Taking up Lord Brougham's case: in simply recording the facts in his diary he speaks of his experience as a vision and the idea that it was a dream was evidently an after-thought. He was enjoying the heat; he was about to get out of the bath; he turned his head. He describes the sensations and actions of a man who is awake, or certainly not in a condition to have dreams disconnected with his actual surroundings. After all this, looking toward the chair upon which he had deposited his clothes - still a part of his surroundings, of which he was perfectly conscious -he saw G. on the chair looking calmly at him.
Now to have dreamt of G., his old school-fellow and friend, looking calmly at him, would not have been anything shocking nor even surprising; it would not have been even uncommon among dreams - it would have been nothing out of the ordinary course of nature. Dreams seldom shock or even surprise us - surely not unless there is something intrinsically shocking represented by them; but when we see the phantasm of a person whom we know cannot be there - that is unusual, that is not in the ordinary course of nature, as we are accustomed to observe nature, and it surprises us, shocks us, perhaps frightens us; but it does so because we are awake and can reason about it and compare its strangeness with the usual order of things.
Lord Brougham was awake, he did so reason, and was accordingly shocked.
So vivid was the apparition that he tumbled out of the bath and fainted. It is only some time after this, when writing up his diary, that he has no doubt that he had fallen asleep. Preconceived theories about apparitions now come up in his mind and get him into trouble; he must explain his vision.
Now for the explanation. Lord Brougham finds, on returning to Scotland, that his former friend is dead, and that the time of his death corresponded with the time at which he had seen his apparition in Sweden, December 19th.
"Singular coincidence!" That is Lord Brougham's explanation; and that is the usual explanation; but it is ill-considered - it is weak - it does not cover the ground.
Lord Brougham had but two theories from which to choose : namely, Chance and Super-naturalism; and of the two horns of the dilemma he chose the easier one.
Let us, however, place ourselves, for the moment, on his ground, namely, that (1) It was a dream; and (2) dreams are so numerous that it is not surprising that some of them coincide with contemporaneous events.
Evidently the more numerous the coincidences, or the dreams which correspond to contemporaneous events, the weaker becomes the theory of chance coincidences. Supposing, then, Lord Brougham's case to have been unique, that not another similar case was known to have occurred, then we should have no particular hesitation in assigning it to the category of chance coincidences; but even then it would be out of the order of usual coincidences both in interest and the number of separate points involved; it would excite special interest, but the reference of it to chance would not be considered unreasonable: if, however, three or four such cases had been reported and discussed in a generation, thoughtful people would begin to inquire if there might not be some relation of sequence, or possibly of cause and effect; but when hundreds of cases have been reported, because they have been systematically sought for - veridical dreams connected with the moment of the death of the agent, with fainting, with trance, with moments of supreme excitement, or of extreme danger, so many different conditions in which by careful observation it is found that such hallucinations and symbols relating to actual contemporaneous occurrences originate and are telepathically transmitted - the matter is then quite removed from the category of chance coincidences, and any attempt to force these cases there to-day denotes either ignorance of established facts or inability to appreciate logical reasoning or even mathematical demonstration. This is all upon the supposition that the case in question was a dream. On the other hand, now place the case where it really belongs as a waking or Borderland vision - an event in a class a hundred-fold less numerous than dreams -and in which class corresponding events are at least tenfold more numerotis, and we see how conspicuously weak is the coincidence theory.
Neither need the other horn of the dilemma, namely, Supernaturalism, any longer be taken. A newly recognized method of mental interaction is gradually coming into view; a new principle and law in psychology is being established; and under this law the erratic and discredited facts of history as well as the facts of present observation and experiment are falling into line and becoming intelligible.
The new principle or law, as we have seen, is this: Perceptions, of the class which have usually been known as hallucinations, may be originated and transferred telepathically; in other words, there is a subliminal self, which, under various conditions on the part of either agent or percipient, or both, may come to the surface and act, impressing the sensitive percipient through the senses, by dreams, visions, and apparitions, as well as through hallucinations of hearing and touch.
Returning to our well considered cases illustrating some of these various conditions: having presented examples of veridical or truth-telling dreams, and of waking or borderland visions also corresponding to actual events taking place at the same time, I will next present cases where the percipient was undoubtedly awake and in a normal condition. The following case is reported on the authority of Surgeon Harris of the Royal Artillery, who, with his two daughters, was a witness of the occurrence :
"A party of children, sons and daughters of the officers of artillery stationed at Woolwich, were playing in the garden. Suddenly a little girl screamed, and stood staring with an aspect of terror at a willow tree standing in the grounds. Her companions gathered round, asking what ailed her. 'Oh!' said she, 'there - there. Don't you see? There's papa lying on the ground, and the blood running from a big wound.' All assured her that they could see nothing of the kind. But she persisted, describing the wound and the position of the body, still expressing surprise that they did not see what she so plainly saw. Two of her companions were daughters of one of the surgeons of the regiment, whose house adjoined the garden. They called their father, who at once came to the spot. He found the child in a state of extreme terror and agony, took her into his house, assured her it was only a fancy, and having given her restoratives sent her home. The incident was treated by all as what the doctor had called it, a fancy, and no more was thought of it. News from India, where the child's father was stationed, was in those days slow in coming, but the arrival of the mail in due course brought the information that the father of the child had been killed by a shot, and died under a tree. Making allowances for difference in time, it was found to have been about the moment when the daughter had the vision at Woolwich."