Page images

of death. We gave little heed to her relation, and endeavoured to laugh her out of her fears. Some nights (two or three) after, several of the family heard a strange knocking in divers places, usually three or four knocks at a time, and then stayed a little. This continued every night for a fortnight; sometimes it was in the garret, but most commonly in the nursery, or green chamber. We all heard but your father, and I was not willing he should be informed of it, lest he should fancy it was against his own death, which, indeed, we all apprehended. But when it began to be so troublesome, both day and night, that few or none of the family durst be alone, İ resolved to tell him of it, being minded he should speak to it. At first he would not believe but somebody did it to alarm us; but the night after, as soon as he was in bed, it knocked loudly nine times, just by his bed-side. He rose, and went to see if he could find out what it was; but could see nothing. Afterwards he heard it as the rest.

One night it made such a noise in the room over our heads, as if several people were walking, then ran up and down stairs, and was so outrageous that we thought the children would be frighted, so your father and I rose, and went down in the dark to light a candle. Just as we came to the bottom of the broad stairs, having hold of each other, on my side there seemed as if somebody had emptied a bag of money at my feet; and on his, as if all the bottles under the stairs (which were many) had been dashed in a thousand pieces. We passed through the hall into the kitchen, and got a candle, and went to see the children, whom we found asleep.

The next night your father would get Mr. Hoole to lie at our house, and we all sat together till one or two o'clock in the morning, and heard the knocking as usual. Sometimes it would make a noise like the winding up of a jack; at other times, as that night Mr. Hoole was with us, like a carpenter planing deals ; but most commonly it knocked thrice and stopped, and then thrice again, and so many hours together. We persuaded your father to speak, and try if any voice would be heard. One night about six o'clock he went into the nursery in the dark, and at first heard several deep groans, then knocking. He adjured it to speak if it had power, and tell him why it troubled his house, but no voice was heard, but it knocked thrice aloud. Then he questioned it if it were Sammy, and bid it if it mere, and could not speak, knock again, but it knocked no more that night, which made us hope it was not against your death.

Thus it continued till the 28th of December, when it loudly knocked (as your father used to do at the gate) in the nursery, and departed. We have various conjectures what this may mean. For my own part, I fear nothing now you are safe at London hitherto, and I hope God will still preserve you: though sometimes I am inclined to think my brother is dead. Let me know your thoughts on it.

S. W.

From Mrs. Susannah Wesley to her Brother Samuel.

Epworth, Jan. 24. DEAR BROTHER, -About the 1st of December, a most terrible and astonishing noise was heard by a maid-servant as at the dining-room door, which caused the up-starting of her hair, and made her ears prick forth at an unusual rate. She said it was like the groans of one expiring. These so frighted her, that for a great while she durst not go out of one room into another, after it began to be dark, without company. But, to lay aside jesting, which should not be done in serious matters, I assure you that from the first to the last of a lunar month, the groans, squeaks, tinglings, and knockings, were frightful enough.

Though it is needless for me to send you any account of what we all heard, my father himself having a larger account of the matter than I am able to give, which he designs to send you; yet, in compliance with your desire, I will tell you as briefly as I can what I heard of it.

The first night I ever heard it, my sister Nancy and I were sitting in the dining-room. We heard something rush on the outside of the doors that opened into the garden, then three loud knocks, immediately after other three, and in half a minute the same number over our heads. We enquired whether any body had been in the garden, or in the room above us,

but there was nobody. Soon after my sister Molly and I were up after all the family were a-bed, except my sister Nancy, about some business. We heard three bouncing thunips under our feet, which soon made us throw away our work and tumble into bed. Afterwards the tingling of the latch and warming-pan; and so it took its leave that night.

Soon after the above-mentioned, we heard a noise as if a great piece of sounding metal was thrown down on the out- . side of our chamber. We, lying in the quietest part of the house, heard less than the rest for a pretty while ; but the latter end of the night that Mr. Hoole sat up I lay in the

nursery, where it was very violent. I then heard frequent knocks over and under the room where I lay, and at the children's bed head, which was made of boards. It seemed to rap against it very hard and loud, so that the bed shook under them. I heard something walk by my bedside like a man in a long night-gown. The knocks were so loud, that Mr. Hoole came out of his chamber to us. It still continued. My father spoke, but nothing answered. It ended that night with my father's particular knock, very fierce.

It is now pretty quiet, only at our repeating the prayers for the king and prince, when it usually begins, especially when my father says, “Our most gracious Sovereign Lord,” &c. This my father is angry at, and designs to say

three instead of two for the royal family. We all heard the same noise, and at the same time, and as coming from the same place. To conclude this, it now makes its personal appear. ance : but of this more hereafter. Do not say one word of this to our folks, nor give the least hint.

I am,

Your sincere friend and affectionate Sister,


From Miss Emily Wesley to her Brother Samuel. DEAR BROTHER,—I thank you for your last, and shall give you what satisfaction is in my power concerning what has happened in our family. I am so far from being superstitious, that I was too much inclined to infidelity, so that I

heartily rejoice at having such an opportunity of convincing myself, past doubt or scruple, of the existence of some beings besides those we see. A whole month was sufficient to convince any body of the reality of the thing, and to try all ways of discovering any trick, had it been possible for any such to have been used. I shall only tell you what I myself heard, and leave the rest to others.

My sisters in the paper chamber had heard noises, and told me of them, but I did not much believe, till one night, about a week after the first groans were heard, which was the beginning, just after the clock had struck ten, I went down stairs to lock the doors, which I always do. Scarce had I got up the best stairs, when I heard a noise like a person throwing down a vast coal in the middle of the fore kitchen, and all the splinters seemed to fly about from it. I was not much frighted, but went to my sister Suky, and we together went all over the low rooms; but there was nothing out of order.

Our dog was fast asleep, and our only cat in the other end of the house. No sooner was I got up stairs, and undressing for bed, but I heard a noise among many bottles that stand under the best stairs, just like the throwing of a great stone among them, which had broke them all to pieces. This made me hasten to bed; but my sister Hetty, who sits always to wait on my father going to bed, was still sitting on the lowest step on the garret stairs, the door being shut at her back, when soon after there came down the airs behind her something like a man, in a loose night-gown trailing after him, which made her fly rather than run to me in the nursery. All this time we never told our father of it; but soon after

He smiled, and gave no answer, but was more careful than usual from that time to see us in bed, imagining it to be some of us young women that sat up late and made a noise. His incredulity, and especially his imputing it to us, or our lovers, made me, I own, desirous of its continuance till he was convinced. As for my mother, she firmly believed it to be rats, and sent for a horn to blow them away. I laughed to think how wisely they were employed, who were striving half a day to fright away Jeffery, for that name I

gave it, with a horn.

we did.

But whatever it was, I perceived it could be made angry;

I for from that time it was so outrageous, there was no quiet for us after ten at night. I heard frequently between ten and eleven something like the quick winding up of a jack, at the corner of the room by my bed's head, just like the running of the wheels and the creaking of the ironwork. This was the common signal of its coming. Then it would knock on the floor three times, then at my sister's bed's head, in the same room, almost always three together, and then stay. The sound was hollow and loud, so as none of us could ever imitate.

It would answer to my mother, if she stamped on the floor, and bid it. It would knock when I was putting the children to bed, just under me where I sat. One time little Kesy, pretending to scare Patty, as I was undressing them, stamped with her foot on the floor, and immediately it answered with three knocks, just in the same place. It was more loud and fierce if any one said it was rats, or any thing natural.

I could tell you abundance more of it, but the others will write, and therefore it would be needless. I was not much frighted at first, and very little at last; but it was never near me, except two or three times, and never followed me, as it did my Sister Hetty. I have been with her when it has knocked under her, and when she has removed has followed, and still kept just under her feet, which was enough to terrify a stouter person.

If you would know my opinion of the reason of this, I shall briefly tell you. I believe it to be witchcraft, for these reasons. About a year since, there was a disturbance at a town near us, that was undoubtedly witches ;

and if so near, why may they not reach us ? Then my father had for several Sundays before its coming preached warmly against consulting those that are called cunning men, which our people are given to; and it had a particular spite at my father.

Besides, something was thrice seen. The first time by my mother, under my sister's bed, like a badger, only without any head that was descernible. The same creature sate by the dining-room fire one evening: when our man went into the room; it ran by him, through the hall and under the stairs. He followed with a candle, and searched, but it was

« PreviousContinue »