Notes and Queries, Number 16, February 16, 1850 by Various


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Page 1

MISCELLANIES:--
Pursuits of Literature--Dr. Dobbs--Translation from
V. Bourne--St. Evona's Choice--Muffins and
Crumpets--Dulcarnon--Bishop Barnaby--Barnacles
--Ancient Alms Dish, &c. 253

MISCELLANEOUS:--
Notes on Books, Sales, Catalogues, &c. 254
Books and Odd Volumes Wanted 255
Notices to Correspondents 255
Advertisements 256

* * * * *

DANIEL DE FOE AND HIS GHOST STORIES.

I feel obliged by your intelligent correspondent "D.S." having
ascertained that De Foe was the author of the _Tour through Great
Britain_. Perhaps he may also be enabled to throw some light on a
subject of much curiosity connected with De Foe, that appears to me well
worth the inquiry.

Mrs. Bray, in her General Preface prefixed to the first volume of the
reprint, in series, of her _Novels and Romances_, when giving an account
of the circumstances on which she founded her very graphic and
interesting romance of _Trelawny of Trelawne_, says--

"In Gilbert's _History of Cornwall_, I saw a brief but striking
account, written by a Doctor Ruddell, a clergyman of Launceston,
respecting a ghost which (in the year 1665) he has seen and laid to
rest, that in the first instance had haunted a poor lad, the son of
a Mr. Bligh, in his way to school, in a place called the 'Higher
Broom Field.' This grave relation showed, I thought, the credulity
of the times in which the author of it lived; and so I determined
to have doctor, boy, and ghost in my story. But whereas, in the
worthy divine's account of the transaction, the ghost appears to
come on earth for no purpose whatever (unless it be to frighten the
poor boy), I resolved to give the spirit something to do in such
_post-mortem_ visitations, and that the object of them should be of
import to the tale. Accordingly I made boy, doctor, and the woman
(who is said after her death to have appeared to the lad) into
characters, invented a story for them, and gave them adventures."

Mrs. Bray adds--

"Soon after the publication of _Trelawny_, my much esteemed friend,
the Rev. F.V.T. Arundell[1], informed me, that, whilst engaged in
his antiquarian researches in Cornwall, he found among some old and
original papers the manuscript account, in Dr. Ruddell's own
hand-writing, of his encounter with the ghost in question. This he
lent Gilbert, who inserted it in his _History of Cornwall_; and
there I first saw it, as stated above. A few months ago, I
purchased some of the reprinted volumes of the _Works of Daniel De
Foe_. Among these was the _Life of Mr. Duncan Campbell_, a
fortune-teller. To my great surprise, I found inserted in the
Appendix (after verses to Mr. Duncan Campbell), without either name
of the author, reference, or introduction, under the heading, 'A
remarkable Passage of an Apparition, 1665,' no other than Dr.
Ruddell's account of meeting the ghost which had haunted the boy,
so much the same as that I had read in Gilbert, that it scarcely
seemed to differ from it in a word. The name of Mr. Bligh, the
father of the boy, was, however, omitted; and Dr. Ruddell could
only be known as the author of the account by the lad's father
calling the narrator Mr. Ruddell, in their discourse about the
youth. The account is so strangely inserted in the Appendix to the
volume, without comment or reference, that, had I not previously
known the circumstances above names by Mr. Arundell, I should have
fancied it a fiction of De Foe himself, like the story {242} of
the ghost of Mrs. Veal, prefixed to _Drelincourt on Death_.

"Aware that Mr. Arundell had no idea that Ruddell's ghost story was
to be found in any work previous to Gilbert's, I lost no time in
communicating to that gentleman what I could not but deem a very
curious discovery. He assured me there could be no mistake as to
the genuineness of the ghost document he had found, as he had
compared the manuscript with Ruddell's hand-writing in other
papers, and saw it was one and the same. Soon after, Mr. Arundell
favoured me with some further information on the subject, which I
here give, as it adds still more to the interest of the
story:--'Looking into Gilbert's _History of Cornwall_, in the
parish of South Petherwin, there is said to be in the old mansion
of Botathan five portraits of the Bligh family; one of them is the
likeness of the boy, whose intimacy with the ghost of Dorothy
Durant has been spoken of in his first volume, where she is
erroneously called Dingley. If this be a fact, it is very
interesting; for it is strange that both Mr. Ruddell, the narrator
(whose manuscript I lent to Gilbert), and De Foe, should have
called her Dingley. I have no doubt it was a fictitious name, for I
never heard of it Launceston or the neighbourhood; whereas Durant
is the name of an ancient Cornish family: and I remember a tall,
respectable man of that name in Launceston, who died at a very
advanced age; very probably a connexion of the Ghost Lady. He must
have been born about 1730. Durant was probably too respectable a
name to be published, and hence the fictitious one.' Mr. Arundell
likewise says, 'In Launceston Church is a monument to Charles Bligh
and Judith his wife, who died, one in 1716, and the other in 1717.
He is said to have been sixty years old, and was probably the
brother of Samuel, the hero of Dorothy Dingley. Sarah, the wife of
the Rev. John Ruddell, died in 1667. Mr. Ruddell was Vicar of
Aternon in 1684. He was the minister of Launceston in 1665, when he
saw the ghost who haunted the boy.'"

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