« ForrigeFortsett »
learning, great sanctity of life, and the most exact good breeding. He has the misfortune to be of a very weak constitution; and consequently cannot accept of such cares and business as preferments in his function would oblige him to; he is therefore among divines what a chamber councillor is among lawyers. The probity of his mind, and the integrity of his life, create him followers, as being eloquent or loud advances others. He seldom introduces the subject he speaks upon; but we are so far
gone in years that he observes, when he is among us, an earnest10 ness to have him fall on some divine topic, which he always
treats with much authority, as one who has no interests in this world, as one who is hastening to the object of all his wishes, and conceives hope from his decays and infirmities. These are my ordinary companions.-R.
No. 12. The Spectator's experience in London lodgings; ghost-stories; superstition and piety. Veteres avias tibi de pulmone revello.
PERS. Sat. v. 92. I root the old woman from thy trembling heart. At my coming to London, it was some time before I could settle myself in a house to my liking. I was forced to quit my first lodgings, by reason of an officious landlady, that would be asking me every morning how I had slept. I then fell into an
honest family, and lived very happily for above a week; when my 20 landlord, who was a jolly good-natured man, took it into his head
that I wanted company, and therefore would frequently come into my chamber to keep me from being alone. This I bore for two or three days; but telling me one day that he was afraid I was melancholy, I thought it was high time for me to be gone, and accordingly took new lodgings thať very night. About a week after, I found my jolly landlord, who, as I said before, was an honest hearty man, had put me into an advertisement of the Daily Courant, in the following words, Whereas a melancholy
man left his lodgings on Thursday last in the afternoon, and was 30 afterwards seen going towards Islington; if any one can give notice
of him to R. B. fishmonger in the Strand, he shall be very well rewarded for his pains. As I am the best man in the world to keep my own counsel, and my landlord the fishmonger not know
ing my name, this accident of my life was never discovered to this very day.
I am now settled with a widow-woman, who has a great many children, and complies with my humour in everything. I do not remember that we have exchanged a word together these five years; my coffee comes into my chamber every morning without asking for it; if I want fire I point to my chimney, if water to my bason: upon which my landlady nods, as much as to say she
takes my meaning, and immediately obeys my signals. She has 10 likewise modelled her family so well, that when her little boy
offers to pull me by the coat, or prattle in my face, his eldest sister immediately calls him off, and bids him not disturb the gentleman. At my first entering into the family, I was troubled with the civility of their rising up to me every time I came into room;
but my landlady observing, that upon these occasions I always cried pish! and went out again, has forbidden any such ceremony to be used in the house; so that at present I walk into the kitchen or parlour, without being taken notice of, or giving
any interruption to the business or discourse of the family. The 20 maid will ask her mistress, though I am by, whether the gentleman
is ready to go to dinner, as the mistress, who is indeed an excellent housewife, scolds at the servants as heartily before my face as behind my back. In short, I move up and down the house, and enter into all companies with the same liberty as a cat or any other domestic animal, and am as little suspected of telling any thing that I hear or see.
I remember last winter there were several young girls of the neighbourhood sitting about the fire with my landlady's daughters,
and telling stories of spirits and apparitions. Upon my opening 30 the door the young women broke off their discourse, but my
landlady's daughters telling them that it was nobody but the gentleman, for that is the name which I go by in the neighbourhood as well as in the family, they went on without minding me. I seated myself by the candle that stood on a table at one end of the room; and pretending to read a book that I took out of my pocket, heard several dreadful stories of ghosts as pale as ashes, that had stood at the feet of a bed, or walked over a church-yard by moon-light; and of others that had been conjured into the
Red sea, for disturbing people's rest, and drawing their curtains 40 at midnight, with many other old women's fables of the like
BELIEF IN GHOSTS.
nature. As one spirit raised another, I observed that at the end of , every story the whole company closed their ranks, and crowded about the fire: I took notice, in particular, of a little boy, who was so attentive to every story, that I am mistaken if he ventures to go to bed by himself this twelve-month. Indeed they talked so long, that the imaginations of the whole assembly were manifestly crazed, and, I am sure, will be the worse for it as long as they live. I heard one of the girls, that had looked
upon me over her shoulder, asking the company how long I had 10 been in the room, and whether I did not look paler than I used
to do. This put me under some apprehensions, that I should be forced to explain myself if I did not retire; for which reason I took the candle in my hand, and went up into my chamber, not without wondering at this unaccountable weakness in reasonable creatures, that they should love to astonish and terrify one another. Were I a father, I should take a particular care to preserve my children from these little horrors of imagination, which they are apt to contract when they are young, and are not
able to shake off when they are in years. I have known a soldier 20 that has entered a breach, affrighted at his own shadow; and
look pale upon a little scratching at his door, who, the day before, had marched up against a battery of cannon. There are instances of persons, who have been terrified even to distraction at the figure of a tree, or the shaking of a bull-rush. The truth of it is, I look upon a sound imagination as the greatest blessing of life, next to a clear judgment and a good conscience. In the mean time, since there are very few whose minds are not more or less subject to these dreadful thoughts and apprehensions, we
ought to arm ourselves against them by the dictates of reason 30 and religion, to pull the old woman out of our hearts, as Persius
expresses it in the motto of my paper, and extinguish those impertinent notions which we imbibed at a time that we were not able to judge of their absurdity. Or, if we believe, as many wise and good men have done, that there are such phantoms and apparitions as those I have been speaking of, let us endeavour to establish to ourselves an interest in Him who holds the reins of the whole creation in his hand, and moderates them after such a manner, that it is impossible for one being to break loose upon
another, without his knowledge and permission. 40 For my own part, I am apt to join in opinion with those who
believe that all the regions of nature swarm with spirits, and that we have multitudes of spectators on all our actions, when we think ourselves most alone; but instead of terrifying myself with such a notion, I am wonderfully pleased to think that I am always engaged with such an innumerable society, in searching out the wonders of the creation, and joining in the same concert of praise and adoration.
Milton has finely described this mixed communion of men and spirits in Paradise ; and had doubtless his eye upon a verse in old 10 Hesiod », which is almost word for word the same with his third line in the following passage.
Nor think, though men were none,
How often from the steep
No. 34. Discussion at the Club; professional susceptibilities of certain
members; it is agreed that the Spectator's satire shall be unfettered, so long as it is general.
parcit Cognatis maculis similis fera.
Juv. Sat. xv. 159.
The club of which I am a member, is very luckily composed of such persons as are engaged in different ways of life, and deputed as it were out of the most conspicuous classes of mankind: by this
means I am furnished with the greatest variety of hints and ma30 terials, and know everything that passes in the different quarters
and divisions, not only of this great city, but of the whole kingdom. My readers too have the satisfaction to find, that there is no rank
or degree among them who have not their representative in this club, and that there is always somebody present who will take care of their respective interests, that nothing may be written or published to the prejudice or infringement of their just rights and privileges.
I last night sat very late in company with this select body of friends, who entertained me with several remarks which they and others had made upon these my speculations, as also with the
various success which they had met with among their several ranks 10 and degrees of readers. Will Honeycomb told me, in the softest
manner he could, that there were some ladies (but for your comfort, says Will, they are not those of the most wit) that were offended at the liberties I had taken with the opera and the puppet show; that some of them were likewise very much surprised, that I should think such serious points as the dress and equipage of persons of quality, proper subjects for raillery.
He was going on, when Sir Andrew Freeport took him up short, and told him, that the papers he hinted at had done great good in
the city, and that all their wives and daughters were the better 20 for them; and further added, that the whole city thought them
selves very much obliged to me for declaring my generous intentions to scourge vice and folly as they appear in a multitude, without condescending to be a publisher of particular intrigues. 'In short,' says Sir Andrew, “if you avoid that foolish beaten road of falling upon aldermen and citizens, and employ your pen upon the vanity and luxury of courts, your paper must needs be of general use.
Upon this my friend the Templar told Sir Andrew, that he wondered to hear a man of his sense talk after that manner; that 30 the city had always been the province for satire; and that the
wits of King Charles's time jested upon nothing else during his whole reign. He then shewed, by the examples of Horace, Juvenal, Boileau, and the best writers of every age, that the follies of the stage and court had never been accounted too sacred for ridicule, how great soever the persons might be that patronised them: “But after all,' says he, 'I think your raillery has made too great an excursion in attacking several persons of the Inns of Court; and I do not believe you can shew me any precedent for your behaviour in that particular.'
My good friend Sir Roger de Coverley, who had said nothing