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PREFACE.

WHEN a late ingenious Physician discovered the elastic fluid, which he termed his Gas of Paradise,'' and which he hoped to 'render a cheap substitute for inebriating liquors, he claimed the honors due to the inventor of a new plea

sure.

How far mankind would have benefited, by the introduction of a fresh mode of intoxication, I leave to the reflection of those sages, whose duty it would have become to appreciate its value,

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as an additional source of revenue to the state.

But when I consider the delight with which stories of apparitions are received by persons of all ages, and of the most various kinds of knowledge and ability, I cannot help feeling some degree of complacency, in offering to the makers and readers of such stories, a view of the subject, which may extend their enjoyment far beyond its former limits. It has given me pain to see the most fearful and ghastly commencements of a tale of horror reduced to mere common events, at the winding up of the book. I have looked, also, with much compassion, on the pitiful instruments of sliding pannels, trap-doors, backstairs, wax-work figures, smugglers, roba bers, coiners, and other vulgar machinery, which authors of tender consciences have

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