2009-12-16

012 - There Is No Death, by Florence Marryat: Optical Illusions... or Spiritual Infiltrations?

Welcome to the Haunted Hotel






As I have alluded to what my family termed my “optical illusions”, I think it as well to describe a few of them, which appeared by the context to be something more than a mere temporary disturbance of my visual organs. I will pass over such as might be traced, truly or otherwise, to physical causes, and confine myself to those which were subsequently proved to be the reflection of something that, unknown to me, had gone before.


In 1875 I was much engaged in giving dramatic readings in different parts of the country, and I visited Dublin for the first time in my life, for that purpose, and put up at the largest and bestfrequented hotel there. Through the hospitality of the residents and the duties of my professional business, I was engaged both day and night, and when I did get to bed, I had every disposition to sleep, as the saying is, like a “top”. But there was something in the hotel that would not let me do so. 




I had a charming bedroom, cheerful, bright and pretty, and replete with every comfort, and I would retire to rest “dead beat”, and fall off to sleep at once, to be waked perhaps half-a-dozen times a night by that inexplicable something (or nothing) that rouses me whenever I am about to enjoy an “optical illusion”, and to see figures, sometimes one, sometimes two or three, sometimes a whole group standing by my bedside and gazing at me with looks of the greatest astonishment, as much as to ask what right I had to be there. 

But the most remarkable part of the matter to me was, that all the figures were those of men, and military men, to whom I was too well accustomed to be able to mistake. Some were officers and others soldiers, some were in uniform, others in undress, but they all belonged to the army, and they all seemed to labor under the same feeling of intense surprise at seeing me in the hotel. 

These apparitions were so life-like and appeared so frequently, that I grew quite uncomfortable about them, for however much one may be used to see “optical illusions”, it is not pleasant to fancy there are about twenty strangers gazing at one every night as one lies asleep. 

Spiritualism is, or was, a tabooed subject in Dublin, and I had been expressly cautioned not to mention it before my new acquaintances. However, I could not keep entire silence on this subject, and dining “en famille” one day, with a hospitable family of the name of Robinson, I related to them my nightly experiences at the hotel.


Father, mother, and son exclaimed simultaneously. “Good gracious!" they said, “don't you know that the hotel was built on the site of the old barracks? The house immediately behind it, which formed part of the old building, was vacated by its last tenants on account of its being haunted. Every evening at the hour the soldiers used to be marched up to bed, they heard the tramp, tramp, tramp of the feet ascending the staircase.”


“That may be,” I replied, “but they knew their house stood on the site of the barracks, and I didn’t.”

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