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THE COVERLEY GHOST. [ADDISON.]
No. 110. FRIDAY, JULY 6, 1711.
HORROR ubique animos, simul ipsa silentia terrent.
VIRG. ÆN. ii. 755.
ALL things are full of horror and affright, And dreadful e'en the silence of the night. - DRYDEN. AT 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. 5 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 10 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 15 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 5 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 10 seldom make their appearance till the dusk of the evening. The place was formerly a churchyard, and has still several marks in it of graves and buryingplaces. There is such an echo among the old ruins and vaults, that if you stamp but a little louder than 15 ordinary, you hear the sound repeated. At the same time the walk of elms, with the croaking of the ravens, which from time to time are heard from the tops of them, looks exceeding solemn and venerable. These objects naturally raise seriousness and attention; and 20 when night heightens the awfulness of the place, and pours out her supernumerary horrors upon every thing 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, 25 has very curious remarks, to shew 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 30 of goblins and sprights 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 afterwards 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 was apt to startle might easily have 10 construed into a black horse without an head and I dare say the poor 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 15 found three parts of his house altogether useless; that the best room in it had the reputation of being haunted, and by that means was 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 20 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, had shut up half the rooms in the house, in which either her husband, a son, or daughter had died. The 25 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, who lay in every room one after another, and by that means dis- 30 sipated 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 imagina5 tion of ghosts and spectres much more reasonable than one who, contrary to the reports of 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 genIo eral 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 15 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 20 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 25 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 30 shapes and shadows of persons who are either dead or absent. L.
SUNDAY AT COVERLEY HALL.
NO. 112.- MONDAY, JULY 9, 1711.
̓Αθανάτους μὲν πρῶτα θεούς, νόμῳ ὡς διάκειται,
FIRST, in obedience to thy country's rites,
I AM always very well pleased with a country Sunday, and think, if keeping holy the seventh day were only a human institution, it would be the best method that could have been thought of for the polishing and civilizing of mankind. It is certain the country people would soon de- 5 generate into a kind of savages and barbarians, were there not such frequent returns of a stated time in which the whole village meet together with their best faces, and in their cleanliest habits, to converse with one another upon indifferent subjects, hear their duties explained to 10 them, and join together in adoration of the Supreme Being. Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week, not only as it refreshes in their minds the notions of religion, but as it puts both the sexes upon appearing in their most agreeable forms, and exerting all such qualities 15 as are apt to give them a figure in the eye of the village. A country fellow distinguishes himself as much in the churchyard, as a citizen does upon the Change, the