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Animal Ghosts or Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter by Elliott O'Donnell


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Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter

"(Signed) JAMES DURHAM. "_Dec. 9th, 1890._"

Following the above statement Mr. Stead appends Mr. Kendall's reasons for believing that what James Durham experienced was objective psychic phenomena, and neither produced during sleep nor by hallucination.

The arguments used strike me as being so concise and sensible that I think it will not be out of place to reproduce them.

"First," Mr. Kendall says, "he (James Durham) was accustomed as watchman to be up all night, and therefore not likely from that cause to feel sleepy. Secondly, he had scarcely been a minute in the cellar, and, feeling hungry, was just going to get something to eat. Thirdly, if he was asleep at the beginning of the vision, he must have been awake enough during the latter part of it when he had knocked the skin off his knuckles. Fourthly, there was his own confident testimony. I strongly incline to the opinion that there was an objective cause for the vision, and that it was genuinely apparitional."

So interested was Mr. Kendall in the case that he visited the spot some short time later. He was taken into the cellar where the manifestations took place, and his guide, an old official of the North Road Station, informed him he well remembered the clerk--a man of the name of Winter--who committed suicide there, and showed him the exact spot where he had shot himself with a pistol. In dress and appearance Mr. Winter corresponded minutely with the phenomenon described by James Durham, and he had had a black retriever.

Mr. Kendal came away more convinced than ever of the veracity of James Durham's story, though he admits it was not evidential after the high standard of the S.P.R. I do not know whether the S.P.R. published the case, and I certainly do not think Mr. Kendall need have minded if they did not--for after all there is no reason to suppose the judgment of the S.P.R. is always infallible.

Mr. Stead does not comment on the apparition of the dog, which leads one to suppose cases of animal phantasms were by no means uncommon to him.

_The Grey Dog of ---- House, Birmingham_

According to a story current in the Midlands, a house in Birmingham, near the Roman Catholic Cathedral, was once very badly haunted. A family who took up their abode in it in the 'eighties complained of hearing all sorts of uncanny sounds--such as screams and sighs--coming from a room behind the kitchen. On one occasion the tenant's wife, on entering the sitting-room, was almost startled out of her senses at seeing, standing before the fireplace, the figure of a tall, stout man with a large, grey dog by his side. What was so alarming about the man was his face--it was apparently a mere blob of flesh without any features in it. The lady screamed out, whereupon there was a terrific crash, as if all the crockery in the house had been suddenly clashed on the stone floor; and a friend of the lady's, attracted to the spot by the noise, saw two clouds of vapour, one resembling a man and the other a dog, which, after hovering over the hearth for several seconds, finally dispersed altogether.

A gasfitter, when working in the house, saw the same figures no less than nine times, and so distinctly that he was able to give a detailed description of both the man and dog.

The house seems to have been well known in Birmingham, and was certainly standing as recently as 1885. Many theories were advanced as to its history, the one gaining most credence being that it was occupied, in 1829, by a man who supplied the medical students with human bodies.

It was noticed at the time that many people who were seen to enter the house in the company of the owner were never seen to leave it, which accords well with the theory of resurrection men.

No suggestion has been offered to account for the animal, which may very easily have been the phantom of the murderer's dog, or, what is rather less likely, the dog of one of his numerous victims.

Anyhow, explanation or no explanation, the fact remains the house was haunted in the manner described, and F. Grey, a Warwickshire Chief Constable, in his _Recollections_, published 1821, alludes to it.

_The Dog in the Cupboard_

Miss Prettyman, whom I met some years ago in Cornwall, told me she once lived in a house in Westmorland that was haunted by the apparition of a large dog, enveloped in a blueish glow, which apparently emanated from within it. The dog, whilst appearing in all parts of the house, invariably vanished in a big cupboard at the back of the hall staircase. Miss Prettyman, her family, several of their visitors, and the servants all saw the same phantasm, and were, perhaps, more frightened by the suddenness of its advent than by its actual appearance.