+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

contained rather a detailed account of the death
of my dear friend Owens: which had occurred
very suddenly and unexpectedly, on the evening
when I had seen the dark figure in the lane,
and at a little before nine o'clockthe hour of
the appearance. The letter stated that an
apoplectic attack had occurred in the morning.
Bleeding had relieved the insensibility.
Towards evening, the patient became
conscious, and, from his own feelings, declared
that he was about to die. He then sent farewell
messages to various friends. I was
particularly mentioned, almost at the last moment of
life, and an earnest desire was expressed that I
should be present at his funeral. Accordingly,
the letter invited me and Mrs. Cranstoun to
that sad ceremony, which was to take place in a
day or two, at a village in Surrey, about ten
miles off.

Impossible, after this, not to connect the
appearance in the lane with the death of Owens.
Besides, there now suddenly came into my head, a
crowd of circumstances singularly connected
with the impressionthe apparition, as it would
popularly be called. In those lanes, Owens and
myself had often rambled, and when we last
frequented those haunts of our youth, Owens,
the time being winter, had constantly worn a
large cloak, or roquelaure (as the article was
called at that time), of a dark blue colour,
which he was accustomed to drape about him
as the figure's cloak was arranged.

Curiously, too, I had a miniature picture
of Owens in that very cloak. But critical
friends had exclaimed against the cloak, as
affected and Byronic; and as, in that young
season, I was apt to play the part of the old
man with his ass, and to try to please everybody
(let the reader believe I have given this up
long ago), the miniature was, at that very time,
in the hands of the artist (Miss Kendrick) to
be altered. All this occurred to me now, but
had had no place in my remembrance before.

The story is not quite finished yet.

Let the reader imagine the funeral long over.
Time has passed, and I am down at Cambridge, to
vote at an election. I find my friend Inson (the
third of the private-tutor trio, be it
remembered) in the agony of examinations and
entrance into holy orders. Still, he has time to
talk to me of old days, of the death of poor
Owens, and of the sorrow that event had caused
him. Of course, I tell him the story of the
appearance in the lane.

In a breathless way Inson cries out, "Do
you not remember what took place in that


"Good Heaven!" exclaimed lnson, "it was
there, if I rightly understand your description,
that you, and I, and Owens, solemnly swore to
each other, that, he of us who died first, should
appear to the othersthat is, if there were a
future state, which we, in our young scepticism,
were not quite sure of."

The words of lnson were to me as the
application of fire to a revelation written in
sympathetic ink. Every syllable came out clearly.
A connexion of events which I seemed long
to have been seeking, now shot into its place,
and that, too, with an astonishment that such
a veil had been over my memory until now!
Just there! Yes, indeed, it was the very spot
where we had solemnly taken each other's hands,
and sworn that the first dead should appear to
the other two.

How could I have failed to recognise that
spot? Surely it was marked enough by the
long vista of lane, the turn at the end, the
boughs getting scanty, the light coming

Why, now, enlightened as I was, I could
have identified every inequality in the bank,
every rabbit-hole, even a species of hemlock that
grew thereabout.

And we had sat on that bank. And I had
not remembered it.

I look upon this case of my own, as a most
beautiful and interesting proof of the power of
soul and brain, at the moment when they are
about to be severed, to manifest their existence,
to another soul and brain:—as a remarkable
instance of a power there is in humanity, at that
great extremity and verge of change, to impress
humanity with kindred thought: and that so
strongly that two brains may be impressed
together, either simultaneously or by conveying
the electric impulse from one to the other.

Be it remembered, Owens had been present at
my marriage with Mrs. Cranstoun. He was not
well at the time. He had left a sick-room
to come to the church where the marriage
took place. These circumstances would naturally
impress his mind, and connect Mrs. Cranstoun
and myself in one idea, as it were. Naturally, he
might connect us two in a dying thought, and
so, by the wondrous cerebral agitation of the
act of dissolution, might make the idea of
himself apparent to both of us at the same moment.

Or, the dying spirit and agitated brain might
impress my brain and optic nerve alone; and I
might convey my own cerebral impressions to
the person who was close to me and in strict
relation with me.

On Magazine day, price 1s.,
The Fourth Monthly Part of
With Two Illustrations on Steel by HABLOT K . BROWNE.
To be completed in Eight Monthly Parts.
CHAPMAN and HALL, 193, Piccadilly, W., AND
"ALL THE YEAR ROUND" Office, 11, Wellington-street
North, London, W.C.

The right of Translating Articles from ALL THE YEAR ROUND is reserved by the Authors.