1890: Some Horrible Presence which Still Remained

Skull with Snout

Simultaneous Dreams
No. 52.—From Miss INA BIDDER.

Ravensbury Park, Mitcham
June l0th, 1890.

The night before last a curious case of what I cannot but call telepathy occurred between myself and my sister. (We sleep in the same room.) For the last two years the whole family have been very much interested in some skeletons and flint instruments found in a gravel pit in one of the fields. They have never been properly excavated, and about ten days ago my sister and I had been amusing ourselves pulling out, bone by bone, one of these “paleolithic men,” as we pleased to call them. He was a particularly interesting one, as we found a flint arrow-head in his hip-bone, but we only got to his ribs. On the night in question I dreamt that my father was excavating in a more approved method, taking off the top mould and leaving the bones in their original position in the brown earth, so that you could see the form of the man to whom they had belonged. In this way we lifted out the rest of the skeleton at which my sister and I had been working, and behold I when we got to the skull it had a snout. We were delighted to be able to prove this extraordinary fact respecting paleolithic man, and the doctors crowded down from town to see the creature; but my sister was nowhere about, and in my anxiety to tell her of our discovery I woke myself and nearly woke her. I stopped myself just in time, thinking what a shame it was to spoil her night’s rest for a dream. Still wishing she were awake to hear, and thinking again of the curious effect of the black, earth-filled skull, with its projecting snout, and dreaming of my dream, I turned over and dropped into another. Before I had got well started in this, however, I was awakened by my sister trying to light the candle. “What is it ?” I said, “what’s the matter ?” “I’ve just had such a horrid dream,” she answered; “it haunts me still.” But I do not think I need repeat her dream, which I believe she has written.

Miss M. Bidder writes as follows:—

June 9th, 1890.

I was sleeping last night with my sister, with whom I have shared a room all my life. I was sleeping soundly, and my dreams, of which I now retain only the vaguest recollection, took their most usual form of a confused repetition of all the events of the past day jumbled together without meaning or sequence, and without even much distinctness. The whole scene of the dream was hazy and confused, until I became suddenly conscious of the figure of a skeleton in the foreground, as it were, which disturbed me in my dream with a sense of incongruity. I first made a half-conscious effort to banish the figure—which struck me with great horror—from my dream, but instead of disappearing it grew more and more prominent and distinct, while all the rest of the scene and the people in it seemed fading away. The figure of the skeleton, which I can perfectly recall, presented one of the most vivid impressions I ever remember to have received in a dream. It appeared to stand upright before me, with what seemed to be a dark cloak hanging about its limbs and forming a kind of background as of a black hood behind the skull, which showed against it with extreme distinctness. It was on the skull, which was facing me full, that my attention was chiefly concentrated, and as I stared at it it slowly turned sideways, showing, to my horror, the profile of a very long, sharp nose in place of the hollow socket. The feeling of terror with which I perceived this (for the first time) was so intense as to awaken me, nor could I even then entirely banish it. So unpleasantly strong, indeed, was the impression of some horrible presence which still remained, that it was with difficulty that I resisted the desire to rouse my sister that she might help me to shake it off. Some movement of mine did in fact presently awake her, and I at once began to tell her of my horrible dream. Before, however, I had described it to her, she interrupted me to tell me of a dream which she had had.

—Frank Podmore: Apparitions and Thought-Transference; an Examination of the Evidence for Telepathy (1894)

Image sources here and here.

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