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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 of one of his Chambers was nailed up, because there went a Story in the Family that a Butler had formerly hang'd 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 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 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 terrify'd with the Imagination of Ghosts and Spectres much more reasonable than one who, contrary to the Report 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 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.
THE COVERLEY SABBATH.
· Αθανάτες μὲν πρῶτα θεές, νόμῳ ὡς διάκειται,
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 CountryPeople would soon degenerate 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 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 as
are apt to give them a Figure in the Eye of the Village. A Country Fellow distinguishes himself as much in the Church-yard, as a Citizen does upon the Change, the whole Parish-Politicks 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 his own choosing: He has likewise given a handsom Pulpit-Cloth, and railed in the CommunionTable 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 Responses, he gave every one of them a Hassock and a Common-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 themselves, and indeed out-do 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 no body to sleep in it besides himself; for if by Chance he has been surprised into a short Nap at Sermon, upon recovering out of it he stands up and
looks about him, and if he sees any Body 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: 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 stands up when every Body else is upon their Knees, to count the Congregation, or see if any of his Tenants are missing.
I was yesterday very much surprised to hear my old Friend, in the midst of the Service, calling out to one John Matthews to mind what he was about, and not disturb the Congregation. This John Matthews it seems is remarkable for being an idle Fellow, and at that time was kicking his Heels for his Diversion. This Authority of the Knight, though exerted in that odd manner which accompanies him in all Circumstances of Life, has a very good Effect upon the Parish, who are not polite enough to see any thing ridiculous in his Behaviour; besides that the general good Sense and Worthiness of his Character makes his Friends observe these little Singularities as Foils that rather set off than blemish his good Qualities.