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In his 1894 book "Sights and Shadows," Frederick George Lee included a story told to him by a friend, the Rev. William C. Vaughan:
Some years ago I was accustomed to go on saints’ days to the early morning service at a parish church three miles distant; I used to breakfast afterwards with the clergyman, and then returned home in time for the late morning service. He lives in my memory as a man scrupulously careful to keep to the exact truth in all he said.
On two All Saints’ Days I attended service, but, on the third, circumstances had changed, and at the church where I then ministered we had a special preacher on the eve whom I had not met before, but who was to be my guest. My first thought on seeing him was, "How like dear G." My pleasure was much increased at discovering he was a cousin, and I feel inclined to give him credit for unexaggerating truthfulness. We sat up late talking, and here is a true story :—
"In one of our manufacturing districts a zealous clergyman laboured, who made it his rule to hold a midnight service on every New Year’s Eve. After the New Year had begun, and the congregation dispersed, he still waited in church interceding for his flock. This had been his custom for some years; when one New Year’s morning, after turning the gas off and shutting the church door, he went across to the vicarage close by. On his way upstairs he passed a window which overlooked the church—the whole building was lit up, and he ran down and out again, afraid of fire. It occurred to him, however, to look through a window of the church before reopening the door, and to his amazement he beheld his whole congregation assembled, with himself in the pulpit preaching. As he gazed in astonishment, he perceived upon the countenances of a certain number, one here, and one there, that peculiar hue which comes on the face so often before death: and he drew away. But as the year went on, he made it his special care to prepare for their last earthly hour all those on whom he had seen the mark; and lo! they all died before the year was out !
"Again the next New Year’s night he saw the church filled in like manner, himself there, and the hue of death laid upon other faces; these he cared for and prepared for their latter end, till one by one they dropped off and were buried, their number made complete ere the twelve months had all passed.
"So it happened another year, and another, and more, nor said he anything of it to anyone, but kept it to himself; till a New Year Day he summoned to him his curate, and declared, 'My people were there last night too, but I did not see which of them should die, only on my own face appeared the hue of death, and you I wish to prepare me for that hour.'
"His death occurred shortly afterwards."