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when the first grey light of the morning appeared.

" We'st now ha' some rest, happen," said John, turn-
ing on his side in the expectation of a good nap, and
covering himself up with the bedclothes, which the pull-
ing of Robert so often backwards and forwards had tumbled
about sadly.

" Rest," — said the same voice that had plagued them
through the night — " Rest ! — what is rest ? Boggart
knows no rest."

" Plague tak thee for a Boggart ! " said the farmer next
morning, on hearing the strange story from his children :
" Plague tak thee ! can thee not let the poor things be
quiet ? But I'll be up with thee, my gentleman ; so tak th'
chamber an' be hang'd to thee, if thou wilt. Jack and
little Robert shall sleep o'er the cart-house, and Boggart
may rest or wriggle as he likes when he is by himsel'."

The move was accordingly made, and the bed of the
brothers transferred to their new sleeping-room over the
cart-house, where they remained for sometime undisturbed.
But his Boggartship having now fairly become the possessor
of a room at the farm, it would appear, considered himself
in the light of a privileged inmate, and not, as hitherto, an
occasional visitor, who merely joined in the general ex-
pression of merriment. Familiarity, they say, breeds
contempt ; and now the children's bread and butter would
be snatched away, or their porringers of bread and milk
would be dashed to the ground by an unseen hand ; or,



THE BAR-GAIST. 299

if the younger ones wei-e left alone but for a few minutes,
they were sure to be found screaming with terror on the
return of their nurse. Sometimes, however, he would
behave himself kindly. The cream was then churned,
and the pans and kettles scoured without hands. There
was one circumstance which was remarkable : — the stairs
ascended from the kitchen ; a partition of boards covered
the ends of the steps, and formed a closet beneath the
staircase. From one of the boards of this partition a
large round knot was accidentally displaced ; and one day
the youngest of the children, while playing with the shoe-
horn, stuck it into this knot-hole. Whether or not the
aperture had been formed by the Boggart as a peep-hole
to watch the motions of the family, I cannot pretend to
say. Some thought it was, for it was called the Boggart's
peep-hole ; but others said that they had remembered it
long before the shrill laugh of the Boggart was heard in
the house. However this may have been, it is certain
that the horn was ejected with surprising precision at the
head of whoever put it there ; and either in mirth or in
anger the horn was darted forth with great velocity, and
struck the poor child over the ear.

There are few matters upon which parents feel more
acutely than that of the maltreatment of their offspring ;
but time, that great soother of all things, at length fami-
liarised this dangerous occurrence to every one at the
farm, and that which at the first was regarded with the
utmost terror, became a kind of amusement with the more
thoughtless and daring of the family. Often was the
horn slipped slyly into the hole, and in return it never
failed to be flung at the head of some one, but most com-
monly at the person who placed it there. They were



300 THE BAR-GAIST.

used to call this pastime, in the provincial dialect, " lak-
ing wi' t' Boggart ; " that is, playing with the Boggart. An
old tailor, whom I but faintly remember, used to say that
the horn was often " pitched" at his head, and at the
head of his apprentice, whilst seated here on the kitchen-
table, when they went their rounds to work, as is cus-
tomary with country tailors. At length the goblin, not
contented with flinging the horn, returned to his night
persecutions. Heavy steps, as of a person in wooden
clogs, were at first heard clattering down stairs in the
dead hour of dai'kness; then the pewter and earthen
dishes appeared to be dashed on the kitchen floor ; though
in the morning all remained uninjured on their respective
shelves. The children generally were marked out as ob-
jects of dislike by their unearthly tormentor. The cur-
tains of their beds would be violently pulled to and fro, —
then a heavy weight, as of a human being, would press
them nearly to suffocation, from which it was impossible
to escape. The night, instead of being the time for re-
pose, was disturbed with screams and dreadful noises, and
thus was the whole house alarmed night after night.
Things could not long continue in this fashion ; the farmer
and his good dame resolved to leave a place where they
could no longer expect rest or comfort ; and George
Cheetham was actually following with his wife and family
the last load of furniture, when they were met by a neigh-
bouring farmer named John Marshall.

" Well, Georgey, and soa you're leaving th' ow'd house
at last ? " said Marshall.

" Heigh, Johnny, ma lad, I'm in a manner forced to 't,
thou sees," replied the other : " for that wearyfu' Boggart
torments us soa, we can neither rest neet nor day for't.



THE BAR-GAIST. 301

It seems loike to have a malice again't young ans, — an' it

ommost kills my poor dame here at thoughts on't, and soa

thou sees we're forc'd to flitt like."

He had got thus far in his complaint, when, behold, a

shrill voice from a deep upright churn, the topmost

utensil on the cart, called out — " Ay, ay, neighbour,

we're flitting, you see."

" Od rot thee ! " exclaimed George : " if I'd known
thou'd been flitting too, I wadn't ha stirred a peg. Nay,

nay, — its to no use, Mally," he continued, turning to his
wife, " we may as weel turn back again to th' owd house,
as be tormented in another not so convenient."

They did return ; but the Boggart having from the oc-
currence ascertained the insecurity of his tenure, became
less outrageous, and was never more guilty of disturbing,
in any extraordinary degree, the quiet of the family.



THE

HAUNTED MANOR-HOUSE.



" But he was wary wise in all his way,

And well perceived his deceitful sleight ;
Ne suffered lust liis safety to betray ;

So goodly did beguile the guiler of the prey."

Spenser.



HAUNTED MANOR-HOUSE.



Jnce-Hall, the subject of our view, stands about a
mile from Wigan, on the left hand of the high road to
Bolton, It is a very conspicuous object, its ancient and
well-preserved front generally attracting the notice and
enquiry of travellers.

About a mile to the south-east stands another place of
the same name, once belonging to the Gerards of Bryn.
The manor is now the property of Charles Walmsley, Esq.
of Westwood, near Wigan.

The two mansions are sometimes confounded together
in topographical enquiries ; and the following story, though
told of some former proprietor of the Ince to which our
plate refers, yet, by its title of the " Manor-house,"
would seem as though intended for the other and com-
paratively less known mansion, the old " Manor-house of
Ince," once inhabited by a family of that name. But the
same traditions are often found connected with localities
widely asunder, so that we need not be surprised at the
mistake which gossips have made in this particular in-
stance.

It is, after all, quite uncertain whether the event oc-
curred here or not, story-tellers being very apt to fix

VOL. II. X



306 THE IIAUNTEU MANOH-HOUSE.

upon any spot near at liand on which to fasten then* mar-
vellous narratives, and to give them a stronger hold on
the listener's imagination.

The story is supposed to be written or related by the
chief actor in the occurrences arising out of the " Haunted
House." The author has thrown the narrative into this
form, as he hopes it will vary the style of the traditions,
and probably give more character and interest to the
events here detailed than they would retain if told by a
third person.




3 ■?



HAUNTED MANOR-HOUSE.



The coach set me down at the entrance to a long and
unweeded avenue. A double row of beech-trees saluted
me, as I passed, with a rich shovver of wet leaves, and
shook their bare arms, growling as the loud sough of the
wind went through their decayed branches. The old
house was before me. Its numerous and irregularly-con-
trived compartments in front were streaked in black and
white zig-zags — vandyhed, I think, the fairest jewels of
the creation call this chaste and elegant ornament. It
was near the close of a dark autumnal day, and a mass of
gable-ends stood sharp and erect against the wild and
lowering sky. Each of these pinnacles could once boast
of its admired and appropriate ornament — a little weather-
cock ; but they had cast off their gilded plumage for ever,
and fallen from their high estate, like tlie once neatly
trimmed mansion which I was now visiting. A magpie
was perched upon a huge stack of chimneys : his black
and white plumage rivalling the mottled edifice at his
feet. Perhaps he was the wraith, the departing vision of
the decaying fabric; an apparition, insubstantial as tlic
X 2



308 THE HAUNTED MANOR-HOUSE.

honours and dignities of the ancient and revered house

of !

I looked eagerly at the long, low casements : a faint
glimmer was visible. It proceeded only from the wan
reflection of a sickly sunbeam behind me, struggling
through the cleft of a dark hail-cloud. It was the window
where in my boyhood I had often peeped at the town-
clock through my little telescope. There was the nursery
chamber, and no wonder that it was regarded with feelings
of the deepest interest. Here the first dawnings of reason
broke in upon my soul ; the first faint gleams of intelli-
gence awakened me from a state of infantine unconscious-
ness. It was here that I first drank eagerly of the fresh
rills of knowledge ; here my imagination, ardent and un-
repressed, first plumed its wings for flight, and I stept
forth over its threshold into a world long since tried, and
found as unsatisfying and unreal as the false glimmer that
now mocked me from the hall of my fathers.

A truce to sentiment ! — I came hither, it may be, for a
different purpose. A temporary gush will occasionally
spring up from the first well-head of our affections. How-
ever homely and seemingly ill adapted, in outward show
and character, for giving birth to those feelings generally
designated by the epithet romantic, the place where we
first breathed, where our ideas were first moulded, formed
and assimilated, as it were, to the condition of the sur-
rounding atmosphere (their very shape and colour deter-
mined by the medium in which they first sprung), the
casual recurrence of a scene like this, — forming part and
parcel of our very existence, and incorporated with the
very fabric of our thoughts, — must, in spite of all sub-
sequent impressions, revive those feelings, however long



THE HAUNTED MANOR-HOUSE. 309

they may have been dormant, with a force and vividness
which the bare recollection can never excite.

The garden- gate stood open. The initials of my name,
still legible, appeared rudely carved on the posts — a
boyish propensity which most of us have indulged; and
I well remember ministering to its gratification wherever
I durst hazard the experiment, when first initiated into
the mystery of hewing out these important letters with a
rusty penknife.

Not a creature was stirring ; and the nature of the pre-
sent occupants, whether sylphs, gnomes, or genii, was a
question not at all, as it yet appeared, in a train for solu-
tion. The front door was closed ; but, as I knew every
turn and corner about the house, I made no doubt of
soon finding out its inmates, if any of them were in the
neighbourhood. I worked my way through the garden,
knee-deep and rank with weed, for the purpose of re-
connoitring the back-offices. I steered pretty cautiously
past what memory, that great dealer in hyperbole, had
hitherto generally contrived to picture as a huge lake —
now, to my astonishment, dwindled into a duck-pond —
but not without danger from its slippery margin. It still
reposed under the shadow of the old cherry-tree, once the
harbinger of delight, as the returning season gave inti-
mation of another bountiful supply of fruit. Its gnarled
stump, now stunted and decaying, had scarcely one token
of life upon its scattered branches. Following a narrow
walk, nearly obliterated, I entered a paved court. The
first tramp awoke a train of echoes, that seemed as though
they had slumbered since my departure, and now started
from their sleep, to greet or to admonish the returning
truant. Grass in luxuriant tufts, capriciously disposed,
X 3



310 THE HAUNTED MANOR-HOUSE.

grew about in large patches. The breeze passed heavily
by, rustling the dark swathe, and murmuring fitfully as it
departed. Desolation seemed to have marked the spot
for her own — the grim abode of solitude and despair.
During twenty years' sojourn in a strange land, memory
had still, with untiring delight, painted the old mansion in
all its primeval primness and simplicity — fresh as I had
left it, full of buoyancy and delight, to take possession of
the paradise which imagination had created. I had, indeed,
been informed, that at my father's death it became the
habitation of a stranger ; but no intelligence as to its pre-
sent condition had ever reached me. Being at L ,

and only some twenty miles distant, I could not resist the
temptation of once more gazing on the old manor-house,
and of comparing its present aspect with that but too
faithfully engrafted on my recollections. To all appear-
ance the house was tenantless. I tried the door of a side-
kitchen, or scullery : it was fastened, but the rusty bolts
yielded to no very forcible pressure ; and I once more
penetrated into the kitchen, that exhaustless magazine,
which had furnished ham and eggs, greens and bacon,
with other sundry and necessary condiments, to the pro-
genitors of our race for at least two centuries. A mar-
vellous change! — to me it appeared as if wrought in a
moment, so recently had memory reinstated the scenes of
my youth in all their pristine splendour. Now no smoke
rolled lazily away from the heavy billet ; no blaze greeted
my sight ; no savoury steam regaled the sense. Dark,
cheerless, cold, — the long bars emitted no radiance ; the
hearth unswept, on which Growler once panted with heat
and fatness.

Though night was fast approaching, I could not resist



THE HAUNTED MANOR-HOUSE. 311

the temptation of once more exploring the deserted
chambers, the scene of many a youthful frolic. I sprang
with reckless facility up the vast staircase. The shallow
steps were not sufficiently accommodating to my im-
patience, and I leaped rather than ran, with the intention
of paying my first visit to that cockaigne of childliood, that
paradise of little fools — the nursery. How small, dwindled
almost into a span, appeared that once mighty and almost
boundless apartment, every nook of which was a separate
territory, every drawer and cupboard the boundary of an-
other kingdom ! Three or four strides brought me to the
window ; — the broad church-tower was still visible, peace-
fully reposing in the dim and heavy twilight. The evening-
bell was tolling: what a host of recollections were awakened
at the sound ! Days and hours long forgotten seemed to
rise up at its voice, like the spirits of the departed sweep-
ing by, awful and indistinct. These impressions soon
became more vivid ; they rushed on with greater rapidity :
I turned from the window, and was startled at the sudden
moving of a shadow. It was a faint long-drawn figure of
myself on the floor and opposite wall. Ashamed of my
fears, I was preparing to quit the apartment, when my
attention was arrested by a drawing which I had once
scrawled, and stuck against the wall with all the ardour of
a first achievement. It owed its preservation to an un-
lucky but effectual contrivance of mine for securing its
perpetuity : a paste-brush, purloined from the kitchen,
had made all fast; and the piece, alike impregnable to
assaults or siege, withstood every effort for its removal.
In fact, tliis could not be accomplished without at the
same time tearing off a portion from the clingy papering
of the room, and leaving a disagreeable void, instead of
X 4



312 THE HAUNTED MANOR-HOUSE.

my sprawling performance. With the less evil it ap-
peared each succeeding occupant had been contented ;
and the drawing had stood its ground in spite of dust
and dilapidation. I felt wishful for the possession of
so valuable a memorial of past exploits. I examined it
again and again, but not a single corner betrayed symptoms
of lesion : it stuck bolt upright ; and the dun squat figures
portrayed on it appeared to leer at me most provokingly.
Not a slip or tear presented itself as vantage-ground for
the projected attack ; and I had no other resource left of
gaining possession than what may be denominated the
Caesarean mode. I accordingly took out my knife, and
commenced operations by cutting out at the same time a
portion of the ornamental papering from the wall, com-
mensurate with the picture. I looked upon it with a sort
of superstitious reverence ; and I have always thought,
that the strong and eager impulse I felt for the possession
of this hideous daub proceeded from a far different source
than mere fondness for the memorials of childhood. Be
that as it may, I am a firm believer in a special Pro-
vidence ; and that, too, as discovered in the most trivial as
well as the most important concerns of life. It was whilst
cutting down upon what seemed like wainscoting, over
which the papering of the room had been laid, that my
knife glanced on something much harder than the rest.
Turning aside my spoils, I saw what through the dusk
appeared very like the hinge of a concealed door. My
curiosity was roused, and I made a hasty pull, which at
once drew down a mighty fragment from the wall, con-
sisting of plaster, paper, and rotten canvass ; and some
minutes elapsed ere the subsiding cloud of dust enabled
me to discern the terra incognita I had just uncovered.



THE HAUNTED MANOR-HOUSE. 31^

Sure enough there was a door, and as surely did the spirit
of enterprise prompt me to open it. With difficuhy I ac-
comphshed my purpose ; it yielded at length to my efforts ;
but the noise of the half-corroded hinges, grating and
shrieking on their rusty pivots, may be conceived as
sufficiently dismal and appalling. I know not if once at
least I did not draw back, or let go my hold incontinently
as the din " grew long and loud." I own, without hesi-
tation, that I turned away my head from the opening, as
it became wider and wider at every pull ; and it required
a considerable effort before I could summon the requisite
courage to look into the gap. My head seemed as difficult
to move as the door. I cannot say that I was absolutely
afraid of ghosts, but I was afraid of a peep from behind
the door — afraid of being frightened ! At length, with
desperate boldness, I thrust my head plump into the
chasm !

But I was more startled at the noise I had thus pro-
duced than by any thing that was visible. As far as the
darkness would permit, I explored the interior, which,
after all, was neither more nor less than a small closet.
From what cause it had been shut out from the apart-
ment to which it belonged, it were vain to conjecture.
All that was really cognisable to the senses presented
itself in the shape of a shallow recess, some four feet by
two, utterly unfurnished, save with some inches of accu-
mulated dust and rubbish, that made it a work of great
peril to grope out the fact of its otherwise absolute
emptiness. This discovery, like many other jiotable en-
terprises, seemed to lead to nothing. I stept out of my
den, reeking with spoils which I would much rather have
left undisturbed in their dark recesses.



314 THE HAUNTED MANOR-HOUSE.

Preparing for my departure, and a visit to my relation
in the nearly adjoining town, who as yet had no other
intimation of my arrival than a hasty note, to apprise him
that I had once more set foot on English ground, and in-
tended to visit him before my return, I stepped again to
the window. Darkness was fast gathering about me; a
heavy scud was driven rapidly across the heavens, and the
wind wailed in short and mournful gusts past the chamber.
The avenue was just visible from the spot where I stood;
and, looking down, I thought I could discern more than
one dark object moving apparently towards the house. It
may be readily conceived that I beheld their approach with
an interest by no means free from apprehension ; and it
was not long ere two beings, in human habiliments, were
distinctly seen at a short distance from the gate by which
I had entered. Feeling myself an intruder, and not being
very satisfactorily prepared to account for my forcible
entry into the premises, and the injury I had committed
on the property of a stranger, I drew hastily aside, deter-
mined to effect a retreat whenever and wherever it might
be in my power. Door and window alternately presented
themselves for the accomplishment of this unpleasant
purpose, but before I could satisfy myself as to which was
the more eligible offer, as doubters generally do contrive
it, I lost all chance of availing myself of either. " Facilis
descensus" — " Easier in than out — " &c., occurred to
me ; and many other classical allusions, much more ap-
propriate than agreeable. I heard voices and footsteps in
the hall. The stairs creaked, and it was but too evident
they were coming, and that with a most unei*ring and
provoking persevei'ance. Surely, thought I, these gentry
have noses like the sleuth-hound ; and I made no doubt



THE HAUNTED MANOR-HOUSE. 315

but they would undeviatingly follow them into the very
scene of my labours : and what excuse could I make for
the havoc I had committed ? I stood stupefied, and
unable to move. The thoughts of being hauled neck and
heels before the next justice, on a charge of housebreak-
ing, or what not — committed to prison — tried, perhaps,
and — the sequel was more than even imagination durst
conceive. RecoiHng in horror from the picture, it was
with something like instinctive desperation that I flew to
the little closet, and shut myself in, with all the speed
and precision my fears would allow. Sure enough the
brutes were making the best of their way into the cham-
ber, and every moment I expected they would track their
victim to his hiding place. After a few moments of in-
conceivable agony, I was relieved at finding from their
conversation that no notion was entertained, at present,
of any witness to their proceedings.

" I tell thee, Gilbert, these rusty locks can keep nothing
safe. It's but some few months since we were here,
and thou knowest the doors were all fast. The kitchen
door-post is now as rotten as touchwood ; no bolt will
fasten it."

"Nail it up, — nail 'em all up," growled Gilbert;
" nobody '11 live here now; or else set fire to 't. It "ill
make a rare bonfire to burn that ugly old will in."

A boisterous laugh here broke from the remorseless
Gilbert. It fell upon my ear as something with which I
had once been disagreeably familiar. The voice of the first
speaker, too, seemed the echo of one that had been heard
in childhood. A friendly chink permitted me to gain the
information I sought : there stood my uncle, and his
trusty familiar. In my youth I had contracted a some-



316 THE HAUNTED MANOR-HOUSE.

what unaccountable aversion to the latter personage. I
well remembered his downcast grey eye, deprived of its
fellow ; and the malignant pleasure he took in thwarting
and disturbing my childish amusements. This prepos-
sessing Cyclop held a tinder-box, and was preparing to
light a match. My uncle's figure I could not mistake :
a score of winters had cast their shadows on his brow
since we had separated ; but he still stood as he was
wont — tall, erect, and muscular, though age had slightly
drooped his proud forehead ; and I could discern his
long-lapped waistcoat somewhat less conspicuous in front.
He was my mother's brother, and the only surviving
relation on whom I had any claim. My fears were set at
rest, but curiosity stole into their place. I felt an irre-
pressible inclination to watch their proceedings, though
eaves-dropping was a subterfuge that I abhorred. I
should, I am confident — at least I hope so — have im-
mediately discovered myself, had not a single word which
I had overheard prevented me. The *' will " to which
they alluded might to me, perhaps, be an object of no
trivial importance.

" I wish with all my heart it were burnt ! " said my


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