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Cock Lane and Common-Sense by Andrew Lang

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Steele, De Foe, Martin, Kirk, Frazer, Dr. Johnson. Theory of
visions as caused by Fairies. Modern example of Miss H. Theory of
Frazer of Tiree (1700). 'Revived impressions of sense.' Examples.
Agency of Angels. Martin. Modern cases. Bodily condition of the
seer. Not epileptic. The second-sighted Minister. The visionary
Beadle. Transference of vision by touch. Conclusion.

Some years ago, the author was fishing in a river of Inverness-
shire. He drove to the stream, picked up an old gillie named
Campbell, and then went on towards the spot where he meant to begin
angling. A sheep that lay on the road jumped up suddenly, almost
under the horse's feet, the horse shied, and knocked the dogcart
against a wall. On the homeward way we observed a house burning,
opposite the place where the horse shied, and found that a farmer
had been evicted, and his cottage set on fire. This unhappy person,
it seems, was in debt to all his tradesmen, not to his landlord
only. The fire-raising, however, was an excessively barbaric method
of getting him to leave the parish, and the view justified the
indignation of the gillie. The old gillie, much excited, declared
that the horse had foreseen this event in the morning, and had,
consequently, shied. In a more sceptical spirit the author reminded
Campbell of the sheep which started up. 'That sheep was the devil,'
Campbell explained, nor could this rational belief of his be shaken.
The affair led to a conversation on the second sight, and Campbell
said, 'he had it not,' 'but his sister (or sister-in-law) had it'.

Campbell was a very agreeable companion, interested in old events,
and a sympathiser, as he said, in spite of his name, with the great
Montrose. His remarks led the author to infer that, contrary to
what some inquirers wrote in the last, and Graham Dalyell in the
present century, the belief in the second sight is still quite
common in the Highlands. As will be shown later, this inference was
correct.

We must not, from this survival only, draw the conclusion that the
Highlanders are more superstitious than many educated people south
of the Highland line. Second sight is only a Scotch name which
covers many cases called telepathy and clairvoyance by psychical
students, and casual or morbid hallucinations by other people. In
second sight the percipient beholds events occurring at a distance,
sees people whom he never saw with the bodily eye, and who
afterwards arrive in his neighbourhood; or foresees events
approaching but still remote in time. The chief peculiarity of
second sight is, that the visions often, though not always, are of a
_symbolical_ character. A shroud is observed around the living man
who is doomed; boding animals, mostly black dogs, vex the seer;
funerals are witnessed before they occur, and 'corpse-candles' (some
sort of light) are watched flitting above the road whereby a burial
procession is to take its way. {228} Though we most frequently hear
the term 'second sight' applied as a phrase of Scotch superstition,
the belief in this kind of ominous illusion is obviously universal.
Theoclymenus, in the Odyssey, a prophet by descent, and of the same
clan as the soothsayer Melampus, beholds the bodies and faces of the
doomed wooers, 'shrouded in night'. The Pythia at Delphi announced
a similar symbolic vision of blood-dripping walls to the Athenians,
during the Persian War. Again, symbolic visions, especially of
blood-dripping walls, are so common in the Icelandic sagas that the
reader need only be referred to the prodigies before the burning of
Njal, in the Saga of Burnt Njal. Second sight was as popular a
belief among the Vikings as among the Highlanders who retain a large
share of their blood. It may be argued by students who believe in
the borrowing rather than in the independent evolution of ideas,
that the Gaelic second sight is a direct inheritance from the
Northmen, who have left so many Scandinavian local names in the
isles and along the coasts.

However this may be, the Highland second sight is different, in many
points, from the clairvoyance and magic of the Lapps, those famous
sorcerers. On this matter the History of Lapland, by Scheffer,
Professor of Law in Upsala, is generally cited (Oxford, 1674).
'When the devil takes a liking to any person in his infancy,' says
Scheffer, 'he presently seizes on him by a disease, in which he
haunts him with several apparitions.' This answers, in magical
education, to Smalls, or Little Go.

Some Lapps advance to a kind of mystic Moderations, and the great
sorcerers attain to Final Schools, and are Bachelors in Black Arts.
'They become so knowing that, _without_ the drum they can see things
at the greatest distances; and are so possessed by the devil that
they see things even against their will.' The 'drum' is a piece of
hollow wood covered with a skin, on which rude pictures are drawn.
An index is laid on the skin, the drum is tapped, and omens are
taken from the picture on which the index happens to rest. But this
practice has nothing to do with clairvoyance. In Scheffer's account
of Lapp seers we recognise the usual hysterical or epileptic lads,
who, in various societies become saints, mediums, warlocks, or
conjurers. But Scheffer shows that the Lapp experts try,
voluntarily, to see sights, whereas, except when wrapped in a bull's
hide of old, or cowering in a boiler at the present day, the
Highland second-sighted man lets his visions come to him
spontaneously and uninvoked. Scheffer wished to take a magical drum
from a Lapp, who confessed with tears, that, drum or no drum, he
would still see visions, as he proved by giving Scheffer a minute
relation 'of whatever particulars had happened to me in my journey
to Lapland. And he further complained, that he knew not how to make
use of his eyes, since things altogether distant were presented to
them.' When a wizard is consulted he dances round till he falls,
lies on the ground as if dead, and, finally, rises and declares the
result of his clairvoyance. His body is guarded by his friends, and
no living thing is allowed to touch it. Tornaeus was told many
details of his journey by a Lapp, 'which, although it was true,
Tornaeus dissembled to him, lest he might glory too much in his
devilish practices'. Olaus Magnus gives a similar account. The
whole performance, except that the seer is not bound, resembles the
Eskimo 'sleep of the shadow,' more than ordinary Highland second
sight. The soul of the seer is understood to be wandering away,
released from his body.

The belief in clairvoyance, in the power of seeing what is distant,
and foreseeing what is in the future, obviously and undeniably
occurs everywhere, in ancient Israel, as in Mexico before the
Spanish Conquest, and among the Red Indian tribes as among the
Zulus. It is more probable that similar hallucinatory experiences,
morbid, or feigned, or natural, have produced the same beliefs
everywhere, than that the beliefs were evolved only by 'Aryans,'--
Greeks or Scandinavians--and by them diffused all over the world, to
Zulus, Lapps, Indians of Guiana, Maoris.

One of the earliest references to Scotch second sight is quoted by
Graham Dalyell from Higden's Polychronicon (i. lxiv.). {231a}
'There oft by daye tyme, men of that islonde seen men that bey dede
to fore honde, byheded' (like Argyll, in 1661), 'or hole, and what
dethe they deyde. Alyens setten theyr feet upon feet of the men of
that londe, for to see such syghtes as the men of that londe doon.'
This method of communicating the hallucination by touch is described
in the later books, such as Kirk's Secret Commonwealth (1691), and
Mr. Napier, in his Folklore, mentions the practice as surviving in
the present century. From some records of the Orkneys, Mr. Dalyell
produces a trial for witchcraft on Oct. 2, 1616. {231b} This case
included second sight. The husband of Jonka Dyneis being in a
fishing-boat at Walls, six miles from her residence at Aith, and in
peril, she was 'fund and sein standing at hir awin hous wall, in ane
trans, that same hour he was in danger; and being trappit, she could
not give answer, bot stude as bereft of hir senssis: and quhen she
was speirit at quhy she wes so movit, she answerit, "Gif our boit be
not tynt, she is in great hazard,"--and wes tryit so to be'.

Elspeth Reoch, in 1616, was tried as a witch for a simple piece of
clairvoyance, or of charlatanism, as we may choose to believe. The
offence is styled 'secund sicht' in the official report. Again,
Issobell Sinclair, in 1633, was accused, almost in modern
spiritualistic phrase, of 'bein _controlled_ with the phairie, and
that be thame, shoe hath the second sight'. {232a} Here, then, we
find it officially recorded that the second-sighted person is
entranced, and more or less unconscious of the outer world, at the
moment of the vision. Something like le petit mal, in epilepsy,
seems to be intended, the patient 'stude as bereft of hir senssis'.
{232b} Again, we have the official explanation of the second sight,
and that is the spiritualistic explanation. The seer has a fairy
'control'. This mode of accounting for what 'gentle King Jamie'
calls 'a sooth dreame, since they see it walking,' inspires the
whole theory of Kirk (1691), but he sees no harm either in 'the
phairie,' or in the persons whom the fairies control. In Kirk's own
time we shall find another minister, Frazer of Tiree, explaining the
visions as 'revived impressions of sense' (1705), and rejecting
various superstitious hypotheses.

The detestable cruelty of the ministers who urged magistrates to
burn second-sighted people, and the discomfort and horror of the
hallucinations themselves, combined to make patients try to free
themselves from the involuntary experience. As a correspondent of
Aubrey's says, towards the end of the sixteenth century: 'It is a
thing very troublesome to them that have it, and would gladly be rid
of it . . . they are seen to sweat and tremble, and shreek at the
apparition'. {232c} 'They are troubled for having it judging it a
sin,' and they used to apply to the presbytery for public prayers
and sermons. Others protested that it was a harmless accident,
tried to teach it, and endeavoured to communicate the visions by
touch.

As usual among the Presbyterians a minister might have abnormal
accomplishments, work miracles of healing, see and converse with the
devil, shine in a refulgence of 'odic' light, or be second-sighted.
But, if a layman encroached on these privileges, he was in danger of
the tar-barrel, and was prosecuted. On the day of the battle of
Bothwell Brig, Mr. Cameron, minister of Lochend, in remote Kintyre,
had a clairvoyant view of the fight. 'I see them (the Whigs) flying
as clearly as I see the wall,' and, as near as could be calculated,
the Covenanters ran at that very moment. {233a} How Mr. Cameron
came to be thought a saint, while Jonka Dyneis was burned as a
sinner, for precisely similar experiences, is a question hard to
answer. But Joan of Arc, the saviour of France, was burned for
hearing voices, while St. Joseph of Cupertino, in spite of his
flights in the air, was canonised. Minister or medium, saint or
sorcerer, it was all a question of the point of view. As to
Cameron's and Jonka's visions of distant contemporary events, they
correspond to what is told of Apollonius of Tyana, that, at Ephesus,
he saw and applauded the murder of Domitian at Rome; that one
Cornelius, in Padua, saw Caesar triumph at Pharsalia; that a maniac
in Gascony beheld Coligny murdered in Paris. {233b} In the whole
belief there is nothing peculiarly Scotch or Celtic, and Wodrow
gives examples among the Dutch.

Second Sight, in the days of James VI. had been a burning matter.
After the Restoration, a habit of jesting at everything of the kind
came in, on one hand; on the other, a desire to investigate and
probe the stories of Scotch clairvoyance. Many fellows of the Royal
Society, and learned men, like Robert Boyle, Henry More, Glanvill,
Pepys, Aubrey, and others, wrote eagerly to correspondents in the
Highlands, while Sacheverell and Waldron discussed the topic as
regarded the Isle of Man. Then came special writers on the theme,
as Aubrey, Kirk, Frazer, Martin, De Foe (who compiled a catch-penny
treatise on Duncan Campbell, a Highland fortune-teller in London),
Theophilus Insulanus (who was urged to his task by Sir Richard
Steele), Wodrow, a great ghost-hunter: and so we reach Dr. Johnson,
who was 'willing to be convinced,' but was not under conviction. In
answer to queries circulated for Aubrey, he learned that 'the godly'
have not the faculty, but 'the virtuous' may have it. But Wodrow's
saint who saw Bothwell Brig, and another very savoury Christian who
saw Dundee slain at Killiecrankie, may surely be counted among 'the
godly'. There was difference of opinion as to the hereditary
character of the complaint. A correspondent of Aubrey's vouches for
a second-sighted man who babbled too much 'about the phairie,' and
'was suddenly removed to the farther end of the house, and was there
almost strangled'. {234} This implies that spirits or 'Phairies'
lifted him, as they did to a seer spoken of by Kirk, and do to the
tribal medicine-men of the Australians, and of course, to 'mediums'.

Contemporary with Aubrey was the Rev. Robert Kirk of Aberfoyle, a
Celtic scholar who translated the Bible into Gaelic. In 1691 he
finished his Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Faunes and Fairies,
whereof only a fragment has reached us. It has been maintained that
the book was printed in 1691, but no mortal eye has seen a copy. In
1815 Sir Walter Scott printed a hundred copies from a manuscript in
the Advocates' Library in Edinburgh. He did not put his name on the
book, but Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, in a note on his own copy,
affirms that Sir Walter was the editor. {235} Another edition was
edited, for Mr. Nutt, by the present writer, in 1893. In the year
following the completion of his book Mr. Kirk died, or, as local
tradition avers, was carried away to fairyland.

Mr. Kirk has none of the Presbyterian abhorrence of fairies and
fauns, though, like the accusers of the Orkney witches, he believes
that 'phairie control' inspires the second-sighted men, who see them
eat at funerals. The seers were wont to observe doubles of living
people, and these doubles are explained as 'co-walkers' from the
fairy world. This 'co-walker' 'wes also often seen of old to enter
a hous, by which the people knew that the person of that liknes wes
to visite them within a few days'.

Now this belief is probably founded on actual hallucinatory
experience, of which we may give a modern example. In the early
spring of 1890, a lady, known to the author, saw the 'copy, echo, or
living picture,' of a stranger, who intended (unknown to her) to
visit her house, but who did not carry out his intention. The
author can vouch for her perfect integrity, and freedom both from
superstition, and from illusions, except in this case. Miss H.
lives in Edinburgh, and takes in young men as boarders. At the time
of this event, she had four such inmates. Two, as she believed,
were in their study on the second floor; two were in the drawing-
room on the first floor, where she herself was sitting. The hour
was seven o'clock in the evening, and the lamp on the stair was lit.
Miss H. left the drawing-room, and went into a cupboard on the
landing, immediately above the lamp. She saw a young gentleman, of
fair complexion, in a suit of dark blue, coming down the staircase
from the second floor. Supposing him to be a friend of her boarders
whose study was on that floor, she came out of the cupboard, closed
the door to let him pass, and made him a slight bow. She did not
hear him go out, nor did the maid who was standing near the street
door. She did not see her two friends of the upstairs study till
nine o'clock: they had been at a lecture. When they met, she said:
'Did you take your friend with you?'

'What friend?'

'The fair young man who left your rooms at seven.'

'We were out before seven, we don't know whom you mean.'

The mystery of the young man, who could not have entered the house
without ringing, was unsolved. Next day a lady living exactly
opposite Miss H.'s house, asked that lady if she could give
hospitality to a young man who was coming to Edinburgh from the
country. Miss H. assented, and prepared a room, but the visitor,
she was informed, went to stay with a relation of his own. Two days
later Miss H. was looking out of her dining-room window after
luncheon.

'Why, there's my ghost!' she exclaimed, and her friends, running to
the window, allowed that he answered to the description. The
'ghost' went into the house of Miss H.'s friend on the other side of
the street, and Miss H., with natural curiosity, sallied out, and
asked who he was. He was the young man for whom she had prepared a
room. During his absence in the country, his 'co-walker' had
visited the house at which he intended to stay!

Coincidences of this kind, then, gave rise to the belief in this
branch of second sight.

Though fairies are the 'phantasmogenetic agencies' in second sight,
a man may acquire the art by magic. A hair rope which has bound a
corpse to a bier is wound about him, and then he looks backward
'through his legs' till he sees a funeral. The vision of a seer can
be communicated to any one who puts his left foot under the wizard's
right foot.

This is still practised in some parts of the Highlands, as we shall
see, but, near Inverness, the custom only survives in the memory of
some old people. {237} Mr. Kirk's wizards defended the lawfulness
of their clairvoyance by the example of Elisha seeing Gehazi at a
distance. {238} The second sight was hereditary in some families:
this is no longer thought to be the case. Kirk gives some examples
of clairvoyance, and prescience: he then quotes and criticises Lord
Tarbatt's letters to Robert Boyle. Second sight 'is a trouble to
most of them, and they would be rid of it at any rate, if they
could'. One of our own informants says that the modern seers are
anxious when they feel the vision beginning: they do not, however,
regard the power as unholy or disreputable. Another informant
mentions a belief that children born between midnight and one
o'clock will be second-sighted. People attempt to hasten or delay
the birth, so as to avoid the witching hour; clearly then they
regard the second sight as an unenviable accomplishment. 'It is
certane' says Kirk, 'he sie more fatall and fearfull things, than he
do gladsome.' For the physical condition of the seer, Kirk
describes it as 'a rapture, transport, and sort of death'. Our
contemporary informants deny that, in their experience, any kind of
convulsion or fit accompanies the visions, as in Scott's account of
Allan Macaulay, in the Legend of Montrose.

Strangely unlike Mr. Kirk, in style and mode of thought, is his
contemporary, the Rev. Mr. Frazer of Tiree and Coll; Dean of the
Isles. We cannot call a clergyman superstitious because, 200 years
ago, he believed in good and bad angels. Save for this element in
his creed, Mr. Frazer may be called strictly and unexpectedly
scientific. He was born in Mull in 1647, being the son of the Rev.
Farquhard Frazer, a cadet of the house of Lovat. The father was one
of the first Masters of Arts who ever held the living of Coll and
Tiree: in his time only three landed gentlemen of the McLeans could
read and write. The son, John, was educated at Glasgow University,
and succeeded to his father's charge, converting the lairds and
others 'to the true Protestant faith' (1680). At the Revolution, or
later, being an Episcopalian and Jacobite, he was deprived of his
stipend, but was not superseded and continued the exercise of his
ministry till his death in 1702. Being in Edinburgh in 1700, he met
Andrew Symson, a relation of his wife: they fell into discourse on
the second sight, and he sent his little manuscript to Symson who
published it in 1707. There is an Edinburgh reprint, by Webster, in
1820. The work is dedicated to Lord Cromartie, the Lord Tarbatt of
Kirk's book, and the correspondent of Pepys. Symson adds a preface,
apologising for Mr. Frazer's lack of books and learned society, and
giving an example of transference of second sight: the seer placed
his foot on that of the person interested, who then saw a ship
labouring in a storm. The tale was not at first hand.

Mr. Frazer, in his tractate, first deals with the question of fact,
of the hallucinations called second sight: 'That such
representations are made to the eyes of men and women, is to me out
of all doubt, and that affects follow answerable thereto, as little
questionable'. But many doubt as to the question of fact,
'wherefore so little has been written about it'. Four or five
instances, he thinks, will suffice, 1. A servant of his left a barn
where he slept, 'because nightly he had seen a dead corps in his
winding sheet, straighted beside him'. In about half a year a young
man died _and was buried_ in the barn. 2. Mr. Frazer went to stay
in Mull with Sir William Sacheverell, who wrote on second sight in
the Isle of Man, and was then engaged in trying to recover treasures
from the vessel of the Armada sunk in Tobermory Bay. The Duke of
Argyll has a cannon taken from Francis I. at Pavia, which was raised
from this vessel, and, lately, the fluke of a ship's anchor brought
up a doubloon. But the treasure still lies in Tobermory Bay. Mr.
Frazer's tale merely is that a woman told a sailor to bid him leave
a certain boy behind. The sailor did not give the message, the boy
died, and the woman said that she had seen the lad 'walking with me
in his winding sheets, sewed up from top to toe,' that this portent
never deceived her. 3. A funeral was seen by Duncan Campbell, in
Kintyre, he soon found himself at the real funeral.

4. John Macdonald saw a sea-captain all wet, who was drowned,
'about a year thereafter'. The seer 'was none of the strictest
life'. 5. A man in Eigg foretold an invasion and calamities. The
vision was fulfilled by a landing of English forces in 1689, when
Mr. Frazer himself was a prisoner of Captain Pottinger's, in Eigg.
He next mentions an old woman who, in a syncope or catalepsy,
believed she had been in heaven. She had a charm of barbarous
words, whereby she could see the answers to questions 'in live
images before her eyes, or upon the wall, but the images were not
tractable (tangible), which she found by putting to her hand, but
could find nothing'. In place of burning this poor crone, Mr.
Frazer reasoned with her, 'taught her the danger and vanity of her
practice,' and saw her die peacefully in extreme old age.

Seeking for an explanation Mr. Frazer gives a thoroughly modern
doctrine of visual and auditory hallucinations, as revived
impressions of sense. The impressions, 'laid up in the brain, will
be reversed back to the retiform coat and crystalline humour,' hence
'a lively seeing, as if, de novo, the object had been placed before
the eye'. He illustrates this by experiments in after-images. He
will not deny, however, that angels, good or bad, may intentionally
cause the revival of impressions, and so, for their own purposes,
produce the hallucinations from within. The coincidence of the
hallucination with future events may arise from the fore-knowledge
of the said angels, who, if evil, are deceptive, like Ahab's false
prophets. The angel then, who, through one channel or another,
fore-knows, or anticipates an event, 'has no more to do than to
reverse the species of these things from a man's brain to the organ
of the eye'. Substitute telepathy, the effect produced by a distant
mind, for angels, and we have here the very theory of some modern
inquirers. Mr. Frazer thinks it unlikely that _bad_ angels delude
'several men that I have known to be of considerable sense, and
pious and good conversation'. He will not hear of angels making
bodies of 'compressed air' (an old mystic idea), which they place
before men's eyes. His own hypothesis is more economical of marvel.
He has not observed second sight to be hereditary. If asked why it
is confined to ignorant islanders, he denies the fact. It is as
common elsewhere, but is concealed, for fear of ridicule and odium.
He admits that credulity and ignorance give opportunities to evil
spirits 'to juggle more frequently than otherwise they would have
done'. So he 'humbly submits himself to the judgment of his
betters'. Setting aside the hypothesis of angels, Mr. Frazer makes
only one mistake, he does not give instantiae contradictoriae, where
the hallucination existed without the fulfilment. He shows a good
deal of reading, and a liking for Sir Thomas Browne. The difference
between him and his contemporary, Mr. Kirk, is as great as that
between Herodotus and Thucydides.

Contemporary with Frazer is Martin Martin, whose Description of the
Western Isles (1703, second edition 1716) was a favourite book of
Dr. Johnson's, and the cause of his voyage to the Hebrides. Martin
took his M.A. degree at Edinburgh University in 1681. He was a
curious observer, political and social, and an antiquarian. He
offers no theory of the second sight, and merely recounts the
current beliefs in the islands. The habit is not, in his opinion,
hereditary, nor does he think that the vision can be communicated by
touch, except by one to another seer. Where several seers are
present, all do not necessarily see the vision. 'At the sight of a
vision, the eyelids of the person are erected, and the eyes continue
staring until the object vanish,' as Martin knew by observing seers
at the moment of the experience. Sometimes it was necessary to draw
down the eyelids with the fingers. Sickness and swooning
occasionally accompanied the hallucination. The visions were
usually symbolical, shrouds, coffins, funerals. Visitors were seen
before their arrival. 'I have been seen thus myself by seers of
both sexes at some 100 miles distance; some that saw me in this
manner had never seen me personally, and it happened according to
their visions, without any previous design of mine to go to those
places, my coming there being purely accidental.' Children are
subject to the vision, the horse of a seer, or the cow a second-
sighted woman is milking, receives the infection, at the moment of a
vision, sweats and trembles. Horses are very nervous animals, cows
not so much so.

As to objections, the people are very temperate, and madness is
unknown, hence they are not usually visionary. That the learned
'are not able to oblige the world with a satisfying account of those
visions,' is no argument against the fact of their occurrence. The
seers are not malevolent impostors, and there are cases of second-
sighted folk of birth and education, 'nor can a reasonable man
believe that children, horses, and cows could be pre-engaged in a
combination to persuade the world of the reality of the second
sight'. The gift is not confined to the Western Islands, and Martin
gives a Dutch example, with others from the Isle of Man. His
instances are of the usual sort, the fulfilment was sometimes long
deferred. He mentions a case, but not that given by Mr. Frazer, in
the Isle of Eigg. The natives had been at Killiecrankie, and one of
them murdered an English soldier in Skye, hence the English invasion
of 1689, in which a pretty girl (as had been prophesied by a seer)
was brutally ill-treated. The most interesting cases are those in
which strangers are seen, and peculiarities in their dress observed
before their arrival. In the Pirate Scott shows how Norna of the
Fitful Head managed to utter such predictions by aid of early
information; and so, as Cleveland said, 'prophesied on velvet'.
There are a few cases of a brownie being seen, once by a second-
sighted butler, who observed brownie directing a man's game at
chess. Martin's book was certainly not calculated to convince Dr.
Johnson; his personal evidence only proves that a kind of
hallucinatory trance existed, or was feigned.

Later than Martin we have the long work of Theophilus Insulanus,
which contains many 'cases,' of more or less interest or absurdity.
But Theophilus is of no service to the framer of philosophical or
physiological theories of the second sight. The Presbyterian clergy
generally made war on the belief, but one of them, as Mrs. Grant
reports in her Essays, {244} had an experience of his own. This
good old pastor's 'daidling bit,' or lounge, was his churchyard. In
an October twilight, he saw two small lights rise from a spot
unmarked by any stone or memorial. These 'corpse-candles' crossed
the river, stopped at a hamlet, and returned, attended by a larger
light. All three sank into the earth on the spot whence the two
lights had risen. The minister threw a few stones on the spot, and
next day asked the sexton who lay there. The man remembered having
buried there two children of a blacksmith who lived at the hamlet on
the opposite side of the water. The blacksmith died next day! This
did more for second sight, probably, than all the minister's sermons
could do against the belief.

As we began by stating, it is a popular superstition among the
learned that the belief in second sight has died out among the
Highlanders. Fifty years ago, Dr. McCulloch, in his Description of
the Western Islands, wrote thus: 'Second sight has undergone the
fate of witchcraft; ceasing to be believed, it has ceased to exist'.
{245} Now, as to whether second sight exists or not, we may think
as we please, but the belief in second sight is still vivacious in
the Highlands, and has not altered in a single feature. A well-
known Highland minister has been kind enough to answer a few
questions on the belief as it is in his parish He first met a
second-sighted man in his own beadle, 'a most respectable person of
entirely blameless life'. After citing a few examples of the
beadle's successful hits, our informant says: 'He told me that he
felt the thing coming on, and that it was always preceded by a sense
of discomfort and anxiety. . . . There was no epilepsy, and no
convulsion of any kind. He felt a sense of great relief when the
vision had passed away, and he assured me repeatedly that the gift
was an annoyance rather than a pleasure to him,' as the Lapp also
confessed to Scheffer. 'Others who had the same gift have told me
the same thing.' Out of seven or eight people liable to this
malady, or whatever we are to call it, only one, we learn, was other
than robust, healthy, and steady. In two instances the seers were
examined by a physician of experience, and got clean bills of mental
and bodily health. An instance is mentioned in which the beadle,
alone in a boat with a friend, on a salt-water loch, at night, saw a
vision of a man drowning in a certain pool of a certain river. A
shepherd's plaid lay on the bank. The beadle told his companion
what he saw, and set his foot on his friend's, who then shared his
experience. This proves the continuity of the belief that the
hallucination can be communicated by contact. {246} As a matter of
evidence, it would have been better if the beadle had not first told
his friend what he saw. Both men told our informant next day, and
the vision was fulfilled 'scarcely a week afterwards'. This vision,
granting the honesty of the seers, was a case of 'clairvoyance,' but
'symbolical hallucinations' frequently occur. In our informant's
experience the gift is not hereditary.

On the whole subject Dr. Stewart, of Nether Lochaber, wrote several
articles in the Inverness Courier, during the autumn of 1893. The
Highland clergy have, doubtless, some difficulty in dealing with the
belief among their parishioners. But, as the possession of the
accomplishment is no longer regarded as criminal, and as the old
theories of diabolical possession, or fairy inspiration, are not
entertained, at least by the educated, the seers are probably to be
regarded as merely harmless visionaries. At most we may say, with
the poet:--

Lo, the sublime telepathist is here.

The belief in witchcraft is also as lively in the Highlands, as in
Devonshire, but, while the law takes no cognisance of it, no great
harm is done. The witchcraft mainly relies on 'sympathetic magic,'
on perforating a clay image of an enemy with needles and so forth.
There is a very recent specimen in the Pitt Rivers collection, at
the museum in Oxford. It was presented, in a scientific spirit, by
the victim, who was 'not a penny the worse,' unlike Sir George
Maxwell of Pollok, two centuries ago.

Though second sight is so firmly rooted in Celtic opinion, the
tourist or angler who 'has no Gaelic' is not likely to hear much of
it. But, when trout refuse to rise, and time hangs heavy in a boat
on a loch, it is a good plan to tell the boatman some ghostly
Sassenach tales. Then, perhaps, he will cap them from his own
store, but point-blank questions from an inquiring southron are of
very little use. Nobody likes to be cross-examined on such matters.
Unluckily the evidence, for facts not for folklore, is worthless
till it has stood the severest cross-examination.

GHOSTS BEFORE THE LAW

Sir Walter Scott on rarity of ghostly evidence. His pamphlet for
the Bannatyne Club. His other examples. Case of Mirabel. The
spectre, the treasure, the deposit repudiated. Trials of Auguier
and Mirabel. The case of Clenche's murder. The murder of Sergeant
Davies. Acquittal of the prisoners. An example from Aubrey. The
murder of Anne Walker. The case of Mr. Booty. An example from
Maryland, the story of Briggs and Harris. The Valogne phantasm.
Trials in the matter of haunted houses. Cases from Le Loyer.
Modern instances of haunted houses before the law. Unsatisfactory
results of legal investigations.

'What I do not know is not knowledge,' Sir Walter Scott might have
said, with regard to bogles and bar-ghaists. His collection at
Abbotsford of such works as the Ephesian converts burned, is
extensive and peculiar, while his memory was rich in tradition and
legend. But as his Major Bellenden sings,

Was never wight so starkly made,
But time and years will overthrow.

When Sir Walter in 1831, wrote a brief essay on ghosts before the
law, his memory was no longer the extraordinary engine, wax to
receive, and marble to retain, that it had been. It is an example
of his dauntless energy that, even in 1831, he was not only toiling
at novels, and histories, and reviews, to wipe out his debts, but
that, as a pure labour of love, he edited, for the Bannatyne Club,
'The trial of Duncan Terig alias Clerk, and Alexander Bane
Macdonald, for the murder of Arthur Davis, sergeant in General
Guise's regiment of foot, June, 1754'.

The trial, as Sir Walter says, in his dedication to the Bannatyne
Club, 'involves a curious point of evidence,' a piece of 'spectral
evidence' as Cotton Mather calls it. In another dedication (for
there are two) Scott addresses Sir Samuel Shepherd, remarking that
the tract deals with 'perhaps the only subject of legal inquiry
which has escaped being investigated by his skill, and illustrated
by his genius'. That point is the amount of credit due to the
evidence of a ghost. In his preface Sir Walter cites the familiar
objection of a learned judge that 'the ghost must be sworn in usual
form, but in case he does not come forward, he cannot be heard, as
now proposed, through the medium' (medium indeed!) 'of a third
party'. It seems to be a rule of evidence that what a dead man said
may be received, on the report of the person with whom he
communicated. A ghost is a dead man, and yet he is deprived,
according to the learned judge's ruling, of his privilege. Scott
does not cite the similar legend in Hibernian Tales, the chap book
quoted by Thackeray in his Irish Sketch-book. In that affair, when
the judge asked the ghost to give his own evidence: 'Instantly
there came a dreadful rumbling noise into the court--"Here am I that
was murdered by the prisoner at the bar"'. The Hibernian Tales are
of no legal authority, nor can we give chapter and verse for another
well-known anecdote. A prisoner on a charge of murder was about to
escape, when the court observed him looking suspiciously over his
shoulder. 'Is there no one present,' the learned judge asked in
general, 'who can give better testimony?' 'My lord,' exclaimed the
prisoner, 'that wound he shows in his chest is twice as big as the
one I gave him.' In this anecdote, however, the prisoner was
clearly suffering from a hallucination, as the judge detected, and
we do not propose to consider cases in which phantasms bred of
remorse drove a guilty man to make confession.

To return to Scott; he remarks that believers in ghosts must be
surprised 'to find how seldom in _any_ country an allusion hath been
made to such evidence in a court of justice'. Scott himself has
only 'detected one or two cases of such apparition evidence,' which
he gives. Now it is certain, as we shall see, that he must have
been acquainted with several other examples, which did not recur to
his memory: the memory of 1831 was no longer that of better years.
Again, there were instances of which he had probably never possessed
any knowledge, while others have occurred since his death. We shall
first consider the cases of spectral evidence (evidence that is of a
dead man's ghost, not of a mere wraith) recorded by Sir Walter, and
deal later with those beyond his memory or knowledge. {250} Sir
Walter's first instance is from Causes Celebres, (vol. xii., La
Haye, 1749, Amsterdam, 1775, p. 247). Unluckily the narrator, in
this collection, is an esprit fort, and is assiduous in attempts to
display his wit. We have not a plain unvarnished tale, but
something more like a facetious leading article based on a trial

Honore Mirabel was a labouring lad, under age, near Marseilles. His
story was that, in May (year not given), about eleven at night, he
was lying under an almond tree, near the farm of a lady named Gay.
In the moonlight he saw a man at an upper window of a building
distant five or six paces, the house belonged to a Madame Placasse.
Mirabel asked the person what he was doing there; got no answer,
entered, and could see nobody. Rather alarmed he went to a well,
drew some water, drank, and then heard a weak voice, bidding him dig
there for treasure, and asking that masses might be said for the
soul of the informant. A stone then fell on a certain spot; stone-
throwing is a favourite exercise with ghosts everywhere.

With another labourer, one Bernard, Mirabel dug, found a packet of
dirty linen, and, fearing that it might hold the infection of
plague, dipped it in wine, for lack of vinegar. The parcel
contained more than a thousand Portuguese gold coins. Bernard and
his mistress were present at the opening of the parcel, but Mirabel
managed to conceal from them the place where he hid it, not a very
likely story. He was grateful enough to pay for the desired masses,
and he had himself bled four times to relieve his agitation.
Mirabel now consulted a merchant in Marseilles, one Auguier, who
advised him to keep his old coins a mystery, as to put them into
circulation would lead to inquiry and inconvenience. He lent
Mirabel some ready money, and, finally, induced Mirabel to entrust
the Portuguese hoard to his care. The money was in two bags, one
fastened with gold-coloured ribbon, the other with linen thread.
Auguier gave a receipt, and now we get a date, Marseilles, September
27, 1726. Later Auguier (it seems) tried to murder Mirabel, and
refused to return the deposit. Mirabel went to law with him:
Auguier admitted that Mirabel had spoken to him about having found a
treasure which he would entrust to Auguier, but denied the rest. In
his house was found a ribbon of a golden hue, such as Mirabel used
to tie up his bag, and a little basket which has no obvious
connection with the matter. The case was allowed to come on, there
were sixteen witnesses. A woman named Caillot swore to Mirabel's
having told her about the ghost: she saw the treasure excavated,
saw the bags, and recognised the ribbon. A man had seen Mirabel on
his way to give Auguier his bags, and, indeed, saw him do so, and
receive a piece of paper. He also found, next day, a gold coin on
the scene of the interview. A third witness, a woman, was shown the
treasure by Mirabel.

The narrator here makes the important reflection that Providence
could not allow a ghost to appear merely to enrich a foolish
peasant. But, granting ghosts (as the narrator does), we can only
say that, in ordinary life, Providence permits a number of
undesirable events to occur. Why should the behaviour of ghosts be
an exception?

Other witnesses swore to corroborating circumstances. Auguier
denied everything, experts admitted that the receipt was like his
writing, but declared it to be forged; the ribbon was explained as
part of his little daughter's dress. The judge decided--no one will
guess what--_that Auguier should be put to the torture_!

Auguier appealed: his advocate urged the absurdity of a ghost-story
on a priori grounds: if there was no ghost, then there was no
treasure: if there was a treasure, would not the other digger have
secured his share? That digger, Bernard, was not called. Then
Auguier pled an alibi, he was eight leagues away when he was said to
have received the treasure. Why he did not urge this earlier does
not appear.

Mirabel's advocate first defended from the Bible and the Fathers,
the existence of ghosts. The Faculty of Theology, in Paris, had
vouched for them only two years before this case, in 1724. The
Sorbonne had been as explicit, in 1518. 'The Parliament of Paris
_often_ permitted the tenant of a haunted house to break his
contract.' {253} Ghosts or no ghosts, Mirabel's counsel said, there
_was_ a treasure. In his receipt Auguier, to deceive a simple
peasant, partially disguised his hand. Auguier's alibi is
worthless, he might easily have been at Marseilles and at Pertuis on
the same day: the distance is eight leagues.

Bernard was now at last called in; he admitted that Mirabel told him
of the ghost, that they dug, and found some linen, but that he never
saw any gold. He had carried the money from Mirabel to pay for the
masses due to the ghost. Mirabel had shown him a document, for
which he said he had paid a crown, and Bernard (who probably could
not read) believed it to be like Auguier's receipt. Bernard, of
course, having been denied his share, was not a friendly witness. A
legal document was put in, showing that Madame Placasse (on whose
land the treasure lay) summoned Mirabel to refund it to her. The
document was a summons to him. But this document was forged, and
Mirabel, according to a barrister whom he had consulted about it,
said it was handed to him by a man unknown. Why the barrister
should have betrayed his client is not clear. Mirabel and
Marguerite Caillot, his first witness, who had deposed to his
telling her about the ghost, and to seeing the excavation of the
packet, were now arrested, while Auguier remained in prison.
Marguerite now denied her original deposition, she had only spoken
to oblige Mirabel. One Etienne Barthelemy was next arrested: he
admitted that he had 'financed' Mirabel during the trial, but denied
that he had suborned any witnesses. Two experts differed, as usual,
about Auguier's receipt; a third was called in, and then they
unanimously decided that it was not in his hand. On February 18,
1729, Auguier was acquitted, Mirabel was condemned to the torture,
and to the galley, for life. Marguerite Caillot was fined ten
francs. _Under torture_ Mirabel accused Barthelemy of having made
him bring his charge against Auguier, supplying him with the forged
receipt and with the sham document, the summons to restore the gold
to Madame Placasse. Oddly enough he still said that he had handed
sacks of coin to Auguier, and that one of them was tied up with the
gold-coloured ribbon. Two of his witnesses, _under torture_, stuck
to their original statements. They were sentenced to be hung up by
the armpits, and Barthelemy was condemned to the galleys for life.

It is a singular tale, and shows strange ideas of justice. Once
condemned to the galleys, Mirabel might as well have made a clean
breast of it; but this he did not do: he stuck to his bags and
gold-coloured ribbon. Manifestly Mirabel would have had a better
chance of being believed in court if he had dropped the ghost
altogether. It is notable that Sir Walter probably gave his version
of this affair from memory: he says that Mirabel 'was non-suited
upon the ground that, if his own story was true, the treasure, by
the ancient laws of France, belonged to the crown'.

Scott's next case is very uninteresting, at least as far as it is
given in Howell's State Trials, vol. xii. (1692), p. 875.

A gentleman named Harrison had been accused of beguiling a Dr.
Clenche into a hackney coach, on pretence of taking him to see a
patient. There were two men in the coach, besides the doctor. They
sent the coachman on an errand, and when he came back he found the
men fled and Clenche murdered. He had been strangled with a
handkerchief. On evidence which was chiefly circumstantial,
Harrison was found guilty, and died protesting his innocence. Later
a Mrs. Milward declared that her husband, before his death,
confessed to her that he and a man named Cole were the murderers of
Dr. Clenche. The ghost of her husband persecuted her, she said,
till Cole was arrested. Mr. Justice Dolben asked her in court for
the story, but feared that the jury would laugh at her. She
asserted the truth of her story, but, if she gave any details, they
are not reported. Cole was acquitted, and the motives of Mrs.
Milward remain obscure.

Coming to the tract which he reprints, Sir Walter says that his
notice was first drawn to it, in 1792, by Robert McIntosh, Esq., one
of the counsel in the case, which was heard in Edinburgh, June 10,
1754. Grant of Prestongrange, the Lord Advocate well known to
readers of Mr. Stevenson's Catriona, prosecuted Duncan Terig or
Clerk, and Alexander Bain Macdonald, for the murder of Sergeant
Arthur Davies on September 28, 1749. They shot him on Christie
Hill, at the head of Glenconie. There his body remained concealed
for some time, and was later found with a hat marked with his
initials, A. R. D. They are also charged with taking his watch, two
gold rings, and a purse of gold, whereby Clerk, previously
penniless, was enabled to take and stock two farms.

Donald Farquharson, in Glendee, deposes that, in June, 1750,
Alexander Macpherson sent for him, and said that he was much
troubled by the ghost of the serjeant, who insisted that he should
bury his bones, and should consult Farquharson. Donald did not
believe this quite, but trembled lest the ghost should vex him. He
went with Macpherson, who showed the body in a peat-moss. The body
was much decayed, the dress all in tatters. Donald asked Macpherson
whether the apparition denounced the murderers: he replied that the
ghost said it would have done so, had Macpherson not asked the
question. They buried the body on the spot, Donald attested that he
had seen the Serjeant's rings on the hand of Clerk's wife. For
three years the prisoners had been suspected by the country side.

Macpherson declared that he had seen an apparition of a man in blue,
who said, 'I am Serjeant Davies,' that he at first took this man for
a brother of Donald Farquharson's, that he followed the man, or
phantasm, to the door, where the spectre repeated its assertions,
and pointed out the spot where the bones lay. He found them, and
then went, as already shown, to Donald Farquharson. Between the
first vision and the burying, the ghost came to him naked, and this
led him to inter the remains. On the second appearance, the ghost
denounced the prisoners. Macpherson gave other evidence, not
spectral, which implicated Clerk. But, when asked what language the
ghost spoke in, he answered, 'as good Gaelic as he had ever heard in
Lochaber'. 'Pretty well,' said his counsel, Scott's informant,
McIntosh, 'for the ghost of an English serjeant.' This was probably
conclusive with the jury, for they acquitted the prisoners, in the
face of the other incriminating evidence. This was illogical.
Modern students of ghosts, of course, would not have been staggered
by the ghost's command of Gaelic: they would explain it as a
convenient hallucinatory impression made by the ghost on the mind of
the 'percipient'. The old theologians would have declared that a
good spirit took Davies's form, and talked in the tongue best known
to Macpherson. Scott's remark is, that McIntosh's was 'no sound
jest, for there was nothing more ridiculous in a ghost speaking a
language which he did not understand when in the body, than there
was in his appearing at all'. But jurymen are not logicians.
Macpherson added that he told his tale to none of the people with
him in the sheiling, but that Isobel McHardie assured him she 'saw
such a vision'. Isobel, in whose service Macpherson had been,
deponed that, while she lay at one end of the sheiling and
Macpherson at the other, 'she saw something naked come in at the
door, which frighted her so much that she drew the clothes over her
head'. Next day she asked Macpherson what it was, and he replied
'she might be easy, for that it would not trouble them any more'.

The rest of the evidence went very strongly against the accused, but
the jury unanimously found them 'Not Guilty'.

Scott conjectures that Macpherson knew of the murder (as indeed he
had good reason, if his non-spectral evidence is true), but that he
invented the ghost, whose commands must be obeyed, that he might
escape the prejudice entertained by the Celtic race against citizens
who do their duty. Davies, poor fellow, was a civil good-humoured
man, and dealt leniently (as evidence showed) with Highlanders who
wore the tartan. Their national costume was abolished, as we all
know, by English law, after the plaid had liberally displayed
itself, six miles south of Derby, in 1745.

So far it is plain that 'what the ghost said is not evidence,' and
may even ruin a very fair case, for there can be little doubt as to
who killed Serjeant Davies. But examples which Scott forgot, for of
course he knew them, prove that, in earlier times, a ghost's
testimony was not contemned by English law. Cases are given, with
extracts from documents, in a book so familiar to Sir Walter as
Aubrey's Miscellanies. Aubrey (b. 1626, d. 1697) was a F.R.S., and,
like several other contemporary Fellows of the Royal Society, was a
keen ghost hunter. He published {259} 'A full and true Relation of
the Examination and Confession of William Barwick, and Edward
Mangall, of two horrid murders'.

Barwick killed his wife, who was about to bear a child, near Cawood
in Yorkshire, on April 14, 1690. Barwick had intrigued with his
wife before marriage, and perhaps was 'passing weary of her love'.
On April 14, Palm Monday, he went to his brother-in-law, Thomas
Lofthouse, near York, who had married Mrs. Barwick's sister. He
informed Lofthouse that he had taken Mrs. Barwick, for her
confinement, to the house of his uncle, Harrison, in Selby. On
September 17, at York assizes, Lofthouse swore that on Easter
Tuesday (eight days after Palm Monday, namely April 22), he was
watering a quickset hedge, at mid-day, when he saw 'the apparition
in the shape of a woman walking before him'. She sat down opposite
the pool whence he drew water, he passed her as he went, and,
returning with his pail filled, saw her again. She was dandling on
her lap some white object which he had not observed before. He
emptied his pail, and, 'standing in his yard' looked for her again.
She was no longer present. She wore a brown dress and a white hood,
'such as his wife's sister usually wore, and her face looked extream
pale, her teeth in sight, no gums appearing, her visage being like
his wife's sister'.

It certainly seems as if this resemblance was an after-thought of
Lofthouse's, for he dismissed the matter from his mind till prayers,
when it 'discomposed his devotions'. He then mentioned the affair
to his wife, who inferred that her sister had met with foul play.
On April 23, that is the day after the vision, he went to Selby,
where Harrison denied all knowledge of Mrs. Barwick. On April 24,
Lofthouse made a deposition to this effect before the mayor of York,
but, in his published statement of that date, he only avers that
'hearing nothing of the said Barwick's wife, he imagined Barwick had
done her some mischief'. There is not a word hereof the phantasm
sworn to by Lofthouse at the assizes on September 17. Nevertheless,
on April 24, Barwick confessed to the mayor of York, that 'on Monday
was seventh night' (there seems to be an error here) he 'found the
conveniency of a pond' (as Aubrey puts it) 'adjoining to a quickwood
hedge,' and there drowned the woman, and buried her hard by. At the
assizes, Barwick withdrew his confession, and pleaded 'Not Guilty'.
Lofthouse, his wife, and a third person swore, however, that the
dead woman was found buried in her clothes by the pond side, and on
the prisoner's confession being read, he was found guilty, and
hanged in chains. Probably he was guilty, but Aubrey's dates are
confused, and we are not even sure whether there were two ponds, and
two quickset hedges, or only one of each. Lofthouse may have seen a
stranger, dressed like his sister-in-law, this may have made him
reflect on Barwick's tale about taking her to Selby; he visited that
town, detected Barwick's falsehood, and the terror of that discovery
made Barwick confess.

Surtees, in his History of Durham, published another tale, which
Scott's memory did not retain. In 1630, a girl named Anne Walker
was about to have a child by a kinsman, also a Walker, for whom she
kept house. Walker took her to Dame Care, in Chester le Street,
whence he and Mark Sharp removed her one evening late in November.
Fourteen days afterwards, late at night, Graime, a fuller, who lived
six miles from Walker's village, Lumley, saw a woman, dishevelled,
blood-stained, and with five wounds in her head, standing in a room
in his mill. She said she was Anne Walker, that Mark Sharp had
slain her with a collier's pick, and thrown her body into a coal-
pit, hiding the pick under the bank. After several visitations,
Graime went with his legend to a magistrate, the body and pick-axe
were discovered, Walker and Sharp were arrested, and tried at
Durham, in August, 1631. Sharp's boots, all bloody, were found
where the ghost said he had concealed them 'in a stream'; how they
remained bloody, if in water, is hard to explain. Against Walker
there was no direct evidence. The prisoners, the judge summing up
against them, were found guilty and hanged, protesting their
innocence.

It is suggested that Graime himself was the murderer, else, how did
he know so much about it? But Walker and Sharp were seen last with
the woman, and the respectable Walker was not without a motive,
while, at this distance, we can conjecture no motive in the case of
Graime. {262} Cockburn's Voyage up the Mediterranean is the
authority (ii. 35) for a very odd trial in the Court of King's
Bench, London. The logs of three ships, under Captains Barnaby,
Bristow and Brown, were put in to prove that, on Friday, 15th May,
1687, these men, with many others, were shooting rabbits on
Stromboli: that when beaters and all were collected, about a
quarter to four, they _all_ saw a man in grey, and a man in black
run towards them, the one in grey leading, that Barnaby exclaimed,
'The foremost is old Booty, my next door neighbour,' that the
figures vanished into the flames of the volcano. This occurrence,
by Barnaby's desire, they noted in their journals. They were all
making merry, on October 6, 1687, at Gravesend, when Mrs. Barnaby
remarked to her husband: 'My dear, old Booty is dead!' The captain
replied: 'We all saw him run into hell'. Mrs. Booty, hearing of
this remark, sued Barnaby for libel, putting her damages at 1000
pounds. The case came on, the clothes of old Booty were shown in
court: the date and hour of his death were stated, and
corresponded, within two minutes, to the moment when the mariners
beheld the apparition in Stromboli, 'so the widow lost her cause'.
A mediaeval legend has been revived in this example.

All these curious legal cases were, no doubt, familiar to Sir Walter
Scott. He probably had no access to an American example which was
reprinted four years after his death, by a member of the club which
he founded, the Bannatyne Club, {263} in 1836.

The evidence of the ghost-seer was republished by Mrs. Crowe, in her
Night Side of Nature. But Mrs. Crowe neither gives the facts of the
trial correctly, nor indicates the sources of the narrative. The
source was a periodical, The Opera Glass, February 3, 1827, thirty
years after the date of the trial. The document, however, had
existed 'for many years,' in the possession of the anonymous
contributor to The Opera Glass. He received it from one of the
counsel in the case, Mr. Nicholson, afterwards a judge in Maryland,
who compiled it from attested notes made by himself in court.

The suit was that of James, Fanny, Robert, and Thomas Harris,
devisees of Thomas Harris, v. Mary Harris, relict and administratrix
of James Harris, brother of Thomas, aforesaid (1798-99). Thomas
Harris had four illegitimate children. He held, as he supposed, a
piece of land in fee, but, in fact, he was only seized in tail.
Thus he could not sell or devise it, and his brother James was heir
in tail, the children being bastards. These legal facts were
unknown both to James and Thomas. Thomas made a will, leaving James
his executor, and directing that the land should be sold, and the
money divided among his own children. James, when Thomas died, sold
the land, and, in drawing the conveyance, it was discovered that he
had no right to do so for Thomas, as it was held by Thomas in tail.
James then conveyed his right to the purchaser, and kept the money
as legal heir. Why James could sell, if Thomas could not, the
present writer is unable to explain. In two years, James died
intestate, and the children of Thomas brought a suit against James's
widow. Before James's death, the ghost of Thomas had appeared
frequently to one Briggs, an old soldier in the Colonial Revolt,
bidding James 'return the proceeds of the sale to the orphans'
court, and when James heard of this from Briggs he did go to the
orphans' court, and returned himself to the estate of his brother,
to the amount of the purchase money of the land'.

Now, before the jury were sworn, the counsel, Wright and Nicholson
for the plaintiffs, Scott and Earle for the defendant, privately
agreed that the money could not be recovered, for excellent legal
reasons. But they kept this to themselves, and let the suit go on,
merely for the pleasure of hearing Briggs, 'a man of character, of
firm, undaunted spirit,' swear to his ghost in a court of law. He
had been intimate with Thomas Harris from boyhood. It may be said
that he invented the ghost, in the interest of his friend's
children. He certainly mentioned it, however, some time before he
had any conversation with it.

Briggs's evidence may be condensed very much, as the learned Mrs.
Crowe quotes it correctly in her Night Side of Nature. In March,
1791, about nine a.m., Briggs was riding a horse that had belonged
to Harris. In a lane adjoining the field where Harris was buried,
the horse shied, looked into the field where the tomb was, and
'neighed very loud'. Briggs now saw Harris coming through the
field, in his usual dress, a blue coat. Harris vanished, and the
horse went on. As Briggs was ploughing, in June, Harris walked by
him for two hundred yards. A lad named Bailey, who came up, made no
remark, nor did Harris tell him about the hallucination. In August,
after dark, Harris came and laid his arms on Briggs's shoulder.
Briggs had already spoken to James Harris, 'brither to the corp,'
about these and other related phenomena, a groan, a smack on the
nose from a viewless hand, and so forth. In October Briggs saw
Harris, about twilight in the morning. Later, at eight o'clock in
the morning, he was busy in the field with Bailey, aforesaid, when
Harris passed and vanished: Bailey saw nothing. At half-past nine,
the spectre returned, and leaned on a railing: Briggs vainly tried
to make Bailey see him. Briggs now crossed the fence, and walked
some hundreds of yards with Harris, telling him that his will was
disputed. Harris bade Briggs go to his aforesaid brother James, and
remind him of a conversation they had held, 'on the east side of the
wheat-stacks,' on the day when Harris's fatal illness began. James
remembered the conversation, and said he would fulfil his brother's
desire which he actually did. There was a later interview between
Briggs and Harris, the matter then discussed Briggs declined to
impart to the court, and the court overruled the question. 'He had
never related to any person the last conversation, and never would.'

Bailey was sworn, and deposed that Briggs had called his attention
to Harris, whom _he_ could not see, had climbed the fence, and
walked for some distance, 'apparently in deep conversation with some
person. Witness saw no one.'

It is plain that the ghost never really understood the legal
question at issue. The dates are difficult to reconcile. Thomas
Harris died in 1790. His ghost appeared in 1791. Why was there no
trial of the case till 'about 1798 or 1799'? Perhaps research in
the Maryland records would elucidate these and other questions; we
do but give the tale, with such authority as it possesses. Possibly
it is an elaborate hoax, played off by Nicholson, the plaintiffs'
counsel, on the correspondent of The Opera Glass, or by him on the
editor of that periodical.

The hallucinations of Briggs, which were fortunate enough, it is
said, to get into a court of justice, singularly resemble those of
M. Bezuel, in July and August, 1697, though these were not matter of
a sworn deposition. The evidence is in Histoire d'une Apparition
Arrivee a Valogne. {267} The narrator of 1708, having heard much
talk of the affair, was invited to meet Bezuel, a priest, at dinner,
January 7, 1708. He told his one story 'with much simplicity'.

In 1695, when about fifteen, Bezuel was a friend of a younger boy,
one of two brothers, Desfontaines. In 1696, when Desfontaines minor
was going to study at Caen, he worried Bezuel into signing, in his
blood, a covenant that the first who died should appear to the
survivor. The lads corresponded frequently, every six weeks. On
July 31, 1697, at half-past two, Bezuel, who was hay-making, had a
fainting fit. On August 1, at the same hour, he felt faint on a
road, and rested under a shady tree. On August 2, at half-past two,
he fainted in a hay-loft, and vaguely remembered seeing a half-naked
body. He came down the ladder, and seated himself on a block, in
the Place des Capucins. Here he lost sight of his companions, but
did see Desfontaines, who came up, took his left arm, and led him
into an alley. The servant followed, and told Bezuel's tutor that
he was talking to himself. The tutor went to him, and heard him
asking and answering questions. Bezuel, for three-quarters of an
hour, conversed, as he believed, with Desfontaines, who said that he
had been drowned, while bathing, at Caen, about half-past two on
July 31. The appearance was naked to the waist, his head bare,
showing his beautiful yellow locks. He asked Bezuel to learn a
school task that had been set him as a penalty, the seven
penitential psalms: he described a tree at Caen, where he had cut
some words; two years later Bezuel visited it and them; he gave
other pieces of information, which were verified, but not a word
would he say of heaven, hell, or purgatory; 'he seemed not to hear
my questions'. There were two or three later interviews, till
Bezuel carried out the wishes of the phantasm.

When the spectral Desfontaines went away, on the first occasion,
Bezuel told another boy that Desfontaines was drowned. The lad ran
to the parents of Desfontaines, who had just received a letter to
that effect. By some error, the boy thought that the _elder_
Desfontaines had perished, and said so to Bezuel, who denied it,
and, on a second inquiry, Bezuel was found to be right.

The explanation that Bezuel was ill (as he certainly was), that he
had heard of the death of his friend just _before_ his
hallucination, and had forgotten an impressive piece of news, which,
however, caused the apparition, is given by the narrator of 1708.
The kind of illusion in which a man is seen and heard to converse
with empty air, is common to the cases of Bezuel and of Briggs, and
the writer is acquainted, at first hand, with a modern example.

Mrs. Crowe cites, on the authority of the late Mr. Maurice Lothian,
solicitor for the plaintiff, a suit which arose out of 'hauntings,'
and was heard in the sheriff's court, at Edinburgh, in 1835-37. But
we are unable to discover the official records, or extracts of
evidence from them. This is to be regretted, but, by way of
consolation, we have the pleadings on both sides in an ancient
French case of a haunted house. These are preserved in his Discours
des Spectres, a closely printed quarto of nearly 1000 pages, by
Pierre le Loyer, Conseiller du Roy au Siege Presidial d'Angers.
{269} Le Loyer says, 'De gayete de coeur semble m'estre voulu
engager au combat contre ceux qui impugnent les spectres!' As Le
Loyer observes, ghosts seldom come into court in civil cases, except
when indicted as nuisances, namely, when they make a hired house
uninhabitable by their frolics. Then the tenant often wants to quit
the house, and to have his contract annulled. The landlord resists,
an action is brought, and is generally settled in accordance with
the suggestion of Alphenus, in his Digests, book ii. Alphenus says,
in brief, that the fear must be a genuine fear, and that reason for
no ordinary dread must be proved. Hence Arnault Ferton, in his
Customal of Burgundy, advises that 'legitimate dread of phantasms
which trouble men's rest and make night hideous' is reason good for
leaving a house, and declining to pay rent after the day of
departure. Covarruvias, a Spanish legist, already quoted, agrees
with Arnault Ferton. The Parliament of Grenada, in one or two
cases, decided in favour of the tenant, and against the landlord of
houses where spectres racketed. Le Loyer now reports the pleadings
in a famous case, of which he does not give the date. Incidentally,
however, we learn that it can hardly have been earlier than 1550.
The cause was heard, on appeal, before the Parlement de Paris.

Pierre Piquet, guardian of Nicolas Macquereau (a minor), let to
Giles Bolacre a house in the suburbs of Tours. Poor Bolacre was
promptly disturbed by a noise and routing of _invisible_ spirits,
which suffered neither himself nor his family to sleep o' nights.
He then cited Piquet, also Daniel Macquereau, who was concerned in
the letting of the house, before the local seat of Themis. The case
was heard, and the judge at Tours broke the lease, the hauntings
being insupportable nuisances. But this he did without letters
royal. The lessors then appealed, and the case came before the Cour
de Parlement in Paris. Maitre Chopin was for the lessors, Nau
appeared for the tenant. Chopin first took the formal point, the
Tours judge was formally wrong in breaking a covenant without
letters royal, a thing particularly bad in the case of a minor,
Nicolas Macquereau.

So much for the point of form; as to the matter, Maitre Chopin
laughed at the bare idea of noisy spirits. This is notable because,
in an age when witches were burned frequently, the idea of a haunted
house could be treated by the learned counsel as a mere waggery.
Yet the belief in haunted houses has survived the legal prosecution
of witches. 'The judge in Tours has merely and mischievously
encouraged superstition.' All ghosts, brownies, lutins, are mere
bugbears of children; here Maitre Chopin quotes Plato, and Philo
Judaeus in the original, also Empedocles, Marcus Aurelius,
Tertullian, Quintilian, Dioscorides. Perhaps Bolacre and his family
suffer from nightmare. If so, a physician, not a solicitor, is
their man. Or again, granting that their house _is_ haunted, they
should appeal to the clergy, not to the law.

Manifestly this is a point to be argued. Do the expenses of
exorcism fall on landlord or tenant? This, we think, can hardly be
decided by a quotation from Epictetus. Alexis Comnenus bids us seek
a bishop in the case of psychical phenomena ([Greek]). So Maitre
Chopin argues, but he evades the point. Is it not the business of
the owner of the house to 'whustle on his ain parten,' to have his
own bogie exorcised? Of course Piquet and Macquereau may argue that
the bogie is Bolacre's bogie, that it flitted to the house with
Bolacre; but that is a question of fact and evidence.

Chopin concludes that a lease is only voidable in case of material
defect, or nuisance, as of pestilential air, not in a case which,
after all, is a mere vice d'esprit. Here Maitre Chopin sits down,
with a wink at the court, and Nau pleads for the tenant. First, why
abuse the judge at Tours? The lessors argued the case before him,
and cannot blame him for credulity. The Romans, far from rejecting
such ideas (as Chopin had maintained), used a ritual service for
ejecting spooks, so Ovid testifies. Greek and Roman hauntings are
cited from Pliny, Plutarch, Suetonius; in the last case (ghost of
Caligula), the house had to be destroyed, like the house at Wolflee
where the ghost, resenting Presbyterian exorcism, killed the Rev.
Mr. Thomson of Southdean, father of the author of The Castle of
Indolence. 'As to Plato, cited by my learned brother, Plato
believed in hauntings, as we read in the Phaedo,' Nau has him here.
In brief, 'the defendants have let a house as habitable, well
knowing the same to be infested by spirits'. The Fathers are then
cited as witnesses for ghosts. The learned counsel's argument about
a vice d'esprit is a pitiable pun.

The decision of the court, unluckily, is not preserved by Le Loyer.
The counsel for Bolacre told Le Loyer that the case was adjourned on
the formal point, but, that, having obtained letters royal for his
client, he succeeded in getting the remainder of the lease declared
void. Comparing, however, Bouchel, s. v. Louage, in his
Bibliotheque du droit Francois, one finds that the higher court
reversed the decision of the judge at Tours. In the Edinburgh case,
1835, the tenant, Captain Molesworth, did not try to have his lease
quashed, but he did tear up floors, pull down wainscots, and bore a
hole into the next house, that of his landlord, Mr. Webster, in
search of the cause of the noises. Mr. Webster, therefore, brought
an action to restrain him from these experiments.

Le Loyer gives two cases of ghosts appearing to denounce murderers
in criminal cases. He possessed the speech of the President Brisson
(at that time an advocate), in which he cited the testimony of the
spectre of Madame de Colommiers, mysteriously murdered in full day,
with her children and their nurse. Her ghost appeared to her
husband, when wide awake, and denounced her own cousins. As there
was no other evidence, beyond the existence of motive, the accused
were discharged. In another well-known case, before the Parlement
de Bretagne, the ghost of a man who had mysteriously vanished,
guided his brother to the spot where his wife and her paramour had
buried him, after murdering him. Le Loyer does not give the date of
this trial. The wife was strangled, and her body was burned.

Modern times have known dream-evidence in cases of murder, as in the
Assynt murder, and the famous Red Barns affair. But Thomas Harris's
is probably the last ghost cited in a court of law. On the whole,
the ghosts have gained little by these legally attested appearances,
but the trials do throw a curious light on the juridical procedure
of our ancestors. The famous action against the ghosts in the
Eyrbyggja Saga was not before a Christian court, and is too well
known for quotation. {273}

A MODERN TRIAL FOR WITCHCRAFT

Thorel v. Tinel. Action for libel in 1851. Mr. Dale Owen's
incomplete version of this affair. The suit really a trial for
witchcraft. Spectral obsession. Movements of objects. Rappings.
Incidental folklore. Old G. Thorel and the cure. The wizard's
revenge. The haunted parlour boarder. Examples of magical tripping
up, and provoked hallucinations. Case of Dr. Gibotteau and Berthe
the hospital nurse. Similar case in the Salem affair, 1692.
Evidence of witnesses to abnormal phenomena. Mr. Robert de Saint
Victor. M. de Mirville. Thorel non-suited. Other modern French
examples of witchcraft.

Perhaps the last trial for witchcraft was the case of Thorel v.
Tinel, heard before the juge de paix of Yerville, on January 28, and
February 3 and 4, 1851. The trial was, in form, the converse of
those with which old jurisprudence was familiar. Tinel, the Cure of
Cideville, did not accuse the shepherd Thorel of sorcery, but Thorel
accused Tinel of defaming his character by the charge of being a
warlock. Just as when a man prosecutes another for saying that he
cheated at cards, or when a woman prosecutes another for saying that
the plaintiff stole diamonds, it is really the guilt or innocence of
the plaintiff that is in question, so the issue before the court at
Yerville was: 'Is Thorel a warlock or not?' The court decided that
he himself had been the chief agent in spreading the slander against
himself, he was non-suited, and had to pay costs, but as to the real
cause of the events which were attributed to the magic of Thorel,
the court was unable to pronounce an opinion.

This curious case has often been cited, as by Mr. Robert Dale Owen,
in his Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World, {275} but Mr.
Owen, by accident or design, omitted almost all the essential
particulars, everything which connects the affair with such
transactions as the witch epidemic at Salem, and the trials for
sorcery before and during the Restoration. Yet, in the events at
Cideville, and the depositions of witnesses, we have all the
characteristics of witchcraft. First we have men by habit and
repute sorcerers. Then we have cause of offence given to these.
Then we have their threats, malum minatum, then we have evil
following the threats, damnum secutum. Just as of old, that damnum,
that damage, declares itself in the 'possession' of young people,
who become, more or less, subject to trances and convulsions. One
of them is haunted, as in the old witchcraft cases, by the phantasm
of the sorcerer. The phantasm (as in Cotton Mather's examples) is
wounded, a parallel wound is found on the suspected warlock.
Finally, the house where the obsessed victims live is disturbed by
knocks, raps, flight of objects, and inexplicable movements of heavy
furniture. Thus all the notes of a bad affair of witchcraft are
attested in a modern trial, under the third Empire. Finally, some
curious folklore is laid bare, light is cast on rural life and
superstition, and a singular corroboration of a singular statement,
much more recent than the occurrences at Cideville, is obtained. A
more astonishing example of survival cannot be imagined, of
survival, or of disconnected and spontaneous revival and
recrudescence. {276}

There was at Auzebosc, near famous Yvetot, an old shepherd named G---:
he was the recognised 'wise man,' or white witch of the
district, and some less noted rural adepts gave themselves out as
his pupils. In March, 1849, M. Tinel, Cure of Cideville, visited a
sick peasant, and advised him to discard old G., the shepherd
magical, and send for a physician. G. was present, though
concealed, heard the cure's criticisms, and said: 'Why does he
meddle in my business, I shall meddle in his; he has pupils in his
house, we'll see how long he keeps them.' In a few days, G. was
arrested, as practising medicine unauthorised, was imprisoned for
some months, and fancied that the cure had a share in this
persecution. All this, of course, we must take as 'the clash of the
country side,' intent, as there was certainly damnum secutum, on
establishing malum minatum.

On a farm near the cure's house in Cideville was another shepherd,
named Thorel, a man of forty, described as dull, illiterate, and
given to boasting about his powers as a disciple of the venerable G.
Popular opinion decided that G. employed Thorel to procure his
vengeance; it was necessary that a sorcerer should _touch_ his
intended victim, and G. had not the same conveniency for doing so as
Thorel. In old witch trials we sometimes find the witch kissing her
destined prey. {277} Thorel, so it was said, succeeded in touching,
on Nov. 25, 1850, M. Tinel's two pupils, in a crowd at a sale of
wood. The lads, of fifteen and twelve, were named Lemonier and
Bunel. For what had gone before, we have, so far, only public
chatter, for what followed we have the sworn evidence in court of
the cure's pupils, in January and February, 1851. According to
Lemonier, on Nov. 26, while studying, he heard light blows of a
hammer, these recurred daily, about 5. p.m. When M. Tinel, his
tutor, said plus fort, the noises were louder. To condense evidence
which becomes tedious by its eternal uniformity, popular airs were
beaten on demand; the noise grew unbearable, tables moved untouched,
a breviary, a knife, a spit, a shoe flew wildly about. Lemonier was
buffeted by a black hand, attached to nobody. 'A kind of human
phantasm, clad in a blouse, haunted me for fifteen days wherever I
went; none but myself could see it.' He was dragged by the leg by a
mysterious force. On a certain day, when Thorel found a pretext for
visiting the house, M. Tinel made him beg Lemonier's pardon, clearly
on the ground that the swain had bewitched the boy. 'As soon as I
saw him I recognised the phantasm which had haunted me for a
fortnight, and I said to M. Tinel: "There is the man who follows
me".' Thorel knelt to the boy, asked his pardon, and pulled
violently at his clothes. As defendant, perhaps, the cure could not
be asked to corroborate these statements. The evidence of the other
boy, Bunel, was that, on Nov. 26, he heard first a rush of wind,
then tappings on the wall. He corroborated Lemonier's testimony to
the musical airs knocked out, the volatile furniture, and the
recognition in Thorel of the phantom. 'In the evening,' said Bunel,
'Lemonier en eut une crise de nerfs dans laquelle il avait perdu
connaissance.'

Leaving the boys' sworn evidence, and returning to the narrative
with its gossip, we learn that Thorel boasted of his success, and
said that, if he could but touch one of the lads again, the
furniture would dance, and the windows would be broken. Meanwhile,
we are told, nails were driven into points in the floor where
Lemonier saw the spectral figure standing. One nail became red hot,
and the wood round it smoked: Lemonier said that this nail had hit
'the man in the blouse' on the cheek. Now, when Thorel was made to
ask the boy's pardon, and was recognised by him as the phantom,
after the experiment with the nail, Thorel bore on his cheek the
mark of the wound!

This is in accordance with good precedents in witchcraft. A witch-
hare is wounded, the witch, in her natural form, has the same wound.
At the trial of Bridget Bishop, in the court of Oyer and Terminer,
held at Salem, June 2, 1692, there was testimony brought in that a
man striking once at the place where a bewitched person said the
_shape_ of Mrs. Bishop stood, the bewitched cried out, _that he had
tore her coat_, in the place then particularly specified, and
Bishop's coat was found to be torn in that very place. {279a} Next
day, after Thorel touched the boy, the windows broke, as he had
prophesied. Then followed a curious scene in which Thorel tried, in
presence of the maire, to touch the cure, who retreated to the end
of the room, and struck the shepherd with his cane. Thereupon
Thorel brought his action for libel and assault against the cure.
Forty-two witnesses were heard, it was proved that Thorel had, in
fact, frequently accused himself, and he was non-suited: his
counsel spoke of appealing, but, unluckily, the case was not carried
to a higher court. In a few weeks the boys were sent to their
homes, when (according to the narrative) there were disturbances at
the home of the younger lad. Thus the cure lost his pupils.

A curious piece of traditional folklore came out, but only as
hearsay, in court. M. Cheval, Maire of Cideville, deposed that a M.
Savoye told him that Thorel had once been shepherd to a M. Tricot.
At that time Thorel said to one of two persons in his company:
'Every time I strike my cabin (a shelter on wheels used by
shepherds) you will fall,' and, at each stroke, the victim felt
something seize his throat, and fell! {279b} This anecdote is
curious, because in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical
Research is a long paper by Dr. Gibotteau, on his experiments with a
hospital nurse called Berthe. This woman, according to the doctor,
had the power of making him see hallucinations, of a nature more or
less horrible, from a distance. She had been taught some
traditional feats of rural sorcery, among others that of making a
man stumble, or fall, as he walked. The doctor does not make any
allusion to the Cideville affair, and it seems probable that this
trick is part of the peasant's magical repertoire, or, rather, that
the peasant warlocks boast of being able to perform the trick. But,
if we can accept the physician's evidence, as 'true for him,' at
least, then a person like Berthe really might affect, from a
distance, a boy like Lemonier with a haunting hallucination. To do
this is witchcraft, and for crimes of this kind, or on false charges
of this kind, poor Mrs. Bishop was burned at Salem in 1692.

At the lowest, we have all the notes of sorcery as our rude
ancestors knew it, in this modern affair. Two hundred years
earlier, Thorel would have been burned, and G., too, probably, for
the Maire of Cideville swore that before the disturbances, and three
weeks after G. was let out of prison, Thorel had warned him of the
trouble which G. would bring on the cure. Meanwhile the evidence
shows no conscious malignity on the part of the two boys. They at
first took very little notice of the raps, attributing the noises to
mice. Not till the sounds increased, and showed intelligence, as by
drumming tunes, did the lads concern themselves, much about the
matter. At no time (it seems) did they ask to be sent home, and, of
course, to be relieved from their lessons and sent home would be
their motive, if they practised a fraud. We may admit that, from
rural tradition, the boys might have learned what the customary
phenomena are, knocks, raps, moving tables, heavy objects sailing
tranquilly about a room. It would be less easy for them to produce
these phenomena, nor did the people of all classes who flocked to
Cideville detect any imposture.

A land surveyor swore that the raps went on when he had placed the
boy in an attitude which made fraud (in his opinion) impossible. A
gentleman M. de B. 'took all possible precautions' but,
nevertheless, was entertained by 'a noise which performed the tunes
demanded'. He could discover no cause of the noise. M. Huet,
touching a table with his finger, received responsive raps, which
answered questions, 'at the very place where I struck, and beneath
my finger. I cannot explain the fact, which, I am convinced, was
not caused by the child, nor by any one in the house.' M. Cheval
saw things fly about, he slept in the boy's room, and his pillow
flew from under his head. He lay down between the children, holding
their hands, and placing his feet on theirs, when the coverlet of
the bed arose, and floated away. The Marquis de Mirville had a
number of answers by raps, which staggered him very much, but the
force was quite feeble when he asked for portions of Italian music.
Madame de St. Victor felt herself pushed, and her clothes pulled in
the cure's house, when no one was near her. She also saw furniture
behave in a fantastic manner, and M. Raoul Robert de St. Victor had
many such experiences. M. Paul de St. Victor was not present. A
desk sailed along: paused in air, and fell: 'I had never seen a
movement of this kind, and I admit that I was alarmed'. Le
Seigneur, a farmer, saw 'a variety of objects arise and sail about':
he was certain that the boys did not throw them, and when in their
company, in the open air, between Cideville and Anzooville, 'I saw
stones come to us, without striking us, hurled by some invisible
force'. There was other confirmatory evidence, from men of physic,
and of the law.

The juge de paix, as we have seen, pronounced that the clearest
point in the case was 'the absence of known cause for the effects,'
and he non-suited Thorel, the plaintiff.

The cause of the phenomena is, of course, as obscure for us as for
the worthy magistrate. We can only say that, when precisely similar
evidence was brought before judges and juries in England and New
England, at a period when medicine, law, and religion all recognised
the existence of witchcraft, magic, and diabolical possession, they
had scarcely any choice but to condemn the accused. Causa patet,
they said: 'The devil is at the bottom of it all, and the witch is
his minister'.

The affair of Cideville by no means stands alone in modern France.
In 1853, two doctors and other witnesses signed a deposition as to
precisely similar phenomena attending Adelaide Francoise Millet, a
girl of twelve, at Songhien, in Champagne. The trouble, as at Cock
Lane, began by a sound of scratching on the wood of her bed. The
clerk of the juge de la paix, the master of the Douane, two doctors,
and others visited her, and tied her hands and feet. The noise
continued. Mysterious missiles pursued a girl in Martinique, in
1854. The house, which was stormed by showers of stone, in Paris
(1846), entirely baffled the police. {283a} There is a more
singular parallel to the Cideville affair, the account was printed
from the letter of a correspondent in the Abeille of Chartres, March
11, 1849. {283b} At Gaubert, near Guillonville, a man was
imprisoned for thefts of hay, the property of a M. Dolleans. Two
days after his arrest, namely, on December 31, 1848, the servant of
M. Dolleans had things of all sorts thrown at her from all
directions. She fell ill, and went into hospital for five days,
_where she was untroubled_. On her return, in the middle of a
conversation, ribbons and bits of string would fly at her, and twist
themselves round her neck, as in the case of Francis Fey, of
Spraiton, given by Aubrey and Bovet. Mademoiselle Dolleans
carefully watched the girl for a fortnight, and never let her out of
her sight, but could not discover any fraud. After about a month
the maid was sent home, where she was not molested. Naturally we
see in her the half-insane cunning of hysteria, but that explanation
does not apply to little Master Dolleans, a baby of three months
old. The curse fell on _him_: however closely his parents watched
him, pots and pans showered into his cradle, the narrator himself
saw a miscellaneous collection of household furniture mysteriously
amassed there.

The Abeille of Chartres held this letter over, till two of its
reporters had visited the scene of action, and interviewed doctors,
priests, and farmers, who all attested the facts. Happily, in this
case, an exorcism by a priest proved efficacious. At Cideville,
holy water and consecrated medals were laughed at by the sprite,
who, by the way, answered to the name of Robert.

PRESBYTERIAN GHOST HUNTERS.

Religious excitement and hallucination. St. Anthony. Zulu
catechumens. Haunted Covenanters. Strange case of Thomas Smeaton.
Law's 'Memorialls'. A deceitful spirit. Examples of insane and
morbidly sensitive ghosts. 'Le revenant qui s'accuse s'excuse.'
Raising the devil in Irvine. Mode of evocation. Wodrow. His
account of Margaret Lang, and Miss Shaw of Bargarran. The unlucky
Shaws. Lord Torphichen's son. Cases from Wodrow. Lord Middleton's
story. Haunted house. Wraiths. Lord Orrery's ghost no
metaphysician. The Bride of Lammermoor. Visions of the saints.
Their cautiousness. Ghost appearing to a Jacobite. Ghost of a
country tradesman. Case of telepathy known to Wodrow. Avenging
spectres. Lack of evidence. Tale of Cotton Mather.

In spite of a very general opinion to the opposite effect, it is not
really easy to determine in what kind of age, and in what conditions
of thought and civilisation, ghosts will most frequently appear, and
ghostly phenomena will chiefly abound. We are all ready to aver
that 'ghaists and eldritch fantasies' will be most common 'in the
dark ages,' in periods of ignorance or superstition. But research
in mediaeval chronicles, and in lives of the saints makes it
apparent that, while marvels on a large and imposing scale were
frequent, simple ordinary apparitions and haunted houses occur
comparatively seldom. Perhaps they were too common to be thought
worth noticing, yet they are noticed occasionally, and, even in
these periods of superstition, were apparently regarded as not quite
everyday phenomena.

One thing in this matter is tolerably certain, namely, that intense
religious excitement produces a tendency to believe in marvels of
all sorts, and also begets a capacity for being hallucinated, for
beholding spectres, strange lights, dubious miracles. Thus every
one has heard of the temptation of St. Anthony, and of other early
Christian Fathers. They were wont to be surrounded by threatening
aspects of wild beasts, which had no real existence. In the same
way the early Zulu converts of Bishop Callaway, when they retired to
lonely places to pray, were haunted by visionary lions, and
phantasms of enemies with assegais. They, probably, had never heard
of St. Anthony's similar experiences, nor, again, of the diabolical
attacks on the converts of Catholic missionaries in Cochin China,
and in Peru.

Probably the most recent period of general religious excitement in
our country was that of the Covenant in Scotland. Not a mere
scattered congregation or two, as in the rise of Irvingism, but a
vast proportion of a whole people lived lives of prolonged ecstatic
prayer, and often neglected food for days. Consequently devout
Covenanters, retired in lonely places to pray, were apt to be
infested by spectral animals, black dogs as a rule, and they doubted
not at all that the black dog was the Accuser of the Brethren. We
have Catholic evidence, in Father Piatti's Life of Father
Elphinstone, S. J., to black dogs haunting Thomas Smeaton, the
friend of Andrew Melville (1580). But Father Piatti thinks that the
dogs were avenging devils, Smeaton being an apostate (MS. Life of
Elphinstone). Again Covenanters would see mysterious floods of
light, as the heathen also used, but, like the heathen, they were
not certain as to whether the light was produced by good or bad
spirits. Like poor bewildered Porphyry, many centuries earlier,
they found the spirits 'very deceitful'. You never can depend on
them. This is well illustrated by the Rev. Mr. Robert Law, a
Covenanting minister, but _not_ a friend of fanaticism and sedition.

In his Memorialls, a work not published till long after his death,
he gives this instance of the deceitfulness of sprites. The Rev.
Mr. John Shaw, in Ireland, was much troubled by witches, and by
'cats coming into his chamber and bed'. He died, so did his wife,
'and, as was supposed, witched'. Before Mr. Shaw's death his groom,
in the stable, saw 'a great heap of hay rolling toward him, and then
appeared' (the hay not the groom) 'in the shape and lykness of a
bair. He charges it to appear in human shape, which it did.' The
appearance made a tryst to meet the groom, but Mr. Shaw forbade this
tampering with evil in the lykness of a bair. However a stone was
thrown at the groom, which he took for a fresh invitation from the
bair, so he went to the place appointed. 'The divill appears in
human shape, with his heid running down with blood,' and explains
that he is 'the spirit of a murdered man who lay under his bed, and
buried in the ground, and who was murdered by such a man, naming him
by name'. The groom, very naturally, dug in the spot pointed out by
this versatile phantom, 'but finds nothing of bones or anything lyke
a grave, and shortly after this man dyes,' having failed to discover
that the person accused of murder had ever existed at all.

Many ghosts have a perfect craze for announcing that bodies or
treasures, are buried where there is nothing of the sort. Glanvill
has a tale of a ghost who accused himself of a murder, and led a man
to a place in a wood where the corpse of the slain was to be found.
There was no corpse, the ghost was mad. The Psychical Society have
published the narratives of a housemaid and a butler who saw a lady
ghost. She, later, communicated through a table her intention to
appear at eleven p.m. The butler and two ladies saw her, the
gentlemen present did _not_. The ghost insisted that jewels were
buried in the cellar; the butler dug, but found none. The writer is
acquainted with another ghost, not published, who labours under
morbid delusions. For reasons wholly unfounded on fact she gave a
great deal of trouble to a positive stranger. Now there was
literally no sense in these proceedings. Such is ghostly evidence,
ever deceitful!

'It's not good,' says Mr. Law, 'to come in communing terms with
Satan, there is a snare in the end of it;' yet people have actually
been hanged, in England, on the evidence of a ghost! On the
evidence of the devil, some other persons were accused of theft, in
1682. This is a remarkable instance; we often hear of raising the
ghostly foe, but we are seldom told how it can be done. This is how
it was done in February, 1682, at the house of the Hon. Robert
Montgomery, in Irvine. Some objects of silver plate were stolen, a
maid was suspected, she said 'she would raise the devil, but she
would know who the thief was'. Taking, therefore, a Bible, she went
into a cellar, where she drew a circle round her, and turned a sieve
on end twice, from right to left. In her hand she held nine
feathers from the tail of a black cock. She next read Psalm li.
forwards, and then backwards Revelations ix. 19. 'He' then
appeared, dressed as a sailor with a blue cap. At each question she
threw three feathers at him: finally he showed as a black man with
a long tail. Meanwhile all the dogs in Irvine were barking, as in
Greece when Hecate stood by the cross-ways. The maid now came and
told Mrs. Montgomery (on information received) that the stolen plate
was in the box of a certain servant, where, of course, she had
probably placed it herself. However the raiser of the devil was
imprisoned for the spiritual offence. She had learned the rite 'at
Dr. Colvin's house in Ireland, who used to practise this'.

The experiment may easily be repeated by the scientific.

Though Mr. Law is strong in witches and magic, he has very few ghost
stories; indeed, according to his philosophy, even a common wraith
of a living person is really the devil in that disguise. The
learned Mr. Wodrow, too, for all his extreme pains, cannot be called
a very successful amateur of spectres. A mighty ghost hunter was
the Rev. Robert Wodrow of Eastwood, in Renfrewshire, the learned
historian of the sufferings of the Kirk of Scotland (1679-1734).
Mr. Wodrow was an industrious antiquarian, a student of geology, as
it was then beginning to exist, a correspondent for twenty years of
Cotton Mather, and a good-hearted kind man, that would hurt nobody
but a witch or a Papist. He had no opportunity to injure members of
either class, but it is plain, from his four large quarto volumes,
called Analecta, that he did not lack the will. In his Analecta Mr.
Wodrow noted down all the news that reached him, scandals about 'The
Pretender,' Court Gossip, Heresies of Ministers, Remarkable
Providences, Woful Apparitions, and 'Strange Steps of Providence'.
Ghosts, second sight, dreams, omens, premonitions, visions, did
greatly delight him, but it is fair to note that he does not vouch
for all his marvels, but merely jots them down, as matters of
hearsay. Thus his pages are valuable to the student of
superstition, because they contain 'the clash of the country' for
about forty years, and illustrate the rural or ecclesiastical
aberglaube of our ancestors, at the moment when witchcraft was
ceasing to be a recognised criminal offence.

A diary of Wodrow's exists, dating from April 3, 1697, when he was
but nineteen years of age. On June 10, 1697, he announces the
execution of some witches at Paisley: seven were burned, among them
one, Margaret Lang, who accused herself of horrible crimes. The
victim of the witches burned in 1697 was a child of eleven, daughter
of John Shaw of Bargarran. This family was unlucky in its spiritual
accidents. The previous laird, as we learn from the contemporary
Law, in his Memorialls, rode his horse into a river at night, and
did not arrive at the opposite bank. Every effort was made to find
his body in the stream, which was searched as far as the sea. The
corpse was at last discovered in a ditch, two miles away, shamefully
mutilated. The money of the laird, and other objects of value, were
still in his pockets. This was regarded as the work of fiends, but
there is a more plausible explanation. Nobody but his groom saw the
laird ride into the river; the chances are that he was murdered in
revenge,--certain circumstances point to this,--and that the servant
was obliged to keep the secret, and invent the story about riding
the ford.

The daughter of Bargarran's successor and heir was probably a
hysterical child, who was led, by the prevailing superstition, to
believe that witches caused her malady. How keen the apprehensions
were among children, we learn from a document preserved by Wodrow.
An eminent Christian of his acquaintance thought in boyhood that an
old woman looked crossly at him, and he went in dread of being
bewitched for a whole summer. The mere terror might have caused
fits, he would then have denounced the old woman, and she would
probably have been burned. Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, in his
preface to Law's Memorialls (p. xcii.), says that Miss Shaw was
'antient in wickedness,' and thus accounts for her 'pretending to be
bewitched,' by way of revenging herself on one of the maid-servants.
Twenty people were finally implicated, several were executed, and
one killed himself. The child, probably hysterical, and certainly
subject to convulsions, was really less to blame than 'the absurd
credulity of various otherwise worthy ministers, and some topping
professors in and about Glasgow,' as Sharpe quotes the MS. 'Treatise
on witchcraft' of the Rev. Mr. Bell. Strangely enough the great
thread manufactories of Renfrewshire owed their origin to this Miss
Shaw, aided by a friend who had acquired some technical secrets in
Holland. She married a minister in 1718, and probably her share in
an abominable crime lay light on her conscience. Her fellow-
sufferer from witchcraft, a young Sandilands, son of Lord Torphichen
(1720), became a naval officer of distinguished gallantry.

Wodrow does not appear to have witnessed the execution at Paisley,
one of the last in Scotland, but he had no doubt that witches should
be put to death. In 1720, when the son of Lord Torphichen exhibited
some curious phenomena, exaggerated by report into clairvoyance and
flying in the air, nobody was punished. In spite of his
superstition in regard to witches, Wodrow (September 20, 1697)
sensibly explains a death-wraith by the anxiety of the lady who
beheld it. He also, still in the diary, records a case of second
sight, but that occurred in Argyleshire. It will be found, in fact,
that all the second-sighted people except some ministers during the
sufferings (and they reckoned as prophets) were Highlanders.
Considering his avidity for ghost-stories, it is remarkable that he
scarcely ever receives them at even second hand, and that most of
them are remote in point of time. On the other side, he secures a
few religious visions, as of shining lights comforting devout
ladies, from the person concerned. His narratives fall into regular
categories, Haunted Houses, Ghosts, Wraiths, Second Sight,
Consolatory Divine Visions. Thus Mr. Stewart's uncle, Harry, 'ane
eminent Christian, and very joviall,' at a drinking party saw
himself in bed, and his coffin at his bed-foot. This may be
explained as a case of 'the horrors,' a malady incident to the
jovial. He died in a week, In vino veritas.

Lord Middleton's ghost-story Wodrow got from the son of a man who,
as Lauderdale's chaplain, heard Middleton tell it at dinner. He had
made a covenant with the Laird of Babigni that the first who died
should appear to the survivor. Babigni was slain in battle,
Middleton was put in the Tower, where Babigni appeared to him, sat
with him for an hour by the clock, and predicted the Restoration.
'His hand was hote and soft,' but Middleton, brave in the field, was
much alarmed. He had probably drunk a good deal in the Tower. This
anecdote was very widely rumoured. Aubrey publishes a version of it
in his Miscellanies, and Law gives another in his Memorialls (p.
162). He calls 'Babigni'--'Barbigno,' and 'Balbegno'. According to
Law, it was not the laird's ghost that appeared, but 'the devil in
his lykness'. Law and Aubrey make the spirit depart after uttering
a couplet, which they quote variously.

For a haunted house, Wodrow provides us with that of Johnstone of
Mellantae, in Annandale (1707). The authority is Mr. Cowan, who had
it from Mr. Murray, minister of St. Mungo's, who got it from
Mellantae himself, the worthy gentleman weeping as he described his
misfortunes. His daughter, Miss Johnstone, was milking a cow in the
byre, by daylight, when she saw a tall man, almost naked, probably a
tramp, who frightened her into a swoon. The house was then
'troubled and disturbed' by flights of stones, and disappearance of
objects. Young Dornock, after a visit to Mellantae, came back with
a story that loud knockings were heard on the beds, and sounds of
pewter vessels being thrown about, though, in the morning, all were
found in their places. The ghost used also to pull the medium, Miss
Johnstone, by the foot, and toss her bed-clothes about.

Next, at first hand from Mr. Short, we have a death-wraith beheld by
him of his friend Mr. Scrimgeour. The hour was five a.m. on a
summer morning, and Mr. Scrimgeour expired at that time in
Edinburgh. Again, we have the affair of Mr. Blair, of St. Andrews,
the probationer, and the devil, who, in return for a written
compact, presented the probationer with an excellent sermon. On the
petition of Mr. Blair, the compact fell from the roof of the church.
The tale is told by Increase Mather about a French Protestant
minister, and, as Increase wrote twenty years before Wodrow, we may
regard Wodrow's anecdote as a myth; for the incident is of an
unusual character, and not likely to repeat itself. We may also set
aside, though vouched for by Lord Tullibardine's butler, 'ane litle
old man with a fearful ougly face,' who appeared to the Rev. Mr.
Lesly. Being asked whence he came, he said, 'From hell,' and, being
further interrogated as to _why_ he came, he observed: 'To warn the
nation to repent'. This struck Mr. Lesly as improbable on the face
of it; however, he was a good deal alarmed.

Lord Orrery is well known in ghostly circles, as the evidence for a
gentleman's butler being levitated, and floating about a room in his
house. It may be less familiar that his lordship's own ghost
appeared to his sister. She consulted Robert Boyle, F.R.S., who
advised her, if Orrery appeared again, to ask him some metaphysical
questions. She did so, and 'I know these questions come from my
brother,' said the appearance. 'He is too curious.' He admitted,
however, that his body was 'an aerial body,' but declined to be
explicit on other matters. This anecdote was told by Mr. Smith, who
had it from Mr. Wallace, who had it from 'an English gentleman'.
Mr. Menzies, minister of Erskine, once beheld the wraith of a friend
smoking a pipe, but the owner of the wraith did not die, or do
anything remarkable. To see a friendly wraith smoking a pipe, even
if he take the liberty of doing so in one's bedroom, is not very
ill-boding. To be sure Mr. Menzies' own father died not long after,
but the attempt to connect the wraith of a third person with that
event is somewhat desperate.

Wodrow has a tame commonplace account of the Bride of Lammermoor's
affair. On the other hand, he tells us concerning a daughter of
Lord Stair, the Countess of Dumfries, that she 'was under a very odd
kind of distemper, and did frequently fly from one end of the room
to the other, and from the one side of the garden to the other. . .
. The matter of fact is certain.' At a garden party this
accomplishment would have been invaluable.

We now, for a change, have a religious marvel. Mrs. Zuil, 'a very
judiciouse Christian,' had a friend of devout character. This lady,
being in bed, and in 'a ravishing frame,' 'observed a pleasant
light, and one of the pleasantest forms, like a young child,
standing on her shoulder'. Not being certain that she was not
delirious, she bade her nurse draw her curtains, and bring her some
posset. Thrice the nurse came in with posset, and thrice drew back
in dread. The appearance then vanished, and for the fourth time the
nurse drew the curtains, but, on this occasion, she presented the
invalid with the posset. Being asked why she had always withdrawn
before, she said she had seen 'like a boyn (halo?) above her
mistress's head,' and added, 'it was her wraith, and a signe she
would dye'. 'From this the lady was convinced that she was in no
reverie.' A similar halo shone round pious Mr. Welsh, when in
meditation, and also (according to Patrick Walker) round two of the
Sweet Singers, followers of Meikle John Gibb, before they burned a
Bible! Gibb, a raving fanatic, went to America, where he was
greatly admired by the Red Indians, 'because of his much converse
with the devil'. The pious of Wodrow's date distrusted these
luminous appearances, as they might be angelical, but might also be
diabolical temptations to spiritual pride. Thus the blasphemous
followers of Gibb were surrounded by a bright light, no less than
pious Mr. Welsh, a very distinguished Presbyterian minister.
Indeed, this was taken advantage of by Mr. Welsh's enemies, who,
says his biographer Kirkton, 'were so bold as to call him no less
than a wizard'. When Mr. Shields and Mr. John Dickson were
imprisoned on the Bass Rock, and Mr. Shields was singing psalms in
his cell, Mr. Dickson peeping in, saw 'a figure all in white,' of
whose presence Mr. Shields was unconscious. He had only felt 'in a
heavenly and elevated frame'.

A clairvoyant dream is recorded on the authority of 'Dr. Clerk at
London, who writes on the Trinity, and may be depended on in such
accounts'. The doctor's father was Mayor of Norwich, 'or some other
town,' and a lady came to him, bidding him arrest a tailor for
murdering his wife. The mayor was not unnaturally annoyed by this
appeal, but the lady persisted. She had dreamed twice: first she
saw the beginning of the murder, then the end of it. As she was
talking to the mayor, the tailor came in, demanding a warrant to
arrest his wife's murderers! He was promptly arrested, tried, and
acquitted, but later confessed, and 'he was execut for the fact'.
This is a highly improbable story, and is capped by another from
Wodrow's mother-in-law. A man was poisoned: later his nephew slept
in his room, and heard a voice cry, 'Avenge the blood of your
uncle'. This happened twice, and led to an inquiry, and the
detection of the guilty. The nephew who received the warning was
Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, ancestor of Sir Walter Scott's friend.

We next have a Mahatma-like tale about Cotton Mather, from Mr.
Stirling, who had it from a person who had it from the doctor's own
mouth. Briefly, Cotton lost his sermon as he was riding to a place
where he had to preach. He prayed for better luck, and 'no sooner
was his prayer over, but his papers wer conveyed to him, flying in
the air upon him when riding, which was very surprizing'. It was,
indeed! Wodrow adds: 'Mind to write to the doctor about this'.
This letter, if he ever wrote it, is not in the three portly volumes
of his correspondence.

The occurrence is more remarkable than the mysterious dispensation
which enabled another minister to compose a sermon in his sleep.
Mr. James Guthrie, at Stirling, 'had his house haunted by the devil,
which was a great exercise to worthy Mr. Guthrie,' and, indeed,
would have been a great exercise to almost any gentleman. Details
are wanting, and as Mr. Guthrie had now been hanged for sixty years
(1723), the facts are 'remote'. Mr. Guthrie, it seems, was
unpopular at Stirling, and was once mobbed there. The devil may
have been his political opponent in disguise. Mr. John Anderson is
responsible for the story of a great light seen, and a melodious
sound heard over the house of 'a most singular Christian of the old
sort,' at the moment of her death. Her name, unluckily, is
uncertain.

A case of 'telepathy' we have, at first hand, from Mrs. Luke. When
in bed 'a horror of darknes' came upon her about her daughter
Martha, who was in Edinburgh. 'Sometimes she began to think that
her daughter was dead, or had run away with some person.' She
remained in this anxiety till six in the morning, when the cloud
lifted. It turned out that Martha had been in some peril at sea,
but got safe into Leith Roads at six in the morning. A clairvoyant
dream was also vouchsafed to Dr. Pitcairn, though 'a Jacobite, and a
person of considerable sense,' as Wodrow quaintly remarks about
another individual.

The doctor was at Paris when a friend of his, 'David' (surname
unknown), died in Edinburgh. The doctor dreamed for several nights
running that David came to him, and that they tried to enter several
taverns, which were shut. David then went away in a ship. As the
doctor was in the habit of frequenting taverns with David, the
dreams do not appear to deserve our serious consideration. To be
sure David 'said he was dead'. 'Strange vouchsafments of Providence
to a person of the doctor's temper and sense,' moralises Wodrow.

Curiously enough, a different version of Dr. Pitcairn's dream is in
existence. Several anecdotes about the doctor are prefixed, in
manuscript, to a volume of his Latin poems, which was shown to Dr.
Hibbert by Mr. David Laing, the well-known historian and
antiquarian. Dr. Hibbert says: 'The anecdotes are from some one
obviously on terms of intimacy with Pitcairn'. According to this
note Robert Lindsay, a descendant of Sir David Lindsay of the Mount,
was at college with the doctor. They made the covenant that
'whoever dyed first should give account of his condition if
possible'. This was in 1671, in 1675 Lindsay died, while Pitcairn
was in Paris. On the night of Lindsay's death, Pitcairn dreamed
that he was in Edinburgh, where Lindsay met him and said, 'Archie,
perhaps ye heard I'm dead?' 'No, Roben.' The vision said he was to
be buried in the Grey Friars, and offered to carry Pitcairn to a
happy spiritual country, 'in a well sailing small ship,' like
Odysseus.. Pitcairn said he must first see his parents. Lindsay
promised to call again. 'Since which time A. P. never slept a night
without dreaming that Lindsay told him he was alive. And, having a
dangerous sickness, anno 1694, he was told by Roben that he was
delayed for a time, and that it was properly his task to carry him
off, but was discharged to tell when.' {300} Dr. Hibbert thinks
that Pitcairn himself dictated this account, much more marvellous
than the form in which Wodrow received the story.

Leaving a solitary Jacobite vision, for a true blue Presbyterian
'experience,' we learn that Wodrow's own wedded wife had a pious
vision, 'a glorious, inexpressible brightness'. The thought which
came presently was, 'This perhaps may be Satan, transforming himself
into an angel of light'. 'It mout or it moutn't.' In 1729, Wodrow
heard of the ghost of the Laird of Coul, which used to ride one of
his late tenants, transformed into a spectral horse. A chap-book
containing Coul's discourse with Mr. Ogilby, a minister, was very
popular in the last century. Mr. Ogilby left an account in
manuscript, on which the chap-book was said to be based. Another
ghost of a very moral turn appeared, and gave ministers information
about a case of lawless love. This is said to be recorded in the
registers of the Presbytery of Fordoun, but Wodrow is vague about
the whole affair.

We next come to a very good ghost of the old and now rather
unfashionable sort. The authority is Mr. William Brown, who had it
from the Rev. Mr. Mercer of Aberdalgie, 'as what was generally
belived as to Dr. Rule, Principal at Edinburgh'. Such is Wodrow's
way, his ideas of evidence are quite rudimentary. Give him a ghost,
and he does not care for 'contemporary record,' or 'corroborative
testimony'. To come to the story. Dr. Rule, finding no room at an
inn near Carnie Mount, had a fire lit in a chamber of a large
deserted house hard by. He went to bed, leaving a bright fire
burning, when 'the room dore is opened, and an apparition, _in shape
of a country tradsman_, came in, and opened the courtains without
speaking a word'. The doctor determined not to begin a
conversation, so the apparition lighted the candles, brought them to
the bedside, and backed to the door. Dr. Rule, like old Brer
Rabbit, 'kept on a-saying nothing'. 'Then the apparition took an
effectuall way to raise the doctor. He caryed back the candles to
the table, and, _with the tongs_, took doun the kindled coals, and
laid them on the deal chamber floor.' Dr. Rule now 'thought it was
time to rise,' and followed the appearance, who carried the candles
downstairs, set them on the lowest step, and vanished. Dr. Rule
then lifted the candles, and went back to bed. Next morning he went
to the sheriff, and told him there 'was murder in it'. The sheriff
said, 'it might be so,' but, even if so, the crime was not recent,
as the house for thirty years had stood empty. The step was taken
up, and a dead body was found, 'and bones, to the conviction of
all'. The doctor then preached on these unusual events, and an old
man of eighty fell a-weeping, confessing that, as a mason lad, he
had killed a companion, and buried him in that spot, while the house
was being built. Consequently the house, though a new one, was
haunted from the first, and was soon deserted. The narrator, Mr.
Mercer, had himself seen two ghosts of murdered boys frequently in
Dundee. He did not speak, nor did they, and as the rooms were
comfortable he did not leave them. To have talked about the
incident would only have been injurious to his landlady. 'The
longer I live, the more unexpected things I meet with, and even
among my own relations,' says Mr. Wodrow with much simplicity. But
he never met with a ghost, nor even with any one who had met with a
ghost, except Mr. Mercer.

In the same age, or earlier, Increase Mather represents apparitions
as uncommonly scarce in New England, though diabolical possession
and witchcraft were as familiar as influenza. It has been shown
that, in nearly forty years of earnest collecting, Mr. Wodrow did
not find a single supernatural occurrence which was worth
investigating by the curious. Every tale was old, or some simple
natural cause was at the bottom of the mystery, or the narrative
rested on vague gossip, or was a myth. Today, at any dinner party,
you may hear of bogles and wraiths at first or at second hand, in an
abundance which would have rejoiced Wodrow. Charles Kirkpatrick
Sharpe vainly brags, in Law's Memorialls, that 'good sense and
widely diffused information have driven our ghosts to a few remote
castles in the North of Scotland' (1819). But, however we are to
explain it, the ghosts have come forth again, and, like golf, have
crossed the Tweed. Now this is a queer result of science, common-
sense, cheap newspapers, popular education, and progress in general.
We may all confess to a belief in ghosts, because we call them
'phantasmogenetic agencies,' and in as much of witchcraft as we
style 'hypnotic suggestion'. So great, it seems, is the force of
language! {303}

THE LOGIC OF TABLE-TURNING

Bias in belief. Difficulty of examining problems in which unknown
personal conditions are dominant. Comte Agenor de Gasparin on
table-turning. The rise of modern table-turning. Rapping. French
examples. A lady bitten by a spirit. Flying objects. The 'via
media' of M. de Gasparin. Tables are turned by recondite physical
causes: not by muscular or spiritual actions. The author's own
experiments. Motion without contact. Dr. Carpenter's views.
Incredulity of M. de Gasparin as to phenomena beyond his own
experience. Ancient Greek phenomena. M. de Gasparin rejects
'spirits'. Dr. Carpenter neglects M. de Gasparin's evidence.
Survival and revival. Delacourt's case. Home's case. Simon Magus.
Early scientific training. Its results. Conclusion.

While reason is fondly supposed to govern our conduct, and direct
our conclusions, there is no doubt that our opinions are really
regulated by custom, temperament, hope, and fear. We believe or
disbelieve because other people do so, because our character is
attracted to, or repelled by the unusual, the mysterious; because,
from one motive or another, we wish things to be thus, or fear that
they may be thus, or hope that they may be so, and cannot but dread
that they are otherwise. Again, the laws of Nature which have been
ascertained are enough for the conduct of life, and science
constantly, and with excellent reason, resists to the last gasp
every attempt to recognise the existence of a new law, which, after
all, can apparently do little for the benefit of mankind, and may

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