Douce’s dream

In a previous post, I referred to Douce’s accounts of his dreams in his Book of Coincidences. In an undated entry probably written in 1817, Douce explained:

I had a strange dream about eating a cross-bow as a broiled fish. The next morning calling at Colnaghi’s his son carried me to see his fine collection of ancient arms, which contained a great number of cross-bows, and I not only had occasion to converse much on this weapon but there was a clever country fellow, a soldier, who told me a great deal about the use of it to which he had been much accustomed.

While going through Douce’s prints of weapons, I came across the image below, which might be the source of this ‘strange dream’:

Anonymous, Cross-bow and fish, 17th century, etching (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Anonymous, Fishing cross-bow, 17th century, etching (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

According to Douce’s notes, reading and leafing through his portfolios were two of his favourite evening occupations -if he looked at the print above before going to sleep, it is not surprising he dreamt of crossbows and fish.

The following year, Dominic Colnaghi’s collection of ancient arms was purchased by Douce’s friend Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick. Many of the pieces that Douce saw at Colnaghi’s are now in the Wallace Collection.


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