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Wyndham's Letter

Categories: Appearance of Dead
Scary Books: The Book Of Dreams And Ghosts
: Andrew Lang

"Sr. According to your desire and my promise I have written down what

I remember (divers things being slipt out of my memory) of the

relation made me by Mr. Nicholas Towse concerning the Aparition wch

visited him. About ye yeare 1627, {122} I and my wife upon an

occasion being in London lay att my Brother Pyne's house without

Bishopsgate, wch. was ye next house unto Mr. Nicholas Towse's, who was

my Kinsman and famili
r acquaintance, in consideration of whose

Society and friendship he tooke a house in that place, ye said Towse

being a very fine Musician and very good company, and for ought I ever

saw or heard, a Vurtuous, religious and wel disposed Gentleman. About

that time ye said Mr. Towse tould me that one night, being in Bed and

perfectly waking, and a Candle burning by him (as he usually had)

there came into his Chamber and stood by his bed side an Olde

Gentleman in such an habitt as was in fashion in Q: Elizebeth's tyme,

at whose first appearance Mr. Towse was very much troubled, but after

a little tyme, recollecting himselfe, he demanded of him in ye Name of

God what he was, whether he were a Man. And ye Aparition replyed No.

Then he asked him if he were a Divell. And ye answer was No. Then

Mr. Towse said 'in ye Name of God, what art thou then?' And as I

remember Mr. Towse told me that ye Apparition answered him that he was

ye Ghost of Sir George Villiers, Father to ye then Duke of Buckingham,

whom he might very well remember, synce he went to schoole at such a

place in Leicestershire (naming ye place which I have forgotten). And

Mr. Towse tould me that ye Apparition had perfectly ye resemblance of

ye said Sr George Villiers in all respects and in ye same habitt that

he had often seene him weare in his lifetime.

"The said Apparition then tould Mr. Towse that he could not but

remember ye much kindness that he, ye said Sr George Villiers, had

expressed to him whilst he was a Schollar in Leicestershire, as

aforesaid, and that as out of that consideration he believed that he

loved him and that therefore he made choyce of him, ye sayde Mr.

Towse, to deliver a message to his sonne, ye Duke of Buckingham;

thereby to prevent such mischiefe as would otherwise befall ye said

Duke whereby he would be inevitably ruined. And then (as I remember)

Mr. Towse tould me that ye Apparition instructed him what message he

should deliver unto ye Duke. Vnto wch. Mr. Towse replyed that he

should be very unwilling to goe to ye Duke of Buckingham upon such an

errand, whereby he should gaine nothing but reproach and contempt, and

to be esteemed a Madman, and therefore desired to be exscused from ye

employment, but ye Apparition pressd him wth. much earnestness to

undertake it, telling him that ye Circumstances and secret Discoveries

which he should be able to make to ye Duke of such passages in ye

course of his life which were known to none but himselfe, would make

it appeare that ye message was not ye fancy of a Distempered Brayne,

but a reality, and so ye Apparition tooke his leave of him for that

night and telling him that he would give him leave to consider till

the next night, and then he would come to receave his answer wheather

he would undertake to deliver his message or no.

"Mr. Towse past that day wth. much trouble and perplexity, debating

and reasoning wth. himselfe wether he should deliver his message or

not to ye Duke but, in ye conclusion, he resolved to doe it, and ye

next night when ye Apparition came he gave his answer accordingly, and

then receaved his full instruction. After which Mr. Towse went and

founde out Sr. Thomas Bludder and Sr. Ralph Freeman, by whom he was

brought to ye Duke of Buckingham, and had sevarall private and lone

audiences of him, I my selfe, by ye favoure of a freinde (Sr. Edward

Savage) was once admitted to see him in private conference with ye

Duke, where (although I heard not there discourses) I observed much

earnestnessse in their actions and gestures. After wch. conference

Mr. Towse tould me that ye Duke would not follow ye advice that was

given him, which was (as I remember) that he intimated ye casting of,

and ye rejecting of some Men who had great interest in him, which was,

and as I take it he named, Bp. Laud and that ye Duke was to doe some

popular Acts in ye ensuing Parliament, of which Parliament ye Duke

would have had Mr. Towse to have been a Burgesse, but he refused it,

alleadging that unlesse ye Duke followed his directions, he must doe

him hurt if he were of ye Parliament. Mr. Towse then toalde that ye

Duke of Buckingham confessed that he had toalde him those things wch.

no Creature knew but himself, and that none but God or ye Divell could

reveale to him. Ye Duke offered Mr. Towse to have ye King knight him,

and to have given him preferment (as he tould me), but that he refused

it, saying that vnless he would follow his advice he would receave

nothing from him.

"Mr. Towse, when he made me this relation, he tolde me that ye Duke

would inevitably be destroyed before such a time (wch. he then named)

and accordingly ye Duke's death happened before that time. He

likewise tolde that he had written downe all ye severall discourses

that he had had wth. ye Apparition, and that at last his coming was so

familiar that he was as litle troubled with it as if it had beene a

friende or acquayntance that had come to visitt him. Mr. Towse told

me further that ye Archbishop of Canterbury, then Bishop of London,

Dr. Laud, should by his Councells be ye authoure of very great

troubles to ye Kingdome, by which it should be reduced to ye extremity

of disorder and confusion, and that it should seeme to be past all

hope of recovery without a miracle, but when all people were in

dispayre of seeing happy days agayne, ye Kingdome should suddenly be

reduced and resettled agayne in a most happy condition.

"At this tyme my father Pyne was in trouble and comitted to ye

Gatehouse by ye Lords of ye Councell about a Quarrel betweene him and

ye Lord Powlett, upon which one night I saide to my Cosin Towse, by

way of jest, 'I pray aske your Appairition what shall become of my

father Pyne's business,' which he promised to doe, and ye next day he

tolde me that my father Pyne's enemyes were ashamed of their malicious

prosecution, and that he would be at liberty within a week or some few

days, which happened according.

"Mr. Towse, his wife, since his death tolde me that her husband and

she living at Windsor Castle, where he had an office that Sumer that

ye Duke of Buckingham was killed, tolde her that very day that the

Duke was sett upon by ye mutinous Mariners att Portesmouth, saying

then that ye next attempt agaynst him would be his Death, which

accordingly happened. And att ye instant ye Duke was killed (as she

vnderstood by ye relation afterwards) Mr. Towse was sitting in his

chayre, out of which he suddenly started vp and sayd, 'Wyfe, ye Duke

of Buckingham is slayne!'

"Mr. Towse lived not long after that himselfe, but tolde his wife ye

tyme of his Death before itt happened. I never saw him after I had

seen some effects of his discourse, which before I valued not, and

therefore was not curious to enquire after more than he voluntaryly

tolde me, which I then entertayned not wth. these serious thoughts

which I have synce reflected on in his discourse. This is as much as

I can remember on this business which, according to youre desire, is

written by

"Sr. Yor., &c.,


"BOULOGNE, 5th August, 1652."

This version has, over all others, the merit of being written by an

acquaintance of the seer, who was with him while the appearances were

going on. The narrator was also present at an interview between the

seer and Buckingham. His mention of Sir Ralph Freeman tallies with

Clarendon's, who had the story from Freeman. The ghost predicts the

Restoration, and this is recorded before that happy event. Of course

Mr. Towse may have been interested in Buckingham's career and may have

invented the ghost (after discovering the secret token) {127} as an

excuse for warning him.

The reader can now take his choice among versions of Sir George

Villiers' ghost. He must remember that, in 1642, Sir Henry Wotton

"spent some inquiry whether the duke had any ominous presagement

before his end," but found no evidence. Sir Henry told Izaak Walton a

story of a dream of an ancestor of his own, whereby some robbers of

the University chest at Oxford were brought to justice. Anthony Wood

consulted the records of the year mentioned, and found no trace of any

such robbery. We now approach a yet more famous ghost than Sir

George's. This is Lord Lyttelton's. The ghost had a purpose, to warn

that bad man of his death, but nobody knows whose ghost she was!