This rather splendid picture illustrates the story of 'The Miser's Ghost of Rosewarne Hall', which is an ancient old pile near Cambourne in Cornwall. The yarn concerns an old skinflint of ages past called Roger Rosewarne. It's a common motif in ghost stories that if a person dies before disposing of valuables, their spirit becomes 'tied to the earth'. So it was with Roger: but some years after his death his ghost succeeded in accosting someone who for once didn't run away screaming. This was a young lawyer, Ezekiel Gosse, who by fair means or foul had managed to acquire the hall and had recently moved in.
Roger's spirit told Gosse where he had hidden all his hoarded gold, much to his delight. Roger gave Gosse strict instructions as to how the money should be shared out to various relatives etc but the unscruplous rogue kept it all for himself (typical lawyer!). Gosse used the wealth to live in fine style at Rosewarne. At one particualrly glittering party one Christmas Eve, however, the assembled revellers were horrified when, on the stroke of midnight, the furious spirit of the wronged Roger Rosewarne manifested on the staircase and pointed his finger accusingly at their host. Because Gosse had failed to dispose of the money properly, the miser's spirit was still bound to the earth.
Eventually, so the rather tongue-in-cheek story goes, Gosse arranged it so a visiting clergyman was put up in the bedroom haunted by the angry spook. When the ghost appeared, the unruffled clergyman started up a conversation with him. He asked Roger's spirit how long he'd been resident in Rosewarne Hall. Three hundred years, he was told.
'Dear me! You don't say so?' exclaimed the cleric. 'And in that time subscribed, naturally, to many charities?'
'Devil-a-bit! Devil-a-bit, sir!' responded the old miser.
'Well then, don't you think it's about time you did?' And with this the clergyman presented the ghost with a subscription list for the renovation of the parish church. 'You will see I already have the names of some of the most influential...'
But he got no further. The miserly ghost had vanished - never to be seen again.
(The story and illustration, by the way, are from an article written and illustrated by one Irving Montagu and appeared in The Strand Magazine in December 1891).
More ghost stories at my website: www.uncannyuk.com