+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error


THAT there are on record many
circumstantial and minute accounts of haunted
houses, is well known to most people.
But, all such narratives must be received with
the greatest circumspection, and sifted with
the utmost care; nothing in them must be
taken for granted, and every detail proved
by direct and clear evidence, before it can
be received. For, if this course be necessary
to the establishment of a philosophical
experiment in accordance with the known
laws of nature, how much more is it necessary
in a case where the alleged truth is
opposed to those laws (so far as they are
understood), and to the experience of educated
mankind. How much more so, yet, when it
is in the nature of the mass of this class of
supernatural stories to resolve themselves
into natural and commonplace affairs on the
subtraction or addition of some slight
circumstance equally easy to have been dropped
off, or to have been joined on, in the course
of repetition from mouth to mouth!

We offer this preliminary remark as in
fairness due to the difficulty of the general
subject. But, in reference to the particular
case of which, in all its terrors, we are about
to give a short account, we must observe that
every circumstance we shall relate is accurately
known to us, is fully guaranteed by us,
and can be proved by a cloud of witnesses
taken at random from the whole country.

The proprietor of the haunted house in
question, is a gentleman of the name of Bull.
Mr. Bull is a person of large propertya long
way past the Middle Age, though some
maudlin young people would have persuaded
him to the contrary a little while agoand
possessed of a strong constitution and great
common sense. Which, it is needless to add,
is the most uncommon sense in the world.

The house belonging to Mr. Bull, which
has acquired an unenviable notoriety, is
situated in the city of Westminster, and abuts
on the river Thames. Mr. Bull was
induced to commence this edifice for the
reception of a family already enlarged by the
addition of several new Members, some years
ago, on the destruction of his ancient family
mansion by fire. A variety of remarkable
facts have been observed, from the first, in
connexion with this building. Merely as a
building, it is supposed to be impossible that
it can ever be finished; it is predicted and
generally believed that the owl will hoot
from the aged ivy clinging to the bases of its
towers, many centuries before the summits of
those towers are reared. When it was originally
projected, the sum-total of its cost was
plainly written on the plans, in figures of a
reasonable size. Those figures have since
swelled in a most astonishing manner, and
may now be seen in a colossal state. It was
yet mere beams and walls, when extraordinary
voices of the prosiest description arose from
its foundations, and resounded through the
city, night and day, unmeaningly demanding
whether Cromwell should have a statue.
The voices being at length hushed by a body
of Royal commissioners (among whom was the
member for the University of Oxford, ex officio
powerful, in the Red Sea), new phenomena
succeeded. It was found impossible to warm
the edifice; it was found impossible to cool it;
and it was found impossible to light it. The
Members of Mr. Bull's family were blown off
their seats by blasts of icy air, and in the
same moment fainted from excess of sickly
heat. Ophthalmia raged among them in
consequence of the powerful glare to which their
right eyes were exposed, while their left
organs of vision were shrouded in the darkness
of Egypt. Caverns of amazing dimensions
yawned under their feet, whence odors
arose, of which the only consolatory feature
was, that no savor of brimstone could be
detected in them. Pale human formsbut for
the most part of exaggerated and unearthly
proportionsarose in the Hall, and (under
the name of Cartoons) haunted it a long
time. Among these phantoms, several
portentous shades of ancient Britons were
observed, with beards in the latest German
style. Undaunted by these accumulated
horrors, Mr. Bull took possession of his
haunted houseand then the dismal work
began indeed.

The first supernatural persecution endured
by Mr. Bull, was the sound of a tremendous
quantity of oaths. This was succeeded by
the dragging of great weights about the
house at untimely hours, accompanied with
fearful noises, such as shrieking, yelling,
barking, braying, crowing, coughing, fiendish