Dreaming Murder in Parliament #3: The Earliest Account October 11, 2013Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback
This appeared in The Times 16 Aug 1828 ‘Remarkable Coincidences’. We have been able to find no earlier trace of the alleged dream of the murder of 1812. It is clearly valuable for its age and seems to depend on the special knowledge of Mr Williams. However, serious discrepancies with the later account (next post) beg a number of questions, not least who, on earth, wrote this? Beach would state confidently that it was not Mr Williams. However, there are details that are strangely convincing. The wife laughing at her husband not even sitting down before he began to speak of his dreams, for example.
In the night of the 11 of May, 1812, Mr Williams, of Scorrier-house, near Redruth, in Cornwall, awoke his wife, and, exceedingly agitated, told her that he had dreamt that he was in the lobby of the House of Commons, and saw a man shoot, with a pistol, a gentleman who had just entered the lobby, who was said to be the Chancellor; to which Mrs Williams naturally replied, that it was only a dream, and recommended him to be composed and go to sleep as soon as he could. He did so, but shortly after he again woke her, and said that he had a second time had the same dream; whereupon she observed that he had been so much agitated with his former dream, that she supposed it had dwelt on his mind, and begged of him to try to compose himself and go to sleep, which he did. A third time the same vision was repeated; on which, notwithstanding her entreaties that he would lie quiet and endeavour to forget it, he arose, then between one and two o’clock, and dressed himself. At breakfast, the dreams were the sole subject of conversation, and in the forenoon Mr Williams went to Falmouth, where he related the particulars of them to all of his acquaintance that he met. On the following day Mr Tucker, of Trematon Castle, accompanied by his wife, a daughter of Mr Williams, went to Scorrier-house, on a visit, and arrived about dusk. Immediately after the first salutations on their entering the parlour, where were Mr, Mrs, and Miss Williams, Mr Williams began to relate to Mr Tucker the circumstances of his dreams, and Mrs Williams observed to her daughter, Mrs Tucker, laughingly, that her father could not even suffer Mr Tucker to be seated before he told him of his nocturnal visitation: on the statement of which Mr Tucker observed, that it would do very well for a dream to have the Chancellor in the lobby of the House of Commons, but that he would not be found there in reality; and Mr Tucker then asked what sort of man he appeared to be, when Mr Williams described him minutely: to which Mr Tucker replied, ‘Your description is not at all that of the Chancellor, but is certainly very exactly that of Mr Perceval, the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and although he has been to me the greatest enemy I have ever met with through life, for a supposed cause which had no foundation in truth (or words to that effect), I should be exceedingly sorry indeed to hear of his being assassinated, or of any injury of the kind happening to him.’ Mr Tucker then inquired of Mr Williams if he had ever seen Mr Perceval, and was told that he had never seen him, nor had ever even written to him, either on public or private business – in short that he had never had any thing to do with him, nor had he ever been in the lobby of the House of Commons in his life. At this moment, Mr Williams and Mr Tucker still standing, they heard a horse gallop to the door of the house, and immediately after Mr Michael Williams, of Trevince (son of Mr Williams of Scorrier) entered the room, and said that he had galloped out from Truro (from which Scorrier is distant seven miles), having seen a gentleman there, who had come by that evening’s mail from town, who said that he was in the lobby of the House of Commons on the evening of the 11 when a man called Bellingham, had shot Mr Perceval; and that as it might occasion some great ministerial changes, and might affect Mr Tucker’s political friends, he had come out as fast as he could to make him acquainted with it, having heard at Truro that he had passed through that place in the afternoon in his way to Scorrier. After the astonishment which this intelligence created had a little subsided, Mr Williams described most particularly the appearance and dress of the man that he saw, in his dream, fire the pistol, as he had before done of Mr Perceval. About six weeks after Mr Williams having business in town, went, accompanied by a friend, to the House of Commons, where, as has already been observed, he had never before been. Immediately that he came to the steps at the entrance of the lobby, he said, ‘This place is as distinctly within my recollection, in my dream, as any room in my house;’ and he made the same observation when he entered the lobby. He then pointed out the exact spot where Bellingham stood when he fired, and which Mr Perceval had reached when he was struck by the ball, where, and how he fell. The dress, both of Mr Perceval and Bellingham, agreed with the descriptions given by Mr Williams, even to the most minute particular.’
It might be noted that the Times was the first to print this (to the best of our knowledge) but it was (predictably enough) much printed thereafter in the regional papers. Other Perceval sources: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com
11 Oct 2013: Sm writes in: Dear Beach, as if this was not complicated enough already. This text appears, in 1830, in The Royal Book of Dreams, with the following passage added on. ‘The foregoing dream is the more marvelous and astonishing, on account of the striking conformity of its details to those of a contemporaneous event, which was performed nearly three hundred miles from the person of the dreamer. Moreover to silence all those doubts, which those who fancy they can theorize upon dreams continually offer to the public, when any thing of the kind becomes realised, it must be stated, that the person who dreamed the dream is now alive; the witnesses to whom he made known the particulars of it at the time are also living; and the whole comes, therefore, under the denomination of a special and undoubted type or warning of what afterwards happened. The great respectability of the parties, are are ready (as they have assured the author) to make oath on the subject, sets aside every appearance of wishing to impose upon public credulity. It is here recorded as a matter of fact, which may cause the sceptic to paulse ere he pronounces all dreams as the offspring of the imagination, or the effects of bodily infirmities.’ This is presumably an addition? Thanks SM!