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gard to the spectre of Dundee appearing just at the time he fell in battle, it must be considered that, agreeably to the well-known doctrine of chances, which mathematicians have so well investigated, the event might as well occur then as at any other time, while a far greater proportion of other apparitions, less fortunate in such a supposed confirmation of their supernatural origin, is quietly allowed to sink into oblivion. Thus, it is the office of superstition to carefully select all successful coincidences of this kind, and to register them in her marvellous volumes, where for ages they have served to delude and mislead the world.
Nor can another striking narrative, to be found in Beaumont's World of Spirits, meet with any better solution. I shall give it for no other reason than because it is better told than most ghost-stories with which I am acquainted. It is dated in the year 1662, and it relates to an apparition seen by the daughter of Sir Charles Lee, immediately preceding her death. No reasonable doubt can be placed on the authenticity of the narrative, as it was drawn up by the Bishop of Gloucester from the recital of the young lady's father.
"Sir Charles Lee, by his first lady, had only one daughter, of which she died in child-birth; and when she was dead, her sister, the Lady Everard, desired to have the education of the child, and she was by her very well educated, till she was marriageable, and a match was concluded for her with Sir William Perkins, but was then prevented in an extraordinary manner. Upon a Thursday night, she, thinking she
saw a light in her chamber after she was in bed, knocked for her maid, who presently came to her; and she asked, 'why she left a candle burning in her chamber?' The maid said, she left none, and there was none but what she had brought with her at that time ;' then she said it was the fire, but that, her maid told her, was quite out; and said she believed it was only a dream; whereupon she said, it might be so, and composed herself again to sleep. But about two of the clock she was awakened again, and saw the apparition of a little woman between her curtain and her pillow, who told her she was her mother, that she was happy, and that by twelve of the clock that day she should be with her. Whereupon she knocked again for her maid, called for her clothes, and when she was dressed, went into her closet, and came not out again till nine, and then brought out with her a letter sealed to her father; brought it to her aunt, the Lady Everard, told her what had happened, and declared, that as soon as she was dead it might be sent to him. The lady thought she was suddenly fallen mad, and thereupon sent presently away to Chelmsford for a physician and surgeon, who both came immediately; but the physician could discern no indication of what the lady imagined, or of any indisposition of her body; notwithstanding the lady would needs have her let blood, which was done accordingly. And when the young woman had patiently let them do what they would with her, she desired that the chaplain might be called to read prayers; and when prayers were ended, she took her guitar and psalm-book, and sat down upon a chair without arms, and played and
sung so melodiously and admirably, that her musickmaster, who was then there, admired at it. And near the stroke of twelve, she rose and sate herself down in a great chair with arms, and presently fetching a strong breathing or two, immediately expired, and was so suddenly cold, as was much wondered at by the physician and surgeon. She died at Waltham, in Essex, three miles from Chelmsford, and the letter was sent to Sir Charles, at his house in Warwickshire; but he was so afflicted with the death of his daughter, that he came not till she was buried; but when he came, he caused her to be taken up, and to be buried with her mother at Edmonton, as she desired in her letter."
This is one of the most interesting ghost-stories on record. Yet, when strictly examined, the manner in which a leading circumstance in the case is reported, affects but too much the supernatural air imparted to other of its incidents. For whatever might have been averred by a physician of the olden time, with regard to the young lady's sound state of health during the period she saw her mother's ghost, it may be asked,— If any practitioner at the present day would have been proud of such an opinion, especially when death followed so promptly after the spectral impression?
"There's bloom upon her cheek;
But now I see it is no living hue,
But a strange hectic-like the unnatural red
Probably the exhausted female herself might have unintentionally contributed to the more strict verifi
cation of the ghost's prediction. It was an extraordinary exertion which her tender frame underwent, near the expected hour of its dissolution, in order that she might retire from all her scenes of earthly enjoyment with the dignity of a resigned Christian. And what subject can be conceived more worthy the masterly skill of the painter, than to depict a young and lovely saint, cheered with the bright prospect of futurity before her, and before the quivering flame of life, which for the moment was kindled up into a glow of holy ardour, had expired for ever, sweeping the strings of the guitar with her trembling fingers, and melodiously accompanying the notes with her voice, in a hymn of praise to her heavenly Maker? Entranced with such a sight, the philosopher himself would dismiss for the time his usual cold and cavilling scepticism, and, giving way to the superstitious impressions of less deliberating by-standers, partake with them in the most grateful of religious solaces, which the spectacle was so well calculated to inspire.
Regarding the confirmation, which the ghost's mission is, in the same narrative, supposed to have received from the completion of a foreboded death,—all that can be said of it is, that the coincidence was a fortunate one; for, without it, the story would probably have never met with a recorder, and we should have lost one of the sweetest anecdotes that private life has ever afforded. But, on the other hand, a majority of popular ghost-stories might be adduced, wherein apparitions have either visited our world without any ostensible purpose and errand whatever, or, in the circumstances of their mission, have exhibited all the
inconsistency of conduct so well exposed in the quotation, which I have given from Grose, respecting departed spirits.
With respect to some other apparitions which have been recorded, the difficulty is far less to satisfactorily account for them; they may be contemplated as the illusions of well-known diseases. Thus, there can be no hesitation in considering the following apparition, given on the authority of Aubery and Turner, as having had its origin in the Delirium Tremens of drunkenness. "Mr Cassio Burroughs," says the narrator of this very choice, yet, I believe, authentic story, was one of the most beautiful men in England, and very valiant, but very proud and blood-thirsty. There was then in London a very beautiful Italian lady," [whom he seduced]. "The gentlewoman died ; and afterwards, in a tavern in London, he spake of it," [contrary to his sacred promise], "and then going" [out of doors] "the ghost of the gentlewoman did appear to him. He was afterwards troubled with the apparition of her, even sometimes in company when he was drinking. Before she did appear, he did find a kind of chilness upon his spirits. She did appear to him in the morning before he was killed in a duel."
But it is now time to review the progress which has been made in this inquiry. I have endeavoured to trace the connexion of spectral illusions with certain diseased or irritable states of the system, and to demonstrate in what manner the subject of the apparitions thus produced has corresponded with the fanci