The Man Who Recovered the Use of His Tongue, after Four Years Dumb, by means of a Frightful Dream (1747)


The Case of Henry Axford, Who Recover’d the Use of His Tongue, after Having Been Four Years Dumb, by means of a Frightful Dream; Communicated by the Rev. Mr. Archdeacon Squire, F. R. S.; 1747; Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, London.

An account of an interesting case involving a man from Wiltshire being cured of many years of speechlessness through the fright arising from a nightmare. The man, Henry Axford, started to become a little hoarse with a cold on a trip to Longleat stately home (on whose grounds now sits a Center Parcs holiday village and, since 1966, the first safari park outside the continent of Africa). Henry soon lost his voice completely, and while he recovered from the cold in no time at all, he continued to not be able to make a sound. This mysterious ailment continued for four whole years until a drunken night in Stoke caused him to fall from his horse several times and finally drift into a terror-filled sleep. He dreamt he fell into a vat of boiling “Wort” – the liquid extracted from the mashing process during the brewing of beer or whisky. As Rev. Mr. Archdeacon Squire says in this account given to The Royal Society six years later, the dream “put him into so great an Agony of Fright, that, struggling with all his Might to call out for Help, he actually did call out aloud, and recovered the Use of his Tongue from, that Moment as effectually as ever he had it in his Life, without the least Hoarseness remaining, or Alteration in the old Sound of his Voice”. The man was cured.

Housed at: Internet Archive | From: The Royal Society
Underlying Work: PD Worldwide | Digital Copy: No Additional Rights
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