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THE AUTHOR OF ROBINSON CRUSOE

Daniel De Foe has an elaborate work on this subject, illustrated by many examples; of which some, it must be confessed, exhibit more of that inimitable talent which makes Robinson Crusoe one of the most vivid realities of childhood, than of that more prosaic precision which scorns not names and dates and authenticating vouchers.

De Foe's opinion is, "The inquiry is not, as I take it, whether the inhabitants of the invisible spaces do really come hither or no, but who they are who do come ?"*

From the "meanness of some of the occasions on which some of these things happen," he argues that it cannot be angels, properly so called, such as appeared to Gideon or to David. "Here," says he, "you have an old woman dead, that has hid a little money in the orchard or garden; and an apparition, it is supposed, comes and discovers it, by leading the person it appears to, to the place, and making some signal that he should dig there for somewhat. Or, a man is dead, and, having left a legacy to such or such, the executor does not pay it, and an apparition comes and haunts this executor till he does justice. Is it likely an angel should be sent from heaven to find out the old woman's earthen dish with thirty or forty shillings in it, or that an angel should be sent to harass this man for a legacy of five or ten pounds? And as to the devil, will any one charge Satan with being solicitous to see justice done? They that know him at all must know him better than to think so hardly of him." (p. 34.) Nor can it, he argues, be the soul or ghost of the departed person; "for if the soul is happy, is it reason

"Universal History of Apparitions," by Andrew Moreton, Esq., 3d ed., London, 1738, p. 2. De Foe's biographers acknowledge for him the authorship of this work. The first edition appeared in 1727.

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able to believe that the felicity of heaven can be interrupted by so trivial a matter and on so slight an occasion? if the soul be unhappy, remember the great gulf fixed: there is no reason to believe these unhappy souls have leisure or liberty to come back upon earth on errands of such a nature."

The idea of Hades, or a mediate state, evidently did not enter into De Foe's mind; and thus he found himself in a dilemma. "There is nothing," says he, "but difficulty in it on every side. Apparitions there are: we see no room to doubt the reality of that part; but what, who, or from whence, is a difficulty which I see no way to extricate ourselves from but by granting that there may be an appointed, deputed sort of stationary Spirits in the invisible world, who come upon these occasions and appear among us; which inhabitants or spirits, (you may call them angels, if you please,-bodies they are not and cannot be, neither. had they been ever embodied,) but such as they are, they have a power of conversing among us, and can, by dreams, impulses, and strong aversions, move our thoughts, and give hope, raise doubts, sink our souls to-day, elevate them to-morrow, and in many ways operate on our passions and affections."*

Again he says, "The spirits I speak of must be heaven-born: they do Heaven's work, and are honored by his special commission; they are employed in his immediate business: namely, the common good of his creature, man."+

If there be no mediate state which the spirit enters at death, and whence it may occasionally return, then De Foe's hypothesis may be as good as any other. But if we admit a Sheol or Hades, and thus do away with all difficulty about disturbing the ecstatic felicity of

"Universal History of Apparitions," p. 35.

† Work cited, p. 52.

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heaven or escaping across the gulf from the fastbinding chains of hell, why should we turn aside from a plain path, and seek to evade a straightforward inference, that, if God really does permit apparitions, these may be what they allege they are? Why should we gratuitously create, for the nonce, a nondescript species of spirits, not men, though a little lower than the angels; protectors, who simulate; guardians who lie; ministering spirits commissioned by God, whe cheat men by assuming false forms,-to one appearing as an aunt, to another as a grandmother, now personating a murderer and imploring prayer, now playing the part of the murdered and soliciting pity? Is this God's work? Are these fitting credentials of heavenly birth, plausible evidences of Divine commission ?

The question remains as to the existence of a mediate state, whence human spirits that have suffered the Great Change may be supposed to have the occasional power of returning. Before touching upon it, I pause, to add a few examples of what seem visitings from that unknown sphere; interferences, of which some assume the aspect of retribution, some of guardianship, all being of a peculiarly personal character.

BOOK V.

INDICATIONS OF PERSONAL INTERFERENCES.

CHAPTER I.

RETRIBUTION.

EVER since the days of Orestes, the idea of a spiritual agency, retributive and inevitable, has prevailed, in some shape, throughout the world. If we do not now believe in serpent-haired furies, the ministers of Divine vengeance, pursuing, with their whips of scorpions, the doomed criminal, we speak currently of the judgments of God, as evinced in some swift and sudden punishment overtaking, as if by the direct mandate of Heaven, the impenitent guilty.

On the other hand, Christianity sanctions, in a general way, the idea of spiritual care exerted to guide human steps and preserve from unforeseen danger. Protestantism does not, indeed, admit as sound the doctrine of patron saints, to whom prayers may properly be addressed and from whom aid may reasonably be expected. Yet we must deny not only the authority of St. Paul, but, it would seem, that of his Master also, if we reject the theory of spirits, protective and guardian, guiding the inexperience of infancy and ministering at least to a favored portion of mankind.*

Among modern records of alleged ultramundane influences we come upon indications which favor, to a certain

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* Matthew xviii. 10; Hebrews i. 14.

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THE BEAUTIFUL QUADROON GIRL.

extent, both ideas; that of requital for evil done, and that of guardian care exerted for the good of man. The latter is more frequent and more distinctly marked than the former. There is nothing giving color to the idea of permission to inflict serious injury, still less to the notion of implacable vengeance.* The power against the evil-doer seems to be of a very limited nature, reaching no further than annoyance, of petty effect unless conscience give sting to the infliction. On the other hand, the power to guide and protect appears to be not only more common, but more influential; with its limits, however, such as a wise parent might set to the free agency of a child. If warnings are given, it is rather in the form of dim hints or vague reminders than of distinct prophecy. If rules of action are suggested, they are of a general character, not relieving the spiritual ward from the duty of forethought and the task of self-decision, nor yet releasing him from the employment of that reason without the constant exercise of which he would speedily be degraded from his present position at the head of animal nature.

The modern examples to which I have referred are more or less definite in their character.

Among the narratives, for instance, appearing to involve retributive agency, Dr. Binns vouches for one admitting of various interpretation. He records it as "a remarkable instance of retributive justice which occurred very recently in Jamaica." The story is as follows:

"A young and beautiful quadroon girl, named Duncan, was found murdered in a retired spot, a few paces from the main road. From the evidence given on the coro

* The Grecians themselves do not represent the Furies as implacable. These were held to be open-as their name of Eumenides implies-to benevolent and merciful impulses, and might, by proper means, be propitiated.

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