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The Red Lamp

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

Mr. Cooper says: "A fortnight before the death of the late Earl of L---

in 1882, I called upon the Duke of Hamilton, in Hill Street, to see

him professionally. After I had finished seeing him, we went into the

drawing-room, where the duchess was, and the duke said, 'Oh, Cooper,

how is the earl?'

"The duchess said, 'What earl?' and on my answering 'Lord L---,' she

replied: 'That is very odd. I have had
a most extraordinary vision.

I went to bed, but after being in bed a short time, I was not exactly

asleep, but thought I saw a scene as if from a play before me. The

actors in it were Lord L--- as if in a fit, with a man standing over

him with a red beard. He was by the side of a bath, over which a red

lamp was distinctly shown.

"I then said: 'I am attending Lord L--- at present; there is very

little the matter with him; he is not going to die; he will be all

right very soon'.

"Well he got better for a week and was nearly well, but at the end of

six or seven days after this I was called to see him suddenly. He had

inflammation of both lungs.

"I called in Sir William Jenner, but in six days he was a dead man.

There were two male nurses attending on him; one had been taken ill.

But when I saw the other, the dream of the duchess was exactly

represented. He was standing near a bath over the earl, and strange

to say, his beard was red. There was the bath with the red lamp over

it. It is rather rare to find a bath with a red lamp over it, and

this brought the story to my mind. . . ."

This account, written in 1888, has been revised by the late Duke of

Manchester, father of the Duchess of Hamilton, who heard the vision

from his daughter on the morning after she had seen it.

The duchess only knew the earl by sight, and had not heard that he was

ill. She knew she was not asleep, for she opened her eyes to get rid

of the vision, and, shutting them, saw the same thing again. {45a}

In fact, the "vision" was an illusion hypnagogique. Probably most

readers know the procession of visions which sometimes crowd on the

closed eyes just before sleep. {45b} They commonly represent with

vivid clearness unknown faces or places, occasionally known faces.

The writer has seen his own in this way and has occasionally "opened

his eyes to get rid of" the appearances. In his opinion the pictures

are unconsciously constructed by the half-sleeping mind out of blurs

of light or dark seen with closed eyes. Mr. Cooper's story would be

more complete if he had said whether or not the earl, when visited by

him, was in a chair as in the vision. But beds are not commonly found

in bathrooms.