The Seven Purposes by Margaret Cameron 1867 - 1947




MY first serious attempt to establish communication through planchette with a person or persons in a life beyond ours was made Sunday morning, March 3, 1918. Not so very serious an attempt, either, for I anticipated no success, and was not without a humorous appreciation of my position, sitting with my hand on a toy, inviting communication with celestial powers. I remember laughing a little, as I pictured the sardonic glee with which certain of my friends would be likely to regard such a proceeding.


Perhaps this is as good a time as any to say that I was seeking a stranger. I never saw Frederick. When our friendship with his parents began they lived in one city, we in another, and he in a third and more distant one, where he was first a reporter and later a political and editorial writer on the staff of a leading newspaper. I knew that he was young, successful,





a bachelor, and singularly devoted to his family, as they to him. But his habits of thought and speech had never been described to me, at first because it was expected that we would meet, and in the much closer intimacy of our later acquaintance, because the pain of his loss was so poignant that no member of the family could speak of him with composure. I had never seen a photograph of him, even.


After perhaps twenty minutes, during which planchette did not move, I left the paper—a roll of blank wall-paper, called lining­paper, which I found years ago to offer the most continuous and satisfactory surface for use with planchette—spread over the table, and went into another room, intending to return later. But I forgot it, and only when I was putting things in order for the night did I re-enter that room and remember my promise to Mrs. Gaylord. I decided to make one more attempt, that I might be able to tell her positively that, I had been unsuccessful. All other members of the household were away—Cass at Atlantic City, recuperating from an illness—and I was entirely alone in the apartment.


For some minutes planchette was motionless, but almost immediately I felt the curious sense of vitality, very difficult to describe, that precedes movement. It is like touching some





thing alive and feeling its latent power. Presently it began to move. Unfortunately no exact record of those first messages was kept, and this report of them is taken from my letters to Cass, written immediately after each interview, and from the typewritten record begun a week or ten days afterward, in which was included what I could remember of details not written to him. At first there was little capitalization, but within a few days capitals were used freely. The punctuation throughout has been added, except in cases noted.


From a letter dated Monday morning, March 4th:


… Instead of doing the usual loop sort of thing, it made straight runs across the table. I asked, "Are you ready to write?" "Yes." Then, as nearly as I can remember, it went like this:


"Are you Frederick?" "No."

"Are you Mary Kendal?" "No." "Are you Anne Lowe?"1 "No."

"Did I know you in life here?" "Yes." "Recently?" "No."


"Are you my father?" At this it ran sharply toward me, point first, but for some time did not reply, perhaps because I so hoped it would write "Yes." Eventually, however,

1Theme names occurred to me, because these three persons left us within a twelvemonth, about three years ago, and all were either friends or closely identified with friends of ours.



THE SEVEN PURPOSES it wrote a very clear and uncompromising "No."


"Can you tell me who you are?" "Yes. Mary." "Mary Kendal?" "No."


"Which Mary? What Mary?" "Mary…" followed by a character that might have been either K or H, but looked more like K.


"Mary Kendal?" "No." "Tell me again." "Mary K."


"Mary K.?" "Yes." Planchette was down at the lower right-hand corner of the table when I asked the last question, and it swung to the center, writing that "yes" very quickly and firmly.


"My Mary K.?" "Yes… yes… yes."


Her name was Mary Katherine M——, but I always called her Mary K. She has been dead sixteen years or more. Over and over she insisted that she was Mary K. Sometimes, in pauses, with the casters hardly moving at all, the thing would write "Mary," in tiny script, but round and clear.


I asked if there were any message, and it wrote, "Mon…" trailing off into a series of waves, a good many times. I guessed Monday… money… Mons…, but always the answer was, "No." Finally it wrote "man" very clearly. I could not get more for quite a while. Finally came, "Many thanks."



THE SEVEN PURPOSES "Thanks for what?" "For knowing."


I asked if Frederick or Anne were there. "No." "Any message?" "Yes."


"For whom?" "Broth…," trailing off again. This several times. "Brother?" "Yes."


"Where?" "Albany."


"His name?" "James."


"James M——?" "No." This was confusing.


"Where?" Beginning apparently with U, the writing trailed off. Finally made out "United…," but no more. Then I remembered that Mary K.'s only brother was killed in an accident, years before she went over herself. I said so, and the thing began making loops. That used to be planchette's way of laughing at me.


"Why did you say that?" "Joke." This was not at all like Mary K. She had a fine mind and was not given to buffoonery. I have since thought that she might have been trying to get over a message to some other Person's brother.1


"… Can you get word from Frederick Gaylord?" "Yes."2



1I now believe that this was Annie Manning's first interruption.

21 had asked whether she knew any of the three persons previously mentioned, and each time she had replied in the negative.



THE SEVEN PURPOSES "Will you come again?" "Yes."


"Have you been trying all these years to get into touch with me?" "No."


"Will you help me make a bridge between those on your side and those here?" "No." Then immediately it went back and wrote, "Yes," over the "No." Very curious.


After a long pause, I said I would go to bed, if there were nothing more, and it wrote, quickly," Go." I said," Goodnight." "Good night. God bless you." I asked again if this were Mary K., and got the same quick "Yes." Then I put planchette away and came out to my room. It was one o'clock. Three before I went to sleep. Can you imagine anything more weird than my sitting here alone in the middle of the night, with that thing fairly racing under my fingers part of the time, insisting it was nobody I expected? Claiming to be a very dear old friend, but the last I should expect under the circumstances. It was certainly queer, but I am very sure something outside of myself was doing it. I shall try again to­night.


From a letter dated Monday evening, March 4th:


I have just had another amazing try at planchette. This time it was Mary Kendal, writing one word at a time. "Let… Manse1



1Her husband, Mansfield Kendal.





know… I… am… here…." She gave me several intimate messages for him, and when I finally said I would write and ask him to come, so she could tell him herself, she wrote, "Yes… yes… yes," very quickly.


What do you make of this? Isn't it the queerest thing you ever heard of? In the midst of her talk, another hand took hold, very brisk and energetic.


"Not Mary?" "No."


"Perhaps Frederick?" "Yes."" "Message?" "Yes. Mother." "Anything more?" "Happy." "More yet?" "Only love."


Then he was gone, and Mary came again, writing "Miss A——, messenger," many times. Later, Frederick interrupted to write one word, "family." Then another hand began writing "Annie Manning," over and over, and, "tell Manning." I said that I knew no Manning. How find him? Answer, "Question." I did not know what that meant…. There was a lot more, but I am too tired to write it to-night.


B—— Gaylord telephoned to-night. She is either coming to New York Thursday or going to Atlantic City, if I am there…. This is the


I have since learned that this was characteristic of him. His letters home frequently began: "Dear Family."





most amazing thing that ever happened to me! To-night it was as if several were trying to talk at once. I am almost afraid to have B. G. come, yet it was for her sake that I began this. It seems too indefinite and unsatisfactory. But at least she can be sure I am not faking it. Something outside of me does it.


That same evening I wrote to Mansfield Kendal, though what his attitude toward this situation would be I could not even guess. We had known him well for several years, but our numerous discussions had never touched questions of religious faith and a future life. A man of extensive reading and of wide interests, supplemented by long residence abroad, he has been engaged for years in the executive conduct of large engineering and agricultural enterprises. I knew him to be intellectually open­minded. But I also knew him to be a devoted adherent of the orthodox Church, giving much time and thought to support, and I was afraid that an assumption on my part of ability to communicate with the departed might offend some deep and reverent sense in him. Therefore, while I wrote him fully of my surprising experience, giving him Mary's messages, I promised at the same time never to force the subject in conversation, should he prefer not to




discuss it. Subsequently, impelled by Mary's continued insistence, I wrote several other letters to him, which, like the first, were sent to his club in New York City, as I knew him to be traveling in the Middle West and thought they would reach him more quickly in this way than if sent to his business headquarters in the South.


Thus, curiously, I found myself vicariously engaged in a double search for a mother on this plane seeking her son on the next, and for a wife on the next plane seeking her husband here, and it is significant that, of the two, Mary Kendal was the more insistent. As she said, later, "We know how much it means."


From a letter to Cam, dated Tuesday morning, March 5th:


Another evening with Mary! H. dined with me. I told her something about planchette, and she wanted to see it work…. This time it wrote, "Mary Kendal," at once, and, "Tell Manse I love him…. Tell him Miss A—— is messenger from some one he knows…. Mentally beautiful people are fearless…. Faith is fearlessness…. Mannerisms are essential to recognition." Some of these took a long time to work out.


H. asked, "Do you mind my being here?"—"Excellent portent." I asked why. "Intellectual interest." 11





H. said, "You mean that you are glad to have intelligent people interested?" "Yes."


When we were talking about H.'s interest, it wrote, "Tell others." This was repeated several times. "I am a missionary," came as clearly as I have written it here. We asked if she meant a missionary from that life to this. "Yes." At the end she again urged H. to tell others. I laughed, saying, "Tell as many others as you like about the experience, but don't tell too many that it came through me." "Sorry."


"Sorry that I am unwilling to be overwhelmed by a flood of curiosity and hysteria?" "Sorrow." I said I would be glad to help people in sorrow. "Sorrowful people suffer." Isn't that like Mary Kendal?


When H. was leaving, it wrote: "Good night. Tell others."


After she had gone I went back, and got another movement entirely. "Frederick?" "Yes." He seems to have more difficulty in writing than she does. Is very clear at first, but becomes illegible sooner.


"Do you know that your mother is coming?" "Yes…. Wish to make her at peace." I said I wished to make her at peace, too, and would do all I could, and he wrote, "Thank you."


As has been said, Cass had been ill, and his





improvement after going to Atlantic City had not been as rapid as we had hoped it might be. A letter received from him on Tuesday reported a slight relapse, and promised a telegram on Wednesday. It had been arranged that I should join him if he needed me.


From a letter dated Wednesday evening, March 6th:


Your letter and wire both came after four, though the letters usually arrive with the first mail in the morning. I was getting a little anxious. Went to planchette and asked Mary Kendal whether she knew anything about you. She said you were better to-day and that a letter was coming, but that I must go to Atlantic City.1


Frederick also came, seeming very anxious lest the meeting with his mother fail. Wrote "message" several times, and by dint of some questioning I found it was not a message he wished to send, but one he wished me to send to her about coining at once. Wrote of her "mental anguish," an expression I never should have used myself, and wanted her to join me at Atlantic City. Knew nothing about You, but was keen to meet her.


Later, he seemed to go, and Mary Kendal



1Several hours later I read Cass's letter and telegram to his Physician, who advised me to go at once to Atlantic City.





wrote a little. Then came something very hard to get. Over and over we tried. "Com… come… comf… comp…." I suggested various words. Always the answer was "No." Finally, very clearly and slowly, "Comfort dear Mother." After the M of the last word I expected Manse, as I thought Mary was still writing. When it proved to be "Mother," I said, "Is this Frederick?" "Yes." I promised again to do all I could. He wrote, "Thank you," and went.


It is an amazing experience!… To sit all alone here and have that foolish toy move firmly and definitely under my hands, write things I have to puzzle out, sign names of persons who are what we call "dead," and beg me to send messages to those they love— all this is startling and deeply impressive. Deeply moving.


The next day I joined Cass at Atlantic City. He had never seen a planchette used, and was much interested, in the whole matter. In the evening we experimented, and "Mary Kendal" was written at once.


He exclaimed, "God bless you, Mary Kendal!"


"God bless you, too. Tell Manse I love him. Don't fail to tell him that." During





all the preceding days this had been her constant plea. Repeatedly I assured her that I had told him, and as often she urged, "Tell him again."


Then came a strong, brisk movement, to and fro, for a space of about five inches. I asked if this were Frederick, and received an affirmative answer, after which planchette ran about, as if in uncontrollable excitement, presently pausing to write:


"You are a trump!" We laughed, and he added, "You bet!"


As we had never known Frederick, and were unaware at that time of the continuance of what some one familiar with this experience has defined as "the subtleties of personality," this enthusiastic use of slang was startling.


When I asked if he had thought I would fail him, he replied, "No, but I was afraid Mother would not come."


[The next day Mrs. Gaylord told me that when Frederick begged me, on Wednesday, to send her a message about coming at once, she had almost decided to postpone her visit until after our return to New York.]


More running about followed, during which Cass said that it was a pity to obliterate the earlier messages in that way. Planchette then swung back to a clear space and wrote clearly, "Mother is coming!" Beneath this, the bowls





knot flourish we have since learned to associate with Frederick.


"You are a brick!" was a later comment. When Cass said he had thought the last word would be friend, Frederick concluded: "Friend, too. Thank you a million times."


An interesting, but rather confusing, feature of these earlier communications was the constant interruption by Annie Manning. On all occasions, frequently even breaking into messages from some other person, she wrote her name and her one request, "Tell Manning." During this period, also, I repeatedly asked Frederick to give me a message for his father, and was unable to account for his invariable refusal.


Once, I asked Mary Kendal if she had no message for me, personally, and she returned, "Yes, believe," which seemed, at the moment, somewhat cryptic, though the relation of my faith to the full development of this intercourse was afterward explained.


Thursday night, at the end of the fifth day, I was fairly certain that I had established communication with three definite and recognizable personalities on the next plane, but I dreaded Mrs. Gaylord's arrival the following day, lest these fragmentary messages fail either to convince or to comfort her.


PART - 02