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The Benedictine's Voices

Categories: Waking Hallucinations
Scary Books: The Book Of Dreams And Ghosts
: Andrew Lang

My friend, as a lad, was in a strait between the choice of two

professions. He prayed for enlightenment, and soon afterwards heard

an _internal_ voice, advising a certain course. "Did you act on it?"

I asked.

"No; I didn't. I considered that in my circumstances it did not

demand attention."

Later, when a man grown, he was in his study merely idling over some

books on the tabl
, when he heard a loud voice from a corner of the

room assert that a public event of great importance would occur at a

given date. It did occur. About the same time, being abroad, he was

in great anxiety as to a matter involving only himself. Of this he

never spoke to any one. On his return to England his mother said,

"You were very wretched about so and so".

"How on earth did you know?"

"I heard ---'s voice telling me."

Now --- had died years before, in childhood.

In these cases the Benedictine's own conjecture and his mother's

affection probably divined facts, which did not present themselves as

thoughts in the ordinary way, but took the form of unreal voices.

There are many examples, as of the girl in her bath who heard a voice

say "Open the door" four times, did so, then fainted, and only escaped

drowning by ringing the bell just before she swooned.

Of course she might not have swooned if she had not been alarmed by

hearing the voices. These tales are dull enough, and many voices,

like Dr. Johnson's mother's, when he heard her call his name, she

being hundreds of miles away, lead to nothing and are not veracious.

When they are veracious, as in the case of dreams, it may be by sheer


In a similar class are "warnings" conveyed by the eye, not by the ear.

The Maoris of New Zealand believe that if one sees a body lying across

a path or oneself on the opposite side of a river, it is wiser to try

another path and a different ford.