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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


Here the information existed in one living mind, the mother's, and if there is any "mental telegraphy," may thence have been conveyed to Mr. F. G.

Another kind of cases which may be called veracious, occurs when the ghost seer, after seeing the ghost, recognises it in a portrait not previously beheld. Of course, allowance must be made for fancy, and for conscious or unconscious hoaxing. You see a spook in Castle Dangerous. You then recognise the portrait in the hall, or elsewhere. The temptation to recognise the spook rather more clearly than you really do, is considerable, just as one is tempted to recognise the features of the Stuarts in the royal family, of the parents in a baby, or in any similar case.

Nothing is more common in literary ghost stories than for somebody to see a spectre and afterwards recognise him or her in a portrait not before seen. There is an early example in Sir Walter Scott's Tapestried Chamber, which was told to him by Miss Anna Seward. Another such tale is by Theophile Gautier. In an essay on Illusions by Mr. James Sully, a case is given. A lady (who corroborated the story to the present author) was vexed all night by a spectre in armour. Next morning she saw, what she had not previously observed, a portrait of the spectre in the room. Mr. Sully explains that she had seen the portrait _unconsciously_, and dreamed of it. He adds the curious circumstance that other people have had the same experience in the same room, which his explanation does not cover. The following story is published by the Society for Psychical Research, attested by the seer and her husband, whose real names are known, but not published. {76}


Mrs. M. writes (December 15, 1891) that before her vision she had heard nothing about hauntings in the house occupied by herself and her husband, and nothing about the family sorrows of her predecessors there.

"One night, on retiring to my bedroom about 11 o'clock, I thought I heard a peculiar moaning sound, and some one sobbing as if in great distress of mind. I listened very attentively, and still it continued; so I raised the gas in my bedroom, and then went to the window on the landing, drew the blind aside, and there on the grass was a very beautiful young girl in a kneeling posture, before a soldier in a general's uniform, sobbing and clasping her hands together, entreating for pardon, but alas! he only waved her away from him. So much did I feel for the girl that I ran down the staircase to the door opening upon the lawn, and begged her to come in and tell me her sorrow. The figures then disappeared gradually, as in a dissolving view. Not in the least nervous did I feel then; went again to my bedroom, took a sheet of writing-paper, and wrote down what I had seen." {77}

Mrs. M., whose husband was absent, began to feel nervous, and went to another lady's room.

She later heard of an old disgrace to the youngest daughter of the proud family, her predecessors in the house. The poor girl tried in vain to win forgiveness, especially from a near relative, a soldier, Sir X. Y.

"So vivid was my remembrance of the features of the soldier, that some months after the occurrence [of the vision] when I called with my husband at a house where there was a portrait of him, I stepped before it and said, 'Why, look! there is the General!' And sure enough it _was_."