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lion. There is nothing so inconfiderable, which may not appear dreadful to an imagination that is filled with omens and prognosticks. A rufty nail, or a crooked pin, fhoot up into prodigies.

I remember I was once in a mixt affembly, that was full of noife and mirth, when on a fudden an old woman unluckily obferved there were thirteen of us in company. The remark ftruck a panic terror into several who were prefent, infomuch that one or two of the ladies were going to leave the room; but a friend of mine taking notice that one of our female companions was big with child, affirmed there were fourteen in the room, and that, inftead of portending one of the company should die, it plainly foretold one of them fhould be born. Had not my friend found this expedient to break the omen, I question not but half the women in the company would have fallen fick that very night.

An old maid that is troubled with the vapours, produces infinite disturbances of this kind, among her friends and neighbours. I know a maiden aunt of a great family, who is one of these antiquated Sybils, that forebodes and prophefies from one end of the year to the other. She is always feeing apparitions, and hearing death-watches; and was the other day almost frighted out of her wits by the great house-dog that howled in the stable, at a time when fne lay ill of the tooth-ach. Such an extravagant caft of mind engages multitudes of people, not only in impertinent terrors, but in fupernumerary duties of life; and arifes from that fear

and ignorance which are natural to the foul of man. The horror with which we entertain the thoughts of death, (or indeed of any future evil) and the uncertainty of its approach, fill a melancholy mind with innumerable apprehenfions and suspicions, and confequently difpofe it to the observation of fuch groundless prodigies and predictions. For as it is the chief concern of wife men to retrench the evils of life by the reafonings of philofophy; it is the employment of fools to multiply them by the sentiments of fuperftition.

For my own part, I should be very much troubled were I endowed with this divining quality, though it fhould inform me truly of every thing that can befal me. I would not anticipate the relish of any happiness, nor feel the weight of any misery, before it actually arrives.

I know but one way of fortifying my foul against these gloomy prefages and terrors of mind, and that is, by fecuring to myself the friendship and protection of that being who difposes of events, and governs futurity. He fees, at one view, the whole thread of my existence, not only that part of it which I have already paffed through, but that which runs forward into all the depths of eternity. When I lay me down to fleep, I recommend myself to his care; when I awake, I give myself up to his direction. Amidst all the evils that threaten me, I will look up to him for help, and question not but he will either avert them, or turn them to my advantage. Though I know neither the time

nor the manner of the death I am to die, I am not at all folicitous about it; because I am fure that he knows them both, and that he will not fail to comfort and support me under them.

N° 8. Friday, March 9, 1710-11.

At Venus obfcuro gradientes aëre fepfit,

Et multo nebula circùm Dea fudit amictu,
Cernere ne quis eos-

Cf.

VIRG. Æn. i. 415.

They march obfcure, for Venus kindly shrouds
With mists their perfons, and involves in clouds.

DRYDEN.

I SHALL here communicate to the world a couple of letters, which I believe will give the reader as good an entertainment as any that I am able to furnish him with, and therefore shall make no apology for them:

f By Addison, dated, it is fuppofed, from Chelsea. See N° 5, note ad fin.

The fignature of Addison's papers in the Spect. occur in this order; 1. C, 2. L, 3. I, 4. O; of the real meaning of them probably no unexceptionable explication can now be given; but it is not very credible that Addifon adopted thefe letters, and placed them in this order, merely because the combination of them made up the name of the Muse CLIO. The idea of their being the initials of the places from which Addison dated his papers is a mere conjecture, which the conjecturer would gladly exchange for a more fatisfactory explanation. See No 555; and a vague paffage in Steele's dedication of The Drummer to Mr. Congreve, relative to the fignatures, and transcribed as a proper note on Spect. N° 221.

• SIR,

TO THE SPECTATOR, &c.

'I AM One of the directors of the fociety for the reformation of manners, and therefore think myself a proper perfon for your correfpondence. I have thoroughly examined the prefent state of religion in Great Britain, and am able to acquaint you with the predominant vice of every market town in the whole ifland. I can tell you the progress that virtue has made in all our cities, boroughs, and corporations; and know as well the evil practices that are committed in Berwick or Exeter, as what is done in my own family. In a word, fir, I have my correfpondents in the remotest parts of the nation, who fend me up punctual accounts from time to time of all the little irregularities, that fall under their notice in their feveral diftricts and divifions.

'I am no lefs acquainted with the particular quarters and regions of this great town, than with the different parts and distributions of the whole nation. I can defcribe every parish by its impieties, and can tell you in which of our streets lewdnefs prevails; which gaming has taken the poffeffion of, and where drunkenness has got the better of them both. When I am disposed to raise a fine for the poor, I know the lanes and alleys that are inhabited by common fwearers. When I would encourage the hofpital of Bridewell, and improve the hempen manufacture, I am very well acquainted with

all the haunts and reforts of female night`walkers.

After this short account of myself, I must let you know, that the defign of this paper is to give you information of a certain irregular affembly, which I think falls very properly under your obfervation, especially fince the perfons it is compofed of are criminals too confiderable for the animadverfions of our fociety. I I mean, fir, the Midnight Mask, which has of late been frequently held in one of the most confpicuous parts of the town, and which I hear will be continued with additions and improvements 8: as all the perfons who compose this lawless affembly are mafked, we dare not attack any of them in our way, left we should send a woman of quality to Bridewell, or a peer of Great Britain to the Counter: befides that their numbers are fo very great, that I am afraid they would be able to rout our whole fraternity, though we were accompanied with all our guard of conftables. Both these reasons, which fecure them from our authority, make them obnoxious to yours; as both their disguise and their numbers will give no particular perfon reason to think himself affronted by you.

If we are rightly informed, the rules that are obferved by this new fociety, are wonderfully contrived for the advancement of cuckoldom. The women either come by themfelves, or are introduced by friends, who are obliged to quit them, upon their first entrance,

See N° 14, and Vol. ii. N° 1OI.

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