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Has Presented It

Categories: Ghost Stories
Scary Books: The Book Of Dreams And Ghosts
: Andrew Lang

But, in the drawings, the fragments were of different colours, so that

a student working on the drawings would not guess them to be parts of

one cylinder. Professor Hilprecht, however, examined the two actual

fragments in the Imperial Museum at Constantinople. They lay in two

distinct cases, but, when put together, fitted. When cut asunder of

old, in Babylon, the white vein of the stone showed on one fragment,

the g
ey surface on the other.

Professor Romaine Newbold, who publishes this dream, explains that the

professor had unconsciously reasoned out his facts, the difference of

colour in the two pieces of agate disappearing in the dream. The

professor had heard from Dr. Peters of the expedition, that a room had

been discovered with fragments of a wooden box and chips of agate and

lapis lazuli. The sleeping mind "combined its information," reasoned

rightly from it, and threw its own conclusions into a dramatic form,

receiving the information from the lips of a priest of Nippur.

Probably we do a good deal of reasoning in sleep. Professor

Hilprecht, in 1882-83, was working at a translation of an inscription

wherein came Nabu--Kudurru--usur, rendered by Professor Delitzsch

"Nebo protect my mortar-board". Professor Hilprecht accepted this,

but woke one morning with his mind full of the thought that the words

should be rendered "Nebo protect my boundary," which "sounds a deal

likelier," and is now accepted. I myself, when working at the MSS. of

the exiled Stuarts, was puzzled by the scorched appearance of the

paper on which Prince Charlie's and the king's letters were often

written and by the peculiarities of the ink. I woke one morning with

a sudden flash of common-sense. Sympathetic ink had been used, and

the papers had been toasted or treated with acids. This I had

probably reasoned out in sleep, and, had I dreamed, my mind might have

dramatised the idea. Old Mr. Edgar, the king's secretary, might have

appeared and given me the explanation. Maury publishes tales in which

a forgotten fact was revealed to him in a dream from the lips of a

dream-character (Le Sommeil et les Reves, pp. 142-143. The curious

may also consult, on all these things, The Philosophy of Mysticism, by

Karl du Prel, translated by Mr. Massey. The Assyrian Priest is in

Proceedings, S.P.R., vol. xii., p. 14).

On the same plane as the dreams which we have been examining is the

waking sensation of the deja vu.

"I have been here before,

But when or how I cannot tell."

Most of us know this feeling, all the circumstances in which we find

ourselves have already occurred, we have a prophecy of what will

happen next "on the tip of our tongues" (like a half-remembered name),

and then the impression vanishes. Scott complains of suffering

through a whole dinner-party from this sensation, but he had written

"copy" for fifty printed pages on that day, and his brain was breaking

down. Of course psychology has explanations. The scene _may_ have

really occurred before, or may be the result of a malady of

perception, or one hemisphere of the brain not working in absolute

simultaneousness with the other may produce a double impression, the

first being followed by the second, so that we really have had two

successive impressions, of which one seems much more remote in time

than it really was. Or we may have dreamed something like the scene

and forgotten the dream, or we may actually, in some not understood

manner, have had a "prevision" of what is now actual, as when Shelley

almost fainted on coming to a place near Oxford which he had beheld in

a dream.

Of course, if this "prevision" could be verified in detail, we should

come very near to dreams of the future fulfilled. Such a thing--

verification of a detail--led to the conversion of William Hone, the

free-thinker and Radical of the early century, who consequently became

a Christian and a pessimistic, clear-sighted Tory. This tale of the

deja vu, therefore, leads up to the marvellous narratives of dreams

simultaneous with, or prophetic of, events not capable of being

guessed or inferred, or of events lost in the historical past, but,

later, recovered from documents.

Of Hone's affair there are two versions. Both may be given, as they

are short. If they illustrate the deja vu, they also illustrate the

fond discrepancies of all such narratives. {24}