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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.
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Friday, 8 February 2013
Clairvoyant at work
Dined at Madame Van der Velde's, and sat at a spiritualistic seance with a clairvoyant named Peters, who brought his son, a youth in the R.A.M.C., home for a few hours on leave. This son said there were 500 professed spiritualist soldiers at Aldershot. Theosophist. Peters (pere), man of 45 or so. Short. Good forehead. Bald on top, dark hair at the sides. Quick and nervous. Son of a barge owner. Present: Yeats, Mr. and Mrs. Jowitt (barrister - she very beautiful), Roger Fry, hostess and me. Peters handled objects brought by each of us. His greatest success, quite startling, was with the glass stopper of a bottle brought by Jowitt. He described a man throwing himself out of something, down, with machinery behind him, and a big hotel or big building behind him. Something to do with water, across water. He kept repeating these phrases with variations. The stopper had belonged to a baronet (I forget his name) who threw himself off a launch, in a response to a challenge from X., at 3 a.m. into the Thames, after a party up river. He was drowned.
He succeeded with my toothpick, in getting me to the Potteries, and into the office of the Staffordshire Knot or Sentinel, and described a man that might be either Goold or the editor of the Sentinel, and said that known or unknown to me, this man had greatly influenced me. He insisted on the word 'Zola'. 'Zola'. He said there was a message to tell me. I hadn't done my best work. I am morally sure he hadn't the least idea who I was. And even if he had, he didn't know the toothpick belonged to me, even if he knew that it was I who had brought it, which he might conceivably have done as it was the last thing he picked up off the tray. I made full notes.