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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


"Spirits of the Living." Mistakes of Identity. Followed by Arrival of Real Person. "Arrivals." Mark Twain's Phantom Lady. Phantom Dogcart. Influence of Expectant Attention. Goethe. Shelley. The Wraith of the Czarina. Queen Elizabeth's Wraith. Second Sight. Case at Ballachulish. Experiments in sending Wraiths. An "Astral Body". Evidence discussed. Miss Russell's Case. "Spirits of the Dying." Maori Examples. Theory of Chance Coincidence. In Tavistock Place. The Wynyard Wraith. Lord Brougham's Wraith Story. Lord Brougham's Logic. The Dying Mother. Comparison with the Astral Body. The Vision of the Bride. Animals as affected by the supposed Presence of Apparitions. Examples. Transition to Appearances of the Dead.

"Spirits of the living" is the Highland term for the appearances of people who are alive and well--but elsewhere. The common Highland belief is that they show themselves to second-sighted persons, very frequently before the arrival of a stranger or a visitor, expected or unexpected. Probably many readers have had the experience of meeting an acquaintance in the street. He passes us, and within a hundred yards we again meet and talk with our friend. When he is of very marked appearance, or has any strong peculiarity, the experience is rather perplexing. Perhaps a few bits of hallucination are sprinkled over a real object. This ordinary event leads on to what are called "Arrivals," that is when a person is seen, heard and perhaps spoken to in a place to which he is travelling, but whither he has not yet arrived. Mark Twain gives an instance in his own experience. At a large crowded reception he saw approaching him in the throng a lady whom he had known and liked many years before. When she was near him, he lost sight of her, but met her at supper, dressed as he had seen her in the "levee". At that moment she was travelling by railway to the town in which he was. {85a}

A large number of these cases have been printed. {85b} In one case a gentleman and lady from their window saw his brother and sister-in-law drive past, with a horse which they knew had not been out for some weeks. The seers were presently joined by the visitors' daughter, who had met the party on the road, she having just left them at their house. Ten minutes later the real pair arrived, horse and all. {85c}

This last affair is one of several tales of "Phantom Coaches," not only heard but seen, the coach being a coach of the living. In 1893 the author was staying at a Highland castle, when one of the ladies observed to her nephew, "So you and Susan _did_ drive in the dogcart; I saw you pass my window". "No, we didn't; but we spoke of doing it." The lady then mentioned minute details of the dress and attitudes of her relations as they passed her window, where the drive turned from the hall door through the park; but, in fact, no such journey had been made. Dr. Hack Tuke published the story of the "Arrival" of Dr. Boase at his house a quarter of an hour before he came, the people who saw him supposing him to be in Paris. {86}

When a person is seen in "Arrival" cases before he arrives, the affair is not so odd if he is expected. Undoubtedly, expectation does sometimes conjure up phantasms, and the author once saw (as he supposed) a serious accident occur which in fact did not take place, though it seemed unavoidable.