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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


Finally, Clarendon makes the appearances set in six months before Felton slew the duke. The percipient, unnamed, was in bed. The narrative now develops new features; the token given on the ghost's third coming obviously concerns Buckingham's mother, the Countess, the "one person more" who knew the secret communicated. The ghost produces no knife from under his gown; no warning of Buckingham's death by violence is mentioned. A note in the MS. avers that Clarendon himself had papers bearing on the subject, and that he got his information from Sir Ralph Freeman (who introduced the unnamed percipient to the duke), and from some of Buckingham's servants, "who were informed of much of it before the murder of the duke". Clarendon adds that, in general, "no man looked on relations of that sort with less reverence and consideration" than he did. This anecdote he selects out of "many stories scattered abroad at the time" as "upon a better foundation of credit". The percipient was an officer in the king's wardrobe at Windsor, "of a good reputation for honesty and discretion," and aged about fifty. He was bred at a school in Sir George's parish, and as a boy was kindly treated by Sir George, "whom afterwards he never saw". On first beholding the spectre in his room, the seer recognised Sir George's costume, then antiquated. At last the seer went to Sir Ralph Freeman, who introduced him to the duke on a hunting morning at Lambeth Bridge. They talked earnestly apart, observed by Sir Ralph, Clarendon's informant. The duke seemed abstracted all day; left the field early, sought his mother, and after a heated conference of which the sounds reached the ante-room, went forth in visible trouble and anger, a thing never before seen in him after talk with his mother. She was found "overwhelmed with tears and in the highest agony imaginable". "It is a notorious truth" that, when told of his murder, "she seemed not in the least degree surprised."

The following curious manuscript account of the affair is, after the prefatory matter, the copy of a letter dated 1652. There is nothing said of a ghostly knife, the name of the seer is not Parker, and in its whole effect the story tallies with Clarendon's version, though the narrator knows nothing of the scene with the Countess of Buckingham.


"1627. Since William Lilly the Rebells Jugler and Mountebank in his malicious and blaspheamous discourse concerning our late Martyred Soveraigne of ever blessed memory (amongst other lyes and falsehoods) imprinted a relation concerning an Aparition which foretold several Events which should happen to the Duke of Buckingham, wherein he falsifies boeth the person to whom it appeared and ye circumstances; I thought it not amis to enter here (that it may be preserved) the true account of that Aparition as I have receaved it from the hande and under the hande of Mr. Edmund Wyndham, of Kellefford in the County of Somersett. I shall sett it downe (ipsissimis verbis) as he delivered it to me at my request written with his own hande.


"Sr. According to your desire and my promise I have written down what I remember (divers things being slipt out of my memory) of the relation made me by Mr. Nicholas Towse concerning the Aparition wch visited him. About ye yeare 1627, {122} I and my wife upon an occasion being in London lay att my Brother Pyne's house without Bishopsgate, wch. was ye next house unto Mr. Nicholas Towse's, who was my Kinsman and familiar acquaintance, in consideration of whose Society and friendship he tooke a house in that place, ye said Towse being a very fine Musician and very good company, and for ought I ever saw or heard, a Vurtuous, religious and wel disposed Gentleman. About that time ye said Mr. Towse tould me that one night, being in Bed and perfectly waking, and a Candle burning by him (as he usually had) there came into his Chamber and stood by his bed side an Olde Gentleman in such an habitt as was in fashion in Q: Elizebeth's tyme, at whose first appearance Mr. Towse was very much troubled, but after a little tyme, recollecting himselfe, he demanded of him in ye Name of God what he was, whether he were a Man. And ye Aparition replyed No. Then he asked him if he were a Divell. And ye answer was No. Then Mr. Towse said 'in ye Name of God, what art thou then?' And as I remember Mr. Towse told me that ye Apparition answered him that he was ye Ghost of Sir George Villiers, Father to ye then Duke of Buckingham, whom he might very well remember, synce he went to schoole at such a place in Leicestershire (naming ye place which I have forgotten). And Mr. Towse tould me that ye Apparition had perfectly ye resemblance of ye said Sr George Villiers in all respects and in ye same habitt that he had often seene him weare in his lifetime.