A True Relation of the Apparition of One Mrs. Veal

by Daniel Defoe

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Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 730

"A True Relation of the Apparition of Mrs Veale" is a ghost story by Daniel Defoe written in the form of a journalistic report.

Defoe precedes the story with a preface that details reasons why the story must be viewed as a "matter of fact". First of all he states it

It was sent by a gentleman, a justice of peace, at Maidstone, in Kent, and a very intelligent person, to his friend in London, as it is here worded;

One wonders if this is a bit of a satire. He is asking for readers to accept it as truth because it was noted down by a gentleman. Further more that gentleman can attest that the more lower class woman who told him the story "was to be of so discerning a spirit, as not to be put upon by any fallacy"

He cements his proof with words about story's Christian undertones. It is as if the narrative is challenging us to question the validity of the story that has, in the narrator's view, such deep, spiritual meaning.

The use which we ought to make of it, is to consider, that there is a life to come after this, and a just God, who will retribute to every one according to the deeds done in the body; and therefore to reflect upon our past course of life we have led in the world; that our time is short and uncertain;

The narrator spends a lot of time in the story, telling us what a trustworthy wonderful woman, the person who first told the story, Mrs. Bargrave is. The narrator says he has known her for many years.

But by the circumstances thereof, and the cheerful disposition of Mrs. Bargrave, notwithstanding the ill-usage of a very wicked husband, there is not yet the least sign of dejection in her face; nor did I ever hear her let fall a desponding or murmuring expression; nay, not when actually under her husband's barbarity; which I have been witness to, and several other persons of undoubted reputation.

There are people though that disbelieve her and as the narrator states "blast her reputation."

Though, since this relation, she is calumniated by some people, that are friends to the brother of this Mrs. Veal, who appeared; who think the relation of this appearance to be a reflection, and endeavour what they can to blast Mrs. Bargrave's reputation, and to laugh the story out of countenance.

Mrs. Bargrave claims that she was visited by her old friend Mrs Veal a day after she died. As if it is not enough to convince us of Mrs. Bargrove's sparkling character, the narrator tries reinforce that the truth of the story by stating that Mrs. Veale was also a "very pious woman." As old friends Mrs Bargrave and Mrs Veal

would often condole each other's adverse fortunes, and read together Drelincourt upon Death, and other good books; and so, like two Christian friends, they comforted each other under their sorrow.

In keeping with this tone, Mrs Veal's apparition seems, in part, to visit Mrs Bargrave to reassure that she has a place in heaven

if the eyes of our faith were as open as the eyes of our body, we should see numbers of angels about us for our guard. The notions we have of heaven now, are nothing like what it is, as Drelincourt says; therefore be comforted under your afflictions, and believe that the Almighty has a particular regard to you; and that your afflictions are marks of God's favour; and when they have done the business they are sent for, they shall be removed from you. And, believe me, my dear friend, believe what I say to you, one minute of future happiness will infinitely reward you for all your sufferings.

After Mrs. Veal leaves Mrs Bargrove, the narrator continues to support Mrs. Bargrove's story and character. He tells the reader that just because we can't understand something, it doesn't mean it is untrue.

This thing has very much affected me. and I am as well satisfied, as I am of the best-grounded matter of fact. And why we should dispute matter of fact, because we cannot solve things of which we can have no certain or demonstrative notions, seems strange to me. Mrs. Bargrave's authority and sincerity alone, would have been undoubted in any other case.

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