Some people see things that others cannot. Tales of Mystery and Imagination. “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” (H.P. Lovecraft).

Daniel Defoe: The devil and the watchmaker

Daniel Defoe: The devil and the watchmaker, Tales of mystery, Relatos de terror, Horror stories, Short stories, Science fiction stories, Anthology of horror, Antología de terror, Anthology of mystery, Antología de misterio, Scary stories, Scary Tales, Science Fiction Short Stories, Historias de ciencia ficcion
Daniel Defoe by  Godfrey Kneller


I have much better Vouchers for the Story following, which I had so solemnly confirm’d by one that liv’d in the Family, that I never doubted the Truth of it. There liv’d, in the Parish of St. Bennet Fynk, near the Royal Exchange, an honest poor Widow Woman, who, her Husband being lately dead, took Lodgers into her House; that is, she let out some of her Rooms in order to lessen her own Charge of Rent; among the rest, she let her Garrets to a working Watchwheel-maker, or one some way concern’d in making the Movements of Watches, and who work’d to those Shop-keepers who sell Watches; as is usual.

It happened that a Man and Woman went up, to speak with this Movement-maker upon some Business which related to his Trade, and when they were near the Top of the Stairs, the Garret-Door where he usually worked being wide open, they saw the poor Man (the Watch-maker, or Wheel-maker) had hang’d himself upon a Beam which was left open in the Room a little lower than the Plaister, or Ceiling: Surpriz’d at the Sight, the Woman stop’d, and cried out to the Man who was behind her on the Stairs that he should run up, and cut the poor Creature down.

At that very Moment comes a Man hastily from another Part of the Room which they upon the Stairs could not see, bringing a Joint-Stool in his Hand, as if in great Haste, and sets it down just by the Wretch that was hang’d, and getting up as hastily upon it pulls a Knife out of his Pocket, and taking hold of the Rope with one of his Hands, beckon’d to the Woman and the Man behind her with his Head, as if to stop and not come up, shewing them the Knife in his other Hand, as if he was just going to cut the poor Man down.

Upon this, the Woman stopp’d a while, but the Man who stood on the Joint-Stool continued with his Hand and Knife as if fumbling at the Knot, but did not yet cut the Man down; at which the Woman cried out again, and the Man behind her call’d to her. Go up, says he, and help the Man upon the Stool! supposing something hindred. But the Man upon the Stool made Signs to them again to be quiet, and not come on, as if saying, I shall do it immediately; then he made two Strokes with his Knife, as if cutting the Rope, and then stopp’d again; and still the poor Man was hanging, and consequently dying: Upon this, the Woman on the Stairs cried out to him. What ails you? Why don’t you cut the poor Man down? And the Man behind her, having no more Patience, thrusts her by, and said to her. Let me come, I’ll warrant you I’ll do it; and with that runs up and forward into the Room to the Man; but when he came there, behold, the poor Man was there hanging; but no Man with a Knife, or Joint-Stool, or any such thing to be seen, all that was Spectre and Delusion, in order, no doubt, to let the poor Creature that had hang’d himself perish and expire.

The Man was so frighted and surpriz’d, that with all the Courage he had before, he drop’d on the Floor as one dead, and the Woman at last was fain to cut the poor Man down with a Pair of Scissars, and had much to do to effect it.


As I have no room to doubt the Truth of this Story, which I had from Persons on whose Honesty I could depend. So I think it needs very little Trouble to convince us who the Man upon the Stool must be, and that it was the Devil who plac’d himself there in order to finish the Murther of the Man who he had, Devil-like, tempted before, and prevail’d with to be his own Executioner. Besides, it corresponds so well with the Devil’s Nature, and with his Business, viz. that of a Murtherer, that I never question’d it; nor can I think we wrong the Devil at all to charge him with it.

N. B. I cannot be positive in the remaining Part of this Story, viz. whether the Man was cut down soon enough to be recover’d, or whether the Devil carry’d his Point, and kept off the Man and Woman till it was too late; but be it which it will, ’tis plain he did his Devilish Endeavour, and stay’d till he was forc’d to abscond again.

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