« AnteriorContinuar »
his Country as Knight of this Shire to his dying Day. · He found it no easy matter to 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) '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 used ' frequently to lament that Great and Good had not the same Signification. He was an excellent Husband'man, but had resolv'd 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 not slacken his • Industry, but to a decent old Age spent the Life and • Fortune which was 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 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 Worcester.'
The Whim of narrowly escaping by having been within a Day of Danger, with other Matters abovementioned, mixed with good Sense, left me at a loss whether I was
more delighted with my Friend's Wisdom or Simplicity.
THE COVERLEY Ghost.
Horror ubique animos, simul ipsa silentia terrent. Virg.
T 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 Sun-set, for that one of the Footmen had been almost frighted
out of his Wits by a Spirit that appear'd 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 Churchyard, 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 from 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 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, 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 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 after. wards 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 construed into a black Horse without an Head: And I dare
Footman lost his Wits upon some such trivial Occasion.
My Friend Sir Roger has often told me with a good 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