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an excellent housewife) scolds at the servants as heartily before my face as behind my back. In short, I move up
and down the house, and enter into all coinpanies, with the sanie liberty as a cal or any other domestic animal, and am as little suspected of telling any thing that I hear or see.
I remember last winter there were several young girls of the neighbourhood sitting about the fire with my landlady's daughters, and telling stories of spirits and apparitions. Upon my opening the door the young women broke off their discourse; but my land lady's daughters telling them that it was nobody but the gentleman (for that is the name that I go by in the neighbourhood as well as in the family), they went on without minding me. I seated myself by the candle that stood on a table at one end of the room; and, pretending to read a book that I took out of niy pocket, heard several dreadful stories of ghosts as pale as ashes that had stood at the feet of a bed, or walked over church-yard by moon-light; and of others that had been conjured into the Red Sea for disturbing people's rest, and drawing their curtains at midnight, with many
other old women's fables of the like nature. As one spirit raised another, I observed that at the end of every story the whole company closed their ranks, and crowded about the fire. I took notice in particular of a little boy, who was so attentive to every story, that I am mistaken if he ventures to go to bed by himself this twelvemonth. Indeed they talked so long, that the imaginations of the whole assembly were manifestly crazed, and, I am sure, will be the worse for it as long as they live. I heard one of the girls, that had looked upon me over her shoulder, asking the com
pany how long I had been in the room, and whether I did not look paler than I used to do. This put me under some apprehensions that I should be forced to explain myself if I did not retire; for which reason I took the candle in my hand, and went up into my chamber, not without wondering at this unaccountable weakness in reasonable creatures, that they should love to astonish and terrify one another. Were I a father, I should take a particular care to preserve my children from these little horrors and imaginations, which they are apt to contract when they are young, and are not able to shake off when they are in years. I have known a soldier that has entered a breach, affrighted at his own shadow, and look pale upon a little scratching at his door, who the day before had marched up against a battery of cannon. There are instances of persons who have been terrified even to distraction at the figure of a tree, or the shaking of a bulrush. The truth of it is, I look upon a sound imagination as the greatest blessing of life, next to a clear judgment, and a good conscience. In the mean time, since there are very few whose minds are not more or less subject to these dreadful thoughts and apprehensions, we ought to arm ourselves against them by the dictates of reason and religion, to pull the old woman out of our bearts, (as Persius expresses it in the motto of my paper) and extinguish those impertinent notions which we imbibed at a time that we were not able to judge of their absurdity. Or, if we believe, as many wise and good men have done, that there are such phantoms and apparitions as those I have been speaking of, let us endeavour to establish to ourselves an interest in him who holds the reins of the whole creation in his
hands, and moderates them after such a manner, that it is impossible for one being to break loose upon another, without his knowledge and permission.
For my own part, I am apt to join in opinion with those who believe that all the regions of nature swarm with spirits, and that we have multitudes of spectators on all our actions, when we think ourselves most alone: but instead of terrifying myself with such a notion, I am wonderfully pleased to think that I am always engaged with such an innumerable society, in searching out the wonders of the creation, and joining in the same concert of praise and adoration.
Milton has finely described this mixed communion of men and spirits in paradise; and had doubtless his eye upon a verse in old Hesiod, which is almost word for word the same with his third line in the following passage :
Nor think, though men were none,
ON THE OPERA LIONS. No. 13. There is nothing that of late years has afforded matter of greater amusement to the town than signior Nicolini's combat with a lion in the Haymarket, which has been very often exhibited to the general satisfaction of most of the nobility and gentry in the kingdom of Great Britain. To clear up a matter that was so variously reported, I have made it my business to examine whether this pretended lion is really the savage he appears to be, or only a counterfeit. '
But before I communicate my discoveries, I must acquaint the reader, that, upon my walking behind the scenes last winter, as I was thinking on something else, I accidentally jostled against a monstrous animal that extremely startled ine, and upon my nearer survey of it appeared to be a lion rampant. The lion, seeing me very much surprised, told me, in a gentle voice, that I might come by him if I pleased; “ for (says he) I do not intend to hurt any body.” I thanked him very kindly, and passed by him; and in a little time after saw him leap upon the stage, and act his part with very great applause. It has been observed by several, that the lion has changed his manner of acting twice or thrice since his first appearance; which will not seem strange when I acquaint my reader that the lion has been changed upon the audience three several times. The first lion was a candle-snuffer, who, being a fellow of a testy choleric temper, over-did his part, and would not suffer himself to be killed so easily as he ought to have done : besides, it was observed of him, that he grew more surly every time he came out of the lion; and having dropt some words in ordinary conversation, as if he had not fought his best, and that he suffered himself
to be thrown upon his back in the scule, and that he would wrestle with Mr Nicolini for what he pleased, out of his lion's skin, it was thought proper to discard him: and it is verily believed to this day, that, had he been brought upon the stage another time, he would certainly have done mischief. Besides, it was objected against the first lion that he reared himself so high upon his hinder paws, and walked in so erect a posture, that he looked more like an old man than a lion.
Thoecond lion was a tailor by trade, who belonged to th play-house, and had the character of a mild and peaceable man in his profession. If the former was too furious, this was too sheepish for his part; insomuch that, after a short modest walk upon the stage, he would fall at the first touch of Hydaspes, without grappling with him, and giving him an opportunity of showing his variety of Italian trips. It is said, in-' deed, that he once gave him a rip in his flesh-colour doublet ; but this was only to make work for himself in his private character of a tailor. I must not omit, that it was this second lion who treated me with so much humanity behind the scenes.
The acting lion at present is, as I am informed, a country-gentleman, who does it for his diversion, but desires his name may be concealed.
He says very handsomely, in his own excuse, that he does not act for gain, that he indułges an innocent pleasure in it; and that it is better to pass away an evening in this manner, than in gaming and drinking: but at the same time says, with a very agreeable raillery upon himself, that, if his name should be known, the illnatured world might call him “The ass in the lion's skin.” This gentleman's temper is made out of such