The Boat is Sinking
Dreamed 1734/8/6 by Mrs. Griffiths of Edinbugh
Being in company the other day, when the conversation turned upon dreams, I related one, which, as it happened to my own father, I can answer for the perfect truth of it. About the year 1731, my father, Joseph D'Acre, Esq., of Kirklinton, in the county of Cumberland, came to Edinburgh to attend the classes, having the advantage of an uncle in the regiment then in the castle, and remained under the protection of his uncle and aunt, Major and Mrs. Griffiths, during the winter.
When spring arrived, Mr. D'Acre and three or four young gentlemen from England (his intimates), made parties to visit all the neighbouring places about Edinburgh--Roslin, Arthur's Seat, Craigmillar, &c., &c. Coming home one evening from some of these places Mr. D'Acre said, "We have made a party to go a-fishing to Inchkeith to-morrow, if the morning is fine, and have bespoke our boat; we shall be off at six." No objection being made, they separated for the night.
Mrs. Griffiths had not been long asleep till she screamed out in the most violent, agitated manner, "The boat is sinking; save, oh save them!"
The Major awakened her, and said, "Were you uneasy about the fishing party?"
"Oh! no," she said, "I had not once thought of it." She then composed herself, and soon fell asleep again.
In about another hour she cried out, in a dreadful fright, "I see the boat is going down." The Major again awoke her, and she said, "It has been owing to the other dream I had, for I feel no uneasihess about it." After some conversation they both fell sound asleep, but no rest could be obtained for her. In the most extreme agony she again screamed, "They are gone, the boat is sunk!"
When the Major awakened her, she said, "Now I cannot rest; Mr. D'Acre must not go; for I feel, should he go, I should be miserable till his return: the thoughts of it would almost kill me."
She instantly arose, threw on her wrapping gown, went to his bedside, for his room was next their own, and with great difficulty she got his promise to remain at home. "But what am I to say to my young friends whom I was to meet at Leith at six o'clock ?"
"With great truth you may say your aunt is ill, for I am so at present. Consider you are an only son, under our protection; and should anything happen to you it would be my death." Mr. D'Acre immediately wrote a note to his friends, saying he was prevented joining them, and sent his servant with it to Leith. The morning came in most beautifully, and continued so till three o'clock, when a violent storm arose, and in an instant the boat and all that were in it went to the bottom, and were never more heard of, nor was any part of it ever seen.
I often heard the story from my father, who always added, "It has not made me superstitious; but with awful gratitude I never can forget my life, by Providence, was saved by a dream."
Primary: Blackwood's Magazine, 1826. Also, in Chambers's Book of Days, vol. ii. p. 188, the writer of the above letter is identified as Lady Clerk, of Penicuick, née Mary D'Acre.
Secondary: the above account plus sources are from Frank Seafield's The Literature and Curiosities of Dreams, 1865.
Unlike many stories of the same kind, this one can be traced to an actual occurrence, which was duly chronicled in the brief records of the time. On the 7th of August 1734 (Lady Clerk's suggested date being three years too early), five men of respectable positions in life, including Patrick Cuming, a merchant, and Colin Campbell, a shipmaster, accompanied by two boys, one of whom was 'John Cleland, a nephew of Captain Campbell's,' went out in a boat with two sailors, to fish in the Firth of Forth. All was well till eleven o'clock, when a squall came on from the south-west, and they were forced to run for Prestonpans. On their way, Captain Campbell, observing a fan coming on, called to a sailor to loose the sail; but the man failed to acquit himself rightly, and the boat went over on its side. The party clung to it for a while, but one after another fell off, or sunk in trying to swim to land, all except Captain Campbell, who was taken up by a boat, and brought ashore nearly dead with fatigue, after being five hours in the water.
Source: www.thebookofdays.com/months/aug/7.htm as of Nov 27, 2008
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