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greater safety, and iights burning by them, the candles in an instant went out with a sulphurous smell, and that moment many trenchers of wood were hurlod about the room, which next morning were found to be the same their honours had eaten out of the day before, which were all removed from the pantry, though not a lock was found opened in the whole house. The next night they sared still worse; the candles went out as before, the curtains of their honours' beds were rattled to and fro with great violence, they received many cruel blows and bruises by eight great pewter dishes, and a number of wooden trenchers being thrown on their beds, which, being heaved off, were heard rolling about the room, though in the morning none of these were to be seen. The next night the keeper of the king's house and his dog lay in the commissioners' room, and then they had no disturbance. But on the night of the 22d, though the dog lay in the room as before, yet the candles went out, a number of brickbats fell from the chimney into the room, the dog howled piteously, their bed-clothes were all stripped off, and their terror increased. On the 24th they thought all the wood of the king's oak was violently thrown down by their bed-sides; they counted 64 billets that fell, and some hit and shook the beds in which they lay , but in the inorning none was found there, nor had the door been opened where the billet-wood was kept. The next night the candles were put out, the curtains rattled, and a dreadful crack like thunder was heard; and one of the servants running in haste, thinking his master was killed, found three dozen of trenchers laid smoothly under the quilt by him. But all this was nothing to what succeeded afterwards. The 29th, about midnight, the candles went out, something walked majestically through the room, and opened and shut the windows; great stones were thrown violently into the room, some of which fell on the beds, others on the floor; and at about a quarter after one, a noise was heard as of forty cannon discharged together, and again repeate at about eight minutes interval. This alarmed and raised all the neighbourhood, who coming into their honours' room, gathered up the great stones, fourscore in number, and laid them by in the corner of a field, where, in Dr. Plot's time, they were to be seen. This noise, like the discharge of cannon, was heard over the country for several miles round. During these noises the commissioners and their servants gave one another over for lost and cried out for help; and Giles Sharp, snatching up a sword, had well nigh killed one of their honours, mistaking him for the spirit, as he came in his shirt from his own room to theirs. While they were together the noise was continued, and part of the tiling of the house was stripped of and all the windows of an upper room were taken away with it. On the 30th, at midnight, something walked into the chamber tread
ing like a bear; it walked many times about, then threw the warming-pan violently on the floor; at the same time a large quantity of brokcn glass, accompanied with great stones and horse bones, came pouring into the room with uncommon force. On the 1st of November the mos, dreadful scene of all ensued. Candles in every part of the room were lighted up, and a great fire made; at midnight, the candles all yet burning, a noise like the bursting of a cannon was neard in the room, and the burning billets were tossed about by it even into their honours' beds, who called Giles and his companions to their relief, otherwise the house had been bufnt to the ground; about an hour after, the candles went out as usual, the crack as of many cannon was heard, and many pallfuls of green stinking water were thrown upon their honours' beds, great stones were also thrown in as before, the bed-curtains and bedsteads torn and broken, the windows shattered, and the whole neighbourhood alarmed with the most dreadsul noises; nay, the very rabbit-stealers, that were abroad that night in the warren, were so terrified, that they fled for fear, and left their ferrets behind them. One of their honours this night spoke, and, in the maine of God, asked what it was, and why it disturbed then so? No answer was given to this ; but the noise ceased for a while, when the spirit came again; and, as they all agreed, brought with it seven devils worse than itself. One of the servants now lighted a large candle, and set it in the doorway between the two chambers, to see what passed; and as he watched it, he plainly saw a hoof striking the candle and candlestick into the middle of the room, and afterwards, making three scrapes over the snuff, scraped it out. Upon this the same person was so bold as to draw a sword, but he had scarce got it out when he felt another invisible hand holding it too, and pulling it from him, and at length prevailing, struck him so violently on the head with the pummel, that he fell down for dead with the blow. At this instant was heard another burst like the discharge of the broadside of a ship of war, and at the interval of a minute or two between each, no less than 19 such discharges. These shook the house so violently that they expected every moment it would fall upon their heads. The neighbours being all alarmed, flocked to the house in great numbers, and all joined in prayer and psalm-singing; during which the noise continued in the other rooms, and the discharge of cannons was heard as from without, though no visible agent was seen to discharge them. But what was the most alarming of all, and put an end to their proceedings effectually, happened the next day, as they were all at dinner. when a paper, in which they had signed a mutual agreement to reserve a part of the premisos out of the general survey, and afterwards to share
it equall” vinong themselves, (which paper they nad mid for the present under the earth in a pot in oue corner of the room, and in which an orange tree grew,) was consumed in a wonderful manner by the earth's taking fire with which the pot was filled, and burning violently with a blue flame and an intolerable stench, so that they were all driven out of the house to which they could never be again prevailed upon to return. This story has been somewhat abridged from the Encyclopædia Brittannica, where it is quoted from Dr. Plot's history. If I recollect right, it is embodied in the book entitled “Satan's Invisible World Discovered,” and the extraordinary occurrences it relates ascribed to Satanic influence. At the time they happened, they were viewed as the effects of supernatural powers; and even Dr. Plot seems disposed to ascribe them to this cause. “Though many tricks,” says the Doctor, “have been often played in affairs of this kind, many of the things above related are not reconcleable with juggling; such as the loud noises beyond the powers of man to make without such instruments as were not there; the tearing and ‘reaking the beds; the throwing about the fire; the hoof treading out the candie; and the striving for the sword ; and the blow the man received from the pummel of it.” It was at length ascertained, however, that this wonderful contrivance was all the invention of the memorable Joseph Collins of Oxford, otherwise called Funny Joe, who, having hired himself as secretary under the name of Giles Sharp, by knowing the private traps belonging to the house, and by the help of Pulvis Fulminans, and other chemical preparations, and letting his fellow-servants into the scheme, carried on the deceit without discovery to the very last. Ventriloquism is another source whence a belief of apparitions has been induced. By this art, certain persons can so modify their voice as to make it appear to the audience to proceed from any distance, and in any direction, and by which impostors have sometimes accomplished their nefarious designs, of which the following are instances. Louis Brahant, a dexterous ventriloquist, valetde-chambre to Francis I., had fallen desperately in love with a young, handsome, and rich heiress; but was rejected by the parents as an unsuitable match for their daughter, on account of the lowness of his circumstances. The young ady's father dying, he made a visit to the widow, who was totally ignorant of his singular talent. Suddenly, on his first appearance in open day, in her own house, and in the presence of several persons who were with her, she heard herself accostedin a voice perfectly resembling that of her dead musband,and which seemed to proceed from above, exclaiming, “Give my daughter in marriage to Louis Brahant. He is a man of great fortune and of an excellent character. I now suffer the inexpressible torments of purgatory for having re
fused her to him. If you obey this adm inition I shall soon be delivered from this place of torment. You will at the same time provide a worthy husband for your daughter, and procure everlasting repose to the soul of your poor hus: band.” The widow could not for a moment resist this dreadful summons, which had not the most distant appearance of proceeding from Louis Brahant, whose countenance exhibited no visible change, and whose lips were close and motionless during the delivery of it. Accordingly, she consented immediately to receive him for her son-in-law.—Louis's finances, however, were in a very low situation, and the formalities attending the marriage-contract rendered it necessary for him to exhibit some show of riches, and root to give the ghost the lie direct. He, accordingly, went to work on a fresh subject, one Cornu, an old and rich banker at Lyons, who had accumulated immense wealth by usury and extortion, and was known to be haunted by remorse of conscience, on account of the manner in which he had acquired it. Having contracted an intimate acquaintance with this man, he, one dav, while they were sitting together in the usurer’s little back parlour, artfully turned the conversation on religious subjects, on demons, and spectres, the pains of purgatory, and the torments of hell. During an interval of silence between them, a voice was heard, which, to the astouished banker, seemed to be that of his deceased father, complaining, as in the former case, of his dreadful situation in purgatory, and calling upon him to deliver him instantly from thence, by putting into the hands of Louis Brahant, then with him, a large sum for the redemption of Christians ' then in slavery with the Turks; threatening him, at the same time, with eternal damnation, if he did not take this method to expiate, likewise, his own sins. Louis Branant, of course, af. fected a due degree of astonishment on the occasion; and further promoted the deception by acknowledging his having devoted himself to the prosecution of the charitable design imputed to him by the ghost. An old usurer is naturally suspicious. Accordingly, the wary banker made a second appointment with the ghost's delegate for the next day: and, to render any design of imposing upon him utterly abortive, took him into the open fields, where not a house or a tree, or even a bush, or a pit were in sight, capable of screening any supposed confederate. This extraordinary caution excited the ventriloquist to exert all the powers of his art. Wherever the banker conducted him, at every step, his ears were saluted on all sides with the complaints, and groans, not only of his father, but of all his deceased relations, imploring him for the love of God, and in the name of every saint in the calender, to have mercy on his own soul and theirs, by effectually seconding with his purse the intentions of his worthy companion. Cornu could no
wonger resist the voice of heaven, and, accordingly, carried his guest home with him, and paid him down ten thousand crowns; with which the honest ventriloquist returned to Paris, and married his mistress. The catastrophe was fatal. "The secret was afterwards blown, and reached the usurer's ears, who was so much affected by the loss of his money, and the mortifying railleries of his neighbours, that he took to his bed and died. Another trick of a similar kind was played off about sixty or seventy years ago, on a whole community, by another French ventriloquist. “M. St. Gill, the ventriloquist, and his intimate friend, returning home from a place whither his business had carried him, sought sor shelter from an approaching thunder-storm in a neighbouring convent. Finding the whole community in mourning, he inquired the cause, and was told that one of the body had died lately, who was the ornament and delight of the whole seciety. To pass away the time, he walked into the church, attended by some of the religious, who showed him the tomb of their deceased brother, and spoke feelingly of the scanty honours they had bestowed on his memory. Suddenly a voice was heard, apparently proceeding from the roof of the choir, lamenting the situation of the defunct in purgatory, and reproaching the brotherhood with their lukewarmness and want of zeal on his account. The friars, as soon as their astonishment gave them power to speak, consulted together, and agreed to acquaint the rest of the community with this singular event, so interesting to the whole society. M. St. Gill, who wished to carry on the joke a little farther, dissuaded them from taking this step, telling them that they would be treated by their absent brethren as a set of fools and visionaries. He recommended to them, however, the immediately calling the whole community into the church, where the ghost of their departed brother might probably reiterate his complaints. Accordingly, all the friars, novices, lay-brothers, and even the domestics of the convent, were immediately summoned and called together, In a short time the voice from the roof renewed its lamentations and reproaches, and the whole convent fell on their faces, and vowed a solemn reparation. As a first step, they chanted a De profundis in a full choir : during the intervals of which the ghost occasionally expressed the comfort he received from their pious exercises and ejaculations on his behalf. When all was over, the prior entered into a serious conversation with M. St. Gill; and on the strength of what had just passed, sagaciously inveighed against the absurd incredulity of our modern sceptics and pretended philosophers, on the article of ghosts or apparitions. M. St. Gill thought it high time to disabuse the good fathers. This purpose, however, he found it extremely difficult to effect, till he had prevail
ed upon them to return with him into the church, and there be winnesses of the manuer in which he had conducted this ludicrous deception.” Had not the ventriloquist, in this case, explained the cause of the deception, a whole body of men might have sworn, with a good conscience, that they had heard the ghost of a departed brother address them again and again in a supernatural voice. It is highly probable, that many of those persons termed witches and necromancers in ancient times, who pretended to be invested with supernatural powers, performed their deceptions by the art of ventriloquism. The term literally means, speaking from the belly; and, in accord ance with this idea, we find that the Pythoness, or witch of Endor, to whom Saul applied for advice in his perplexity, is designated in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, “a woman that speaks from her belly or stomach,” as inost magicians affected to do; and some authors have informed us, that there were women who had a demon which spake articulately from the lower part of their stomachs, in a very loud, though hoarse tone. Umbrae cum saganà resonarent triste et acutum. Hor. Sat. viii. lib. i. Our English translation “familiar spirit,” in Hebrew, signifies “the spirit of Ob or Oboth.” The word Ob in its primitive sense, denotes a bottle or vessel of leather, wherein liquors were put ; and it is not unlikely that this name was given to witches, because, in their fits of enthusiasm, they swelled in their bellies like a bootle. The occasion of this swelling is said by some authors to proceed from a demon's entering into the sorcerers per partes genitales, and so ascending to the bottom of her stomach, from whence, at that time, she uttered her predictions: and for this reason, the Latins call such persons Wentriloqui, and the Greeks Eyyaarpinybot, that is, people who speak out of their bellies. Caelius Rhodiginus (Antiq, lib. 8. c. 10) says, in reference to such cases, “While I am writing concerning ventriloquous persons, there is, in my own country, a woman of a mean extract, who has an unclean spirit in her belly, from whence ray be heard a voice, not very strong indeed, but very articulate and intelligible. Multitudes of people have heard this voice, as well as myse.f, and all imaginable precaution has been used in examining into the truth of this fact:”—“Quande suturi avida portentus mers, saepe accersitum ventriloquam, ac exutam amictu, ne quid fraudis occultaret, inspectare et audire concupivir.” The author adds, “This demon is called Cincinnatulus, and when the woman calls upon him by his name, he immediately answers her.”—Several ancient writers have informed us, that in the times of Paganism, evil spirits had communion with these ventriloquae per partes secretiores, Chrysostom says, “Traditur Pythia foemina suisse, que in Tripodes sedens expansa malignum spiritum per interna immissum, et per genitales partes subeuntern excipiens, furore repleretur, ipsaque resolutis crinibus baccharetur, ex ore spumam emittens, et sic furoris verba loquebatur,” &c.
Spectres have also been produced by such optical erhibitions as the phantasmagoria. By means of this instrument, a spectre can be made apparently to start up from a white mist, and to rush forward towards the spectator with a horrific aspect. If a thin screen were placed in a dark room, and the lantern of the phantasmagoria, with its light properly concealed, the most terrific phantoms might be exhibited, which would confound and appal every one previously unacquainted with the contrivance, especially if the exhibition was suddenly made at the dead hour of night. By means of such exhibitions, combined with the art of ventriloquism, and the assistance of a confederate, almost every thing that has been recorded respecting spectres and apparitions might be realized.
I shall conclude these illustrations of apparitions, by presenting the reader with a description of the ghost of a flea, by Mr. Varley, formerly alluded to, as a specimen of the folly and superstition that still degrade the present age.
“With respect to the vision of the ghost of the flea, as seen by Mr. Blake, it agrees in countenance with one class of people under Gemini, which sign is the significator of the flea, whose brown colour is appropriate to the colour of the eyes, in some full-toned Gemini persons, and the neatness, elasticity, and tenseness of the flea, are significant of the elegant dancing and fencing sign Gemini. The spirit visited his imagination in such a figure as he never anticipated in an insect. As I was anxious to make the most correct investigation in my power of the truth of these visions, on hearing of this spiritual apparition of a flea, I asked him if he could draw for me the resemblance of what he saw. He instantly said, ‘I see him now before me.’ I therefore gave him paper and a pencil with which he drew the portrait, of which a fac-simile is given in this number. I felt convinced by his mode of proceeding, that he had a real image before him ; for he left off and began on another part of the paper, to make a separate drawing of the mouth of the flea, which the spirit having opened, he was prevented from proceeding with the first sketch, till he had closed it. During the time occupied in completing the drawing, the flea told him that all fleas were inhabited by the souls of such men as were by nature blood-thirsty to excess, and were, therefore, providentially confined to the size and form of such insects; otherwise, were he himself, for instance, the size of a horse, he would depopulate a great part of the country. He added, that, “if in attempting to leap from one island to another, he should fall into the sea, he could swim, and could not be lost.” This spirit afterwards ap
peared to Blake, and afforded him a view of hi. whole figure, an engraving of which I small give in this work.” N. B.-Blake, who died only two or three years ago, was an ingenious artist, who illustrat ed Blair's Grave, and other works, and was so much of an enthusiast, that he imagined he could call up from the vasty deep, any spirits or corporeal forms. Were it not a fact, that a work entitled “Zodiacal Physiognomy,” written by John Parley, and illustrated with engravings. was actually published in the year 1828, by Longman and Co., we should have deemed it almost impossible, that amidst the light of the present age, any man capable of writing a grammatical sentence, would seriously give such a description as that quoted above, and attach his beliefio such absurdity and nonsense. But amidst all our boasted scientific improvements and discoveries, it appears, that the clouds of ignorance and superstition still hang over a large body of our population, and that the light of the millennial era, if it have yet dawned, is stillsar from its meridian splendour.
After what has been now stated respecting the circumstances which may have led to the popular belief of spectres and apparitions, it would be almost needless to spend time in illustrating the futility of such a belief. There is one strong objection against the probability of apparitions, and that is, -that they scarcely appear to be intelligent creatures, or at least, that they possess so small a degree of intelligence, that they are unqualified to act with prudence, or to use the means requisite to accomplish an end. Ghosts are said often to appear in order to discover some crime that had been committed; but they never appear to a magistrate, or some person of authority and intelligence, but to some illiterate clown, who happens to live near the place where the crime was committed, to some person who has no connexion at all with the af. sair, and who, in general, is the most improper person in the world for making the discovery. Glanville, who wrote in defence of witchcraft and apparitions, relates, for instance, the following story: “James Haddock, a farmer, was married to Elenor Welsh, by whom he had a son. After the death of Haddock, his wife married one Davis: and both agreed to defraud the son by the former marriage, of a lease bequeathed to him by his father. Upon this the ghost of Haddock appeared to one Francis Taverner, the servant of Lord Chichester, and desired him to go to Elenor Welsh, and to inform her that it was the will of her former husband that their son should enjoy the lease. Taverner did not at first execu'e this commission, but he was continually haunted by the apparition in the most hideous shapes, which even threatened to tear him in pieces, till at last he delivered the message.” Now, had this spectre possessed the least common sense, it would have appeared first to Elenor Welsh, and her husband Davis, and fightened them into compliance at once, and not have kept poor Taverner, who had to concern in the matter, in such constant disquietude and alarm. Another odd circumstance respecting apparitions, is, that they have no power to speak, till they are addressed. In Glanville's relations, we read of an old woman, that appeared of en to David Hunter, a near-herd, at the house of the Bishop of Down. Whenever she appeared, he found himself obliged to follow her; and, for three quarters of a year, poor David spent the whole of almost every night in scampering up and down through the woods aster this old woman. How long this extraordinary employment might have continued, it is impossible to guess, had not David's violent fatigue made him one night exclaim, “Lord bless me!—would I overe dead!— shall I never be delivered from this misery " On which the phantom replied, “Lord bless me too! —I was happy you spoke first, for till then I had no power to speak, though I have followed you so long !” Then she gave him a message to her two sons, though David told her he remenbered nothing about her. David, it seems, ne glected to deliver the message, at which the old beldam was so much provoked, that she returned and hit him a hearty blow on the shoulder, which made him cry out and then speak to her. Now, if she could not speak till David addressed her, why intoht she not have applied this oratorial medicine, the first time she appeared to him 2 It would have saved both herself and him many a weary journey, and certainly David would much rather have had half a dozen blows from her choppy fists, than have wanted so many nights' sleep. To complete the story, it must be added, that when David's wife found it impossible to keep him from following the troublesome visiter, she trudged after him, but was never gratified with a sight of the enchantress.-See Ency. Brit. Art. Spectre. Wh it on aginable pirpose can be served by such dom' spectres that cannot speak till they are addressed, or by sending apparitions from the invisible world that appear destitute of common sense ? It is remarked by Glanville, that ghosts are generally very eager to b gone; and, indeed, they are frequently so much so, that like children and thoughtless fools, they do not stay to tell their erran J. It appears altogether inconsistent with any rational or scriptural ideas of the overruling providence of the Almighty, to suppose that such beings would be selected for administering the affairs of his kingdon, and for maintaining an intercourse between the visible and invisible worlds. It is also stated to be one peculiarity of spectres that they appear only in the night. But if they are sent to this sublunary region on affairs of importance, why should they be afraid of the light of the sun ? In the light
of day their inessage would be delivered wit", as much ease, and with more chance of success. As it would excite less fear, it would be listened to with more calmness and attention ; and were they to exhibit themselves before a number of intelligent witnesses in the full blaze of day, the purposes for which they were sent would be more speedily and securely accomplished. The celestial messengers whose visits are recorded in Scripture, appeared most frequently during the light of day, and communicated their messages, in many instances, to a number of individuals at once—messages, which were of the utmost importance to the individuals addressed, and even to mankind at large. To give credit, therefore, to the popular stories respecting ghosts and apparitions, embodies in it a reflection on the character of the All-wise Ruler of the world, and a libel on the administrations of his moral gowerininent. *
As steam-engines are now applied to the purpose of impelling vessels along seas and rivers, as well as to many important manufacturing processes, and are capable of still more extensive applications, and of higher improvements than they have yet attained—it is of the utmost importance that every circumstance should be carefully guarded against, which has the remotest tendency to endanger the bursting of the boiler, —and that no person be intrusted with the direction of such engines who is not distinguished for prudence and caution, or who is unacquainted with their construction and the principle of their operation. For, to ignorance and imprudence are to be ascribed many of those accidents which have happened from the bursting of the boilers of these engines. This remark is strikingly illustrated by the following and many other tragical occurrences:
In the month of August 1815, the following melancholy accident happened at Messrs. Neshan and Co's colliery at Newbottle. The proprietors had formed a powerful locomotive steamengine for the purpose of drawing ten or twelve coal wagons to the staith at one time: and on the day it was to be put in motion, a great number of persons belonging to the colliery collected to see it; but, unfortunately, just as it was going off, the boiler of the machine burst. The engineman was dashed to pieces, and his man fled remains blown l 14 yards. The top of the boiler, nine feet square, weighing nineteen hundred weight, was blown 100 yards, and the two cylinders 90 yards. A little boy was also thrown to a great distance. By this accident fifty-seven persons were killed and wounded, of whom elever died on Sunday night : several remaining dangerously ill. The cause of the accident is ac