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Title: The Ghost World
Author: Dyer, T. F. Thiselton (Thomas Firminger Thiselton), 1848-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Author of 'Church Lore Gleanings' etc.

Ward & Downey
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  CHAPTER                                      PAGE
       I. THE SOUL'S EXIT                         1
      II. TEMPORARY EXIT OF SOUL                 17
     III. THE NATURE OF THE SOUL                 24
      IV. THE UNBURIED DEAD                      43
       V. WHY GHOSTS WANDER                      50
      VI. GHOSTS OF THE MURDERED                 64
     VII. PHANTOM BIRDS                          85
    VIII. ANIMAL GHOSTS                         102
      IX. PHANTOM LIGHTS                        127
       X. THE HEADLESS GHOST                    144
      XI. PHANTOM BUTTERFLIES                   159
     XII. RAISING GHOSTS                        163
    XIII. GHOST LAYING                          179
     XIV. GHOSTS OF THE DROWNED                 206
      XV. GHOST SEERS                           214
     XVI. GHOSTLY DEATH-WARNINGS                219
    XVII. 'SECOND SIGHT'                        233
     XIX. MINDERS' GHOSTS                       257
      XX. THE BANSHEE                           278
     XXI. SEE PHANTOMS                          284
    XXII. PHANTOM DRESS                         303
   XXIII. HAUNTED HOUSES                        310
    XXIV. HAUNTED LOCALITIES                    335
    XXVI. WRAITH-SEEING                         363
  XXVIII. SPIRIT-HAUNTED TREES                  391
     XXX. PHANTOM MUSIC                         411
    XXXI. PHANTOM SOUNDS                        426
          INDEX                                 439




In the Iliad,[1] after the spirit of Patroclus has visited Achilles
in his dream, it is described as taking its departure, and entering
the ground like smoke. In long after years, and among widely scattered
communities, we meet with the same imagery; and it is recorded how
the soul of Beowulf the Goth 'curled to the clouds,' imaging the
smoke which was curling up from his pyre. A similar description of
the soul's exit is mentioned in one of the works of the celebrated
mystic, Jacob Boehme,[2] who observes: 'Seeing that man is so very
earthly, therefore he hath none but earthly knowledge; except he be
regenerated in the gate of the deep. He always supposeth that the
soul--at the deceasing of the body--goeth only out at the mouth, and he
understandeth nothing concerning its deep essences above the elements.
When he seeth a blue vapour go forth out of the mouth of a dying man,
then he supposeth that is the soul.' The same conception is still
extensively believed throughout Europe, and the Russian peasant often
sees ghostly smoke hovering above graves. The Kaffirs hold that at
death man leaves after him a sort of smoke, 'very like the shadow which
his living body will always cast before it,'[3] reminding us of the
hero in the Arabian romance of Yokdnan, who seeks the source of life
and thought, and discovers in one of the cavities of the heart a bluish
vapour--the living soul. Among rude races the original idea of the
human soul seems to have been that of vaporous materiality, which, as
Dr. Tylor observes,[4] has held so large a place in modern philosophy,
and in one shape or another crops up in ghost stories. The Basutos,
speaking of a dead man, say that his heart has gone out, and the Malays
affirm that the soul of a dying man escapes through the nostrils.

Hogarth has represented the figure of Time breathing forth his last--a
puff of breath proceeding from his mouth; and a correspondent of
'Notes and Queries'[5] relates that, according to a popular belief, a
considerable interval invariably elapses between the first semblance
of death and what is considered to be the departure of the soul, about
five minutes after the time when death, to all outward appearances,
has taken place, 'the last breath' may be seen to issue with a vapour
'or steam' out of the mouth of the departed. According to some foreign
tribes, the soul was said to dwell mainly in the left eye; and in New
Zealand men always ate the left eye of a conquered enemy. At Tahiti,
in the human sacrifices, the left eye of the victim was always offered
to the chief presiding over the ceremony. It was further believed in
New Zealand that 'in eating the left eye they doubled their own soul by
incorporating with it that of the conquered man. It was also thought
by some people in the same archipelago that a spirit used to dwell in
both eyes.'[6]

The supposed escape of the soul from the mouth at death gave rise to
the idea that the vital principle might be transferred from one person
to another; and, among the Seminoles of Florida, when a woman died in
childbirth, the infant was held over her face to receive her parting
spirit. Algonquin women, desirous of becoming mothers, flocked to the
bed of those about to die, in the hope that they might receive the
last breath as it passed from the body; and to this day the Tyrolese
peasant still fancies a good man's soul to issue from his mouth at
death like a little white cloud.[7] We may trace the same fancy in our
own country, and it is related[8] that while a well-known Lancashire
witch lay dying, 'she must needs, before she could "shuffle off this
mortal coil," transfer her familiar spirit to some trusty successor.
An intimate acquaintance from a neighbouring township was sent for in
all haste, and on her arrival was immediately closeted with her dying
friend. What passed between them has never fully transpired; but it is
asserted that at the close of the interview the associate received the
witch's last breath into her mouth, and with it her familiar spirit.
The powers for good or evil were thus transferred to her companion.'

In order that the soul, as it quits the body, may not be checked in its
onward course, it has long been customary to unfasten locks or bolts,
and to open doors, so that the struggle between life and death may not
be prolonged--a superstition common in France, Germany, Spain, and
England. A correspondent of 'Notes and Queries' tells how for a long
time he had visited a poor man who was dying, and was daily expecting
death. Upon calling one morning to see his poor friend, his wife
informed him that she thought he would have died during the night, and
hence she and her friends unfastened every lock in the house; for, as
she added, any bolt or lock fastened was supposed to cause uneasiness
to, and hinder, the departure of the soul.[9] We find the same belief
among the Chinese, who make a hole in the roof to let out the departing
soul; and the North American Indian, fancying the soul of a dying man
to go out at the wigwam roof, would beat the sides with a stick to
drive it forth. Sir Walter Scott, in 'Guy Mannering,' describes this
belief as deep rooted among 'the superstitious eld of Scotland;' and at
the smuggler's death in the Kaim of Derncleugh, Meg Merrilies unbars
the door and lifts the latch, saying--

    Open lock, end strife,
    Come death, and pass life.

A similar practice exists among the Esquimos, and one may often hear
a German peasant express his dislike to slam a door, lest he should
pinch a soul in it. It has been suggested that the unfastening of doors
and locks at death may be explained by analogy and association. Thus,
according to a primitive belief, the soul, or the life, was thought to
be tied up,[10] so that the unloosing of any knot might help to get
rid of it at death. The same superstition 'prevailed in Scotland as
to marriage. Witches cast knots on a cord; and in a Perthshire parish
both parties, just before marriage, had every knot or tie about them
loosened, though they immediately proceeded in private to tie them each
up again.'[11] Another explanation suggests that the custom is founded
on the idea that, when a person died, the ministers of purgatorial
pains took the soul as it escaped from the body, and flattening it
against some closed door--which alone would serve the purpose--crammed
it into the hinges and hinge openings; thus the soul in torment was
likely to be miserably squeezed. By opening the doors, the friends
of the departed were at least assured that they were not made the
unconscious instruments of torturing the departed.[12]

There is a widespread notion among the poor that the spirit will linger
in the body of a child a long time when the parent refuses to part with
it, an old belief which, under a variety of forms, has existed from a
primitive period. In Denmark one must not weep over the dying, still
less allow tears to fall on them, for it will hinder their resting in
the grave. In some parts of Holland, when a child is at the point of
death, it is customary to shade it by the curtains from the parents'
gaze, the soul, it is said, being detained in the body so long as
a compassionate eye is fixed upon it. A German piece of folk-lore
informs us that he who sheds tears when leaning over an expiring friend
increases the difficulty of death's last struggle. A correspondent
of 'Notes and Queries' alluding to this superstition in the North of
England writes: 'I said to Mrs. B----, "Poor little H---- lingered a
long time; I thought when I saw him that he must have died the same
day, but he lingered on!" "Yes," said Mrs. B----, "it was a great shame
of his mother. He wanted to die, and she would not let him die; she
couldn't part with him. There she stood fretting over him, and couldn't
give him up; and so we said to her, 'He'll never die till you give him
up,' and then she gave him up, and he died quite peacefully."'[13]

Similarly, it is not good to weep for the dead, as it disturbs the
peace and rest of the soul. In an old Danish ballad of Aage and Else, a
lover's ghost says to his mistress:

    Every time thou weepest, for each tear in that flood,
    The coffin I am laid in is filled with much blood.

Or, as another version has it:

    Every time thou'rt joyful,
      And in thy mind art glad,
    Then is my grave within
      Hung round with roses' leaves.

    Every time thou grievest,
      And in thy mind are sad,
    Then is within my coffin
      As if full of clotted blood.

A German song tells us how a sister wept incessantly over her brother's
grave, but at last her tears became intolerable to the deceased,
because he was detained on earth by her excessive weeping, and suffered
thereby great torment. In a fit of desperation he cursed her, and in
consequence of his malediction, she was changed into a cuckoo, so that
she might always lament for herself.[14] Mannhardt relates a pretty
tale of a young mother who wept incessantly over the loss of her
only child, and would not be comforted. Every night she went to the
little grave and sobbed over it, till, on the evening preceding the
Epiphany, she saw Bertha pass not far from her, followed by her troop
of children. The last of these was one whose little shroud was all
wet, and who seemed exhausted by the weight of a pitcher of water she
carried. It tried in vain to cross a fence over which Bertha and the
rest had passed; but the fond mother, at once recognising her child,
ran and lifted it over. 'Oh, how warm are mother's arms!' said the
little one; 'but don't cry so much, mother, for I must gather up every
tear in my pitcher. You have made it too full and heavy already. See
how it has run over and wet all my shift.' The mother cried again, but
soon dried her tears.

We may compare a similar superstition among the natives of Alaska,
when, if too many tears were shed by the relatives during the burial
ceremonies, it was thought that the road of the dead would be muddy,
but a few tears were supposed just to lay the dust.[15] The same idea
is found in a Hindu dirge: 'The souls of the dead do not like to
taste the tears let fall by their kindred; weep not, therefore;' and,
according to the Edda, every tear falls as blood upon the ice-cold
bosom of the dead. We may trace the belief in Ireland, and Sir Walter
Scott says[16] it was generally supposed throughout Scotland that 'the
excessive lamentation over the loss of friends disturbed the repose of
the dead, and broke even the rest of the grave.'

The presence of pigeon or game feathers is said to be another hindrance
to the exit of the soul; and, occasionally, in order to facilitate its
departure, the peasantry in many parts of England will lay a dying man
on the floor. A Sussex nurse once told the wife of a clergyman that
'never did she see anyone die so hard as Master Short; and at last she
thought--though his daughter said there were none--that there must be
game feathers in the bed. So she tried to pull it from under him, but
he was a heavy man, and she could not manage it alone, and there was
none with him but herself, and so she got a rope and tied it round him,
and pulled him right off the bed, and he went off in a minute quite
comfortable, just like a lamb.'[17] In Lancashire, this belief is so
deep-rooted that some persons will not allow sick persons to lie on a
feather-bed; while in Yorkshire the same is said of cocks' feathers.
Shakespeare alludes to the practice where Timon says[18]--

    Pluck stout men's pillows from below their heads.

And Grose remarks: 'It is impossible for a person to die whilst resting
on a pillow stuffed with the feathers of a dove, for he will struggle
with death in the most exquisite torture.' This is also a Hindu and
Mohammedan belief, and in India 'the dying are always taken from
their beds and laid on the ground, it being held that no one can die
peaceably except when laid on mother earth.'[19] In Russia, too, there
is a strong feeling against the use of pigeon feathers in beds.

The summons for the soul to quit its earthly tenement has been thought
to be announced, from early times, by certain strange sounds, a belief
which Flatman has embodied in some pretty lines:

    My soul, just now about to take her flight
    Into the regions of eternal night,
    Methinks I hear some gentle spirit say,
    'Be not fearful, come away!'

Pope speaks in the same strain:

    Hark! they whisper, angels say,
    'Sister spirit, come away!'

And in 'Troilus and Cressida' (iv. 4), the former says:

    Hark! you are called; some say, the Genius so
    Cries 'Come!' to him that instantly must die.

As in days gone by so also at the present time, there is, perhaps,
no superstition more generally received than the belief in what are
popularly known as 'death-warnings,'[20] reference to which we shall
have occasion to make in a later chapter.

It has been urged again, that at the hour of death the soul is, as it
were, on the confines of two worlds, and hence may possess a power
which is both prospective and retrospective. In 'Richard II.' (ii. 1),
the dying Gaunt exclaims, alluding to his nephew, the young and
self-willed king:

    Methinks I am a prophet, new inspired,
    And thus expiring do foretell of him.

Nerissa says of Portia's father in 'Merchant of Venice' (i. 2): 'Your
father was ever virtuous; and holy men at their death have good
inspirations.' This idea may be traced up to the time of Homer,[21]
and Aristotle tells us that the soul, when on the point of death,
foretells things about to happen; the belief still lingering on in
Lancashire and other parts of England. According to another notion, it
was generally supposed that when a man was on his death-bed, the devil
or his agents tried to seize his soul, if it should happen that he died
without receiving the 'Eucharist,' or without confessing his sins. In
the old office books of the Church, these 'busy meddling fiends' are
often represented with great anxiety besieging the dying man; but on
the approach of the priest and his attendants they are represented as
being dismayed. Douce[22] quotes from a manuscript book of devotion, of
the time of Henry VI., the following prayer to St. George: 'Judge for
me when the most hedyous and damnable dragons of helle shall be redy
to take my poore soule and engloute it into theyr infernall belyes.'
One object, it has been urged, of the 'passing bell' was to drive away
the evil spirit that might be hovering about to seize the soul of the
deceased, such as the king speaks of in 2 Henry VI. (iii. 3):

    O, beat away the busy meddling fiend,
    That lays strong siege unto this wretch's soul,
    And from his bosom purge this black despair.

We may find the same idea among the Northern Californians, who affirmed
that when the soul first escaped from the body an evil spirit hovered
near, ready to pounce upon it and carry it off.[23]

It is still a common belief with our seafaring community on the
east coast of England, that the soul takes its departure during the
falling of the tide. Everyone remembers the famous scene in 'David
Copperfield,' where Barkis's life 'goes out with the tide.' As Mr.
Peggotty explained to David Copperfield by poor Barkis's bedside,
'People can't die along the coast except when the tide's pretty nigh
out. He's a-going out with the tide--he's a-going out with the tide.
It's ebb at half arter three, slack water half an hour. If he lives
till it turns he'll hold his own till past the flood, and go out with
the next tide.' In the parish register of Heslidon, near Hartlepool,
the subjoined extract of old date alludes to the state of the tide
at the time of death: 'The xith daye of Maye, A.D. 1595, at vi of
ye clocke in the morninge, being full water, Mr. Henrye Mitford, of
Hoolam, died at Newcastel, and was buried the xvi daie, being Sondaie.
At evening prayer, the hired preacher made ye sermon.' Mrs. Quickly
in 'Henry V.' (ii. 3) speaking of Falstaff's death says: ''A made a
finer end and went away an it had been any christom child; 'a parted
even just between twelve and one, even at the turning o' the tide.' In
Brittany, death claims its victim at ebb of the tide, and along the
New England coast it is said a sick man cannot die until the ebb-tide
begins to run. It has been suggested that there may be some slight
foundation for this belief in the change of temperature which takes
place on the change of tide, and which may act on the flickering spark
of life, extinguishing it as the ebbing sea recedes.


[1] xxiii. 100; Keary's _Outlines of Primitive Belief_, p. 284.

[2] _The Three Principles_, chap. xix. 'Of the Going Forth of the Soul.'

[3] Letourneau's _Sociology_, p. 252.

[4] _Primitive Culture_, 1873, i. p. 457.

[5] 1st S. ii. p. 51.

[6] Letourneau's _Sociology_, p. 257.

[7] Tylor's _Primitive Culture_, i. p. 433; Brinton's _Myths of the New
World_, p. 253.

[8] Harland and Wilkinson's _Lancashire Folk-lore_, 1867, p. 210.

[9] 1st S. i. p. 315.

[10] Cf. 'Nexosque resolveret artus,' Virgil on the death of Dido.
Æneid iv. 695.

[11] See Dalyell's _Darker Superstitions of Scotland_, p. 302, and
_Notes and Queries_, 1st S. iv. p. 350.

[12] _Ibid._ i. p. 467.

[13] 1st S. iii. p. 84.

[14] Kelly's _Indo-European Folk-lore_, pp. 127-128.

[15] Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, p. 43.

[16] In a note to _Redgauntlet_, Letter xi.

[17] _Folk-lore Record_, i. pp. 59-60.

[18] _Timon of Athens_, iv. 3.

[19] Henderson's _Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, pp. 60-61.

[20] See Tylor's _Primitive Culture_, i. p. 145.

[21] _Iliad_, ii. 852.

[22] _Illustrations of Shakspeare_, 1839, pp. 324-326.

[23] Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, p. 40.



Many of the conceptions of the human soul formed by savage races arose
from the phenomena of everyday life. According to one of the most
popular dream theories prevalent among the lower races, the sleeper's
soul takes its exit during the hours of slumber, entering into a
thousand pursuits. Now, as it is well known by experience 'that men's
bodies do not go on these excursions, the explanation is that every
man's living self, a soul, is his phantom or image, which can go out of
his body and see, and be seen itself, in dreams.'[24] In the opinion
of the savage, therefore, dreams have always afforded a convincing
proof of the soul's separate existence, and Dr. Tylor considers that
'nothing but dreams and visions could ever have put into men's minds
such an idea as that of souls being ethereal images of bodies.'

Thus the Dayaks of Borneo believe that in the hours of sleep the soul
travels far away, and the Fijians think that the spirit of a living
man during sleep can leave the body and trouble some one else. But Mr.
E. im Thurn, in his 'Indians of Guiana' (344-346), gives some very
striking instances of this strange phase of superstitious belief:
'One morning, when it was important to me to get away from a camp
on the Essequibo River, at which I had been detained for some days
by the illness of some of my Indian companions, I found that one of
the invalids, a young Macusi Indian, though better in health, was so
enraged against me that he refused to stir, for he declared that,
with great want of consideration for his weak health, I had taken him
out during the night, and had made him haul the canoe up a series of
difficult cataracts. Nothing could persuade him that this was but a
dream, and it was some time before he was so far pacified as to throw
himself sulkily into the bottom of the canoe. At that time we were all
suffering from a great scarcity of food, and, hunger having its usual
effect in producing vivid dreams, similar events frequently occurred.
More than once the men declared in the morning that some absent men
whom they named had come during the night, and had beaten, or otherwise
maltreated them; and they insisted on much rubbing of the bruised parts
of their bodies.'[25]

Another evidence in savage culture of the soul's having its own
individuality, independently of the body, is the fact that a person
through some accident may suddenly fall into a swoon, remaining to
all outward appearance dead. When such a one, however, revives and is
restored to consciousness, the savage is wont to exclaim that he died
for a time until his soul was induced to return.

Hence Mr. Williams informs us[26] how the Fijians believe, when anyone
dies or faints, that the soul may sometimes be brought back by calling
after it; and in China, when a child is at the point of death, the
mother will go into the garden and call its name, thinking thereby to
bring back the wandering spirit. On this account divination and sorcery
are extensively employed, and certain 'wise men' profess to have a
knowledge of the mystic art of invoking souls that for some reason or
other may have deserted their earthly tenement.[27]

The Rev. W. W. Gill, in his 'Myths and Songs from the South Pacific'
(171-172), gives a curious instance of the wandering of the soul during
life. 'At Uea, one of the Loyalty Islands, it was the custom formerly,
when a person was very ill, to send for a man whose employment it was
to restore souls to forsaken bodies. The soul doctor would at once
collect his friends and assistants, to the number of twenty men, and
as many women, and start off to the place where the family of the sick
man was accustomed to bury their dead. Upon arriving there, the soul
doctor and his male companions commenced playing the nasal flutes with
which they had come provided, in order to entice back the spirit to
its old tenement. The women assisted by a low whistling, supposed to
be irresistibly attractive to exile spirits. After a time the entire
procession proceeded towards the dwelling of a sick person, flutes
playing and the women whistling all the time, leading back the truant
spirit. To prevent its possible escape, with their palms open, they
seemingly drove it along with gentle violence and coaxing. On entering
the dwelling of the patient, the vagrant spirit was ordered in loud
tones at once to enter the body of the sick man.'

In the same way, too, according to a popular superstition among rude
tribes, some favoured persons are supposed to have the faculty of
sending forth their own souls on distant journeys, and of acquiring, by
this means, information for their fellow creatures. Thus the Australian
doctor undergoes his initiation by such a journey, and those who are
not equally gifted by nature subject themselves to various ordeals,
so as to possess the supposed faculty of releasing their souls for a
time from the body. From this curious phase of superstition have arisen
a host of legendary stories, survivals of which are not confined to
uncivilised communities, but are found among the folk-tales of most
countries. Mr. Baring Gould,[28] for instance, quotes a Scandinavian
story in which the Norse Chief Ingimund shut up three Finns in a hut
for three nights so that their souls might make an expedition to
Iceland, and bring back information of the nature of the country where
he was eventually to settle. Accordingly their bodies soon became
rigid, they dismissed their souls on the errand, and on awakening after
three days, they gave Ingimund an elaborate description of the country
in question. We may compare this phase of belief with that which is
commonly known in this country as second sight.[29]

Among the Hervey Islanders, Mr. Gill says: 'The philosophy of sneezing
is that the spirit having gone travelling about--perchance on a visit
to the homes or burying-places of its ancestors--its return to the body
is naturally attended with some difficulty and excitement, occasionally
a tingling and enlivening sensation all over the body. Hence the
various customary remarks addressed to the returned spirit in different
islands. At Rarotonga, when a person sneezes, the bystanders exclaim,
as though addressing a spirit, "Ha! you have come back."'

Then there is the widespread Animistic belief, in accordance with which
each man has several souls;--some lower races treating the breath,
the dream ghost, and other appearances as being separate souls. This
notion seems to have originated in the pulsation of the heart and
arteries, which rude tribes regard as indications of independent life.
Thus this fancy is met with in various parts of America and exists
also in Madagascar. It prevails in Greenland, and the Fijians affirm
that each man has two souls. This belief, too, is very old, evidences
of its existence being clearly traceable among the ancient Greeks and
Romans.[30] Indeed, classic literature affords ample proof of how
the beliefs of modern savages are in many cases survivals of similar
notions held in olden times by nations that had made considerable
progress in civilisation.


[24] Tylor's _Anthropology_, 1881, p. 343.

[25] See further instances in Tylor's _Primitive Culture_, i. pp. 440,

[26] _Fiji and the Fijians_, i. p. 242.

[27] See Sir John Lubbock's _Origin of Civilisation and the Primitive
Condition of Man_, 1870, p. 141.

[28] _Werewolves_, p. 29.

[29] See Chapter on Second Sight.

[30] See Tylor's _Anthropology_, p. 345; and Sir John Lubbock's _Origin
of Civilisation and the Primitive Condition of Man_, p. 141; and H.
Spencer's _Principles of Sociology_, 1885, i. p. 777.



It has from time immemorial been a widely recognised belief among
mankind that the soul after death bears the likeness of its fleshly
body, although opinions have differed largely as to its precise nature.
But it would seem to be generally admitted that the soul set free from
its earthly tenement is at once recognised by anyone to whom it may
appear, reminding us of Lord Tennyson's dictum in 'In Memoriam':

    Eternal form shall still divide
    The eternal soul from all beside;
      And I shall know him when we meet.

Despite the fact that the disembodied spirit has been supposed to
retain its familiar likeness, we find all kinds of strange ideas
existing in most parts of the world as to what sort of a thing it
really is when its condition of existence is so completely changed.
Thus, according to a conception which has received in most ages very
extensive credence, the soul has substantiality. This was the Greek
idea of ghosts, and 'it is only,' writes Bishop Thirwall, 'after their
strength has been repaired by the blood of a slaughtered victim, that
they recover reason and memory for a time, can recognise their living
friends, and feel anxiety for those they have left on earth.' A similar
notion of substantiality prevailed among the Hebrews, and, as Herbert
Spencer points out, 'the stories about ghosts accepted among ourselves
in past times involved the same thought. The ability to open doors,
to clank chains, and make other noises implies considerable coherence
of the ghost's substance.'[31] That this conception of the soul was
not only received but taught, may be gathered from Tertullian, who
says: 'The soul is material, composed of a substance different to the
body, and particular. It has all the qualities of matter, but it is
immortal. It has a figure like the body. It is born at the same time as
the flesh, and receives an individuality of character which it never
loses.' He further describes[32] a vision or revelation of a certain
Montanist prophetess, of the soul seen by her corporeally, thin and
lucid, aerial in colour, and human in form. It is recorded, too, as
an opinion of Epicurus, that 'they who say the soul is incorporeal
talk folly, for it could neither do nor suffer anything were it such.'
It was the idea of materiality that caused the superstitious folk in
years gone by to attribute to ghosts all kinds of weird and eccentric
acts which could not otherwise be explained. And yet it has always
been a puzzle in Animistic philosophy, how a ghost could be possessed
at one moment of a corporeal body, and immediately afterwards vanish
into immateriality, escaping sight and touch. But this strange ghost
phenomenon is clearly depicted in sacred history, where we find
substantiality, now insubstantiality, and now something between the
two, described. Thus, as Herbert Spencer remarks,[33] 'the resuscitated
Christ was described as having wounds that admitted of tactual
examination, and yet as passing unimpeded through a closed door or
through walls.' And, as he adds, the supernatural beings of the Hebrews
generally, 'whether revived dead or not, were similarly conceived:
here, angels dining with Abraham, or pulling Lot into the house,
apparently possess complete corporeity; there, both angels and demons
are spoken of as swarming invisibly in the surrounding air, thus being
incorporeal; while elsewhere they are said to have wings, implying
motion by mechanical action, and are represented as rubbing against,
and wearing out, the dresses of Rabbins in the Synagogue.' All kinds
of strange theories have been suggested by perplexed metaphysicians
to account for this duplex nature of the disembodied soul; Calmet
having maintained that 'immaterial souls have their own vaporous
bodies, or occasionally have such vaporous bodies provided for them by
supernatural means to enable them to appear as spectres, or that they
possess the power of condensing the circumambient air into phantom-like
bodies to invest themselves in.'[34]

In Fiji the soul is regarded quite as a material object, subject
to the same laws as the living body, and having to struggle hard to
gain the paradisaical Bolotu. Some idea, too, of the hardships it has
to undergo in its material state may be gathered from the following
passage in Dr. Letourneau's 'Sociology' (p. 251): 'After death the soul
of the Fijian goes first of all to the eastern extremity of _Vanna
Levou_, and during this voyage it is most important that it should hold
in its hand the soul of the tooth of a spermaceti whale, for this tooth
ought to grow into a tree, and the soul of the poor human creature
climbs up to the top of this tree. When it is perched up there it is
obliged to await the arrival of the souls of his wives, who have been
religiously strangled to serve as escort to their master. Unless all
these and many other precautions are taken, the soul of the deceased
Fijian remains mournfully seated upon the fatal bough until the arrival
of the good Ravuyalo, who kills him once and for all, and leaves him
without means of escape.'

According to another popular and widely accepted doctrine, the soul
was supposed to be composed of a peculiar subtle substance, a kind
of vaporous materiality. The Choctaws have their ghosts or wandering
spirits which can speak and are visible, but not tangible.[35] The
Tongans conceived it as the aeriform part of the body, related to it as
the perfume and essence of a flower; and the Greenlanders speak of it
as pale and soft, without flesh and bone, so that he who tries to grasp
it feels nothing he can take hold of. The Siamese describe the soul as
consisting of some strange matter, invisible and untouchable. While Dr.
Tylor quotes a curious passage from Hampole,[36] in which the soul,
owing to the thinness of its substance, suffers all the more intense
suffering in purgatory:

    The soul is more tendre and nesche (soft)
    Than the bodi that hath bones and fleysche;
    Thanne the soul that is so tendere of kinde,
    Mote nedis hure penaunce hardere y-finde,
    Than eni bodi that evere on live was.

Then there is the idea of the soul as a shadow, a form of superstition
which has given rise to many quaint beliefs among uncultured tribes.
The Basutos, when walking by a river, take care not to let their
shadow fall on the water, lest a crocodile seize it, and draw the
owner in. The Zulu affirms that at death the shadow of a man in some
mysterious way leaves the body, and hence, it is said, a corpse cannot
cast a shadow. Certain African tribes consider that 'as he dies, man
leaves a shadow behind him, but only for a short time. The shade, or
the mind, of the deceased remains, they think, close to the grave where
the corpse has been buried. This shadow is generally evil-minded, and
they often fly away from it in changing their place of abode.'[37] The
Ojibways tell how one of their chiefs died,[38] but while they were
watching the body on the third night, his shadow came back into it. He
sat up, and told them how he had travelled to the River of Death, but
was stopped there, and sent back to his people.

Speaking of the human shadow in relation to foundation sacrifices, we
are reminded[39] how, according to many ancient Roumenian legends,
'every new church or otherwise important building became a human
grave, as it was thought indispensable to its stability to wall in a
living man or woman, whose spirit henceforward haunts the place. In
later times this custom underwent some modifications, and it became
usual, in place of a living man, to wall in his shadow. This is done
by measuring the shadow of a person with a long piece of cord, or a
ribbon made of strips of reed, and interring this measure instead of
the person himself, who, unconscious victim of the spell thrown upon
him, will pine away and die within forty days. It is an indispensable
condition to the success of this proceeding that the chosen victim be
ignorant of the part he is playing, therefore careless passers by near
a building may often hear the cry, warning, "Beware, lest they take
thy shadow!" So deeply engrained is this superstition, that not long
ago there were professional shadow-traders, who made it their business
to provide architects with the necessary victims for securing their
walls.' 'Of course, the man whose shadow is thus interred must die,'
argues the Roumenian, 'but as he is unaware of his doom, he does not
feel any pain or anxiety, and so it is less cruel than walling in a
living man.'

At the present day in Russia, as elsewhere, a shadow is a common
metaphor for the soul,[40] whence it arises that there are persons
there who object to having their silhouettes taken, fearing that if
they do, they will die before the year is out. In the same way, a man's
reflected image is supposed to be in communion with his inner self,
and, therefore, children are often forbidden to look at themselves in a
glass, lest their sleep should be disturbed at night. It may be added,
too, as Mr. Clodd points out, that in the barbaric belief of the loss
of the shadow being baleful, 'we have the germ of the mediæval legends
of shadowless men, and of tales of which Chamisso's "Story of Peter
Schlemihl" is a type.'[41] Hence the dead in purgatory recognised that
Dante was alive when they saw that, unlike theirs, his figure cast a
shadow on the ground. But, as Mr. Fiske observes,[42] 'the theory which
identifies the soul with the shadow, and supposes the shadow to depart
with the sickness and death of the body, would seem liable to be
attended with some difficulties in the way of verification, even to the
dim intelligence of the savage.'

Again, another doctrine promulgated under various forms in Animistic
philosophy is, that the existence and condition of the soul depend upon
the manner of death. The Australian, for instance, not content with
slaying his enemy, cuts off the right thumb of the corpse, so that the
departed soul may be incapacitated from throwing a spear; and even the
half-civilised Chinese prefer the punishment of crucifixion to that of
decapitation, that their souls may not wander headless about the spirit
world. Similarly the Indians of Brazil 'believe that the dead arrive
in the other world wounded or hacked to pieces, in fact, just as they
left this.' European folk-lore has preserved, more or less, the same
idea, and the ghost of the murdered person often appears displaying
the wounds which were the cause of the death of the body. Many a
weird and ghastly ghost tale still current in different parts of the
country gives the most blood-curdling details of such apparitions; and
although, in certain cases, a century or so is said to have elapsed
since they first made their appearance, they still bear the marks of
violence and cruelty which were done to them by a murderous hand when
in the flesh. An old story tells how, when the Earl of Cornwall met the
fetch of William Rufus carried on a very large black goat, all black
and naked, across the Bodmin moors, he saw that it was wounded through
the breast. Robert adjured the goat, in the name of the Holy Trinity,
to tell what it was he carried so strangely. He answered, 'I am
carrying your king to judgment; yea, that tyrant, William Rufus, for I
am an evil spirit, and the revenger of his malice which he bore to the
Church of God. It was I that did cause this slaughter.' Having spoken,
the spectre vanished. Soon afterwards Robert heard that at that very
hour the king had been slain in the New Forest by the arrow of William
Tirell.[43] This idea corresponds with what was believed in early
times, for Ovid[44] tells us how

    Umbra cruenta Remi visa est assistere lecto.

Again, some modes of death are supposed to kill not only the body but
also the soul. 'Among all primitive peoples,' writes Mr. Dorman,[45]
'where a belief in the renewal of life, or the resurrection, exists,
the peace and happiness of the spirit, which remains in or about the
body, depend upon success in preventing the body, or any part of it,
from being devoured or destroyed in any manner.' The New Zealanders
believed that the man who was eaten was annihilated, both body and
soul; and one day a bushman, who was a magician, having put to death
a woman, dashed the head of the corpse to pieces with large stones,
buried her, and made a large fire over the grave, for fear, as he
explained, lest she should rise again and trouble him. The same idea,
remarks Sir John Lubbock,[46] evidently influenced the Californian, who
did not dispute the immortality of the whites, who buried their dead,
but could not believe the same of his own people, because they were in
the habit of burning them, maintaining that when they were burnt they
became annihilated.

It may be added, too, that the belief underlying the burial customs
of most American tribes was to preserve the bones of the dead, the
opinion being that the soul, or a part of it, dwelt in the bones.
These, indeed, were the seeds which, planted in the earth, or preserved
unbroken in safe places, would in time put on once again a garb of
flesh, and germinate into living human beings.[47] This Animistic
belief has been amply illustrated by mythology and superstition. In
an Aztec legend, after one of the destructions of the world, Zoloti
descended to the realm of the dead, and brought thence a bone of
the perished race. This, sprinkled with blood, grew on the fourth
day into a youth, the father of the present race. The practice of
pulverising the bones of the dead, practised by some tribes, and of
mixing them with the food, was defended by asserting that the souls
of the dead remained in the bones, and lived again in the living.[48]
The Peruvians were so careful lest any of the body should be lost,
that they preserved even the parings of the nails and clippings of
the hair--expecting the mummified body to be inhabited by its soul;
while the Choctaws maintain that the spirits of the dead will return
to the bones in the bone mounds, and flesh will knit together their
loose joints. Even the lower animals were supposed to follow the same
law. 'Hardly any of the American hunting-tribes,' writes Mr. Brinton,
'before their original manners were vitiated by foreign influence,
permitted the bones of game slain in the chase to be broken, or left
carelessly about the encampment; they were collected in heaps, or
thrown into the water.' The Yuricares of Bolivia carried this belief
to such an inconvenient extent that they carefully put by even small
fish bones, saying that unless this was done the fish and game would
disappear from the country. The traveller on the western prairies
often notices the buffalo skulls, countless numbers of which bleach on
those vast plains, arranged in circles and symmetrical piles by the
careful hands of the native hunters. The explanation for this practice
is that these osseous relics of the dead 'contain the spirits of the
slain animals, and that some time in the future they will rise from the
earth, re-clothe themselves with flesh, and stock the prairies anew.'

As a curious illustration of how every spiritual conception was
materialised in olden times, may be quoted the fanciful conception
of the weight of the soul. Thus in mediæval literature the angel in
the Last Judgment 'was constantly represented weighing the souls in
a literal balance, while devils clinging to the scales endeavoured
to disturb the equilibrium.'[49] But how seriously such tests of the
weight of the soul have been received, may be gathered from the cases
now and then forthcoming of this materialistic notion of its nature.
These, writes Dr. Tylor,[50] range from the 'conception of a Basuto
diviner that the late queen had been bestriding his shoulders, and
he never felt such a weight in his wife, to Glanvil's story of David
Hunter, the neatherd, who lifted up the old woman's ghost, and she felt
just like a bag of feathers in his arms; or the pathetic superstition
that the dead mother's coming back in the night to suckle the baby she
has left on earth, may be known by the hollow pressed down in the bed
where she lay, and at last down to the alleged modern spiritualistic
reckoning of the weight of a human soul at from three to four ounces.'
But the heavy tread which occasionally makes the stairs creak and
boards resound has been instanced as showing that, whatever may be
the real nature of the soul, it is capable of materialising itself at
certain times, and of displaying an amount of force and energy in no
way dissimilar to that which is possessed when living in the flesh.

Just, too, as souls are possessed of visible forms, so they are
generally supposed to have voices. According to Dr. Tylor,[51] 'men
who perceive evidently that souls do talk when they present themselves
in dream or vision, naturally take for granted at once the objective
reality of the ghostly voice, and of the ghostly form from which it
proceeds;' and this principle, he adds, 'is involved in the series of
narratives of spiritual communications with living men, from savagery
onward to civilisation.' European folk-lore represents ghostly voices
as resembling their material form during life, although less audible.
With savage races the spirit voice is described 'as a low murmur,
chirp, or whistle.' Thus, when the ghosts of the New Zealanders
address the living, they speak in whistling tones. The sorcerer among
the Zulus 'hears the spirits who speak by whistlings speaking to
him.' Whistling is the language of the Caledonians, and the Algonquin
Indians of North America 'could hear the shadow souls of the dead
chirp like crickets.' As far back as the time of Homer, the ghosts
make a similar sound, 'and even as bats flit gibbering in the secret
place of a wonderful cavern, even so the souls gibbered as they fared

Ghosts, when they make their appearance, are generally supposed, as
already noticed, to have a perfect resemblance, in every respect, to
the deceased person. Their faces appear the same--except that they are
usually paler than when alive--and the ordinary expression is described
by writers on the subject as 'more in sorrow than in anger.' Thus, when
the ghost of Banquo rises and takes a seat at the table, Macbeth says
to the apparition--

            Never shake
    Thy gory locks at me.

And Horatio tells Marcellus how the ghost of Hamlet's father was not
only fully armed, but--

    So frown'd he once, when in angry parle,
    He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.

The folk-lore stories from most parts of the world coincide in this
idea. It was recorded of the Indians of Brazil by one of the early
European visitors that 'they believe that the dead arrive in the
other world, wounded or hacked to pieces, in fact, just as they left
this;'[53] a statement which reminds us of a ghost described by Mrs.
Crowe,[54] who, on appearing after death, was seen to have the very
small-pox marks which had disfigured its countenance when in the flesh.

As in life, so in death, it would seem that there are different classes
of ghosts--the princely, the aristocratic, the genteel, and the
common. The vulgar class, it is said, delight to haunt 'in graveyards,
dreary lanes, ruins, and all sorts of dirty dark holes and corners.'
An amusing anecdote illustrative of this belief was related by the
daughter of 'the celebrated Mrs. S.' [Siddons?] who told Mrs. Crowe
that when her parents were travelling in Wales they stayed some days
at Oswestry, and lodged in a house which was in a very dirty and
neglected state, yet all night long the noise of scrubbing and moving
furniture made it impossible to sleep. The servants did little or no
work, for they had to sit up with their mistress to allay her fears.
The neighbours said that this person had killed an old servant, hence
the disturbance and her terror. Mr. and Mrs. S---- coming in suddenly
one day, heard her cry out, 'Are you there again? Fiend! go away!' But
numerous tales similar to the above are still current in different
parts of the country; and from time to time are duly chronicled in the
local press.


[31] _Principles of Sociology_, 1885, i. p. 174.

[32] _De Anima_, p. 9; see Tylor's _Primitive Culture_, i. p. 456.

[33] _Principles of Sociology_, 1885, i. p. 174.

[34] See Tylor's _Primitive Culture_, i. p. 457.

[35] Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, p. 20.

[36] Tylor's _Primitive Culture_, i. p. 456.

[37] Letourneau's _Sociology_, p. 253.

[38] See Tylor's _Anthropology_, 1881, p. 344.

[39] _Nineteenth Century_, July 1885, pp. 143-144, 'Transylvanian
Superstitions,' by Madame Emily de Laszowska Gerard.

[40] Ralston's _Songs of the Russian People_, p. 117.

[41] _Myths and Dreams_, 1885, p. 184.

[42] _Myths and Myth-makers_, 1873, p. 225.

[43] See Hunt's _Popular Romances of the West of England_, p. 373.

[44] _Fasti_, v. 457.

[45] _Primitive Superstitions_, p. 195.

[46] _The Origin of Civilisation, and the Primitive Condition of Man_,
1870, p. 140; see Letourneau's _Sociology_, p. 263.

[47] Brinton's _Myths of the New World_, 1868, p. 257.

[48] Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, 1881, p. 193.

[49] See Lecky's _Rationalism in Europe_, 1870, i. p. 340; cf. Maury's
_Légendes Pieuses_, p. 124.

[50] _Primitive Culture_, i. p. 455.

[51] See Andrew Lang's _Myth, Ritual, Religion_, i. p. 108.

[52] _Odyssey_, xxiv.

[53] Tylor's _Primitive Culture_, i. p. 451.

[54] _Night Side of Nature._



The Greeks believed that such as had not received funeral rites would
be excluded from Elysium. The younger Pliny tells the tale of a haunted
house at Athens, in which a ghost played all kinds of pranks owing to
the funeral rites having been neglected. It is still a deep-rooted
belief that when the mortal remains of the soul have not been honoured
with proper burial, it will walk. The ghosts of unburied persons not
possessing the _obolus_ or fee due to Charon, the ferryman of Styx, and
Acheron, were unable to obtain a lodging or place of rest. Hence they
were compelled to wander about the banks of the river for a hundred
years, when the portitor, or 'ferryman of hell,' passed them over _in
formâ pauperis_. The famous tragedy of 'Antigone' by Sophocles owes
much of its interest to this popular belief on the subject. In most
countries all kinds of strange tales are told of ghosts ceaselessly
wandering about the earth, owing to their bodies, for some reason or
another, having been left unburied.

There is a well known German ghost, the Bleeding Nun. This was a nun
who, after committing many crimes and debaucheries, was assassinated
by one of her paramours and denied the rites of burial. After this,
she used to haunt the castle where she was murdered, with her bleeding
wounds. On one occasion, a young lady of the castle, willing to elope
with her lover, in order to make her flight easier, personated the
bleeding nun. Unfortunately the lover, whilst expecting his lady under
this disguise, eloped with the spectre herself, who presented herself
to him and haunted him afterwards.[55]

Comparative folk-lore, too, shows how very widely diffused is this
notion. It is believed by the Iroquois of North America, that unless
the rites of burial are performed, the spirits of the dead hover for a
time upon the earth in great unhappiness. On this account every care
is taken to procure the bodies of those slain in battle. Certain
Brazilian tribes suppose that the spirits of the dead have no rest
till burial, and among the Ottawas, a great famine was thought to have
been produced on account of the failure of some of their tribesmen to
perform the proper burial rites. After having repaired their fault they
were blessed with abundance of provisions. The Australians went so far
as to say that the spirits of the unburied dead became dangerous and
malignant demons. Similarly, the Siamese dread, as likely to do them
some harm, the ghosts of those who have not been buried with proper
rites, and the Karens have much the same notion. According to the
Polynesians, the spirit of a dead man could not reach the sojourn of
his ancestors, and of the gods, unless the sacred funereal rites were
performed over his body. If he was buried with no ceremony, or simply
thrown into the sea, the spirit always remained in the body.[56]

Under one form or another, the same belief may be traced in most parts
of the world, and, as Dr. Tylor points out,[57] 'in mediæval Europe
the classic stories of ghosts that haunt the living till laid by
rites of burial pass here and there into new legends where, under a
changed dispensation, the doleful wanderer now asks Christian burial in
consecrated earth.' Shakespeare alludes to this old idea, and in 'Titus
Andronicus' (i. 2) Lucius, speaking of the unburied sons of Titus, says:

    Give us the proudest prisoner of the Goths,
    That we may hew his limbs, and on a pile
    _Ad manes fratrum_ sacrifice his flesh,
    Before this earthly prison of their bones;
    That so the shadows be not unappeas'd,
    Nor we disturb'd with prodigies on earth.

Hence the appearance of a spirit, in times past, was often regarded
as an indication that some foul deed had been done, on which account
Horatio in 'Hamlet' (i. 1) says to the ghost:

    If there be any good thing to be done
    That may to thee do ease, and grace to me,
    Speak to me.

In the narrative of the sufferings of Byron and the crew of H.M. ship
'Wager,' on the coast of South America, we find a good illustration
of the superstitious dread attaching to an unburied corpse. 'The
reader will remember the shameful rioting, mutiny, and recklessness
which disgraced the crew of the "Wager," nor will he forget the
approach to cannibalism and murder on one occasion. These men had
just returned from a tempestuous navigation, in which their hopes
of escape had been crushed, and now what thoughts disturbed their
rest--what serious consultations were they which engaged the attention
of these sea-beaten men? Long before Cheap's Bay had been left, the
body of a man had been found on a hill named "Mount Misery." He was
supposed to have been murdered by some of the first gang who left the
island. The body had never been buried, and to such neglect did the
men now ascribe the storms which had lately afflicted them; nor would
they rest until the remains of their comrade were placed beneath the
earth, when each evidently felt as if some dreadful spell had been
removed from his spirit.' Stories of this kind are common everywhere,
and are interesting as showing how widely scattered is this piece of

In Sweden the ravens, which scream by midnight in forest swamps and
wild moors, are held to be the ghosts of murdered men, whose bodies
have been hidden in those spots by their undetected murderers, and
not had Christian burial.[58] In many a Danish legend the spirit of
a strand varsler, or coast-guard, appears, walking his beat as when
alive. Such ghosts were not always friendly, and it was formerly
considered dangerous to pass along 'such unconsecrated beaches,
believed to be haunted by the spectres of unburied corpses of drowned

The reason, it is asserted, why many of our old castles and country
seats have their traditional ghost, is owing to some unfortunate
person having been secretly murdered in days past, and to his or her
body having been allowed to remain without the rites of burial. So
long as such a crime is unavenged, and the bones continue unburied,
it is impossible, we are told, for the outraged spirit to keep quiet.
Numerous ghost stories are still circulated throughout the country of
spirits wandering on this account, some of which, however, are based
purely on legendary romance.

But when the unburied body could not be found, and the ghost wandered,
the missing man was buried in effigy, for, as it has been observed,
'according to all the laws of primitive logic, an effigy is every
bit as good as its original. Therefore, when a dead man is buried in
effigy, with all due formality, that man is dead and buried beyond a
doubt, and his ghost is as harmless as it is in the nature of ghosts to
be.' But sometimes such burial by proxy was premature, for the man was
not really dead; and if he declined to consider himself as such, the
question arose, was he alive, or was he dead? The solution adopted was
that he might be born again and take a new lease of life. 'And so it
was, he was put out to nurse, he was dressed in long clothes--in short,
he went through all the stages of a second childhood. But before this
pleasing experience could take place, he had to overcome the initial
difficulty of entering his own house, for the door was ghost-proof.
There was no other way but by the chimney, and down the chimney he
came.' We may laugh at such credulity, but many of the ghost-beliefs of
the present day are not less absurd.


[55] Yardley's _Supernatural in Fiction_, p. 93.

[56] Letourneau's _Sociology_, p. 257.

[57] _Primitive Culture_, ii. p. 29; Douce's _Illustrations of
Shakespeare_, pp. 450, 451.

[58] Henderson's _Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, p. 126, note.

[59] Thorpe's _Northern Mythology_, ii. p. 166.



A variety of causes have been supposed to prevent the dead resting in
the grave, for persons 'dying with something on their mind,' to use
the popular phrase, cannot enjoy the peace of the grave; oftentimes
some trivial anxiety, or some frustrated communication, preventing the
uneasy spirit flinging off the bonds that bind it to earth. Wickedness
in their lifetime has been commonly thought to cause the souls of the
impenitent to revisit the scenes where their evil deeds were done. It
has long been a widespread idea that as such ghosts are too bad for
a place in either world, they are, therefore, compelled to wander on
the face of the earth homeless and forlorn. We have shown in another
chapter how, according to a well-known superstition, the _ignes fatui_,
which appear by night in swampy places, are the souls of the dead--men
who during life were guilty of fraudulent and other wicked acts. Thus a
popular belief reminds us[60] how, when an unjust relative has secreted
the title-deeds in order to get possession of the estate himself,
he finds no rest in the other world till the title-deeds are given
back, and the estate is restored to the rightful heir. Come must the
spirit of such an unrighteous man to the room where he concealed the
title-deeds surreptitiously removed from the custody of the person to
whose charge they were entrusted. 'A dishonest milkwoman at Shrewsbury
is condemned,' writes Miss Jackson in her 'Shropshire Folk-lore'[61]
(p. 120), 'to wander up and down "Lady Studley's Diche" in the Raven
Meadow--now the Smithfield--constantly repeating:

   "Weight and measure sold I never,
    Milk and water sold I ever."'

The same rhyme is current at Burslem, in the Staffordshire Potteries.
The story goes that 'Old Molly Lee,' who used to sell milk there, and
had the reputation of being a witch, was supposed to be seen after her
death going about the streets with her milk-pail on her head repeating
it. Miss Jackson further relates how a mid-Shropshire squire of long
ago was compelled to wander about in a homeless state on account of
his wickedness. Murderers cannot rest, and even although they may
escape justice in this life, it is supposed that their souls find no
peace in the grave, but under a curse are compelled to walk to and
fro until they have, in some degree, done expiation for their crimes.
Occasionally, it is said, their plaintive moans may be heard as they
bewail the harm done by them to the innocent, weary of being allowed no
cessation from their ceaseless wandering--a belief which reminds us of
the legend of the Wandering Jew, and the many similar stories that have
clustered round it.

In 'Blackwood's Magazine' for August 1818 this passage occurs: 'If any
author were so mad as to think of framing a tragedy upon the subject
of that worthy vicar of Warblington, Hants, who was reported about a
century ago to have strangled his own children, and to have walked
after his death, he would assuredly be laughed to scorn by a London
audience.' But a late rector of Warblington informed a correspondent
of 'Notes and Queries' (4th S. xi. 188), 'it was quite true that
his house was said to be haunted by the ghost of a former rector,
supposed to be the Rev. Sebastian Pitfield, who held the living in
1677.' A strong prejudice against hanging prevails in Wales, owing
to troublesome spirits being let loose, and wandering about, to the
annoyance of the living.

The spirits of suicides wander, and hence cross-roads in various parts
of the country are oftentimes avoided after dark, on account of being
haunted by headless and other uncanny apparitions. The same belief
exists abroad. The Sioux are of opinion that suicide is punished in the
land of spirits by the ghosts being doomed for ever to drag the tree
on which they hang themselves; and for this reason they always suspend
themselves to as small a tree as can possibly sustain their weight.

With the Chinese the souls of suicides are specially obnoxious, and
they consider that the very worst penalty that can befall a soul is the
sight of its former surroundings. Thus, it is supposed that, in the
case of the wicked man, 'they only see their homes as if they were near
them; they see their last wishes disregarded, everything upside down,
their substance squandered, strangers possess the old estate; in their
misery the dead man's family curse him, his children become corrupt,
land is gone, the wife sees her husband tortured, the husband sees his
wife stricken down with mortal disease; even friends forget, but some,
perhaps, for the sake of bygone times, may stroke the coffin and let
fall a tear, departing with a cold smile.'[62] But, as already noticed,
the same idea, in a measure, extends to the West, for in this country
it has long been a popular belief that the ghosts of the wicked are
forced to periodically rehearse their sinful acts. Thus, the murderer's
ghost is seen in vain trying to wash out the indelible blood-stains,
and the thief is supposed to be continually counting and recounting
the money which came into his possession through dishonest means. The
ghost is dogged and confronted with the hideousness of his iniquities,
and the young woman who slew her lover in a fit of jealous passion is
seen, in an agonised expression, holding the fatal weapon. But such
unhappy spirits have, in most cases, been put to silence by being laid,
instances of which are given elsewhere; and in other cases they have
finally disappeared with the demolition of certain houses which for
years they may have tenanted.

On the other hand, the spirits of the good are said sometimes to return
to earth for the purpose of either succouring the innocent, or avenging
the guilty.

'Those who come again to punish their friends' wrongs,' writes
Miss Jackson, in her 'Shropshire Folk-lore' (p. 119), 'generally
appear exactly as in life, unchanged in form or character. A certain
well-to-do man who lived in the west of Shropshire within living
memory, left his landed property to his nephew, and a considerable
fortune to his two illegitimate daughters, the children of his
housekeeper. Their mother, well provided for, was at his death turned
adrift by the nephew. Her daughters, however, continued to live in
their old home with their cousin. A maid-servant who entered the family
shortly after (and who is our informant) noticed an elderly man often
walking in the garden in broad daylight, dressed in old-fashioned
clothes, with breeches and white stockings. He never spoke, and never
entered the house, though he always went towards it. Asking who he was,
she was coolly told, "Oh, that is only our old father!" No annoyance
seems to have been caused by the poor old ghost, with one exception,
that the clothes were every night stripped off the bed of the two
unnatural daughters.'

German folk-lore tells how slain warriors rise again to help their
comrades to victory, and how a mother will visit her old home to look
after her injured and forsaken children, and elsewhere the same idea
is extensively believed. In China, the ghosts which are animated by
a sense of duty are frequently seen: at one time they seek to serve
virtue in distress, and at another they aim to restore wrongfully-held
treasure. Indeed, as it has been observed, 'one of the most powerful
as well as the most widely diffused of the people's ghost stories is
that which treats of the persecuted child whose mother comes out of the
grave to succour him.'[63] And there perhaps can be no more gracious
privilege allotted to immortal spirits than that of beholding those
beloved of them in mortal life:

                          I am still near,
    Watching the smiles I prized on earth,
    Your converse mild, your blameless mirth.[64]

As it has been observed, no oblivious draught has been given the
departed soul, but the remembrance of its earthly doings cleaves to it,
and this is why ghosts are always glad to see the places frequented by
them while on earth. In Galicia, directly after a man's burial, his
spirit takes to wandering by nights about the old home, and watching
that no evil befalls his heirs.[65]

Occasionally the spirit returns to fulfil a promise as in compacts,
to which reference is made in another chapter. The reappearance of a
lover, 'in whose absence his beloved has died, is a subject that has
been made use of by the folk-poets of every country, and nothing,' it
is added, 'can be more characteristic of the nationalities to which
they belong than the divergences which mark their treatment of it.'[66]
Another cause of ghosts wandering is founded upon a superstition as to
the interchange of love-tokens, an illustration of which we find in
the old ballad of 'William's Ghost':

    There came a ghost to Marjorie's door,
      Wi' many a grievous maen,
    And aye he tirl'd at the pin,
      But answer made she nane.

    'Oh, sweet Marjorie! oh, dear Marjorie!
      For faith and charitie,
    Give me my faith and troth again,
      That I gied once to thee.'

    'Thy faith and troth I'll ne'er gie thee,
      Nor yet shall our true love twin,
    Till you tak' me to your ain ha' house,
      And wed me wi' a ring.'

    'My house is but yon lonesome grave,
      Afar out o'er yon lee,
    And it is but my spirit, Marjorie,
      That's speaking unto thee.'[67]

She followed the spirit to the grave, where it lay down and confessed
that William had betrayed three maidens whom he had promised to marry,
and in consequence of this misdemeanour he could not rest in his grave
until she released him of his vows to marry her. On learning this,
Marjorie at once released him.

    Then she'd taen up her white, white hand,
      And struck him on the breist,
    Saying, 'Have ye again your faith and troth,
      And I wish your soul good rest.'

In another ballad, 'Clerk Sanders,' there is a further illustration
of the same belief. The instances, says Mr. Napier, differ, but 'the
probability is that the ballad quoted above and "Clerk Sanders" are
both founded on the same story. Clerk Sanders was the son of an earl,
who courted the king's daughter, Lady Margaret. They loved each other
even in the modern sense of loving too well. Margaret had seven
brothers, who suspected an intrigue, and they came upon them together
in bed and killed Clerk Sanders, whose ghost soon after came to
Margaret's window. The ballad, which contains much curious folk-lore,
runs thus:[68]

    'Oh! are ye sleeping, Margaret?' he says,
      'Or are ye waking presentlie?
    Give me my faith and troth again,
      I wot, true love, I gied to thee.

    'I canna rest, Margaret,' he says,
      'Down in the grave where I must be,
    Till ye give me my faith and troth again,
      I wot, true love, I gied to thee.'

    'Thy faith and troth thou shalt na get,
      And our true love shall never twin,
    Until ye tell what comes o' women,
      I wot, who die in strong travailing.

    'Their beds are made in the heavens high,
      Down at the foot of our Lord's knee,
    Weel set about wi' gilliflowers,
      I trow sweet company for to see.

    'Oh, cocks are crowing a merry midnight,
      I wot the wild fowls are boding day;
    The psalms of heaven will soon be sung,
      And I, ere now, will be missed away.'

    Then she has ta'en a crystall wand,
      And she has stroken her throth thereon;
    She has given it him out of the shot-window,
      Wi' many a sigh and heavy goan.

    'I thank ye, Margaret; I thank ye, Margaret;
      And aye, I thank ye heartilie;
    Gin ever the dead come for the quick,
      Be sure, Margaret, I'll come for thee.'

    Then up and crew the milk-white cock,
      And up and crew the gray;
    Her lover vanished in the air,
      And she gaed weeping away.

Madness, again, during life, is said occasionally to produce
restlessness after death. 'Parson Digger, at Condover,' remarked an old
woman to Miss Jackson,[69] 'he came again. He wasn't right in his head,
and if you met him he couldn't speak to you sensibly. But when he was
up in the pulpit he'd preach, oh! beautiful!' In Hungary, there are
the spirits of brides who die on their wedding-day before consummation
of marriage. They are to be seen at moonlight, where cross-roads meet.
And it is a Danish tradition that a corpse cannot have peace in the
grave when it is otherwise than on its back. According to a Scotch
belief, excessive grief for a departed friend, 'combined with a want of
resignation to the will of Providence, had the effect of keeping the
spirit from rest in the other world. Rest could be obtained only by the
spirit coming back, and comforting the mourner by the assurance that it
was in a state of blessedness.'[70] The ghosts of those, again, who had
some grievance or other in life are supposed to wander. The Droitwich
Canal, in passing through Salwarpe, Worcestershire, is said to have
cut off a slice of a large old half-timbered house, in revenge for
which act of mutilation, the ghost of a former occupier revisited his
old haunts, and affrighted the domestics.

Once more, according to another Animistic conception which holds a
prominent place in the religion of uncultured tribes, the soul at death
passes through some transitionary stages, finally developing into
a demon. In China and India this theory is deeply rooted among the
people, and hence it is customary to offer sacrifices to the souls of
the departed by way of propitiation, as otherwise they are supposed to
wander to and fro on the earth, and to exert a malignant influence on
even their dearest friends and relatives. Diseases, too, are regarded
as often being caused by the wandering souls of discontented relatives,
who in some cases are said to re-appear as venomous snakes.[71] Owing
to this belief, a system of terror prevails amongst many tribes, which
is only allayed by constantly appeasing departed souls. Believing
in superstitions of this kind, it is easy to understand how the
uncivilised mind readily lays hold of the doctrine that the souls of
the departed, angry and enraged at having had death thrust on them,
take every opportunity of wandering about, and annoying the living,
and of wreaking their vengeance on even those most nearly related to
them. In this phase of savage belief may be traced the notion of Manes
worship found under so many forms in foreign countries. Indeed, once
granted that the departed soul has power to affect the living, then
this power attributed to it is only one of degree. With this belief,
too, may be compared the modern one of worship of the dead; and as Dr.
Tylor remarks: 'A crowd of saints, who were once men and women, now
form an inferior order of deities active in the affairs of men, and
receiving from them reverence and prayer, thus coming strictly under
the definition of Manes.'[72] A further illustration may be adduced in
the patron deities of particular trades and crafts, and in the imposing
array of saints supposed to be specially interested in the particular
requirements of mankind.


[60] See Gregor's _Folk-lore of North-East of Scotland_, p. 68.

[61] Edited by C. S. Burne.

[62] Countess Evelyn Martinengo-Cesaresco, 1886, _Essays in the Study
of Folk-songs_, p. 8.

[63] _Study of Folk-songs_, p. 2.

[64] _Study of Folk-songs_, p. 8.

[65] Ralston's _Songs of the Russian People_, p. 121.

[66] _Study of Folk-songs_, p. 21.

[67] _Folk-lore Record_, 1879, iii. pp. 111, 112,

[68] _Folk-lore Record_, 1879, iii. pp. 111, 112.

[69] _Shropshire Folk-lore_, p. 119.

[70] Gregor's _Folk-lore of North-East of Scotland_, p. 69.

[71] Sir John Lubbock's _Origin of Civilisation_, p. 134.

[72] _Primitive Culture_, ii. p. 120.



It is commonly supposed that the spirits of those who have suffered
a violent or untimely death are baneful and malicious beings; for,
as Meiners conjectures in his 'History of Religions,' they were
driven unwillingly from their bodies, and have carried into their new
existence an angry longing for revenge. Hence, in most countries,
there is a dread of such harmful spirits; and, among the Sioux Indians
the fear of the ghost's vengeance has been known to act as a check to
murder. The avenging ghost often comes back to convict the guilty, and
appears in all kinds of strange and uncanny ways. Thus the ghost of
Hamlet's father (i. 5) says:

    I am thy father's spirit,
    Doomed for a certain time to walk the night,
    And for the day confined to fast in fires,
    Till the foul crimes, done in my days of nature,
    Are burnt and purged away.

Till the crime has been duly expiated, not only is the spirit supposed
to be kept from its desired rest, but it flits about the haunts of the
living, that, by its unearthly molestation, it may compel them to make
every possible reparation for the cruel wrong done. Any attempt to
lay such a ghost is ineffectual, and no exorcist's art can induce it
to discontinue its unwelcome visits. Comparative folk-lore proves how
universal is this belief, for one of the most popular ghost stories
in folk-tales is that which treats of the murdered person whose ghost
hovers about the earth with no gratification but to terrify the living.

The Chinese have a dread of the wandering spirits of persons who
have come to an unfortunate end. At Canton, in 1817, the wife of an
officer of Government had occasioned the death of two female domestic
slaves, from some jealous suspicion it was supposed of her husband's
conduct towards the girls; and, in order to screen herself from the
consequences, she suspended the bodies by the neck, with a view to its
being construed into an act of suicide. But the conscience of the woman
tormented her to such a degree that she became insane, and at times
personated the victims of her cruelty; or, as the Chinese supposed, the
spirits of the murdered girls possessed her, and utilised her mouth to
declare her own guilt. In her ravings she tore her clothes, and beat
her own person with all the fury of madness; after which she would
recover her senses for a time, when it was supposed the demons quitted
her, but only to return with greater frenzy, which took place a short
time previous to her death.[73] According to Mr. Dennys,[74] the most
common form of Chinese ghost story is that wherein the ghost seeks to
bring to justice the murderer who shuffled off its mortal coil.

The following tale is told of a haunted hill in the country of the
Assiniboins. Many summers ago a party of Assiniboins pounced on a
small band of Crees in the neighbourhood of Wolverine Knoll. Among the
victors was the former wife of one of the vanquished, who had been
previously captured by her present husband. This woman directed every
effort in the fight to take the life of her first husband, but he
escaped, and concealed himself on this knoll. Wolverine--for this was
his name--fell asleep, and was discovered by this virago, who killed
him, and presented his scalp to her Assiniboin husband. The knoll was
afterwards called after him. The Indians assert that the ghosts of
the murderess and her victim are often to be seen from a considerable
distance struggling together on the very summit of the height.[75]

The Siamese 'fear as unkindly spirits the souls of such as died a
violent death, or were not buried with the proper rites, and who,
desiring expiation, invisibly terrify their descendants.'[76] In the
same way, the Karens say that the ghosts of those who wander on the
earth are the spirits of such as died by violence; and in Australia we
hear of the souls of departed natives walking about because their death
has not been expiated by the avenger of blood.

The Hurons of America, lest the spirits of the victims of their torture
should remain around the huts of their murderers from a thirst of
vengeance, strike every place with a staff in order to oblige them to
depart. An old traveller mentions the same custom among the Iroquois:
'At night we heard a great noise, as if the houses had all fallen; but
it was only the inhabitants driving away the ghosts of the murdered;'
with which we may compare the belief of the Ottawas: On one occasion,
when noises of the loudest and most inharmonious kind were heard in
a certain village, it was ascertained that a battle had been lately
fought between the Ottawas and Kickapods, and that the object of all
this noise was to prevent the ghosts of the dead combatants from
entering the village.[77]

European folk-lore still clings to this old belief, and, according
to the current opinion in Norway,[78] the soul of a murdered person
willingly hovers around the spot where his body is buried, and makes
its appearance for the purpose of calling forth vengeance on the

The idea that, in cases of hidden murder, the buried dead cannot rest
in their graves is often spoken in our old ballad folk-lore. Thus, in
the ballad of the 'Jew's Daughter,' in Motherwell's collection, a youth
was murdered, and his body thrown into a draw-well, and he speaks to
his mother from the well:

    She ran away to the deep draw-well,
      And she fell down on her knee,
    Saying, 'Bonnie Sir Hugh, oh, pretty Sir Hugh,
      I pray ye, speak to me!'
    'Oh! the lead it is wondrous heavy, mother,
      The well, it is wondrous deep,
    The little penknife sticks in my throat,
      And I downa to ye speak.
    But lift me out of this deep draw-well,
      And bury me in yon churchyard;
    Put a Bible at my head,' he says,
      'And a Testament at my feet,
    And pen and ink at every side,
      And I will lay still and sleep.
    And go to the back of Maitland town,
      Bring me my winding sheet;
    For it's at the back of Maitland town
      That you and I shall meet.'

The eye of superstition, we are told, sees such ghosts sometimes as
white spectres in the churchyard, where they stop horses, terrify
people, and make a disturbance; and occasionally as executed criminals,
who, in the moonlight, wander round the place of execution, with their
heads under their arms. At times they are said to pinch persons while
asleep both black and blue, such spots being designated ghost-spots, or
ghost-pinches. It is also supposed in some parts of Norway that certain
spirits cry like children, and entice people to them, such being
thought to derive their origin from murdered infants. A similar belief
exists in Sweden, where the spirits of little children that have been
murdered are said to wander about wailing, within an assigned time, so
long as their lives would have lasted on earth, had they been allowed
to live. As a terror for unnatural mothers who destroy their offspring,
their sad cry is said to be 'Mama! Mama!' If travellers at night pass
by them, they will hang on the vehicle, when the most spirited horses
will sweat as if they were dragging too heavy a load, and at length
come to a dead stop. The peasant then knows that a ghost or pysling has
attached itself to his vehicle.[79]

The nautical ghost is often a malevolent spirit, as in Shelley's
'Revolt of Islam'; and Captain Marryat tells a sailor story of a
murdered man's ghost appearing every night, and calling hands to
witness a piratical scene of murder, formerly committed on board
the ship in which he appeared. A celebrated ghost is that of the
'Shrieking Woman,' long supposed to haunt the shores of Oakum Bay,
near Marblehead. She was a Spanish lady murdered by pirates in the
eighteenth century, and the apparition is thus described by Whittier in
his 'Legends of New England':

    'Tis said that often when the moon,
      Is struggling with the gloomy even,
    And over moon and star is drawn
      The curtain of a clouded heaven,
    Strange sounds swell up the narrow glen,
      As if that robber crew was there;
    The hellish laugh, the shouts of men
      And woman's dying prayer.

Many West Indian quays were thought to be the haunts of ghosts
of murdered men; and Sir Walter Scott tells how the Buccaneers
occasionally killed a Spaniard or a slave, and buried him with their
spirits, under the impression that his ghost would haunt the spot, and
keep away treasure hunters. He quotes another incident of a captain
who killed a man in a fit of anger, and, on his threatening to haunt
him, he cooked his body in the stove kettle. The crew believed that
the murdered man took his place at the wheel, and on the yards. The
captain, troubled by his conscience and the man's ghost, finally jumped
overboard, when, as he sank, he threw up his arms and exclaimed, 'Bill
is with me now!'

In most parts of the world similar tales are recorded, and are as
readily believed as when they were first told centuries ago. A certain
island on the Japanese coast is traditionally haunted by the ghosts
of Japanese slain in a naval battle. Even 'to-day the Chousen peasant
fancies he sees the ghostly armies baling out the sea with bottomless
dippers, condemned thus to cleanse the ocean of the slain of centuries
ago.'[80] According to an old Chinese legend the ghost of a captain of
a man-of-war junk, who had been murdered, reappeared and directed how
the ship was to be steered to avoid a nest of pirates.[81]

In this country, many an old mansion has its haunted room, in which
the unhappy spirit of the murdered person is supposed, on certain
occasions, to appear. Generation after generation do such troubled
spirits return to the scene of their life, and persistently wait
till some one is bold enough to stay in the haunted room, and to
question them as to the cause of their making such periodical visits.
Accordingly, when a murder has been committed and not discovered,
often, it is said, has the spirit of the murdered one continued to
come back and torment the neighbourhood till a confession of the crime
has been made, and justice satisfied. Mr. Walter Gregor,[82] detailing
instances in Scotland of haunted houses, tells how 'in one room a lady
had been murdered, and her body buried in a vault below it. Her spirit
could find no rest till she had told who the murderer was, and pointed
out where the body lay. In another, a baby heir had its little life
stifled by the hand of an assassin hired by the next heir. The estate
was obtained, but the deed followed the villain beyond the grave, and
his spirit could find no peace. Night by night the ghost had to return
at the hour of midnight to the room in which the murder was committed,
and in agony spend in it the hours till cock-crowing, when everything
of the supernatural had to disappear.'

The ghost of Lady Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, who always appears in
white, carrying her child in her arms, has long been, as Mr. Ingram
says,[83] 'an enduring monument of the bloodthirsty spirit of the age
in which she lived.' Whilst her husband was away from home, a favourite
of the Regent, Murray seized his house, turned his wife, on a cold
night, naked, into the open fields, where, before morning, she was
found raving mad; her infant perishing either by cold or murder. The
ruins of the mansion of Woodhouslee, 'whence Lady Bothwell was expelled
in the brutal manner which occasioned her insanity and death,' have
long been tenanted with the unfortunate lady's ghost; 'and so tenacious
is this spectre of its rights, that a part of the stones belonging to
the ancient edifice having been employed in building or repairing the
new Woodhouslee, the apparition has deemed it one of her privileges to
haunt that house also.'

Samlesbury Hall, Lancashire, has its ghosts; and it is said that 'on
certain clear still evenings a lady in white can be seen passing along
the gallery and the corridors, and then from the hall into the grounds;
then she meets a handsome knight who receives her on bended knees, and
he then accompanies her along the walks. On arriving at a certain spot,
most probably the lover's grave, both the phantoms stand still, and, as
they seem to utter lost wailings of despair, they embrace each other,
and then melt away into the clear blue of the surrounding sky.' The
story goes that one of the daughters of Sir John Southworth, a former
owner, formed an attachment with the heir of a neighbouring house; but
when Sir John said 'no daughter of his should ever be united to the son
of a family which had deserted its ancestral faith,' an elopement was
arranged. The day and place were overheard by the lady's brother, and,
on the evening agreed upon, he rushed from his hiding-place and slew
her lover. But soon afterwards her mind gave way, and she died a raving

Mrs. Murray, a lady born and brought up in the borders, writes Mr.
Henderson,[85] tells me of 'a cauld lad,' of whom she heard in her
childhood during a visit to Gilsland, in Cumberland. He perished from
cold, at the behest of some cruel uncle or stepdame, and ever after his
ghost haunted the family, coming shivering to their bedsides before
anyone was stricken by illness, his teeth audibly chattering; and if it
were to be fatal, he laid his icy hand upon the part which would be the
seat of the disease, saying:

    Cauld, cauld, aye cauld!
    An' ye see he cauld for evermair.

St. Donart's Castle, on the southern coast of Glamorganshire, has its
favourite ghost, that of Lady Stradling, who is said to have been
murdered by one of her family. 'It appears,' writes the late Mr. Wirt
Sikes,[86] 'when any mishap is about to befall a member of the house
of Stradling, the direct line, however, of which is extinct. She wears
high-heeled shoes, and a long trailing gown of the finest silk.' While
she wanders, the castle hounds refuse to rest, but with their howling
raise all the dogs in the neighbourhood. The Little Shelsey people long
preserved a tradition that the court-house in that parish was haunted
by the spirit of a Lady Lightfoot, who was said to have been imprisoned
and murdered;[87] and Cumnor Hall has acquired a romantic interest from
the poetic glamour flung over it by Mickle in his ballad of Cumnor
Hall, and by Sir Walter Scott in his 'Kenilworth.' Both refer to it
as the scene of Amy Robsart's murder, and although the jury agreed to
accept her death as accidental, the country folk would not forego their
idea that it was the result of foul play. Ever since the fatal event
it was asserted that 'Madam Dudley's ghost did use to walk in Cumnor
Park, and that it walked so obstinately, that it took no less than nine
parsons from Oxford to lay her.' According to Mickle--

    The village maids, with fearful glance,
      Avoid the ancient moss-grown wall;
    Nor ever lead the merry dance
      Among the groves of Cumnor Hall.

About half a mile to the east of Maxton, a small rivulet runs across
the old turnpike road, at a spot called Bow-brig-syke. Near this bridge
is a triangular field, in which for nearly a century it was averred
that the forms of two ladies, dressed in white, might be seen pacing up
and down, walking over precisely the same spot of ground till morning
light. But one day, while some workmen were repairing the road, they
took up the large flagstones upon which foot-passengers crossed the
burn, and found beneath them the skeletons of two women lying side by
side. After this discovery the Bow-brig ladies, as they were called,
were never again seen to walk in the three-corner field. The story goes
that these two ladies were sisters to a former laird of Littledean,
who is said to have killed them in a fit of passion, because they
interfered to protect from ill-usage a young lady whom he had met at
Bow-brig-syke. Some years later he met with his own death near the same
fatal spot.[88]

Mr. Sullivan, in his 'Cumberland and Westmoreland,' relates how, some
years ago, a spectre appeared to a man who lived at Henhow Cottage,
Martindale. Starting for his work at an early hour one morning, he
had not gone two hundred yards from his house when his dog gave signs
of alarm, and, on looking round, he saw a woman carrying a child in
her arms. On being questioned as to what was troubling her, the ghost
replied that she had been seduced, and that her seducer, to conceal
his guilt and her frailty, had given her medicine, the effect of
which was to kill both mother and child. Her doom was to wander for a
hundred years, forty of which had expired. The occurrence is believed
to have made a lasting impression on the old man, who, says Sullivan,
'was until lately a shepherd on the fells. There can be no moral doubt
that he both saw and spoke with the apparition; but what share his
imagination had therein, or how it had been excited, are mysteries,
and so they are likely to remain.' But as Grose remarks, ghosts do not
go about their business like living beings. In cases of murder, 'a
ghost, instead of going to the next justice of the peace and laying
its information, or to the nearest relation of the person murdered,
it appears to some poor labourer who knows none of the parties, draws
the curtains of some decrepit nurse or alms-woman, or hovers about the
place where his body is deposited.' The same circuitous mode, he adds,
'is pursued with respect to redressing injured orphans or widows,
when it seems as if the shorter and more certain would be to go to the
person guilty of the injustice, and haunt him continually till he be
terrified into a restitution.'

From early days the phantoms of the murdered have occasionally
appeared to the living, and made known the guilty person or persons
who committed the deed. Thus Cicero relates how 'two Arcadians came
to Megara together; one lodged at a friend's house, the other at an
inn. During the night, the latter appeared to his fellow-traveller,
imploring his help, as the innkeeper was plotting his death; the
sleeper sprang up in alarm, but thinking the vision of no importance,
he went to sleep again. A second time his companion appeared to him, to
entreat that, though he had failed to help, he would at least avenge,
for the innkeeper had killed him, and hidden his body in a dung-cart,
wherefore he charged his fellow-traveller to be early next morning at
the city gate before the cart passed out. The traveller went as bidden,
and there found the cart; the body of the murdered man was in it, and
the innkeeper was brought to justice.'[89]

Of the many curious cases recorded of a murder being discovered through
the ghost of the murdered person, may be quoted one told in Aubrey's
'Miscellanies.' It appears that on Monday, April 14, 1690, William
Barwick was walking with his wife close to Cawood Castle, when, from
motives not divulged at the trial, he determined to murder her, and
finding a pond conveniently at hand, threw her in. But on the following
Tuesday, as his brother-in-law, Thomas Lofthouse, 'about half an hour
after twelve of the clock in the daytime, was watering quickwood, as
he was going for the second pail, there appeared walking before him an
apparition in the shape of a woman, "her visage being like his wife's
sister's." Soon after, she sat down over against the pond, on a green
hill. He walked by her as he went to the pond, and, on his return, he
observed that she was dangling "something like a white bag" on her
lap, evidently suggestive of her unborn baby that was slain with her.
The circumstance made such an impression on him, that he immediately
suspected Barwick, especially as he had made false statements as to
the whereabouts of his wife, and obtained a warrant for his arrest.
The culprit when arrested confessed his crime, and the body of the
murdered woman being recovered, was found dressed in clothing similar,
apparently, to that worn by the apparition. Ultimately Barwick was
hanged for his crime.'[90]

A similar case, which occurred in the county of Durham in 1631, and is
the subject of a critical historical inquiry in Surtees's 'History of
Durham,' may be briefly summed up.[91] 'One Walker, a yeoman of good
estate, a widower, living at Chester-le-Street, had in his service a
young female relative named Anne Walker. The results of an amour which
took place between them caused Walker to send away the girl under
the care of one Mark Sharp, a collier, professedly that she might
be taken care of as befitted her condition, but in reality that she
might no more be troublesome to her lover. Nothing was heard of her
till, one night in the ensuing winter, one James Graham, coming down
from the upper to the lower floor of his mill, found a woman standing
there with her hair hanging about her head, in which were five bloody
wounds. According to the man's evidence, she gave an account of her
fate; having been killed by Sharp on the moor in their journey, and
thrown into a coal pit close by, while the instrument of her death,
a pick, had been hid under a bank along with his clothes, which were
stained with her blood. She demanded of Graham that he should expose
her murder, which he hesitated to do, until she had twice reappeared to
him, the last time with a threatening aspect.

'The body, the pick, and the clothes having been found as Graham
had described, Walter and Sharp were tried at Durham, before Judge
Davenport, in August 1631. The men were found guilty, condemned, and

In 'Ackerman's Repository' for November 1820, there is an account of
a person being tried on the pretended evidence of a ghost. A farmer,
on his return from the market at Southam, co. Warwick, was murdered.
The next morning a man called upon the farmer's wife, and related how
on the previous night her husband's ghost had appeared to him, and,
after showing him several stabs on his body, had told him that he was
murdered by a certain person, and his corpse thrown into a marl-pit.
A search was instituted, the body found in the pit, and the wounds on
the body of the deceased were exactly in the parts described by the
pretended dreamer; the person who was mentioned was committed for trial
on the charge of murder, and the trial came on at Warwick before Lord
Chief Justice Raymond. The jury would have convicted the prisoner as
rashly as the magistrate had committed him, but for the interposition
of the judge, who told them he did not put any credence in the
pretended ghost story, since the prisoner was a man of unblemished
reputation, and no ill-feeling had ever existed between himself and
the deceased. He added that he knew of no law which admitted of the
evidence of a ghost, and, if any did, the ghost had not appeared. The
crier was then ordered to summon the ghost, which he did three times,
and the judge then acquitted the prisoner, and caused the accuser to
be detained and his house searched, when such strong proofs of guilt
were discovered, that the man confessed the crime, and was executed for
murder at the following assizes.


[73] _The Chinese_: J. F. Davis, 1836, ii. pp. 139, 140.

[74] _Folk-lore of China_, p. 73.

[75] See Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, p. 304.

[76] _Primitive Culture_, ii. p. 28.

[77] See Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, 1880, pp. 19, 20.

[78] Thorpe's _Northern Mythology_, ii, p. 19.

[79] Thorpe's _Northern Mythology_, ii. pp. 94, 95.

[80] Griffis, _The Mikado's Kingdom_.

[81] Denny's _Folk-lore of China_; see Bassett's _Legends and
Superstitions of the Sea_, p. 296.

[82] _Folk-lore of North-East of Scotland_, 1881, p. 68.

[83] _Haunted Homes of England_, 1881, p. 286.

[84] _Haunted Homes of England_, 2nd S., pp. 222-225.

[85] _Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, p. 267.

[86] _British Goblins_, pp. 143, 144.

[87] _Gentleman's Magazine_, 1855, part ii. p. 58.

[88] See Henderson's _Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, pp. 324-325.

[89] Quoted in Tylor's _Primitive Culture_, i. p. 444.

[90] See Ingram's _Haunted Homes_, 1884, pp. 33-36.

[91] See _Book of Days_, ii. p. 287.



One of the forms which the soul is said occasionally to assume at
death is that of a bird--a pretty belief which, under one form or
another, exists all over the world. An early legend tells how, when
St. Polycarp was burnt alive, there arose from his ashes a white dove
which flew towards heaven; and a similar story is told of Joan of Arc.
The Russian peasantry affirm that the souls of the departed haunt their
old homes in the shape of birds for six weeks, and watch the grief
of the bereft, after which time they fly away to the other world. In
certain districts bread-crumbs are placed on a piece of white linen at
a window during those six weeks, when the soul is believed to come and
feed upon them in the form of a bird. It is generally into pigeons or
crows that the dead are transformed. Thus, when the Deacon Theodore
and his three schismatic brethren were burnt in the year 1682, writes
Mr. Ralston,[92] 'the souls of the martyrs appeared in the air as
pigeons.' In Volhynia dead children are believed to come back in the
spring to their native village under the semblance of swallows and
other small birds, endeavouring, by soft twittering or song, to console
their sorrowing parents. The Bulgarians say that after death the soul
assumes the form of a bird; and according to an old Bohemian fancy the
soul flies out of the dying in a similar shape. In the 'Chronicles of
the Beatified Anthony'[93] we find described fetid and black pools
'in regione Puteolorum in Apulia,' whence the souls arise in the form
of monstrous birds in the evening hours of the Sabbath, which neither
eat nor let themselves be caught, but wander till in the morning an
enormous lion compels them to submerge themselves in the water.

It is a German belief that the soul of one who has died on shipboard
passes into a bird, and when seen at any time it is supposed to
announce the death of another person. The ghost of the murdered mother
comes swimming in the form of a duck, or the soul sits in the likeness
of a bird on the grave. This piece of folk-lore has been introduced
into many of the popular folk-tales, as in the well-known story of the
juniper tree. A little boy is killed by his step-mother, who serves
him up as a dish of meat to his father. The father eats in ignorance,
and throws away the bones, which are gathered up by the half-sister,
who puts them into a silk handkerchief and buries them under a juniper
tree. But presently a bird of gay plumage perches on the tree, and
whistles as it flits from branch to branch:

    Min moder de mi slach't,
    Min fader de mi att,
    Min swester de Marleenken,
    Söcht alle mine Beeniken,
    Und bindt sie in een syden Dodk,
    Legst unner den Machandelboom;
    Ky witt! ky witt! Ach watt en schön vogel bin ich!

--a rhyme which Goethe puts into the mouth of Gretchen in prison.[94]
In Grimm's story of 'The White and the Black Bride,' the mother and
sister push the true bride into the stream. At the same moment a
snow-white swan is discovered swimming down the stream.

Swedish folk-lore tells us that the ravens which scream by night in
forest swamps and wild moors are the ghosts of murdered men whose
bodies have been hidden by their undetected murderers, and not had
Christian burial. In Denmark the night-raven is considered an exorcised
spirit, and there is said to be a hole in its left wing caused by the
stake driven into the earth. Where a spirit has been exorcised, it is
only through the most frightful swamps and morasses that it ascends,
first beginning under the earth with the cry of 'Rok! rok!' then 'Rok
op! rok op!' and when it has thus come forth, it flies away screaming
'Hei! hei! he!--i!' When it has flown up it describes a cross, but one
must take care, it is said, not to look up when the bird is flying
overhead, for he who sees through the hole in its wing will become
a night-raven himself, and the night-raven will be released. This
ominous bird is ever flying towards the east, in the hope of reaching
the Holy Sepulchre, for when it arrives there it will find rest.[95]
Then there is the romantic Breton ballad of 'Lord Nann and the
Korrigan,' wherein it is related how--

    It was a marvel to see, men say,
    The night that followed the day,
    The lady in earth by her lord lay,

    To see two oak trees themselves rear,
    From the new made grave into the air;

    And on their branches two doves white,
    Who there were hopping, gay and light,

    Which sang when rose the morning ray,
    And then towards heaven sped away.

In Mexico it is a popular belief that after death the souls of nobles
animate beautiful singing birds, and certain North American Indian
tribes maintain that the souls of their chiefs take the form of small
woodbirds.[96] Among the Abipones of Paraguay we are told of a peculiar
kind of little ducks which fly in flocks at night-time, uttering a
mournful tone, and which the popular imagination associates with the
souls of those who have died. Darwin mentions a South American Indian
who would not eat land-birds because they were dead men; and the
Californian tribes abstain from large game, believing that the souls of
past generations have passed into their bodies. The Içannas of Brazil
thought the souls of brave warriors passed into lovely birds that fed
on pleasant fruits; and the Tapuyas think the souls of the good and
the brave enter birds, while the cowardly become reptiles. Indeed, the
primitive psychology of such rude tribes reminds us how the spirit
freed at death--

    Fills with fresh energy another form,
    And towers an elephant, or glides a worm;
    Swims as an eagle in the eye of noon,
    Or wails a screech-owl to the deaf cold moon.

It was also a belief of the Aztecs that all good people, as a reward of
merit, were metamorphosed at the close of life into feathered songsters
of the grove, and in this form passed a certain term in the umbrageous
bowers of Paradise; while certain African tribes think that the souls
of wicked men become jackals. The Brazilians imagined that the souls
of the bad animated those birds that inhabited the cavern of Guacharo
and made a mournful cry, which birds were religiously feared.

Tracing similar beliefs in our own country, may be compared the
Lancashire dread of the so-called 'Seven Whistlers,' which are
occasionally heard at night, and are supposed to contain the souls of
those Jews who assisted at the Crucifixion, and in consequence of their
wickedness were doomed to float for ever in the air. Numerous stories
have been told, from time to time, of the appearance of these 'Seven
Whistlers,' and of their being heard before some terrible catastrophe,
such as a colliery explosion. A correspondent of 'Notes and Queries'
relates how during a thunderstorm which passed over Kettering, in
Yorkshire, on the evening of September 6, 1871, 'on which occasion the
lightning was very vivid, an unusual spectacle was witnessed. Immense
flocks of birds were flying about, uttering doleful affrighted cries as
they passed over the locality, and for hours they kept up a continual
whistling like that made by sea-birds. There must have been great
numbers of them, as they were also observed at the same time in the
counties of Northampton, Leicester, and Lincoln. The next day, as my
servant was driving me to a neighbouring village, this phenomenon of
the flight of birds became the subject of conversation, and on asking
him what birds he thought they were, he told me they were what were
called the "Seven Whistlers," and that whenever they were heard it was
considered a sign of some great calamity, and that the last time he
heard them was the night before the great Hartley Colliery explosion.
He had also been told by soldiers, that if they heard them they always
expected a great slaughter would take place soon. Curiously enough, on
taking up the newspaper the following morning, I saw headed in large
letters, "Terrible Colliery Explosion at Wigan," &c.' Wordsworth speaks
of the 'Seven Whistlers' in connection with the spectral hounds of the
wild huntsman:

    He the seven birds hath seen that never part--
      Seen the seven whistlers on their nightly rounds,
    And counted them. And oftentimes will start,
      For overhead are sweeping Gabriel's hounds,
    Doomed, with their impious lord, the flying hart
      To chase for ever on ærial grounds.

A similar tradition prevails on the Bosphorus with reference to
certain flocks of birds, about the size of a thrush, which fly up and
down the Channel, and are never seen to rest on the land or water.
These are supposed to be the souls of the damned, and condemned to
perpetual motion. Among further instances of the same belief may be
mentioned one current among the Manx herring fishermen, who, from time
immemorial, have been afraid of going to sea without a dead wren, for
fear of disasters and storms. The story goes that once upon a time 'a
sea spirit hunted the herring track, always attended by storms, but
at last assumed the form of a wren, and flew away.' Accordingly they
believe that so long as they have a dead wren with them all is snug and
safe. Similarly, in the English Channel a rustling, rushing sound is
occasionally heard on the dark still nights of winter, and is called
the herring spear, or herring piece, by the fishermen of Dover and
Folkestone. But this strange sound is really caused by the flight of
the little redwings as they cross the Channel on their way to warmer

Stories of disembodied souls appearing as birds are very numerous. An
old well-known Cornish legend tells how, in days of old, King Arthur
was transformed into a chough, 'its talons and beak all red with
blood,' denoting the violent end to which the celebrated chieftain
came. In the same way a curious legend in Poland affirms that every
member of the Herburt family assumes the form of an eagle after death,
and that the eldest daughters of the Pileck line take the shape of
doves if they die unmarried, of owls if they die married, and that
they give previous notice of their death to every member of their race
by pecking a finger of each. A wild song sung by the boatmen of the
Molo, Venice, declares that the spirit of Daniel Manin, the patriot, is
flying about the lagunes to this day in the shape of a beautiful white
dove.[97] There is the ancient Irish tradition that the first father
and mother of mankind exist as eagles in the island of Innis Bofin,
at the mouth of Killery Bay, in Galway; indeed, survivals of this old
belief occur under all manner of forms. There is the popular legend of
the owl and the baker's daughter which Shakespeare has immortalised
in 'Hamlet' (iv. 5), where Ophelia exclaims, 'They say the owl was
a baker's daughter; Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we
may be.'[98] Gervase of Tilbury tells how the stork was formerly
regarded as both bird and man, on account of which superstition it is
carefully protected in Prussia from any kind of injury. The stork,
too, is still held in superstitious dread by the Chinese, who, on the
twenty-first day of the period of mourning for the dead, place three
large paper birds resembling storks on high poles in front of the house
of mourning. The birds are supposed to carry the soul of the deceased
person to Elysium, and during the next three days the Buddhist prays
to the ten kings of the Buddhist Hades, calling on them to hasten the
flight of the departed soul to the Western Paradise.[99] The Virginian
Indians had great reverence for a small bird called Pawcorance, that
flies in the woods, and in its note continually sounds that name. This
bird flies alone, and is heard only in twilight. It is said to be the
son of one of their priests, and on this account they would not hurt
it; but there was once a profane Indian who was hired to shoot one of
them, but report says he paid dearly for his act of presumption, for a
few days afterwards he disappeared, and was never heard of again.[100]
The Indians dwelling about the Falls of St. Anthony supposed that the
spirits of their dead warriors animated the eagles which frequented the
place, and these eagles were objects of their worship. In the 'Sæmund
Edda' it is said that in the nether world souls as singed birds fly
about like swarms of flies--

    Of that is to be told
    What I just observed,
    When I had come into the land of torment:
    Singed birds,
    That had been souls,
    Flew as many as gnats.

The Finns and the Lithuanians speak of the 'Milky Way' as the Bird's
Way--the way of souls. According to Kuhn, the notion of the soul
assuming the form of a bird is closely allied with the primitive
tradition of birds as soul-bringers. Thus, as it has been suggested,
'the soul and the bird that brought it down to earth may have been
supposed to become one, and to enter and quit the body together.'
In the Egyptian hieroglyphics a bird signified the soul of man; and
the German name for stork, writes Grimm, is literally child, or
soul-bringer. Hence the belief that the advent of infants is presided
over by this bird, which obtains so wide a credence in Denmark and

The idea of the bird as a 'soul bringer' probably gave rise to the
popular belief that it is unlucky when a bird hovers near the window of
a sick-room, a superstition to which Mrs. Hemans has prettily alluded:

    Say not 'tis vain! I tell thee some
      Are warned by a meteor's light,
    Or a pale bird flitting calls them home,
      Or a voice on the winds by night.

There are various stories told of mysterious birds appearing at such a
time in different localities. In Devonshire the appearance of a white
breasted bird has long been considered a presage of death, a notion
which is said to have originated in a tragic occurrence that happened
to one of the Oxenham family. A local ballad tells how on the bridal
eve of Margaret, heiress of Sir James Oxenham, a silver-breasted bird
flew over the wedding guests just as Sir James stood up to thank them
for good wishes. The next day she was slain by a discarded lover, and
the ballad records how--

    Round her hovering flies,
    The phantom-bird, for her last breath,
    To bear it to the skies.

In Yorkshire, Berry Well was supposed to be haunted by a bogie in
the form of a white goose, and the Rev. S. Baring-Gould informs us
how Lew Trenchard House is haunted by a white lady who goes by the
name of Madame Gould, and is supposed to be the spirit of a lady who
died there, April 10, 1795. 'A stone is shown on the "ramps" of Lew
Slate Quarry, where seven parsons met to lay the old madame, and some
say that the white owl, which nightly flits to and fro in front of
Lew House, is the spirit of the lady conjured by the parsons into a

Similarly, whenever the white owls are seen perched on the family
mansion of the noble family of Arundel of Wardour, it is regarded as
a certain indication that one of its members will shortly be summoned
out of the world. In Count Montalembert's 'Vie de Ste. Elizabeth' it
is related how 'Duke Louis of Thuringia, the husband of Ste. Elizabeth
of Hungary, being on the point of expiring, said to those around him,
"Do you see those doves more white than snow?" His attendants supposed
him to be a prey to visions; but a little while afterwards he said to
them, "I must fly away with those brilliant doves." Having said this
he fell asleep in peace. Then his almoner, Berthold, perceived doves
flying away to the east, and followed them along with his eyes.' We
may compare a similar story told of the most beautiful woman of the
Knistenaux, named 'Foot of the Fawn,' who died in her childbirth, and
her babe with her. Soon afterwards two doves appeared, one full grown,
and the other a little one. They were the spirits of the mother and
child, and the Indians would gather about the tree on which they were
perched with reverential love, and worship them as the spirit of
the woman and child.[103] There is Lord Lyttelton's well-known ghost
story, and the belief of the Duchess of Kendal that George I. flew
into her window in the shape of a raven. Another well-known case was
that of the Duchess of St. Albans, who, on her death-bed, remarked
to her step-daughter, Lady Guilford, 'I am so happy to day because
your father's spirit is breathing upon me; he has taken the shape of
a little bird singing at my window.' Kelly relates an anecdote of
a credulous individual who believed that the departing soul of his
brother-in-law, in the form of a bird, tapped at his window at the
time of his death;[104] and in FitzPatrick's 'Life of Bishop Doyle' it
is related, in allusion to his death, that, 'considering the season
was midsummer, and not winter, the visit of two robin redbreasts to
the sick-room may be noticed as interesting. They remained fluttering
round, and sometimes perching on the uncurtained bed. The priests,
struck by the novelty of the circumstance, made no effort to expel
the little visitors, and the robins hung lovingly over the bishop's
head until death released him.' A singular instance of this belief
was the extraordinary whim of a Worcester lady, who, imagining her
daughter to exist in the shape of a singing-bird, literally furnished
her pew in the Cathedral with cages full of the kind; and we are told
in Lord Oxford's letters that, as she was rich, and a benefactress in
beautifying the church, no objection was made to her harmless folly.


[92] _Songs of the Russian People_, p. 118.

[93] Quoted by Gubernatis, _Zoological Mythology_, 1872, ii. pp. 254,

[94] Countess Evelyn Martinengo-Cesaresco, _Study of Folk-songs_ p. 10;
Thorpe's _Northern Mythology_, i. p. 289.

[95] Henderson's _Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, p. 126; Thorpe's
Northern Mythology, ii. p. 211.

[96] See Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, pp. 48, 49.

[97] Jones' _Credulities, Past and Present_, p. 376.

[98] See Dasent's _Tales of the Norse_, 1859, p. 230.

[99] Jones' _Credulities, Past and Present_, p. 373.

[100] Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, pp. 255, 256.

[101] Hardwick's _Traditions, Superstitions, and Folk-lore_, 1872
p. 243; Thorpe's _Northern Mythology_, i. p. 289. See Kelly's
_Indo-European Folk-lore_, p. 103.

[102] See Henderson's _Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, pp. 331-335.

[103] Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, p. 255.

[104] _Indo-European Folk-lore_, pp. 104, 105.



It is the rule rather than the exception for ghosts to take the
form of animals. A striking feature of this form of animism is its
universality, an argument, it is said, in favour of its having
originally sprung from the old theory of metempsychosis which has
pertinaciously existed in successive stages of the world's culture.
'Possibly,' it has been suggested, 'the animal form of ghosts is a mark
of the once-supposed divinity of the dead. Ancestor worship is one
of the oldest of the creeds, and in all mythologies we find that the
gods could transform themselves into any shape at will, and frequently
took those of beasts and birds.'[105] At the same time, one would
scarcely expect to come across nowadays this fanciful belief in our
own and other civilised countries, and yet instances are of constant
occurrence, being deeply rooted in many a local tradition. Acts of
injustice done to a person cause the soul to return in animal form by
way of retribution. Thus, in Cornwall, it is a very popular fancy that
when a young woman who has loved not wisely but too well dies forsaken
and broken-hearted, she comes back to haunt her deceiver in the form
of a white hare.[106] This phantom pursues the false one everywhere,
being generally invisible to everyone but himself. It occasionally
rescues him from danger, but invariably causes his death in the end. A
Shropshire story tells[107] how 'two or three generations back there
was a lady buried in her jewels at Fitz, and afterwards the clerk
robbed her; and she used to walk Cuthery Hollow in the form of a colt.
They called it Obrick's Colt, and one night the clerk met it, and fell
on his knees, saying, "Abide, Satan! abide! I am a righteous man, and a
psalm singer."'[108] The ghost was known as Obrick's Colt from the name
of the thief, who, as the peasantry were wont to say, 'had niver no
pace atter; a was sadly troubled in his yed, and mithered.'[109]

Sometimes the spirit in animal form is that of a wicked person doomed
to wear that shape for some offence. A man who hanged himself at
Broomfield, near Shrewsbury, 'came again in the form of a large black
dog;' and an amusing Shropshire story is told of the laying of an
animal ghost at Bagbury, which took the form of a roaring bull, and
caused no small alarm. This bull, it appears, had been a very bad
man, but when his unexpected presence as a bull-ghost terrified the
neighbourhood, it was deemed desirable by the twelve parsons whose help
had been invoked to run him to earth in Hyssington Church, with candles
and all the paraphernalia employed on such occasions. But the bull,
becoming infuriated, 'made such a bust that he cracked the wall of
the church from the top to the bottom.' Their efforts were ultimately
successful, for they captured him, and as he was compressible, they
shut him up in a snuff-box, and laid him in the Red Sea for a thousand

Lady Howard, a Devonshire notable of the time of James I., in spite
of her beauty and accomplishments, had many bad qualities, and amongst
others was not only guilty of unnatural cruelty to her only daughter,
but had a mysterious knack of getting rid of her husbands, having been
married no less than four times. Her misdemeanours, however, did not
escape with impunity, for, on her death, her spirit was transformed
into a hound, and compelled to run every night, between midnight and
cockcrow, from the gateway of Fitzford, her former residence, to
Oakhampton Park, and bring back to the place from whence she started a
blade of grass in her mouth, and this penance she is doomed to continue
till every blade of grass is removed from the park, which she will not
be able to effect till the end of the world.

Many spectral dogs, believed to be the souls of wicked persons, are
said to haunt the sides of rivers and pools, and the story goes that
there once lived in the hamlet of Dean Combe, Devon, a weaver of great
fame and skill. After a prosperous life he died, but the next day he
appeared sitting at the loom and working diligently as when he was
alive. His sons applied to the parson, who, hearing the noise of the
weaver's shuttle above, cried, 'Knowles! come down; this is no place
for thee.' 'I will,' said the weaver, 'as soon as I have worked out
my quill' (the quill is the shuttle-full of wool). 'Nay,' said the
vicar, 'thou hast been long enough at thy work, come down at once!' So
when the spirit came down, the vicar took a handful of earth from the
churchyard, and threw it on its face, and instantly it became a black
hound. Then the vicar took a nutshell with a hole in it, and led the
hound to the pool below the waterfall. 'Take this shell,' he said,
'and when thou shalt have dipped out the pool with it, thou mayest
rest, not before.'[110] On the west coast of Ireland, fishermen have a
strong prejudice against killing seals, owing to a popular tradition
that they enshrined 'the souls of them that were drowned at the flood.'
It was also said that such seals possessed the power of casting aside
their external skins, and disporting themselves in human form on the

Within the parish of Tring, Hertford, a poor old woman was drowned
in 1751 for suspected witchcraft. A chimney-sweeper, who was the
principal perpetrator of this deed, was hanged and gibbeted near the
place where the murder was committed; and while the gibbet stood, and
long after it had disappeared, the spot was haunted by a black dog. A
correspondent of the 'Book of Days' (ii. 433) says that he was told by
the village schoolmaster, who had been 'abroad,' that he himself had
seen this diabolical dog. 'I was returning home,' said he, 'late at
night in a gig with the person who was driving. When we came near the
spot, where a portion of the gibbet had lately stood, he saw on the
bank of the roadside a flame of fire as large as a man's hat. "What's
that?" I exclaimed. "Hush!" said my companion, and suddenly pulling
in his horse, made a dead stop. I then saw an immense black dog just
in front of our horse, the strangest looking creature I ever beheld.
He was as big as a Newfoundland, but very gaunt, shaggy, with long
ears and tail, eyes like balls of fire, and large, long teeth, for he
opened his mouth and seemed to grin at us. In a few minutes the dog
disappeared, seeming to vanish like a shadow, or to sink into the
earth, and we drove on over the spot where he had lain.'

Occasionally, when loss of life has happened through an accident, a
spectre animal of some kind has been afterwards seen. Some years ago
an accident happened in a Cornish mine, whereby several men lost their
lives. As soon as help could be procured, a party descended, but the
remains of the poor fellows were discovered to be mutilated beyond
recognition. On being brought up to the surface, the clothes and a
mass of mangled flesh dropped from the bodies. A bystander, anxious
to spare the feelings of the relatives present, quickly cast the
unsightly mass into the blazing furnace of an engine close at hand. But
ever since that day the engineman positively asserted that troops of
little black dogs continually haunted the locality. Then there is the
pretty legend mentioned by Wordsworth in his poem entitled, 'The White
Doe of Rylstone,' in which is embodied a Yorkshire tradition to the
effect that the lady founder of Bolton Abbey revisited the ruins of the
venerable structure in the form of a spotless white doe:

    Which, though seemingly doomed in its breast to sustain
    A softened remembrance of sorrow and pain,
    Is spotless, and holy, and gentle, and bright,
    And glides o'er the earth like an angel of light.

So common in France are human ghosts in bestial form, 'that M.
D'Assier has invented a Darwinian way of accounting for the phenomena.
M. D'Assier, a positivist, is a believer in ghosts, but not in the
immortality of the soul. He suggests that the human _revenants_ in the
guise of sheep, cows, and shadowy creatures may be accounted for by a
kind of Atavism, or "throwing back," on the side of the spirit to the
lower animal forms out of which humanity was developed!'[111]

According to a German piece of folk-lore, the soul takes the form of a
snake, a notion we find shared by the Zulus, who revere a certain kind
of serpents as the ghosts of the dead; and the Northern Indians speak
of a serpent coming out of the mouth of a woman at death. It is further
related that out of the mouth of a sleeping person a snake creeps and
goes a long distance, and that whatever it sees, or suffers, on its
way, the sleeper dreams of. If it is prevented from returning, the
person dies.[112] Another belief tells us that the soul occasionally
escapes from the mouth in the shape of a weasel or a mouse, a
superstition to which Goethe alludes in 'Faust':

    Ah! in the midst of her song,
    A red mouseskin sprang out of her mouth.

Turning to similar beliefs current among distant nations, we are told
that the Andaman Islanders had a notion that at death the soul vanished
from the earth in the form of various animals and fishes; and in
Guinea, monkeys found in the locality of a graveyard are supposed to be
animated by the spirits of the dead. As Mr. Andrew Lang remarks:[113]
'Among savages who believe themselves to be descended from beasts,
nothing can be more natural than the hypothesis that the souls revert
to bestial shapes.' Certain of the North American Indian tribes believe
that the spirits of their dead enter into bears; and some of the
Papuans in New Guinea 'imagine they will reappear as certain of the
animals in their own island. The cassowary and the emu are the most
remarkable animals that they know of; they have lodged in them the
shades of their ancestors, and hence the people abstain from eating
them.'[114] Spiritualism, we are told, is very widely spread among
the Esquimos, who maintain that all animals have their spirits, and
that the spirits of men can enter into the bodies of animals.[115]
In the Ladrone Islands it was supposed that the spirits of the dead
animated the bodies of the fish, and 'therefore to make better use of
these precious spirits, they burnt the soft portions of the dead body,
and swallowed the cinders which they let float on the top of their
cocoa-nut wine.'[116]

In most parts of England there is a popular belief in a spectral dog,
which is generally described as 'large, shaggy, and black, with long
ears and tail. It does not belong to any species of living dogs, but is
severally said to represent a hound, a setter, a terrier, or a shepherd
dog, though often larger than a Newfoundland.'[117] It is commonly
supposed to be a bad spirit, haunting places where evil deeds have
been done, or where some calamity may be expected. In Lancashire, this
spectre-dog is known as 'Trash' and 'Striker,'[118] its former name
having been applied to it from the peculiar noise made by its feet,
which is supposed to resemble that of a person walking along a miry,
sloppy road, with heavy shoes; and its latter appellation from its
uttering a curious screech, which is thought to warn certain persons
of the approaching death of some relative or friend. If followed, it
retreats with its eyes fronting its pursuer, and either sinks into
the ground with a frightful shriek, or in some mysterious manner
disappears. When struck, the weapon passes through it as if it were a
mere shadow. In Norfolk and Cambridgeshire this apparition is known
to the peasantry by the name of 'shuck'--the provincial word for
'shag'--and is reported to haunt churchyards and other lonely places.
A dreary lane in the parish of Overstrand is called from this spectral
animal 'Shuck's Lane,' and it is said that if the spot where it has
been seen be examined after its disappearance, it will be found to be
scorched, and strongly impregnated with the smell of brimstone. Mrs.
Latham tells[119] how a man of notoriously bad character, who lived in
a lonely spot at the foot of the South Downs, without any companion
of either sex, was believed to be nightly haunted by evil spirits in
the form of rats. Persons passing by his cottage late at night heard
him cursing them, and desiring them to let him rest in peace. It was
supposed they were sent to do judgment on him, and would carry him away
some night. But he received his death-blow in a drunken brawl.

In the neighbourhood of Leeds there is the Padfoot, a weird apparition
about the size of a small donkey, 'with shaggy hair and large eyes
like saucers.' Mr. Baring-Gould relates[120] how a man in Horbury once
saw 'the Padfooit,' which 'in this neighbourhood is a white dog like
a "flay-craw."' It goes sometimes on two legs, sometimes it runs on
three, and to see it is a prognostication of death. He was going home
by Jenkin, and he saw a white dog in the hedge. He struck at it, and
the stick passed through it. Then the white dog looked at him, and
it had 'great saucer e'en'; and he was so 'flayed,' that he ran home
trembling and went to bed, when he fell ill and died. With this strange
apparition may be compared the Barguest, Bahrgeist, or Boguest of
Northumberland, Durham, and Yorkshire, and the Boggart of Lancashire;
an uncanine creature, which generally assumes the form of a large black
dog with flaming eyes, and is supposed to be a presage of death. The
word 'barguest,' according to Sir Walter Scott, is from the German
'bahrgeist'--spirit of the bier; and, as it has been pointed out, the
proverbial expression to 'war like a Barguest,' shows how deep a hold
this apparition once had on the popular mind. There is a Barguest in a
glen between Darlington and Houghton, near Throstlenest, and another
haunted a piece of waste land above a spring called the Oxwells,
between Wreghorn and Headingly Hill, near Leeds. On the death of any
person of local importance in the neighbourhood the creature would
come forth, followed by all the dogs barking and howling.[121] Another
form of this animal spectre is the Capelthwaite, which, according to
common report, had the power of appearing in the form of any quadruped,
but usually chose that of a large black dog. It does not seem to have
appeared of late years, for tradition tells how a vicar of Beetham went
out in his ecclesiastical vestments to lay this troublesome spirit in
the River Bela.[122]

In Wales, there is the Gwyllgi, or 'dog of darkness,' a terrible
spectre of a mastiff which, with a baleful breath and blazing red
eyes, has often inspired terror even amongst the strong-minded Welsh
peasantry. Many stories are told of its encountering unwary travellers,
who have been so overcome by its unearthly howl, or by the glare of its
fiery eyes, that they have fallen senseless on the ground. A certain
lane, leading from Mowsiad to Lisworney-Crossways, is said to have been
haunted by a Gwyllgi of the most terrible aspect. A farmer, living near
there, was one night returning home from market on a young mare, when
suddenly the animal shied, reared, tumbled the farmer off, and bolted
for home. The farm-servants, finding the mare trembling by the barn
door, suspected she had seen the Gwyllgi, and going in search of their
master, they found him on his back in the mud, who, being questioned,
protested 'it was the Gwyllgi, and nothing less, that had made all this

It is a popular belief in Wales that horses have the peculiar 'gift'
of seeing spectres, and carriage horses have been known to display
every sign of the utmost terror when the occupants of the carriage
could see no cause for alarm. Such an apparition is an omen of death,
and an indication that a funeral will pass before long, bearing to the
grave some person not dead at the time of the horses' fright. Another
famous dog-fiend, in the shape of a shaggy spaniel, was the 'Mauthe
Doog,' which was said to haunt Peel Castle, Isle of Man. Its favourite
place was the guard-chamber, where it would lie down by the fireside.
According to Waldron, 'the soldiers lost much of their terror by the
frequency of the sight; yet, as they believed it to be an evil spirit
waiting for an opportunity to hinder them, the belief kept them so far
in order that they refrained from swearing in its presence. But, as
the Mauthe Doog used to come out and return by the passage through the
church, by which also somebody must go to deliver the keys every night
to the captain, they continued to go together; he whose turn it was to
do that duty being accompanied by the next in rotation. On a certain
night, however, one of the soldiers, being the worse for liquor, would
go with the key alone, though it really was not his turn. His comrades
tried to dissuade him, but he said he wanted the Mauthe Doog's company,
and would try whether he was dog or devil. Soon afterwards a great
noise alarmed the soldiers; and when the adventurer returned, he was
struck with horror and speechless, nor could he even make such signs
as might give them to understand what had happened to him; but he died
with distorted features in violent agony. After this the apparition was
never seen again.'

Then there are the packs of spectral hounds, which some folk-lorists
tell us are evil spirits that have assumed this form in order to mimic
the sports of men, or to hunt their souls. They are variously named
in different parts of the country--being designated in the North,
'Gabriel's Hounds'; in Devon, the 'Wisk,' 'Yesk,' 'Yeth,' or 'Heath
Hounds'; in Wales, 'Cwn Annwn' or 'Cwn y Wybr'; and in Cornwall,
the 'Devil and his Dandy-Dogs.' Such spectral hounds are generally
described as 'monstrous human-headed dogs,' and 'black, with fiery
eyes and teeth, and sprinkled all over with blood.' They are often
heard though seldom seen, 'and seem to be passing along simply in the
air, as if in hot pursuit of their prey'; and when they appear to hang
over a house, then death or misfortune may shortly be expected. In the
gorge of Cliviger the spectre huntsman, under the name of 'Gabriel
Ratchets,' with his hounds yelping through the air, is believed to hunt
a milk-white doe round the Eagle's Crag, in the Vale of Todmorden,
on All Hallows Eve.[124] Mr. Holland, of Sheffield, has embodied the
local belief in the subjoined sonnet, and says: 'I never can forget the
impression made upon my mind when once arrested by the cry of these
Gabriel hounds as I passed the parish church of Sheffield one densely
dark and very still night. The sound was exactly like the questing
of a dozen beagles on the foot of a race, but not so loud, and highly
suggestive of ideas of the supernatural.'

    Oft have I heard my honoured mother say,
      How she has listened to the Gabriel hounds--
      Those strange, unearthly, and mysterious sounds
    Which on the ear through murkiest darkness fell;
    And how, entranced by superstitious spell,
      The trembling villager nor seldom heard,
      In the quaint notes of the nocturnal bird,
    Of death premonished, some sick neighbour's knell.
    I, too, remember, once at midnight dark,
      How these sky-yelpers startled me, and stirred
      My fancy so, I could have then averred
    A mimic pack of beagles low did bark.
    Nor wondered I that rustic fear should trace
    A spectral huntsman doomed to that long moonless chase.

In the neighbourhood of Leeds these hounds are known as 'Gabble
Retchets,' and are supposed, as in other places, to be the souls of
unbaptized children who flit restlessly about their parents' abode. The
Yeth hounds were heard some few years ago in the parish of St. Mary
Tavy by an old man named Roger Burn. He was walking in the fields, when
he suddenly heard the baying of the hounds, the shouts and horn of
the huntsman, and the smacking of his whip. The last point the old man
quoted as at once settling the question, 'How could I be mistaken? Why,
I heard the very smacking of his whip.'

But, as Mr. Yarrell has long ago explained, this mysterious noise is
caused by bean-geese, which, coming southwards in large flocks on the
approach of winter--partly from Scotland and its islands, but chiefly
from Scandinavia--choose dark nights for their migration, and utter a
loud and very peculiar cry. The sound of these birds has been observed
in every part of England, and as far west as Cornwall. One day a man
was riding alone near Land's End on a still dark night, when the
yelping cry broke out above his head so suddenly, and to appearance so
near, that he instinctively pulled up the horse as if to allow the pack
to pass, the animal trembling violently at the unexpected sounds.

An amusing account of the devil and his dandy-dogs is given by Mr.
J. Q. Couch, in his 'Folk-lore of a Cornish Village,' from which it
appears that 'a poor herdsman was journeying homeward across the
moors one windy night, when he heard at a distance among the Tors
the baying of hounds, which he soon recognised as the dismal chorus
of the dandy-dogs. It was three or four miles to his house, and, very
much alarmed, he hurried onward as fast as the treacherous nature of
the soil and the uncertainty of the path would allow; but, alas! the
melancholy yelping of the hounds, and the dismal holloa of the hunter,
came nearer and nearer. After a considerable run they had so gained
upon him that on looking back--oh, horror! he could distinctly see
hunter and dogs. The former was terrible to look at, and had the usual
complement of _saucer-eyes_, horns, and tail accorded by common consent
to the legendary devil. He was black, of course, and carried in his
hand a long hunting pole. The dogs, a numerous pack, blackened the
small patch of moor that was visible, each snorting fire, and uttering
a yelp of indescribably frightful tone. No cottage, rock, or tree was
near to give the herdsman shelter, and nothing apparently remained
to him but to abandon himself to their fury, when a happy thought
suddenly flashed upon him and suggested a resource. Just as they were
about to rush upon him, he fell on his knees in prayer. There was a
strange power in the holy words he uttered, for immediately, as if
resistance had been offered, the hell hounds stood at bay, howling more
dismally than ever, and the hunter shouted, "Bo Shrove," which means
"The boy prays," at which they all drew off on some other pursuit and

Gervase of Tilbury informs us that in the thirteenth century the wild
hunt was often seen by full moon in England traversing forest and down.
In the twelfth century it was known as the Herlething, the banks of the
Wye having been the scene of the most frequent chases.

In Wales, the Cwn Annwn, or Dogs of Hell, or, as they are sometimes
called, 'Dogs of the Sky,' howl through the air 'with a voice
frightfully disproportionate to their size, full of a wild sort of
lamentation,' but, although terrible to hear, they are harmless, and
have never been known to commit any mischief. One curious peculiarity
is that the nearer these spectral hounds are to a man, the less loud
their voices sound; and the farther off they are, the louder is their
cry. According to one popular tradition, they are supposed to be
hunting through the air the soul of the wicked man the instant it
quits the body.

This superstition occupies, too, a conspicuous place in the folk-lore
of Germany and Norway. Mr. Baring-Gould, in his 'Iceland, its Scenes
and Sages,' describes it as he heard it from his guide Jon, who
related it to him under the title of the 'Yule Host.' He tells us how
'Odin, or Wodin, is the wild huntsman who nightly tears on his white
horse over the German and Norwegian forests and moor-sweeps, with his
legion of hell hounds. Some luckless woodcutter, on a still night,
is returning through the pine-woods when suddenly his ear catches a
distant wail; a moan rolls through the interlacing branches; nearer
and nearer comes the sound. There is the winding of a long horn waxing
louder and louder, the baying of hounds, the rattle of hoofs and paws
on the pine-tree tops.' This spectral chase goes by different names.
In Thuringia and elsewhere it is 'Hakelnberg' or 'Hackelnbärend,' and
the story goes that Hakelnberg was a knight passionately fond of the
chase, who, on his death-bed, would not listen to the priest, but
said, 'I care not for heaven, I care only for the chase.' Then 'hunt
until the last day,' exclaimed the priest. And now, through storm and
sunshine, he fleets, a faint barking or yelping in the air announcing
his approach. Thorpe quotes a similar story as current in the
Netherlands,[125] and in Denmark it occurs under various forms.[126]
In Schleswig it is Duke Abel, who slew his brother in 1252. Tradition
says that in an expedition against the Frieslanders, he sank into a
deep morass as he was fording the Eyder, where, being encumbered with
the weight of his armour, he was slain. His body was buried in the
Cathedral, but his spirit found no rest. The canons dug up the corpse,
and buried it in a morass near Gottorp, but in the neighbourhood of
the place where he is buried all kinds of shrieks and strange sounds
have been heard, and 'many persons worthy of credit affirm that they
have heard sounds so resembling a huntsman's horn, that anyone would
say that a hunter was hunting there. It is, indeed, the general rumour
that Abel has appeared to many, black of aspect, riding on a small
horse, and accompanied by three hounds, which appear to be burning
like fire.'[127] In Sweden, when a noise like that of carriage and
horses is heard at night, the people say, 'Odin is passing by,' and in
Norway this spectral hunt is known as the 'Chase of the inhabitants of
Asgarth.' In Danzig, the leader of the hounds is Dyterbjernat, _i.e._
Diedrick of Bern. Near Fontainebleau, Hugh Capet is supposed to ride,
having, it is said, rushed over the palace with his hounds before
the assassination of Henry IV.; and at Blois, the hunt is called the
'Chasse Macabee.' In some parts of France the wild huntsman is known
as Harlequin, or Henequin, and in the Franche Comté he is 'Herod in
pursuit of the Holy Innocents.' This piece of folk-lore is widespread,
and it may be added that in Normandy, the Pyrenees, and in Scotland,
King Arthur has the reputation of making nightly rides.

Another form of spectre animal is the kirk-grim, which is believed
to haunt many churches. Sometimes it is a dog, sometimes a pig,
sometimes a horse, the haunting spectre being the spirit of an animal
buried alive in the churchyard for the purpose of scaring away the
sacrilegious. Swedish tradition tells how it was customary for the
early founders of Christian churches to bury a lamb under the altar.
It is said that when anyone enters a church out of service time he may
chance to see a little lamb spring across the choir and vanish. This
is the church lamb, and its appearance in the churchyard, especially
to the grave-digger, is said to betoken the death of a child.[128]
According to a Danish form of this superstition, the kirk-grim dwells
either in the tower or wherever it can find a place of concealment,
and is thought to protect the sacred building; and it is said that
in the streets of Kroskjoberg, a grave-sow, or as it is also called,
a 'gray-sow,' has frequently been seen. It is thought to be the
apparition of a sow formerly buried alive, and to forebode death and


[105] _Shropshire Folk-lore_, p. 131.

[106] Hunt's _Popular Romances of the West of England_, p. 377.

[107] _Shropshire Folk-lore_, pp. 105, 106.

[108] See _Ibid._ pp. 108-111.

[109] See Hartshorne's _Salopia Antiqua_, p. 522

[110] _Notes and Queries_, 1st S. ii. p. 515.

[111] _Nineteenth Century_, April 1885, p. 625.

[112] See Thorpe's _Northern Mythology_, ii. pp. 289, 290.

[113] _Nineteenth Century_, April 1885, p. 625.

[114] Letourneau's _Sociology_, p. 250.

[115] _Ibid._ p. 264.

[116] _Ibid._ p. 266.

[117] _Book of Days_, ii. p. 433.

[118] See Harland and Wilkinson's _Lancashire Folk-lore_, p. 91.

[119] 'West Sussex Superstitions,' _Folk-lore Record_, i. p. 23.

[120] Henderson's _Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, pp. 274, 275.

[121] Henderson's _Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, p. 275.

[122] See Henderson's _Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, pp. 274-278.

[123] See Wirt Sikes' _British Goblins_, pp. 167-169.

[124] See Roby's _Traditions of Lancashire_; Homerton's _Isles of
Loch Awe_; Hardwick's _Traditions, Superstitions, and Folk-lore_, pp.

[125] _Northern Mythology_, iii. p. 219.

[126] _Ibid._ ii. pp. 195-202.

[127] _Northern Mythology_, ii. pp. 198, 199.

[128] See Thorpe's _Northern Mythology_, ii. pp. 102, 166, 167.



Stories of mysterious lights suddenly illuminating the nocturnal
darkness of unfrequented spots have long been current throughout the
world. In the 'Odyssey,' when Athene was mystically present as Odysseus
and Telemachus were moving the weapons out of the hall (xix. 21-50),
Telemachus exclaims, 'Father, surely a great marvel is this I behold!
Meseemeth that the walls of the hall, and the fair spaces between the
pillars, and the beams of pine, and the columns that run aloft, are
bright as it were with flaming fire. Verily some god is within of them
that hold the wide heaven.' Odysseus answers, 'Lo, this is the wont
of the gods that possess Olympus.' In Theocritus, when Hera sends
the snakes to attack the infant Heracles, a mysterious flame shines
forth. The same phenomenon occurs in the Sagas of Burut Njas, when
Gunnar sings within his tomb. The brilliance of the light which attends
the presence of the supernatural is indeed widely diffused, and, as
Mr. Andrew Lang writes,[129] 'Philosophers may dispute whether any
objective fact lies at the bottom of this belief, or whether a savage
superstition has survived into Greek epic and idyll and into modern
ghost stories.'

Although science has years ago explained many such phosphoric
appearances as governed by certain atmospheric laws, superstitious
fancy has not only attributed to them supernatural causes, but
associated them with all kinds of weird and romantic tales. According
to one popular notion, strange lights of this kind are the spirits of
persons who, for some reason, cannot remain quiet. Thus a spectre known
as the 'Lady and the Lantern,' has long been said to haunt the beach
at St. Ives, Cornwall, in stormy weather. The story goes that a lady
and her child had been saved from a wreck, but the child was swept away
and drowned, and she is supposed to be hunting for its body. Similar
tales are told elsewhere, but the object of search is not always the
same. A light, for instance, hovers about a stone on the Cornish coast,
locally designated 'Madge Figg's Chair,' which is supposed to be the
ghost of a wrecked lady whom Madge stripped of her jewels. In Scotland
the appearance of a spectral 'lady of the golden casket' was attended
by a phantom light, and it is also related how the ghost of a murdered
woman is seen by her lover at sea, approaching in the shape of a bright
light, which assumes the human form as it draws nearer. She finally
calls him, and he springs into her arms, and disappears in a flash of

There is the popular legend of the 'Radiant Boy'--a strange boy with
a shining face, who has been seen in certain Lincolnshire houses and
elsewhere. This ghost was described to Mr. Baring-Gould[131] by a
Yorkshire farmer, who, as he was riding one night to Thirsk, suddenly
saw pass by him a 'radiant boy' on a white horse. To quote his own
words, 'there was no sound of footfall as the boy drew nigh. He was
first aware of the approach of the mysterious rider by seeing the
shadow of himself and his horse flung before him on the high road.
Thinking there might be a carriage with lamps, he was not alarmed till,
by the shortening of the shadow, he knew that the light must be near
him, and then he was surprised to hear no sound. He thereupon turned
in his saddle, and at the same moment the "radiant boy" passed him.
He was a child of about eleven, with a fresh bright face. "Had he any
clothes on? and if so, what were they like?" I asked. But the old man
could not tell. His astonishment was so great that he took no notice
of particulars. The boy rode on till he came to a gate which led into
a field; he stooped as if to open the gate, rode through, and all was
instantly dark.'

At the commencement of the present century the little village of Black
Heddon, near Stamfordham, in Northumberland, was greatly disturbed
by an apparition known as 'Silky,' from the nature of her dress. She
suddenly appeared to benighted travellers, breaking forth upon them in
dazzling splendour, in the darkest and most lonely parts of the road.
This spirit exercised a marvellous power over the brute creation, and
once, it is said, waylaid a waggon bringing coals to a farm near Black
Heddon, and fixed the team upon a bridge, since called, after her,
'Silky's Brig.' Do what he could, the driver could not make the horses
move a step, and there they would have stayed all night had not another
farm servant come up with some mountain ash about him. It was generally
supposed that Silky, who suddenly disappeared, was the troubled phantom
of some person who had died miserable because she owned treasure, and
was overtaken by death before she had disclosed its hiding-place.

An old barn situated near Birchen Tower, Hollinwood, which was noted
for the apparition of Madame Beswick on dark and wintry nights, at
times, it is said, appears to be on fire, a red glare of glowing heat
being observable through the loopholes and crevices of the building.
Sometimes the sight is so threatening that the neighbours will raise an
alarm that the barn is in flames. But when the premises are searched,
everything is in order, and nothing found wrong.[132] And a Welsh
romance tells how, after Howel Sele slew his cousin Glendower, and
buried him in 'a broad and blasted oak, scorched by the lightning's
vivid glare,'

    Pale lights on Cader's rocks were seen,
    And midnight voices heard to moan.

Such phantom lights are not confined to land, and most of the tales of
spectre ships speak of their being seen by the affrighted crews. In the
'Salem Spectre Ship' we are told how

    The night grew thick, but a phantom light
    Around her path was shed.

They are generally dreaded as foreboding a catastrophe, and have given
rise to a host of curious stories. A light is said to hover about in
Sennen Cove, which is thought to be an ill-omened apparition; and a
Welsh story speaks of a ghost, the 'Cyhyraeth,' that appears on the
beach, in a light, with groanings and cries.[133] Flames are reported
to issue from the Eider River, and from several lakes in Germany.
Where ships have been wrecked, blue lights are supposed to faintly
glimmer, occasionally accompanied by the spirits of wrecked or injured
persons. A notable instance is told of Sable Island,[134] where, with
the leaping flames, is seen the 'Lady of Copeland' wrecked and murdered
by pirates from the Amelie transport. She has one finger missing on her

Sometimes weird lights flickering in solitary places are thought to be
the unhappy spirits of wicked persons who have no rest in the grave.
Milton refers to this fancy in his 'Paradise Lost' (ix. 634):

                            A wandering fire,
    Compact of unctuous vapour, which the night
    Condenses, and the cold environs round,
    Kindled through agitation to a flame,
    Which oft, they say, some evil spirit attends,
    Hovering and blazing with delusive light,
    Misleads the amazed night wanderer from his way
    To bogs and mires; and oft through pond or pool
    There swallowed up and lost from succour far.

Hence they were doomed to wander backwards and forwards carrying
a light. A tradition current in Normandy says that a pale light
occasionally seen by travellers is the unquiet spirit of some
unfortunate woman who, as a punishment for her intrigues with a
minister of the Church, is doomed to this existence. There are various
versions of this story, and one formerly current in this country tells
how the hovering flame--the cause of terror to many--is the soul of a
priest who has been condemned to expiate his vows of perpetual chastity
by thus haunting the scenes of his disobedience. Brand, quoting from an
old work on 'Lights that Lead People out of their Ways in the Night,'
informs us that the lights which are seen in churchyards and Moorish
places were represented by the Popish clergy to be 'souls come out of
purgatory all in flame, to move the people to pray for their entire
deliverance, by which they gulled them of much money to say mass for
them, everyone thinking it might be the soul of his or her deceased

According to another explanation, it is believed on the Continent that
the ghosts of those who in their lifetime were guilty of removing their
neighbours' landmarks are fated to roam hither and thither, lantern in
hand, 'sometimes impelled to replace the old boundary mark, then to
move it again, constantly changing their course with their changing
purpose.' A Swedish tradition adds that such a spirit may be heard
saying in a harsh, hoarse voice, 'It is right! it is right! it is
right!' But the next moment qualms of conscience and anguish seize him,
and he then exclaims, 'It is wrong! it is wrong! it is wrong!'[135]
It is also said that these lights are the souls of land-measurers,
who, having acted dishonestly in their business, are trying to remedy
the wrong measurements they made. A German legend tells how, at the
partition of the land, there arose between the villages of Alversdorf
and Röst, in South Ditmarschen, great disputes. One man gave fraudulent
measurements, but after his death he wandered about as a fire sprite. A
flame, the height of a man, was seen dancing about till the moor dried
up. Whenever it flared up higher than usual, the people would cry out,
'Dat is de Scheelvalgt'--that is the land-divider. There is a tale told
of a certain land-measurer near Farsum, in the Netherlands, who had in
his lifetime acted dishonestly when he had a piece of land to measure.
He suffered himself 'to be bribed by one or other, and then allotted
to the party more than was just, for which offence he was condemned
after death to wander as a burning man with a burning measuring-staff.'

Popular fancy, too, has long identified phantom lights as being the
souls of unbaptized children. Because such souls cannot enter heaven,
they make their abodes in forests, and in dark and lonely places, where
they mourn over their hard lot. If at night they chance to meet anyone,
they run up to him, and walk on before to show him the way to some
water where they may be baptized. The mysterious lady, Frau Bertha, is
ever attended by troops of unbaptized children, whom she takes with her
when she joins the wild huntsman. One tradition relates how a Dutch
parson, happening to return home later than usual, was confronted with
no less than three of these fiery phenomena. Remembering them to be
the souls of unbaptized children, he thoughtfully stretched out his
hand, and pronounced the words of baptism over them. But, much to his
unexpected surprise, in the same instant hundreds of these moving
lights made their appearance, which so frightened him that, forgetting
his good intentions, he ran home as fast as he could. In Ireland
unbaptized children have been represented as sitting blindfolded within
fairy moats, the peasantry supposing such souls 'go into nought.' A
somewhat similar idea may be found in Longfellow's 'Evangeline,' where
we have introduced among the _contes_ of an Arcadian village notary
allusion to

    The white Létiche, the ghost of a child unchristened,
    Died, and was doomed to haunt unseen the chambers of children.

Closely allied with the notion of phantom lights are the strange
phosphoric appearances said occasionally to be seen about the dying.
In Russia, the soul under certain circumstances is believed to assume
the form of a flame, and such a ghostly apparition cannot be banished
till the necessary prayers have been offered up.[136] According to
a Sussex death-omen, lights of a circular form seen in the air are
significant, and it is supposed that the death of sick persons is
shown by the prognostic of 'shell-fire.' This is a sort of lambent
flame, which seems to rise from the bodies of those who are ill, and
to envelope the bed. On one occasion, considerable alarm was created
in a Sussex village by a pale light being observed to move over the
bed of a sick person, and after flickering for some time in different
parts of the room, to vanish through the window. But the difficulty
was eventually explained, for the light was found to proceed from a
luminous insect--the small glow-worm.[137] Marsh[138] relates how a
pale moonlight-coloured glimmer was once seen playing round the head
of a dying girl about an hour and a half before her last breath. The
light proceeded from her head, and was faint and tremulous like the
reflection of summer lightning, which at first those watching her
mistook it to be. Another case, reported by a medical man in Ireland,
was that of a consumptive patient, in whose cabin strange lights had
been seen, filling the neighbourhood with alarm. To quote a further
instance, from the mouth of a patient in a London hospital, some time
since, the nurses observed issuing a pale bluish flame, and soon after
the man died. The frightened nurses were at a loss to account for this
unusual sight, but a scientific explanation of the phenomenon ascribed
it to phosphoretted hydrogen, a result of incipient decomposition.[139]

Dante Rossetti, in his 'Blessed Damozel,' when he describes her as
looking down from heaven towards the earth that 'spins like a fretful
image,' whence she awaits the coming of her lover, depicts the souls
mounting up to God as passing by her 'like thin flames.'

Another form of this superstitious fancy is the corpse-candle, or
'tomb-fire,' which is invariably a death-warning. It sometimes appears
'as a stately flambeau, stalking along unsupported, burning with a
ghastly blue flame. Sometimes it is a plain tallow "dip" in the hand
of a ghost; and when the ghost is seen distinctly, it is recognised as
that of some person still living, who will now soon die[140]--in fact,
a wraith.' Occasionally the light issues from the person's mouth, or
nostrils. The size of the candle indicates the age of the person who is
about to die, being large when it is a full-grown person whose death
is foretold, small when it is a child, still smaller when an infant.
When two candles together are seen, one of which is large and the
other small, it is a mother and child who are to die. When the flame is
white the doomed person is a woman, when red a man. A Carmarthenshire
tradition relates how one evening, when the coach which runs between
Llandilo and Carmarthen was passing by Golden Grove, the property of
the Earl of Cawdor, three corpse-candles were observed on the surface
of the water gliding down the stream which runs near the road. A few
days afterwards, just as many men were drowned there. Such a light,
too, has long been thought to hover near the grave of the drowned,
reminding us of Moore's lines--

    Where lights, like charnel meteors, burned the distant wave,
    Bluely as o'er some seaman's grave,

and stories of such uncanny appearances have been told of nearly every
village churchyard.

It should be added that, according to a popular idea, the presence of
ghosts was announced, in bygone years, by an alteration in the tint of
the lights which happened to be burning--an item of folk-lore alluded
to in 'Richard III.' (Act v. sc. 3), where the tyrant exclaims as he

    The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight,
    Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Methought the souls of all that I had murder'd
    Came to my tent.

So in 'Julius Cæsar,' (Act iv. sc. 3), Brutus, on seeing the ghost of
Cæsar, exclaims:

    How ill this taper burns! Ha! Who comes here?

Phantom lights have also been associated with buildings, as in the case
of the ancient chapel of Roslin, founded in the year 1446 by William
St. Clair, Prince of Orkney. It is believed that whenever any of the
founder's descendants are about to depart this life, the chapel appears
to be on fire, a weird and terrible occurrence graphically portrayed by
Harold's song in 'The Lay of the Last Minstrel':

    O'er Roslin all that dreary night,
      A wondrous blaze was seen to gleam;
    'Twas broader than the watch-fire light,
      And redder than the bright moonbeam.

    It glared on Roslin's castled rock,
      It ruddied all the copse-wood glen;
    'Twas seen from Dryden's groves of oak,
      And seen from cavern'd Hawthornden.

    Seem'd all on fire that chapel proud,
      Where Roslin's chiefs uncoffin'd lie;
    Each Baron, for a sable shroud,
      Sheathed in his iron panoply.

    Seem'd all on fire, within, around,
      Deep sacristy and altar's pale;
    Shone every pillar foliage-bound,
      And glimmer'd all the dead men's mail.

    Blazed battlement and pinnet high,
      Blazed every rose-carved buttress fair;
    So still they blaze when fate is nigh,
      The lordly line of Hugh St. Clair.

But notwithstanding the fact that the last 'Roslin,' as he was
called, died in 1778, and the estates passed into the possession of
the Erskines, Earls of Rosslyn, the old tradition has not yet been
extinguished.[141] Sir Walter Scott also tells us that the death of
the head of a Highland family is sometimes announced by a chain of
lights, of different colours, called Dr'eug, or death of the Druid.
The direction which it takes is supposed to mark the place of the
funeral.[142] A correspondent of 'Notes and Queries' gives a curious
account of a house at Taunton which possessed 'a luminous chamber,'
for, as common report said, 'the room had a light of its own.' As an
eye-witness observed, 'A central window was generally illuminated.'
All the other windows were dark, but from this was a wan, dreary light
visible; and as the owners had deserted the place, and it had no
occupant, the lighted window became a puzzle.

With the North American tribes one form of spiritual manifestation is
fire; and among the Hurons, a female spirit, who was supposed to cause
much of their sickness, appeared like a flame of fire. Of the New
England Indians it is related that 'they have a remarkable observation
of a flame that appears before the death of an Indian, upon their
wigwams, in the dead of night. Whenever this appears, there will be a
death.'[143] The Eskimos believe that the Inue, or powerful spirits,
'generally have the appearance of a fire or bright light, and to see
them is very dangerous, particularly as foreshadowing the death of a


[129] The _Nineteenth Century_, 'Comparative Study of Ghost Stories,'
1885, xvii. pp. 629, 630.

[130] Rev. W. Gregor, _Folk-lore of North-East of Scotland_, 1881, p.

[131] _Yorkshire Oddities_, ii. p. 105.

[132] See Ingram's _Haunted Homes_, 2nd S. pp. 29, 30.

[133] See Wirt Sikes' _British Goblins_, pp. 219-221.

[134] 'Secrets of Sable Island,' _Harper's Magazine_.

[135] See Thorpe's _Northern Mythology_, ii. pp. 97, 202, 211; iii. pp.
11, 158, 268.

[136] _Songs of the Russian People_, 1872, p. 116.

[137] _Folk-lore Record_, 1878, i. p. 54.

[138] _Evolution of Light from the Living Subject._

[139] _Transactions Cardiff Natural Society_, iv. p. 5.

[140] Wirt Sikes, _British Goblins_, p. 239.

[141] See Ingram's _Haunted Homes_, 2nd S. pp. 219-221.

[142] See 'Essay on Fairy Superstitions' in the _Border Minstrelsy_.

[143] Rink's _Tales and Traditions of the Eskimos_, p. 43.

[144] Josselyn's _Two Voyages_, p. 133.



Localities where any fatal accident has happened, or murder been
committed, are frequently supposed to be haunted by that uncanny
apparition known as 'the headless ghost.' Many curious tales are still
told by the peasantry of this mysterious spectre, whose weird movements
have long been the subject of comment. Sir Walter Scott, it may be
remembered, speaking of the Irish dullahan, writes: 'It puts me in
mind of a spectre at Drumlanrick Castle, of no less a person than the
Duchess of Queensberry--"Fair Kitty, blooming, young, and gay"--who,
instead of setting fire to the world in mama's chariot, amuses herself
with wheeling her own head in a wheelbarrow through the great gallery.'

But it has often puzzled the folk-lorist why ghosts should assume this
form, although the idea is by no means a modern one, for, as Dr. Tylor
has pointed out,[145] a people of wide celebrity are Pliny's Blemmyæ,
said 'to be headless, and accordingly to have their mouths and eyes in
their breasts--creatures over whom Prester John reigned in Asia, and
who dwelt far and wide in South America.' Stories, too, like that of
St. Denis, who is said to have walked from Paris, _sans tête_, to the
place which bears his name, show that the living, as well as the dead,
occasionally managed to do without their heads--a strange peculiarity
which Kornmann, in his 'De Miraculis Vivorum,' would attempt to account
for philosophically. Princess Marie Lichtenstein, in her 'History of
Holland House,' tells us that one room of this splendid old mansion
is believed to be haunted by Lord Holland, the first of his name, and
the chief builder of Holland House. To quote her words, 'The gilt
room is said to be tenanted by the solitary ghost of its just lord,
who, according to tradition, issues forth at midnight from behind a
secret door, and walks slowly through the scenes of former triumphs
with his head in his hand. To add to this mystery, there is a tale of
three spots of blood on one side of the recess whence he issues--three
spots which can never be effaced.' Such a strange act, on the part of
the dead, is generally regarded as a very bad omen. The time of the
headless ghost's appearance is always midnight, and in Crofton Croker's
'Fairy Legends of Ireland' it is thus described:

    'Tis midnight; how gloomy and dark!
      By Jupiter, there's not a star!
    'Tis fearful! 'tis awful! and hark!
      What sound is that comes from afar?

    A coach! but the coach has no head;
      And the horses are headless as it,
    Of the driver the same may be said,
      And the passengers inside who sit.

According to the popular opinion, there is no authority to prove that
headless people are unable to speak; on the contrary, a variation
of the story of 'The Golden Mountain,' given in a note to the
'Kindermärchen,' relates how a servant without a head informed the
fisherman (who was to achieve the adventure) of the enchantment of
the king's daughter, and of the mode of liberating her. There is the
Belludo, a Spanish ghost mentioned by Washington Irving in his 'Tales
of the Alhambra.' It issues forth in the dead of night, and scours the
avenues of the Alhambra, and the streets of Granada, in the shape of
a headless horse, pursued by six hounds, with terrible yellings and
howlings. It is said to be the spirit of a Moorish king, who killed
his six sons, who, in revenge, hunt him in the shape of hounds at

In some cases, as it has been humorously observed, the headless ghosts
of well-known persons have continued to set up their carriage after
death. Thus, for years past, it has been firmly believed that Lady Anne
Boleyn rides down the avenue of Blickling Park once a year, with her
bloody head in her lap, sitting in a hearse-like coach drawn by four
headless horses, and attended by coachmen and attendants, who have, out
of compliment to their mistress, also left their heads behind them.
Nor, if tradition is to be believed, is her father more at rest than
she, for Sir Thomas Boleyn is said to be obliged to cross forty bridges
to avoid the torments of the furies. Like his daughter, he is reported
to drive about in a coach and four with headless horses, carrying
his head under his arm.[146] Young Lord Dacre, who is said to have
been murdered at Thetford, through the contrivance of his guardian,
Sir Richard Fulmerston, in 1569, by the falling of a wooden horse,
purposely rendered insecure, used to prance up and down on the ghost of
a headless rocking-horse.

Another romantic story is told[147] of a large field at Great Melton,
divided from the Yare by a plantation, along which the old Norwich road
ran. 'Close to the edge of where the road is said to have run is a deep
pit or hole of water, locally reputed to be fathomless. Every night
at midnight, and every day at noon, a carriage drawn by four horses,
driven by headless coachmen and footmen, and containing four headless
ladies in white, rises silently and dripping wet from the pool, flits
stately and silently round the field, and sinks as silently into the
pool again.' The story goes that long, long ago, a bridal party driving
along the old Norwich Road were accidentally upset into the deep
hole, and were never seen again. Strangely enough the same story is
told of fields near Bury St. Edmunds, and at Leigh, Dorsetshire.[148]
Another Norfolk story, amusingly told by the late Cuthbert Bede,[149]
informs us how, 'on the anniversary of the death of the gentleman whose
spectre he is supposed to be, his ghostship drives up to his old family
mansion. He drives through the wall, carriage and horses and all, and
is not seen again for a twelvemonth. He leaves, however, the traces
of his visit behind him; for, in the morning, the stones of the wall
through which he had ridden over-night are found to be loosened and
fallen; and though the wall is constantly repaired, yet the stones are
as constantly loosened.' In the little village of Acton, Suffolk, it
was currently reported not many years ago that on certain occasions
the park gates were wont to fly open at midnight 'withouten hands,'
and that a carriage drawn by four spectral horses, and accompanied by
headless grooms and outriders, proceeded with great rapidity from the
park to a spot called 'the nursery corner,' a spot where tradition
affirms a very bloody engagement took place in olden times, when the
Romans were governors of England.[150] A similar tale is related of
Caistor Castle, the seat of the Falstofs, where the headless apparition
drives round the courtyard, and carries away some unearthly visitors.

At Beverley, in Yorkshire, the headless ghost of Sir Joceline Percy
drives four headless horses at night, above its streets, passing over
a certain house which was said to contain a chest with one hundred
nails in it, one of which dropped out every year. The reason assigned
for this nocturnal disturbance is attributed to the fact that Sir
Joceline once rode on horseback into Beverley Minster. It has long been
considered dangerous to meet such spectral teams, for fear of being
carried off by them, so violent and threatening are their movements. In
'Rambles in Northumberland' we are told how, 'when the death-hearse,
drawn by headless horses, and driven by a headless driver, is seen
about midnight proceeding rapidly, but without noise, towards the
churchyard, the death of some considerable personage in the parish is
sure to happen at no distant period.'

Night after night, too, when it is sufficiently dark, the headless
coach whirls along the rough approach to Langley Hall, near Durham,
drawn by black and fiery steeds; and many years ago a headless boggart
was supposed to haunt Preston streets and neighbouring lanes. Its
presence was often accompanied by the rattling of chains. It presently
changed its form, and whether it appeared as a woman or a black dog,
it was always headless. The story went that this uncanny apparition
was at length 'laid' by some magical or religious ceremony in Walton

Many spots where suicides have been buried are supposed to be
haunted by headless ghosts attired in white grave-clothes. Some few
years ago, as a peasant was passing in a waggon with three horses a
'four-lane-end' in Lyneal Lane, Ellesmere, Shropshire, where a man was
buried with a forked stake run through the body to keep it down, a
woman was seen without a head. The horses took fright, and started off,
overturning the waggon, and pitching the man into the Drumby Hole,
where the waggon and shaft-horse fell upon him. The other horses broke
loose and galloped home, where they arrived covered with foam, and on
a search being made, the dead body of the waggoner was found in the
hole.[152] Exactly twelve months afterwards, his son, it is said, was
killed by the same horses on the same spot. As Miss Jackson points out,
the headless ghost in this story is of a different sex from the person
whose death is supposed to cause its restlessness. The same, she adds,
is the case 'with the ghost of the Mary Way, a now almost forgotten
spectre of more than a hundred years ago. The figure of a woman in
white was supposed to haunt the spot where a murderer was buried--more
probably a suicide--at the cross roads about two miles from Wenlock, on
the Bridgnorth road, which is known as the "Mary Way," no doubt from
some chapel, or processional route, in honour of the Virgin.' Another
story is told of the Baschurch neighbourhood, where the ghost of a man
who hanged himself at Nesscliff is to be seen 'riding about in his trap
at night without a head.'

A tragic case is recorded by Crofton Croker, who tells how, many
years ago, a clergyman belonging to St. Catharine's Church, Dublin,
resided at the old Castle of Donore, in the vicinity of that city.
From melancholy, or some other cause, he put an end to his existence
by hanging himself out of a window near the top of the castle. After
his death, a coach, sometimes driven by a coachman without a head, and
occasionally drawn by headless horses, was observed at night driving
furiously by Roper's Rest.

Referring to spots where murders have taken place, a Shropshire
tradition informs us how, at a certain house at Hampton's Wood, near
Ellesmere, six illegitimate children were murdered by their parents,
and buried in a garden. But, soon after this unnatural event, a
ghost in the form of a man, sometimes headless, at other times not
so, haunted the stables, rode the horses to water, and talked to
the waggoner. Once it appeared to a young lady who was passing on
horseback, and rode before her on her horse. Eventually, after much
difficulty, this troublesome ghost was laid, but 'the poor minister was
so exhausted by the task that he died.'[153]

There is a haunted room at Walton Abbey frequented by a spectre known
as 'The Headless Nun of Walton.' The popular belief is that this is the
unquiet spirit of a transgressing nun of the twelfth century, but some
affirm it to be that of a lady brutally beheaded in the seventeenth
century.[154] Another instance is that of Calverley Hall, in the same
county. In 'The Yorkshireman' for January 5, 1884, the particulars of
this strange apparition are given, from which it appears that Walter
Calverley, on April 23, 1604, went into a fit of insane frenzy of
jealousy, or pretended to do so. Money-lenders were pressing him hard,
and he had become desperate. Rushing madly into the house, he plunged a
dagger into one and then into another of his children, and then tried
to take the life of their mother, a crime for which he was pressed to
death at York Castle. But his spirit could not rest, and he was often
seen galloping about the district at night on a headless horse, being
generally accompanied by a number of followers similarly mounted, who
attempted to run down any poor benighted folks whom they chanced to
meet. These spectral horsemen nearly always disappeared in a cave in
the wood, but this cave has now been quarried away.[155]

It would seem that in years gone by one of the punishments assigned
to evil doers guilty of a lesser crime than that of murder, was their
ceaselessly frequenting those very spots where in their lifetime they
had committed their wicked acts, carrying their heads under their arms.
Numerous tales of this kind have been long current on the Continent,
and at the present day are told by the simple-minded peasantry of many
a German village with the most implicit faith. It is much the same
in this country, and Mr. Henderson[156] has given several amusing
anecdotes. At Dalton, near Thirsk, there was an old barn, said to be
haunted by a headless woman. One night a tramp went into it to sleep;
at midnight he was awakened by a light, and, sitting up, he saw a
woman coming towards him from the end of the barn, holding her head
in her hands like a lantern, with light streaming out of the eyes,
nostrils, and mouth. Hunt, too, in his 'Popular Romances,' notices this
superstition as existing in the West of England; and Mrs. Latham, in
her 'Sussex Superstitions,' tells us how spirits are reported to walk
about without their heads; others carry them under their arms; and one
haunting a dark lane is said to have 'a ball of fire upon its shoulders
in lieu of the natural finial.' At Haddington, Worcestershire, there
is an avenue of trees locally known as 'Lady Winter's Walk,' where, it
is said, the lady of Thomas Winter, who was obliged to conceal himself
on account of his share in the Gunpowder Plot, was in the habit of
awaiting her husband's further visits, and here the headless spectre of
her ladyship used to be seen occasionally pacing up and down beneath
the sombre shade of the aged trees.

Lady Wilde[157] has given a laughable specimen of the headless ghost as
believed in by the Irish peasantry. One Denis Molony, a cow-jobber, was
on his way to the great fair at Navan when he was overtaken by night.
He laid down under a hedge, but 'at that moment a loud moaning and
screaming came to his ear, and a woman rushed past him all in white,
as if a winding sheet were round her, and her cries of despair were
terrible to hear. Then, after her, a great black coach came thundering
along the road, drawn by two black horses. But when Denis looked close
at them he saw that the horses had no heads, and the coachman had no
head; and out sprang two men from the coach, and they had no heads
either; and they seized the woman and carried her by force into the
carriage and drove off.'

It appears that the woman Denis saw was 'an evil liver and a wicked
sinner, and no doubt the devils were carrying her off from the
churchyard, for she had been buried that morning. To make sure, they
went next morning to the churchyard to examine the grave, and there,
sure enough, was the coffin, but it was open, and not a trace of the
dead woman was to be seen. So they knew that an evil fate had come on
her, and that her soul was gone to eternal tortures.'[158]

Connected also with the legend of the headless ghost is the old belief
that persons prior to their death occasionally appear to their friends
without their heads. Dr. Ferrier, in his 'Theory of Apparitions,' tells
of an old Northern chieftain who informed a relative of his 'that
the door of the room in which they and some ladies were sitting had
appeared to open, and that a little woman without a head had entered
the room; and that the apparition indicated the sudden death of some
person of his acquaintance.' The 'Glasgow Chronicle' (January, 1826)
records how, on the occasion of some silk-weavers being out of work,
mourning-coaches drawn by headless horses were seen about the town;
and some years ago a very unpleasant kind of headless ghost used to
drive every Saturday night through the town of Doneraile, Ireland,
and to stop at the doors of different houses, when, if anyone were so
foolhardy as to open the door, a basin of blood was instantly flung in
his face.


[145] _Primitive Culture_, i. p. 390.

[146] See _The Norfolk Antiquarian Miscellany_, 1877, i. pp. 288, 289.

[147] _Eastern Counties Collectanea_, p. 3.

[148] See _Notes and Queries_, 1st S. xii. p. 486, for another hole or
pit story.

[149] _The Curate of Cranston, and other Stories_, 1862, 'Carriage and
Four Ghosts.'

[150] _Notes and Queries_, 1st S. v. p. 295.

[151] Hardwick's _Traditions, Superstitions, and Folk-lore_, p. 130.

[152] _Shropshire Folk-lore_, p. 112.

[153] _Shropshire Folk-lore_, pp. 113, 114.

[154] A full account will be found in a paper by Mr. F. Ross, in the
_Leeds Mercury_, 1884, entitled 'Yorkshire Legends and Traditions.'

[155] See Ingram's _Haunted Homes_, 2nd S. pp. 72-78.

[156] _Folk-lore of the Northern Counties_, pp. 326-328.

[157] _Ancient Cures, Charms, and Usages of Ireland_, pp. 163, 164.

[158] See notes to Crofton Croker's _Fairy Legends and Traditions of
the South of Ireland_, where much curious information will be found on
this subject.



Departed souls, according to a Cornish piece of folk-lore, are
occasionally said to take the form of moths, and in Yorkshire, writes
a correspondent of 'Notes and Queries,' 'the country people used,
and perhaps do still, call night-flying white moths, especially the
_Hepialus humuli_, which feeds while in the grub state on the roots
of docks and other coarse plants, "souls."' By the Slavonians the
butterfly seems to have been universally accepted as an emblem of the
soul. Mr. Ralston, in his 'Songs of the Russian People' (p. 117), says
that in the Government of Yaroslaw one of its names is _dushichka_,
a caressing diminutive of _dusha_, the soul. In that of Kherson it
is believed that if the usual alms are not distributed at a funeral,
the dead man's soul will reveal itself to its relatives in the form
of a moth flying about the flame of a candle. The day after receiving
such a warning visit they call together the poor and distribute food
among them. In Bohemia there is a popular tradition that if the first
butterfly a man sees in the spring-time is a white one, he is destined
to die within the year. According to a Servian belief, the soul of a
witch often leaves her body while she is asleep, and flies abroad in
the shape of a butterfly. If, during its absence, her body be turned
round, so that her feet are placed where her head was before, the soul
will not be able to find her mouth, and so will be shut out from her
body. Thereupon the witch will die. The Bulgarians believe that at
death the soul assumes the form of a butterfly, and flits about on the
nearest tree till the funeral is over. The Karens of Burma 'will run
about pretending to catch a sick man's wandering soul, or, as they say
with the ancient Greeks, his "butterfly," and at last drop it down upon
his head.'[159] The idea is an old one, and, as Gubernatis remarks
in his 'Zoological Mythology' (ii. 213), 'the butterfly was both a
phallic symbol and a funereal one, with promises of resurrection and
transformation; the souls of the departed were represented in the forms
of butterflies carried towards Elysium by the dolphin.' According to
another belief, the soul was supposed to take the form of a bee, an
old tradition telling us that 'the bees alone of all animals descended
from Paradise.' In the Engadine, in Switzerland, it is believed that
the souls of men emigrate from the world and return to it in the forms
of bees. In this district bees are considered messengers of death. When
someone dies, the bee is invoked as follows, 'almost as if requesting
the soul of the departed,' says De Gubernatis, 'to watch for ever over
the living':[160]

    Bienchen, unser Herr ist todt,
    Verlass mich nicht in meiner Noth.

In Russia gnats and flies are often looked upon as equally spiritual
creatures. 'In Little Russia,' says Mr. Ralston,[161] 'the old women of
a family will often, after returning from a funeral, sit up all night
watching a dish in which water and honey in it have been placed, in
the belief that the spirit of their dead relative will come in the form
of a fly, and sip the proffered liquid.'

Among North American tribes we are told how the Ojibways believe that
innumerable spirits appear in the varied forms of insect life,[162]
while some tribes supposed that 'most souls went to a common resort
near their living habitat, but returned in the daytime in the shape of
flies in order to get something to eat.'[163]


[159] Tylor's _Primitive Culture_, i. p. 437.

[160] _Zoological Mythology_, ii. p. 218.

[161] _Folk-songs of the Russian People_, p. 118.

[162] Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, p. 23.

[163] _Ibid._ p. 42.



The trade of raising spirits has probably existed at all times in which
superstition has been sufficiently prevalent to make such a practice a
source of power or of profit, and nations--the most polished as well as
the most barbarous--have admitted the claims of persons who professed
to be able to control spirits. One of the most graphic illustrations of
an incantation for evoking spirits is in connection with the appearance
of the shade of Darius in the 'Persæ' of Æschylus, which is very nobly
given. After receiving news of the great defeat of her son Xerxes at
Salamis, Atossa has prepared the requisite offerings to the dead--milk
from a white cow, honey, water from a pure fountain, unadulterated
wine, olives, and flowers--and she instructs the ancient counsellors of
the deceased king to evoke his shade. They who form the tragic chorus
commence an incantation from which we quote the following:

    Royal lady, Persia's pride,
    Thine offerings in earth's chamber hide;
    We, meanwhile, with hymns will sue
    The powers who guard hell's shadowy crew,
    Till they to our wish incline.
    Gods below, ye choir divine,
    Earth, Hermes, and thou King of night,
    Send his spirit forth to light!
    If he knows worse ills impending,
    He alone can teach their ending.
              &c., &c., &c.

The incantation is successful, but Darius assures his friends that exit
from below is far from easy, and that the subterranean gods are far
more willing to take than to let go. Indeed, the raising of spirits
was a trick of magic much in use in ancient times, and the scene that
took place at Endor when Saul had recourse to a professor of the art
is familiar to all. The Egyptian magicians, Simon Magus, and Elymas
the sorcerer, all, it is said, exhibited such corporeal deceptions.
Tertullian, in his tract 'De Anima,' inquires whether a departed soul,
either at his own will, or in obedience to the command of another,
can return from the 'Inferi'? After discussing the subject, he sums up
thus: 'If certain souls have been recalled into their bodies by the
power of God, as manifest proof of His prerogative, that is no argument
that a similar power should be conferred on audacious magicians,
fallacious dreamers, and licentious poets.'

Among certain Australian tribes the necromants are called Birraark. It
is said that a Birraark was supposed to be initiated by the 'mrarts'
(ghosts) when they met him wandering in the bush. It was from the
ghosts that he obtained replies to questions concerning events passing
at a distance, or yet to happen, which might be of interest or moment
to his tribe. An account of a spiritual séance in the bush is given in
'Kamilaroi and Kurnai' (p. 254): 'The fires were let down; the Birraark
uttered the cry "Coo-ee" at intervals. At length a distant reply was
heard, and shortly afterwards the sound as of persons jumping on the
ground in succession. A voice was then heard in the gloom asking in
a strange intonation, "What is wanted?" At the termination of the
séance, the spirit voice said, "We are going." Finally, the Birraark
was found in the top of an almost inaccessible tree, apparently asleep.'

In Japan, ghosts can be raised in various ways. One mode is to 'put
into an andon' (a paper lantern in a frame) 'a hundred rushlights, and
repeat an incantation of a hundred lines. One of these rushlights is
taken out at the end of each line, and the would-be ghost-seer then
goes out in the dark with one light still burning, and blows it out,
when the ghost ought to appear. Girls who have lost their lovers by
death often try that sorcery.'[164]

Shakespeare has several allusions to the popular belief of certain
persons being able to exorcise, or raise, spirits, and he represents
Ligarius, in 'Julius Cæsar' (iv. 2) as saying:

                            Soul of Rome!
    Brave son, derived from honourable loins!
    Thou, like an exorcist, has conjured up
    My mortified spirit. Now bid me run,
    And I will strive with things impossible;
    Yea, get the better of them.

In days gone by, it would seem, numerous formalities were observed
by the person whose object was to 'constrain' some spirit to appear
before him. It was necessary to fix upon a spot proper for such a
purpose, 'which had to be either in a subterranean vault hung round
with black, and lighted by a magical torch, or else in the centre of
some thick wood or desert, or upon some extensive unfrequented plain,
where several roads met, or amidst the ruins of ancient castles,
abbeys, monasteries, &c., or amongst the rocks on the sea-shore, in
some private detached churchyard, or any other solemn melancholy
place, between the hours of twelve and one in the morning, either
when the moon shone very bright, or else when the elements were
disturbed with storms of thunder, lightning, wind, and rain, for in
these places, times, and seasons it was contended that spirits could
with less difficulty manifest themselves to mortal eyes, and continue
visible with the least pain in this elemental external world.'[165]
Great importance was attached to the magic circle in the invocation
of spirits, the mode of procedure being thus: 'A piece of ground was
usually chosen, nine feet square, at the full extent of which parallel
lines were drawn, one within the other, having sundry crosses and
triangles described between them, close to which was formed the first
or outer circle; then, about half a foot within the same, a second
circle was described, and within that another square correspondent
to the first, the centre of which was the spot where the master and
associate were to be placed. The vacancies formed by the various lines
and angles of the figure were filled up by the holy names of God,
having crosses and triangles described between them.... The reason
assigned for the use of circles was, that so much ground being blessed
and consecrated by such holy words and ceremonies as they made use of
in forming it, had a secret force to expel all evil spirits from the
bounds thereof, and being sprinkled with pure sanctified water, the
ground was purified from all uncleanness; besides, the holy names of
God being written over every part of it, its force became so powerful
that no evil spirits had ability to break through it, or to get at the
magician and his companion, by reason of the antipathy in nature they
bore to these sacred names. And the reason given for the triangles
was, that if the spirit was not easily brought to speak the truth, they
might by the exorcist be conjured to enter the same, where, by virtue
of the names of the essence and divinity of God, they could speak
nothing but what was true and right.'[166] We are further informed,
that if the ghost of a deceased person was to be raised, the grave
had to be resorted to at midnight, when a special form of conjuration
was deemed necessary; and there was another for 'any corpse that hath
hanged, drowned, or otherwise made away with itself.' And in this case,
it is added, 'the conjurations are performed over the body, which will
at last arise, and, standing upright, answer with a faint and hollow
voice the questions that are put to it.'

The mode of procedure as practised in Scotland was thus. The haunted
room was made ready. He 'who was to do the daring deed, about nightfall
entered the room, bearing with him a table, a chair, a candle, a
compass, a crucifix if one could be got, and a Bible. With the compass
he cast a circle on the middle of the floor, large enough to hold the
chair and the table. He placed within the circle the chair and the
table, and on the table he laid the Bible and the crucifix beside the
lighted candle. If he had not a crucifix, then he drew the figure of a
cross on the floor within the circle. When all this was done, he seated
himself on the chair, opened the Bible, and waited for the coming of
the spirit. Exactly at midnight the spirit came. Sometimes the door
opened slowly, and there glided in noiselessly a lady sheeted in white,
with a face of woe, and told her story to the man on his asking her
in the name of God what she wanted. What she wanted was done in the
morning, and the spirit rested ever after. Sometimes the spirit rose
from the floor, and sometimes came forth from the wall. One there was
who burst into the room with a strong bound, danced wildly round the
circle, and flourished a long whip round the man's head, but never
dared to step within the circle. During a pause in his frantic dance
he was asked, in God's name, what he wanted. He ceased his dance and
told his wishes. His wishes were carried out, and the spirit was in

In Wraxall's 'Memoirs of the Courts of Berlin, Dresden, Warsaw, and
Vienna'[168] there is an amusing account of the raising of the ghost of
the Chevalier de Saxe. Reports had been circulated that at his palace
at Dresden there was secreted a large sum of money, and it was urged
that if his spirit could be compelled to appear, that interesting
secret might be extorted from him. Curiosity, combined with avarice,
accordingly prompted his principal heir, Prince Charles, to try the
experiment, and on the appointed night, Schrepfer was the operator in
raising the apparition. He commenced his proceedings by retiring into
a corner of the gallery, where, kneeling down with many mysterious
ceremonies, he invoked the spirit to appear. At length a loud clatter
was heard at all the windows on the outside, resembling more the effect
produced by a number of wet fingers drawn over the edge of glasses than
anything else to which it could well be compared. This sound announced
the arrival of the good spirits, and was shortly followed by a yell
of a frightful and unusual nature, which indicated the presence of
malignant spirits. Schrepfer continued his invocations, when 'the door
suddenly opened with violence, and something that resembled a black
ball or globe rolled into the room. It was enveloped in smoke or cloud,
in the midst of which appeared a human face, like the countenance
of the Chevalier de Saxe, from which issued a loud and angry voice,
exclaiming in German, "Carl, was wollte du mit mich?"--Charles, what
would thou do with me?' By reiterated exorcisms Schrepfer finally
dismissed the apparition, and the terrified spectators dispersed, fully
convinced of his magical powers.[169] Roscoe has given an interesting
account[170] of Benvenuto Cellini's experiences of raising spirits
by incantation, but the Sicilian priest who acquainted him with the
mysteries of his art of necromancy, as it has been remarked, had far
greater knowledge of 'chemistry and pharmacy than he required for his
thurible or incense pot.' His accomplices, of course, could see and
report sights of any wonderful kind. Those who penetrate into 'magic
circles may expect startling sights, overpowering smells, strange
sounds, and even demoniacal dreams.' Instances, it is stated, are
recorded of many who perished by raising up spirits, particularly
'Chiancungi,' the famous Egyptian fortune-teller, who was so famous in
England in the seventeenth century. He undertook for a wager to raise
up the spirit 'Bokim,' and having described the circle, he seated his
sister Napula by him as his associate. 'After frequently repeating the
form of exorcism, and calling upon the spirit to appear, and nothing
as yet answering his demand, they grew impatient of the business,
and quitted the circle; but it cost them their lives, for they were
instantaneously seized and crushed to death by that infernal spirit,
who happened not to be sufficiently constrained till that moment to
manifest himself to human eyes.'

Among the many curious stories told of ghost-raising may be mentioned a
somewhat whimsical one related by a correspondent of a Bradford paper,
who tells how, in his youthful days, he assisted in an attempt to raise
the ghost of the wicked old squire of Calverley Hall. 'About a dozen
scholars,' to quote his words, 'used to assemble close to the venerable
church of Calverley, and then put their hats and caps on the ground, in
a pyramidal form. Then taking hold of each other's hands, they formed
a "magic circle," holding firmly together, and making use of an old

    Old Calverley, old Calverley, I have thee by the ears,
    I'll cut thee into collops, unless thee appears.

Whilst this incantation was going on, crumbs of bread mixed with pins
were strewn on the ground, the lads meanwhile tramping round in the
circle with a heavy tread. Some of the more venturesome boys had to
go round to each of the church doors, and whistle aloud through the
keyholes, repeating the magic couplet which their comrades in the
circle were chanting. But, at this critical point, a pale and ghostly
figure was expected to appear, and, on one occasion, some kind of
apparition is said to have issued forth from the church, the lads in
their terrified haste making their escape as quickly as they could.'

In the search after the philosopher's stone, and elixir of life, the
most revolting ingredients were turned to use, such as blood and dead
men's bones, but occasionally with unexpected results. On one occasion,
for instance, three alchemists obtained some earth mould from St.
Innocent's Church, Paris, thinking that from it might be extracted the
philosopher's stone. But, after subjecting it to distillation, they
perceived in their receivers forms of men produced which caused them to
desist from their labours. The Paris Institute took up the matter, and
the result of their inquiries appears in the 'Miscellanea Curiosa.' An
abstract of one of these French documents was published by Dr. Ferrier
in the 'Manchester Philosophical Transactions,' which we quote below:

'A malefactor was executed, of whose body a grave physician got
possession for the purpose of dissection. After disposing of the other
parts of the body, he ordered his assistant to pulverise a part of the
cranium, which was a remedy at that time administered in dispensaries.
The powder was left in a paper on the table in the museum, where the
assistant slept. About midnight he was awakened by a noise in the room,
which obliged him to rise immediately. The noise continued about the
table without any visible agent, and at length he traced it to the
powder, in the midst of which he now beheld, to his unspeakable dismay,
a small head, with large eyes, staring at him. Presently two branches
appeared, which formed into arms and hands. Next the ribs became
visible, which were soon clothed with muscles and integuments. Next the
lower extremities sprouted out, and, when they appeared perfect, the
puppet (for his size was small) reared himself on his feet; instantly
his clothes came upon him, and he appeared in the very cloak he wore at
his execution. The affrighted spectator, who stood hitherto mumbling
his prayers with great application, was simply awe-struck; but still
greater was his bewilderment when the apparition planted himself in his
way, and after divers fierce looks and threatening gestures, opened the
door and went out. No doubt the powder was missing next day.'

A similar strange experience is recorded by Dr. Webster in his book on
witchcraft, on the authority of Dr. Flud, the facts of which were thus:

'A certain chemical operator, named La Pierre, received blood from the
hands of a certain bishop to operate upon, which he, setting to work
upon the Saturday, did continue it for a week, with divers degrees of
fire. But about midnight the Friday following, this artificer, lying in
a chamber next to his laboratory, betwixt sleeping and waking, heard a
horrible noise like unto the lowing of kine or the roaring of a lion;
and continuing quiet, after the ceasing of the sound in the laboratory,
the moon being at the full, and by shining enlightening the chamber,
suddenly, betwixt himself and the window he saw a thick little cloud
condensed into an oval form, which after, by little and little, did
seem completely to put on the shape of a man, and making another and
sharp clamour did suddenly vanish. And not only some noble persons in
the next chambers, but also the host and his wife, lying in a lower
room of the house, and also the neighbours dwelling on the opposite
side of the street, did distinctly hear the bellowing as well as the
voice, and some of them were awakened with the vehemence thereof. But
the artificer said that in this he found solace, because the bishop
from whom he had it did admonish him that if any of them from whom
the blood was extracted should die in the time of its putrefaction,
his spirit was wont often to appear to the sight of the artificer
with perturbation. Also forthwith, upon the Saturday following, he
took the retort from the furnace and broke it with the slight stroke
of a little key, and there, in the remaining blood, found the perfect
representation of a human head, agreeable in face, eyes, nostrils,
mouth, and hairs, that were somewhat thin and of a golden colour.'
Webster adds: 'There were many ocular witnesses, as the noble person
Lord of Bourdalone, the chief secretary to the Duke of Guise, and he
(Flud) had this relation from the Lord of Menanton, living in that
house at the same time, from a certain doctor of physic, from the owner
of the house, and many others.'

In recent years the so-called spiritualism has attracted much
attention, and 'as of old, men live now in habitual intercourse with
the spirits of the dead.... The spirits of the living as well as of
the dead, the souls of Strauss and Carl Vogt as well as of Augustine
and Jerome, are summoned by mediums to distant spirit-circles.'[171]
But for further information on this subject reports of the Psychical
Research Society should be consulted.[172]


[164] Miss Bird's _Unbeaten Tracks in Japan_, i. p. 380.

[165] _Occult Sciences_, 1855, Elihu Rich, p. 188.

[166] For works on this subject may be consulted, Colin de Plancy's
_Dictionnaire Infernal_; the _Malleus Maleficarum_ of the Germans; Del
Rio's _Disquisitiones Magicæ_; and _Occult Sciences_, paper by Elihu
Rich, pp. 189-191.

[167] Gregor, _Folk-lore of North-East of Scotland_, pp. 68, 69.

[168] 1799, i. p. 281.

[169] See 'Ghosts and Ghost-lore,' _Leisure Hour_, 1871, pp. 334-766.

[170] _Life of Benvenuto Cellini._

[171] Tylor's _Primitive Culture_, i. p. 143.

[172] See also _Real Ghost Stories_. Edited by W. T. Stead.



In his amusing account of the art of 'laying' ghosts, published in the
last century, Grose tells us 'a ghost may be laid for any term less
than a hundred years, and in any place or body, full or empty; as a
solid oak, the pommel of a sword, a barrel of beer, if a yeoman or
simple gentleman; or a pipe of wine, if an esquire or a justice.' But
this, as Dr. Tylor writes,[173] 'is one of the many good instances of
articles of serious savage belief surviving as jests among civilised
men.' However whimsical the idea of laying a ghost may seem to the
prosaic mind, an inquiry into the history of human belief shows how
widely this expedient has been resorted to in times past, although St.
Chrysostom is said to have insulted some African conjurors of old with
this quaint and humiliating observation: 'Miserable and woful creatures
that we are, we cannot so much as expel fleas, much less devils.'

It was not so very long ago that, at the trial of Laurie for the murder
of Mr. Rose,[174] Sergeant Munro, on being asked by the Dean of Faculty
a question as to the disappearance of the murdered man's boots, replied
that he believed they had been buried on the beach at Corne, below
high-water mark. This curious ceremony seems to have been adopted by
the Highland police, with the intention of laying Mr. Rose's ghost--an
object which, according to tradition, might be attained by burying his
boots under water. The expedient resorted to by the Highland police
was founded not upon any inadequate estimate of the powers of ghosts,
but upon an intimate knowledge of their likes and dislikes. They are
known to entertain a strong objection to water, an antipathy which is
sufficiently strong to make them shun a spot on which water is to be
found; in fact, as Mr. Hunt writes,[175] spirits are supposed to be
unable to cross water.

A story is told of 'Dary Pit,' Shropshire, a dismal pool, which was
a much dreaded spot, because it was said spirits were laid under the
water, and might, it seems, in spite of being so laid, walk abroad.

This belief may be traced in various parts of the world, and 'one of
the most striking ways,' writes Mr. James G. Frazer,[176] 'of keeping
down the dead man is to divert the course of a river, bury him in its
bed, and then allow the river to resume its course. It was thus that
Alaric was buried, and Commander Cameron found the same mode of burial
in vogue amongst a tribe in Central Africa.'

Among the Tipperahs of Chittagong, if a man dies away from home, his
friends stretch a thread over all the intermediate streams, so that
the spirit of the dead man may return to his own village; 'it being
supposed that,[177] without assistance, spirits are unable to cross
running water,' and hence streams are occasionally bridged over in the
manner afore-said.[178] A somewhat similar idea prevails among the
Fijians, and we are told how those who have reason to suspect others of
plotting against them occasionally 'build themselves a small house, and
surround it with a moat, believing that a little water will neutralise
the charms which are directed' to hurt them.[179]

The idea of water as a barrier against ghosts has given rise to many
strange customs, some of which Mr. Frazer quotes in his paper on 'The
Primitive Ghost.'[180] Among the Metamba negroes, a woman is bound hand
and foot by the priest, who flings her into the water several times
over with the intention of drowning her husband's ghost, who may be
supposed to be clinging to his unfeeling spouse. A similar practice
exists in Angola, and in New Zealand those who have attended a funeral
plunge several times into the nearest stream. In Tahiti, all who
assisted at a burial plunged into the sea; and in some parts of West
Africa, after the corpse has been deposited in the grave, 'all the
bearers rush to the waterside and undergo a thorough ablution before
they are permitted to return to the town.'

According to Mr. Ralston, the Lusatian Wends place water between
themselves and the dead as they return from a burial, even, if
necessary, breaking ice for the purpose. And 'in many parts of Germany,
in modern Greece, and in Cyprus, water is poured out behind the corpse
when it is carried from the house, in the belief that if the ghost
returns he will not be able to cross it.'[181] A Danish tradition says,
'If a person dies who, it is feared, will reappear, as a preventive
let a basinful of water be thrown after the corpse when it is carried
out'[182] and there will be no further cause of alarm. In Bohemia,
after a death, the water-butt is turned upside down, for if the ghost
bathe in it, and anyone should happen to drink of it afterwards, he
would be a dead man within the year. In Pomerania, after a funeral, no
washing is done for some time, lest the dead man should be wet in his

Drake, in his legends of New England, alludes to a story of a wreck at
Ipswich, and says that, when the storms come, the howling of the wind
is 'Harry Main'--a legend which has thus been versified by A. Morgan:

    He blasphemed God, so they put him down,
    With his iron shovel at Ipswich Bar,
    They chained him there for a thousand years,
    And the sea rolls up, to shovel it back.
    So when the sea cries, the good wives say,
    'Harry Main growls at his work to-day.'

Similarly the Chibchas in their mythology had a great river that souls
had to pass over on floats made of cobwebs. On this account they never
killed spiders. The Araucanian soul is borne across the Stygian flood
by a whale, and the Potawatomis think 'the souls of the dead cross a
large stream over a log, which rolls so that many slip off into the
water. One of their ancestors went to the edge of the stream, but, not
liking to venture on the log, he came back two days after his death. He
reported that he heard the sounds of the drum on the other side of the
river, to the beat of which the souls of the dead were dancing.'[183]
The Ojibways speak of a similar stream, across which lies a serpent,
over whose body the soul must cross.

A favourite mode of capturing a ghost in days gone by was to entice it
into something small, such as a bottle, and as a decoy, to doubt its
power to do so--a mode of exorcism which would seem to have suggested
our 'bottle-imps.' An amusing story of laying a ghost by this means,
and which illustrates the popular belief, is recorded in the 'Folk-lore
Record' (ii. 176), on the authority of the late Thomas Wright. 'There
lived in the town of ----, in that part of England which lies towards
the borders of Wales, a very curious simple kind of a man, though all
said he knew a good deal more than other people did not know. There
was in the same town a very old house, one of the rooms of which was
haunted by a ghost, which prevented people making use of it. The man
above mentioned was reported to be very clever at dealing with ghosts,
and so the owner of the haunted house sent for him, and asked him if
he could undertake to make the ghost quit the house. Tommy, for that
was the name he generally went by, agreed to do this, on condition that
three things were provided him--an empty bottle, a bottle of brandy
with a tumbler, and a pitcher of water. So Tommy locked the door safely
inside, and sat down to pass the night drinking brandy and water.

'Just as the clock struck twelve, he was roused by a slight noise, and
lo! there was the ghost standing before him. Says the ghost, "Well,
Tommy, how are ye?" "Pretty well, thank ye," says he, "but pray, how do
you know my name?" "Oh, very well indeed," said the ghost. "And how did
you get in?" "Oh, very easily." "Not through the door, I'm sure." "No,
not at all, but through the keyhole." "D'ye say so? None of your tricks
upon me; I won't believe you came through the keyhole." "Won't ye? but
I did." "Well, then," says Tommy, pointing to the empty bottle, which
he pretended to have emptied, "if you can come through the keyhole you
can get into this bottle, but I won't believe you can do either." Now
the ghost began to be very angry that Tommy should doubt his power of
getting into the bottle, so he asserted most confidently that the thing
was easy to be done. "No," said Tommy, "I won't believe it till I have
seen you get in." "Here goes then," said the ghost, and sure enough
into the bottle he went, and Tommy corked him up quite tight, so that
he could not get out, and he took the bottle to the bridge where the
river was wide and deep, and he threw the bottle exactly over the
keystone of the middle arch into the river, and the ghost was never
heard after.'

This cunning mode of laying a ghost is very old, and reminds us of the
amusing story of the fisherman and the genie in the Arabian Nights.
The tale tells how, one day, a fisherman drew a brazen bottle out of
the sea, sealed with the magic seal of Suleyman Ben Daood, out of
which there issued an enormous genie, who threatened the fisherman
with death. The latter, feeling his life was at stake, bethought him
of doubting the genie's ability to enter so small a vessel, whereupon
the affronted genie returned thither to vindicate his character, and so
placed himself in the fisherman's power. In the same way a Bulgarian
sorcerer armed with a saint's picture will hunt a vampire into a bottle
containing some of the food that the demon loves; as soon as he is
fairly inside, he is corked down, the bottle is thrown into the fire,
and the vampire disappears for ever.

Miss Jackson[184] quotes a story from Montgomeryshire, of how the
spirit of Lady Jeffreys, who for some reason could not rest in peace,
and 'troubled people dreadfully,' was 'persuaded to contract her
dimensions and enter a bottle. She did so, after appearing in a good
many hideous forms; but when once in the bottle it was corked down
securely, and the bottle was thrown into the pool underneath the
Short Bridge, over the Severn, in Llanidloes; and in the bottle she
was to remain until the ivy that crept along the buttresses overgrew
the sides of the bridge and reached the top of the parapet; then when
this took place she should be released from her bottle prison.' In
the 'Collectanea Archæologica' (vol. i. part 1) we are told on the
authority of one Sarah Mason, of Baschurch, that 'there was a woman
hanged on a tree at Cutberry, and she came again so badly that nine
clergymen had to be fetched to lay her. So they read and read until
they got her into a bottle, and they buried it under a flat sandstone
in the road. We used to go past the stone every time we went to church,
and I've often wondered if she was still there, and what would happen
if anyone was to pull the stone up.' And as a further safeguard a
correspondent of 'Notes and Queries,' writing from Ecclesfield, says it
is best in laying ghosts to cheat them to consent to being laid while
hollies are green, for hollies being evergreen, the ghost can reappear
no more.

In Wales, the objectionable spectre must be conjured in the name of
Heaven to depart, and return no more, the strength of the exorcism
being doubled by employing the Latin language to deliver it, which, to
be perfectly effectual, must be done by three clergymen. The exorcism
is usually for a stated time, seven years is the favourite period,
and one hundred years the limit. Instances are recorded where a ghost
which had been laid a hundred years returned at the end of the time
to its old haunts. According to Mr. Wirt Sikes,[185] 'in all cases it
is necessary the ghost should agree to be exorcised; no power can lay
it if it be possessed of an evil demon. In such cases the terrors of
Heaven must be rigorously invoked, but the result is only temporary.
Properly constituted family ghosts, however, will lend a reasonable ear
to entreaty backed by prayer.'

Candles have generally played an important part in the ceremony of
ghost laying, one popular idea being that ghosts have no power by
candlelight. Thus, in many tales, the ghost is cheated into a promise
not to return till the candle is burnt out, whereupon the crafty parson
immediately blows it out, throwing it into a pond, or burying it in
the earth. The belief is an old one, for, in one of the Sagas quoted
by Mr. Baring-Gould,[186] the tomb-breaking hero finds an old Viking
sitting in his dragon-ship, with his five hundred comrades motionless
about him. He is about to depart, after possessing himself of the dead
man's treasures, when the taper goes out, whereupon they all rise and
attack the intruder, who barely escapes by invoking St. Olaf's aid. In
all Shropshire stories, we are told that the great point is to keep
the candles lighted in spite of the ghost's utmost efforts to blow
them out; an amusing instance being that of the Bagbury ghost, which
appeared in the shape of a bull, and was so troublesome that twelve
parsons were required to lay it. The story goes that they got him into
Hyssington Church; 'they all had candles, and one blind old parson,
who knowed him, and knowed what a rush he would make, he carried his
candle in his top-boot. And he made a great rush, and all the candles
went out, all but the blind parson's, and he said, "You light your
candles by mine."'

Miss Jackson also tells[187] how 'Squire Blount's ghost' long haunted
Kinlet Hall, because his daughter had married a page-boy. At last it
was found necessary to pull down Kinlet Old Hall, and to build it again
on a fresh site, 'for he would even come into the room where they were
at dinner, and drive his coach and four white horses across the dinner
table.' But 'at last they got a number of parsons together and lighted
candles, and read and read till all the candles were burnt out but one,
and so they quieted him, and laid him in the sea. There was, it is
reported, a little bottle under his monument in Kinlet Church, and if
that were broken he would come again. It is a little flat bottle seven
or eight inches long, with a glass stopper in it, which nobody could
get out; and if anyone got hold of it, the remark was made, "Take care
as you dunna let that fall, for if it breaks, old Blount will come

According to Mr. Henderson[188] there was a house in a village of
Arkingarthdale which had long been haunted by a bogle. At last the
owner adopted the following plan for expelling it. Opening the Bible,
he placed it on a table with a lighted candle, and said aloud to the
bogle, 'Noo thoo can read or dance, or dea as ta likes.' He then turned
round and walked upstairs, when the bogle, in the form of a grey cat,
flew past and vanished in the air. Years passed without its being seen
again, but one day he met it on the stairs, and he was that day killed
in the mines.

At Leigh, Worcestershire, a spectre known as 'Old Coles' formerly
appeared, and would drive a coach and four over the great barn at Leigh
Court, and then cool the fiery nostrils of his steeds in the waters of
the Teme. This perturbed spirit was at length laid in a neighbouring
pool by twelve parsons at midnight, by the light of an inch of candle;
and as he was not to rise again until the candle was quite burnt out,
it was thrown into the pool, and to make all sure, the pool was filled

    And peaceful ever after slept
        Old Coles's shade.[189]

But sometimes, when the candles burn out their time, it is an
indication that none of the party can lay the ghost, as happened in
the case of a certain Dartmoor vicar's unquiet spirit described by Mr.
Henderson.[190] 'A jury of seven parsons was convoked to lay it, and
each sat for half an hour with a candle in his hand, but it burned out
its time with each. The spirit could afford to defy them; it was not
worth his while to blow their candles out. But the seventh parson was
a stranger and a scholar fresh from Oxford. In his hand the light went
out at once. He was clearly the man to lay the ghost; he laid it at
once, and in a beer-barrel.'

According to another way of ejecting or laying ghosts, there must be
two or three clergymen, and the ceremony must be performed in the Latin
language, which, it is said, will strike the most audacious ghost with
terror. Allan Ramsay mentions, as common in Scotland, the vulgar
notion that a ghost cannot be laid till some priest speaks to it, and
ascertains what prevents it from resting.

    For well we wat it is his ghaist
    Wow, wad some folk that can do't best,
    Speak tol't, and hear what it confest.
    To send a wand'ring saul to rest
          'Tis a good deed
          Amang the dead.

And in the 'Statistical Account of Scotland' (xiii. 557) the writer,
speaking of the parish of Locharron, county of Ross, alludes to the
same idea: 'There is one opinion which many of them entertain, and
which, indeed, is not peculiar to this parish alone, that a Popish
priest can cast out devils and cure madness, and that the Presbyterian
clergy have no such power. A person might as well advise a mob to pay
no attention to a merry Andrew, as to desire many ignorant people to
stay from the priest.'

On a small island off Scotland, called Ledge's Holm, writes Mr.
Bassett, there is a quarry called 'The Crier of Claife.' According to a
local tradition, a ferryman was hailed on a dark night from the island,
and went over. After a long absence he returned, having witnessed
many horrible sights which he refused to relate. Soon afterwards he
became a monk. After a time the same cry was heard, and he went over
and succeeded in laying the ghost where it now rests. But Bourne, who
has preserved a form for exorcising a haunted house, ridicules the
fancy that 'none can lay spirits but Popish priests,' and says that
'our own clergy know just as much of the black art as the others do'--a
statement which is amply confirmed. Thus, a ghost known as 'Benjie
Gear' long troubled the good people of Okehampton to such an extent
that, 'at last,' writes Mr. James Spry, in 'The Western Antiquary,'
'the aid of the archdeacon was called in, and the clergy were assembled
in order that the troubled spirit might be laid and cease to trouble
them. There were twenty-three of the clergy who invoked him in various
classic languages, but the insubordinate spirit refused to listen to
their request. At length, one more learned than the rest addressed him
in Arabic, to which he was forced to succumb, saying, "Now thou art
come, I must be gone!" He was then compelled to take the form of a
colt; a new bridle and bit, which had never been used, were produced,
with a rider, to whom the Sacrament was administered. The man was
directed to ride the colt to Cranmere Pool, on Dartmoor, the following
instructions being given him. He was to prevent the colt from turning
its head towards the town until they were out of the park, and then
make straight for the pool, and when he got to the slope, to slip
from the colt's back, pull the bridle off, and let him go. All this
was dexterously performed, and the impetus thus gained by the animal
with the intention of throwing the rider over its head into the Pool,
accomplished its own fate.'

Another curious account of laying a ghost is connected with Spedlin's
Tower, which stands on the south-west bank of the Annan. The story
goes, that one of its owners, Sir Alexander Jardine, confined, in the
dungeon of his tower, a miller named Porteous, on suspicion of having
wilfully set fire to his own premises. Being suddenly called away to
Edinburgh, he forgot the existence of his captive until he had died
of hunger. But no sooner was the man dead, than his ghost began so
persistently to disturb Spedlin's Tower, that Sir Alexander Jardine
summoned 'a whole legion of ministers to his aid, and by their efforts
Porteous was at length confined to the scene of his mortal agonies,
where, at times, he was heard screaming, "Let me out, let me out,
for I'm deein' o' hunger!"' The spell which compelled his spirit to
remain in bondage was attached to a large black-lettered Bible used
by the exorcists, and afterwards deposited in a stone niche, which
still remains in the wall of the staircase. On one occasion the Bible,
requiring to be re-bound, was sent to Edinburgh, whereupon the ghost
of Porteous recommenced its annoyances, so that the Bible was recalled
before reaching Edinburgh, and was replaced in its former situation.
But, it would seem, the ghost is at last at rest, for the Bible is now
kept at Jardine Hall.

Then there is the ghost of 'Madam Pigott,' once the terror of Chetwynd
and Edgmond. Twelve of the neighbouring clergy were summoned to lay
her by incessantly reading psalms till they had succeeded in making
her obedient to their power. 'Mr. Foy, curate of Edgmond,' says Miss
Jackson,[191] 'has the credit of having accomplished this, for he
continued reading after all the others were exhausted.' But, 'ten
or twelve years after his death, some fresh alarm of Madam Pigott
arose, and a party went in haste to beg a neighbouring rector to come
and lay the ghost; and to this day Chetwynd Hall has the reputation
of being haunted.' It is evident that 'laying a ghost' was far from
an easy task. A humorous anecdote is told[192] of a haunted house
at Homersfield, in Suffolk, where an unquiet spirit so worried and
harassed the inmates that they sent for a parson. On his arrival he
commenced reading a prayer, but instantly the ghost got a line ahead
of him. Happily one of the family hit on this device: the next time,
as soon as the parson began his exorcism, two pigeons were let loose;
the spirit stopped to look at them, the priest got before him in his
prayer, and the ghost was laid.

Clegg Hall, Lancashire, was the scene of a terrible tragedy, for
tradition tells how a wicked uncle destroyed the lawful heirs--two
orphans that were left to his care--by throwing them over a balcony
into the moat, in order that he might seize on their inheritance. Ever
afterwards the house was the reputed haunt of a troubled and angry
spirit, until means were taken for its expulsion. Mr. William Nuttall,
in a ballad entitled 'Sir Roland and Clegg Hall Boggart,' makes Sir
Roland murder the children in bed with a dagger. Remorse eventually
drove him mad, and he died raving during a violent storm. The hall was
ever after haunted by the children's ghosts, and also by demons, till
St. Anthony, with a relic from the Virgin's shrine, exorcised and laid
the evil spirits. According to Mr. Nuttall there were two boggarts of
Clegg Hall, and it is related how the country people 'importuned a
pious monk to exorcise or lay the ghost.' Having provided himself with
a variety of charms and spells, he quickly brought the ghosts to a
parley. They demanded as a condition of future quiet the sacrifice of
a body and a soul. Thereupon the cunning monk said, 'Bring me the body
of a cock and the sole of a shoe.' This being done, the spirits were
forbidden to appear till the whole of the sacrifice was consumed, and
so ended the laying of the Clegg Hall boggarts. But, for some reason or
other, the plan of this wily priest did not prove successful, and these
two ghosts have continued to walk.[193]

With this idea of sacrifice as necessary for laying ghosts may be
mentioned the apparition of a servant at Waddow Hall, known as 'Peg o'
Nell.' On one occasion, the story goes, she had a quarrel with the lord
or lady of Waddow Hall, who, in a fit of anger, wished that she 'might
fall and break her neck.' In some way or other Peggy did fall and break
her neck, and to be revenged on her evil wisher she haunted the Hall,
and made things very uncomfortable. In addition to these perpetual
annoyances, 'every seven years Peg required a life, and it is said that
"Peg's night," as the time of sacrifice at each anniversary was called,
was duly observed; and if no living animal were ready as a septennial
offering to her manes, a human being became inexorably the victim.
Consequently, it grew to be the custom on "Peg's night" to drown a
bird, or a cat, or a dog in the river; and a life being thus given, Peg
was appeased for another seven years.'[194]

At Beoley, Worcestershire, at the commencement of the present
century, the ghost of a reputed murderer managed to keep undisputed
possession of a certain house, until a conclave of clergymen chained
him to the Red Sea for fifty years. At the expiration of this term
of imprisonment, the released ghost reappeared, and more than ever
frightened the inmates of the said house, slamming the doors, and
racing through the ceilings. At last, however, they took heart and
chased the restless spirit, by stamping on the floor from one room to
another, under the impression that could they once drive him to a trap
door opening in the cheese-room, he would disappear for a season.[195]

A curious case of laying a ghost occurs in 'An account of an apparition
attested by the Rev. W. Ruddell, minister at Launceston, in Cornwall,'
1665, quoted in Gilbert's 'Historical Survey of Cornwall.' A schoolboy
was haunted by Dorothy Dingley, and he pined. He was thought to be in
love, and when, at the wishes of his friends, the parson questioned
him, he told him of his ghostly visitor, and showed him the spectral
Dorothy. Then comes the story of the ghost-laying.

'The next morning being Thursday, I went out very early by myself, and
walked for about an hour's space in meditation and prayer in the field
adjoining to the Quartills. Soon after five I stepped over the stile
into the disturbed field, and had not gone above thirty or forty paces
when the ghost appeared at the further stile. I spoke to it with a loud
voice in some such sentences as the way of these dealings directed me;
thereupon it approached, but slowly, and when I came near it, it moved
not. I spoke again, and it answered again in a voice which was neither
very audible nor intelligible. I was not the least terrified, therefore
I persisted till it spoke again, and gave me satisfaction. But the work
could not be finished this time, wherefore the same evening, an hour
after sunset, it met me again near the same place, and after a few
words on each side it quietly vanished, and neither doth appear since,
nor ever will more to any man's disturbance.'

Local tradition still tells us that 'Madam Dudley's ghost did use
to walk in Cumnor Park, and that it walked so obstinately, that it
took no less than nine parsons from Oxford "to lay her." That they at
last laid her in a pond, called "Madam Dudley's Pond," and, moreover,
wonderful to relate, the water in that pond was never known to freeze
afterwards.' Heath Old Hall, near Wakefield, is haunted by the ghost
of Lady Bolles, who is commonly reported to have been conjured down
into a hole of the river, locally known as 'Bolles Pit.' But, as in
many other cases of ghost-laying, 'the spell was not so powerful, but
that she still rises, and makes a fuss now and then.' Various reasons
have been assigned for her 'walking,' such as the non-observance by her
executors of certain clauses in her will, whilst a story current in the
neighbourhood tells us that a certain room in the Hall which had been
walled up for a certain period, owing to large sums of money having
been gambled away in it, was opened before the stipulated time had
expired. Others assert that her unhappy condition is on account of her
father's mysterious death, which was ascribed to demoniacal agency.[196]

But of all places the most common, in years gone by, for laying ghosts
was the Red Sea, and hence, in one of Addison's plays, we read, 'There
must be a power of spirits in that sea.' 'This is a locality,' says
Grose, 'which ghosts least like, it being related in many instances
that ghosts have most earnestly besought the exorcists not to confine
them in that place. It is, nevertheless, considered as an indisputable
fact that there are an infinite number laid there, perhaps from
its being a safer prison than any other nearer at hand.' But when
such exiled ghosts did happen to re-appear, they were thought more
audacious, being seen by day instead of at night.

In an amusing poem entitled 'The Ghost of a Boiled Scrag of Mutton,'
which appeared in the 'Flowers of Literature' many years ago, the
following verse occurs embodying the idea:

    The scholar was versed in all magical lore,
      Most famous was he throughout college;
    To the Red Sea full many an unquiet ghost,
    To repose with King Pharaoh and his mighty host,
      He had sent through his proverbial knowledge.

Addison tells us in the 'Spectator,' alluding to his London lodgings at
a good-natured widow's house one winter, how on one occasion he entered
the room unexpectedly, where several young ladies, visitors, were
telling stories of spirits and apparitions, when, on being told that it
was only _the gentleman_, the broken conversation was resumed, and 'I
seated myself by the candle that stood at one end of the table, and,
pretending to read a book that I took out of my pocket, heard several
stories of ghosts that, pale as ashes, had stood at the bed's foot,
or walked over a churchyard by moonlight; and others that had been
conjured into the Red Sea for disturbing people's rest.' As it has been
humorously remarked, it is not surprising that many a strange ghost
story has been told by the sea-faring community, when we remember how
many spirits have been banished to the Red Sea.


[173] _Primitive Culture_, ii. p. 153.

[174] _See Daily Telegraph_, Nov. 17, 1890. Article on 'Ghost Laying.'
Burns's 'Tam o' Shanter' turns on this point, and it is noticed by Sir
Walter Scott in 'The Lay of the Last Minstrel' (Canto III. Stanza 13):
'The running stream dissolv'd the spell.'

[175] _Romances of West of England_, p. 470.

[176] _Contemporary Review_, xlviii. p. 107.

[177] Lewin, _Hill Tracts of Chittagong_, p. 84.

[178] See Sir John Lubbock, _Origin of Civilisation and Primitive
Condition of Man_, 1870, p. 145.

[179] _Fiji and the Fijians_, i. p. 248.

[180] _Contemporary Review_, xlviii. p. 113.

[181] _Folk-songs of Russia_, p. 320.

[182] Thorpe's _Northern Mythology_, ii. p. 275.

[183] Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, p. 37.

[184] _Shropshire Folk-lore_, pp. 140, 141.

[185] _British Goblins_, p. 165.

[186] _Shropshire Folk-lore_, pp. 138, 139.

[187] _Shropshire Folk-lore_, pp. 122, 123.

[188] _Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, p. 247.

[189] Jabez Allies, Worcestershire.

[190] _Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, p. 337.

[191] _Shropshire Folk-lore_, p. 125.

[192] Henderson's _Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, p. 338.

[193] See Harland and Wilkinson's _Lancashire Legends_, pp. 10-12.

[194] Ingram's _Haunted Homes_, 2nd S. p. 265.

[195] See _Gentleman's Magazine_, 1855, part ii. pp. 58, 59.

[196] See Ingram's _Haunted Homes_, 2nd S. pp. 155-159.



On the coast of Brittany there is the 'Bay of the Departed,' where,
it is said, in the dead hour of night the boatmen are summoned by
some unseen power to launch their boats and to ferry to a sacred
island the souls of men who have been drowned. On such occasions the
boat is so crowded with invisible passengers as to sink quite low in
the water, while the wails and cries of the shipwrecked are clearly
heard as the melancholy voyage progresses. On reaching the island of
Sein, the invisible passengers are numbered by unseen hands, after
which the wondering, awestruck sailors return to await in readiness
the next supernatural summons. At Guildo, on the same coast, small
phantom skiffs are reported to dart out from under the castle cliffs,
manned by spectral figures, ferrying over the treacherous sands the
souls of those unfortunate persons whose bodies lie engulfed in the
neighbourhood. So strong is the antipathy to this weird spot that,
after nightfall, none of the seafaring community will approach near
it.[197] Similar superstitions are found elsewhere, and in Cornwall,
sailors dislike walking at night near those parts of the shore where
there have been wrecks, as they are supposed to be haunted by the
ghosts of drowned sailors, and the 'calling of the dead has frequently
been heard.' 'I have been told,' writes Mr. Hunt,[198] 'that, under
certain circumstances, especially before the coming of storms, but
always at night, these callings are common. Many a fisherman has
declared he has heard the voices of dead sailors "hailing their own
names."' He further tells how a fisherman, or a pilot, was walking
one night on the sands at Porth-Towan, when all was still save the
monotonous fall of the light waves upon the sand. Suddenly, he
distinctly heard a voice from the sea exclaiming: 'The hour is come,
but not the man.'

This was repeated three times, when a black figure, like that of a man,
appeared on the top of the hill. It paused for a moment, then rushed
impetuously down the steep incline, over the sands, and was lost in
the sea. In different forms the story is current all round the Cornish
shores, and on the Norfolk coast, when any person is drowned, a voice
is said to be heard from the water, ominous of a squall.

On the Continent the same belief, with certain variations, is found.
Lord Teignmouth, in his 'Reminiscences of Many Years,' speaking of
Ullesvang, in Norway, writes: 'A very natural belief that the voice
of a person drowned is heard wailing amidst the storm is, apparently,
the only acknowledged remnant of ancient superstition still lingering
along the shores of the fiords.' In Germany, it is said that whenever
a man is drowned at sea, he announces his death to his relations, and
haunts the sea-shore. Such ghosts are supposed to make their appearance
at evening twilight, in the clothes in which they were drowned.[199]
According to a Schleswig version of this belief, the spirits of the
drowned do not enter the house, but linger about the threshold to
announce their sad errand. A story is told of a young lad who was
forced by his father to go to sea against his will. Before starting,
he bid farewell to his mother, and said, 'As you sit on the shore by
the lake think of me.' Shortly his ghost appeared to her there, and she
only knew too well afterwards that he had perished.

Among Maine fishermen there are similar stories of the ghost of the
drowned being seen. Mr. W. H. Bishop, in 'Harper's Magazine' (Sept.
1880) tells us 'there was particularly the story of the Hascall. She
broke loose from her moorings during a gale on George's banks, and
ran into and sank the Andrew Johnson, and all on board. For years
afterwards the spectres of the drowned men were reported to come on
board the Hascall at midnight, and go through the dumb show of fishing
over the side, so that no one in Gloucester could be got to sail her,
and she would not have brought sixpence in the market.' A Block Island
tradition affirms that the ghosts of certain refugees, drowned in the
surf during the revolution, are often seen struggling to reach the
shore, and occasionally their cries are distinctly heard.[200]

There is the well-known anecdote which Lord Byron, says Moore,[201]
used sometimes to mention, and which Captain Kidd related to him on
the passage. 'This officer stated that, being asleep one night in his
berth, he was awakened by the pressure of something heavy on his limbs,
and there being a faint light in the room, could see, as he thought,
distinctly the figure of his brother, who was at that time in the same
service in the East Indies, dressed in his uniform, and stretched
across the bed. Concluding it to be an illusion, he shut his eyes, and
made an effort to sleep. But still the same pressure continued; and
as often as he ventured to take another look, he saw the figure lying
across him in the same position. To add to the wonder, on putting
his hand forth to touch this form, he found the uniform in which he
appeared dripping wet. On the entrance of one of his brother officers,
to whom he called out in alarm, the apparition vanished, but, in a
few months afterwards, he received the startling intelligence that on
that night his brother had been drowned in the Indian Seas. Of the
supernatural character of this appearance, Captain Kidd himself did
not appear to have the slightest doubt.'

A strange antipathy has long existed against rescuing a drowning man,
one reason being that the person saved would at some time or other do
injury to the man who rescued him. In China, however, this reluctance
to give help to a drowning man arises from another form of the same
superstitious dread, the idea being that the spirit of a person who
has been drowned continues to flit along the surface of the water,
until it has caused by drowning the death of a fellow creature. A
person, therefore, who is bold enough to attempt to rescue another
from drowning is believed to incur the hatred of the unquiet spirit,
which is supposed to be desirous, even at the expense of a man's life,
of escaping from its unceasing wandering. The Bohemian fisherman
shrinks from snatching a drowning man from the water, fearing that the
water-demons would take away his luck in fishing, and drown him at the
first opportunity. This, as Dr. Tylor points out,[202] is a lingering
survival of the ancient significance of this superstition, the
explanation being that the water spirit is naturally angry at being
despoiled of his victim, and henceforth bears a special grudge against
the unlucky person who has dared to frustrate him. Thus, when a person
is drowned in Germany the remark is often made, 'The river spirit
claims his yearly sacrifice,' or 'The Nix has taken him.'

Similarly the Siamese dreads the Pnük, or water spirit, that seizes
unwary bathers, and drags them underneath the water; and the Sioux
Indians tell how men have been drowned by Unktahe, the water demon.
Speaking of the ghosts of the drowned among savage tribes, Herbert
Spenser says:[203] 'An eddy in the river, where floating sticks are
whirled round and engulfed, is not far from the place where one of
the tribe was drowned and never seen again. What more manifest,
then, than that the double of this drowned man, malicious as the
unburied dead ever are, dwells thereabouts, and pulls these things
under the surface--nay, in revenge, seizes and drags down persons who
venture near? When those who knew the drowned man are all dead, when,
after generations, the details of the story, thrust aside by more
recent stories, have been lost, there survives only the belief in a
water demon haunting the place.' We may compare the practice of the
Kamchadals, who, instead of helping a man out of the water, would drown
him by force. If rescued by any chance, no one would receive such a man
into his house, or give him food, but he was reckoned as dead.


[197] Jones: _Credulities Past and Present_, p. 92.

[198] _Romances of West of England_, p. 366.

[199] Thorpe's _Northern Mythology_, pp. 10, 11.

[200] Quoted in Bassett's 'Legends of the Sea,' from Livermore's
_History of Block Island_.

[201] _Life of Byron._

[202] See Tylor's _Primitive Culture_, i. p. 109.

[203] _Principles of Sociology_, p. 219.



According to the popular creed, some persons have the peculiar faculty
of seeing ghosts, a privilege which, it would seem, is denied to
others. It has been urged, however, that under certain conditions
of health there are those who are endowed with special powers of
perception, whereby they are enabled to see objects not visible at
other times. Thus, as Sir William Hamilton has observed, 'however
astonishing, it is now proved, beyond all rational doubt, that in
certain abnormal states of the nervous organism, perceptions are
possible through other than the ordinary channels of the senses.' But,
without entering into this metaphysical question, folk-lore holds that
persons born at a particular time of the day have the power of seeing
ghosts. Thus it is said in Lancashire, that children born during
twilight are supposed to have this peculiarity, and to know who of
their acquaintance will next die. Some say that this property belongs
also to those who happen to be born exactly at twelve o'clock at night,
or, as the peasantry say in Somersetshire, 'a child born in chime-hours
will have the power to see spirits.' The same belief prevails in
Yorkshire, where it is commonly supposed that children born during
the hour after midnight have the privilege through life of seeing the
spirits of the departed. Mr. Henderson says[204] that 'a Yorkshire lady
informed him she was very near being thus distinguished, but the clock
had not struck twelve when she was born. When a child she mentioned
this circumstance to an old servant, adding that mamma was sure her
birthday was the 23rd, not the 24th, for she had inquired at the time.
"Ay, ay," said the old woman, turning to the child's nurse, "mistress
would be very anxious about _that_, for bairns born after midnight see
more things than other folk."'

This superstition prevails on the Continent, and, in Denmark, Sunday
children have prerogatives far from enviable. Thorpe[205] tells how
'in Fyer there was a woman who was born on a Sunday, and, like other
Sunday children, had the faculty of seeing much that was hidden from
others. But, because of this property, she could not pass by the
church at night without seeing a hearse or a spectre. The gift became
a perfect burden to her; she therefore sought the advice of a man
skilled in such matters, who directed her, whenever she saw a spectre,
to say, "Go to Heaven!" but when she met a hearse, "Hang on!" Happening
some time after to meet a hearse, she, through lapse of memory, cried
out, "Go to Heaven!" and straightway the hearse rose in the air and
vanished. Afterwards meeting a spectre, she said to it, "Hang on!" when
the spectre clung round her neck, hung on her back, and drove her down
into the earth before it. For three days her shrieks were heard before
the spectre would put an end to her wretched life.'

It is a popular article of faith in Scotland that those who are born on
Christmas Day or Good Friday have the power of seeing spirits, and even
of commanding them, a superstition to which Sir Walter Scott alludes
in his 'Marmion' (stanza xxii.). The Spaniards imputed the haggard and
downcast looks of their Philip II. to the disagreeable visions to which
this privilege subjected him.

Among uncultured tribes it is supposed that spirits are visible to
some persons and not to others. The 'natives of the Antilles believed
that the dead appeared on the roads when one went alone, but not
when many went together; and among the Finns the ghosts of the dead
were to be seen by the Shamans, but not by men generally unless in
dreams.'[206] It is, too, as already noticed,[207] a popular theory
with savage races that the soul appears in dreams to visit the sleeper,
and hence it has been customary for rude tribes to drink various
intoxicating substances, under the impression that when thrown into
a state of ecstasy they would have pleasing visions. On this account
certain tribes on the Amazon use certain narcotic plants, producing an
intoxication lasting twenty-four hours. During this period they are
said to be subject to extraordinary visions, in the course of which
they acquire information on any subject they may specially require.
For a similar reason the inhabitants of North Brazil, when anxious
to discover some guilty person, were in the habit of administering
narcotic drinks to seers, in whose dreams the criminal made his
appearance. The Californian Indians would give children certain
intoxicants, in order to gain from the ensuing vision information about
their enemies. And the Darien Indians used the seeds of the _Datura
sanguinea_ to produce in children prophetic delirium, during which they
revealed the whereabouts of hidden treasure.

In our own country various charms have been practised from time
immemorial for invoking spirits, and, as we shall show in a succeeding
chapter, it is still a widespread belief that, by having recourse to
certain spells at special seasons in the year, one, if so desirous, may
be favoured with a view of the spirits of departed friends.


[204] _Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, p. 11.

[205] _Northern Mythology_, ii. p. 203.

[206] Tylor's _Primitive Culture_, i. p. 446.

[207] Chap. II.



The belief in death-omens peculiar to certain families has long been
a fruitful source of superstition, and has been embodied in many a
strange legendary romance. Such family forewarnings of death are
of a most varied description, and are still said to be of frequent
occurrence. An ancient Roman Catholic family in Yorkshire, of the name
of Middleton, is supposed to be apprised of the death of any one of its
members by the apparition of a Benedictine nun; and Sir Walter Scott,
in his 'Peveril of the Peak,' tells us how a certain spirit is commonly
believed to attend on the Stanley family, warning them by uttering
a loud shriek of some approaching calamity, and especially 'weeping
and bemoaning herself before the death of any person of distinction
belonging to the family.' In his 'Waverley,' too, towards the end of
Fergus MacIvor's history, he alludes to the Bodach Glas, or dark grey
man. Mr. Henderson says,[208] 'Its appearance foretold death in the
Clan of ----, and I have been informed on the most credible testimony
of its appearance in our own day. The Earl of E----, a nobleman alike
beloved and respected in Scotland, was playing on the day of his
decease on the links of St. Andrews at golf. Suddenly he stopped in the
middle of the game, saying, "I can play no longer, there is the Bodach
Glas. I have seen it for the third time; something fearful is going to
befall me." He died that night as he was handing a candlestick to a
lady who was retiring to her room.' According to Pennant, most of the
great families in Scotland had their death-omens. Thus it is reported
'the family of Grant Rothiemurcus had the "Bodach au Dun," or the Ghost
of the Hill; and the Kinchardines the "Lham-dearg," or the Spectre
of the Bloody Hand, of whom Sir Walter Scott has given the subjoined
account from Macfarlane's MSS.: "There is much talk of a spirit called
'Ly-erg,' who frequents the Glenmore. He appears with a red hand, in
the habit of a soldier, and challenges men to fight with him. As lately
as the year 1669 he fought with three brothers, one after another, who
immediately died therefrom."'

The family of Gurlinbeg was haunted by Garlin Bodacher, and Tulloch
Gorms by May Moulach, or the Girl with the Hairy Left Hand.[209] The
Synod gave frequent orders that inquiry should be made into the truth
of this apparition, and one or two declared that they had seen one
that answered the description. An ancestor of the family of McClean,
of Lochburg, was commonly reported, before the death of any of his
race, to gallop along the sea-beach announcing the death by dismal
lamentations; and the Banshee of Loch Nigdal used to be arrayed in a
silk dress of greenish hue.

Reference is made elsewhere to the apparition of the Black Friar, the
evil genius of the Byrons, supposed to forebode misfortune to the
member of the family to whom it appeared, and Mr. Hunt has described
the death-token of the Vingoes. It seems that above the deep caverns in
a certain part of their estate rises a cairn. On this, it is asserted,
chains of fire were formerly seen ascending and descending, which were
frequently accompanied by loud and frightful noises. But it is affirmed
that these warnings have not been heard since the last male of the
family came to a violent end.[210] Whenever two owls are seen perched
on the family mansion of the family of Arundel of Wardour, it is said
that one of its members will shortly die. The strange appearance of a
white-breasted bird[211] was long thought to be a warning of death to a
family of the name of Oxenham, in Devonshire.

Equally strange is the omen with which the old baronet's family of
Clifton, of Clifton Hall, in Nottinghamshire, is forewarned when death
is about to visit one of its members. It seems that, in this case, the
omen takes the form of a sturgeon, which is seen forcing itself up
the River Trent, on whose bank the mansion of the Clifton family is
situated. With this curious tradition may be compared one connected
with the Edgewell Oak, which is commonly reported to indicate the
coming death of an inmate of Castle Dalhousie by the fall of one of
its branches. Burke, in his 'Anecdotes of the Aristocracy' (1849, i.
122), says that 'opposite the dining-room at Gordon Castle is a large
and massive willow-tree, the history of which is somewhat singular.
Duke Alexander, when four years of age, planted this willow in a tub
filled with earth; the tub floated about in a marshy piece of land,
till the shrub, expanding, burst its cerements, and struck root in the
earth below; here it grew and prospered, till it attained the present
goodly size. The Duke regarded the tree with a sort of fatherly and
even superstitious regard, half believing there was some mysterious
affinity between its fortunes and his own. If an accident happened
to the one by storm or lightning, some misfortune was not long in
befalling the other.'

It may be remembered, too, how in the Park of Chartley, near Lichfield,
has long been preserved the breed of the indigenous Staffordshire cow,
of sand white colour. In the battle of Burton Bridge a black calf was
born, and the year of the downfall of the House of Ferrers happening
about the same time, gave rise to the tradition that the birth of a
parti-coloured calf from the wild herd in Chartley Park is a sure omen
of death within the same year to a member of the family. Thus, 'by
a noticeable coincidence,' says the 'Staffordshire Chronicle' (July
1835), 'a calf of this description has been born whenever a death has
happened to the family of late years.' It appears that the death of the
seventh Earl Ferrers, and of his Countess, and of his son, Viscount
Tamworth, and of his daughter, Mrs. William Joliffe, as well as the
deaths of the son and heir of the eighth Earl and of his daughter,
Lady Francis Shirley, were each preceded by the ominous birth of the
fatal-hued calf. This tradition has been made the subject of a romantic
story entitled 'Chartley, or the Fatalist.'

Walsingham, in his 'Ypodigma Neustriæ' (1574, p. 153), informs us how,
on January 1, 1399, just before the civil wars broke out between the
houses of York and Lancaster, the River Ouse suddenly stood still at
a place called Harewood, about five miles from Bedford, so that below
this place the bed of the river was left dry for three miles together,
and above it the waters swelled to a great height. The same thing is
said to have happened at the same place in January 1648, which was just
before the death of Charles I., and many superstitious persons 'have
supposed both these stagnations of the Ouse to be supernatural and
portentous; others suppose them to be the effect of natural causes,
though a probable natural cause has not yet been assigned.'[212]

The following curious anecdote, styled 'An Irish Water-fiend,' said
to be perfectly well authenticated, is related in Burke's 'Anecdotes
of the Aristocracy' (i. 329). The hero of the tale was the Rev. James
Crawford, rector of the parish of Killina, co. Leitrim. In the autumn
of 1777, Mr. Crawford had occasion to cross the estuary called 'The
Rosses,' on the coast of Donegal, and on a pillion behind him sat his
sister-in-law, Miss Hannah Wilson. They had advanced some distance,
until the water reached the saddle-laps, when Miss Wilson became so
alarmed that she implored Mr. Crawford to get back as fast as possible
to land. 'I do not think there can be danger,' replied Crawford, 'for
I see a horseman crossing the ford not twenty yards before us.' Miss
Wilson also saw the horseman. 'You had better hail him,' said she,
'and inquire the depth of the intervening water.' Crawford checked
his horse, and hallooed to the other horseman to stop. He did stop,
and turning round, displayed a ghastly face grinning fiendishly at
Crawford, who waited for no further parley, but returned as fast as he
could. On reaching home he told his wife of the spectral rencontre. The
popular belief was that whenever any luckless person was foredoomed to
be drowned in that estuary, the fatal event was foreshown to the doomed
person by some such apparition as Crawford had seen. Despite this
monitory warning, Mr. Crawford again attempted to cross the ford of the
Rosses upon September 27, 1777, and was drowned in the attempt.

A correspondent of the 'Gentleman's Magazine' speaks of a superstition
prevalent among the peasantry in Worcestershire, that when storms,
heavy rains, or other elemental strifes take place at the death of a
great man, the spirit of the storm will not be appeased till the moment
of burial. 'This superstition,' he adds, 'gained great strength on the
occasion of the Duke of Wellington's funeral, when, after some weeks of
heavy rain, and one of the highest floods ever known in this country,
the skies began to clear, and both rain and flood abated. It was a
common observation in this part of the country, in the week before the
interment of his Grace, "Oh, the rain won't give over till the Duke is

In Germany several princes have their warnings of death. In some
instances it is the roaring of a lion, and in others the howling of a
dog. Occasionally a similar announcement was made by the tolling of
a bell, or the striking of a clock at an unusual time. Then there is
the time-honoured White Lady, whose mysterious appearance has from
time immemorial been supposed to indicate some event of importance.
According to a popular legend, the White Lady is seen in many of the
castles of German princes and nobles, by night as well as by day,
especially when the death of any member of the family is imminent. She
is regarded as the ancestress of the race, 'shows herself always in
snow white garments, carries a bunch of keys at her side, and sometimes
rocks and watches over the children at night when their nurses sleep.'
The earliest instance of this apparition was in the sixteenth century,
and is famous under the name of 'Bertha of Rosenberg,' in Bohemia. The
white lady of other princely castles was identified with Bertha, and
the identity was accounted for by the intermarriages of other princely
houses with members of the house of Rosenberg,[213] in whose train the
White Lady passed into their castles. According to Mrs. Crowe[214]
the White Lady was long supposed to be a Countess Agnes of Orlamunde;
but a picture of a princess called Bertha, or Perchta von Rosenberg,
discovered some time since, was thought so to resemble the apparition,
that it is a disputed point which of the two ladies it is, or whether
it is or is not the same apparition that is seen at different places.
The opinion of its being the Princess Bertha, who lived in the
fifteenth century, was somewhat countenanced by the circumstance
that, at a period when, in consequence of the war, an annual benefit
which she had bequeathed to the poor was neglected, the apparition
appeared more frequently, and seemed to be unusually disturbed. The
'Archæologia' (xxxiii.) gives an extract from Brereton's 'Travels' (i.
33), which sets forth how the Queen of Bohemia told William Brereton
'that at Berlin--the Elector of Brandenburg's house--before the death
of any related in blood to that house, there appears and walks up and
down that house like unto a ghost in a white sheet, which walks during
the time of their sickness and until their death.'[215]

Cardan and Henningius Grosius relate a similar marvel of some of the
ancient families of Italy, the following being recorded by the latter
authority: 'Jacopo Donati, one of the most important families in
Venice, had a child, the heir to the family, very ill. At night, when
in bed, Donati saw the door of his chamber opened and the head of a man
thrust in. Knowing that it was not one of his servants, he roused the
house, drew his sword, went over the whole palace, all the servants
declaring that they had seen such a head thrust in at the doors of
their several chambers at the same hour; the fastenings were found all
secure, so that no one could have come in from without. The next day
the child died.'

Burton, in his 'Anatomy of Melancholy,' says that near Rufus Nova,
in Finland, Sweden, 'there is a lake in which, when the governor of
the castle dies, a spectrum is seen, in the habit of Arion, with a
harp, and makes excellent music, like those clocks in Cheshire which
(they say) presage death to the master of the family; or that oak in
Lanthadran Park, in Cornwall, which foreshows as much.'

One of the most celebrated ghosts of this kind in Britain is the White
Lady of Avenel, the creation of Sir Walter Scott. In the Highlands it
was long a common belief that many of the chiefs had some kind spirit
to watch over the fortunes of their house. Popular tradition has many
well-known legends about white ladies, who generally dwell in forts and
mountains as enchanted maidens waiting for deliverance. They delight
to appear in warm sunshine to poor shepherds, or herd boys. They are
either combing their long hair or washing themselves, drying wheat
or spinning, they also point out treasures, &c. They wear snow-white
or half-white black garments, yellow or green shoes, and a bunch of
keys at their side. All these and many other traits that appear in
individual legends may be traced back to a goddess of German mythology
who influences birth and death, and presides over the ordering of the

An interesting instance of a death-warning among uncultured tribes is
told by Mr. Lang,[217] on the authority of Mr. J. J. Atkinson, late
of Noumea, New Caledonia, which is curious because it offers among
the Kanekas an example of a belief current in Breton folk-lore. Mr.
Atkinson relates how one day a Kaneka of his acquaintance paid a visit
and seemed loth to go away. After some hesitation he explained that he
was about to die, and would never see his English friend again, as his
fate was sealed. He had lately met in the wood one whom he took for
the Kaneka girl of his heart, but he became aware too late that she
was no mortal woman, but a wood-spirit in the guise of his beloved. As
he said, so it happened, for the unlucky man shortly afterwards died.
'This is the ground-work,' adds Mr. Lang, 'of the old Breton ballad of
"Le Sieur Nann," who died after his intrigue with the forest spectre!'
A version of the ballad is printed by De la Villemarque, Barzaz-Breiz
(i. 41), and variants exist in Swedish, French, and even in a Lowland
Scotch version, sung by children in a kind of dancing game.[218]
Another story quoted by Mr. Lang tells how, in 1860, a Maneroo black
fellow died in the service of Mr. Du Ve. 'The day before he died,
having been ill some time, he said that in the night his father, his
father's friend, and a female spirit he could not recognise, had come
to him, and said that he would die next day, and that they would wait
for him.' Mr. Du Ve adds that, 'though previously the Christian belief
had been explained to this man, it had entirely failed, and that he
had gone back to the belief of his childhood.' But cases of this kind,
it would appear, are not uncommon among rude races, and have a special
value to the student of comparative folk-lore.


[208] _Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, p. 344.

[209] See _Sir Walter Scott's Poetical Works_, 1853, viii. p. 126.

[210] _Popular Romances of West of England_, p. 372.

[211] See Chapter on 'Phantom Birds.'

[212] _Gentleman's Magazine_, 1764, p. 59.

[213] See Moncure Conway's _Demonology and Devil Lore_.

[214] _Night Side of Nature_, 1854, p. 315.

[215] See _Notes and Queries_, 5th S. xi. p. 334.

[216] Chambers's _Encyclopædia_, 1886, x. p. 179.

[217] The _Nineteenth Century_, April 1865, p. 628; _Myth, Ritual, and
Religion_, 1887, i. p. 104.

[218] Fison's _Kamilaroi and Kurnai_, p. 253.



The power of seeing things invisible to others is commonly known as
'second sight,' a peculiarity which the ancient Gaels called 'shadow
sight.' The subject has, for many years past, excited popular interest,
and demanded the attention even of our learned men. Dr. Johnson was so
favourably impressed with the notion of 'second sight,' that after,
in the course of his travels, giving the subject full inquiry, he
confessed that he never could 'advance his curiosity to conviction,
but came away at last only willing to believe.' Sir Walter Scott, too,
went so far as to say that 'if force of evidence could authorise us
to believe facts inconsistent with the general laws of nature, enough
might be produced in favour of the existence of "second sight."' When
we recollect how all history and tradition abound in instances of this
belief, oftentimes apparently resting on evidence beyond impeachment,
it is not surprising that it has numbered among its adherents advocates
of most schools of thought. Although, too, of late years the theory
of 'second sight' has not been so widely preached as formerly, yet it
must not be supposed that the stories urged in support of it are less
numerous, or that it has ceased to be regarded as great a mystery as in
days gone by.

In defining 'second sight' as a singular faculty 'of seeing an
otherwise invisible object without any previous means used by the
person that beholds it for that end,' we are at once confronted with
the well-known axiom that 'a man cannot be in two places at once,' a
rule with which it is difficult to reconcile such statements as those
recorded by Pennant of a gentleman of the Hebrides said to have had
the gift of foreseeing visitors in time to get ready for them, or the
anecdote which tells how St. Ambrose fell into a comatose state while
celebrating the mass at Milan, and on his recovery asserted that he had
been present at St. Martin's funeral at Tours, where it was afterwards
declared he had been seen. But it must be remembered that believers in
'second sight' base their faith not so much on metaphysical definitions
as on the evidence of daily experience, it being of immaterial
importance to them how impossible a certain doctrine may seem, provided
it only has the testimony of actual witnesses in its favour. Hence,
in spite of all arguments against the so-called 'second sight,' it is
urged, on the other hand, that visions coinciding with real facts and
events occurring at a distance--oftentimes thousands of miles away--are
beheld by persons possessing this remarkable faculty. Thus Collins, in
his ode on the 'Popular Superstitions of the Highlands,' alludes to
this belief:

    To monarchs dear, some hundred miles astray
      Oft have they seen Fate give the fatal blow.
      The seer, in Sky, shrieked as the blood did flow
    When headless Charles warm on the scaffold lay.

Accounts differ largely respecting the faculty of 'second sight.'
Some make it hereditary, and according to an account communicated to
Aubrey from a gentleman at Strathspey, some of the seers acknowledged
the possibility of teaching it. A correspondent of the 'Gentleman's
Magazine'[219] says 'the visions attendant on "second sight" are
not confined to solemn or important events. The future visit of a
mountebank or piper, the arrival of common travellers, or, if possible,
still more trifling matters than these, are foreseen by the seers. Not
only aged men and women have the "second sight," but also children,
horses, and cows. Children endowed with that faculty manifest it by
crying aloud at the very time a corpse appears to a seer. That horses
possess it is likewise plain, from their violent and sudden starting
when their rider, or a seer in company with him, sees a vision of
any kind, by night or by day. It is observable of a horse, that he
will not go forwards towards the apparition but must be led round, at
some distance from the common road; his terror is evident, from his
becoming all over in a profuse sweat, although quite cool a moment
before. Balaam's ass seems to have possessed this power or faculty;
and, perhaps, what we improperly style a startlish horse may be one who
has the gift of the "second sight." That cows have the "second sight"
is proved by the following circumstance. If a woman, whilst milking
a cow, happen to have a vision of that kind, the cow runs away in a
great fright at the same instant, and cannot, for some time, be brought
to stand quietly.' It is further added, that persons who have not long
been gifted with 'second sight,' after seeing a vision without doors,
on coming into a house, and approaching the fire, will immediately
fall into a swoon. All those, too, who have the 'second sight' do not
see these appearances at the same time, but if one having this faculty
designedly touches his fellow seer at the instant that a vision appears
to him, in that case it will be seen by both.

Goethe relates that as he was once riding along a footpath towards
Drusenheim, he saw, 'not with the eyes of his body, but with those of
his spirit, himself on horseback coming towards him, in a dress that
he then did not possess. It was grey, and trimmed with gold. Eight
years afterwards he found himself, quite accidentally, on that spot, on
horseback, and in precisely that attire.'[220]

In 1652 a Scottish lawyer, Sir George Mackenzie, afterwards Lord
Tarbat, when driven to the Highlands by fear of the Government of
Cromwell, made very extensive inquiries concerning this supposed
supernatural faculty, and wrote an elaborate account of its
manifestations to the celebrated Robert Boyle, published in the
correspondence of Samuel Pepys. Aubrey, too, devoted considerable
attention to the subject, and in the year 1683 appeared the treatise
of 'Theophilus Insularum,' with about one hundred cases gathered from
various sources.

It was, however, in Scotland that this belief gained a specially
strong footing. In the year 1799, a traveller writing of the peasants
of Kirkcudbrightshire relates: 'It is common among them to fancy that
they see the wraiths of persons dying which will be visible to one and
not to others present with him. Within these last twenty years it was
hardly possible to meet with any person who had not seen many wraiths
and ghosts in the course of his experience.' Indeed, we are told that
many of the Highlanders gained a lucrative livelihood by enlightening
their neighbours on matters revealed to them through 'second sight;'
and Mr. Jamieson writes: 'Whether this belief was communicated to
the Scotch by the northern nations who so long had possession of it,
I shall not pretend to determine, but traces of the same wonderful
faculty may be found among the Scandinavians.' One of the best
illustrations of this superstition as it prevailed in the Highlands is
that given by Dr. Johnson in his 'Journey to the Hebrides': 'A man on
a journey far from home falls from a horse; another, who is perhaps at
work about the house, sees him bleeding on the ground, commonly with a
landscape of the place where the accident befalls him. Another seer,
driving home his cattle, or wandering in idleness, or musing in the
sunshine, is suddenly surprised by the appearance of a bridal ceremony,
or funeral procession, and counts the mourners or attendants, of whom,
if he knows them, he relates the names; if he knows them not, he can
describe the dresses. Things distant are seen at the instant when they
happen.' 'At the Literary Club,' says Boswell, 'before Johnson came
in, we talked of his "Journey to the Western Islands," and of his
coming away "willing to believe the 'second sight,'" which seemed to
excite some ridicule. I was then so impressed with many of the stories
which I had been told, that I avowed my conviction, saying, "He is
only willing to believe--I do believe; the evidence is enough for me,
though not for his great mind. What will not fill a quart bottle will
fill a pint bottle; I am filled with belief." "Are you?" said George
Colman; "then cork it up."' It is not many years ago since a man lived
at Blackpool who was possessed, as he pretended, by this faculty, and
was visited by persons from all parts anxious to gain information
about absent friends. This belief, it may be added, is not confined
to our own country, curious traces of it being found among savage
tribes. Thus Captain Jonathan Carver obtained from a Cree medicine man
a correct prophesy of the arrival of a canoe with news the following
day at noon; and we are told how, when Mr. Mason Brown was travelling
with the _voyageurs_ on the Coppermine river, he was met by Indians of
the very band he was seeking, these having been despatched by their
medicine-man, who, on being interrogated, affirmed that 'he saw them
coming, and heard them talk on their journey.'

Again, persons gifted with 'second sight' are said not only to know
particular events at a distance precisely at the same moment as they
happen, but also to have a foreknowledge of them before they take
place, for--

                                    As the sun,
    Ere it is risen, sometimes paints its image
    In the atmosphere, so often do the spirits
    Of great events stride on before the events,
    And in to-day already walks to-morrow.

Dr. Tylor, in his 'Primitive Culture,' relates the case of a Shetland
lady who affirmed how, some years ago, she and a girl leading her pony
recognised the familiar figure of one Peter Sutherland, whom they knew
to be at the time in Edinburgh. He turned a corner, and they saw him no
more, but next week came the news of his sudden death.

A curious old story illustrative of 'second sight,' of which there
are several versions, is that of 'Booty's Ghost,' an account of which
occurs in Kirby's 'Wonderful and Eccentric Museum' (ii. 247). It was an
action for slander of a deceased husband brought by the widow, and the
following extract, which contains an outline of the strange tale, is
from the journal of Mr. Spinks:

'_Friday, May 15, 1687._--We had the observation of Mr. Booty this day.
Captain Barrisby, Captain Bristowe, Captain Brown, I, and Mr. Ball,
merchant, went on shore in Captain Barnaby's boat to shoot rabbits upon
Stromboli; and when we had done, we called our men together by us, and
about half an hour and fourteen minutes after three in the afternoon,
to our great surprise, we all of us saw two men come running towards
us with such swiftness that no living man could run half so fast as
they did run, when all of us heard Captain Barnaby say, "Lord, bless
me! the foremost is old Booty, my next door neighbour," but he said
he did not know the other that run behind; he was in black clothes,
and the foremost was in grey. Then Captain Barnaby desired all of us
to take an account of the time, and put it down in our pocket-books,
and when we got on board we wrote it in our journals; for we saw them
into the flames of fire, and there was a great noise which greatly
affrighted us all, for we none of us ever saw or heard the like before.
Captain Barnaby said he was certain it was old Booty, which he saw
running over Stromboli and into the flames of hell. It is stated that
Captain Barnaby told his wife, and she told somebody else, and that
it was afterwards told to Mrs. Booty, who arrested Captain Barnaby in
a thousand pound action for what he had said of her husband. Captain
Barnaby gave bail to it, and it came on to a trial in the Court of
King's Bench, and they had Mr. Booty's wearing apparel brought into
Court, and the sexton of the parish, and the people that were with him
when he died; and we swore to our journals, and it came to the same
time within two minutes. Ten of our men swore to the buttons on his
coat, and that they were covered with the same sort of cloth his coat
was made of, and so it proved. The jury asked Mr. Spinks if he knew Mr.
Booty. He answered, "I never saw him till he ran by me on the burning

The Chief Justice from April 1687 to February 1689 was Sir Robert
Wright. His name is not given in the report, but the judge said: 'Lord,
have mercy on me, and grant that I may never see what you have seen.
One, two, or three may be mistaken, but thirty can never be mistaken.'
So the widow lost her suit.[221]

It appears, also, that coming events are mostly forecasted by various
symbolic omens which generally take the form of spectral exhibitions.
Thus, a phantom shroud seen in the morning on a living person is said
to betoken his death in the course of the day; but if seen late in
the evening, no particular time is indicated, further than that it
will take place within the year. If, too, the shroud does not cover
the whole body, the fulfilment of the vision may be expected at some
distant period.

But these kind of omens vary largely in different countries; and, on
the Continent, where much misplaced faith is attached to them, they are
frequently the source of much needless dread.


[219] 1822, Part ii. pp. 598, 599.

[220] Quoted in Mrs. Crowe's _Night Side of Nature_, 1854, p. 181.

[221] See _Notes and Queries_, 1st S. iii. 170.



Sometimes ghosts appear in consequence of an agreement made before
death with some particular friend, that he or she who first died should
appear to the survivor. Numerous tales are told illustrative of this
belief, one of the best authenticated being that recorded by Lord
Brougham,[222] who, speaking of his intimate friend at the University,
writes: 'There was no divinity class, but we frequently in our walks
discussed and speculated upon many grave subjects, among others, on
the immortality of the soul and on a future state. This question and
the possibility, I will not say of ghosts walking, but of the dead
appearing to the living, were subjects of much speculation; and we
actually committed the folly of drawing up an agreement written with
our blood, to the effect that whichever of us died first should appear
to the other, and thus solve any doubts we had entertained of the
"life after death."' Years afterwards--on December 19, 1799--when Lord
Brougham had almost forgotten the existence of his friend, as he was
taking a warm bath, he appeared to him; but, as he adds, 'No doubt I
had fallen asleep, and the appearance presented to my eyes was a dream.
I recollected quickly enough our old discussion, and the bargain we
had made. I could not discharge from my mind the impression that my
friend must have died, and that his appearance to me was to be received
by me as a proof of his future state.' In October 1862 Lord Brougham
made this postscript: 'I have just been copying out from my journal the
account of this strange dream--_certissima mortis imago_. And now to
finish the story begun about sixty years since. Soon after my return to
Edinburgh, there arrived a letter from India, announcing G----'s death,
and stating that he had died on the 19th of December.'

A curious story is told by John Darley, Carthusian monk, who relates
that, as he was attending upon the death bed of Father Raby, in 1534,
he said to the expiring man, 'Good Father Raby, if the dead can visit
the living, I beseech you to pay a visit to me by-and-by;' and Raby
answered, 'Yes;' immediately after which he drew his last breath. But
on the same afternoon, about five o'clock, as Darley was meditating
in his cell, the departed man suddenly appeared to him in a monk's
habit, and said to him, 'Why do you not follow our father?' And I
replied, 'Why?' He said, 'Because he is a martyr in heaven next to the
angels.' Then I said, 'Where are all our fathers who did like to him?'
He answered and said, 'They are all pretty well, but not so well as he
is.' And then I asked him how he was, and he said 'Pretty well.' And
I said, 'Father, shall I pray for you?' To which he replied, 'I am as
well as need be, but prayer is at all times good,' and with these words
he vanished.[223]

There is the well-known Beresford ghost tale, about which so many
accounts have been given. It appears that Lord Tyrone and Miss Blank
were orphans, educated in the same house 'in the principles of Deism.'
When they were about fourteen years old their preceptor died, and their
new guardian tried to persuade them to embrace revealed religion. The
boy and girl stuck to Deism. But they made a compact, that he or she
who died first should appear to the survivor, 'to declare what religion
was most approved by the Supreme Being.' Miss Blank married St. Martin
Beresford, and one day she appeared at breakfast with a pale face, and
a black band round her wrist. On her death-bed she explained how the
ghost of Lord Tyrone had appeared to her at the hour of his death, and
had correctly prophesied her future: 'He struck my wrist; his hand
was as cold as marble; in a moment the sinews shrank up, every nerve
withered.... I bound a piece of black ribbon round my wrist.' The black
ribbon was formerly in the possession of Lady Betty Cobb, who, during
her long life, was ever ready to attest the truth of this narration,
as are, to the present hour, the whole of the Tyrone and Beresford

As Mr. Andrew Lang points out in the 'Nineteenth Century,'[225] Lord
Tyrone merely did what many ghosts had done before in the matter of
touching Lady Beresford's wrist. Thus, as he says, according to Henry
More, 'one' (bogie) 'took a relation of Melanchthon's by the hand, and
so scorched her that she bore the mark of it to her dying day.' Before
Melanchthon the anecdote was improved by Eudes de Shirton, in a sermon,
who tells how a certain clerk, Serlon, made with a friend the covenant
which Miss Blank made with Lord Tyrone. The friend died, and appeared
to Serlon 'in a parchment cloak, covered with the finest writing in the
world.' Being asked how he fared, he said that this cloak, a punishment
for his love of logic, weighed heavier than lead, and scorched like the
shirt of Nessus. Then he held out his hand, and let fall a drop which
burned Serlon to the bone--

    And evermore that master wore
    A covering on his wrist.

Before Eudes de Shirton, William of Malmesbury knew this anecdote. His
characters are two clerks, an Epicurean and a Platonist, who made the
usual compact that the first to die should appear to the survivor, and
state whether Plato's ideas, or Epicurus in his atoms, were the correct
reply to the conundrum of the universe. The visit was to be paid within
thirty days of the death. One of the philosophical pair was killed, and
appeared to the other, but after the time arranged, explaining that he
had been unable to keep his appointment earlier, and, stretching out
his hand, let fall three burning drops of blood, which branded the brow
of the psychical inquirer.

Mrs. Grant, in her 'Superstitions of the Highlands,' tells how a widow,
returning home through a wood at dusk, was met by her husband's ghost,
'who led her carefully along a difficult bridge, but left a blue mark
on her wrist which the neighbours had opportunities of seeing during
the week; she survived the adventure.' A similar circumstance is
related by Richard Baxter,[226] in connection with a lady, soon after
the Restoration, when Parliament was passing Acts which pressed sore on
the dissenters. While praying for the deliverance of the faithful from
the evils which threatened them, 'it was suddenly given her, that there
should be a speedy deliverance, even in a very short time. She desired
to know which way, and it being set strongly on her as a revelation,
she prayed earnestly that if this were a true divine impulse and
revelation, God would certify her by some sign, and she ventured to
choose the sign herself, and laid her hand on the outside of the upper
part of her leg, begging of God, that if it were a true answer, He
would make on that place some visible mark. There was presently the
mark of black spots, like as if a hand had burnt it, which her sister
witnessed, there being no such sign before.'

In Scott's well-known ballad, the phantom knight impresses an indelible
mark on the lady who has been his paramour, and in the Tartan stories,
written by a Frenchman, a ghost appears to Prince Faruk in a dream, and
touches him on the arm. The Prince finds the mark of the burn when he
awakes.[227] There are numerous stories of this kind scattered here and
there in the traditionary lore of this and other countries, and such
indelible marks, left by ghosts of their visits, have been held as a
mysterious proof of their materialistic power.

A correspondent of 'Notes and Queries' (2nd S. v. 343) vouches for
the authenticity of the following 'incontrovertible facts,' which, he
says, 'occurred to a friend of my own, and to the companion of his
early youth, who, having obtained a cadetship, went to India.' The
story runs thus. 'The former was towards evening driving across a long
barren heath. Suddenly, by his side in the vehicle, was seen the figure
of his playmate. Happening to turn his head from him to the horse,
and on looking again, the apparition had vanished. Remembering the
conversation that they had held together at parting, he doubted not but
that his friend was at that moment dead, and that in his appearing to
him, he was come in the fulfilment of their mutual promise, in order to
remove all pre-existing doubts as to the possibility of a denizen of a
higher sphere appearing to its friend on earth. By the next Indian Mail
was received intelligence of his death, showing the exact coincidence
as to the time of the two events.'

In the biography of William Smellie is the history of a compact he made
with his friend William Greenlaw, whereby it was mutually agreed that
whoever died first should return and give the other an account of his
condition after death. Shortly after the anniversary of his death, the
ghost of Greenlaw is reported to have appeared to Smellie, and in a
solemn tone informed him 'that he had experienced great difficulties
in procuring permission to return to this earth, according to their
agreement; that he was now in a much better world than the one he had
left,' but added 'that the hopes and wishes of its inhabitants were
by no means satisfied, as, like those of the lower world, they still
looked forward in the hope of eventually reaching a still happier state
of existence.' Another case of a similar kind is that of the appearance
of the Rev. Theodore Alois Buckley, formerly one of the chaplains of
Christ Church, Oxford, to his friend Mr. Kenneth Mackenzie. The story,
as narrated in Newton Crosland's 'Theory of Apparitions,' is, that
about the year 1850 the two friends, when at Oxford, entered into
a compact of the kind already described, the signal of appearance
arranged between them being the laying of a ghostly hand on the
forehead of the surviving friend. On January 30, 1856, Mr. Buckley
died, and on February 2, it is said, kept the agreement, for as Mr.
Mackenzie 'was lying in bed, watching the candle expiring, he felt
placed over one eye and his forehead a cool, damp hand, and on looking
up saw Buckley in his ordinary apparel, with his portfolio under his
arm standing by his bedside.'

The Duchess of Mazarin is said to have appeared to Madame de Beauclair,
in accordance with a solemn compact made in life, that whoever died
first should return, if it were possible, and inform the other of the
existence of the future state. But it was some years after her death
that the Duchess kept her promise, and when she did, it was to make
this announcement: 'Beauclair, between the hours of twelve and one this
night you will be with me.' The non-appearance of her friend's spirit
for so long had caused Madame de Beauclair to doubt the non-existence
of a future life.[228]

But in some cases such compacts have not been kept. Dr. Chance tells us
in 'Notes and Queries' (6th S. ii. 501) that in 1846-1847, as a young
man, he made such a compact, but when his friend died in 1878 he did
not appear, neither has he ever done so. To quote Dr. Chance's words:
'It is true my friend died about noon, and that I knew of his death the
same evening, so that if he had appeared to me I should have learnt
nothing new, whilst in most, if not all, of the recorded cases the
apparition has been the first to convey the intelligence of the death.
But this did not exonerate my friend from his promise; and if he did
not keep it, I must take it that he could not come, for nothing but
inability would have kept me from fulfilling my share of the compact if
I had been called upon to do so.'

In Mather's 'Remarkable Providences' the failure of a spirit to keep
a promise of appearing after its separation from the body is referred
to, the author being of opinion that there is great hazard attending
such covenants. To quote his words: 'It may be after men have made
such agreements, devils may appear to them pretending to be their
deceased friends, and thereby their souls may be drawn in woful
snares. Who knoweth whether God will permit the persons, who have
thus confederated, to appear in the world again after their death?
And if not, then the survivor will be under great temptation unto
Atheism, as it fell out with the late Earl of Rochester, who (as is
reported in his life by Dr. Burnet) did in the year 1665 enter into a
formal engagement with another gentleman, not without ceremonies of
religion, that if either of them died, he should appear, and give the
other notice of the future state if there were any. After this the
other gentleman was killed, but did never appear after his death to
the Earl of Rochester, which was a great snare to him during the rest
of his life. Though, when God awakened the Earl's conscience upon his
death-bed, he could not but acknowledge that one who had so corrupted
the natural principles of truth as he had done, had no reason to expect
that such an extraordinary thing should be done for his conviction. Or
if such agreement should necessitate an apparition, how would the world
be confounded with spectres; how many would probably be scared out of
their wits; or what curious questions would vain men be proposing about
things which are (and it is meet they should be) hid from mortals?'


[222] _Life and Times of Lord Brougham_, written by himself, 1871.

[223] See Brand's _Popular Antiquities_, 1870, iii. p. 117.

[224] Dr. F. G. Lee: _Glimpses of the Supernatural_; the subject has
been discussed in _Notes and Queries_.

[225] _Comparative Study of Ghost Stories_, April 1885, pp. 630, 631.

[226] _Certainty of a World of Spirits_, p. 181.

[227] Yardley's _Supernatural in Fiction_, p. 94.

[228] T. M. Jarvis: _Accredited Ghost Stories_, 1823



Mines have long been supposed to be haunted, a fact which is no cause
of wonderment, considering the many unearthly sounds--such as 'the
dripping of water down the shafts, the tunnelling of distant passages,
the rumbling of trains from some freshly-exploded lode'--constantly
to be heard there. In early times it was thought that all mines of
gold, &c. were guarded by evil spirits, a belief to which Falstaff
alludes in 2 Henry IV. (Act iv. sc. 3), where he speaks of 'learning
a mere hoard of gold kept by a devil.' The Peruvian Indians affirm
that the treasures in emerald mines are guarded by evil spirits, and
Stevenson, speaking of the emerald mine in the neighbourhood of Los
Esmeraldos, writes: 'I never visited it, owing to the superstitious
dread of the natives, who assured me it was enchanted, and guarded by
a dragon, which poured forth thunder and lightning on those who dared
to ascend the river.' The spirits that haunt mines are considered to be
unfriendly, because, as an old writer quoted by Reginald Scot remarks,
'they do exceedingly envy every man's benefit in the discovery of
hidden treasure, ever haunting such places where money is concealed,
and diffusing malevolent and poisonous influences to blast the lives
and limbs of those that dare attempt the discovery thereof.' And
'modern authors,' adds Fuller, 'avouch that malignant spirits haunt the
places where precious metals are found, as if the devil did there sit
abrood to hatch them, cunningly pretending an unwillingness to part
with them; whereas, indeed, he gains more by one mine minted out into
money than by a thousand concealed in the earth.'

It is supposed by the people who live in the neighbourhood of Largo
Law, in Fife, that there is a very rich mine of gold under and near
the mountain, which has never yet been properly searched for. So
convinced are they that this is so, that, whenever they see the wool
of a sheep's side tinged with yellow, they think it has acquired that
colour from having lain above the gold of the mine. Many years ago a
ghost made its appearance upon the spot, supposed to be acquainted with
the secret of the mine, but, as it required to be spoken to before it
would condescend to speak, the question arose as to who should accost
it. At length a shepherd volunteered to ask the ghost the cause of its
haunting this locality, and to his surprise it proved very affable,
promising to appear on a particular night at eight o'clock, when, said
the spirit,

    If Auchindownie cock disna craw,
    And Balmain horn disna blaw,
    I'll tell ye where the gowd mine is in Largo Law.

True to its promise, the ghost came ready to divulge the secret, when
Tammie Norrie, the cowherd of Balmain, either through obstinacy or
forgetfulness, 'blew a blast both loud and dread,' at which the ghost
vanished, after exclaiming--

    Woe to the man that blew the horn
    For out of the spot he shall ne'er be borne.

The unfortunate horn-blower was struck dead on the spot, and as it was
found impossible to remove his body, which seemed, as it were, pinned
to the earth, a cairn of stones was raised over it, known still as
Norrie's Law, and which is regarded as uncanny by the peasantry.[229]

Again, frequent accidents in mines were thought to be a proof of the
potency 'of the metallic spirits, which so tormented the workmen in
German mines, and in those of other countries, by blindness, giddiness,
and sudden sickness, that they were obliged frequently to abandon mines
well known to be rich in metals.'[230]

Strange noises are oftentimes a puzzle to the miner, and suggest a
supernatural agency. In the mine at Wheal Vor, where there appears to
have been a general belief in 'tokens' and supernatural appearances, a
man one morning, on being relieved from his turn as watcher, reported
that during the night he had heard a sound like the emptying of a
cartload of rubbish in front of the account house where he was staying.
On going out nothing was to be seen. The man, considering the strange
sound as a warning, pined away and died within a few weeks.

The Cornish miner too has long been a firm believer in the existence of
a mysterious being known as the 'Knocker.' The late Charles Kingsley,
in his 'Yeast,' asks, 'Who are the knockers?' To which question
Tregarra answers: 'They are the ghosts, the miners hold, of the old
Jews that crucified Our Lord, and were sent for slaves by the Roman
Emperors to work the mines.... We used to break into the old shafts and
adits which they had made, and find fine old stag's horn pickaxes, that
crumbled to pieces when we brought them to grass. And they say that
if a man will listen on a still night about these shafts, he may hear
the ghosts of them at work, knocking and picking, as clear as if there
was a man at work in the next level.' In some districts the knockers
are designated 'the buccas,' and, generally speaking, they work upon
productive lodes only. An interesting illustration of these strange
beings is given in Carne's 'Tales of the West,' wherein we read how
'the rolling of the barrows, the sound of the pickaxes, and the fall of
the earth and stones, are distinctly heard through the night, often,
no doubt, the echo of their own labours; but sometimes continued long
after the labour has ceased, and occasionally voices seem to mingle
with them.'

In Wales, when a mysterious thumping, not produced by any human being,
is heard, and when, in examining the spot from whence the sound
proceeded, indications of ore oftentimes are detected, the sturdiest
incredulity is shaken.[231] In such cases, 'science points out that
the noise may be produced by the action of water upon the loose stones
in fissures and pot-holes of the mountain limestone, and does actually
suggest the presence of metals.' Furthermore, as the late Mr. Wirt
Sikes rightly suggests, 'in the days before a Priestley had caught and
bottled that demon which exists in the shape of carbonic acid gas, when
the miner was smitten dead by an invisible foe in the deep bowels of
the earth, it was natural that his awe-struck companions should ascribe
the mysterious blow to a supernatural enemy. When the workman was
assailed suddenly by what we now call fire-damp, which killed him and
his companions upon the dark rocks, scorching, burning, and killing,
those who survived were not likely to question the existence of the
mine-fiend.' Hence, too, originated the superstition of basilisks in
mines, which destroyed with their terrible gaze.[232]

In the 'Colliery Guardian' for May 13, 1863, many strange superstitions
are described, in which it is stated that the pitmen in the Midland
Counties have or had a belief unknown to the north, in aerial
whistlings warning them against the pit. Who or what the invisible
musicians were, nobody pretended to know, but they generally consisted
of seven, as the 'Seven Whistlers' is the name they bear to this
day.[233] An instance of this superstition is given in the 'Times'
of September 21, 1874. Owing to certain nocturnal sounds, a large
number of the men employed at some of the Bedworth collieries in
North Warwickshire refused to descend the coal-pits in which they
were employed. During Sunday it was stated that these sounds had been
distinctly heard in the neighbourhood of Bedworth, and the result was
that on the following morning, when labour should have been resumed,
the men pointedly refused to work.

The Northern mines were supposed to be haunted by two goblins. One
was a spiteful elf, who indicated his presence only by the mischief
he perpetrated. He rejoiced in the name of 'Cutty Soams,' and appears
'to have amused himself by severing the rope-traces or soams, by
which an assistant putter, honoured by the title of "the fool," is
yoked to the tub. The strands of hemp, which were left all sound in
the board at "kenner-time," were found next morning severed in twain.
"'Cutty Soams' has been at work," would the fool and his driver say,
dolefully knotting the cord.' The other goblin was no other than a
ghostly putter, and his name was 'Bluecap.' Sometimes the miners would
perceive a light blue flame flicker through the air, and settle on
a full coal-tub, which immediately moved towards the rolley way, as
though impelled by the sturdiest sinews in the working. Industrious
Bluecap was at his vocation, but he required to be paid for his
services; therefore, once a fortnight, his wages were left for him in a
solitary corner of the mine. If they were a farthing below his due, the
indignant Bluecap would not pocket a stiver; if they were a farthing
above his due, Bluecap left the surplus where he found it. A hewer was
asked if Bluecap's wages were nowadays to be left for him, whether they
would be appropriated. The man shrewdly answered he thought they would
be taken by Bluecap, or somebody else.

But as most mines are productive, more or less, of the same weird
echoes, we find similar stories current in different localities of
strange hammerings and knockings. A story is told in North Ayrshire
of a miner who, day by day, heard the sounds of a pick on the other
side of the coal into which he was digging, which so terrified him,
that at last he sought the help of a minister to protect him 'from
the machinations of the devil.' The good man having asked him how
many 'holings'--the depth of coal displaced by one blasting--there
were before the wall between him and the evil spirit could be broken
through, sent him back to work until there was only one 'holing'
between them. Then he was to take a piece of bread, and crumble it all
down in a train to the mouth of the pit, and again resuming his pick,
to strike through the dividing coal. The moment this was done, he was
to cry 'The hole's mine!' and make for the mouth of the pit as fast as
he could. These directions the miner carefully followed, but he had a
narrow escape, for he had no sooner reached his place of safety than
the walls of the pit came close together with a thundering crash.

Another story, recorded in 'Communications with the Unseen World,'
tells how, for many years, the overseer of a mine at Whitehaven was
a Cumberland man, but being found guilty of some unfair proceedings,
he was dismissed by the proprietors from his post, though employed in
an inferior one. The new overseer was a Northumberland man, to whom
the degraded overseer bore the strongest hatred, and was heard to say
that some day he would be his ruin. One day they were both destroyed
by fire-damp, and it was believed in the mine that, preferring revenge
to life, the ex-overseer had taken his successor, less acquainted than
himself with the localities of the mine, into a place where he knew the
fire-damp to exist, without a safety lamp, and had thus contrived his
destruction. But, ever after, in the place where the two men perished,
their voices might be heard high in dispute, the Northumbrian burr
being distinctly audible, and also the well-known pronunciation of the
treacherous murderer.

The mysterious apparition of a woman who committed suicide was supposed
to haunt Polbreen Mine, Cornwall, locally known as 'Dorcas.' She
appeared to take a malicious delight in tormenting the miner when
at work, calling him by his name, and enticing him from his duties.
This was carried on by her to such an extent that when 'a tributer'
had made a poor month, he was commonly asked if he had 'been chasing
Dorcas.' On one occasion only, Dorcas is said to have acted kindly. It
is stated[234] that two miners, who may be styled Martin and Jacky,
were at work in their end, and at the time busily engaged 'beating the
borer.' The name of Jack was distinctly uttered between the blows. He
stopped and listened--all was still. They proceeded with their task, a
blow on the iron rod--'Jacky!' Another blow--'Jacky!' They pause--all
is silent. 'Well, thee wert called, Jacky,' said Martin, 'go and see.'
Jacky, however, disregarded the sound, work was resumed, and 'Jacky!
Jacky! Jacky!' was called more vehemently and distinctly than before.
Jacky threw down his hammer, resolved to satisfy himself as to the
person who was calling him. But he had not proceeded many yards from
the spot on which he had been standing at work, when a mass of rock
fell from the roof of the level weighing many tons, which would have
crushed him to death. Martin had been stooping, holding the borer, and
a projecting corner of rock just above him turned off the falling mass.
He was securely enclosed, but he was extricated without injury. Jack
declared to his dying day that he owed his life to Dorcas.

A similar experience is recorded by Mr. John Lean in the 'West Briton,'
who relates how, when he was underground hundreds of fathoms distant
from any other human being at Wheal Jewell, a mine in the parish of
Gwennap, 'as he was walking slowly and silently through the level, his
thoughts, as it were, absorbed, examining the rich course of copper
ore in the roof or back, he was aroused as though by an audible voice,
"You are in the winze!" He at once threw himself flat on his back in
the bottom of the level, and on shifting from this posture to that of
a sitting one, he discovered that his heels were on the verge of the
end of a winze, left exposed and open, embracing all the width of the
gunnis, communicating with the next level, ten fathoms below. At the
moment he received this singular warning, his foot was lifted for the
next step over the mouth of this abyss, a step to eternity, had it not
thus been prevented.'

On the Continent, similar tales of phantoms haunting mines are current.
In the mines about Clausthal and Andreasberg a spectre was formerly
seen who went by the name of the 'Bergmönch.' He was clad as a monk,
but was of gigantic stature, and always carried in his hand a large
tallow candle, which never went out. When the miners entered in the
morning, he would stand at the aperture with his light, letting them
pass under it. It appears that the Bergmönch was formerly a burgomaster
or director, who took such delight in mining that, when at the point
of death, he prayed that instead of resting in heaven, he might wander
about till the last day, over hill and dale, in pits and shafts, and
superintend the mining. To those towards whom he is well disposed he
renders many a kind service, and appears to them in a human form and
of ordinary stature; while to others he appears in his true form. His
eyes sprout forth flames, and are like coach-wheels; his legs are
like spiders' webs.[235] Associated, too, with the German miners'
superstitious fancies is the belief in the 'Cobal,' or 'Kobold,'
a supernatural being who is generally malicious, and rarely heard
but when mischief is near. But still more to be feared were the
'Knauff-kriegen,' of whom Professor Ramazzini of Padua thus writes:

'I took the story of devils haunting mines to be fabulous, until I
was undeceived by a skilful Hanoverian operator in metals, who is now
employed by our duke in tracing the metallic veins in the mountainous
parts of Modena. For this man told me seriously, that in the Hanoverian
mines the diggers have frequent falls, which they say are occasioned by
their being knocked down by devils, which they call "Knauff-kriegen,"
and that after such falls they often die in the space of three or four
days; but if they outlive that time they recover.'

French mines are haunted, and many tales are told of a spectral hare
which at times is seen. One story tells how 'a miner was frightened
one day by seeing a white object run and conceal itself in an iron
pipe. He went forward, and stopped up the two ends of the tube, and
called one of his fellow men to examine the pipe with him. They did
so, but found nothing within, the hare spirit had vanished.'[236]
'Similarly at Wheal Vor,' says Mr. Hunt,[237] 'it has always been and
is now believed that a fatal accident in the mine is presaged by the
appearance of a hare, or white rabbit, in one of the engine houses. The
men solemnly declare that they have chased these appearances till they
were hemmed in apparently, without being able to catch them; and they
tell how the white rabbit on one occasion was run into a "windbore"
lying on the ground, and though stopped in, escaped.' With this belief
may be compared one which was common in Sussex a few years ago,
closely resembling the French superstition of the Fétiches, animals
of a dazzling whiteness which appear only in the night-time, and
vanish as soon as anyone attempts to touch them. A blacksmith's wife
at Ashington, the daughter of a small farmer, was found one morning
much depressed in mind, and on being questioned as to the cause of it
said, 'I shall hear bad news before the day is over; for late last
night as I was waiting for my husband what should I see on looking out
of the window, lying close under it, but a thing like a duck, yet a
great deal whiter than it ought to have been, whiter than any snow.' It
was suggested that it might have been a neighbour's cat, and that it
looked whiter than usual on account of the moonlight. 'Oh, dear no!'
she replied, 'it was no cat, nor anything alive; those white things
were sent as warnings,' but no sad news came as she expected.[238] She
nevertheless remained firmly convinced that a warning of some kind had
been supernaturally sent to her.


[229] Chambers's _Popular Rhymes of Scotland_, pp. 238, 239.

[230] Jones's _Credulities Past and Present_, p. 123.

[231] See Hunt's _Popular Romances of West of England_.

[232] Wirt Sikes: _British Goblins_, p. 26.

[233] See Chapter 'Phantom Animals.'

[234] Hunt's _Popular Romances of West of England_, p. 354.

[235] Thorpe's _Northern Mythology_, iii. p. 96.

[236] Jones's _Credulities Past and Present_, p. 138.

[237] _Popular Romances of West of England_, p. 350.

[238] _Folk-lore Record_, i. p. 54.



One of the grandest and wildest legends of Ireland is that relating
to the Banshee--a mysterious personage, generally supposed to be the
harbinger of some approaching misfortune. The name of the Banshee 'is
variously pronounced Banshi and Benshee, being translated by different
scholars, the "Female Fairy," the "Woman of Peace," the "Lady of
Death," the "Angel of Death," the "White Lady of Sorrow," the "Nymph of
the Air," and the "Spirit of the Air."' The many romantic incidents in
which this weird figure has, at different times, made its appearance
are treasured up among the household stories of our Irish peasantry.
It must not be forgotten that in a country abounding in natural
beauties such a superstition would harmonise with the surroundings of
the picturesque scenery, and so gain a firm hold on the mind of the

Unlike, also, many of the legendary beliefs of this kind, the popular
accounts illustrative of it are related on the evidence of all sections
of the community, many an enlightened and well-informed advocate being
enthusiastic in his vindication of its reality. It would seem, however,
that no family which is not of an ancient and noble stock is honoured
with this visit of the Banshee, and hence its non-appearance has been
regarded as an indication of disqualification in this respect on the
part of the person about to die. 'If I am rightly informed,' writes Sir
Walter Scott, 'the distinction of a Banshee is only allowed to families
of the pure Milesian stock, and is never ascribed to any descendant
of the proudest Norman or boldest Saxon who followed the banner of
Strongbow, much less to adventurers of later date who have obtained
settlements in the Green Isle.' Thus, an amusing story is contained in
an Irish elegy to the effect that on the death of one of the Knights of
Kerry, when the Banshee was heard to lament his decease at Dingle--a
seaport town, the property of those knights--all the merchants of
this place were thrown into a state of alarm lest the mournful and
ominous wailing should be a forewarning of the death of one of them,
but, as the poet humorously points out, there was no necessity for them
to be anxious on this point. Although, through misfortune, a family
may be brought down from high estate to the rank of peasant tenants,
the Banshee never leaves nor forgets it till the last member has been
gathered to his fathers in the churchyard. The MacCarthys, O'Flahertys,
Magraths, O'Neils, O'Rileys, O'Sullivans, O'Reardons, have their
Banshees, though many representatives of these names are in abject

'The Banshee,' says Mr. McAnally, 'is really a disembodied soul, that
of one who in life was strongly attached to the family, or who had
good reason to hate all its members. Thus, in different instances, the
Banshee's song may be inspired by different motives. When the Banshee
loves those whom she calls, the song is a low, soft chant, giving
notice, indeed, of the close proximity of the angel of death, but with
a tenderness of tone that reassures the one destined to die, and
comforts the survivors; rather a welcome than a warning, and having in
its tones a thrill of exultation, as though the messenger spirit were
bringing glad tidings to him summoned to join the waiting throng of
his ancestors.' To a doomed member of the family of the O'Reardons the
Banshee generally appears in the form of a beautiful woman, 'and sings
a song so sweetly solemn as to reconcile him to his approaching fate.'
But if, during his lifetime, the Banshee was an enemy of the family,
the cry is the scream of a fiend, howling with demoniac delight over
the coming death agony of another of his foes.

Hence, in Ireland, a source of dread to many a family against which
she has an enmity is the 'hateful Banshee.' 'It appears,' adds
McAnally,[240] 'that a noble family, whose name is still familiar in
Mayo, is attended by a Banshee of this description--the spirit of a
young girl, deceived, and afterwards murdered by a former head of the
family. With her dying breath she cursed her murderer, and promised
she would attend him and his for ever. After many years the chieftain
reformed his ways, and his youthful crime was almost forgotten even
by himself, when one night, as he and his family were seated by the
fire, the most terrible shrieks were suddenly heard outside the castle
walls. All ran out, but saw nothing. During the night the screams
continued as though the castle were besieged by demons, and the unhappy
man recognised in the cry of the Banshee the voice of the young girl
he had murdered. The next night he was assassinated by one of his
followers, when again the wild unearthly screams were heard exulting
over his fate. Since that night the "hateful Banshee" has, it is said,
never failed to notify to the family, with shrill cries of revengeful
gladness, when the time of one of their number has arrived.'

Among some of the recorded instances of the Banshee's appearance may
be mentioned one related by Miss Lefrau, the niece of Sheridan, in the
Memoirs of her grandmother, Mrs. Frances Sheridan. From this account we
gather that Miss Elizabeth Sheridan was a firm believer in the Banshee,
and firmly maintained that the one attached to the Sheridan family was
distinctly heard lamenting beneath the windows of the family residence
before the news arrived from France of Mrs. Frances Sheridan's death at
Blois. She added that a niece of Miss Sheridan's made her very angry by
observing that as Mrs. Frances Sheridan was by birth a Chamberlaine,
a family of English extraction, she had no right to the guardianship
of an Irish fairy, and that therefore the Banshee must have made a
mistake. Then there is the well-known case related by Lady Fanshawe,
who tells us how, when on a visit in Ireland, she was awakened at
midnight by a supernatural scream outside her window. On looking out
she saw a young and rather handsome woman, with dishevelled hair, who
eventually vanished with two shrieks similar to that which had at first
attracted her attention. On communicating the circumstance in the
morning, her host replied, 'A near relation of mine died last night in
the castle, and before such an event happens, the female spectre whom
you have seen is always visible.'

This weird apparition is generally supposed to assume the form of a
woman, sometimes young, but more often old. She is usually attired in
a loose white drapery, and her long ragged locks hang over her thin
shoulders. As night time approaches she occasionally becomes visible,
and pours forth her mournful wail--a sound said to resemble the
melancholy moaning of the wind:

    Who sits upon the heath forlorn,
    With robe so free and tresses worn?
    Anon she pours a harrowing strain,
    And then she sits all mute again!
    Now peals the wild funereal cry,
    And now--it sinks into a sigh.

Oftentimes she is not seen but only heard, yet she is supposed to
be always clearly discernible to the person upon whom she specially
waits. Respecting the history of the Banshee, popular tradition in many
instances accounts for its presence as the spirit of some mortal woman
whose destinies have become linked by some accident with those of the
family she follows. It is related how the Banshee of the family of the
O'Briens of Thomond is related to have been originally a woman who had
been seduced by one of the chiefs of that race--an act of indiscretion
which ultimately brought upon her misfortune and death.

'Sometimes the song of the Banshee is heard,' writes Mr.
McAnally,[241] 'at the beginning of a course of conduct, a line of
action, that has ended fatally.' A story is told in Kerry of a young
girl who engaged herself to a youth, but at the moment the promise of
marriage was given, the low sad wail was heard by both above their
heads. The young man deserted her, she died of a broken heart, and,
on the night before her death, the Banshee's ominous song was heard
outside her mother's cottage window. On another occasion, we are told
by the same authority, one of the Flahertys of Galway marched out of
his castle with his men on a foray, and, as his troops filed through
the gateway, the Banshee was heard high above the towers of the
fortress. The next night she sang again, and was heard no more for a
month, when he heard the wail under his window, and on the following
day his followers brought back his corpse. One of the O'Neils of Shane
Castle, Antrim, heard the Banshee as he started on a journey, but while
on the same journey he was accidentally killed. According to Lady
Wilde, 'at Lord O'Neil's residence, Shane's Castle, there is a room
appropriated to the use of the Banshee, and she often appears there,
sometimes shrouded and in a dark, mist-like cloak. At other times she
is seen as a beautiful young girl, with long red-gold hair, and wearing
a green kirtle and scarlet mantle, covered with gold, after the Irish
fashion.' She adds that there is no harm or fear of evil in her mere
presence, unless she is seen in the act of crying. But this is a fatal
sign, and the mournful wail is a sure and certain prophecy that the
angel of death is waiting for one of the family.[242]

Mr. Crofton Croker, in his 'Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South
of Ireland,' has given several entertaining stories of the Banshee;
but adds, that since these spirits have become amenable to vulgar laws
they have lost much of their romantic character. The introduction of
the Banshee in the following stanza of a 'keening'--an Irish term for
a wild song of lamentation poured forth over a dead body by certain
mourners employed for the purpose--indicates the popular feeling on
the subject. It was composed on a young man named Ryan, whose mother

    'Twas the Banshee's lonely wailing,
      Well I knew the voice of death,
    On the night wind slowly sailing
      O'er the bleak and gloomy heath.

If a member of an Irish family dies abroad, the Banshee notifies his
misfortune at home. When the Duke of Wellington died, the Banshee
was heard wailing round the house of his ancestors, and during the
Napoleonic campaigns she often announced at home the death of Irish
officers and soldiers--an occurrence which happened on the night
preceding the Battle of the Boyne. 'Indeed,' says Mr. McAnally, 'the
Banshee has given notice at the family seat in Ireland of deaths in
battle fought in every part of the world; from every point to which
Irish regiments have followed the roll of the British drums, news of
the prospective shedding of Irish blood has been brought home.'

'The Welsh have also their Banshee, which generally makes its
appearance,' writes Mr. Wirt Sikes,[243] 'in the most curdling form,'
and is regarded as an omen of death. It is supposed to come after dusk,
and to flap its leathern wings against the window where the sick
person happens to be. Nor is this all, for in a broken, howling tone,
it calls on the one who is to quit mortality by his or her name several
times. There is an old legend of the 'Ellyllon,' a prototype of the
Scotch and Irish Banshee, which usually appears as an old crone with
streaming hair and a coat of blue, making its presence manifest by its
ominous scream of death. The Welsh have a further form of the Banshee
in the 'Cyhyraeth,' which is never seen, although the noise it makes is
such as to inspire terror in those who chance to hear it. Thus, in some
of the Welsh villages it is heard passing through the empty streets
and lanes by night groaning dismally, and rattling the window-shutters
as it goes along. According to the local belief it is only heard
'before the death of such as are of strayed mind, or who have been
long ill; but it always comes when an epidemic is about to visit the
neighbourhood.' As an instance of how superstitions are remitted from
one country to another, it is told that in America there are tales of
the Banshee imported from Ireland along with the sons of that soil.


[239] McAnally: _Irish Wonders_, p. 112.

[240] _Irish Wonders_, 1888, p. 114.

[241] _Irish Wonders_, p. 112.

[242] _Ancient Cures, Charms, and Usages of Ireland_, p. 84.

[243] _British Goblins_, pp. 212-216.



The romance of the sea has always attracted interest, and, as
Buckle once remarked, 'the credulity of sailors is notorious, and
every literature contains evidence of the multiplicity of their
superstitions, and of the tenacity with which they cling to them.' This
is not surprising, for many of the weird old fancies with which the
legendary lore of the sea abounds originated in certain atmospherical
phenomena which were once a mystery to our seafaring community. In a
'New Catalogue of Vulgar Errors' (1761) the writer says: 'I look upon
sailors to care as little of what becomes of themselves as any people
under the sun; yet no people are so much terrified at the thoughts of
an apparition. Their sea-songs are full of them; they firmly believe
in their existence, and honest Jack Tar shall be more frightened
at the glimmering of the moon upon the tackling of a ship, than he
would be if a Frenchman were to place a blunderbus at his head.' The
occasional reflections of mountains, cities, and ships in mirage gave
rise to many strange stories of spectral lands. Early instances of this
popular fancy occur, and Mrs. Jameson, in her 'Sacred and Legendary
Art,' quotes an old Venetian legend of 1339, relating to the ring with
which the Adriatic was first wedded. During a storm a fisherman was
required to row three men, whom he afterwards learns were St. Mark,
St. George, and St. Nicholas, first to certain churches, and then over
to the entrance of the port. But there a huge Saracen galley was seen
with frightful demons on board, which spectral craft the three men
caused to sink, thus saving the city. On leaving the boat, the boatman
is presented with a ring. In the Venetian academy is a painting by
Giorgione of this phantom ship, with a demon crew, who, terrified at
the presence of the three holy men, jump overboard, or cling to the
rigging, while the masts flame with fire, and cast a lurid glare on the
water. Collin de Plancy, in his 'Sacred Legends of the Middle Ages,'
tells us how at Boulogne, in 663, while the people were at prayers,
a strange ship--without guide or pilot--was observed approaching the
shore, with the Virgin on board, who indicated to the people a site
for her chapel--delusions which may be classed in the same category as
the 'phantom ship.' Novelists and poets have made graphic use of such
well-known apparitions, variations of which occur in every maritime
country. But the author accounts for this philosophically, adding that
'a great deal may be said in favour of men troubled with the scurvy,
the concomitants of which disorder are, generally, faintings and the
hip, and horrors without any ground for them.'

There were few ships in days gone by that 'doubled the Cape' but owned
among the crew some who had seen the 'Flying Dutchman,' a phantom to
which Sir Walter Scott alludes as the harbinger of woe. This ship was
distinguished from earthly vessels by bearing a press of sail when all
others were unable to show an inch of canvas.

The story goes that 'Falkenburg was a noble-man who murdered his
brother and his bride in a fit of passion, and was condemned to wander
towards the north. On arriving at the sea-shore, he found awaiting
him a boat, with a man in it, who said, "Expectamus te." He entered
the boat, attended by his good and his evil spirit, and went on board
a spectral bark in the harbour. There he still lingers, while these
spirits play dice for his soul. For six hundred years the ship has
wandered the seas, and mariners still see her in the German Ocean,
sailing northwards, without helm or helmsman. She is painted grey,
has coloured sails, a pale flag, and no crew. Flames issue from the
masthead at night.'[244] There are numerous versions of this popular
legend, and O'Reilly, in his 'Songs of Southern Seas,' says--

    Heaven help the ship near which the demon sailor steers!
    The doom of those is sealed to whom the phantom ship appears,
    They'll never reach their destin'd port, they'll see their homes
        no more,
    They who see the Flying Dutchman never, never reach the shore.

Captain Marryat made this legend the basis of his 'Phantom Ship,' and
Longfellow, in his 'Tales of a Wayside Inn,' powerfully tells of--

    A ship of the dead that sails the sea,
    And is called the Carmilhan,
    A ghostly ship, with a ghostly crew.
    In tempests she appears,
    And before the gale, or against the gale,
    She sails, without a rag of sail,
    Without a helmsman steers.

    And ill-betide the luckless ship
    That meets the Carmilhan!
    Over her decks the seas will leap,
    She must go down into the deep,
    And perish, mouse and man.

There are, also, a host of stories of spectral ships, some of which
are still credited by sailors. The Germans have their phantom ships,
to meet which is regarded as an omen of disaster. In one instance, the
crew is said to consist of ghosts of condemned sinners, who serve one
hundred years in each grade, until each has a short tour as captain.
This mysterious vessel is described by Oscar L. B. Wolff in 'The
Phantom Ship':

    For the ship was black, her masts were black,
      And her sails coal-black as death;
    And the Evil-One steered at the helm, and laughed,
      And mocked at their failing breath.

Swedish sailors have a vessel of this kind. She is so large that
it takes three weeks to go from poop to prow, and hence orders are
transmitted on horseback. Danish folk-lore has its spectral ship, and a
Schleswick-Holstein tradition relates how a maiden was carried off by
her lover in a spectral ship, as one day she sat on the shore bewailing
his absence. In 'Mélusine' for September 1884,[245] it is stated that,
'in many localities in Lower Brittany, stories are current of a huge
ship manned by giant human forms and dogs. The men are reprobates
guilty of horrible crimes; the dogs, demons set to guard them and
inflict on them a thousand tortures. Such a vessel wanders ceaselessly
from sea to sea, without entering port or casting anchor, and will do
so to the end of the world. No vessel should allow it to fall aboard,
for its crew would suddenly disappear. The orders, in this strange
craft, are given through huge conch-shells, and, the noise being heard
several miles off, it is easy to avoid her. Besides, there is nothing
to fear, if the "Ave Maria" is repeated, and the Saints appealed to,
especially St. Anne d'Auray.'

Stories of phantom ships are found, more or less, all over the
world, and are associated with many a romantic and tragic tale. Bret
Harte[246] relates how some children go on board a hulk to play, but it
breaks away from its moorings, drifts out to sea, and is lost. Yet at
times there are heard:

    The voices of children, still at play,
    In a phantom hulk that drifts away
    Through channels whose waters never fail.

And Whittier[247] tells how the young captain of a schooner visits the
Labrador coast where, in a certain secluded bay, two beautiful sisters
live with their mother. Both fall in love with him, and, just as the
younger is about to meet her lover and fly with him, she is imprisoned
in her room by her mother, whereupon her elder sister goes in her
stead, and is carried to sea in the vessel. The disappointed lover, on
learning the deception, returns only to find his loved one dead. But
the schooner, adds Whittier, never returned home and:

    Even yet, at Seven Isle Bay,
    Is told the ghastly tale
    Of a weird unspoken sail.
    She flits before no earthly blast,
    With the red sign fluttering from her mast,
    The ghost of the Schooner Breeze.

In Dana's 'Buccaneer,' the pirate carries a lady to sea, who jumps
overboard, and on the anniversary of her death:

    A ship! and all on fire! hull, yards, and mast,
    Her sails are sheets of flame; she's nearing fast!

Occasionally a spectre ship is seen at Cap d'Espoir, in the Gulf of St.
Lawrence, which is commonly reported to be the ghost of the flagship of
a fleet sent to reduce the French forts by Queen Anne, and which was
wrecked here, and all hands. On this phantom ship, which is crowded
with soldiers, lights are seen, and on the bowsprit stands an officer,
pointing to the shore with one hand, while a woman is on the other
side. The lights suddenly go out, a scream is heard, and the ill-fated
vessel sinks. Under one form or another, the phantom ship has long been
a world-wide piece of folk-lore, and even in an Ojibway tale, when a
maiden is on the eve of being sacrificed to the spirit of the falls, a
spectral canoe, with a fairy in it, takes her place as a sacrifice.

Dennys, in his 'Folk-lore of China,' gives a novel variety of the
phantom ship. The story goes that a horned serpent was found in a
tiger's cage near Foochow by a party of tiger-hunters. They tried to
ship it to Canton, but during the voyage the serpent escaped, through
a flash of lightning striking the cage and splitting it. Thereupon
the captain offered a thousand dollars to anyone who would destroy
the monster, but its noxious breath killed two sailors who attempted
the task. Eventually the junk was abandoned, and is still believed to
cruise about the coast, and cautious natives will not board a derelict

One of the chief features of many of these phantom-ship stories is the
idea of retribution for evil deeds, as in the following, told by Irving
in the 'Chronicles of Wolfert's Roost.' A certain Ramnout van Dam had
'danced and drank until midnight--Saturday--when he entered his boat to
return home. He was warned that he was on the verge of Sunday morning,
but he pulled off, swearing that he would not land until he reached
Spiting Devil, if it took him a month of Sundays. He was never seen
afterwards, but may be heard plying his oars, being the Flying Dutchman
of the Tappan Sea, doomed to ply between Kakiot and Spiting Devil until
the day of judgment.' Moore in his account of the phantom ship seen in
the description of Deadman's Island, where wrecks were once common,

    To Deadman's Isle, on the eve of the blast,
    To Deadman's Isle, she speeds her fast,
    By skeleton shapes, her sails are furled,
    And the hand that steers is not of this world.

Turning to our own country, similar phantom vessels have long been
supposed to haunt the coast, and Mr. Hunt[248] describes one that
visited the Cornish shores on the occasion of a storm, and to rescue
which delusive bark help was despatched: 'Away they pulled, and
the boat which had been first launched still kept ahead by dint of
mechanical power and skill. At length the helmsman cried, "Stand by to
board her." The vessel came so close to the boat that they could see
the men, and the bow oarsman made a grasp at the bulwarks. His hand
found nothing solid and he fell. Ship and light then disappeared. The
next day the "Neptune" of London was wrecked, and all perished. The
captain's body was picked up after a few days, and that of his son
also.' Among other Cornish stories may also be mentioned those known
as the 'Pirate-wrecker and the Death Ship;' and the 'Spectre Ship of
Porthcurno.' Occasionally off the Lizard a phantom lugger is seen, and
Bottrell[249] tells how, at times, not only spectral ships, but the
noise of falling spars, &c., are heard during an incoming fog.

Scotch sailors have their stories of phantom ships. Thus a spectral
vessel--the ghostly bark of a bridal party maliciously wrecked--is said
to appear in the Solway, always hovering near a ship that is doomed
to be wrecked; and Cunningham[250] has given a graphic account of two
phantom pirate ships. The story goes that, for a time, two Danish
pirates were permitted to perform wicked deeds on the deep, but were
at last condemned to perish by wreck for the evil they had caused. On
a certain night they were seen approaching the shore--the one crowded
with people, and the other carrying on its deck a spectral shape. Then
four young men put off in a boat that had been sent from one ship, to
join her, but, on reaching the ship, both vessels sank where they were.
On the anniversary of their wreck, and before a gale, these two vessels
are supposed to approach the shore, and to be distinctly visible. A
Highland legend records how a large ship--the 'Rotterdam'--which went
down with all on board, is seen at times with her ghostly crew, a sure
indication of disaster. But perhaps this superstition has been most
firmly riveted in the popular mind by Coleridge's 'Ancient Mariner,'
wherein an ominous sign is seen afar off prefiguring the death of
himself and his comrades. It is a spectre ship in which Death and
Life-in-Death play at dice for the possession of the crew--the latter
winning the mariner.

    Her lips were red, her looks were free,
    Her locks were yellow as gold;
    Her skin was white as leprosy,
    The night-mare Life-in-Death was she,
    Who thicks man's blood with cold.

Stories of ghosts having appeared at sea have been told from early
days, and have everywhere been a fruitful source of terror to sailors.
But this is not surprising for, as Scot says,[251] 'innumerable are
the reports of accidents unto such as frequent the seas, as fishermen
and sailors, who discourse of noises, flashes, shadows, echoes, and
other things, nightly seen or heard upon the waters.' Brand,[252] for
instance, narrates an amusing tale of a sea ghost. The ship's cook,
who had one of his legs shorter than the other, died on a homeward
passage and was buried at sea. A few nights afterwards his ghost was
seen walking before the ship, and the crew were in a panic. It was
found however that the cause of this alarm was part of a maintop, the
remains of some wreck floating before them that simulated the dead
man's walk. On another occasion a ship's crew fancied they had not
only seen but 'smelled' a ghost--a piece of folly which so enraged
the captain that he ordered the boatswain's mate to give some of the
sailors a dozen lashes, which entirely cleared the ship of the ghost
during the remainder of the voyage. It was afterwards ascertained that
the smell proceeded from a dead rat behind some beer-barrels. In the
same way, many a ghost story might be explained which, proceeding from
natural causes, has been the source of superstitious dread among the
seafaring community. Cheever, in his 'Sea and Sailor,' referring to
the credulity of sailors, says: 'The sailor is a profound believer in
ghosts. One of these nocturnal visitants was supposed to visit our
ship. It was with the utmost difficulty that the crew could be made to
turn in at night. You might have seen the most athletic, stout-hearted
sailor on board, when called to take his night-watch aloft, glancing
at the yards and tackling of the ship for the phantom. It was a long
time, in the opinion of the crew, before the phantom left the ship.' It
may be remembered that Sir Walter Scott[253] relates how the captain of
an English ship was assured by the crew that the ghost of a murdered
sailor, every night, visited the ship. So convinced were the sailors
of the appearance of this phantom that they refused to sail, but the
mystery was cleared up by the discovery of a somnambulist.

Occasionally, the ghost of a former captain is supposed to visit a
vessel and to warn the crew of an approaching storm. Symondson in
his 'Two Years abaft the Mast' records the appearance of such an
apparition, at one time 'to prescribe a change of course, at another,
in wet and calm weather, quietly seated in his usual place on the poop
deck.'[254] Sometimes similar warnings have come from other sources.
Thus a curious occurrence is told by Mary Howitt, which happened in
1664 to Captain Rogers, R.N., who was in command of the 'Society,' a
vessel bound from England to Virginia. The story goes that 'he was
heading in for the capes, and was, as he reckoned, after heaving the
lead, three hundred miles from them. A vision appeared to him in the
night, telling him to turn out, and look about. He did so, found all
alert, and retired again. The vision appeared again, and told him to
heave the lead. He arose, caused the lead to be cast, and found but
seven fathoms. Greatly frightened, he tacked ship, and the daylight
showed him to be under the capes, instead of two hundred miles at
sea.'[255] With this story may be compared a mysterious story told in
the 'Chicago Times' of March, 1885.

It appears that, as two men had fallen from the topmast head of a
lake-vessel, the rumour spread that the ship was an unlucky one.
Accordingly, writes one of the crew, 'on its arrival at Buffalo, the
men went on shore as soon as they were paid off. They said the ship had
lost her luck. While we were discharging at the elevator, the story got
round, and some of the grain-trimmers refused to work on her. Even the
mate was affected by it. At last we got ready to sail for Cleveland,
where we were to load coal. The captain managed to get a crew by going
to a crimp, who ran them in, fresh from salt water. They came on board
two-thirds drunk, and the mate was steering them into the forecastle,
when one of them stopped and said, pointing aloft, "What have you got
a figurehead on the mast for?" The mate looked up and then turned
pale. "It's Bill," he said, and with that the whole lot jumped on to
the dock. I didn't see anything, but the mate told the captain to look
for another officer. The captain was so much affected that he put me
on another schooner, and then shipped a new crew, and sailed for
Cleveland. He never got there. He was sunk by a steamer off Dunkirk.'

Another curious phantom warning to sailors seen in years gone by
was the 'Hooper,' or the 'Hooter,' of Sennen Cove, Cornwall. This
was supposed to be a spirit which took the form of a band of misty
vapour, stretching across the bay, so opaque that nothing could be
seen through it. According to Mr. Hunt,[256] 'it was regarded as a
kindly interposition of some ministering spirit, to warn the fisherman
against venturing to sea. This appearance was always followed, and
often suddenly, by a severe storm. It is seldom or never now seen. One
profane old fisherman would not be warned by the bank of fog, and,
as the weather was fine on the shore, he persuaded some young men to
join him. They manned a boat, and the aged leader, having with him a
threshing-flail, declared that he would drive the spirit away, and he
vigorously beat the fog with the "threshel," as the flail is called.
The boat passed through the fog, and went to sea, but a severe storm
arose, and no one ever saw the boat or the men again, since which
time the "Hooper" has been rarely seen.' Similarly a mist over the
river Cymal, in Wales, is thought to be the spirit of a traitoress, who
lost her life in the lake close by. Tradition says she had conspired
with pirates to rob her lord of his domain, and was defeated by an

But sailors' yarns are so proverbially remarkable that the reader must
estimate their value for himself, not forgetting how large a factor in
their production is the imagination, worked upon by nervous credulity
and superstitious fear, a striking instance of which is recorded by
a correspondent of the 'Gentleman's Magazine:' 'My friend, Captain
Mott, R.N., used frequently to repeat an anecdote of a seaman under
his command. This individual, who was a good sailor and a brave man,
suffered much trouble and anxiety from his superstitious fears. When
on the night watch, he would see sights and hear noises in the rigging
and the deep, which kept him in a perpetual fever of alarm. One day
the poor fellow reported upon deck that the devil, whom he knew by
his horns and cloven foot, stood by the side of his hammock the
preceding night, and told him that he had only three days to live.
His messmates endeavoured to remove his despondency by ridicule, but
without effect; and the next morning he told the tale to Captain Mott,
with this addition, that the fiend had paid him a second nocturnal
visit, announcing a repetition of the melancholy tidings. The captain
in vain expostulated with him on the folly of indulging such groundless
apprehensions; and the morning of the fatal day being exceedingly
stormy, the man, with many others, was ordered to the topmast to
perform some duty among the rigging. Before he ascended he bade his
messmates farewell, telling them that he had received a third warning
from the devil, and that he was confident he should be dead before
night. He went aloft with the foreboding of evil on his mind, and in
less than five minutes he lost his hold, fell upon the deck, and was
killed on the spot.'


[244] See Bassett's _Legends and Superstitions of the Sea_, pp. 346,

[245] Quoted in Bassett's _Legends of the Sea_, p. 351.

[246] Poems: _A Greypoint Legend, 1797_.

[247] _The Wreck of the Schooner Breeze._

[248] _Romances of West of England_, pp. 362-364.

[249] _Traditions and Fireside Stories of West Cornwall._

[250] _Traditional Tales of the English and Scottish Peasantry_, p. 338.

[251] _Discoverie of Witchcraft._

[252] _Pop. Antiq._ iii. p. 85.

[253] _Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft._

[254] Quoted by Bassett in his _Legends and Superstitions of the Sea_,
p. 288.

[255] _Ibid._ p. 286.

[256] _Romances of West of England_, p. 367.

[257] Wirt Sikes: _British Goblins_.



According to a popular ghost doctrine, the spirits of the departed
'generally come in their habits as they lived,' and as George
Cruikshank once remarked,[258] 'there is no difference in this respect
between the beggar and the king.' For they come--

    Some in rags, and some in jags, and some in silken gowns.

And he adds that all narrators agree that 'the spirits appear in
similar or the same dresses which they were accustomed to wear during
their lifetime, so exactly alike that the ghost-seer could not possibly
be mistaken as to the identity of the individual.' Horatio, describing
the ghost to Hamlet, says--

              A figure like your father,
    Armed at all points, exactly cap-à-pé.

And it is further stated that the ghost was armed 'from top to toe,'
'from head to foot,' that 'he wore his beaver up;' and when Hamlet sees
his father's spirit he exclaims--

                            What may this mean,
    That thou, dead corse, again, in complete steel,
    Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon?

It is the familiar dress worn in lifetime that is, in most cases,
one of the distinguishing features of the ghost, and when Sir George
Villiers wanted to give a warning to his son, the Duke of Buckingham,
his spirit appeared to one of the duke's servants 'in the very clothes
he used to wear.' Mrs. Crowe,[259] some years ago, gave an account of
an apparition which appeared at a house in Sarratt, Hertfordshire. It
was that of a well-dressed gentleman, in a blue coat and bright gilt
buttons, but without a head. It seems that this was reported to be the
ghost of a poor man of that neighbourhood who had been murdered, and
whose head had been cut off. He could, therefore, only be recognised
by his 'blue coat and bright gilt buttons.' Indeed, many ghosts have
been nicknamed from the kinds of dress in which they have been in the
habit of appearing. Thus the ghost at Allanbank was known as 'Pearlin
Jean,' from a species of lace made of thread which she wore; and the
'White Lady' at Ashley Hall--like other ghosts who have borne the
same name--from the white drapery in which she presented herself.
Some lady ghosts have been styled 'Silky,' from the rustling of their
silken costume, in the wearing of which they have maintained the
phantom grandeur of their earthly life. There was the 'Silky' at Black
Heddon who used to appear in silken attire, oftentimes 'rattling in
her silks'; and the spirit of Denton Hall--also termed 'Silky'--walks
about in a white silk dress of antique fashion. This last 'Silky' 'was
thought to be the ghost of a lady who was mistress to the profligate
Duke of Argyll in the reign of William III., and died suddenly, not
without suspicion of murder, at Chirton, near Shields--one of his
residences. The "Banshee of Loch Nigdal," too, was arrayed in a silk
dress, green in colour. These traditions date from a period when silk
was not in common use, and therefore attracted notice in country
places.'[260] Some years ago a ghost appeared at Hampton Court,[261]
habited in a black satin dress with white kid gloves. The 'White
Lady of Skipsea' makes her midnight serenades clothed in long white
drapery. Lady Bothwell, who haunted the mansion of Woodhouselee, always
appeared in white; and the apparition of the mansion of Houndwood, in
Berwickshire--bearing the name of 'Chappie'--is clad in silk attire.

One of the ghosts seen at the celebrated Willington Mill was that of a
female in greyish garments. Sometimes she was said to be wrapped in a
sort of mantle, with her head depressed and her hands crossed on her
lap. Walton Abbey had its headless lady who used to haunt a certain
wainscotted chamber, dressed in blood-stained garments, with her infant
in her arms; and, in short, most of the ghosts that have tenanted our
country-houses have been noted for their distinctive dress.

Daniel de Foe, in his 'Essay on the History and Reality of
Apparitions,' has given many minute details as to the dress of a ghost.
He tells a laughable and highly amusing story of some robbers who broke
into a mansion in the country, and, whilst ransacking one of the rooms,
they saw, in a chair, 'a grave, ancient man, with a long full-bottomed
wig, and a rich brocaded gown,' &c. One of the robbers threatened to
tear off his 'rich brocaded gown'; another hit at him with a firelock,
and was alarmed at seeing it pass through the air; and then the old
man 'changed into the most horrible monster that ever was seen, with
eyes like two fiery daggers red hot.' The same apparition encountered
them in different rooms, and at last the servants, who were at the
top of the house, throwing some 'hand grenades' down the chimneys of
these rooms, the thieves were dispersed. Without adding further stories
of this kind, which may be taken for what they are worth, it is a
generally received belief in ghost lore that spirits are accustomed
to appear in the dresses which they wore in their lifetime--a notion
credited from the days of Pliny the Younger to the present day.

But the fact of ghosts appearing in earthly raiment has excited the
ridicule of many philosophers, who, even admitting the possibility of
a spiritual manifestation, deny that there can be the ghost of a suit
of clothes. George Cruikshank, too, who was no believer in ghosts, sums
up the matter thus: 'As it is clearly impossible for spirits to wear
dresses made of the materials of the earth, we should like to know if
there are spiritual outfitting shops for the clothing of ghosts who pay
visits on earth.' Whatever the objections may be to the appearance of
ghosts in human attire, they have not hitherto overthrown the belief in
their being seen thus clothed, and Byron, describing the 'Black Friar'
who haunted the cloisters and other parts of Newstead Abbey, tells us
that he was always

    In cowl, and beads, and dusky garb.

Indeed, as Dr. Tylor remarks,[262] 'it is an habitual feature of the
ghost stories of the civilised, as of the savage, world, that the ghost
comes dressed, and even dressed in well-known clothing worn in life.'
And he adds that the doctrine of object-souls is held by the Algonquin
tribes, the islanders of the Fijian group, and the Karens of Burmah--it
being supposed that not only men and beasts have souls, but inorganic
things. Thus, Mariner describing the Fijian belief, writes: 'If a stone
or any other substance is broken, immortality is equally its reward;
nay, artificial bodies have equal good luck with men, and hogs, and
yams. If an axe or a chisel is worn out or broken up, away flies its
soul for the service of the gods. The Fijians can further show you
a sort of natural well, or deep hole in the ground, at one of their
islands, across the bottom of which runs a stream of water, in which
you may clearly see the souls of men and women, beasts and plants,
stocks and stones, canoes and horses, and of all the broken utensils
of this frail world, swimming, or rather tumbling along, one over the
other, pell-mell, into the regions of immortality.'[263] As it has been
observed, animistic conceptions of this kind are no more irrational
than the popular idea prevalent in civilised communities as to spirits
appearing in all kinds of garments.


[258] _A Discovery Concerning Ghosts_, p. 3.

[259] _Night Side of Nature._

[260] Henderson's _Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, p. 270.

[261] See _All the Year Round_, June 22, 1867.

[262] _Primitive Culture_, i. p. 480.

[263] See Letourneau's _Sociology_, p. 250; Sir John Lubbock's _Origin
of Civilisation, and Primitive Condition of Man_, 1870, p. 246.



    A jolly place, said he, in days of old,
    But something ails it now: the spot is curst.

A variety of strange causes, such as secret murder, acts of treachery,
unatoned crime, buried treasures, and such-like incidents belonging
to the seamy side of family history, have originated, at one time or
another, the ghostly stories connected with so many a house throughout
the country. Robert Browning has graphically described the mysteries of
a haunted house:

    At night, when doors are shut,
      And the wood-worm picks,
      And the death-watch ticks,
    And the bar has a flag of smut,
    And a cat's in the water-butt--

    And the socket floats and flares,
      And the house-beams groan,
      And a foot unknown
    Is surmised on the garret stairs,
      And the locks slip unawares.

Although in some cases centuries have elapsed since a certain house
became haunted, and several generations have come and passed away,
still, with ceaseless persistency, the restless spirit hovers about
in all kinds of uncanny ways, reminding us of Hood's romance of 'The
Haunted House.'

    For over all there hung a cloud of fear,
    A sense of mystery the spirit daunted,
    And said, as plain as whisper in the ear,
    The place is haunted!

Corby Castle, Cumberland, was famous for its 'Radiant Boy;' Peel Castle
had its 'Mauthe Doog;' and Dobb Park Lodge was noted for 'the Talking
Dog.' Cortachy Castle, the seat of the Earl of Airlie, is noted for its
'Drummer;' and a noted Westmoreland ghost was that of the 'bad Lord
Lonsdale,' locally known as Jemmy Lowther, which created much alarm
at Lowther Hall; but of recent years this miscreant spirit has been
silent, having, it is said, been laid for ever under a large rock
called Wallow Crag. Strange experiences were associated with Hinton
Ampner Manor House, Hampshire,[264] and when, in 1797, it was pulled
down, 'under the floor of the lobby was found a box containing bones,
and what was said to be the skull of a monkey. No regular inquiry was
made into the matter, and no professional opinion was ever sought as
to the real character of the relic.' Wyecoller Hall, near Colne, is
visited once a year by a spectre horseman; and some years ago Hackwood
House, an old mansion near Basingstoke, purchased from Lord Bolton by
Lord Westbury, was said to have its haunted room, the phantom assuming
the appearance of a woman clothed in grey. Ramhurst Manor House, Kent,
was disturbed by weird and mysterious noises, and at Barton Hall,
Bath, in 1868, a phantom is said to have appeared, displaying a human
countenance, but devoid of eyes.

Allanbank, a seat of the Stuarts--a family of Scotch baronets, has
long been haunted by 'Pearlin Jean,' one of the most remarkable
ghosts in Scotland. On one occasion, seven ministers were called in
to lay this restless spirit, but to no purpose. Creslow Manor House,
Buckinghamshire, has its ghost, and Glamis Castle has its famous
'Haunted Room,' which, it is said, was walled up. At Hilton Castle
there was the time-honoured 'Cold Lad,' which Surtees would lead us
to suppose was one of the household spirits known as 'Brownies.' But,
according to one local legend, in years gone by a servant-boy was
ill-treated and kept shut up in a cupboard, and is supposed to have
received the name of 'Cold Lad' from his condition when discovered.
Sundry apparitions seem to have been connected with Newstead Abbey,
one being that of 'Sir John Byron the Little, with the Great Beard,'
who was wont to promenade the state apartments at night. But the most
dreaded spectre was the 'Goblin Friar,' previously alluded to, who--

    Now in the moonlight, and now lapsed in shade,
    With steps that trod as heavy, yet unheard.

This strange, weird spectre has been thought to forebode evil to the
member of the family to whom it appears, and its uncanny movements have
been thus pictured by the poet:

    By the marriage-bed of their lords, 'tis said,
      He flits on the bridal eve;
    And 'tis held as faith, to their bed of death
      He comes--but not to grieve.

    When an heir is born, he is heard to mourn,
      And when aught is to befall
    That ancient line, in the pale moonshine
      He walks from hall to hall.

    His form you may trace, but not his face,
      'Tis shadowed by his cowl;
    But his eyes may be seen from the folds between,
      And they seem of a parted soul.

Holland House has had the reputation of being haunted by the spirit of
the first Lord Holland; and, in 1860, there was published in 'Notes
and Queries,' by the late Edmund Lenthal Swifte, Keeper of the Crown
Jewels, the account of a spectral illusion witnessed by himself in the
Tower. He says that in October, 1817, he was at supper with his wife,
her sister, and his little boy, in the sitting-room of the jewel-house.
To quote his own words: 'I had offered a glass of wine and water to
my wife, when, on putting it to her lips, she exclaimed, "Good God!
what is that?" I looked up, and saw a cylindrical figure like a glass
tube, seemingly about the thickness of my arm, and hovering between
the ceiling and the table; its contents appeared to be a dense fluid,
white and pale azure. This lasted about two minutes, when it began to
move before my sister-in-law; then, following the oblong side of the
table, before my son and myself, passing behind my wife, it paused for
a moment over her right shoulder. Instantly crouching down, and with
both hands covering her shoulder, she shrieked out, "O Christ! it has
seized me!" It was ascertained,' adds Mr. Swifte, 'that no optical
action from the outside could have produced any manifestation within,
and hence the mystery has remained unsolved.' Speaking of the Tower,
we learn from the same source how 'one of the night sentries at the
jewel-office was alarmed by a figure like a huge bear issuing from
underneath the jewel-room door. He thrust at it with his bayonet which
stuck in the door. He dropped in a fit and was carried senseless to
the guardroom.... In another day or two the brave and steady soldier
died at the presence of a shadow.' Windsor Castle, as report goes,
was haunted by the ghost of Sir George Villiers, who appeared to an
officer in the king's wardrobe and warned him of the approaching fate
of the Duke of Buckingham.[265]

According to Johnson, the 'Old Hummums' was the scene of the 'best
accredited ghost story' that he had ever heard, the spirit of a Mr.
Ford, said to have been the riotous parson of Hogarth's 'Midnight
Conversation,' having appeared to a waiter; and Boswell, alluding to a
conversation which took place at Mr. Thrale's house, Streatham, between
himself and Dr. Johnson, thus writes: 'A waiter at the Hummums, in
which house Ford died, had been absent for some time, and returned,
not knowing that Ford was dead. Going down to the cellar, according
to the story, he met him; going down again, he met him a second time.
When he came up he asked some of the people of the house what Ford
could be doing there. They told him Ford was dead. The waiter took a
fever, and when he recovered he said he had a message from Ford to
deliver to some women, but he was not to tell what, or to whom. He
walked out, he was followed, but somewhere about St. Paul's they lost
him. He came back, and said he had delivered the message, and the
women exclaimed, "Then we are all undone."' There is the so-called
'Mystery of Berkeley Square,' No. 50 having been reputed to be haunted.
But a long correspondence on the subject in the pages of 'Notes and
Queries' proved this to be a fallacy, the rumour, it would seem, having
arisen from 'its neglected condition when empty, and the habits of
the melancholy and solitary hypochondriac when occupied by him.' Lord
Lyttelton, however, wrote in 'Notes and Queries' of November 16, 1872,
thus: 'It is quite true that there is a house in Berkeley Square (No.
50) said to be haunted, and long unoccupied on that account. There
are strange stories about it, into which this deponent cannot enter.'
What these strange stories were may be gathered from 'Mayfair' of May
10, 1879--an interesting illustration of how rapidly legendary stories
spring up on little or no basis. 'The house in Berkeley Square contains
at least one room of which the atmosphere is supernaturally fatal to
body and mind. A girl saw, heard, and felt such horror in it that she
went mad, and never recovered sanity enough to tell how or why. A
gentleman, a disbeliever in ghosts, dared to sleep in it, and was found
a corpse in the middle of the floor, after practically ringing for
help in vain. Rumour suggests other cases of the same kind, all ending
in death, madness, or both, as the result of sleeping, or trying to
sleep, in that room. The very party walls of the house, when touched,
are found saturated with electric horror. It is uninhabited, save by
an elderly man and woman who act as caretakers; but even these have no
access to the room. That is kept locked, the key being in the hands of
a mysterious and seemingly nameless person, who comes to the house once
every six months, locks up the elderly couple in the basement, and then
unlocks the room and occupies himself in it for hours.'

Berry Pomeroy Castle, Devonshire, was long said to be haunted by
the daughter of a former baron, who bore a child to her own father,
afterwards strangling the fruit of their incestuous intercourse; and
all kinds of weird noises are heard at Ewshott House, Hampshire. Bagley
House, near Bridport, is haunted by the ghost of a Squire Lighte,
who committed suicide; and at Astwood Court, once the seat of the
Culpepers, was an old oak table, removed from the side of the wainscot
in 1816, respecting which tradition declares that it bore the impress
of the fingers of a lady ghost who, it has been suggested, probably
tired of appearing to no purpose, at last struck the table in a rage
and vanished for ever. Holt Castle was supposed, in bygone years, to be
haunted by a mysterious lady in black who, in the still hours of the
night, occasionally walked in a certain passage near the attics. It was
likewise said that the cellar had been occupied by an ill-favoured bird
like a raven, which would sometimes pounce upon any person who ventured
to approach a cask for drink, and, having extinguished the candle with
a horrid flapping of wings, would leave its victims prostrate with
fright. A solution, however, has been given to this legend that 'would
imply a little cunning selfishness on the part of the domestics who had
the care of the ale and cider _depôt_.'[266]

At Althorp, the seat of Earl Spencer, is said to have appeared the
ghost of a favourite groom, and Cumnor Hall, the supposed scene of the
murder of Lady Amy Bobsart, was haunted by her apparition. According to

    In that Manor now no more
      Is cheerful feast and sprightly ball;
    For, ever since that dreary hour,
      Have spirits haunted Cumnor Hall.

    The village maids, with fearful glance,
      Avoid the ancient moss-grown wall;
    Nor ever lead the merry dance
      Among the groves of Cumnor Hall.

    Full many a traveller oft hath sighed
      And pensive wept the Countess's fall,
    As, wandering onward, they espied
      The haunted towers of Cumnor Hall.

Powis Castle had once its ghost, and Cullaby Castle, Northumberland,
the seat of Major A. H. Browne, is haunted. According to a
correspondent,[267] in the older part of the castle, which was the
pele-tower of the Claverings, there was known to be a room walled up,
'which Mrs. Browne, during her husband's absence, had broken into;' but
the room was found to be quite empty. She says, however, that 'she let
a ghost out who is known as "The Wicked Priest." Ever since they have
been annoyed with the most unaccountable noises, which are sometimes
so loud that one would think the house was being blown down. I believe
the ghost has been seen--it is a priest with a shovel hat.' The seat
of the Trevelyans is haunted with the incessant wailing of a spectral
child, and the ruins of Seaton Delaval Castle are said to be haunted.
Churton Hall, at one time the seat of the Duke of Argyll, 'has marked
Tyneside with the ghost of the Duke's mistress, who is locally known as
"Silky."' 'Tyneside,' writes Mr. W. T. Stead, 'abounded with stories
of haunted castles; but, with the doubtful exception of Dilston, where
Lady Derwentwater was said to revisit the pale glimpses of the moon
to expiate the restless ambition which impelled her to drive Lord
Derwentwater to the scaffold, none of them were leading actors in the
tragedies of old time.'

Bisham Abbey, report says, is haunted by the ghost of Lady Hoby, who
treated her son by her first husband so unmercifully, on account of his
antipathy to study, that he died. As a punishment for her unnatural
cruelty she glides through a certain chamber, in the act of washing
blood-stains from her hands. One of the rooms at Combermere Abbey,
Cheshire, formerly known as the 'Coved Saloon,' is tenanted by the
ghost of a little girl, the sister of Lord Cotton, who had died when
fourteen years old.[268] Then there was the famous 'Sampford Peverell'
ghost, which created much interest at the commencement of the present
century,[269] and Rainham, the seat of the Marquis Townshend, in
Norfolk, has long been haunted by the 'Brown Lady.' At Oulton House,
Suffolk, at midnight, a wild huntsman with his hounds, accompanied by
a lady carrying a poisoned cup, is said to take his ghostly walk; and
Clegg Hall, Lancashire, long had its restless spirits, and the laying
of these 'Clegg Hall boggarts,' as they were called, is described
elsewhere. At Samlesbury Hall, near Blackburn, a lady in white attended
by a handsome knight is seen at night;[270] and a headless lady walked
about Walton Abbey. Hermitage Castle, one of the most famous of the
Border keeps in the days of its splendour, has for years past been
haunted, and has been described as--

                              Haunted Hermitage,
    Where long by spells mysterious bound,
        They pace their round with lifeless smile,
        And shake with restless foot the guilty pile.
    Till sink the mouldering towers beneath the burdened ground.

The story goes that Lord Soulis, 'the evil hero of Hermitage,' made a
compact with the devil, who appeared to him in the shape of a spirit
wearing a red cap, which gained its hue from the blood of human victims
in which it was steeped. Lord Soulis sold himself to the demon, and in
return he could summon his familiar whenever he chose to rap thrice
on an iron chest, on condition that he never looked in the direction
of the spirit. Once, however, he forgot or ignored this condition,
and his doom was sealed. But even then Lord Soulis kept the letter of
the compact. Lord Soulis was protected by an unholy charm against any
injury from rope or steel; hence cords could not bind him, and steel
could not slay him. When, at last, he was delivered over to his enemies
it was found necessary to adopt the ingenious and effective expedient
of rolling him up in a sheet of lead and boiling him to death:

    On a circle of stones they placed the pot,
      On a circle of stones but barely nine;
    They heated it red and fiery hot,
      And the burnished brass did glimmer and shine.

    They rolled him up in a sheet of lead--
      A sheet of lead for a funeral pall;
    They plunged him into the cauldron red,
      And melted him, body, lead, bones and all.

This was the end of Lord Soulis's body, but his spirit still lingers on
the scene. Once every seven years he keeps tryst with Red Cap on the
scene of his former devilries:

    And still when seven years are o'er
      Is heard the jarring sound,
    When hollow opes the charmèd door
      Of chamber underground.[271]

Hugh Miller, in his 'Schools and Schoolmasters,' says that, while
working as a stonemason in a remote part of Scotland, he visited
the ruins of Craighouse, a grey fantastic rag of a castle, which the
people of the neighbourhood firmly believed to be haunted by its
goblin--a miserable-looking, grey-headed, grey-bearded old man, who
might be seen, late in evening and early in the morning, peering
out through a narrow slit or shot-hole at the chance passenger. He
further adds that he met with a sunburnt herd-boy who was tending his
cattle under the shadow of the old castle wall. He asked the lad whose
apparition he thought it was that could continue to haunt a building
whose last inhabitant had long been forgotten. 'Oh, they're saying,'
was the reply, 'it's the spirit of the man who was killed on the
foundation-stone, soon after it was laid, and then built intil the wa'
by the masons that he might keep the Castle by coming back again; and
they're saying that a' varra auld hooses i' the country had murderit
men builded intil them i' that way, and that all o' them hev their

Among Irish haunted houses may be noticed the castle of Dunseverick,
in Antrim, which is believed to be still inhabited by the spirit of
a chief, who there atones for a horrid crime; while the castles of
Dunluce, of Magrath, and many others are similarly peopled by the
wicked dead. In the abbey of Clare the ghost of a sinful abbot walks,
and will continue to do so until his sin has been atoned for by the
prayers he unceasingly mutters in his tireless march up and down the
aisles of the ruined nave.

The 'Cedar Room' at Ashley Hall, Cheshire, was said to be tenanted
by the figure of a white lady, reminding us of similar so-called
apparitions at Skipsea and Blenkinsopp Castles. At Burton Agnes Hall,
the family seat of Sir Henry Somerville Boynton, there is a spirit of
a lady which haunts the ancient mansion, known in the neighbourhood
as 'Awd Nance.' The skull of this lady is preserved at the Hall, and
so long as it is left quietly in its resting-place all goes well, but
should any attempt be made to remove it, all kinds of unearthly noises
are raised in the house, and last until it is restored.[272] Denton
Hall has for many years past attracted interest from being inhabited
by a spirit known by the names of 'Old Barbery' and 'Silky,' and
Waddow Hall, Yorkshire, is haunted by a phantom called 'Peg O'Nell.'
Bridge End House, Burnley, was said to have its ghost; Crook Hall, near
Durham, has its 'White Ladie;' South Biddick Hall, its shadowy tenant,
'Madam Lambton;' and Netherby Hall, a 'Rustling Lady' who walks along
a retired passage in that mansion, her dress rustling as she moves
along.[273] There was the famous Willington Mill, alluded to in the
previous chapter, which some years ago became notorious in the North of
England, having been haunted, it is said, by a priest and a grey lady
who amused themselves at their victims' expense by all kinds of strange
acts.[274] A correspondent of 'Notes and Queries' (4th S. x. 490)
referring to the Willington ghost says: 'The steam flour mill, with the
house, was in the occupation then of Messrs. Proctor and Unthank; the
house was separated from the mill by a space of a few feet, so that no
tricks could be played from the mill. The partners alternately lived in
the house. A relation of mine asked one of those gentlemen if there
was any truth as to the current rumours. He remarked, "Well, we don't
like to speak of it; my partner certainly cannot live comfortably in
the house, from some unexplained cause, but as to myself and family we
are never disturbed."'

Several parsonages have had their ghosts. Southey, in his 'Life of
Wesley,' speaking of Epworth parsonage, which appears to have been
haunted in the most strange manner, and alluding to the mysterious
disturbances that happened in it, says: 'An author who, in this age,
relates such a story, and treats it as not utterly incredible and
absurd, must expect to be ridiculed, but the testimony upon which it
rests is far too strong to be set aside because of the strangeness of
the relation.' In the 'Gentleman's Magazine' is recorded an account of
an apparition that appeared at Souldern Rectory, Oxfordshire, to the
Rev. Mr. Shaw, who had always ridiculed the idea of ghosts, announcing
to him that his death would be very soon, and very sudden. Suffice it
to say that shortly afterwards he was seized with an apoplectic fit
while reading the service in church, and died almost immediately. This
strange affair is noticed in the register of Brisly Church, Norfolk,
under December 12, 1706: 'I, Robert Withers, M.A., Vicar of Gately, do
insert here a story which I had from undoubted hands, for I have all
the moral certainty of the truth of it possible.'

The old parsonage at Market, or East, Lavington, near Devizes--now
pulled down--was reputed to be haunted by a lady supposed to have been
murdered, and, it has been said, a child came also to an untimely end
in the house. Previous to 1818, a correspondent of 'Notes and Queries'
(5 S. i. 273) says: 'A witness states his father occupied the house,
and writes "that in that year on Feast Day, being left alone in the
house, I went up to my room. It was the one with marks of blood on the
floor. I distinctly saw a white figure glide into the room. It went
round by the washstand by the bed, and there disappeared."' It may be
added that part of the road leading from Market Lavington to Easterton,
which skirts the grounds of Fiddington House, used to be looked upon as
haunted by a lady, who was known as the 'Easterton Ghost.' In 1869, a
wall was built round the road-side of the pond; and, close to the spot
where the lady was seen, two skeletons were disturbed--one of a woman,
the other of a child. The bones were buried in the churchyard, and no
ghost, it is said, has been seen since.

Occasionally, churches have been haunted. The famous phantom nun of
Holy Trinity Church, Micklegate, York, has excited a good deal of
interest--an account of which is given by Mr. Baring-Gould in his
'Yorkshire Oddities.' The story goes that during the suppression of
religious houses before the Reformation, a party of soldiers came
to sack the convent attached to the church. But having forced an
entry they were confronted by the abbess, a lady of great courage
and devotion, who declared that they should only pass it over her
body, and that should they slay her and succeed in their errand of
destruction, her spirit would haunt the place until the time came
that their sacrilegious work was expiated by the rebuilding of the
holy house. Many accounts have been published of this apparition,
the following being from the 'Ripon and Richmond Chronicle' (May 6,
1876): 'In the middle of the service,' writes a correspondent, 'my
eyes, which had hardly once moved from the left or north side of the
[east] window, were attracted by a bright light, formed like a female,
robed and hooded, passing from north to south with a rapid gliding
motion outside the church, apparently at some distance. There are four
divisions in the window, all of stained glass, but at the edge of each
runs a rim of plain transparent glass, about two inches wide, and
adjoining the stone-work. Through this rim especially could be seen
what looked like a form transparent, but yet thick (if such a term
can be used) with light. The robe was long and trailed. About half an
hour later it again passed from north to south, and, having remained
about ten seconds only, returned with what I believe to have been the
figure of a young child, and stopped at the last pane but one, and then
vanished. I did not see the child again, but a few seconds afterwards
the woman reappeared, and completed the passage behind the last pane
very rapidly.' It is said to appear very frequently on Trinity Sunday,
and to bring two other figures on to the scene, another female, called
the nurse, and the child. Likewise, on one of the windows of the Abbey
Church, Whitby, was occasionally seen--

    The very form of Hilda fair,
    Hovering upon the sunny air.

According to a correspondent of the 'Gentleman's Magazine,' a ghost
appeared for several years, but very seldom, only in the church porch
at Kilncote, Leicestershire. Folk-lore tells us that ghosts are
occasionally seen in the church porch, and, in years gone, it was
customary for young people to sit and watch here on St. Mark's Eve,
from 11 at night till 1 o'clock in the morning. In the third year, for
the ceremony had to be gone through three times, it was supposed the
ghosts of all those about to die in the course of the ensuing year
would pass into the church. It is to this piece of superstition that
James Montgomery refers in his 'Vigil of St. Mark':

    ''Tis now,' replied the village belle,
      'St. Mark's mysterious Eve;
    And all that old traditions tell
      I tremblingly believe.

    'How, when the midnight signal tolls,
      Along the churchyard green
    A mournful train of sentenced souls
      In winding sheets are seen.

    'The ghosts of all whom death shall doom
      Within the coming year,
    In pale procession walk the gloom,
      Amid the silence drear.'

A strange illustration of this superstition is found among the Hollis
manuscripts in the Lansdowne collection. The writer, Gervase Hollis,
of Great Grimsby, Lincolnshire, was a colonel in the service of
Charles I., and he professes to have received the tale from Mr. Liveman
Rampaine, minister of God's word at Great Grimsby, Lincolnshire, who
was household chaplain to Sir Thomas Munson of Burton, in Lincoln, at
the time of the incident.[275]

A curious and somewhat unique advertisement of a haunted house appeared
some years ago, and ran thus: 'To be sold, an ancient Gothic mansion,
known as Beckington Castle, ten miles from Bath, and two from Frome.
The mansion has been closed for some years, having been the subject
of proceedings in Chancery. There are legends of haunted rooms, miles
of subterranean passages, &c., affording a fine field of research and
speculation to lovers of the romantic.' It was no doubt true of the
ghost of this, as of most other haunted houses--

    We meet them on the door-way, on the stair,
      Along the passages they come and go,
    Impalpable impressions on the air,
      A sense of something moving to and fro.


[264] See Ingram's _Haunted Homes_, 2nd S. pp. 159-180.

[265] See Lord Clarendon's _History of the Rebellion_, and _Notes and
Queries_, July 1860.

[266] _Gentleman's Magazine_, 1855, pt. ii. pp. 58, 59.

[267] _More Ghost Stories_, p. 64.

[268] _All the Year Round_, December 24, 1870.

[269] See Ingram's _Haunted Homes_, 2nd S. pp. 226-233.

[270] _Ibid._ see p. 222.

[271] _More Ghost Stories_, W. T. Stead, 1892, p. 63.

[272] Henderson's _Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, pp. 314, 315.

[273] _Henderson's Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, pp. 314, 315.

[274] See _Ibid._ p. 315; Ingram's _Haunted Homes_, pp. 266-277; _More
Ghost Stories_, W. T. Stead.

[275] Quoted in _Book of Days_, i. p. 649.



Spirits in most countries are supposed to haunt all kinds of places,
and not to confine themselves to any one locality. Local traditions
show how the most unlikely spots, which can boast of little or no
romance, are supposed to be frequented by ghosts; the wayfarer along
some country road having oftentimes been confronted by an uncanny

Indeed, the superstitious fear of places being haunted by ghosts
not only led to the abandonment but even destruction of many a
dwelling-place, a practice which, amongst uncultured tribes, not only
'served as a check to material prosperity, but became an obstacle to
progress.'[276] But even in civilised countries the same antipathy
to a haunted house is often found, and the ghostly tenant is allowed
uninterrupted possession owing to the dread his presence inspires. The
Hottentots deserted the house after a decease,[277] and the Seminoles
at once removed from the dwelling where death had occurred, and from
the neighbourhood where the body was buried. Among the South Slavonians
and Bohemians, the bereaved family, returning from the grave, pelted
the ghost of their deceased relative with sticks, stones, and hot
coals. And the Tschuwasche, a tribe in Finland, opened fire on it as
soon as the coffin was outside the house. In Old Calabar, it was usual
for a son to leave his father's house for two years, after which time
it was considered safe to return. If a Kaffir or Maori died before he
could be carried out, the house was tabooed and deserted.[278] The
Ojibways pulled down the house in which anyone had died, and chose
another one to live in as far off as possible. Even with the death of
an infant the same fear was manifested. One day, when a friend visited
a neighbour whose child was sick, he was not a little surprised to
find, on his return in the evening, that the house had disappeared
and all its inhabitants gone. Among the Abipones of Paraguay, when
anyone's life is despaired of, the house is immediately forsaken by his
fellow inmates, and the New England tribes would never live in a wigwam
in which any person had died, but would immediately pull it down.

If a deceased Creek Indian 'has been a man of eminent character, the
family immediately remove from the house in which he is buried, and
erect a new one, with a belief that where the bones of their dead
are deposited, the place is always attended by goblins.'[279] The
Kamtchadales frequently remove from their dwelling when anyone has
died, and among the Lepchas the house where there has been a death 'is
almost always forsaken by the surviving inmates.'[280] Occasionally,
it would seem, the desertion is more complete. After a death, for
instance, the Boobies of Fernando Po forsake the village in which it
occurred, and of the Bechuanas we read that 'on the death of Mallahawan
... the town [Lattakoo] was removed, according to the custom of the

Ghosts are supposed to find pleasure in revisiting the places where
they have experienced joy, or sorrow and pain, and to wander round
the spot where they died, and hence all kinds of precautions have
been adopted to prevent their returning. In Europe, sometimes, 'steps
were taken to barricade the house against him. Thus, in some parts of
Russia and East Prussia, an axe or a lock is laid on the threshold, or
a knife is hung over the door, and in Germany as soon as the coffin is
carried out of the house all the doors and windows are shut.'[282] And
conversely, it is a common custom in many parts of England to unfasten
every bolt and lock in the house that the spirit of the dying man may
freely escape.

But, as Mr. Frazer shows in his interesting paper on the 'Primitive
Ghost,' our ancestors knew how to outwit the ghost in its endeavour to
find its way back to the house it left at death. Thus the practice of
closing the eyes of the dead, he suggests, originated in 'blindfolding
the dead that he might not see the way by which he was carried to his
last home. At the grave, where he was to rest for ever, there was no
motive for concealment; hence the Romans, and apparently the Siamese,
opened the eyes of the dead man at the funeral pyre. And the idea that
if the eyes of the dead be not closed, his ghost will return to fetch
away another of the household, still exists in Germany, Bohemia, and
England.' With the same object the coffin was carried out of the house
by a hole purposely made in the wall, which was stopped up as soon as
the body had passed through, so that, when the ghost strolled back from
the grave, he found there was no thoroughfare--a device shared equally
by Greenlanders, Hottentots, Bechuanas, Samoieds, Ojibways, Algonquins,
Laosians, Hindoos, Tibetans, Siamese, Chinese, and Fijians. These
'doors of the dead' are still to be seen in a village near Amsterdam,
and they were common in some towns of Central Italy. A trace of the
same custom survives in Thüringen, where there is a belief that the
ghost of a man who has been hanged will return to the house if not
taken out by a window instead of a door. Similarly, for the purpose of
misleading the dead, the Bohemians put on masks, that the dead might
not know and therefore might not follow them, and it is a matter of
conjecture whether mourning customs may not have sprung from 'the
desire to disguise and therefore to protect the living from the dead.'

Among further methods in use for frustrating the return of the dead,
may be noticed the objection to utter the names of deceased persons--a
superstition which Mr. Frazer shows has modified whole languages.
Thus, 'among the Australians, Tasmanians, and Abipones, if the name of
a deceased person happened to be a common name, e.g. the name of an
animal or plant, this name was abolished, and a new one substituted for
it. During the residence of the Jesuit Missionary Dobritzhoffer amongst
the Abipones, the name for tiger was thus changed three times. Amongst
the Indians of Columbia, near relatives of a deceased person often
change their names, under the impression that the ghost will return if
he hears the familiar names.'[283]

The Sandwich Islanders say the spirit of the departed hovers about the
place of its former resort, and in the country north of the Zambesi
'all believe that the souls of the departed still mingle among the
living, and partake in some way of the food they consume.' In the
Aleutian Islands, it is said that 'the invisible souls or shades of the
departed wander about among their children.'

But one of the most favourite haunts of departed spirits is said to be
burial-grounds, and especially their own graves, reminding us of Puck's
words in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' (Act v. sc. 2):

    Now it is the time of night,
      That the graves all gaping wide,
    Everyone lets forth his sprite,
      In the church-way paths to glide.

'The belief in ghosts,' writes Thorpe,[284] 'was deeply impressed
on the minds of the heathen Northmen, a belief closely connected
with their ideas of the state after death. The soul, they believed,
returned to the place whence it sprang, while the body, and the grosser
life bound to it, passed to the abode of Hel or Death. Herewith was
naturally combined the belief that the soul of the departed might, from
its heavenly home, revisit the earth, there at night-time to unite
itself in the grave-mound with the corporeal shadow released from Hel.
Thus the dead could show themselves in the open grave-mounds in the
same form which they had in life.'

Indeed, it has been the current opinion for centuries that places of
burial are haunted with spectres and apparitions. Ovid speaks of ghosts
coming out of their sepulchres and wandering about, and Virgil,[285]
too, quoting the popular opinion of his day, tells us how 'Moeris
could call the ghosts out of their tombs.' In short, the idea of the
ghost remaining near the corpse is of world-wide prevalence, and, as
Dr. Tylor remarks,[286] 'through all the changes of religious thought
from first to last in the course of human history, the hovering ghosts
of the dead make the midnight burial-ground a place where man's flesh
creeps with terror.' We may further compare Hamlet's words (Act iii.
sc. 2):

    'Tis now the very witching time of night,
    When church-yards yawn.

And Puck also tells how, at the approach of Aurora, 'ghosts, wandering
here and there, troop home to churchyards.' Tracing this superstition
amongst uncultured tribes, we find the soul of the North American
hovering about its burial-place, and among the Costa Ricans the spirits
of the dead are believed to remain near their bodies for a year. The
Dayak's burial-place is frequented by ghosts, and the explorer Swan
tells us that when he was with the North-Western Indians, he was not
allowed to attend a funeral for fear of his offending the spirits
hovering about. From the same authority we learn how at Stony Point,
on the north-west coast of America, a burial-place of the Indians was
considered to be haunted by spirits, and on this account no Indian
ever ventured there.[287] This dread of burial-grounds still retains
a persistent hold, and is one of those survivals of primitive belief
which has given rise to a host of strange superstitious practices.

Keppel, in his 'Visit to the Indian Archipelago,' says that in Northern
Australia the natives will not willingly approach graves at night,
alone, 'but when they are obliged to pass them, they carry a firestick
to keep off the spirit of darkness.'

There is still a belief that the ghost of the last person watches
round the churchyard till another is buried, to whom he delivers his
charge. Crofton Croker says that in Ireland it is the general opinion
among the lower orders that 'the last buried corpse has to perform an
office like that of "fag" in our public schools by the junior boy, and
that the attendance on his churchyard companions is duly relieved by
the interment of some other person.' Serious disturbances have resulted
from this superstition, and terrific fights have at times taken place
to decide which corpse should be buried first. The ancient churchyard
of Truagh, county Monaghan, is said to be haunted by an evil spirit,
whose appearance generally forebodes death. The legend runs, writes
Lady Wilde,[288] 'that at funerals the spirit watches for the person
who remains last in the graveyard. If it be a young man who is there
alone, the spirit takes the form of a beautiful young girl, inspires
him with an ardent passion, and exacts from him a promise that he will
meet her that day month in the churchyard. The promise is then sealed
by a kiss, which sends a fatal fire through his veins, so that he is
unable to resist her caresses, and makes the promise required. Then
she disappears, and the young man proceeds homewards; but no sooner
has he passed the boundary wall of the churchyard than the whole story
of the evil rushes on his mind, and he knows that he has sold himself,
soul and body, for a demon's kiss. Then terror and dismay take hold of
him, till despair becomes insanity, and on the very day month fixed for
the meeting with the demon bride, the victim dies the death of a raving
lunatic, and is laid in the fatal graveyard of Truagh.'

The dead, too, particularly object to persons treading carelessly on
their graves, an allusion to which occurs in one of the songs of Greek

    All Saturday we held carouse, and far through Sunday night,
    And on the Monday morn we found our wine expended quite.
    To seek for more, without delay, the captain made me go;
    I ne'er had seen nor known the way, nor had a guide to show.
    And so through solitary roads and secret paths I sped,
    Which to a little ivied church long time deserted led.
    This church was full of tombs, and all by gallant men possest;
    One sepulchre stood all alone, apart from all the rest.
    I did not see it, and I trod above the dead man's bones,
    And as from out the nether world came up a sound of groans.
    'What ails thee, sepulchre? Why thus so deeply groan and sigh?
    Doth the earth press, or the black stone weigh on thee heavily?'
    'Neither the earth doth press me down, nor black stone do me scath,
    But I with bitter grief am wrung, and full of shame and wrath,
    That thou dost trample on my head, and I am scorned in death.
    Perhaps I was not also young, nor brave and stout in fight,
    Nor wont, as thou, beneath the moon, to wander through the night.'

According to the Guiana Indians, 'every place is haunted where any have
died;' and in Madagascar the ghosts of ancestors are said to hover
about their tombs. The East Africans 'appear to imagine the souls to be
always near the place of sepulture,' and on the Gold Coast 'the spirit
is supposed to remain near the spot where the body has been buried.'
The souls of warriors slain on the field of battle are considered by
the Mangaians to wander for a while amongst the rocks and trees of
the neighbourhood in which their bodies were thrown. At length 'the
first slain on each battlefield would collect his brothers' ghosts,
and lead them to the summit of a mountain, whence they leap into the
blue expanse, thus becoming the peculiar clouds of the winter.'[290]
And the Mayas of Yucatan think the souls of the dead return to the
earth if they choose, and, in order that they may not lose the way to
the domestic hearth, they mark the path from the hut to the tomb with

The primitive doctrine of souls obliges the savage, says Mr.
Dorman,[292] 'to think of the spirit of the dead as close at hand. Most
uncultured tribes, on this account, regard the spot where death has
taken place as haunted. A superstitious fear soon instigates worship,
and this worship, beginning at the tombs and burial-places, develops
into the temple ritual of higher culture.'

The Iroquois believe the space between the earth and sky is full of
spirits, usually invisible, but occasionally seen, and the Ojibways
affirm that innumerable spirits are ever near, and dwell in all kinds
of places. European folk-lore has similar beliefs, it having been a
Scandinavian idea that the souls of the departed dwell in the interior
of mountains, a phase of superstition which frequently presents
itself in the Icelandic sagas, and exists in Germany at the present
day. 'Of some German mountains,' writes Thorpe, 'it is believed that
they are the abodes of the damned. One of these is the Horselberg,
near Eisenach, which is the habitation of Frau Holle; another is the
fabulous Venusberg, in which the Tannhäuser sojourns, and before which
the trusty Eckhart sits as a warning guardian.'[293]

Departed souls were also supposed to dwell in the bottom of wells and
ponds, with which may be compared the many tales current throughout
Germany and elsewhere of towns and castles that have been sunk in the
water, and are at times visible. But, as few subjects have afforded
greater scope for the imagination than the hereafter of the human soul,
numerous myths and legendary stories have been invented to account for
its mysterious departure in the hour of death. Shakespeare has alluded
to the numerous destinations of the disembodied spirit, enumerating
the many ideas prevalent, in his day, on the subject. In 'Measure for
Measure' (Act iii. sc. 1) Claudio pathetically says:

    Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
    To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot;
    This sensible warm motion to become
    A kneaded clod, and the delighted spirit
    To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
    In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice;
    To be imprison'd in the viewless winds,
    And blown with restless violence round about
    The pendent world.[294]

Indeed, it would be a long task to enter into the mass of mystic
details respecting 'the soul's dread journey by caverns and rocky paths
and weary plains, over steep and slippery mountains, by frail bank or
giddy bridge, across gulfs or rushing rivers,' to its destined home.

According to the Mazovians the soul remains with the coffin, sitting
upon the upper part of it until the burial is over, when it flies
away. Such traditions, writes Mr. Ralston,[295] 'vary in different
localities, but everywhere, among all the Slavonic people, there seems
always to have prevailed an idea that death does not finally sever the
ties between the living and the dead. This idea has taken various
forms, and settled into several widely differing superstitions, lurking
in the secrecy of the cottage, and there keeping alive the cultus of
the domestic spirit, and showing itself openly in the village church,
where on a certain day it calls for a service in remembrance of the
dead. The spirits of those who are thus remembered, say the peasants,
attend the service, taking their place behind the altar. But those who
are left unremembered weep bitterly all through the day.'

In some parts of Ireland, writes Mr. McAnally, 'there exists a belief
that the spirits of the dead are not taken from earth, nor do they lose
all their former interest in earthly affairs, but enjoy the happiness
of the saved, or suffer the punishment imposed for their sins in the
neighbourhood of the scenes among which they lived while clothed in
flesh and blood. At particular crises in the affairs of mortals these
disenthralled spirits sometimes display joy and grief in such a manner
as to attract the attention of living men and women. At weddings they
are frequently unseen guests; at funerals they are always present; and
sometimes, at both weddings and funerals, their presence is recognised
by aerial voices, or mysterious music, known to be of unearthly origin.
The spirits of the good wander with the living as guardian angels; but
the spirits of the bad are restrained in their action, and compelled to
do penance at, or near, the place where their crimes were committed.
Some are chained at the bottom of lakes, others buried underground,
others confined in mountain gorges, some hang on the sides of
precipices, others are transfixed on the tree-tops, while others haunt
the homes of their ancestors, all waiting till the penance has been
endured and the hour of deliverance arrives.'

Harriet Martineau, speaking of the English lakes, says that Souter or
Soutra Fell is the mountain on which ghosts appeared in myriads at
intervals during ten years of the last century. 'On the Midsummer Eve
of the fearful 1745, twenty-six persons, expressly summoned by the
family, saw all that had been seen before, and more. Carriages were
now interspersed with the troops; and everybody knew that no carriages
had been, or could be, on the summit of Souter Fell. The multitude was
beyond imagination; for the troops filled a space of half a mile, and
marched quickly till night hid them, still marching. There was nothing
vaporous or indistinct about the appearance of these spectres. So real
did they seem, that some of the people went up the next morning to look
for the hoof-marks of the horses; and awful it was to them to find not
one footprint on heather or grass.' This spectral march was similar to
that seen at Edge Hill, in Leicestershire, in 1707, and corresponds
with the tradition of the tramp of armies over Helvellyn, on the eve of
the battle of Marston Moor.

With such phantoms may be compared the mock suns, the various
appearances of halos and wandering lights, and such a phenomenon as
the 'Spectre of the Brocken.' Calmet relates a singular instance at
Milan, where some two thousand persons saw, as they supposed, an angel
hovering in the air: he cites Cardan as an eye-witness, who says that
the populace were only undeceived when it was shown, by a sharp-sighted
lawyer, to be a reflection from one of the statues of a neighbouring
church, the image of which was caught on the surface of a cloud. The
mirage, or water of the desert, owes its appearance to similar laws
of refraction. Mountain districts, we know, abound in these illusions,
and 'the splendid enchantment presented in the Straits of Reggio by
the Fata Morgana' has attracted much notice. At such times, 'minarets,
temples, and palaces, have seemed to rise out of the distant waves;'
and spectral huntsmen, soldiers in battle array, and gay but mute
cavalcades, have appeared under similar circumstances, pictured on
the table of the clouds. It was thus, we are told, that the Duke of
Brunswick and Mrs. Graham saw the image of their balloon distinctly
exhibited on the face of a cumulous cloud, in 1836; and travellers on
Mont Blanc have been startled by their own magnified shadows, floating
among the giant peaks.[296] It is difficult to say how many of the
apparitions which have been supposed to haunt certain spots might be
attributed to similar causes.


[276] Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, p. 22.

[277] See Tylor's _Primitive Culture_, ii. p. 26.

[278] _Contemporary Review_, xlviii. p. 108.

[279] Schoolcraft's _Indian Tribes_, v. p. 270.

[280] See Herbert Spencer's _Principles of Sociology_, 1885, i. p. 199.

[281] _Ibid._ p. 199.

[282] The _Contemporary Review_, xlviii. p. 109.

[283] The _Contemporary Review_, xlviii. p. 111.

[284] _Northern Mythology_, ii. p. 20.

[285] _Bucolics_, viii. p. 98.

[286] _Primitive Culture_, ii. p. 30.

[287] See Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, p. 21.

[288] _Ancient Cures, Charms, and Usages of Ireland_, p. 84.

[289] _Essay in the Study of Folk-Songs_, pp. 14, 15.

[290] Gill: _Myths and Songs from the South Pacific_, pp. 162, 163.

[291] See Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, p. 33.

[292] _Ibid._ p. 30.

[293] _Northern Mythology_, i. p. 286.

[294] Cf. _Othello_, Act v. sc. 2.

[295] _Songs of the Russian People_, pp. 115, 116.

[296] _Occult Sciences_, 1855; _Apparitions_, pp. 80, 81.



Amongst the qualities ascribed to the cock was the time-honoured belief
that by its crow it dispelled all kinds of ghostly beings--a notion
alluded to by the poet Prudentius, who flourished at the commencement
of the fourth century. There is, also, a hymn said to have been
composed by St. Ambrose, and formerly used in the Salisbury Missal, in
which allusion is made to this superstition. In Blair's 'Grave' the
apparition vanishes at the crowing of the cock, and in 'Hamlet,' on the
departure of the ghost, Bernardo says:

    It was about to speak when the cock crew;

to which Horatio answers:

    And then it started like a guilty thing
    Upon a fearful summons. I have heard
    The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,
    Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
    Awake the god of day; and, at his warning,
    Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
    The extravagant and erring spirit hies
    To his confine: and of the truth herein
    This present object made probation.

Whereupon Marcellus adds the well-known lines:

    It faded on the crowing of the cock.
    Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes,
    Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
    The bird of dawning singeth all night long;
    And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad;
    The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
    No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
    So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.

Even the devil is powerless at the sound of cock-crow. An amusing story
is told on the Continent of how a farmer's wife tricked the devil by
means of this spell. It appears that her husband was mourning the loss
of his barn--either by wind or fire--when a stranger addressed him,
and said: 'That I can easily remedy. If you will just write your name
in your blood on this parchment, your barn shall be fixed and ready
to-morrow before the cock crows; if not, our contract is void.' But
afterwards the farmer repented of the bargain he had made, and, on
consulting his wife, she ran out in the middle of the night, and found
a number of workmen employed on the barn. Thereupon she cried with all
her might, 'Cock-a-doodle-doo! cock-a-doodle-doo!' and was followed
by all the cocks in the neighbourhood, each of which sent forth a
hearty 'Cock-a-doodle-doo!' At the same moment all the phantom workmen
disappeared, and the barn remained unfinished. In a pretty Swedish
ballad of 'Little Christina,' a lover rises from the grave to console
his beloved. One night Christina hears light fingers tapping at the
door; she opens it and sees her betrothed. She washes his feet with
pure wine, and for a long while they converse. Then the cocks begin to
crow, and the dead get them underground. The young girl follows her
sweetheart through the white forest, and when they reach the graveyard,
the fair hair of the young man begins to disappear. 'See, maiden,' he
says, 'how the moon has reddened all at once; even so, in a moment,
thy beloved will vanish.' She sits down on the tomb, and says, 'I
shall remain here till the Lord calls me.' Then she hears the voice
of her betrothed, 'Little Christina, go back to thy dwelling-place.
Every time a tear falls from thine eyes my shroud is full of blood.
Every time thy heart is gay, my shroud is full of rose-leaves.' These
folk-tales are interesting, as embodying the superstitions of the
people among whom they are current.

A similar idea prevails in India, where the cock is with the Hindoos,
as with the English peasant, a most potent instrument in the
subjugation of troublesome spirits. A paragraph in the 'Carnatic Times'
tells us how a Hindoo exorcist tied his patient's hair in a knot, and
then with a nail attached it to a tree. Muttering some 'incantatory'
lines, he seized a live cock, and holding it over the girl's head with
one hand, he, with the other, cut its throat. The blood-stained knot of
hair was left attached to the tree, which was supposed to detain the
demon. It is further supposed that 'one or a legion thus exorcised will
haunt that tree till he or they shall choose to take possession of some
other unfortunate.'

It was said that chastity was of itself a safeguard against the
malignant power of bad ghosts; a notion to which Milton has referred:

    Some say no evil thing that walks by night,
    In fog or fire, by lake or moorish fen,
    Blue meagre hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost,
    That breaks the magic chains at curfew-time,
    No goblin, or swart faery of the mine,
    Hath hurtful power o'er true virginity.

The cross and holy water have, too, generally been considered sacred
preservatives against devils and spirits, illustrations of which will
be found in many of our old romances.[297]

Fire, like water,[298] has been employed for the purpose of excluding
or barring the ghost, and Mr. Frazer writes how 'the Siberians seek
to get rid of the ghost of the departed by leaping over a fire. At
Rome, mourners returning from a funeral stepped over fire,' a practice
which still exists in China. A survival of this custom prevails among
the south Slavonians, who, on their return from a funeral, are met
by an old woman carrying a vessel of live coals. On these they pour
water, or else they take a live coal from the hearth and fling it over
their heads. The Brahmans simply touched fire, while in Ruthenia 'the
mourners merely look steadfastly at the stove or place their hands on
it.'[299] It is noteworthy that in the Highlands of Scotland and in
Burma, the house-fires were always extinguished when a death happened;
for fear, no doubt, of the ghost being accidentally burnt.

The Eskimos drive away spirits by blowing their breath at them,[300]
and the Mayas of Yucatan had evil spirits which could be driven away
by the sorcerers; but they never came near when their fetiches were
exposed. They had a ceremony for expelling evil spirits from houses
about to be occupied by newly married persons.[301] The natives of
Brazil so much dread the ghosts of the dead that it is recorded how
some of them have been struck with sudden death because of an imaginary
apparition of them. They try to appease them by fastening offerings on
stakes fixed in the ground for that purpose.[302]

Mutilations of the dead were supposed to keep his ghost harmless, and
on this account Greek murderers hacked off the extremities of their
victims. Australians cut off the right thumb of a slain enemy that his
ghost might not be able to draw the bow. And in Arabia, Germany, and
Spain, as the ghosts of murderers and their victims are especially
restless, everyone who passes their graves is bound to add a stone to
the pile.[303]

In Pekin, six or seven feet away from the front of the doors, small
brick walls are built up. These are to keep the spirits out, which
fly only in straight lines, and therefore find a baulk in their way.
Another mode of keeping spirits away in the case of children is to
attire them as priests, and also to dress the boys as girls, who are
supposed to be the less susceptible to the evil influence. In fact,
most countries have their contrivances for counteracting, in one way or
another, the influence of departed spirits--a piece of superstition of
which European folk-lore affords abundant illustrations.

Thus, in Norway, bullets, gunpowder, and weapons have no influence on
ghosts, but at the sight of a cross, and from exorcisms, they must
retire. The same belief prevails in Denmark, where all kinds of checks
to ghostly influence are resorted to. It is said, for instance, to
be dangerous to shoot at a spectre, as the bullet will return on him
who shot it. But if the piece be loaded with a silver button, that
will infallibly take effect. A Danish tradition tells how once there
was a horrible spectre which caused great fear and disquietude, as
everyone who saw it died immediately afterwards. In this predicament,
a young fellow offered to encounter the apparition, and to endeavour
to drive it away. For this purpose he went at midnight to the church
path, through which the spectre was in the habit of passing, having
previously provided himself with steel in various shapes. When the
apparition approached, he fearlessly threw steel before its feet,
so that it was obliged instantly to turn back, and it appeared no
more.[304] A common superstition, equally popular in England as on
the Continent, is that when a horseshoe is nailed over the doorway
no spirit can enter. It is also said that 'if anyone is afraid of
spectres, let him strew flax seed before the door; then no spirit
can cross the threshold. A preventive equally efficacious is to place
one's slippers by the bedside with the heels towards the bed. Spectres
may be driven away by smoking the room with the snuff of a tallow
candle; while wax-lights attract them.' And at the present day various
devices are adopted by our English peasantry for warding off from their
dwellings ghosts, and other uncanny intruders.[305]


[297] See E. Yardley's _Supernatural in Fiction_, pp. 29-31.

[298] See Chapter on 'Ghost Laying.'

[299] _Contemporary Review_, xlviii. p. 112; Ralston's _Songs of the
Russian People_, p. 319.

[300] Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, p. 20.

[301] _Ibid._ p. 29.

[302] _Ibid._ p. 21.

[303] 'The Primitive Ghost,' _Contemporary Review_, xlviii. p. 107.

[304] Thorpe's _Northern Mythology_, ii. p. 205.

[305] See Harland and Wilkinson's _Lancashire Folk-lore_, 1867, p. 63.



Closely allied to 'second sight' is the doctrine of 'wraiths' or
'fetches,' sometimes designated 'doubles'--an apparition exactly
like a living person, its appearance, whether to that person or
to another, being considered an omen of death. The 'Fetch' is a
well-known superstition in Ireland, and is supposed to be a mere
shadow, 'resembling in stature, features, and dress, a living person,
and often mysteriously or suddenly seen by a very particular friend.'
Spiritlike, it flits before the sight, seeming to walk leisurely
through the fields, often disappearing through a gap or lane. The
person it resembles is usually known at the time to be labouring under
some mortal illness, and unable to leave his or her bed. When the
'fetch' appears agitated, or eccentric in its motions, a violent or
painful death is indicated for the doomed prototype. Such a phantom,
too, is said to make its appearance at the same time, and in the same
place, to more than one person.[306] Should it be seen in the morning,
a happy longevity for the original is confidently expected; but if it
be seen in the evening, immediate dissolution of the living prototype
is anticipated. It is thought, too, that individuals may behold their
own 'fetches.' Queen Elizabeth is said to have been warned of her death
by the apparition of her own double, and Miss Strickland thus describes
her last illness: 'As her mortal illness drew towards a close, the
superstitious fears of her simple ladies were excited almost to mania,
even to conjuring up a spectral apparition of the Queen while she
was yet alive. Lady Guilford, who was then in waiting on the Queen,
leaving her in an almost breathless sleep in her privy chamber, went
out to take a little air, and met her Majesty, as she thought, three or
four chambers off. Alarmed at the thought of being discovered in the
act of leaving the royal patient alone, she hurried forward in some
trepidation in order to excuse herself, when the apparition vanished
away. She returned terrified to the chamber, but there lay the Queen in
the same lethargic slumber in which she left her.'

Shelley, shortly before his death, believed he had seen his wraith.
'On June 23,' says one of his biographers, 'he was heard screaming at
midnight in the saloon. The Williamses ran in and found him staring
on vacancy. He had had a vision of a cloaked figure which came to
his bedside and beckoned him to follow. He did so, and when they had
reached the sitting-room, the figure lifted the hood of his cloak and
disclosed Shelley's own features, and saying "Siete soddisfatto?"
vanished. This vision is accounted for on the ground that Shelley had
been reading a drama attributed to Calderon, named 'El Embozado, ó el
Encapotado,' in which a mysterious personage who had been haunting
and thwarting the hero all his life, and is at last about to give
him satisfaction in a duel, unmasks and proves to be the hero's own
wraith. He also asks, "Art thou satisfied?" and the haunted man dies of
horror.' Sir Robert Napier is supposed to have seen his double, and
Aubrey quaintly relates how 'the beautiful Lady Diana Rich, daughter
to the Earl of Holland, as she was walking in her father's garden at
Kensington to take the air before dinner, about 11 o'clock, being
then very well, met her own apparition, habit and everything, as in a
looking-glass. About a month after, she died of small-pox. And it is
said that her sister, the Lady Isabella Thynne, saw the like of herself
also before she died. This account I had from a person of honour. A
third sister, Mary, was married to the Earl of Breadalbane, and it has
been recorded that she also, not long after her marriage, had some such
warning of her approaching dissolution.'

The Irish novelist, John Banim, has written both a novel and a ballad
on this subject, one which has also largely entered into many a
tradition and folk-tale.[307] In Cumberland this apparition is known by
the peasantry as a 'swarth,' and in Yorkshire by the name of a 'waff.'
The gift of wraith-seeing still flourishes on the Continent, and
examples abound in Silesia and the Tyrol.

'With regard to bilocation, or double personality,' writes a Catholic
priest,[308] 'there is a great deal of very interesting matter in
St. Thomas of Aquin, and also in Cardinal Cajetan's "Commentaries of
St. Thomas." The substance of the principles is this: Bilocation,
properly so called, is defined by the scholastics as the perfect and
simultaneous existence of one and the same individual in two distinct
places at the same time. This _never_ does and never can happen. But
bilocation, improperly so called, and which St. Thomas terms _raptus_,
does occur, and is identical with the double, as you call it, in the
cases of St. Gennadius, St. Ignatius, &c.

'St. Thomas quotes as illustrations or instances, St. Paul being taken
up to the Third Heaven. Ezekiel, the prophet, was taken by God and
shown Jerusalem, whilst at the same time he was sitting in the room
with the ancients of the tribe of Judah before him (Ezekiel viii.),
&c. In which the soul of man is not wholly detached from the body,
being necessary for the purpose of giving life, but is detached from
the _senses_ of the body. St. Thomas gives three causes for this
phenomenon: (1) Divine power; (2) the power of the Devil; and (3),
disease of the body when very violent sometimes.' Bardinus tells how
Marsilius Ficinus appeared at the hour of his death on a white horse to
Michael Mercatus, and rode away crying, 'O Michael, Michael, vera, vera
sunt illa,' that is, the doctrine of a future life is true. Instances
of this kind of phenomenon have been common in all ages of the world,
and Lucretius suggested the strange fancy that the superficial surfaces
of all bodies were continually flying off like the coats of an onion,
which accounted for the appearance of apparitions; whilst Jacques
Gaffarel suggested that corrupting bodies send forth vapours which,
being compressed by the cold night air, appear visible to the eye in
the forms of men.[309]

In one of the notes to 'Les Imaginations Extravagantes de Monsieur
Oufle,' by the Abbé Bordélon, it is said that the monks and nuns, a
short time before their death, have seen the images of themselves
seated in their chairs or stalls. Catharine of Russia, after retiring
to her bedroom, was told that she had been seen just before to enter
the State Chamber. On hearing this she went thither, and saw the exact
similitude of herself seated upon the throne. She ordered her guards to
fire upon it.

In Scotland and the northern counties of England it was formerly said
that the apparition of the person that was doomed to die within a
short time was seen wrapped in a winding-sheet, and the higher the
winding-sheet reached up towards the head the nearer was death. This
apparition was seen during day, and it might show itself to anyone, but
only to one, who generally fell into a faint a short time afterwards.
If the person who saw the apparition was alone at the time, the
fainting fit did not come on till after meeting with others.

In the 'Statistical Account of Scotland' (xxi. 148), the writer,
speaking of the parish of Monquhitter, says, the 'fye gave due warning
by certain signs of approaching mortality'; and, again (149), 'the
fye has withdrawn his warning.' Some friends observing to an old
woman, when in the ninety-ninth year of her age, that, in the course
of nature, she could not long survive, she remarked, with pointed
indignation, 'What fye-token do you see about me?'

In the same work (iii. 380) the minister of Applecross, county of
Ross, speaking of the superstitions of that parish, says: 'The ghosts
of the dying, called "tasks," are said to be heard, their cry being
a repetition of the moans of the sick. Some assume the sagacity of
distinguishing the voice of their departed friends. The corpse follows
the track led by the "tasks" to the place of interment, and the early
or late completion of the prediction is made to depend on the period of
the night at which the "task" is heard.'

The Scotch wraith and Irish fetch have their parallel in Wales in
the Lledrith, or spectre of a person seen before his death. It never
speaks, and vanishes if spoken to. It has been seen by miners previous
to a fatal accident in the mine. The story is told of a miner who saw
himself lying dead and horribly maimed in a phantom tram-car, led by
a phantom horse, and surrounded by phantom miners. As he watched this
dreadful group of spectres they passed on, looking neither to the
right nor the left, and faded away. The miner's dog was as frightened
as its master, and ran away howling. The miner continued to work in the
pit, and as the days passed on and no harm came to him he grew more
cheerful, and was so bold as to laugh at the superstition. But the
day he did this a stone fell from the roof and broke his arm. As soon
as he recovered he resumed work in the pit; but a stone crushed him,
and he was borne maimed and dead in the tram along the road where his
'lledrith' had appeared.[310]

'Examining,' says Dr. Tylor,[311] 'the position of the doctrine of
wraiths among the higher races, we find it specially prominent in three
intellectual districts: Christian hagiology, popular folk-lore, and
modern spiritualism. St. Anthony saw the soul of St. Ammonius carried
to heaven in the midst of choirs of angels, the same day that the
holy hermit died five days' journey off in the desert of Nitria. When
St. Ambrose died on Easter Eve, several newly-baptized children saw
the holy bishop and pointed him out to their parents; but these, with
their less pure eyes, could not behold him.' Numerous instances of
wraith-seeing have been chronicled from time to time, some of which
are noteworthy. It is related how Ben Jonson, when staying at Sir
Robert Cotton's house, was visited by the apparition of his eldest son,
with a mark of a bloody cross upon his forehead, at the moment of his
death by the plague. Lord Balcarres, it is said, when in confinement
in Edinburgh Castle under suspicion of Jacobitism, was one morning
lying in bed when the curtains were drawn aside by his friend Viscount
Dundee, who looked upon him steadfastly, and then left the room.
Shortly afterwards the news came that he had fallen about the same
hour at Killiecrankie. Lord Mohun, who was killed in a duel in Chelsea
Fields, is reported to have appeared at the moment of his death, in the
year 1642, to a lady in James Street, Covent Garden, and also to the
sister of Glanvill, famous as the author of 'Sadducismus Triumphatus.'
It is related how the second Earl of Chesterfield, in 1652, saw, when
walking, a spectre with long white robes and black face. Regarding it
as an intimation of some illness of his wife, then visiting her father
at Networth, he set off early to inquire, and met a servant from Lady
Chesterfield, describing the same apparition. Anna Maria Porter, when
living at Esher, was visited by an old gentleman, a neighbour, who
frequently came in to tea. On this occasion, the story goes, he left
the room without speaking; and, fearing that something had happened,
she sent to inquire, and found that he had died at the moment of his
appearance. Similarly Maria Edgeworth, when waiting with her family for
an expected guest, saw in a vacant chair the apparition of a sailor
cousin, who suddenly stated that his ship had been wrecked and he
himself the only one saved. The event proved the contrary--he alone was

One of the most striking and best authenticated cases on record is
known as the Birkbeck Ghost, and is thus related in the 'Proceedings
of the Psychical Research Society': 'In 1789, Mrs. Birkbeck, wife of
William Birkbeck, banker, of Settle, and a member of the Society of
Friends, was taken ill and died at Cockermouth while returning from
a journey to Scotland, which she had undertaken alone--her husband
and three children, aged seven, five, and four years respectively,
remaining at Settle. The friends at whose house the death occurred
made notes of every circumstance attending Mrs. Birkbeck's last hours,
so that the accuracy of the several statements as to time as well as
place was beyond the doubtfulness of man's memory, or of any even
unconscious attempt to bring them into agreement with each other. One
morning, between seven and eight o'clock, the relation to whom the care
of the children had been entrusted, and who kept a minute journal of
all that concerned them, went into their bedroom, as usual, and found
them all sitting up in bed in great excitement and delight. "Mamma has
been here," they cried; and the little one said, "She called, 'Come,
Esther!'" Nothing could make them doubt the fact, and it was carefully
noted down to entertain the mother when she came home. That same
morning, as their mother lay on her dying bed at Cockermouth, she said,
"I should be ready to go if I could but see my children." She then
closed her eyes, to reopen them, as they thought, no more. But after
ten minutes of perfect stillness she looked up brightly, and said,
"I am ready now; I have been with my children;" and at once passed
peacefully away. When the notes taken at the two places were compared,
the day, hour, and minutes were the same.'

Baxter, in his 'World of Spirits,' records a very similar case of a
dying woman visiting her children in Rochester, and in a paper on
'Ghosts and Goblins,' which appeared in the 'Cornhill' (1873, xxvii.
457), the writer relates how, in a house in Ireland, a girl lay dying.
Her mother and father were with her, and her five sisters were praying
for her in a neighbouring room. This room was well lit, but overhead
was a skylight, and the dark sky beyond. One of the sisters, looking
towards this skylight, saw there the face of her dying sister looking
sorrowfully down upon them. She seized another sister and pointed to
the skylight; one after another the sisters looked where she pointed.
They spoke no word; and in a few moments their father and mother called
them to the room where their sister had just died. But when afterwards
they talked together about what had happened that night, it was found
that they had all seen the vision and the sorrowful face. But, as the
writer observes, 'in stories where a ghost appears for some useful
purpose, the mind does not reject the event as altogether unreasonable,
though the circumstances may be sufficiently preposterous;' but one can
conceive no reason why the vision of a dying sister should look down
through a skylight.

According to a Lancashire belief, the spirits of persons about to die,
especially if the persons be in distant lands, are supposed to return
to their friends, and thus predict the event. While the spirit is thus
away, the person is supposed to be in a swoon, and unaware of what is
passing. But his desire to see his friends is necessary; and he must
have been thinking of them.[313]

It is related from Devonshire, of the well-known Dr. Hawker, that, when
walking one night, he observed an old woman pass by him, to whom he was
in the habit of giving a weekly charity. As soon as she had passed, he
felt somebody pull his coat, and on looking round he recognised her,
and put his hand in his pocket to seek for a sixpence, but on turning
to give it to her she was gone. On his return home he heard she was
dead, but his family had forgotten to mention the circumstance.[314]

A correspondent of 'Notes and Queries' (3rd S. vi. 182) tells how a
judge of the Staffordshire County Courts, being on one occasion in the
North, went with his sisters into the church of the place to inspect
its monuments. While there they were surprised to see a lady, whom they
knew to be in Bath, walk in at one door and out through another. They
immediately followed, but could neither see nor hear anything further
of her. On writing to her friends, it was found that she was dead, and
a second letter elicited the fact that she had died at the very same
time at which she had been seen by them in the North.

Patrick Kennedy, in his 'Legendary Fiction of the Irish Celt,' speaking
of the Irish fetch, gives the following tale of 'The Doctor's Fetch,'
based, it is stated, on the most authentic sources: 'In one of our
Irish cities, and in a room where the mild moonbeams were resting on
the carpet and on a table near the window, Mrs. B., wife of a doctor
in good practice and general esteem, looking towards the window from
her pillow, was startled by the appearance of her husband standing
near the table just mentioned, and seeming to look with attention on
the book which was lying open on it. Now, the living and breathing man
was by her side apparently asleep, and, greatly as she was surprised
and affected, she had sufficient command of herself to remain without
moving, lest she should expose him to the terror which she herself
at the moment experienced. After gazing on the apparition for a few
seconds, she bent her eyes upon her husband to ascertain if his looks
were turned in the direction of the window, but his eyes were closed.
She turned round again, although now dreading the sight of what she
believed to be her husband's fetch, but it was no longer there. She
remained sleepless throughout the remainder of the night, but still
bravely refrained from disturbing her partner.

'Next morning, Mr. B., seeing signs of disquiet on his wife's
countenance while at breakfast, made some affectionate inquiries, but
she concealed her trouble, and at his ordinary hour he sallied forth
to make his calls. Meeting Dr. C. in the street, and falling into
conversation with him, he asked his opinion on the subject of fetches.
"I think," was the answer, "and so I am sure do you, that they are mere
illusions produced by a disturbed stomach acting upon the excited brain
of a highly imaginative or superstitious person." "Then," said Dr. B.,
"I am highly imaginative or superstitious, for I distinctly saw my
own outward man last night standing at the table in the bedroom, and
clearly distinguishable in the moonlight. I am afraid my wife saw it
too, but I have been afraid to speak to her on the subject."

'About the same hour on the ensuing night the poor lady was again
roused, but by a more painful circumstance. She felt her husband
moving convulsively, and immediately afterwards he cried to her in
low, interrupted accents, "Ellen, my dear, I am suffocating; send for
Dr. C." She sprang up, huddled on some clothes, and ran to his house.
He came with all speed, but his efforts for his friend were useless.
He had burst a large blood-vessel in the lungs, and was soon beyond
human aid. In her lamentations the bereaved wife frequently cried out,
"Oh! the fetch, the fetch!" and at a later period told the doctor of
the appearance the night before her husband's death.' But, whilst
many stories of this kind are open to explanation, it is a singular
circumstance how even several persons may be deceived by an illusion
such as the following. A gentleman who had lately lost his wife,
looking out of window in the dusk of evening, saw her sitting in a
garden-chair. He called one of his daughters and asked her to look out
into the garden. 'Why,' she said, 'mother is sitting there.' Another
daughter was called, and she experienced the same illusion. Then the
gentleman went out into the garden, and found that a garden-dress of
his wife's had been placed over the seat in such a position as to
produce the illusion which had deceived himself and his daughters.

In 'Phantasms of the Living'[315] very many strange and startling cases
are recorded, in which the mysterious 'double' has appeared, sometimes
speaking, and sometimes without speech, although such manifestations
have not always been omens of death. Thus the late Lord Dorchester[316]
is said to have seen the phantom of his daughter standing at the
window, having his attention aroused by its shadow, which fell across
the book he was reading at the time. She had accompanied a fishing
expedition, was caught in a storm, and was distressed at the thought
that her father would be anxious on her account.

In Fitzroy's 'Cruise of the Beagle' an anecdote is told of a young
Fuegian, Jemmy Button, and his father's ghost. 'While at sea, on board
the "Beagle," about the middle of the year 1842, he said one morning to
Mr. Byno, that in the night some man came to the side of his hammock,
and whispered in his ear that his father was dead. Mr. Byno tried to
laugh him out of the idea, but ineffectually. He fully believed that
such was the case, and maintained his opinion up to the time of finding
his relations in Beagle Channel, when, I regret to say, he found that
his father had died some months previously.' This story is interesting,
especially as Mr. Lang says it is the only one he has encountered among
savages, of a warning conveyed to a man by a ghost as to the death of a


[306] _Gentleman's Magazine_, 1865, pt. ii. p. 564.

[307] See _Popular Irish Superstitions_, by W. R. Wilde, p. 109.

[308] _More Ghost Stories_, collected and edited by W. T. Stead, 1892,
p. 22.

[309] See Mrs. Crowe's _Night Side of Nature_, 1854, p. 111.

[310] Wirt Sikes, _British Goblins_, p. 215.

[311] _Primitive Culture_, 1891, i. p. 448.

[312] _Real Ghost Stories_, W. T. Stead, p. 103.

[313] Harland and Wilkinson, _Lancashire Folk-lore_, p. 105.

[314] Quoted by Mrs. Crowe, _Night Side of Nature_, p. 202.

[315] Messrs. Gurney, Myers, and Podmore.

[316] _Phantasms of the Living_, ii. p. 531.

[317] _Nineteenth Century_, April 1865, p. 629.



Shakespeare, quoting from an early legend, has reminded us that at
Christmastide 'no spirit dares stir abroad.' And yet, in spite of this
time-honoured belief, Christmas would seem to be one of the favourite
seasons of the year for ghosts to make their presence felt in all kinds
of odd ways. Many an old baronial hall, with its romantic associations
and historic legends, is occasionally, as Christmastime comes round,
disturbed by certain uncanny sounds, which timidity is only too ready
to invest with the most mysterious and unaccountable associations. One
reason for this nervous credulity may be ascribed to the fact that, as
numerous old country seats are supposed to be haunted, Christmas is
a fitting opportunity for the ghost to catch a glimpse of the family
revelry and mirth. But, judging from the many legendary tales which
have been handed down in connection with Christmas, it would seem that
these spirit-members of the family intrude their presence on their
relatives in the flesh in various ways. In Ireland, the ill-fated
Banshee has selected this season on more than one occasion, to warn the
family of coming trouble. According to one tale told from Ireland, one
Christmas Eve, when the family party were gathered round the festive
board in an old castle in the South of Ireland, the prancing of horses
was suddenly heard, and the sharp cracking of the driver's whip.
Imagining that one of the absent members of the family had arrived,
some of the young people moved to the door, but found that it was the
weird apparition of the 'headless coach and horseman.'

Many such stories might be enumerated, which, under one form or
another, have imparted a dramatic element to the season. With some of
our country peasantry, there is a deep-rooted dread of encountering
anything either bordering on, or resembling, the supernatural, as
sometimes spirits are supposed at Christmastide to be unfriendly
towards mankind. In Northamptonshire, for instance, there is a strange
notion that the ghosts of unfortunate individuals buried at cross-roads
have a particular license to wander about on Christmas Eve, at which
time they wreak their evil designs upon defenceless and unsuspecting
persons. But conduct of this kind seems to be the exception, and ghosts
are oftentimes invoked at Christmastide by those anxious to have a
foretaste of events in store for them. Thus, the anxious maiden, in her
eager desire to know something of her matrimonial prospects, has often
subjected herself to the most trying ordeal of 'courting a ghost.' In
many countries, at the 'witching hour of midnight, on Christmas Eve,'
the candidate for marriage goes into the garden and plucks twelve
sage leaves, 'under a firm conviction that she will be favoured with
a glimpse of the shadowy form of her future husband as he approaches
her from the opposite end of the garden.' But a ceremony observed in
Sweden, in years past, must have required a still more strong-minded
person to take advantage of its prophetic powers. It was customary
in the morning twilight of Christmas Day, to go into a wood, without
making the slightest noise, or uttering a word; total abstinence from
eating and drinking being another necessary requirement. If these rules
were observed, it was supposed that the individual as he went along
the path leading to the church, would be favoured with a sight of as
many funerals as would pass that way during the ensuing year. With
this practice may be compared one current in Denmark, where, it is
said, when a family are sitting together on Christmas Eve, if anyone is
desirous of knowing whether a death will occur amongst them during the
ensuing year, he must go outside, and peep silently through the window,
and the person who appears at table sitting without a head, will die
before Christmas comes round again. The feast of St. Agnes was formerly
held in high veneration by women who wished to know when and whom
they should marry. It was required that on this day they should not
eat--which was called 'fasting St. Agnes' fast'--if they wished to have
visions of delight, a piece of superstition on which Keats has founded
his poem, 'The Eve of St. Agnes:'

    They told me how, upon St. Agnes' Eve,
    Young virgins might have visions of delight,
    And soft adorings from their love receive,
    Upon the honey'd middle of the night,
    If ceremonies due they did aright;
    As supperless to bed they must retire,
    And couch supine their beauties, lily white,
    Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require
    Of heaven, with upward eyes, for all that they desire.

Laying down on her back that night, with her hands under her head, the
anxious maiden was led to expect that her future spouse would appear
in a dream, and salute her with a kiss. Various charms have long been
observed on St. Valentine's Eve, and Poor Robin's Almanack tells us how:

    On St. Mark's Eve, at twelve o'clock,
    The fair maid will watch her smock,
    To find her husband in the dark,
    By praying unto good St. Mark.

But St. Mark's Eve was a great day for apparitions. Allusion has been
made in a previous chapter to watching in the church porch for the
ghosts of those who are to be buried in the churchyard during the
following months; and Jamieson tells us of a practice kept up in the
northern counties, known as 'ash-ridlin.' The ashes being sifted, or
riddled, on the hearth, if any one of the family 'be to die within the
year, the mark of the shoe, it is supposed, will be impressed on the
ashes; and many a mischievous wight has made some of the credulous
family miserable, by slyly coming downstairs after the rest have
retired to bed, and marking the ashes with the shoe of one of the

In Peru it is interesting to trace a similar superstitious usage. As
soon as a dying man draws his last breath, ashes are strewed on the
floor of the room, and the door is securely fastened. Next morning
the ashes are carefully examined to ascertain whether they show any
impression of footsteps, and imagination readily traces marks, which
are alleged to have been produced by the feet of birds, dogs, cats,
oxen, or llamas. The destiny of the dead person is construed by the
footmarks which are supposed to be discernible. The soul has assumed
the form of that animal whose tracks are found.[318]

There is St. John's, or Midsummer Eve, around which many weird and
ghostly superstitions have clustered. Grose informs us that if anyone
sit in the church porch, he will see the spirits of those destined to
die that year come and knock at the church door in the order of their
decease. In Ireland there is a popular belief that on St. John's Eve
the souls of all persons leave their bodies, and wander to the place,
by land or sea, where death shall finally separate them from the
tenement of the clay. The same notion of a temporary liberation of the
soul gave rise to a host of superstitious observances at this time,
resembling those connected with Hallow Eve. Indeed, this latter night
is supposed to be the time of all others when supernatural influences
prevail. 'It is the night,' we are told, 'set apart for a universal
walking abroad of spirits, both of the visible and invisible world; for
one of the special characteristics attributed to this mystic evening is
the faculty conferred on the immaterial principle in humanity to detach
itself from its corporeal tenement and wander abroad through the realms
of space. Divination is then believed to attain its highest power,
and the gift asserted by Glendower of calling spirits "from the vast
deep" becomes available to all who choose to avail themselves of the
privileges of the occasion.'[319] Similarly, in Germany on St. Andrew's
Eve, young women try various charms in the hope of seeing the shadow of
their sweethearts; one of the rhymes used on the occasion being this:

    St. Andrew's Eve is to-day;
    Sleep all people,
    Sleep all children of men
    Who are between heaven and earth,
    Except this only man,
    Who may be mine in marriage.

The story goes that a girl once summoned the shadow of her future
husband. Precisely as the clock struck twelve he appeared, drank some
wine, laid a three-edged dagger on the table and vanished. The girl
put the dagger into her trunk. Some years afterwards there came a man
from a distant part to the town where the girl dwelt, bought property
there, and married her. He was, in fact, the identical person whose
form had appeared to her. Some time after their marriage the husband by
chance opened the trunk, and there found the dagger, at the sight of
which he became furious. 'Thou art the girl,' said he, 'who years ago
forced me to come hither from afar in the night, and it was no dream.
Die, therefore!' and with these words he thrust the dagger into her

It may be added, that by general consent night-time is the season when
spirits wander abroad. The appearance of morning is the signal for
their dispersion.

    The flocking shadows pale,
    Troop to the infernal jail;
    Each fettered ghost slips to his several grave,
    And the yellow skirted fays,
    Fly after the night-steeds, leaving their noon-loved maze.

The ghost of Hamlet's father says, 'Methinks I scent the morning air,'
and adds:

                     'Fare thee well at once!
    The glow-worm shows the matins to be near.'

According to a popular notion formerly current, the presence of
unearthly beings was announced by an alteration in the tints of the
lights which happened to be burning--a superstition alluded to in
'Richard III.' (Act v. sc. 3)--where the tyrant exclaims as he awakens:

    'The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight,
    Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Methought the souls of all that I had murder'd
    Came to my tent.'

So in 'Julius Cæsar' (Act iv. sc. 3), Brutus, on seeing the ghost of
Cæsar, exclaims:

    'How ill this taper burns. Ha! who comes here?'


[318] Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, p. 48.

[319] See _Book of Days_, ii. pp. 519-521.

[320] See Thorpe's _Northern Mythology_, iii. p. 144.



According to Empedocles 'there are two destinies for the souls of
highest virtue--to pass into trees or into the bodies of lions,'
this conception of plants as the habitation of the departing soul
being founded on the old idea of transmigration. Illustrations of the
primitive belief meet us in all ages, reminding us how Dante passed
through that leafless wood, in the bark of every tree of which was
confined a suicide; and of Ariel's imprisonment:

    Into a cloven pine, within which rift
    Imprison'd, thou didst painfully remain
    A dozen years....
    ... Where thou didst vent thy groans,
    As fast as mill-wheels strike.

In German folk-lore the soul is supposed occasionally to take the form
of a flower, as a lily or white rose; and, according to a popular
belief, one of these flowers appears on the chairs of those about to
die. Grimm[321] tells a pretty tale of a child who 'carries home a bud
which the angel had given him in the wood; when the rose blooms the
child is dead.' Similarly, from the grave of one unjustly executed
white lilies are said to spring as a token of the person's innocence,
and from that of a maiden three lilies, which no one save her lover
must gather, a superstition which, under one form or another, has
largely prevailed both amongst civilised and savage communities. In
Iceland it is said that when innocent persons are put to death, the
sorb or mountain ash will spring over their grave, and the Lay of
Runzifal makes a blackthorn shoot out of the bodies of slain heathens,
and a white flower by the heads of fallen Christians. The well-known
story of 'Tristram and Ysonde' tells how 'from his grave there grew an
eglantine which twined about the statue, a marvel for all men to see;
and though three times they cut it down, it grew again, and ever wound
its arms about the image of the fair Ysonde.' With which legend may be
compared the old Scottish ballad of 'Fair Margaret and Sweet William':

    Out of her breast there sprang a rose,
    And out of his a briar;
    They grew till they grew to the church top,
    And there they tied in a true lover's knot.

It is to this time-honoured fancy that Laertes refers when he wishes
that violets may spring from the grave of Ophelia,[322] and Lord
Tennyson has borrowed the same idea:

    And from his ashes may be made,
    The violet of his native land.[323]

Some of the North-Western Indians believed that those who died a
natural death would be compelled to dwell among the branches of
tall trees, and the Brazilians have a mythological character called
Mani[324]--a child who died and was buried in the house of her mother.
Soon a plant--the Mandioca--sprang out of the grave, which grew,
flourished, and bore fruit. According to the Iroquois, the spirits of
certain trees are supposed to have the forms of beautiful females;
recalling, writes Mr. Herbert Spencer,[325] 'the dryads of classic
mythology, who, similarly conceived as human-shaped female spirits,
were sacrificed to in the same ways that human spirits in general were
sacrificed to.' 'By the Santals,' he adds, 'these spirits or ghosts are
individualised. At their festivals the separate families dance round
the particular trees which they fancy their domestic lares chiefly

In modern Greece certain trees are supposed to have their 'stichios,'
a being variously described as a spectre, a wandering soul, a vague
phantom, occasionally invisible, and sometimes assuming the most widely
different forms. When a tree is 'stichimonious,' it is generally
considered dangerous for anyone 'to sleep beneath its shade, and the
woodcutters employed to cut it down will lie upon the ground and hide
themselves, motionless, and holding their breath, at the moment when it
is about to fall, dreading lest the stichio at whose life the blow is
aimed with each blow of the axe, should avenge itself at the precise
moment when it is dislodged.'[326] This idea is abundantly illustrated
in European folk-lore, and a Swedish legend tells how, when a man was
on the point of cutting down a juniper tree, a voice was heard saying,
'Friend, hew me not.' But he gave another blow, when, to his horror and
amazement, blood gushed from the root.

Such spirit-haunted trees have been supposed to give proof of their
peculiar character by certain weird and mysterious signs. Thus the
Australian bush-demons whistle in the branches, and Mr. Schoolcraft
mentions an Indian tradition of a hollow tree, from the recesses of
which there issued on a calm day a sound like the voice of a spirit.
Hence it was considered to be inhabited by some powerful spirit, and
was deemed sacred. The holes in trees have been supposed to be the
doors through which the spirits pass, a belief which reappears in the
German idea that the holes in the oak are the pathways for elves, and
that various diseases may be cured by contact with these holes. It is
not surprising, too, that the idea of spirit-haunted trees caused them
to be regarded by the superstitious with feelings of awe. Mr. Dorman
tells us[327] of certain West Indian tribes, that if any person going
through a wood perceived a motion in the trees which he regarded as
supernatural, frightened at the strange prodigy, he would address
himself to that tree which shook the most. Similarly, when the wind
blows the long grass or waving corn, the German peasant is wont to say
that the 'Grass-wolf,' or the 'Corn-wolf' is abroad. Under a variety
of forms this animistic conception is found in different parts of the
world, and has been embodied in many a folk-tale--an Austrian Märchen
relating, for instance, how there sits in a stately fir-tree a fairy
maiden waited on by a dwarf, rewarding the innocent and plaguing the
guilty; and there is the German song of the maiden in the pine, whose
bark the boy split with a gold and silver horn.


[321] _Teutonic Mythology_, ii. p. 827.

[322] _Hamlet_, Act v. sc. 1.

[323] See _Folk-lore of Plants_, pp. 12, 13.

[324] Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, p. 293.

[325] _Principles of Sociology_, 1885, pp. 357-359.

[326] _Nineteenth Century_, April, 1882, p. 394; _Superstitions of
Modern Greece_, by M. Le Baron d'Estournelles.

[327] _Primitive Superstitions_, p. 288.



The presence of troubled phantoms in certain localities has long been
attributed to their being interested in the whereabouts of certain
secreted treasures, the disposal of which to the rightful owner having
been frustrated through death having prematurely summoned them from
their mortal existence. Traditions of the existence of large sums of
hidden money are associated with many of our own country mansions.
Such a legend was long connected with Hulme Castle, formerly a seat
of a branch of the Prestwich family. The hoard was generally supposed
to have been hidden either in the hall itself or in the grounds
adjoining, and was said to be protected by spells and incantations.
Many years ago the hall was pulled down, but, although considerable
care was taken to search every spot, no money was discovered. Secreted
treasure is associated with the apparition of Madame Beswick, who used
to haunt Birchen Tower, Hollinwood;[328] and an eccentric spectre
known as 'Silky,' which used to play all kinds of strange pranks in
the village of Black Heddon, Northumberland, was commonly supposed to
be the troubled phantom of a certain lady who had died before having
an opportunity of disclosing the whereabouts of some hoarded money.
With the discovery of the gold, this unhappy spirit is said to have
disappeared. The story goes that one day, in a house at Black Heddon,
a terrific noise was heard, which caused the servant to exclaim, 'The
deevil's in the house! the deevil's in the house! He's come through the
ceiling!' But on the room being examined where the noise occurred, a
great dog's skin was found on the floor, filled with gold, after which
time 'Silky' was neither seen nor heard.

Equally strange is the legend related of Swinsty Hall, which tells how
its original founder was a poor weaver, who travelled to London at a
time when the plague was raging, and finding many houses desolate and
uninhabited, took possession of the money left without an owner, to
such an extent that he loaded a waggon with the wealth thus acquired,
and, returning to his home, he built Swinsty Hall. But he cannot
cleanse himself from the contamination of the ill-acquired gold, and at
times, it is said, his unquiet spirit has been seen bending over the
Greenwell Spring rubbing away at his ghastly spoil. Mr. Henderson[329]
gives the history of an apparition which, with retributive justice,
once haunted a certain Yorkshire farmer. An old woman of Sexhow, near
Stokesley, appeared after her death to a farmer of the place, and
informed him that beneath a certain tree in his apple orchard he would
find a hoard of gold and silver which she had buried there; the silver
he was to keep for his trouble, but the gold he was to give to a niece
of hers living in great poverty. The farmer went to the spot indicated,
found the money, and kept it all to himself. But from that day his
conscience gave him no rest, and every night, at home or abroad, old
Nanny's ghost dogged his steps. At last one evening the neighbours
heard him returning from Stokesley market very late; his horse was
galloping furiously, and as he passed a neighbour's house, its inmates
heard him screaming out, 'I will, I will, I will!' and looking out they
saw a little old woman in black, with a large straw hat on her head,
clinging to him. The farmer's hat was off, his hair stood on end, as
he fled past them uttering his fearful cry, 'I will, I will, I will!'
But when the horse reached the farm all was still, for the rider was a

Tradition asserts that the 'white lady' who long haunted Blenkinsopp
Castle, is the ghost of the wife of Bryan de Blenkinsopp, who
quarrelled with her husband, and in a fit of spite she concealed a
chest of gold that took twelve of the strongest men to carry into the
castle. Filled with remorse for her undutiful conduct, the unhappy
woman cannot rest in her grave, but her spirit is doomed to wander back
to the old castle, and to mourn over the accursed wealth of which its
rightful owner was defrauded.

An old farm, popularly known in the neighbourhood as 'Sykes' Lumb
Farm,' from having been inhabited for many generations by a family of
the name of Sykes, was long haunted by an old wrinkled woman who, one
night, being interrogated by an occupier of the farm as to the cause of
her wandering about, made no reply, but proceeding towards the stump of
an old apple tree in the orchard, pointed significantly to the ground
beneath. On search being made, there was found buried deep in the earth
a jar of money, on the discovery of which the phantom vanished.

Anecdotes of treasures concealed at the bottom of wells are of frequent
occurrence, and the 'white ladies' who dwell in the lakes, wells, and
seas of so many countries, are owners of vast treasures, which they
occasionally offer to mortals. Tradition says that in a pool known as
Wimbell Pond at Acton, Suffolk, is concealed an iron chest of money,
and if any person approach the pond and throw a stone into the water,
it will ring against the chest--a small white figure having been heard
to cry in accents of distress, 'That's mine.'[330]

Scotland has many such stories. It is popularly believed that for many
ages past a pot of gold has lain at the bottom of a pool beneath a
fall of the rivulet underneath Craufurdland Bridge, about three miles
from Kilmarnock. Many attempts have been made to recover this treasure,
but something unforeseen has always happened to prevent a successful
issue. 'The last effort made, by the Laird of Craufurdland himself,'
writes Mr. Chambers,[331] 'was early in the last century, at the head
of a party of his domestics, who first dammed up the water, then
emptied the pool of its contents, and had heard their instruments clink
on the kettle, when a voice was heard saying:

    Pow, pow!
    Craufurdland tower's a' in a low!

Whereupon the laird left the scene, followed by his servants, and ran
home to save what he could. Of course, there was no fire in the house,
and when they came back to renew their operations, they found the
water falling over the lin in full force. Being now convinced that a
power above that of mortals was opposed to their researches, the laird
and his people gave up the attempt. Such is the traditionary story,
whether,' adds Mr. Chambers, 'founded on any actual occurrence, or
a mere fiction of the peasants' brain, cannot be ascertained; but it
is curious that a later and well authenticated effort to recover the
treasure was interrupted by a natural occurrence in some respects

Vast treasures are said to be concealed beneath the ruins of Hermitage
Castle, but, as they are in the keeping of the Evil One, they are
considered beyond redemption. Venturesome persons have occasionally
made the attempt to dig for them, but a storm of thunder and lightning
has generally deterred the adventurers from proceeding, otherwise,
of course, the money would have long ago been found. It is ever, we
are told, that such supernatural obstacles come in the way of these
interesting discoveries. Mr. Chambers relates how 'an honest man in
Perthshire, named Finlay Robertson, about a hundred years ago, went
with some stout-hearted companions to seek for the treasures which were
supposed to be concealed in the darksome cave of a deceased Highland
robber, but just as they had commenced operations with their mattocks,
the whole party were instantaneously struck, as by an electric shock,
which sent them home with fear and trembling, and they were ever after
remarked as silent, mysterious men, very apt to take offence when
allusion was made to their unsuccessful enterprise.'[332]

In Scotland and the North of England, the Brownie was regarded as a
guardian of hidden treasure, and 'to him did the Borderers commit
their money or goods, when, according to the custom prevalent in wild
insecure countries, they concealed them in the earth.' Some form of
incantation was practised on the occasion, such as the dropping upon
the treasure the blood of a slaughtered animal, or burying the slain
animal with it.[333]

According to the Welsh belief, if a person die while any hoarded
money--or, indeed, metal of any kind, were it nothing more than old
iron--is still secretly hidden, the spirit of that person cannot rest.
Others affirm that it is only ill-gotten treasure which creates this
disturbance of the grave's repose; but it is generally agreed that the
soul's unquiet condition can only be relieved by finding a human hand
to take the hidden metal, and throw it down the stream of a river.
To throw it up a stream is useless. The spirit 'selects a particular
person as the subject of its attentions, and haunts that person till
asked what it wants.' A story is told of a tailor's wife at Llantwit
Major, a stout and jolly dame, who was thus haunted until she was worn
to the semblance of a skeleton, 'for not choosing to take a hoard
honestly to the Ogmore'--the favourite river in Glamorganshire for this
purpose. To quote her own words, 'I at last consented, for the sake
of quiet, to take the treasure to the river, and the spirit wafted
me through the air so high that I saw below me the church loft and
all the houses, as if I had leaned out of a balloon. When I took the
treasure to throw it into the river, in my flurry I flung it up stream
instead of down, and on this the spirit, with a savage look, tossed me
into a whirlwind, and how ever I got back to my home I know not.' The
bell-ringers found her lying insensible in the Church lane, on their
return from church, late in the evening.[334]

No piece of folk-lore is more general in Ireland than that gold or
silver may be found under nearly all the raths, cairns, or old castles
throughout the island. It is always a difficult task to exhume such
buried treasure, for some preternatural guardian or other will be
found on the alert. These buried treasures are usually deposited in
'a crock,' but whenever an attempt is made to lift it, some awful
gorgon, or monster, appears. Sometimes a rushing wind sweeps over the
plain, or from the opening made, with destructive force, carrying away
the gold-seeker's hat or spade, or even, in various instances, the
adventurer himself, who is deposited with broken bones, or a paralysed
frame, at a respectful distance from the object of his quest. 'On
the banks of a northern river, and near a small eminence,' writes a
correspondent of the 'Gentleman's Magazine,'[335] 'is a beautiful green
plot, on which two large, moss-covered stones over six hundred feet
apart are shown. It is said two immense "crocks" of gold lie buried
under these conspicuous landmarks, and that various attempts have been
made to dig round and beneath them. In all those instances when a
persistent effort has been made, a monk appeared in full habit, with a
cross in his hand to warn off sacrilegious offenders.'

Similar legends are found in different parts of the world. 'The Isle of
Yellow Sands,' says Mr. Dorman,[336] 'derives its chief interest from
the traditions and fanciful tales which the Indians relate concerning
its mineral treasures and their supernatural guardians. They pretend
that its shores are covered with a heavy, shining, yellow sand, which
they are persuaded is gold, but that the guardian spirit of the island
will not permit any to be carried away. To enforce his commands, he has
drawn together upon it myriads of eagles, hawks, and other birds of
prey, who, by their cries warn him of any intrusions upon the domain,
and assist with their claws and beaks to expel the enemy. He has also
called from the depths of the lake, large serpents of the most hideous
forms, who lie thickly coiled upon the golden sands, and hiss defiance
to the steps of the intruder. A great many years ago, they say, some
people driven by stress of weather upon the island, put a large
quantity of the glittering treasure in their canoes and attempted to
carry it off; but a gigantic spirit strode into the water and in a tone
of thunder commanded them to bring it back'--

    Listen, white man, go not there!
    Unseen spirits stalk the air;
    Ravenous birds their influence lend,
    Snakes defy, and kites defend....
    Touch not, then, the guarded lands,
    Of the Isle of Yellow Sands.

The 'Ceylon Times' records a remarkable instance of superstition among
the Tamul population employed as labourers on a coffee estate. 'It is
the belief of all Orientals,' says the writer, 'that hidden treasures
are under the guardianship of supernatural beings. The Singhalese,
however, divide the charge between demons and cobra da capellos.
Various charms are resorted to by those who wish to gain the treasures,
the demons requiring a sacrifice. Blood of a human being is the most
important, but, as far as it is known, the Cappowas have hitherto
confined themselves to the sacrifice of a white cock, combining its
blood with their own, drawn by a slight puncture in the hand or foot.'

Many curious stories are on record of persons having been informed by
ghosts of the whereabouts of hidden money, and of their having been
directed to the spot where the hoarded treasure has lain for years
secreted in its undetected recess.

In the 'Antiquarian Repertory' is a singular narrative of a man named
Richard Clarke, a farm-labourer at Hamington, Northamptonshire, who was
haunted by the ghost of a man who declared that he had been murdered
near his own house 267 years, 9 months, and 2 days ago, and buried
in an orchard. He added that his wife and children, who had lived in
Southwark, never knew what became of him; that he had some treasures
and papers buried in the cellar of a house near London, and that he
(Clarke) must seek for it, and that he (the ghost) would meet him in
the cellar, to assist him in the search. The ghost added that as soon
as the money and the writings were found, and duly delivered to certain
relatives of his in Southwark, at such an address, removed from him in
the fourth generation, he would cease to visit him, and would leave him
in peace. Clarke went to town, and on London Bridge the ghost passed
him, and conducted him to the house, where his wife had lived four
generations before. Clarke found everything answering the description
which the ghost had given him; the money and the documents were
discovered, the writings on vellum found, but those on paper decayed.
Clarke divided the money, and acted as the ghost of the murdered man
directed him to do; and the latter 'lookt chearfully upon him, and gave
him thankes, and said now he should be at rest, and spoke to those
other persons which were of his generation, relations, but they had not
courage to answer, but Clarke talkt for them.'


[328] See Ingram's _Haunted Homes_, 2nd S. pp. 24, 25.

[329] _Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, p. 322.

[330] _Notes and Queries_, 1st S. v. p. 195.

[331] _Popular Rhymes of Scotland_, pp. 241-242.

[332] _Popular Rhymes of Scotland_, p. 240.

[333] Henderson's _Folk-lore of Northern Counties_, pp. 247-248.

[334] Wirt Sikes: _British Goblins_, pp. 151-152.

[335] 1865, pt. ii. pp. 706-707.

[336] _Primitive Superstitions_, p. 310.



Many of those weird melodious sounds which romance and legendary lore
have connected with the enchanted strains of invisible music have
originated in the moaning of the winds, and the rhythmical flow of
the waves. In several of their operatic works, our dramatic composers
have skilfully introduced the music of the fairies and of other aerial
conceptions of the fancy, reminding us of those harmonious sounds which
Caliban depicts in the 'Tempest' (Act iii. sc. 2):

                            The isle is full of noises,
    Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not;
    Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments,
    Will hum about mine ears, and sometimes voices
    That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
    Will make me sleep again.

Most countries have their stories and traditions of mysterious music
which, in many cases, has been associated with certain supernatural
properties. Under one form or another, the belief in phantom music
has extensively prevailed throughout Europe, and in many parts of
England it is still supposed to be heard, occasionally as a presage
of death. It has been generally supposed that music is the favourite
recreation of the spirits that haunt mountains, rivers, and all kinds
of lonely places. The Indians would not venture near Manitobah Island,
their superstitious fears being due to the weird sounds produced by
the waves as they beat upon the beach at the foot of the cliffs,
near its northern extremity. During the night, when a gentle breeze
was blowing from the north, the various sounds heard on the island
were quite sufficient to strike awe into their minds. These sounds
frequently resembled the ringing of distant bells; so close, indeed,
was the resemblance that travellers would awake during the night with
the impression that they were listening to chimes. When the breeze
subsided, and the waves played gently on the beach, a low wailing
sound would be heard three hundred yards from the cliffs.[337]

Sometimes music is heard at sea, and it is believed in Ireland that
when a friend or relative dies, a warning voice is discernible.
The following is a rough translation of an Irish song founded on
this superstition, which is generally sung to a singularly wild and
melancholy air:

    A low sound of song from the distance I hear,
    In the silence of night, breathing sad on my ear.
    Whence comes it? I know not--unearthly the note,
    And unearthly the tones through the air as they float;
    Yet it sounds like the lay that my mother once sung,
    And o'er her firstborn in his cradle she hung.

When ships go down at sea, it is said the death-bell is at times
distinctly heard, a superstition to which Sir Walter Scott alludes:

    And the kelpie rang,
    And the sea-maid sang,
    The dirge of lovely Rosabelle.

At the present day, indeed, all kinds of phantom musical sounds are
believed to float through the air--sounds which the peasantry, in days
past, attributed to the fairies.

The American Indians have a similar piece of legendary lore. Gayarre,
in his 'Louisiana,' says that mysterious music floats on the waters
of the river Pascagoula, 'particularly on a calm moonlight night. It
seems to issue from caverns or grottoes in the bed of the river, and
sometimes oozes up through the water under the very keel of the boat
which contains the traveller, whose ear it strikes as the distant
concert of a thousand Æolian harps. On the banks of the river, close by
the spot where the music is heard, tradition says that there existed
a tribe different from the rest of the Indians. Every night when the
moon was visible, they gathered round the beautifully carved figure
of a mermaid, and, with instruments of strange shape, worshipped the
idol with such soul-stirring music as had never before blessed human
ears. One day a priest came among them and tried to convert them from
the worship of the mermaid. But on a certain night, at midnight, there
came a rushing on the surface of the river, and the water seemed to be
seized with a convulsive fury. The Indians and the priest rushed to
the bank of the river to contemplate the supernatural spectacle. When
she saw them, the mermaid turned her tones into still more bewitching
melody, and kept chanting a sort of mystic song. The Indians listened
with growing ecstasy, and one of them plunged into the river to rise no
more. The rest--men, women, and children--followed in quick succession,
moved, as it were, with the same irresistible impulse. When the last of
the race disappeared, the river returned to its bed. Ever since that
time is heard occasionally the distant music, which the Indians say is
caused by their musical brethren, who still keep up their revels at the
bottom of the river, in the palace of the mermaid.'

It was a popular belief in years gone by, that it was dangerous to
listen long to the weirdly fascinating influence of phantom music,
or, as it was sometimes called, 'diabolic music,' as it was employed
by evil-disposed spirits for the purpose of accomplishing some wicked
design. Tradition tells how certain weird music was long since heard in
an old mansion in Schleswig Holstein. The story goes that at a wedding
there was a certain young lady present, who was the most enthusiastic
dancer far and near, and who, in spite of having danced all the
evening, petulantly exclaimed, 'If the devil himself were to call me
out, I would not refuse him.' Suddenly the door of the ball-room flew
open, and a stranger entered and invited her to dance. Round and round
they whirled unceasingly, faster and faster, until, to the horror of
all present, she fell down dead. Every year afterwards, on the same
day as this tragic event happened, exactly at midnight, the mansion
long resounded with diabolic music, the lady haunting the scene of
her fearful death. There are numerous versions of this story, and one
current in Denmark is known as 'The Indefatigable Fiddler.' It appears
that on a certain Sunday evening, some young people were merrymaking,
when it was decided to have a little dancing. In the midst of an
animated discussion as to how they could procure a musician, one of
the party boastingly said, 'Now, that leave to me. I will bring you
a musician, even if it should be the devil himself.' Thereupon he
left the house, and had not gone far when he met a poverty-looking
man with a fiddle under his arm, who, for a certain sum, agreed to
play. Soon the young people, spellbound by the fiddler's music, were
frantically dancing up and down the room unable to stop, and in spite
of their entreaties he continued playing. They must have soon died
of exhaustion, had not the parish priest arrived at the farmhouse,
and expelled the fiddler by certain mystic words. Sometimes, it is
said, the sound of music, such as harp-playing, is heard in the most
sequestered spots, and is attributed to supernatural agency. The Welsh
peasantry thought it proceeded from the fairies, who were supposed
to be specially fond of this instrument; but such music had this
peculiarity--no one could ever learn the tune.

Cortachy Castle, the seat of the Earl of Airlie, has long had its
mysterious drummer; and whenever the sound of his drum is heard, it
betokens the speedy death of a member of the Ogilvie family. The
story goes that 'either the drummer, or some officer whose emissary
he was, had excited the jealousy of a former Lord Airlie, and that
in consequence he was put to death by being thrust into his own drum
and flung from the window of the tower, in which is situated the
chamber where his music is apparently chiefly heard. It is said that
he threatened to haunt the family if his life were taken,' a promise
which he has fulfilled.[338] With this strange warning may be compared
the amusing story popularly known as 'The Drummer of Tedworth,' in
which the ghost or evil spirit of a drummer, or the ghost of a drum,
performed the principal part in this mysterious drama for 'two entire
years.' The story, as succinctly given by George Cruikshank,[339] goes
that in March 1661, Mr. Monpesson, a magistrate, caused a vagrant
drummer to be arrested, who had been annoying the country by noisy
demands for charity, and had ordered his drum to be taken from him, and
left in the bailiff's house. About the middle of the following April,
when Mr. Monpesson was preparing for a journey to London, the bailiff
sent the drum to his house. But on his return home, he was informed
that noises had been heard, and then he heard the noises himself,
which were a 'thumping and drumming,' accompanied by 'a strange noise
and hollow sound.' The sign of it when it came was like a hurling in
the air over the house, and at its going off, the beating of a drum,
like that of the 'breaking up of a guard.' After a month's disturbance
outside the house, it came into the room where the drum lay. For an
hour together it would beat 'Roundheads and Cockolds,' the 'tattoo,'
and several other points of war as well as any drummer. Upon one
occasion, when many were present, a gentleman said, 'Satan, if the
drummer set thee to work, give three knocks,' which it did at once. And
for further trial, he bid it for confirmation, if it were the drummer,
to give five knocks and no more that night, which it did, and left the
house quiet all the night after. 'But,' as George Cruikshank observes,
'strange as it certainly was, is it not still more strange that
educated gentlemen, and even clergymen, as in this case, also should
believe that the Almighty would suffer an evil spirit to disturb and
affright a whole innocent family, because the head of that family had,
in his capacity as magistrate, thought it his duty to take away a drum
from no doubt a drunken drummer, who, by his noisy conduct, had become
a nuisance to the neighbourhood?'

In many parts of the country, phantom bells are supposed to be heard
ringing their ghostly peals. Near Blackpool, about two miles out
at sea, there once stood, tradition says, the church and cemetery
of Kilmigrol, long ago submerged. Even now, in rough weather, the
melancholy chimes of the bells may be heard sounding over the restless
waters. A similar story is told of Jersey. According to a local legend,
many years ago, 'the twelve parish churches in that island possessed
each a valuable peal of bells, but during a long civil war the bells
were sold to defray the expenses of the troops. The bells were sent to
France, but on the passage the ship foundered, and everything was lost.
Since then, during a storm, these bells always ring at sea, and to
this day the fishermen of St. Ouen's Bay, before embarking, go to the
edge of the water to listen if they can hear the bells; if so, nothing
will induce them to leave the shore.' With this story may be compared
one told of Whitby Abbey, which was suppressed in 1539. The bells were
sold, and placed on board to be conveyed to London. But, as soon as
the vessel had moved out into the bay it sank, and beneath the waters
the bells may occasionally be heard, a legend which has been thus
poetically described:

    Up from the heart of the ocean
      The mellow music peals,
    Where the sunlight makes its golden path,
      And the seamew flits and wheels.

    For many a chequered century,
      Untired by flying time,
    The bells no human fingers touch
      Have rung their hidden chime.

To this day the tower of Forrabury Church, Cornwall, or, as it has been
called by Mr. Hawker, 'the silent tower of Bottreaux,' remains without
bells. It appears the bells were cast and shipped for Forrabury, but as
the ship neared the shore, the captain swore and used profane language,
whereupon the vessel sank beneath a sudden swell of the ocean. As it
went down, the bells were heard tolling with a muffled peal; and ever
since, when storms are at hand, their phantom sound is still audible
from beneath the waves:

    Still when the storm of Bottreaux's waves
    Is waking in his weedy caves,
    Those bells that sullen surges hide,
    Peal their deep tones beneath the tide--
    'Come to thy God in time,'
    Thus saith the ocean chime;
    'Storm, whirlpool, billow past,
    Come to thy God at last.'

Legends of this kind remind us of Southey's ballad of the 'Inchcape
Bell,' founded on a tragic legend. The abbots of Aberbrothock
(Arbroath) fixed a bell on a rock, as a kindly warning to sailors, that
obstruction having long been considered the chief difficulty in the
navigation of the Firth of Forth. The bell was so fastened as to be
rung by the agitation of the waves, but one day, Sir Ralph the Rover
'cut the bell from the Inchcape float,' and down sank the bell with a
gurgling sound. Afterwards,

    Sir Ralph the Rover sailed away,
    He scoured the sea for many a day,
    And now grown rich with plundered store,
    He steers his course for Scotland's shore.

But the night is dark and hazy, and--

    They hear no sound, the swell is strong,
    Though the wind hath fallen they drift along,
    Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock.
    'O Christ! It is the Inchcape rock!'

But it is too late--the ship is doomed:

    Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair;
    He cursed himself in his despair.
    The waves rush in on every side;
    The ship is sinking beneath the tide.

    But even in his dying fear
    One dreadful sound could the rover hear,
    A sound as if with the Inchcape bell,
    The devil below was ringing his knell.

Indeed, there are all kinds of whimsical stories current of phantom
bells, and according to a tradition at Tunstall, in Norfolk, the parson
and churchwardens disputed for the possession of some bells which
had become useless because the tower was burnt. But, during their
altercation, the arch-fiend quickly travelled off with the bells,
and being pursued by the parson, who began to exorcise in Latin,
he dived into the earth with his ponderous burden, and the place
where he disappeared is a boggy pool of water, called 'Hell Hole.'
Notwithstanding the aversion of the powers of darkness to such sounds,
even these bells are occasionally permitted to favour their native
place with a ghostly peal. Similarly, at Fisherty Brow, near Lonsdale,
there is a sort of hollow where, as the legend runs, a church, parson,
and congregation were swallowed up. On a Sunday morning the bells
may be heard ringing a phantom peal by anyone who puts his ear to the

Occasionally, it is said, phantom music, by way of warning, is heard
just before a death, instances of which are numerous.

Samuel Foote, in the year 1740, while visiting at his father's house in
Truro, was kept awake by sounds of sweet music. His uncle was at about
the same time murdered by assassins. This strange occurrence is thus
told by Mr. Ingram.[340] Foote's maternal uncles were Sir John Goodere
and Captain Goodere, a naval officer. In 1740 the two brothers dined
at a friend's house near Bristol. For a long time they had been on bad
terms, owing to certain money transactions, but at the dinner-table a
reconciliation was, to all appearance, arrived at between them. But, on
his return home, Sir John was waylaid by some men from his brother's
vessel, acting by his brother's authority, carried on board, and
deliberately strangled, Captain Goodere not only unconcernedly looking
on, but furnishing the rope with which the crime was committed. The
strangest part of this terrible tale, however, remains to be told. On
the night the murder was perpetrated, Foote arrived at his father's
house in Truro, and he used to relate how he was kept awake for some
time by the softest and sweetest strains of music he had ever heard. At
first he tried to fancy it was a serenade got up by some of the family
to welcome him home, but not being able to discover any trace of the
musicians, he came to the conclusion that he was deceived by his own
imagination. He shortly afterwards learnt that the murder had been
consummated at the same hour of the same night as he had been haunted
by the mysterious sounds.


[337] Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, p. 309.

[338] See Ingram's _Haunted Homes_, p. 53.

[339] _A Discovery Concerning Ghosts_, 1864, pp. 18, 19.

[340] _Haunted Homes_, p. 253.



The deceptiveness of sound in olden times was very little understood,
and hence originated, in most countries, a host of traditionary tales
descriptive of sundry mysterious noises which were generally attributed
to supernatural agencies. Hence, it is impossible to say how many a
ghost story would long ago have found a satisfactory solution if only
attention had been paid to the properties of sound. But by disregarding
the laws which regulate the conditions upon which sound is oftentimes
more or less audible, the imagination has frequently conjured up
the most fantastic reasons for some mysterious rumbling which has
suddenly trespassed on the silence of the night. Thus, Dr. Tyndall
has proved how the atmosphere is occasionally in an unusual degree
more transparent or opaque to sound as well as to light, and supported
this theory by referring to the audibility of fog-signals, which
vary according to the state of the weather. Facts of this kind are of
the utmost importance in accounting, it may be, for some apparently
inexplicable sound. It is sometimes forgotten, too, that sounds are
far more audible at night time than during the day, and what would
fail to attract notice, even if heard during the hours of sunlight,
would probably be treated in a different aspect when once the darkness
of evening had set in. There is perhaps no superstition so deeply
rooted in the popular mind as the belief in what are generally termed
'death-warnings'; the common opinion being that death announces its
approach by certain mysterious noises, a powerful illustration of which
occurs in 'Macbeth' (Act ii. sc. 3), where Lennox graphically describes
how, on the awful night in which Duncan is murdered--

    Our chimneys were blown down: and, as they say
    Lamentings heard i' the air; strange screams of death:
    And prophesying, with accents terrible,
    Of dire combustion, and confused events,
    New hatch'd to the woeful time.

Modern folk-lore holds either that a knocking or rumbling in the floor
is an omen of death about to happen, or that dying persons themselves
announce their dissolution to their friends in such strange sounds.[341]

In recent years one of the most interesting instances of a phantom
voice occurred in connection with the death of Mr. George Smith,
the well-known Assyriologist. This eminent scholar died at Aleppo,
on August 19, 1876, at about six o'clock in the afternoon. On the
same day, and at about the same time, as Dr. Delitzsch--a friend and
fellow-worker of Mr. Smith--was passing within a stone's throw of the
house in which he had lived when in London, he suddenly heard his own
name uttered aloud 'in a most piercing cry,' which a contemporary
record of the time said 'thrilled him to the marrow.' The fact
impressed Dr. Delitzsch so much that he looked at his watch, made a
note of the hour, and recorded the fact in his note-book, this being
one of those straightforward and unimpeachable coincidences which, even
to an opponent, is difficult to explain.

There can be no doubt that many of the unearthly noises heard near and
in lonely houses on the coast were produced by an illicit class of
spirits, that is, through the agency of smugglers, 'in order to alarm
and drive all others but their accomplices from their haunts.' Thus, in
a house at Rottingdean, Sussex, all kinds of strange noises were heard
night after night, when suddenly they ceased. Soon afterwards one of
a gang of smugglers confessed to their having made a secret passage
from the beach close by the house, and that, wishing to induce the
occupiers to abandon it, they had rolled at the dead of night tub after
tub of spirits up the passage, and so had caused it to be reported that
the place was haunted.[342] George Cruikshank tells how, in the wine
cellar of a house somewhere near Blackheath, there were sometimes heard
strange noises in the evening and at night-time, such as knocking,
groaning, footsteps, &c. The master of the house at last determined 'to
lay the ghost' if possible, and one evening, when these noises had been
heard, went with his servants to the cellar, where they discovered an
under-gardener in a drunken state. It seems that he had tunnelled a
hole from the tool-house through the wall into the cellar.

In numerous cases, too, there can be no doubt that strange noises heard
in the silent hours of the night have been due to some cleverly-devised
trick for the purpose, in many cases, of keeping the house uninhabited,
and thereby benefiting, it may be, some impecunious care-taker. A story
is told of a ghost--which turned out to be the trick of a Franciscan
friar--that answered questions by knocking in the Catholic church of
Orleans, and demanded the removal of the provost's Lutheran wife, who
had been buried there.[343] But one of the most eccentric instances
of spiritual antics was the noises said to have been heard at Epworth
Parsonage in the time of the Rev. Samuel Wesley, these sounds having
consisted of 'knockings' and 'groanings,' of 'footsteps,' and 'rustling
of silk trailing along,' 'clattering of the iron casement,' and
'clattering of the warming pan,' and all sorts of frightful noises,
which frightened even a big dog, a large mastiff, who used, at first,
when he heard the noises, 'to bark, and leap, and snap on one side
and the other, and that frequently before anyone in the room heard
the noises at all; but after two or three days he used to creep away
before the noise began, and by this the family knew it was at hand.'
Mr. Wesley at one time thought it was rats, and sent for a horn to
blow them away. But this made matters worse, for after the horn was
blown the noise came in the daytime as well. Some of the Wesley family
believed it to be supernatural hauntings, and explained the cause of
it thus: at morning and evening prayers, 'when the Rev. Samuel Wesley
commenced prayer for the king, a knocking began all round the room, and
a thundering knock attended the _Amen_.' Mr. Wesley observed that his
wife did not say '_Amen_' to the prayer for the king, but Mrs. Wesley
added she could not, for she did not believe that the Prince of Orange
was king.[344] Ewshott House, Hampshire, was disturbed by equally
strange sounds, and Glamis Castle, with its secret room, has long been
famous for the mysterious noises, knocking, and hammering heard at
night-time, which a lady once remarked reminded her of the erection of
a scaffold.

The miscreant ghosts of wicked people are supposed to make all kinds of
unearthly noises, for as they cannot enjoy peace in their graves, they
delight in annoying the occupants of their mortal haunts. Lowther Hall,
the residence of the 'bad Lord Lonsdale,' was disturbed by such uncanny
sounds that neither men nor animals were permitted to rest, and many of
the ghost stories told of our old country houses describe the peculiar
noises made by their ghostly tenants. The mother of the premier, George
Canning, used to tell her experiences of a haunted house in Plymouth,
where she stayed during a theatrical engagement. Having learnt from a
Mr. Bernard, who was connected with the theatre, that he could obtain
comfortable apartments for her at a moderate price, she accepted his
offer. 'There is,' said he, 'a house belonging to our carpenter that
is reported to be haunted, and nobody will live in it. If you like to
have it you may, and for nothing, I believe, for he is so anxious to
get a tenant; only you must not let it be known that you do not pay any
rent for it.' It turned out as Mr. Bernard had informed her, for night
after night she heard all such noises as are wont to proceed from a
workshop, although, on examining every part of the house herself, she
found nothing to account for this extraordinary series of noises.

Occasionally, it is said, before the perpetration of any dreadful
crime, as murder, a supernatural sound is heard. A murder was
committed, for instance, at Cottertown, of Auchanasie, near Keith,
on January 11, 1797, in connection with which the following facts
have been recorded: 'On the day on which the deed was done, two men,
strangers to the district, called at a farmhouse about three miles
from the house in which lived the old folk that were murdered. Shortly
before the tragic act was committed, a sound was heard passing along
the road the two men were seen to take, in the direction of the place
at which the murder was perpetrated. So loud and extraordinary was the
noise that the people left their houses to see what it was that was
passing. To the amazement of every one, nothing was to be seen, though
it was moonlight, and moonlight so bright that it aroused attention.
All believed something dreadful was to happen, and some proposed to
follow the sound. About the time this discussion was going on, a
blaze of fire arose on the hill of Auchanasie. The foul deed had been
accomplished, and the cottage set on fire. By next day all knew of what
the mysterious sound had been the forerunner.'[345] At Wheal Vor Mine
an unaccountable noise has been generally supposed to be a warning.
On Barry Island, near Cardiff, it is said that certain ghostly noises
were formerly heard in it--sounds resembling the clanking of chains,
hammering of iron, and blowing of bellows, and which were supposed to
be made by the fiends whom Merlin had set to work to frame the wall of
crags to surround Carmarthen.

The following extract from Lockhart's 'Life of Sir Walter Scott'
records a strange noise which was heard while the new house at
Abbotsford was being built, the novelist living in an older part,
close adjoining: 'Walter Scott to Daniel Terry, April 30, 1818.... The
exposed state of my house has led to a mysterious disturbance. The
night before last we were awakened by a violent noise, like drawing
heavy boards along the new part of the house. I fancied something had
fallen, and thought no more about it; this was about _two_ in the
morning. Last night, at the same witching hour, the very same noise
occurred. Mrs. S., as you know, is rather timbersome, so up I got, with
Beardie's broad sword under my arm--

    Bolt upright,
    And ready to fight.

But nothing was out of order, neither can I discover what occasioned
the disturbance.' Mr. Lockhart adds: 'On the morning that Mr. Terry
received the foregoing letter in London, Mr. William Erskine was
breakfasting with him, and the chief subject of their conversation
was the sudden death of George Bullock, which had occurred on the
same night, and nearly as they could ascertain at the very hour when
Scott was aroused from his sleep by the "mysterious disturbance" here
described. This coincidence, when Scott received Erskine's minute
detail of what had happened in Tenterdon Street (that is, the death of
Bullock, who had the charge of furnishing the new rooms at Abbotsford),
made a much stronger impression on his mind than might be gathered
from the tone of an ensuing communication.' It seems that Bullock had
been at Abbotsford, and made himself a great favourite with old and
young. Sir Walter Scott, a week or two afterwards, wrote thus to Terry:
'Were you not struck with the fantastical coincidence of our nocturnal
disturbances at Abbotsford, with the melancholy event that followed? I
protest to you the noise resembled half a dozen men at work, putting
up boards and furniture, and nothing can be more certain than that
there was nobody on the premises at the time. With a few additional
touches, the story would figure in Glanville or Aubrey's collection. In
the meantime you may set it down, with poor Dubisson's warnings, as a
remarkable coincidence coming under your own observation.'

In a paper by Mrs. Edwards, in 'Macmillan's Magazine,' entitled 'The
Mystery of Pezazi,' an account is given of constant disturbing sounds
of nocturnal tree-felling heard near a bungalow in Ceylon, where
examination proved that no trees had been felled. Mrs. Edwards, her
husband, and their servants were on several occasions disturbed by
these sounds, which were unmistakable and distinct. The Singhalese
attribute these noises to a Pezazi, or spirit. A description of
precisely the same disturbances occurs, writes Mr. Andrew Lang,[346]
in Sahagun's account of the superstitions of the Aztecs, and it seems
that the Galapagos Islands, 'suthard of the line,' were haunted by the
midnight axe. 'De Quincey,' adds Mr. Lang, 'who certainly had not heard
the Ceylon story, and who probably would have mentioned Sahagun's had
he known it, describes the effect produced by the midnight axe on the
nerves of his brother, Pink: "So it was, and attested by generations
of sea-vagabonds, that every night, duly as the sun went down and the
twilight began to prevail, a sound arose--audible to other islands,
and to every ship lying quietly at anchor in that neighbourhood--of
a woodcutter's axe.... The close of the story was that after, I
suppose, ten or twelve minutes of hacking and hewing, a horrid crash
was heard, announcing that the tree, if tree it were, that never yet
was made visible to daylight search, had yielded to the old woodman's
persecution.... The woodcutter's axe began to intermit about the
earliest approach of dawn, and as light strengthened it ceased
entirely, after poor Pink's ghostly panic grew insupportable."'

Among the American Indians all the sounds that issued from caverns
were thought to be produced by their spiritual inhabitants. The
Sonora Indians say that departed souls dwell among the caves and
nooks of their cliffs, and that echoes often heard there are their
voices. Similarly, when explosions were heard, caused by the
sulphurous gas from the rocks around the head-waters of Lake Ontario,
the superstitious Indians attributed them to the breathing of the
Manitones.[347] The modern Dayaks, Siamese, and Singhalese agree with
the Esths as to noises being caused by spirits. European folk-lore has
long ascribed most of the unexplained noises to the agency of spirits,
and to this day Franconian damsels go to a tree on St. Thomas's Day,
knock three times, and listen for the indwelling spirit to inform them
from raps within what kind of husbands they are to have. Hence the
night is known as 'Little Knocker's Night.' There is the Poltergeist of
the German, a mischievous spirit, who wanders about the house at night
making all kinds of strange noises.


[341] Tylor's _Primitive Culture_, i. p. 145.

[342] Mrs. Latham's 'West Sussex Superstitions,' _Folk-lore Record_, i.
p. 21.

[343] See Tylor's _Primitive Culture_, i. p. 146.

[344] See Southey's _Life of Wesley_.

[345] Walter Gregor: _Folk-lore of North-East of Scotland_, pp. 205,

[346] _Nineteenth Century_, vol. xvii. p. 627.

[347] Dorman's _Primitive Superstitions_, p. 302.


  Abbot, ghost of, in Abbey of Clare, 326
  Abbotsford, 434-436
  Abipones, superstitions of, 89, 336, 340
  Accidents, ghosts appear at scene of, 168
  African beliefs, 30, 90-91, 182, 346
  Agnes', St., Fast, 385
  Alaska belief, 10
  Albans, St., Duchess of, 100
  Aleutian islanders, 341
  Algonquin Indians, 40, 309, 339
  Allanbank, ghost at, 312
  Allhallow Eve, 118
  Althorp, apparition seen at, 319
  American Indian beliefs, 6, 23, 37, 89, 143, 217, 343, 414, 438
  Ancestor worship, 102
  Andaman islanders, 110
  Andrew's Eve, St., 388
  Angel of death, 273
  Angola, belief in, 182
  Animal ghosts, 102-126
  Arabian belief, 360
  Ash-ridlin, 386
  Ashley Hall, Cheshire, 326
  Assiniboins, belief of, 66
  Astwood Castle, 319
  Australian beliefs, 21, 33, 45, 67, 165, 340, 343, 360, 395
  Awd Nance, ghost so called, 326
  Aztec legend of Creation, 36
  ---- belief, 90, 437

  Bad Lord Lonsdale, 311, 432
  Bagley House, 318
  Bahrgeist, 114
  Balcarres, Lord, 372
  Banshee, 221, 271-283, 305, 383
  Barguest, 114
  Barton Hall, haunted, 312
  Basutos, belief of, 3
  Baxter, R., story told by, 250
  Bean-geese, 120
  Bear, soul as, 111
  Beckington Castle, 333
  Bees, soul in form of, 161
  Bell, passing, 15
  Bells, legends of, 420
  ---- phantom, 420
  ---- tolling of, 227
  Belludo, Spanish ghost, 147
  Benedictine nun, ghost of, 219
  Benjie Gear, ghost so called, 195
  Ben Jonson, 372
  Benshee, 273
  Bergmönch, spectre so called, 269
  Berkeley Square, mystery of, 317-318
  Berry Pomeroy Castle, 318
  Bertha of Rosenberg, 228
  Beswick, Madame, ghost of, 131, 399
  Bible in ghost laying, 192, 197
  Biddick Hall, South, 327
  Bilocation, or double personality, 367
  Birchen Tower, Hollinwood, 398
  Bird near sick-room, 97
  Birds as soul bearers, 96
  ---- phantom, 85-101
  ---- singed, souls as, 96
  ---- the way of, 96
  Birkbeck ghost, 372-373
  Birraark, 165-166
  Birth, superstitions relating to, 97
  Black dog, spectral, 107-108
  ---- friar, ghost of, 221, 308
  ---- Heddon, Northumberland, 398
  Bleeding nun, ghost of, 44
  Blenkinsopp Castle, 326, 400
  Bloodstains, indelible, 146
  Bloody hand, spectre of, 220
  Bluecap, 264
  ---- lights, 390
  Bodach au Dun, 220
  ---- Glas, 220
  Bodacher Garlin, 221
  Boggan, 114
  Boggart, at Clegg Hall, 199
  Boguest, 114
  Bohemian belief, 86, 160, 183, 211, 228, 336, 339
  Boleyn, Lady Ann, 147
  Bolivia, Yuricares of, 37
  Bolles pit, 203
  Bolotu, 28
  Bones of dead preserved, 36-37
  Booty's ghost, 241-244
  Borneo, Dayaks of, 18, 438
  Bothwell, Lady, ghost of, 74, 308
  Bottle imps, 185
  Bottreaux, bells of, 421
  Brandenburg, Elector of, 229
  Brazil, Indians of, 33, 41, 45, 90, 359, 393
  Brides, ghosts of, 61
  Bridge End House, 327
  Brocken, spectre of, 352
  Brougham, Lord, 245
  Brownies, 313, 404
  Brown lady at Rainham, 312
  Bulgarian belief, 80, 160, 189
  Bull, ghost as a, 104
  Burial-grounds, haunted, 343
  Burma, 359
  Burton Agnes Hall, 326
  Butterflies, phantom, 156-162
  Byron, Lord, 210, 221
  ---- Sir John, the Little, 313

  Caistor Hall, ghost at, 150
  Calabar superstition, 336
  Californian beliefs, 15, 35, 90
  Candles in ghost laying, 190
  ---- snuff of, taken for ghost laying, 362
  ---- spectral, 139
  Canning, George, 432
  Capelthwaite, 114
  Cassowary, 111
  Castle, sunken, 348
  Cedar room at Ashley Hall, 326
  Chappie, ghost so called, 306
  Chartley Park, 224
  Chasse Macabee, 125
  Checks against ghosts, 354-362
  Chevalier de Saxe, 171
  Chiancungi, fortune-tellers, 173
  Chibchas, 184
  Chinese belief, 6, 19, 33, 53, 55, 62, 65, 66, 72, 195, 211, 292,
    339, 358
  Choctaw belief, 29, 37
  Chough, King Arthur in form of, 94
  Christmastide, ghosts at, 302-303
  Church ghosts, 330-331
  ---- lamb, 126
  ---- porch, 332-333, 387
  ---- yard spectres, 69
  Churton Hall, 321
  Clegg Hall boggart, 199, 322
  Clock superstition, 227
  Cloud, soul as white, 4
  Cobal, ghost so called, 270
  Cock-crow, 354-356
  Cocks' feathers hinder exit of soul, 12
  Cold lad, 313
  Colt, ghost as a, 103
  Combermere Abbey, 322
  Compacts between living and dead, 245-256
  Copeland, lady of, 133
  Corby Castle, ghost at, 311
  Cornish beliefs, 103, 108, 120, 128, 201, 207, 208, 262, 294, 300,
  ---- legend of King Arthur, 94
  Cornwolf, 396
  Corpse candle, 139-140
  Cortachy Castle haunted, 311, 417
  Courting a ghost, 384
  Coved saloon at Combermere Abbey, 322
  Cows, ghosts in form of, 109
  Craighouse, 325
  Creslow Manor House, 313
  Criminals, ghosts of, 69
  Crook Hall haunted, 327
  Cross, check against evil spirits, 358, 361
  Cross-roads, ghosts at, 61, 383
  Cruikshank, George, 429
  Cullaby Castle, 320
  Cumberland, 76, 78, 266, 366
  Cumnor Hall, 77, 320
  Cutty Soams, 264
  Cwn y Wybe, 118
  Cyprus, 183

  Dandy dogs, 118, 120, 121
  Danish superstitions, 8, 48, 61, 88, 97, 126, 183, 215, 289, 361,
    385, 416
  Dead, mutilation of, 359-360
  ---- unburied, 43-49
  ---- worship of, 63
  Death bell, 413
  ---- birds presage of, 97-98
  ---- warnings, 12, 13, 219, 232, 427
  Delitzsch, Dr., 428
  Demon, soul as, 62
  Denis, St., 145
  Denton Hall, 326
  Departed, Bay of the, 206
  Derwentwater, Lady, 321
  Desert, water of, 352
  Devil, compact with Lord Soulis, 323
  ---- powerless at cock-crow, 355
  ---- tries to seize soul at death, 14
  Devonshire beliefs, 97, 98, 376
  Diedrick of Bern, 125
  Dishonesty in life causes soul to wander, 51
  Doe, White, of Rylstone, 108
  Dogs of hell, 122
  ---- spectral, 105-106
  ---- the sky, 122
  Donart's Castle, St., 76
  Doors unfastened at death, 6
  Dorcas, ghost so called, 267
  Dorchester, Lord, 380
  Dorsetshire, 149
  Doves in ghost-lore, 94, 98
  Doyle, Bishop, death of, 100
  Dreams, proof of soul's existence, 17, 18
  Dress, phantom, 303-309
  Drowned, ghosts of, 206-213
  Drummer, mysterious, 311
  ---- of Tedworth, 317
  Duck, soul as, 87
  Durham, 151
  Dutch belief, 8-9
  Dyterbjernat, 125

  Eagle, 94, 96
  Easterton ghost, the, 329
  Ebb of tide, death at, 15-16
  Edge Hill, strange phenomenon at, 351
  Edgewell oak, 222
  Edgeworth, Maria, 372
  Effigy, burial in, 49
  Elixir of life, 175
  Elizabeth, Queen, and her fetch, 364
  Elymas, the sorcerer, 164
  Epworth Parsonage haunted, 328, 430
  Eskimo belief, 6, 111, 143, 359
  Essex, 111
  Ewshott House haunted, 318, 431
  Exorcism, 88, 166
  Eye, soul in the, 3, 4

  Fairy music, 413
  Fata Morgana, 352
  Feathers, game, hinder exit of soul, 11-12
  Female fairy, 273
  Fetches, 363-364
  Fiddler, the indefatigable, 416
  Fijian beliefs, 19, 23, 27-28, 182, 217, 309, 339
  Finland, custom in, 336
  Fire, check against ghosts, 358
  Fish animated by souls, 111
  Flame, soul in, 137
  Flax-seed, charm against ghosts, 362
  Flies, souls as, 161
  Flying Dutchman, 286, 293
  Foot of the Fawn, 99
  Foote, Samuel, 424
  Foundation sacrifices, 30
  French beliefs, 5, 109, 125, 133, 231, 270, 289, 291
  Furious host, 136
  Fye, or wraith, 369

  Gabriel hounds, 117, 136
  ---- Ratchets, 118-119
  Galicia, belief in, 37
  Game feathers hinder exit of soul, 11-12
  German beliefs, 5, 6, 8, 9, 56, 86, 97, 99, 123, 135-136, 155, 183,
    212, 227, 260, 338, 341, 348, 360, 388, 391, 396
  Ghosts and hidden treasures, 397-410
  ---- checks against, 354-362
  ---- different classes of, 41
  ---- headless, 33, 53, 69, 144-158, 306, 383
  ---- times of appearing, 382-390
  ---- why they wander, 50-63
  Ghost laying, 104, 179-205
  ---- of the Hill, 220
  ---- raising, 163-178
  ---- seers, 214-218
  Glamis Castle haunted, 313, 431
  Gnat, soul as, 161
  Goblin friar, 313
  Golden mountain, 146
  Gould, Madame, 98
  Grass-wolf, 396
  Grave-sow, 126
  Graves, haunted, 341
  ---- treading on, 345
  Gray sow, 126
  Greece, beliefs in, 25, 183, 394
  Greenland, beliefs in, 23, 29, 339
  Grief causes soul to wander, 61
  Gunpowder and ghosts, 360-361
  Gurlinbeg, family of, 221

  Hackwood House haunted, 32
  Hairy left hand, girl with, 221
  Hallow Eve, 388
  Hamilton, Lady, of Bothwellhaugh, 74
  Hanged, ghosts of, 53
  Hare, ghost as, 103, 271
  Harlequin, 125
  Haunted houses, 310-334
  ---- localities, 335-353
  Headless ghosts, 33, 53, 60, 144-158, 306, 383
  Heart, seat of soul, 2, 3
  Hell Hole, 423
  Henequin, 125
  Herburt family, 94
  Hermitage Castle, 322, 403
  Herring piece, 93
  ---- spear, 93
  Hidden treasures and ghosts, 397-410
  Hilton Castle, 313
  Hindu beliefs, 339
  ---- dirge, 11
  Hinton Ampner Manor House, 312
  Hoby, Lady, 321
  Holland House, 145, 314
  Holly and ghost laying, 188
  ---- charm against evil spirits, 358
  Holt Castle, 319
  Hooper of Sennen Cove, 300
  Horse, spectre as, 125
  ---- shoe, 361
  Hottentot customs at death, 336, 339
  Hound, ghost as, 105
  House-fire put out at death, 359
  Houses, haunted, 310-334
  Howard, Lady, ghost of, 104
  Hugh Capet, 125
  Hulme Castle, treasures at, 397
  Hungary, belief in, 61
  Hunt, spectral, 124-125
  Huntsman, wild, 125
  Hurons of America, belief of, 67
  Hyssington Church, ghost at, 104

  Ignes Fatui, ghost as, 50-51
  Incantations against ghosts, 164
  Inchcape Bell, 422-423
  India, beliefs in, 12, 62, 67, 96, 99, 109, 110, 340, 343, 346,
    357, 393, 395, 412, 414
  Insect life, 102
  Irish superstitions, 11, 94, 137, 146, 153, 156-157, 226, 274-275,
    344, 350, 370, 377, 383, 405, 413
  Iroquois of North America, beliefs of, 44, 347, 393
  Italian belief, 358
  ---- burial custom, 339

  Jackals, ghosts as, 9
  Japanese ghost story, 72
  ---- mode of raising ghost, 166
  Jeffrey, Lady, ghost of, 187
  Jemmy Lowther, 311
  Juniper, spirit-haunted tree, 395

  Kaffir beliefs, 2, 336
  Kaneka superstition, 230-231
  Karens, beliefs of, 45, 67, 160, 309
  Kendal, Duchess of, 100
  Kilncote church porch, 332
  Kinchardines, 220
  Kirk-grim, 125
  Knauff-Kriegen, 270
  Knockers, 262

  Lady of Copeland, 133
  ---- of Death, 273
  ---- of the Golden Casket, 129
  ---- of the Lantern, 128
  ---- Winter's walk, 156
  Lamb buried under altar, 126
  ---- church, 126
  Lambton, Madame, 327
  Lancashire, 4-5, 14, 74-75, 91-92, 112, 198, 214, 376
  Lavington, East, parsonage, 329
  Lightfoot, Lady, 77
  Lights, phantom, 127-143
  Lily, soul as, 391-392
  Lincolnshire, 129
  Lion, 226
  Little Knocker's Night, 438
  Lledrith, 370
  Locks unfastened at death, 5, 7
  Lowther Hall haunted, 432
  Ly-erg, 220
  Lyttelton, Lord, 100

  Madagascar, beliefs in, 23, 346
  Madge Figg's chair, 129
  Madness causes soul to wander, 61
  Magic circle, 167
  Malay belief, 3
  Malevolent spirits, 70
  Manes worship, 63
  Manx fishermen, 93
  Maori belief, 336
  Mark's, St., Eve, 332, 386
  Martyrs, ghosts of, 86
  Mary Way, spectre so called, 152
  Mauthe Doog, 116-117, 311
  May Moulach, 221
  Mazarin, Duchess of, 254
  Mermaid, 415
  Mexican belief, 89
  Midsummer Eve, 387
  Milky-way, the, 96
  Miners' ghosts, 257-272, 370-371
  Mines, ghosts in, 108, 262-263
  Mirage, 352
  Mohun, Lord, 372
  Money hidden by ghosts, 400-409
  Monkey, soul as, 110
  Mountain, abode of spirits, 348
  Mourning customs, 340
  Mouse, soul as, 110
  Mouth, escape of soul from, 2-5
  Murder discovered through ghost, 81-84
  ---- preceded by supernatural sounds, 433-434
  Murdered, ghosts of, 33, 64-84
  Murderers, ghosts of, 52-53, 54, 360
  Music, phantom, 411-425
  ---- at sea, 413

  Necromancy, 165
  Netherby Hall, 327
  Newstead Abbey, 313
  New Zealanders, beliefs of, 3, 35, 182
  Nix, river spirit, 202
  Norfolk, 112, 148, 149, 208, 423
  Northamptonshire, 383-384, 409-410
  Northumberland, 150, 398
  Norwegian beliefs, 68, 76, 360
  Nostrils, exit of soul through, 3
  Nun, bleeding, 44
  ---- of Walton, spectre so called, 154
  Nymph of air, 273

  Oak, holes in, 395
  Obrick's colt, 103
  Ojibway, beliefs in, 30, 162, 184, 185, 217, 291, 336, 339, 347
  Old Barbery, ghost so called, 326-327
  ---- Hummums, 316
  Orleans, Catholic church of, 430
  Ottawas, beliefs of, 45, 68
  Oulton House, Suffolk, 322
  Ouse, river, 225
  Owls and Arundel of Wardour, 99, 222
  ---- as souls, 94-95
  Oxenham family, death-omen of, 98

  Padfoot, 113
  Papuans of New Guinea, belief of, 110
  Parsonages, haunted, 328-329
  Passing bell, 15
  Pawcorance, small bird, 95
  Pearlin, Jean, 305
  Peel Castle haunted, 116-117, 311
  Peg O'Nell, ghost so called, 200, 327
  Percy, Sir Joceline, 150
  Personality, double, 367
  Peruvian beliefs, 36, 257, 387
  Pezazi, mystery of, 436-437
  Phantom bells, 420-421
  ---- birds, 85-101
  ---- butterflies, 159-162
  ---- dress, 303-309
  ---- lights, 127-143
  ---- music, 411-425
  ---- sounds, 426-438
  Philosopher's stone, 175
  Pig, ghost as, 125
  Pigeon feathers hinder exit of soul, 11-12
  ---- ghost as a, 86
  Pigott, Madame, 197
  Pileck family, 94
  Pirate wrecker, 294
  Polish legend, 94
  Poltergeist, a spectre in Germany, 438
  Polynesian belief, 45
  Pomerania, belief in, 183
  Porter, Anna Maria, 373
  Potawatomis, 184
  Powis Castle, 320
  Prophecy at death, 13-14
  Pysling, form of ghost, 70

  Rabbit, 271
  Radiant boy, 129, 311
  Rainham, story Marquis of Townshend, 312
  Ramhurst Manor House, 312
  Ravens as ghosts of the murdered, 48, 88
  ---- omens of death, 100
  Red Sea, ghosts laid in, 201, 203-204
  Redwing, noise caused by, 93
  Rich, Lady Diana, 366
  Robin redbreast, 100-101
  Robsart, Amy, 77, 202, 320
  Roof, hole made in for exit of soul, 6
  Rose, white, soul as, 392
  Roslin Chapel, 141
  Rothiemurcus, 220
  Roumenian legend, 31
  Rufus, William, fetch of, 34
  Russia, Catharine of, 369
  Russian beliefs, 2, 12, 32, 137, 159, 161, 338, 349, 358
  Rustling lady, the, 327

  Sacrifices, foundation, 30
  ---- to souls of departed, 62
  Samlesbury Hall, 322
  Sampford Peverell ghost, 322
  Sandwich Islanders, 340
  Scotch beliefs, 6, 7, 11, 61, 73, 125, 129, 169, 180, 194, 230,
    239, 258, 265, 312, 359, 369, 370, 401-402
  Scott, Sir Walter, 434-435
  Seals, spectral, 106
  Sea-phantoms, 284-302
  Seaton Delaval Castle, 321
  Second sight, 22, 233-244
  Seminoles of Florida, 4, 336
  Serpent comes out of mouth, 109
  Servian belief, 160
  Seven whistlers, 91
  Sexhow, ghost at, 399
  Shadow sight, 233
  ---- soul as, 29-32
  Sheep, ghosts as, 109
  Shelley and his wraith, 365
  Shell fire, 137
  Shrieking woman, the, 71
  Shropshire, 55, 61, 103-104, 151-153, 181-187, 190
  Shuck's Lane, 112
  Siamese superstitions, 67, 212, 339-438
  Siberian belief, 358
  Silky, name of a ghost, 130, 305, 321, 327, 398
  Silky's bridge, 131
  Simon Magus, 164
  Singed birds, souls as, 96
  Singhalese superstitions, 408, 437-438
  Skipsea Castle, 326
  Skull at Agnes Burton Hall, 326
  Smellie, W., 252
  Smith, George, the Assyriologist, 428
  Smoke, soul as, 2
  Smugglers, 429
  Snakes, ghosts in form of, 62-109
  Sneezing, explanation of, 22
  Soul-bringer, 97
  Soul, appearance of, 40-41
  ---- bringing back of, 19
  ---- destination of, 348
  ---- duplex nature of, 27
  ---- existence of depends on manner of death, 33-35
  ---- exit of, 1-16
  ---- materiality of, 24-27
  ---- nature of, 24-42
  ---- temporary exit of, 17-23, 338
  ---- voice of, 39-40
  ---- weight of, 38-39
  Souldern Rectory, 328
  Souter, or Soutra, Fell, 351
  Spanish beliefs, 5, 360
  Spectral child, 321
  ---- dogs, 111
  ---- hunt, 124-5
  ---- ships, 288-9, 294
  Spells against ghosts, 354-362
  Spirit of air, 273
  Staffordshire rhyme, 51
  Steam, soul as, 3
  Stichios, a kind of spectre, 394
  Storks, 95, 97
  Stradling, Lady, 76
  Strand varsler, 48
  Striker, 112
  Sturgeon, death omen, 222
  Suffolk belief, 149, 184-198
  Suicides, ghosts of, 53
  Sunday children, 215
  Sunken towns, 348
  Sunrise, ghosts disappear at, 390
  Sussex beliefs, 11, 37, 150, 429
  Swallow, ghost as, 86
  Swan, soul in form of, 88
  Swarth or fetch, 366
  Swedish beliefs, 88, 125, 135, 229, 289, 356, 384-395
  Swinsty Hall, 398
  Switzerland, 161
  Sykes Lumb Farm, 400-401

  Tahiti beliefs, 3, 182
  Talking dog, 311
  Tasks, or wraiths, 370
  Tasmanian belief, 340
  Tears hinder exit of soul, 8-11
  Tedworth, drummer of, 418
  Thomas's Day, St., 438
  Thuringia, Duke Louis of, sign of his death, 99
  Tibetan belief, 339
  Tide, life goes out with, 15-16
  Tipperahs of Chittagong, 181
  Tongan belief, 29
  Tower of London haunted, 314-315
  Trash, spectre dog so called, 112
  Treasures and ghosts, 397-410
  ---- guarded by evil spirits, 257-258
  Trees, spirit-haunted, 391-396
  Trevelyan, seat of, haunted, 321
  Trinity Church, York, ghost at, 330
  Tulloch Gorms, 221
  Tyrolese superstitions, 4

  Unbaptized, souls of, 136

  Valentine's Eve, St., 386
  Vampires, 189
  Vapour, soul as, 3
  Vingoes, death token of, 221
  Violets spring from graves, 393

  Waddow Hall, 327
  Waff, or fetch, 366
  Wallow Crag, ghost laid under, 312
  Walton Abbey, 306, 322
  Warwickshire, 263
  Water, relation of ghosts to, 181-182
  Weasel, soul as, 110
  Wells, haunted, 348
  Welsh superstitions, 53, 116, 122, 140, 185, 189, 260-261, 404-405,
  Wheal Vor, mine haunted at, 260, 434
  Whistlers, the seven, 91
  Whistling, voice of souls, 40
  Whitby Abbey, 420
  White-breasted bird, 97, 223
  White Doe of Rylstone, 108
  ---- lady, 98, 227-229, 305, 326-327
  ---- ---- of Skipsea, 306
  ---- ---- of Sorrow, 273
  Wicked priest, 321
  Willington Mill, 306, 327
  Willow tree, anecdote connected with, 223
  Wimbell Pond haunted, 401
  Wisk hounds, 118
  Witchcraft, 7, 106
  Woman of peace, 273
  Worcestershire, 62, 100, 156, 192, 200, 226
  Wraith-seeing, 363-381
  Wren, superstition connected with, 93
  Wyecoller Hall, 312

  Yellow Sand, Isle of, 407
  Yesk hounds, 118
  Yeth hounds, 118-119
  Yorkshire, 12, 91, 108, 129-130, 150, 154, 159, 215, 366

  Zambesi superstition, 341
  Zulus, beliefs of, 30, 40, 109


      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

A table of contents was missing from the original and has been added.

Footnotes were renumbered and gathered at the end of the chapter to
which they belong.

Errors in punctuation, capitalisation, and missing letters and
footnote numbers have been corrected without note. If necessary for
the placement of quotation marks or the footnote number, the source
of some quotations was verified on Internet Archive.

The following corrections were made, on page

   89 "ledy" changed to "lady" (The lady in earth by her lord lay)
   91 "Brazials" changed to "Brazilians" (The Brazilians imagined that
      the souls of the bad)
  257 2nd "to" removed (a belief to which Falstaff alludes in)
  320 "Ann" changed to "Amy" (the supposed scene of the murder of
      Lady Amy Bobsart)
  369 "ninty-ninth" changed to "ninety-ninth" (when in the
      ninety-ninth year of her age)
  439 "Becklington" changed to "Beckington" (Beckington Castle, 333)
  439 "Bergmouch" changed to "Bergmönch" (Bergmönch, spectre so
      called, 269)
  440 "Bodach Gartin" changed to "Bodacher, Garlin" (Bodacher Garlin,
      221) and the word order changed
  440 "Cassioway" changed to "Cassowary" (Cassowary, 111)
  440 "Chibehas" changed to "Chibchas" (Chibchas, 184)
  442 "Gurlinheg" changed to "Gurlinbeg" (Gurlinbeg, family of, 221)
  444 "Lledwith" changed to "Lledrith" (Lledrith, 370)
  444 "Wray" changed to "Way" (Mary Way, spectre so called, 152)
  444 "Mazarine" changed to "Mazarin" (Mazarin, Duchess of, 254)
  444 "Mohin" changed to "Mohun" (Mohun, Lord, 372)
  445 "460-469" changed to "400-409" (Money hidden by ghosts, 400-409)
  445 "Padfoit" changed to "Padfooit" (Padfooit, 113)
  445 "Padfoot" added (Padfoot, 113)
  445 "Josceline" changed to "Joceline" (Percy, Sir Joceline, 150)
  445 "Potawatomies" changed to "Potawatomis" (Potawatomis, 184)
  445 "Peverel" changed to "Peverell" (Sampford Peverell ghost, 322)
  447 "Waddon" changed to "Waddow" (Waddow Hall, 327)
  and in footnote 101: 2 words exchanged between lines, "Indo-" and
      "1872" (_Folk-lore_, 1872 p. 243; Thorpe's _Northern Mythology_,
      i. p. 289. See Kelly's _Indo-European Folk-lore_).

Otherwise the original was preserved, including unusual, archaic and
inconsistent spelling and hyphenation.

Additional: "Vanna Levou" in the quote on page 26 should probably be
"Vanua Levu" also known as "Sandelwood Island", Fuji.

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