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for it; if I want fire, I point to my chimney; if water, to my basin; upon which my landlady nods, as much as to say she takes my meaning, and immediately obeys my signals. She has 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 to disturb the gentlemar. At my first entering into the family, I was troubled with the civility of their rising up to me every time I came into the 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 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 anything 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 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 that 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 churchyard by moonlight; and of others that had been conjured into the Red Sea, for disturbing people's rest and drawing their curtains at midnight; with many other old women's fables of the like nature. 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 twelvemonth. 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 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 into 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 particulai 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 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
There are instances of persons who have been terrified, even to distraction, at the figure of a tree, or the shaking of a bulrush. 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 meantime, 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 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 imbibe at a time that we are 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.
For my own part, I am apt to join in the 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 consort 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 Hesiod, which is almost word for word the same with his third line in the following passage :
-Nor think, though men were none,
Both day and night. How often froin the steep
Parad. Lost., iv. 675.
-Tetrum ante omnia vultum.
Juv. X. 191.
-A visage rough,
SINCE our persons are not of our own making, when they are such as appear defective or uncomely, it is, methinks, an honest and laudable fortitude to dare to be ugly; at least to keep ourselves from being abashed with a consciousness of imperfections which we cannot help, and in which there is no guilt. I would not defend a haggard bean for passing away much time at a glass, and giving softnesses and languishing graces to