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The Credulous Bishop






A few years since, a memorable conference took place between Dr. Fowler
(then Bishop of Gloucester) and a Mr. Justice Powell: the former, a
zealous defender of ghosts; and the latter, somewhat sceptical about
them. They had several altercations upon the subject; and once, when the
Bishop made a visit to the Justice, the latter, contracting the muscles
of his face into an air of more than usual severity, assured the Bishop,
that, since their last disputation, besides his Lordship's strong
reasons, he had met with no less proof than ocular demonstration, to
convince him of the real existence of ghosts. "How!" says the Bishop,
"ocular demonstration! Well, I have preached, I have printed, upon the
subject; but nothing will convince you sceptics but ocular
demonstration. I am glad, Mr. Justice, you are become a convert. But
pray, Sir, how went this affair? I beseech you, let me know the whole
story." "My Lord," answered the Justice, "as I lay one night in my bed,
and had gone through the better half of my first sleep, it being about
twelve o'clock, on a sudden I was awakened by a very strange and
uncommon noise, and heard something coming up stairs, and stalking
directly towards my room. I had the courage to raise myself upon my
pillow, and to draw the curtain, just as I heard my chamber-door open,
and saw a glimmering light enter my chamber." "Of a blue colour, no
doubt," says the Bishop. "Of a pale blue," answers the Justice. "But,
permit me, my good Lord, to proceed. The light was followed by a tall,
meagre, and stern personage, who seemed to be of the age of seventy, in
a long dangling rug gown, bound round his loins with a broad leathern
girdle; his beard was thick and grizzly; he had a large fur cap on his
head, and a long staff in his hand; his face was full of wrinkles, and
seemed to be of a dark and sable hue. I was struck with the appearance
of so surprising a figure, and felt some shocks which I had never before
been acquainted with. Soon after the spectre had entered my room, with
a hasty, but somewhat stately pace, it drew near my bed, and stared me
full in the face." "And did you not speak to it?" interrupted the
Bishop, with a good deal of emotion. "With submission, my Lord," says
the Justice, "please only to indulge me in a few words more." "But, Mr.
Justice, Mr. Justice," replies the Bishop still more hastily, "you
should have spoken to it; there was money hid, or a murder committed;
and give me leave to observe that murder is a matter cognizable by law,
and this came regularly into judgment before you." "Well, my Lord, you
will have your way; but, in short, I did speak to it." "And what answer,
Mr. Justice, I pray you--what answer did it make you?" "My Lord, the
answer was, not without a thump with the staff, and a shake of the
lanthorn, that he was the watch-man of the night, and came to give me
notice, that he had found the street-door open, and that, unless I arose
and shut it, I might chance to be robbed before break of day."

The moment these words were out of the good Justice's mouth, the Bishop
vanished with much more haste than did the supposed ghost, and in as
great a surprise at the Justice's scepticism, as the Justice was at the
Bishop's credulity.





Next: The Ghostly Adventurer

Previous: Remarkable Resuscitation



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