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ARE ALL DREAMS UNTRUSTWORTHY?
to him, stating that he was now in another and a better world, from which he had found great difficulty in communicating with the friend he had left behind, and adding, as to that world, that “the hopes and wishes of its inhabitants were by no means satisfied, for, like those of the lower world, they still looked forward in the hope of eventually reaching a still happier state of existence."'*
Those who believe that they have sufficient evidence, in other examples, of the reality of such revisitings, will probably conclude, as the biographer states Smellie himself to have believed even to the day of his death, that his friend Greenlaw had actually appeared to him; but it is evident that a different interpretation may be put on the incident; for it is clearly supposable, in this case, as in that of the war-worn soldier in Campbell's ballad, that the longing of the day may have engendered the vision of the night.
But while we admit, what the facts abundantly prove, that, in a great majority of instances, dreams are, or may be, either the breaking forth in sleep of a strong desire, or the offspring of fancy running riot beyond the control of the judgment, or else the result of suggestion, sometimes direct and intentional, more frequently proceeding, apparently by accident, from antecedent thoughts or emotions, there remain to be dealt with certain exceptional cases, which do not seem to be properly included in any of the above categories. To judge understandingly of these, it behooves us to examine them somewhat in detail.
We may dispose, preliminarily, of one class, as evi. dently susceptible of simple and natural explanation; those, namely, which, more or less distinctly, bring about their own fulfillment.
* “Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Correspondence of William Smellie, F.R.S. and F.A.S.,” by Robert Kerr, F.R.S., Edinburgh, 1811, p. 187.
THE LOCKSMITH'S APPRENTICE.
Such, for example, is an old story, mentioned by several Italian authors, of a merchant, traveling between Rome and Sienna, who dreamed that he was murdered on the road. His host, to whom he told his dream, advised him to pray and confess. He did so, and was afterward assassinated on the way by the very priest to whom, in confession, he had communicated the knowledge of his wealth and his apprehensions.
A case of similar character, occurring a few years since near Hamburg, was given at the time in the newspapers of the day. The apprentice of a certain locksmith of that city, named Claude Soller, one day informed his master that the night before he had dreamed that he had been murdered on the road between Hamburg and Bergsdorff. His master laughingly told him he had just then a hundred and forty rix-dollars to send to his brother-in-law in Bergsdorff; and, to prove to him how ridiculous it was to believe in such omens, he (the apprentice) should be the bearer of it. The young man, after vainly remonstrating, was compelled to set out, which he did, about eleven o'clock in the day. Arrived half-way, at the village of Billwaerder, and recollecting, with terror, the particulars of his dream, he called upon the baillie of the village, found him engaged with some workmen, related to him, in their presence, his dream, mentioned the sum of money he had with him, and begged that some one might be allowed to accompany him through a small wood that lay in his way. The baillie, smiling at his fears, bade one of the workmen go with him as he desired. The next day the body of the apprentice was found, his throat cut, and a bloody reaping-hook near the body. It was afterward proved that the man who accompanied him had used that very reaping-book some time before, to cut willows. He was apprehended, confessed his crime, and declared that it
was the recital of the dream which had prompted him to its commission.
In some cases the connection between the influence of the dream and its fulfillment, though we may admit its possibility, is not so clearly made out. A romantic example— perfectly authenticated, however I here translate from Macario's work on Sleep.
HOW A PARIS EDITOR OBTAINED A WIFE.
In a small town of Central France, Charité-sur-Loire, in the Department of Nièvre, there lived a young girl, of humble rank, being the daughter of a baker, but remarkable for her grace and beauty. There were several aspirants for her hand, of whom one, on account of his fortune, was favored by her parents. The girl, however, not liking him, rejected his proposals of marriage. The parents insisted; and finally the daughter, pressed by their importunities, repaired to the church, prostrated herself before the image of the Virgin, and earnestly prayed for counsel and guidance in the choice of a husband.
The following night she dreamed that there passed before her a young man, in a traveler's dress, with spectacles, and wearing a large straw hat; and a voice from within seemed to tell her that he was to be her husband. As soon as she awoke, she sought her parents, told them, respectfully, but firmly, that she had positively decided not to accept the man of their choice; and from thenceforward they no longer pressed the matter.
Some time afterward, at a village ball, she recognized the young traveler, just as he had appeared in her dream. She blushed. He was attracted by her appearance, fell in love, as the phrase is, at first sight, and after a brief interval they were married. Her husband is M. Emile de la Bédollière, one of the editors of the Paris journal the “Siècle;" and, in a letter to Dr.
Macario, dated Paris, 13th December, 1854, he certifies to the accuracy, in every particular, of the above relation, adding other details. He states that it was at a subscription ball, held in August, 1833, at the house of a man named Jacquemart, which he visited in company with his friend, Eugène Lafaure, that he first saw his future wife, Angèle Bobin; that her emotion on seeing him was apparent, and that he ascertained from the lady at whose pension the young girl then was, Mademoiselle Porcerat by name, that she who afterward became Madame de la Bédollière had given to her teacher, long before his own accidental appearance for the first time at La Charité, an accurate description of his person and dress.*
In this case, though the coincidence seems remarkable, we may, as to the matter of personal resemblance, allow something to chance and something to latitude of imagination in an enthusiastic young girl. For the rest, the conscious blush of a village beauty was sufficient to attract the attention and interest the heart of a young traveler, perhaps of ardent and impressible temperament. It would be presumptuous positively to assert that these considerations furnish the true explanation. But the possibility is to be conceded that they may do so.
So in another case, the dream or vision of Sir Charles Lee's daughter, in which, however, it was death, not marriage, that was foreshadowed. Though it occurred nearly two hundred years ago, it is very well authenticated, having been related by Sir Charles Lee himself to the Bishop of Gloucester, and by the Bishop of Gloucester to Beaumont, who published it, soon after he
*“ Du Sommeil, des Rêves, et du Somnambulisme," by Dr. Macario, ExDeputy of the Sardinian Parliament, Lyons, 1857, pp. 80, 81.
heard it, in a postscript to his well-known “Treatise of Spirits." Thence I transcribe it.
THE BISHOP OF GLOUCESTER'S STORY. “ Having lately had the honor to hear a relation of an apparition from the Lord Bishop of Gloucester, and it being too late for me to insert it in its proper place in this book, I give it you here by way of postscript, as follows:
“Sir Charles Lee, by his first lady, had only one daughter, of which she died in childbirth; and, when she was dead, her sister, the Lady Everard, desir'd to have the education of the child; and she was by her very well educated till she was marriageable; and a match was concluded for her with Sir William Perkins, but was then prevented in an extraordinary manner. Upon a Thursday night, she, thinking she saw a light in her chamber after she was in bed, knock'd for her maid, who presently came to her; and she asked why she left a candle burning in her chamber. The maid said she left none, and there was none but what she brought with her at that time. Then she said it was the fire; but that, her maid told her, was quite out, and said she believed it was only a dream ; whereupon she said it might be so, and compos’d herself again to sleep. But about two of the clock she was awaken'd again, and saw the apparition of a little woman between her curtain and her pillow, who told her she was her mother, that she was happy, and that by twelve o'clock that day she should be with her. Whereupon she knock'd again for her maid, called for her clothes, and, when she was dress’d, went into her closet, and came not out again till nine, and then brought out with her a letter sealed to her father, brought it to her aunt, the Lady Everard, told her what had happen'd, and desir'd that, as soon as she was dead, it might be sent to him. But