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.

This last affair is one of several tales of “Phantom Coaches,” not only heard but seen, the coach being a coach of the living.  In 1893 the author was staying at a Highland castle, when one of the ladies observed to her nephew, “So you and Susan did drive in the dogcart; I saw you pass my window”.  “No, we didn’t; but we spoke of doing it.”  The lady then mentioned minute details of the dress and attitudes of her relations as they passed her window, where the drive turned from the hall door through the park; but, in fact, no such journey had been made.  Dr. Hack Tuke published the story of the “Arrival” of Dr. Boase at his house a quarter of an hour before he came, the people who saw him supposing him to be in Paris. {86}

When a person is seen in “Arrival” cases before he arrives, the affair is not so odd if he is expected.  Undoubtedly, expectation does sometimes conjure up phantasms, and the author once saw (as he supposed) a serious accident occur which in fact did not take place, though it seemed unavoidable.

Curiously enough, this creation of phantasms by expectant attention seems to be rare where “ghosts” are expected.  The author has slept in several haunted houses, but has never seen what he was led to expect.  In many instances, as in “The Lady in Black” (infra), a ghost who is a frequent visitor is never seen when people watch for her.  Among the many persons who have had delusions as to the presence of the dead, very few have been hoping, praying for and expecting them.

“I look for ghosts, but none will force
   Their way to me:  ’Tis falsely said
That there was ever intercourse
   Between the living and the dead,
For surely then I should have sight
Of him I wait for day and night
With love and longings infinite.”

The Affliction of Margaret has been the affliction of most of us.  There are curious historical examples of these appearances of the living.  Goethe declares that he once met himself at a certain place in a certain dress, and several years later found himself there in that costume.  Shelley was seen by his friends at Lerici to pass along a balcony whence there was no exit.  However, he could not be found there.  The story of the wraith of Catherine the Great is variously narrated.  We give it as told by an eye-witness, the Comte de Ribaupierre, about 1862 to Lady Napier and Ettrick.  The Count, in 1862, was a very old man, and more than thirty years have passed since he gave the tale to Lady Napier, whose memory retains it in the following form:—­


“In the exercise of his duties as one of the pages-in-waiting, Ribaupierre followed one day his august mistress into the throne-room of the palace.  When the Empress, accompanied by the high officers of her court and the ladies of her household, came in sight of the chair of state which she was about to occupy, she suddenly stopped, and to the horror and astonished awe of her courtiers, she pointed to a visionary being seated on the imperial throne.  The occupant of the chair was an exact counterpart of herself.  All saw it and trembled, but none dared to move towards the mysterious presentment of their sovereign.

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