Incidents Reported By Serjeant Ballantine

Serjeant William Ballantine (1812-1887) was one of the foremost lawyers

in England, noted for his skill in cross-examination. He was counsel in

the Tichborne claimant case, one of the most celebrated in the history

of the English courts, and in the equally famed trial of the Gaekwar of

Baroda. The incidents which impressed him are to be found in

Ballantine's Some Experiences of a Barrister's Life, pp. 256-267.

r /> "I do not think it will be out of place whilst upon this subject to

relate a story told of Sir Astley Cooper.[22] I am not certain that it

has not been already in print, but I know that I have had frequent

conversations about it with his nephew.

[Footnote 22: Sir Astley Paston Cooper was perhaps the most famous and

influential surgeon of his time in England.]

"There had been a murder, and Sir Astley was upon the scene when a man

suspected of it was apprehended. Sir Astley, being greatly interested,

accompanied the officers with their prisoner to the gaol, and he and

they and the accused were all in a cell, locked in together, when they

noticed a little dog which kept biting at the skirt of the prisoner's

coat. This led them to examine the garment, and they found upon it

traces of blood which ultimately led to conviction of the man. When they

looked around the dog had disappeared, although the door had never been

opened. How it had got there or how it got away, of course nobody could

tell. When Bransby Cooper spoke of this he always said that of course

his uncle had made a mistake, and was convinced of this himself; Bransby

used to add that no doubt if the matter had been investigated it would

have been shown that there was a mode of accounting for it from natural

causes. But I believe that neither Sir Astley nor his nephew in their

hearts discarded entirely the supernatural."

Mr. Ballantine added an incident which some may think is accounted for

by a telepathic impression followed by auto-suggestion which lowered the

mental alertness of the player.

"There was a member of the club, a very harmless, inoffensive man of the

name of Townend, for whom Lord Lytton [the novelist] entertained a

mortal antipathy, and would never play whilst that gentleman was in the

room. He firmly believed that he brought him bad luck. I was witness to

what must be termed an odd coincidence. One afternoon, when Lord Lytton

was playing and had enjoyed an uninterrupted run of luck, it suddenly

turned, upon which he exclaimed, 'I am sure that Mr. Townend has come

into the club.' Some three minutes after, just time enough to ascend the

stairs, in walked that unlucky personage. Lord Lytton as soon as the

rubber was over, left the table and did not renew the play."