An account of some imaginary apparitions

An account of some imaginary apparitions  (1801) 







"Would you your tender offspring rear.
With minds well form’d, devoid of fear.
Ne'er let the nurſe with idle tale,
Of Ghoſt their infant ears aſſail,
Of Bug-a-boo! or Chimney Sweep!
To terrify them into Sleep.
Thus, when matur'd by rip'ning age,
And brought upon the world’s great ſtage,
No midnight horrors vex the Soul,
Of howling dog, or hooting owl!
But on they move with manly tread,
Across the mansions of the dead;
Or pass the ruin’d tower, where.
Tradition says. Goblins appear."



An Imaginary Apparition, the Effect of Fear.
From the Secrets of the Inviſible World laid open.

A Sober grave gentleman, who muſt not wear a name in our ſtory becauſe it was rather a diſtemper in his mind than a real deficiency of brains, had by a long diſuſe of the ſprightly part of his ſenſe, which he really had no want of at other times, ſuffered himſelf to ſink a little too low in his ſpirits, and let the Hypochondria emit to ſtrongly in the vapour and ſumes up into his head. This had its fits and intervals; ſometimes he was clear-ſighted, and clear headed, but at other times he ſaw ſtars at noon-day, and devils at night: in a word, the world was an apparition to his imagination, when the flatus prevailed, and ſhe ſpleen boiled up: of all which he could give no account, nor could he aſſiſt the operation of phyſic by any of his own powers towards a Cure.

It happened, that he was abroad at a friend's houſe later than ordinary one night; but being noon light, and having a ſervant with him, he ſeemed to be eaſy and was obſerved to be cheerful and even merry, with a great deal of good-humour, more than had been obſerved in him for ſome time before.

He knew his way perfectly well, for it was within three miles of the town where he lived, and he was very well mounted; but though the moon was up, an accident, which a little diſordered him, was, that it was not only cloudy, but a very thick, black cloud came ſuddenly (that is to ſay, without his notice, ſo it was ſudden to him) and ſpread over his head, which made it very dark; and, to add to the diſorder, it began to rain violently.

Upon this, being very well mounted, as I before obſerved, he reſolved to ride for it, having not above two miles to the town; ſo clapping ſpurs to his horse, he galoped away. His man whoſe name was Gervais: not being ſo well mounted was a conſiderable way behind. The darkneſs and the rain together put him a little out of humour; but as that was a little unexpected, perhaps it made him ride the harder rather than abate his pace.

In the way there was a ſmall river, but their was a good bridge over it, well walled on both ſides; ſo that there was no danger there, more than any where elſe; but the gentleman kept on his ſpeed to go over the bridge, when being rather more than half over, his horſe ſtopped on a ſudden, and refuſed as we call it, bearing off to the right hand; he ſaw nothing at firſt, and was not much diſcompoſed at it, but ſpurred his horſe to go forward; the horſe went two or three ſteps, then ſtopped again, ſnorted, and ſtared, and then offered to turn ſhort back; then the gentleman looking forward to ſee what was the matter, and if he could obſerve what the horſe was ſcared at, ſaw two broad ſtaring eyes which, as he ſaid, looked him full in the face.

Then he was heartily frighted; but by this time he heard his man Gervais coming up. When Gervais came near, the firſt thing he heard his maſter ſay, was———Bleſs me, it is the Devil! at which Gervais, awow ſpirited fellow, was as much frighted as his maſter, however his maſter a little encouraged to hear his man ſo near him, preſs'd his horſe once more, and called aloud to Gervais to come; but he, as I ſaid, being frighted too, made no haſte; at length with much ado his maſter: ſpurring his horſe again, got over the bridge, and paſſed by the creature with broad eyes, which (the light a little increaſing he affirmed poſitively, when he was paſſed, was a great black Bear, and conſequently muſt be the Devil.

Tho' Gervais was near-enough, yet fearing his maſter would let him to go before, he kept us for off as he could: When his maſter called he anſwered indeed, but did not come on, at leaſt did not make much haſte; but feeing his maſter was gone paſt, and that he himſelf was then obliged to foltow, he went on ſoftly, and when he came to the bridge, he ſaw what his maſters horſe ſnorted at, and refuſed to go on; of which you ſhall hear more preſently.

His maſter's horſe being got paſt the difficulty, needed no ſpurs, but (as frighted horſes will ſlew away like the wind; and the rain continuing, his maſter, who on many accounts was willing to be at home, let him go, ſo that he was at home and got into the houſe, long before his man Gervais could get up with him.

The maſter, as ſoon as he came into the light, ſwooned away, and the fright had ſuch an effect upon him, that when with much difficulty they had brought him to himſelf, he continued very ill; and when his lady and a ſiſter he had in the houſe with him, as much over-run with the Hippo as himſelf, came to enquire what had happened to him, he told them a formal ſtory, that at ſuch a bridge he met the Devil; that he placed himſelf juſt at the coming off from the bridge, on his left hand, at the corner of the wall; that he ſtood and ſtared in his face, and that he could diſtinctly perceive it was the Devil in the ſhape of a Bear, He gave other deſcriptions, ſo punctual and particular, that there was no room to doubt but it was an apparition, and that it was in the ſhape of a great bear.

GERVAIS came home ſoon after, and going into the ſtable directly, as was his buſineſs, to take care of his maſter's horſe as well as his own, there he told the ſtory his way, among the other ſervants, and eſpecially two or three grooms or ſervants belonging to gentlemen that were neighbours; and he tells them that his maſter was in great danger of being thrown over the wall of the bridge, for that his horſe was frighted at an aſs which ſtood at the corner of the wall, and it was my fault indeed, ſays Gervais, for it was a young horſe, and I had never told my maſter but it was a trick he had got, that he could not abide an aſs, and would by no means come near one if he could help it.

And are you ſure it was an aſs Gervais? ſay the other ſervants, ſtaring at one another as if they were frighted: Are you ſure of it? Yes, ſays Gervais, for as ſoon as my maſter got by it, I rode up to it and threſhed it with my ſtick and it fell a braying, which you know, ſays Gervais, is a baſe ugly noiſe, and ſo I came away and left it

Why Gervais, ſay they, your maſter believes it was the Devil, as really as if he had ſpoken to it.

I am ſorry my maſter ſhould be ſo frighted, ſays Gervais; but I am very ſure it was nothing but an aſs. But the ſtory had gotten vent, and the firſt part of it flew all over the town, that Mr. ——— had ſeen the Devil and was almoſt frighted to death.

Then came his man Gervais's tale and made it appear that Mr.———'s ſtrange and wonderful apparition was dwindled into an aſs, and that the Devil he had ſeen, in the ſhape of a bear was no more than a poor Barico; as the Italians call him; this made his maſter be laughed at ſufficiently.

However poor Jarvis or Gervais was fain to turn out, and loſt his place for it; and the wife. Mr. ——— to this day inſiſts upon it, that it was the Devil, and he knew him by his broad eyes; though it is known that a bear has very little eyes: But it is impoſſibie to perſuade any vapouriſh body, that they have not ſeen the Devil, if they have but ſeen ſomething, and that they are very ſure they are not ſure what it is.

An Imaginary Apparition the effect of Fraud, from
the Secrets of the inviſible world laid open

A Perſon who kept a lodging houſe near the ſprings, at aix-la-Chapelle having loſt his wife, committed the management of his family to his daughter, a ſprightly well made handſome girl, about twenty.

There was at that time in the houſe two ladies and their waiting woman, two Dutch, officers and a Dominican friar.

It happened that as the young woman of the houſe was aſleep one night in her bed, ſhe was awakened by ſomething that attempted to draw the clothes off the bed, ſhe was at firſt frighted, but thinking, upon recollection, that it might be the houſe dog, ſhe called him by his name: The cloaths however, were ſtill pulled from her, and ſhe ſtill imagining it was by the dog, took up a bruſh that lay in her reach, and attempted to ſtrike him. At that moment ſhe ſaw a flaſh of ſudden light that filled the whole room; upon which ſhe ſhrieked out, at the ſame time covering her face with the ſheet: When ſhe again ventured to look out, all was dark and ſilent, and the cloaths were no longer drawn from her.

In the morning when ſhe related this ſtory every one treated it as a dream, and the girl herſelf at laſt took it for granted, that it was no more than an illuſion.

The night following ſhe was again awakened by ſomething that jogged her, and ſhe thought ſhe felt a hand in the bed; upon endeavouring to repreſs it, another flaſh of lightening threw her into a fit of terror; ſhe ſhut her eyes and croſſed herſelf: When ſhe ventured to open her eyes again, the light was vaniſhed, and in a ſhort time ſhe felt what ſhe ſuppoſed to be a hand again in the bed ſhe again endeavoured to repreſs it; but looking towards the foot of the bed, ſhe ſaw a large luminous croſs on which was written diſtinctly, as with light, the words Be ſilent. She was now ſo terrified, that ſhe had not power to break the injunction, but ſhe ſhrunk down into the bed, and covered herſelf all over with the cloaths.

In this ſituation ſhe lay a conſiderable time, and being no longer moleſted, ſhe ventured once more to peep out when, to her unſpeakable aſtoniſhment, ſhe ſaw a phantom ſtanding by the ſide of her bed, almoſt as high as the ceiling, a kind of glory encircled its head, and the whole was in the form of a crucifix, except that it ſeemed to have ſeveral hands, one of which again approached the bed.

Suppoſing the phænomenon to be ſome celeſtial viſion, ſhe exerted all her fortitude, and leaping out of bed, threw herſelf upon her knees before it; but ſhe inſtantly found herſelf aſſaulted in a manner which convinced her ſhe was miſtaken; ſhe had not ſtrength to diſengage herſelf from ſomething that embraced her, and therefore ſcreamed out as loud as die could to alarm the houſe, and bring ſomebody to her aſſiſtance.

Her ſhrieks awakened the ladies who lay in an adjacent chamber, and they ſent their woman to fee what was the matter. The woman, upon opening the room ſaw a luminous phantom, which greatly terrified her, and heard in a deep threatening tone the word At thy peril begone.

The woman inſtantly ſcreamed out, and withdrew; the ladies roſe in the utmoſt conſternation and terror, but nobody came to their aſſiſtance; the old man, the father of the girl, was aſleep in a remote part of the houſe; the friar alſo reſted in a room at the end of a long gallery in another ſtory; and the two Dutch officers were abſent on a viſit at a neighbouring village.

No other violence, however, was offered to the girl that night. As ſoon as the morning dawned ſhe got up, ran down to her father, and told all that had happened; the two ladies were not long abſent, they did not ſay much, but diſcharged their arrears, and quitted the houſe. The friar aſked the girl ſeveral queſtions, and declared that he had heard ether inſtances of the like nature, but ſaid, the girl would do well to obey the commands of the viſion, and that no harm would come of it. He laid he would remain to ſee the iſſue, and in the mean time, he ordered proper prayers and maſſes to be ſaid at a neighbouring convent of his order, to which he moſt devoutly joined his own.

The girl was comforted with this ſpiritual aſſiſtance, but, not withiſtanding, took one of the maids to be her bedfellow the next night.

In the dead of the night the flaming croſs was again viſible, but no attempt was made on either of the women. They were however, greatly terrified and the ſervant ſaid, ſhe would rather leave her place than lie in the room again

The friar the next morning took the merit of the ſpirit's peaceable behaviour to himſelf. The prayers and maſſes were renewed, and application was made to the convents of Liege for auxiliary aſſiſtance. The good friar in the mean time, was by no means idle at home; he performed his devotions with great ardour, and towards evening he beſtowed a plentiful libation of holy water on the chamber and the bed.

The girl not being able to perſuade the ſervant to ſleep with her again in the haunted room, and being encouraged by the friar to abide the iſſue, having alſo great confidence herſelf in the prayers, maſſes, and Sprinklings that had been uſed on the occaſion: ſhe ventured once more to ſleep in the time room by herſelf.

In the night, after hearing ſome ſlight noiſes, ſhe ſaw the room all in a blaze, and a great number of ſmall luminous croſſes, with ſcrips of writing here and there very legible, among which the precept to be ſilent, was most conſpicuous.

In the middle of the room ſhe ſaw ſomething of a human appearance, which ſeemed covered only with a linen garment, like a ſhirt; it appeared to diffuſe a radiance round it, and at length, by a flow and ſilent pace, it approached the bed. When it came up to the bed-ſide, it drew the curtain more open, and lifted up the bed-cloaths was about to come in. The girl, now more terrified than ever, ſcreamed out with all her power; as every body in the houſe was upon the watch, she was heard by them all, but the father only bad courage to go to her aſſistance, and his bravery was probably owing to a conſiderable quantity of reliques which he had procured from the convent, and which he brought in his hand.

When he came, however, nothing was to be ſeen but ſome of the little croſſes and inſcriptions, ſeveral of which were now luminous only in part.

Being himſelf greatly terrified at theſe appearances, he ran to the friar's apartment, and with ſome difficulty prevailed upon him to go with him to the haunted room, the friar at firſt excuſed himſelf upon account of the young woman's being there in bed. As ſoon as he entered and ſaw the croſſes, he proſtrated himſelf upon the ground, and uttered many prayers and incantations, to which the honeſt landlord ſaid Amen.

The poor girl, in the mean time, lay in a kind of trance, and her father, when the prayers were over, ran down ſtairs for ſome wine, a cordial being necceſſary, to recover her; the friar at the ſame time, ordered him to light and bring with him a conſecrated taper, for hitherto they had had no light but that of the viſion which was full ſtrong enough to diſcover any thing in the room.

In a ſhort time the old man entered with a taper in his hand, and in a moment all the luminous appearances vaniſhed. The girl, ſoon after, recovered, and gave a very ſensſible account of all that had happened, and the landlord and the friar ſpent the reſt of the night together.

The friar, however, to ſhew the power of the demon and the holy virtue of the taper, removed it ſeveral times from the chamber before the day broke, and the croſſes and inſcriptions were again viſible, and remained ſo till the taper was brought back, and then vaniſhed as at firſt.

When the fun aroſe, the friår took his leave to go to Martins, and did not return till noon. In the mean time the two Dutch officers came home, and ſoon learnt what had happened, though the landlord took all the pains he could to conceal it. The reports they heard were confirmed by the pale and terrified appearance of the girl; their curioſity was greatly excited, and they asked her innumerable queſtions.

Her anſwers, inſtead of extinguiſhing, increaſed it: They aſſured the landlord that they would not leave his houſe, but, on the contrary, would afford him all the aſſiſtance in their power.

As they were young gentlemen of a military profeſſion, and Proteſtants, they were at once bold and incredulous. They pretended however, to adopt the opinion of the landlord, that the appearances were ſupernatural; but it happened that upon going into the room they found the remainder of the tapers on the virtues of which the landlord had largely expatiated, and immediately perceived that it was only a common candle of a large ſize, which he had brought by miſtake in his fright.

This diſcovery convinced them that there was a fraud, and that appearances that vaniſhed at the approach of unconſecrated light were produced by mere human artifice.

They therefore conſulted together, and at length agreed that the maſſes ſhould be continued, that the landlord ſhould ſay not one word of the candle, or the ſuſpicions it had produced: that his daughter, the next night, ſhould ſleep in the apartment which had been quitted by the ladies, and that one of the officers ſhould lie in the girl's bed, while he other, with the landlord ſhould wait in he kitchen to ſee the iſſue.

This plan was accordingly, with great ſecrecy carried into execution.

For two hours after the officer had been in bed, all was ſilent and quiet, and he began to ſuſpect that the girl has been fanciful, or that their ſecret had tranſpired: when all on a ſudden he heard the latch of the door gently raiſed, and perceived ſomething approach the bed and attempt to take up the cloaths; he reſiſted with ſufficient ſtrength to fruſtrate the attempt, and immediately the room appeared to be all in a flame; he saw many croſſes and inſcriptions injoining ſilence, and a paſſive acquieſcence in whatever ſhould happen; he law alſo in the middle of the room ſomething of a human appearance, very tall and very luminous. The viſion made a ſecond approach to the bedſide, but the gentleman recovering his fortitude the firſt moment of reflection, dexterouſly threw a ſlip-knot which he had faſtened to one of the bed-poſts over the phantom's neck, he inſtantly drew it cloſe, which brought him to the ground, and then threw himſelf upon him; the fall and the ſtruggle made ſo much noiſe that the other officer and the landlord ran up with the lights and weapons, and the goblin was found to be no other than the good friar, who having conceived ſomething more than a ſpiritual affection for his landlord's pretty daughter had played this infernal farce to gratify his paſſion.

It appeared that this fellow, who was near ſix feet high, had made himſelf appear ſtill higher, by putting upon his head a kind of tiara of imboſſed paper, and had alſo thruſt a ſtick through the ſleeves of his habit, which formed an appearance of a croſs, and left all his hands at liberty; and that he had rendered himſelf and his apparatus viſible in the dark by phoſphorus,

Another—from the life of J Lackington, Bookſeller.

AT Wilkſcome, nine miles from Taunton a gentleman farmer's houſe was alarmed every night between twelve and one o'clock. The chamber doors were thrown open, the bed cloaths pulled off the beds, and the kitchen furniture thrown with violence about the kitchen, to the great terror of the family, inſomuch, that the ſervants gave their maſter and miſtreſs warning to leave their places, and ſome of them actually quitted their ſervice. This dreadful affair had laſted about ſix weeks, when a young gentleman who was there on a viſit, being in bed one night, at the uſual hour he heard his chamber door thrown open and a very odd noiſe about his room. He was at firſt frightened, but the noiſe continuing a long time, he became calm and lay ſtill, revolving what he had beſt do. When on a ſudden he heard the ſpirit creep under his bed, which was immediately lifted up, &c. This convinced him that there was ſome ſubstance in the ſpirit; on which he leaped out of bed and ſecured the door, and with his oaken ſtaff belaboured the ghoſt under the bed as hard as he could until he heard a female voice imploring for mercy. On that, he opened his chamber door, and called aloud for a light. The family all got up as faſt as poſſible, and came to his room. He then informed them that he had got the ſpirit under the bed; on hearing which, moſt of them were terribly frightened: and would have run off faſter than they came, but he aſſured them, they had nothing to fear: then out he dragged the half murdered ſpirit from under the bed. But how great was their ſurpriſe and ſhame, when they diſcoyered that this tormenting devil was no other than one of the ſervant girls, about ſixteen years of age, who had been confined to her bed ſeveral months by illneſs.

Another—from the ſame.

ANOTHER apparition had for a long a time ſtole many geeſe, turkeys, &c. and although it had been ſeen by many, yet nobody would venture to go near it until at length one perſon a little wiſer than the reſt of his neighbours ſeeing the famous apparition all over white ſtealing his fowls, was determined to be fully ſatisfied what kind of a ſpirit it could be that had ſo great a predilection for poultry. He accordingly went round the yard, and as the apparition was coming over the wall, he knocked it down, and found that this terrible ghoſt was a neighbouring woman, who had put on her ſhroud, in order to deter any perſons ſhould they by chance ſee her, from coming near her. Thus, though ſhe had for a long time ſucceſsfully practited this new way of procuing poultry, the old fox was caught at laſt.


This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.