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May 25, 2012

Dying for a cup of tea, the nightmare that became a reality

11 May, 1812.  Scourrier  House (near Redruth) Cornwall.

Mr Williams was in quite a state when he woke up his wife.

Though the Williamses lived over 250 miles from the Houses of Parliament, Mr. Williams had a vivid vision, it was as if he were in the lobby of House of Commons.  In Mr. William’s dream, an angry man sat waiting in the lobby.  As what appeared to be the Chancellor entered the lobby, the angry man fired his gun.

Have you ever had a dream that came true?  Mrs. Williams hadn’t.  Perhaps, like Thomas Paine she “took no notice” of her dreams.  But her husband certainly pestered her with his.

Mrs. Williams told her husband that it was only a dream, to get a hold of himself and “go to sleep” ASAP.  The government wasn’t very popular in 1812.  But it was the Prince, not the Chancellor, who was hated most.

Mr. Williams’ dream could have been provoked by the atmosphere of the time.  Frenchmen were executed for a conspiracy to assassinate Napoleon.  A similar conspiracy against the Tsar Alexander in Russia resulted in one of his closest aids being exiled to Siberia.  In Sicily, the queen thought someone was trying to kill her, and a few of her subjects were killed in retaliation.

In all these cases, foreign enemies were allegedly behind the assassination plots, but those “plots” may not have even existed. They may have been nothing more than the paranoid delusions of tyrants, or perhaps conspiracy theories made up by the enemies of the alleged plotters.

(As Mr. William’s nightmare suggested, Britain didn’t need any foreigners to kill it’s leader. The greatest danger came in the form of a small businessman, a merchant who felt his government neglected their duties to him.)

When Mr. Williams finally did go to sleep, he had the same dream.  Again, his wife told him that it was nothing but a dream, to “be composed” and to sleep it off.  She thought that by dwelling on his first dream, her husband made it come back. Eventually, Mr. Williams got back to sleep.

Well, Mr Williams had exactly the same dream a third time. He woke up started for a third time, waking up his wife for a third time. Mrs. Williams must have sighed as she repeated exactly the same words to him.  But this time, Mr. Williams couldn’t sleep.  It was two in the morning (or in the middle of the night) and he went downstairs to have an early breakfast.

As night turned to day, Mr. Williams became an embarrassment to his wife and daughter.  Every person he met, perhaps everyone in the area of Redruth in Cornwall, heard the story of the terrible vision that Mr. Williams had seen in three identical nightmares the night before.

When the three of them went to visit their friends the Tuckers, Mr. Williams couldn’t even wait until anyone had a chance to sit down. He started his yarn the moment he saw Mr. Tucker.

Mr. Williams described his dream in vivid detail.  Not only did Mr Williams give the locations where things happened in his nightmare, he even described the people well enough for his listeners to draw them.  It was like Mr. Williams was in the lobby of the House of Commons, describing what he saw as he saw it.

Mr. Tucker laughed at that nonsense.  “Why, that’s not the Chancellor” he mused “you’ve described the Prime Minister.”  It seemed Mr. Williams didn’t even get the description of the people he was talking about right.  So Mr. William’s nightmare was dismissed as a delusion, perhaps based on a drawing he’d seen. Still, Mr. Williams had never been to London, it was strange that he could describe things so vividly.

Meanwhile, down in London, there was a businessman who had a grievance.  John Bellingham had spent six years in a Russian prison because of some insurance problems.  John Bellingham tried to contact people in government, but no one would listen.  John Bellingham’s family was financially ruined, and he thought he knew whose fault it all was.

(to be continued…)