Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

- thanking their agents, by way of reward communicate to them something relative to themselves, which they will never reveal.

Sometimes ghosts appear, and disturb a house, without deigning to give any reason for so doing : with these, the shortest and only way is to exorcise and eject them; or, as the vulgar term is, lay them. For this purpose there must be two or three clergymen, and the ceremony must be performed in Latin ; a language that strikes the most audacious ghost with terror. A ghost may be laiu for any term less than a hundred years, and in any place or body, full or empty; as, a solid oak—the pommel of a sword-a barrel of beer, if a yeoman or simple gentleman—or a pipe of wine, if an esquire or a justice. But of all places the most common, and what a ghost least likes, is the Red Sea.; it being related, in many instances, that ghosts have most earnestly besought the exorcists not to confine them in that place. It is nevertheless considered as an indisputable fact, that there are an infinite number laid there, perhaps from its being a safer prison than any other nearer at hand; for neither history nor tradition gives us any instance of ghosts escaping or returning from this kind of transportation before their time.

Having thus given the most striking outlines of the popular superstitions respecting ghosts, I shall next treat of another species of human apparition, which, though it something resembles it, does not come under the description of a ghost. These are the exact figures and resemblances of persons then living, often seen, not only by their friends at a distance, but many times by themselves; of which there are several instances in Aubrey's Miscellanies : one, of Sir Richard Napier, a physician of London, who, being on the road from Bedfordshire to visit a friend in Berkshire, saw at an inn his own apparition lying on the bed as a dead corpse: he nevertheless went forward, and died in a short time : another, of lady Diana Rich, daughter of the earl of Holland, who met her own apparition walking in a gar

den at Kensington, and died a month after of the sinall. pox. These apparitions are called Fetches, and, in Cumberland, Swarths; they most commonly appear to distant friends and relations, at the very

instant

preceding the death of the person whose figure they put

Sometimes, as in the instances above-mentioned, there is a greater interval between the appearance and death.

on.

SKETCH OF A TRADITION *.

His soul was wild, impetuous, and uncontrollable. He had a keen perception of the faults and vices of others, without the power of correcting his own;

alike sensible of the nobility and of the darkness of his moral constitution, although unable to cultivate the one to the exclusion of the other.

In extreme youth, he led a lonely and secluded life in the solitude of a Swiss valley, in company with an only brother, some years older than himself, and a young female relative, who had been educated along with them from her birth. They lived under the care of an aged uncle, the guardian of those extensive domains which the brothers were destined jointly to inherit.

A peculiar melancholy, cherished and increased by the utter seclusion of that sublime region, had, during the period of their infancy, preyed upon the mind of their father, and finally produced the most dreadful result. The fear of a similar tendency in the minds of the brothers induced their protector to remove them, at an early age, from the solitude of their native country. The elder was sent to a German university, and the younger completed his education in one of the Italian schools.

[ocr errors]

This appears to have furnished the ground-work of Lord Byron's " Manfred."

After the lapse of many years, the old guardian died, and the elder of the brothers returned to his native valley: he there formed an attachment to the lady with whom he had passed his infancy; and she, after some fearful forebodings, which were unfortunately silenced by the voice of duty and of gratitude, accepted of his love, and became his wife.

In the meantime, the younger brother had left Italy, and travelled over the greater part of Europe. He mingled with the world, and gave full scope to every impulse of his feelings. But that world, with the exception of certain hours of boisterous passion and excitement, afforded him little pleasure, and made no lasting impression upon his heart. His greatest joy was in the wildest impulses of the imagination.

His spirit, though mighty and unbounded, from his early habits and education naturally tended to repose; he thought with delight on the sun rising among the Alpine snows, or gilding the peaks of the rugged hills with its evening rays. But within him he felt a fire burning for ever, and which the snows of his native mountains could not quench. He feared that he was alone in the world, and that no being, kindred to his own, had been created; but in his soul there was an image of angelic perfection, which he believed existed not on earth, but without which he knew he could not be happy. Despairing to find it in populous cities, he retired to his paternal domain. On again entering upon the scenes of his infancy, many new and singular feelings were experienced,—he is enchanted with the surpassing beauty of the scenery, and wonders that he should have rambled so long and so far from it. The noise and the bustle of the world were immediately forgotten on contemplating

The silence that is in the starry sky,
The sleep that is among the lonely hills.'

“ A light, as it were, broke around him, and exhi

bited a strange and momentary gleam of joy and of misery mingled together. He entered the dwelling of his infancy with delight, aud met his brother with emotion. But his dark and troubled

eye

betokened a fearful change, when he beheld the other playmate of his infancy. Though beautiful as the imagination could conceive, she appeared otherwise than he expected. Her for and face were associated with some of his wildest reveries,-his feelings of affection were united with many undefinable sensations,—he felt as if she was not the wife of his brother, although he knew her to be so, and his soul sickened at the thought.

He passed the night in a feverish state of joy and horror. From the window of a lonely tower he beheld the moon shining amid the bright blue of an alpine sky, and diffusing a calm and beautiful light on the silvery snow. The eagle owl uttered her long and plaintive note from the castellated summits which overhung the valley, and the feet of the wild chamois were heard rebounding from the neighbouring rocks : these accorded with the gentler feelings of his mind; but the strong spirit which so frequently overcame him listened with intense delight to the dreadful roar of an immense torrent, which was precipitated from the summit of an adjoining cliff among broken rocks and pines, overturned and up-rooted, or to the still mightier voice of the avalanche, suddenly descending with the accumulated snows of a hundred years.

“In the morning he met the object of his unhappy passion. Her eyes were dim with tears, and a cloud of sorrow had darkened the light of her lovely counte

nance.

• For some time there was a mutual constraint in their manner, which both were afraid to acknowledge, and neither was able to dispel. Even the uncontrollable spirit of the wanderer was oppressed and overcome, and he wished he had never returned to the dwelling of his ancestors. The lady was equally aware of the awful peril of their situation, and without the knowledge of

[ocr errors]

her husband, she prepared to depart from the castle, and take the veil in a convent situated in a neighbouring valley.

“ With this resolution she departed on the following morning ; but in crossing an alpine pass, which conducted by a nearer route to the adjoining valley, she was enveloped in mists and vapour, and lost all knowledge of the surrounding country. The clouds closed in around her, and a tremendous thunder-storm took place in the valley beneath. She wandered about for some time, in hopes of gaining a glimpse, through the clouds, of some accustomed object to direct her steps, till exhausted by fatigue and fear, she reclined upon a dark rock, in the crevices of which, though it was now the heat of suminer, there were many patches of snow. There she sat, in a state of feverish delirium, till a gentle air dispelled the dense vapour from before her feet, and discovered an enormous chasm, down which she must have fallen, if she had taken another step. While breathing a silent prayer to heaven for this providential escape, strange sounds were heard, as of some disembodied voice floating among the clouds. Suddenly she perceived, within a few paces, the figure of the wanderer tossing his arms in the air, his eye

inflamed, and his general aspect wild and distracted—he 'then appeared meditating a deed of sin,-she rushed towards him, and, clasping him in her arms, dragged him backwards, just as he was about to precipitate himself into the gulf below.

Overcome by bodily fatigue, and agitation of mind, they remained for some time in a state of insensibility. The brother first revived from his stupor; and finding her whose image was pictured in his soul lying by his side, with her arms resting upon his shoulder, he believed for a moment that he must have executed the dreadful deed he had meditated, and had awakened in heaven. The gentle form of the lady was again reanimated, and slowly she opened her beautiful eyes. She questioned him regarding the purpose of his visit to that desolate spot-a full explanation took place of their mutual

VOL. I.

P

« НазадПродовжити »