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The Heroic Midshipman Or Church-yard Encounter






At a respectable inn, in a market-town, in the west of England, some few
years since, a regular set of the inhabitants met every evening to smoke
their pipes, and pass a convivial hour. The conversation, as is usual at
those places, was generally desultory. One evening, the subject
introduced was concerning ghosts and apparitions; and many were the
dreadful stories then told. A young midshipman, having accidentally
dropped in, sat a silent and an attentive hearer; and, among other
tales, heard a dreadful one of a sprite or hobgoblin dressed in white,
which every night was seen hovering over the graves, in a church-yard at
no great distance from the inn, and through which was a foot-path to one
of the principal streets in the town. Our young gentleman felt himself
stimulated with an ardour of quixotism at this relation; and was
determined in his own mind, whatever might be the consequence, to
encounter this nightly spectre, which so much disturbed the courageous
inhabitants of the place. His pride was, to perform this mighty
achievement alone. Therefore, between eleven and twelve o'clock at
night, out he sallies, without making his intentions known to any one,
and entered the church-yard. But, I should observe, that he had his
hanger by his side. Having reached about the middle of the church-yard,
he observed, sure enough, something in white moving backwards and
forwards; but the haziness of the night prevented his strict discernment
of the figure's shape. As it appeared advancing towards him, a momentary
trepidation seized him. He retreated a few steps; but, soon recovering
himself, he resolutely cried out, "Who comes here?" No answer being
made, he again cried out, "Who comes here?" Still no reply was made.
He then groped about for a stone or brick-bat, which having found, he
threw with great violence at the figure; upon which it appeared to move
much quicker than before. He again spoke to the figure; and, receiving
no answer, drew his hanger, and made a desperate stroke at this dreadful
spectre, which moving with still greater agility, now alarmed our
adventurer, and caused him to run away greatly terrified, believing he
had encountered some supernatural appearance, which had resisted all his
blows. It was not long ere he reached home, and went to bed; but his
fright was so great, that sleep could not gain any ascendancy over him.
He therefore lay ruminating on this extraordinary affair the whole
night. In the morning, while at breakfast, the bellman, or crier, came
nearly under his window, and began his usual introductory address of
"O-yez! O-yez!" These words immediately arrested the ears of our
adventurer; and, to his very great astonishment, he heard him thus
proceed--"This is to give notice, that whereas some evil-disposed
person, or persons, did wantonly cut and maim the parson's white mare,
which was grazing in the church-yard last night, a reward of ten guineas
will be given to any person who will discover the offender, or
offenders, so that they may be brought to justice! God save the King!"
Our champion now thought it prudent to decamp without beat of drum. Thus
ended this ghostly adventure; the particulars of which the inhabitants
were informed of by letter, the moment the young gentleman had got safe
on board his ship.





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