Apparition At Oxford
( Originally Published Late 1800's )
You have inserted a remarkable story in your Magazine for May last, p. 412 [ante, p. 186]; I here inclose you another narrative of that kind, which undoubtedly comes as well authenticated as the testimony of an individual can render it. This memorandum was lately found among the papers of the Rev. Mr. Mores, late of Layton in Essex, formerly of Queen's College, Oxford (a gentleman of unquestionable veracity, and highly respected for his learning and abilities, who died in the year 1778). It fell into the hands of his son, Edward Rowe Mores, Esq., who has authorised me to lay it before the public, by means of your Magazine. The MS. shall remain with you for some time, for the inspection of any gentleman who may wish to have the fullest conviction of the authenticity of so interesting a relation. The hand-writing* I believe you can testify, as you were well acquainted with the man.
Yours, etc., J. PAYNE.
" Mr. John Bonnell was a Commoner of Queen's College ; he was remarkable in his person and his gait, and had a particular manner of holding up his gown behind, so that to anyone who had but once seen him he might be known by his back as easily as by his face.
"On Sunday, Nov. 18, 1750, at noon, Mr. Ballard, who was then of Magi. Coll. and myself, were talking together at Parker's door. I was then waiting for the sound of the trumpet, and suddenly Mr. Ballard cried out, ` Lord, have mercy upon me, who is that coming out of your college?' I looked, and saw, as I supposed, Mr. Bonnell, and replied, `He is a gentleman of our house, and his name is Bonnell; he comes from Stanton-Harcourt.' `My God!' said Mr. Ballard,' I never saw such a face in all my life.' I answered slightly, 'His face is much the same as it always is; I think it is a little more inflamed and swelled than it is sometimes : perhaps he has buckled his band too tight; but I should not have observed it if you had not spoken.' ' Well,' said Mr. Ballard again, ' I never shall forget him as long as I live;' and seemed to be much disconcerted and frightened.
" This figure I saw without any emotion or suspicion ; it came down the quadrangle, came out at the gate, and walked up the High Street ; we followed it with our eyes till it came to Cat Street, where it was lost. The trumpet then sounded, and Mr. Ballard and I parted, and I went into the hall, and thought no more of Mr. Bonnell.
" In the evening the prayers of the chapel were desired for one who was in a very sick and dangerous condition. When I came out of the chapel, I inquired of one of the scholars, James Harrison, in the hearing of several others who were standing before the kitchen fire, who it was that was prayed for ? and was answered, ` Mr. Bonnell, sen.' `Bonnell, sen.,' said I, with astonishment, `what's the matter with him ? He was very well to-day, for I saw him go out to dinner.' ` You are very much mistaken,' answered the scholar, `for he has not been out of his bed for some days.' I then asserted more positively that I had seen him, and that a gentleman was with me who saw him too.
" This came presently to the ears of Dr. Fothergill, who had been my tutor. After supper he took me aside, and questioned me about it, and said, he was very sorry I had mentioned the matter so publicly, for Mr. B. was dangerously ill. I replied, I was very sorry too, but I had done it innocently; and the next day Mr. B. died.
" Inquiry was made of Mr. Ballard afterwards, who related the part which he was witness to in the same manner as I have now related it; adding, that I told him the gentleman was one Mr. Bonnell, and that he came from Stanton-Harcourt. " E. R. M."