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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Book Of Dreams And Ghosts - Chapter VIII - TICONDEROGA - BERESFORD GHOST - HALF-PAST ONE O'CLOCK
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The Book Of Dreams And Ghosts - Chapter VIII - TICONDEROGA - BERESFORD GHOST - HALF-PAST ONE O'CLOCK Post by :pjr4664 Category :Long Stories Author :Andrew Lang Date :July 2011 Read :891

Click below to download : The Book Of Dreams And Ghosts - Chapter VIII - TICONDEROGA - BERESFORD GHOST - HALF-PAST ONE O'CLOCK (Format : PDF)



More Ghosts with a Purpose. Ticonderoga. The Beresford Ghost. Sources of Evidence. The Family Version. A New Old-Fashioned Ghost. Half-past One o'clock. Put out the Light!

The ghost in the following famous tale had a purpose. He was a Highland ghost, a Campbell, and desired vengeance on a Macniven, who murdered him. The ghost, practically, "cried Cruachan," and tried to rouse the clan. Failing in this, owing to Inverawe's loyalty to his oath, the ghost uttered a prophecy.

The tale is given in the words of Miss Elspeth Campbell, who collected it at Inverawe from a Highland narrator. She adds a curious supplementary tradition in the Argyle family.


It was one evening in the summer of the year 1755 that Campbell of Inverawe {157} was on Cruachan hill side. He was startled by seeing a man coming towards him at full speed; a man ragged, bleeding, and evidently suffering agonies of terror. "The avengers of blood are on my track, Oh, save me!" the poor wretch managed to gasp out. Inverawe, filled with pity for the miserable man, swore "By the word of an Inverawe which never failed friend or foe yet" to save him.

Inverawe then led the stranger to the secret cave on Cruachan hill side.

None knew of this cave but the laird of Inverawe himself, as the secret was most carefully kept and had been handed down from father to son for many generations. The entrance was small, and no one passing would for an instant suspect it to be other than a tod's hole, {158a} but within were fair-sized rooms, one containing a well of the purest spring water. It is said that Wallace and Bruce had made use of this cave in earlier days.

Here Inverawe left his guest. The man was so overcome by terror that he clung on to Inverawe's plaid, {158b} imploring him not to leave him alone. Inverawe was filled with disgust at this cowardly conduct, and already almost repented having plighted his word to save such a worthless creature.

On Inverawe's return home he found a man in a state of great excitement waiting to see him. This man informed him of the murder of his (Inverawe's) foster-brother by one Macniven. "We have," said he, "tracked the murderer to within a short distance of this place, and I am here to warn you in case he should seek your protection." Inverawe turned pale and remained silent, not knowing what answer to give. The man, knowing the love that subsisted between the foster-brothers, thought this silence arose from grief alone, and left the house to pursue the search for Macniven further.

The compassion Inverawe felt for the trembling man he had left in the cave turned to hate when he thought of his beloved foster-brother murdered; but as he had plighted his word to save him, save him he must and would. As soon, therefore, as night fell he went to the cave with food, and promised to return with more the next day.

Thoroughly worn out, as soon as he reached home he retired to rest, but sleep he could not. So taking up a book he began to read. A shadow fell across the page. He looked up and saw his foster-brother standing by the bedside. But, oh, how changed! His fair hair clotted with blood; his face pale and drawn, and his garments all gory. He uttered the following words: "Inverawe, shield not the murderer; blood must flow for blood," and then faded away out of sight.

In spite of the spirit's commands, Inverawe remained true to his promise, and returned next day to Macniven with fresh provisions. That night his foster-brother again appeared to him uttering the same warning: "Inverawe, Inverawe, shield not the murderer; blood must flow for blood". At daybreak Inverawe hurried off to the cave, and said to Macniven: "I can shield you no longer; you must escape as best you can". Inverawe now hoped to receive no further visit from the vengeful spirit. In this he was disappointed, for at the usual hour the ghost appeared, and in anger said, "I have warned you once, I have warned you twice; it is too late now. We shall meet again at TICONDEROGA."

Inverawe rose before dawn and went straight to the cave. Macniven was gone!

Inverawe saw no more of the ghost, but the adventure left him a gloomy, melancholy man. Many a time he would wander on Cruachan hill side, brooding over his vision, and people passing him would see the far-away look in his eyes, and would say one to the other: "The puir laird, he is aye thinking on him that is gone". Only his dearest friends knew the cause of his melancholy.

In 1756 the war between the English and French in America broke out. The 42nd regiment embarked, and landed at New York in June of that year. Campbell of Inverawe was a major in the regiment. The lieut.- colonel was Francis Grant. From New York the 42nd proceeded to Albany, where the regiment remained inactive till the spring of 1757. One evening when the 42nd were still quartered at this place, Inverawe asked the colonel "if he had ever heard of a place called Ticonderoga". {160} Colonel Grant replied he had never heard the name before. Inverawe then told his story. Most of the officers were present at the time; some were impressed, others were inclined to look upon the whole thing as a joke, but seeing how very much disturbed Inverawe was about it all, even the most unbelieving refrained from bantering him.

In 1758 an expedition was to be directed against Ticonderoga, on Lake George, a fort erected by the French. The Highlanders were to form part of this expedition. The force was under Major-General Abercromby.

Ticonderoga was called by the French St. Louis (really "Fort Carillon"), and Inverawe knew it by no other name. One of the officers told Colonel Grant that the Indian name of the place was Ticonderoga. Grant, remembering Campbell's story, said: "For God's sake don't let Campbell know this, or harm will come of it".

The troops embarked on Lake George and landed without opposition near the extremity of the lake early in July. They marched from there, through woods, upon Ticonderoga, having had one successful skirmish with the enemy, driving them back with considerable loss. Lord Howe was killed in this engagement.

On the 10th of July the assault was directed to be commenced by the picquets. {162} The Grenadiers were to follow, supported by the battalions and reserves. The Highlanders and 55th regiment formed the reserve.

In vain the troops attempted to force their way through the abbatis, they themselves being exposed to a heavy artillery and musket fire from an enemy well under cover. The Highlanders could no longer be restrained, and rushed forward from the reserve, cutting and carving their way through trees and other obstacles with their claymores. The deadly fire still continued from the fort. As no ladders had been provided for scaling the breastwork, the soldiers climbed on to one another's shoulders, and made holes for their feet in the face of the work with their swords and bayonets, but as soon as a man reached the top he was thrown down. Captain John Campbell and a few men succeeded at last in forcing their way over the breastworks, but were immediately cut down.

After a long and desperate struggle, lasting in fact nearly four hours, General Abercromby gave orders for a retreat. The troops could hardly be prevailed upon to retire, and it was not till the order had been given for the third time that the Highlanders withdrew from the hopeless encounter. The loss sustained by the regiment was as follows: eight officers, nine sergeants and 297 men killed; seventeen officers, ten sergeants and 306 men wounded.

Inverawe, after having fought with the greatest courage, received at length his death wound. Colonel Grant hastened to the dying man's side, who looked reproachfully at him, and said: "You deceived me; this is Ticonderoga, for I have seen him". Inverawe never spoke again. Inverawe's son, an officer in the same regiment, also lost his life at Ticonderoga.

On the very day that these events were happening in far-away America, two ladies, Miss Campbell of Ederein and her sister, were walking from Kilmalieu to Inveraray, and had reached the then new bridge over the Aray. One of them happened to look up at the sky. She gave a call to her sister to look also. They both of them saw in the sky what looked like a siege going on. They saw the different regiments with their colours, and recognised many of their friends among the Highlanders. They saw Inverawe and his son fall, and other men whom they knew. When they reached Inveraray they told all their friends of the vision they had just seen. They also took down the names of those they had seen fall, and the time and date of the occurrence. The well-known Danish physician, Sir William Hart, was, together with an Englishman and a servant, walking round the Castle of Inveraray. These men saw the same phenomena, and confirmed the statements made by the two ladies. Weeks after the gazette corroborated their statements in its account of the attempt made on Ticonderoga. Every detail was correct in the vision, down to the actual number of the killed and wounded.

But there was sorrow throughout Argyll long before the gazette appeared.

* * * * *

We now give the best attainable version of a yet more famous legend, "The Tyrone Ghost".

The literary history of "The Tyrone Ghost" is curious. In 1802 Scott used the tale as the foundation of his ballad, The Eve of St. John, and referred to the tradition of a noble Irish family in a note. In 1858 the subject was discussed in Notes and Queries. A reference was given to Lyon's privately printed Grand Juries of Westmeath from 1751. The version from that rare work, a version dated "Dublin, August, 1802," was published in Notes and Queries of 24th July, 1858. In December, 1896, a member of the Beresford family published in The Nines (a journal of the Wiltshire regiment), the account which follows, derived from a MS. at Curraghmore, written by Lady Betty Cobbe, granddaughter of the ghost-seer, Lady Beresford. The writer in The Nines remembers Lady Betty. The account of 1802 is clearly derived from the Curraghmore MS., but omits dates; calls Sir Tristram Beresford "Sir Marcus "; leaves out the visit to Gill Hall, where the ghost appeared, and substitutes blanks for the names of persons concerned. Otherwise the differences in the two versions are mainly verbal.


"There is at Curraghmore, the seat of Lord Waterford, in Ireland, a manuscript account of the tale, such as it was originally received and implicitly believed in by the children and grandchildren of the lady to whom Lord Tyrone is supposed to have made the supernatural appearance after death. The account was written by Lady Betty Cobbe, the youngest daughter of Marcus, Earl of Tyrone, and granddaughter of Nicola S., Lady Beresford. She lived to a good old age, in full use of all her faculties, both of body and mind. I can myself remember her, for when a boy I passed through Bath on a journey with my mother, and we went to her house there, and had luncheon. She appeared to my juvenile imagination a very appropriate person to revise and transmit such a tale, and fully adapted to do ample justice to her subject- matter. It never has been doubted in the family that she received the full particulars in early life, and that she heard the circumstances, such as they were believed to have occurred, from the nearest relatives of the two persons, the supposed actors in this mysterious interview, viz., from her own father, Lord Tyrone, who died in 1763, and from her aunt, Lady Riverston, who died in 1763 also.

"These two were both with their mother, Lady Beresford, on the day of her decease, and they, without assistance or witness, took off from their parent's wrist the black bandage which she had always worn on all occasions and times, even at Court, as some very old persons who lived well into the eighteenth century testified, having received their information from eyewitnesses of the fact. There was an oil painting of this lady in Tyrone House, Dublin, representing her with a black ribbon bound round her wrist. This portrait disappeared in an unaccountable manner. It used to hang in one of the drawing-rooms in that mansion, with other family pictures. When Henry, Marquis of Waterford, sold the old town residence of the family and its grounds to the Government as the site of the Education Board, he directed Mr. Watkins, a dealer in pictures, and a man of considerable knowledge in works of art and vertu, to collect the pictures, etc., etc., which were best adapted for removal to Curraghmore. Mr. Watkins especially picked out this portrait, not only as a good work of art, but as one which, from its associations, deserved particular care and notice. When, however, the lot arrived at Curraghmore and was unpacked, no such picture was found; and though Mr. Watkins took great pains and exerted himself to the utmost to trace what had become of it, to this day (nearly forty years), not a hint of its existence has been received or heard of.

"John le Poer, Lord Decies, was the eldest son of Richard, Earl of Tyrone, and of Lady Dorothy Annesley, daughter of Arthur, Earl of Anglesey. He was born 1665, succeeded his father 1690, and died 14th October, 1693. He became Lord Tyrone at his father's death, and is the 'ghost' of the story.

"Nicola Sophie Hamilton was the second and youngest daughter and co- heiress of Hugh, Lord Glenawley, who was also Baron Lunge in Sweden. Being a zealous Royalist, he had, together with his father, migrated to that country in 1643, and returned from it at the Restoration. He was of a good old family, and held considerable landed property in the county Tyrone, near Ballygawley. He died there in 1679. His eldest daughter and co-heiress, Arabella Susanna, married, in 1683, Sir John Macgill, of Gill Hall, in the county Down.__

"Nicola S. (the second daughter) was born in 1666, and married Sir Tristram Beresford in 1687. Between that and 1693 two daughters were born, but no son to inherit the ample landed estates of his father, who most anxiously wished and hoped for an heir. It was under these circumstances, and at this period, that the manuscripts state that Lord Tyrone made his appearance after death; and all the versions of the story, without variation, attribute the same cause and reason, viz., a solemn promise mutually interchanged in early life between John le Poer, then Lord Decies, afterwards Lord Tyrone, and Nicola S. Hamilton, that whichever of the two died the first, should, if permitted, appear to the survivor for the object of declaring the approval or rejection by the Deity of the revealed religion as generally acknowledged: of which the departed one must be fully cognisant, but of which they both had in their youth entertained unfortunate doubts.

"In the month of October, 1693, Sir Tristram and Lady Beresford went on a visit to her sister, Lady Macgill, at Gill Hall, now the seat of Lord Clanwilliam, whose grandmother was eventually the heiress of Sir J. Macgill's property. One morning Sir Tristram rose early, leaving Lady Beresford asleep, and went out for a walk before breakfast. When his wife joined the table very late, her appearance and the embarrassment of her manner attracted general attention, especially that of her husband. He made anxious inquiries as to her health, and asked her apart what had occurred to her wrist, which was tied up with black ribbon tightly bound round it. She earnestly entreated him not to inquire more then, or thereafter, as to the cause of her wearing or continuing afterwards to wear that ribbon; 'for,' she added, 'you will never see me without it'. He replied, 'Since you urge it so vehemently, I promise you not to inquire more about it'.

"After completing her hurried breakfast she made anxious inquiries as to whether the post had yet arrived. It had not yet come in; and Sir Tristram asked: 'Why are you so particularly eager about letters to- day?' 'Because I expect to hear of Lord Tyrone's death, which took place on Tuesday.' 'Well,' remarked Sir Tristram, 'I never should have put you down for a superstitious person; but I suppose that some idle dream has disturbed you.' Shortly after, the servant brought in the letters; one was sealed with black wax. 'It is as I expected,' she cries; 'he is dead.' The letter was from Lord Tyrone's steward to inform them that his master had died in Dublin, on Tuesday, 14th October, at 4 p.m. Sir Tristram endeavoured to console her, and begged her to restrain her grief, when she assured him that she felt relieved and easier now that she knew the actual fact. She added, 'I can now give you a most satisfactory piece of intelligence, viz., that I am with child, and that it will be a boy'. A son was born in the following July. Sir Tristram survived its birth little more than six years. After his death Lady Beresford continued to reside with her young family at his place in the county of Derry, and seldom went from home. She hardly mingled with any neighbours or friends, excepting with Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, of Coleraine. He was the principal personage in that town, and was, by his mother, a near relative of Sir Tristram. His wife was the daughter of Robert Gorges, LL.D. (a gentleman of good old English family, and possessed of a considerable estate in the county Meath), by Jane Loftus, daughter of Sir Adam Loftus, of Rathfarnham, and sister of Lord Lisburn. They had an only son, Richard Gorges, who was in the army, and became a general officer very early in life. With the Jacksons Lady Beresford maintained a constant communication and lived on the most intimate terms, while she seemed determined to eschew all other society and to remain in her chosen retirement.

"At the conclusion of three years thus passed, one luckless day "Young Gorges" most vehemently professed his passion for her, and solicited her hand, urging his suit in a most passionate appeal, which was evidently not displeasing to the fair widow, and which, unfortunately for her, was successful. They were married in 1704. One son and two daughters were born to them, when his abandoned and dissolute conduct forced her to seek and to obtain a separation. After this had continued for four years, General Gorges pretended extreme penitence for his past misdeeds, and with the most solemn promises of amendment induced his wife to live with him again, and she became the mother of a second son. The day month after her confinement happened to be her birthday, and having recovered and feeling herself equal to some exertion, she sent for her son, Sir Marcus Beresford, then twenty years old, and her married daughter, Lady Riverston. She also invited Dr. King, the Archbishop of Dublin (who was an intimate friend), and an old clergyman who had christened her, and who had always kept up a most kindly intercourse with her during her whole life, to make up a small party to celebrate the day.

"In the early part of it Lady Beresford was engaged in a kindly conversation with her old friend the clergyman, and in the course of it said: 'You know that I am forty-eight this day'. 'No, indeed,' he replied; 'you are only forty-seven, for your mother had a dispute with me once on the very subject of your age, and I in consequence sent and consulted the registry, and can most confidently assert that you are only forty-seven this day.' 'You have signed my death-warrant, then,' she cried; 'leave me, I pray, for I have not much longer to live, but have many things of grave importance to settle before I die. Send my son and my daughter to me immediately.' The clergyman did as he was bidden. He directed Sir Marcus and his sister to go instantly to their mother; and he sent to the archbishop and a few other friends to put them off from joining the birthday party.

"When her two children repaired to Lady Beresford, she thus addressed them: 'I have something of deep importance to communicate to you, my dear children, before I die. You are no strangers to the intimacy and the affection which subsisted in early life between Lord Tyrone and myself. We were educated together when young, under the same roof, in the pernicious principles of Deism. Our real friends afterwards took every opportunity to convince us of our error, but their arguments were insufficient to overpower and uproot our infidelity, though they had the effect of shaking our confidence in it, and thus leaving us wavering between the two opinions. In this perplexing state of doubt we made a solemn promise one to the other, that whichever died first should, if permitted, appear to the other for the purpose of declaring what religion was the one acceptable to the Almighty. One night, years after this interchange of promises, I was sleeping with your father at Gill Hall, when I suddenly awoke and discovered Lord Tyrone sitting visibly by the side of the bed. I screamed out, and vainly endeavoured to rouse Sir Tristram. "Tell me," I said, "Lord Tyrone, why and wherefore are you here at this time of the night?" "Have you then forgotten our promise to each other, pledged in early life? I died on Tuesday, at four o'clock. I have been permitted thus to appear in order to assure you that the revealed religion is the true and only one by which we can be saved. I am also suffered to inform you that you are with child, and will produce a son, who will marry my heiress; that Sir Tristram will not live long, when you will marry again, and you will die from the effects of childbirth in your forty- seventh year." I begged from him some convincing sign or proof so that when the morning came I might rely upon it, and feel satisfied that his appearance had been real, and that it was not the phantom of my imagination. He caused the hangings of the bed to be drawn in an unusual way and impossible manner through an iron hook. I still was not satisfied, when he wrote his signature in my pocket-book. I wanted, however, more substantial proof of his visit, when he laid his hand, which was cold as marble, on my wrist; the sinews shrunk up, the nerves withered at the touch. "Now," he said, "let no mortal eye, while you live, ever see that wrist," and vanished. While I was conversing with him my thoughts were calm, but as soon as he disappeared I felt chilled with horror and dismay, a cold sweat came over me, and I again endeavoured but vainly to awaken Sir Tristram; a flood of tears came to my relief, and I fell asleep.

"'In the morning your father got up without disturbing me; he had not noticed anything extraordinary about me or the bed-hangings. When I did arise I found a long broom in the gallery outside the bedroom door, and with great difficulty I unhooded the curtain, fearing that the position of it might excite surprise and cause inquiry. I bound up my wrist with black ribbon before I went down to breakfast, where the agitation of my mind was too visible not to attract attention. Sir Tristram made many anxious inquiries as to my health, especially as to my sprained wrist, as he conceived mine to be. I begged him to drop all questions as to the bandage, even if I continued to adopt it for any length of time. He kindly promised me not to speak of it any more, and he kept his promise faithfully. You, my son, came into the world as predicted, and your father died six years after. I then determined to abandon society and its pleasures and not mingle again with the world, hoping to avoid the dreadful predictions as to my second marriage; but, alas! in the one family with which I held constant and friendly intercourse I met the man, whom I did not regard with perfect indifference. Though I struggled to conquer by every means the passion, I at length yielded to his solicitations, and in a fatal moment for my own peace I became his wife. In a few years his conduct fully justified my demand for a separation, and I fondly hoped to escape the fatal prophecy. Under the delusion that I had passed my forty-seventh birthday, I was prevailed upon to believe in his amendment, and to pardon him. I have, however, heard from undoubted authority that I am only forty-seven this day, and I know that I am about to die. I die, however, without the dread of death, fortified as I am by the sacred precepts of Christianity and upheld by its promises. When I am gone, I wish that you, my children, should unbind this black ribbon and alone behold my wrist before I am consigned to the grave.'

"She then requested to be left that she might lie down and compose herself, and her children quitted the apartment, having desired her attendant to watch her, and if any change came on to summon them to her bedside. In an hour the bell rang, and they hastened to the call, but all was over. The two children having ordered every one to retire, knelt down by the side of the bed, when Lady Riverston unbound the black ribbon and found the wrist exactly as Lady Beresford had described it--every nerve withered, every sinew shrunk.

"Her friend, the Archbishop, had had her buried in the Cathedral of St. Patrick, in Dublin, in the Earl of Cork's tomb, where she now lies."

* * * * *

The writer now professes his disbelief in any spiritual presence, and explains his theory that Lady Beresford's anxiety about Lord Tyrone deluded her by a vivid dream, during which she hurt her wrist.__

Of all ghost stories the Tyrone, or Beresford Ghost, has most variants. Following Monsieur Haureau, in the Journal des Savants, I have tracked the tale, the death compact, and the wound inflicted by the ghost on the hand, or wrist, or brow, of the seer, through Henry More, and Melanchthon, and a mediaeval sermon by Eudes de Shirton, to William of Malmesbury, a range of 700 years. Mrs. Grant of Laggan has a rather recent case, and I have heard of another in the last ten years! Calmet has a case in 1625, the spectre leaves

The sable score of fingers four

on a board of wood.

Now for a modern instance of a gang of ghosts with a purpose!

When I narrated the story which follows to an eminent moral philosopher, he remarked, at a given point, "Oh, the ghost spoke , did she?" and displayed scepticism. The evidence, however, left him, as it leaves me, at a standstill, not convinced, but agreeably perplexed. The ghosts here are truly old-fashioned.

My story is, and must probably remain, entirely devoid of proof, as far as any kind of ghostly influence is concerned. We find ghosts appearing, and imposing a certain course of action on a living witness, for definite purposes of their own. The course of action prescribed was undeniably pursued, and apparently the purpose of the ghosts was fulfilled, but what that purpose was their agent declines to state, and conjecture is hopelessly baffled.

The documents in the affair have been published by the Society for Psychical Research (Proceedings, vol. xi., p. 547), and are here used for reference. But I think the matter will be more intelligible if I narrate it exactly as it came under my own observation. The names of persons and places are all fictitious, and are the same as those used in the documents published by the S.P.R.


In October, 1893, I was staying at a town which we shall call Rapingham. One night I and some kinsfolk dined with another old friend of all of us, a Dr. Ferrier. In the course of dinner he asked a propos de bottes:--

"Have you heard of the ghost in Blake Street?" a sunny, pleasant street of respectable but uninteresting antiquity in Rapingham.

We had none of us heard of the ghost, and begged the doctor to enlighten our ignorance. His story ran thus--I have it in his own writing as far as its essence goes:--

"The house," he said, "belongs to my friends, the Applebys, who let it, as they live elsewhere. A quiet couple took it and lived in it for five years, when the husband died, and the widow went away. They made no complaint while tenants. The house stood empty for some time, and all I know personally about the matter is that I, my wife, and the children were in the dining-room one Sunday when we heard unusual noises in the drawing-room overhead. We went through the rooms but could find no cause or explanation of the disturbance, and thought no more about it.

"About six or seven years ago I let the house to a Mr. Buckley, who is still the tenant. He was unmarried, and his family consisted of his mother and sisters. They preceded him to put the place in order, and before his arrival came to me in some irritation complaining that I had let them a haunted house ! They insisted that there were strange noises, as if heavy weights were being dragged about, or heavy footsteps pacing in the rooms and on the stairs. I said that I knew nothing about the matter. The stairs are of stone, water is only carried up to the first floor, there is an unused system of hot air pipes. {177a} Something went wrong with the water-main in the area once, but the noises lasted after it was mended.

"I think Mr. Buckley when he arrived never heard anything unusual. But one evening as he walked upstairs carrying an ink-bottle, he found his hand full of some liquid. Thinking that he had spilt the ink, he went to a window where he found his hand full of water, to account for which there was no stain on the ceiling, or anything else that he could discover. On another occasion one of the young ladies was kneeling by a trunk in an attic, alone, when water was switched over her face, as if from a wet brush. {177b} There was a small pool of water on the floor, and the wall beyond her was sprinkled.

"Time went on, and the disturbances were very rare: in fact ceased for two years till the present week, when Mrs. Claughton, a widow accompanied by two of her children, came to stay with the Buckleys. {177c} She had heard of the disturbances and the theory of hauntings-- I don't know if these things interested her or not.

"Early on Monday, 9th October, Mrs. Claughton came to consult me. Her story was this: About a quarter past one on Sunday night, or Monday morning, she was in bed with one of her children, the other sleeping in the room. She was awakened by footsteps on the stair, and supposed that a servant was coming to call her to Miss Buckley, who was ill. The steps stopped at the door, then the noise was repeated. Mrs. Claughton lit her bedroom candle, opened the door and listened. There was no one there. The clock on the landing pointed to twenty minutes past one. Mrs. Claughton went back to bed, read a book, fell asleep, and woke to find the candle still lit, but low in the socket. She heard a sigh, and saw a lady, unknown to her, her head swathed in a soft white shawl, her expression gentle and refined, her features much emaciated.

"The Appearance said, 'Follow me,' and Mrs. Claughton, taking the bedroom candle, rose and followed out on to the landing, and so into the adjacent drawing-room. She cannot remember opening the door, which the housemaid had locked outside, and she owns that this passage is dreamlike in her memory. Seeing that her candle was flickering out, she substituted for it a pink one taken from a chiffonier. The figure walked nearly to the window, turned three-quarters round, said 'To-morrow!' and was no more seen. Mrs. Claughton went back to her room, where her eldest child asked:--

"'Who is the lady in white?'

"'Only me, mother, go to sleep,' she thinks she answered. After lying awake for two hours, with gas burning, she fell asleep. The pink candle from the drawing-room chiffonier was in her candlestick in the morning.

"After hearing the lady's narrative I told her to try change of air, which she declined as cowardly. So, as she would stay on at Mr. Buckley's, I suggested that an electric alarm communicating with Miss Buckley's room should be rigged up, and this was done."

Here the doctor paused, and as the events had happened within the week, we felt that we were at last on the track of a recent ghost.

"Next morning, about one, the Buckleys were aroused by a tremendous peal of the alarm; Mrs. Claughton they found in a faint. Next morning {179} she consulted me as to the whereabouts of a certain place, let me call it 'Meresby'. I suggested the use of a postal directory; we found Meresby, a place extremely unknown to fame, in an agricultural district about five hours from London in the opposite direction from Rapingham. To this place Mrs. Claughton said she must go, in the interest and by the order of certain ghosts, whom she saw on Monday night, and whose injunctions she had taken down in a note-book. She has left Rapingham for London, and there," said the doctor, "my story ends for the present."

We expected it to end for good and all, but in the course of the week came a communication to the doctor in writing from Mrs. Claughton's governess. This lady, on Mrs. Claughton's arrival at her London house (Friday, 13th October), passed a night perturbed by sounds of weeping, "loud moans," and "a very odd noise overhead, like some electric battery gone wrong," in fact, much like the "warning" of a jack running down, which Old Jeffrey used to give at the Wesley's house in Epworth. There were also heavy footsteps and thuds, as of moving weighty bodies. So far the governess.

This curious communication I read at Rapingham on Saturday, 14th October, or Sunday, 15th October. On Monday I went to town. In the course of the week I received a letter from my kinsman in Rapingham, saying that Mrs. Claughton had written to Dr. Ferrier, telling him that she had gone to Meresby on Saturday; had accomplished the bidding of the ghosts, and had lodged with one Joseph Wright, the parish clerk. Her duty had been to examine the Meresby parish registers, and to compare certain entries with information given by the ghosts and written by her in her note-book. If the entries in the parish register tallied with her notes, she was to pass the time between one o'clock and half-past one, alone, in Meresby Church, and receive a communication from the spectres. All this she said that she had done, and in evidence of her journey enclosed her half ticket to Meresby, which a dream had warned her would not be taken on her arrival. She also sent a white rose from a grave to Dr. Ferrier, a gentleman in no sympathy with the Jacobite cause, which, indeed, has no connection whatever with the matter in hand.

On hearing of this letter from Mrs. Claughton, I confess that, not knowing the lady, I remained purely sceptical. The railway company, however, vouched for the ticket. The rector of Meresby, being appealed to, knew nothing of the matter. He therefore sent for his curate and parish clerk.

"Did a lady pass part of Sunday night in the church?"

The clerk and the curate admitted that this unusual event had occurred. A lady had arrived from London on Saturday evening; had lodged with Wright, the parish clerk; had asked for the parish registers; had compared them with her note-book after morning service on Sunday, and had begged leave to pass part of the night in the church. The curate in vain tried to dissuade her, and finally, washing his hands of it, had left her to Wright the clerk. To him she described a Mr. George Howard, deceased (one of the ghosts). He recognised the description, and he accompanied her to the church on a dark night, starting at one o'clock. She stayed alone, without a light, in the locked-up church from 1.20 to 1.45, when he let her out.

There now remained no doubt that Mrs. Claughton had really gone to Meresby, a long and disagreeable journey, and had been locked up in the church alone at a witching hour.

Beyond this point we have only the statements of Mrs. Claughton, made to Lord Bute, Mr. Myers and others, and published by the Society for Psychical Research. She says that after arranging the alarm bell on Monday night (October 9-10) she fell asleep reading in her dressing- gown, lying outside her bed. She wakened, and found the lady of the white shawl bending over her. Mrs. Claughton said: "Am I dreaming, or is it true?" The figure gave, as testimony to character, a piece of information. Next Mrs. Claughton saw a male ghost, "tall, dark, healthy, sixty years old," who named himself as George Howard, buried in Meresby churchyard, Meresby being a place of which Mrs. Claughton, like most people, now heard for the first time. He gave the dates of his marriage and death, which are correct, and have been seen by Mr. Myers in Mrs. Claughton's note-book. He bade her verify these dates at Meresby, and wait at 1.15 in the morning at the grave of Richard Harte (a person, like all of them, unknown to Mrs. Claughton) at the south-west corner of the south aisle in Meresby Church. This Mr. Harte died on 15th May, 1745, and missed many events of interest by doing so. Mr. Howard also named and described Joseph Wright, of Meresby, as a man who would help her, and he gave minute local information. Next came a phantom of a man whose name Mrs. Claughton is not free to give; {182} he seemed to be in great trouble, at first covering his face with his hands, but later removing them. These three spectres were to meet Mrs. Claughton in Meresby Church and give her information of importance on a matter concerning, apparently, the third and only unhappy appearance. After these promises and injunctions the phantoms left, and Mrs. Claughton went to the door to look at the clock. Feeling faint, she rang the alarum, when her friends came and found her in a swoon on the floor. The hour was 1.20.

What Mrs. Claughton's children were doing all this time, and whether they were in the room or not, does not appear.

On Thursday Mrs. Claughton went to town, and her governess was perturbed, as we have seen.

On Friday night Mrs. Claughton dreamed a number of things connected with her journey; a page of the notes made from this dream was shown to Mr. Myers. Thus her half ticket was not to be taken, she was to find a Mr. Francis, concerned in the private affairs of the ghosts, which needed rectifying, and so forth. These premonitions, with others, were all fulfilled. Mrs. Claughton, in the church at night, continued her conversation with the ghosts whose acquaintance she had made at Rapingham. She obtained, it seems, all the information needful to settling the mysterious matters which disturbed the male ghost who hid his face, and on Monday morning she visited the daughter of Mr. Howard in her country house in a park, "recognised the strong likeness to her father, and carried out all things desired by the dead to the full, as had been requested. . . . The wishes expressed to her were perfectly rational, reasonable and of natural importance."

The clerk, Wright, attests the accuracy of Mrs. Claughton's description of Mr. Howard, whom he knew, and the correspondence of her dates with those in the parish register and on the graves, which he found for her at her request. Mr. Myers, "from a very partial knowledge" of what the Meresby ghosts' business was, thinks the reasons for not revealing this matter "entirely sufficient". The ghosts' messages to survivors "effected the intended results," says Mrs. Claughton.

* * * * *

Of this story the only conceivable natural explanation is that Mrs. Claughton, to serve her private ends, paid secret preliminary visits to Meresby, "got up" there a number of minute facts, chose a haunted house at the other end of England as a first scene in her little drama, and made the rest of the troublesome journeys, not to mention the uncomfortable visit to a dark church at midnight, and did all this from a hysterical love of notoriety. This desirable boon she would probably never have obtained, even as far as it is consistent with a pseudonym, if I had not chanced to dine with Dr. Ferrier while the adventure was only beginning. As there seemed to be a chance of taking a ghost "on the half volley," I at once communicated the first part of the tale to the Psychical Society (using pseudonyms, as here, throughout), and two years later Mrs. Claughton consented to tell the Society as much as she thinks it fair to reveal.

This, it will be confessed, is a round-about way of obtaining fame, and an ordinary person in Mrs. Claughton's position would have gone to the Psychical Society at once, as Mark Twain meant to do when he saw the ghost which turned out to be a very ordinary person.

There I leave these ghosts, my mind being in a just balance of agnosticism. If ghosts at all, they were ghosts with a purpose. The species is now very rare.

The purpose of the ghost in the following instance was trivial, but was successfully accomplished. In place of asking people to do what it wanted, the ghost did the thing itself. Now the modern theory of ghosts, namely, that they are delusions of the senses of the seers, caused somehow by the mental action of dead or distant people, does not seem to apply in this case. The ghost produced an effect on a material object.


The Rev. D. W. G. Gwynne, M.D., was a physician in holy orders. In 1853 he lived at P--- House, near Taunton, where both he and his wife "were made uncomfortable by auditory experiences to which they could find no clue," or, in common English, they heard mysterious noises. "During the night," writes Dr. Gwynne, "I became aware of a draped figure passing across the foot of the bed towards the fireplace. I had the impression that the arm was raised, pointing with the hand towards the mantel-piece on which a night-light was burning. Mrs. Gwynne at the same moment seized my arm, and the light was extinguished ! Notwithstanding, I distinctly saw the figure returning towards the door, and being under the impression that one of the servants had found her way into our room, I leaped out of bed to intercept the intruder, but found and saw nothing. I rushed to the door and endeavoured to follow the supposed intruder, and it was not until I found the door locked, as usual, that I was painfully impressed. I need hardly say that Mrs. Gwynne was in a very nervous state. She asked me what I had seen, and I told her. She had seen the same figure," "but," writes Mrs. Gwynne, "I distinctly saw the hand of the figure placed over the night-light, which was at once extinguished ". "Mrs. Gwynne also heard the rustle of the 'tall man- like figure's' garments. In addition to the night-light there was moonlight in the room."

"Other people had suffered many things in the same house, unknown to Dr. and Mrs. Gwynne, who gave up the place soon afterwards."

In plenty of stories we hear of ghosts who draw curtains or open doors, and these apparent material effects are usually called part of the seer's delusion. But the night-light certainly went out under the figure's hand, and was relit by Dr. Gwynne. Either the ghost was an actual entity, not a mere hallucination of two people, or the extinction of the light was a curious coincidence. {186}

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CHAPTER IX - CREAKING STAIR. GROCER'S COUGH. MY GILLIE'S FATHER'S STORY. GIRL IN PINK. LADY IN BLACK. DANCING DEVILHaunted Houses. Antiquity of Haunted Houses. Savage Cases. Ancient Egyptian Cases. Persistence in Modern Times. Impostures. Imaginary Noises. Nature of Noises. The Creaking Stair. Ghostly Effects produced by the Living but Absent. The Grocer's Cough. Difficulty of Belief. My Gillie's Father's Story. "Silverton Abbey." The Dream that Opened the Door. Abbotsford Noises. Legitimate Haunting by the Dead. The Girl in Pink. The Dog in the Haunted Room. The Lady in Black. Dogs Alarmed. The Dead Seldom Recognised. Glamis. A Border Castle. Another Class

The Book Of Dreams And Ghosts - Chapter VII - MORE GHOSTS WITH A PURPOSE The Book Of Dreams And Ghosts - Chapter VII - MORE GHOSTS WITH A PURPOSE

The Book Of Dreams And Ghosts - Chapter VII - MORE GHOSTS WITH A PURPOSE
CHAPTER VII - More Ghosts With A PurposeThe Slaying of Sergeant Davies in 1749. The Trial. Scott's Theory. Curious recent Corroboration of Sir Walter's Hypothesis. Other Trials involving Ghostly Evidence. Their Want of Authenticity. "Fisher's Ghost" criticised. The Aylesbury Murder. The Dog o' Mause. The Ghosts of Dogs. Peter's Ghost.Much later in time than the ghost of Sir George Villiers is the ghost of Sergeant Davies, of Guise's regiment. His purpose was, first, to get his body buried; next, to bring his murderers to justice. In this latter desire he totally failed.THE SLAYING OF SERGEANT DAVIESWe now examine a ghost with