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.

To hear articulate voices where there are none is extremely common in madness, {80b} but not very rare, as Mr. Galton shows, among the sane.  When the voices are veracious, give unknown information, they are in the same case as truthful dreams.  I offer a few from the experience, reported to me by himself, of a man of learning whom I shall call a Benedictine monk, though that is not his real position in life.


My friend, as a lad, was in a strait between the choice of two professions.  He prayed for enlightenment, and soon afterwards heard an internal voice, advising a certain course.  “Did you act on it?” I asked.

“No; I didn’t.  I considered that in my circumstances it did not demand attention.”

Later, when a man grown, he was in his study merely idling over some books on the table, when he heard a loud voice from a corner of the room assert that a public event of great importance would occur at a given date.  It did occur.  About the same time, being abroad, he was in great anxiety as to a matter involving only himself.  Of this he never spoke to any one.  On his return to England his mother said, “You were very wretched about so and so”.

“How on earth did you know?”

“I heard —–­’s voice telling me.”

Now —–­ had died years before, in childhood.

In these cases the Benedictine’s own conjecture and his mother’s affection probably divined facts, which did not present themselves as thoughts in the ordinary way, but took the form of unreal voices.

There are many examples, as of the girl in her bath who heard a voice say “Open the door” four times, did so, then fainted, and only escaped drowning by ringing the bell just before she swooned.

Of course she might not have swooned if she had not been alarmed by hearing the voices.  These tales are dull enough, and many voices, like Dr. Johnson’s mother’s, when he heard her call his name, she being hundreds of miles away, lead to nothing and are not veracious.  When they are veracious, as in the case of dreams, it may be by sheer accident.

In a similar class are “warnings” conveyed by the eye, not by the ear.  The Maoris of New Zealand believe that if one sees a body lying across a path or oneself on the opposite side of a river, it is wiser to try another path and a different ford.


In the same way, in August, 1890, a lady in a Boston hotel in the dusk rang for the lift, walked along the corridor and looked out of a window, started to run to the door of the lift, saw a man in front of it, stopped, and when the lighted lift came up, found that the door was wide open and that, had she run on as she intended, she would have fallen down the well.  Here part of her mind may have known that the door was open, and started a ghost (for there was no real man there) to stop her.  Pity that these things do not occur more frequently.  They do—­in New Zealand. {82}

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