site logo

The Dying Mother {101}

Categories: Out of Body
Scary Books: The Book Of Dreams And Ghosts
: Andrew Lang

"Mary, the wife of John Goffe of Rochester, being afflicted with a

long illness, removed to her father's house at West Mulling, about

nine miles from her own. There she died on 4th June, this present

year, 1691.

"The day before her departure (death) she grew very impatiently

desirous to see her two children, whom she had left at home to the

care of a nurse. She prayed her husband to 'hire a horse, for s

must go home and die with the children'. She was too ill to be moved,

but 'a minister who lives in the town was with her at ten o'clock that

night, to whom she expressed good hopes in the mercies of God and a

willingness to die'. 'But' said she, 'it is my misery that I cannot

see my children.'

"Between one and two o'clock in the morning, she fell into a trance.

One, widow Turner, who watched with her that night, says that her eyes

were open and fixed and her jaw fallen. Mrs. Turner put her hand upon

her mouth and nostrils, but could perceive no breath. She thought her

to be in a fit; and doubted whether she were dead or alive.

"The next morning the dying woman told her mother that she had been at

home with her children. . . . 'I was with them last night when I was


"The nurse at Rochester, widow Alexander by name, affirms, and says

she will take her oath on't before a Magistrate and receive the

sacrament upon it, that a little before two o'clock that morning she

saw the likeness of the said Mary Goffe come out of the next chamber

(where the elder child lay in a bed by itself) the door being left

open, and stood by her bedside for about a quarter of an hour; the

younger child was there lying by her. Her eyes moved and her mouth

went, but she said nothing. The nurse, moreover, says that she was

perfectly awake; it was then daylight, being one of the longest days

in the year. She sat up in bed and looked steadfastly on the

apparition. In that time she heard the bridge clock strike two, and a

while after said, 'In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, what

art thou?' Thereupon the apparition removed and went away; she

slipped on her clothes and followed, but what became on't she cannot


"Mrs. Alexander then walked out of doors till six, when she persuaded

some neighbours to let her in. She told her adventure; they failed to

persuade her that she had dreamed it. On the same day the neighbour's

wife, Mrs. Sweet, went to West Mulling, saw Mrs. Goffe before her

death, and heard from Mrs. Goffe's mother the story of the daughter's

dream of her children, Mrs. Sweet not having mentioned the nurse's

story of the apparition." That poor Mrs. Goffe walked to Rochester

and returned undetected, a distance of eighteen miles is difficult to


Goethe has an obiter dictum on the possibility of intercommunion

without the aid of the ordinary senses, between the souls of lovers.

Something of the kind is indicated in anecdotes of dreams dreamed in

common by husband and wife, but, in such cases, it may be urged that

the same circumstance, or the same noise or other disturbing cause,

may beget the same dream in both. A better instance is