Monday, November 16, 2015

Apparitions at Sea by Bourchier Wrey Savile 1880

APPARITIONS AT SEA by Bourchier Wrey Savile 1880

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The late Lieutenant Metherell, R.N., told me that on one occasion, when in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a sailor came up to him and asked leave to go off his watch on account of his having just heard of the death of his mother. Permission was readily granted, until after, a time the officer remembering that they had not spoken any vessel at sea that day, and that it was impossible to have received any communication by any other means, recalled the sailor in order to inquire how he had learnt the news.

"Please, your honour, my mother stood by my hammock last night, and told me she was dead!"

"Oh," replied my friend, "you've been taking a drop too much this morning;" gave him a slight punishment in place of exempting him from his watch, and dismissed the subject from his thoughts.

Some months after, the ship arrived at Portsmouth, and the above-mentioned sailor having obtained leave to go on shore, speedily returned to inform Lieutenant Metherell that he was no false prophet, as his mother had died at the exact date he had seen her apparition standing at his hammock's side.

As a suitable sequel to the above, the following well-authenticated instance of an apparition in mid-ocean may not be uninteresting to the reader.

Towards the close of 1870, Mr. James Greaves, superintendent of the Anglo-American Telegraph Company's office at Valencia, informed Mr. Varley, the electrician, that some excitement had been caused amongst the crew of the cablerepairing ship Robert Lowe, by the alleged appearance of several apparitions to one of the crew, when the ship was in the middle of the Atlantic, which was confirmed by the commander of the vessel, Captain James Blacklock; and subsequently the following statement was drawn up and signed, in order to authenticate fully the whole narrative, which reads as follows:—


The steamship Robert Lowe returned to the Thames on Tuesday, October 11th, 1870, from St. Pierre, Newfoundland, where she had been repairing one of the French Atlantic Telegraph Company's cables. An engineer on board, Mr. W.H. Pierce, of 37, Augusta-street, East India road, Poplar, was taken ill with the typhus fever, and on the 4th October last he died. One of his mates—Mr. D. Brown, of 1, Edward-street, Hudson's-road, Canning-town, Plaistow, a strong, healthy man, a stoker, not likely to be led astray by imagination—attended him till the day before he died. On the afternoon before his death, at three P.M., in broad daylight, Brown was attending the sick man, who wanted to get out of bed, but his companion prevented him. And this is what the witness says he saw:—

"I was standing on one side of the bunk, and while trying to prevent Pierce from rising, I saw on the other side of the bunk the wife, two children, and the mother of the dying man, all of whom I knew very well, and they are all still living. They appeared to be very sorrowful, but in all other respects were the same as other ordinary human beings. I could not see through them: they were not at all transparent.
[It is remarkable that in this day-light apparition tale there are two points to be noted of unusual occurrence in the records of Ghost-lore. 1st. That the apparitions were not transparent, contrary to the usual belief; as Ossian describes Ghosts to be of so thin a substance that the moon shines through them. 2nd. The apparition of Pierce's mother was said to speak "in a clearly audible voice.'" This is difficult to explain.] They had on their ordinary clothes, and perhaps looked rather paler than usual. The mother said to me, in a clearly audible voice, 'He will be buried on Thursday, at twelve o'clock, in about 1400 fathoms of water.'

"They all then vanished instantaneously, and I saw them no more. Pierce did not see them, as he was delirious, and had been so for two days previously. I ran out of the berth in a state of great excitement, and did not enter it again while he was alive. He died on Tuesday, not Thursday, and was buried at four o'clock, and not twelve. It was a sudden surprise to me to see the apparitions. I expected nothing of the kind, and when I first saw them I was perfectly cool and collected. I had never before seen anything of the kind in my life, and my health is and always has been good. About five minutes afterwards I told Captain Blacklock I would stop with the sick man no longer, but would not tell him why, thinking that if I did nobody else would take my place. About an hour later, I told Captain Blacklock and Mr. Dunbar, the chief engineer, whose address is, 'Old Mill, near Port William,Wigtownshire, Scotland.'"

The other sailors on board say they saw that Mr. Brown was greatly agitated, and they gradually drew the above narrative from him. Captain Blacklock adds:—

"Brown came down into the cabin, looking very pale and frightened, and declared in a strong and decided way that he would not attend the sick man any more—not for £1000. I told him that he ought to attend a sick and dying comrade, especially as a storm was raging, and he needed kind and considerate help as much as any of us might need one day. I pressed him the more, as I wanted a strong, steady man to attend the delirious invalid; besides, it being bad weather, the other men were fagged and overworked. Brown would not go back, and he left the cabin, as I think, crying; so I sent him out a glass of brandy. Shortly after that, I heard he was very ill, and that his mates had some trouble in calming him."

We, the undersigned officials on board the Robert Lowe, declare the above statements to be true, so far as each of the circumstances came under our personal notice, but we none of us commit ourselves to any opinion as to the cause of the phenomenon. We give this statement simply because we have been requested so to do, rumours having gone abroad and caused inquiries to be made. (Signed)
John Blacklock, Commander. David Brown, Stoker. Andrew Dunbar, First Engineer. Beuben Richardson, Stoker. Robert Knox, Trimmer. Henry Hammond, Stoker. John Woodcock, Stoker. Henry Pugh, Cook. Witness, W. H. Harrison, 27, Queen-street, Horselydown, Bermondsey, October 20th, 1870.

Mr. D. Brown, who saw the apparition, bears an excellent character, being thoroughly trusted by his captain, and had a warm friendship for the deceased. Mrs. Pierce, the widow, shortly before her husband's death, experienced, when in London, a strange sensation, which caused her to anticipate the melancholy event. For, being at the house of her mother-in-law, in Camden-town, on the 28th of September, a few days before her husband's death, she was awakened in the night by a loud knocking, apparently at the street door, but on looking out could not see any one there. A dreadful presentiment came into her mind that she would soon receive some bad news. Afterwards she dreamed that she was a widow, and that her children were dressed in deep mourning; the household, consisting of Mrs. Pierce, her two children, and mother-in-law, formed the very same group of individuals who appeared as apparitions to Mr. D. Brown, when watching beside his dying companion in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

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