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Dream Of Mr Perceval's Murder

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

"SUNDHILL, December, 1832.

"[Some account of a dream which occurred to John Williams, Esq., of

Scorrier House, in the county of Cornwall, in the year 1812. Taken

from his own mouth, and narrated by him at various times to several of

his friends.]

"Being desired to write out the particulars of a remarkable dream

which I had in the year 1812, before I do so I think it may be proper

> for me to say that at that time my attention was fully occupied with

affairs of my own--the superintendence of some very extensive mines in

Cornwall being entrusted to me. Thus I had no leisure to pay any

attention to political matters, and hardly knew at that time who

formed the administration of the country. It was, therefore, scarcely

possible that my own interest in the subject should have had any share

in suggesting the circumstances which presented themselves to my

imagination. It was, in truth, a subject which never occurred to my

waking thoughts.

"My dream was as follows:--

"About the second or third day of May, 1812, I dreamed that I was in

the lobby of the House of Commons (a place well known to me). A small

man, dressed in a blue coat and a white waistcoat, entered, and

immediately I saw a person whom I had observed on my first entrance,

dressed in a snuff-coloured coat with metal buttons, take a pistol

from under his coat and present it at the little man above-mentioned.

The pistol was discharged, and the ball entered under the left breast

of the person at whom it was directed. I saw the blood issue from the

place where the ball had struck him, his countenance instantly

altered, and he fell to the ground. Upon inquiry who the sufferer

might be, I was informed that he was the chancellor. I understood him

to be Mr. Perceval, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer. I further

saw the murderer laid hold of by several of the gentlemen in the room.

Upon waking I told the particulars above related to my wife; she

treated the matter lightly, and desired me to go to sleep, saying it

was only a dream. I soon fell asleep again, and again the dream

presented itself with precisely the same circumstances. After waking

a second time and stating the matter again to my wife, she only

repeated her request that I would compose myself and dismiss the

subject from my mind. Upon my falling asleep the third time, the same

dream without any alteration was repeated, and I awoke, as on the

former occasions, in great agitation. So much alarmed and impressed

was I with the circumstances above related, that I felt much doubt

whether it was not my duty to take a journey to London and communicate

upon the subject with the party principally concerned. Upon this

point I consulted with some friends whom I met on business at the

Godolphin mine on the following day. After having stated to them the

particulars of the dream itself and what were my own feelings in

relation to it, they dissuaded me from my purpose, saying I might

expose myself to contempt and vexation, or be taken up as a fanatic.

Upon this I said no more, but anxiously watched the newspapers every

evening as the post arrived.

"On the evening of the 13th of May (as far as I recollect) no account

of Mr. Perceval's death was in the newspapers, but my second son,

returning from Truro, came in a hurried manner into the room where I

was sitting and exclaimed: 'O father, your dream has come true! Mr.

Perceval has been shot in the lobby of the House of Commons; there is

an account come from London to Truro written after the newspapers were


"The fact was Mr. Percival was assassinated on the evening of the


"Some business soon after called me to London, and in one of the

print-shops I saw a drawing for sale, representing the place and the

circumstances which attended Mr. Perceval's death. I purchased it,

and upon a careful examination I found it to coincide in all respects

with the scene which had passed through my imagination in the dream.

The colours of the dresses, the buttons of the assassin's coat, the

white waistcoat of Mr. Perceval, the spot of blood upon it, the

countenances and attitudes of the parties present were exactly what I

had dreamed.

"The singularity of the case, when mentioned among my friends and

acquaintances, naturally made it the subject of conversation in

London, and in consequence my friend, the late Mr. Rennie, was

requested by some of the commissioners of the navy that they might be

permitted to hear the circumstances from myself. Two of them

accordingly met me at Mr. Rennie's house, and to them I detailed at

the time the particulars, then fresh in my memory, which form the

subject of the above statement.

"I forbear to make any comment on the above narrative, further than to

declare solemnly that it is a faithful account of facts as they

actually occurred.

(Signed) "JOHN WILLIAMS." {42}

When we come to dreams of the future, great historical examples are

scarce indeed, that is, dreams respectably authenticated. We have to

put up with curious trivialities. One has an odd feature.