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REAL GHOST STORIES (Collected and Edited by William T. Stead) online

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead

Chapter II. Lord Brougham's Testimony.

When we come to the question of the apparition pure and simple, one of the best-known leading cases is that recorded by Lord Brougham, who was certainly one of the hardest-headed persons that ever lived, a Lord Chancellor, trained from his youth up to weigh evidence. The story is given as follows in the first volume of "Lord Brougham's Memoirs":--

"A most remarkable thing happened to me, so remarkable that I must tell the story from the beginning. After I left the High School I went with G----, my most intimate friend, to attend the classes in the University. There was no divinity class, but we frequently in our walks discussed many grave subjects--among others, the immortality of the soul and a future state. This question, and the possibility of the dead appearing to the living, were subjects of much speculation, and we actually committed the folly of drawing up an agreement, written with our blood, to the effect that whichever of us died the first should appear to the other, and thus solve any doubts we had entertained of the 'life after death.'

"After we had finished our classes at the college, G---- went to India, having got an appointment there in the Civil Service. He seldom wrote to me, and after the lapse of a few years I had nearly forgotten his existence.... One day I had taken, as I have said, a warm bath; and, while lying in it and enjoying the comfort of the heat, I turned my head round, looking towards the chair on which I had deposited my clothes, as I was about to get out of the bath. On the chair sat G----, looking calmly at me. How I got out of the bath I know not; but on recovering my senses I found myself sprawling on the floor. The apparition, or whatever it was that had taken the likeness of G----, had disappeared.

"This vision had produced such a shock that I had no inclination to talk about it, or to speak about it even to Stewart, but the impression it made upon me was too vivid to be easily forgotten, and so strongly was I affected by it that I have here written down the whole history, with the date, December 19th, and all the particulars, as they are now fresh before me. No doubt I had fallen asleep, and that the appearance presented so distinctly before my eyes was a dream I cannot for a moment doubt; yet for years I had had no communication with G----, nor had there been anything to recall him to my recollection. Nothing had taken place concerning our Swedish travels connected with G----, or with India, or with anything relating to him, or to any member of his family. I recollected quickly enough our old discussion, and the bargain we had made. I could not discharge from my mind the impression that G---- must have died, and that his appearance to me was to be received by me as a proof of a future state. This was on December 19th, 1799.

"In October, 1862, Lord Brougham added as a postscript:--'I have just been copying out from my journal the account of this strange dream, "Certissima mortis imago!" And now to finish the story begun about sixty years since. Soon after my return to Edinburgh there arrived a letter from India announcing G----'s death, and stating that he died on December 19th.'"

_A Vow Fulfilled._

Very many of the apparitions of this description appear in connection with a promise made during lifetime to do so. A lady correspondent sends me the following narrative, which she declares she had from the sister of a student at the Royal Academy who was personally known to her. He told the story first to his mother, who is dead, so that all chance of verifying the story is impossible. It may be quoted, however, as a pendant to Lord Brougham's vision, and is much more remarkable than his, inasmuch as the phantom was seen by several persons at the same time:--