Improving treatises, with illustrative instances, are written on the Continent, as by Lavater.
All these, if they do afford what our ancestors called amusement (Dr Johnson decreed that Coriolanius was ‘amusing’), do so by a side-wind.
Ghosts of course figure on the stage, but we must leave them out of consideration.
Ghosts are the subject of quasi-scientific research in this country at the hands of Glanville, Beaumont and others; but these collectors are out to prove theories of the future life and the spiritual world.
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Very nearly all the ghost stories of old times claim to be true narratives of remarkable occurrences.
The Castle of Otranto is perhaps the progenitor of the ghost story as a literary genre, and I fear that it is merely amusing in the modern sense.
Then we come to Mrs Radcliffe, whose ghosts are far better of their kind, but with exasperating timidity are all explained away; and to Monk Lewis, who in the book which gives him his nickname is odious and horrible without being impressive.
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