Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ghost Tales, True and False!

Buffalo Daily Courier 

Wednesday Morning

July 23, 1862

Page 4, Column 2

Remarkable Apparition

Whatever may be thought at the present
day concerning the reality of specters
and apparitions, it is certain that in the last
century there were many who firmly believed
that they had been visited by beings
of a supernatural world, or that they had
seen the spirits of departed relatives or
friends.  One of the best authenticated of
these stories is that of Nicolai, an author
and bookseller, of Berlin.  In the autumn
of the year 1790, he tells us that he had
been afflicted with an uninterrupted series
of misfortunes, which had the effect of
casting him into very low spirits.  At
length he fell ill, and one morning, while
his wife and mother were in the room, he
saw at a short distance from the bed, a form
like that of a friend whom he had lost. 
He asked his wife to look at it, but she saw
nothing, and endeavored to allay his
agitation.  At 4 o’clock on the afternoon of the
same day the figure again appeared to him.
He endeavored to convince himself that he
was laboring under some delusion, occasioned
by his weak health, but in a short time
numerous other acquaintances, but mostly
 strangers, surrounded his bed.   “I could,”  writes
Nicolai, “distinguish between phantoms,
 “sometimes  Resembling acquaintances 
“surrounded his bed.  “I could, “ writes
Nicolai, “distinguish between phantoms
 and real objects, and the calmness with which
I examined them, enabled me to avoid the
Commission of the smallest mistake.  I
knew exactly when it only appeared to me
Entered the door, and when it actually
 opened, and a real person entered.  For a
long time Nicolai was haunted by these
apparitions, not only in his own house, but
when he visited friends.  They were generally
walking, took no notice of each other,
although the room was sometimes full of them
and as they moved as in a market-place, where
all are eager to press through the crowd.
Some had a pleasing appearance, and none
were disgusting of terrifying in aspect,
Nicolai heard them talk occasionally, though
all he says on this subject is that “their
speeches were commonly short, and never
of an unpleasant turn.”  After this state
had continued some time it was decided to
bleed the patient, and while the operation
was being performed Nicolai fancied that
he saw the chamber crowded with his shadowy
quests.  Gradually they vanished into air, 
and the bookseller was free.  At a subsequent
period of his life he tells us that he
experienced a “sensation as if the phantoms
were going to reappear,” but he saw nothing.
Nothing can be clearer than that a
bad state of health had conjured up the
specters and they were exorcised by means
of a few leeches.

Another extraordinary story is told of a
Commission which was appointed after the
execution of Charles I, to survey the King’s
house at Woodstock.  One night, when
all the doors were securely fastened, a great
black dog  entered the room where they sat,
“made a very dreadful howling, over –
turned  two or three chairs, and vanished
under the bed.”  While wondering at this
occurrence they heard the furniture being
thrown about the king’s presence chamber
and the following morning they found the
minutes of their transactions torn to pieces
and the ink glass broken.  In the night
some of the beds were tilted up so high that
the occupants began to think their necks
would be broken, and then they were let
suddenly down with such a force as to
shake the very windows and ceilings.  Bed
cloths were stripped off, candles extinguished ,
and all kinds of unearthly noises were
heard.   Huge stones were thrown into the
bedrooms during the night, cannon seemed
to be fired off, and Dr. Plot, in his history
of Oxfordshire, states that this spectral
cannonading was heard sixteen miles round
the country.  The commissioners were
thoroughly terrified by this time, and their
horror was increased on the night of the
1st of November, when burning logs of wood
Were tossed into their beds, pailfuls of
‘green, stinking water were thrown into the
rooms,’ the furniture was shattered and
broken, cannon thundered in their ears,
‘like the broadside of ship of war,’ and not
only the commissioners, but every one in
the neighborhood, were frightened beyond
measure.  Cromwell’s agents could stand
it no longer, they left the house, and could
never be prevailed upon to return.

All these ‘signs and wonders’ were caused,
it afterwards discovered, by the commissioners
own secretary – one Joseph Collins .
He knew all the tricks that had so alarmed the

A pamphlet published in 1799 relates the
story of a lady who, when ill, was visited
by the apparition of a female relative,
and heard her say:  “My dear, you will
recover from her fit of sickness, but you will
most certainly die after you are 27
years old.  Four years afterward the lady
reached the age indicated, and her husband
assembled a party to try and divert her
thoughts from the ‘warning,’ she had
received.  Her friends did all that lay in
their power to cheer her, but they had not
left the house many minutes before she was
seized with a fit and expired – no doubt from
cheer exhaustion and apprehension.

The anecdote of Professor Baumgarten
has often been referred to.  One day, while
sitting at his study window , at Berlin, he
saw a funeral procession coming down the
street, attended by mourners who were his
intimate friends.  When the coffin came
beneath the window, he read his own name
and age on the plate.  He wrote his will
directly, and the same evening died in a fit
of apoplexy –the same causes, doubtless,
having been at work in his case as in that of

Original story from microfilm records at,

Buffalo & Erie County Public Library
Central Library
1 Lafayette Square
Buffalo, NY 14203


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