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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Soulmate, Myself:
The Perfect Mate

Mary and Arthur



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Arthur James Balfour, (1848 - 1930), Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1902 - 1905) and Mary ("May") Catherine Lyttelton (1850 - 1875)



Editor's note: The following information has been excised from Afterlife Evidence #7.



The Palm Sunday Maiden

There is a case, a most touching one, concerning a love affair between Arthur Balfour, a British Prime Minister, and the love of his life, Mary Lyttleton.

In 1875, as young adults, they had agreed to marry; but before the wedding Mary died having contracted typhus.



Dreamin' Again

Don't you know I had a dream last night,
You were here with me,
Lyin' by my side so soft and warm…
But when I woke up, oh, my dream, it was gone…



She is known as the "Palm Sunday Maiden," a reference to the day on which she passed.



Dreamin' Again

Don't you know I had a dream last night,
You were here with me,
And you said you'd thought it over,
You said you were coming home,
But when I woke up, oh, my dream it was gone...



Arthur, in grief, never married; further, as a very private man, he did not disclose his personal devastation, which would not become known until much later in life, even posthumously.

Arthur Balfour with Winston Churchill


My account here of their love affair, and that which transpired, must suffer severe abbreviation; however, the salient aspects, in my opinion, are these:

Mary, from the other side, initiated an effort to reach Arthur - not an easy undertaking as Arthur, a paranormal-skeptic, steeled himself against afterlife evidence. Persisting, and sending messages through multiple psychic-mediums - hence, her own reduced version of "cross-correspondences" - which spanned many years. Eventually, by offering intimate details of their lives, she was able to convince her doubting lover that, in fact, it was truly she communicating.



Dreamin' Again

I'm not the same,
Can you blame me,
Is it hard to understand,
I can't forget,
You can't change me,
I am not that kind of man...



While it is not usual - though often very difficult - for loved ones to send a message to the earthbound, Mary's attempts strike me as particularly intense and purposeful. She would not give up in her quest to contact Arthur.

Those who knew her well seemed to perceive the hidden cause for her tenacity of purpose. Family members surmised that Mary had not fully realized, nor admitted, to herself, the extent of her attachment to Arthur, until it was too late. It seems that she had not told him, made plain, how much she loved him; a level of consciousness, which, in the next world - where one cannot easily escape truest heart intentions - now included an element of desperate love; this, coming upon her suddenly, but only when she found herself jettisoned into the "real world."



Dreamin' Again

Don't you know I had a dream last night,
Ev'rything was still,
And you were by my side so soft and warm,
And I dreamed that we were lovers,
But when I woke up, oh, I found that again,
I had been dreamin', dreamin' again...




Michael Tymn has also written of "The Palm-Sunday Maiden"


Editor's note: The testimonies of those who knew Mary and Arthur differ somewhat regarding which of the lovers was the less forthcoming. The truth seems to be that each had failed, to one degree or another, to be entirely honest in terms of revealing the extent of his or her love. However, now, with one party unreachable on the other side, the former reserved conduct crumbles away and is transformed into soul-searing desperate attempt to reach the Beloved.


Arthur James Balfour is most remembered as a British statesman, primarily as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905, but he is also remembered for one of the most intriguing love stories on record, one documented in what is called the Palm Sunday Case...  it seems like a good time to recall that case from the annals of psychical research as recorded in the archives of the Society for Psychical Research in England (SPR) and further discussed in some detail by Professor Archie Roy in his book The Eager Dead and by Professor David Fontana in Is There an Afterlife?

The other half of the love story was Mary Catherine Lyttelton, who went by the name May. Arthur and May met at a ball at Hawarden Castle, the home of William Gladstone, then the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, at Christmas time of 1871. May’s fiancé had recently died from tuberculosis and, although Arthur was immediately attracted to her, he hesitated to intrude upon her grief. They became close friends, however, and shared many interests over the next three years. It was not until about January of 1875 that Arthur declared his love for May. He had plans to propose marriage to her on his next visit when she died of typhus on March 21, 1875, Palm Sunday, at age 24.

While Arthur lived another 55 years, transitioning in 1930 at age 83, he never married, and he is said to have spent every Palm Sunday visiting Lavinia, May’s sister, and her husband in a day of remembrance

Balfour, often referred to as AJB, was born in Scotland, received his M.A. from Trinity College, Cambridge, and was the 1st Earl of Balfour.  He held a number of government positions before serving as prime minister and then as foreign secretary from 1916 to 1919.  He was a fellow of the Royal Society and its president in 1904.  He served as president of the SPR in 1893. His obituary in the New York Times read: 

“Lord Balfour was a statesman almost in spite of himself.  By inclination he was a philosopher ... the thinker, the cultural gentleman of leisure, spending his life among the books and music he loved and knew so well.” 

He wrote several books or essays on philosophy. In a letter to a friend whose son had been killed in the Great War, he wrote:

“For myself I entertain no doubt whatever about a future life.  I deem it at least as certain as any of the hundred and one truths of the framework of the world…It is no mere theological accretion, which I am prepared to accept in some moods and reject in others. The bitterness lies not in the thought that those I love and have lost are really dead, still less in the thought that I have parted from them forever: for I think neither of these things. The bitterness lies in the thought that until I also die I shall never again see them smile or hear their voices. The pain is indeed hard to bear, too hard it sometimes seems for human strength. Yet, measured on the true scale of things it is but brief.” 

As for May, Dame Edith Lyttelton, her sister-in-law, wrote: 

“Not an exceptional beauty, but love and sympathy streamed out from her. She was one of those people who charge the atmosphere with life when they appear.” 

She was said to be an accomplished pianist and enjoyed the musical evenings that were a big part of Victorian family life.  She especially took delight in joining those who sang Handel’s oratorio songs or lighter pieces. 

During May’s final moments, Lavinia was present and later reported that during a delirious outburst, May imagined herself at the pre-Christmas Ball at the Gladstone’s house at Hawarden, where she first met Arthur. 

“Her fevered brain telescoped that meeting into a confused collage of memories. ‘Oh, he does interest me more and more…I do wish he had a little more backbone [to say he loves me] – perhaps it will come with age. He has so many good qualities but also such peculiarity…Oh to see him in a ballroom is a sight in itself.’” …

To Lavinia, it was clear that May and Arthur were meant for each other. She saw that, in spite of his hesitancy to propose, his whole heart was May’s and that May was prepared to return his love. 

Arthur was heartbroken. He wrote to his friend Edward Talbot: 

“I used to dream, knowing the sad story of her life, that perhaps with me her wearied heart might have at last found rest…but God has provided a far more full and perfect calm; and I do feel how selfish are the longings…for the ‘might have been.’ In the meantime, I think – I am nearly sure – that she must have grasped the state of my feelings toward her…and now, perhaps when she watches the course of those she loved who are still struggling on earth, I may not be forgotten.”

It was on Palm Sunday of 1912, 37 years after May’s death, that Winifred Coombe-Tennant, an automatic writing trance medium, received a message indicating that May was attempting to let Arthur know of her continued existence.  (As a magistrate in her county and later as a British delegate to the League of Nations, Coombe-Tennant kept her mediumship a secret from all but a few people, using the pen name “Mrs. Willett” in her automatic writing ventures.)  The communicating “intelligence” writing through her hand revealed that May had unsuccessfully attempted to contact Arthur through several other mediums, as early as 1901.  The other mediums included those well known to the SPR and investigation by SPR researchers resulted in the so-called Palm Sunday Case, one in which fragmentary bits of information through seven different mediums were pieced together, all pointing to attempts by Mary Catherine Lyttelton, referred to as the “Palm maiden,” to communicate with Arthur James Balfour, referred to as the “Knight.”

Most of the spirit communication came from deceased researchers, including Frederic Myers, Edmund Gurney, and Henry Sidgwick, the three men credited with founding the SPR, in what have become known as the “cross-correspondences” – various messages when pieced together resulted in a complete and sensible message. The purpose of this, it was explained, was to offer evidence that overcame the telepathy and super-psi theories often suggested to defeat spirit communication. May was cooperating with them in the experiment and found it difficult to make direct contact through Mrs. Willett. 

When Arthur received word of the communication, he was reluctant to sit with Mrs. Willett and very skeptical. However, at the urging of his brother, Gerald, he did visit Mrs. Willett and became convinced that it was indeed May who was communicating through her.  Especially evidential was mention by May of a silver case that Arthur had made in which to keep a lock of her hair. May even cited the inscription on the case, taken from 1 Corinthians about the mortal putting on immortality. Reference was also made to a photo of May holding a candlestick which Arthur treasured. Arthur deemed it highly unlikely that Mrs. Willett would know anything about the silver case or the photo.

On February 15, 1958, 28 years after Arthur’s death and two years after the death of Mrs. Willett, Geraldine Cummins, perhaps the most famous of automatic writing mediums, was receiving messages for a couple who had known Mrs. Willett and were familiar with the story of Arthur and May. Mrs. Willett told them through the hand of Miss Cummins that she had encountered a friend of Arthur’s on that side who was in contact with Arthur and May, who apparently were at a higher level than they were. 

“I am free to tell you of their intrinsic inviolable unity,” Mrs. Willett communicated. “They shared the one anti-self, while consciously separated by her early death. So many years parted after her passing. An emptiness, a dissatisfaction continually then for him. No joy. He merely put in time with hard and varied mental work. Such faithfulness, such patient waiting. Then at last, after sixty years, or fifty by the clock, the meeting at the other side of death when his old age dropped from him like a ragged garment. But oh! It was well worth while to wait so long for that event. If they had not been parted by her death, he would never have worked with that industry, that brilliance that made a name for him. Work was his escape from intolerable memory. Oh! He was so idle before she passed.

“If she had lived, she would have been his all-absorbing playmate, life brilliant in the sunshine of just being, instead of doing, instead of a rough path each followed solitarily of struggle, and in his case of fine achievement. But hers was also fine; they tell me that she remained waiting, waiting at the border for him, returned from the higher level, at what sacrifice! A world so tempting beckoning, but she ignored it. She put all that away from her so as to meet an old man’s soul. Therefore it need hardly be said that she was the first to greet AJB when he came home to her. A lonely man throughout his life until then. They have gone to that other level together. Happiness incomparable for them



Elenchus. Krissi, you will recall our discussion concerning “constructive assent.”

Kairissi. Yes, of course.

E. In the love story of Mary and Arthur I think we’re looking at a grand example of “constructive assent.” There were many tragedies for them, but a major one was that he never actually plainly told her that he loved her.

K. Which was a great consternation for Mary, prompting her to say, “Oh, I wish he had a little more backbone.”

E. In the early days for them, he was too reserved, too unsure of himself.

K. I know what you want to say about this. We invented “constructive assent” because we worried that you, in your “American Pie boy” ways of social backwardness, your “comatose” demeanor,” might not be able to receive my love or to communicate yours. And Arthur was not altogether unlike you in this regard. But the point is, lovers communicate on more than one level.

E. For Mary and Arthur, his own “comatose” ways notwithstanding, she got the message loud and clear, and built a whole life on the other side around his “constructive assent.”

K. This is actually quite amazing and a major item for lovers to understand. One wishes the other “had a little more backbone,” usually the fellow is the “inactive” partner, but despite this seeming non-interest at the surface of things, he was very much in the game.

E. She took this to the bank in Summerland and cashed it.

K. She did cash it, didn’t she. Even though so much was left unsaid between them, she knew exactly what he was in his heart for her.

E. Out of the many cases we’ve reviewed here, I think the Balfours are among the most likely to be Twin Souls.

K. Why do you think so?

E. Well, for one thing, we’ve had a report from the other side on their lives today. Others there are amazed at their sense of “the one anti-self” – I hadn’t seen that term before, it’s cool – a sense of one-person “intrinsic inviolable unity.”

K. Yes, but you’re cheating now – you’re turning to the last page of the book. I’d like to know what clues you saw during the process.

E. Well… I would say… they waited 60 years for each other... and that's how, as we concluded in "constructive assent," true lovers "put up or shut up." It's hard to fake your love, especially to yourself, if you weep for someone, and stay true to someone -- even when she's gone -- most of 60 years.

K. Oh, that little thing.

E. It’s what Abe should have done for Anne. It’s what all true lovers will do once their "eyes are in their heads," no matter how long the wait, no matter how much suffering in the delay.

K. (sighing) When lovers finally realize they’re the only game in town for each other, there’s no choice but to wait. There's nowhere else to go; you just do it.

E. And of course there's a hand-in-glove counterpart to waiting... it means that you don't marry someone else... Arthur lived alone, he didn't marry...

K. (very softly) For years and years, he gave up any comfort of a "flesh-mate" in order to be true to Mary.

E. Oh, that little thing.

K. (small smile)

K. And I see something else that's worth mentioning here. The author has written articles on “love as ultimate reality” and even the “terror of eternal life” without love.

E. He said there’s disagreement even among Spirit Guides concerning the nature of what life is like at the top levels of existence. This was discussed at length in the "500 tape-recorded messages from the other side" article.

K. The Troubadour Guides of The Wedding Song believe that sacred romantic love is the best way to evolve the human species and also represents our final cosmic happiness. But there are other “brotherhoods” of Guides who do not believe in romantic love. They speak, instead, of the warmth, friendship, and conviviality of higher planes of existence with metaphors of “pleasant as a hot-water bottle on a cold night” and other examples of comfort. I thought of these opposing views when I read of Mary on the other side waiting for Arthur.

E. What are you seeing here exactly, Kriss?

K. Well, think about this. The report said that Mary had sufficiently advanced such that she could now “move up” to an even nicer world of prettier flowers and greener grass. But she didn’t do it. Instead, she’s “down” in Summerland “waiting at the gate” for Arthur. What does this tell you?

E. I’m starting to get what you’re saying. If the “hot water-bottle worlds” are so wonderful, if these so-called higher worlds represent ultimate happiness, as the non-romantic Guides would have us believe, what’s Mary doing in Summerland wasting time when she could be supremely happy?

K. If ordinary friendship and pleasant brother-sister warmth and fellowship were the best life could offer, then she might as well go on to that “higher world.” Arthur would have nothing special to offer her that she could not receive from any agape-loving person in the Astral Realms: “Have a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”

E. But Mary wasn’t buying it.

K. I guess she didn’t get the memo from the “hot water-bottle” crowd.

E. Mary is a living, walking example -- a threat to the entire philosophical edifice of the "hot water-bottle Guides" -- a threat for 60 years on the other side, placarding to all who might take notice, that, without the affection of one’s Beloved, life – eternal or otherwise – would not be worth living.

K. Or, as Elizabeth would say, my “dearest dearest” Beloved.

E. (small smile)

K. Since I’ve irreverently invoked the name of Elizabeth, I’d like to honor her by commenting on something she wrote to Robert concerning an afternoon she walked alone in a park. It was a glorious sun-shiney day of perfect temperature and pleasant vistas. Immersed in this natural splendor, she inadvertently looked around and somehow expected Robert to be there! - as if all goodness and sweetness of the world could come to her only by his agency. And, in that sublime moment, how she longed for Robert’s presence! She silently made herself, and him, a promise, that, one day, they would walk together in the sunshine.

E. Such a simple pleasure of life, walking in nature, sharing this, with the one you love.

K. In her own way, Elizabeth was saying, I cannot do this, I cannot appreciate the glory of the natural world, in the way that I want to appreciate it, until Robert can share this with me. And this is why Mary did not ascend to those so-called higher worlds of “prettier flowers and greener grass” – for, very quickly, it all becomes meaningless, and an avenue to sorrow, without sharing it with one’s "dearest dearest" Beloved.


Editor's note: Compare the insistent posthumous efforts of May Lyttleton to that of Franchezzo's friend:

It seems that, for true lovers, death is the great equalizer. They may not have been able to speak plainly to each other before crossing over, but, having transitioned, their truest hearts now burst forth with what had lain dormant all along.