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.





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