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The Dying Mother {101}






"Mary, the wife of John Goffe of Rochester, being afflicted with a
long illness, removed to her father's house at West Mulling, about
nine miles from her own. There she died on 4th June, this present
year, 1691.

"The day before her departure (death) she grew very impatiently
desirous to see her two children, whom she had left at home to the
care of a nurse. She prayed her husband to 'hire a horse, for she
must go home and die with the children'. She was too ill to be moved,
but 'a minister who lives in the town was with her at ten o'clock that
night, to whom she expressed good hopes in the mercies of God and a
willingness to die'. 'But' said she, 'it is my misery that I cannot
see my children.'

"Between one and two o'clock in the morning, she fell into a trance.
One, widow Turner, who watched with her that night, says that her eyes
were open and fixed and her jaw fallen. Mrs. Turner put her hand upon
her mouth and nostrils, but could perceive no breath. She thought her
to be in a fit; and doubted whether she were dead or alive.

"The next morning the dying woman told her mother that she had been at
home with her children. . . . 'I was with them last night when I was
asleep.'

"The nurse at Rochester, widow Alexander by name, affirms, and says
she will take her oath on't before a Magistrate and receive the
sacrament upon it, that a little before two o'clock that morning she
saw the likeness of the said Mary Goffe come out of the next chamber
(where the elder child lay in a bed by itself) the door being left
open, and stood by her bedside for about a quarter of an hour; the
younger child was there lying by her. Her eyes moved and her mouth
went, but she said nothing. The nurse, moreover, says that she was
perfectly awake; it was then daylight, being one of the longest days
in the year. She sat up in bed and looked steadfastly on the
apparition. In that time she heard the bridge clock strike two, and a
while after said, 'In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, what
art thou?' Thereupon the apparition removed and went away; she
slipped on her clothes and followed, but what became on't she cannot
tell.

"Mrs. Alexander then walked out of doors till six, when she persuaded
some neighbours to let her in. She told her adventure; they failed to
persuade her that she had dreamed it. On the same day the neighbour's
wife, Mrs. Sweet, went to West Mulling, saw Mrs. Goffe before her
death, and heard from Mrs. Goffe's mother the story of the daughter's
dream of her children, Mrs. Sweet not having mentioned the nurse's
story of the apparition." That poor Mrs. Goffe walked to Rochester
and returned undetected, a distance of eighteen miles is difficult to
believe.

Goethe has an obiter dictum on the possibility of intercommunion
without the aid of the ordinary senses, between the souls of lovers.
Something of the kind is indicated in anecdotes of dreams dreamed in
common by husband and wife, but, in such cases, it may be urged that
the same circumstance, or the same noise or other disturbing cause,
may beget the same dream in both. A better instance is





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Previous: In Tavistock Place {93}



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