The Book of Dreams and Ghosts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 292 pages of information about The Book of Dreams and Ghosts.
that they saw crockery rise by itself into air off the kitchen table, when Emma was at a neighbouring farm, Mr. Lea’s.  Priscilla also saw crockery come out of a cupboard, in detachments, and fly between her and Emma, usually in a slanting direction, while Emma stood by with her arms folded.  Yet Priscilla was not on good terms with Emma.  Unless, then, Mrs. Hampson and Priscilla fabled, it is difficult to see how Emma could move objects when she was “standing at some considerable distance, standing, in fact, in quite another farm”.

Similar evidence was given and signed by Miss Maddox, the schoolmistress, and Mr. and Mrs. Lea.  On the other hand Mrs. Hampson and Priscilla believed that Emma managed the fire-raising herself.  The flames were “very high and white, and the articles were very little singed”.  This occurred also at Rerrick, in 1696, but Mr. Hughes attributes it to Emma’s use of paraffin, which does not apply to the Rerrick case.  Paraffin smells a good deal—­nothing is said about a smell of paraffin.

Only one thing is certain:  Emma was at last caught in a cheat.  This discredits her, but a man who cheats at cards may hold a good hand by accident.  In the same way, if such wonders can happen (as so much world-wide evidence declares), they may have happened at Woods Farm, and Emma, “in a very nervous state,” may have feigned then, or rather did feign them later.

The question for the medical faculty is:  Does a decided taste for wilful fire-raising often accompany exhibitions of dancing furniture and crockery, gratuitously given by patients of hysterical temperament?  This is quite a normal inquiry.  Is there a nervous malady of which the symptoms are domestic arson, and amateur leger-de-main?  The complaint, if it exists, is of very old standing and wide prevalence, including Russia, Scotland, New England, France, Iceland, Germany, China and Peru.

As a proof of the identity of symptoms in this malady, we give a Chinese case.  The Chinese, as to diabolical possession, are precisely of the same opinion as the inspired authors of the Gospels.  People are “possessed,” and, like the woman having a spirit of divination in the Acts of the Apostles, make a good thing out of it.  Thus Mrs. Ku was approached by a native Christian.  She became rigid and her demon, speaking through her, acknowledged the Catholic verity, and said that if Mrs. Ku were converted he would have to leave.  On recovering her everyday consciousness, Mrs. Ku asked what Tsehwa, her demon, had said.  The Christian told her, and perhaps she would have deserted her erroneous courses, but her fellow-villagers implored her to pay homage to the demon.  They were in the habit of resorting to it for medical advice (as people do to Mrs. Piper’s demon in the United States), so Mrs. Ku decided to remain in the business. {232} The parallel to the case in the Acts is interesting.


Project Gutenberg
The Book of Dreams and Ghosts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook