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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang

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Transcribed by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk



Since the first edition of this book appeared (1897) a considerable
number of new and startling ghost stories, British, Foreign and
Colonial, not yet published, have reached me. Second Sight abounds.
Crystal Gazing has also advanced in popularity. For a singular series
of such visions, in which distant persons and places, unknown to the
gazer, were correctly described by her, I may refer to my book, The
Making of Religion (1898). A memorial stone has been erected on the
scene of the story called "The Foul Fords" (p. 269), so that tale is
likely to endure in tradition.

July, 1899.


The chief purpose of this book is, if fortune helps, to entertain
people interested in the kind of narratives here collected. For the
sake of orderly arrangement, the stories are classed in different
grades, as they advance from the normal and familiar to the undeniably
startling. At the same time an account of the current theories of
Apparitions is offered, in language as free from technicalities as
possible. According to modern opinion every "ghost" is a
"hallucination," a false perception, the perception of something which
is not present.

It has not been thought necessary to discuss the psychological and
physiological processes involved in perception, real or false. Every
"hallucination" is a perception, "as good and true a sensation as if
there were a real object there. The object happens _not_ to be there,
that is all." {0a} We are not here concerned with the visions of
insanity, delirium, drugs, drink, remorse, or anxiety, but with
"sporadic cases of hallucination, visiting people only once in a
lifetime, which seems to be by far the most frequent type". "These,"
says Mr. James, "are on any theory hard to understand in detail. They
are often extraordinarily complete; and the fact that many of them are
reported as _veridical_, that is, as coinciding with real events, such
as accidents, deaths, etc., of the persons seen, is an additional
complication of the phenomenon." {0b} A ghost, if seen, is undeniably
so far a "hallucination" that it gives the impression of the presence
of a real person, in flesh, blood, and usually clothes. No such
person in flesh, blood, and clothes, is actually there. So far, at
least, every ghost is a hallucination, "_that_" in the language of
Captain Cuttle, "you may lay to," without offending science, religion,
or common-sense. And that, in brief, is the modern doctrine of

The old doctrine of "ghosts" regarded them as actual "spirits" of the
living or the dead, freed from the flesh or from the grave. This
view, whatever else may be said for it, represents the simple
philosophy of the savage, which may be correct or erroneous. About
the time of the Reformation, writers, especially Protestant writers,
preferred to look on apparitions as the work of deceitful devils, who
masqueraded in the aspect of the dead or living, or made up phantasms
out of "compressed air". The common-sense of the eighteenth century
dismissed all apparitions as "dreams" or hoaxes, or illusions caused
by real objects misinterpreted, such as rats, cats, white posts,
maniacs at large, sleep-walkers, thieves, and so forth. Modern
science, when it admits the possibility of occasional hallucinations
in the sane and healthy, also admits, of course, the existence of
apparitions. These, for our purposes, are hallucinatory appearances
occurring in the experience of people healthy and sane. The
difficulty begins when we ask whether these appearances ever have any
provoking mental cause outside the minds of the people who experience
them--any cause arising in the minds of others, alive or dead. This
is a question which orthodox psychology does not approach, standing
aside from any evidence which may be produced.

This book does not pretend to be a convincing, but merely an
illustrative collection of evidence. It may, or may not, suggest to
some readers the desirableness of further inquiry; the author
certainly does not hope to do more, if as much.

It may be urged that many of the stories here narrated come from
remote times, and, as the testimony for these cannot be rigidly
studied, that the old unauthenticated stories clash with the analogous
tales current on better authority in our own day. But these ancient
legends are given, not as evidence, but for three reasons: first,
because of their merit as mere stories; next, because several of them
are now perhaps for the first time offered with a critical discussion
of their historical sources; lastly, because the old legends seem to
show how the fancy of periods less critical than ours dealt with such
facts as are now reported in a dull undramatic manner. Thus (1) the
Icelandic ghost stories have peculiar literary merit as simple
dramatic narratives. (2) Every one has heard of the Wesley ghost, Sir
George Villiers's spectre, Lord Lyttelton's ghost, the Beresford
ghost, Mr. Williams's dream of Mr. Perceval's murder, and so forth.
But the original sources have not, as a rule, been examined in the
ordinary spirit of calm historical criticism, by aid of a comparison
of the earliest versions in print or manuscript. (3) Even ghost
stories, as a rule, have some basis of fact, whether fact of
hallucination, or illusion, or imposture. They are, at lowest, "human
documents". Now, granting such facts (of imposture, hallucination, or
what you will), as our dull, modern narratives contain, we can regard
these facts, or things like these, as the nuclei which our less
critical ancestors elaborated into their extraordinary romances. In
this way the belief in demoniacal possession (distinguished, as such,
from madness and epilepsy) has its nucleus, some contend, in the
phenomena of alternating personalities in certain patients. Their
characters, ideas, habits, and even voices change, and the most
obvious solution of the problem, in the past, was to suppose that a
new alien personality--a "devil"--had entered into the sufferer.

Again, the phenomena occurring in "haunted houses" (whether caused, or
not, by imposture or hallucination, or both) were easily magnified
into such legends as that of Grettir and Glam, and into the
monstrosities of the witch trials. Once more the simple hallucination
of a dead person's appearance in his house demanded an explanation.
This was easily given by evolving a legend that he was a spirit,
escaped from purgatory or the grave, to fulfil a definite purpose.
The rarity of such purposeful ghosts in an age like ours, so rich in
ghost stories, must have a cause. That cause is, probably, a
dwindling of the myth-making faculty.

Any one who takes these matters seriously, as facts in human nature,
must have discovered the difficulty of getting evidence at first hand.
This arises from several causes. First, the cock-sure common-sense of
the years from 1660 to 1850, or so, regarded every one who had
experience of a hallucination as a dupe, a lunatic, or a liar. In
this healthy state of opinion, eminent people like Lord Brougham kept
their experience to themselves, or, at most, nervously protested that
they "were sure it was only a dream". Next, to tell the story was,
often, to enter on a narrative of intimate, perhaps painful, domestic
circumstances. Thirdly, many persons now refuse information as a
matter of "principle," or of "religious principle," though it is
difficult to see where either principle or religion is concerned, if
the witness is telling what he believes to be true. Next, some
devotees of science aver that these studies may bring back faith by a
side wind, and, with faith, the fires of Smithfield and the torturing
of witches. These opponents are what Professor Huxley called
"dreadful consequences argufiers," when similar reasons were urged
against the doctrine of evolution. Their position is strongest when
they maintain that these topics have a tendency to befog the
intellect. A desire to prove the existence of "new forces" may beget
indifference to logic and to the laws of evidence. This is true, and
we have several dreadful examples among men otherwise scientific. But
all studies have their temptations. Many a historian, to prove the
guilt or innocence of Queen Mary, has put evidence, and logic, and
common honesty far from him. Yet this is no reason for abandoning the
study of history.

There is another class of difficulties. As anthropology becomes
popular, every inquirer knows what customs he _ought_ to find among
savages, so, of course, he finds them. In the same way, people may
now know what customs it is orthodox to find among ghosts, and may
pretend to find them, or may simulate them by imposture. The white
sheet and clanking chains are forsaken for a more realistic rendering
of the ghostly part. The desire of social notoriety may beget wanton
fabrications. In short, all studies have their perils, and these are
among the dangers which beset the path of the inquirer into things
ghostly. He must adopt the stoical maxim: "Be sober and do not
believe"--in a hurry.

If there be truth in even one case of "telepathy," it will follow that
the human soul is a thing endowed with attributes not yet recognised
by science. It cannot be denied that this is a serious consideration,
and that very startling consequences might be deduced from it; such
beliefs, indeed, as were generally entertained in the ages of
Christian darkness which preceded the present era of enlightenment.
But our business in studies of any kind is, of course, with truth, as
we are often told, not with the consequences, however ruinous to our
most settled convictions, or however pernicious to society.

The very opposite objection comes from the side of religion. These
things we learn, are spiritual mysteries into which men must not
inquire. This is only a relic of the ancient opinion that he was an
impious character who first launched a boat, God having made man a
terrestrial animal. Assuredly God put us into a world of phenomena,
and gave us inquiring minds. We have as much right to explore the
phenomena of these minds as to explore the ocean. Again, if it be
said that our inquiries may lead to an undignified theory of the
future life (so far they have not led to any theory at all), that,
also, is the position of the Dreadful Consequences Argufier. Lastly,
"the stories may frighten children". For children the book is not
written, any more than if it were a treatise on comparative anatomy.

The author has frequently been asked, both publicly and privately:
"Do you believe in ghosts?" One can only answer: "How do you define
a ghost?" I do believe, with all students of human nature, in
hallucinations of one, or of several, or even of all the senses. But
as to whether such hallucinations, among the sane, are ever caused by
psychical influences from the minds of others, alive or dead, not
communicated through the ordinary channels of sense, my mind is in a
balance of doubt. It is a question of evidence.

In this collection many stories are given without the real names of
the witnesses. In most of the cases the real names, and their owners,
are well known to myself. In not publishing the names I only take the
common privilege of writers on medicine and psychology. In other
instances the names are known to the managers of the Society for
Psychical Research, who have kindly permitted me to borrow from their

While this book passed through the press, a long correspondence called
"On the Trail of a Ghost" appeared in The Times. It illustrated the
copious fallacies which haunt the human intellect. Thus it was
maintained by some persons, and denied by others, that sounds of
unknown origin were occasionally heard in a certain house. These, it
was suggested, might (if really heard) be caused by slight seismic
disturbances. Now many people argue, "Blunderstone House is not
haunted, for I passed a night there, and nothing unusual occurred".
Apply this to a house where noises are actually caused by young
earthquakes. Would anybody say: "There are no seismic disturbances
near Blunderstone House, for I passed a night there, and none
occurred"? Why should a noisy ghost (if there is such a thing) or a
hallucinatory sound (if there is such a thing), be expected to be more
punctual and pertinacious than a seismic disturbance? Again, the
gentleman who opened the correspondence with a long statement on the
negative side, cried out, like others, for scientific publicity, for
names of people and places. But neither he nor his allies gave their
own names. He did not precisely establish his claim to confidence by
publishing his version of private conversations. Yet he expected
science and the public to believe his anonymous account of a
conversation, with an unnamed person, at which he did not and could
not pretend to have been present. He had a theory of sounds heard by
himself which could have been proved, or disproved, in five minutes,
by a simple experiment. But that experiment he does not say that he

This kind of evidence is thought good enough on the negative side. It
certainly would not be accepted by any sane person for the affirmative
side. If what is called psychical research has no other results, at
least it enables us to perceive the fallacies which can impose on the
credulity of common-sense.

In preparing this collection of tales, I owe much to Mr. W. A.
Craigie, who translated the stories from the Gaelic and the Icelandic;
to Miss Elspeth Campbell, who gives a version of the curious Argyll
tradition of Ticonderoga (rhymed by Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson, who
put a Cameron where a Campbell should be); to Miss Violet Simpson, who
found the Windham MS. about the Duke of Buckingham's story, and made
other researches; and to Miss Goodrich Freer, who pointed out the
family version of "The Tyrone Ghost".


Arbuthnot on Political Lying. Begin with "Great Swingeing
Falsehoods". The Opposite Method to be used in telling Ghost Stones.
Begin with the more Familiar and Credible. Sleep. Dreams. Ghosts
are identical with Waking Dreams. Possibility of being Asleep when we
think we are Awake. Dreams shared by several People. Story of the
Dog Fanti. The Swithinbank Dream. Common Features of Ghosts and
Dreams. Mark Twain's Story. Theory of Common-sense. Not Logical.
Fulfilled Dreams. The Pig in the Palace. The Mignonette. Dreams of
Reawakened Memory. The Lost Cheque. The Ducks' Eggs. The Lost Key.
Drama in Dreams. The Lost Securities. The Portuguese Gold-piece.
St. Augustine's Story. The Two Curmas. Knowledge acquired in Dreams.
The Assyrian Priest. The Deja Vu. "I have been here before." Sir
Walter's Experience. Explanations. The Knot in the Shutter.
Transition to Stranger Dreams.

Arbuthnot, in his humorous work on Political Lying, commends the Whigs
for occasionally trying the people with "great swingeing falsehoods".
When these are once got down by the populace, anything may follow
without difficulty. Excellently as this practice has worked in
politics (compare the warming-pan lie of 1688), in the telling of
ghost stories a different plan has its merits. Beginning with the
common-place and familiar, and therefore credible, with the thin end
of the wedge, in fact, a wise narrator will advance to the rather
unusual, the extremely rare, the undeniably startling, and so arrive
at statements which, without this discreet and gradual initiation, a
hasty reader might, justly or unjustly, dismiss as "great swingeing

The nature of things and of men has fortunately made this method at
once easy, obvious, and scientific. Even in the rather fantastic
realm of ghosts, the stories fall into regular groups, advancing in
difficulty, like exercises in music or in a foreign language. We
therefore start from the easiest Exercises in Belief, or even from
those which present no difficulty at all. The defect of the method is
that easy stories are dull reading. But the student can "skip". We
begin with common every-night dreams.

Sleeping is as natural as waking; dreams are nearly as frequent as
every-day sensations, thoughts, and emotions. But dreams, being
familiar, are credible; it is admitted that people do dream; we reach
the less credible as we advance to the less familiar. For, if we
think for a moment, the alleged events of ghostdom--apparitions of all
sorts--are precisely identical with the every-night phenomena of
dreaming, except for the avowed element of sleep in dreams.

In dreams, time and space are annihilated, and two severed lovers may
be made happy. In dreams, amidst a grotesque confusion of things
remembered and things forgot, we _see_ the events of the past (I have
been at Culloden fight and at the siege of Troy); we are present in
places remote; we behold the absent; we converse with the dead, and we
may even (let us say by chance coincidence) forecast the future. All
these things, except the last, are familiar to everybody who dreams.
It is also certain that similar, but yet more vivid, false experiences
may be produced, at the word of the hypnotiser, in persons under the
hypnotic sleep. A hypnotised man will take water for wine, and get
drunk on it.

Now, the ghostly is nothing but the experience, when men are awake, or
_apparently_ awake, of the every-night phenomena of dreaming. The
vision of the absent seen by a waking, or apparently waking, man is
called "a wraith"; the waking, or apparently waking, vision of the
dead is called "a ghost". Yet, as St. Augustine says, the absent man,
or the dead man, may know no more of the vision, and may have no more
to do with causing it, than have the absent or the dead whom we are
perfectly accustomed to see in our dreams. Moreover, the
comparatively rare cases in which two or more waking people are
alleged to have seen the same "ghost," simultaneously or in
succession, have _their_ parallel in sleep, where two or more persons
simultaneously dream the same dream. Of this curious fact let us give
one example: the names only are altered.


Mrs. Ogilvie of Drumquaigh had a poodle named Fanti. Her family, or
at least those who lived with her, were her son, the laird, and three
daughters. Of these the two younger, at a certain recent date, were
paying a short visit to a neighbouring country house. Mrs. Ogilvie
was accustomed to breakfast in her bedroom, not being in the best of
health. One morning Miss Ogilvie came down to breakfast and said to
her brother, "I had an odd dream; I dreamed Fanti went mad".

"Well, that _is_ odd," said her brother. "So did I. We had better
not tell mother; it might make her nervous."

Miss Ogilvie went up after breakfast to see the elder lady, who said,
"Do turn out Fanti; I dreamed last night that he went mad and bit".

In the afternoon the two younger sisters came home.

"How did you enjoy yourselves?" one of the others asked.

"We didn't sleep well. I was dreaming that Fanti went mad when Mary
wakened me, and said she had dreamed Fanti went mad, and turned into a
cat, and we threw him into the fire."

Thus, as several people may see the same ghost at once, several people
may dream the same dream at once. As a matter of fact, Fanti lived,
sane and harmless, "all the length of all his years". {4}

Now, this anecdote is credible, certainly is credible by people who
know the dreaming family. It is nothing more than a curiosity of
coincidences; and, as Fanti remained a sober, peaceful hound, in face
of five dreamers, the absence of fulfilment increases the readiness of
belief. But compare the case of the Swithinbanks. Mr. Swithinbank,
on 20th May, 1883, signed for publication a statement to this effect:--

During the Peninsular war his father and his two brothers were
quartered at Dover. Their family were at Bradford. The brothers
slept in various quarters of Dover camp. One morning they met after
parade. "O William, I have had a queer dream," said Mr. Swithinbank's
father. "So have I," replied the brother, when, to the astonishment
of both, the other brother, John, said, "I have had a queer dream as
well. I dreamt that mother was dead." "So did I," said each of the
other brothers. And the mother had died on the night of this
dreaming. Mrs. Hudson, daughter of one of the brothers, heard the
story from all three. {5a}

The distribution of the fulfilled is less than that of the unfulfilled
dream by three to five. It has the extra coincidence of the death.
But as it is very common to dream of deaths, some such dreams must
occasionally hit the target.

Other examples might be given of shared dreams: {5b} they are only
mentioned here to prove that all the _waking_ experiences of things
ghostly, such as visions of the absent and of the dead, and of the
non-existent, are familiar, and may even be common simultaneously to
several persons, in _sleep_. That men may sleep without being aware
of it, even while walking abroad; that we may drift, while we think
ourselves awake, into a semi-somnolent state for a period of time
perhaps almost imperceptible is certain enough. Now, the peculiarity
of sleep is to expand or contract time, as we may choose to put the
case. Alfred Maury, the well-known writer on Greek religion, dreamed
a long, vivid dream of the Reign of Terror, of his own trial before a
Revolutionary Tribunal, and of his execution, in the moment of time
during which he was awakened by the accidental fall of a rod in the
canopy of his bed, which touched him on the neck. Thus even a
prolonged interview with a ghost may _conceivably_ be, in real time, a
less than momentary dream occupying an imperceptible tenth of a second
of somnolence, the sleeper not realising that he has been asleep.

Mark Twain, who is seriously interested in these subjects, has
published an experience illustrative of such possibilities. He tells
his tale at considerable length, but it amounts to this:--


Mark was smoking his cigar outside the door of his house when he saw a
man, a stranger, approaching him. Suddenly he ceased to be visible!
Mark, who had long desired to see a ghost, rushed into his house to
record the phenomenon. There, seated on a chair in the hall, was the
very man, who had come on some business. As Mark's negro footman
acts, when the bell is rung, on the principle, "Perhaps they won't
persevere," his master is wholly unable to account for the
disappearance of the visitor, whom he never saw passing him or waiting
at his door--except on the theory of an unconscious nap. Now, a
disappearance is quite as mystical as an appearance, and much less

This theory, that apparitions come in an infinitesimal moment of
sleep, while a man is conscious of his surroundings and believes
himself to be awake was the current explanation of ghosts in the
eighteenth century. Any educated man who "saw a ghost" or "had a
hallucination" called it a "dream," as Lord Brougham and Lord
Lyttelton did. But, if the death of the person seen coincided with
his appearance to them, they illogically argued that, out of the
innumerable multitude of dreams, some _must_ coincide, accidentally,
with facts. They strove to forget that though dreams in sleep are
universal and countless, "dreams" in waking hours are extremely rare--
unique, for instance, in Lord Brougham's own experience. Therefore,
the odds against chance coincidence are very great.

Dreams only form subjects of good dream-stories when the vision
coincides with and adequately represents an _unknown_ event in the
past, the present, or the future. We dream, however vividly, of the
murder of Rizzio. Nobody is surprised at that, the incident being
familiar to most people, in history and art. But, if we dreamed of
being present at an unchronicled scene in Queen Mary's life, and if,
_after_ the dream was recorded, a document proving its accuracy should
be for the first time recovered, then there is matter for a good
dream-story. {8} Again, we dream of an event not to be naturally
guessed or known by us, and our dream (which should be recorded before
tidings of the fact arrive) tallies with the news of the event when it
comes. Or, finally, we dream of an event (recording the dream), and
that event occurs in the future. In all these cases the actual
occurrence of the unknown event is the only addition to the dream's
usual power of crumpling up time and space.

As a rule such dreams are only mentioned _after_ the event, and so are
not worth noticing. Very often the dream is forgotten by the dreamer
till he hears of or sees the event. He is then either reminded of his
dream by association of ideas or _he has never dreamed at all_, and
his belief that he has dreamed is only a form of false memory, of the
common sensation of "having been here before," which he attributes to
an awakened memory of a real dream. Still more often the dream is
unconsciously cooked by the narrator into harmony with facts.

As a rule fulfilled dreams deal with the most trivial affairs, and
such as, being usual, may readily occur by chance coincidence. Indeed
it is impossible to set limits to such coincidence, for it would
indeed be extraordinary if extraordinary coincidences never occurred.

To take examples:--


Mrs. Atlay, wife of a late Bishop of Hereford, dreamed one night that
there was a pig in the dining-room of the palace. She came
downstairs, and in the hall told her governess and children of the
dream, before family prayers. When these were over, nobody who was
told the story having left the hall in the interval, she went into the
dining-room and there was the pig. It was proved to have escaped from
the sty after Mrs. Atlay got up. Here the dream is of the common
grotesque type; millions of such things are dreamed. The event, the
pig in the palace, is unusual, and the coincidence of pig and dream is
still more so. But unusual events must occur, and each has millions
of dreams as targets to aim at, so to speak. It would be surprising
if no such target were ever hit.

Here is another case--curious because the dream was forgotten till the
corresponding event occurred, but there was a slight discrepancy
between event and dream.


Mrs. Herbert returned with her husband from London to their country
home on the Border. They arrived rather late in the day, prepared to
visit the garden, and decided to put off the visit till the morrow.
At night Mrs. Herbert dreamed that they went into the garden, down a
long walk to a mignonette bed near the vinery. The mignonette was
black with innumerable bees, and Wilburd, the gardener, came up and
advised Mr. and Mrs. Herbert not to go nearer. Next morning the pair
went to the garden. The air round the mignonette was dark with
_wasps_. Mrs. Herbert now first remembered and told her dream,
adding, "but in the dream they were _bees_". Wilburd now came up and
advised them not to go nearer, as a wasps' nest had been injured and
the wasps were on the warpath.

Here accidental coincidence is probable enough. {10} There is another
class of dreams very useful, and apparently not so very uncommon, that
are veracious and communicate correct information, which the dreamer
did not know that he knew and was very anxious to know. These are
rare enough to be rather difficult to believe. Thus:--


Mr. A., a barrister, sat up one night to write letters, and about
half-past twelve went out to put them in the post. On undressing he
missed a cheque for a large sum, which he had received during the day.
He hunted everywhere in vain, went to bed, slept, and dreamed that he
saw the cheque curled round an area railing not far from his own door.
He woke, got up, dressed, walked down the street and found his cheque
in the place he had dreamed of. In his opinion he had noticed it fall
from his pocket as he walked to the letter-box, without consciously
remarking it, and his deeper memory awoke in slumber. {11a}


A little girl of the author's family kept ducks and was anxious to
sell the eggs to her mother. But the eggs could not be found by eager
search. On going to bed she said, "Perhaps I shall dream of them".
Next morning she exclaimed, "I _did_ dream of them, they are in a
place between grey rock, broom, and mallow; that must be 'The Poney's
Field'!" And there the eggs were found. {11b}


Lady X., after walking in a wood near her house in Ireland, found that
she had lost an important key. She dreamed that it was lying at the
root of a certain tree, where she found it next day, and her theory is
the same as that of Mr. A., the owner of the lost cheque. {11c}

As a rule dreams throw everything into a dramatic form. Some one
knocks at our door, and the dream bases a little drama on the noise;
it constructs an explanatory myth, a myth to account for the noise,
which is acted out in the theatre of the brain.

To take an instance, a disappointing one:--


A lady dreamed that she was sitting at a window, watching the end of
an autumn sunset. There came a knock at the front door and a
gentleman and lady were ushered in. The gentleman wore an old-
fashioned snuff-coloured suit, of the beginning of the century; he
was, in fact, an aged uncle, who, during the Napoleonic wars, had been
one of the English detenus in France. The lady was very beautiful and
wore something like a black Spanish mantilla. The pair carried with
them a curiously wrought steel box. Before conversation was begun,
the maid (still in the dream) brought in the lady's chocolate and the
figures vanished. When the maid withdrew, the figures reappeared
standing by the table. The box was now open, and the old gentleman
drew forth some yellow papers, written on in faded ink. These, he
said, were lists of securities, which had been in his possession, when
he went abroad in 18--, and in France became engaged to his beautiful

"The securities," he said, "are now in the strong box of Messrs. ---;"
another rap at the door, and the actual maid entered with real hot
water. It was time to get up. The whole dream had its origin in the
first rap, heard by the dreamer and dramatised into the arrival of
visitors. Probably it did not last for more than two or three seconds
of real time. The maid's second knock just prevented the revelation
of the name of "Messrs. ---," who, like the lady in the mantilla, were
probably non-existent people. {13}

Thus dream dramatises on the impulse of some faint, hardly perceived
real sensation. And thus either mere empty fancies (as in the case of
the lost securities) or actual knowledge which we may have once
possessed but have totally forgotten, or conclusions which have passed
through our brains as unheeded guesses, may in a dream be, as it were,
"revealed" through the lips of a character in the brain's theatre--
that character may, in fact, be alive, or dead, or merely fantastical.
A very good case is given with this explanation (lost knowledge
revived in a dramatic dream about a dead man) by Sir Walter Scott in a
note to The Antiquary. Familiar as the story is it may be offered
here, for a reason which will presently be obvious.


"Mr. Rutherford, of Bowland, a gentleman of landed property in the
Vale of Gala, was prosecuted for a very considerable sum, the
accumulated arrears of teind (or tithe) for which he was said to be
indebted to a noble family, the titulars (lay impropriators of the
tithes). Mr. Rutherford was strongly impressed with the belief that
his father had, by a form of process peculiar to the law of Scotland,
purchased these teinds from the titular, and, therefore, that the
present prosecution was groundless. But, after an industrious search
among his father's papers, an investigation among the public records
and a careful inquiry among all persons who had transacted law
business for his father, no evidence could be recovered to support his
defence. The period was now near at hand, when he conceived the loss
of his law-suit to be inevitable; and he had formed the determination
to ride to Edinburgh next day and make the best bargain he could in
the way of compromise. He went to bed with this resolution, and, with
all the circumstances of the case floating upon his mind, had a dream
to the following purpose. His father, who had been many years dead,
appeared to him, he thought, and asked him why he was disturbed in his
mind. In dreams men are not surprised at such apparitions. Mr.
Rutherford thought that he informed his father of the cause of his
distress, adding that the payment of a considerable sum of money was
the more unpleasant to him because he had a strong consciousness that
it was not due, though he was unable to recover any evidence in
support of his belief. 'You are right, my son,' replied the paternal
shade. 'I did acquire right to these teinds for payment of which you
are now prosecuted. The papers relating to the transaction are in the
hands of Mr. ---, a writer (or attorney), who is now retired from
professional business and resides at Inveresk, near Edinburgh. He was
a person whom I employed on that occasion for a particular reason, but
who never on any other occasion transacted business on my account. It
is very possible,' pursued the vision, 'that Mr. --- may have
forgotten a matter which is now of a very old date; but you may call
it to his recollection by this token, that when I came to pay his
account there was difficulty in getting change for a Portugal piece of
gold and we were forced to drink out the balance at a tavern.'

"Mr. Rutherford awoke in the morning with all the words of the vision
imprinted on his mind, and thought it worth while to walk across the
country to Inveresk instead of going straight to Edinburgh. When he
came there he waited on the gentleman mentioned in the dream--a very
old man. Without saying anything of the vision he inquired whether he
ever remembered having conducted such a matter for his deceased
father. The old gentleman could not at first bring the circumstance
to his recollection, but on mention of the Portugal piece of gold the
whole returned upon his memory. He made an immediate search for the
papers and recovered them, so that Mr. Rutherford carried to Edinburgh
the documents necessary to gain the cause which he was on the verge of

The story is reproduced because it is clearly one of the tales which
come round in cycles, either because events repeat themselves or
because people will unconsciously localise old legends in new places
and assign old occurrences or fables to new persons. Thus every one
has heard how Lord Westbury called a certain man in the Herald's
office "a foolish old fellow who did not even know his own foolish old
business". Lord Westbury may very well have said this, but long
before his time the remark was attributed to the famous Lord
Chesterfield. Lord Westbury may have quoted it from Chesterfield or
hit on it by accident, or the old story may have been assigned to him.
In the same way Mr. Rutherford may have had his dream or the following
tale of St. Augustine's (also cited by Scott) may have been attributed
to him, with the picturesque addition about the piece of Portuguese
gold. Except for the piece of Portuguese gold St. Augustine
practically tells the anecdote in his De Cura pro Mortuis Habenda,
adding the acute reflection which follows. {16}

"Of a surety, when we were at Milan, we heard tell of a certain person
of whom was demanded payment of a debt, with production of his
deceased father's acknowledgment, which debt, unknown to the son, the
father had paid, whereupon the man began to be very sorrowful, and to
marvel that his father while dying did not tell him what he owed when
he also made his will. Then in this exceeding anxiousness of his, his
said father appeared to him in a dream, and made known to him where
was the counter acknowledgment by which that acknowledgment was
cancelled. Which when the young man had found and showed, he not only
rebutted the wrongful claim of a false debt, but also got back his
father's note of hand, which the father had not got back when the
money was paid.

"Here then the soul of a man is supposed to have had care for his son,
and to have come to him in his sleep, that, teaching him what he did
not know, he might relieve him of a great trouble. But about the very
same time as we heard this, it chanced at Carthage that the
rhetorician Eulogius, who had been my disciple in that art, being (as
he himself, after our return to Africa, told us the story) in course
of lecturing to his disciples on Cicero's rhetorical books, as he
looked over the portion of reading which he was to deliver on the
following day, fell upon a certain passage, and not being able to
understand it, was scarce able to sleep for the trouble of his mind:
in which night, as he dreamed, I expounded to him that which he did
not understand; nay, not I, but my likeness, while I was unconscious
of the thing and far away beyond sea, it might be doing, or it might
be dreaming, some other thing, and not in the least caring for his
cares. In what way these things come about I know not; but in what
way soever they come, why do we not believe it comes in the same way
for a person in a dream to see a dead man, as it comes that he sees a
living man? both, no doubt, neither knowing nor caring who dreams of
their images, or where or when.

"Like dreams, moreover, are some visions of persons awake, who have
had their senses troubled, such as phrenetic persons, or those who are
mad in any way, for they, too, talk to themselves just as though they
were speaking to people verily present, and as well with absent men as
with present, whose images they perceive whether persons living or
dead. But just as they who live are unconscious that they are seen of
them and talk with them (for indeed they are not really themselves
present, or themselves make speeches, but through troubled senses
these persons are wrought upon by such like imaginary visions), just
so they also who have departed this life, to persons thus affected
appear as present while they be absent, and are themselves utterly
unconscious whether any man sees them in regard of their image." {18}

St. Augustine adds a similar story of a trance.


A rustic named Curma, of Tullium, near Hippo, Augustine's town, fell
into a catalepsy. On reviving he said: "Run to the house of Curma
the smith and see what is going on". Curma the smith was found to
have died just when the other Curma awoke. "I knew it," said the
invalid, "for I heard it said in that place whence I have returned
that not I, Curma of the Curia, but Curma the smith, was wanted." But
Curma of the Curia saw living as well as dead people, among others
Augustine, who, in his vision, baptised him at Hippo. Curma then, in
the vision, went to Paradise, where he was told to go and be baptised.
He said it had been done already, and was answered, "Go and be truly
baptised, for _that_ thou didst but see in vision". So Augustine
christened him, and later, hearing of the trance, asked him about it,
when he repeated the tale already familiar to his neighbours.
Augustine thinks it a mere dream, and apparently regards the death of
Curma the smith as a casual coincidence. Un esprit fort, le Saint

"If the dead could come in dreams," he says, "my pious mother would no
night fail to visit me. Far be the thought that she should, by a
happier life, have been made so cruel that, when aught vexes my heart,
she should not even console in a dream the son whom she loved with an
only love."

Not only things once probably known, yet forgotten, but knowledge
never _consciously_ thought out, may be revealed in a dramatic dream,
apparently through the lips of the dead or the never existent. The
books of psychology are rich in examples of problems worked out, or
music or poetry composed in sleep. The following is a more recent and
very striking example:--


Herr H. V. Hilprecht is Professor of Assyriology in the University of
Pennsylvania. That university had despatched an expedition to explore
the ruins of Babylon, and sketches of the objects discovered had been
sent home. Among these were drawings of two small fragments of agate,
inscribed with characters. One Saturday night in March, 1893,
Professor Hilprecht had wearied himself with puzzling over these two
fragments, which were supposed to be broken pieces of finger-rings.
He was inclined, from the nature of the characters, to date them about
1700-1140 B.C.; and as the first character of the third line of the
first fragment seemed to read KU, he guessed that it might stand for
Kurigalzu, a king of that name.

About midnight the professor went, weary and perplexed, to bed.

"Then I dreamed the following remarkable dream. A tall thin priest of
the old pre-Christian Nippur, about forty years of age, and clad in a
simple abba, led me to the treasure-chamber of the temple, on its
south-east side. He went with me into a small low-ceiled room without
windows, in which there was a large wooden chest, while scraps of
agate and lapis lazuli lay scattered on the floor. Here he addressed
me as follows:--

"'The two fragments, which you have published separately upon pages 22
and 26, _belong together_'" (this amazing Assyrian priest spoke
American!). {20} "'They are not finger-rings, and their history is as

"'King Kurigalzu (about 1300 B.C.) once sent to the temple of Bel,
among other articles of agate and lapis lazuli, an inscribed votive
cylinder of agate. Then the priests suddenly received the command to
make for the statue of the god Nibib a pair of ear-rings of agate. We
were in great dismay, since there was no agate as raw material at
hand. In order to execute the command there was nothing for us to do
but cut the votive cylinder in three parts, thus making three rings,
each of which contained a portion of the original inscription. The
first two rings served as ear-rings for the statue of the god; the two
fragments which have given you so much trouble are parts of them. If
you will put the two together, you will have confirmation of my words.
But the third ring you have not found yet, and you never will find

The professor awoke, bounded out of bed, as Mrs. Hilprecht testifies,
and was heard crying from his study, "It is so, it is so!" Mrs.
Hilprecht followed her lord, "and satisfied myself in the midnight
hour as to the outcome of his most interesting dream".

The professor, however, says that he awoke, told his wife the dream,
and verified it next day. Both statements are correct. There were
two sets of drawings, one in the study (used that night) one used next
day in the University Library.

The inscription ran thus, the missing fragment being restored, "by
analogy from many similar inscriptions":--


But, in the drawings, the fragments were of different colours, so that
a student working on the drawings would not guess them to be parts of
one cylinder. Professor Hilprecht, however, examined the two actual
fragments in the Imperial Museum at Constantinople. They lay in two
distinct cases, but, when put together, fitted. When cut asunder of
old, in Babylon, the white vein of the stone showed on one fragment,
the grey surface on the other.

Professor Romaine Newbold, who publishes this dream, explains that the
professor had unconsciously reasoned out his facts, the difference of
colour in the two pieces of agate disappearing in the dream. The
professor had heard from Dr. Peters of the expedition, that a room had
been discovered with fragments of a wooden box and chips of agate and
lapis lazuli. The sleeping mind "combined its information," reasoned
rightly from it, and threw its own conclusions into a dramatic form,
receiving the information from the lips of a priest of Nippur.

Probably we do a good deal of reasoning in sleep. Professor
Hilprecht, in 1882-83, was working at a translation of an inscription
wherein came Nabu--Kudurru--usur, rendered by Professor Delitzsch
"Nebo protect my mortar-board". Professor Hilprecht accepted this,
but woke one morning with his mind full of the thought that the words
should be rendered "Nebo protect my boundary," which "sounds a deal
likelier," and is now accepted. I myself, when working at the MSS. of
the exiled Stuarts, was puzzled by the scorched appearance of the
paper on which Prince Charlie's and the king's letters were often
written and by the peculiarities of the ink. I woke one morning with
a sudden flash of common-sense. Sympathetic ink had been used, and
the papers had been toasted or treated with acids. This I had
probably reasoned out in sleep, and, had I dreamed, my mind might have
dramatised the idea. Old Mr. Edgar, the king's secretary, might have
appeared and given me the explanation. Maury publishes tales in which
a forgotten fact was revealed to him in a dream from the lips of a
dream-character (Le Sommeil et les Reves, pp. 142-143. The curious
may also consult, on all these things, The Philosophy of Mysticism, by
Karl du Prel, translated by Mr. Massey. The Assyrian Priest is in
Proceedings, S.P.R., vol. xii., p. 14).

On the same plane as the dreams which we have been examining is the
waking sensation of the deja vu.

"I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell."

Most of us know this feeling, all the circumstances in which we find
ourselves have already occurred, we have a prophecy of what will
happen next "on the tip of our tongues" (like a half-remembered name),
and then the impression vanishes. Scott complains of suffering
through a whole dinner-party from this sensation, but he had written
"copy" for fifty printed pages on that day, and his brain was breaking
down. Of course psychology has explanations. The scene _may_ have
really occurred before, or may be the result of a malady of
perception, or one hemisphere of the brain not working in absolute
simultaneousness with the other may produce a double impression, the
first being followed by the second, so that we really have had two
successive impressions, of which one seems much more remote in time
than it really was. Or we may have dreamed something like the scene
and forgotten the dream, or we may actually, in some not understood
manner, have had a "prevision" of what is now actual, as when Shelley
almost fainted on coming to a place near Oxford which he had beheld in
a dream.

Of course, if this "prevision" could be verified in detail, we should
come very near to dreams of the future fulfilled. Such a thing--
verification of a detail--led to the conversion of William Hone, the
free-thinker and Radical of the early century, who consequently became
a Christian and a pessimistic, clear-sighted Tory. This tale of the
deja vu, therefore, leads up to the marvellous narratives of dreams
simultaneous with, or prophetic of, events not capable of being
guessed or inferred, or of events lost in the historical past, but,
later, recovered from documents.

Of Hone's affair there are two versions. Both may be given, as they
are short. If they illustrate the deja vu, they also illustrate the
fond discrepancies of all such narratives. {24}


"It is said that a dream produced a powerful effect on Hone's mind.
He dreamt that he was introduced into a room where he was an entire
stranger, and saw himself seated at a table, and on going towards the
window his attention was somehow or other attracted to the window-
shutter, and particularly to a knot in the wood, which was of singular
appearance; and on waking the whole scene, and especially the knot in
the shutter, left a most vivid impression on his mind. Some time
afterwards, on going, I think, into the country, he was at some house
shown into a chamber where he had never been before, and which
instantly struck him as being the identical chamber of his dream. He
turned directly to the window, where the same knot in the shutter
caught his eye. This incident, to his investigating spirit, induced a
train of reflection which overthrew his cherished theories of
materialism, and resulted in conviction that there were spiritual
agencies as susceptible of proof as any facts of physical science; and
this appears to have been one of the links in that mysterious chain of
events by which, according to the inscrutable purposes of the Divine
will, man is sometimes compelled to bow to an unseen and divine power,
and ultimately to believe and live."

"Another of the Christian friends from whom, in his later years,
William Hone received so much kindness, has also furnished
recollections of him.

" . . . Two or three anecdotes which he related are all I can
contribute towards a piece of mental history which, if preserved,
would have been highly interesting. The first in point of time as to
his taste of mind, was a circumstance which shook his confidence in
_materialism_, though it did not lead to his conversion. It was one
of those mental phenomena which he saw to be _inexplicable_ by the
doctrines he then held.

"It was as follows: He was called in the course of business into a
part of London quite new to him, and as he walked along the street he
noticed to himself that he had never been there; but on being shown
into a room in a house where he had to wait some time, he immediately
fancied that it was all familiar, that he had seen it before, 'and if
so,' said he to himself, 'there is a very peculiar knot in this
shutter'. He opened the shutter and found the knot. 'Now then,'
thought he, 'here is something I cannot explain on my principles!'"

Indeed the occurrence is not very explicable on any principles, as a
detail not visible without search was sought and verified, and that by
a habitual mocker at anything out of the common way. For example,
Hone published a comic explanation, correct or not, of the famous
Stockwell mystery.

Supposing Hone's story to be true, it naturally conducts us to yet
more unfamiliar, and therefore less credible dreams, in which the
unknown past, present, or future is correctly revealed.


Veracious Dreams. Past, Present and Future unknown Events "revealed".
Theory of "Mental Telegraphy" or "Telepathy" fails to meet Dreams of
the unknowable Future. Dreams of unrecorded Past, how alone they can
be corroborated. Queen Mary's Jewels. Story from Brierre de
Boismont. Mr. Williams's Dream before Mr. Perceval's Murder.
Discrepancies of Evidence. Curious Story of Bude Kirk. Mr.
Williams's Version. Dream of a Rattlesnake. Discrepancies. Dream of
the Red Lamp. "Illusions Hypnagogiques." The Scar in the Moustache.
Dream of the Future. The Coral Sprigs. Anglo-Saxon Indifference. A
Celtic Dream. The Satin Slippers. Waking Dreams. The Dead Shopman.
Dreams in Swoons.

Perhaps nothing, not even a ghost, is so staggering to the powers of
belief as a well-authenticated dream which strikes the bull's eye of
facts not known to the dreamer nor capable of being guessed by him.
If the events beheld in the dream are far away in space, or are remote
in time past, the puzzle is difficult enough. But if the events are
still in the future, perhaps no kind of explanation except a mere
"fluke" can even be suggested. Say that I dream of an event occurring
at a distance, and that I record or act on my dream before it is
corroborated. Suppose, too, that the event is not one which could be
guessed, like the death of an invalid or the result of a race or of an
election. This would be odd enough, but the facts of which I dreamed
must have been present in the minds of living people. Now, if there
is such a thing as "mental telegraphy" or "telepathy," {28} my mind,
in dream, may have "tapped" the minds of the people who knew the
facts. We may not believe in "mental telegraphy," but we can
_imagine_ it as one of the unknown possibilities of nature. Again, if
I dream of an unchronicled event in the past, and if a letter of some
historical person is later discovered which confirms the accuracy of
my dream, we can at least _conceive_ (though we need not believe) that
the intelligence was telegraphed to my dreaming mind from the mind of
a _dead_ actor in, or witness of the historical scene, for the facts
are unknown to living man. But even these wild guesses cannot cover a
dream which correctly reveals events of the future; events necessarily
not known to any finite mind of the living or of the dead, and too
full of detail for an explanation by aid of chance coincidence.

In face of these difficulties mankind has gone on believing in dreams
of all three classes: dreams revealing the unknown present, the
unknown past, and the unknown future. The judicious reasonably set
them all aside as the results of fortuitous coincidence, or revived
recollection, or of the illusions of a false memory, or of imposture,
conscious or unconscious. However, the stories continue to be told,
and our business is with the stories.

Taking, first, dreams of the unknown past, we find a large modern
collection of these attributed to a lady named "Miss A---". They were
waking dreams representing obscure incidents of the past, and were
later corroborated by records in books, newspapers and manuscripts.
But as these books and papers existed, and were known to exist, before
the occurrence of the visions, it is obvious that the matter of the
visions _may_ have been derived from the books and so forth, or at
least, a sceptic will vastly prefer this explanation. What we need is
a dream or vision of the unknown past, corroborated by a document _not
known to exist_ at the time when the vision took place and was
recorded. Probably there is no such instance, but the following tale,
picturesque in itself, has a kind of shadow of the only satisfactory
sort of corroboration.

The author responsible for this yarn is Dr. Gregory, F.R.S., Professor
of Chemistry in the University of Edinburgh. After studying for many
years the real or alleged phenomena of what has been called mesmerism,
or electro-biology, or hypnotism, Dr. Gregory published in 1851 his
Letters to a Candid Inquirer on Animal Magnetism.

Though a F.R.S. and a Professor of Chemistry, the Doctor had no more
idea of what constitutes evidence than a baby. He actually mixed up
the Tyrone with the Lyttelton ghost story! His legend of Queen Mary's
jewels is derived from (1) the note-book, _or_ (2) a letter
containing, or professing to contain, extracts from the note-book, of
a Major Buckley, an Anglo-Indian officer. This gentleman used to
"magnetise" or hypnotise people, some of whom became clairvoyant, as
if possessed of eyes acting as "double-patent-million magnifiers,"
permeated by X rays.

"What follows is transcribed," says the Doctor, "from Major Buckley's
note-book." We abridge the narrative. Major Buckley hypnotised a
young officer, who, on November 15, 1845, fell into "a deeper state"
of trance. Thence he awoke into a "clairvoyant" condition and said:--


"I have had a strange dream about your ring" (a "medallion" of Anthony
and Cleopatra); "it is very valuable."

Major Buckley said it was worth 60 pounds, and put the ring into his
friend's hand.

"It belonged to royalty."

"In what country?"

"I see Mary, Queen of Scots. It was given to her by a man, a
foreigner, with other things from Italy. It came from Naples. It is
not in the old setting. She wore it only once. The person who gave
it to her was a musician."

The seer then "saw" the donor's signature, "Rizzio". But Rizzio
spelled his name Riccio! The seer now copied on paper a writing which
in his trance he saw on vellum. The design here engraved (p. 32) is
only from a rough copy of the seer's original drawing, which was made
by Major Buckley.

[Picture of vellum as described in the text - images/rizzo.gif]

"Here" (pointing to the middle) "I see a diamond cross." The
smallest stone was above the size of one of four carats. "It" (the
cross) "was worn out of sight by Mary. The vellum has been shown in
the House of Lords." {31}

" . . . The ring was taken off Mary's finger by a man in anger and
jealousy: he threw it into the water. When he took it off, she was
being carried in a kind of bed with curtains" (a litter).

Just before Rizzio's murder Mary was enceinte, and might well be
carried in a litter, though she usually rode.

The seer then had a view of Sizzle's murder, which he had probably
read about.

Three weeks later, in another trance, the seer finished his design of
the vellum. The words


probably stand for a Marie, de la part de--

The thistle heads and leaves in gold at the corners were a usual
decoration of the period; compare the ceiling of the room in Edinburgh
Castle where James VI. was born, four months after Rizzio's murder.
They also occur in documents. Dr. Gregory conjectures that so
valuable a present as a diamond cross may have been made not by
Rizzio, but through Rizzio by the Pope.

It did not seem good to the doctor to consult Mary's lists of jewels,
nor, if he had done so, would he have been any the wiser. In 1566,
just before the birth of James VI., Mary had an inventory drawn up,
and added the names of the persons to whom she bequeathed her
treasures in case she died in child-bed. But this inventory, hidden
among a mass of law-papers in the Record Office, was not discovered
till 1854, nine years after the vision of 1845, and three after its
publication by Dr. Gregory in 1851. Not till 1863 was the inventory
of 1566, discovered in 1854, published for the Bannatyne Club by Dr.
Joseph Robertson.

Turning to the inventory we read of a valuable present made by David
Rizzio to Mary, a tortoise of rubies, which she kept till her death,
for it appears in a list made after her execution at Fotheringay. The
murdered David Rizzio left a brother Joseph. Him the queen made her
secretary, and in her will of 1566 mentions him thus:--

"A Josef, pour porter a celui qui je luy ay dit, une emeraude emaille
de blanc.

"A Josef, pour porter a celui qui je luy ai dit, dont il ranvoir

"Une bague garnye de vingt cinq diamens tant grands que petis."

Now the diamond cross seen by the young officer in 1845 was set with
diamonds great and small, and was, in his opinion, a gift from or
through Rizzio. "The queen wore it out of sight." Here in the
inventory we have a bague (which may be a cross) of diamonds small and
great, connected with a secret only known to Rizzio's brother and to
the queen. It is "to be carried to one whose name the queen has
spoken in her new secretary's ear" (Joseph's), "but dare not trust
herself to write". "It would be idle now to seek to pry into the
mystery which was thus anxiously guarded," says Dr. Robertson, editor
of the queen's inventories. The doctor knew nothing of the vision
which, perhaps, so nearly pried into the mystery. There is nothing
like proof here, but there is just a presumption that the diamonds
connected with Rizzio, and secretly worn by the queen, seen in the
vision of 1845, are possibly the diamonds which, had Mary died in
1566, were to be carried by Joseph Rizzio to a person whose name might
not safely be written. {35a}

We now take a dream which apparently reveals a real fact occurring at
a distance. It is translated from Brierre de Boismont's book, Des
Hallucinations {35b} (Paris, 1845). "There are," says the learned
author, "authentic dreams which have revealed an event occurring at
the moment, or later." These he explains by accidental coincidence,
and then gives the following anecdote, as within his own intimate


Miss C., a lady of excellent sense, religious but not bigoted, lived
before her marriage in the house of her uncle D., a celebrated
physician, and member of the Institute. Her mother at this time was
seriously ill in the country. One night the girl dreamed that she saw
her mother, pale and dying, and especially grieved at the absence of
two of her children: one a cure in Spain, the other--herself--in
Paris. Next she heard her own Christian name called, "Charlotte!"
and, in her dream, saw the people about her mother bring in her own
little niece and god-child Charlotte from the next room. The patient
intimated by a sign that she did not want _this_ Charlotte, but her
daughter in Paris. She displayed the deepest regret; her countenance
changed, she fell back, and died.

Next day the melancholy of Mademoiselle C. attracted the attention of
her uncle. She told him her dream; he pressed her to his heart, and
admitted that her mother was dead.

Some months later Mademoiselle C., when her uncle was absent, arranged
his papers, which he did not like any one to touch. Among these was a
letter containing the story of her mother's death, with all the
details of her own dream, which D. had kept concealed lest they should
impress her too painfully.

Boismont is staggered by this circumstance, and inclined to account
for it by "still unknown relations in the moral and physical world".
"Mental telegraphy," of course, would explain all, and even chance
coincidence is perfectly conceivable.

The most commonly known of dreams prior to, or simultaneous with an
historical occurrence represented in the vision, is Mr. Williams's
dream of the murder of Mr. Perceval in the lobby of the House of
Commons, May 11, 1812. Mr. Williams, of Scorrier House, near Redruth,
in Cornwall, lived till 1841. He was interested in mines, and a man
of substance. Unluckily the versions of his dream are full of
discrepancies. It was first published, apparently, in The Times
during the "silly season" of 1828 (August 28). According to The
Times, whose account is very minute, Mr. Williams dreamed of the
murder thrice before 2 a.m. on the night of May 11. He told Mrs.
Williams, and was so disturbed that he rose and dressed at two in the
morning. He went to Falmouth next day (May 12), and told the tale to
every one he knew. On the evening of the 13th he told it to Mr. and
Mrs. Tucker (his married daughter) of Tremanton Castle. Mr. Williams
only knew that the _chancellor_ was shot; Mr. Tucker said it must be
the Chancellor of the Exchequer. From the description he recognised
Mr. Perceval, with whom he was at enmity. Mr. Williams had never been
inside the House of Commons. As they talked, Mr. William's son
galloped up from Truro with news of the murder, got from a traveller
by coach. Six weeks later, Mr. Williams went to town, and in the
House of Commons walked up to and recognised the scene of the various
incidents in the murder.

So far The Times, in 1828. But two forms of a version of 1832 exist,
one in a note to Mr. Walpole's Life of Perceval (1874), "an attested
statement, drawn up and signed by Mr. Williams in the presence of the
Rev. Thomas Fisher and Mr. Charles Prideaux Brune". Mr. Brune gave it
to Mr. Walpole. With only verbal differences this variant corresponds
to another signed by Mr. Williams and given by him to his grandson,
who gave it to Mr. Perceval's great-niece, by whom it was lent to the
Society for Psychical Research.

These accounts differ toto coelo from that in The Times of 1828. The
dream is _not_ of May 11, but "about" May 2 or 3. Mr. Williams is
_not_ a stranger to the House of Commons; it is "a place well known to
me". He is _not_ ignorant of the name of the victim, but "understood
that it was Mr. Perceval". He thinks of going to town to give
warning. We hear nothing of Mr. Tucker. Mr. Williams does _not_
verify his dream in the House, but from a drawing. A Mr. C. R. Fox,
son of one to whom the dream was told _before_ the event, was then a
boy of fourteen, and sixty-one years later was sure that he himself
heard of Mr. Williams's dream _before_ the news of the murder arrived.
After sixty years, however, the memory cannot be relied upon.

One very curious circumstance in connection with the assassination of
Mr. Perceval has never been noticed. A rumour or report of the deed
reached Bude Kirk, a village near Annan, on the night of Sunday, May
10, a day before the crime was committed! This was stated in the
Dumfries and Galloway Courier, and copied in The Times of May 25. On
May 28, the Perth Courier quotes the Dumfries paper, and adds that
"the Rev. Mr. Yorstoun, minister of Hoddam (ob. 1833), has visited
Bude Kirk and has obtained the most satisfactory proof of the rumour
having existed" on May 10, but the rumour cannot be traced to its
source. Mr. Yorstoun authorises the mention of his name. The Times
of June 2 says that "the report is without foundation". If Williams
talked everywhere of his dream, on May 3, some garbled shape of it may
conceivably have floated to Bude Kirk by May 10, and originated the
rumour. Whoever started it would keep quiet when the real news
arrived for fear of being implicated in a conspiracy as accessory
before the fact. No trace of Mr. Williams's dream occurs in the
contemporary London papers.

The best version of the dream to follow is probably that signed by Mr.
Williams himself in 1832. {39a}

It may, of course, be argued by people who accept Mr. Williams's dream
as a revelation of the future that it reached his mind from the
_purpose_ conceived in Bellingham's mind, by way of "mental
telegraphy". {39b}


"SUNDHILL, December, 1832.

"[Some account of a dream which occurred to John Williams, Esq., of
Scorrier House, in the county of Cornwall, in the year 1812. Taken
from his own mouth, and narrated by him at various times to several of
his friends.]

"Being desired to write out the particulars of a remarkable dream
which I had in the year 1812, before I do so I think it may be proper
for me to say that at that time my attention was fully occupied with
affairs of my own--the superintendence of some very extensive mines in
Cornwall being entrusted to me. Thus I had no leisure to pay any
attention to political matters, and hardly knew at that time who
formed the administration of the country. It was, therefore, scarcely
possible that my own interest in the subject should have had any share
in suggesting the circumstances which presented themselves to my
imagination. It was, in truth, a subject which never occurred to my
waking thoughts.

"My dream was as follows:--

"About the second or third day of May, 1812, I dreamed that I was in
the lobby of the House of Commons (a place well known to me). A small
man, dressed in a blue coat and a white waistcoat, entered, and
immediately I saw a person whom I had observed on my first entrance,
dressed in a snuff-coloured coat with metal buttons, take a pistol
from under his coat and present it at the little man above-mentioned.
The pistol was discharged, and the ball entered under the left breast
of the person at whom it was directed. I saw the blood issue from the
place where the ball had struck him, his countenance instantly
altered, and he fell to the ground. Upon inquiry who the sufferer
might be, I was informed that he was the chancellor. I understood him
to be Mr. Perceval, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer. I further
saw the murderer laid hold of by several of the gentlemen in the room.
Upon waking I told the particulars above related to my wife; she
treated the matter lightly, and desired me to go to sleep, saying it
was only a dream. I soon fell asleep again, and again the dream
presented itself with precisely the same circumstances. After waking
a second time and stating the matter again to my wife, she only
repeated her request that I would compose myself and dismiss the
subject from my mind. Upon my falling asleep the third time, the same
dream without any alteration was repeated, and I awoke, as on the
former occasions, in great agitation. So much alarmed and impressed
was I with the circumstances above related, that I felt much doubt
whether it was not my duty to take a journey to London and communicate
upon the subject with the party principally concerned. Upon this
point I consulted with some friends whom I met on business at the
Godolphin mine on the following day. After having stated to them the
particulars of the dream itself and what were my own feelings in
relation to it, they dissuaded me from my purpose, saying I might
expose myself to contempt and vexation, or be taken up as a fanatic.
Upon this I said no more, but anxiously watched the newspapers every
evening as the post arrived.

"On the evening of the 13th of May (as far as I recollect) no account
of Mr. Perceval's death was in the newspapers, but my second son,
returning from Truro, came in a hurried manner into the room where I
was sitting and exclaimed: 'O father, your dream has come true! Mr.
Perceval has been shot in the lobby of the House of Commons; there is
an account come from London to Truro written after the newspapers were

"The fact was Mr. Percival was assassinated on the evening of the

"Some business soon after called me to London, and in one of the
print-shops I saw a drawing for sale, representing the place and the
circumstances which attended Mr. Perceval's death. I purchased it,
and upon a careful examination I found it to coincide in all respects
with the scene which had passed through my imagination in the dream.
The colours of the dresses, the buttons of the assassin's coat, the
white waistcoat of Mr. Perceval, the spot of blood upon it, the
countenances and attitudes of the parties present were exactly what I
had dreamed.

"The singularity of the case, when mentioned among my friends and
acquaintances, naturally made it the subject of conversation in
London, and in consequence my friend, the late Mr. Rennie, was
requested by some of the commissioners of the navy that they might be
permitted to hear the circumstances from myself. Two of them
accordingly met me at Mr. Rennie's house, and to them I detailed at
the time the particulars, then fresh in my memory, which form the
subject of the above statement.

"I forbear to make any comment on the above narrative, further than to
declare solemnly that it is a faithful account of facts as they
actually occurred.

(Signed) "JOHN WILLIAMS." {42}

When we come to dreams of the future, great historical examples are
scarce indeed, that is, dreams respectably authenticated. We have to
put up with curious trivialities. One has an odd feature.


Dr. Kinsolving, of the Church of the Epiphany in Philadelphia, dreamed
that he "came across a rattlesnake," which "when killed had _two_
black-looking rattles and a peculiar projection of bone from the tail,
while the skin was unusually light in colour". Next day, while
walking with his brother, Dr. Kinsolving nearly trod on a rattlesnake,
"the same snake in every particular with the one I had had in my
mind's eye". This would be very well, but Dr. Kinsolving's brother,
who helped to kill the unlucky serpent, says "_he had a single
rattle_". The letters of these gentlemen were written without
communication to each other. If Mr. Kinsolving is right, the real
snake with _one_ rattle was _not_ the dream snake with _two_ rattles.
The brothers were in a snaky country, West Virginia. {43}

The following is trivial, but good. It is written by Mr. Alfred
Cooper, and attested by the dreamer, the Duchess of Hamilton.


Mr. Cooper says: "A fortnight before the death of the late Earl of L---
in 1882, I called upon the Duke of Hamilton, in Hill Street, to see
him professionally. After I had finished seeing him, we went into the
drawing-room, where the duchess was, and the duke said, 'Oh, Cooper,
how is the earl?'

"The duchess said, 'What earl?' and on my answering 'Lord L---,' she
replied: 'That is very odd. I have had a most extraordinary vision.
I went to bed, but after being in bed a short time, I was not exactly
asleep, but thought I saw a scene as if from a play before me. The
actors in it were Lord L--- as if in a fit, with a man standing over
him with a red beard. He was by the side of a bath, over which a red
lamp was distinctly shown.

"I then said: 'I am attending Lord L--- at present; there is very
little the matter with him; he is not going to die; he will be all
right very soon'.

"Well he got better for a week and was nearly well, but at the end of
six or seven days after this I was called to see him suddenly. He had
inflammation of both lungs.

"I called in Sir William Jenner, but in six days he was a dead man.
There were two male nurses attending on him; one had been taken ill.
But when I saw the other, the dream of the duchess was exactly
represented. He was standing near a bath over the earl, and strange
to say, his beard was red. There was the bath with the red lamp over
it. It is rather rare to find a bath with a red lamp over it, and
this brought the story to my mind. . . ."

This account, written in 1888, has been revised by the late Duke of
Manchester, father of the Duchess of Hamilton, who heard the vision
from his daughter on the morning after she had seen it.

The duchess only knew the earl by sight, and had not heard that he was
ill. She knew she was not asleep, for she opened her eyes to get rid
of the vision, and, shutting them, saw the same thing again. {45a}

In fact, the "vision" was an illusion hypnagogique. Probably most
readers know the procession of visions which sometimes crowd on the
closed eyes just before sleep. {45b} They commonly represent with
vivid clearness unknown faces or places, occasionally known faces.
The writer has seen his own in this way and has occasionally "opened
his eyes to get rid of" the appearances. In his opinion the pictures
are unconsciously constructed by the half-sleeping mind out of blurs
of light or dark seen with closed eyes. Mr. Cooper's story would be
more complete if he had said whether or not the earl, when visited by
him, was in a chair as in the vision. But beds are not commonly found
in bathrooms.


This story was told to the writer by his old head-master, the Rev. Dr.
Hodson, brother of Hodson, of Hodson's Horse, a person whom I never
heard make any other allusion to such topics. Dr. Hodson was staying
with friends in Switzerland during the holidays. One morning, as he
lay awake, he seemed to see into a room as if the wall of his bedroom
had been cut out. In the room were a lady well known to him and a man
whom he did not know. The man's back was turned to the looker-on.
The scene vanished, and grew again. Now the man faced Dr. Hodson; the
face was unfamiliar, and had a deep white scar seaming the moustache.
Dr. Hodson mentioned the circumstance to his friends, and thought
little of it. He returned home, and, one day, in Perth station, met
the lady at the book-stall. He went up to accost her, and was
surprised by the uneasiness of her manner. A gentleman now joined
them, with a deep white scar through his moustache. Dr. Hodson now
recalled, what had slipped his memory, that the lady during his
absence from Scotland had eloped with an officer, the man of the
vision and the railway station. He did not say, or perhaps know,
whether the elopement was prior to the kind of dream in Switzerland.

Here is a dream representing a future event, with details which could
not be guessed beforehand.


Mrs. Weiss, of St. Louis, was in New York in January, 1881, attending
a daughter, Mrs. C., who was about to have a child. She writes:--

"On Friday night (Jan. 21) I dreamed that my daughter's time came;
that owing to some cause not clearly defined, we failed to get word to
Mr. C., who was to bring the doctor; that we sent for the nurse, who
came; that as the hours passed and neither Mr. C. nor the doctor came
we both got frightened; that at last I heard Mr. C. on the stairs, and
cried to him: 'Oh, Chan, for heaven's sake get a doctor! Ada may be
confined at any moment'; that he rushed away, and I returned to the
bedside of my daughter, who was in agony of mind and body; that
suddenly I seemed to know what to do, . . . and that shortly after Mr.
C. came, bringing a tall young doctor, having brown eyes, dark hair,
ruddy brun complexion, grey trousers and grey vest, and wearing a
bright blue cravat, picked out with coral sprigs; the cravat attracted
my attention particularly. The young doctor pronounced Mrs. C.
properly attended to, and left."

Mrs. Weiss at breakfast told the dream to Mr. C. and her daughter;
none of them attached any importance to it. However, as a snowstorm
broke the telegraph wires on Saturday, the day after the dream, Mrs.
Weiss was uneasy. On Tuesday the state of Mrs. C. demanded a doctor.
Mrs. Weiss sent a telegram for Mr. C.; he came at last, went out to
bring a doctor, and was long absent. Then Mrs. Weiss suddenly felt a
calm certainty that _she_ (though inexperienced in such cares) could
do what was needed. "I heard myself say in a peremptory fashion:
'Ada, don't be afraid, I know just what to do; all will go well'."
All did go well; meanwhile Mr. C. ran to seven doctors' houses, and at
last returned with a young man whom Mrs. Weiss vaguely recognised.
Mrs. C. whispered, "Look at the doctor's cravat". It was blue and
coral sprigged, and then first did Mrs. Weiss remember her dream of
Friday night.

Mrs. Weiss's story is corroborated by Mr. Blanchard, who heard the
story "a few days after the event". Mrs. C. has read Mrs. Weiss's
statement, "and in so far as I can remember it is quite correct". Mr.
C. remembers nothing about it; "he declares that he has no
recollection of it, _or of any matters outside his business_, and
knowing him as I do," says Mrs. Weiss, "I do not doubt the assertion".

Mr. C. must be an interesting companion. The nurse remembers that
after the birth of the baby Mrs. C. called Mr. C.'s attention to "the
doctor's necktie," and heard her say, "Why, I know him by mamma's
description as the doctor she saw in her dreams". {48}

The only thing even more extraordinary than the dream is Mr. C.'s
inability to remember anything whatever "outside of his business".
Another witness appears to decline to be called, "as it would be
embarrassing to him in his business". This it is to be Anglo-Saxon!

We now turn to a Celtic dream, in which knowledge supposed to be only
known to a dead man was conveyed to his living daughter.


On 1st February, 1891, Michael Conley, a farmer living near Ionia, in
Chichasow county, Iowa, went to Dubuque, in Iowa, to be medically
treated. He left at home his son Pat and his daughter Elizabeth, a
girl of twenty-eight, a Catholic, in good health. On February 3
Michael was found dead in an outhouse near his inn. In his pocket
were nine dollars, seventy-five cents, but his clothes, including his
shirt, were thought so dirty and worthless that they were thrown away.
The body was then dressed in a white shirt, black clothes and satin
slippers of a new pattern. Pat Conley was telegraphed for, and
arrived at Dubuque on February 4, accompanied by Mr. George Brown, "an
intelligent and reliable farmer". Pat took the corpse home in a
coffin, and on his arrival Elizabeth fell into a swoon, which lasted
for several hours. Her own account of what followed on her recovery
may be given in her own words:--

"When they told me that father was dead I felt very sick and bad; I
did not know anything. Then father came to me. He had on a white
shirt" (his own was grey), "and black clothes and slippers. When I
came to, I told Pat I had seen father. I asked Pat if he had brought
back father's old clothes. He said 'No,' and asked me why I wanted
them. I told him father said he had sewed a roll of bills inside of
his grey shirt, in a pocket made of a piece of my old red dress. I
went to sleep, and father came to me again. When I awoke I told Pat
he must go and get the clothes"--her father's old clothes.

Pat now telephoned to Mr. Hoffman, Coroner of Dubuque, who found the
old clothes in the back yard of the local morgue. They were wrapped
up in a bundle. Receiving this news, Pat went to Dubuque on February
9, where Mr. Hoffman opened the bundle in Pat's presence. Inside the
old grey shirt was found a pocket of red stuff, sewn with a man's
long, uneven stitches, and in the pocket notes for thirty-five

The girl did not see the body in the coffin, but asked about the _old_
clothes, because the figure of her father in her dream wore clothes
which she did not recognise as his. To dream in a faint is nothing
unusual. {50}


Swooning, or slight mental mistiness, is not very unusual in ghost
seers. The brother of a friend of my own, a man of letters and wide
erudition, was, as a boy, employed in a shop in a town, say Wexington.
The overseer was a dark, rather hectic-looking man, who died. Some
months afterwards the boy was sent on an errand. He did his business,
but, like a boy, returned by a longer and more interesting route. He
stopped as a bookseller's shop to stare at the books and pictures, and
while doing so felt a kind of mental vagueness. It was just before
his dinner hour, and he may have been hungry. On resuming his way, he
looked up and found the dead overseer beside him. He had no sense of
surprise, and walked for some distance, conversing on ordinary topics
with the appearance. He happened to notice such a minute detail as
that the spectre's boots were laced in an unusual way. At a crossing,
something in the street attracted his attention; he looked away from
his companion, and, on turning to resume their talk, saw no more of
him. He then walked to the shop, where he mentioned the occurrence to
a friend. He has never during a number of years had any such
experience again, or suffered the preceding sensation of vagueness.

This, of course, is not a ghost story, but leads up to the old tale of
the wraith of Valogne. In this case, two boys had made a covenant,
the first who died was to appear to the other. He _did_ appear before
news of his death arrived, but after a swoon of his friend's, whose
health (like that of Elizabeth Conley) suffered in consequence.


"PERCEVAL MURDER." Times, 25th May, 1812.

"A Dumfries paper states that on the night of Sunday, the 10th
instant, _twenty-four hours before the fatal deed was perpetrated_, a
report was brought to Bude Kirk, two miles from Annan, that _Mr.
Perceval was shot on his way to the House of Commons, at the door or
in the lobby of that House_. This the whole inhabitants of the
village are ready to attest, as the report quickly spread and became
the topic of conversation. A clergyman investigated the rumour, with
the view of tracing it to its source, but without success."

The Times of 2nd June says, "Report without foundation".

Perth Courier, 28th May, quoting from the Dumfries and Galloway
Courier, repeats above almost verbatim. " . . . The clergyman to
whom we have alluded, and who allows me to make use of his name, is
Mr. Yorstoun, minister of Hoddam. This gentleman went to the spot and
carefully investigated the rumour, but has not hitherto been
successful, although he has obtained the most satisfactory proof of
its having existed at the time we have mentioned. We forbear to make
any comments on this wonderful circumstance, but should anything
further transpire that may tend to throw light upon it, we shall not
fail to give the public earliest information."

The Dumfries and Galloway Courier I cannot find! It is not in the
British Museum.


Transition from Dreams to Waking Hallucinations. Popular Scepticism
about the Existence of Hallucinations in the Sane. Evidence of Mr.
Francis Galton, F.R.S. Scientific Disbelief in ordinary Mental
Imagery. Scientific Men who do not see in "the Mind's Eye". Ordinary
People who do. Frequency of Waking Hallucinations among Mr. Gallon's
friends. Kept Private till asked for by Science. Causes of such
Hallucinations unknown. Story of the Diplomatist. Voluntary or
Induced Hallucinations. Crystal Gazing. Its Universality.
Experience of George Sand. Nature of such Visions. Examples.
Novelists. Crystal Visions only "Ghostly" when Veracious. Modern
Examples. Under the Lamp. The Cow with the Bell Historical Example.
Prophetic Crystal Vision. St. Simon The Regent d'Orleans. The
Deathbed of Louis XIV. References for other Cases of Crystal Visions.

From dreams, in sleep or swoon, of a character difficult to believe in
we pass by way of "hallucinations" to ghosts. Everybody is ready to
admit that dreams do really occur, because almost everybody has
dreamed. But everybody is not so ready to admit that sane and
sensible men and women can have hallucinations, just because everybody
has not been hallucinated.

On this point Mr. Francis Galton, in his Inquiries into Human Faculty
(1833), is very instructive. Mr. Galton drew up a short catechism,
asking people how clearly or how dimly they saw things "in their
mind's eye".

"Think of your breakfast-table," he said; "is your mental picture of
it as clearly illuminated and as complete as your actual view of the
scene?" Mr. Galton began by questioning friends in the scientific
world, F.R.S.'s and other savants. "The earliest results of my
inquiry amazed me. . . . The great majority of the men of science to
whom I first applied, protested that _mental imagery was unknown to
them_, and they looked on me as fanciful and fantastic in supposing
that the words 'mental imagery' really expressed what I believed
everybody supposed them to mean." One gentleman wrote: "It is only
by a figure of speech that I can describe my recollection of a scene
as a 'mental image' which I can 'see' with 'my mind's eye'. I do not
see it," so he seems to have supposed that nobody else did.

When he made inquiries in general society, Mr. Galton found plenty of
people who "saw" mental imagery with every degree of brilliance or
dimness, from "quite comparable to the real object" to "I recollect
the table, but do not see it"--my own position.

Mr. Galton was next "greatly struck by the frequency of the replies in
which my correspondents" (sane and healthy) "described themselves as
subject to 'visions'". These varied in degree, "some were so vivid as
actually to deceive the judgment". Finally, "a notable proportion of
sane persons have had not only visions, but actual hallucinations of
sight at one or more periods of their life. I have a considerable
packet of instances contributed by my personal friends." Thus one
"distinguished authoress" saw "the principal character of one of her
novels glide through the door straight up to her. It was about the
size of a large doll." Another heard unreal music, and opened the
door to hear it better. Another was plagued by voices, which said
"Pray," and so forth.

Thus, on scientific evidence, sane and healthy people may, and "in a
notable proportion _do_, experience hallucinations". That is to say,
they see persons, or hear them, or believe they are touched by them,
or all their senses are equally affected at once, when no such persons
are really present. This kind of thing is always going on, but "when
popular opinion is of a matter-of-fact kind, the seers of visions keep
quiet; they do not like to be thought fanciful or mad, and they hide
their experiences, which only come to light through inquiries such as
those that I have been making".

We may now proceed to the waking hallucinations of sane and healthy
people, which Mr. Galton declares to be so far from uncommon. Into
the _causes_ of these hallucinations which may actually deceive the
judgment, Mr. Galton does not enter.


For example, there is a living diplomatist who knows men and cities,
and has, moreover, a fine sense of humour. "My Lord," said a famous
Russian statesman to him, "you have all the qualities of a
diplomatist, but you cannot control your smile." This gentleman,
walking alone in a certain cloister at Cambridge, met a casual
acquaintance, a well-known London clergyman, and was just about
shaking hands with him, when the clergyman vanished. Nothing in
particular happened to either of them; the clergyman was not in the
seer's mind at the moment.

This is a good example of a solitary hallucination in the experience
of a very cool-headed observer. The _causes_ of such experiences are
still a mystery to science. Even people who believe in "mental
telegraphy," say when a distant person, at death or in any other
crisis, impresses himself as present on the senses of a friend, cannot
account for an experience like that of the diplomatist, an experience
not very uncommon, and little noticed except when it happens to
coincide with some remarkable event. {56b} Nor are such
hallucinations of an origin easily detected, like those of delirium,
insanity, intoxication, grief, anxiety, or remorse. We can only
suppose that a past impression of the aspect of a friend is recalled
by some association of ideas so vividly that (though we are not
_consciously_ thinking of him) we conceive the friend to be actually
present in the body when he is absent.

These hallucinations are casual and unsought. But between these and
the dreams of sleep there is a kind of waking hallucinations which
some people can purposely evoke. Such are the visions of _crystal

Among the superstitions of almost all ages and countries is the belief
that "spirits" will show themselves, usually after magical ceremonies,
to certain persons, commonly children, who stare into a crystal ball,
a cup, a mirror, a blob of ink (in Egypt and India), a drop of blood
(among the Maoris of New Zealand), a bowl of water (Red Indian), a
pond (Roman and African), water in a glass bowl (in Fez), or almost
any polished surface. The magical ceremonies, which have probably
nothing to do with the matter, have succeeded in making this old and
nearly universal belief seem a mere fantastic superstition. But
occasionally a person not superstitious has recorded this experience.
Thus George Sand in her Histoire de ma Vie mentions that, as a little
girl, she used to see wonderful moving landscapes in the polished back
of a screen. These were so vivid that she thought they must be
visible to others.

Recent experiments have proved that an unexpected number of people
have this faculty. Gazing into a ball of crystal or glass, a crystal
or other smooth ring stone, such as a sapphire or ruby, or even into a
common ink-pot, they will see visions very brilliant. These are often
mere reminiscences of faces or places, occasionally of faces or places
sunk deep below the ordinary memory. Still more frequently they
represent fantastic landscapes and romantic scenes, as in an
historical novel, with people in odd costumes coming, going and
acting. Thus I have been present when a lady saw in a glass ball a
man in white Oriental costume kneeling beside a leaping fountain of
fire. Presently a hand appeared pointing downwards through the flame.
The _first_ vision seen pretty often represents an invalid in bed.
Printed words are occasionally read in the glass, as also happens in
the visions beheld with shut eyes before sleeping.

All these kinds of things, in fact, are common in our visions between
sleeping and waking (illusions hypnagogiques). The singularity is
that they are seen by people wide awake in glass balls and so forth.
Usually the seer is a person whose ordinary "mental imagery" is
particularly vivid. But every "visualiser" is not a crystal seer. A
novelist of my acquaintance can "visualise" so well that, having
forgotten an address and lost the letter on which it was written, he
called up a mental picture of the letter, and so discovered the
address. But this very popular writer can see no visions in a crystal
ball. Another very popular novelist can see them; little dramas are
acted out in the ball for his edification. {58}

These things are as unfamiliar to men of science as Mr. Galton found
ordinary mental imagery, pictures in memory, to be. Psychology may or
may not include them in her province; they may or may not come to be
studied as ordinary dreams are studied. But, like dreams, these
crystal visions enter the domain of the ghostly only when they are
_veracious_, and contribute information previously unknown as to past,
present or future. There are plenty of stories to this effect. To
begin with an easy, or comparatively easy, exercise in belief.


I had given a glass ball to a young lady, who believed that she could
play the "willing game" successfully without touching the person
"willed," and when the person did not even know that "willing" was
going on. This lady, Miss Baillie, had scarcely any success with the
ball. She lent it to Miss Leslie, who saw a large, square, old-
fashioned red sofa covered with muslin, which she found in the next
country house she visited. Miss Baillie's brother, a young athlete
(at short odds for the amateur golf championship), laughed at these
experiments, took the ball into the study, and came back looking "gey
gash". He admitted that he had seen a vision, somebody he knew "under
a lamp". He would discover during the week whether he saw right or
not. This was at 5.30 on a Sunday afternoon. On Tuesday, Mr. Baillie
was at a dance in a town some forty miles from his home, and met a
Miss Preston. "On Sunday," he said, "about half-past five you were
sitting under a standard lamp in a dress I never saw you wear, a blue
blouse with lace over the shoulders, pouring out tea for a man in blue
serge, whose back was towards me, so that I only saw the tip of his

"Why, the blinds must have been up," said Miss Preston.

"I was at Dulby," said Mr. Baillie, as he undeniably was. {60a}

This is not a difficult exercise in belief. Miss Preston was not
unlikely to be at tea at tea-time.

Nor is the following very hard.


I had given a glass ball to the wife of a friend, whose visions proved
so startling and on one occasion so unholy that she ceased to make
experiments. One day my friend's secretary, a young student and
golfer, took up the ball.

"I see a field I know very well," he said, "but there is a cow in it
that I never saw; brown, with white markings, and, this is odd in
Scotland, she has a bell hanging from her neck. I'll go and look at
the field."

He went and found the cow as described, bell and all. {60b}

In the spring of 1897 I gave a glass ball to a young lady, previously
a stranger to me, who was entirely unacquainted with crystal gazing,
even by report. She had, however, not infrequent experience of
spontaneous visions, which were fulfilled, including a vision of the
Derby (Persimmon's year), which enriched her friends. In using the
ball she, time after time, succeeded in seeing and correctly
describing persons and places familiar to people for whom she
"scried," but totally strange to herself. In one case she added a
detail quite unknown to the person who consulted her, but which was
verified on inquiry. These experiments will probably be published
elsewhere. Four people, out of the very small number who tried on
these occasions, saw fancy pictures in the ball: two were young
ladies, one a man, and one a schoolboy. I must confess that, for the
first time, I was impressed by the belief that the lady's veracious
visions, however they are to be explained, could not possibly be
accounted for by chance coincidence. They were too many (I was aware
of five in a few days), too minute, and too remote from the range of
ingenious guessing. But "thought transference," tapping the mental
wires of another person, would have accounted for every case, with,
perhaps, the exception of that in which an unknown detail was added.
This confession will, undoubtedly, seem weakly credulous, but not to
make it would be unfair and unsportsmanlike. My statement, of course,
especially without the details, is not evidence for other people.

The following case is a much harder exercise in belief. It is
narrated by the Duc de Saint Simon. {62} The events were described to
Saint Simon on the day after their occurrence by the Duc d'Orleans,
then starting for Italy, in May, 1706. Saint Simon was very intimate
with the duke, and they corresponded by private cypher without
secretaries. Owing to the death of the king's son and grandson (not
seen in the vision), Orleans became Regent when Louis XIV. died in
1714. Saint Simon is a reluctant witness, and therefore all the


"Here is a strange story that the Duc d'Orleans told me one day in a
tete-a-tete at Marly, he having just run down from Paris before he
started for Italy; and it may be observed that all the events
predicted came to pass, though none of them could have been foreseen
at the time. His interest in every kind of art and science was very
great, and in spite of his keen intellect, he was all his life subject
to a weakness which had been introduced (with other things) from Italy
by Catherine de Medici, and had reigned supreme over the courts of her
children. He had exercised every known method of inducing the devil
to appear to him in person, though, as he has himself told me, without
the smallest success. He had spent much time in investigating matters
that touched on the supernatural, and dealt with the future.

"Now La Sery (his mistress) had in her house a little girl of eight or
nine years of age, who had never resided elsewhere since her birth.
She was to all appearance a very ordinary child, and from the way in
which she had been brought up, was more than commonly ignorant and
simple. One day, during the visit of M. d'Orleans, La Sery produced
for his edification one of the charlatans with whom the duke had long
been familiar, who pretended that by means of a glass of water he
could see the answer to any question that might be put. For this
purpose it was necessary to have as a go-between some one both young
and innocent, to gaze into the water, and this little girl was at once
sent for. They amused themselves by asking what was happening in
certain distant places; and after the man had murmured some words over
the water, the child looked in and always managed to see the vision
required of her.

"M. le duc d'Orleans had so often been duped in matters of this kind
that he determined to put the water-gazer to a severe test. He
whispered to one of his attendants to go round to Madame de Nancre's,
who lived close by, and ascertain who was there, what they were all
doing, the position of the room and the way it was furnished, and
then, without exchanging a word with any one, to return and let him
know the result. This was done speedily and without the slightest
suspicion on the part of any person, the child remaining in the room
all the time. When M. le duc d'Orleans had learned all he wanted to
know, he bade the child look in the water and tell him who was at
Madame de Nancre's and what they were all doing. She repeated word
for word the story that had been told by the duke's messenger;
described minutely the faces, dresses and positions of the assembled
company, those that were playing cards at the various tables, those
that were sitting, those that were standing, even the very furniture!
But to leave nothing in doubt, the Duke of Orleans despatched Nancre
back to the house to verify a second time the child's account, and
like the valet, he found she had been right in every particular.

"As a rule he said very little to me about these subjects, as he knew
I did not approve of them, and on this occasion I did not fail to
scold him, and to point out the folly of being amused by such things,
especially at a time when his attention should be occupied with more
serious matters. 'Oh, but I have only told you half,' he replied;
'that was just the beginning,' and then he went on to say that,
encouraged by the exactitude of the little girl's description of
Madame de Nancre's room, he resolved to put to her a more important
question, namely, as to the scene that would occur at the death of the
king. The child had never seen any one who was about the court, and
had never even heard of Versailles, but she described exactly and at
great length the king's bedroom at Versailles and all the furniture
which was in fact there at the date of his death. She gave every
detail as to the bed, and cried out on recognising, in the arms of
Madame de Ventadour, a little child decorated with an order whom she
had seen at the house of Mademoiselle la Sery; and again at the sight
of M. le duc d'Orleans. From her account, Madame de Maintenon, Fagon
with his odd face, Madame la duchesse d'Orleans, Madame la duchesse,
Madame la princesse de Conti, besides other princes and nobles, and
even the valets and servants were all present at the king's deathbed.
Then she paused, and M. le duc d'Orleans, surprised that she had never
mentioned Monseigneur, Monsieur le duc de Bourgogne, Madame la
duchesse de Bourgogne, nor M. le duc de Berri, inquired if she did not
see such and such people answering to their description. She
persisted that she did not, and went over the others for the second
time. This astonished M. le duc d'Orleans deeply, as well as myself,
and we were at a loss to explain it, but the event proved that the
child was perfectly right. This seance took place in 1706. These
four members of the royal family were then full of health and
strength; and they all died before the king. It was the same thing
with M. le prince, M. le duc, and M. le prince de Conti, whom she
likewise did not see, though she beheld the children of the two last
named; M. du Maine, his own (Orleans), and M. le comte de Toulouse.
But of course this fact was unknown till eight years after."

Science may conceivably come to study crystal visions, but veracious
crystal visions will be treated like veracious dreams. That is to
say, they will be explained as the results of a chance coincidence
between the unknown fact and the vision, or of imposture, conscious or
unconscious, or of confusion of memory, or the fact of the crystal
vision will be simply denied. Thus a vast number of well-
authenticated cases of veracious visions will be required before
science could admit that it might be well to investigate hitherto
unacknowledged faculties of the human mind. The evidence can never be
other than the word of the seer, with whatever value may attach to the
testimony of those for whom he "sees," and describes, persons and
places unknown to himself. The evidence of individuals as to their
own subjective experiences is accepted by psychologists in other
departments of the study. {66}


Veracious Waking Hallucinations not recognised by Science; or
explained by Coincidence, Imposture, False Memory. A Veracious
Hallucination popularly called a Wraith or Ghost. Example of
Unveracious Hallucination. The Family Coach. Ghosts' Clothes and
other Properties and Practices; how explained. Case of Veracious
Hallucination. Riding Home from Mess. Another Case. The Bright
Scar. The Vision and the Portrait. Such Stories not usually
believed. Cases of Touch: The Restraining Hand. Of Hearing: The
Benedictine's Voices; The Voice in the Bath-room. Other "Warnings".
The Maoris. The Man at the Lift. Appearances Coincident with Death.
Others not Coincident with Anything.

In "crystal-gazing" anybody can make experiments for himself and among
such friends as he thinks he can trust. They are hallucinations
consciously sought for, and as far as possible, provoked or induced by
taking certain simple measures. Unsought, spontaneous waking
hallucinations, according to the result of Mr. Galton's researches,
though not nearly so common as dreams, are as much facts of _sane_
mental experience. Now every ghost or wraith is a hallucination. You
see your wife in the dining-room when she really is in the drawing-
room; you see your late great-great-grandfather anywhere. Neither
person is really present. The first appearance in popular language is
a "wraith"; the second is a "ghost" in ordinary speech. Both are

So far Mr. Galton would go, but mark what follows! Everybody allows
the existence of dreams, but comparatively few believe in dream
stories of _veracious_ dreams. So every scientific man believes in
hallucinations, {68} but few believe in _veracious_ hallucinations. A
veracious hallucination is, for our purpose, one which communicates
(as veracious dreams do) information not otherwise known, or, at
least, not known to the knower to be known. The communication of the
knowledge may be done by audible words, with or without an actual
apparition, or with an apparition, by words or gestures. Again, if a
hallucination of Jones's presence tallies with a great crisis in
Jones's life, or with his death, the hallucination is so far veracious
in that, at least, it does not seem meaningless. Or if Jones's
appearance has some unwonted feature not known to the seer, but
afterwards proved to be correct in fact, that is veracious. Next, if
several persons successively in the same place, or simultaneously,
have a similar hallucination not to be accounted for physically, that
is, if not a veracious, a curious hallucination. Once more, if a
hallucinatory figure is afterwards recognised in a living person
previously unknown, or a portrait previously unseen, that (if the
recognition be genuine) is a veracious hallucination. The vulgar call
it a wraith of the living, or a ghost of the dead.

Here follow two cases. The first, The Family Coach, {69a} gave no
verified intelligence, and would be styled a "subjective
hallucination". The second contributed knowledge of facts not
previously known to the witness, and so the vulgar would call it a
ghost. Both appearances were very rich and full of complicated
detail. Indeed, any ghost that wears clothes is a puzzle. Nobody but
savages thinks that clothes have ghosts, but Tom Sawyer conjectures
that ghosts' clothes "are made of ghost stuff".

As a rule, not very much is seen of a ghost; he is "something of a
shadowy being". Yet we very seldom hear of a ghost stark naked; that
of Sergeant Davies, murdered in 1749, is one of three or four examples
in civilised life. {69b} Hence arises the old question, "How are we
to account for the clothes of ghosts?" One obvious reply is that there
is no ghost at all, only a hallucination. We do not see people naked,
as a rule, in our dreams; and hallucinations, being waking dreams,
conform to the same rule. If a ghost opens a door or lifts a curtain
in our sight, that, too, is only part of the illusion. The door did
not open; the curtain was not lifted. Nay, if the wrist or hand of
the seer is burned or withered, as in a crowd of stories, the ghost's
hand did not produce the effect. It was produced in the same way as
when a hypnotised patient is told that "his hand is burned," his fancy
then begets real blisters, or so we are informed, truly or not. The
stigmata of St. Francis and others are explained in the same way. {70}
How ghosts pull bedclothes off and make objects fly about is another
question: in any case the ghosts are not _seen_ in the act.

Thus the clothes of ghosts, their properties, and their actions
affecting physical objects, are not more difficult to explain than a
naked ghost would be, they are all the "stuff that dreams are made
of". But occasionally things are carried to a great pitch, as when a
ghost drives off in a ghostly dogcart, with a ghostly horse, whip and
harness. Of this complicated kind we give two examples; the first
reckons as a "subjective," the second as a veracious hallucination.


A distinguished and accomplished country gentleman and politician, of
scientific tastes, was riding in the New Forest, some twelve miles
from the place where he was residing. In a grassy glade he discovered
that he did not very clearly know his way to a country town which he
intended to visit. At this moment, on the other side of some bushes a
carriage drove along, and then came into clear view where there was a
gap in the bushes. Mr. Hyndford saw it perfectly distinctly; it was a
slightly antiquated family carriage, the sides were in that imitation
of wicker work on green panel which was once so common. The coachman
was a respectable family servant, he drove two horses: two old ladies
were in the carriage, one of them wore a hat, the other a bonnet.
They passed, and then Mr. Hyndford, going through the gap in the
bushes, rode after them to ask his way. There was no carriage in
sight, the avenue ended in a cul-de-sac of tangled brake, and there
were no traces of wheels on the grass. Mr. Hyndford rode back to his
original point of view, and looked for any object which could suggest
the illusion of one old-fashioned carriage, one coachman, two horses
and two elderly ladies, one in a hat and one in a bonnet. He looked
in vain--and that is all!

Nobody in his senses would call this appearance a ghostly one. The

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