A Ghost Story for Girls and Boys
Supernaturalism, Reasoning, Mental Illness, Crime, Animal Behaviour, Psychology, Superstition
Urges that, however 'sceptical we may be on the subject of ghosts', when an apparition is 'authenticated by evidence taken before a Magistrate', then the evidence must be given 'its due weight'. Discusses a legal case in which a ship's mate claims to have seen the 'human form' of a black steward on ship, eighteen days after he was believed to have fallen overboard and perished. Notes how other members of the crew (including the helmsman and a Newfoundland dog) were terrified by the sight. Suggests that such an occurrence might be explained by 'Indisposition' while 'mental contagion [...] would afford a possible, if not a satisfactory explanation of the transference of the mate's hallucination' to the helmsman. Dismissing the 'evidence of their senses', considers the astonishing reaction of the dog that apparently jumped overboard in terror for no reason—the steward had not perished but concealed himself in a 'bread-locker'. Punch thinks that this story 'casts great discredit on the evidence' of dogs. Notes that the steward had the impudence to summon the ship's captain to a police court in order to obtain his wages. Concludes by suspecting that the dog intuited the steward's impudent character and 'threw himself overboard in a paroxysm of canine madness'.
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
Printed from Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: An Electronic Index, v. 4.0, The Digital Humanities Institute <http://www.sciper.org> [accessed ]