The Book of Dreams and Ghosts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 292 pages of information about The Book of Dreams and Ghosts.

So far The Times, in 1828.  But two forms of a version of 1832 exist, one in a note to Mr. Walpole’s Life of Perceval (1874), “an attested statement, drawn up and signed by Mr. Williams in the presence of the Rev. Thomas Fisher and Mr. Charles Prideaux Brune”.  Mr. Brune gave it to Mr. Walpole.  With only verbal differences this variant corresponds to another signed by Mr. Williams and given by him to his grandson, who gave it to Mr. Perceval’s great-niece, by whom it was lent to the Society for Psychical Research.

These accounts differ toto coelo from that in The Times of 1828.  The dream is not of May 11, but “about” May 2 or 3.  Mr. Williams is not a stranger to the House of Commons; it is “a place well known to me”.  He is not ignorant of the name of the victim, but “understood that it was Mr. Perceval”.  He thinks of going to town to give warning.  We hear nothing of Mr. Tucker.  Mr. Williams does not verify his dream in the House, but from a drawing.  A Mr. C. R. Fox, son of one to whom the dream was told before the event, was then a boy of fourteen, and sixty-one years later was sure that he himself heard of Mr. Williams’s dream before the news of the murder arrived.  After sixty years, however, the memory cannot be relied upon.

One very curious circumstance in connection with the assassination of Mr. Perceval has never been noticed.  A rumour or report of the deed reached Bude Kirk, a village near Annan, on the night of Sunday, May 10, a day before the crime was committed!  This was stated in the Dumfries and Galloway Courier, and copied in The Times of May 25.  On May 28, the Perth Courier quotes the Dumfries paper, and adds that “the Rev. Mr. Yorstoun, minister of Hoddam (ob. 1833), has visited Bude Kirk and has obtained the most satisfactory proof of the rumour having existed” on May 10, but the rumour cannot be traced to its source.  Mr. Yorstoun authorises the mention of his name.  The Times of June 2 says that “the report is without foundation”.  If Williams talked everywhere of his dream, on May 3, some garbled shape of it may conceivably have floated to Bude Kirk by May 10, and originated the rumour.  Whoever started it would keep quiet when the real news arrived for fear of being implicated in a conspiracy as accessory before the fact.  No trace of Mr. Williams’s dream occurs in the contemporary London papers.

The best version of the dream to follow is probably that signed by Mr. Williams himself in 1832. {39a}

It may, of course, be argued by people who accept Mr. Williams’s dream as a revelation of the future that it reached his mind from the purpose conceived in Bellingham’s mind, by way of “mental telegraphy”. {39b}


“SUNDHILL, December, 1832.

“[Some account of a dream which occurred to John Williams, Esq., of Scorrier House, in the county of Cornwall, in the year 1812.  Taken from his own mouth, and narrated by him at various times to several of his friends.]

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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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