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Instances Of Maniacal Delusion Exemplified

( Originally Published Late 1800's )


The death of the celebrated and erudite Thomas, Lord Lyttelton, from the singularity of the circumstances attending it, cannot fail to live in the memory of those who have heard it. He professed tQ have been warned of his death, and the time thereof, as follows About a week before he died, he said, he went to bed pretty well, but restless. Soon after his servant had left him, he heard a footstep at the bottom of his bed. He raised himself, in order to see what it could be, when one of the most angelic female figures that imagination could possibly paint presented itself before him, and with a commanding voice and action.* bade him attend and prepare himself, for on such a night, and at the hour of twelve, he would surely die ! He attempted to address the vision, but was unable ; and the ghost vanished, and left him in a state more easily conceived than could be described. His valet found him in the morning more dead than alive ; and it was some hours before his Lordship could be recovered sufficiently to send for his friends, to whom he thought it necessary to communicate this, extraordinary circumstance. Mr. Miles Peter Andrews was one of the number sent for, being at that time one of his most intimate associates. Every person to whom Lord Lyttelton told the tale naturally turned it into ridicule, all knowing him to be very nervous and superstitious, and tried to make him believe it was a dream, as they certainly considered so themselves. Lord Lyttelton filled his house with company, and appeared to think as his friends would wish him. Mr. M. P. Andrews had business which called him to Dartford, and therefore soon took his leave, thinking Lord Lyttelton quite composed on this subject, so that his friend's dream dwelt so little on his imagination, that he did not even recollect the time when it was predicted that the event would take place. One night after he left Pitt Place, the residence of Lord Lyttelton, he supposed that he had been in bed half an hour, when, endeavouring to compose him-self, suddenly his curtains were pulled open, and Lord Lyttelton appeared before him at his bedside, standing in his robe de chambre and night-cap. Mr. Andrews looked at him some time, and thought it so odd a freak of his friend, that he began to reproach him for his folly coming down to Dartford Mills without notice, as he could find no accommodation. " However, said he, " I'll get up, and see what can be done." He turned to the other side of the bed and rang the bell, when Lord Lyttelton disappeared. Mr. Andrews's servant soon after entered, when his master inquired, " Where is Lord Lyttelton ?" The servant, all astonishment, declared he had not seen anything of his Lordship since they left Pitt Place. "Pshaw ! you fool !" replied Mr. Andrews ; "he was here this moment at my bed-side." The servant persisted that it was not possible. Mr. Andrews dressed himself, and, with the servants, searched every part of the house and garden ; but no Lord was to be found. Still, Mr. Andrews could not help believing that Lord Lyttelton had played him this trick for his disbelief of the vision, till, about four o'clock the same day, an express arrived to inform him of Lord Lyttelton's death, and the manner of it, by a friend who was present, and gave the following particular account of it : That, on the morning before Lord Lyttelton died, he entered the breakfast-room between ten and eleven o'clock ; appeared 'rather thoughtful, and did not answer any inquiries made by his friends respecting his health, etc. At dinner he seemed much better, and when the cloth was taken away, he exclaimed, "Richard's himself again !" But as night came on the gloom of the morning returned. However, as this was the predicted night of dissolution, his friends agreed that it would be right to alter the clocks and watches in the house. This was managed by the steward, without Lord Lyttelton suspecting anything of it ; his own watch, which lay on his dressing-table, being altered by his valet. During the evening they got him into some pleasant discussions, in which he distinguished himself with peculiar wit and pleasantry. At half after eleven, as he conceived it, from the alteration of the clocks (but it was only eleven), he said he was tired, and would retire to bed ; bid them a good-night, and left them all delighted with his calm appearance. During the day not the least hint was given by anyone to him of the dream ; but of course, as soon as he had withdrawn, the conversation instantly turned upon it. The discourse continued till nearly twelve o'clock, when the door being hastily opened, Lord Lyttelton's valet entered, pale as death, crying out, " My Lord is dying !" His friends flew to his bedside, but he expired before they could all assemble round him ! Lord Lyttelton's valet gave to them the following statement : " That Lord Lyttelton made his usual preparations for bed ; that he kept every now and then looking at his watch ; that when he got into bed, he ordered his curtains to be closed at the foot. It was now within a minute or two of twelve by his watch ; he asked to look at mine, and seemed pleased to find it nearly keep time with his own. His Lordship then put them both to his ear, to satisfy himself if they went. When it was more than a quarter after twelve by our watches, he said, `This mysterious lady is not a true prophetess, I find,' When it was near the real hour of twelve, he said, `Come, I'll wait no longer. Get me my medicine ; I'll take it, and try to sleep !' I just stepped into the dressing-room to prepare the physic, and had mixed it, when I thought I heard my Lord breathing very hard. I ran to him, and found him in the agonies of death."

An elderly man of the name of Williams, of the parish of Cury, whilst walking on the road, suddenly fell down, and expired. A remarkable circumstance connected with the above awful event is, that his daughter, who resides in Helston, dreamt on the preceding night that her father was dead; and, on the arrival of a messenger to inform her of the melancholy tidings, she exclaimed, " I know your errand ; my father is dead I"

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