Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Townshend, G. and Ffoulkes, M.
True Ghost Stories
Contributed by H.H. Princess Marina Chavchavadze
The warning given to a member of my family of the impending assassination of the Emperor Alexander II.
On Saturday, February 28, 1881, another and more ghostly kind of warning occurred in our family, the recipient being the young Countess S., and it is necessary, in the cause of truth, to say that on this particular evening no discussion of any kind had taken place about ghosts or psychic phenomena, and the Countess had gone to bed in a perfectly normal frame of mind.
The first hour or so she slept soundly, then she awoke with a start, to see by the dim light of the vielleuse someone leaning over the low bed-rail.
The figure was that of a pale-faced old man with a long white beard, wearing some kind of a flowing dark robe.
His expression was gentle, mingled with a sense of tragedy, and the Countess heard him say, very solemnly,
"Tomorrow, at noon, the Emperor Alexander will be assassinated."
He then disappeared, and the terrified Countess awakened her husband, and told him of her vision and the old man's ominous words.
The ordinary type of husbands have no use for the supernatural, and they do not show much sympathy when it becomes a question of dreaming dreams or seeing visions.
Count S. listened patiently to the story of the old man's warning, laughed a little, comforted his wife, and told her to go to sleep.
The young wife was not imaginative, she wanted to go to sleep, but the old man appeared twice more during that nerve-shattering night, and each time he reiterated his statement of the approaching assassination of the Emperor.
After the third visitation she lay weeping silently, with frayed-out nerves, by this time absolutely convinced that it was the Emperor's last day on earth.
That morning Count S. was on duty with his regiment for the trooping of the colours at the Mikhailovski Manege.
This ceremony was to take place in the presence of the Emperor and, knowing the time when it would be over, the Countess hurried along the Embankment to meet her husband as he came back. She was more than ever impressed with the drama of the night, and she felt the only way to combat her fears was to face matters, and not to wait for someone to tell her the best, or the worst.
Directly she saw her husband riding towards her she knew from his expression that the old man of the vision had spoken the truth, and although Count S. was a soldier, with a soldier's self-control, a little of his composure failed him when he saw his wife's pale face, and read the unspoken question in her frightened eyes. So he said, very quietly:
“You were right. The Emperor has been murdered.”
I wish I could finish this true family record with some more interesting details, but none are available. It is a fact that Countess S. saw the apparition three times consecutively, and her husband always corroborated her statement. In any case, the Count could not have prevented the assassination of the Emperor, and it is doubtful whether anyone in his entourage would have listened or paid any attention to the story of a waking dream. But those who query the importance of the supernatural in daily life may justifiably argue that the ghostly warning ought to have been given direct to the Emperor, or to one of the officials responsible for the arrangements on that fatal morning.
However, in many cases of supernatural manifestations the real reason often remains unexplained.
The source of the experienceOrdinary person
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps
Townshend, G. & FFoulkes, M., (1936) True Ghost Stories, London:Senate