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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 242 pages of information about The Book of Dreams and Ghosts.

On the same plane as the dreams which we have been examining is the waking sensation of the deja vu.

“I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell.”

Most of us know this feeling, all the circumstances in which we find ourselves have already occurred, we have a prophecy of what will happen next “on the tip of our tongues” (like a half-remembered name), and then the impression vanishes.  Scott complains of suffering through a whole dinner-party from this sensation, but he had written “copy” for fifty printed pages on that day, and his brain was breaking down.  Of course psychology has explanations.  The scene may have really occurred before, or may be the result of a malady of perception, or one hemisphere of the brain not working in absolute simultaneousness with the other may produce a double impression, the first being followed by the second, so that we really have had two successive impressions, of which one seems much more remote in time than it really was.  Or we may have dreamed something like the scene and forgotten the dream, or we may actually, in some not understood manner, have had a “prevision” of what is now actual, as when Shelley almost fainted on coming to a place near Oxford which he had beheld in a dream.

Of course, if this “prevision” could be verified in detail, we should come very near to dreams of the future fulfilled.  Such a thing—­ verification of a detail—­led to the conversion of William Hone, the free-thinker and Radical of the early century, who consequently became a Christian and a pessimistic, clear-sighted Tory.  This tale of the deja vu, therefore, leads up to the marvellous narratives of dreams simultaneous with, or prophetic of, events not capable of being guessed or inferred, or of events lost in the historical past, but, later, recovered from documents.

Of Hone’s affair there are two versions.  Both may be given, as they are short.  If they illustrate the deja vu, they also illustrate the fond discrepancies of all such narratives. {24}

THE KNOT IN THE SHUTTER

“It is said that a dream produced a powerful effect on Hone’s mind.  He dreamt that he was introduced into a room where he was an entire stranger, and saw himself seated at a table, and on going towards the window his attention was somehow or other attracted to the window-shutter, and particularly to a knot in the wood, which was of singular appearance; and on waking the whole scene, and especially the knot in the shutter, left a most vivid impression on his mind.  Some time afterwards, on going, I think, into the country, he was at some house shown into a chamber where he had never been before, and which instantly struck him as being the identical chamber of his dream.  He turned directly to the window, where the same knot in the shutter caught his eye.  This incident, to his investigating spirit, induced

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