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Ben Jonson's Prevision
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Maryland Ghosts
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The Club-room Ghost
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The Beresford Ghost
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The Vision Of The Bride






Colonel Meadows Taylor writes, in The Story of my Life (vol. ii., p.
32): "The determination (to live unmarried) was the result of a very
curious and strange incident that befel me during one of my marches to
Hyderabad. I have never forgotten it, and it returns to this day to
my memory with a strangely vivid effect that I can neither repel nor
explain. I purposely withhold the date of the year. In my very early
life I had been deeply and devotedly attached to one in England, and
only relinquished the hope of one day winning her when the terrible
order came out that no furlough to Europe would be granted.

"One evening I was at the village of Dewas Kudea, after a very long
afternoon and evening march from Muktul, and I lay down very weary;
but the barking of village dogs, the baying of jackals and over-
fatigue and heat prevented sleep, and I was wide awake and restless.
Suddenly, for my tent door was wide open, I saw the face and figure so
familiar to me, but looking older, and with a sad and troubled
expression; the dress was white and seemed covered with a profusion of
lace and glistened in the bright moonlight. The arms were stretched
out, and a low plaintive cry of 'Do not let me go! Do not let me go!'
reached me. I sprang forward, but the figure receded, growing fainter
and fainter till I could see it no more, but the low plaintive tones
still sounded. I had run barefooted across the open space where my
tents were pitched, very much to the astonishment of the sentry on
guard, but I returned to my tent without speaking to him. I wrote to
my father. I wished to know whether there were any hope for me. He
wrote back to me these words: 'Too late, my dear son--on the very day
of the vision you describe to me, A. was married'."

The colonel did not keep his determination not to marry, for his Life
is edited by his daughter, who often heard her father mention the
incident, "precisely in the same manner, and exactly as it is in the
book". {103}

If thinking of friends and lovers, lost or dead, could bring their
forms and voices before the eye and ear of flesh, there would be a
world of hallucinations around us. "But it wants heaven-sent moments
for this skill," and few bridal nights send a vision and a voice to
the bed of a wakeful lover far away.

Stories of this kind, appearances of the living or dying really at a
distance, might be multiplied to any extent. They are all capable of
explanation, if we admit the theory of telepathy, of a message sent by
an unknown process from one living man's mind to another. Where more
than one person shares the vision, we may suppose that the influence
comes directly from A to B, C and D, or comes from A to B, and is by
him unconsciously "wired" on to B and C, or is "suggested" to them by
B's conduct or words.

In that case animals may be equally affected, thus, if B seems
alarmed, that may frighten his dog, or the alarm of a dog, caused by
some noise or smell, heard or smelt by him, may frighten B, C and D,
and make one or all of them see a ghost.

Popular opinion is strongly in favour of beasts seeing ghosts. The
people of St. Kilda, according to Martin, held that cows shared the
visions of second-sighted milk-maids. Horses are said to shy on the
scene of murders. Scott's horse ran away (home) when Sir Walter saw
the bogle near Ashiestiel. In a case given later the dog shut up in a
room full of unexplained noises, yelled and whined. The same dog (an
intimate friend of my own) bristled up his hair and growled before his
master saw the Grey Lady. The Rev. J. G. Wood gives a case of a cat
which nearly went mad when his mistress saw an apparition. Jeremy
Taylor tells of a dog which got quite used to a ghost that often
appeared to his master, and used to follow it. In "The Lady in
Black," a dog would jump up and fawn on the ghost and then run away in
a fright. Mr. Wesley's mastiff was much alarmed by the family ghost.
Not to multiply cases, dogs and other animals are easily affected by
whatever it is that makes people think a ghost is present, or by the
conduct of the human beings on these occasions.

Absurd as the subject appears, there are stories of the ghosts of
animals. These may be discussed later; meanwhile we pass from
appearances of the living or dying to stories of appearances of the
dead.





Next: Appearances Of The Dead

Previous: The Dying Mother {101}



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