Four years ago there died in Washington an old gentleman who had been employed for thirty-five years in the
Library of Congress. The quarters of that great book collection, while housed in the Capitol, were
distressingly restricted, and much of the cataloguing was done by the veteran mentioned in a sort of vault in
the sub-cellar. This vault was crammed with musty tomes from floor to ceiling, and practically no air was
admitted. It was a wonder that he lived so long, but, when he came to die, he did it rather suddenly. Anyhow,
he became paralyzed and unable to speak, though up to the time of his actual demise he was able to indicate
his wants by gestures. Among other things, he showed plainly by signs that he wished to be conveyed to the
This wish of his was not obeyed, for reasons which seemed sufficient to his family, and, finally, he
relinquished it by giving up the ghost. It was afterward learned that he had hidden, almost undoubtedly, $6000
worth of registered United States bonds among the books in his sub-cellar den--presumably, concealed
between the leaves of some of the moth-eaten volumes of which he was the appointed guardian. Certainly,
there could be no better or less-suspected hiding-place, but this was just where the trouble came in for the
heirs, in whose interest the books were vainly searched and shaken, when the transfer of the library from the
old to its new quarters was accomplished. The heirs cannot secure a renewal of the bonds by the Government
without furnishing proof of the loss of the originals, which is lacking, and, meanwhile, it is said that the ghost
of the old gentleman haunts the vault in the sub-basement which he used to inhabit, looking vainly for the
The old gentleman referred to had some curious traits, though he was by no means a miser--such as the
keeping of every burnt match that he came across. He would put them away in the drawer of his private desk,
together with expired street-car transfers--the latter done up in neat bundles, with India-rubber bands.
Quite an intimate friend he had, named Twine, who lost his grip on the perch, so to speak, about six years
back. Mr. Twine dwelt during the working hours of the day in a sort of cage of iron, like that of Dreyfus, in
the basement of the Capitol. As a matter of fact, Dreyfus does not occupy a cage at all; the notion that he does
so arises from a misunderstanding of the French word 'case,' which signifies a hut.
However, Twine's cage was a real one of iron wire, and inside of it he made a business of stamping the books
of the library with a mixture made of alcohol and lampblack. If the observation of casual employees about the
Capitol is to be trusted, Mr. Twine's ghost is still engaged at intervals in the business of stamping books at the
old stand, though his industry must be very unprofitable since the Government's literary collection has been
moved out of the Capitol.
Ghosts are supposed to appertain most appropriately to the lower regions, inasmuch as the ancients who
described them first consigned the blessed as well as the damned to a nether world. Consequently, it is not
surprising to find that phantoms of the Capitol are mostly relegated to the basement.
Exceptions are made in the case of Vice-President Wilson, who, as will be remembered, died in his room at
the Senate end of the building, and also with respect to John Quincy Adams, whose nocturnal perambulations
are so annoying to the watchmen. Mr. Wilson is only an occasional visitor on the premises, it is understood,
finding his way thither, probably, when nothing else of importance is 'up,' so to speak, in the spiritual realm
which now claims him for its own. It is related that on one occasion he nearly frightened to death a watchman
who was guarding the coffin of a Tennessee Senator who was lying in state in the Senate Chamber. The startle
was doubtless uncontemplated, inasmuch as the Senator was too well bred a man to take anybody
unpleasantly by surprise.
There was a watchman, employed quite a while ago as a member of the Capitol police, who was discharged
finally for drunkenness. No faith, therefore, is to be placed in his sworn statement, which was actually made,
to the effect that on a certain occasion he passed through the old Hall of Representatives--now Statuary
Hall--and saw in session the Congress of 1848, with John Quincy Adams and many other men whose names
have long ago passed into history. It was, if the word of the witness is to be believed, a phantom legislative
crew, resembling in kind if not in character the goblins which Rip Van Winkle encountered on his trip to the
summits of the storied Catskills.
But--to come down to things that are well authenticated and sure, comparatively speaking--the basement of
the Capitol, as has been said, is the part of the building chiefly haunted. Beneath the hall of the House of
Representatives strolls by night a melancholy specter, with erect figure, a great mustache, and his hands
clasped behind him. Who he is nobody has ever surmised; he might be, judging from his aspect, a foreigner in
the diplomatic service, but that is merely guess. Watchmen at night have approached him in the belief that he
was an intruder, but he has faded from sight instantly, like a picture on a magic-lantern slide.
At precisely 12.30 of the clock every night, so it is said, the door of the room occupied by the Committee on
Military and Militia of the Senate opens silently, and there steps forth the figure of General Logan,
recognizable by his long black hair, military carriage, and the hat he was accustomed to wear in life.
Logan was the chairman of this committee, and, if report be credited, he is still supervising its duties.