Sunday, September 9, 2012

A spectral black hound!

In the previous post I explained that I am hoping to post online some of the best (ok, the most gruesome or weird) bits from Bromhall's Treatise of Specters. So here's a nice one to kick off with, from the section enticingly entitled A History of Strange Apparitions, and cunning delusions of Devils.

122. Crescentius, the Popes Nuncio in the Councell of Trent, in the year 1552, the 25. day of March, was very busy in writing Letters to the Pope, and continued his employment till night. Then arising to refresh himself, lo, he saw a black Dog, of such a bignesse as was not usuall, fiery eyes, and his ears hanging down to the ground coming in, and directly towards him he came, and at last he fell down underneath the Table. Being stupified and amazed hereat, when he came to himself, he calls to his servants, that were in a chamber hard by, he bids them bring a light, and to search out the Dog. And when he could in no place be found, he took a sad conceit, and falling in to a disease, he died. Dying also, they say he cryed out to his servant, to beat away the Dog that came up to his bed. Sleidanus lib. 23

(Sleidanus, from whose work this story was taken, was a 16th century German historian.)

I like this entry because although the story is briefly told, the final detail of the dying man still seeing the ghostly dog haunting his bedside is very nasty! It reminds me a little of the passage in M.R.James' Count Magnus in which two men have met a horrible fate whilst poaching on the Count's land; one is found dead and of the other it is reported that: Hans Thorbjorn was standing with his back against a tree, and all the time he was pushing with his hands--pushing something away from him which was not there. So he was not dead. And they led him away, and took him to the house at Nykjoping, and he died before the winter; but he went on pushing with his hands. 

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