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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


"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.