Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

had too much wit to know how to live in the world ; he was a man of no justice, but great good manners; he ruined anybody that had any thing to do with him, but never said a rude thing in his life; the most indolent person in the world, he would sign a deed that 5 passed away half his estate with his gloves on, but would not put on his hat before a lady if it were to save his country. He is said to be the first that made love by squeezing the hand. He left the estate with ten thousand pounds debt upon it; but, however, by all 10 hands I have been informed, that he was every way the finest gentleman in the world. That debt lay heavy on our house for one generation, but it was retrieved by a gift from that honest man you see there, a citizen of our name, but nothing at all akin to us. I know Sir Andrew 15 Freeport has said behind my back, that this man was descended from one of the ten children of the maid of honour I shewed you above: but it was never made out. We winked at the thing indeed, because money was wanting at that time."

Here I saw my friend a little embarrassed, and turned my face to the next portraiture.

Sir Roger went on with his account of the gallery in the following manner: “This man (pointing to him I looked at) I take to be the honour of our house, Sir 25 Humphrey de Coverley; he was in his dealings as punctual as a tradesman, and as generous as a gentle

He would have thought himself as much undone by breaking his word, as if it were to be followed by bankruptcy. He served his country as a knight of the 30 shire to his dying day. He found it no easy matter to

20

man.

maintain an integrity in his words and actions, even in things that regarded the offices which were incumbent upon him, in the care of his own affairs and relations of life, and therefore dreaded (though he had great talents) 5 to go into employments of state, where he must be exposed to the snares of ambition. Innocence of life, and great ability, were the distinguishing parts of his character; the latter, he had often observed, had led to

the destruction of the former, and he used frequently to 10 lament that great and good had not the same significa

tion. He was an excellent husbandman, but had resolved not to exceed such a degree of wealth ; all above it he bestowed in secret bounties many years after the sum

he aimed at for his own use was attained. Yet he did 15 not slacken his industry, but to a decent old age spent

the life and fortune which were superfluous to himself, in the service of his friends and neighbours.”

Here we were called to dinner, and Sir Roger ended the discourse of this gentleman, by telling me, as we 20 followed the servant, that this his ancestor was a brave

man, and narrowly escaped being killed in the civil wars; “ for," said he," he was sent out of the field upon a private message, the day before the battle of Worces

ter.” The whim of narrowly escaping by having been 25 within a day of danger, with other matters above

mentioned, mixed with good sense, left me at a loss whether I was more delighted with my friend's wisdom or simplicity.

R.

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 5 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.

« AnteriorContinuar »