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87 of this miserable business is that people seem to be relapsing into old superstitious actions of a hundred years ago. Old ghost stories that used to entertain our grandfathers when they were children are revived and circulated, and children run from the deepening gloom of the evening and take up their stations in the chimney corner. Only a short time ago such books as “Cornelius Agrippa” were supposed to have become completely obsolete, and, indeed, when mentioned at all, their existence at any time was by many considered extremely doubtful;57 but now it is somewhat astonishing to see the numbers of hard-featured, squint-eyed old fellows who appear in town, and not only admit that they have seen the book and read it, but even profess to know by means of how the ghost might be laid by the heels. They confidently say it is evidently some person very young in the science of spirit rapping, who though successful in evoking the spirit, has not sufficient experience to compel its return to the precincts of its own dominions. The small party who still stick to the opinion that other than ghostly agencies are at work are getting into disrepute and the feeling is strengthening that it is unsafe to jest about so serious a matter or make any remarks derogatory to the character of the depraved spirit. In the face of this, nevertheless, the chairman of a meeting, consisting of nearly one thousand individuals a few nights ago had the temerity to state publicly that if he had possession of the house for one week, he would undertake to purge of its present visitor. Yet the manifestations are so confounding on the one hand, and the disposition to shrink from the belief that any wicked man may carry out a scheme of revenge by raising up a spirit from the land from whose bourne, it is said, no traveller returns, that another section of the community are just on the balance, ready to denounce their formerly cherished opinions, or to see them confirmed beyond dispute. Hence the great interest felt in the issue of the present unparalleled proceedings in this part of the country. Belfast Newsletter, 5 December 1874, The Cookstown Ghost (an interview with Mr. Allen). A snug parlour, a fine fire of ash-wood, a capacious easy chair, promptly wheeled round for the adventurous visitor were surely rather agreeable realities to find in the abode of shades. What would come next? The next thing was apologies for the absence of a lamp. I now 57 Born in Cologne in 1486, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa worked as a physician, theologian and legal expert and wrote books on the occult, the most influential of which was arguably, Three Books of Occult Philosophy … (1531). Agrippa’s writing influenced English, elite magical practitioners such as John Dee.

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