"...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 13, 2016

Magazine Clipping of the Day

"A Sea Ghost," George Frederick Watts


This brief but tantalizing ghost legend was recorded in the "Journal of the Folklore Society," Volume 9 (1898)
A few years ago there was a certain man living in the parish of Durness, in Sutherland, close to the sea, where ships were very often lost . This man found some things belonging to a ship that went to pieces on the rocks, and took them home with him. A night or two after this, what came but a ghost in the dress of a sailor, which walked back and forward through the house, and after a long time disappeared from sight. Next night the ghost returned, and kept throwing the furniture here and there. Each night it stayed longer than on the night before, and was always growing bolder. 
The poor man was in great fear; he thought that it came after the things he had taken from the beach, but he had so many of these that he did not know which of them the ghost wanted. He went to the minister, who advised him to rise when the ghost came again, and to ask of it what it wanted. This was a difficult matter, for people believed that if any man spoke to a ghost he would not live long after it. Finally, the man had to summon up courage and ask the ghost for what reason it kept coming to his house. The ghost answered by pointing with its finger to the door, and asking the man to walk with it towards the beach. He did so, and they talked together all the time until they came within view of the sea, when the ghost disappeared and caused no more trouble to the house. 
The man returned home and went to bed, after reading his Bible. He refused to tell what had happened between himself and the ghost, but if they asked him on his death-bed he would tell them all that had taken place. Those who were round his death-bed had not the courage to ask him, and never got to know what had happened between them. This man was alive many years after talking with the ghost, and when he died he was an old man, which showed that there was no truth at all in what people think, that a man would die if he spoke with a spirit.

6 comments:

  1. It would have been interesting to know what was discussed. Perhaps the ghost just isn't want his last moments on Earth to be alone.

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    1. I suppose that's what appealed to me about this little tale: it leaves you wondering.

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  2. What I'm left trying to imagine, is a minister advising one of his flock to ask a ghost what it wanted. Perhaps I have a simplistic view of the church, but this doesn't seem like an officially sanctioned Christian attitude to the undead.

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    1. I agree but Jesus seemed a pretty practical man. I can imagine Him saying, "If someone comes into your house unbidden, ask him what he wants." It makes sense to me.

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    2. Yes, that does sound very biblical.

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  3. Actually the minister would probably have said, "Say, 'In the name of God, what troublest thou?'" That was the standard line recommended by church and laity alike when confronted with a spirit. Ministers were frequently called in to "lay" spirits and the first thing they did was to ask what the spirit wanted/needed. It was assumed to be an act of Christian charity to help a troubled spirit rest or see an injustice righted.

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