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spectral delusion take place even during the space of many days. But it has not been generally observed, that a partial affection of the brain may exist, which renders the patient liable to such imaginary impressions, either of sight or sound, without disordering his judgment or memory. From the peculiar disposition of the senorium, he conceives that best supported stories of apparitions may be completely accounted for. Arguing upon this assumption, he proceeds to adduce examples in support of his theory ;--all of which tend to prove that the foundation of all supernatural appearances is entirely dependent upon a certain impulse of the human mind. In that, he establishes a generic disease, which he terms Hallucinatio ; and which comprises all delusive impressions, from the scarcely perceptible moat which floats in the sunbeam, to the tremendous spectre which appears at midnight.
That the universal opinion already adverted to should spring merely from a delusion of the senses dependent upon a disordered imagination, is a circumstance which I could never bring myself fully to acknowledge, and numberless are the scoffings to which my scepticism, on this point, has exposed me. That the spirits of individuals have appeared after their decease, I have never doubted; and it has often seemed to me that their appearance was arranged and regulated by Providence for the accomplishment of some purpose of more than usual importance. Why should we not infer, from the unceasing goodness of the Creator, that he would present to us so decisive a proof of the immortality of the soul ? Rather let us adopt the beautiful opinion of the Poet, who has thus sweetly advocated the benevolent solicitude of Providence :
“ And is there care in heaven? and is there love
In heavenly spirits to these creatures base,
There is : else much more wretched were the case
Of men than beasts. But oh! th' exceeding grace
And all his works with mercies doth embrace,
How oft do they their silver bowers leave,
To come to succour us that succour want?
The flitting skies, like flying pursuivant,
And their bright squadrons round about us plant,
That very many instances of gross deception and palpable delusion have occured, I do not mean to deny. These every one has witnessed, or has heard of; and, consequently, the generality of mankind ridicule any serious opinion upon the subjcct. But the following remarkable circumstance, of which a most intimate friend of my own was an eyewitness, shews that all speculations upon this point are not to be treated with levity. The friend alluded to is a gentleman residing in Wales, whose veracity cannot be questioned. I had formed an acquaintance with him, during my Wanderings, which has since ripened into warm and sincere friendship : and I give the relation in his own words :
“I had been spending a few days in the neighbourhood of the little town of Towyn, in Merionethshire, and had set off on my return to Dolgellan about seven o'clock in the evening. It was in the autumn, and the day had been beautifully fine, even sultry, the sun had finally set amidst a canopy of glowing clouds, which an experienced Shepherd would have said, foreboded a tempest. But a kind mother expected me at Dolgellan that evening, and these portents had no influence to retard my departure. I rode on, therefore, slowly and silently among the quiet hills, and thought only of reaching my journey's end before night-fall, Of all the districts in the wild, but beautiful, county of Merioneth, undoubtedly that, which I was then traversing, is the wildest. It may be justly called the Highlands of Merionethshire; and the peasants have bestowed upon this desolate tract, the name of Fordd ddu, or the Black Road. Being entirely out of the usual route of English travellers, its inhabitants have retained their language and their custom almost in their pristine purity; and the rugged hills which enclose them have hitherto presented an impenetrable barrier to the innovating effects of cilvilization. My road lay through a tract as desolate as it was rugged and romantic. A deep wood bounded the path on the left, while a long and dreary ridge of heather-covered hills shut out the prospect in an opposite direction ; before me were the wooded mountains of Penniarth and Celynin, and behind me were Towyn and the Sea.
“ I had not ridden more than two miles before the wind arose, at first sighing plaintively amongst the foliage of the trees, and afterwards rocking to their very roots with violent and fitful gusts. The sky, too, was overcast with black clouds, and I had the very comfortable prospect of being overtaken by one of those sudden and tremendous storms, which sometimes agitate our mountainous districts.
A mass of pitchy darkness, in the scowl
“I had already arrived opposite Craig Alderyn, or the Birds” Rock,--so called from being nightly frequented by an innumerable flight of them,-when a few drops of rain fell, and my horse, startled at the discordant screaming of the birds, began to plunge in a way not very agreeable to its rider. I had, indeed, no small difficulty in guiding the terrified animal through this desolate defile. For the birds on Craig Aderyn were so clamorous, – in deprecation of the coming tempest,--that my spirited horse became almost unmanageable. I succeeded, however, in gaining the extremity of the pass, and wrapping my riding cloak around me, rode on as briskly as the rocky road would permit. But I could not escape the tempest. The thunder soon began to rumble at a distance, each clap becoming louder and louder; preceded by the most vivid flashes of lightning. The rain, too, fell in such torrents, that I determined, if possible, to reach the rude village of Pont Vathu, which was about a mile distant, rather than proceed to Dolgellan. My sagacious companion seemed to have discovered my design, for I had scarcely conceived it, before he set off at a round trot, and, in a few minutes, brought me safely to the door of the humble pot-house of the hamlet. Pont Vathu, or Matthew's Bridge, is merely an assemblage of some half dozen huts, near a rapid mountain river, about six miles from Towyn, and can boast of no place of public entertainment, except the miserable house before which my horse had stopped. But this house,-humble as it was, was quite sufficient to shelter me from the storm ; and, giving my horse in charge to mine host, I entered it.
“ The principal apartment of a Welsh pot-house is like that of most others, the kitchen ; and into the kitchen of the Blue Lion at Pont Vathu I proceeded, and found there several persons, some like myself seeking shelter from the storm ; others prevented from quitting their carousals by the fury of the raging tempest. I was known to most of them ; three or four, indeed, were tenants of my mother, so that upon my entrance I was respectfully greeted, and the seat of honour was immediately ceded to me; thus. I found myself in the large settle by the fire, and a jug of capital ale on a small table before me. There is a sort of freemasonry amongst the guests in an inn-kitchen, which is admirably conducive to conviviality, and good humour ; and this is more particularly the case on a stormy night, when the churlish tempest levels all distinction, and respects the poorest peasant quite as much as the proudest patrician. The conversation, therefore, goes on uninterrupted by the arrival of a new comer, and every one who has been benighted on a tempestuous evening, is
“ Thus was it with us at Pont Vathu ; and divers strange and marvellous narrations were related by my untutored, and honest companions. The principal subject, however, was a murder, which had been perpetrated many years ago close to the spot where we were assembled ; and under circumstances of particular mystery and atrocity. A young man, the son of a neighbouring farmer, had for some time paid his addresses to the daughter of a widow, whose husband had been bailiff to the Owens of Ynysymdengwyn. She was a pretty, modest, good girl ; and had, unfortunately for our young farmer, already fixed her affections upon another individual. Nothing daunted at this, however, Evan Davies still preferred his suit with ardour and perseverance. But in vain, the maiden loved him not, and all his addresses were rejected. Indeed, he was one whom very few maidens could love. His disposition was as brutal and passionate, as his manners were boisterous and dissolute ; and, it is said, that he was connected with a gang of smugglers along the neighbouring coast. In the secluded districts of North Wales all the inhabitants of such districts are knowu to each other; and so are all their virtues and vices. Ellen Owen, therefore, was no stranger to the profligacy of Evan Davies, and she began to be alarmed for the result of his persevering attentions.
129 - She had gone one day to Towyn market to dispose of some eggs and butter from her mother's little farm, where it was Ellen's delight to carry its humble produce, for Morgan Williams, her own true love was generally at the market, and meeting with him always increased the innocent pleasures of this virtuous girl. On the present occasion, however, Morgan was not there ; for he had gone to another part of the country upon business for his father. Ellen sold her little stock, and then went to see a kind old aunt, who lived in the town. Now kind old aunts are proverbially given to gossiping, and the time passed away so pleasantly, that evening had already arrived before Ellan quitted the
cottage ; and Oh! how she wished that her dear Morgan was with her, as she thought of the long, lonely way which she had to traverse. But thinking how delighted her good mother would feel, when she wrapped round her the woolen shawl which she had purchased with a portion of her own little savings,—and it may be,ếnot wholly unmindful of the affectionate kindnesses of her lover,--she tripped merrily on her way, and hoped to reach her home before the night should overtake her. She was seen to cross the brook, which runs across the road just at the entrance to Towyn by one of the persons who was present with me at Pont Vathu ; and he spoke to her as she passed, cautioning her to speed quickly on, as there would be a storm that evening, and it might come suddenly. Ellen thanked him for his advice, and passed on. But she had not left Towyn, long before a tempest, such as is rarely seen even in that district of storms,-arose, agitating earth and heaven with its violence. The peasant who spoke to Ellen as he entered the town, hoped that she might reach her home in safety, but shuddered when he thought of the long, dreary, rugged path, which led thither.
“ Dreaful indeed was the devastation wrought by that sudden tempest. Houses, cattle, and trees, were carried away by the mountain torrents, and the woods and meadows by the river's side were overflowed with water for many days afterwards. But what became of the poor solitary maiden in that dreadful commotion ? -Alas! she never reached her happy home again.
“On that terrible evening there was assembled at the Blue Lion at Pont Vathu, several individuals, who took shelter from the tempest as they were returning from Towyn market. Once they thought, when the storm was at its height, that they heard a shriek near the house ; but looking out, they could see nothing in the thick darkness, and hear nought, but the splashing of the troubled waters, and the soughing of the furious wind. The next morning, however, a peasant from a neighbouring cottage was going over the bridge when his attention was attracted by something in the river which appeared to him like the carcase of a drowned sheep. It had passed under the bridge, and just beyond it had become stopped by the depending branches of an osier tree. As he approached it, he was undeceived in his expectation, and found, to his utmost horror and astonishment, that it was the dead body of a female, and lifting it out of the water, he discovered the well-known features of poor Ellen Owen. Running to the hamlet, hè made known his discovery, and the corpse of the ill-fated girl was conveyed to the Blue Lion, till her unhappy mother could be apprized of the event. On looking at the body a bystander perceived an unusual appearance about the neck. It seemed as if it had been violently grasped, for it was nearly surrounded by livid streaks,-plainly indicating the indigitations of a large and powerful hand. In a country like North Wales,