Pranks of “Spirits” Among Laymen
Theosophist, December, 1880
By “laymen,” in this case, we mean that class of society and humanity in general, who are not “orthodox spiritualists;” neither are they prepared to declare themselves as believers in the “New Dispensation” theory. We include among this number all ordinary mortals—Christians, sceptics, and “half and halfs”—if we may be pardoned this unusual expression. Whenever, therefore, we hear of well-authenticated phenomena, alleged to be produced by some invisible agency—the “souls of the departed” as the spiritualists have it, and outside their temples of orthodoxy—the “circle rooms” where mediums as high priests and priestesses lead the service—we give them far more consideration than we would otherwise. Such weird phenomena cannot be easily doubted, nor, if the personal experience and the testimony of millions of people from the remotest ages is worth anything, can they be as little disproved as accounted for. No; not even by the most rabid freethinkers of Bradlaugh’s school, unless they are determined to be illogical and go against the very spirit of their own teaching—“Believe but in that which your own eyes see, your own ears hear, and your own hands touch,” and whatever the agency sceptics may attribute such phenomena to. In regard to spiritualists, we would only remind them, that in all such strange events showing a malicious, wicked intelligence underlying them, our theory of the elementaries, or earth-bound incarnated thoughts of evil men who have passed away, holds as good as ever. Such phenomena pin all believers in the “angel world” more firmly than ever between the horns of a very disagreeable dilemma. They have either to admit with the Christians the existence of the devil, or with the Kabalists that of the “elementaries.” To speak frankly, and in all sincerity, we fail to perceive any substantial difference between a Christian devil—originally a “fallen angel”—and a bad, wicked “spirit”—or a departed soul—each of which the spiritualists hold as being of angelic divine origin. This is the story. We quote from the Cincinnati Enquirer, a well-known American paper:
A MISCHIEVOUS GHOST.
A DEFUNCT RAILROAD ENGINEER’S PRANKS
The Wild and Mysterious Run of an Engine—
Unpleasant Experience of Wipers in a Pit, etc.
SPECIAL DISPATCH TO THE “CINCINNATI ENQUIRER.”
“Vincenes, Ind., April 18.—Your correspondent fell into the hands of an employee of the Cairo and Vincennes Railroad a day or two ago, and was regaled with one of the most thrilling tales that ever fell on mortal ears. The railroad boys are pretty badly worked up over a reputed ghost at their Round-house in Cairo, and some of their stories are really startling.
“Eighteen or twenty months ago an engineer, named Johnson, was run over by a Cairo and Vincennes engine, No. 4, near the Round-house, and the habitues of that vicinity claim that they have frequently seen Johnson’s spook, and have had other evidence of his presence on earth. Employes who have met with it have interrogated the shadow, thinking it a human being, only to see it vanish through a solid brick wall.
“The spirit of the defunct engineer does not confine himself to harmless tricks. Two wipers went down into the fire-pit for the purpose of drawing the fire out of engine No. 4, the same machine which caused Johnson’s death. While they were scraping out the fire the engine suddenly started forward, cutting off their retreat from the hot pit. They yelled piteously for help, but their only answer was mocking laughter. The engine then slowly crawled back to its proper position, and the men, glad of their freedom, rushed out swearing vengeance on the trickster, but not a soul was in sight.
“A coloured man undertook to stay by himself in the Round-house all night, but no sooner had he become comfortably ensconced than missiles of every possible nature began to play around his head. Pieces of coal, crow-bars, spikes, hammers, etc., filled the air, and Mr. Negro vacated, concluding that he was not proof against iron in the form it was being pushed at him.
“The latest exploit of the deceased engineer—at least to his ghost is the act accredited—might have put the Cairo and Vincennes Railroad to considerable expense, and sent more than one life into eternity. Last Monday, as the engineer and fireman of a Cairo and Vincennes engine in the Cairo yard were sitting in a building eating their dinner, steam in their enginre being shut off, the machine suddenly darted up the line and was out of sight in a jiffy. It went howling over streets and road-crossings, and did not slack speed till it reaches Mound City, five miles distant from the starting-point, where it came to a dead stand. Those who witnessed the stop, testify that no one jumped off the engine, nor did any one see the occupant of the cab during the flight. Fortunately, however, the engine did not meet with any obstructions on the run, or the consequences would, indeed, have been terrible.
“These are only among the hundreds of incidents related by the railroad boys. There is evidently something amiss, and if the Company does not do something to appease the obstreperous defunct, it is not an easy matter to conjecture what the consequences will be. The sceptical “pooh-pooh” the ghost story, but the railroad boys think something is wrong.”
Another startling news runs thus:
A CREMATED GHOST.
“North Vernon, Ind., April 17.—Late last night a resident belonging to John Wrape, situated at a short distance, west of this city, was destroyed. The house is reported to have been haunted, and it is charged today that the building was set on fire to burn up the ghost. Wonderful stories have been told of the strange sounds that have emanated from this building, and the last family occupying it claimed that they could see no peace on account of the depredations of the now supposed cremated ghost. Loss to the owner of the building, $800; no insurance.”