« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
to him to be very unlike what he had expected and, indeed, an extremely agreeable one. But with a cry of agony, she answered, that there was no rest in hell; that they must ever toil on at those very pleasures; and innumerable voices echoed through the interminable vaults, 'There is no rest in hell !! Whilst, throwing open their vest, each disclosed in his bosom an everburning flame! These, they said, were the pleasures of hell ; their choice on earth was now their inevitable doom! In the midst of the horror this scene inspired, his conductor returned, and, at his earnest entreaty, restored him again to earth; but as he quitted him, he said, “Remember ; in a year and a day we meet again!'
“At this crisis of his dream the sleeper awoke feverish and ill ; and whether from the effects of the dream, or of his preceding orgies, he was so unwell as to be obliged to keep his bed for several days, during which period he had time for many serious reflections, which terminated in a resolution to abandon the club and his licentious companions altogether.
“He was no sooner well, however, than they flocked around him, bent on recovering so valuable a member of their society; and having wrung from him a confession of the cause of his defection, which, as may be supposed, appeared to them eminently ridiculous, they soon contrived to make him ashamed of his good resolutions. He joined them again, resumed his former course of life, and when the annual saturnalia came round, he found himself with his glass in his hand, at the table, when
the president, rising to make the accustomed speech, began by saying, “Gentlemen : this being leap-year it is a year and a day since our last anniversary,' &c. &c. The words struck upon the young man's ear like a knell; but ashamed to expose his weakness to the jeers of his companions, he sat out the feast, plying himself with wine even more liberally than usually, in order to drown his intrusive thoughts; till, in the gloom of a winter's morning he mounted his horse to ride home. Some hours afterwards, the horse was found with his saddle and bridle on, quietly grazing by the road-side, about half-way between the city and Mr. B's house ; whilst a few yards off lay the corpse of his master.”
Comment on this weird tale is needless on our part, unless it be to remark that it would “point a moral” in a far more emphatic manner were the real names given of the young man whose fate is supposed to be described.
is ago, at
IN Ducketiana it is stated by Sir G. B. Duckett, that not a vestige remains of those extensive foundations which, a hundred years ago, attested the solidity and importance of the Westmoreland Ducketts' residence, the Manor House known formerly as Grayrigg Hall. A strange story is told of the last member of this opulent family, who inhabited this fine old English
Ducketts bigg Hall. mansion ere it was dismantled. The narrative has been detailed with great similarity in various works, such as Ferguson's Early Cumberland and Westmoreland Friends, and Backhouse's Life of Howgill, and is popularly known as “ The Quaker's Curse and its Fulfilment."
Francis Howgill, a noted member of the Society of Friends, resided at Todthorne, near Grayrigg, in Westmoreland, about the middle of the seventeenth century. At one time he travelled about the south of England preaching, and when he visited Bristol, in company with his compatriot, John Camm, his preaching was made the occasion of great rioting. In 1663 he returned to his own neighbourhood, whither his reputation had apparently preceded him, for, upon arriving at the market-place of Kendal, he was summoned to appear before the Justices, who were holding a court in a tavern. They tendered Howgill the oath of allegiance when he came before them, and as he refused to take it they committed him to confinement in Appleby jail. It may be pointed out, as a matter of history, that in the earliest days of the brotherhood, members of the Society of Friends were often subjected to severe penalties and much persecution for their refusal to conform to the taking of judicial oaths. At Appleby the judges of Assizes also tendered Howgill the same oath and, on his refusal to swear it, ordered him to be indicted at the next Assizes. Meanwhile they offered to release him from custody if he would give a bond for his good behaviour in the interim, but this he refused to do, and therefore was re-committed to prison.
During his imprisonment a curious incident happened. Howgill was allowed by the magistrates to go home to Grayrigg for a few days on private affairs, and in the course of the time he was at liberty the Quaker felt. himself compelled to visit a justice of the name of Duckett, residing at Grayrigg Hall, who was a great persecutor of the Quakers, and was, also, one of the magistrates concerned in committing him to prison. Francis Howgill, on this occasion, was accompanied by a friend who, over the initials “J. D.” would appear to have left a written report of the interview. Justice Duckett expressed much surprise at seeing Howgill, and said to him, “What is your wish now, Francis ? I thought you had been in Appleby jail.” Howgill replied to this effect, “No, I am not, but I am come with a message from the Lord. Thou hast persecuted the Lord's people, but His hand is now against thee, and He will send a blast upon all that thou hast, and thy name shallrot out of the earth, and this thy dwelling shall become desolate, and a habitation for owls and jackdaws." When Howgill had delivered this message, the Justice trembled, and said, “Francis, are you in earnest ? ” To which Howgill responded, “Yes, I am in earnest, it is the word of the Lord to thee, and there are many now living who will see it.”
This prediction by the Quaker appears to have been remarkably fulfilled ; for, according to the testimony of James Wilson, who was a minister among the Friends, and who lived at one time at Grayrigg Foot, in Westmoreland, this Justice Duckett had several children, and all those children died without leaving any issue, whilst some of them came to poverty. James Wilson himself had repeatedly given alms at his door to a woman, the last of the Duckett family, who begged her bread from door to door. Grayrigg Hall passed into the possession of the Lowther family, was dismantled, fell into ruins, and in 1777 little more than its extensive foundations were visible. After having long been the habitation of “ owls and jackdaws," the ruins were entirely removed, and a farmhouse erected upon the site of the old Hall. And thus the Quaker's curse was fulfilled.
In April, 1862, one of those stories of haunted houses, which are continually “ cropping up,” both in print and in private conversation, went the usual round of the press. The London correspondent of Saunders's News Letter, having read the comments of his contemporaries, told the tale in his own fashion, as below. It should be premised that the “Mr. R- ” of the story is Mr. Henry Phillip Roche, the friend of Lord Westbury, and, thanks to that friendship, was by him appointed one of the Registrars of the London Court of Bankruptcy.
“Really, what with Mr. Home, Mr. Forster, and Sir