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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts

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Author Topic: The Book of Dreams and Ghosts  (Read 551 times)
Apparition from Beyond the Veil
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« Reply #30 on: November 24, 2009, 01:13:32 pm »

THE MIGNONETTE
Mrs. Herbert returned with her husband from London to their country home on the Border.  They arrived rather late in the day, prepared to visit the garden, and decided to put off the visit till the morrow.  At night Mrs. Herbert dreamed that they went into the garden, down a long walk to a mignonette bed near the vinery.  The mignonette was black with innumerable bees, and Wilburd, the gardener, came up and advised Mr. and Mrs. Herbert not to go nearer.  Next morning the pair went to the garden.  The air round the mignonette was dark with wasps.  Mrs. Herbert now first remembered and told her dream, adding, “but in the dream they were bees”.  Wilburd now came up and advised them not to go nearer, as a wasps’ nest had been injured and the wasps were on the warpath.

Here accidental coincidence is probable enough. {10}  There is another class of dreams very useful, and apparently not so very uncommon, that are veracious and communicate correct information, which the dreamer did not know that he knew and was very anxious to know.  These are rare enough to be rather difficult to believe.  Thus:—

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« Reply #31 on: November 24, 2009, 01:13:48 pm »

THE LOST CHEQUE
Mr. A., a barrister, sat up one night to write letters, and about half-past twelve went out to put them in the post.  On undressing he missed a cheque for a large sum, which he had received during the day.  He hunted everywhere in vain, went to bed, slept, and dreamed that he saw the cheque curled round an area railing not far from his own door.  He woke, got up, dressed, walked down the street and found his cheque in the place he had dreamed of.  In his opinion he had noticed it fall from his pocket as he walked to the letter-box, without consciously remarking it, and his deeper memory awoke in slumber. {11a}

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« Reply #32 on: November 24, 2009, 01:14:04 pm »

THE DUCKS’ EGGS
A little girl of the author’s family kept ducks and was anxious to sell the eggs to her mother.  But the eggs could not be found by eager search.  On going to bed she said, “Perhaps I shall dream of them”.  Next morning she exclaimed, “I did dream of them, they are in a place between grey rock, broom, and mallow; that must be ‘The Poney’s Field’!”  And there the eggs were found. {11b}

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« Reply #33 on: November 24, 2009, 01:14:26 pm »

THE LOST KEY
Lady X., after walking in a wood near her house in Ireland, found that she had lost an important key.  She dreamed that it was lying at the root of a certain tree, where she found it next day, and her theory is the same as that of Mr. A., the owner of the lost cheque. {11c}

As a rule dreams throw everything into a dramatic form.  Some one knocks at our door, and the dream bases a little drama on the noise; it constructs an explanatory myth, a myth to account for the noise, which is acted out in the theatre of the brain.

To take an instance, a disappointing one:—

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« Reply #34 on: November 24, 2009, 01:14:43 pm »

THE LOST SECURITIES
A lady dreamed that she was sitting at a window, watching the end of an autumn sunset.  There came a knock at the front door and a gentleman and lady were ushered in.  The gentleman wore an old-fashioned snuff-coloured suit, of the beginning of the century; he was, in fact, an aged uncle, who, during the Napoleonic wars, had been one of the English détenus in France.  The lady was very beautiful and wore something like a black Spanish mantilla.  The pair carried with them a curiously wrought steel box.  Before conversation was begun, the maid (still in the dream) brought in the lady’s chocolate and the figures vanished.  When the maid withdrew, the figures reappeared standing by the table.  The box was now open, and the old gentleman drew forth some yellow papers, written on in faded ink.  These, he said, were lists of securities, which had been in his possession, when he went abroad in 18--, and in France became engaged to his beautiful companion.

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« Reply #35 on: November 24, 2009, 01:14:54 pm »

“The securities,” he said, “are now in the strong box of Messrs. ---;” another rap at the door, and the actual maid entered with real hot water.  It was time to get up.  The whole dream had its origin in the first rap, heard by the dreamer and dramatised into the arrival of visitors.  Probably it did not last for more than two or three seconds of real time.  The maid’s second knock just prevented the revelation of the name of “Messrs. ---,” who, like the lady in the mantilla, were probably non-existent people. {13}

Thus dream dramatises on the impulse of some faint, hardly perceived real sensation.  And thus either mere empty fancies (as in the case of the lost securities) or actual knowledge which we may have once possessed but have totally forgotten, or conclusions which have passed through our brains as unheeded guesses, may in a dream be, as it were, “revealed” through the lips of a character in the brain’s theatre—that character may, in fact, be alive, or dead, or merely fantastical.  A very good case is given with this explanation (lost knowledge revived in a dramatic dream about a dead man) by Sir Walter Scott in a note to The Antiquary.  Familiar as the story is it may be offered here, for a reason which will presently be obvious.

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« Reply #36 on: November 24, 2009, 01:15:16 pm »

THE ARREARS OF TEIND
“Mr. Rutherford, of Bowland, a gentleman of landed property in the Vale of Gala, was prosecuted for a very considerable sum, the accumulated arrears of teind (or tithe) for which he was said to be indebted to a noble family, the titulars (lay impropriators of the tithes).  Mr. Rutherford was strongly impressed with the belief that his father had, by a form of process peculiar to the law of Scotland, purchased these teinds from the titular, and, therefore, that the present prosecution was groundless.  But, after an industrious search among his father’s papers, an investigation among the public records and a careful inquiry among all persons who had transacted law business for his father, no evidence could be recovered to support his defence.  The period was now near at hand, when he conceived the loss of his law-suit to be inevitable; and he had formed the determination to ride to Edinburgh next day and make the best bargain he could in the way of compromise.  He went to bed with this resolution, and, with all the circumstances of the case floating upon his mind, had a dream to the following purpose.  His father, who had been many years dead, appeared to him, he thought, and asked him why he was disturbed in his mind.  In dreams men are not surprised at such apparitions.  Mr. Rutherford thought that he informed his father of the cause of his distress, adding that the payment of a considerable sum of money was the more unpleasant to him because he had a strong consciousness that it was not due, though he was unable to recover any
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« Reply #37 on: November 24, 2009, 01:15:53 pm »

evidence in support of his belief.  ‘You are right, my son,’ replied the paternal shade.  ‘I did acquire right to these teinds for payment of which you are now prosecuted.  The papers relating to the transaction are in the hands of Mr. ---, a writer (or attorney), who is now retired from professional business and resides at Inveresk, near Edinburgh.  He was a person whom I employed on that occasion for a particular reason, but who never on any other occasion transacted business on my account.  It is very possible,’ pursued the vision, ‘that Mr. --- may have forgotten a matter which is now of a very old date; but you may call it to his recollection by this token, that when I came to pay his account there was difficulty in getting change for a Portugal piece of gold and we were forced to drink out the balance at a tavern.’
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« Reply #38 on: November 24, 2009, 01:16:01 pm »

“Mr. Rutherford awoke in the morning with all the words of the vision imprinted on his mind, and thought it worth while to walk across the country to Inveresk instead of going straight to Edinburgh.  When he came there he waited on the gentleman mentioned in the dream—a very old man.  Without saying anything of the vision he inquired whether he ever remembered having conducted such a matter for his deceased father.  The old gentleman could not at first bring the circumstance to his recollection, but on mention of the Portugal piece of gold the whole returned upon his memory.  He made an immediate search for the papers and recovered them, so that Mr. Rutherford carried to Edinburgh the documents necessary to gain the cause which he was on the verge of losing.”
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« Reply #39 on: November 24, 2009, 01:16:12 pm »

The story is reproduced because it is clearly one of the tales which come round in cycles, either because events repeat themselves or because people will unconsciously localise old legends in new places and assign old occurrences or fables to new persons.  Thus every one has heard how Lord Westbury called a certain man in the Herald’s office “a foolish old fellow who did not even know his own foolish old business”.  Lord Westbury may very well have said this, but long before his time the remark was attributed to the famous Lord Chesterfield.  Lord Westbury may have quoted it from Chesterfield or hit on it by accident, or the old story may have been assigned to him.  In the same way Mr. Rutherford may have had his dream or the following tale of St. Augustine’s (also cited by Scott) may have been attributed to him, with the picturesque addition about the piece of Portuguese gold.  Except for the piece of Portuguese gold St. Augustine practically tells the anecdote in his De Cura pro Mortuis Habenda, adding the acute reflection which follows. {16}

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« Reply #40 on: November 24, 2009, 01:16:23 pm »

“Of a surety, when we were at Milan, we heard tell of a certain person of whom was demanded payment of a debt, with production of his deceased father’s acknowledgment, which debt, unknown to the son, the father had paid, whereupon the man began to be very sorrowful, and to marvel that his father while dying did not tell him what he owed when he also made his will.  Then in this exceeding anxiousness of his, his said father appeared to him in a dream, and made known to him where was the counter acknowledgment by which that acknowledgment was cancelled.  Which when the young man had found and showed, he not only rebutted the wrongful claim of a false debt, but also got back his father’s note of hand, which the father had not got back when the money was paid.

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« Reply #41 on: November 24, 2009, 01:16:39 pm »

“Here then the soul of a man is supposed to have had care for his son, and to have come to him in his sleep, that, teaching him what he did not know, he might relieve him of a great trouble.  But about the very same time as we heard this, it chanced at Carthage that the rhetorician Eulogius, who had been my disciple in that art, being (as he himself, after our return to Africa, told us the story) in course of lecturing to his disciples on Cicero’s rhetorical books, as he looked over the portion of reading which he was to deliver on the following day, fell upon a certain passage, and not being able to understand it, was scarce able to sleep for the trouble of his mind: in which night, as he dreamed, I expounded to him that which he did not understand; nay, not I, but my likeness, while I was unconscious of the thing and far away beyond sea, it might be doing, or it might be dreaming, some other thing, and not in the least caring for his cares.  In what way these things come about I know not; but in what way soever they come, why do we not believe it comes in the same way for a person in a dream to see a dead man, as it comes that he sees a living man? both, no doubt, neither knowing nor caring who dreams of their images, or where or when.

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« Reply #42 on: November 24, 2009, 01:16:49 pm »

“Like dreams, moreover, are some visions of persons awake, who have had their senses troubled, such as phrenetic persons, or those who are mad in any way, for they, too, talk to themselves just as though they were speaking to people verily present, and as well with absent men as with present, whose images they perceive whether persons living or dead.  But just as they who live are unconscious that they are seen of them and talk with them (for indeed they are not really themselves present, or themselves make speeches, but through troubled senses these persons are wrought upon by such like imaginary visions), just so they also who have departed this life, to persons thus affected appear as present while they be absent, and are themselves utterly unconscious whether any man sees them in regard of their image.” {18}

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« Reply #43 on: November 24, 2009, 01:17:01 pm »

St. Augustine adds a similar story of a trance.

THE TWO CURMAS
A rustic named Curma, of Tullium, near Hippo, Augustine’s town, fell into a catalepsy.  On reviving he said: “Run to the house of Curma the smith and see what is going on”.  Curma the smith was found to have died just when the other Curma awoke.  “I knew it,” said the invalid, “for I heard it said in that place whence I have returned that not I, Curma of the Curia, but Curma the smith, was wanted.”  But Curma of the Curia saw living as well as dead people, among others Augustine, who, in his vision, baptised him at Hippo.  Curma then, in the vision, went to Paradise, where he was told to go and be baptised.  He said it had been done already, and was answered, “Go and be truly baptised, for that thou didst but see in vision”.  So Augustine christened him, and later, hearing of the trance, asked him about it, when he repeated the tale already familiar to his neighbours.  Augustine thinks it a mere dream, and apparently regards the death of Curma the smith as a casual coincidence.  Un esprit fort, le Saint Augustin!

“If the dead could come in dreams,” he says, “my pious mother would no night fail to visit me.  Far be the thought that she should, by a happier life, have been made so cruel that, when aught vexes my heart, she should not even console in a dream the son whom she loved with an only love.”

Not only things once probably known, yet forgotten, but knowledge never consciously thought out, may be revealed in a dramatic dream, apparently through the lips of the dead or the never existent.  The books of psychology are rich in examples of problems worked out, or music or poetry composed in sleep.  The following is a more recent and very striking example:—

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« Reply #44 on: November 24, 2009, 01:17:18 pm »

THE ASSYRIAN PRIEST
Herr H. V. Hilprecht is Professor of Assyriology in the University of Pennsylvania.  That university had despatched an expedition to explore the ruins of Babylon, and sketches of the objects discovered had been sent home.  Among these were drawings of two small fragments of agate, inscribed with characters.  One Saturday night in March, 1893, Professor Hilprecht had wearied himself with puzzling over these two fragments, which were supposed to be broken pieces of finger-rings.  He was inclined, from the nature of the characters, to date them about 1700-1140 B.C.; and as the first character of the third line of the first fragment seemed to read KU, he guessed that it might stand for Kurigalzu, a king of that name.

About midnight the professor went, weary and perplexed, to bed.

“Then I dreamed the following remarkable dream.  A tall thin priest of the old pre-Christian Nippur, about forty years of age, and clad in a simple abba, led me to the treasure-chamber of the temple, on its south-east side.  He went with me into a small low-ceiled room without windows, in which there was a large wooden chest, while scraps of agate and lapis lazuli lay scattered on the floor.  Here he addressed me as follows:—

“‘The two fragments, which you have published separately upon pages 22 and 26, belong together’” (this amazing Assyrian priest spoke American!). {20}  “‘They are not finger-rings, and their history is as follows:—

“‘King Kurigalzu (about 1300 B.C.) once sent to the temple of Bel, among other articles of agate and lapis lazuli, an inscribed votive cylinder of agate.  Then the priests suddenly received the command to make for the statue of the god Nibib a pair of ear-rings of agate.  We were in great dismay, since there was no agate as raw material at hand.  In order to execute the command there was nothing for us to do but cut the votive cylinder in three parts, thus making three rings, each of which contained a portion of the original inscription.  The first two rings served as ear-rings for the statue of the god; the two fragments which have given you so much trouble are parts of them.  If you will put the two together, you will have confirmation of my words.  But the third ring you have not found yet, and you never will find it.’”

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