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The Vision And The Portrait






Mrs. M. writes (December 15, 1891) that before her vision she had
heard nothing about hauntings in the house occupied by herself and her
husband, and nothing about the family sorrows of her predecessors
there.

"One night, on retiring to my bedroom about 11 o'clock, I thought I
heard a peculiar moaning sound, and some one sobbing as if in great
distress of mind. I listened very attentively, and still it
continued; so I raised the gas in my bedroom, and then went to the
window on the landing, drew the blind aside, and there on the grass
was a very beautiful young girl in a kneeling posture, before a
soldier in a general's uniform, sobbing and clasping her hands
together, entreating for pardon, but alas! he only waved her away from
him. So much did I feel for the girl that I ran down the staircase to
the door opening upon the lawn, and begged her to come in and tell me
her sorrow. The figures then disappeared gradually, as in a
dissolving view. Not in the least nervous did I feel then; went again
to my bedroom, took a sheet of writing-paper, and wrote down what I
had seen." {77}

Mrs. M., whose husband was absent, began to feel nervous, and went to
another lady's room.

She later heard of an old disgrace to the youngest daughter of the
proud family, her predecessors in the house. The poor girl tried in
vain to win forgiveness, especially from a near relative, a soldier,
Sir X. Y.

"So vivid was my remembrance of the features of the soldier, that some
months after the occurrence [of the vision] when I called with my
husband at a house where there was a portrait of him, I stepped before
it and said, 'Why, look! there is the General!' And sure enough it
_was_."

Mrs. M. had not heard that the portrait was in the room where she saw
it. Mr. M. writes that he took her to the house where he knew it to
be without telling her of its existence. Mrs. M. turned pale when she
saw it. Mr. M. knew the sad old story, but had kept it to himself.
The family in which the disgrace occurred, in 1847 or 1848, were his
relations. {78}

This vision was a veracious hallucination; it gave intelligence not
otherwise known to Mrs. M., and capable of confirmation, therefore the
appearances would be called "ghosts". The majority of people do not
believe in the truth of any such stories of veracious hallucinations,
just as they do not believe in veracious dreams. Mr. Galton, out of
all his packets of reports of hallucinations, does not even allude to
a veracious example, whether he has records of such a thing or not.
Such reports, however, are ghost stories, "which we now proceed," or
continue, "to narrate". The reader will do well to remember that
while everything ghostly, and not to be explained by known physical
facts, is in the view of science a hallucination, every hallucination
is not a ghost for the purposes of story-telling. The hallucination
must, for story-telling purposes, be _veracious_.

Following our usual method, we naturally begin with the anecdotes
least trying to the judicial faculties, and most capable of an
ordinary explanation. Perhaps of all the senses, the sense of touch,
though in some ways the surest, is in others the most easily deceived.
Some people who cannot call up a clear mental image of things seen,
say a saltcellar, can readily call up a mental revival of the feeling
of touching salt. Again, a slight accidental throb, or leap of a
sinew or vein, may feel so like a touch that we turn round to see who
touched us. These familiar facts go far to make the following tale
more or less conceivable.





Next: The Restraining Hand

Previous: The Bright Scar



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