Here, then, is a seance which began with imaginary matter and ended with exact cognizance of an event, because I was able to give a slight indication enabling the subject to perceive the facts by a clue leading to the source of transcendental cognition. If an experimenter does not wish to give passive encouragement to error he should avoid working on the entirely unknown and acquire some datum which, without leading him to any knowledge of the end to be reached, will give him a clue whether the sensitive is making a good or a bad start.