Will with a Wisp, 1839

R. Overton (1839), Will with a Wisp. In "The Times" newspaper, Wednesday 22nd May 1839, p.2, column F. Reprinted from the Norwich Mercury of Saturday, i.e. the 18th May 1839.

Will with a Wisp.—The following letter from Mr. R. Overton, of Grimstone, appears in the Norwich Mercury of Saturday:—"On returning home from Tatterford, on the 8th of May, at half-past 11 o'clock p.m., when within half-a-mile of Rudham, I observed two lights, apparently 200 yards distant, passing rapidly about 2 feet from the surface of the earth, through a dense fog, which covered a circumscribed spot of meadow land to the extent of an acre: the adjoining land appeared perfectly free from that vapour. At first sight I supposed the lights to preceed from lanterns. I was therefore induced to stop and observe their movements, but was rather surprised to see them disappear; after travelling in a straight direction about 100 yards, another, much larger and more brilliant one, made its appearance, and in a short time disappeared. It was a beautiful starlight night, and the sky frequently illumined with flashes of vivid silent lightning, and the wind blowing briskly from the north-east. Several lights sprung up in different parts of the meadow, and moved about in various directions—and one, as if more bold than the rest, advanced in a straight direction to within about 90 yards of the place where I stood, remained perfectly still for a few seconds, described a half circle as if about to return, and instantly disappeared. Feeling fully satisfied that the phenomenon above described was an ignis fatuus, I remained a full hour to observe its gambols, which at times were truly ridiculous—and as I am not aware that it has been before noticed that these midnight luminaries are immediately connected with electricity, I beg leave to request you will do me the favour of giving a place in your valuable journal to the preceding phenomea. I particularly observed two or three of these lights instantly appeared with each flash of lightning, more or less brilliant, according to the degree of light caused by the lightning."

Sean B. Palmer