Countless dreams have foretold dramatic events in history
Many men and women who never thought of themselves as psychic have had sudden visions of what lies ahead.
Usually, they are premonitions of disaster. But not always.
On 7 October 1571, Pope Pius V suddenly interrupted a mundane meeting of his treasury officials and announced: ‘We must go and give thanks to God. Victory has gone to the Christian fleet.’ A secretary made a note of the Pope’s comment and added the time: 5 pm. Two weeks later, news reached Rome that the combined fleets of Spain, Venice and Genoa had overwhelmed a Turkish fleet in the Battle of Lepanto on the afternoon of 7 October.
Many premonitions come in dreams. In 1812, as Napoleon’s armies advanced on Moscow, the wife of the Russian General Count Toutschkoff dreamed three times that her husband had died at a place she had never heard of before – Borodino. After each dream, Countess Toutschkoff searched maps in vain for such a name. On 7 September of that year, the retreating Russians finally turned and routed Napoleon’s armies at an insignificant village called Borodino. One of the casualties was Count Toutschkoff.
A second famous case of premonition occurred in the same year. Again, the warning came in three separate dreams. Cornish mine owner John Williams told friends that in the dreams he had seen a man shot dead in the lobby of the House of Commons, and that when he had asked who the victim was he had been told: ‘The chancellor of the exchequer.’
Nine days later, on 11 May 1812, Spencer Perceval, who was both prime minister and chancellor of the exchequer, was assassinated. Williams’s description of the killing had been exact in every detail even down to the cut of the victim’s waistcoat and the color of the buttons on the killer’s coat.
Another leader, President Abraham Lincoln, was given an unhappy glimpse into the future in a dream, in March 1865. He told his friend, Ward Hill Lamon, about it in these words:
There seemed to be a deathlike stillness about me. I heard subdued sobs, as if many people were weeping. I feel that i left my bed and walked down stairs. I went from room to room. No living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, where I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were guards and a throng of mourners, many weeping pitifully.
Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded of one of the soldiers,
The President,’ was his answer. He was killed by an assassin. On 14 April 1865, Lincoln was shot dead at a Washington theatre. His body- was laid in state at the White House – in the East Room.
One of the most celebrated instances of unconscious premonition occurred in a novel published in 1898 by* American author Morgan Robertson.lt recounted the story of the biggest and most luxurious liner ever built… of how it set out from Southampton on its maiden voyage to New York … of ho w it hit an iceberg in the Atlantic. . . of how its hull was torn open beneath the waterline. of how it sank with appalling loss of life because there were not enough lifeboats. And the name Robertson gave to his ship was the Titan.
Fourteen years later, on 10 April 1912, almost every word of that fictional tragedy came true when the Titanic sank to its doom.
Another giant of international travel, the airship R101, slipped its moorings
on 4 October 1930 and set off on its maiden flight from England to India. As it passed over London, Harold Ceazer and his wife watched from their garden and saw its shape change to that of a coffin. They had a strong premonition of death. So did the son of one of the airship’s riggers, and the wife of the captain, Flight-Lieutenant Carmichael Irwin. The captain’s wife told friends: ‘We both knew he was not coming back again.’ Early next morning the R101 crashed into a hillside near Beauvais, France, killing all but six of the 54 people aboard.
A Californian paint-firm owner, Jack Swimmer, amazed newsmen with his predictions of voting figures in the 1952 presidential elections which swept Dwight D. Eisenhower to power. But in 1956, Swimmer really wrapped up the election in advance. He handed over to Los Angeles police for safe keeping a list of the votes he believed would be cast for Eisenhower. They were: nationwide 33,974,241, California 2,875,637, Los Angeles 1,218,462. After the election results were announced, Swimmer’s figures were found to be precisely accurate.
A less happy prediction was made in 1966 by South Wales schoolgirl Eryl Jones. She told her mother she had dreamed that she had walked to school in Aberfan but that the school was no longer there. ‘Something black had come over it,’ she said. Two days later, on 21 October, a black slag heap slid down a mountainside on to the school, burying it along with 144 children and teachers.
An airliner which crashed into a hillside near Perpignan, France, on 3 June 1967, was one passenger short. His seat reserved for Gina Beauchamp was empty because, as she waited for an airport bus in London, she had a premonition of disaster. She told her mother that they must cancel their holiday flight to Spain. Mrs Mary Beauchamp insisted on continuing. Her daughter stayed – and survived.
On the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, he told his wife: “If someone wants to shoot me from a window with a rifle, I can’t stop him. So let’s not worry about it.’
Although he was predicting the manner of his own death only hours later, Kennedy had no conscious foreboding of it. But five years later, in 1968, Kennedy’s widow, Jackie, had a very firm premonition – of the death of her brother-in-law. She said sadly of Robert Kennedy, then launching his campaign for the Presidency: ‘I know he is going to be shot-just like my husband was.’
On 5 June, the young senator was shot dead in a Los Angeles hotel. The premonition was only one of dozens recorded around the world – all inexplicable forewarning of tragedy that were to come true.