Strange and yet true.When the evening lamps are lighted, or, rather, just before that operation — say, in the little interval which follows the retirement of the ladies from the dining-room, and precedes the appearance of the laughing, skeptical faces left temporarily below — a grain of ghost talk mingles, not inharmoniously, with the gentle and domestic topics invoked by the subdued light and confidential feeling of the hour. The treatment of the subject is necessarily superficial. Twenty minutes will not suffice for a dive into philosophic deeps. Facts are simply adduced. Theme and proposition are laid bare, and left so for any after manipulations profounder thinkers please. Nevertheless, from the pabulum (often exceedingly raw) supplied by these little conversations may be deduced a whole garden of thought worthy the attention of the most earnest sage. Whatever be the cause, the fact will hardly be disputed that a taste for the supernatural has greatly augmented of late among the educated classes of society. It has, indeed, as might be expected, abandoned its ancient form of bald credulity. We neither believe in the ghost nor shoot him; We require to know something of his nature who walks uninvited into our dwelling, and what may be his immediate business there, but not with rudeness nor intolerance. In a word, the indulgent spirit of the time is the welcome child of progress. As every age stamps itself upon the roll of time with the seal of some grand discovery-- as every successive year reveals its half-suspected wonders — the mind becomes less and less inclined to impose limits upon that vast unexplored ocean, which, like the natural horizon, seems to know no bound but God--and man, as he grows wiser, grows humbler. To this improved feeling, and this better discipline of reason, we are indebted for many an interesting narrative which would else have never passed the bounds of a family circle; or in doing so, would have at least been carefully denuded of such corroboration as name, place, and time afford. In the incidents hereafter to be related these have been supplied without scruple, and without desire for any greater reticence than the editor in his discretion may impose. The circumstances of each case have been verified with unusual care, because another object than simple curiosity suggested the inquiry. Still it may be proper to call attention to the fact that persons who have been, or who have conceived themselves to have been, the witnesses of so-called supernatural appearances, are, in recalling the occurrence, never wholly free from the dominion of that exalted feeling which accompanied it, and which is ill calculated for minute and accurate detail. He, therefore, who undertakes to relate a ghost story at second-hand may have the difficult task of rendering incoherences in such a manner as shall not bring down unjust doubt upon what is no less correct than clear. To assist analysis, we must compare. To aid comparison, the least possible reserve should unite with the closest possible adherence to facts, so far as facts can be ascertained after passing through strongly susceptible imaginations. Even were these extra-natural occurrences not explicable (whish we hold them in every case to be,) there is surely nothing terrible or revolting in the pursuit. It is for example; a simple, touching, and beautiful faith that the last earthly regards of the liberated spirit should be fixed upon its best beloved. If such be the work of a mocking spirit, it wears a wonderfully heavenly dress. ‘"I am a ghost,"’ says Wolfran, in the Fool's Tragedy: ‘ Tremble not, Fear not me:
The dead are ever good and innocent,
And love the living. They are cheerful creatures--
And quiet as the sunbeams — and most like,
In grace, and patient love, and spotless beauty,
The new-born of mankind.
’ To proceed at once to illustration, here are two instances of ‘"intuition,"’ both brief and true. The first is supplied by a gentleman well known in French literary circles, whom it induced to bestow much attention on that and kindred subjects. In 1845 he was visiting a lady of his acquaintance at Rouen. They were engaged in earnest conversation on the subject of the future prospects of the lady's children, the youngest of whom — a girl of eighteen--sat working beside them. Suddenly the latter started from her seat with a loud shriek, and threw herself into her mother's arms. On being questioned as to the cause of her agitation, she pointed to a sofa, and, weeping bitterly, declared she had seen descend upon it the figure of her elder sister, Rosalie, then on a visit to some relations at or near Havre. The countenance of the phantom was pale and death-stricken.--This occurred at 4 o'clock in the afternoon of the 17th September. Two days after, tidings arrived that Rosalie L — had been unhappily drowned in a boating excursion at Havre, at (it was affirmed) the precise moment of the appearance. As another instance, here is a circumstance minutely related by Monsieur M--, a retired French officer, in a letter to a friend: ‘ "Left an orphan at an early age, I was brought up under the care of a kind-hearted god-mother, who could scarcely have cherished me more had I been her own offspring. She resided at Harfleur, and, being in easy circumstances, refused me nothing that could contribute to my youthful pleasure, keeping my pockets withal comfortably lined with that material which rendered my frequent visits to the Sunday fetes in the neighborhood doubly agreeable. On one occasion I had started, as usual, in company with a band of young vagabonds like myself, to attend a fete at Quillebouf, on the opposite side of the Seine. "Contrary to my natural habit, I felt uneasy and depressed. An inexplicable feeling of gloom hung upon my mind, and neither my own efforts nor the raillery of my companions could drive it away. I had indeed left my good protectress confined by illness to her bed, but I was not aware that she was in any danger. However, the cloud upon my mind, far from dispersing, momentarily increased. If I joined as usual in the different sports, I was slow and unskillful; and in the war of wit that generally accompanied our games had not a word to say for myself. We had engaged in a match of skittles. It was my turn to deliver the ball, and I was standing, half pensively, poising it in my hand, when I distinctly heard a soft voice pronounce my name. I started, and turned round, hastily asking who had spoken. " ' Nobody,' replied those around me." "I insisted that I had heard a woman's voice say ' M--' " ' Bah ! you're dreaming. Play away.' " "Hardly had the ball quitted my hand when a second time I heard my name pronounced in a soft and plaintive tone, but fainter than the former. Again I inquired who called me. "No one present had heard the sound. "It struck me that some one of the party was playing a trick upon me, in order to increase my evident melancholy. Nevertheless, under the influence of some impression caused by the plaintive summons, I refused to play any longer, and presently returned alone to Harfleur. On reaching my godmother's house I was shocked to learn that she had expired during the afternoon, pronouncing my name twice, and breathing her last sigh at the moment of the second summons I had heard.-- These facts are well known to some twelve or fifteen people at Harfleur and at Quillebœuf, most of whom are still (in 1854) living, and were I to live fifty years the sound and the impression will never depart from my memory." But, of course, these so-called facts had their common source in the narrator. Therefore, as a question of evidence, no corroboration is gained by their being known to the dozen or fifteen people still living. ’ The heroine of our next illustration is Mrs. D--, an English lady. When, five years ago, Mrs. D — became a widow, it pleased the brother of her husband to dispute the dispositions of the latter's will — a proceeding the more annoying as the provision made for the widow, was already extremely moderate. Ultimately an appeal was made to Chancery. The suit lasted three years, and caused Mrs. D — the utmost vexation and anxiety, when at length the law, finding those claims indisputable, which had never been anything else, decided in her favor. Some short time after this, Mrs. D — was residing in L — Place, Brighton. A friend, Miss--, usually shared her bedroom. Both were lying awake one morning about 8 o'clock, when Mrs. D--, with some surprise, saw her friend rise up suddenly in bed, clasp her hands, and sink back again on the pillow in a profound sleep. Strange as seemed the movement, it was so evident to Mrs. D — that her friend was really in a tranquil slumber that she made no effort to disturb her. A minute elapsed, when the door quietly opened, and there seemed to enter a figure which she believed to be supernatural. She describes her feelings with great minuteness. She owned that, by nature, she was somewhat nervous; her impressions, as she afterward remembered them, on this occasion had not the slightest intermixture of fear. She was conscious of a reverential awe, such as might become the witness of a revelation overruling the accepted law of nature, united with a feeling of intense curiosity as to the object of the apparition. Gliding through the subdued light, the figure had all the appearance, gait, and manner of her deceased husband; until, passing round the room, and sinking down into an armchair that stood nearly opposite her bed, turned slightly aside, the figure presented its profile, and Mrs. D — instantly recognized her connection and late opponent, Mr. W. D--, at that time residing in the North. No sooner had the mysterious visitor sat down than he raised his clasped hands, as in passionate entreaty; but though the spectral lips appeared to move, as in harmony with the gesture, no sound was audible. Three times the hands were lifted in the same earnest manner, then the figure rose and retired as it came. Some nervous reaction followed its disappearance, for Mrs. D--'s maid appearing a minute or two later, found her mistress trembling violently, and much agitated. Nevertheless, she quickly regained her self-possession, and calmly related what she had seen both to Miss F — and the maid, the former being unable to recall anything unusual, and only knowing that she had fallen asleep again contrary to her own intention. The succeeding day was cold and stormy, and neither of the friends quitted the house.--In the evening some neighbors called. As they were taking leave one of the party suddenly inquired: ‘"By the bye, have you had any recent news from the North? A rumor has reached us, I hardly know how, that Mr. W. D — is dangerously ill, some say dying, even (but it is only report) dead."’ ‘"He is dead,"’ said Mrs. D--, quietly. ‘"He died this morning."’ ‘"You have a telegram?"’ ‘"You shall hear."’ And Mrs. D — told her story to the wondering friends. As quickly as news could reach Brighton she received intimation of Mr. D--'s death at the hour of his appearance. A singular and suggestive statement is, that the scene witnessed by Mrs. D — at Brighton was being enacted in the death-chamber of Mr. W. D--, hundreds of miles distant. His mind wandered somewhat as the end drew near, but perpetually returned to the subject of the unhappy lawsuit. Mistaking his sister for Mrs. D--, he addressed to her the most fervent entreaties for pardon, avowing his bitter regret, condemning his own injustice and covetousness, and declaring that he could not die in peace without her forgiveness. Three times the dying man raised his hands in the manner she had witnessed, and so expired. One morning, some years since, the lady of a distinguished London physician was lying in bed at her house in P — street. It was daylight, and she was broad awake. The door opened, but Lady--, concluding it was her maid, did not raise her head until a remarkable-looking figure, passing between her bed and the window, walked up to the fire-place, when, reflected in the mirror which hung above, Lady — recognized the features of her step-son, Dr. J. C--, then attached to a foreign embassy. He wore a long night-dress, and carried something on his arm. ‘"Good Heavens! is that you, John? and in that dress?"’ cried Lady--, in the first surprise. The figure turned slowly round, and she then became aware that the object he carried was a dead child, the body being swathed round and round in a large Indian scarf of remarkable workmanship, which Lady — had presented to Mrs. J. C — on the eve of her departure. As she gazed the outline of the figures became indistinct — invisible. They were lost in the familiar objects of the room. Lady — neither fainted nor shrieked, nor even rang the bell. She lay down and thought the matter over, resolving to mention it to no one until the return of her husband, then absent in attendance on an illustrious household. His experience would decide whether her physical health offered any solution of the phenomenon. As for its being a dream, it may be taken as an accepted fact that, though nobody is conscious of the act of going to sleep, everybody knows, by the sudden change of scenery, and snapping of the chain of thought alone, when he has a wakened. On hearing her story her husband immediately looked at his lady's tongue and felt her pulse. Both organs perfect. Of her nerves he had seen proof. Touching veracity she was truth itself. All his skill could devise nothing better than a recommendation to patience, and to see what came of it. In the mean time the day and hour were noted down, and the next advices from T — awaited with more than usual interest. At length they came. Dr. J. C — informed his father that their child — an only one--had died on such a day (that of the apparition), and that his wife, anxious that it should be laid to rest in the land of its birth, had begged that it might be forwarded by the next ship.--In due course it arrived embalmed, but inclosed in a coffin so much larger than was required for the tiny occupant that the intervening spaces had to be filled up with clothes, etc., while the Indian scarf had been wound in many folds around the child's body. A favorite theory lays it down as law that it requires two minds to produce one ghost.--There must be, on the one side, the power of protraction of the image; on the other, that of receptivity. Unless the mirror be specially prepared, the object, though at hand, cannot become visible. Yet here is an example of the substitution of one, certainly in no such condition of special preparedness, for another unquestionably interested. Colonel--, who perished, with a party of his men, in the lamentable burning of a transport on her voyage to the Crimea, was well known to the writer. M — was a man of the coolest nerve, of the most imperturbable self-possession. It was his habit to sit up late, reading, in the chamber of his invalid wife, after the latter had retired to bed. One night, Mrs. M — having fallen asleep, the door opened, and her maid, Lucy, who had been sent home, ill, to the charge of her friends a few days before, entered the room. Perfectly conscious, as he declared, from the first, that the object he beheld was not of this world, the steady soldier fixed his eyes on the apparition, careful only to catch its every movement, and impress the whole scene with accuracy on his memory. The figure moved slowly to the side of the bed, gazed with a sad and wistful expression on the sleeper a face, and then, as though reluctantly, died away into the gloom. Colonel M — then awoke his wife and related what had occurred. The hour was noted, and proved to be precisely that at which the poor girl had breathed her fast, murmuring her mistress's name. Some twenty years ago the attention of Sir M — and Lady S — was attracted to the friendless position of a little orphan boy. So great was the interest with which he inspired them both that they took entire charge of his future, giving him an excellent education, and, at a proper age, introducing him, on his own earnest request, into the navy. Several years passed, during which the young man advanced rapidly in professional and general knowledge, and was to all appearances on the outset of a prosperous career, when, one rude November night, about half-past 12, the inmates of Lady S--'s country-house, at which she was then residing in the absence abroad of Sir M--, were aroused by a loud ringing at the bell. Lady S--, herself awakened, heard the step of her steady old butler, moving in person to ascertain who could possibly be arriving at such an hour. A furious gust of wind and rain seemed to burst in with the opening door. A long pause succeeds, after which the butler was heard reascending to his apartment. Lady S--'s curiosity was sufficiently aroused to induce her to summon her maid, who slept in an adjoining room, and send her to question the butler as to the untimely visitor. The answer returned was that, on opening the door, no one was to be seen.--The night, though rough, was not very dark, and neither on the graveled approach nor on the broad lawns could be discerned a living thing. But for so many having heard the bell the butler would have imagined it a dream. Gradually the household resumed its repose, when, at two o'clock, a second summons startled everybody. There was no mistake now, for the bell had not ceased its impatient vibrations when the butler, with several other servants, set foot on the stairs. Again the storm dashed into the house, and nothing but the storm. No human shape was visible without, nor were any footprints to be traced on the smooth gravel sheltered by the porch. As they were about to close the door for the second time Lady S--'s maid appeared on the landing and beckoned, with a white, scared face, to those below ‘"Come up, come up, somebody! My lady has seen Mr. D-- I dare not stay there alone !"’ It was, in effect, as she had said. Immediately after the group of servants had descended the stairs Lady S — had seen the figure of young D — standing at the foot of her bed. Believing at the moment that it was actually himself, she had accosted him-- ‘"What, Edward, you here?"’ The figure immediately disappeared. News shortly arrived that the young man had perished at sea on that wild November night, between the hours of twelve and two. The following singular story, belonging, perhaps, more strictly to the realm of dreams than visions, was related to the writer a short time since, by the lady of a distinguished German diplomatist, now residing at Frankfort: A friend of the narrator had herself a beloved and attached friend, who died after a brief but severe interval of suffering. A short time after, the spirit of the departed stood, in a dream, by the bedside of her friend, Madam L--, and, with a countenance distorted with indescribable agony, implored the latter to interest in her behalf some ‘"great, strong soul,"’ that might wrestle for her in prayer, and emancipate the afflicted spirit, if it might be, from its present intolerable condition. This condition she described as one of an eager longing to repent, but of perpetual contention with some terrible hindrance, only removable through the means suggested. Much troubled in mind, Madam L--, after some deliberation, resolved to appeal to the strongest and most ardent soul within the range of her acquaintance, in the person of--, sometimes called the ‘"German Luther."’ To him, accordingly, she made her appeal. The good man consented, and redeemed his promise with characteristic zeal. Soon after, the apparition revisited Madame L--. This time with aspect more composed, but still marked with traces of suffering and anxiety, and, warmly thanking her friend for what had been already done, adjured her, in the most touching language, (repeated by the narrator with wonderful power and pathos,) to prevail upon the zealous intercessor to engage once more — but once again — in prayer, on her behalf. Madame L--, deeply moved, did as she was requested, and wrote at once to--, who happened at this time to be absent at the distance of two days journey. On the third night the spirit once more stood by her friend's side, with an aspect of complete tranquility, and surrounded with angelic radiance, declaring that all was now well. Two days more, and — bursts into Madame L--'s presence, pale, and greatly agitated. ‘"Woman, woman!"’ he exclaimed, ‘"what have you done? For no reward that could be proposed to me would I endure such another hour of conflict and agony as that which my compliance with your request has caused me."’ He then proceeded to relate that, having — though with some reluctance — engaged in prayer as he was desired, he felt as though at once environed by all the powers of evil. Nevertheless, with reeling brain and bursting heart, and all but overcome, he steeled himself to the very utmost, and struggling on through unutterable mental torture, at length regained his calm. But never more, for him, such fearful championship! A broad distinction, of course, lies between cases of mere cerebral excitement and such as we have before adduced. Hallucinations are as fully recognized, if not quite so common, as colds in the head. Few of those who must have noticed the twitch or toss of the head peculiar to the late eminent counsel, Mr. B--, were aware that it was engendered by a perpetual vision of a raven perched on his left shoulder. A gentleman now residing in Broadway, New York, transacts business daily under the immediate supervision of his great-uncle, who, in a laced coat and ruffles, occupies a large arm-chair placed expressly to receive the honored vision.