Изображения страниц

about two minutes, when it began slowly to move before my sister-in-law; then, following the oblongshape of the table, before my son and myself; passing behind my wife, it paused for a moment over her right shoulder [observe, there was no mirror opposite to her in which she could there behold it]. Instantly she crouched down, and with both hands covering her shoulder, she shrieked out, O Christ! It has seized me!' Even now, while writing, I feel the fresh horror of that moment. I caught up my chair, struck at the wainscot behind her, rushed up-stairs to the other children's room, and told the terrified nurse what I had seen. Meanwhile, the other domestics had hurried into the parlour, where their mistress recounted to them the scene, even as I was detailing it above stairs.

“The marvel,” adds Mr. Swifte, “ of all this is enhanced by the fact that neither my sister-in-law nor my son beheld this appearance.' When I the next morning related the night's horror to our chaplain, after the service in the Tower church, he asked me, might not one person have his natural senses deceived ? And if one, why might not two ? My answer was, if two, why not two thousand ? an argument which would reduce history, secular or sacred, to a fable.”

“Our chaplain,” remarked Mr. Swifte in a subsequent communication to Notes and Queries, “ suggested the possibilities of some foolery having been intromitted at my windows, and proposed the visit of a scientific friend, who minutely inspected the parlour, and made the closest investigation, but could not in any way solve the mystery.”

In reply to further communications later on, the JewelKeeper stated that his wife did not perceive any form in the cylindrical tube, but only the cloud or vapour which both of them at once described. Her health was not affected, nor was her life terminated, as had been suggested, by the apparition which both had seen; nor could it have been, as Mr. Swifte pertinently pointed out, a fog or vapour that seized his wife by the shoulder. Finally, replying to the suggestion of “phantasmagoric agency,” Mr. Swifte not only made it clear that no optical action from outside could have produced any manifestation within, through the thick curtains, but also, that the most skilful operator could not produce an appearance visible to only half the persons present, and that could bodily lay hold of one individual among them. The mystery remains unsolved.

A more tragical incident, following hard on the visitation to his own habitation, is thus alluded to by Mr. Swifte; and although the tale has been told by many, and in many different ways, as he was so closely connected with it, it is but just that the Keeper's version should be the one accepted.

“One of the night-sentries at the Jewel Office," records our authority, “was alarmed by a figure like a huge bear issuing from underneath the jewel-room door," -as ghostly a door as ever was opened to or closed on a doomed man. “He thrust at it with his bayonet, which stuck in the door, even as my chair dinted the

rity, “was alarn the jewel-rooth sed on

wainscot; he dropped in a fit, and was carried senseless to the guard-room.

“When on the morrow I saw the unfortunate soldier in the main guard-room," continues Mr. Swifte, “his fellow-sentinel was also there, and testified to having seen him on his post just before the alarm, awake and alert, and even spoken to him. Moreover, I then heard the poor man tell his own story. . . . I saw him once again on the following day, but changed beyond my recognition ; in another day or two the brave and steady soldier, who would have mounted a breach or led a forlorn hope with unshaken nerves, died at the presence of a shadow.”

Mr. George Offor, referring to this tragedy, speaks of strange noises having also been heard when the figure resembling a bear was seen by the doomed soldier.


ACCORDING to Mr. J. Sullivan, in his Cumberland and Westmoreland, the latter county never produced a more famous spectre, or “ bogie,” to give the local term, than Jemmy Lowther, well known for want of a more appropriate name, as the “bad Lord Lonsdale”; infamous as a man, he was famous as a ghost. This notorious character, who is described as a modern impersonation of the worst and coarsest feudal baron ever imported into England by the Conqueror, became a still greater terror to the neighbourhood after death than he had ever been during his life. So strongly had superstitious dread of the deceased nobleman impregnated the popular mind, that it was asserted as an absolute fact, that his body was buried with difficulty, and that whilst the clergyman was praying over it it very nearly knocked him from his desk.

When placed in his grave, Lord Lonsdale's power of creating alarm was not interred with his bones. There were continual disturbances in the hall and noises in the stables; and, according to popular belief, neither men nor animals were suffered to rest. His Lordship's phantom "coach and six" is still remembered and spoken of, and still believed in by some to be heard dashing across the country. Nothing is said of the “bad lord's ” shape or appearance, and it is doubtful whether the spectre has ever appeared to sight, but it has frequently made itself audible. The hall became almost uninhabitable on account of the dead man's pranks, and out of doors was, for a long time, almost equally dreaded, as even there there was constant danger of encountering the miscreant ghost. Of late years this eccentric spirit appears to have relinquished its mortal haunts, and by the peasantry is believed to have been laid for ever under a large rock called Wallow Crag.


Many judicial decisions have been based upon, or influenced by, the presumed testimony of apparitions. These pages contain more than one historical record of such cases, but none more singular than that of Anne Walker, which may be found fully detailed in the works of the famous Dr. Henry More, the Platonist.

Lumley, a village near Chester-le-Street, in the county of Durham, a widower named Walker, who was a man in good circumstances. Anne Walker, a young relation of his, kept his house, to the great scandal of the neighbourhood, and, as it proved, with but too good cause. A few weeks before this young woman expected to become a mother, Walker placed her with her aunt, one Dame Cave, in Chester-le-Street, and promised to provide both for her and her future child. One evening towards the end of November, this man, in company with Mark Sharp, an acquaintance of his, came to Dame Cave's door, and told her they had made arrangements for removing her niece to a place where she could remain in safety till her confinement was over. They would not say where it was, but as Walker bore in most respects an excellent character, he was allowed to take the young woman away with him, and he professed to have sent her away with his acquaintance Sharp into Lancashire.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »