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“ This extraordinary narrative was obtained by me direct from the parties themselves," says Owen. “The widow of Captain Wheatcroft kindly consented to examine and correct the manuscript, and allowed me to inspect a copy of Captain C- 's letter, giving the particulars of her husband's death. To Mr. Wilkinson, also, the manuscript was submitted, and he assented to its accuracy so far as he is concerned. I have neglected no precaution, therefore, to obtain for it the warrant of authenticity.
“It is, perhaps,” concludes Owen, “the only example on record where the appearance of what is usually termed a ghost proved the means of correcting an erroneous date in the despatches of a Commanderin-Chief, and of detecting an inaccuracy in the certificate of a War-Office."
INNUMERABLE stories are related of various rooms in the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge being haunted. One of the most circumstantial is given in Howitt's History of the Supernatural, as related to him by Wordsworth, on his return from paying a visit to his brother, Dr. Christopher Wordsworth, then Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. According to the poet's
account, as detailed by Howitt, a young man, having just come to enter himself a student at Trinity, brought with him a letter of introduction to Dr. Wordsworth. Upon presenting his introductory epistle, the student asked the Master if he could recommend comfortable quarters to him, and Dr. Wordsworth mentioned some that were at that time vacant. The young man took them.
A few days after this, Dr. Wordsworth, seeing the collegian, asked him how he liked his new quarters. He replied that the rooms themselves were very comfortable, but that he should be obliged to give them up. Upon being asked what was his reason for doing so, the young freshman replied, Dr. Wordsworth might think him fanciful, but that the rooms were haunted, and that he had been awakened every night by the apparition of a child, which wandered about the rooms moaning, and, strange to say, with the palms of its hands turned outwards; that he had searched his rooms, and on each occasion found them securely locked, and that he was convinced nothing but an apparition could have traversed them. Dr. Wordsworth said he would now be candid with him, and confess that these rooms had been repeatedly abandoned by students on the plea that they were haunted, but that, having a perfect reliance on his judgment and veracity, from what he had heard of him, he was desirous of seeing whether he would confirm the story, having had no intimation of it beforehand. “Whether," says Howitt, very pertinently, “ the young man thanked the Master for his recommendation of such lodgings, does not appear.”
In The Night Side of Nature is given another instance of the appearance of an apparition in one of the colleges at Cambridge, but, unfortunately, the name of the college is not given, and only the initial of the ghost-seer's name. The story is that three young men, students at the university, after having been out hunting, met and dined together in the apartments of one of them. After dinner the host and one of his guests, fatigued with their heavy exercise, fell asleep; but the third person present, Mr. M- , remained awake. After a time Mr. M— beheld the door open, and an elderly gentleman enter and place himself behind the sleeping owner of the rooms. Having stood there for about a minute, the stranger moved away, and proceeded into the “gyp” room, a small inner chamber, whence there was no other means of exit than through the door he had entered. As the stranger did not come out again from the “gyp” room, Mr. M— woke his host, and told him that somebody had gone into the room, remarking, “I don't know who it can be.”
The young man rose and looked into the “gyp” room, but as there was no one there, he very naturally accused Mr. M- of having been dreaming ; but he was quite positive that he had not been asleep. He then gave a description of the visitor's appearance, describing him as dressed like a country squire, with gaiters, and so forth. “Why, that's like my father," said the host, and at once instituted inquiry as to whether the old gentleman had been there, and had contrived to slip out again unobserved. He had not been seen ; and an early post brought the intelligence of his death, which had occurred about the time he was seen at Cambridge.
In his celebrated Athena Oxonienses, Anthony à Wood, the learned antiquary, states that Dr. Jacob, a well-known medical man, told him the following marvellous relation of an apparition that visited his house at Canterbury. “ This very story,” records à Wood, “ Dr. Jacobs told me himself, being then at Lord Teynham's, in Kent, where he was then physician to my eldest son, whom he recovered from a fever.” Dr. Jacob also repeated the relation in a letter which Aubrey, the antiquary, alludes to in his Miscellanies. The story is that “the learned Henry Jacob,” a fellow of Merton College, Oxford, died at Dr. Jacob's house at Canterbury.
About a week after Henry Jacob's death, the doctor being in bed and awake, and the moon shining bright into his room, he beheld his deceased cousin standing by the bedside in his shirt, with a white cap on his head, and his “mustachoes turning up, as when he was alive.” The doctor pinched himself to be assured that
he was awake, and turned to the other side away from the apparition. After some time he plucked up courage to turn towards it again, and Henry Jacob stood there still. The doctor would have spoken to him, but could not, for which he has been sorry ever since. In some little time the apparition disappeared.
Not long after this incident the cook-maid, going out to the wood-pile one evening to fetch some wood for the kitchen fire, averred that she saw the apparition of Mr. Henry in his shirt, standing on the pile of wood.
This spectre does not seem to have troubled the doctor any more; but it is stated that when dying Henry Jacob would fain have told his cousin something, but was not able to. It is imagined, says Aubrey, that he would have informed Dr. Jacob with what person he had deposited the manuscripts of his own writings, which were all the riches he had, and which, it was strongly suspected, fell into the hands. of a certain person who printed them under his own name. If anything could bring an author's spirit back to this sphere, certainly such an outrage on his memory would.
ANYONE conversant with the less-known judicial records of the past, is well aware that supernatural evidence frequently formed an important factor in ancient crimi