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OBSERVATIONS ON THE FOREGOING.
torious that for the observers to imagino them was a sheer impossibility. The thundering blows at Mr. Mompesson's shook the house and awoke the neighbors in an adjoining village. The poundings at Madame Hauffe's displaced the rafters and arrested the attention of passers. by in the street. At Epworth, let them make what noises they might, the “dead, hollow note would be clearly heard above them all.” At Hydesville, the house was abandoned by its occupants, and hundreds of the curious assembled, night after night, to test the reality of the knockings which sounded from every part of it.
There was ample opportunity to observe. The occurrences were not single appearances, suddenly presenting themselves, quickly passing away: they were repeated day after day, month after month, sometimes year after year. They could be tested and re-tested. Nor did they produce in the witnesses an evanescent belief, fading away after sober reflection. Mr. Mompesson, Councilor Hahn, Emily Wesley, when half a lifetime had passed by, retained, and expressed, the same unwavering conviction as at first.
The narratives fail neither in minute detail of circumstance, nor in specifications of person, of time, and of place.
The observers were not influenced by expectancy, nor biased by recital of previous examples. The phenomena, indeed, have been of frequent occurrence; exhibiting an unmistakable family likeness, constituting a class. Yet not in a single instance does this fact appear to have been known to the observers. That which each witnessed he believed to be unexampled. Neither at Tedworth, nor Epworth, nor Slawensik, nor Baldarroch, nor Ahrensburg, nor Cideville, nor Hydesville, do the sufferers seem to have known that others had suffered by similar annoyance before. The more reliable, on that account, is their testimony.
THE FANCIFUL AND THE REAL.
of excitement,-as during a battle or a plague,—or when they are generated in twilight gloom or midnight dark
But that the contagion of example, or the belief of one individual under the actual influence of hallucination, suffices to produce, in others around, disease of the retina or of the optic or auditory nerve, or, in short, any abnormal condition of the senses, is a supposition which, so far as my reading extends, is unsupported by any reliable proof whatever.
The hypothesis of hallucination, then, is, in a general way, untenable in cases where two or more independent observers perceive the same or a similar appearance. But, since we know that hallucination does occur, that hypothesis may, in cases where there is but a single observer, be regarded as the more natural one, to be rebutted only by such attendant circumstances as are not explicable except by supposing the appearance real.
Bearing with us these considerations, let us now endeavor to separate, in this matter, the fanciful from the real. In so doing, we may find it difficult to preserve the just mean between too ready admission and too strenuous unbelief. If the reader be tempted to suspect in me easy credulity, let him beware on his part of arrogant prejudgment. Contempt before inquiry,'' says Paley, “is fatal.” Discarding alike prejudice and superstition, adopting the inductive method, let us seek to determine whether, even if a large portion of the thousand legends of ghosts and apparitions that have won credence in every age be due to hallucination, there be not another portion—the records of genuine phenomena-observed by credible witnesses and attested by sufficient proof.
OF APPEARANCES COMMONLY CALLED APPARITIONS
THE evidence for a future life derived from an occasional appearance of the dead, provided that appearance prove to be an objective phenomenon, and provided we do not misconceive its character, is of the highest grade. If it be important, then, to obtain a valuable contribution to the proofs of the soul's immortality, what more worthy of our attention than the subject of apparitions?
But in proportion to its importance and to its extraordinary character is the urgent propriety that it be scrupulously, even distrustfully, examined, and that its reality be tested with dispassionate care.
For its discussion involves the theory of hallucination; a branch of inquiry which has much engaged, as indeed it ought, the attention of modern physiologists.
That pure hallucinations occur, we cannot rationally doubt; but what are, and what are not, hallucinations, it may be more difficult to determine than superficial observers are wont to imagine.
Hallucination, according to the usual definition, consists of ideas and sensations conveying unreal impressions. It is an example of false testimony (not always credited) apparently given by the senses in a diseased or abnormal state of the human organization.
she had been told was exactly true. But the strangest part of the story remains. When she took her husband to see the alleged seer, he started back in surprise, and afterward confessed to his wife that, on a certain day, (the same on which she had consulted the person in question, he was in a coffee house in London, (the same that had been named to her,) and that this very man had there accosted him, and had told him that his wife was in great anxiety about him; that then the sea-captain had replied informing the stranger why his return was delayed and why he had not written, whereupon the man turned away, and he lost sight of him in the crowd.*
This story, however, came to Stilling through several hands, and is very loosely authenticated. It was brought from America by a German who had emigrated to the United States, and had been many years manager of some mills on the Delaware. He related it, on his return to Germany, to a friend of Stilling's, from whom Stilling had it. But no names nor exact dates are given; and it is not even stated whether the German emigrant obtained the incident directly either from the sea-captain or his wife.
It is evident that such a narrative, coming to us with no better vouchers than these, (though we may admit Stilling's entire good faith,) cannot rationally be accepted as authority.
Yet it is to be remarked that, in its incidents, the above story is but little more remarkable than the Joseph Wilkins dream or the case of Mary Goffe, both already given in the chapter on Dreams. If true, it evidently belongs to the same class, with this variation: that the phenomena in the two cases referred to occurred spontaneously, whereas, according to the Stilling narra
*“ Theorie der Geisterkunde," vol. iv. of Stilling's “ Sämmtliche Werke," pp. 501 to 503. I have somewhat abridged in translating it.
APPARITION IN IRELAND.
tive, they were called up by the will of the subject and could be reproduced at pleasure.
The next narrative I am enabled to give as perfectly authentic.
APPARITION IN IRELAND.
There was living, in the summer of the year 1802, in the south of Ireland, a clergyman of the Established Church, the Rev. Mr. afterward Archdeacon of
now deceased. His first wife, a woman of great beauty, sister of the Governor of was then alive. She had been recently confined, and her recovery was very slow. Their residence—an old-fashioned mansion, situated in a spacious garden-adjoined on one side the park of the Bishop of It was separated from it by a wall, in which there was a private door.
Mr. — had been invited by the bishop to dinner; and as his wife, though confined to bed, did not seem worse than usual, he had accepted the invitation. Returning from the bishop's palace about ten o'clock, he entered, by the private door already mentioned, his own premises. It was bright moonlight. On issuing from a small belt of shrubbery into a garden walk, he perceived, as he thought, in another walk, parallel to that in which he was, and not more than ten or twelve feet from him, the figure of his wife, in her usual dress. Exceedingly astonished, he crossed over and confronted her. It was his wife. At least, he distinguished her features, in the clear moonlight, as plainly as he had ever done in his life. “What are you doing here ?” he asked. She did not reply, but receded from him, turning to the right, toward a kitchen-garden that lay on one side of the house. In it there were several rows of
staked and well grown, so as to shelter any person passing behind them. The figure passed round one end of these. Mr. followed quickly, in increased astonishment,