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this kind, it must be confessed, that suicide begins to prevail so generally, that it is the most gallant exploit, by which our modern heroes choose to signalize themselves; and in this, indeed, they behave with uncommon prowess. From the days of Plato down to these, a suicide has always been compared to a soldier on guard deserting his post: but I should rather consider a set of these desperate men, who rush on certain death, as a body of troops sent out on the forlorn hope. They meet every face of death, however horrible, with the utmost resolution: some blow their brains out with a pistol; some expire, like Socrates, by poison; some fall, like Cato, on the point of their own swords; and others, who have lived like Nero, affect to die like Seneca, and bleed to death. The most exalted geniuses I even remember to have heard of were a party of reduced gamesters, who bravely resolved to pledge each other in a bowl of laudanum. I was lately informed of a gentleman, who went among his usual companions at the gaming table the day before he made away with himself, and coolly questioned them, which they thought the easiest and genteelest method of going out of the world: for there is as much difference between a mean person and a man of quality in their manner of destroying themselves, as in their manner of living. The poor sneaking wretch, starving in a garret, tucks himself up in his list garters; a second, crossed in love, drowns himself like a blind puppy in Rosamond's pond; and a third cuts his throat with his own razor. But the man of fashion almost always dies by a pistol; and even the cobbler of any spirit goes off by a dose or two extraordinary of gin.

But this false notion of courage, how ever noble it may appear to the desperate and abandoned, in reality amounts to no more than the resolution of the highwayman, who shoots himself with his own pistol, when he finds it impossible to avoid being taken. All practicable means, therefore, should be devised to extirpate such absurd bravery, and to make it appear every way horrible, odious, contemptible and ridiculous. From reading the public prints, a foreigner might be naturally led to imagine, that we are the most lunatic people in the whole world. Almost every day informs us, that the coroner's inquest has sat on the body of some

miserable suicide, and brought in their verdict lunacy; but it is very well known, that the inquiry has not been made into the state of mind of the deceased, but into his fortune and family. The law has indeed provided, the deliberate self-murderer should be treated like a brute, and denied the rites of burial: but among hundreds of lunatics by purchase, I never knew this sentence executed but on one poor cobbler, who hanged himself in his own stall. A pennyless poor wretch, who has not left enough to defray the funeral charges, may perhaps be excluded the churchyard; but self-murder by a pistol qualifies the polite owner for a sudden death, and entitles him to a pompous burial, and a monument, setting forth his virtues, in Westminster Abbey. Every man in his sober senses must wish, that the most severe laws that could possibly be contrived were enacted against suicides. This shocking bravado never did (and I am confident never will,) prevail among the inore delicate and tender sex in our own nation: though history informs us, that the Roman ladies were once so infatuated as to throw off the softness of their nature, and commit violence on themselves, till the madness was curbed by their exposing their naked bodies in the public streets. This, I think, would afford an hint for fixing the like mark of ignominy on our male suicides; and I would have every lower wretch of this sort dragged at the cart's tail, and afterwards hung in chains at his own door, or have his quarters put up in terrorem in the most public places, as a rebel to his Maker. But that the suicide of quality might be treated with more respect, he should be indulged in having his wounded corpse and shattered brains laid (as it were) in state for some days; of which dreadful spectacle we may conceive the horror from the following picture drawn by Dryden :

The slayer of himself too saw I there:
The gore congeal'd was clotted in his hair:
With eyes balf clos'd, and mouth wide ope he lay,
And grim as when he breath'd his sullen soul

away.

The common murderer has his skeleton preserved at Surgeons' Hall, in order to deter others from being guilty of the same crime; and I think it would not be improper to have a charnel-house set apart to receive the bones of these more unnatural self-murderers, in which monuments

should be erected, giving an account of their deaths, and adorned with the glorious ensigns of their rashness, the rope, the knife, the sword, or the pistol.

The cause of these frequent self-murders among us has been generally imputed to the peculiar temperature of our climate. Thus a dull day is looked upon as a natural order of execution, and Englishmen must necessarily shoot, hang, and drown themselves in November. That our spirits are in some measure influenced by the air, cannot be denied: but we are not such mere barometers, as to be driven to despair and death by the small degree of gloom that our winter brings with it. If we have not so much sunshine as some countries in the world, we have infinitely more than many others; and I do not hear that men dispatch themselves by dozens in Russia or Sweden, or that they are unable to keep up their spirits even in the total darkness of Greenland. Our climate exempts us from many diseases, to which other more southern nations are naturally subject; and I can never be persuaded, that being born near the north pole is a physical cause for self-murder.

Despair, indeed, is the natural cause of these shocking actions; but this is commonly despair brought on by wilful extravagance and debauchery. These first involve men into difficulties, and then death at once delivers them of their lives and their cares. For my part, when I see a young profligate wantonly squandering his fortune in bagnios or at the gamingtable, I cannot help looking on him as hastening his own death, and in a manner digging his own grave. As he is at last induced to kill himself by motives arising from his vices, I consider him as dying of some disease which those vices naturally produce. If his extravagance has been chiefly in luxurious eating and drinking, I imagine him poisoned by his wines, or surfeited by a favourite dish; and if he has thrown away his estate in bawdy-houses, I conclude him destroyed by rottenness and filthy diseases.

Another principal cause of the frequency of suicide is the noble spirit of free-thinking, which has diffused itself among all ranks of people. The libertine of fashion has too refined a taste to trouble himself at all about a soul or an hereafter; but the vulgar infidel is at wonderful pains to get rid of his Bible, and labours to persuade himself out of

his religion. For this purpose he attends constantly at the disputant societies, where he hears a great deal about free-will, free-agency, and predestination, till at length he is convinced that man is at liberty to do as he pleases, lays his misfortunes to the charge of Providence, and comforts himself that he was inevitably destined to be tied up in his own garters. The courage of these heroes proceeds from the same principles, whether they fall by their own hands, or those of Jack Ketch: the suicide, of whatever rank, looks death in the face without shrinking; as the gallant rogue affects an easy unconcern under Tyburn, throws away the psalm-book, bids the cart drive off with an oath, and swings like a gentleman. Connoisseur.

$73.

An Enumeration of Superstitions observed in the Country.

You must know, Mr. Town, that I am just returned from a visit of a fortnight to an old aunt in the North; where I was mightily diverted with the traditional superstitions, which are most religiously preserved in the family, as they have been delivered down (time out of mind) from their sagacious grandmothers.

When I arrived, I found the mistress of the house very busily employed, with her two daughters, in nailing an horseshoe to the threshold of the door. This, they told me, was to guard against the spiteful designs of an old woman, who was a witch, and had threatened to do the family a mischief, because one of my young cousins laid two straws across, to see if the old hag could walk over them. The young lady assured me, that she had several times heard Goody Cripple muttering to herself; and to be sure she was saying the Lord's Prayer backwards. Besides, the old woman had very often asked them for a pin: but they took care never to give her any thing that was sharp, because she should not bewitch them. They afterwards told me many other particulars of this kind, the same as are mentioned with infinite humour by the SPECTATOR; and to confirm them, they assured me, that the eldest miss, when she was little, used to have fits, till the mother flung a knife at another old witch, (whom the devil had carried off in an high wind), and fetched blood from her.

When I was to go to bed, my aunt made a thousand apologies for not putting

me in the best room in the house; which (she said) had never been lain in since the death of an old washerwoman, who walked every night, and haunted that room in particular. They fancied that the old woman had bid money somewhere, and could not rest till she had told somebody; and my cousin assured me, that she might have had it all to herself; for the spirit came one night to her bed-side, and wanted to tell her, but she had not courage to speak to it. I learned also, that they had a footman once, who hanged himself for love; and he walked for a great while, till they got the parson to lay him in the Red Sea.

I had not been here long, when an accident happened, which very much alarmed the whole family. Towzer one night howled most terribly; which was a sure sign, that somebody belonging to them would die. The youngest miss declared, that she had heard the hen crow that morning; which was another fatal prognostic. They told me, that, just before uncle died, Towzer howled so for several nights together, that they could not quiet him; and my aunt heard the dead-watch tick as plainly as if there had been a clock in the room; the maid too, who sat up with him, heard a bell toll at the top of the stairs, the very moment the breath went out of his body. During this discourse I overheard one of my cousins whisper the other, that she was afraid their mamma would not live long; for she smelt an ugly smell, like a dead carcass. They had a dairy-maid, who died the very week after an hearse had stopt at their door on its way to church: and the eldest miss, when she was but thirteen, saw her own brother's ghost (who was gone to the West Indies), walking in the garden; and to be sure, nine months after, they had an account, that he died on board the ship, the very same day, and hour of the day, that miss saw his apparition.

I need not mention to you the common incidents, which were accounted by them no less prophetic. If a cinder popped from the fire, they were in haste to examine whether it was a purse or a coffin. They were aware of my coming long before I arrived, because they had seen a stranger on the grate. The youngest miss will let nobody use the poker but herself; because, when she stirs the fire, it always burns bright, which is a sign she will have

a brisk husband; and she is no less sure of a good one, because she generally has ill luck at cards. Nor is the candle less oracular than the fire: for the 'squire of the parish came one night to pay them a visit, when the tallow winding-sheet pointed towards him; and he broke his neck soon after in a fox-chase. My aunt one night observed with great pleasure a letter in the candle; and the very next day one came from her son in London. We knew when a spirit was in the room, by the candle burning blue: but poor cousin Nancy was ready to cry one time, when she snuffed it out, and could not blow it in again, though her sister did it at a whiff, and consequently triumphed in her superior virtue.

We had no occasion for an almanack or the weather glass, to let us know whether it would rain or shine. One evening I proposed to ride out with my cousins the next day to see a gentleman's house in the neighbourhood; but my aunt assured us it would be wet, she knew very well, from the shooting of her corn. Besides, there was a great spider crawling up the chimney, and the blackbird in the kitchen began to sing; which were both of them as certain forerunners of rain. But the most to be depended on in these cases is a tabby cat, which usually lies basking on the parlour hearth. If the cat turned her tail to the fire, we were to have an hard frost; if the cat licked her tail, rain would certainly ensue. They wondered what stranger they should see, because puss washed her face over her left ear. The old lady complained of a cold, and her eldest daughter remarked it would go through the family; for she observed that poor Tab had sneezed several times. Poor Tab, however, once flew at one of my cousins; for which she had like to have been destroyed, as the whole family began to think she was no other than a witch.

It is impossible to tell you the several tokens by which they know whether good or ill luck will happen to them. Spilling the salt, or laying knives across, are every where accounted ill omens; but a pin with the head turned towards you, or to be followed by a strange dog, I found were very lucky. I heard one of my cousins tell the cook-maid, that she boiled away all her sweethearts, because she had let her dish-water boil over. The same young lady one morning came down

to breakfast with her cap wrong side out; which the mother observing, charged her not to alter it all day, for fear she should turn luck.

But above all, I could not help remarking the various prognostics which the old lady and her daughters used to collect from almost every part of the body. A white speck upon the nails made them as sure of a gift as if they had it already in their pockets. The elder sister is to have one husband more than the youngest, because she has one wrinkle more in her forehead; but the other will have the advantage of her in the number of children, as was plainly proved by snapping their finger-joints. It would take up too much room to set down every circumstance which I observed of this sort during my stay with them: I shall therefore conclude my letter with the several remarks on other parts of the body, as far as I could learn them from this prophetic family; for as I was a relation, you know, they had less reserve.

If the head itches, it is a sign of rain. If the head aches, it is a profitable pain. If you have the tooth-ache, you don't love true. If your eye-brow itches, you will see a stranger. If your right eye itches, you will cry: if your left, you will laugh but left or right is good at night. If your nose itches you will shake hands with or kiss a fool, drink a glass of wine, run against a cuckold's door, or miss them all four. If your right ear or cheek burns, your left friends are talking of you; if your left, your right friends are talking of you. If your elbow itches, you will change your bedfellow. If your right hand itches, you will pay away money; if your left, you will receive. If your stomach itches, you will eat pudding. If your back itches, butter will be cheap when grass grows there. If side itches, somebody is wishing for you, If your gartering-place itches, you will go to a strange place. If your foot itches, you will tread upon strange ground. Lastly, if you shiver, somebody is walking over your grave. Connoisseur.

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shocking practice of cursing and swearing; a practice, which (to say nothing at present of its impiety and profaneness) is low and indelicate, and places the man of quality on the same level with the chairman at his door. A gentleman would forfeit all pretensions to that title, who should choose to embellish his discourse with the oratory of Billingsgate, and converse in the style of an oyster-woman; but it is accounted no disgrace to him to use the same coarse expressions of cursing and swearing with the meanest of the mob. For my own part, I cannot see the difference between a By-gad or a Gad-dem-me, minced and softened by a genteel pronunciation from well-bred lips, and the same expression bluntly bolted out from the broad mouth of a porter or hackneycoachman.

I shall purposely wave making any reflections on the impiety of this practice, as I am satisfied they would have but little weight either with the beau-monde or the canaille. The swearer of either station, devotes himself piecemeal, as it were, to destruction; pours out anathemas against his eyes, his heart, his soul, and every part of his body: nor does he scruple to extend the same good wishes to the limbs and joints of his friends and acquaintance. This they both do with the same fearless unconcern; but with this only difference, that the gentleman swearer damns himself and others with the greatest civility and good. breeding imaginable.

My predecessor the Tatler gives us an account of a certain humorist, who got together a party of noted swearers to dinner with him, and ordered their discourses to be taken down in short-hand; which being afterwards repeated to them, they were extremely startled and surprised at their own common talk. A dialogue of this nature would be no improper sup plement to Swift's polite conversation ; though, indeed, it would appear too shocking to be set down in print. But I cannot help wishing, that it were possi ble to draw out a catalogue of the fashionable oaths and curses in present use at Arthur's, or at any other polite assembly: by which means the company them→ selves would be led to imagine, that their conversation had been carried on between the lowest of the mob; and they would blush to find, that they had gleaned the choicest phrases from lanes and alleys, and enriched their discourse with the ele

gant dialect of Wapping and Broad St. Giles's.

The legislature has indeed provided against this offence, by affixing a penalty on every delinquent according to his station; but this law, like those made against gaming, is of no effect, while the genteeler sort of swearers put forth the same execrations at the hazard-table or in the tennis-courts, which the more ordinary gamesters repeat, with the same impunity, over the shuffle-board or in the skittlealley. Indeed, were this law to be rigorously put in execution, there would appear to be little or no proportion in the punishment since the gentleman would escape by depositing his crown; while the poor wretch, who cannot raise a shilling, must be clapt into the stocks, or sent to Bridewell. But as the offence is exactly the same, I would also have no distinction made in the treatment of the offenders and it would be a most ridiculous but a due mortification to a man of quality, to be obliged to thrust his leg through the same stocks with a carman or a coal-heaver; since he first degraded himself, and qualified himself for their company, by talking in the same mean dialect.

I am aware that it will be pleaded in excuse for this practice, that oaths and curses are intended only as mere exple. tives, which serve to round a period, and give a grace and spirit to conversation. But there are still some old-fashioned creatures, who adhere to their common acceptation, and cannot help thinking it a very serious matter, that a man should devote his body to the devil, or call down damnation on his soul. Nay, the swearer himself, like the old man in the fable calling upon death, would be exceeding loath to be taken at his word; and while he wishes destruction to every part of his body, would be highly concerned to have a limb rot away, his nose fall off, or an eye drop out of the socket. It would therefore be advisable to substitute some other terms equally unmeaning, and at the same time remote from the vulgar cursing and swearing.

It is recorded to the honour of the famous Dean Stanhope, that in his younger days, when he was chaplain to a regiment, he reclaimed the officers, who were much addicted to this vulgar practice, by the following method of reproof: One even ing, as they were all in company together,

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after they had been very eloquent in this kind of rhetoric, so natural to the gentlemen of the army, the worthy dean took occasion to tell a story in his turn, in which he frequently repeated the words. bottle and glass, instead of the usual expletives of God, devil, and damn, which he did not think quite so becoming for one of his cloth to make free with. I would recommend it to our people of fashion to make use of the like innocent phrases whenever they are obliged to have recourse to these substitutes for thought and expression. "Bottle and glass" might be introduced with great energy in the table-talk at the King's Arms or St. Alban's taverns. The gamester might be indulged, without offence, in swearing by the "knave of clubs," or "the curse of Scotland;" or he might with some propriety retain the old execration of "the deuce take it." The beau should be allowed to swear by his " gracious self," which is the god of his idolatry; and the common expletives should consist of

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upon my word and upon my honour;" which terms, whatever sense they might formerly bear, are at present understood only as words of course, without meaning. Connoisseur.

$75. Sympathy a Source of the Sublime.

It is by the passion of sympathy that we enter into the concerns of others; that we are moved as they are moved, and are never suffered to be indifferent spectators of almost any thing which men can do or suffer. For sympathy must be considered as a sort of substitution, by which we are put into the place of another man, and affected in a good measure as he is affected; so that this passion may either partake of the nature of those which regard self-preservation, and turning upon pain may be a source of the sublime; or it may turn upon ideas of pleasure, and then, whatever has been said of the social affections, whether they regard society in general, or only some particular modes of it, may be applicable here.

It is by this principle chiefly that poetry, painting, and other affecting arts, transfuse their passions from one breast to another, and are often capable of grafting a delight on wretchedness, misery, and death itself. It is a common observation, that objects, which in the reality would shock, are, in tragical and such like representations, the source of a very

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