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employed, to avoid the imputation of belief in supernatural occurrences. So , hackneyed, so exhausted had all artificial methods of terror become, that one original genius was compelled to convert a mail-coach, with its lighted lamps, into an apparition.
Now I freely offer, to the manufacturers of ghosts, the privilege of raising them, in as great numbers, and in as horrible a guise as they may think fit, without offending against true philosophy, and even without violating probability. The highest flights of imagination may now be indulged, on this subject, although no loop-hole should be left for mortifying explanations, and for those modifications of terror, which completely baulk the reader's curiosity, and disgust him with a second reading.
Another great convenience will be found in my system; apparitions may be cvoked, in open dayp-at noon, if the case should be urgent, in the midst of a field, on the surface of water, or in the glare of a patent-lamp, quite as easily, as in the darkness of chaos or old night.' Nay, a person rightly prepared may see ghosts, while seated comfortably by his library-fire, in as much perfection, as amidst broken tombs, nodding ruins, and awe-inspiring ivy. To those unfortunate persons, who feel a real dread of apparitions, I hope to offer considerations which will quiet their fears, and will even convert the horrors of solitude into a source of rational amusement. But I must forbear to display all the utility of this treatise, lest my reader should imagine that I am copying Echard's mockpanegyric on his own dialogues.
Take courage, then, good reader, and knock at the portal of my enchanted castle, which will be opened to you, not by a grinning demon, but by a very civil person, in a black velvet cap, with whom you may pass an hour not disagreeably.
Observe, however, that the following treatise is applicable, in its principles, to profane history, and to the delusions of individuals only. If any thing contained in the ensuing pages could be construed into the most indirect reference to theological discussions, the manuscript would have been committed, without mercy, to the flames.
What methods may have been employed by Providence, on extraordinary
occasions, to communicate with men, I do not presume to investigate; nor could I hope to display them in language equal to the numbers of our sweetest poet, with which I shall conclude these remarks :
And is there care in heaven? and is there love
How oft do they their silver bowers leave,
Faerie Queene, Cant. viii.