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malignant, or because they glide and do not walk, or are luminous, or for some other excellent reason. The
combination, in due proportions, of pretty frequent inexplicable noises, with occasional aimless apparitions,
makes up the type of orthodox modern haunted house story. The difficulty of getting evidence worth looking
at (except for its uniformity) is obviously great. Noises may be naturally caused in very many ways: by
winds, by rats, by boughs of trees, by water pipes, by birds. The writer has known a very satisfactory series of
footsteps in an historical Scotch house, to be dispelled by a modification of the water pipes. Again he has
heard a person of distinction mimic the noises made by his family ghosts (which he preserved from tests as
carefully as Don Quixote did his helmet) and the performance was an admirable imitation of the wind in a
spout. There are noises, however, which cannot be thus cheaply disposed of, and among them are thundering
whacks on the walls of rooms, which continue in spite of all efforts to detect imposture. These phenomena,
says Kiesewetter, were known to the Acadians of old, a circumstance for which he quotes no authority.
{140a}
Paracelsus calls the knocks pulsatio mortuorum, in his fragment on 'Souls of the Dead,' and thinks that the
sounds predict misfortune, a very common belief. {140b} Lavaterus says, that such disturbances, in
unfinished houses are a token of good luck!
Again there is the noise made apparently by violent movement of heavy furniture, which on immediate
examination (as in Scott's case at Abbotsford) is found not to have been moved. The writer is acquainted with
a dog, a collie, which was once shut up alone in a room where this disturbance occurred. The dog was much
alarmed and howled fearfully, but it soon ceased to weigh on his spirits. When phantasms are occasionally
seen by respectable witnesses, where these noises and movements occur, the haunted house is of a healthy,
orthodox, modern type. But the phenomena are nothing less than modern, for Mather, Sinclair, Paracelsus,
Wierus, Glanvill, Bovet, Baxter and other old writers are full of precisely these combinations of sounds and
sights, while many cases occur in old French literature, old Latin literature, and among races of the lower
barbaric and savage grades of culture. One or two curious circumstances have rather escaped the notice of
philosophers though not of Thyrus. First, the loudest of the unexplained sounds are occasionally not audible
to all, so that (as when the noise seems to be caused by furniture dragged about) we may conjecture with
Thyrus, that there is no real movement of the atmosphere, that the apparent crash is an auditory
hallucination. The planks and heavy objects at Abbotsford had not been stirred, as the loud noises overhead
indicated, when Scott came to examine them.
HAUNTED HOUSES 49
Cock Lane and Common-Sense
In a dreadfully noisy curacy vouched for by 'a well-known Church dignitary,' who occupied the place, there
was usually a frightful crash as of iron bars thrown down, at 2 a.m. on a Sunday morning. All the boxes and
heavy material in a locked set of attics, seemed to be dancing about, but were never found to have been
stirred. Yet this clergyman discovered that 'the great Sunday crash might manifest itself to some persons in
the house without his wife or himself being conscious of it. Knowing how overwhelming the sound always
appeared to me when I did hear it, I cannot but consider this one of the most wonderful things in the whole
business.' {142}
In this case, in a house standing hundreds of yards apart from any neighbour, and occupied only by a parson,
his wife, and one servant, these phenomena lasted for a year, with great regularity. There were the usual
footsteps, the ordinary rappings were angry when laughed at, and the clergyman when he left at the end of a
year, was as far as ever from having detected any cause. Indeed it is not easy to do so. A friend of the
writer's, an accomplished man of law, was once actually consulted, in the interests of an enraged squire, as to
how he could bring a suit against somebody for a series of these inexplicable disturbances. But the law
contained no instrument for his remedy.
From the same report of the S. P. R. we take another typical case. A lady, in an old house, saw, in 1873, a
hideous hag watching her in bed; she kept the tale to herself, but, a fortnight later, her brother, a solicitor, was
not a whit less alarmed by a similar and similarly situated phenomenon. In this house dresses were plucked
at, heavy blows were struck, heavy footsteps went about, there were raps at doors, and nobody was ever any
the wiser as to the cause. Here it may be observed that a ghost's power of making a noise, and exerting what [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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