ページの画像
PDF
ePub

great Textuaries overlooked one Passage of holy Writ, “To every thing there is a Season.”--Religion is one Thing, and the Entertainment of innocent Curiosity another. If Clergymen take Care not to permit these Relaxations from severer Studies to engross too much of their Time, none but narrowminded Bigots will think the Investigation of ana tient Manners an improper Amusement for them.

The Spectator*, accounting for the Rise and Progress of antient Superstition, tells us, our Forefathers looked upon Nature with inore Reverence and Horror, before the World was enlightened by Learning and Philosophy, and loved to astonish themselves with the Apprehensions of Witchcraft, Prodigies, Charms, and Enchantments. There was not a Village in England that had not a Ghost in it-the Church-yards were all haunted-every Common had a Circle of Fairies belonging to it, and there was scarce a Shepherd to be met with who had not seen a Spirit. Hence

- Those Tales of vulgar Sprites,
Which frighted Boys relate on Winter Nights,
How cleanly Milk Maids meet the Fairy Train,
How headless Horses drag the clinking chain:

.* There is another Passage in the Spectator, where he introduces the Girls in the Neighbourhood and his Landlady's Daughters telling Stories of Spirits and Apparitions ;-- how they stood pale as Ashes at the Foot of a Bed, and walked over Church-yards by Moon Light :-of their being conjured to the Red Sea, &c. He wittily observes, “ that one Spirit raised another, and at the • End of every Story, the whole Company closed their Ranks and “ crowded about the Fire."

Night-roaming Ghosts by Saucer Eye-Balls known,
The common Spectres * of each coụntry Town. ;

Gay. Our Shakespear's Ghosts excel all others :--The Terrible indeed is his Forte :-How awful is that Description of the dead Time of Night, the Season of their Perambulation !

« 'Tis now the very witching Time of Night, 6. When Church-yards yawn, and Hell itself breathes out « Contagion to the Worldt."

The Antients, because the Cock gives Notice of the Approach and Break of Day, have, with a Propriety equal to any Thing in their Mythology, dedicated this Bird to Apollo.--They have also made him the Emblem of Watchfulnesst, from

* Mr. Gay has left us too a pretty Tale of an Apparition :- The golden Mark being found in Bed, is indeed after the indelicate Manner of Swift, but yet is one of those happy Strokes, that rival the Felicity of that Dash of the Spunge which (as Pliny tells us) hit off so well the Expression of the Froth in Protogenes Dog-It is impossible not to envy the Author the Conception of a Thought, which we know not whether to call more comical or more pointedly satyrical. + Thus also in Home's Douglas:

In such a Place as this, at such an Hour,
If Ancestry can be in aught believ'd,
Descending Spirits have convers’d with Mai,

And told the Secrets of the World unknown. In Scotland, Children dying unbaptized (called Tarans) were supposed to wander in Woods and Solitudes, lamenting their hard Fate, and were said to be often seen. It is thought here very unlucky to go over their Graves. It is vulgarly called going over unchristened Ground.”

# Vanes on the Tops of Steeples were antiently in the Form of a Cock (called from hence Weather Cocks) and put up in papal Times to remind the Clergy of Watchfulness. “ In summitate Crucis, quæ “ Campanario vulgo imponitur, Galli Gallinacei effingi solet Fi. gura, quæ Ecclesiaruna Rectores Vigilantiæ admoneat.”

Du Cange. Gloss.

the

the Circumstance of his suminoning Men to their

Business by his crowing, and have therefore dedi, cated him also to Mercury. With the Lark, he may be poetically stiled “ the Herald of the Morn."

The Day civil or political has been divided into thirteen † Parts. The After-midnight and the Dead of the Night, are the most solemn of them all, and have therefore, it should seem, been appropriated by antient Superstition to the walking of Spirits.

+ 1. After-midnight. 2. Cock-crow. 3. The Space between the first Cock-crow and Break of Day. 4. The Dawn of the Morning. 5. Morning. 6. Noon. 7. Afternoon. 8. Sunset. 9. Twilight. 10. Evening. 11. Candle Time. 12. Bed Time. 13. The Dead of the Night. The Church of Rome made four nocturnal Vigils : The Conticinium, Gallicinium or Cock-crow, Intempestum et Antelucinum.

Durand. de Nocturnis. Dr. Johnson, in his Description of the Buller of Buchan, in Scotland, pleasantly tells us, “ If I had any Malice against a walking " Spirit, instead of laying him in the Red Sea, I would condemn " him to reside in the Buller of Buchan.”

The Streets of this Northern Metropolis were formerly (so vulgar Tradition has it) haunted by a nightly Guest, which appeared in the Shape of a Mastiff Dog, &c. and terrified such as were afraid of Shadows. This Word is a Corruption of the Anglo-Saxon zare, spiritus, anima. I have heard, when a Boy, many Stories concerning it.

CHAP. CHAP. VII.

Of Church-Yards ; why the Vulgar are generally

afraid of passing through them at Night: The Original of this Fear : That there is nothing in them now, more than in other Places to be afraid of.

THE most of ignorant People are afraid of going through a Church-Yard at Nighttime. If they are obliged upon some hasty and urgent Affair, they fear and tremble, till they are beyond its Bounds, but they generally avoid it, and go further about. It would, no Question, be better if there were fewer Path-ways through Church-Yards than there are, both as it would prevent several Abuses committed in them, and also cause the Ashes of the Dead to be in greater Quiet, and more undisturbed Peace : We should not then see. Church-Yards changed into common Dunghills, nor should we tread so frequently upon the Bones of our Friends: But when for the Conveniency of Neighbourhood, or other Reasons, there are allowed public Ways, it is a

G 2 .

very

very great Weakness to be afraid of passing through them.

The Reason of this Fear is, a Notion they have imbib'd, that in Church-Yards there is a frequent walking of Spirits at the Dead-time of Night. Indeed there is at that Time something awful and horrible every where, and it must be confess'd something more solemn in a Church-Yard, than in the Generality of other Places; but that it is then more frequented with Apparitions and Ghosts than other places. are, is at this Time of Day entirely groundless, and without any Reason..

The Original of this Timorousness may be deduc'd from the Heathens : For they believed that the departed Ghosts came out of their Tombs and Sepulchres, and wander'd about the Place where the Body lay buried. Thus * Virgil tells us, that Mæris could call the Ghosts out of their Sepulchres : And * Ovid, that Ghosts came out of the Sepulchres, and wandered about : And Clemens Alexandrinus, in his Admonitions to the Gentiles, upbraids them with the Gods they worshipped ; which,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« 前へ次へ »