Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang

Part 2 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download The Book of Dreams and Ghosts pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

name, however, would be applied to the following tale of


In 1854, General Barter, C.B., was a subaltern in the 75th Regiment,
and was doing duty at the hill station of Murree in the Punjaub. He
lived in a house built recently by a Lieutenant B., who died, as
researches at the War Office prove, at Peshawur on 2nd January, 1854.
The house was on a spur of the hill, three or four hundred yards under
the only road, with which it communicated by a "bridle path," never
used by horsemen. That path ended in a precipice; a footpath led into
the bridle path from Mr. Barter's house.

One evening Mr. Barter had a visit from a Mr. and Mrs. Deane, who
stayed till near eleven o'clock. There was a full moon, and Mr.
Barter walked to the bridle path with his friends, who climbed it to
join the road. He loitered with two dogs, smoking a cigar, and just
as he turned to go home, he heard a horse's hoofs coming down the
bridle path. At a bend of the path a tall hat came into view, then
round the corner, the wearer of the hat, who rode a pony and was
attended by two native grooms. "At this time the two dogs came, and
crouching at my side, gave low frightened whimpers. The moon was at
the full, a tropical moon, so bright that you could see to read a
newspaper by its light, and I saw the party above me advance as
plainly as if it were noon-day; they were above me some eight or ten
feet on the bridle road. . . . On the party came, . . . and now I had
better describe them. The rider was in full dinner dress, with white
waistcoat and a tall chimney-pot hat, and he sat on a powerful hill
pony (dark-brown, with black mane and tail) in a listless sort of way,
the reins hanging loosely from both hands." Grooms led the pony and
supported the rider. Mr. Barter, knowing that there was no place they
could go to but his own house, cried "Quon hai?" (who is it?), adding
in English, "Hullo, what the devil do you want here?" The group
halted, the rider gathered up the reins with both hands, and turning,
showed Mr. Barter the known features of the late Lieutenant B.

He was very pale, the face was a dead man's face, he was stouter than
when Mr. Barter knew him and he wore _a dark Newgate fringe_.

Mr. Barter dashed up the bank, the earth thrown up in making the
bridle path crumbled under him, he fell, scrambled on, reached the
bridle path where the group had stopped, and found nobody. Mr. Barter
ran up the path for a hundred yards, as nobody could go _down_ it
except over a precipice, and neither heard nor saw anything. His dogs
did not accompany him.

Next day Mr. Barter gently led his friend Deane to talk of Lieutenant
B., who said that the lieutenant "grew very bloated before his death,
and while on the sick list he allowed the fringe to grow in spite of
all we could say to him, and I believe he was buried with it". Mr.
Barter then asked where he got the pony, describing it minutely.

"He bought him at Peshawur, and killed him one day, riding in his
reckless fashion down the hill to Trete."

Mr. Barter and his wife often heard the horse's hoofs later, though he
doubts if any one but B. had ever ridden the bridle path. His Hindoo
bearer he found one day armed with a lattie, being determined to
waylay the sound, which "passed him like a typhoon". {74} Here the
appearance gave correct information unknown previously to General
Barter, namely, that Lieutenant B. grew stout and wore a beard before
his death, also that he had owned a brown pony, with black mane and
tail. Even granting that the ghosts of the pony and lieutenant were
present (both being dead), we are not informed that the grooms were
dead also. The hallucination, on the theory of "mental telegraphy,"
was telegraphed to General Barter's mind from some one who had seen
Lieutenant B. ride home from mess not very sober, or from the mind of
the defunct lieutenant, or, perhaps, from that of the deceased pony.
The message also reached and alarmed General Barter's dogs.

Something of the same kind may or may not explain Mr. Hyndford's view
of the family coach, which gave no traceable information.

The following story, in which an appearance of the dead conveyed
information not known to the seer, and so deserving to be called
veracious, is a little ghastly.


In 1867, Miss G., aged eighteen, died suddenly of cholera in St.
Louis. In 1876 a brother, F. G., who was much attached to her, had
done a good day's business in St. Joseph. He was sending in his
orders to his employers (he is a commercial traveller) and was smoking
a cigar, when he became conscious that some one was sitting on his
left, with one arm on the table. It was his dead sister. He sprang
up to embrace her (for even on meeting a stranger whom we take for a
dead friend, we never realise the impossibility in the half moment of
surprise) but she was gone. Mr. G. stood there, the ink wet on his
pen, the cigar lighted in his hand, the name of his sister on his
lips. He had noted her expression, features, dress, the kindness of
her eyes, the glow of the complexion, and what he had never seen
before, _a bright red scratch on the right side of her face_.

Mr. G. took the next train home to St. Louis, and told the story to
his parents. His father was inclined to ridicule him, but his mother
nearly fainted. When she could control herself, she said that,
unknown to any one, she had accidentally scratched the face of the
dead, apparently with the pin of her brooch, while arranging something
about the corpse. She had obliterated the scratch with powder, and
had kept the fact to herself. "She told me she _knew_ at least that I
had seen my sister." A few weeks later Mrs. G. died. {75}

Here the information existed in one living mind, the mother's, and if
there is any "mental telegraphy," may thence have been conveyed to Mr.
F. G.

Another kind of cases which may be called veracious, occurs when the
ghost seer, after seeing the ghost, recognises it in a portrait not
previously beheld. Of course, allowance must be made for fancy, and
for conscious or unconscious hoaxing. You see a spook in Castle
Dangerous. You then recognise the portrait in the hall, or elsewhere.
The temptation to recognise the spook rather more clearly than you
really do, is considerable, just as one is tempted to recognise the
features of the Stuarts in the royal family, of the parents in a baby,
or in any similar case.

Nothing is more common in literary ghost stories than for somebody to
see a spectre and afterwards recognise him or her in a portrait not
before seen. There is an early example in Sir Walter Scott's
Tapestried Chamber, which was told to him by Miss Anna Seward.
Another such tale is by Theophile Gautier. In an essay on Illusions
by Mr. James Sully, a case is given. A lady (who corroborated the
story to the present author) was vexed all night by a spectre in
armour. Next morning she saw, what she had not previously observed, a
portrait of the spectre in the room. Mr. Sully explains that she had
seen the portrait _unconsciously_, and dreamed of it. He adds the
curious circumstance that other people have had the same experience in
the same room, which his explanation does not cover. The following
story is published by the Society for Psychical Research, attested by
the seer and her husband, whose real names are known, but not
published. {76}


Mrs. M. writes (December 15, 1891) that before her vision she had
heard nothing about hauntings in the house occupied by herself and her
husband, and nothing about the family sorrows of her predecessors

"One night, on retiring to my bedroom about 11 o'clock, I thought I
heard a peculiar moaning sound, and some one sobbing as if in great
distress of mind. I listened very attentively, and still it
continued; so I raised the gas in my bedroom, and then went to the
window on the landing, drew the blind aside, and there on the grass
was a very beautiful young girl in a kneeling posture, before a
soldier in a general's uniform, sobbing and clasping her hands
together, entreating for pardon, but alas! he only waved her away from
him. So much did I feel for the girl that I ran down the staircase to
the door opening upon the lawn, and begged her to come in and tell me
her sorrow. The figures then disappeared gradually, as in a
dissolving view. Not in the least nervous did I feel then; went again
to my bedroom, took a sheet of writing-paper, and wrote down what I
had seen." {77}

Mrs. M., whose husband was absent, began to feel nervous, and went to
another lady's room.

She later heard of an old disgrace to the youngest daughter of the
proud family, her predecessors in the house. The poor girl tried in
vain to win forgiveness, especially from a near relative, a soldier,
Sir X. Y.

"So vivid was my remembrance of the features of the soldier, that some
months after the occurrence [of the vision] when I called with my
husband at a house where there was a portrait of him, I stepped before
it and said, 'Why, look! there is the General!' And sure enough it

Mrs. M. had not heard that the portrait was in the room where she saw
it. Mr. M. writes that he took her to the house where he knew it to
be without telling her of its existence. Mrs. M. turned pale when she
saw it. Mr. M. knew the sad old story, but had kept it to himself.
The family in which the disgrace occurred, in 1847 or 1848, were his
relations. {78}

This vision was a veracious hallucination; it gave intelligence not
otherwise known to Mrs. M., and capable of confirmation, therefore the
appearances would be called "ghosts". The majority of people do not
believe in the truth of any such stories of veracious hallucinations,
just as they do not believe in veracious dreams. Mr. Galton, out of
all his packets of reports of hallucinations, does not even allude to
a veracious example, whether he has records of such a thing or not.
Such reports, however, are ghost stories, "which we now proceed," or
continue, "to narrate". The reader will do well to remember that
while everything ghostly, and not to be explained by known physical
facts, is in the view of science a hallucination, every hallucination
is not a ghost for the purposes of story-telling. The hallucination
must, for story-telling purposes, be _veracious_.

Following our usual method, we naturally begin with the anecdotes
least trying to the judicial faculties, and most capable of an
ordinary explanation. Perhaps of all the senses, the sense of touch,
though in some ways the surest, is in others the most easily deceived.
Some people who cannot call up a clear mental image of things seen,
say a saltcellar, can readily call up a mental revival of the feeling
of touching salt. Again, a slight accidental throb, or leap of a
sinew or vein, may feel so like a touch that we turn round to see who
touched us. These familiar facts go far to make the following tale
more or less conceivable.


"About twenty years ago," writes Mrs. Elliot, "I received some letters
by post, one of which contained 15 pounds in bank notes. After
reading the letters I went into the kitchen with them in my hands. I
was alone at the time. . . . Having done with the letters, I made an
effort to throw them into the fire, when I distinctly felt my hand
arrested in the act. It was as though another hand were gently laid
upon my own, pressing it back. Much surprised, I looked at my hand
and then saw it contained, not the letters I had intended to destroy,
but the bank notes, and that the letters were in the other hand. I
was so surprised that I called out, 'Who's here?'" {80a}

Nobody will call this "the touch of a vanished hand". Part of Mrs.
Elliot's mind knew what she was about, and started an unreal but
veracious feeling to warn her. We shall come to plenty of Hands not
so readily disposed of.

Next to touch, the sense most apt to be deceived is hearing. Every
one who has listened anxiously for an approaching carriage, has often
heard it come before it came. In the summer of 1896 the writer, with
a lady and another companion, were standing on the veranda at the back
of a house in Dumfriesshire, waiting for a cab to take one of them to
the station. They heard a cab arrive and draw up, went round to the
front of the house, saw the servant open the door and bring out the
luggage, but wheeled vehicle there was none in sound or sight. Yet
all four persons had heard it, probably by dint of expectation.

To hear articulate voices where there are none is extremely common in
madness, {80b} but not very rare, as Mr. Galton shows, among the sane.
When the voices are veracious, give unknown information, they are in
the same case as truthful dreams. I offer a few from the experience,
reported to me by himself, of a man of learning whom I shall call a
Benedictine monk, though that is not his real position in life.


My friend, as a lad, was in a strait between the choice of two
professions. He prayed for enlightenment, and soon afterwards heard
an _internal_ voice, advising a certain course. "Did you act on it?"
I asked.

"No; I didn't. I considered that in my circumstances it did not
demand attention."

Later, when a man grown, he was in his study merely idling over some
books on the table, when he heard a loud voice from a corner of the
room assert that a public event of great importance would occur at a
given date. It did occur. About the same time, being abroad, he was
in great anxiety as to a matter involving only himself. Of this he
never spoke to any one. On his return to England his mother said,
"You were very wretched about so and so".

"How on earth did you know?"

"I heard ---'s voice telling me."

Now --- had died years before, in childhood.

In these cases the Benedictine's own conjecture and his mother's
affection probably divined facts, which did not present themselves as
thoughts in the ordinary way, but took the form of unreal voices.

There are many examples, as of the girl in her bath who heard a voice
say "Open the door" four times, did so, then fainted, and only escaped
drowning by ringing the bell just before she swooned.

Of course she might not have swooned if she had not been alarmed by
hearing the voices. These tales are dull enough, and many voices,
like Dr. Johnson's mother's, when he heard her call his name, she
being hundreds of miles away, lead to nothing and are not veracious.
When they are veracious, as in the case of dreams, it may be by sheer

In a similar class are "warnings" conveyed by the eye, not by the ear.
The Maoris of New Zealand believe that if one sees a body lying across
a path or oneself on the opposite side of a river, it is wiser to try
another path and a different ford.


In the same way, in August, 1890, a lady in a Boston hotel in the dusk
rang for the lift, walked along the corridor and looked out of a
window, started to run to the door of the lift, saw a man in front of
it, stopped, and when the lighted lift came up, found that the door
was wide open and that, had she run on as she intended, she would have
fallen down the well. Here part of her mind may have known that the
door was open, and started a ghost (for there was no real man there)
to stop her. Pity that these things do not occur more frequently.
They do--in New Zealand. {82}

These are a few examples of useful veracious waking dreams. The sort
of which we hear most are "wraiths". A, when awake, meets B, who is
dead or dying or quite well at a distance. The number of these
stories is legion. To these we advance, under their Highland title,
_spirits of the living_.


"Spirits of the Living." Mistakes of Identity. Followed by Arrival
of Real Person. "Arrivals." Mark Twain's Phantom Lady. Phantom
Dogcart. Influence of Expectant Attention. Goethe. Shelley. The
Wraith of the Czarina. Queen Elizabeth's Wraith. Second Sight. Case
at Ballachulish. Experiments in sending Wraiths. An "Astral Body".
Evidence discussed. Miss Russell's Case. "Spirits of the Dying."
Maori Examples. Theory of Chance Coincidence. In Tavistock Place.
The Wynyard Wraith. Lord Brougham's Wraith Story. Lord Brougham's
Logic. The Dying Mother. Comparison with the Astral Body. The
Vision of the Bride. Animals as affected by the supposed Presence of
Apparitions. Examples. Transition to Appearances of the Dead.

"Spirits of the living" is the Highland term for the appearances of
people who are alive and well--but elsewhere. The common Highland
belief is that they show themselves to second-sighted persons, very
frequently before the arrival of a stranger or a visitor, expected or
unexpected. Probably many readers have had the experience of meeting
an acquaintance in the street. He passes us, and within a hundred
yards we again meet and talk with our friend. When he is of very
marked appearance, or has any strong peculiarity, the experience is
rather perplexing. Perhaps a few bits of hallucination are sprinkled
over a real object. This ordinary event leads on to what are called
"Arrivals," that is when a person is seen, heard and perhaps spoken to
in a place to which he is travelling, but whither he has not yet
arrived. Mark Twain gives an instance in his own experience. At a
large crowded reception he saw approaching him in the throng a lady
whom he had known and liked many years before. When she was near him,
he lost sight of her, but met her at supper, dressed as he had seen
her in the "levee". At that moment she was travelling by railway to
the town in which he was. {85a}

A large number of these cases have been printed. {85b} In one case a
gentleman and lady from their window saw his brother and sister-in-law
drive past, with a horse which they knew had not been out for some
weeks. The seers were presently joined by the visitors' daughter, who
had met the party on the road, she having just left them at their
house. Ten minutes later the real pair arrived, horse and all. {85c}

This last affair is one of several tales of "Phantom Coaches," not
only heard but seen, the coach being a coach of the living. In 1893
the author was staying at a Highland castle, when one of the ladies
observed to her nephew, "So you and Susan _did_ drive in the dogcart;
I saw you pass my window". "No, we didn't; but we spoke of doing it."
The lady then mentioned minute details of the dress and attitudes of
her relations as they passed her window, where the drive turned from
the hall door through the park; but, in fact, no such journey had been
made. Dr. Hack Tuke published the story of the "Arrival" of Dr. Boase
at his house a quarter of an hour before he came, the people who saw
him supposing him to be in Paris. {86}

When a person is seen in "Arrival" cases before he arrives, the affair
is not so odd if he is expected. Undoubtedly, expectation does
sometimes conjure up phantasms, and the author once saw (as he
supposed) a serious accident occur which in fact did not take place,
though it seemed unavoidable.

Curiously enough, this creation of phantasms by expectant attention
seems to be rare where "ghosts" are expected. The author has slept in
several haunted houses, but has never seen what he was led to expect.
In many instances, as in "The Lady in Black" (infra), a ghost who is a
frequent visitor is never seen when people watch for her. Among the
many persons who have had delusions as to the presence of the dead,
very few have been hoping, praying for and expecting them.

"I look for ghosts, but none will force
Their way to me: 'Tis falsely said
That there was ever intercourse
Between the living and the dead,
For surely then I should have sight
Of him I wait for day and night
With love and longings infinite."

The Affliction of Margaret has been the affliction of most of us.
There are curious historical examples of these appearances of the
living. Goethe declares that he once met himself at a certain place
in a certain dress, and several years later found himself there in
that costume. Shelley was seen by his friends at Lerici to pass along
a balcony whence there was no exit. However, he could not be found
there. The story of the wraith of Catherine the Great is variously
narrated. We give it as told by an eye-witness, the Comte de
Ribaupierre, about 1862 to Lady Napier and Ettrick. The Count, in
1862, was a very old man, and more than thirty years have passed since
he gave the tale to Lady Napier, whose memory retains it in the
following form:--


"In the exercise of his duties as one of the pages-in-waiting,
Ribaupierre followed one day his august mistress into the throne-room
of the palace. When the Empress, accompanied by the high officers of
her court and the ladies of her household, came in sight of the chair
of state which she was about to occupy, she suddenly stopped, and to
the horror and astonished awe of her courtiers, she pointed to a
visionary being seated on the imperial throne. The occupant of the
chair was an exact counterpart of herself. All saw it and trembled,
but none dared to move towards the mysterious presentment of their

"After a moment of dead silence the great Catherine raised her voice
and ordered her guard to advance and fire on the apparition. The
order was obeyed, a mirror beside the throne was shattered, the vision
had disappeared, and the Empress, with no sign of emotion, took the
chair from which her semblance had passed away." It is a striking
barbaric scene!

"Spirits of the living" of this kind are common enough. In the
Highlands "second sight" generally means a view of an event or
accident some time before its occurrence. Thus an old man was sitting
with a little boy on a felled tree beside a steep track in a quarry at
Ballachulish. Suddenly he jerked the boy to one side, and threw
himself down on the further side of the tree. While the boy stared,
the old man slowly rose, saying, "The spirits of the living are strong
to-day!" He had seen a mass of rock dashing along, killing some
quarrymen and tearing down the path. The accident occurred next day.
It is needless to dwell on second sight, which is not peculiar to
Celts, though the Highlanders talk more about it than other people.

These appearances of the living but absent, whether caused by some
mental action of the person who appears or not, are, at least,
_unconscious_ on his part. {88} But a few cases occur in which a
living person is said, by a voluntary exertion of mind, to have made
himself visible to a friend at a distance. One case is vouched for by
Baron von Schrenck-Notzig, a German psychologist, who himself made the
experiment with success. Others are narrated by Dr. Gibotteau. A
curious tale is told by several persons as follows:--


Mr. Sparks and Mr. Cleave, young men of twenty and nineteen, were
accustomed to "mesmerise" each other in their dormitory at Portsmouth,
where they were students of naval engineering. Mr. Sparks simply
stared into Mr. Cleave's eyes as he lay on his bed till he "went off".
The experiments seemed so curious that witnesses were called, Mr.
Darley and Mr. Thurgood. On Friday, 15th January, 1886, Mr. Cleave
determined to try to see, when asleep, a young lady at Wandsworth to
whom he was in the habit of writing every Sunday. He also intended,
if possible, to make _her_ see _him_. On awaking, he said that he had
seen her in the dining-room of her house, that she had seemed to grow
restless, had looked at him, and then had covered her face with her
hands. On Monday he tried again, and he thought he had frightened
her, as after looking at him for a few minutes she fell back in her
chair in a kind of faint. Her little brother was in the room with her
at the time. On Tuesday next the young lady wrote, telling Mr. Cleave
that she had been startled by seeing him on Friday evening (this is an
error), and again on Monday evening, "much clearer," when she nearly

All this Mr. Sparks wrote to Mr. Gurney in the same week. He was
inviting instructions on hypnotic experiments, and "launched a letter
into space," having read something vague about Mr. Gurney's studies in
the newspapers. The letter, after some adventures, arrived, and on
15th March Mr. Cleave wrote his account, Mr. Darley and Mr. Thurgood
corroborating as to their presence during the trance and as to Mr.
Cleave's statement when he awoke. Mr. Cleave added that he made
experiments "for five nights running" before seeing the lady. The
young lady's letter of 19th January, 1886, is also produced (postmark,
Portsmouth, 20th January). But the lady mentions her _first_ vision
of Mr. Cleave as on last _Tuesday_ (not Friday), and her second, while
she was alone with her little brother, at supper on Monday. "I was so
frightened that I nearly fainted."

These are all young people. It may be said that all five were
concerned in a complicated hoax on Mr. Gurney. Nor would such a hoax
argue any unusual moral obliquity. Surtees of Mainsforth, in other
respects an honourable man, took in Sir Walter Scott with forged
ballads, and never undeceived his friend. Southey played off a hoax
with his book The Doctor. Hogg, Lockhart, and Wilson, with Allan
Cunningham and many others, were constantly engaged in such
mystifications, and a "ghost-hunter" might seem a fair butt.

But the very discrepancy in Miss ---'s letter is a proof of fairness.
Her first vision of Mr. Cleave was on "Tuesday last". Mr. Cleave's
first impression of success was on the Friday following.

But he had been making the experiment for five nights previous,
including the Tuesday of Miss ---'s letter. Had the affair been a
hoax, Miss --- would either have been requested by him to re-write her
letter, putting Friday for Tuesday, or what is simpler, Mr. Sparks
would have adopted her version and written "Tuesday" in place of
"Friday" in his first letter to Mr. Gurney. The young lady,
naturally, requested Mr. Cleave not to try his experiment on her

A similar case is that of Mrs. Russell, who tried successfully, when
awake and in Scotland, to appear to one of her family in Germany. The
sister corroborates and says, "Pray don't come appearing to me again".

These spirits of the living lead to the subject of spirits of the
dying. No kind of tale is so common as that of dying people appearing
at a distance. Hundreds have been conscientiously published. {91b}
The belief is prevalent among the Maoris of New Zealand, where the
apparition is regarded as a proof of death. {91c} Now there is
nothing in savage philosophy to account for this opinion of the
Maoris. A man's "spirit" leaves his body in dreams, savages think,
and as dreaming is infinitely more common than death, the Maoris
should argue that the appearance is that of a man's spirit wandering
in his sleep. However, they, like many Europeans, associate a man's
apparition with his death. Not being derived from their philosophy,
this habit may be deduced from their experience.

As there are, undeniably, many examples of hallucinatory appearances
of persons in perfect health and ordinary circumstances, the question
has been asked whether there are _more_ cases of an apparition
coinciding with death than, according to the doctrine of chances,
there ought to be. Out of about 18,000 answers to questions on this
subject, has been deduced the conclusion that the deaths do coincide
with the apparitions to an extent beyond mere accident. Even if we
had an empty hallucination for every case coinciding with death, we
could not set the coincidences down to mere chance. As well might we
say that if "at the end of an hour's rifle practice at long-distance
range, the record shows that for every shot that has hit the bull's
eye, another has missed the target, therefore the shots that hit the
target did so by accident." {92} But as empty hallucinations are more
likely to be forgotten than those which coincide with a death; as
exaggeration creeps in, as the collectors of evidence are naturally
inclined to select and question people whom they know to have a good
story to tell, the evidence connecting apparitions, voices, and so on
with deaths is not likely to be received with favour.

One thing must be remembered as affecting the theory that the
coincidence between the wraith and the death is purely an accident.
Everybody dreams and out of the innumerable dreams of mankind, a few
must hit the mark by a fluke. But _hallucinations_ are not nearly so
common as dreams. Perhaps, roughly speaking, one person in ten has
had what he believes to be a waking hallucination. Therefore, so to
speak, compared with dreams, but a small number of shots of this kind
are fired. Therefore, bull's eyes (the coincidence between an
appearance and a death) are infinitely less likely to be due to chance
in the case of waking hallucinations than in the case of dreams, which
all mankind are firing off every night of their lives. Stories of
these coincidences between appearances and deaths are as common as
they are dull. Most people come across them in the circle of their
friends. They are all very much alike, and make tedious reading. We
give a few which have some picturesque features.


"In the latter part of the autumn of 1878, between half-past three and
four in the morning, I was leisurely walking home from the house of a
sick friend. A middle-aged woman, apparently a nurse, was slowly
following, going in the same direction. We crossed Tavistock Square
together, and emerged simultaneously into Tavistock Place. The
streets and squares were deserted, the morning bright and calm, my
health excellent, nor did I suffer from anxiety or fatigue. A man
suddenly appeared, striding up Tavistock Place, coming towards me, and
going in a direction opposite to mine. When first seen he was
standing exactly in front of my own door (5 Tavistock Place). Young
and ghastly pale, he was dressed in evening clothes, evidently made by
a foreign tailor. Tall and slim, he walked with long measured strides
noiselessly. A tall white hat, covered thickly with black crape, and
an eyeglass, completed the costume of this strange form. The
moonbeams falling on the corpse-like features revealed a face well
known to me, that of a friend and relative. The sole and only person
in the street beyond myself and this being was the woman already
alluded to. She stopped abruptly, as if spell-bound, then rushing
towards the man, she gazed intently and with horror unmistakable on
his face, which was now upturned to the heavens and smiling ghastly.
She indulged in her strange contemplation but during very few seconds,
then with extraordinary and unexpected speed for her weight and age
she ran away with a terrific shriek and yell. This woman never have I
seen or heard of since, and but for her presence I could have
explained the incident: called it, say, subjection of the mental
powers to the domination of physical reflex action, and the man's
presence could have been termed a false impression on the retina.

"A week after this event, news of this very friend's death reached me.
It occurred on the morning in question. From the family I learned
that according to the rites of the Greek Church and the custom of the
country he resided in, he was buried in his evening clothes made
abroad by a foreign tailor, and strange to say, he wore goloshes over
his boots, according also to the custom of the country he died in. . .
. When in England, he lived in Tavistock Place, and occupied my rooms
during my absence." {95a}


"In the month of November (1785 or 1786), Sir John Sherbrooke and
Colonel Wynyard were sitting before dinner in their barrack room at
Sydney Cove, in America. It was duskish, and a candle was placed on a
table at a little distance. A figure dressed in plain clothes and a
good round hat, passed gently between the above people and the fire.
While passing, Sir J. Sherbrooke exclaimed, 'God bless my soul, who's

"Almost at the same moment Colonel W. said, 'That's my brother John
Wynyard, and I am sure he is dead'. Colonel W. was much agitated, and
cried and sobbed a great deal. Sir John said, 'The fellow has a
devilish good hat; I wish I had it'. (Hats were not to be got there
and theirs were worn out.) They immediately got up (Sir John was on
crutches, having broken his leg), took a candle and went into the
bedroom, into which the figure had entered. They searched the bed and
every corner of the room to no effect; the windows were fastened up
with mortar. . . .

"They received no communication from England for about five months,
when a letter from Mr. Rush, the surgeon (Coldstream Guards),
announced the death of John Wynyard at the moment, as near as could be
ascertained, when the figure appeared. In addition to this
extraordinary circumstance, Sir John told me that two years and a half
afterwards he was walking with Lilly Wynyard (a brother of Colonel W.)
in London, and seeing somebody on the other side of the way, he
recognised, he thought, the person who had appeared to him and Colonel
Wynyard in America. Lilly Wynyard said that the person pointed out
was a Mr. Eyre (Hay?), that he and John Wynyard were frequently
mistaken for each other, and that money had actually been paid to this
Mr. Eyre in mistake."

A famous tale of an appearance is Lord Brougham's. His Lordship was
not reckoned precisely a veracious man; on the other hand, this was
not the kind of fable he was likely to tell. He was brought up under
the regime of common-sense. "On all such subjects my father was very
sceptical," he says. To disbelieve Lord Brougham we must suppose
either that he wilfully made a false entry in his diary in 1799, or
that in preparing his Autobiography in 1862, he deliberately added a
falsehood--and then explained his own marvel away!


"December 19, 1799.

" . . . At one in the morning, arriving at a decent inn (in Sweden),
we decided to stop for the night, and found a couple of comfortable
rooms. Tired with the cold of yesterday, I was glad to take advantage
of a hot bath before I turned in. And here a most remarkable thing
happened to me--so remarkable that I must tell the story from the

"After I left the High School, I went with G---, my most intimate
friend, to attend the classes in the University. . . . We actually
committed the folly of drawing up an agreement, written with our
blood, to the effect that whichever of us died the first should appear
to the other, and thus solve any doubts we had entertained of 'the
life after death'. G--- went to India, years passed, and," says Lord
Brougham, "I had nearly forgotten his existence. I had taken, as I
have said, a warm bath, and while lying in it and enjoying the comfort
of the heat, I turned my head round, looking towards the chair on
which I had deposited my clothes, as I was about to get out of the
bath. On the chair sat G---, looking calmly at me. How I got out of
the bath I know not, but on recovering my senses I found myself
sprawling on the floor. The apparition, or whatever it was that had
taken the likeness of G---, had disappeared. . . . So strongly was I
affected by it that I have here written down the whole history, with
the date, 19th December, and all the particulars as they are now fresh
before me. No doubt I had fallen asleep" (he has just said that he
was awake and on the point of leaving the bath), "and that the
appearance presented so distinctly to my eyes was a dream I cannot for
a moment doubt. . . ."

On 16th October, 1862, Lord Brougham copied this extract for his
Autobiography, and says that on his arrival in Edinburgh he received a
letter from India, announcing that G--- had died on 19th December. He
remarks "singular coincidence!" and adds that, considering the vast
number of dreams, the number of coincidences is perhaps fewer than a
fair calculation of chances would warrant us to expect.

This is a concession to common-sense, and argues an ignorance of the
fact that sane and (apparently) waking men may have hallucinations.
On the theory that we _may_ have inappreciable moments of sleep when
we think ourselves awake, it is not an ordinary but an extraordinary
coincidence that Brougham should have had that peculiar moment of the
"dream" of G--- on the day or night of G---'s death, while the
circumstance that he had made a compact with G--- multiplies the odds
against accident in a ratio which mathematicians may calculate.
Brougham was used to dreams, like other people; he was not shocked by
them. This "dream" "produced such a shock that I had no inclination
to talk about it". Even on Brougham's showing, then, this dream was a
thing unique in his experience, and not one of the swarm of visions of
sleep. Thus his including it among these, while his whole language
shows that he himself did not really reckon it among these, is an
example of the fallacies of common-sense. He completes his fallacy by
saying, "It is not much more wonderful than that a person whom we had
no reason to expect should appear to us at the very moment we had been
thinking or speaking of him". But Lord Brougham had _not_ been
speaking or thinking of G---; "there had been nothing to call him to
my recollection," he says. To give his logic any value, he should
constantly when (as far as he knew) awake, have had dreams that
"shocked" him. Then _one_ coincidence would have had no assignable
cause save ordinary accident.

If Lord Brougham fabled in 1799 or in 1862, he did so to make a
"sensation". And then he tried to undo it by arguing that his
experience was a thoroughly commonplace affair.

We now give a very old story, "The Dying Mother". If the reader will
compare it with Mr. Cleave's case, "An Astral Body," in this chapter,
he will be struck by the resemblance. Mr. Cleave and Mrs. Goffe were
both in a trance. Both wished to see persons at a distance. Both
saw, and each was seen, Mrs. Goffe by her children's nurse; Mr. Cleave
by the person whom he wished to see, but _not_ by a small boy also


"Mary, the wife of John Goffe of Rochester, being afflicted with a
long illness, removed to her father's house at West Mulling, about
nine miles from her own. There she died on 4th June, this present
year, 1691.

"The day before her departure (death) she grew very impatiently
desirous to see her two children, whom she had left at home to the
care of a nurse. She prayed her husband to 'hire a horse, for she
must go home and die with the children'. She was too ill to be moved,
but 'a minister who lives in the town was with her at ten o'clock that
night, to whom she expressed good hopes in the mercies of God and a
willingness to die'. 'But' said she, 'it is my misery that I cannot
see my children.'

"Between one and two o'clock in the morning, she fell into a trance.
One, widow Turner, who watched with her that night, says that her eyes
were open and fixed and her jaw fallen. Mrs. Turner put her hand upon
her mouth and nostrils, but could perceive no breath. She thought her
to be in a fit; and doubted whether she were dead or alive.

"The next morning the dying woman told her mother that she had been at
home with her children. . . . 'I was with them last night when I was

"The nurse at Rochester, widow Alexander by name, affirms, and says
she will take her oath on't before a Magistrate and receive the
sacrament upon it, that a little before two o'clock that morning she
saw the likeness of the said Mary Goffe come out of the next chamber
(where the elder child lay in a bed by itself) the door being left
open, and stood by her bedside for about a quarter of an hour; the
younger child was there lying by her. Her eyes moved and her mouth
went, but she said nothing. The nurse, moreover, says that she was
perfectly awake; it was then daylight, being one of the longest days
in the year. She sat up in bed and looked steadfastly on the
apparition. In that time she heard the bridge clock strike two, and a
while after said, 'In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, what
art thou?' Thereupon the apparition removed and went away; she
slipped on her clothes and followed, but what became on't she cannot

"Mrs. Alexander then walked out of doors till six, when she persuaded
some neighbours to let her in. She told her adventure; they failed to
persuade her that she had dreamed it. On the same day the neighbour's
wife, Mrs. Sweet, went to West Mulling, saw Mrs. Goffe before her
death, and heard from Mrs. Goffe's mother the story of the daughter's
dream of her children, Mrs. Sweet not having mentioned the nurse's
story of the apparition." That poor Mrs. Goffe walked to Rochester
and returned undetected, a distance of eighteen miles is difficult to

Goethe has an obiter dictum on the possibility of intercommunion
without the aid of the ordinary senses, between the souls of lovers.
Something of the kind is indicated in anecdotes of dreams dreamed in
common by husband and wife, but, in such cases, it may be urged that
the same circumstance, or the same noise or other disturbing cause,
may beget the same dream in both. A better instance is


Colonel Meadows Taylor writes, in The Story of my Life (vol. ii., p.
32): "The determination (to live unmarried) was the result of a very
curious and strange incident that befel me during one of my marches to
Hyderabad. I have never forgotten it, and it returns to this day to
my memory with a strangely vivid effect that I can neither repel nor
explain. I purposely withhold the date of the year. In my very early
life I had been deeply and devotedly attached to one in England, and
only relinquished the hope of one day winning her when the terrible
order came out that no furlough to Europe would be granted.

"One evening I was at the village of Dewas Kudea, after a very long
afternoon and evening march from Muktul, and I lay down very weary;
but the barking of village dogs, the baying of jackals and over-
fatigue and heat prevented sleep, and I was wide awake and restless.
Suddenly, for my tent door was wide open, I saw the face and figure so
familiar to me, but looking older, and with a sad and troubled
expression; the dress was white and seemed covered with a profusion of
lace and glistened in the bright moonlight. The arms were stretched
out, and a low plaintive cry of 'Do not let me go! Do not let me go!'
reached me. I sprang forward, but the figure receded, growing fainter
and fainter till I could see it no more, but the low plaintive tones
still sounded. I had run barefooted across the open space where my
tents were pitched, very much to the astonishment of the sentry on
guard, but I returned to my tent without speaking to him. I wrote to
my father. I wished to know whether there were any hope for me. He
wrote back to me these words: 'Too late, my dear son--on the very day
of the vision you describe to me, A. was married'."

The colonel did not keep his determination not to marry, for his Life
is edited by his daughter, who often heard her father mention the
incident, "precisely in the same manner, and exactly as it is in the
book". {103}

If thinking of friends and lovers, lost or dead, could bring their
forms and voices before the eye and ear of flesh, there would be a
world of hallucinations around us. "But it wants heaven-sent moments
for this skill," and few bridal nights send a vision and a voice to
the bed of a wakeful lover far away.

Stories of this kind, appearances of the living or dying really at a
distance, might be multiplied to any extent. They are all capable of
explanation, if we admit the theory of telepathy, of a message sent by
an unknown process from one living man's mind to another. Where more
than one person shares the vision, we may suppose that the influence
comes directly from A to B, C and D, or comes from A to B, and is by
him unconsciously "wired" on to B and C, or is "suggested" to them by
B's conduct or words.

In that case animals may be equally affected, thus, if B seems
alarmed, that may frighten his dog, or the alarm of a dog, caused by
some noise or smell, heard or smelt by him, may frighten B, C and D,
and make one or all of them see a ghost.

Popular opinion is strongly in favour of beasts seeing ghosts. The
people of St. Kilda, according to Martin, held that cows shared the
visions of second-sighted milk-maids. Horses are said to shy on the
scene of murders. Scott's horse ran away (home) when Sir Walter saw
the bogle near Ashiestiel. In a case given later the dog shut up in a
room full of unexplained noises, yelled and whined. The same dog (an
intimate friend of my own) bristled up his hair and growled before his
master saw the Grey Lady. The Rev. J. G. Wood gives a case of a cat
which nearly went mad when his mistress saw an apparition. Jeremy
Taylor tells of a dog which got quite used to a ghost that often
appeared to his master, and used to follow it. In "The Lady in
Black," a dog would jump up and fawn on the ghost and then run away in
a fright. Mr. Wesley's mastiff was much alarmed by the family ghost.
Not to multiply cases, dogs and other animals are easily affected by
whatever it is that makes people think a ghost is present, or by the
conduct of the human beings on these occasions.

Absurd as the subject appears, there are stories of the ghosts of
animals. These may be discussed later; meanwhile we pass from
appearances of the living or dying to stories of appearances of the


Transition to Appearances of the Dead. Obvious Scientific
Difficulties. Purposeless Character of Modern Ghosts. Theory of Dead
Men's Dreams. Illustrated by Sleep-walking House-maid. Purposeful
Character of the Old Ghost Stories. Probable Causes of the Difference
between Old and New Ghost Stories. Only the most Dramatic were
recorded. Or the Tales were embellished or invented. Practical
Reasons for inventing them. The Daemon of Spraiton. Sources of Story
of Sir George Villier's Ghost. Clarendon. Lilly, Douch. Wyndham.
Wyndham's Letter. Sir Henry Wotton. Izaak Walton. Anthony Wood. A
Wotton Dream proved Legendary. The Ghost that appeared to Lord
Lyttleton. His Lordship's Own Ghost.


We now pass beyond the utmost limits to which a "scientific" theory of
things ghostly can be pushed. Science admits, if asked, that it does
not know everything. It is not _inconceivable_ that living minds may
communicate by some other channel than that of the recognised senses.
Science now admits the fact of hypnotic influence, though, sixty years
ago, Braid was not allowed to read a paper on it before the British
Association. Even now the topic is not welcome. But perhaps only one
eminent man of science declares that hypnotism is _all_ imposture and
malobservation. Thus it is not wholly beyond the scope of fancy to
imagine that some day official science may glance at the evidence for

But the stories we have been telling deal with living men supposed to
be influencing living men. When the dead are alleged to exercise a
similar power, we have to suppose that some consciousness survives the
grave, and manifests itself by causing hallucinations among the
living. Instances of this have already been given in "The Ghost and
the Portrait," "The Bright Scar" and "Riding Home after Mess". These
were adduced as examples of _veracity_ in hallucinations. Each
appearance gave information to the seer which he did not previously
possess. In the first case, the lady who saw the soldier and the
suppliant did not know of their previous existence and melancholy
adventure. In the second, the brother did not know that his dead
sister's face had been scratched. In the third, the observer did not
know that Lieutenant B. had grown a beard and acquired a bay pony with
black mane and tail. But though the appearances were _veracious_,
they were _purposeless_, and again, as in each case the information
existed in living minds, it _may_ have been wired on from them.

Thus the doctrine of telepathy puts a ghost of the dead in a great
quandary. If he communicates no verifiable information, he may be
explained as a mere empty illusion. If he does yield fresh
information, and if that is known to any living mind, he and his
intelligence may have been wired on from that mind. His only chance
is to communicate facts which are proved to be true, facts which
nobody living knew before. Now it is next to impossible to
demonstrate that the facts communicated were absolutely unknown to

Far, however, from conveying unknown intelligence, most ghosts convey
none at all, and appear to have no purpose whatever.

It will be observed that there was no traceable reason why the girl
with a scar should appear to Mr. G., or the soldier and suppliant to
Mrs. M., or Lieutenant B. to General Barker. The appearances came in
a vague, casual, aimless way, just as the living and healthy clergyman
appeared to the diplomatist. On St. Augustine's theory the dead
persons who appeared may have known no more about the matter than did
the living clergyman. It is not even necessary to suppose that the
dead man was dreaming about the living person to whom, or about the
place in which, he appeared. But on the analogy of the tales in which
a dream or thought of the living seems to produce a hallucination of
their presence in the minds of other and distant living people, so a
dream of the dead may (it is urged) have a similar effect if "in that
sleep of death such dreams may come". The idea occurred to
Shakespeare! In any case the ghosts of our stories hitherto have been
so aimless and purposeless as to resemble what we might imagine a dead
man's dream to be.

This view of the case (that a "ghost" may be a reflection of a dead
man's dream) will become less difficult to understand if we ask
ourselves what natural thing most resembles the common idea of a
ghost. You are reading alone at night, let us say, the door opens and
a human figure glides into the room. To you it pays no manner of
attention; it does not answer if you speak; it may trifle with some
object in the chamber and then steal quietly out again.

_It is the House-maid walking in her Sleep_.

This perfectly accountable appearance, in its aimlessness, its
unconsciousness, its irresponsiveness, is undeniably just like the
common notion of a ghost. Now, if ordinary ghosts are not of flesh
and blood, like the sleep-walking house-maid, yet are as irresponsive,
as unconscious, and as vaguely wandering as she, then (if the dead are
somewhat) a ghost _may_ be a hallucination produced in the living by
the _unconscious_ action of the mind of the dreaming dead. The
conception is at least conceivable. If adopted, merely for argument's
sake, it would first explain the purposeless behaviour of ghosts, and
secondly, relieve people who see ghosts of the impression that they
see "spirits". In the Scotch phrase the ghost obviously "is not all
there," any more than the sleep walker is intellectually "all there".
This incomplete, incoherent presence is just what might be expected if
a dreaming disembodied mind could affect an embodied mind with a

But the good old-fashioned ghost stories are usually of another type.
The robust and earnest ghosts of our ancestors "had their own purpose
sun-clear before them," as Mr. Carlyle would have said. They knew
what they wanted, asked for it, and saw that they got it.

As a rule their bodies were unburied, and so they demanded sepulture;
or they had committed a wrong, and wished to make restitution; or they
had left debts which they were anxious to pay; or they had advice, or
warnings, or threats to communicate; or they had been murdered, and
were determined to bring their assassins to the gibbet.

Why, we may ask, were the old ghost stories so different from the new?
Well, first they were not all different. Again, probably only the
more dramatic tales were as a rule recorded. Thirdly, many of the
stories may have been either embellished--a fancied purpose being
attributed to a purposeless ghost--or they may even have been invented
to protect witnesses who gave information against murderers. Who
could disobey a ghost?

In any case the old ghost stories are much more dramatic than the new.
To them we turn, beginning with the appearances of Mr. and Mrs. Furze
at Spraiton, in Devonshire, in 1682. Our author is Mr. Richard Bovet,
in his Pandaemonium, or the Devil's Cloister opened (1683). The
motive of the late Mr. Furze was to have some small debts paid; his
wife's spectre was influenced by a jealousy of Mr. Furze's spectre's
relations with another lady.


"About the month of November in the year 1682, in the parish of
Spraiton, in the county of Devon, one Francis Fey (servant to Mr.
Philip Furze) being in a field near the dwelling-house of his said
master, there appeared unto him the _resemblance_ of an _aged
gentleman_ like his master's father, with a pole or staff in his hand,
resembling that he was wont to carry when living to kill the moles
withal. The _spectrum_ approached near the young man, whom you may
imagin not a little surprized at the _appearance_ of one that he knew
to be dead, but the _spectrum bid him not be afraid of him, but tell
his master_ (who was his son) that several _legacies which by his
testament he had bequeathed were unpaid, naming ten shillings to one
and ten shillings to another, both which persons he named_ to the
young man, who replyed that the party he last named was dead, and so
it could not be paid to him. The ghost answered _he knew that, but it
must be paid to the next relation_, whom he also named. The spectrum
likewise ordered him to carry twenty shillings to a gentlewoman,
sister to the deceased, living near Totness in the said county, and
promised, if these things were performed, to trouble him no further;
but at the same time the _spectrum_, speaking of his _second wife_
(who was also dead) _called her wicked woman_, though the gentleman
who writ the letter knew her and esteemed her a very good woman. And
(having thus related him his mind) the spectrum left the young man,
who according to the _direction_ of the _spirit_ took care to see the
small legacies satisfied, and carried the twenty shillings that was
appointed to be paid the gentlewoman near Totness, but she utterly
refused to receive it, being sent her (as she said) from the devil.
The same night the young man lodging at her house, the aforesaid
spectrum appeared to him again; whereupon the young man challenged his
_promise not to trouble him any more_, saying he had performed all
according to his appointment, but that the gentlewoman, his sister,
would not receive the money.

"_To which the spectrum replied that was true indeed_; but withal
_directed_ the young man to ride to Totness and buy for her _a ring of
that value, which the spirit said she would accept of_, which being
provided accordingly, she received. Since the performance of which
the ghost or apparition of the old gentleman hath seemed to be at
rest, having never given the young man any further trouble.

"But the next day after having delivered the ring, the young man was
riding home to his master's house, accompanyed by a servant of the
gentlewoman's near Totness, and near about the time of their entrance
(or a little before they came) into the parish of Spraiton aforesaid,
there appeared to be upon the horse behind the young man, the
resemblance of the _second wife_ of the old gentleman spoken of

"This daemon often threw the young man off his horse, and cast him
with such violence to the ground as was great astonishment, not only
to the gentlewoman's servant (with him), but to divers others who were
spectators of the frightful action, the ground resounding with great
noise by reason of the incredible force with which he was cast upon
it. At his coming into his master's yard, the horse which he rid,
though very poor and out of case, leaped at one spring twenty-five
foot, to the amazement of all that saw it. Soon after the she-spectre
shewed herself to divers in the house, viz., the aforesaid young man,
_Mistress Thomasin Gidly, Ann Langdon_, born in that parish, and a
little child, which, by reason of the troublesomeness of the spirit,
they were fain to remove from that house. She appeared sometimes in
her own shape, sometimes in forms very horrid; now and then like a
monstrous dog belching out fire; at another time it flew out at the
window, in the shape of a horse, carrying with it only one pane of
glass and a small piece of iron.

"One time the young man's head was thrust into a very strait place
betwixt a bed's head and a wall, and forced by the strength of divers
men to be removed thence, and that not without being much hurt and
bruised, so that much blood appeared about it: upon this it was
advised he should be bleeded, to prevent any ill accident that might
come of the bruise; after bleeding, the ligature or binder of his arm
was removed from thence and conveyed about his middle, where it was
strained with such violence that the girding had almost stopp'd his
breath and kill'd him, and being cut asunder it made _a strange and
dismal noise_, so that the standers by were affrighted at it. At
divers other times he hath been in danger to be strangled with cravats
and handkerchiefs that he hath worn about his neck, which have been
drawn so close that with the sudden violence he hath near been
choaked, and hardly escaped death.

"The spectre hath shewed great offence at the perriwigs which the
young man used to wear, for they are often torn from his head after a
very strange manner; one that he esteemed above the rest he put in a
small box, and that box he placed in another, which he set against the
wall of his chamber, placing a joint-stool with other weight a top of
it, but in short time the boxes were broken in sunder and the perriwig
rended into many small parts and tatters. Another time, lying in his
master's chamber with his perriwig on his head, to secure it from
danger, within a little time it was torn from him and reduced into
very small fragments. At another time one of his shoe-strings was
observed (without the assistance of any hand) to come of its own
accord out of its shoe and fling itself to the other side of the room;
the other was crawling after it, but a maid espying that, with her
hand drew it out, and it strangely _clasp'd_ and _curl'd_ about her
hand like a living _eel_ or _serpent_; this is testified by a lady of
considerable quality, too great for exception, who was an eye-witness.
The same lady shewed Mr. C. one of the young man's gloves, which was
torn in his pocket while she was by, which is so dexterously tatter'd
and so artificially torn that it is conceived a cutler could not have
contrived an instrument to have laid it abroad so accurately, and all
this was done in the pocket in the compass of one minute. It is
further observable that if the aforesaid young man, or another person
who is a servant maid in the house, do wear their own clothes, they
are certainly torn in pieces on their backs, but if the clothes belong
to any other, they are not injured after that manner.

"Many other strange and fantastical freaks have been done by the said
daemon or spirit in the view of divers persons; a barrel of salt of
considerable quantity hath been observed to march from room to room
without any human assistance.

"An hand-iron hath seemed to lay itself cross over-thwart a pan of
milk that hath been scalding over the fire, and two flitches of bacon
have of their own accord descended from the chimney where they were
hung, and placed themselves upon the hand-iron.

"When the spectre appears in resemblance of her own person, she seems
to be habited in the same cloaths and dress which the gentlewoman of
the house (her daughter-in-law) hath on at the same time. Divers
times the feet and legs of the young man aforesaid have been so
entangled about his neck that he hath been loosed with great
difficulty; sometimes they have been so twisted about the frames of
chairs and stools that they have hardly been set at liberty. But one
of the most considerable instances of the malice of the spirit against
the young man happened on Easter Eve, when Mrs. C. the relator, was
passing by the door of the house, and it was thus:--

"When the young man was returning from his labour, he was taken up by
the _skirt_ of his _doublet_ by this _female daemon_, and carried a
height into the air. He was soon missed by his Master and some other
servants that had been at labour with him, and after diligent enquiry
no news could be heard of him, until at length (near half an hour
after) he was heard singing and whistling in a bog or quagmire, where
they found him in a kind of trance or _extatick fit_, to which he hath
sometimes been accustomed (but whether before the affliction he met
with from this spirit I am not certain). He was affected much after
such sort, as at the time of those _fits_, so that the people did not
give that _attention_ and _regard_ to what he said as at other times;
but when he returned again to himself (which was about an hour after)
he solemnly protested to them that the daemon had carried him so high
that his master's house seemed to him to be but _as a hay-cock_, and
_that during all that time he was in perfect sense, and prayed to
Almighty God not to suffer the devil to destroy him_; and that he was
suddenly set down in that quagmire.

The workmen found one shoe on one side of his master's house, and the
other on the other side, and in the morning espied his perriwig
hanging on the top of a tree; by which it appears he had been carried
a considerable height, and that what he told them was not a fiction.

"After this it was observed that that part of the young man's body
which had been on the mud in the quagmire was somewhat benummbed and
seemingly deader than the other, whereupon the following _Saturday_,
which was the day before _Low Sunday_, he was carried to _Crediton,
alias Kirton_, to be bleeded, which being done accordingly, and the
company having left him for some little space, at their return they
found him in one of his fits, with his _forehead_ much _bruised_, and
_swoln_ to a _great bigness_, none being able to guess how it
happened, until his recovery from that _fit_, when upon enquiry he
gave them this account of it: _that a bird had with great swiftness
and force flown in at the window with a stone in its beak, which it
had dashed against his forehead, which had occasioned the swelling
which they saw_.

"The people much wondering at the strangeness of the accident,
diligently sought the stone, and under the place where he sat they
found not such a stone as they expected but a weight of brass or
copper, which it seems the daemon had made use of on that occasion to
give the poor young man that hurt in his forehead.

"The persons present were at the trouble to break it to pieces, every
one taking a part and preserving it in memory of so strange an
accident. After this the spirit continued to molest the young man in
a very severe and rugged manner, often handling him with great
extremity, and whether it hath yet left its violences to him, or
whether the young man be yet alive, I can have no certain account."

I leave the reader to consider of the extraordinary strangeness of the

The reader, considering the exceeding strangeness of the relation,
will observe that we have now reached "great swingeing falsehoods,"
even if that opinion had not hitherto occurred to his mind. But if he
thinks that such stories are no longer told, and even sworn to on
Bible oath, he greatly deceives himself. In the chapter on "Haunted
Houses" he will find statements just as hard narrated of the years
1870 and 1882. In these, however, the ghosts had no purpose but
mischief. {118}

We take another "ghost with a purpose".


The variations in the narratives of Sir George Villiers' appearance to
an old servant of his, or old protege, and the warning communicated by
this man to Villiers' son, the famous Duke of Buckingham, are curious
and instructive. The tale is first told in print by William Lilly,
the astrologer, in the second part of a large tract called Monarchy or
No Monarchy in England (London, 1651), twenty-three years after
Buckingham's murder. But while prior in publication, Lilly's story
was probably written after, though independent of Lord Clarendon's, in
the first book of his History of the Rebellion, begun on 18th March,
1646, that is within eighteen years of the events. Clarendon, of
course, was in a position to know what was talked of at the time.
Next, we have a letter of Mr. Douch to Glanvil, undated, but written
after the Restoration, and, finally, an original manuscript of 1652.

Douch makes the warning arrive "some few days" before the murder of
Buckingham, and says that the ghost of Sir George, "in his morning
gown," bade one Parker tell Buckingham to abandon the expedition to La
Rochelle or expect to be murdered. On the third time of appearing the
vision pulled a long knife from under his gown, as a sign of the death
awaiting Buckingham. He also communicated a "private token" to
Parker, the "percipient," Sir George's old servant. On each occasion
of the appearance, Parker was reading at midnight. Parker, _after_
the murder, told one Ceeley, who told it to a clergyman, who told
Douch, who told Glanvil.

In Lilly's version the ghost had a habit of walking in Parker's room,
and finally bade him tell Buckingham to abstain from certain company,
"or else he will come to destruction, and that suddenly". Parker,
thinking he had dreamed, did nothing; the ghost reappeared, and
communicated a secret "which he (Buckingham) knows that none in the
world ever knew but myself and he". The duke, on hearing the story
from Parker, backed by the secret, was amazed, but did not alter his
conduct. On the third time the spectre produced the knife, but at
_this_ information the duke only laughed. Six weeks later he was
stabbed. Douch makes the whole affair pass immediately before the
assassination. "And Mr. Parker died soon after," as the ghost had
foretold to him.

Finally, Clarendon makes the appearances set in six months before
Felton slew the duke. The percipient, unnamed, was in bed. The
narrative now develops new features; the token given on the ghost's
third coming obviously concerns Buckingham's mother, the Countess, the
"one person more" who knew the secret communicated. The ghost
produces no knife from under his gown; no warning of Buckingham's
death by violence is mentioned. A note in the MS. avers that
Clarendon himself had papers bearing on the subject, and that he got
his information from Sir Ralph Freeman (who introduced the unnamed
percipient to the duke), and from some of Buckingham's servants, "who
were informed of much of it before the murder of the duke". Clarendon
adds that, in general, "no man looked on relations of that sort with
less reverence and consideration" than he did. This anecdote he
selects out of "many stories scattered abroad at the time" as "upon a
better foundation of credit". The percipient was an officer in the
king's wardrobe at Windsor, "of a good reputation for honesty and
discretion," and aged about fifty. He was bred at a school in Sir
George's parish, and as a boy was kindly treated by Sir George, "whom
afterwards he never saw". On first beholding the spectre in his room,
the seer recognised Sir George's costume, then antiquated. At last
the seer went to Sir Ralph Freeman, who introduced him to the duke on
a hunting morning at Lambeth Bridge. They talked earnestly apart,
observed by Sir Ralph, Clarendon's informant. The duke seemed
abstracted all day; left the field early, sought his mother, and after
a heated conference of which the sounds reached the ante-room, went
forth in visible trouble and anger, a thing never before seen in him
after talk with his mother. She was found "overwhelmed with tears and
in the highest agony imaginable". "It is a notorious truth" that,
when told of his murder, "she seemed not in the least degree

The following curious manuscript account of the affair is, after the
prefatory matter, the copy of a letter dated 1652. There is nothing
said of a ghostly knife, the name of the seer is not Parker, and in
its whole effect the story tallies with Clarendon's version, though
the narrator knows nothing of the scene with the Countess of


"1627. Since William Lilly the Rebells Jugler and Mountebank in his
malicious and blaspheamous discourse concerning our late Martyred
Soveraigne of ever blessed memory (amongst other lyes and falsehoods)
imprinted a relation concerning an Aparition which foretold several
Events which should happen to the Duke of Buckingham, wherein he
falsifies boeth the person to whom it appeared and ye circumstances; I
thought it not amis to enter here (that it may be preserved) the true
account of that Aparition as I have receaved it from the hande and
under the hande of Mr. Edmund Wyndham, of Kellefford in the County of
Somersett. I shall sett it downe (ipsissimis verbis) as he delivered
it to me at my request written with his own hande.


"Sr. According to your desire and my promise I have written down what
I remember (divers things being slipt out of my memory) of the
relation made me by Mr. Nicholas Towse concerning the Aparition wch
visited him. About ye yeare 1627, {122} I and my wife upon an
occasion being in London lay att my Brother Pyne's house without
Bishopsgate, wch. was ye next house unto Mr. Nicholas Towse's, who was
my Kinsman and familiar acquaintance, in consideration of whose
Society and friendship he tooke a house in that place, ye said Towse
being a very fine Musician and very good company, and for ought I ever
saw or heard, a Vurtuous, religious and wel disposed Gentleman. About
that time ye said Mr. Towse tould me that one night, being in Bed and
perfectly waking, and a Candle burning by him (as he usually had)
there came into his Chamber and stood by his bed side an Olde
Gentleman in such an habitt as was in fashion in Q: Elizebeth's tyme,
at whose first appearance Mr. Towse was very much troubled, but after
a little tyme, recollecting himselfe, he demanded of him in ye Name of
God what he was, whether he were a Man. And ye Aparition replyed No.
Then he asked him if he were a Divell. And ye answer was No. Then
Mr. Towse said 'in ye Name of God, what art thou then?' And as I
remember Mr. Towse told me that ye Apparition answered him that he was
ye Ghost of Sir George Villiers, Father to ye then Duke of Buckingham,
whom he might very well remember, synce he went to schoole at such a
place in Leicestershire (naming ye place which I have forgotten). And
Mr. Towse tould me that ye Apparition had perfectly ye resemblance of
ye said Sr George Villiers in all respects and in ye same habitt that
he had often seene him weare in his lifetime.

"The said Apparition then tould Mr. Towse that he could not but
remember ye much kindness that he, ye said Sr George Villiers, had
expressed to him whilst he was a Schollar in Leicestershire, as
aforesaid, and that as out of that consideration he believed that he
loved him and that therefore he made choyce of him, ye sayde Mr.
Towse, to deliver a message to his sonne, ye Duke of Buckingham;
thereby to prevent such mischiefe as would otherwise befall ye said
Duke whereby he would be inevitably ruined. And then (as I remember)
Mr. Towse tould me that ye Apparition instructed him what message he
should deliver unto ye Duke. Vnto wch. Mr. Towse replyed that he
should be very unwilling to goe to ye Duke of Buckingham upon such an
errand, whereby he should gaine nothing but reproach and contempt, and
to be esteemed a Madman, and therefore desired to be exscused from ye
employment, but ye Apparition pressd him wth. much earnestness to
undertake it, telling him that ye Circumstances and secret Discoveries
which he should be able to make to ye Duke of such passages in ye
course of his life which were known to none but himselfe, would make
it appeare that ye message was not ye fancy of a Distempered Brayne,
but a reality, and so ye Apparition tooke his leave of him for that
night and telling him that he would give him leave to consider till
the next night, and then he would come to receave his answer wheather
he would undertake to deliver his message or no.

"Mr. Towse past that day wth. much trouble and perplexity, debating
and reasoning wth. himselfe wether he should deliver his message or
not to ye Duke but, in ye conclusion, he resolved to doe it, and ye
next night when ye Apparition came he gave his answer accordingly, and
then receaved his full instruction. After which Mr. Towse went and
founde out Sr. Thomas Bludder and Sr. Ralph Freeman, by whom he was
brought to ye Duke of Buckingham, and had sevarall private and lone
audiences of him, I my selfe, by ye favoure of a freinde (Sr. Edward
Savage) was once admitted to see him in private conference with ye
Duke, where (although I heard not there discourses) I observed much
earnestnessse in their actions and gestures. After wch. conference
Mr. Towse tould me that ye Duke would not follow ye advice that was
given him, which was (as I remember) that he intimated ye casting of,
and ye rejecting of some Men who had great interest in him, which was,
and as I take it he named, Bp. Laud and that ye Duke was to doe some
popular Acts in ye ensuing Parliament, of which Parliament ye Duke
would have had Mr. Towse to have been a Burgesse, but he refused it,
alleadging that unlesse ye Duke followed his directions, he must doe
him hurt if he were of ye Parliament. Mr. Towse then toalde that ye
Duke of Buckingham confessed that he had toalde him those things wch.
no Creature knew but himself, and that none but God or ye Divell could
reveale to him. Ye Duke offered Mr. Towse to have ye King knight him,
and to have given him preferment (as he tould me), but that he refused
it, saying that vnless he would follow his advice he would receave
nothing from him.

"Mr. Towse, when he made me this relation, he tolde me that ye Duke
would inevitably be destroyed before such a time (wch. he then named)
and accordingly ye Duke's death happened before that time. He
likewise tolde that he had written downe all ye severall discourses
that he had had wth. ye Apparition, and that at last his coming was so
familiar that he was as litle troubled with it as if it had beene a
friende or acquayntance that had come to visitt him. Mr. Towse told
me further that ye Archbishop of Canterbury, then Bishop of London,
Dr. Laud, should by his Councells be ye authoure of very great
troubles to ye Kingdome, by which it should be reduced to ye extremity
of disorder and confusion, and that it should seeme to be past all
hope of recovery without a miracle, but when all people were in
dispayre of seeing happy days agayne, ye Kingdome should suddenly be
reduced and resettled agayne in a most happy condition.

"At this tyme my father Pyne was in trouble and comitted to ye
Gatehouse by ye Lords of ye Councell about a Quarrel betweene him and
ye Lord Powlett, upon which one night I saide to my Cosin Towse, by
way of jest, 'I pray aske your Appairition what shall become of my
father Pyne's business,' which he promised to doe, and ye next day he
tolde me that my father Pyne's enemyes were ashamed of their malicious
prosecution, and that he would be at liberty within a week or some few
days, which happened according.

"Mr. Towse, his wife, since his death tolde me that her husband and
she living at Windsor Castle, where he had an office that Sumer that
ye Duke of Buckingham was killed, tolde her that very day that the
Duke was sett upon by ye mutinous Mariners att Portesmouth, saying
then that ye next attempt agaynst him would be his Death, which
accordingly happened. And att ye instant ye Duke was killed (as she
vnderstood by ye relation afterwards) Mr. Towse was sitting in his
chayre, out of which he suddenly started vp and sayd, 'Wyfe, ye Duke
of Buckingham is slayne!'

"Mr. Towse lived not long after that himselfe, but tolde his wife ye
tyme of his Death before itt happened. I never saw him after I had
seen some effects of his discourse, which before I valued not, and
therefore was not curious to enquire after more than he voluntaryly
tolde me, which I then entertayned not wth. these serious thoughts
which I have synce reflected on in his discourse. This is as much as
I can remember on this business which, according to youre desire, is
written by

"Sr. Yor., &c.,


"BOULOGNE, 5th August, 1652."

* * * * *

This version has, over all others, the merit of being written by an
acquaintance of the seer, who was with him while the appearances were
going on. The narrator was also present at an interview between the
seer and Buckingham. His mention of Sir Ralph Freeman tallies with
Clarendon's, who had the story from Freeman. The ghost predicts the
Restoration, and this is recorded before that happy event. Of course
Mr. Towse may have been interested in Buckingham's career and may have
invented the ghost (after discovering the secret token) {127} as an
excuse for warning him.

The reader can now take his choice among versions of Sir George
Villiers' ghost. He must remember that, in 1642, Sir Henry Wotton
"spent some inquiry whether the duke had any ominous presagement
before his end," but found no evidence. Sir Henry told Izaak Walton a
story of a dream of an ancestor of his own, whereby some robbers of
the University chest at Oxford were brought to justice. Anthony Wood
consulted the records of the year mentioned, and found no trace of any
such robbery. We now approach a yet more famous ghost than Sir
George's. This is Lord Lyttelton's. The ghost had a purpose, to warn
that bad man of his death, but nobody knows whose ghost she was!


"Sir," said Dr. Johnson, "it is the most extraordinary thing that has
happened in my day." The doctor's day included the rising of 1745 and
of the Wesleyans, the seizure of Canada, the Seven Years' War, the
American Rebellion, the Cock Lane ghost, and other singular
occurrences, but "the most extraordinary thing" was--Lord Lyttelton's
ghost! Famous as is that spectre, nobody knows what it was, nor even
whether there was any spectre at all.

Thomas, Lord Lyttelton, was born in 1744. In 1768 he entered the
House of Commons. In 1769 he was unseated for bribery. He then
vanishes from public view, probably he was playing the prodigal at
home and abroad, till February, 1772, when he returned to his father's
house, and married. He then went abroad (with a barmaid) till 1773,
when his father died. In January, 1774, he took his seat in the House
of Lords. In November, 1779, Lyttelton went into Opposition. On
Thursday, 25th November, he denounced Government in a magnificent
speech. As to a sinecure which he held, he said, "Perhaps I shall not
keep it long!"

_Something had Happened_!

On the night before his speech, that of Wednesday, 24th November,
Lyttelton had seen the ghost, and had been told that he would die in
three days. He mentioned this to Rowan Hamilton on the Friday. {129a}
On the same day, or on Friday, he mentioned it to Captain Ascough, who
told a lady, who told Mrs. Thrale. {129b} On the Friday he went to
Epsom with friends, and mentioned the ghost to them, among others to
Mr. Fortescue. {129c} About midnight on 28th November, Lord Lyttelton
died suddenly in bed, his valet having left him for a moment to fetch
a spoon for stirring his medicine. The cause of death was not stated;
there was no inquest.

This, literally, is all that is _known_ about Lord Lyttelton's ghost.
It is variously described as: (1) "a young woman and a robin" (Horace
Walpole); (2) "a spirit" (Captain Ascough); (3) a bird in a dream,
"which changed into a woman in white" (Lord Westcote's narrative of
13th February, 1780, collected from Lord Lyttelton's guests and
servants); (4) "a bird turning into a woman" (Mrs. Delany, 9th
December, 1779); (5) a dream of a bird, followed by a woman, Mrs.
Amphlett, in white (Pitt Place archives after 1789); (6) "a fluttering
noise, as of a bird, followed by the apparition of a woman who had
committed suicide after being seduced by Lyttelton" (Lady Lyttelton,
1828); (7) a bird "which vanished when a female spirit in white
raiment presented herself" (Scots Magazine, November-December, 1779).

Out of seven versions, a bird, or a fluttering noise as of a bird (a
common feature in ghost stories), {130a} with a woman following or
accompanying, occurs in six. The phenomena are almost equally
ascribed to dreaming and to waking hallucination, but the common-sense
of the eighteenth century called all ghosts "dreams". In the Westcote
narrative (1780) Lyttelton explains the dream by his having lately
been in a room with a lady, Mrs. Dawson, when a robin flew in. Yet,
in the same narrative, Lyttelton says on Saturday morning "that he was
very well, and believed he should bilk the _ghost_". He was certainly
in bed at the time of the experience, and probably could not be sure
whether he was awake or asleep. {130b}

Considering the remoteness of time, the story is very well recorded.
It is chronicled by Mrs. Thrale before the news of Lyttelton's death
reached her, and by Lady Mary Coke two days later, by Walpole on the
day after the peer's decease, of which he had heard. Lord Lyttelton's
health had for some time been bad; he had made his will a few weeks
before, and his nights were horror-haunted. A little boy, his nephew,
to whom he was kind, used to find the wicked lord sitting by his bed
at night, because he dared not be alone. So Lockhart writes to his
daughter, Mrs. Hope Scott. {131} He had strange dreams of being in
hell with the cruel murderess, Mrs. Brownrigg, who "whipped three
female 'prentices to death and hid them in the coal-hole". Such a man
might have strange fancies, and a belief in approaching death might
bring its own fulfilment. The hypothesis of a premeditated suicide,
with the story of the ghost as a last practical joke, has no
corroboration. It occurred to Horace Walpole at once, but he laid no
stress on it.

Such is a plain, dry, statistical account of the most extraordinary
event that happened in Dr. Johnson's day.

However, the story does not end here. On the fatal night, 27th
November, 1779, Mr. Andrews, M.P., a friend of Lyttelton's was
awakened by finding Lord Lyttelton drawing his curtains. Suspecting a
practical joke, he hunted for his lordship both in his house and in
the garden. Of course he never found him. The event was promptly
recorded in the next number of the Scots Magazine, December, 1779.

More Ghosts With A Purpose

The Slaying of Sergeant Davies in 1749. The Trial. Scott's Theory.
Curious recent Corroboration of Sir Walter's Hypothesis. Other Trials
involving Ghostly Evidence. Their Want of Authenticity. "Fisher's
Ghost" criticised. The Aylesbury Murder. The Dog o' Mause. The
Ghosts of Dogs. Peter's Ghost.

Much later in time than the ghost of Sir George Villiers is the ghost
of Sergeant Davies, of Guise's regiment. His purpose was, first, to
get his body buried; next, to bring his murderers to justice. In this
latter desire he totally failed.


We now examine a ghost with a purpose; he wanted to have his bones
buried. The Highlands, in spite of Culloden, were not entirely
pacified in the year 1749. Broken men, robbers, fellows with wrongs
unspeakable to revenge, were out in the heather. The hills that
seemed so lonely were not bare of human life. A man was seldom so
solitary but that eyes might be on him from cave, corry, wood, or den.
The Disarming Act had been obeyed in the usual style: old useless
weapons were given up to the military. But the spirit of the clans
was not wholly broken. Even the old wife of Donald Ban, when he was
"sair hadden down by a Bodach" (ghost) asked the spirit to answer one
question, "Will the Prince come again?" The song expressed the
feelings of the people:--

The wind has left me bare indeed,
And blawn my bonnet off my heid,
But something's hid in Hieland brae,
The wind's no blawn my sword away!

Traffickers came and went from Prince Charles to Cluny, from Charles
in the Convent of St. Joseph to Cluny lurking on Ben Alder. Kilt and
tartan were worn at the risk of life or liberty, in short, the embers
of the rising were not yet extinct.

At this time, in the summer of 1749, Sergeant Arthur Davies, of
Guise's regiment, marched with eight privates from Aberdeen to Dubrach
in Braemar, while a corporal's guard occupied the Spital of Glenshee,
some eight miles away. "A more waste tract of mountain and bog, rocks
and ravines, without habitations of any kind till you reach
Glenclunie, is scarce to be met with in Scotland," says Sir Walter.

The sergeant's business was the general surveillance of the country
side. He was a kindly prosperous man, liked in the country, fond of
children, newly married, and his wife bore witness "that he and she
lived together in as great amity and love as any couple could do, and
that he never was in use to stay away a night from her".

The sergeant had saved fifteen guineas and a half; he carried the gold
in a green silk purse, and was not averse to displaying it. He wore a
silver watch, and two gold rings, one with a peculiar knob on the
bezel. He had silver buckles to his brogues, silver knee-buckles, two
dozen silver buttons on a striped lute-string waistcoat, and he
carried a gun, a present from an officer in his regiment. His dress,
on the fatal 28th of September, was "a blue surtout coat, with a
striped silk vest, and teiken breeches and brown stockings". His
hair, of "a dark mouse colour," was worn in a silk ribbon, his hat was
silver laced, and bore his initials cut in the felt. Thus attired, "a
pretty man," Sergeant Davies said good-bye to his wife, who never saw
him again, and left his lodgings at Michael Farquharson's early on
28th September. He took four men with him, and went to meet the
patrol from Glenshee. On the way he met John Growar in Glenclunie,
who spoke with him "about a tartan coat, which the sergeant had
observed him to drop, and after strictly enjoining him not to use it
again, dismissed him, instead of making him prisoner".

This encounter was after Davies left his men, before meeting the
patrol, it being his intention to cross the hill and try for a shot at
a stag.

The sergeant never rejoined his men or met the patrol! He vanished as
if the fairies had taken him. His captain searched the hill with a
band of men four days after the disappearance, but to no avail.
Various rumours ran about the country, among others a clatter that
Davies had been killed by Duncan Clerk and Alexander Bain Macdonald.
But the body was undiscovered.

In June, one Alexander Macpherson came to Donald Farquharson, son of
the man with whom Davies had been used to lodge. Macpherson (who was
living in a sheiling or summer hut of shepherds on the hills) said
that he "was greatly troubled by the ghost of Sergeant Davies, who
insisted that he should bury his bones, and that, he having declined
to bury them, the ghost insisted that he should apply to Donald
Farquharson". Farquharson "could not believe this," till Macpherson
invited him to come and see the bones. Then Farquharson went with the
other, "as he thought it might possibly be true, and if it was, he did
not know but the apparition might trouble himself".

The bones were found in a peat moss, about half a mile from the road
taken by the patrols. There, too, lay the poor sergeant's mouse-
coloured hair, with rags of his blue cloth and his brogues, without
the silver buckles, and there did Farquharson and Macpherson bury them

Alexander Macpherson, in his evidence at the trial, declared that,
late in May, 1750, "when he was in bed, a vision appeared to him as of
a man clothed in blue, who said, '_I am Sergeant Davies_!'". At first
Macpherson thought the figure was "a real living man," a brother of
Donald Farquharson's. He therefore rose and followed his visitor to
the door, where the ghost indicated the position of his bones, and
said that Donald Farquharson would help to inter them. Macpherson
next day found the bones, and spoke to Growar, the man of the tartan
coat (as Growar admitted at the trial). Growar said if Macpherson did
not hold his tongue, he himself would inform Shaw of Daldownie.
Macpherson therefore went straight to Daldownie, who advised him to
bury the bones privily, not to give the country a bad name for a rebel
district. While Macpherson was in doubt, and had not yet spoken to
Farquharson, the ghost revisited him at night and repeated his
command. He also denounced his murderers, Clerk and Macdonald, which
he had declined to do on his first appearance. He spoke in Gaelic,
which, it seems, was a language not known by the sergeant.

Isobel MacHardie, in whose service Macpherson was, deponed that one
night in summer, June, 1750, while she lay at one end of the sheiling
(a hill hut for shepherds or neatherds) and Macpherson lay 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. That when it
appeared it came in in a bowing posture, and that next morning she
asked Macpherson what it was that had troubled them in the night
before. To which he answered that she might be easy, for it would not
trouble them any more."

All this was in 1750, but Clerk and Macdonald were not arrested till
September, 1753. They were then detained in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh
on various charges, as of wearing the kilt, till June, 1754, when they
were tried, Grant of Prestongrange prosecuting, aided by Haldane, Home
and Dundas, while Lockhart and Mackintosh defended. It was proved
that Clerk's wife wore Davies's ring, that Clerk, after the murder,
had suddenly become relatively rich and taken a farm, and that the two
men, armed, were on the hill near the scene of the murder on 28th
September, 1749. Moreover, Angus Cameron swore that he saw the murder
committed. His account of his position was curious. He and another
Cameron, since dead, were skulking near sunset in a little hollow on
the hill of Galcharn. There he had skulked all day, "waiting for
Donald Cameron, _who was afterwards hanged_, together with some of the
said Donald's companions from Lochaber". No doubt they were all
honest men who had been "out," and they may well have been on Cluny's
business of conveying gold from the Loch Arkaig hoard to Major Kennedy
for the prince.

On seeing Clerk and Macdonald strike and shoot the man in the silver-
laced hat, Cameron and his companion ran away, nor did Cameron mention
the matter till nine months later, and then only to Donald (not he who
was hanged). Donald advised him to hold his tongue. This Donald
corroborated at the trial. The case against Clerk and Macdonald
looked very black, especially as some witnesses fled and declined to
appear. Scott, who knew Macintosh, the counsel for the prisoners,
says that their advocates and agent "were convinced of their guilt".
Yet a jury of Edinburgh tradesmen, moved by Macintosh's banter of the
apparition, acquitted the accused solely, as Scott believes, because
of the ghost and its newly-learned Gaelic. It is indeed extraordinary
that Prestongrange, the patron of David Balfour, allowed his witnesses
to say what the ghost said, which certainly "is not evidence". Sir
Walter supposes that Macpherson and Mrs. MacHardie invented the
apparition as an excuse for giving evidence. "The ghost's commands,
according to Highland belief, were not to be disobeyed." Macpherson
must have known the facts "by ordinary means". We have seen that
Clerk and Macdonald were at once suspected; there was "a clatter"
against them. But Angus Cameron had not yet told his tale of what he
saw. Then who _did_ tell? Here comes in a curious piece of evidence
of the year 1896. A friend writes (29th December, 1896):--


"I enclose a tradition connected with the murder of Sergeant
Davies, which my brother picked up lately before he had read the
story in your Cock Lane. He had heard of the event before, both in
Athole and Braemar, and it was this that made him ask the old lady
(see next letter) about it.

"He thinks that Glenconie of your version (p. 256) must be
Glenclunie, into which Allt Chriostaidh falls. He also suggests
that the person who was chased by the murderers may have got up the
ghost, in order to shift the odium of tale-bearing to other
shoulders. The fact of being mixed up in the affair lends some
support to the story here related."

Here follows my friend's brother's narrative, the name of the witness
being suppressed.


There is at present living in the neighbourhood of --- an old lady,
about seventy years of age. Her maiden name is ---, {140} and she is
a native of Braemar, but left that district when about twenty years
old, and has never been back to it even for a visit. On being asked
whether she had ever heard the story of Sergeant Davies, she at first
persisted in denying all knowledge of it. The ordinary version was
then related to her, and she listened quietly until it was finished,
when she broke out with:--

"That isn't the way of it at all, for the men _were_ seen, and it was
a forbear of my own that saw them. He had gone out to try to get a
stag, and had his gun and a deer-hound with him. He saw the men on
the hill doing something, and thinking they had got a deer, he went
towards them. When he got near them, the hound began to run on in
front of him, and at that minute _he saw what it was they had_. He
called to the dog, and turned to run away, but saw at once that he had
made a mistake, for he had called their attention to himself, and a
shot was fired after him, which wounded the dog. He then ran home as
fast as he could, never looking behind him, and did not know how far
the men followed him. Some time afterwards the dog came home, and he
went to see whether it was much hurt, whereupon it flew at him, and
had to be killed. They thought that it was trying to revenge itself
on him for having left it behind."

At this point the old lady became conscious that she was telling the
story, and no more could be got out of her. The name of the lady who
keeps a secret of 145 years' standing, is the name of a witness in the
trial. The whole affair is thoroughly characteristic of the
Highlanders and of Scottish jurisprudence after Culloden, while the
verdict of "Not Guilty" (when "Not Proven" would have been stretching
a point) is evidence to the "common-sense" of the eighteenth century.

There are other cases, in Webster, Aubrey and Glanvil of ghosts who
tried more successfully to bring their murderers to justice. But the
reports of the trials do not exist, or cannot be found, and Webster
lost a letter which he once possessed, which would have been proof
that ghostly evidence was given and was received at a trial in Durham
(1631 or 1632). Reports of old men present were collected for
Glanvil, but are entirely too vague.

The case of Fisher's Ghost, which led to evidence being given as to a
murder in New South Wales, cannot be wholly omitted. Fisher was a
convict settler, a man of some wealth. He disappeared from his
station, and his manager (also a convict) declared that he had
returned to England. Later, a man returning from market saw Fisher
sitting on a rail; at his approach Fisher vanished. Black trackers
were laid on, found human blood on the rail, and finally discovered
Fisher's body. The manager was tried, was condemned, acknowledged his
guilt and was hanged.

The story is told in Household Words, where Sir Frederick Forbes is
said to have acted as judge. No date is given. In Botany Bay, {142}
the legend is narrated by Mr. John Lang, who was in Sydney in 1842.
He gives no date of the occurrence, and clearly embellishes the tale.
In 1835, however, the story is told by Mr. Montgomery Martin in volume
iv. of his History of the British Colonies. He gives the story as a
proof of the acuteness of black trackers. Beyond saying that he
himself was in the colony when the events and the trial occurred, he
gives no date. I have conscientiously investigated the facts, by aid
of the Sydney newspapers, and the notes of the judge, Sir Frederick
Forbes. Fisher disappeared at the end of June, 1826, from
Campbeltown. Suspicion fell on his manager, Worral. A reward was
offered late in September. Late in October the constable's attention
was drawn to blood-stains on a rail. Starting thence, the black
trackers found Fisher's body. Worral was condemned and hanged, after
confession, in February, 1827. Not a word is said about _why_ the
constable went to, and examined, the rail. But Mr. Rusden, author of
a History of Australia, knew the medical attendant D. Farley (who saw
Fisher's ghost, and pointed out the bloody rail), and often discussed
it with Farley. Mr. Souttar, in a work on Colonial traditions, proves
the point that Farley told his ghost story _before_ the body of Fisher
was found. But, for fear of prejudicing the jury, the ghost was kept
out of the trial, exactly as in the following case.


Perhaps the latest ghost in a court of justice (except in cases about
the letting of haunted houses) "appeared" at the Aylesbury Petty
Session on 22nd August, 1829. On 25th October, 1828, William Edden, a
market gardener, was found dead, with his ribs broken, in the road
between Aylesbury and Thame. One Sewell, in August, 1829, accused a
man named Tyler, and both were examined at the Aylesbury Petty
Sessions. Mrs. Edden gave evidence that she sent five or six times
for Tyler "to come and see the corpse. . . . I had some particular
reasons for sending for him which I never did divulge. . . . I will
tell you my reasons, gentlemen, if you ask me, in the face of Tyler,
even if my life should be in danger for it." The reasons were that on
the night of her husband's murder, "something rushed over me, and I
thought my husband came by me. I looked up, and I thought I heard the
voice of my husband come from near my mahogany table. . . . I thought
I saw my husband's apparition, and the man that had done it, and that
man was Tyler. . . . I ran out and said, 'O dear God! my husband is
murdered, and his ribs are broken'."

Lord Nugent--"What made you think your husband's ribs were broken?"

"He held up his hands like this, and I saw a hammer, or something like
a hammer, and it came into my mind that his ribs were broken." Sewell
stated that the murder was accomplished by means of a hammer.

The prisoners were discharged on 13th September. On 5th March, 1830,
they were tried at the Buckingham Lent Assizes, were found guilty and
were hanged, protesting their innocence, on 8th March, 1830.

"In the report of Mrs. Edden's evidence (at the Assizes) no mention is
made of the vision." {144}

Here end our ghosts in courts of justice; the following ghost gave
evidence of a murder, or rather, confessed to one, but was beyond the
reach of human laws.

This tale of 1730 is still current in Highland tradition. It has,
however, been improved and made infinitely more picturesque by several
generations of narrators. As we try to be faithful to the best
sources, the contemporary manuscript version is here reprinted from
The Scottish Standard-Bearer, an organ of the Scotch Episcopalians
(October and November, 1894).


Account of an apparition that appeared to William Soutar, {145a} in
the Mause, 1730.

[This is a copy from that in the handwriting of Bishop Rattray,
preserved at Craighall, and which was found at Meikleour a few years
ago, to the proprietor of which, Mr. Mercer, it was probably sent by
the Bishop.--W. W. H., 3rd August, 1846.]

"I have sent you an account of an apparition as remarkable, perhaps,
as anything you ever heard of, and which, considered in all its
circumstances, leaves, I think, no ground of doubt to any man of
common-sense. The person to whom it appeared is one William Soutar, a
tenant of Balgowan's, who lives in Middle Mause, within about half a
mile from this place on the other side of the river, and in view from
our windows of Craighall House. He is about thirty-seven years of
age, as he says, and has a wife and bairns.

"The following is an account from his own mouth; and because there are
some circumstances fit to be taken in as you go along, I have given
them with reference at the end, {145b} that I may not interrupt the
sense of the account, or add anything to it. Therefore, it begins:--

"'In the month of December in the year 1728, about sky-setting, I and
my servant, with several others living in the town (farm-steading)
heard a scratching (screeching, crying), and I followed the noise,
with my servant, a little way from the town (farm-steading
throughout). We both thought we saw what had the appearance to be a
fox, and hounded the dogs at it, but they would not pursue it. {146a}

"'About a month after, as I was coming from Blair {146b} alone, about
the same time of the night, a big dog appeared to me, of a dark
greyish colour, between the Hilltown and Knockhead {146c} of Mause, on
a lea rig a little below the road, and in passing by it touched me
sonsily (firmly) on the thigh at my haunch-bane (hip-bone), upon which
I pulled my staff from under my arm and let a stroke at it; and I had
a notion at the time that I hit it, and my haunch was painful all that
night. However, I had no great thought of its being anything
particular or extraordinary, but that it might be a mad dog wandering.
About a year after that, to the best of my memory, in December month,
about the same time of the night and in the same place, when I was
alone, it appeared to me again as before, and passed by me at some
distance; and then I began to think it might be something more than

"'In the month of December, 1730, as I was coming from Perth, from the
Claith (cloth) Market a little before sky-setting, it appeared to me
again, being alone, at the same place, and passed by me just as
before. I had some suspicion of it then likewise, but I began to
think that a neighbour of mine in the Hilltown having an ox lately
dead, it might be a dog that had been at the carrion, by which I
endeavoured to put the suspicion out of my head.

"'On the second Monday of December, 1730, as I was coming from
Woodhead, a town (farm) in the ground of Drumlochy, it appeared to me
again in the same place just about sky-setting; and after it had
passed me as it was going out of my sight, it spoke with a low voice
so that I distinctly heard it, these words, "Within eight or ten days
do or die," and it thereupon disappeared. No more passed at that
time. On the morrow I went to my brother, who dwells in the Nether
Aird of Drumlochy, and told him of the last and of all the former
appearances, which was the first time I ever spoke of it to anybody.
He and I went to see a sister of ours at Glenballow, who was dying,
but she was dead before we came. As we were returning home, I desired
my brother, whose name is James Soutar, to go forward with me till we
should be passed the place where it used to appear to me; and just as
we had come to it, about ten o'clock at night, it appeared to me again
just as formerly; and as it was passing over some ice I pointed to it
with my finger and asked my brother if he saw it, but he said he did
not, nor did his servant, who was with us. It spoke nothing at that
time, but just disappeared as it passed the ice.

"'On the Saturday after, as I was at my own sheep-cots putting in my
sheep, it appeared to me again just after daylight, betwixt day and
skylight, and upon saying these words, "Come to the spot of ground
within half an hour," it just disappeared; whereupon I came home to my
own house, and took up a staff and also a sword off the head of the
bed, and went straight to the place where it used formerly to appear
to me; and after I had been there some minutes and had drawn a circle
about me with my staff, it appeared to me. And I spoke to it saying,
"In the name of God and Jesus Christ, what are you that troubles me?"
and it answered me, "I am David Soutar, George Soutar's brother.
{148a} I killed a man more than five-and-thirty years ago, when you
was new born, at a bush be-east the road, as you go into the Isle."
{148b} And as I was going away, I stood again and said, "David Soutar
was a man, and you appear like a dog," whereupon it spoke to me again,
saying, "I killed him with a dog, and therefore I am made to speak out
of the mouth of a dog, and tell you you must go and bury these bones".
Upon this I went straight to my brother to his house, and told him
what had happened to me. My brother having told the minister of
Blair, he and I came to the minister on Monday thereafter, as he was
examining in a neighbour's house in the same town where I live. And
the minister, with my brother and me and two or three more, went to
the place where the apparition said the bones were buried, when
Rychalzie met us accidentally; and the minister told Rychalzie the
story in the presence of all that were there assembled, and desired
the liberty from him to break up the ground to search for the bones.
Rychalzie made some scruples to allow us to break up the ground, but
said he would go along with us to Glasclune {149a}; and if he advised,
he would allow search to be made. Accordingly he went straight along
with my brother and me and James Chalmers, a neighbour who lives in
the Hilltown of Mause, to Glasclune, and told Glasclune the story as
above narrated; and he advised Rychalzie to allow the search to be
made, whereupon he gave his consent to it.

"'The day after, being Friday, we convened about thirty or forty men
and went to the Isle, and broke up the ground in many places,
searching for the bones, but we found nothing.

"'On Wednesday the 23rd December, about twelve o'clock, when I was in
my bed, I heard a voice but saw nothing; the voice said, "Come away".
{149b} Upon this I rose out of my bed, cast on my coat and went to the
door, but did not see it. And I said, "In the name of God, what do
you demand of me now?" It answered, "Go, take up these bones". I
said, "How shall I get these bones?" It answered again, "At the side
of a withered bush, {150} and there are but seven or eight of them
remaining". I asked, "Was there any more guilty of that action but
you?" It answered, "No". I asked again, "What is the reason you
trouble me?" It answered, "Because you are the youngest". Then said
I to it, "Depart from me, and give me a sign that I may know the
particular spot, and give me time". [Here there is written on the
margin in a different hand, "You will find the bones at the side of a
withered bush. There are but eight of them, and for a sign you will
find the print of a cross impressed on the ground."] On the morrow,
being Thursday, I went alone to the Isle to see if I could find any
sign, and immediately I saw both the bush, which was a small bush, the
greatest stick in it being about the thickness of a staff, and it was
withered about half-way down; and also the sign, which was about a
foot from the bush. The sign was an exact cross, thus X; each of the
two lines was about a foot and a half in length and near three inches
broad, and more than an inch deeper than the rest of the ground, as if
it had been pressed down, for the ground was not cut. On the morrow,
being Friday, I went and told my brother of the voice that had spoken
to me, and that I had gone and seen the bush which it directed me to
and the above-mentioned sign at it. The next day, being Saturday, my
brother and I went, together with seven or eight men with us, to the
Isle. About sun-rising we all saw the bush and the sign at it; and
upon breaking up the ground just at the bush, we found the bones,
viz., the chaft-teeth (jaw-teeth-molars) in it, one of the thigh
bones, one of the shoulder blades, and a small bone which we supposed
to be a collar bone, which was more consumed than any of the rest, and
two other small bones, which we thought to be bones of the sword-arm.
By the time we had digged up those bones, there convened about forty
men who also saw them. The minister and Rychalzie came to the place
and saw them.

"'We immediately sent to the other side of the water, to Claywhat,
{151} to a wright that was cutting timber there, whom Claywhat brought
over with him, who immediately made a coffin for the bones, and my
wife brought linen to wrap them in, and I wrapped the bones in the
linen myself and put them in the coffin before all these people, and
sent for the mort-cloth and buried them in the churchyard of Blair
that evening. There were near an hundred persons at the burial, and
it was a little after sunset when they were buried.'"

"This above account I have written down as dictated to me by William
Soutar in the presence of Robert Graham, brother to the Laird of
Balgowan, and of my two sons, James and John Rattray, at Craighall,
30th December, 1730.

"We at Craighall heard nothing of this history till after the search
was over, but it was told us on the morrow by some of the servants who
had been with the rest at the search; and on Saturday Glasclune's son
came over to Craighall and told us that William Soutar had given a
very distinct account of it to his father.

"On St. Andrew's Day, the 1st of December, this David Soutar (the
ghost) listed himself a soldier, being very soon after the time the
apparition said the murder was committed, and William Soutar declares
he had no remembrance of him till that apparition named him as brother
to George Soutar; then, he said, he began to recollect that when he
was about ten years of age he had seen him once at his father's in a
soldier's habit, after which he went abroad and was never more heard
of; neither did William ever before hear of his having listed as a
soldier, neither did William ever before hear of his having killed a
man, nor, indeed, was there ever anything heard of it in the country,
and it is not yet known who the person was that was killed, and whose
bones are now found.

"My son John and I went within a few days after to visit Glasclune,
and had the account from him as William had told him over. From
thence we went to Middle Mause to hear it from himself; but he being
from home, his father, who also lives in that town, gave us the same
account of it which Glasclune had done, and the poor man could not
refrain from shedding tears as he told it, as Glasclune told us his
son was under very great concern when he spoke of it to him. We all
thought this a very odd story, and were under suspense about it
because the bones had not been found upon the search.

"(Another account that also seems to have been written by the bishop
mentions that the murderer on committing the deed went home, and on
looking in at the window he saw William Soutar lying in a cradle--
hence it was the ghaist always came to him, and not to any of the
other relations.)"

Mr. Hay Newton, of Newton Hall, a man of great antiquarian tastes in
the last generation, wrote the following notes on the matter:--

"Widow M'Laren, aged seventy-nine, a native of Braemar, but who has
resided on the Craighall estate for sixty years, says that the
tradition is that the man was murdered for his money; that he was a
Highland drover on his return journey from the south; that he arrived
late at night at the Mains of Mause and wished to get to Rychalzie;

Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest