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fac. Res. Proj. 23
THE subsequent little Work owes its rise and progress to very trifling circumstances.
In the early part of my life, having read many books in favour of Ghosts and Spectral Appearances, the recollection remained so strong in my mind, that, for years after, the dread of phantoms bore irresistible sway. This dread continued till about my twentythird year, when the following simple affair fully convinced me, how necessary it was thoroughly to investigate every thing that tended to supernatural agency, lest idle fear should gain a total ascendancy over my mind.
About this period, I had apartments in a large old-fashioned country mansion. From my bed-chamber was a secret door leading to a private staircase, which communicated with some of the lower rooms. This door was fastened
fastened both within and without; consequently all fear of intrusion from that quarter was entirely removed. However, at times, I could not help ruminating on the malpractices that might have been committed by evil-disposed persons, through this communication; and " busy meddling fancy" was fertile in conjuring up imaginary horrors. Every thing, however, was quiet, and agreeable to my wishes, for some months after my arrival. One moonlight night, in the month of June, I retired to my bed, full of thought, and slept soundly till about one o'clock, when I awoke, and discovered, by the help of the moon which shone full in my room, a tall figure in white, with arms extended, at the foot of my bed. Fear and astonishment overpowered me for a few seconds; I gazed on it with terror, and was afraid to move. At length I had courage to take a second peep at this disturber of my rest, and still continued much alarmed, and irresolute how to act. I hesitated whether to speak to the figure, or alarm the family. The first idea I considered as a dangerous act of heroism, the latter, as a risk of being laughed at, should
should the subject of my story not prove supernatural. Therefore, after taking a third view of the phantom, I mustered up all my resolution, jumped out of bed, and boldly went up to the figure, grasped it round and round, and found it incorporeal. I then looked at it again, and felt it again; when, reader, judge of my astonishment-this ghostly spectre proved to be nothing more than a large new flannel dressing-gown which had been sent me home in the course of the day, and which had been hung on some pegs against the wainscot at the foot of my bed. One arm accidentally crossed two or three of the adjoining pegs, and the other was nearly parallel by coming in contact with some article of furniture which stood near. Now the mystery was developed-this dreadful hobgoblin, which a few minutes before I began to think was an aërial being, or sprite, and must have gained admission either through the key-hole, or under the door, turned out to be my own garment. I smiled at my groundless fears, was pleased with my resolution, returned light-hearted to my bed, and moralized nearly the whole of the night
on the simplicity of a great part of mankind in being so credulous as to believe every idle tale, or conceive every noise to be a spectre, without first duly examining into causes.
This very trifling accident was of great service to me as I travelled onward through life. Similar circumstances transpired. Screams, and shades, I encountered; which always, upon due investigation, ended in "trifles light as air."
Nor did the good end here. My story circulated, and put other young men upon the alert, to guard against like impositions. They likewise imparted to me their ghostly encounters, and those I thought deserving of record I always committed to writing; and, as many of them are well authenticated facts, and both instructive and amusing, they form a part of the volume now presented to the Public.
The other stories are selected from history, and respectable publications; forming in the whole, I hope, an antidote against a too cre dulous belief in every village tale, or old gossip's story.
Though I candidly acknowledge to have