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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 gen10 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 sepa
rated from it; by which means we often behold the 30 shapes and shadows of persons who are either dead or absent.
SUNDAY AT COVERLEY HALL.
NO. 112. -- MONDAY, JULY 9, 1711.
'Αθανάτους μεν πρώτα θεούς, νόμω ως διάκειται,
Worship th' immortal gods.
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- Ś 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 to 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
whole parish-politics being generally discussed in that place either after sermon or before the bell rings.
My friend Sir Roger, being a good churchman, has beautified the inside of his church with several texts of 5 his own chusing : he has likewise given a handsome pulpit-cloth, and railed in the communion table at his own expence. He has often told me, that at his coming to his estate he found his parishioners very irregular; and
that in order to make them kneel and join in the re10 sponses, he gave every one of them a hassoc and a com
mon-prayer book : and at the same time employed an itinerant singing master, who goes about the country for that purpose, to instruct them rightly in the tunes of the
psalms; upon which they now very much value them15 selves, and indeed outdo most of the country churches that I have ever heard.
As Sir Roger is landlord to the whole congregation, he keeps them in very good order, and will suffer nobody to
sleep in it besides himself; for if by chance he has been 20 surprised into a short nap at sermon, upon recovering out
of it he stands up and looks about him, and if he sees anybody else nodding, either wakes them himself, or sends his servants to them. Several other of the old
knight's particularities break out upon these occasions : 25
sometimes he will be lengthening out a verse in the singing-psalms, half a minute after the rest of the congregation have done with it; sometimes, when he is pleased with the matter of his devotion, he pronounces Amen
three or four times to the same prayer; and sometimes 30 stands up when everybody else is upon their knees, to count
the congregation, or see if any of his tenants are missing.
“ AS SIR ROGER IS LANDLORD TO THE WHOLE CONGREGATION HE KEEPS THEM IN VERY GOOD ORDER, AND WILL SUFFER NOBODY TO SLEEP IN IT BESIDES HIMSELF."