« ZurückWeiter »
her most Gracious Majesty the Empress.
THE ST. PETERSBURG
OF LITERATURE, THE ARTS, AND SCIENCES.
Knight of the Orders of St. Anne, St. Stanislaus, and St. Vladimir,
THOMAS B. SHAW,
VOLUME 111.-FIRST YEAR.
ENGLISH REVIEW . .
BY DR. MAGINN.
Upon the existence of ghosts, and the influence of dreams, I know that opinion is divided. The wise, in general, are disbelievers ; and, if we allege the credence of Johnson in such matters, we are met by the assertion that, in spite of the doctor's great talents and strong common sense on all ordinary subjects, he was on all subjects « beyond the visible diurnal sphere » deeply tinctured with superstilion.
And yet there lingers in the mind a willing belief that such things as communications from the departed may be permitted. I know all that has been said of the absurdity of imagining that, while no ghosts glide along the fields of Waterloo or Cannæ, or emerge from the waves of the Nile or Trafalgar, where many a thousand men passed timeless to their doom, we should find, in some obscure hole or corner, where a single person was done to death, that solitary shade returning to complain of the shedding of its blood. I know, too, that the objects in general assigned for the appearance of the ghost, are not such as we can reasonably imagine disturb the repose of a spiritual being. Crocks of gold, the portion of a fortunate interpreter of a dream, in which the shade
of some great-grandmother sends the dreamer in quest of such articles, to find them upon London Bridge; Wills abstracted, to be discovered after due admonition, and the adjurations of at least three nights ; laches in pedigrees, to be filled up, not by the industry of the Heralds' Office, or the ingenuity of the manufacturer of those mystic hieroglyphics of descept which puzzled the eyes of Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse in « Ten Thousand a-year,”
or something else as plebeian, and as certain to lead into courts of justice, or in some manner or another to help the family of the law. These, I repeat, which (putting murders out of the question) constitute at least nine-tenths of the causes of ghostly visitations all over the world, seem hardly of sufficient importance to call the spirit from its dread abode.
I do not believe that there have been any murders in my family. No maiden aunt drowned herself for love ; no grim grand-uncle flung the hapless evidence of frailly, staining the annals of his house, into the fire : no gentleman of the family has to complain of any cruel Barbara Allen ; or, on the other hand, no Margaret's grisly ghost to glide to William's feet. I have lived, too, in haunted castles, traversed by ghosts in all directions, and not been molested by anything more dreadful than the larceny of rats behind mouldy wainscots; and I have looked down from dizzy battlements, from which, according to the most authentic and long-derived legends of the country, ghosts, or wraiths, or ladies of the lake, nighily were to be seen in dozens, without catching anything more visionary than the glancing of the moonbeam upon the bubbling spray of the torrent underneath. It is therefore not without some fair reason I may ask the favour of being deemed not remarkably superstitious' on the subject of ghosts or of dreams; and yet,- but I shall let the reader see, and determine.
My childhood was passed in a remote district of Wales
where, in due course of time I was filled with many a visíonary tradition, legend, tale, and song.” Educated under the care of a strict Presbyterian governess, I imbibed from her principles which taught me that belief in the surrounding superstitions was not merely absurd, but sinful. Her education, alas ! like much other education, was like Penelope's web. I undid the toil of the morning lecture of the governess by swallowing with thirsty ear the putting-to-bed story of the nurse. Emancipated from the trammels of education, I ran the usual gauntlet of young ladies of my rank. I danced and flirted a season or two; and then my band was given to a sort of Welsh cousin, whose name was located in some part of our wide-spreading pedigree ; given, indeed, with my own consent, and something more than my own consent,-given with full heart,-and, if it was free this moment, dear Llewellyn, and you asked for it, it should be yours with as perfect truth and happiness as if the last ten years, blotted out of time, were to be repeated to-morrow.
His family seat was an awfully venerable castle, of sound tremendous to Saxon tongue, and there I spent (not lonesomely indeed, for it was but one continued seast at Caderyswy,) the first two years of my marriage. We made one formal visit, of a short fragment of the season, to London ; bụt Wales our abiding home.
Ambition suddenly came my husband's mind ; and, during one of these visits to town, his agent, for most disinterested good reasons of course, persuaded him to start for Parliament. There was a great deal of worry about it, and, as I heard, enormous expense ; but, after a trial or two in various quarters, he was at last successful, and returned for the ancient and independent borough of Widemouth. As he was very rich, the money did not much trouble us, and the bustle, noise, and racket of the elections gave me no small amusement.
It was now necessary that we should take a London house; and, after some difficulty of selection, we succeeded in obtaining one in Grosvenor Square. We furnished it splendidly, according to all that the hearts of the men of chairs and tables, curtains and carpets, mirrors and pendules, sofas and