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WHAT'S GOOD FORM WHEN RECEIVING GHOSTS?
GLANCING over the morning mail in
the breakfast room last Wednesday
we discovered a most unusual com?
munication. It was written on pale
<rhite stationary. The postmark was Pat
"Dear Madam," thus it ran, "can you throw
seme light on a. matter which has a vital
bearing on our social position in thia com
rttirdty? One must be psychic to be really
smart these days. So I would like some in?
formation on the proper method of address?
ing ghosts. E%-ery third Thursday I am at
home to a few expert table-tippers. Phillips
Brooks, William James and others have al?
ready given us afternoons. But there are a
number of points on which I need guidance.
"For instance, what is the correct method
of salutation for disembodied spirits? Should
the hostess stand while receiving her guests?
If the visitors from the other world appear
in negligee, should the hostess wear full dress?
Should masculine spirits be invited to in?
formal afternoon affairs? What is the really
correct thing to say when ghosts are leav?
"Is it good form to count the raps out
loud? How many spirits can be invited to
one sitting without crowding? Which is more
stylish?direct or indirect lighting?
"If a gho3t leaves unexpectedly in high
dudgeon, how can it be brought back?
"Should the most illustrious shades be en?
tertained ? deux or ensemble?
"Your opinion is anxiously awaited."
It is only natural that we should feel some
reticence about assuming this r?le of Beatrice
Fairfax to the ghost fans. But, as our corre?
sponder.1- says, some light should be thrown
on the subject at once. Correct social usage
in relation to the spirit world is the question
of the hour. And although it is rumored that
an encyclopedia of ghostly etiquette, contain?
ing a complete course of instruction in good
form, style and deportment, is even now on
its way to the printer, we have not heard
the date of publication.
Unfortunately, we are unable at this time
to give the lady in Patchogue authentic views
of our greatest living psychic researchers on
the subject. An unreasonable prejudice to?
ward the light-headed press seems to prevail
in certain quarters. After some weeks of
diligent research we are, however, able to
quote precedents from the weightiest classics
of psychic literature.
The following random hints and don'ts are
therefore presented as reliable:
Always speak to a ghost when it calls.
Never permit it to stand willy-nilly on the
doorsill for any length of time. This little
courtesy is only its due. The oldest traditions
of the spirit world demand it.
Make your salutation perfectly natural.
Otherwise your visitor may feel gauche and
ill at ease. Act as if you had an appoint?
ment and the ghost had kept it to the minute.
Say carelessly and sort of offhand: "Hello.
old man! What can I do for you?" Or, if the
spectre is a lady: "So sweet of you, dear, to
come." This will start thing3 off pleasantly
? ar.d open the way for confidences. Y'ou will
seen find out what the call is all about, any?
Our favorite authority on psychic matters,
Hereward Carrington, writes in True Ghost
"Seme of them (ghosts) prove helpful;
others seem to wish to right a wrong; some
even seem to have a sense of humor! So there
are ail sorts of ghosts, just as there are all
sort of people, and the variety is as great
in or.e case as another."
You see how it is. Some ghosts, we fear,
will remain mysterious to the end, hke Colonel
House. After only a few minutes conversa?
tion with others you are ready to burst out
"Why, I feel as if I had known you always."
That's the way it goes.
If 7- u begin correctly, the ghost will follow
.ally, and make its wishes known.
Particularly this true when it is of the
tearful or helpful variety. If the message is
of ? ince, you must conduct yourself ac?
cordingly and listen with an absorbed expres
Purely helpful ghosts are often as harmless
as the 7. rthy ladies who urge you to wear a
cam right through the winter as a
preventive for colds, or to make yourself
unpopular with your favorite beau by advising
bim to give up smoking. Treat them with the
sar forbearance. When convenient,
By ? ai 9 retain your mental and
A Branch of Deportment, Long Neglected, Becomes Suddenly of Paramount Importance, This
Week Will Be Held the First International Congress for Psychical Research and Much Valuable
Testimony May Be Lost to the World Through Mortal Ignorance of Spiritland Etiquette
By SUSIE SEXTON
Spirit illustrations by RALPH BARTON
Never turn your back on a ghost while it is in the room. If it calls at midnight, after you have retired, never, under any circumstances, push
an electric switch. Your experience will be valueless if you do
physical poise when a ghost is calling. One of
the reasons for the meager data available, on
ghost etiquette is the fact that so many per?
sons favored with apparitions have quite for?
gotten themselves. They act exactly like the
fabled bull in a china shop. Much valuable
data has thus been lost to posterity.
This is well illustrated by the experience
of a successful banker who has a country
estate in Jersey. He was visited one day by
the spirit of the best cook he ever had. She
had left in a huff some months before. Her
astral body did not seem to harbor a grudge,
however. Doubtless she just wanted to see
how things were coming. The banker had
been accustomed all his life to meeting only
the best peuple. But on this occasion he quite
forgot himself. He rushed first for the door.
It was locked. Then for the window. It was
locked. The ghost meanwhile developed
hysteria and rushed off somewhere herself.
When the debris was cleared away next
morning it wa3 discovered he had smashed a
cloisonne vase, spilled a whole bottle of ink
on a real filet scarf and broken a window
pane. As his wife pointed out, if he had
only observed the most elementary rules of
hanking decorum he might have found out
Tnmre tat Plato in the moonlight. He was strumming, "Ain't We Got Fun?"
on the ukelele. //? looked positively radiant
how to make the peach cobbler, which was
such a favorite of his.
Such conduct shows lack of breeding and
experience. We cannot urge you too strong?
ly to appear perfectly natural when receiving
a ghost. If you are seated remain so. You
won't gain anything by standing up. When
reading you may lay aside your book if you
wish. Or if you are very nervous you may
walk across the room and flick your cigarette
ashes off in the tray. This will conceal your
embarrassment for the time being.
Never turn your back on a ghost while it
is in the room. If it calls at midnight, after
you have retired, never under any circum?
stances push an electric switch. Your ex
perience will be valueless if you do.
It is really amusing to note what marked
ocial distinctions there are in ghostly so?
ciety. The gulf between the boisterous fre?
quenter of Coney Island and the suave patron
of Delmonico's is not more deep than some of
these ghostly chasms.
Democracy, it would seem, has not as yet
attained a wide vogue from the astral stand?
point. Royal shades in some cases must be
addressed with as much ceremonial as when
they held court on earth. Only a short time
ago a young Celtic enthusiast became all
worked up over Lytton Strachey's Queen
Victoria. There were some passages about
which he disagreed strongly with the writer.
He rushed up to a medium who lives near
Columbus Circle and asked for an audience
with the departed ruler. The late Queen
appeared, lace cap and all. ?"'he answered
questions more or less intelligently. As be
whs leaving the young man started to shake
ham!.-:. He wished he hadn't. He felt a
rubber glove dipped in slaked lime.
Our court etiquette may be a little rusty,
but we believe the proper method would have
been to touch her fingers tips with his lips.
Shaking hands may have seemed a bit ambi?
Lighting effects, we admit, have much to do
with the most finished formal introductions
to ghosts. This is markedly so at table
tipping Boir?es. Some like it light; ornera
dark. It is all a matter of taste, really. Per?
sonally, we have often remarked that the
most astounding phenomena occur in the most
complete darkness. It may be only our
Then again, there is the question of flowers.
Many experts contend that it is best not to
speak to a ghost unless you have flowers in
your hand. Here, too, one must exercise dis?
cretion. It is obvious folly to waste orchids
-m a spirit which recognizes nothing but dan
Proper arrangement of ghosts means much
in a social way. Never seat a literary spirit,
who is inclined to be a bit set-up about his ac?
complishments, next to an out-and-out low?
brow, who imagines that the complex is a new?
fangled kind of fancy work. It is abo suicidal
to bring the ghost of a lady who was always
braggy about her virtues as a wife ami mother
into immediate contact with the spirit form
of a notorious flirt.
Either way y?-.i are apt to find yourself
marooned in a conversational vacuum as far
as the spirit world is concerned.
I recall the experience of a deep student of
the psychic who lives in Bronxville. He has
been in the habit of having one or two so?
ciable ghosts drop in now and then to spend
the evening. Those wro responded most often
and most eagerly to his table-tapped invita?
tions were the wraith of a bootlegger and the
shade of Plato.
Last: Saturday nighf tl iy dropped in to?
gether. !? was most unfortunate. Plato's
answers seemed pi i nly t i belie his reputat i i
as a scholar. Strang? Iy ?'--ugh. in his ghostli
form he seemed much more interested in the
available supply of El Bart than the cosmic
relations. Once or twice he yawned audibly.
Apparently he was havii y a thin time, even
for a ghost. But the discussion was on molec?
ular telepsychic ;?.-'. > ?-. On" can hardly
blame him. The bootlegger had a soggy men?
tality, anyway. He persisted in referring to
the "unconscious molecular" which he knew
nothing about. Presently the philosopher
slipped quietly away.
A few hours .r-r th? Bronxville student
strolled out on the veranda. There sat Plat >
in the moonlight. He was strumming, "Ain't
We Got l'un?" on the ukelele. He looked
Is this really so surprising? Given the
vision, might we not this very day discover
the shades of Nero and Julius Cesar playing
"put and take" in I ' of ne exclusive
club on Fifth Avenue? Or the disembodied
forms of Socrates and Diogem - taking a
fling at the "scandal" in the ballroom of a
summer hotel on warm evenings this season?
Domestic rules of etiquette f r rec<
ghosts antedate telekinesis and the toddle.
Even in pagan times they were in vogue on
occasions when the ghost of a husband or wife
droppe?! in at a former home for a friendly
call. Husbands were often obliged to observe
various little courtesies before their spirit
wives could converse with them on the most
trivial and routine family matters.
No married man should cherish the fatuous
belief that a woman's interest in clothes ends
at the crave. To the ghosts of deceased
ladies in ancient times dru.- was more im?
portant. It caused them many an anxious
moment, when they were invited to visit the
In fact, there is actual evidence to prove
that many a wifely ghost, 'rue tc her ma?
terial self, absolutely refuse! to answer ques?
tions or appear in public because she hadn't
a "decent, stitch to wear." Can you doubt
that, it is even so with the gentler shades
For the enlightment of nil husbands we
cite the case of Periander, the Corinthian
tyrant. One day he had to consult his wife's
spirit on a most important matter. Probably
he could not find out where he had put his
dress clothes. Or something of that sort.
He summoned her shade. But that lady put
her foot down firmly. She said she would
not budge one inch. He would have to get
her some good looking clothes. No argu?
ment about it either. It must have been the
height of the social season in Corinth.
Perhaps the lady was unreasonable. But
other women know how to sympathize with
her. They realize how horribly passe even
a gl ist feel in three-quarter sleeves
when the really snappy dress irs are wearing
no sleeves at all.
Periander, it turned out, was a wily hus?
band as well as a tyrant. He just waited
until every woman in town was dressed up
for a festival. Then, being: an influential
man, he gave orders to one and all to -trip
themselves. Immediately he piled th.- ac?
cumulated finery on a huge pyre. And he
burned. ;' to the last thread in
wife. This may have been robbing Peter to
pay Paul. But it did the work. The next
day ii" !' lund where his dress clothes were
without any difficulty. Fancy how many hus?
bands will henceforth invoke the shade of
Periander'. Doubtless he could give them
many another valuable tip if he only would.
Every established rule for receiving ghosts
demands that they be humored in any such
whims as that of Periander's wife.
Housewives in their astral form have often
been known to worry over unpaid laundry
bills. If you ever meet a ghost with worries
like this one, pay the bill for her. It will be
to your credit. A woman of Perth, who died
in 1838, left a grocery bill of three shillings
and ten pence. She kept appearing for day?
until some one wiped out the indebtedness.
Many a student of the psychic is at a loss
to know how to act when a ghost has been
offended. Such instances have occurred and
are really quite embarrassing.
We recall the delightfully polished manner
of that ghost Imperator. He belonged to the
very highest tier of ghostly society. And a
gentlemanly shade he was, if ever one re?
turned to earth. No Walter Raleigh had more
courtliness or charm.
Henry Holt, writer of ghost classics, quotes
passages from an accepted authority to show
that Imperator once absented himself from m
certain meeting at which spirit messages were
received. It was plainly a case of pique. A
certain Doctor Speer had offended him. Later
Imperator, having somewhat recovered his
social balance, attended another meeting. He
was questioned! about his previous absence.
Very readily he admitted that he had stayed
away because he was deeply offended. Dt.
Speer again apologized. This time Imperator
showed that he was a thoroughly well bred
ghost. The original text reads that he re?
ceived this apology with "a series of stately
raps suggestive of bows."
A little group of earnest thinkers and table
tippers in New York is seriously considering
the question of referring this entire question
of the proper method of addressing ghosts
to the First International Congress for
Psychical Research, which will be held in
Copenhagen August 26 to September 2, in?
clusive. Invitations to attend the meeting
have been sent to all of the greatest psychical
researchers in the world. Their opinion on
this matter would be invaluable.
At present the program for discussion at
the congress contains the following: (1) The
Relation of Soul and Body; (2) The Nature
of Telepathy; (3) Mediumnity, Conscious and
Unconscious; (4) Origin and Nature of
Psychical Phenomena, L?vitation, Telekinesis,
Dowsing Rod, Materialization, etc.; (5) Na?
ture of Hypnotism, Whether of Origin Psychi?
cal or Physiological; (6) The Question of the
So-Called Human Aura.
The committee will also debate the possi?
bility of prohibiting public shows of hypno?
tism, etc., and the foundation of a permanent
international office in Copenhagen for the
collection and distribution of results of
modern experimental psychical research
Walter F. Prince, director of psychical re?
search and editor of The American Society
for Psychical Research, will go from New York
to attend the conference and will speak on
"Telepathy vs. Spiritism as an Explanation of
Evidential Mediumistic Phenomena." Mr.
Prince is one of the newly elected executive
officers of the American society. The com?
plete list includes William McDougall, presi?
dent; William C. Peyton, vice-president: Mr.
Prince, acting director of research and editor;
Eric J. Dingwall, director of department of
psychical phenomena; Lawson Purdy, treas?
urer, and Gertrude 0. Tubby, secretary.
Next week we expect to be flooded with
telepathic communications about the levity of
this article. They will b^ full of big word?
such as "mendacious" and "flippant." But
what can one do if the scientists refuse to
take one seriously? Only remember Colum?
bus and Robert Fulton.
If the criticism becomes more than we can
bear we intend to organize a personally con?
ducted party for jovial p losts and pro out to
Mr. Tilyou's Steeplechase Park. We would
like to s>.-e tbo shade of Lady Macbeth walk
across the stage. A facetious friend adds
that Hamlet's ghost might forest its soliloquy
ifjt ever tried the human pool table.
Be that as it may, ten years from now we
firmly believe we will be buying: a "best sell?
er" entitled How to Meet a Ghost: What t<
Do, What to Say. and How m Say It. Or
the fly leaf we will read that it was compil?e
by sixteen eminent authors.
In the interests of science, copyriffh
privileges are waived.
The late Queen appeared, lace cap and all. As he was leaving, the yoc^r
man started to shake hands. He wished he hadn't