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Boston Mayor Describes Afterlife Conditions

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Boston Mayor Describes Afterlife Conditions

Posted on 01 March 2021, 10:02

While visiting the office of the Society for Psychical Research in Boston during February 1888, Anne Manning Robbins met Dr. Richard Hodgson, who, at the time, was interviewing various people who had had sittings with medium Leonora Piper. Robbins’s first sitting with Mrs. Piper was during the winter of 1884-85, not long after Piper’s mediumistic ability was discovered and before Professor William James of Harvard was introduced to it. “The personality of Mrs. Piper, then a young woman, with her sweet, pure, refined and gentle countenance, attracted me at once,” Robbins wrote in her 1909 book titled Both Sides of the Veil.

Upon learning that Robbins had stenographic abilities, Hodgson solicited her help in recording and transcribing future sittings with Mrs. Piper. Robbins accepted and assisted Hodgson for many years. It was in 1894, that Robbins first met Augustus Martin, (below) who had become Boston’s police commissioner 10 years after serving as mayor. Robbins, a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, became his administrative assistant for the next five years and later worked with him when he became the water commissioner. She remembered him as a man of “dignity, sweetness and light.”




Martin, usually referred to as “General,” after Massachusetts Governor John Long commissioned him an honorary brigadier general because of his distinguished service during the Civil War, especially at the Battle of Gettysburg, died on March 13, 1902. On May 21, 1903, Hodgson, who had been studying the mediumship of Mrs. Piper for more 15 years at that point, was informed by Rector, Piper’s spirit control at the time, that a spirit there was constantly calling for a lady in the body. After some struggling to get the name, Rector (using Piper’s hand) wrote “Robbins.” The spirit was identified as having been Augustus Martin, but it was said that he was not yet ready to speak, though he would be soon. However, it wasn’t until December 23 that year, some 21 months after his passing that Martin actually began to communicate. Rector asked Hodgson to arrange for a sitting by Robbins.

During that sitting, Rector first addressed Robbins and brought her old friend Hiram Hart to communicate with her. Hart then said, “I am bringing another friend who seeks you, who knows you as you are. ” It was explained that Martin was not yet able to speak through Piper and that Hart would relay his words.

“You have called for me in your spirit,” Hart relayed Martin’s message through Mrs. Piper. “I knew it and felt it, but I could not reach down until the conditions were arranged for it. Do you know what they all mean? Perhaps you know better than I do. But these good priests opened the way, who showed me the Light, opened the door for me and there I am. Would to God you could see me as I am! I am quite the man that I was, only my ideas are all changed. They are more now I think in harmony with your own.”

Martin apologized for not taking her seriously about spirit communication when he was alive and she attempted to tell him about her visits with Mrs. Piper. In fact, Martin didn’t seem to realize that Mrs. Piper was the medium through whom his words were being delivered that day. However, he added that what Robbins told him in those earlier days had helped him adjust to his new environment.

Some discussion then took place about Martin’s family. He said that his grandson Augustus, who was named after him and who died at age two, about six months after his death, was with him. Also, another grandson was born just a week prior to the sitting. Martin said he thought that the newborn was also named after him.  Robbins told him she didn’t know the name. When she later checked with the mother, she was told that the given name was William Everett, but they called him Augustus, as he seemed to replace the little Augustus whom they had lost.

“It is just the little details of the material life which I cannot grasp and [in] which I long to have you help me, but the actual life, and the actual life of the children, and all that, is well known to me, but the details of the material life I cannot see,” Martin communicated. Robbins again asked if Martin was speaking directly to her or if Hiram Hart was relaying his words to her. Martin replied that Hiram was doing it for him as he did not yet know how to communicate directly, without the help of others.

Robbins asked about his initial experiences following his physical death. “When I first passed out my mind was cloudy, rather confused,” Martin replied. “I felt as though I was going into space, did not know where, drifting as it were, for a few hours – that was all – and then I felt as though there was a strong hand grasped me and said to me: ‘It is all right, it is all over.’ And I said: ‘What is over?’ I could not seem to understand what it all meant, and after a little while, perhaps an hour, possibly an hour or two, I saw oh such a light! You cannot imagine it, cannot conceive what it is like. It is the most brilliant and yet the softest moonlight that you ever saw, and I thought, what a beautiful light it was! And all of a sudden I saw people moving about. I saw their heads, their figures. Then they seemed all clad in white, and I could not seem to make them out.  They were moving in the air.”

“…You could not conceive of anything more strange and beautiful,” Martin added, “in a sense – the confusion was not so beautiful, but because it was so I could not seem to retain my consciousness and could not seem to be released from the burden that hung over me, and all of a sudden, the moment I realized this hand was on my arm, then I began to see clearly; and from that moment I have been advancing and going on, and I have seen everybody I ever knew, and I have had the happiest time you could imagine. I have a mansion all my own and live in it just the same as you live in your place there, just the same. I have walls, I have pictures, I have music, I have books, I have poetry, I have everything…It is not a fac simile of that life, but that life is a miserable shadow of what this really is, and when I get strong, as I become stronger, and, that is, more accustomed to using this [light], I can tell you more clearly about it.”

Robbins asked him if he would eventually be able to communicate directly. “Yes, but not just now,” he answered. “I am trying to understand the laws and the workings of the [medium], and they put me up here so I could see. Just like a schoolboy being sent to the board to figure out a multiplication table. I am set up here, I am held here, and there are three [spirits] one behind me, and one on either side of me, holding me up here and telling me to talk, and I am talking to Hiram, and Hiram is repeating it after me, and I am trying to do a sum in geometry. That is just what I am trying to do. And since I am not fully equipped in that problem perhaps you can understand something of the difficulty.”

Robbins asked Martin if he remembered any of the public officials who used to work with him. “I think I should,” he replied. “Many names have gone from me, naturally, and new ones have come up to me. Names of places, names of people whom I knew in the mortal world, have gone from me to a certain extent, and as I go on they go still farther from me, but I shall never forget you. I remember when I was suffering so, I remember the little councils we had together, and they have lasted in my memory and will to the end of all life.”

Robbins then asked him if the spiritual sympathies are the only ones remembered. “Yes, well, those are the real vital ones, those are the real ones,” he answered. And when you understand better the conditions of life and the conditions of passing from that life to this, the changes in the life as it were, you will understand more clearly what that means. But until then it will be difficult for you to understand it fully.”

At a later sitting, Robbins told Martin that she had assembled many of his speeches and put them together in one complete copy.  She wondered if Martin knew anything about it. “Well, yes, I knew the outline, but the work itself, the actual work as it was going on, I could not fathom.” Martin explained. “But I knew the work concerned my mortal life and things that transpired in it. But the nature of it I could not define. We know what takes place in a general way, but if we were to define it, condense it and give utterance to it, it would be difficult. But such is the law of this life. Remember, now, if you could see me you would say I was a mere film, and you would say, ‘how transparent and peculiar and how light and how strange you look to me;’ and you would say, ‘where is your body? You look like a shadow, as it were,’ but still I could talk with you, we could converse with each other, and you would be surprised to see how real I am. The passing out is really beautiful, just after you once get beyond the border, it is perfectly beautiful. You know the meaning of the word heaven? Well, it is heaven indeed.  But the coming back is a little confusing at first and we have to learn.”

Martin said that he sometimes dictates thoughts to Robbins. “I want to say this, that when you are working I sometimes dictate thoughts to you, and it is surprising to me to see how clearly you register them, and I think sometimes you are surprised to think that you have done what you have, and if you just stop and give me a thought you would know why it was that you did those things, registered those thoughts. Sometimes there seems to be a barrier between you and your thoughts, they are not clear, and they seem to be a little obscure, and then they clear up, and you have always attributed that to the condition of your brain, and now if you just give me credit for a little bit of help you would do the right thing. Not that I am egotistic, but the point is that I am really with you. And I want to say one thing, that you have not grown old in spirit and not in the flesh. It looks so clear to me, so free, so bright and so young, and I think your body looks the same. I can’t see much change. Yes, I think you look about the same. I can’t see the body so clearly as I can the spirit.”

After discussing the building they once worked in, Martin asked about Orinton Hanscom, one of the higher officials in the police department, with whom he had had some differences when they were working together. Martin mentioned that he now had a higher opinion of him “because I see his principles.”

Martin further explained that it was pretty much beyond her comprehension, and said that if her eyes were opened to the spiritual life she could see him as he stood there talking with her, observing every gesture which is copied by Rector

Robbins asked if everyone leaves here just when right for him or her to go, whether he is young or old. “Yes, yes, yes,” he replied, “that is all in the hands of God, and although we never see God – I have never seen Him and never hope to – He rules us all and reigns over us all, and we are a part, a branch of Him…”

The above is significantly abridged from Chapter 8 of my book, “Resurrecting Leonora Piper.” Martin had much more tell Robbins.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His latest book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is published by White Crow Books.

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