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The Iron Chest Of Durley

Scary Books: The Haunters & The Haunted

Mr _John Bourne_, for his Skill, Care and Honesty, was made by his

Neighbour _John Mallet_, Esq., of _Enmore_, the chief of his Trustees,

for his Son _John Mallet_ (Father to Elizabeth, now Countess Dowager of

_Rochester_) and the rest of his Children in Minority. He had the

reputation of a worthy good Man, and was commonly taken notice of for an

habitual Saying, by way of Interjection almost to anything, viz. _You

true, you say true, you are in the right._ This Mr Bourne fell sick

at his House at Durley, in the year 1654, and Dr _Raymond of Oak_ was

sent for to him, who after some time, gave the said Mr Bourne over. And

he had not now spoken in twenty-four Hours, when the said Dr Raymond,

and Mrs _Carlisle_ (Mr Bourne's Nephew's Wife, whose Husband he had made

one of his Heirs) sitting by his bedside, the Doctor opened the

Bed-curtains at the Bed's-feet, to give him air; when on a sudden, to

the Horror and Amazement of Dr Raymond, and Mrs Carlisle, the great Iron

Chest by the Window, at his Bed's-feet, with three Locks to it (in which

were all the Writings and Evidences of the said Mr Mallet's Estate),

began to open, first one Lock, and then another, then the third;

afterwards the Lid of the Chest, lifted up of itself, and stood wide

open. Then the patient, Mr Bourne, who had not spoke in 24 Hours, lifted

himself up also, and looking upon the Chest, cry'd: _You say true, you

say true, you are in the right, I'll be with you by and by._ So the

Patient lay down, and spake no more. Then the Chest fell again of

itself, and lock'd itself, one Lock after another, as the 3 Locks

opened; and they tried to knock it open, and could not, and Mr Bourne

died within an Hour after.

_N.B._--This Narrative was sent in a Letter to J.C., directed for Dr H.

More from Mr Thomas Alcock, of Shear-Hampton; of which in a Letter to

the said Doctor, he gives this Account. I am, said he, very confident of

the truth of the Story; for I had it from a very good Lady, the eldest

daughter of the said John Mallet (whose Trustee Mr Bourne was) and only

Aunt to the Countess of Rochester, who knew all the parties; and I have

heard Dr Raymond, and Mr Carlisle, relate it often with amazement, being

both Persons of Credit.

The curious may be inquisitive what the meaning of the opening of the

Chest may be, and of Mr Bourne his saying _You say true, etc., I'll be

with you by and by_. As for the former, it is noted by Paracelsus

especially, and by others, that there are signs often given of the

Departure of sick Men lying on their death beds, of which this opening

of the Iron Coffer or Chest, and closing again, is more than ordinary

significant, especially if we recall to mind that of Virgil:

"Olli dura quies oculos & _ferreus_ urget


Though this quaintness is more than is requisite in these Prodigies

presaging the sick Man's Death. As for the latter, it seems to be

nothing else but the saying _Amen_ to the Presage, uttered in his

accustomary form of Speech, as if he should say, you of the invisible

Kingdom of Spirits, have given the Token of my sudden Departure, and you

say true, I shall be with you by and by. Which he was enabled so

assuredly to assent to, upon the advantage of the relaxation of his Soul

now departing from the Body: Which Diodorus Siculus, lib. 18, notes to

be the Opinion of Pythagoras and his followers, that it is the privilege

of the Soul near her Departure, to exercise a fatidical Faculty, and to

pronounce truly touching things future.