The History of Leith

May 17, 2012

A curious “dream story”

A curious ” dream story,”

There is a curious ” dream story,” as Chambers calls
it in his ” Book of Days,” connected with
Leith in 1731, which Lady Clerk of Penicuik (nee
Mary Dacre, of Kirklinton in Cumberland), to
whom we have referred in our first volume, communicated
to Blackwood’s Magazine in 1826. She
related that her father was attending classes in
Edinburgh in 1731, and was residing under the
care of an uncle—Major Griffiths—whose regiment
was quartered in the castle. The young man had
agreed to join a fishing party, which was to start
from Leith harbour next morning. No objection
was made by Major or Mrs. Griffiths, from whom
he parted at night. During her sleep the latter
suddenly screamed out: “The boat is sinking—
oh, save them !” The major awoke her, and said
” Are you uneasy about that fishing-party ? ” ” No,”
she replied, “I had no thought of it.” After she
had been asleep about an hour, she again exclaimed,
in a dreadful fright: ” I see the boat—it is going
down ! ” Again the major awoke her, on which she
said the second dream must have been suggested
by the first. But no rest was to be obtained by
her, for again the dream returned, and she exclaimed,
in extreme agony : ” They are gone !—the boat is
sunk ! ” Then she added : ” Mr. Dacre must not
go, for I feel that, should he go, I should be miserable
till his return.” In short, on the strength of
her treble dream, she induced their nephew to send
a note of apology to his companions, who left Leith,
but were caught in a storm, in which all perished.
Chambers conceives that, unlike many anecdotes
of this kind, Lady Clerk’s dream-story can be traced
to an actual occurrence, which he quotes from the
Caledonian Mercury of 1734, and that the old lady
had mistaken the precise year.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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