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natural experiences : the fact of its happening in still clear daylight, and the concurrent testimony of no less than four witnesses. It may be objected that the imaginations of these persons were prepared to receive what they went "out into the wilderness for to see." But we have shown that in one at least the predisposition was quite the other way; and it is remarkable that, at the moment, they none of them conuected the figure with the rumour belonging to the house, or were in any way disconcerted at its appearance. These are the simple facts. Some readers will account for them, no doubt, in a manner highly satisfactory to themselves, and we willingly leave in their hands the solution of a mystery which we confess ourselves unable to explain.
Tales of “foreshadowings” and “warnings” are not uncommon among us, and, as a striking example of coincidence between the phantasmagoria of the brain and a cotemporary event (such we are disposed to consider it), we may mention a singular circumstance that happened not long ago in Dorsetshire to the wife of Major B. That gentleman was awoke in the middle of the night by his wife's terrified inquiry as to whether he saw anything? “ There, there, at the foot of the bed !James, the coachman, with his throat cut-staring at me!-can't you see him ?” Her nervous terror increasing, Major B. got up, lit a candle, and searched the room--of course in vain. His wife was now tranquillised in a degree, though still by no means convinced that what she had beheld was simply an effect of the imagination. You may guess in what light she regarded it when, the following morning, she and her husband were roused by the intelligence that the coachman had actually been found in bed with his throat cut! It may be supposed that Mrs. B. knew the poor fellow to be in low spirits, and that a dread of this calamity preyed on her mind and haunted her dreams. It does not appear that such was the case.
We believe that no apprehension of the kind existed in the household. But among the many thousand presentiments, omens, and warning-dreams that bear no fruit, it is enough that one, as in this case, shall seem to have direct connexion with the actual, for us to regard it as a spiritunl manifestation in our behalf. The Emperor Napoleon's death was predicted for this year: had it come to pass, the chance hit of a false prophet would have counted as the bull's-eye of a true one. The terrible dreams our friend Smith relates over the breakfast-table happily remain unrealised ; and Jones returned in rude health from Jerusalem, though he confided to us when he embarked that the figure of death on a portmanteau had appeared to him on the preceding night. We cannot accept such instances as the above, therefore, in any other light than as remarkable coincidences.
But distinct from these again, and to be approached with bated breath, as too solemn for discussion, however sceptical we may be, are the many stories on record (that of Lord T. is among the best known) of spirits appearing to the objects of a strong attachment, at the moment of dissolution, though absent from them in the flesh. There is something profoundly touching in this idea of the soul, on its passage from its earthly tenement, Aying towards the beloved object, lingering around that one spot, and struggling, as it were, to retain the only link that still holds it to this earth. We know too little of the mysteries of our being to deny that this is possible; perhaps our eyes are darkened to such spiritual presence
when our hearts are yearning towards the absent on the battle-fields of India! The apostles of Mesmer may very plausibly assume, regarding the stories of such appearances, that the powerful influence of animal magnetism, exercised over the spirit, is able to draw it towards the magnetiser, at the extreme hour-and, by an unconscious effort, it may be, on his part-the intense sehnsucht of the Germans. We do not advance this as a theory of our own; for, of course, upon the principle with which we started, these experiences of highly excited imaginations cannot be received as facts: we do no more than touch on them.
We now come to a tale of a very different complexion, the scene of which should be a “moated grange” rather than a prosaic dwelling among the dingy streets of London. I am sorry I may not indicate more particularly the house in which the events I am about to record took place, as it is a locality well known, by name at least, to all.
Captain C. received a lucrative appointment some three years since, attached to which was the disagreeable condition of a residence in the heart of the city. He was lately married, and after the honeymoon, he and his bride removed to their future home, bent on making that gloomy abode as cheerful as might be. It had one spare bedroom, which was to be dedicated to the use of Mrs. C.'s father, an officer commanding
--, during his occasional visits to London. The first of these visits took place shortly after the Cs had arrived in their new house. The old gentleman was inducted into his room, which it was understood he was to occupy for some weeks. The next morning, however, he appeared grave and silent, and after breakfast he said to his daughter,
“ I have been thinking, my dear, that perhaps it is hardly right that I should remain away from my command. I am not quite comfortable about it. It is, fortunately, so near London, that I can run up and see you whenever I like, and back the same day; but I think it is better that I should not be absent at night, so I shall return to-day:"
Captain C. and his wife were surprised at this sudden whim of her father's, but all their arguments to persuade him to remain were unavailing, and he departed.
A few weeks after this, a young Swiss lady, with whom Mrs. C. had been educated abroad, came to England, and her first visit naturally was to her old friend. She came, after the manner of her sex, accompanied by sundry boxes, indicative of a lengthened stay, and the spare room seemed now sure of an occupant for some time. But the morning after her arrival she set out to Kensington to visit some friends there, and two or three hours later, Mrs. C. received a note from her, saying, that as her friends had pressed her to remain with them, she had promised to do so, and would thank Mrs. C. to send her boxes. The latter felt naturally indignant at such extraordinary conduct, and was for giving the young lady “ her mind” on paper, when Captain C. observed,
“There is more than meets the eye in this, I feel sure. This is the second time it has happened. Do you remember the sudden way in which your father left us? Perhaps there is something disagreeable about the room-a drain, or a dead rat—which drives away our guests in this manner. Let me advise you to go yourself with the boxes, and asks Miss frankly the reason of her leaving you in this way, as, of course, there must be a reason.”
Mrs. C. acted on her husband's advice, and the young lady, after some hesitation, said,
“I will candidly confess to you that nothing would ever induce me to pass another night in that room. What I suffered it is not in the power of words to describe. I will, however, try and give you an idea of what I saw. I put out my candle last night carefully before getting into bed. It stood on a table facing the bed and between the windows; I feel quite sure I put it out. I suppose it was about the middle of the night that I suddenly started up, feeling a cold wind near my face, and dimly conscious that there was a bright light in the room. The candle opposite was burning; that, however, was not what lit up the room. Between the candle and the bed stood a figure, a dark shadow, and yet, horrible to say ! its spine appeared to be of fire; the candle was dim beside it. I could not scream ; I was choking, without power to utter a sound, while the figure bent over me, and seemed about to encircle me in its shadowy grasp. I had just strength to draw the coverlid quickly over my head and crouch down under the clothes. There I lay gasping, trembling, with eyes tight shut, though I need hardly say, sleepless, until morning. I have told you all. Are you surprised now when I say
I had rather do anything on earth than pass another night in that room ?”
Upon Mrs. C.'s return home, she wrote to her father, simply begging him to let her know whether there was any reason which he had not named to her for his sudden departure from their house, some weeks before, as she had a very particular reason for the inquiry. Her father, in his answer said he had not breathed on the subject to any one, nor should he have named it now but for his daughter's urgent request. As she wished it, however, he would confess that he had never passed such a night in his life as the one spent under her roof. Whereupon he described, in almost identical terms, the apparition which had produced such an effect on Mrs. C.'s young friend. Here was a hale
man, of vigorous mind, and by no means imaginative, as his daughter knew, corroborating a girl's statement, which Captain C., naturally enough, had regarded as foolish and fanciful. It was passing strange: it must be looked to : and he and half a dozen of his friends in turn tried their fate in the haunted room, with varied success. To some the spirit of the place appeared in much the same form as it had done to the two first occupants of that chamber. For others, and Captain C. among the number, it was invisible. But no additional evidence in this case would be of much importance. The room already enjoyed the reputation of being haunted, and the imaginations of its occupants were stimulated in a particular direction. It must be remembered that in the first two instances there was not only no rumour of this nature to put them on the qui vive, but the whole aspect of the room, as well as its position in the heart of the noisy, bustling city, was ill calculated to inspire terrors of a ghostly nature. Once inspired, however, they were not so easy to be allayed. Several of the workmen on the premises took fright, and struck work. All Captain C.'s efforts to account for, or throw discredit on the tale which had got wind in connexion with his house, were ineffectual. They only brought to light another tale which was almost forgotten, that a murder had been committed in that room many years ago, since when it had never been inhabited!
GERMAN ALMANACKS FOR 1858.
WHEN we remember the enormous influence the German almanacks could legitimately exert over millions of peasants, whose staple literature they form in conjunction with the Bible, we are amazed to find how slightly the editors appear to comprehend their illustrious mission. It is true that the censorship necessarily binds them to a cut-and-dried style of writing, and nothing is deemed safe and well-intentioned in which any reference is made to the present; the Germans, in fact, are taught the past history of their conntry, before Teutonic unity became the absurd myth it now is, and they are obstinately inclined to dream of the glories of guilds and trade unions, which, in the present debased generation, merely represent the shadow of a name. The haughty burghers who, once upon a time, would combine to overthrow the usurped power of a Faustritter, and march out to destroy the castles which impeded the progress of rational industry, have now degenerated into a race of predatory tradesmen, who look upon English travellers as their fair prey. All along the great highways of the nation a race of bandits still exists, who plunder you with a long bill, and produce the same result on the more peaceful path of trade. But, if the chivalry of Germany has passed away, never to return, the peasantry are in a still worse condition; and, although the governments boast of the spread of education, and point tauntingly to the periodical distress prevailing in England as a proof of the fallacy of a popular government, they know in their hearts that they cannot rely on their peoples in any dangerous crisis, but are forced, on the first signal of commotion, to make concessions, which they mutually agree to withdraw so soon as the storm has blown over and an unscrupulous Soldateska has been trained into blindly obeying their behests. The events of 1848 did not pass away, however, without leaving deep traces on the mind of the peasants; the revolutionary propaganda that invaded the remotest nook of the fatherland exercised an astounding effect, and though the people have been again coerced into tranquillity, that nimbus which formerly surrounded crowned heads has been quite dissipated by the rough blast of revolution. The peasants are dissatisfied and restless in their minds ; they have an uneasy consciousness that, in return for taxation, they have a claim to popular representation, and the longer it is deferred, the more sanguinary will the day of reckoning prove. They are deeply mortified at the idea of having allowed themselves to be again deluded by their princes, and having the power torn from their grasp by their own insane trust in princes ; and those who have not emigrated to America in disgust, are moodily biding their time, and sharpening their scythes in readiness for the much-desired fray.
As in France, the German almanacks may be divided into the comic (Heaven save the mark !), the amusing, and the instructive. The first category may be dismissed almost without a word, at any rate this year, for they have really abused the privilege of being dull." The principal jokes appear to be that one paper will announce a new opera by Rossini, only to be contradicted in the next impression, and that Lablache will die several times during the year. Among the prophecies we may mention
that a report will be spread of a person having amused himself in Hanover ; but this is not to be accepted without further confirmation. At the diplomatic dinner given on the meeting of the congress, Wallachia, Moldavia, Switzerland, and Turkey will be handed round by France
“quatre mendiants.”. Christian ducats will suffer by the Turkish feast of circumcision. The Duke of Gotha's next opera will be composed exclusively of “collective notes." In the principality of Monaco two individuals will die of apoplexy, thus rendering a new census requisite. In Russia a new cure for cholera will be discovered; the patient will be ordered “ Down on your knees, dog!"
Among the amusing almanacks, one of the best is the “ Spinnstube,” edited by W. O. von Horn, and illustrated by Richter. The principal story has an enormous title, " When the donkey is too well off he goes on the ice and breaks his leg,” but then it is a German proverb, and the allusion is well understood in that country. Suppose we give an analysis of the story to show our readers what idea German writers have of amusing their readers. The story opens as follows (it must be borne in mind that the tale is supposed to be told by old Schmid Jacob to a number of girls assembled in the spinning-room):
Now, look ye here! It was upon a Sunday afternoon, when all Christian people were at church, when the parson was explaining the Catechism to the children, that a man came lounging down the village, and another, who had just woke
up from his mid-day nap, was standing at the window, yawning and stretching, to see what sort of weather it was. They were both not very fond of work, but of something good to eat and drink, and on that point were one, however much they might differ in body, mind, and purse. The one strolling down the village was by name Thomas Weinheimer, by trade a spoiled tailor, and well. grown day thief; had no sitting-flesh, but was, at present speaking, pikeman, or day-guard of the village, also bellringer, gently slumbering night-watchman, and village gossip-carrier, fond of his joke, and always ready to let any simple person's purse bleed. Not a soul in the village ever thought of calling him Thomas, or even Weinheimer ; but he was called by young and old, for shortness, Tommy; and he was so fond of that, or so used to it, that it did not annoy him, nor did he give the boys a rap behind the ears when they called him so, although, in other respects, he was always ready with such proofs of his love, and the boys had an extraordinary respect for his long, thin hand. He could put up with a great deal, if he could earn a good fat soup by it, and you know very well the meaning of this proverb, and if you don't I can easily explain it to you-he knew how to say something pleasant to everybody ; to baste everybody with his own fat, so that a drop or two might fall for his own advantage. He was not so stupid as he looked, as is the case with other persons, and vice versa. But the reason why the people called him Tommy was very natural; when he was at the best of his growth a frost set in. Thus his growth was checked and stood still. Thus, too, he never got beyond three feet and a half, even when he wore tall heels to his boots. When he was scarce three days old, his mother carried him out into the sun, and he fared like green wood, especially about the legs, which grew crooked, and looked exactly like two sickles with their points turned to each other. Further, his cradle stood between two windows, and as curiosity was born with him, he was always trying to look through both windows at once, so that his
eyes at last grew into that position. Then, again, his mother put his father's cap on him, which was too wide for him, and the consequence was that the boy grew most about the head, which swelled so enormously that when he fell he always tumbled on his nose, thus contradicting the old proverb, which says of a cunning fellow that he is not one who has fallen on his nose. I will only mention one more defect, also caused by his mother, for she fed him with