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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


The colonel did not keep his determination not to marry, for his Life is edited by his daughter, who often heard her father mention the incident, "precisely in the same manner, and exactly as it is in the book". {103}

If thinking of friends and lovers, lost or dead, could bring their forms and voices before the eye and ear of flesh, there would be a world of hallucinations around us. "But it wants heaven-sent moments for this skill," and few bridal nights send a vision and a voice to the bed of a wakeful lover far away.

Stories of this kind, appearances of the living or dying really at a distance, might be multiplied to any extent. They are all capable of explanation, if we admit the theory of telepathy, of a message sent by an unknown process from one living man's mind to another. Where more than one person shares the vision, we may suppose that the influence comes directly from A to B, C and D, or comes from A to B, and is by him unconsciously "wired" on to B and C, or is "suggested" to them by B's conduct or words.

In that case animals may be equally affected, thus, if B seems alarmed, that may frighten his dog, or the alarm of a dog, caused by some noise or smell, heard or smelt by him, may frighten B, C and D, and make one or all of them see a ghost.

Popular opinion is strongly in favour of beasts seeing ghosts. The people of St. Kilda, according to Martin, held that cows shared the visions of second-sighted milk-maids. Horses are said to shy on the scene of murders. Scott's horse ran away (home) when Sir Walter saw the bogle near Ashiestiel. In a case given later the dog shut up in a room full of unexplained noises, yelled and whined. The same dog (an intimate friend of my own) bristled up his hair and growled before his master saw the Grey Lady. The Rev. J. G. Wood gives a case of a cat which nearly went mad when his mistress saw an apparition. Jeremy Taylor tells of a dog which got quite used to a ghost that often appeared to his master, and used to follow it. In "The Lady in Black," a dog would jump up and fawn on the ghost and then run away in a fright. Mr. Wesley's mastiff was much alarmed by the family ghost. Not to multiply cases, dogs and other animals are easily affected by whatever it is that makes people think a ghost is present, or by the conduct of the human beings on these occasions.

Absurd as the subject appears, there are stories of the ghosts of animals. These may be discussed later; meanwhile we pass from appearances of the living or dying to stories of appearances of the dead.

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