"At the breakfast table I said to the friend who shared the apartment with me, 'Rosa is dead.' 'What do you mean by that?' she inquired; 'you told me she seemed better yesterday.' I related the occurrence of the morning and told her I had a strong impression Rosa was dead. She laughed and said I had dreamed it all. I assured her I was thoroughly awake. She continued to jest on the subject and slightly annoyed me by her persistence in believing it a dream when I was perfectly sure of having been wide awake. To settle the question I summoned a messenger, and sent him to inquire how Rosa did. He returned with the answer that she died that morning at five o'clock.
"H. G. Hosmer."
I will also introduce here as a "Borderland case" an extract from The Life and Times of Lord Brougham, written by himself (1871), the extract being an entry in his journal during a journey in Sweden in December, 1799. It is follows: -
"We set out for Gothenburg [apparently on
December 18th], determined to make for Norway.
About one in the morning, arriving at a decent inn, we decided to stop over night. Tired with the cold of yesterday, I was glad to take advantage of a hot bath before I turned in, and here a most remarkable thing happened to me - so remarkable that I must tell the story from the beginning. 18
"After I left the High School, I went with G., my most intimate friend, to attend the classes at the University. There was no divinity class, but we frequently in our walks discussed and speculated upon many grave subjects - among others, on the immortality of the soul, and a future state. This question, and the possibility, I will not say of ghosts walking, but of the dead appearing to the living, were subjects of much speculation; and we actually committed the folly of drawing up an agreement written with our blood, to the effect that which ever of us died first should appear to the other, and thus solve any doubts we had entertained of the 'life after death.' After we had finished our classes at college, G. went to India, having got an appointment there in the Civil Service.
"He seldom wrote to me, and after the lapse of a few years I had almost forgotten him; moreover, his family having little connection with Edinburgh, I seldom saw or heard anything of them, or of him through them, so that all his school-boy intimacy had died out, and I had nearly forgotten his existence. I had taken, as I have said, a warm bath, and while lying in it and enjoying the comfort of the heat after the late freezing I had undergone, I turned my head round, looking towards the chair on which I had deposited my clothes, as I was about to get out of the bath. On the chair sat G, looking calmly at me.
"How I got out of the bath I know not, but on recovering my senses I found myself sprawling on the floor. The apparition, or whatever it was that had taken the likeness of G., had disappeared.
"This vision produced such a shock that I had no inclination to talk about it even to Stewart; but the impression it made upon me was too vivid to be easily forgotten; and so strongly was I affected by it that I have here written down the whole history, with the date, 19th December, and all the particulars, as they are now fresh before me.
"No doubt I had fallen asleep; and that the appearance presented so distinctly to my eyes was a dream, I cannot for a moment doubt; yet for years I had had no communication with G., nor had there been anything to recall him to my recollection; nothing had taken place during our Swedish travels either connected with G. or with India, or with anything relating to him, or to any member of his family. I could not discharge from my mind the impression that G. must have died, and that his appearance to me was to be received as a proof of a future state; yet all the while I felt convinced that the whole was a dream; and so painfully vivid, so unfading the impression, that I could not bring myself to talk of it or make the slightest allusion to it."
In October, 1862, Lord Brougham added as a postscript: -
"I have just been copying out from my journal the account of this strange dream: Certissima mortis imago ! And now to finish the story, begun about sixty years ago. Soon after my return to Edinburgh, there arrived a letter from India, announcing G.'s death, and stating that he had died on the 19th of December!
"Singular coincidence! Yet, when one reflects on the vast number of dreams which night after night pass through our brains, the number of coincidences between the vision and the event are perhaps fewer and less remarkable than a fair calculation of chances would warrant us to expect. Nor is it surprising, considering the variety of thoughts in sleep, and that they all bear some analogy to the affairs of life, that a dream should sometimes coincide with a contemporaneous, or even with a future, event. This is not much more wonderful than that a person whom we have had no reason to expect should appear to us at the very moment we have been thinking or speaking of him. So common is this, that it has for ages grown into the proverb, ' Speak of the devil.' I believe every such seeming miracle is, like every ghost story, capable of explanation."
I have introduced in full Lord Brougham's statement of the case and his method of reasoning upon it; let us for a moment analyze each.
I have also introduced Harriet Hosmer's experience along with that of Lord Brougham, because they are both notable persons whose evidence regarding matters of fact could not be impugned, and whose strength of character, honesty of purpose, and knowledge of affairs enables us to throw out of account any idea of imposture or self-deception in either case. These cases, then, must be received as having actually occurred as related; and being so received they render all the more credible other cases reported by persons less well known.
What was the character of the apparitions or appearances which were presented; were they, properly speaking, dreams? In Miss Hosmer's statement she stoutly affirms that she was awake, and she gives good reasons for so believing, namely, before she saw anything, but only felt that some one was in the room, she awoke from a sound sleep; she reasoned with herself regarding the possibility of any one getting into the room; she called out: "Who's there?" She saw the furniture, heard the clock strike, and counted five; and in another account which I also have, she heard the familiar noises about the house of servants at their usual work, and she resolved to get up. All this before she saw anything unusual; then turning her head she saw Rosa. Clearly this was not a dream but a vision occurring possibly in a condition of reverie.