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The Red Lamp






Mr. Cooper says: "A fortnight before the death of the late Earl of L---
in 1882, I called upon the Duke of Hamilton, in Hill Street, to see
him professionally. After I had finished seeing him, we went into the
drawing-room, where the duchess was, and the duke said, 'Oh, Cooper,
how is the earl?'

"The duchess said, 'What earl?' and on my answering 'Lord L---,' she
replied: 'That is very odd. I have had a most extraordinary vision.
I went to bed, but after being in bed a short time, I was not exactly
asleep, but thought I saw a scene as if from a play before me. The
actors in it were Lord L--- as if in a fit, with a man standing over
him with a red beard. He was by the side of a bath, over which a red
lamp was distinctly shown.

"I then said: 'I am attending Lord L--- at present; there is very
little the matter with him; he is not going to die; he will be all
right very soon'.

"Well he got better for a week and was nearly well, but at the end of
six or seven days after this I was called to see him suddenly. He had
inflammation of both lungs.

"I called in Sir William Jenner, but in six days he was a dead man.
There were two male nurses attending on him; one had been taken ill.
But when I saw the other, the dream of the duchess was exactly
represented. He was standing near a bath over the earl, and strange
to say, his beard was red. There was the bath with the red lamp over
it. It is rather rare to find a bath with a red lamp over it, and
this brought the story to my mind. . . ."

This account, written in 1888, has been revised by the late Duke of
Manchester, father of the Duchess of Hamilton, who heard the vision
from his daughter on the morning after she had seen it.

The duchess only knew the earl by sight, and had not heard that he was
ill. She knew she was not asleep, for she opened her eyes to get rid
of the vision, and, shutting them, saw the same thing again. {45a}

In fact, the "vision" was an illusion hypnagogique. Probably most
readers know the procession of visions which sometimes crowd on the
closed eyes just before sleep. {45b} They commonly represent with
vivid clearness unknown faces or places, occasionally known faces.
The writer has seen his own in this way and has occasionally "opened
his eyes to get rid of" the appearances. In his opinion the pictures
are unconsciously constructed by the half-sleeping mind out of blurs
of light or dark seen with closed eyes. Mr. Cooper's story would be
more complete if he had said whether or not the earl, when visited by
him, was in a chair as in the vision. But beds are not commonly found
in bathrooms.





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