A Chat with a Ghost

houseCreepy History 21.  In 1681 clergyman Joseph Glanvill wrote Sadducismus Triumphatus, exploring the world of the supernatural, with a particular focus on witches and ghosts. He had a strong belief in this sort of thing, and felt that denying their existence was a step towards atheism. His work contains a collection of anecdotal evidence of the existence of ghosts. The following quote is one example:

David Hunter, neat-herd at the Bishop’s house at Portmore, there appeared to him one night, carrying a log of wood into the dairy, an old woman, which amazed him, for he knew her not: but the fright made him throw away his log of wood, and run into the house. The next night she appeared again to him, and he could not choose but follow her all night, and so almost every night for near three quarters of a year. Whenever she came, he must go with her through the woods at a good round rate: and the poor fellow looked as if he was bewitched and travelled off his legs. And when in bed with his wife, if she appeared, he must rise and go. And because his wife could not hold him in his bed, she would go too, and walk after him till day though she saw nothing: but his little dog was so well acquainted with the apparition, that he would follow her as well as his master. If a tree stood in her walk, he observed her always to go through it. In all this while she spake not.

But one day the said David going over a hedge into the highway, she came just against him, and he cried out, “Lord bless me, would I was dead; shall I never be delivered from this misery? At which, “And the Lord bless me too” says she, “It was very happy you spake first, for till then I had no power to speak, though I have followed you so long. My name,” says she, “is Margaret – I lived here before the war, and had one son by my husband; when he died, I married a soldier, by whom I had several children, which that former son maintained, else we must all have starved. He lives beyond the ban-water; pray go to him, and bid him dig under such a hearth, and there he shall find 28 s. Let him pay what I owe in such a place, and the rest to the charge unpaid at my funeral; and go to my son that lives here, which I had by my latter husband, and tell him, that he lives a wicked and dissolute life, and is very unnatural and ungrateful to his brother that maintained him, and if he does not mend his life, God Almighty will destroy him.

David Hunter told her he never knew her: “No,” says she, “I died 7 years before you came into the country,” but for all that, if he would do her message, she should never hurt him. But he deferred doing as the Apparition bid him, and she appeared the night after, as he lay in bed, and struck him on the shoulder very hard; at which he cried out, and asked her if she did not promise she would not hurt him? She said that was if he did her message; if not, she would kill him. He told her, he could not go now, by reason the waters were out. She said, she was content he could stay till they were abated; but charged him afterwards not to fail her. So he did her errand, and afterwards she appeared, and gave him thanks. “For now”, said she, “I shall be at rest, therefore pray you lift me up from the ground, and I will trouble you no more. So David Hunter lifted her up from the ground, and, as he said, she felt just like a bag of feathers in his arms; so she vanished, and he heard most delicate Music as she went off, over his head, and he never was more troubled.

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About Windows into History

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