Adventures Among Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 217 pages of information about Adventures Among Books.

   “But it needs Heaven-sent moments for this skill.”

CHAPTER XVI:  AN OLD SCOTTISH PSYCHICAL RESEARCHER

ADVERTISEMENT

“If any Gentlemen, and others, will be pleased to send me any relations about Spirits, Witches, and Apparitions, In any part of the Kingdom; or any Information about the Second Sight, Charms, Spells, Magic, and the like, They shall oblige the Author, and have them publisht to their satisfaction.

   “Direct your Relations to Alexander Ogstouns, Shop Stationer, at the
   foot of the Plain-stones, at Edinburgh, on the North-side of the
   Street.”

Is this not a pleasing opportunity for Gentlemen, and Others, whose Aunts have beheld wraiths, doubles, and fetches?  It answers very closely to the requests of the Society for Psychical Research, who publish, as some one disparagingly says, “the dreams of the middle classes.”  Thanks to Freedom, Progress, and the decline of Superstition, it is now quite safe to see apparitions, and even to publish the narrative of their appearance.

But when Mr. George Sinclair, sometime Professor of Philosophy in Glasgow, issued the invitation which I have copied, at the end of his “Satan’s Invisible World Discovered,” {12} the vocation of a seer was not so secure from harm.  He, or she, might just as probably be burned as not, on the charge of sorcery, in the year of grace, 1685.  However, Professor Sinclair managed to rake together an odd enough set of legends, “proving clearly that there are Devils,” a desirable matter to have certainty about.  “Satan’s Invisible World Discovered” is a very rare little book; I think Scott says in a MS. note that he had great difficulty in procuring it, when he was at work on his “infernal demonology.”  As a copy fell in my way, or rather as I fell in its way, a helpless victim to its charms and its blue morocco binding, I take this chance of telling again the old tales of 1685.

Mr. Sinclair began with a long dedicatory Epistle about nothing at all, to the Lord Winton of the period.  The Earl dug coal-mines, and constructed “a moliminous rampier for a harbour.”  A “moliminous rampier” is a choice phrase, and may be envied by novelists who aim at distinction of style.  “Your defending the salt pans against the imperious waves of the raging sea from the NE. is singular,” adds the Professor, addressing “the greatest coal and salt-master in Scotland, who is a nobleman, and the greatest nobleman who is a Coal and Salt Merchant.”  Perhaps it is already plain to the modern mind that Mr. George Sinclair, though a Professor of Philosophy, was not a very sagacious character.

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Adventures Among Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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