Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

a person of less science, or more su- mills, into some

ri terrible and superstition, have passed current as a perhuman adventure.” But the promost undoubted ghost story : gress of science has sadly abridged

Mr Schmidt, mathematical teacher the empire of the supernatural in at the school of Pforte, near Naum- this quarter. The spectres of the burg, slept in a room in the academy, Hartz mountain have sunk into the which had formerly been a cloister, mere effects of the sun's rays; cheand waking, one morning, as it began mistry has clapped an extinguisher

dawn, he saw, as he thought, a on the corpse-candles, which have monk standing at the foot of his bed. now dwindled into ignes futui ; and On looking at him stedfastly, he ap- Sir Humphry Davy has tamed that peared to be fat, and his head almost malignant spirit of the mine, whose sunk between his shoulders. He visitations had been so fatally freraised himself in his bed; but the quent, under the shape of Fire Damp. apparition did not move; he only saw In thus labouring to reduce the somewhat more of it, and the folds sum-total of these spiritual visitaof the surplice which it wore were tions, I may seem to have retracted more conspicuous. He then moved the avowal with which I set out. his head towards it, on which the But such is by no means my intenfigure began to retreat backward, but tion. If I narrow my field of operastill with its face towards the bed. tions, it is in the hope of being ablo Following the apparition with his to act with more security in what reeyes, it retreated with speed, swell- mains; just as a politician sacrifices a ing to a gigantic form, and all at part, to retain the remainder ; or as once was changed into the gothic the governor of a fortress, in the hour window with white curtains, which of danger, expels every doubtful ally was opposite the bed's foot, and a- from the garrison, and trusts his debout six or seven feet distant from it. fence rather to the efforts of the faith

Several times after this, Schinidt ful few, than the suspicious many. endeavoured to see the same appear- Admitting that many of these tales ance, bat to no purpose; the window are obviously incredible, cven from always preserving its usual appear- internal evidence, and that, in others, auce. About a week afterwards, the evidence of the senses is to be rehowever, happening, as before, to jected altogether, or received with exwake in the grey light of morning, treme suspicion, I hesitate not to say, he again saw this corpulent sprite that there remains bchind a largeclass at his bed's foot. Being now aware which is liable to neither of these what occasioned the appearance, le objections; when, in the first place, Examined it more narrowly. The the end and purpose of the visit was great arch of the window formed the obvious and adequate ; and when, inonk's shoulders,-a smaller arch in secondly, no suspicion could reasonthe antre, his head, and the curtains ably be eutertained of the coolness the surplice. Schmidt, who was and courage of the observer; where short-sighted, accounts very mathe- inen of profound science, undaunted matically for all these phenomena, courage, and tranquillity of temper, by the peculiar state of the eye at have given their testiinony to the the moment of awaking, from some reality of such appearances.

What moisture which had accumulated on reasonable objection can we fraine it during the night, and its gradual to that of the firm and pliilosophic return to its usual state ; though, Brutus ? What shall we say to the as his demonstration is a little te- evidence of Ammianus Marcellinus *, dious, it is needless to extract it. or how impugn his account of that

To causes such as these, a very figure which attended the emperor large proportion of tales of appari- Julian, which quitted him before the tions are attributable. A sudden death of Constantine, and again apnoise-some object seen through the peared to him, crossing his tent, with obscurity of twilight or moonlight- a sad countenance, and a melancholy or some natural phenomenon of the gesture, the night before his fatal elements, or the

heavenly bodies, is caught at by weak minds, and mag- * Aim. Mar. in Vit. Julian),-- £. XXI. nified, like Don Quixotte's fulling- XXV.

battle with the Persians ? What telling humour, on a subject such shall we say to the following strange as this, it is the most difficult thing story, told by Pliny, in his letter to in the world to stop. I shall only Sura, among several other tales of trespass on the reader's patience, apparitions, and which, from the tone however, with one other anecdote, of the letter, it is evident that that which, as it occurs in a work not great man himself believes ? A large much known in this country *, may, house in Athens became deserted by perhaps, be new to him. The Marits inhabitants, from frightful noises quis de Rambouillet, and the Marwhich were heard in it, and the spec- quis de Precy, both young, and intitre of an old man, bound with chains, mate friends, were serving together which had been seen by them every in the wars. One day they happened night. Terror had bewildered their to be conversing about the affairs of senses, and want of sleep brought a another world, of the existence of distemper upon them, which was which neither, at that time, felt very followed by death. The house, be- strongly persuaded. They promised ing abandoned, was advertised at a that, in order to settle the point, the low price. Athenodorus, the philo- first who died should return, to desopher, came to Athens-read the scribe his situation to the survivor. inscription by chance--suspected the Rambouillet soon after set out with lowness of the terms—was inform- his regiment for Flanders. Precy, od of the whole--and took the house who was about to follow, was deimmediately. At night, he removed tained by a fever in Paris. He was his family to the inner-part of the long ill, and was just beginning to house, ordered his writing materials, recover, when looking out of bed and a light to be placed for him in one night, he perceived his friend the front apartments, and applied Rambouillet in the room.

He rose himself closely to writing, to prevent to em.brace him, but the other, with the intrusion of those inaginary fears a wave of his hand, declined the comand appearances, which the mind is pliment. He then told him, that he apt to figure to itself when unoccu- had been killed in Flanders the evenpied. At first, there was a profound ing before, that all he had heard of silence in the house, as at other times; another world was too true, and that but soon after, the distant clanking it was time for him to pursue a very of chains was heard. The sound came different line of conduct. He then nearer, and was heard, sometimes disappeared. Precy roused the house, without, at other times within the and related the story, which only proapartinent. The philosopher looked cured him the character of an absurd up, and perceived the spectre as it visionary, till the news of Rambouhad been deseribed to him, standing illet's death, which arrived soon afstill, and beckoning with its finger. ter, silenced his incredulous acquainAfter some delay, he obeyed the tances. Precy engaged in the civil signal, took his light, and followed wars, and was soon after killed at the it. It stalked slowly along, as if battle of St Antoine. This tale will overloaded with its chains, turned probably recall to the reader's recolinto a court belonging to the house, section a similar story of two colleand vanished. Athenodorus, when gians at Oxford, which occurs in the he was left alone, marked the spot Gentleman's Magazine, and which with some weeds and leaves. The

scems to be proved as strongly as such next day he went to the magistrates, a circumstance can be. and procured an order for digging In no question could the argumenon the spot. It was done, and se- tum ad verecundiam, from the authoveral bones were found, bound up rity of great names, be employed with and entangled with chains, while more effect. Should I be ashamed the fiesh, putrified by time, or eaten to entertain an opinion, which was a way by the irons, was entirely gone. recognised as true by a soleion deThese were gathered up and buried cision of the Sorbonne in 1518—which publicly; and, by this ceremony, was admitted, in numerous cases, by the house was freed from its trouble- the parliament of Paris, and cousome visitor. When a person gets into a story

• Memoircs de licclcfort.

firnied by the Faculty of Theology boilies, which preserve the same siin 1794 ? Even so late as the year tuation and form in issuing from the 1726, a trial, by appeal, took place ground, as at the moment they quitbefore the parliament of Aix *, ted the carcase; and, of course, will founded on the supposed discovery exactly represent the shape of the of a treasure, by means of a spirit; body that produced them : and that and though the imposture was de- this does not happen in day-light, tected in this particular case, the is owing to the coldness of the nighttruth of the general principle was

air, which condenses these vapours, assumed on the one side, and admit- and prevents their dispersion.” From ted on the other, almost without con- this, then, we may explain those aptest or contradiction. Shall I be a- pearances which are frequently seen shamed of that which Bacon consi- in church-yards, and fields of battle, dered probable +,—which Johnson which are nothing more than these openly believed, -which Addison forms of condensed vapour, proceedmodestly, but distinctly avows ? No; ing from the bodies interred there. when I find myself fortified by such Certainly, if the doctrine of spirits authorities, and meet with narratives, is never attacked but by these reproved, as far as I can see, by com- doubtable arguments of Jacques Gafpetent and unexceptionable witness- farel, the dynasty of the invisible es, I confess it appears to me far world is not likely to be speedily more philososophical to admit the overthrown. fact, than to refuse my belief to their And, after all, what is there in clear and unbiassed testimony. If such a belief so disagreeable, that it is absurd to believe such narratives, science and philosophy, true or false, it is certainly much more so to en- thus set themselves in array against deavour to explain them by such it? Does it weaken the evidence of chemical systems as those of Gaffarel religion? Does it trench on any of and de Vallemont. What can be the attributes of the Deity? Is there more gravely ridiculous, than the any thing in such a belief that can following reasoning, which I have weaken the hopes, or increase the endeavoured to compress from the fears, of the good and the virtuous ? “Curiositez Inouies” of the former? No. The inhabitants of the grave " As objects," says he, “ are perceiv. have no terrors, but for the guilty. ed by impressions caused by them on The form which shook the mind of the brain, and vibrations in the Dion, was regarded with firm trannerves, it is probable the vibrations quillity by the stoical virtue of Bruon the nerves, and the consequent tus, and the mild philosophy of Juperception, may continue long after lian. To the good, there is somethe object which first caused them is thing in this intercourse not dispiritremoved, just as the pain of a blow ing or revolting, but elevating and encontinues after the removal of the nobling. The ancients believed that striking body.” Besides, if the Genius attended every man from the movement of the nerves is communi- hour of his birth, as the guide and cated to the brain, why may not the director of his conduct, but visible movement of the brain be recommu- only to those illustrious for their virnicated by some other channel to the tues *. But how much more consolnerves, and thus produce the same ing the reflection, that after death effect or one but little weaker than has snapped asunder the ties of this the original perception? But being earthly communion and fellowship, rather apprehensive of the stability those friends who have been withof this precious fabric of reasoning, drawn from our eyes, become, in their be subjoins another explanation, for turn, the guardian Genii, who watch the satisfaction of those heretical per- over the happiness of the survivors, sonages who still persist in thinking and influence their fates and forthe objects of their terror external. tunes, even from that unknown coun" This may be,” says he, “ for luminous vapoursurise from putrid

Απαντι δαιμον ανδρι συμπαριςτατα Causes Célébres, Tom. 12.

Ευθυς γενομενω μυσταγωγος τε βια + De Angm. Scientiarum.

Αγαθος. . Men ander in Frag:

a

try which they have reached, and ignorance, through all the various where we hope at last to rejoin them! modifications of middle, and even of Under the weight of misfortune, the what may be termed higher, life, he depression of grief, or the desertion not unfrequently exhibits, in succesof friends, there are moments, when, sion, the sheepishness and clownishfar from regarding such visitations ness of the rustic, the conceit and with terror, we could cling to them pomposity of the pedant, the fripwith eagerness, as the alleviation of pery and frivollity of the beau, the suffering. We can then sympathise smartness and petulance of the wit, with the enthusiasm of the visionary the pertinacity and obesity of the Petrarch, when, in the solitudes of disputant—with all the morbid scnVaucluse, and by the waters of the sibility of the man of feeling. From Sorga, he invokes the shade of his the nature, likewise, of that dependdeparted Laura, or pours forth his ence upon the will and the caprice of gratitude for those visits, which, in another, to which he is unavoidably the stillness of night, consoled his af- subjected, he usually contracts a kind fiction. When I gaze from my win- of jealous and testy independence, dow, upon the loveliness of the scene which accompanies him through all without; that broad full moon now his gradations, and which, more, perrising high in the heavens; those haps, than any other circumstance, clustered stars which sparkle in the serves to classify and mark his chadepth of the unclouded azure; that racter. His opportunities of observaried plain, here rising into silver vation, too, are neither few nor unlight, there sinking into shadow; and favourable'; for whilst neither father those aged and massy trees, through nor mother, neither menial nor dewhich the moon-beams play with pendent, think it worth while to consuch fantastic variety; I feel, that, ceal or to disguise their character, in “ in such a place as this, at such an the presence of the poor, dependent hour,” if descending spirits can in- tutor, his eyes, if he is actually posdeed converse with man, I could sessed of eyes, are open, and he bas summon up courage to bear the con- sufficient leisure, as well as educa. ference. Spirits, I say, of those tion, to turn all these opportunities whom I have loved and lost, let me to account, in the shape of observalook on you once more! Let me per- tion and reflection. It being his prouse again your beloved lineaments; vince at table, and in the presence, the venerable aspect of parental care particularly, of company, to listen -the vivacity of brotherly affection rather than to speak to solve diffi-the softened tenderness of a sister's culties rather than to start them—to love! Ye have no terrors for him, eat his pudding, drink his glass of who, sick of the tumults of this wine, and retire, rather than melt world, has long since fixed his down into, and commix himself with, thoughts upon another, and who will the after-dinner confabulation; he look on you as the messengers of must be possessed of less natural peace and consolation, not as the mi- shrewdness than Scotsmen are genisters of evil, or the harbingers of nerally endowed with, and of more

р. good nature than usually falls to the

lot of his cloth, if he do not, upon all this, play the censor and the satirist

at bis leisure ; making up in one A SCOTCH TUTOR.

way, for what he is compelled to re

linquish in another. Yet, with all “ Sed vos sævas imponite leges," &c. these cynical tendencies, which are Juv. Sat. 7., sub finem. heart is open, in a singular measure,

the consequences of his condition, his A Scotch tutor is a being in a to the accession of kindness and good state of transition from the humble will; and should any individual, in obscurity in which he is usually the family where his lot, for the time, born and educated, to the respecta- is cast, single him out by friendly bility and usefulness of a Presbyte- attentions, it will go hard with him rian clergyman. Ascending, by a indeed if he do not prove himself gradual transition, from rusticity and grateful. Of all others, female con

sorrow.

THE FEELINGS AND FORTUNES OF

descension, in the shape of youth of the remedy. If, on the other and beauty, is to him the most dan- hand, a redundancy was felt, like gerous and overwhelming; for being that in one of our very best ParaInexperienced in the world, and fas- phrases, where it is said – cinated by the glitter of high life,

“ There we shall meet to part no more, he is apt to brood over visions of his own creation in secret, till possibili

And still together be ;" ty assume the port and bearing of this aukward circumstance was in reality, and what is merely desire, stantly remedied, not by cutting off able, begins to seem an object of pro

the fox's tail,—the "redundans ponbable attainment. Such are the pre- dus appositum,”—but, by setting to dominating features of the character work with a Pleonasmus," under of which I am about, from my own

whose reducing skill and power, I experience, to attempt a sketch, re- verily believe, seven balls might serving, however, ai the same time, have been lodged in one socket: the to reyself, the privilege of introducing same word, seven times repeated, into the narrative such exceptions would have been deemed even eleas, however inconsistent they may gant expression still. Should an unseem with the outline I have given, fortunate vocable happen, by one of are, notwithstanding, true to nature, those accidents to which all things and taken from observation.

moveable are more or less subject, to At the usual period, I was sent to have been mislaid, and to have taken school, and after the expiration of up a wrong position amongst its com, seven years of the most vivid plea- panions and associates--whip, Jack ! sures and the most oppressive pains, and begone! by a “Hysteron proteof ecstacy and anguish, in close and ron," the last became first, and the alternate succession,---I entered upon first last. Herisan Boaz, of legerlife, with much skill in analysis, great demain memory, or Dr Caterfelto, readiness in syntax, and a competent with his hair on end, knowledge of promiscuous questions. " At his own wonders wondering," Besides all this, I wrote a fair hand, (as you may see !) had studied book- never performed a transference from keeping, in all its forms of “Sun- one pocket, or from one hand to andries Dr.” and “ Cash Cr.," and other, with greater address. The had occasionally, though with but “Licentia Vatum," a kind of forlorn doubtful success, attempted the com- hope, was regularly broughtinto play, position of a hexameter line. There when any anomalous difficulty ocwere, indeed, several passages, in curred. He was, in fact, the Dr what are termed the higher classics, Gregory of the Nine Muses, being which I could not master. Some called in, in all desperate cases, when questions, too, in double position, any one of their numerous and fanand the cube root, proved too much tastical progeny required extraordifor my skill ; and a confounded long nary aid. A "subauditur” was ever rule in Ruddiman’s grammar, be at hand, to pin, as it were, and plasginning with “ Pyrrhichius," abso- ter up the crevices and chinks in lutely upset my powers of articula- composition; and I was more intion. By the help, however, of a debted to the verb “ cæpit," and whole host of “ auxiliaries," I was cæperunt,”--to the substantive eaabled to perform absolute miracles! negotium,"--and to the nonDid any portion of an author appear descript" quod ad,” than I can well to be suppressed, or had it aotually, express. The will of the grammaunder the haste and inattention of rian was on all occasions the standard the original transcriber, evanished of composition ; and whenever Hoaltogether from the text,-instead of race, or Livy, or Virgil, or Sallust, admitting this fact as a solution, I seemed to take upon them to differ went instantly to work with an “El. from Ruddiinan, I made very short lipsis," and the vacuum was imme- work of it. I concluded,-along with diately filled up,--the surrounding hundreds who remain practicali y unwords closed in over this blank,--the der the same delusion throughout *qund, as it were, cicatrized, and their lives,--that all those anomalies Dr Ellipsix” had the whole cicdit or irregularities in the classic authors,

N

noun

VOL. XII.

« PoprzedniaDalej »