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Quotations about Ghosts
& the Paranormal

Welcome to my collection of quotes about ghosts and other haunting things.   SEE ALSO:  AFTER-SUPPER GHOSTS MONSTERS, VAMPIRES, ZOMBIES DEATH NIGHT 3:00 AM PAST HALLOWEEN EL DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS  –ღTerri

I wants to make your flesh creep... ~Charles Dickens

...common reasoners reject a good, well-authenticated ghost story altogether. But real philosophers delight in one... ~Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, 1861

This is a true story. There's not much point in inventing ghost stories — anyone can do it. ~Michael McCabe and Fielden Hughes, "A True Ghost Story," Beyond Midnight, 1969

The stars was shining, and the leaves rustled in the woods ever so mournful; and I heard an owl, away off, who-whooing about somebody that was dead, and a whippowill and a dog crying about somebody that was going to die; and the wind was trying to whisper something to me and I couldn't make out what it was, and so it made the cold shivers run over me. Then away out in the woods I heard that kind of a sound that a ghost makes when it wants to tell about something that's on its mind and can't make itself understood, and so can't rest easy in its grave and has to go about that way every night grieving. ~Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

I think in a lot of cases, ghosts are history demanding to be remembered. ~Jeff Belanger, in Most Terrifying Places in America (Part 7, 2010: Route 44, Rehoboth, Massachusetts)

Surely the supreme problem for science to solve if she can, is whether life, as we know it, can exist without protoplasm, or whether we are but the creatures of an idle day; whether the present life is the entrance to an infinite and unseen world beyond, or "the Universe but a soulless interaction of atoms, and life a paltry misery closed in the grave." ~William F. Barrett, On the Threshold of the Unseen, 1918

Because, as we are told—a sad old joke, too—
Ghosts, like the ladies, never speak till spoke to.
~Thomas Ingoldsby, "The Ghost," 1837 you believe in phantasms of the dead?... or if you prefer the word, phanograms, or say if you will phanogrammatical manifestations, or more simply psychophantasmal phenomena? ~Stephen Leacock, "'Q.' A Psychic Pstory of the Psupernatural," Nonsense Novels, 1911

A person terrified with the imagination of spectres, is more reasonable than one who thinks the appearance of spirits fabulous and groundless. ~Joseph Addison

...Lovers are
Like walking ghosts, they always haunt the spot
Of their misdeeds.
~George H. Boker, Francesca da Rimini

One night, then, ever partial to society...
Went to a Club—I should have said Society....
Here they would oft forget their Rulers' faults,
And waste in ancient lore the midnight taper;
Inquire if Orpheus first produced the Waltz,
How Gas-lights differ from the Delphic Vapour,
Whether Hippocrates gave Glauber's Salts,
And what the Romans wrote on ere they'd paper—
This night the subject of their disquisitions
Was Ghosts, Hobgoblins, Sprites, and Apparitions.
~Thomas Ingoldsby, "The Ghost," 1837

Nature is a Haunted House – but Art – a House that tries to be haunted. ~Emily Dickinson, 1876

There is something ghostly in all great art. ~Lafcadio Hearn (1850–1904)  [a.k.a. Koizumi Yakumo —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Yet man dies not whilst the world, at once his mother and his monument, remains. His name is lost, indeed, but the breath he breathed still stirs the pine-tops on the mountains, the sound of the words he spake yet echoes on through space; the thoughts his brain gave birth to we have inherited to-day; his passions are our cause of life; the joys and sorrows that he knew are our familiar friends—the end from which he fled aghast will surely overtake us also! Truly the universe is full of ghosts, not sheeted church-yard spectres, but the inextinguishable elements of individual life, which having once been, can never die, though they blend and change, and change again for ever. ~H. Rider Haggard, King Solomon's Mines

And as to being in a fright,
      Allow me to remark
That ghosts have just as good a right,
In every way, to fear the light,
      As men to fear the dark.
~Lewis Carroll, "Phantasmagoria," 1869

...he had a strange sense of being haunted, a feeling that the shades of his imagination were stepping out into the real world, that destiny was acquiring the slow, fatal logic of a dream. 'Now I know what a ghost is,' he thought. 'Unfinished business, that's what.' ~Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

Unto the soul's companionship
Of things that only seem to be,
Earth points with magic fingertip
And bids thee see
How Fancy keeps thee company.
~Madison Cawein, "Occult"

The meagre lighthouse all in white, haunting the seaboard, as if it were the ghost of an edifice that had once had colour and rotundity, dripped melancholy tears after its late buffeting by the waves. ~Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit

It was a fine, clear night, lighted, at first, by a slice of new moon; but later, dark, except for the pale illumination of the stars. I have seen many ghosts in my time — ghosts in garden and garret, at noon, at dusk, at dawn, phantoms fanciful, and specters sad and spectacular — but never have I seen such an impressive sight as this nocturnal charge of cuirassiers, galloping in goblin glory to their time-honored doom. From afar the French reserves presented the appearance of a nebulous mass, like a low-lying cloud or fog-bank, faintly luminous, shot with fluorescent gleams. As the squadron drew nearer in its desperate charge, the separate forms of the troopers shaped themselves, and the galloping guardsmen grew ghastly with supernatural splendor. ~Gelett Burgess, "The Ghost-Extinguisher," 1905

At ghost-breaking he had proved a fizzle. ~L. A. Borah, The House of Dust, 1924

Deeper beneath the oaks the shadows grew...
[I]n the upper calm
The pulses of the stars began to beat:
The fire-flies twinkled...
And the dark land lay silent and content....
He heard, with me, the tongues of perished leaves:
Departed suns their trails of splendor drew
Across departed summers: whispers came
From voices, long ago resolved again
Into the primal Silence, and we twain,
Ghosts of our present selves, yet still the same,
As in a spectral mirror wandered there.
Its pain outlived, the Past was only fair.
~Bayard Taylor, "First Evening"

If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl. ~H.L. Mencken

"Go to the d—l!" said the disappointed ghost-hunter. An hour—two—rolled on, and still no spectral visitation... and when the turret-clock sounded at length the hour of three, Ingoldsby, whose patience and grog were alike exhausted, sprang from his chair, saying— "This is all infernal nonsense, my good fellow. Deuce of any ghost shall we see to-night..." ~Thomas Ingoldsby, "The Spectre of Tappington," 1837

I don't believe that ghosts are "spirits of the dead" because I don't believe in death. In the multiverse, once you're possible, you exist. And once you exist, you exist forever one way or another. Besides, death is the absence of life, and the ghosts I've met are very much alive. What we call ghosts are lifeforms just as you and I are. ~Paul F. Eno, Footsteps in the Attic

The moon is hidden behind a cloud...
On the leaves is a sound of falling rain...
No other sounds than these I hear;
The hour of midnight must be near...
So many ghosts, and forms of fright,
Have started from their graves to-night,
They have driven sleep from mine eyes away:
I will go down to the chapel and pray.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "The Neighbouring Nunnery"

Must be a rule in the ghost handbook—if in danger of evaporating, make sure you're in the middle of a dire pronouncement. ~Kelley Armstrong, The Reckoning

One learned gentleman, "a sage grave man,"
Talk'd of the Ghost in Hamlet, "sheath'd in steel"—
His well-read friend, who next to speak began,
Said, "That was poetry, and nothing real;"
A third, of more extensive learning, ran
To Sir George Villiers' Ghost, and Mrs. Veal;
Of sheeted Spectres spoke with shorten'd breath,
And thrice he quoted Drelincourt on Death.
~Thomas Ingoldsby, "The Ghost," 1837

It is wonderful that five thousand years have now elapsed since the creation of the world, and still it is undecided whether or not there has ever been an instance of the spirit of any person appearing after death. All argument is against it; but all belief is for it. ~Samuel Johnson, quoted by James Boswell

Verily, at special times, the spirits of the dead come into contact with the spirits of the living... Some protest against any one speaking of such matters.... I venture to affirm that there is such an affinity in the departed for those whom they love on earth, that I believe they are always near, and death has only to lift the curtain to fall into their embrace. ~James Gillingham (1838–1924), The Seat of the Soul Discovered or the World's Great Problem Solved, with Objections to the Same Answered, second edition, 1870  [Gillingham, a surgical mechanist from Chard, England, was a pioneer in artificial limbs, about 1866. He was originally a shoemaker but changed professions into this "new sphere of usefulness." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

My ghost? Do you suppose I'm fool enough to go to the expense of keeping one of my own, when there are so many charming ones in my friends' closets? ~Edith Wharton, "The Eyes," Tales of Men and Ghosts, 1910

There is certainly a world beyond our normal consciousness from which neither space nor time divides us, but only the barrier of our sense-perceptions.... this threshold is not immovable. ~William F. Barrett, On the Threshold of the Unseen, 1918

Yesterday, upon the stair,
      I met a man who wasn't there.
      He wasn't there again today,
      I wish, I wish he'd go away.
When I came home last night at three,
      The man was waiting there for me
      But when I looked around the hall,
      I couldn't see him there at all!
~Hughes Mearns (1875–1965), "Antigonish," Psyco-ed, c.1899

Whatever its origin, a belief in spirits seems to have been common to all the nations of the ancient world who have left us any record of themselves. Ghosts began to walk early, and are walking still, in spite of the shrill cock-crow of wir haben ja aufgeklärt. ~James Russell Lowell, "Witchcraft"

"Whence, and what art thou, Execrable Shape?"
Nick might have cried, could he have found a tongue,
But his distended jaws could only gape,
And not a sound upon the welkin rung...
He sat upon his haunches, bolt upright,
And shook, and grinn'd, and chatter'd with affright.
~Thomas Ingoldsby, "The Ghost," 1837

But then there was that talk about a spectre cat. I ain't frightened of much that I know of. Put a man before me, or a dog, or a horse, and I'm ready to tackle 'em, one down and other come up, or altogether if they like; but when you come to spectres, I ain't ashamed to say I'm not up to 'em.... Anything that's alive I don't give way to; but when it comes to ghosts and spectres, I take a back seat, and I don't care who knows it. ~B.L. Farjeon, The Mystery of M. Felix, 1890

Old perfumes wander back from fields of clover
Seen in the light of suns that long have set;
Belovèd ones, whose earthly toil is over,
Draw near, as if they lived among us yet.
Old voices call me, through the dusk returning,
I hear the echoes of departed feet...
~Sarah Doudney, "Between the Lights," c.1875

Ideas, like ghosts (according to the common notion of ghosts), must be spoken to a little before they will explain themselves... ~Charles Dickens, Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son, 1846

For many years now it had stood empty and deserted, the home of bats and owls, and foxes, shunned on account of its reputation as the scene of an apparition. This was none other than the ghost of one Brother Ambrose, who had been betrayed and murdered by a brother monk, whose ruins were hidden in the steep woods above. Scared villagers and chance wayfarers maintained that on nights of shifting moonlight they had seen his ghost. It glided from the chapel along the winding path between banks of fern and the trunks of giant trees. It held on its way past the ruined tower, and under the archway that led to the world. Finally it disappeared within the deep doorway of the old building, only to reappear for a moment with uplifted hands, at the mullioned window of the refectory. John Addington stood among the ruins at a late hour of a July night. There was no fear of the supernatural in his heart as he looked curiously about him. ~Florence Bone (1875–1971), The Morning of To‑Day, 1907  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

[Enter Ghost again.]
But soft! behold! Lo, where it comes again!
I'll cross it, though it blast me. — Stay illusion!
[Spreads his arms.]
If thou hast any sound, or use of voice,
Speak to me.
~William Shakespeare, Hamlet, c.1600  [I, 1, Horatio]

Blackened skeleton arms of wood by the wayside pointed upward to the convent, as if the ghosts of former travellers, overwhelmed by the snow, haunted the scene of their distress. Icicle-hung caves and cellars built for refuges from sudden storms, were like so many whispers of the perils of the place; never-resting wreaths and mazes of mist wandered about, hunted by a moaning wind; and snow, the besetting danger of the mountain, against which all its defences were taken, drifted sharply down. ~Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit

Ye who, passing graves by night,
Glance not to the left nor right,
Lest a spirit should arise,
Cold and white, to freeze your eyes...
~James Russell Lowell, "The Ghost-Seer"

I am timid and half-hearted because I cannot get rid of the Ghosts that haunt me.... But I almost think we are all of us Ghosts... It is not only what we have inherited from our father and mother that "walks" in us. It is all sorts of dead ideas, and lifeless old beliefs, and so forth. They have no vitality, but they cling to us all the same, and we can't get rid of them. Whenever I take up a newspaper I seem to see Ghosts gliding between the lines. There must be Ghosts all the country over, as thick as the sand of the sea. And then we are, one and all, so pitifully afraid of the light. ~Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts, 1881, translated by William Archer, 1890  [Mrs. Alving speaking. Note from translator: "The Norwegian title, Gengangere, is not exactly represented by our word Ghosts. It means literally, 'Again-goers,' spirits that 'walk.' The French word, 'Revenants,' comes nearer the sense." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Probably the scariest thing about cemeteries is that music they play in your head when you drive by one. ~Demetri Martin

The worst of a modern stylish mansion is, that it has no place for ghosts.... It had no proper garret... only a sealed interval between the roof and attics, where a spirit could not be accommodated, unless it were flattened out.... There was not a nook or a corner in the whole house fit to lodge any respectable ghost... ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Poet at the Breakfast Table

The spirits of the dead hallow a house, for me. ~Mark Twain, 1909

He stood looking after them... as though he had perceived that they had come back accompanied by a ghost a-piece. ~Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, 1857

Lost in his own horrific contemplations...
When at the bed's foot, close beside the post,
He verily believed he saw—a Ghost!...
From every pore distill'd a clammy dew,
Quaked every limbe—the candle, too...
The room was fill'd with a sulphureous smell,
But where that came from Mason could not tell.
~Thomas Ingoldsby, "The Ghost," 1837

In such cases the imagination is undoubtedly its own doppelgänger, and sees nothing more than the projection of its own deceit. But I am puzzled, I confess, to explain the appearance of the first ghost, especially among men who thought death to be the end-all here below. ~James Russell Lowell, "Witchcraft"

No matter where; of comfort no man speak:
Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
Make dust our paper and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth,
Let's choose executors and talk of wills:
And yet not so, for what can we bequeath
Save our deposed bodies to the ground?
Our lands, our lives and all are Bolingbroke's,
And nothing can we call our own but death
And that small model of the barren earth
Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed...
~William Shakespeare, Richard II, c.1595  [III, 2, King Richard II]

Nature keeps herself whole, and.... suffers no seat to be vacant in her college. It is the secret of the world that all things subsist, and do not die, but only retire a little from sight, and return again.... Nothing is dead: men feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals and mournful obituaries, and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some new and strange disguise. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Nominalist and Realist"

The ghostly power extends to inanimate objects as well as to human beings and animals. Armor and costumes seem to have a material immortality of their own, for it is quite common to recognize spectral visitants by their garments or accouterments. ~Dorothy Scarborough, Ph.D., The Supernatural in Modern English Fiction, 1917

I am fighting my fight with Ghosts both within me and without. ~Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts, 1881, translated by William Archer, 1890

Some people have said since, that he only thought what has been herein set down; others, that he read it in the fire, one winter night about the twilight time; others, that the Ghost was but the representation of his gloomy thoughts... ~Charles Dickens, The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain, 1848

Just a thin veil, between this world
And that world of beauty and love,
Just a thin veil that hides the view
Of our Spirit loved ones above!
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "Just a Thin Veil" (1940s)

"This wood really is haunted now — by old memories," said Anne, stooping to gather a spray of ferns, bleached to waxen whiteness by frost. "It seems to me that the little girls Diana and I used to be play here still, and sit by the Dryad's Bubble in the twilights, trysting with the ghosts. Do you know, I can never go up this path in the dusk without feeling a bit of the old fright and shiver? There was one especially horrifying phantom which we created — the ghost of the murdered child that crept up behind you and laid cold fingers on yours. I confess that, to this day, I cannot help fancying its little, furtive footsteps behind me when I come here after nightfall. I'm not afraid of the White Lady or the headless man or the skeletons, but I wish I had never imagined that baby's ghost into existence..." ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, 1915

Deeds and mortgages and rents
No longer count, nor doors
Nor locks nor keys nor instruments
Of title to rich ores—
Richer in hopes, perhaps, than gold.
Here dusty cobwebs lace
Time's vacancy, and creeping mold
Invades the livings' place.
What legal title need there be
To ghost or tumbled stone,
In any haunted legacy,
A pair of owls may own?
~S. Omar Barker, "Ghost Town," in Arizona Highways, September 1961

He seemed to stand in a company of the dead. Ghosts all! The ghost of beauty, the ghost of stateliness, the ghost of elegance, the ghost of pride, the ghost of frivolity, the ghost of wit, the ghost of youth, the ghost of age, all waiting their dismissal from the desolate shore, all turning on him eyes that were changed by the death they had died in coming there. ~Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, 1859

If you listen carefully, you can still hear the beating of his broken heart. ~The Haunted Mansion (film), 2003, written by David Berenbaum

I thought that ghosts were silent
As glowworm lamps that spark
Opalescent creatures
Of shadow and the dark
Oh how they chatter
Debutantes on crystal stairs
Iridescent matter.
~Derek Jarman (1942–1994), "Translucence," Chroma: A Book of Colour — June '93, 1994

      He talked, and I listened spellbound. He talked till I believe he almost forgot my presence, and only thought aloud. I had never heard anything like it then; I have never heard anything like it since. Familiar with all systems of all philosophies, subtle in analysis, bold in generalisation, he poured forth his thoughts in an uninterrupted stream, and, still leaning forward in the same moody attitude with his eyes fixed upon the fire, wandered from topic to topic, from speculation to speculation, like an inspired dreamer. From practical science to mental philosophy; from electricity in the wire to electricity in the nerve; from Watts to Mesmer, from Mesmer to Reichenbach, from Reichenbach to Swedenborg, Spinoza, Condillac, Descartes, Berkeley, Aristotle, Plato, and the Magi and mystics of the East, were transitions which, however bewildering in their variety and scope, seemed easy and harmonious upon his lips as sequences in music. By-and-by — I forget now by what link of conjecture or illustration — he passed on to that field which lies beyond the boundary line of even conjectural philosophy, and reaches no man knows whither. He spoke of the soul and its aspirations; of the spirit and its powers; of second sight; of prophecy; of those phenomena which, under the names of ghosts, spectres, and supernatural appearances, have been denied by the sceptics and attested by the credulous, of all ages.
      "The world," he said, "grows hourly more and more sceptical of all that lies beyond its own narrow radius; and our men of science foster the fatal tendency. They condemn as fable all that resists experiment. They reject as false all that cannot be brought to the test of the laboratory or the dissecting-room. Against what superstition have they waged so long and obstinate a war, as against the belief in apparitions? And yet what superstition has maintained its hold upon the minds of men so long and so firmly? Show me any fact in physics, in history, in archæology, which is supported by testimony so wide and so various. Attested by all races of men, in all ages, and in all climates, by the soberest sages of antiquity, by the rudest savage of to-day, by the Christian, the Pagan, the Pantheist, the Materialist, this phenomenon is treated as a nursery tale by the philosophers of our century. Circumstantial evidence weighs with them as a feather in the balance. The comparison of causes with effects, however valuable in physical science, is put aside as worthless and unreliable. The evidence of competent witnesses, however conclusive in a court of justice, counts for nothing. He who pauses before he pronounces, is condemned as a trifler. He who believes, is a dreamer or a fool." ~Charles Dickens, "Mrs. Lirriper's Legacy," 1864

She made up her mind, you see, that it was nothing but a case of an ordinary haunted house; the sort of thing you're always hearing about and never believe in till it happens to yourself. Marston didn't like to point out to her that the house hadn't been haunted till she came into it. ~May Sinclair, "The Nature of the Evidence," Uncanny Stories, 1923

I think the reason people investigate the paranormal is because we are trying to overcome the mystery of death. That in and of itself is something that lives within every living person, everybody. We all experience death and we are forced to find out if that is just the end, which it is not. So what we do is, when we are experiencing a situation that maybe scary, it's almost now a sense of relief. ~Zak Bagans, "Ghosts Adventures - An Interview with Zak Bagans, Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin" by Jeri Jacquin

'Twas now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards groan, and graves give up their dead,
And many a mischievous, enfranchised sprite
Had long since burst his bonds of stone or lead,
And hurried off, with schoolboy-like delight,
To play his pranks near some poor wretch's bed,
Sleeping, perhaps serenely as a porpoise,
Nor dreaming of this fiendish Habeas Corpus.
~Thomas Ingoldsby, "The Ghost," 1837

One small step for a ghost, one giant leap for ghostkind. ~Ghosts, "The Christmas Spirit, Part One," 2022, written by Emily Schmidt  [S2, E9]

And so you haunt me. Always with me, you are the invisible diner at our table, the constant presence that trails me as I go about my daily routine.... In the darkness of a closed-lidded world, you are alive and vital, unchanging, mine. You are the ghost of everything that once was lovely... a shadow casts its majesty over everything that remains... ~Samantha Bruce-Benjamin, The Art of Devotion

The garment he wore, as a covering,
      While he lived on the earth plane, here,
      With love and reverence was laid away,
      As you grieved at his earthly bier.
He is freed, my dear friend, from all sorrow,
      From all disappointments and pain;
      And he wants you to know that he's living
      And comes to you, time and again.
You cannot see him, as yet, it is true,
      Nor hear the voice that was so dear;
      But cannot you feel his presence, so close,
      And know that your loved one is near?!
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "To One In Sorrow" (1940s)

A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the snib of the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man woke in the night. ~J.M. Barrie, The Little Minister, 1891

And I saw a ghost wandering under the fading trees,
still clinging to life; tired of earth, unready for heaven—
I heard the quiet feet of a ghost stirring the fallen leaves,
and a sigh echoing the sighing in the stripped branches.
~Dallas Kenmare Browne Kelsey (c.1905–1970)

I've always believed in the paranormal. I mean, there is a paranormal. And there are spirits. And there are ghosts. And anybody who doesn't believe there are is being silly, because what runs this vessel is energy. And you can't kill energy, you can only displace it. It has to go somewhere. So there are spirits, as we call them, — of course there are. -Eric Roberts, Celebrity Ghost Stories [S1, E6, 2009]

[W]hen we come to consider that our spirits are as closely connected with the next world, as our bodies are with this, and that death has only to rend the veil to admit us immediately to the society of spiritual beings... we need not be surprised at the appearances that we hear of in this our sphere of existence. ~James Gillingham (1838–1924), The Seat of the Soul Discovered or the World's Great Problem Solved, with Objections to the Same Answered, second edition, 1870

The paranormal, you can't pick and choose. It's all or nothing. ~Zak Bagans, Darkness Optional: The Holy Truth

"Be hole, be dust, be dream, be wind,
Be night, be dark, be wish, be mind,
Now slip, now slide, now move unseen,
Above, beneath, betwixt, between."
Something huge touched him, brushed him from head to feet, and he shivered. His hair prickled, and his skin was all gooseflesh.
~Neil Gaiman, "The Witch's Headstone," The Graveyard Book

Morris's imagination absolutely gloated on the marvellous.... [T]he ambition of his life was to meet, face to face, one of those fearful sights from which others shrink. It was part of the theory relating to visionary beings, that there were some mortal eyes to which they could never become visible, while to others they revealed themselves in all their terrors and mysteries: and Morris, persevering as he had been in his researches after fairies, ghosts, and other supernatural things, at last began to fear that his want of success was attributable, according to the doctrine mentioned, to a want of the faculty of perceiving them. But this growing conviction, though it sorely irked him, did not as yet induce the ghost-hunter to give up his wild and strange pursuit. ~The O'Hara Family (Michael Banim), The Ghost-Hunter and His Family, 1833

Oh, dear, I am so sleepy. I was awake until one last night, reading a harrowing ghost story. I read it in bed, and after I had finished it do you suppose I could get out of bed to put the light out? No!... If I had got out... to do it I knew something would grab me by the feet when I was getting in again. ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, 1915

In the Borough especially, there still remain some half dozen old inns, which have preserved their external features unchanged, and which have escaped alike the rage for public improvement, and the encroachments of private speculation. Great, rambling, queer, old places they are, with galleries, and passages, and staircases, wide enough and antiquated enough, to furnish materials for a hundred ghost stories... ~Charles Dickens, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, 1837

They say that shadows of deceased ghosts
Will haunt the houses and the graves about
Of such whose life's lamp went untimely out,
Delighting still in their forsaken hosts.
~Joshua Sylvester

I wouldn't take upon me to deny that spirits sometimes are visible to the eyes o' livin' men; but, mind me well, Morris, I do take upon me to say that, in ninety-nine cases out of every hundred, people's own foolish fears shape very simple things into terrible apparitions. ~The O'Hara Family (Michael Banim), The Ghost-Hunter and His Family, 1833

How, frequently, some murder'd man appear'd,
To tell his wife and children who had done it...
~Thomas Ingoldsby, "The Ghost"

"I have not dared to search the Keep myself! It has a revenant. I have seen it, and was nearly frightened to death. I know you strong men ridicule such things. It's true, though. The Friar's Keep is haunted by a dead monk. He has been dead something like two hundred years and passes the window sometimes with a lamp in his hand. I might have had courage to search it by day—for the dead, as we all believe, do not come abroad then. Besides, it is only in the evening that I have unquestioned liberty." Mr. George North drew in his disbelieving lips. At a moment like the present he would not increase Charlotte's pain by showing his mockery of revenants. ~Ellen Price Wood (1814–1887), "The Master of Greylands," 1872  [a little altered. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

An author, ridiculing the idea of ghosts, asks, how a dead man can get into a locked room. Probably with a skeleton-key. ~G.D. Prentice

This work will not only prove the seat of the soul, but will solve the problem in reference to all supernatural appearances, and forms the key to the great ghost mysteries of the world. Some may make light of this, but death has only to fix its bony hands upon them, and what they doubt will become in their experience a reality. ~James Gillingham (1838–1924), The Seat of the Soul Discovered or the World's Great Problem Solved, with Objections to the Same Answered, second edition, 1870

Which I meantersay, if the ghost of a man's own father can not be allowed to ockipy his attention, what can, Sir? ~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, 1861

I have heard the voices of loved ones,
      Long gone from this plane of ours;
      And, many times, they have brought to me
      The perfume of Spirit flowers...
I've seen many faces of loved ones,
      Who came from the Spirit land
      And proved to me their identity,
      As I held a Spirit hand.
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham (1880–1971), "Why I'm a Spiritualist"  [Mrs Buckingham became a medium poet at age sixty, after the tragic death of her daughter; she heard the words spoken in her head and saw them pass in front of her eyes, sensing what she was to write. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

I send, as I promised, another extract translated from Signor Finciullacci's Dantesque poem, "A Pilgrimage in the Heavens," written entirely by spirit dictation. ~Senex, in The Medium and Daybreak: A Weekly Journal Devoted to the History, Phenomena, Philosophy, and Teachings of Spiritualism, 1882 August 4th

...the ghosts which surround reality are the vital part of that existence... ~Anne Knish (Arthur Davison Ficke), Spectra: A Book of Poetic Experiments, 1916  [farce —tg]

But it is presumptuous to scrutinize too far into these matters: Ghosts have undoubtedly forms and customs peculiar to themselves. ~Francis Grose, "Superstitions: A Ghost," A Provincial Glossary, with a Collection of Local Proverbs, and Popular Superstitions, 1787

"We don't believe in ghosts, Mrs. Phipps."
"Don't matter if you believe in them or not. If they're there, they're there."
~Joan Lowery Nixon, The Haunting

Most of my young classmates had no sense of the fantastic. They took things as they were … this is a plant, that is an armchair. But for me, things were not that well defined. My mother, who's still alive and is a very imaginative woman, encouraged me. Instead of saying, "No, no, you should be serious," she was pleased that I was imaginative; when I turned towards the world of the fantastic, she helped by giving me books to read. I read Edgar Allan Poe for the first time when I was only nine. I stole the book to read because my mother didn't want me to read it; she thought I was too young and she was right. The book scared me and I was ill for three months, because I believed in it … dur comme fer as the French say. For me, the fantastic was perfectly natural; I had no doubts at all. That's the way things were. When I gave those kinds of books to my friends, they'd say, "But no, we prefer to read cowboy stories." Cowboys were especially popular at the time. I didn't understand that. I preferred the world of the supernatural, of the fantastic. ~Julio Cortázar (1914–1984), interview with Jason Weiss, "The Art of Fiction No. 83," The Paris Review, Fall 1984

There was something weirdly forbidding in the atmosphere. A Poe-like gloom hung in the air. ~A. B. Shiffrin, "The Black Laugh," 1924

Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep...
~John Milton

To creep in by candle-light,
When all the world is fast asleep,
Out of the cold winds, out of the night,
Where the nettles wave and the rains weep!...
And light the candle and look round
The old familiar room;
To see the old books upon the wall
And lovingly take one down again...
And, or ever we go, we lift and kiss
Some idle thing that your hands may touch,
Some paper or book that your hands let fall...
To kiss and to cherish it, moaning our pain,
Ere we creep to the silence again.
~Alfred Noyes, "Ghosts," The Lord of Misrule and Other Poems, 1915

What a silence in those old books as of a half-peopled world—what bleating of flocks—what green pastoral rest—what indubitable human existence!... O men and women, so far separated yet so near, so strange yet so well-known, by what miraculous power do I know ye all! Books are the true Elysian fields where the spirits of the dead converse, and into these fields a mortal may venture unappalled.... Seated in my library at night, and looking on the silent faces of my books, I am occasionally visited by a strange sense of the supernatural. They are not collections of printed pages, they are ghosts. I take one down and it speaks with me in a tongue not now heard on earth, and of men and things of which it alone possesses knowledge. ~Alexander Smith, "Books and Gardens," Dreamthorp: A Book of Essays Written in the Country, 1863

I've haunted dungeons, castles, towers—
      Wherever I was sent:
I've often sat and howled for hours,
Drenched to the skin with driving showers,
      Upon a battlement.
~Lewis Carroll, "Phantasmagoria," 1869

The spectre calls to me in an agonized manner, it waves to me, it rings my little bell. I have never yet made a mistake as to whether a living man or the spectre was ringing it. The ghost's ring is a strange vibration in the bell that it derives from nothing else, and I have not asserted that the bell stirs to the eye. I don't wonder that you failed to hear it, sir. But I heard it. The spectre WAS there. ~Charles Dickens, "No. 1 Branch Line: The Signal-Man," Mugby Junction, 1866  [a little altered —tg]

Our forefathers looked upon nature with more reverence and horror, before the world was enlightened by learning and philosophy, and loved to astonish themselves with the apprehensions of witchcraft, prodigies, charms, and inchantments. There was not a village in England that had not a ghost in it, the church-yards were all haunted, every large common had a circle of fairies belonging to it, and there was scarce a shepherd to be met with who had not seen a spirit. ~Joseph Addison, The Spectator, Volume the Sixth, No. 419, 1712

The children of what fathers sleep
      Beneath those melancholy pines?
The slow slugs slime their headstones there where creep
      The doddered poison-vines...
The grasses are rotting in walk and in bower;
      The loneliness,—dank and rank
As a chamber where lies for a lonely hour
An old-man's corpse with many a flower,—
      Is hushed and blank.
~Madison J. Cawein (1865–1914), "The Haunted House"

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... ~H. Addington Bruce, Historic Ghosts and Ghost Hunters, 1908

This must be the very night!
The moon knows it!—and the trees—
They stand upright,
Each a sentinel drawn up,
As if they dared not know
Which way the wind might blow!...
What can it be, to make
The poplars cease to shiver and shake,
And up in the dismal air
Stand straight and stiff as the human hair
When the human soul is dizzy with dread—
...Something is coming, I know—is coming;
With an inward soundless humming,
Somewhere in me or in the air—
I cannot tell—but its foot is there!
Marching on to... an unheard spectral drumming!
Nothing to see and nothing to hear!
Only across the inner sky
The wing of a shadowy thought flits by...
Is it a dim foreboding unborn,
Or a buried memory, wasted and worn
As the fading frost of a wintry sigh?...
Ha! Look there! Look at that house—
Mark how it looks! It must have a soul!
It looks, it looks, though it cannot stir;
See the ribs of it—how they stare!
Its blind eyes yet have a seeing air!...
The ghost has modelled himself to the shape
Of this drear house all sodden with woe...
On the naked rafters of its brain,
Gaunt and wintred, see the train
Of gossiping, scandal-mongering crows,
That watch, all silent, with necks a-strain,
Wickedly knowing, with heads awry,
And the sharpened gleam of a cunning eye—
Watch, through the cracks of the ruined skull,
How the evil business goes!...
~George MacDonald, "The Haunted House," suggested by a drawing of Thomas Moran, the American painter, c.1873

The humorous ghost is distinctly a modern character. In early literature wraiths took themselves very seriously, and insisted on a proper show of respectful fear on the part of those whom they honored by haunting. A mortal was expected to rise when a ghost entered the room, and in case he was slow about it, his spine gave notice of what etiquette demanded... Ancient ghosts were a long-faced lot. They didn't know how to play at all... Nowadays haunters have more fun and freedom than the haunted. In fact, it's money in one's pocket these days to be dead, for ghosts have no rent problems, and dead men pay no bills. ~Dorothy Scarborough, Ph.D., Humorous Ghost Stories, 1921

Sorrow itself is not so hard to bear
As the thought of sorrow coming. Airy ghosts,
That work no harm, do terrify us more
Than men in steel with bloody purposes.
Death is not dreadful; 'tis the dread of death—
We die whene'er we think of it!
~Thomas Bailey Aldrich, "The Set of Turquoise," 1858

Could such a many-chambered edifice have stood a century and a half and not have had its passages of romance to bequeath their lingering legends to the after-time?... It was a great happiness to have been born in an old house haunted by such recollections, with harmless ghosts walking its corridors, with fields of waving grass and trees and singing birds... ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Poet at the Breakfast Table

Men say, that in this midnight hour,
The disembodied have power
To wander as it liketh them,
By wizard oak and fairy stream,—
Through still and solemn places,
And by old walls and tombs, to dream,
With pale, cold, mournful faces....
~William Motherwell, "Midnight and Moonshine"

I am frightened and timid, because I am obsessed by the presence of ghosts that I never can get rid of.... I am half inclined to think we are all ghosts.... It is not only what we have inherited from our fathers and mothers that exists again in us, but all sorts of old dead ideas and all kinds of old dead beliefs and things of that kind. They are not actually alive in us; but there they are dormant, all the same, and we can never be rid of them. Whenever I take up a newspaper and read it, I fancy I see ghosts creeping between the lines. There must be ghosts all over the world. They must be countless as the grains of the sands, it seems to me. And we are so miserably afraid of the light, all of us. ~Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts {Gengangere} (Mrs. Alving), 1881, translated by R. Farquharson Sharp

I went gloomily to bed, but I saw no apparitions that night except those of despair and misery which my wretched thoughts called up. ~Frank R. Stockton, "The Transferred Ghost," 1882

The observation of Clarsioir, that the spirits' feet are motionless, shows his knowledge of Ghostology. It is an important fact, and one that cannot be too generally known, that ghosts or spirits can always be discovered by observing their feet; for however accurately they may be able to imitate the form they bore when alive, or perhaps in some instances that of other people; having no weight for their legs to carry, it is extremely difficult for them to walk like living persons. In general they are described as gliding, that is, passing along without moving their legs; and when they do move, then they appear to do it in a very slovenly manner. ~Abraham Elder, Tales and Legends of the Isle of Wight, 1839  [a little altered —tg]

You said there is no evidence that psychics are real. For generations physicists have believed that nothing could move as fast as light, but now they've discovered neutrinos. Lister proved that bacterial infections could kill, but doctors still wouldn't wash their hands before operating because they had convinced themselves it was foolishness. A solar eclipse was magic before we understood it. The impossible becomes reality all the time. Ideas and memories, and love, you can't hold those things in your hands, but it doesn't mean that they don't exist. So why not spirits? You don't have to believe, but you don't have to dismiss the possibility either. No decent scientist would do that. ~Lena Waithe and Hilary Weisman Graham, Bones, "The Psychic in the Soup" (S10, E11, 2015, Angela Montenegro)  #mediums

It was just such a night as this, darker than I ever saw it before or since. I thought of all the ghost stories I had ever heard, even those that I had heard when I was a boy at school, and had forgotten long ago; and they didn't come into my mind one after another, but all crowding at once, like. All this time I sat listening and listening, and hardly dared to breathe... At length I heard the ringing of a bell. It was only for an instant, and then the wind carried the sound away. I listened for a long time, but it rang no more. I had heard of corpse candles, and at last I persuaded myself that this must be a corpse bell tolling of itself at midnight for the dead. ~Charles Dickens, Master Humphrey's Clock, 1840  [a little altered –tg]

GLENDOWER.  I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
HOTSPUR (HENRY PERCY).  Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?
~William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I, c.1597  [III, 1]

Often when I cannot sleep, in my dark and quiet room, ugly phantoms round me creep, grinning at me in the gloom. Oft they come in grisly bands, to my sorrow and my shame, beckoning with fleshless hands, clanking chains and breathing flame... ~Walt Mason (1862–1939), "Ghosts"  [context note: the 'ghosts' of his guilty conscience —tg]

As surely as you are a living man, so surely did that spectral anatomy visit my room again last night, grin in my face, and walk away with my trousers: nor was I able to spring from my bed, or break the chain which seemed to bind me to my pillow. ~Thomas Ingoldsby, "The Spectre of Tappington," 1837

With the usual provoking irregularity which belongs to the whole tribe of disembodied spirits, the ghost was known to 'walk' at the most inconvenient moments, always appearing when not wanted, and carefully disappointing every party of valiant ghost-hunters whenever they mustered up courage enough for the watch. ~"Exorcising a Ghost," in Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, 1887 June 4th

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts to‑night, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply...
~Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892–1950)

At night, here in the library, the ghosts have voices.... The various qualities of my readings seem to permeate my every muscle, so that when I finally decide to turn off the library light, I carry into my sleep the voices and the movements of the book I've just closed. ~Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night

Shakespeare I think it is who treats
      Of ghosts, in days of old,
Who 'gibbered in the Roman streets,'
Dressed, if you recollect, in sheets—
      They must have found it cold.
~Lewis Carroll, "Phantasmagoria," 1869

You see... I don't like ghosts. So when Godfrey said there were going to be ghosts about, I said we must have a clergyman. Not that most clergymen would know what to say to a ghost if they met one, but it feels safer, somehow. ~Ronald A. Knox, Other Eyes Than Ours, 1926

      The good Doctor was a ghost, as actual and authentic as heart could wish; well nigh a million of ghosts were travelling the streets by his side. Once more I say, sweep away the illusion of time; compress the three-score years into three minutes. What else was he, what else are we? Are we not spirits, shaped into a body, into an appearance; and that fade away again into air, and invisibility? This is no metaphor, it is a simple scientific fact. We start out of nothingness, take figure, and are apparitions. Round us, as round the veriest spectre, is eternity; and to eternity minutes are as years and æons. Come there not tones of love and faith, as from celestial harp-strings, like the song of beautiful souls? And again, do we not squeak and gibber... and glide bodeful, and feeble, and fearful; or uproar... and revel in our mad dance of the dead, — till the scent of the morning-air summons us to our still home; and dreamy night becomes awake and day?... Ghosts! There are nigh a thousand million walking the earth openly...
      O Heaven, it is mysterious, it is awful to consider that we not only carry each a future ghost within him; but are, in very deed, ghosts! These limbs, whence had we them; this stormy force; this life-blood with its burning passion? They are dust and shadow; a shadow-system gathered round our ME; wherein, through some moments or years, the Divine Essence is to be revealed in the flesh. ~Thomas Carlyle, "Natural Supernaturalism," Sartor Resartus

[T]he song.... was about a young girl who lived in the Hartz Mountains, and who had given up her life to save her lover's soul; and he died, and met her spirit in the air; and then, in the last verse, he jilted her spirit, and went on with another spirit... ~Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), 1889

Death is not the end, it is simply walking out of the physical form and into the spirit realm, which is our true home. It's going back home.... We unzip the body, so to speak, let it fall to the ground and walk through the next door clothed in our spiritual form, which was always there inside the physical body. ~Stephen Christopher Dennis (spirit), Stephen Lives! by Anne Puryear

Love, thieves, and fear, make ghosts. ~German proverb can't eject a ghost, you know. You may get a writ of habeas corpus, but the English law doesn't supply you with a writ of habeas animam. ~Grant Allen, "Our Scientific Observations on a Ghost," Strange Stories, 1884

She had no recollections to make her fearful of the ghosts which might haunt those rooms; ghosts of happier days and unfulfilled hopes; ghosts which linger round the places where our happiest and saddest hours have been spent, where the commonest objects or the most trivial sounds carry us back to those bygone days, awakening our smiles or tears as we stand once more in the presence of an almost forgotten past. It may have been buried beneath other hopes and visions and cares and sorrows. Perhaps for a time we strewed its grave with flowers; perhaps we feared to pass the spot, and shrank from speaking of it even to ourselves: but yet it is not dead, and some day it may stand before us again, more near to us than the present, more comprehensible than the future, and clothed with immortality. ~E.M. Archer, Christina North, 1872

But to-night there was a shudder in his blood... ~Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, 1886

The Apparition paused, and would have spoke...
But then a neighbouring chanticleer awoke...
—'Tis known how much dead gentlefolks eschew
The appalling sound of "Cock-a-doodle-do!"
~Thomas Ingoldsby, "The Ghost," 1837

At first cock-crow
The ghosts must go
Back to their quiet graves below.
~Theodosia Garrison, "The Neighbors"

      In New-York near the eastern shore of the Hudson, there is a little valley, or rather lap of land among high hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world. This sequestered glen has long been known by the name of SLEEPY HOLLOW. A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. The place is under the sway of some witching power that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvellous beliefs; are subject to trances and visions; and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air. The whole neighbourhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions.
      The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander in chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback without a head. It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the revolutionary war; and who is ever and anon seen by the country folk, hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind. Certain of the most authentic historians of those parts, who have been careful in collecting and collating the floating facts concerning this spectre, allege that, the body of the trooper having been buried in the nearby church-yard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head; and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to his being belated, and in a hurry to get back to the church-yard before day-break.
      The spectre is known, at all the country firesides, by the name of The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. ~Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (Found Among the Papers of the Late Diedrich Knickerbocker), The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. Vol. II, 1820  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

"Oh! Duke... what has happened?... You look as if you had seen a ghost!"
"I have... the ghost of myself.... I am a doomed man, darling.... I have had the warning that must not be disregarded. You have heard of the German story of the Doppelgänger.... I have seen, night after night, the shadow of my own spirit standing before me, and from the first I knew it meant death..." ~Elizabeth Campbell, "Marmaduke's Double," 1889

My room had grown cold, and intensely still. I was waked by the queer feeling we all know—the feeling that there was something in the room that hadn't been there when I fell asleep. The room was pitch black, and at first I saw nothing; but gradually a vague glimmer at the foot of the bed turned into two eyes staring back at me: they gave out a light of their own. I groped about for a match and lit the candles. The room looked just as usual—as I had known it would; and I crawled back to bed, and blew out the lights. As soon as the room was dark again the eyes reappeared; and I now applied myself to explaining them on scientific principles. But the fact that they were not due to any external dupery didn't make them a bit pleasanter. For if they were a projection of my inner consciousness, what the deuce was the matter with that organ? I had gone deeply enough into the mystery of morbid pathological states to picture the conditions under which an exploring mind might lay itself open to such a midnight admonition; but I couldn't fit it to my present case. I shut my eyes and tried to evoke a vision of Alice's eyes, but in a few moments those had mysteriously changed back into the eyes at the foot of the bed. It exasperated me more to feel these glaring at me through my shut lids than to see them, and I opened my eyes again and looked straight into their hateful stare…And so it went on all night. Have you ever lain in bed, hopelessly wide awake, and tried to keep your eyes shut, knowing that if you opened 'em you'd see something you dreaded and loathed? It sounds easy, but it's devilish hard. Those eyes had a physical effect that was the equivalent of a bad smell. ~Edith Wharton, "The Eyes," Tales of Men and Ghosts, 1910  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

In its desolate halls are lying,
      Gold, blood-red, and browned,
Drifted leaves of autumn dying;
And the winds, above them sighing,
      Turn them round and round,
      Make a ghostly sound
As of footsteps falling, flying,
Ghostly footsteps, fainting flying
      Through the haunted house.
~Madison J. Cawein (1865–1914), "The Haunted House"

Well. I don't suppose you have to believe in ghosts to know that we are all haunted, all of us, by things we can see and feel and guess at, and many more things that we can't. ~Beth Gutcheon, More Than You Know

She believed in death and taxes, in the inevitability of slot-machine jackpots, in all-you-can-eat casino buffets for $5.95 per person, in the Lord God Almighty, in the truth of alien abductions and Big Foot, but she didn't believe in ghosts. ~Dean Koontz, The Eyes of Darkness, 1996

Summing up the results of the really scientific ghost hunting of the last twenty-five years, it may be safely said that if the hunters have not accomplished their main object of definitely proving the existence of a spiritual world, their labors have nevertheless been of high value in several important directions. They have exposed the fraudulent pretensions of innumerable charlatans, and have thus acted as a protection for the credulous. They have shown that, making all possible allowance for error of whatever kind, there still remains in the phenomena of apparitions, clairvoyance, etc., a residuum not explainable on the hypothesis of fraud or chance coincidence. ~H. Addington Bruce, Historic Ghosts and Ghost Hunters, 1908

After centuries of contemptuous neglect, ghosts have at last been made the subject of investigation by men and women competent for the task — persons trained in the cautious methods of scientific inquiry, and insisting upon the strictest evidential standards, but devoid of prejudice or prepossession. Their researches are still in progress, but they have already demonstrated that amid a multitude of sham ghosts there are perfectly authentic apparitions, displaying credentials too convincing to be denied. The labors of these scientific ghostologists have resulted in throwing much light on the nature, origin, and habits of real ghosts. ~H. Addington Bruce, Adventurings in the Psychical, 1914  [a little altered —tg]

The ship and all in it are imbued with the spirit of Eld. The crew glide to and fro like the ghosts of buried centuries; their eyes have an eager and uneasy meaning; and when their fingers fall athwart my path in the wild glare of the battle-lanterns, I feel as I have never felt before, although I have been all my life a dealer in antiquities, and have imbibed the shadows of fallen columns at Balbec, and Tadmor, and Persepolis, until my very soul has become a ruin. ~Edgar Allan Poe, "MS. Found in a Bottle," 1831

My fairy lord, this must be done with haste,
For night's swift dragons cut the clouds full fast,
And yonder shines Aurora's harbinger;
At whose approach, ghosts, wandering here and there,
Troop home to churchyards: damned spirits all,
That in crossways and floods have burial,
Already to their wormy beds are gone;
For fear lest day should look their shames upon,
They willfully themselves exile from light
And must for aye consort with black-brow'd night.
~William Shakespeare, Midsummer Night's Dream, c.1595  [III, 2, Puck]

Some places speak distinctly. Certain dark gardens cry aloud for a murder; certain old houses demand to be haunted; certain coasts are set apart for shipwreck. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

      Oh, but it was dark here! By what she could make out, when her sight got used to the gloom, she seemed to be amidst the arches of some pillared cloisters. While looking on this side and that side, striving to pierce the mysteries, taking a step this way and a step that, and trembling all the while lest she should see the revenant, said to haunt the place, a dreadful sound, like the huge fluttering of large wings, arose above in the arches. Poor Charlotte Guise, superstitious by nature and education, was seized with a perfect acme of terror; of terror too great to scream. Silence supervened, and her terror grew somewhat less intense.
      A worse noise than before; an awful fluttering and flapping right above her head. She screamed out now, terrified nearly to death. The echoes repeated her scream; and the rushing wings, with another kind of scream, not half so shrill as hers, went out through the broken wall and flew across the sea. She felt just as though she were dropping into her grave. Was it the revenant of the place?—or was it the revenant of her husband? Cowering there, her face prone against a column, Charlotte asked herself these dread questions: and never once, until her alarm was somewhat subsiding, did she think of what her reason might have shown her at first—that it was an owl.
      At such moments, trifles serve to unstring the nerves of a timorous woman. With her face as white as death, and her limbs shaking as though in an ague fit, she made her way to the entrance gate again; passed through it, and so got away from the Friar's Keep. ~Ellen Price Wood (1814–1887), "The Master of Greylands," 1872  [a little altered. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

The weathercocks on spires and housetops were mysterious with hints of stormy wind, and pointed, like so many ghostly fingers, out to dangerous seas, where fragments of great wrecks were drifting, perhaps, and helpless men were rocked upon them into a sleep as deep as the unfathomable waters. ~Charles Dickens, Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son

I shall next treat of another species of human apparition, which, though it something resemble it, does not come under the description of a Ghost. These are the exact figures and resemblances of persons then living, often seen not only by their friends at a distance, but many times by themselves; of which there are several instances... one, of Sir Richard Napier, a physician of London, who being on the road from Bedfordshire to visit a friend in Berkshire, saw at an inn his own apparition lying on the bed as a dead corps; he nevertheless went forward, and died in a short time: another, of Lady Diana Rich, daughter of the Earl of Holland, who met her own apparition walking in a garden at Kensington, and died a month after of the small-pox. These apparitions are called Fetches, and, in Cumberland, Swarths; they most commonly appear to distant friends and relations, at the very instant preceding the death of the person whose figure they put on. ~Francis Grose, "Superstitions: A Ghost," A Provincial Glossary, with a Collection of Local Proverbs, and Popular Superstitions, 1787

I have now transformed into a sensitive; a person who is able to detect when spirits are present. It's a skill that's evolved over hundreds of paranormal investigations and has taught me that the human body is the best means of paranormal detection. I've become a fine-tuned instrument of spiritual sensitivity. ~Zak Bagans, Dark World: Into the Shadows with the Lead Investigator of The Ghost Adventures Crew

Those forms we fancy shadows, those strange lights
That flash on dank morasses, the quick wind
That smites us by the roadside—are the Night's
Innumerable children. Unconfined
By shroud or coffin, disembodied souls,
Uneasy spirits, steal into the air
From festering graveyards when the curfew tolls
At the day's death...
And wheresoever murders have been done,
In stately palaces or lonesome woods,
Where'er a soul has sold itself and lost
Its high inheritance, there, hovering, broods
Some sad, invisible, accurséd Ghost!
~Thomas Bailey Aldrich

Oh, of course they're not show ghosts—a collector wouldn't think anything of them…Don't let me raise your hopes…their one merit is their numerical strength: the exceptional fact of their being two. But, as against this, I'm bound to admit that at any moment I could probably have exorcised them both by asking my doctor for a prescription, or my oculist for a pair of spectacles. Only, as I never could make up my mind whether to go to the doctor or the oculist—whether I was afflicted by an optical or a digestive delusion—I left them to pursue their interesting double life.... As far as I knew I was simply bored... ~Edith Wharton, "The Eyes," Tales of Men and Ghosts, 1910

Usually, it seems, a genuine ghost is seen or heard but once or twice, and then, having accomplished its purpose, it departs to return no more. But there are plenty of well-attested cases in which a ghost attaches itself to a house or family, and keeps up its haunting for years, sometimes for centuries. ~H. Addington Bruce, Adventurings in the Psychical, 1914

[T]here were several young girls... sitting about the fire... telling stories of Spirits and Apparitions.... I seated my self by the candle that stood on a table at one end of the room; and... heard several dreadful stories of Ghosts as pale as ashes that had stood at the feet of a bed, or walked over a church-yard by moon-light; and of others that had been conjured into the Red-Sea, for disturbing people's rest, and drawing their Curtains at midnight.... I took notice in particular of a little boy, who was so attentive to every story, that I am mistaken if he ventures to go to bed by himself this twelve-month. Indeed they talked so long, that the Imaginations of the whole assembly were manifestly crazed.... I took the Candle in my hand, and went up into my chamber, not without wondering at this unaccountable weakness in reasonable creatures, that they should love to astonish and terrifie one another. Were I a Father, I should take a particular care to preserve my children from these little horrors of imagination, which they are apt to contract when they are young, and are not able to shake off when they are in years. ~Joseph Addison, The Spectator, No. 12

      Once upon a time there was a teeny-tiny woman who lived in a teeny-tiny house in a teeny-tiny village. Now, one day this teeny-tiny woman put on her teeny-tiny bonnet, and went out of her teeny-tiny house to take a teeny-tiny walk. And when this teeny-tiny woman had gone a teeny-tiny way, she came to a teeny-tiny gate; so the teeny-tiny woman opened the teeny-tiny gate, and went into a teeny-tiny churchyard.
      And when this teeny-tiny woman had got into the teeny-tiny churchyard, she saw a teeny-tiny bone on a teeny-tiny grave, and the teeny-tiny woman said to her teeny-tiny self, “This teeny-tiny bone will make me some teeny-tiny soup for my teeny-tiny supper.” So the teeny-tiny woman put the teeny-tiny bone into her teeny-tiny pocket, and went home to her teeny-tiny house.
      Now when the teeny-tiny woman got home to her teeny-tiny house, she was a teeny-tiny tired; so she went up her teeny-tiny stairs to her teeny-tiny bed, and put the teeny-tiny bone into a teeny-tiny cupboard. And when this teeny-tiny woman had been to sleep a teeny-tiny time, she was awakened by a teeny-tiny voice from the teeny-tiny cupboard, which said, “Give me my bone!” And this teeny-tiny woman was a teeny-tiny frightened, so she hid her teeny-tiny head under the teeny-tiny clothes, and went to sleep again.
      And when she had been to sleep again a teeny-tiny time, the teeny-tiny voice again cried out from the teeny-tiny cupboard a teeny-tiny louder, “Give me my bone!” This made the teeny-tiny woman a teeny-tiny more frightened, so she hid her teeny-tiny head a teeny-tiny further under the teeny-tiny clothes.
      And when the teeny-tiny woman had been to sleep again a teeny-tiny time, the teeny-tiny voice from the teeny-tiny cupboard said again a teeny-tiny louder, “Give me my bone!” And this teeny-tiny woman was a teeny-tiny bit more frightened, but she put her teeny-tiny head out of the teeny-tiny clothes, and said in her loudest teeny-tiny voice, “ TAKE  IT!”
      ~Anonymous, from James Orchard Halliwell, “Fireside Nursery Stories,” Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales: A Sequel to the Nursery Rhymes of England, 1849  [“This simple tale seldom fails to rivet the attention of children, especially if well told. The last two words should be said loudly with a start. It was obtained from oral tradition, and has not, I believe, been printed.” –JOH, Brixton Hill, Surrey, April 1849 —tg]

The spectre's voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones. ~Charles Dickens, "Stave I: Marley's Ghost," A Christmas Carol, 1843

The experienced reader knows it was Christmas Eve, without my telling him. It always is Christmas Eve, in a ghost story. ~Jerome K. Jerome, Told After Supper, 1891

As required by the rules of the spectral world, the experience came on a Christmas Eve... ~John Kendrick Bangs, "Being a Ghost," 1896

Ghosts never appear on Christmas Eve. ~English proverb, 1800s

Why do ghosts walk at Christmas? What seduction hath Yule Tide for these phantastic fellows, that it lures them from their warm fireplaces? Is it that the cool snow is grateful after the fervours of their torrid zone? Is it that Dickens is responsible for the season, and that Marley's ghost has set the fashion among the younger spooks? Or perchance it is at the season of family reunion that the thoughts turn most naturally to vacant chairs and the presences that once filled them. Perhaps it is because boys have extra pennies at Christmas, and the double-number extra pennyworth was all ghosts — not your Ibsenian shadows of heredity, but real live ghosts, handsomely appointed, with chains and groans and wavy wardrobes. ~Israel Zangwill (1864–1926)  [a little altered —tg]

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published 2007 Jan 13
last saved 2024 Apr 13