Page images

shook his head at me, and in a minute or two went away.

[ocr errors]

8. About a week after, I took my bed, and grew worse and worse, till in six or seven days my life was despaired of. Then, about eleven at night, my uncle came in, looked well pleased, and sat down on the bedside. He came every night after at the same time, and stayed till cock-crowing. I was exceeding glad, and kept my eyes fixed upon him all the time he stayed. If I wanted drink or any thing, though I did not speak or stir,1 he fetched it, and set it on the chair by the bedside. Indeed I could

not speak; 2 many times I strove, but could not move my tongue. Every morning when he went away he waved his hand to me, and I heard delightful music, as if many persons were singing together.

[ocr errors]

9. In about six weeks I grew better; I was then musing one night, whether I did well in desiring he might come? and I was praying that God would do his own will, when he came in, and stood by the bedside. But he was not in his usual dress; he had on a white robe, which 'reached down to his feet. He looked quite well pleased. About one there stood by him a person in white, taller than him, and exceeding beautiful. He came with the

singing as of many voices, and continued till near cockcrowing. Then my uncle smiled, and waved his hand toward me twice or thrice. They went away with inexpressibly sweet music, and I saw him no more.

IO. "In a year after this, a young man courted me, and in some months we agreed to be married. But he purposed to take another voyage first, and one evening went aboard his ship. About eleven o'clock, going out to look for my mother, I saw him standing at his mother's door with his hands in his pockets, and his hat pulled over his eyes. I went to him, and reached my hand to put up his hat; but he went swiftly by me, and I saw the wall on the other side of the lane part as he went through, and then immediately close after him. At ten the next morning he died.

II. "A few days after, John Simpson, one of our neighbours, a man that truly feared God, and one with whom I was particularly acquainted, went to sea, as usual.


1 So it is plain he knew her thoughts. But this is widely distant from knowing the hearts of all men.

2 Such an impression, even though she felt no fear, did the presence of a superior nature make upon her.

sailed out on a Tuesday. The Friday night following, between eleven and twelve o'clock, I heard one walking in my room, and every step sounded as if he was stepping in water. He then came to the bedside in his sea-jacket, all wet, and stretched his hand over me. Three drops of water fell on my breast,1 and felt as cold as ice. I strove to wake his wife, who lay with me; but I could not, any more than if she was dead. Afterward I heard he was cast away that night. In less than a minute he went away; but he came to me every night, for six or seven nights following, between eleven and two. Before he came, and when he went away, I always heard sweet music.2 Afterwards he came both day and night; every night about twelve with the music at his coming and going, and every day at sunrise, noon, and sunset. He came, whatever company I was in; at church, in the preaching-house, at my Class; and was always just before me, changing his posture as I changed mine. When I sat, he sat; when I kneeled, he kneeled: when I stood, he stood likewise. I would fain have spoke to him, but I could not when I tried, my heart sunk within me : meantime it affected me more and more, so that I lost both my stomach, my colour, and my strength. This continued ten weeks, while I pined away, not daring to tell any one. At last he came four or five nights without any music, and looked exceeding sad. On the fifth night he drew the curtains of the bed violently to and fro; still looking wishfully at me, and as one quite distressed. This he did two nights. On the third, I lay down about eleven, on the side of the bed. I quickly saw him walking up and down the room. Being resolved to speak to him, but unwilling any should hear, I rose and went up into the garret. When I opened the door, I saw him walking toward me, and shrunk back; on which he stopped, and stood at a distance. I said, In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, what is your business with me? He answered, Betsy, God forgive you, for keeping me so long from my rest.3 Have you forgot what you promised before I went to sea? to look to my children if I was drowned? You must stand to your word, or I cannot

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1 Was this real? or did he only raise such a sensation in her?

2 Was this a real modulation of the air? Was it designed to show that he was happy, and to encourage her to speak?

3 Who can account for this?

rest.' I said, I wish I was dead.' He said, 'Say not so: you have more to go through before then: and yet if you knew as much as I do, you would not care how soon you died. You may bring the children on in their learning while they live; they have but a short time.' 1 I said, I will take all the care I can.' He added, 'Your brother has wrote for you to come to Jamaica; but if you go, it will hurt your soul. You have also thoughts of altering your condition; 2 but if you marry him you think of, it will draw you from God, and you will neither be happy here nor hereafter. Keep close to God, and go on in the way wherein you have been brought up.' I asked, 'How do you spend your time?' He answered, 'In songs of praise. But of this you will know more by and by; for where I am, you will surely be. I have lost much happiness by coming to you :3 and I should not have stayed so long without using other means to make you speak; but the Lord would not suffer me to fright you. Have you any thing more to say? It draws near two, and after that I cannot stay. I shall only come to you twice more before the death of my two children. God bless you! Immediately I heard such singing, as if a thousand voices joined together. He then went down stairs, and I followed him to the first landing. He smiled, and I said, 'I desire you will come back.' He stood still till I came to him. I asked him one or two questions, which he immediately answered; but added, 'I wish you had not called me back, for now I must take something from you. '4 He paused a little, and said, 'I think you can best part with the hearing of your left ear.' He laid his hand upon it, and in the instant it was as deaf as a stone and it was several years before I recovered the least hearing of it. The cock crowed as he went out of the door, and then the music ceased. The elder of his children died at about three years and a half, the younger before he was five years old. He appeared before the death of each, but without speaking; after that I saw him no more.

"12. A little before Michaelmas, 1763, my brother George, who was a good young man, went to sea.

1 By what means could he know this?

? So he likewise knew her thoughts.

3 I do not understand this.


4 Another instance like this we shall see by and by; but the reason of it we

cannot so much as conjecture.

day after Michaelmas-day, about midnight, I saw him standing by my bedside, surrounded with a glorious light, and looking earnestly at me. He was wet all over. That night the ship in which he sailed split upon a rock, and all the crew were drowned.


13. On April 9, 1767, about midnight, I was laying awake, and I saw my brother John 1 standing by my bedside. Just at that time he died in Jamaica.


14. By his death I became entitled to a house in Sunderland, which was left us by my grandfather, John Hobson, an exceeding wicked man, who was drowned fourteen years ago. I employed an attorney to recover it from my aunts, who kept possession of it; but finding more difficulty than I expected, in the beginning of December I gave it up. Three or four nights after, as I rose from prayer, a little before eleven, I saw him standing at a small distance. I cried out, 'Lord bless me ! What brings you here?' He answered, 'You have given up the house; Mr. Parker advised you so to do; 2 but if you do, I shall have no rest :3 indeed Mr. Dunn,4 whom you have employed, will do nothing for you. Go to Durham; employ an attorney there, and it will be recovered.' 5 voice was loud,6 and so hollow and deep, that every word went through me. His lips did not move at all, (nor his eyes,) but the sound seemed to rise out of the floor. When he had done speaking, he turned about, and walked out of the room.7



15. In January, as I was sitting on the bed-side, a quarter before twelve, he came in, stood before me, looked earnestly at me, then walked up and down, and stood and looked again. This he did for half an hour; and thus he came every other night,8 for about three weeks. All this time he seemed angry,9 and sometimes his look was quite horrid and furious. One night I was sitting up in bed

1So a spirit finds no difficulty in travelling three or four thousand miles in a moment?

2 How often are spirits present when we do not think of it!

3 Why not? What had he to do with the things under the sun?

4 Did he then know Mr. Dunn's thoughts?

5 Was he sure of this? Or did he only conjecture?

"What a picture! Far beyond her invention !
"That he might not frighten her by vanishing away.
Surely God saw this was as much as she could bear.

At her not speaking. But why could he not speak first? Is this contrary to a law of the invisible world?

crying, when he came, and began to pull off the clothes. I strove to touch his hand, but could not; on which he shrunk back, and smiled. 1

" 16. The next night but one, about twelve, I was again sitting up, and crying, when he came and stood at the bedside. As I was looking for a handkerchief, he walked to the table, took one up,2 brought and dropped it upon the bed. After this, he came three or four nights, and pulled the clothes off, throwing them on the other side of the bed.


17. Two nights after, he came, as I was sitting on the bed-side, and after walking to and fro, snatched the handkerchief from my neck. I fell into a swoon. When I came to myself, he was standing just before me. Presently he came close to me, dropped it on the bed, and went away.

"18. Having had a long illness the year before, having taken much cold by his frequent pulling off the clothes, and being worn out by these appearances, I was now mostly confined to my bed. The next night, soon after eleven, he came again. I asked, 'In God's name, why do you torment me thus? You know it is impossible for me to go to Durham now. But I have a fear that you are not happy, and beg to know whether you are or not? He answered, after a little pause, That is a bold question for you to ask. So far as you knew me to do amiss, in my life-time, do you take care to do better.' I said, 'It is a shocking affair to live and die after that manner. He replied,It is no time for reflections now; what is done cannot be undone.' I said, 'It must be a great happiness to die in the Lord?" He said, Hold your tongue ! Hold your tongue! At your peril never mention such a word before me again!' I was frightened, and strove to lift up my heart to God. He gave a shriek, and sunk down, at three times, with a loud groan at each time. Just as he disappeared, there was a large flash of fire, and I fainted away.



19. Three days after, I went to Durham, and put the affair into Mr. Hugill, the attorney's hands. The next

1 Poor Ghost! Did this divert thee for a moment from attending to the worm that never dieth?

2 So he saw her thought! But did he not pity her too?

This seems to have been peculiarly intolerable to him, the thought of what

he had lost

« PreviousContinue »