Page images
PDF
EPUB

care to meddle any more with it, I don't like driving men to act against their consciences.

With this the wife, who, as I said, having a little recovered her spirits, and especially encouraged because she saw nothing, started up, What's all this discourse to the purpose, says she, is it not all agreed already? what do we come here for ?

Nay, says the first arbitrator, I think we meet now not to inquire into why it is done, but to execute things according to agreement, and what are we frighted at ?

I'm not frighted, says the wife, not I; come, says she to her husband, haughtily, sign the deed; Dll cancel the old writings if forty devils were in the room ; and with that she takes up one of the deeds, and went to tear off the seal.

That moment the same casement flew open again, though it was fast in the inside, just as it was before; and the shadow of a body was seen, as standing in the garden without, and the head reaching up to the casement, the face looking into the room, and staring directly at the woman with a stern and an angry countenance; Hold, said the spectre, as if speaking to the woman, and immediately clapped the casement to again, and vanished.

It is impossible to describe here the consternation this second apparition put the whole company into; the wife, who was so bold just before, that she would do it though forty devils were in the room, screamed out like a woman in fits, and let the writing fall out of her hands: the two arbitrators were exceedingly terrified, but not so much as the rest; but one of them took up the award which they had signed, in which they awarded the husband to execute the deed to dispose of the estate from the

son.

I dare say, said he, be the spirit a good spirit or a bad, it will not be against cancelling this ; so he tore

ever.

his name out of the award, and so did the other, by his example, and both of them got up from their seats, and said they would have no more to do in it.

But that which was most unexpected of all was that the man himself was so frighted, that he fainted away; notwithstanding it was, as it might be said, in his favour.

This put an end to the whole affair at that time; and, as I understand by the sequel, it did so for

The story has many particulars more in it, too long to trouble you with: but two particulars, which are to the purpose, I must not omit, viz.,

1. That in about four or five months more after this second apparition, the man's son arrived from the East Indies, whither he had

years before in a Portuguese ship from Lisbon.

2. That upon being particularly inquired of about these things, and especially whether he had any knowledge of them, or any apparition to him, or voices, or other intimation as to what was doing in England, relating to him; he affirmed constantly that he had not, except that once he dreamed his father had written him an angry letter, threatening him that if he did not come home he would disinherit him, and leave him not one shilling. But he added, that he never did receive any such letter from his father in his life, or from any one else.

gone four

CHAP. IX.

More relations of particular facts, proving the

reality of apparitions ; with some just observations on the difference between the good and evil spirits, from the errand or business they come about.

I MAKE no remarks upon any of these stories; the present business is to bring examples of such things, to prove the reality of apparitions in general: as to who, or what it is, that in such cases may appear, and why, and upon what occasions; that we shall speak of hereafter.

I shall bring one example now within my own knowledge, and in which I had some concern; not but that other accounts may be as authentic as this, though I cannot so positively vouch them at second or third hand. When I offer those to you, therefore, I tell you honestly that I have such and such relations from good hands, or I have such a story by me in manuscript, and I leave you to make such use of them as you please.

This caution of mine, however, ought not to lessen the credit of any of the relations here published; for why may not the account given by another hand be as true as this which I give you from my own knowledge; and why must an author, in such cases as these, be made answerable for the particulars of every history, or be bound to leave it out? which would be the reader's loss, not his

own.

However, the following I can vouch from my own knowledge. A. B. was a merchant in London, and as he drove a considerable trade beyond sea, he established a factor, or as the language of trade calls it, a house, at a certain port in the English colonies in America, and sent over his servants or apprentices thither, as is usual for merchants to do.

One of his said apprentices being fitted out, and ready to embark, his cargo being actually on board the ship, and the ship fallen down the river as far as Gravesend ; his master was getting his letters and invoices, and other despatches, ready for him, he being to go down the river the same evening.

The hurry which thus despatching him put his master into, occasioned, that when he was called to dinner at the usual hour, he did not take the young gentleman with him as usual, but told him he must be content to stay in the counting-house till he came to relieve him.

Accordingly, dinner being over, he goes down to send him up to dinner. And when he came to the counting-house door, there sat his man, with the book-keeper also, writing, as he left him.

It happened just that moment, some occasion extraordinary obliged him to step back again, and go up stairs to the dining-room, from whence he came; and intending not to stay, he did not speak to the young man, but left him in the counting-house, and went immediately up stairs.

It was not possible that he, or any one else, except such as could walk invisible, could go by, or pass him unseen: good manners would have hindered the young man from thrusting by his master upon the stairs, if he had been going up; but he is positive he did not, and could not pass,

without being

seen,

But when he came to the top of the stairs there sat the young man at dinner with the other servants; the room they dined in being a little parlour, which opened just against the stairs, so that he saw him all the way of the upper part of the staircase, and could not be deceived.

The master did not speak to him, which he was very sorry for afterwards; but the surprise made him pass by the room, and go into the dining-room, which was to the right hand of it, but he sent one immediately to look, and he was there really at dinner; so that what he (the master) saw below in the counting-house, must be the apparition, as it certainly was.

But this was not all: the young gentleman embarked as above, and arrived safe with all his effects in America, though he never lived to return. However, I cannot say his apparition, in the manner as related, could have the least relation to his being sick, and dying abroad, which was not till three years afterwards. But what followed was of another kind.

This young man had an elder brother, who lived in London ; he was a fine gentleman, and a scholar, and was at that time studying physic. He was also a stout, brave gentleman, and in particular understood a sword, that is to say, how to use a sword, as well as most gentlemen in England.

He had an accidental rencounter with a gentleman in the street, in that short street which goes out of Fleet-street into Salisbury-court; and being so complete a master of his weapon, he wounded his antagonist, and drove him into a tavern in the street, from whence came out two men more upon him with their swords, but both of them found the gentleman so much an over-match for them, that they left him as fast as the first ; whereupon a fourth came out, not with a sword, but a fire-fork taken hastily up out of the tavern kitchen, and running at this gentleman with it, knocked him down, and broke his skull, of which wound he afterwards died.

« PreviousContinue »