"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Here we have the "confounded cachinnations" of a laughing London...whatever-it-was. This comes from the "Australian," for August 24, 1827.
The neighbourhood of Limehouse, like the Highlands, in the good old days of the bogles, has, it seems, been haunted for, some months back, by a most refractory and incorrigible phantom. The facts of this afflicting visitation are simply these:---A Mr. and Mrs. Dickenson took a small house, in October last, at the upper end of Church-street; but scarcely had they passed the first half of the first night in it, when a sort of a loud chucking laugh (the very sound which, if you could fancy a grasshopper intoxicated, he would no doubt make,) was heard, proceeding as it seemed from the bed-room closet. Now, it so happened, that the bed-room of this worthy couple had no closet, whereupon being puzzled to account for the phenomenon they very naturally explored the whole house from top to bottom. Still no explanation was afforded. The next night at the same hour, the same fat chuckling laugh was heard, and as it appeared close to Mr. Dickenson's ear, that much injured individual jumped up, and throwing his inexpressibles indignantly, but with a due regard to decorum, around him, he rushed again into the adjoining room, where, however, nothing was found that could at all throw light upon the mystery. Meantime, the confounded cachinnations continued, first three short, broken winded laughs, then a halt, then a long asthmatic ululation, the whole wound up by a solemn midnight stillness. The affair now became truly distressing. To think that an attached couple, when absorbed in those chaste connubial endearments on which all married folks set so high a value—to think, we repeat, that an amiable pair thus engaged should be interrupted by the villainous laughter of a ghost; the bare idea is revolting, and fully justified Mr. Dickenson in his application to the parochial authorities. This he did on the third night, but alas! what can a beadle, or even a parish clerk avail against the evil one? Every night, albeit a brace of undaunted constables kept watch in Mr. Dickenson's apartment, the cacophonous interruption continued till the whole set were fairly laughed to scorn. This was some weeks back, but the noises, we should observe, are heard up to the present time, though, as they have appeared more asthmatic of late, it is to be hoped that their fiendish owner may one night break his wind and die. Meanwhile, the house, like Ossian's dwelling of Moina (only infinitely more touching), is desolate, for Mr: and Mrs. Dickenson have evaporated, and no one has since been found at all desirous of being laughed into fits every night, by an ungentlemanly good-for-nothing goblin. Here the affair rests at present.

Alas, I have not found any more about this spectral Peeping Tom.


  1. Whoever wrote that must have had access to a very early thesaurus - and to a love of obfuscation I love the phrase "throwing his inexpressibles indignantly, but with a due regard to decorum". I have read a lot of old books with dated language, but that's a gem.

    1. Yeah, whoever wrote up this story was having way too much fun,

  2. It can only have been the Piccadilly Dilly!



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