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SIR CHARLES LEE'S DAUGHTER.
the lady thought she was suddenly fall'n mad, and thereupon sent presently away to Chelmsford for a physician and surgeon, who both came immediately; but the physician could discern no indication of what the lady imagin'd, or of any indisposition of her body. Notwithstanding, the lady would needs have her let blood, which was done accordingly. And when the young woman had patiently let them do what they would with her, she desir'd that the chaplain might be called to read prayers; and when the prayers were ended she took her gittar and psalm-book, and sate down upon a chair without arms, and play'd and sung so melodiously and admirably that her musick-master, who was then there, admired at it. And near the stroke of twelve she rose, and sate herself down in a great chair with arms, and presently, fetching a strong breathing or two, immediately expired; and was so suddenly cold as was much wondered at by the physician and surgeon. She dyed at Waltham, in Essex, three miles from Chelmsford; and the letter was sent to Sir Charles, at his house in Warwickshire; but he was so afflicted with the death of his daughter, that he came not till she was buried; but, when he came, caus’d her to be taken up and to be buried by her mother at Edminton, as she desir'd in her letter. This was about the year 1662 or 1663. And that relation the Lord Bishop of Gloucester had from Sir Charles Lee himself."*
In the case here narrated, though it be doubtless an extraordinary and unusual thing for any one, not reduced by sickness to an extreme state of nervous weakness, to be so overcome by imagination that a confident
*“An Historical, Physiological, and Theological Treatise of Spirits," by John Beaumont, Gent., London, 1705, pp. 398 to 400.
expectation of death at a particular hour should cause it, even within a few minutes after the patient was, to all appearance, in good health, yet, as such things may possibly be, we cannot in this case, any more than in the preceding example, absolutely deny that the dream itself may bave been instrumental in working out its fulfillment.
There are many other dreams, however, as to the fulfillment of which no such explanation can be given. One of the best known and most celebrated is that of Calphurnia, on the night before the Ides of March. We read that she almost succeeded in imparting to her husband the alarm which this warning of his death created in herself, and that Cæsar was finally confirmed in his original intention to proceed to the Senate-chamber by the ridicule of one of the conspirators, who made light of the matron's fears.*
Those fears, natural in one whose husband, through a thousand perils, had reached so dangerous a height, might, indeed, have suggested the dream; and its exact time may possibly have been determined by the prediction of that augur, Spurina, who had bidden the dictator beware of the Ides of March. So that here again, though the dream had no effect in working out its fulfillment, apparent causes may be imagined to account for it.
A dream of somewhat similar character, occurring in modern times, is cited in several medical works, and
LIFE SAVED BY A DREAM.
vouched for, as “entirely authentic," by Abercrombie.* It is as follows:
Major and Mrs. Griffith, of Edinburgh, then residing in the Castle, had received into their house their nephew, Mr. Joseph D'Acre, of Kirklinton, in the county of Cumberland,-a young gentleman who had come to the Scottish capital for the purpose of attending college, and had been specially recommended to bis relatives'
One afternoon Mr. D’Acre communicated to them his intention of joining some of his young companions on the morrow in a fishing-party to Inch-Keith; and to this no objection was made. During the ensuing night, however, Mrs. Griffith started from a troubled dream, exclaiming, in accents of terror, “The boat is sinking! Oh, save them!” Her husband ascribed it to apprehension on her part; but she declared that she had no uneasiness whatever about the fishing-party, and indeed had not thought about it. So she again composed herself to sleep. When, however, a similar dream was thrice repeated in the course of the night, (the last time presenting the image of the boat lost and the whole party drowned,) becoming at last seriously alarmed, she threw on her wrapping-gown and, without waiting for morning, proceeded to her nephew's room. With some difficulty she persuaded him to relinquish his design, and to send his servant to Leith with an excuse. The morning was fine, and the party embarked; but about three o'clock a storm suddenly arose, the boat foundered, and all on board were lost.
* "Intellectual Powers,"15th ed., p. 215. Abercrombie condenses the story and omits the names.
† Independently of Abercrombie's voucher, this narrative is perfectly.
Here it may be alleged, that, as the aunt, in her waking state, experienced no apprehension for her nephew's safety, it is not at all likely that alarm on her part should have suggested the dream. I have shown, however, from my own experience, that dreams may be suggested by incidents that have made but trifling impression, and that had ceased to occupy the mind at the time of going to sleep. And, inasmuch as the risk attending sailing-parties on the Firth of Forth to young people, careless, probably, and thoughtless of danger, is considerable, the chances against a fatal result, in any particular case, cannot be regarded as so overwhelmingly great that we are precluded from adopting the hypothesis of an accidental coincidence. Cicero says, truly enough, “What person who aims at a mark all day will not sometimes hit it? We sleep every night, and there are few on which we do not dream: can we wonder, then, that what we dream sometimes comes to pass
?"* Yet, if such examples should be found greatly multiplied, and particularly if details, as well as the general result, correspond accurately with the warning, the probabilities against a chance coincidence increase.
But it is very certain that such instances are much
well authenticated. The late Mary Lady Clerk, of Pennicuik, well known in Edinburgh during a protracted widowhood, was a daughter of Mr. D'Acre; and she herself communicated the story to Blackwood's Magazine, (vol. xix. p. 73,) in a letter dated “Princes Street, May 1, 1826," and commencing thus :-“Being in company the other day when the conversation turned upon dreams, I related one, of which, as it happened to my own father, I can answer for the perfect truth.” She concludes thus :—“I often heard the story from my father, who always added, “It has not made me superstitious; but with awful gratitude I never can forget that my life, under Providence, was saved by a dream.'-M. C.”
In the Magazine (of which I have followed, but somewhat abridged, the version) the names are initialized only. Through the kindness of an Edinburgh friend, I am enabled to fill them up from a copy of the anecdote in which they were given in full by Lady Clerk in her own handwriting.
*“De Divinatione,” lib. ii. & 59.
SIGNOR ROMANO'S STORY.
more numerous throughout society than those who have given slight attention to the subject imagine. Men usually relate with reluctance that which exposes them to the imputation of credulity. It is to an intimate friend only, or to one known to be seriously examining the question, that such confidences are commonly made. In the three or four years last past, during which I have taken an interest in this and kindred subjects, there have been communicated to me so many examples of dreams containing true warnings, or otherwise strangely fulfilled, that I have become convinced there is a very considerable proportion of all the persons we meet in our intercourse with the world, who could relate to us, if they would, one or more such, as having occurred either in their own families or to some of their acquaintances. I feel assured that among those who may read this book there will be few who could not supply evidence in support of the opinion here expressed.
I proceed to furnish, from among the narratives of this character which have thus recently come to my knowledge, a few specimens, for the authenticity of which I can vouch.
In the year 1818, Signor Alessandro Romano, the head of an old and highly-respected Neapolitan family, was at Patu, in the province of Terra d'Otranto, in the kingdom of Naples. He dreamed one night that the wife of the Cavaliere Libetta, Counselor of the Supreme Court, and his friend and legal adviser, who was then in the city of Naples, was dead. Although Signor Romano had not heard of the Signora Libetta being ill, or even indisposed, yet the extreme vividness of the dream produced a great impression on his mind and spirits; and the next morning he repeated it to his family, adding that it had disturbed him greatly, not only on account of his friendship for the family, but also because the Cavaliere had then in charge for him a lawsuit of im