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They debated among themselves what they should do in the affair; the verger, they found, though accustomed to the place, did not care to go alone, therefore they resolved to accom. pany him, and accordingly, preceded by a torch which a footman of one of the company had with him, went into the abbey, calling as they went, as loud as they could; thinking, that wherever he might be wandered, he could not but hear their voices.
No answer, however, being returned, they moved on till they came to the stairs of the vault, where looking down, they soon perceived in what posture he lay, and the condition he was in they immediately ran down to him, rubbed his temples, unbuttoned his clothes, and did every thing they could think on to bring him to himself, but all in vain; and they were obliged to take him up and carry him between two, till they got out of the abbey, when, the air coming fresh upon his face, he recovered of himself.
After two or three deep groans, "Heaven help me," "Lord have mercy upon me," cried he: these words, and others of the like nature, very much surprised them; but imagining he was not yet perfectly come to his senses, they forbore saying any thing to him till they had
got him into the tavern, where having placed him in a chair by the fireside, they began to ask him how he did, and how he came to have been so much disordered; on which, he acquainted them with the apprehensions he was seized with immediately after he had left them, and how, having stuck his penknife into the floor of the vault, according to the agreement, he was about to return with all the haste he could, when something plucked him forward into the vault; but added, that he had neither seen nor heard any thing but what his reason might easily account for, and should have come back with the same sentiments he went, had not this unforeseen hand convinced him of the injustice of his belief.
While he was making his narrative, one of the company saw the penknife sticking through the fore lappet of his coat; on which, presently conjecturing the truth, and finding how deeply affected his friend was by his mistake, as indeed were all the rest, not doubting but his return had been impeded by a supernatural hand, he plucked out the knife before them, and cried out, "Here is the mystery discovered; in the attitude of stooping to stick this into the ground, it happened, as you see, to pass through the coat; and on your attempting to rise, the terror
you were in magnified this little obstruction, into an imaginary impossibility of withdrawing yourself, and had an effect on your senses, before reason had any time to operate.
FEMALE SPECTATOR, vol. ii. p. 244.
That the tales of ghosts and apparitions, of haunted houses, &c. &c. may, if a proper inquiry be instituted, almost certainly be traced to a clear and natural cause, there is every reason, from accumulated experience, to believe. The book, however, from which we have taken this striking proof of the effects of an alarmed imagination, is inclined to place confidence in some modern details of immaterial agency; but the story of the mistresses of Charles and James the second, which the Female Spectator has brought forward as worthy of belief, is greatly too trifling and inefficient to merit a moment's credence. The two following narratives, which are vouched as facts, and are curious instances of the developement of what at first seemed altogether supernatural, will probably amuse the reader.
"Some few years since, before ghosts and spectres were properly introduced among us, by means of the pantomimes and novels of the day, a gentleman of a philosophical turn of mind, who was hardy enough to deny the existence of any thing supernatural, happened to pay a visit at an old house in Gloucestershire, whose unfortunate owner had just become a bankrupt, with a view to offer such assistance and consolation as he could bestow; when, on one rainy dull evening in the month of March, the family being seated by the kitchen fire-side, the conversation turned on supernatural appearances. The philosopher was endeavouring to convince his auditors of the folly and absurdity of such opinions, with rather an unbecoming levity, when the wife left the party, and went up stairs; but had hardly quitted the kitchen three minutes, before a dreadful noise was heard, mingled with
the most horrid screams. The poor maid changed countenance, and her red hair stood erect in every direction; the husband trembled in his chair, and the philosopher began to look serious. At last the husband rose from his seat, and ascended the stairs in search of his wife, when a second dreadful scream was heard; the maid mustered resolution to follow her master, and a third scream ensued. The philosopher, who was not quite at ease, now thought it high time for him to set out in search of a cause; when, arriving at the landing-place, he found the maid in a fit; the master lying flat, with his face upon the floor, which was stained with blood; and on advancing a little farther, the mistress in nearly the same condition. To her the philosopher paid immediate attention; and, finding she had only swooned away, brought her in his arms down stairs, and placed her on the floor of the kitchen; the pump was at hand, and he had the presence of mind to run to it, to get some water in a glass; but what was his astonishment, when he found that he pumped only copious streams of blood! which extraordinary appearance, joined to the other circumstances, made the unbeliever tremble in every limb; a sudden perspiration overspread the surface of his skin; and the supernatural possessed his imagination in all its true colours of dread and horror. Again and again he repeated his efforts, and again and again threw away the loathsome contents of the glass.
"Had the story stopped here, what would not superstition have made of it! but the philosopher, who was still pumping, now found the colour grow paler, and at last pure water filled the vessel. Overjoyed at this observation, he threw the limpid stream in the face of the mistress, whose recovery was assisted by the appearance of her husband and Betty.
"The mystery, when explained, turned out to be simply this: the good housewife, when she knew that a docket had been struck against her husband, had taken care to conceal some of her choice cherry-brandy, from the rapacious gripe of the messenger to the commissioners of bankrupts, on some
shelves in a closet up stairs; which also contained, agreeable to the ancient architecture of the building, the trunk of the pump below; and, in trying to move the jars to get at a drop for the party at the kitchen fire, the shelf gave way with a tremendous crash, the jars were broken into a hundred pieces, the rich juice descended in torrents down the trunk of the pump, and filled with its ruby current the sucker beneath and this was the self-same fluid, which the philosopher, in his fright, had so madly thrown away. The wife had swooned at the accident; the husband in his haste had fallen on his nose, which ran with blood; and the maid's legs in her hurry, coming in contact with her fallen master's ribs, she, like ‘vaulting ambition,' overleaped herself, and fell on the other side.
"Often has this story been told, by one who knew the philosopher, with great effect, till the last act or denouement; when disappointment was mostly visible in the looks of his auditors, at finding there was actually nothing supernatural in the affair, and no ghost."
BREWER'S HOURS OF LEISURE, p. 61. et seq.
“Ar a town in the west of England, was held a club of twenty-four people, which assembled once a week to drink punch, smoke tobacco, and talk politics. Like Ruben's academy at Antwerp, each member had his peculiar chair, and the president's was more exalted than the rest. One of the members had been in a dying state for some time; of course his chair, while he was absent, remained vacant.
"The club being met on their usual night, inquiries were naturally made after their associate. As he lived in the ad joining house, a particular friend went himself to inquire for him, and returned with the dismal tidings that he could not possibly survive the night. This threw a gloom on the company, and all efforts to turn the conversation from the sad subject before them were ineffectual.
"About midnight (the time, by long prescription, appropriated for the walking of spectres), the door opened, and the