This is the memoir of Edward Lenthal Swifte Keeper of the Crown Jewels in the first half of the 19th Century
“In 1814, I was appointed Keeper of the Crown Jewels in the Tower where I resided with my family until my retirement in 1852.”
“One Saturday night in October, 1817, I was at supper with my wife, her sister, and our little boy in the sitting room of the Jewel House. The room was, as it still is, irregularly shaped, having three doors and two windows, which last are cut nearly nine feet deep into the outer wall. Between these, there’s a chimney piece projecting far into the room, and then surmounted with a large oil picture.”
“On the night in question, the doors were all closed, heavy and dark cloth curtains were let down over the windows, and the only light in the room was that of two candles on the table.”
“I sat at the foot of the table, my son on my right hand, his mother fronting the chimneypiece, and her sister on the opposite side. I had offered a glass of wine and water to my wife, when on putting it to her lip.
“She paused and exclaimed, “Good god, what is that?”
“I looked up and saw a cylindrical figure, like a glass tube, seemingly about the thickness of my arm and hovering between the ceiling and the table. Its contents appeared to be a dense fluid, white and pale azure, like the gathering of a summer cloud and incessantly mingling within the cylinder.
“This lasted about two minutes when it slowly began to move before my sister-in-law.”
“Then, following the oblong shape of the table before my son and myself passing behind my wife, it paused for a moment over her right shoulder. Observe! There was no mirror opposite to her in which she could there behold it.”
“Instantly she crouched down and with both hands covering her shoulder, she shrieked out. ‘Oh Christ. It has seized me!’”
“Even now while writing, I feel the fresh horror of that moment. I caught up my chair, struck at the wainscot behind her, rushed upstairs to the children’s room and told the terrified nurse what I had seen.”
“Meanwhile, the other domestics…