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No. 110. FRIDAY, JULY 6.
Horror ubique animos, simul ipsa silentia terrent. VIRG. Ar a little distance from Sir Roger's house, among the ruins of an old abbey, there is a long walk of aged elms; which are shot up so very high, that when one passes under them, the rooks and crows that rest upon the tops of them seem to be cawing in another region. I am very much delighted with this sort of noise, which I consider as a kind of natural prayer to that Being who supplies the wants of his whole creation, and who, in the beautiful language of the Psalms, feedeth the young ravens that call upon him. I like this retirement the better, because of an ill report it lies under of being haunted; for which reason, (as I have been told in the family,) no living creature ever walks in it besides the chaplain. My good friend the butler desired me, with a very grave face, not to venture myself in it after sunset, for that one of the footmen had been almost frightened out of his wits by a spirit that appeared to him in the shape of a black horse without an head; to which he added, that about a month ago one of the maids coming home late that way with a pail of milk upon her head, heard such a rustling among
the bushes that she let it fall. I was taking a walk in this place last night between the hours of nine and ten, and could not but fancy it one of the most proper scenes in the world for a ghost to appear in. The ruins of the abbey are scattered up and down on every side, and half covered with ivy and elder bushes, the harbours of several solitary birds, which seldom make their appearance till the dusk of the evening. The place was formerly a church-yard, and has still several marks in it of graves and burying-places. There is such an echo
among the old ruins and vaults, that if you stamp but a little louder than ordinary, you hear the sound repeated. At the same time the walk of elms, with the croaking of the ravens, which
om time to time are heard from the tops of them, looks exceeding solemn and venerable. These objects naturally raise seriousness and attention: and when night heightens the awfulness of the place, and pours
out her supernumerary horrors upon everything in it, I do not at all wonder that weak minds fill it with spectres and apparitions.
Mr. Locke, in his chapter of the association of ideas, has very curious remarks to show how, by the prejudice of education, one idea often introduces into the mind a whole set that bear no resemblance to one another in the nature of things. Among several examples of this kind, he produces the following instance." The ideas of goblins and sprites
“ have really no more to do with darkness than light; yet let but a foolish maid inculcate these often on the mind of a child, and raise them there together, possibly he shall never be able to separate them again so long as he lives; but darkness shall ever afterward bring with it those frightful ideas, and they shall be so joined, that he can no more bear the one than the other."
As I was walking in this solitude, where the dusk of the evening conspired with so many other occasions of terror, I observed a cow grazing not far from me, which an imagination that is apt to startle might easily have construed into a black horse without an head: and I dare say the
footman lost his wits upon some such trivial occasion.
My friend Sir Roger has often told me, with a great deal of mirth, that at his first coming to his estate, he found three parts of his house altogether useless ; that the best room in it had the reputation of being haunted, and by that means1 locked
up; that noises had been heard in his long gallery, so that he could not get a servant to enter it after eight o'clock at night; that the door of one of his chambers was nailed
up, because there went a story in the family, that a butler had formerly hanged himself in it; and that his mother, who lived to a great age,
half the rooms in the house, in which either a husband, a son, or daughter, had died. The knight seeing his habitation reduced to so small a compass, and himself in a manner shut out of his own house, upon the death of his mother ordered all the apartments to be flung open, and exorcised by his chaplain, wbo lay in every room one after another, and by that means dissipated the fears which had so long reigned in the family.
I should not have been thus particular upon these ridiculous horrors, did not I find them so very much prevail in all parts of the country. At the same time I think a person who is thus terrified with the imagination of ghosts and spectres much more reasonable, than one who, contrary to the reports of
By that means.
28.] Rather on that account."
all historians, sacred and profane, ancient and modern, and to the traditions of all nations, thinks the appearance of spirits fabulous and groundless. Could not I give myself up to this general testimony of mankind, I should to the relations of particular persons who are now living, and whom I cannot distrust in other matters of fact. I might here add, that not only the historians, to whom we may join the poets, but likewise the philosophers of antiquity, have favoured this opinion. Lucretius himself
, though by the course of his philosophy he was obliged to maintain that the soul did not exist separate from the body, makes no doubt of the reality of apparitions, and that men have often appeared after their death. This I think very remarkable; he was so pressed with the matter of fact, which he could not have the confidence to deny, that he was forced to account for it by one of the most absurd, unphilosophical notions that was ever started. He tells us, “that the surfaces of all bodies are perpetually flying off from their respective bodies, one after another; and that these surfaces, or thin cases, that included each other whilst they were joined in the body, like the coats of an onion, are sometimes seen entire when they are separated from it; by which means we often behold the shapes and shadows of persons who are either dead or absent.'
I shall dismiss this paper with a story out of Josephus, not so much for the sake of the story itself
, as for the moral reflections with which the author concludes it, and which I shall here set down in his own words. Glaphyra, the daughter of King Archilaus, after the death of her two first husbands, (being married to a third, who was brother to her first husband, and so passionately in love with her that he turned off his former wife to make room for this marriage,) had a very odd kind of dream. She fancied that she saw her first husband coming towards her, and that she embraced him with great tenderness; when, in the midst of the pleasure which she expressed at the sight of him, he reproached her after the following manner: Glaphyra, says he, thou hast made good the old saying, that women are not to be trusted. Was not I the husband of thy virginity? Have I not children by thee? How couldst thou forget our loves so far as to enter into a second
1 What credulity, it will be said, in our good Spectator! but let the censurer read on to the end of the paper.
marriage, and after that into a third ; nay, to take for thy husband a man who has so shamelessly crept into the bed of his brother? However, for the sake of our passed loves, I sball free thee from thy present reproach, and make thee mine for ever. Glaphyra told this dream to several women of her acquaintance, and died soon after. I thought this story might not be impertinent in this place, wherein I speak of those kings: besides that, the example deserves to be taken notice of, as it contains a most certain proof of the immortality of the soul, and of Divine providence. If any man thinks these facts incredible, let him enjoy his opinion to himself; but let him not endeavour to disturb the belief of others, who by instances of this nature are excited to the study of virtue."
No. 111. SATURDAY, JULY 7.
-Inter silvas Academi quærere verum.
Hor. The course of my last speculation led me insensibly into
. a subject upon which I always meditate with great delight; I mean the immortality of the soul. I was yesterday walking alone in one of my friend's woods, and lost myself in it very agreeably, as I was running over in my mind the several arguments that establish this great point, which is the basis of morality, and the source of all the pleasing hopes and secret joys that can arise in the heart of a reasonable creature. I consider those several proofs drawn:
First, From the nature of the soul itself, and particularly its immateriality ; which though not absolutely necessary to the eternity of its duration, has, I think, been evinced to almost a demonstration.
Secondly, From its passions and sentiments, as particularly from its love of existence, its horror of annihilation, and its hopes of immortality, with that secret satisfaction which it finds in the practice of virtue, and that uneasiness which follows in it upon the commission of vice.
Thirdly, From the nature of the Supreme Being, whose justice, goodness, wisdom, and veracity are all concerned in this great point.
But among these and other excellent arguments for the immortality of the soul, there is one drawn from the per
petual progress of the soul to its perfection, without a possiþility of ever arriving at it; which is a hint that I do not remember to have seen opened and improved by others who have written on this subject, though it seems to me to carry a great weight with it. How can it enter into the thoughts of man, that the soul, which is capable of such immense perfections, and of receiving new improvements to all eternity, shall fall away into nothing almost as soon as it is created? Are such abilities made for no purpose ? A brute arrives at a point of perfection that he can never pass : in a few years he has all the endowments be is capable of; and were he to live ten thousand more, would be the same thing he is at present. Were a human soul thus at a stand in her accomplishments, were her faculties to be full blown, and incapable of further enlargements, I could imagine it might fall away insensibly, and drop at once into a state of annihilation. But can we believe a thinking being, that is in a perpetual progress of improvements, and travelling on from perfection to perfection, after having just looked abroad into the works of its Creator, and made a few discoveries of his infinite goodness, wisdom, and power, must perish at her first setting out, and in the very beginning of her inquiries ?1
A man, considered in his present state, seems only sent into the world to propagate his kind. He provides himself with a successor, and immediately quits his post to make room for him.
-hæres Hæredem alterius, velut unda supervenit undam. He does not seem born to enjoy life, but to deliver it down to others. This is not surprising to consider in animals, which are formed for our use, and can finish their business in a short life. The silk-worm, after having spun her task, lays her eggs and dies. But a man can never have taken in his full measure of knowledge, has not time to subdue his passions, establish his soul in virtue, and come up to the perfection of his nature, before he is hurried off the stage. Would an infinitely wise Being make such glorious creatures for so mean a purpose ? Can he delight in the production of
1 See this subject finely pursued by Mr. Wollaston.-Still, there are those who will acknowledge no force in this argument. It may be so. But let them keep their own secret. Assuredly, I should never esteem the man, who told me he was not capable of being affected by it.