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HISTORIC GHOSTS AND GHOST HUNTERS

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Porscha Campbell
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« Reply #90 on: November 15, 2009, 05:18:33 am »

VI

The Ghost Seen by Lord Brougham

It is comparatively easy, when seated before a roaring fire in a well-lighted room, to sneer ghosts out of existence, and roundly affirm that they are without exception the fanciful products of a heated imagination. But the matter takes on a very different complexion, when in that same room and without so much as the opening of a door, one is unexpectedly confronted by the figure of an absent friend, who, it subsequently appears, is about that time breathing his last in another part of the world. Especially would it seem impossible to remain skeptical if there existed between oneself and the friend in question a compact, drawn up years before in an access of youthful enthusiasm, binding whichever should die first to appear to the other at the moment of death.

This, as all students of ghostology are aware, has frequently been the case; and it was precisely the case with the ghost seen by the[Pg 103] famous Lord Brougham, the brilliant and versatile Scotchman, whose astonishingly long and successful career in England as statesman, judge, lawyer, man of science, philanthropist, orator, and author won him a place among the immortals both of the Georgian and of the Victorian era.

At the time he saw the ghost he was still a young man, thinking far less of what the future might hold than of the pleasures of the present. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a more unlikely subject for a ghostly experience. From his earliest youth, his father, a most matter of fact person, sedulously endeavored to impress him with the belief that the only spirits deserving of the name were those which came in oddly labeled bottles; and in support of this view the elder Brougham frequently related the adventures of sundry persons of his acquaintance who had engaged in the mischievous pastime of ghost hunting. Added to the natural effect of such tales as these was the inherent exuberance of Brougham's disposition and the bent of his mind to mathematics and kindred exact sciences.

It was at the Edinburgh high school that he first met his future ghost, who at the time[Pg 104] was a youngster like himself, and became and long remained his most intimate friend. The two lads were graduated together from the high school, and together matriculated into the university, where, in the intervals Brougham could spare from his favorite studies and recreations, and from the company of the daredevil students with whom he soon began to associate, they continued their old time walks and talks.

On one of these walks, the conversation happened to turn to the perennial problem of life beyond the grave and the possibility of the dead communicating with the living. Brougham, mindful of the views maintained by his father, doubtless treated the subject lightly, if not scoffingly; but one word led to another, until finally, in what he afterward described as a moment of folly, he covenanted with his friend that whichever of them should happen to pass from earth first would, if it were at all possible, show himself in spirit to the other, and thus prove beyond peradventure that the soul of man survived the death of the body.
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