Rumours concerning the hallucinations of the second Earl Grey

I must pass to another subject and confide to you a dreadful secret. My mind has sunk so low, perhaps from want of the long accustomed exercise, that I have fallen into a malady frequent with those who pass from much mental activity to sudden repose, and I believe that I am always accompanied by a spirit from the unreal world. “When I walk, I fear to turn my head, Because I know a frightful fiend, Doth close behind me tread.” The apparition is not like the spectre of the Count d’Olivarez, nor like the gory head that sat on the table of the late Earl Grey; it is a still more curious product of a disordered fancy. I see before me, behind me, and on each side perpetually, night and day, the spectral appearances of dishes of mutton chops and potatoes, and on each dish sits a tongue of fire constantly repeating, “ Pay for me, pay for me, that I and you may rest in peace.”

Hallucinations will also explain many strange things. If the subject be insane, he will credit them; if he be sane, although he experience them, he will not. Earl Grey could banish at will the gory head which thrust itself into the midst of his waking thoughts. Bernadotte, soldier and king though he was, could dispel, neither by his courage nor his authority, the thick phantom of the red-cloaked woman whom he passed in his rides. He only knew that it was, like the witches in Macbeth, a being which vanished "Into the air; and what seemed corporal melted As breath into the wind."

The conditions of the sensibility which originate hallucinations are thus found to be various.

They are by no means confined to disease; occasionally remarkable hallucinations surprise persons in sound health. The general soundness of health in such cases is evidenced by the fact that the patient is not deceived by the hallucinations, but sometimes even holds them under such complete control as to make them come and go at will. Thus Earl Grey used to be haunted by the vision of a gory head, which vanished, however, at his bidding. It is generally difficult, often impossible, to discover any explanation of these hallucinations in sane life; but the difficulty is obviously due to our ignorance of all the circumstances in which the patient happened to be at the time.

Do you hear that poor Lord Grey is said to be haunted by a vision of Lord Castlereagh's head? It sounds like a temptation of the devil to scare him into cutting his throat.

Grey's Monument is a Grade I listed monument to Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey built in 1838 in the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. It was erected to acclaim Earl Grey for the passing of the Great Reform Act of 1832 and stands at the head of Grey Street. It consists of a statue of Lord Grey standing atop a 130 feet (40 m) high column. The column was designed by local architects John and Benjamin Green, and the statue was created by the sculptor Edward Hodges Baily (creator of Nelson's statue in Trafalgar Square).

In 1941, during World War II, the head of the statue was knocked off by a bolt of lightning. In 1947, sculptor Roger Hedley (the son of painter Ralph Hedley) created a new head based on the preserved fragments of the original.