Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Carl Werner: An Imaginative Story >> Page 92

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription 92CARL WERNER
form, and the form, at length, from frequent contemplation, becomes
almost sensible to the touch. We continue to contemplate until we
believe; and there is not a faculty or sense that we have, which does
not at last become satisfied, along with our fancies, of the rich reality
which the latter have but dreamed."
"I am not so sure that they dream only," was my serious reply.
"Why, if the doctrine of the soul's immortality be true why should
it not return to the spot which kindred affections have made holy
why may it not do a service to the living?—prevent a wrong?—reveal
a secret, or by some ministry, which could not have been performed
so well by any but itself, do that which may help the surviving to
some withheld rights, to some suppressed truth or to some unlooked
for means of safety from tyranny and injustice?"
"True that might have been an argument at one period in the
history of the world; but the world has grown wiser, if not better, in
later days ! a thousand modes are now in our possession for discover-
ing the truth, to one at that time when spirits were allowed to return
to earth. The days of miracle are gone by. The `spirits from the
vasty deep' do not come to us, however loudly we may call for them."
"Who shall say that?" was my reply. "Who shall answer for the
necessity. It may occur now as it has occurred before, nor is it an
argument against the belief, that man has grown wise enough to
find out the truth for himself, after judicial forms, without the need
of any such revisitings of the moon. If wisdom has grown mighty
to find out the truth, crime has also grown proportionably cunning
to conceal it; and virtue suffers the injustice, and vice escapes, even
now, from a just punishment, quite too frequently, when it were to
be desired that some honest ghost could be evoked from the grave,
to set the erring judgment of man aright. Coleridge considers it a
conclusive argument against the notion, that the ghost of a man's
breeches should appear with him. This may be a good joke, but it is
a poor argument. If it be once admitted, that for wise and beneficial
purposes the just Providence shall permit the departed spirit to
return to the earth, where it once abode, it will be necessary that it
should put on that garb and appearance which shall make it more
readily known by those whom it seeks; since its purpose, in its return
to earth, might only be effected by its appearance in proper person.
I can conceive of no difficulty in this; since it must be obvious that