Saw His Mother’s Spirit
[Illegible (Mass.) Cor. Globe-Democrat.]
The following story is vouched for by ten or twelve of the most respectable citizens of the place: Harvey Samson, the 15-year-old son of R.B. Samson, prominent in commercial circles, died of lingering consumption at his father’s residence in the suburbs on last Tuesday night. He was fully conscious up to the time he drew his last breath, and several times on the day before he died expressed his fear of death, always adding that this arose from no dread of the hereafter, but from a purely physical shrinkage from the Unknown, and that if he could only have had his mother with him he would lose all such fear. Mrs. Samson, to whom Harvey had been devoted and enjoyed and even unusual degree of companionship with, has been dead for over two years.
On Tuesday morning he said to his aunt, Mrs. Josephine Burwel, that he had prayed that his mother might be allowed to come for him and guide him into the spirit land, and that he believed she would come. That evening about the twilight hour, and a short time before the end, the dying boy sprang up in bed with a glad cry turned toward the door, which had just blown open, and, with outstretched arms, appeared the next moment to clasp some one ardently to his breast.
Dr. Osborne, who was attending him, and who was alone with him at the moment, inquired of him what it was.
“It is my mother, “ the boy replied, with a tender smile at the chair close beside his bed. “She’s come for me.”
The doctor then advanced and felt the lad’s pulse, only to find him perfectly free from fever and wholly unexcited, but sinking fast. He called the family, who came to bid Harvey good-by. The boy then requested them to take away the light, except the small night lamp burning on a table near, as he said the glare kept him from seeing his mother plainly. When this wish was carried out, the afflicted family, Drs. Osborne and Cunningham, with the nurse and a friend or two, declare that they saw sitting beside Harvey, holding his hand and smiling on him, a woman clad in snowy garments, and in whom they had no difficulty in recognizing Mrs. Samson, who had been personally and well known to each and all of them. She remained distinctly visible for two hours and more, when she suddenly vanished, and on approaching the bed they found that the boy was dead.
The Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 18 January 1891: p. 6
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: While it is not unusual for the dying to see visions of loved ones gone before, returning to fetch them away, this story is rare in that the mother’s apparition seems to have been visible to a whole host of witnesses. In some cultures, such pre-death-bed apparitions are called, appropriately, “fetches.”
For more stories of Victorian death-beds, see The Victorian Book of the Dead.
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.
Thank you for this story, Mrs. Daffodil. This is the first story I’ve read that featured a loving “fetch”. All the others I’ve read about have been very scary. Bless you.
You are quite right, most “fetches” are pale and corpse-like and one would not at all like to go with them into a dark alley, let alone The Dark. There is a touching story in Mrs Woodyard’s The Ghost Wore Black about a woman who saw her ghostly father gently carrying her mother out of her room in his arms. One hopes that all the dying may have someone they love to take them by the hand in their final moments.
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