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their former acquaintance, are offensive, and not often answered; spirits, perhaps, being restrained from divulging the secrets of their prison-house. Occasionally spirits will even condescend to talk on common occurrences, as is instanced by Glanvil in the apparition of Major George Sydenham to Captain William Dyke, Relation 10th.1
"It is somewhat remarkable that ghosts do not go about their business like the persons of this world. In cases of murder, a ghost, instead of going to the next justice of the peace and laying its information, or to the nearest relation of the person murdered, appears to some poor labourer who knows none of the parties, draws the curtains of some decrepit nurse or alms-woman, or hovers about the place where his body is deposited. The same circuitous mode is pursued with respect to redressing injured orphans or widows: when it seems as if the shortest and most certain way would be to go to the person guilty of the injustice, and haunt. him continually till he be terrified into a restitution. Nor are the pointing out lost writings generally managed in a more summary way; the ghost commonly applying to a third person ignorant of the whole affair, and a stranger to all concerned. But it is presumptuous to scrutinize too far into these matters: ghosts have undoubtedly forms and customs peculiar to themselves.
"If, after the first appearance, the persons employed neglect, or are prevented from, performing the message or business committed to their management, the ghost appears continually to them, at first with a discontented, next an angry, and at length with a furious countenance, threatening to tear them in pieces if the matter is not forthwith executed : sometimes terrifying them, as in Glanvil's Relation 26th, by appearing in many formidable shapes, and sometimes even striking them a violent blow. Of blows given by ghosts there are many instances, and some wherein they have been followed with an incurable lameness.
"It should have been observed that ghosts, in delivering
1 “Wherein the major reproved the captain for suffering a sword he had given him to grow rusty; saying, 'Captain, captain, this sword did not use to be kept after this manner when it was mine.' This attention to the state of arms was a remnant of the major's professional duty when living."
their commissions, in order to ensure belief, communicate to the persons employed some secret, known only to the parties concerned and themselves, the relation of which always produces the effect intended. The business being completed, ghosts appear with a cheerful countenance, saying they shall now be at rest, and will never more disturb any one; and, thanking their agents, by way of reward communicate to them something relative to themselves, which they will never reveal.
"Sometimes ghosts appear, and disturb a house, without deigning to give any reason for so doing: with these, the shortest and only way is to exorcise and eject them; or, as the vulgar term is, lay them. For this purpose there must be two or three clergymen, and the ceremony must be performed in Latin; a language that strikes the most audacious ghost with terror. A ghost may be laid for any term less than an hundred years, and in any place or body, full or empty; as, a solid oak-the pommel of a sword-a barrel of beer, if a yeoman or simple gentleman-or a pipe of wine, if an esquire or a justice. But of all places the most common, and what a ghost least likes, is the Red Sea; it being related in many instances, that ghosts have most earnestly besought the exorcists not to confine them in that place. It is nevertheless considered as an indisputable fact, that there are an infinite number laid there, perhaps from its being a safer prison than any other nearer at hand; though neither history nor tradition gives us any instance of ghosts escaping or returning from this kind of transportation before their time."2
The following is from Moresini Papatus, p. 7: "Apud alios tum poetas, tum historiographos, de magicis incantationibus, exorcismis, et curatione tam hominum quam belluarum per carmina haud pauca habentur, sed horum impietatem omnium superat longe hac in re Papismus, hic enim supra Dei potestatem posse carmina, posse exorcismos affirmat―ita ut nihil sit tam obstrusum in cœlis quod exorcismis non pateat, nihil tam abditum in inferno quod non eruatur, nihil in terrarum silentio inclusum quod non eliciatur, nihil in hominum pectoribus conditum quod non reveletur, nihil ablatum quod non restituatur, et nihil quod habet orbis, sive insit, sive non, è quo dæmon non ejiciatur."
2 The learned Moresin traces thus to its origin the popular superstition relative to the Coming again, as it is commonly called, or Walking of Spirits: "Animarum ad nos regressus ita est ex Manilio lib. i. Astron. cap. 7, de lacteo circulo :
From the subsequent passage in Shakespeare the walking of spirits seems to have been enjoined by way of penance. The ghost speaks thus in "Hamlet:"
"I am thy father's spirit,
There is a passage in the Spectator, where he introduces the girls in his neighbourhood, and his landlady's daughters, telling stories of spirits and apparitions: how they stood, pale as ashes, at the foot of a bed, and walked over churchyards by moonlight; of their being conjured to the Red Sea, &c. He wittily observes that "one spirit raised another, and, at the end of every story, the whole company closed their ranks and crowded about the fire."
In the Statistical Account of Scotland, xxi. 148, parish of Monquihitter, in the additional communications from the Rev. A. Johnstone, we read: "In opinion, an amazing altera
An major densa stellarum turba corona.
An fortes animæ, dignataque nomina cœlo
Huc migrant ex orbe, suumque habitantia cœlum:
"Lege Palingenesiam Pythagoricum apud Ovid. in Metam. et est observatum Fabij Pont. Max. disciplina, ut atro die manibus parentare non liceret, ne infesti manes fierent. Alex. ab Alex. lib. v. cap. 26. Hæc cum legerent papani, et his alia apud alios similia, voluerunt et suorum defunctorum animas ad eos reverti, et nunc certiores facere rerum earum, quæ tum in cœlis, tum apud inferos geruntur, nunc autem terrere domesticos insanis artibus: sed quod sint fœminæ fœcundæ factæ his technis novit omnis mundus." Papatus, p. 11.
1"I know thee well; I heare the watchfull dogs,
"Ghosts never walk till after midnight, if
Beaumont and Fletcher. Lover's Progress, act iv.
tion has been produced by education and social intercourse. Few of the old being able to read, and fewer still to write, their minds were clouded by ignorance. The mind being uncultivated, the imagination readily admitted the terrors of superstition. The appearance of ghosts and demons too frequently engrossed the conversation of the young and the old. The old man's fold, where the Druid sacrified to the demon for his corn and cattle, could not be violated by the ploughshare. Lucky and unlucky days, dreams, and omens, were most religiously attended to, and reputed witches, by their spells and their prayers, were artful enough to lay every parish under contribution. In short, a system of mythology fully as absurd and amusing as the mythology of Homer obtained general belief. But now ghosts and demons are no longer visible. The old man's fold is reduced to tillage. The sagacious old woman, who has survived her friends and means, is treated with humanity, in spite of the grisly bristles which adorn her mouth; and, in the minds of the young, cultivated by education, a steady pursuit of the arts of life has banished the chimeras of fancy. Books, trade, manufacture, foreign and domestic news, now engross the conversation; and the topic of the day is always warmly, if not ingenuously, discussed. From believing too much, many, particularly in the higher walks of life, have rushed to the opposite extreme of believing too little; so that, even in this remote corner, scepticism may but too justly boast of her votaries."
The following finely written conversation on the subject of ghosts, between the servants in Addison's comedy of the Drummer, or Haunted House, will be thought much to our purpose.
"Gardener. I marvel, John, how he (the spirit) gets into the house when all the gates are shut.
Butler. Why, look ye, Peter, your spirit will creep you into an auger hole. He'll whisk ye through a key-hole, without so much as justling against one of the wards.
Coachman. I verily believe I saw him last night in the townclose.
Gard. How did he appear?
Coachm. Like a white horse.
Butl. Pho, Robin, I tell ye he has never appeared yet but in the shape of the sound of a drum.
Coachm. This makes one almost afraid of one's own shadow. As I was walking from the stable t'other night without my lanthorn, I fell across a beam, and I thought I had stumbled over a spirit.
Butl. Thou might'st as well have stumbled over a straw. Why a spirit is such a little thing, that I have heard a man, who was a great scholar, say, that he'll dance ye a Lancashire hornpipe upon the point of a needle. As I sat in the pantry last night counting my spoons, the candle methought burnt blue, and the spayed bitch looked as if she saw something.
Gard. Ay, I warrant ye, she hears him many a time and often when we don't."
The Spectator, accounting for the rise and progress of ancient superstition, tells us our forefathers looked upon nature with more reverence and horror before the world was enlightened by learning and philosophy, and loved to astonish themselves with the apprehensions of witchcraft, prodigies, charms, and enchantments. There was not a village in England that had not a ghost in it. The churchyards were all haunted. Every common had a circle of fairies belonging to it, and there was scarce a shepherd to be met with who had not seen a spirit. Hence Gay,
"Those tales of vulgar sprites
Shakespeare's ghosts excel all others. The terrible indeed is his forte. How awful is that description of the dead time of night the season of their perambulation!
""Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out
Thus also in Home's Douglas:
"In such a place as this, at such an hour,
If ancestry can be in aught believ'd,
Descending spirits have convers'd with man,
Gay has left us a pretty tale of an apparition. The golden mark being found in bed is indeed after the indelicate manner