Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Great Headlines in History, Part I GHOST SCARED A SEXTON George Herbert Says the Hand of Patrick Henry Hit Him Hard MESSAGE ABOUT MONROE DOCTRINE That is, Herbert Supposes It Was, but There Was Noise in the Church at the Time, and He Couldn't Hear. Since President Cleveland's message on the Monroe doctrine stirred up criticism among the Anglophile ministers, Sexton Herbert had been troubled with visions of a distressing nature. The spirits of the Fathers of the Republic shook their fists threatening in his face, and in his dreams he heard the martial sound of music beat around his couch, such as that which inspired the minute men of New England in 1776. These dreams increased of late, and the spirits of Washington and of Charles Carroll of Carrolton and of Thomas Jefferson appeared to dance in fury before his affrighted imagination. A couple of Sundays ago his pastor, the Rev. T. Calvin MacClelland, referring to the Venezuelan matter, counseled peace and moderation among all men. Sine then his assistant sexton has had no peace, and his is by this time considered a good judge of a ghost. Sometimes Herbert was forced to go to the basement of the church and keep the steam heater in order. While he was performing this duty the other night an invisible hand smote him on the right cheek and whispered something in his ear. He thinks now that the burden of the strange message had reference to the upholding at any cost of the Monroe doctrine. In describing his experience soon afterward to his friends, Herbert is reported as saying: I saw a figure dressed in knee breeches, with buckles on his shoes, and a periwig on his head. Again it whispered in my ear. The mocking wind, which appeared to me more than once to syllable human sounds, came at length upon my ear distinctly charged with tones which could not be mistaken. If soon disappeared, and I ran upstairs and told Pastor McClelland of my strange experiences. Herbert thinks that he recognized the form and the well-known features of Patrick Henry in that determined pose in which he is represented delivering a speech in the Virginia Legislature, exclaiming with uplifted forefinger, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" Herbert also says he thinks Patrick Henry was very angry that evening about something, but feels that if the spirit of the Virginia statesman was annoyed about anything, it was because of the references of Pastor McClelland a few Sundays before. From The New York Times, January 4, 1896

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