I should have told my reader, that whilst Florio lived at the house of his foster-father, he was always an acceptable guest in the family of Eudoxus, where he became acquainted with Leonilla from her infancy. His acquaintance with her by degrees grew into love, which, in a mind trained up in all the sentiments of honour and virtue, became a very uneasy passion. He despaired of gaining an heiress of so great a fortune, and would rather have died than attempted it by any indirect methods. Leonilla, who was a woman of the greatest beauty joined with the greatest modesty, entertained at the same time a secret passion for Florio, but conducted herself with so much prudence that she never gave him the least intimation of it. Florio was now engaged in all those arts and improvements that are proper to raise a man's private fortune, and give him a figure in his country, but secretly tormented with that passion which burns with the greatest fury in a virtuous and noble heart, when he received a sudden summons from Leontine to repair to him in the country the next day. For it seems Eudoxus was so filled with the report of his son's reputation, that he could no longer with-hold making himself known to him. The morning after his arrival at the house of his supposed father, Leontine told him that Eudoxus had something of great importance to communicate to him; upon which the good man embraced him, and wept. Florio was no sooner arrived at the great house that stood in his neighbourhood, but Eudoxus took him by the hand, after the first salutes were over, and conducted him into his closet. He there opened to him the whole secret of his parentage and education, concluding after this manner: I have no other way left of acknowledging my gratitude to Leontine, than by marrying you to his daughter. He shall not lose the pleasure of being your father by the discovery I have made to you. Leonilla too shall still be my daughter; her filial piety, though misplaced, has been so exemplary, that it deserves the greatest reward I can confer upon it. You shall have the pleasure of seeing a great estate fall to you, which you would have lost the relish of had you known yourself born to it. Continue only to deserve it in the same manner you did before you were possessed of it. I have left your mother in the next room. Her heart yearns towards you. She is making the same discoveries to Leonilla which I have made to yourself. Florio was so overwhelmed with this profusion of happiness, that he was not able to make a reply, but threw himself down at his father's feet, and, amidst a flood of tears, kissed and embraced his knees, asking his blessing, and expressing in dumb show those sentiments of love, duty, and gratitude that were too big for utterance. To conclude, the happy pair were married, and half Eudoxus's estate settled upon them. Leontine and Eudoxus passed the remainder of their lives together; and received in the dutiful and affectionate behaviour of Florio and Leonilla the just recompense as well as the natural effects of that care which they had bestowed upon them in their education. L.
No. 125. TUESDAY, JULY 24.
Ne, pueri, ne tanta animis assuescite bella, Neu patrice validas in viscera vertite vires. VIRG. AEn. vi. v. 832.
Embrace again, my sons, be foes no more, Nor stain your country with her children's gore. DRYDEN.
My worthy friend Sir Roger, when we are talking of the malice of parties, very frequently tells us an accident that happened to him when he was a schoolboy, which was at a time when the feuds ran high between the Round-heads and Cavaliers. This worthy Knight, being then but a stripling, had occasion to inquire which was the way to St. Anne's Lane, upon which the person whom he spoke to, instead of answering his question, called him a young Popish Cur, and asked him who had made Anne a saint! The boy, being in some confusion, inquired of the next he met, which was the way to Anne's Lane; but was called a prickeared cur for his pains, and instead of being shown the way, was told that she had been a saint before he was born, and would be one after he was hanged. Upon this, says Sir Roger, I did not think fit to repeat the former question, but going into every lane of the neighbourhood, asked what they called the name of that lane. By which ingenious artifice he found out the place he inquired after, without giving offence to any party. Sir ROGER generally closes this narrative with reflections on the mischief that parties do in the country; how they spoil good neighbourhood, and make honest gentlemen hate one another; besides that they manifestly tend to the prejudice of the land- tax, and the destruction of the game.
There cannot a greater judgment befal a country than such a dreadful spirit of division as rends a government into two distinct people, and makes them greater strangers and more averse to one another, than if they were actually two different nations. The effects of such a division are pernicious to the last degree, not only with regard to those advantages which they give the common enemy, but to those private evils which they produce in the heart of almost every particular person. This influence is very fatal both to men's morals and their understandings; it sinks the virtue of a nation, and not only so, but destroys even common sense.
A furious party-spirit, when it rages in its full violence, exerts itself in civil war and bloodshed; and when it is under its greatest restraints naturally breaks out in falsehood, detraction, calumny, and a partial administration of justice. In a word, it fills a nation with spleen and rancour, and extinguishes all the seeds of good-nature, compassion, and humanity.
Plutarch says very finely, that a man should not allow himself to hate even his enemies, because, says he, if you indulge this passion in some occasions, it will rise of itself in others; if you hate your enemies, you will contract such a vicious habit of mind, as by degrees will break out upon those who are your friends, or those who are indifferent to you. I might here observe how admirably this precept of morality (which derives the malignity of hatred from the passion itself, and not from its object) answers to that great rule which was dictated to the world about an hundred years before this philosopher wrote; but, instead of that, I shall only take notice, with a real grief of heart, that the minds of many good men among us appear soured with party- principles, and alienated from one another in such a manner, as seems to me altogether inconsistent with the dictates either of reason or religion. Zeal for a publick cause is apt to breed passions in the hearts of virtuous persons, to which the regard of their own private interest would never have betrayed them.
If this party-spirit has so ill an effect on our morals, it has likewise a very great one upon our judgments. We often hear a poor insipid paper or pamphlet cried up, and sometimes a noble piece depreciated, by those who are of a different principle from the author. One who is actuated by this spirit is almost under an incapacity of discerning either real blemishes or beauties. A man of merit in a different principle is like an object seen in two different mediums, that appears crooked or broken, however straight and entire it may be in itself. For this reason there is scarce a person of any figure in England, who does not go by two contrary characters, as opposite to one another as light and darkness. Knowledge and learning suffer in a particular manner from this strange prejudice, which at present prevails amongst all ranks and degrees in the British nation. As men formerly became eminent in learned societies by their parts and acquisitions, they now distinguish themselves by the warmth and violence with which they espouse their respective parties. Books are valued upon the like considerations: an abusive scurrilous style passes for satire, and a dull scheme of party- notions is called fine writing.
There is one piece of sophistry practised by both sides, and that is the taking any scandalous story that has been ever whispered or invented of a private man, for a known undoubted truth, and raising suitable speculations upon it. Calumnies that have been never proved, or have been often refuted, are the ordinary postulatums of these infamous scribblers, upon which they proceed as upon first principles granted by all men, though in their hearts they know they are false, or at best very doubtful. When they have laid these foundations of scurrility, it is no wonder that their superstructure is every way answerable to them. If this shameless practice of the present age endures much longer, praise and reproach will cease to be motives of action in good men.
There are certain periods of time in all governments when this inhuman spirit prevails. Italy was long torn in pieces by the Guelfes and Gibellines, and France by those who were for and against the League: but it is very unhappy for a man to be born in such a stormy and tempestuous season. It is the restless ambition of artful men that thus breaks a people into factions, and draws several well-meaning persons to their interest, by a specious concern for their country. How many honest minds are filled with uncharitable and barbarous notions, out of their zeal for the publick good? What cruelties and outrages would they not commit against men of an adverse party, whom they would honour and esteem, if, instead of considering them as they are represented, they knew them as they are? Thus are persons of the greatest probity seduced into shameful errors and prejudices, and made bad men even by that noblest of principles, the love of their country. I cannot here forbear mentioning the famous Spanish proverb, If there were neither fools nor knaves in the world, all people would be of one mind.
For my own part, I could heartily wish that all honest men would enter into an association, for the support of one another against the endeavours of those whom they ought to look upon as their common enemies, whatsoever side they may belong to. Were there such an honest body of neutral forces, we should never see the worst of men in great figures of life, because they are useful to a party; nor the best unregarded, because they are above practising those methods which would be grateful to their faction. We should then single every criminal out of the herd, and hunt him down, however formidable and overgrown he might appear: On the contrary, we should shelter distressed innocence, and defend virtue, however beset with contempt or ridicule, envy or defamation. In short, we should not any longer regard our fellow- subjects as Whigs or Tories, but should make the man of merit our friend, and the villain our enemy. C.
No. 126. WEDNESDAY, JULY 25.
Tros Rutulusve fuat, nullo discrimim habebo. VIRG. AEn. x. ver. 108.
Rutulians, Trojans, are the same to me. DRYDEN.
In my yesterday's paper I proposed, that the honest men of all parties should enter into a kind of association for the defence of one another, and the confusion of their common enemies. As it is designed this neutral body should act with a regard to nothing but truth and equity, and divest themselves of the little heats and prepossessions that cleave to parties of all kinds, I have prepared for them the following form of an association, which may express their intentions in the most plain and simple manner.
We whose names are hereunto subscribed do solemnly declare, That we do in our consciences believe two and two make four; and that we shall adjudge any man whatsoever to be our enemy who endeavours to persuade us to the contrary. We are likewise ready to maintain with the hazard of all that is near and dear to us, That six is less than seven in all times and all places; and that ten will not be more three years hence than it is at present. We do also firmly declare, That it is our resolution, as long as we live, to call black, black; and white, white. And we shall upon all occasions oppose such persons, that, upon any day of the year, shall call black white, or white black, with the utmost peril of our lives and fortunes.
Were there such a combination of honest men, who, without any regard to places, would endeavour to extirpate all such furious zealots as would sacrifice one half of their country to the passion and interest of the other; as also such infamous hypocrites, that are for promoting their own advantage, under colour of the publick good; with all the profligate immoral retainers to each side, that have nothing to recommend them but an implicit submission to their leaders; we should soon see that furious party-spirit extinguished, which may in time expose us to the derision and contempt of all the nations about us.
A member of this society, that would thus carefully employ himself in making room for merit, by throwing down the worthless and depraved part of mankind from those conspicuous stations of life to which they have been sometimes advanced, and all this without any regard to his private interest, would be no small benefactor to his country.
I remember to have read in Diodorus Siculus an account of a very active little animal, which I think he calls the Ichneumon, that makes it the whole business of his life to break the eggs of the crocodile, which he is always in search after. This instinct is the more remarkable, because the Ichneumon never feeds upon the eggs he has broken, nor any other way finds his account in them.
Were it not for the incessant labours of this industrious animal, AEgypt, says the historian, would be over-run with crocodiles; for the AEgyptians are so far from destroying those pernicious creatures, that they worship them as gods.
If we look into the behaviour of ordinary Partizans, we shall find them far from resembling this disinterested animal; and rather acting after the example of the wild Tartars, who are ambitious of destroying a man of the most extraordinary parts and accomplishments, as thinking upon his decease the same talents, whatever post they qualified him for, enter of course into his destroyer.
As in the whole train of my Speculations, I have endeavoured as much as I am able to extinguish that pernicious spirit of passion and prejudice, which rages with the same violence in all parties, I am still the more desirous of doing some good in this particular, because I observe that the spirit of party reigns more in the country than in the town. It here contracts a kind of brutality and rustick fierceness, to which men of politer conversation are wholly strangers. It extends itself even to the return of the bow and the hat; and at the same time that the heads of parties preserve towards one another an outward show of good-breeding, and keep up a perpetual intercourse of civilities, their tools that are dispersed in these outlying parts will not so much as mingle together at a cock-match. This humour fills the country with several periodical meetings of Whig Jockeys and Tory Fox-hunters; not to mention the innumerable curses, frowns, and whispers it produces at a quarter- sessions.
I do not know whether I have observed in any of my former papers, that my friends Sir ROGER DE COVERLEY and Sir ANDREW FREEPORT are of different principles, the first of them inclined to the landed and the other to the monied interest. This humour is so moderate in each of them, that it proceeds no farther than to an agreeable rallery, which very often diverts the rest of the club. I find however that the Knight is a much stronger Tory in the country than in town, which, as he has told me in my ear, is absolutely necessary for the keeping up his interest. In all our journey from London to his house we did not so much as bait at a Whig inn; or, if by chance the coachman stopped at a wrong place, one of Sir ROGER'S servants would ride up to his master full speed, and whisper to him that the master of the house was against such an one in the last election. This often betrayed us into hard beds and bad cheer; for we were not so inquisitive about the inn as the inn-keeper; and, provided our landlord's principles were sound, did not take any notice of the staleness of his provisions. This I found still the more inconvenient, because the better the host was, the worse generally were his accommodations; the fellow knowing very well that those who were his friends would take up with coarse diet and an hard lodging. For these reasons, all the while I was upon the road, I dreaded entering into an house of any one that Sir ROGER had applauded for an honest man.
Since my stay at Sir ROGER'S in the country, I daily find more instances of this narrow party-humour. Being upon a bowling-green at a neighbouring market-town the other day, (for that is the place where the gentlemen of one side meet once a week) I observed a stranger among them of a better presence and genteeler behaviour than ordinary; but was much surprised, that notwithstanding he was a very fair bettor, no body would take him up. But upon inquiry I found, that he was one who had given a disagreeable vote in a former parliament, for which reason there was not a man upon that bowling-green who would have so much correspondence with him as to win his money of him.
Among other instances of this nature, I must not omit one which concerns myself. Will Wimble was the other day relating several strange stories that he had picked up no body knows where, of a certain great man; and upon my staring at him, as one that was surprised to hear such things in the country, which had never been so much as whispered in the town, Will stopped short in the thread of his discourse, and after dinner asked my friend Sir ROGER in his ear if he was sure that I was not a fanatick.
It gives me a serious concern to see such a spirit of dissension in the country; not only as it destroys virtue and common sense, and renders us in a manner barbarians towards one another, but as it perpetuates our animosities, widens our breaches, and transmits our present passions and prejudices to our posterity. For my own part, I am sometimes afraid that I discover the seeds of a civil war in these our divisions; and therefore cannot but bewail, as in their first principles, the miseries and calamities of our children. C.
No. 127. THURSDAY, JULY 26.
Quantum est in rebus inane? PERS. Sat. i. ver. 1.
How much of emptiness we find in things!
It is our custom at Sir ROGER'S, upon the coming in of the post, to sit about a pot of coffee, and hear the old Knight read Dyer's letter; which he does with his spectacles upon his nose, and in an audible voice, smiling very often at those little strokes of satire, which are so frequent in the writings of that author; I afterwards communicate to the Knight such packets as I receive under the quality of SPECTATOR. The following letter chancing to please him more than ordinary, I shall publish it at his request.
'You have diverted the town almost a whole month at the expence of the country, it is now high time that you should give the country their revenge. Since your withdrawing from this place, the fair sex are run into great extravagancies. Their petticoats, which began to heave and swell before you left us, are now blown up into a most enormous concave, and rise every day more and more: In short, Sir, since our women know themselves to be out of the eye of the SPECTATOR, they will be kept within no compass. You praised them a little too soon for the modesty of their head-dresses; for, as the humour of a sick person is often driven out of one limb into another, their superfluity of ornaments, instead of being entirely banished, seems only fallen from their heads upon their lower parts. What they have lost in height they make up in breadth, and, contrary to all rules of architecture, widen the foundations at the same time that they shorten the superstructure.
'I find several speculative persons are of opinion that our sex has of late years been very saucy, and that the hoop-petticoat is made use of to keep us at a distance. It is most certain that a woman's honour cannot be better entrenched than after this manner, in circle within circle, amidst such a variety of out-works and lines of circumvallation, A female who is thus invested in whalebone is sufficiently secured against the approaches of an ill-bred fellow, who might as well think of Sir George Etherege's way of making love in a tub, as in the midst of so many hoops.
'Among these various conjectures, there are men of superstitious tempers, who look upon the hoop-petticoat as a kind of prodigy. Some will have it that it portends the downfal of the French King, and observe that the farthingale appeared in England a little before the ruin of the Spanish monarchy. Others are of opinion that it fortels battle and bloodshed, and believe it of the same prognostication as the tail of a blazing star.
'Should this fashion get among the ordinary people, our publick ways would be so crowded that we should want street-room. Several congregations of the best fashion find themselves already very much straitened, and if the mode increase I wish it may not drive many ordinary women into meetings and conventicles. Should our sex at the same time take it into their heads to wear trunk-breeches (as who knows what their indignation at this female treatment may drive them to) a man and his wife would fill a whole pew.
'You know, Sir, it is recorded of Alexander the Great, that in his Indian expedition he buried several suits of armour, which, by his direction, were made much too big for any of his soldiers, in order to give posterity an extraordinary idea of him, and make them believe he had commanded an army of giants. I am persuaded that if one of the present petticoats happens to be hung up in any repository of curiosities, it will lead into the same error the generations that lie some removes from us, unless we can believe our posterity will think so disrespectfully of their great-grandmothers, that they made themselves monstrous to appear amiable.
'When I survey this new-fashioned Rotunda in all its parts, I cannot but think of the old philosopher, who, after having entered into an AEgyptian temple, and looked about for the idol of the place, at length discovered a little black monkey enshrined in the midst of it, upon which he could not forbear crying out, (to the great scandal of the worshippers) What a magnificent palace is here for such a ridiculous inhabitant!
'Though you have taken a resolution, in one of your papers, to avoid descending to particularities of dress, I believe you will not think it below you on so extraordinary an occasion, to unhoop the fair sex, and cure this fashionable tympany that is got among them. I am apt to think the petticoat will shrink of its own accord at your first coming to town; at least a touch of your pen will make it contract itself, like the sensitive plant, and by that means oblige several who are either terrified or astonished at this portentous novelty, and among the rest,
'Your humble servant, &c.'
No. 128. FRIDAY, JULY 27.
Concordia discors. LUCAN. 1. I. v. 98.
Women in their nature are much more gay and joyous than men; whether it be that their blood is more refined, their fibres more delicate, and their animal spirits more light and volatile; or whether, as some have imagined, there may not be a kind of sex in the very soul, I shall not pretend to determine. As vivacity is the gift of women, gravity is that of men. They should each of them therefore keep a watch upon the particular bias which nature has fixed in their mind, that it may not draw too much, and lead them out of the paths of reason. This will certainly happen, if the one in every word and action affects the character of being rigid and severe, and the other of being brisk and airy. Men should beware of being captivated by a kind of savage philosophy, women by a thoughtless gallantry. Where these precautions are not observed, the man often degenerates into a Cynick, the woman into a coquette; the man grows sullen and morose, the woman impertinent and fantastical.
By what I have said, we may conclude, men and women were made as counterparts to one another, that the pains and anxieties of the husband might be relieved by the sprightliness and good-humour of the wife. When these are rightly tempered, care and chearfulness go hand in hand; and the family, like a ship that is duly trimmed, wants neither sail nor ballast.
Natural historians observe, (for whilst I am in the country I must fetch my allusions from thence) That only the male birds have voices; that their songs begin a little before breeding-time, and end a little after; that whilst the hen is covering her eggs the male generally takes his stand upon a neighbouring bough within her hearing; and by that means amuses and diverts her with his songs during the whole time of her sitting.
This contract among birds lasts no longer than till a brood of young ones arises from it; so that in the feathered kind, the cares and fatigues of the married state, if I may so call it, lie principally upon the female. On the contrary, as in our species the man and woman are joined together for life, and the main burden rests upon the former, nature has given all the little arts of soothing and blandishment to the female, that she may chear and animate her companion in a constant and assiduous application to the making a provision for his family, and the educating of their common children. This however is not to be taken so strictly, as if the same duties were not often reciprocal, and incumbent on both parties; but only to set forth what seems to have been the general intention of nature, in the different inclinations and endowments which are bestowed on the different sexes.
But whatever was the reason that man and woman were made with this variety of temper, if we observe the conduct of the fair sex, we find that they choose rather to associate themselves with a person who resembles them in that light and volatile humour which is natural to them, than to such as are qualified to moderate and counterbalance it. It has been an old complaint, that the coxcomb carries it with them before the man of sense. When we see a fellow loud and talkative, full of insipid life and laughter, we may venture to pronounce him a female favourite: Noise and flutter are such accomplishments as they cannot withstand. To be short, the passion of an ordinary woman for a man is nothing else but self-love diverted upon another object: She would have the lover a woman in every thing but the sex. I do not know a finer piece of satire on this part of womankind, than those lines of Mr. Dryden.
Our thoughtless sex is caught by outward form, And empty noise, and loves itself in man.
This is a source of infinite calamities to the sex, as it frequently joins them to men, who in their own thoughts are as fine creatures as themselves; or, if they chance to be good-humoured, serve only to dissipate their fortunes, inflame their follies, and aggravate their indiscretions.
The same female levity is no less fatal to them after marriage than before: It represents to their imaginations the faithful prudent husband as an honest, tractable, and domestick animal; and turns their thoughts upon the fine gay gentleman that laughs, sings, and dresses so much more agreeably.
As this irregular vivacity of temper leads astray the hearts of ordinary women in the choice of their lovers and the treatment of their husbands, it operates with the same pernicious influence towards their children, who are taught to accomplish themselves in all those sublime perfections that appear captivating in the eye of their mother. She admires in her son what she loved in her gallant; and by that means contributes all she can to perpetuate herself in a worthless progeny.
The younger Faustina was a lively instance of this sort of women. Notwithstanding she was married to Marcus Aurelius, one of the greatest, wisest, and best of the Roman emperors, she thought a common gladiator much the prettier gentleman; and had taken such care to accomplish her son Commodus according to her own notions of a fine man, that when he ascended the throne of his father, he became the most foolish and abandoned tyrant that was Jo ever placed at the head of the Roman empire, signalizing himself in nothing but the fighting of prizes, and knocking out men's brains. As he had no taste of true glory, we see him in several medals and statues which are still extant of him, equipped like an Hercules with a club and a lion's skin.
I have been led into this speculation by the characters I have heard of a country gentleman and his lady, who do not live many miles from Sir ROGER. The wife is an old coquette, that is always hankering after the diversions of the town; the husband a morose rustick, that frowns and frets at the name of it. The wife is over-run with affectation, the husband sunk into brutality. The lady cannot bear the noise of the larks and nightingales, hates your tedious summer days, and is sick at the sight of shady woods and purling streams; the husband wonders how any one can be pleased with the fooleries of plays and operas, and rails from morning to night at essenced fops and tawdry courtiers. The children are educated in these different notions of their parents. The sons follow the father about his grounds, while the daughters read volumes of love-letters and romances to their mother. By this means it comes to pass, that the girls look upon their father as a clown, and the boys think their mother no better than she should be.
How different are the lives of Aristus and Aspasia? the innocent vivacity of the one is tempered and composed by the chearful gravity of the other. The wife grows wise by the discourses of the husband, and the husband good-humoured by the conversations of the wife. Aristus would not be so amiable were it not for his Aspasia, nor Aspasia so much esteemed were it not for her Aristus. Their virtues are blended in their children, and diffuse through the whole family a perpetual spirit of benevolence, complacency, and satisfaction. C.
No. 129. SATURDAY, JULY 28.
Vertentem sese frustra sectabere canthum, Cum rota posterior curras & in axe secundo. PERS. Sat. v. ver. 71.
Thou, like the hindmost chariot-wheels, art curst Still to be near, but ne'er to be the first. DRYDEN.
Great masters in painting never care for drawing people in the fashion; as very well knowing that the head-dress, or periwig, that now prevails, and gives a grace to their portraitures at present, will make a very odd figure, and perhaps look monstrous in the eyes of posterity. For this reason they often represent an illustrious person in a Roman habit, or in some other dress that never varies. I could wish, for the sake of my country friends, that there was such a kind of everlasting drapery to be made use of by all who live at a certain distance from the town, and that they would agree upon such fashions as should never be liable to changes and innovations. For want of this standing dress, a man who takes a journey into the country is as much surprised, as one who walks in a gallery of old family pictures; and finds as great a variety of garbs and habits in the persons he converses with. Did they keep to one constant dress they would sometimes be in the fashion, which they never are as matters are managed at present. If instead of running after the mode, they would continue fixed in one certain habit, the mode would some time or other overtake them, as a clock that stands still is sure to point right once in twelve hours: In this case therefore I would advise them, as a gentleman did his friend who was hunting about the whole town after a rambling fellow, if you follow him you will never find him, but if you plant yourself at the corner of any one street, I'll engage it will not be long before you see him.
I have already touched upon this subject in a speculation which shows how cruelly the country are led astray in following the town; and equipped in a ridiculous habit, when they fancy themselves in the height of the mode. Since that speculation I have received a letter (which I there hinted at) from a gentleman who is now in the western circuit.
'Being a lawyer of the Middle-Temple, a Cornishman by birth, I generally ride the western circuit for my health, and as I am not interrupted with clients, have leisure to make many observations that escape the notice of my fellow-travellers.
'One of the most fashionable women I met with in all the circuit was my landlady at Stains, where I chanced to be on a holiday. Her commode was not half a foot high, and her petticoat within some yards of a modish circumference. In the same place I observed a young fellow with a tolerable periwig, had it not been covered with a hat that was shaped in the Ramilie cock. As I proceeded in my journey I observed the petticoat grew scantier and scantier, and about threescore miles from London was so very unfashionable, that a woman might walk in it without any manner of inconvenience.
'Not far from Salisbury I took notice of a justice of peace's lady, who was at least ten years behindhand in her dress, but at the same time as fine as hands could make her. She was flounced and furbelowed from head to foot; every ribbon was wrinkled, and every part of her garments in curl, so that she looked like one of those animals which in the country we call a Friezland hen.
'Not many miles beyond this place I was informed, that one of the last year's little muffs had by some means or other straggled into those parts, and that all the women of fashion were cutting their old muffs in two, or retrenching them according to the little model which was got among them. I cannot believe the report they have there, that it was sent down franked by a parliament-man in a little packet; but probably by next winter this fashion will be at the height in the country, when it is quite out at London. The greatest beau at our next county-sessions was dressed in a most monstrous flaxen periwig, that was made in King William's reign. The wearer of it goes, it seems, in his own hair, when he is at home, and lets his wig lie in buckle for a whole half year, that he may put it on upon occasion to meet the judges in it.
'I must not here omit an adventure which happened to us in a country church upon the frontiers of Cornwall. As we were in the midst of the service, a lady who is the chief woman of the place, and had passed the winter at London with her husband, entered the congregation in a little head-dress, and a hooped petticoat. The people, who were wonderfully startled at such a sight, all of them rose up. Some stared at the prodigious bottom and some at the little top of this strange dress. In the mean time the lady of the manor filled the area of the church, and walked up to her pew with an unspeakable satisfaction, amidst the whispers, conjectures, and astonishments of the whole congregation.
'Upon our way from hence we saw a young fellow riding towards us full gallop, with a bob-wig and a black silken bag tied to it. He stopt short at the coach, to ask us how far the judges were behind us. His stay was so very short, that we had only time to observe his new silk waistcoat, which was unbuttoned in several places to let us see that he had a clean shirt on, which was ruffled down to his middle.
'From this place, during our progress through the most western parts of the kingdom, we fancied ourselves in in King Charles II.'s reign, the people having made very little variations in their dress since that time. The smartest of the country squires appear still in the Monmouth cock, and when they go a wooing (whether they have any post in the militia or not) they generally put on a red coat. We were indeed, very much surprised at the place we lay at last night, to meet with a gentleman that had accoutred himself in a night-cap wig, a coat with long pockets and slit sleeves, and a pair of shoes with high scollop tops; but we soon found by his conversation that he was a person who laughed at the ignorance and rusticity of the country people, and was resolved to live and die in the mode.
'Sir, If you think this account of my travels may be of any advantage to the public, I will next year trouble you with such occurrences as I shall meet with in other parts of England. For I am informed there are greater curiosities in the northern circuit than in the western; and that a fashion makes its progress much slower into Cumberland than into Cornwall. I have heard in particular, that the Steenkirk arrived but two months ago at Newcastle, and that there are several commodes in those parts which are worth taking a journey thither to see.' C.
No. 130. MONDAY, JULY 30.
Semperque recentes Convectare juvat praedas, et vivere rapto. VIRG. AEn. vii. ver. 748.
Hunting their sport, and plund'ring was their trade. DRYDEN.
As I was yesterday riding out in the fields with my friend Sir ROGER, we saw at a little distance from us a troop of gipsies. Upon the first discovery of them, my friend was in some doubt whether he should not exert the Justice of the Peace upon such a band of lawless vagrants; but not having his clerk with him, who is a necessary counsellor on these occasions, and fearing that his poultry might fare the worse for it, he let the thought drop: But at the same time gave me a particular account of the mischiefs they do in the country, in stealing people's goods and spoiling their servants. If a stray piece of linen hangs upon an hedge, says Sir ROGER, they are sure to have it; if the hog loses his way in the fields, it is ten to one but he becomes their prey; our geese cannot live in peace for them; if a man prosecutes them with severity, his henroost is sure to pay for it: They generally straggle into these parts about this time of the year; and set the heads of our servant-maids so agog for husbands, that we do not expect to have any business done as it should be whilst they are in the country. I have an honest dairymaid who crosses their hands with a piece of silver every summer, and never fails being promised the handsomest young fellow in the parish for her pains. Your friend the butler has been fool enough to be seduced by them; and though he is sure to lose a knife, a fork, or a spoon every time his fortune is told him, generally shuts himself up in the pantry with an old gipsy for above half an hour once in a twelvemonth. Sweethearts are the things they live upon, which they bestow very plentifully upon all those that apply themselves to them. You see now and then some handsome young jades among them: The sluts have very often white teeth and black eyes.
Sir ROGER observing that I listened with great attention to his account of a people who were so entirely new to me, told me, that if I would they should tell us our fortunes. As I was very well pleased with the Knight's proposal, we rid up and communicated our hands to them. A Cassandra of the crew, after having examined my lines very diligently, told me, that I loved a pretty maid in a corner, that I was a good woman's man, with some other particulars which I do not think proper to relate. My friend Sir ROGER alighted from his horse, and exposing his palm to two or three that stood by him, they crumpled it into all shapes, and diligently scanned every wrinkle that could be made in it; when one of them, who was older and more sunburnt than the rest, told him, that he had a widow in his line of life: Upon which the Knight cried, Go, go, you are an idle baggage; and at the same time smiled upon me. The gipsy finding he was not displeased in his heart, told him, after a farther inquiry into his hand, that his true-love was constant, and that she should dream of him to-night: My old friend cried pish, and bid her go on. The gipsy told him that he was a bachelor, but would not be so long; and that he was dearer to somebody than he thought: The Knight still repeated she was an idle baggage, and bid her go on. Ah, master, says the gipsy, that roguish leer of yours makes a pretty woman's heart ache; you have not that simper about the mouth for nothing—The uncouth gibberish with which all this was uttered, like the darkness of an oracle, made us the more attentive to it. To be short, the Knight left the money with her that he had crossed her hand with, and got up again on his horse.
As we were riding away, Sir ROGER told me, that he knew several sensible people who believed these gipsies now and then foretold very strange things; and for half an hour together appeared more jocund than ordinary. In the height of his good-humour, meeting a common beggar upon the road who was no conjurer, as he went to relieve him he found his pocket was picked; that being a kind of palmistry at which this race of vermin are very dexterous.
I might here entertain my reader with historical remarks on this idle profligate people, who infest all the countries of Europe, and live in the midst of governments in a kind of commonwealth by themselves. But instead of entering into observations of this nature, I shall fill the remaining part of my paper with a story which is still fresh in Holland, and was printed in one of our monthly accounts about twenty years ago. 'As the Trekschuyt or hackney-boat, which carries passengers from Leyden to Amsterdam, was putting off, a boy running along the side of the canal desired to be taken in; which the master of the boat refused, because the lad had not quite money enough to pay the usual fare. An eminent merchant being pleased with the looks of the boy, and secretly touched with compassion towards him, paid the money for him, and ordered him to be taken on board. Upon talking with him afterwards, he found that he could speak readily in three or four languages, and learned upon further examination that he had been stolen away when he was a child by a gipsy, and had rambled ever since with a gang of those strollers up and down several parts of Europe. It happened that the merchant, whose heart seems to have inclined towards the boy by a secret kind of instinct, had himself lost a child some years before. The parents, after a long search for him, gave him for drowned in one of the canals with which that country abounds; and the mother was so afflicted at the loss of a fine boy, who was her only son, that she died for grief of it. Upon laying together all particulars, and examining the several moles and marks by which the mother used to describe the child when he was first missing, the boy proved to be the son of the merchant whose heart had so unaccountably melted at the sight of him. The lad was very well pleased to find a father who was so rich, and likely to leave him a good estate; the father on the other hand was not a little delighted to see a son return to him, whom he had given for lost, with such a strength of constitution, sharpness of understanding, and skill in languages.' Here the printed story leaves off; but if I may give credit to reports, our linguist having received such extraordinary rudiments towards a good education, was afterwards trained up in every thing that becomes a gentleman; wearing off by little and little all the vicious habits and practices that he had been used to in the course of his peregrinations: Nay, it is said, that he has since been employed in foreign courts upon national business, with great reputation to himself and honour to those who sent him, and that he has visited several countries as a public minister, in which he formerly wandered as a gipsy. C.
No. 131. TUESDAY, JULY 31.
Ipsae rursum concedite sylvae. VIRG. Ecl. x. ver. 63.
Once more, ye woods, adieu.
It is usual for a man who loves country-sports to preserve the game on his own grounds, and divert himself upon those that belong to his neighbour. My friend Sir ROGER generally goes two or three miles from his house, and gets into the frontiers of his estate, before he beats about in search of a hare or partridge, on purpose to spare his own fields, where he is always sure of finding to diversion, when the worst comes to the worst. By this means the breed about his house has time to increase and multiply, beside that the sport is the more agreeable where the game is the harder to come at, and where it does not lie so thick as to produce any perplexity or confusion in the pursuit. For these reasons the country gentleman, like the fox, seldom preys near his own home.
In the same manner I have made a month's excursion out of the town, which is the great field of game for sportsmen of my species, to try my fortune in the country, where I have started several subjects, and hunted them down, with some pleasure to myself, and I hope to others. I am here forced to use a great deal of diligence before I can spring anything to my mind, whereas in town, whilst I am following one character, it is ten to one but I am crossed in my way by another, and put up such a variety of odd creatures in both sexes, that they foil the scent of one another, and puzzle the chace. My greatest difficulty in the country is to find sport, and in town to chuse it. In the mean time, as I have given a whole month's rest to the cities of London and Westminster, I promise myself abundance of new game upon my return thither.
It is indeed high time for me to leave the country, since I find the whole neighbourhood begin to grow very inquisitive after my name and character: My love of solitude, taciturnity, and particular way of life, having raised a great curiosity in all these parts.
The notions which have been framed of me are various: Some look upon me as very proud, some as very modest, and some as very melancholy. Will Wimble, as my friend the butler tells me, observing me very much alone, and extremely silent when I am in company, is afraid I have killed a man. The country people seem to suspect me for a conjurer; and some of them, hearing of the visit which I made to Moll White, will needs have it that Sir ROGER has brought down a cunning man with him, to cure the old woman, and free the country from her charms. So that the character which I go under in part of the neighbourhood, is what they here call a White Witch.
A justice of peace, who lives about five miles off, and is not of Sir ROGER'S party, has it seems said twice or thrice at his table, that he wishes Sir ROGER does not harbour a Jesuit in his house, and that he thinks the gentlemen of the country would do very well to make me give some account of myself.
On the other side, some of Sir ROGER'S friends are afraid the old Knight is imposed upon by a designing fellow, and as they have heard that he converses very promiscuously when he is in town, do not know but he has brought down with him some discarded Whig, that is sullen, and says nothing because he is out of place.
Such is the variety of opinions which are here entertained of me, so that I pass among some for a disaffected person, and among others for a Popish priest; among some for a wizard, and among others for a murderer; and all this for no other reason, that I can imagine, but because I do not hoot and hollow, and make a noise. It is true my friend Sir ROGER tells them, That it is my way, and that I am only a philosopher; but this will not satisfy them. They think there is more in me than he discovers, and that I do not hold my tongue for nothing.
For these and other reasons I shall set out for London to-morrow, having found by experience that the country is not a place for a person of my temper, who does not love jollity, and what they call good neighbourhood. A man that is out of humour when an unexpected guest breaks in upon him, and does not care for sacrificing an afternoon to every chance-comer; that will be the master of his own time, and the pursuer of his own inclinations, makes but a very unsociable figure in this kind of life. I shall therefore retire into the town, if I may make use of that phrase, and get into the crowd again as fast as I can, in order to be alone. I can there raise what speculations I please upon others, without being observed myself, and at the same time enjoy all the advantages of company with all the privileges of solitude. In the mean while, to finish the month, and conclude these my rural speculations, I shall here insert a letter from my friend WILL HONEYCOMB, who has not lived a month for these forty years out of the smoke of London, and rallies me after his way upon my country life.
'I SUPPOSE this letter will find thee picking of daisies, or smelling to a lock of hay, or passing away thy time in some innocent country diversion of the like nature. I have however orders from the club to summon thee up to town, being all of us cursedly afraid thou wilt not be able to relish our company, after thy conversations with Moll White and Will Wimble. Pr'ythee do not send us up any more stories of a cock and a bull, nor frighten the town with spirits and witches. Thy speculations begin to smell confoundedly of woods and meadows. If thou dost not come up quickly, we shall conclude that thou art in love with one of Sir ROGER'S dairymaids. Service to the Knight. Sir ANDREW is grown the cock of the club since he left us, and if he does not return quickly will make every mother's son of us commonwealth's men. Dear SPEC,
No. 132. WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1.
Qui, aut tempus quid postulet non videt, aut plura loquitur, aut se ostentat, aut eorum quibuscum est rationem non habet, is ineptus esse dicitur. TULL.
That man is guilty of impertinence, who considers not The circumstances of time, or engrosses the conversation, or makes himself the subject of his discourse, or pays no regard to the company he is in.
Having notified to my good friend Sir ROGER that I should set out for London the next day, his horses were ready at the appointed hour in the evening; and, attended by one of his grooms, I arrived at the country town at twilight, in order to be ready for the stage-coach the day following. As soon as we arrived at the inn, the servant, who waited upon me, inquired of the chamberlain in my hearing, what company he had for the coach? The fellow answered, Mrs. Betty Arable, the great fortune, and the widow her mother; a recruiting officer (who took a place because they were to go;) young squire Quickset her cousin (that her mother wished her to be married to); Ephraim the quaker, her guardian; and a gentleman that had studied himself dumb, from Sir ROGER DE COVERLEY'S. I observed by what he said of myself, that according to his office he dealt much in intelligence; and doubted not but there was some foundation for his reports for the rest of the company, as well as for the whimsical account he gave of me. The next morning at day-break we were all called; and I, who know my own natural shyness, and endeavour to be as little liable to be disputed with as possible, dressed immediately, that I might make no one wait. The first preparation for our setting out was, that the captain's half-pike was placed near the coachman, and a drum behind the coach. In the mean time the drummer, the captain's equipage, was very loud, that none of the captain's things should be placed so as to be spoiled; upon which his cloak-bag was fixed in the seat of the coach; and the captain himself, according to a frequent, though invidious behaviour of military men, ordered his man to look sharp, that none but one of the ladies should have the place he had taken fronting to the coach-box.
We were in some little time fixed in our seats, and sat with that dislike which people not too good-natured usually conceive of each other at first sight. The coach jumbled us insensibly into some sort of familiarity; and we had not moved above two miles when the widow asked the captain what success he had in his recruiting? The officer, with a frankness he believed very graceful, told her, 'That indeed he had but very little luck, and had suffered much by desertion, therefore should be glad to end his warfare in the service of her or her fair daughter. In a word, continued he, I am a soldier, and to be plain is my character: You see me, Madam, young, sound, and impudent; take me yourself, widow, or give me to her, I will be wholly at your disposal. I am a soldier of fortune, ha!' This was followed by a vain laugh of his own, and a deep silence of all the rest of the company. I had nothing left for it but to fall fast asleep, which I did with all speed. 'Come,' said he, 'resolve upon it, we will make a wedding at the next town; we will wake this pleasant companion who is fallen asleep, to be the brideman, and' (giving the quaker a clap on the knee) he concluded, 'This sly saint, who, I'll warrant, understands what's what as well as you or I, widow, shall give the bride as father.' The quaker, who happened to be a man of smartness, answered, 'Friend, I take it in good part that thou hast given me the authority of a father over this comely and virtuous child; and I must assure thee, that if I have the giving her, I shall not bestow her on thee. Thy mirth, friend, savoureth of folly: Thou art a person of a light mind; thy drum is a type of thee, it soundeth because it is empty. Verily, it is not from thy fullness, but thy emptiness that thou hast spoken this day. Friend, friend, we have hired this coach in partnership with thee, to carry us to the great city; we cannot go any other way. This worthy mother must hear thee, if thou wilt needs utter thy follies; we cannot help it, friend, I say: If thou wilt we must hear thee; but, if thou wert a man of understanding, thou wouldst not take advantage of thy courageous countenance to abash us children of peace. Thou art, thou sayest, a soldier; give quarter to us, who cannot resist thee. Why didst thou fleer at our friend, who feigned himself asleep? He said nothing; but how dost thou know what he containeth? If thou speakest improper things in the hearing of this virtuous young virgin, consider it as an outrage against a distressed person that cannot get from thee: To speak indiscreetly what we are obliged to hear, by being hasped up with thee in this public vehicle, is in some degree assaulting on the high road.'
Here Ephraim paused, and the captain with a happy and uncommon impudence (which can be convicted and support itself at the same time) cries, 'Faith, friend, I thank thee; I should have been a little impertinent if thou hadst not reprimanded me. Come, thou art, I see, a smoky old fellow, and I'll be very orderly the ensuing part of my journey. I was going to give myself airs, but, ladies, I beg pardon.'
The captain was so little out of humour, and our company was so far from being soured by this little ruffle, that Ephraim and he took a particular delight in being agreeable to each other for the future; and assumed their different provinces in the conduct of the company. Our reckonings, apartments, and accommodation, fell under Ephraim: and the captain looked to all disputes upon the road, as the good behaviour of our coachman, and the right we had of taking place as going to London of all vehicles coming from thence. The occurrences we met with were ordinary, and very little happened which could entertain by the relation of them: But when I considered the company we were in, I took it for no small good-fortune that the whole journey was not spent in impertinencies, which to the one part of us might be an entertainment, to the other a suffering. What therefore Ephraim said when we were almost arrived at London, had to me an air not only of good understanding but good breeding. Upon the young lady's expressing her satisfaction in the journey, and declaring how delightful it had been to her, Ephraim delivered himself as follows: 'There is no ordinary part of human life which expresseth so much a good mind, and a right inward man, as his behaviour upon meeting with strangers, especially such as may seem the most unsuitable companions to him: Such a man, when he falleth in the way with persons of simplicity and innocence, however knowing he may be in the ways of men, will not vaunt himself thereof; but will the rather hide his superiority to them, that he may not be painful unto them. My good friend, (continued he, turning to the officer) thee and I are to part by and by, and peradventure we may never meet again: But be advised by a plain man; modes and apparel are but trifles to the real man, therefore do not think such a man as thyself terrible for thy garb, nor such a one as me contemptible for mine. When two such as thee and I meet, with affections such as we ought to have towards each other, thou shouldst rejoice to see my peaceable demeanour, and I should be glad to see thy strength and ability to protect me in it.' T.
No. 269. TUESDAY, JANUARY 8.
Aevo rarissima nostro Simplicitas. OVID, Ars Am. lib. i. ver. 241.
And brings our old simplicity again. DRYDEN.
I was this morning surprised with a great knocking at the door, when my landlady's daughter came up to me, and told me that there was a man below desired to speak with me. Upon my asking her who it was, she told me it was a very grave elderly person, but that she did not know his name. I immediately went down to him, and found him to be the coachman of my worthy friend Sir ROGER DE COVERLEY. He told me, that his master came to town last night, and would be glad to take a turn with me in Gray's-Inn walks. As I was wondering in myself what had brought Sir ROGER to town, not having lately received any letter from him, he told me that his master was come up to get a sight of Prince Eugene, and that he desired I would immediately meet him.
I was not a little pleased with the curiosity of the old Knight, though I did not much wonder at it, having heard him say more than once in private discourse, that he looked upon Prince Eugenio (for so the Knight always calls him) to be a greater man than Scanderbeg.
I was no sooner come into Gray's-Inn walks, but I heard my friend upon the terrace hemming twice or thrice to himself with great vigour, for he loves to clear his pipes in good air (to make use of his own phrase), and is not a little pleased with any one who takes notice of the strength which he still exerts in his morning hems.
I was touched with a secret joy at the sight of the good old man, who before he saw me was engaged in conversation with a beggar man that had asked an alms of him. I could hear my friend chide him for not finding out some work; but at the same time saw him put his hand in his pocket and give him sixpence.
Our salutations were very hearty on both sides, consisting of many kind shakes of the hand, and several affectionate looks which we cast upon one another. After which the Knight told me my good friend his chaplain was very well, and much at my service, and that the Sunday before he had made a most incomparable sermon out of Dr. Barrow. 'I have left,' says he, 'all my affairs in his hands, and being willing to lay an obligation upon him, have deposited with him thirty merks, to be distributed among his poor parishioners.'
He then proceeded to acquaint me with the welfare of Will Wimble. Upon which he put his hand into his fob, and presented me in his name with a tobacco-stopper, telling me that Will had been busy all the beginning of the winter in turning great quantities of them; and that he made a present of one to every gentleman in the country who has good principles, and smokes. He added, that poor Will was at present under great tribulation, for that Tom Touchy had taken the law of him for cutting some hazel-sticks out of one of his hedges.
Among other pieces of news which the Knight brought from his country- seat, he informed me that Moll White was dead; and that about a month after her death the wind was so very high, that it blew down the end of one of his barns. 'But for my own part,' says Sir ROGER, 'I do not think that the old woman had any hand in it.'
He afterwards fell into an account of the diversions which had passed in his house during the holidays; for Sir ROGER, after the laudable custom of his ancestors, always keeps open house at Christmas. I learned from him that he had killed eight fat hogs for this season, that he had dealt about his chines very liberally amongst his neighbours, and that in particular he had sent a string of hogs-puddings with a pack of cards to every poor family in the parish. 'I have often thought,' says Sir ROGER, 'it happens very well that Christmas should fall out in the middle of winter. It is the most dead uncomfortable time of the year, when the poor people would suffer very much from their poverty and cold, if they had not good cheer, warm fires, and Christmas Gambols to support them. I love to rejoice their poor hearts at this season, and to see the whole village merry in my great hall. I allow a double quantity of malt to my small beer, and set it a running for twelve days to every one that calls for it. I have always a piece of cold beef and a mince-pye upon the table, and am wonderfully pleased to see my tenants pass away a whole evening in playing their innocent tricks, and smutting one another. Our friend Will Wimble is as merry as any of them, and shews a thousand roguish tricks upon these occasions.'
I was very much delighted with the reflexion of my old friend, which carried so much goodness in it. He then launched out into the praise of the late act of Parliament for securing the Church of England, and told me, with great satisfaction, that he believed it already began to take effect, for that a rigid dissenter who chanced to dine at his house on Christmas day, had been observed to eat very plentifully of his plumb-porridge.
After having dispatched all our country matters, Sir ROGER made several inquiries concerning the club, and particularly of his old antagonist Sir ANDREW FREEPORT. He asked me with a kind of a smile, whether Sir ANDREW had not taken the advantage of his absence, to vent among them some of his republican doctrines; but soon after gathering up his countenance into a more than ordinary seriousness, 'Tell me truly,' says he, 'do not you think Sir ANDREW had a hand in the Pope's procession?'— but without giving me time to answer him, 'Well, well,' says he, 'I know you are a wary man, and do not care to talk of public matters.'
The Knight then asked me if I had seen Prince Eugenio, and made me promise to get him a stand in some convenient place, where he might have a full sight of that extraordinary man, whose presence does so much honour to the British nation. He dwelt very long on the praises of this great General, and I found that, since I was with him in the country, he had drawn many just observations together out of his reading in Baker's Chronicle, and other authors, who always lie in his hall window, which very much redound to the honour of this Prince.
Having passed away the greatest part of the morning in hearing the Knight's reflexions, which were partly private, and partly political, he asked me if I would smoke a pipe with him over a dish of Coffee at Squire's. As I love the old man, I take delight in complying with every thing that is agreeable to him, and accordingly waited on him to the coffee-house, where his venerable figure drew upon us the eyes of the whole room. He had no sooner seated himself at the upper end of the high table, but he called for a clean pipe, a paper of tobacco, a dish of coffee, a wax-candle, and the Supplement, with such an air of cheerfulness and good humour, that all the boys in the coffee-room (who seemed to take pleasure in serving him) were at once employed on his several errands, insomuch that no body else could come at a dish of tea, until the Knight had got all his conveniences about him. L.
No. 329. TUESDAY, MARCH 18.
Ire tamen restat, Numa quo devenit, et Ancus. HOR. Ep. vi. 1. i. ver. 27.
With Ancus, and with Numa, kings of Rome, We must descend into the silent tomb.
My friend Sir ROGER DE COVERLEY told me the other night, that he had been reading my paper upon Westminster Abbey, 'in which,' says he, 'there are a great many ingenious fancies.' He told me at the same time, that he observed I had promised another paper upon the Tombs, and that he should be glad to go and see them with me, not having visited them since he had read history. I could not at first imagine how this came into the Knight's head, till I recollected that he had been very busy all last summer upon Baker's Chronicle, which he has quoted several times in his disputes with Sir ANDREW FREEPORT since his last coming to town. Accordingly I promised to call upon him the next morning, that we might go together to the Abbey.
I found the Knight under his butler's hands, who always shaves him. He was no sooner dressed than he called for a glass of the widow Trueby's water, which they told me he always drank before he went abroad. He recommended to me a dram of it at the same time, with so much heartiness, that I could not forbear drinking it. As soon as I had got it down, I found it very unpalatable, upon which the Knight observing that I had made several wry faces, told me that he knew I should not like it at first, but that it was the best thing in the world against the stone or gravel.
I could have wished indeed that he had acquainted me with the virtues of it sooner; but it was too late to complain, and I knew what he had done was out of good-will. Sir ROGER told me further, that he looked upon it to be very good for a man whilst he staid in town, to keep off infection, and that he got together a quantity of it upon the first news of the sickness being at Dantzick: When of a sudden, turning short to one of his servants who stood behind him, he bid him call a hackney-coach, and take care it was an elderly man that drove it.
He then resumed his discourse upon Mrs. Trueby's water, telling me that the widow Trueby was one who did more good than all the doctors or apothecaries in the country: That she distilled every poppy that grew within five miles of her; that she distributed her water gratis among all sorts of people; to which the knight added, that she had a very great jointure, and that the whole country would fain have it a match between him and her; 'and truly,' says Sir ROGER, 'if I had not been engaged, perhaps I could not have done better.'
His discourse was broken off by his man's telling him he had called a coach. Upon our going to it, after having cast his eye upon the wheels, he asked the coachman if his axle-tree was good; upon the fellow's telling him he would warrant it, the Knight turned to me, told me he looked like an honest man, and went in without further ceremony.
We had not gone far, when Sir ROGER, popping out his head, called the coachman down from his box, and, upon presenting himself at the window, asked him if he smoked; as I was considering what this would end in, he bid him stop by the way at any good tobacconist's and take in a roll of their best Virginia. Nothing material happened in the remaining part of our journey, till we were set down at the west end of the Abbey.
As we went up the body of the church, the Knight pointed at the trophies upon one of the new monuments, and cried out, 'A brave man, I warrant him!' Passing afterwards by Sir Cloudesly Shovel, he flung his hand that way, and cried, 'Sir Cloudesly Shovel! a very gallant man!' As he stood before Busby's tomb, the Knight uttered himself again after the same manner, 'Dr. Busby, a great man! he whipped my grandfather; a very great man! I should have gone to him myself, if I had not been a blockhead; a very great man!'
We were immediately conducted to the little chapel on the right hand. Sir ROGER, planting himself at our historian's elbow, was very attentive to every thing he said, particularly to the account he gave us of the lord who had cut off the king of Morocco's head. Among several other figures, he was very well pleased to see the statesman Cecil upon his knees; and concluding them all to be great men, was conducted to the figure which represents that martyr to good housewifery, who died by the prick of a needle. Upon our interpreter's telling us that she was a maid of honour to queen Elizabeth, the Knight was very inquisitive into her name and family; and after having regarded her finger for some time, 'I wonder,' says he, 'that Sir Richard Baker has said nothing of her in his Chronicle.'
We were then conveyed to the two coronation chairs, where my old friend after having heard that the stone underneath the most ancient of them, which was brought from Scotland, was called Jacob's pillar, sat himself down in the chair; and looking like the figure of an old Gothick king, asked our interpreter, what authority they had to say that Jacob had ever been in Scotland? The fellow, instead of returning him an answer, told him, that he hoped his honour would pay his forfeit. I could observe Sir ROGER a little ruffled upon being thus trepanned; but our guide not insisting upon his demand, the knight soon recovered his good-humour, and whispered in my ear, that if WILL WIMBLE were with us, and saw those two chairs, it would go hard but he would get a tobacco-stopper out of one or the other of them.
Sir ROGER, in the next place, laid his hand upon Edward the Third's sword, and leaning upon the pommel of it, gave us the whole history of the Black Prince; concluding that, in Sir Richard Baker's opinion, Edward the Third was one of the greatest princes that ever sat upon the English throne.
We were then shewn Edward the Confessor's tomb; upon which Sir ROGER acquainted us, that he was the first who touched for the evil; and afterwards Henry the Fourth's, upon which he shook his head, and told us there was fine reading in the casualties of that reign.
Our conductor then pointed to that monument where there is the figure of one of our English kings without an head; and upon giving us to know, that the head, which was of beaten silver, had been stolen away several years since: 'Some Whig, I'll warrant you,' says Sir ROGER; 'you ought to lock up your kings better; they will carry off the body too, if you don't take care.'
The glorious names of Henry the Fifth and Queen Elizabeth gave the knight great opportunities of shining, and of doing justice to Sir Richard Baker; who, as our Knight observed with some surprise, had a great many kings in him, whose monuments he had not seen in the Abbey.
For my own part, I could not but be pleased to see the Knight shew such an honest passion for the glory of his country, and such a respectful gratitude to the memory of its princes.
I must not omit, that the benevolence of my good old friend, which flows out towards every one he converses with, made him very kind to our interpreter, whom he looked upon as an extraordinary man; for which reason he shook him by the hand at parting, telling him, that he should be very glad to see him at his lodgings in Norfolk-Buildings, and talk over these matters with him more at leisure.
NO. 335. TUESDAY, MARCH 25.
Respicere exemplar vitae morumque jubebo Doctum unitatorem, et veras hinc ducere voces. HOR. Ars Poet. ver. 317.
Those are the likest copies, which are drawn From the original of human life. ROSCOMMON.
My friend Sir ROGER DE COVERLEY, when we last met together at the club, told me that he had a great mind to see the new tragedy with me, assuring me at the same time, that he had not been at a play these twenty years. 'The last I saw,' said Sir ROGER, 'was the Committee, which I should not have gone to neither, had not I been told beforehand that it was a good church-of-England comedy.' He then proceeded to inquire of me who this Distressed Mother was; and upon hearing that she was Hector's widow, he told me that her husband was a brave man, and that when he was a school-boy he had read his life at the end of the dictionary. My friend asked me, in the next place, if there would not be some danger in coming home late, in case the Mohocks should be abroad. 'I assure you,' says he, 'I thought I had fallen into their hands last night; for I observed two or three lusty black men that followed me half way up Fleet-Street, and mended their pace behind me, in proportion as I put on to get away from them. You must know,' continued the Knight with a smile, 'I fancied they had a mind to hunt me; for I remember an honest gentleman in my neighbourhood, who was served such a trick in King Charles the Second's time, for which reason he has not ventured himself in town ever since. I might have shewn them very good sport, had this been their design; for as I am an old fox-hunter, I should have turned and dogged, and have played them a thousand tricks they had never seen in their lives before.'
Sir ROGER added, that if these gentlemen had any such intention, they did not succeed very well in it; 'for I threw them out,' says he, 'at the end of Norfolk-Street, where I doubled the corner, and got shelter in my lodgings before they could imagine what was become of me. However,' says the Knight, 'if Captain SENTRY will make one with us to- morrow night, and if you will both of you call upon me about four o'clock, that we may be at the house before it is full, I will have my coach in readiness to attend you, for John tells me he has got the fore-wheels mended.'
The Captain, who did not fail to meet me there at the appointed hour, bid Sir ROGER fear nothing, for that he had put on the same sword which he made use of at the battle of Steenkirk. Sir ROGER'S servants, and among the rest my old friend the butler, had, I found, provided themselves with good oaken plants, to attend their master upon this occasion. When we had placed him in his coach, with myself at his left- hand, the Captain before him, and his butler at the head of his footmen in the rear, we conveyed him in safety to the play-house, where after having marched up the entry in good order, the Captain and I went in with him, and seated him betwixt us in the pit. As soon as the house was full, and the candles lighted, my old friend stood up and looked about him with that pleasure, which a mind seasoned with humanity naturally feels in itself, at the sight of a multitude of people who seemed pleased with one another, and partake of the same common entertainment. I could not but fancy to myself, as the old man stood up in the middle of the pit, that he made a very proper center to a tragick audience. Upon the entering of Pyrrhus, the Knight told me that he did not believe the King of France himself had a better strut. I was indeed very attentive to my old friend's remarks, because I looked upon them as a piece of natural criticism, and was well pleased to hear him, at the conclusion of almost every scene, telling me that he could not imagine how the play would end. One while he appeared much concerned for Andromache; and a little while after as much for Hermione; and was extremely puzzled to think what would become of Pyrrhus.
When Sir ROGER saw Andromache's obstinate refusal to her lover's importunities, he whispered me in the ear, that he was sure she would never have him; to which he added, with a more than ordinary vehemence, 'You cannot imagine, Sir, what it is to have to do with a widow.' Upon Pyrrhus his threatening afterwards to leave her, the Knight shook his head and muttered to himself, 'Ay, do if you can.' This part dwelt so much upon my friend's imagination, that at the close of the third act, as I was thinking of something else, he whispered me in the ear, 'These widows, Sir, are the most perverse creatures in the world. But pray,' says he, 'you that are a critick, is the play according to your dramatic rules, as you call them? Should your people in tragedy always talk to be understood? Why, there is not a single sentence in this play that I do not know the meaning of.'
The fourth act very luckily begun before I had time to give the old gentleman an answer: 'Well,' says the Knight, sitting down with great satisfaction,' I suppose we are now to see Hector's ghost.' He then renewed his attention, and, from time to time, fell a praising the widow. He made, indeed, a little mistake as to one of her pages, whom at his first entering he took for Astyanax; but quickly set himself right in that particular, though, at the same time, he owned he should have been very glad to have seen the little boy, 'who,' says he, 'must needs be a very fine child by the account that is given of him.' Upon Hermione's going off with a menace to Pyrrhus, the audience gave a loud clap, to which Sir ROGER added, 'On my word, a notable young baggage!'
As there was a very remarkable silence and stillness in the audience during the whole action, it was natural for them to take the opportunity of the intervals between the acts, to express their opinion of the players, and of their respective parts. Sir ROGER hearing a cluster of them praise Orestes, struck in with them, and told them, that he thought his friend Pylades was a very sensible man; as they were afterwards applauding Pyrrhus, Sir ROGER put in a second time: 'And let me tell you,' says he, 'though he speaks but little, I like the old fellow in whiskers as well as any of them.' Captain SENTRY seeing two or three wags, who sat near us, lean with an attentive ear towards Sir ROGER, and fearing lest they should smoke the Knight, plucked him by the elbow, and whispered something in his ear, that lasted till the opening of the fifth act. The Knight was wonderfully attentive to the account which Orestes gives of Pyrrhus his death, and at the conclusion of it, told me it was such a bloody piece of work, that he was glad it was not done upon the stage. Seeing afterwards Orestes in his raving fit, he grew more than ordinary serious, and took occasion to moralize (in his way) upon an evil conscience, adding, that Orestes, in his madness, looked as if he saw something.
As we were the first that came into the house, so we were the last that went out of it; being resolved to have a clear passage for our old friend, whom we did not care to venture among the justling of the crowd. Sir ROGER went out fully satisfied with his entertainment, and we guarded him to his lodging in the same manner that we brought him to the play-house; being highly pleased, for my own part, not only with the performance of the excellent piece which had been presented, but with the satisfaction which it had given to the old man. L.
No. 359. TUESDAY, APRIL 22.
Torva leaena lupum sequitur, lupus ipse capellam; Florentem cytisum sequitur lasciva capella. VIRG. Eccl. ii. v. 63.
The greedy lioness the wolf pursues, The wolf the kid, the wanton kid the browse. DRYDEN.
As we were at the club last night, I observed my old friend Sir ROGER, contrary to his usual custom, sat very silent, and instead of minding what was said by the company, was whistling to himself in a very thoughtful mood, and playing with a cork. I jogged Sir ANDREW FREEPORT who sat between us; and as we were both observing him, we saw the Knight shake his head, and heard him say to himself, 'A foolish woman! I can't believe it.' Sir ANDREW gave him a gentle pat upon the shoulder, and offered to lay him a bottle of wine that he was thinking of the widow. My old friend started, and recovering out of his brown study, told Sir ANDREW, that once in his life he had been in the right. In short, after some little hesitation, Sir ROGER told us in the fulness of his heart that he had just received a letter from his steward, which acquainted him that his old rival and antagonist in the country, Sir David Dundrum, had been making a visit to the widow. However, says Sir ROGER, I can never think that she will have a man that is half a year older than I am, and a noted republican into the bargain.
WILL HONEYCOMB, who looks upon love as his particular province, interrupting our friend with a jaunty laugh; 'I thought, Knight,' says he, 'thou had'st lived long enough in the world, not to pin thy happiness upon one that is a woman and a widow. I think that without vanity, I may pretend to know as much of the female world as any man in Great Britain, though the chief of my knowledge consists in this, that they are not to be known.' WILL immediately, with his usual fluency, rambled into an account of his own amours. 'I am now,' says he, 'upon the verge of fifty' (though by the way we all knew he was turned of threescore). 'You may easily guess,' continued WILL, 'that I have not lived so long in the world without having had some thoughts of settling in it, as the phrase is. To tell you truly, I have several times tried my fortune that way, though I cannot much boast of my success.
'I made my first addresses to a young lady in the country: but when I thought things were pretty well drawing to a conclusion, her father happening to hear that I had formerly boarded with a surgeon, the old Put forbid me his house, and within a fortnight after married his daughter to a fox-hunter in the neighbourhood.
'I made my next application to a widow, and attacked her so briskly, that I thought myself within a fortnight of her. As I waited upon her one morning, she told me, that she intended to keep her ready money and jointure in her own hand, and desired me to call upon her attorney in Lion's-Inn, who would adjust with me what it was proper for me to add to it. I was so rebuffed by this overture, that I never inquired either for her or her attorney afterwards.
'A few months after I addressed myself to a young lady, who was an only daughter, and of a good family: I danced with her at several balls, squeezed her by the hand, said soft things to her, and in short made no doubt of her heart; and tho' my fortune was not equal to hers, I was in hopes that her fond father would not deny her the man she had fixed her affections upon. But as I went one day to the house in order to break the matter to him, I found the whole family in confusion, and heard to my unspeakable surprise, that Miss Jenny was that morning run away with the butler.
'I then courted a second widow, and am at a loss to this day how I came to miss her, for she had often commended my person and behaviour. Her maid indeed told me one day, that her mistress had said she never saw a gentleman with such a spindle pair of legs as Mr. Honeycomb.
'After this I laid siege to four heiresses successively, and being a handsome young dog in those days, quickly made a breach in their hearts; but I do not know how it came to pass, though I seldom failed of getting the daughter's consent, I could never in my life get the old people on my side.
'I could give you an account of a thousand other unsuccessful attempts, particularly of one which I made some years since upon an old woman, whom I had certainly borne away with flying colours, if her relations had not come pouring in to her assistance from all parts of England; nay, I believe I should have got her at last, had not she been carried off by a hard frost.'
As Will's transitions are extremely quick, he turned from Sir ROGER, and applying himself to me, told me there was a passage in the book I had considered last Saturday, which deserved to be writ in letters of gold; and taking out a Pocket-Milton, read the following lines, which are part of one of Adam's speeches to Eve after the fall.
Oh! why did God, Creator wise! that peopled highest heav'n With spirits masculine, create at last This novelty on earth, this fair defect Of nature? and not fill the world at once With men, as angels, without feminine? Or find some other way to generate Mankind? This mischief had not then befallen, And more that shall befall, innumerable Disturbances on earth through female snares, And strait conjunction with this sex: For either He never shall find out fit mate, but such As some misfortune brings him, or mistake; Or, whom he wishes most, shall seldom gain Through her perverseness; but shall see her gain'd By a far worse; or if she love, withheld By parents; or his happiest choice too late Shall meet already link'd, and wedlock-bound To a fell adversary, his hate or shame; Which infinite calamity shall cause To human life, and household peace confound.
Sir ROGER listened to this passage with great attention, and desiring Mr. Honeycomb to fold down a leaf at the place, and lend him his book, the Knight put it up in his pocket, and told us that he would read over those verses again before he went to bed. X.
No. 383. TUESDAY, MAY 20.
Criminibus debent hortos. Juv. Sat. i. ver. 75.
A beauteous garden, but by vice maintain'd.
As I was sitting in my chamber and thinking on a subject for my next Spectator, I heard two or three irregular bounces at my landlady's door, and upon the opening of it, a loud cheerful voice enquiring whether the Philosopher was at home. The child who went to the door answered very innocently, that he did not lodge there. I immediately recollected that it was my good friend Sir ROGER's voice; and that I had promised to go with him on the water to Spring- Garden, in case it proved a good evening. The Knight put me in mind of my promise from the bottom of the staircase, but told me that if I was speculating he would stay below till I had done.
Upon my coming down I found all the children of the family got about my old friend, and my landlady herself, who is a notable prating gossip, engaged in a conference with him; being mightily pleased with his stroking her little boy upon the head, and bidding him be a good child, and mind his book.
We were no sooner come to the Temple Stairs, but we were surrounded with a crowd of watermen offering us their respective services. Sir ROGER, after having looked about him very attentively, spied one with a wooden leg and immediately gave him orders to get his boat ready. As we were walking towards it, You must know, says Sir ROGER, I never make use of any body to row me, that has not either lost a leg or an arm. I would rather bate him a few strokes of his oar than not employ an honest man that has been wounded in the Queen's service. If I was a lord or a bishop, and kept a barge, I would not put a fellow in my livery that had not a wooden leg.
My old friend, after having seated himself, and trimmed the boat with his coachman, who, being a very sober man, always serves for ballast on these occasions, we made the best of our way for Faux-Hall. Sir ROGER obliged the waterman to give us the history of his right leg, and hearing that he had left it at La Hogue, with many particulars which passed in that glorious action, the Knight in the triumph of his heart made several reflections on the greatness of the British nation; as, that one Englishman could beat three Frenchmen; that we could never be in danger of Popery so long as we took care of our fleet; that the Thames was the noblest river in Europe, that London Bridge was a greater piece of work, than any of the seven wonders of the world; with many other honest prejudices which naturally cleave to the heart of a true Englishman.
After some short pause, the old knight turning about his head twice or thrice, to take a survey of this great metropolis, bid me observe how thick the city was set with churches, and that there was scarce a single steeple on this side Temple-Bar. A most heathenish sight! says Sir Roger: There is no religion at this end of the town. The fifty new churches will very much mend the prospect; but church-work is slow, church-work is slow!
I do not remember I have any where mentioned in Sir Roger's character, his custom of saluting every body that passes by him with a good-morrow or a good-night. This the old man does out of the overflowings of his humanity, though at the same time it renders him so popular among all his country neighbours, that it is thought to have gone a good way in making him once or twice Knight of the shire. He cannot forbear this exercise of benevolence even in town, when he meets with any one in his morning or evening walk. It broke from him to several boats that passed by us upon the water; but to the Knight's great surprise, as he gave the good-night to two or three young fellows a little before our landing, one of them, instead of returning the civility, asked us, what queer old put we had in the boat? with a great deal of the like Thames ribaldry. Sir Roger seemed a little shocked at first, but at length assuming a face of magistracy, told us, That if he were a Middlesex justice, he would make such vagrants know that her Majesty's subjects were no more to be abused by water than by land.
We were now arrived at Spring-Garden, which is exquisitely pleasant at this time of the year. When I considered the fragrancy of the walks and bowers, with the choirs of birds that sung upon the trees, and the loose tribe of people that walked under their shades, I could not but look upon the place as a kind of Mahometan paradise. Sir Roger told me it put him in mind of a little coppice by his house in the country, which his chaplain used to call an aviary of nightingales. You must understand, says the Knight, there is nothing in the world that pleases a man in love so much as your nightingale. Ah, Mr. SPECTATOR! the many moonlight nights that I have walked by myself, and thought on the widow by the musick of the nightingale! He here fetched a deep sigh, and was falling into a fit of musing, when a mask, who came behind him, gave him a gentle tap upon the shoulder, and asked him if he would drink a bottle of mead with her? But the Knight, being startled at so unexpected a familiarity, and displeased to be interrupted in his thoughts of the widow, told her, She was a wanton baggage, and bid her go about her business.
We concluded our walk with a glass of Burton ale, and a slice of hung beef. When we had done eating ourselves, the Knight called a waiter to him, and bid him carry the remainder to the waterman that had but one leg. I perceived the fellow stared upon him at the oddness of the message, and was going to be saucy; upon which I ratified the Knight's commands with a peremptory look.
As we were going out of the garden, my old friend thinking himself obliged, as a member of the Quorum, to animadvert upon the morals of the place, told the mistress of the house, who sat at the bar, that he should be a better customer to her garden, if there were more nightingales, and fewer strumpets.
No. 517. THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23.
Heu pietas! heu prisca fides! VIRG. AEn. vi. ver. 878.
Mirrour of ancient faith! Undaunted worth! Inviolable truth! DRYDEN.
We last night received a piece of ill news at our club, which very sensibly afflicted every one of us. I question not but my readers themselves will be troubled at the hearing of it. To keep them no longer in suspense, Sir ROGER DE COVERLEY is dead. He departed this life at his house in the country, after a few weeks sickness. Sir ANDREW FREEPORT has a letter from one of his correspondents in those parts, that informs him the old man caught a cold at the country-sessions, as he was very warmly promoting an address of his own penning, in which he succeeded according to his wishes. But this particular comes from a whig justice of peace, who was always Sir ROGER'S enemy and antagonist. I have letters both from the Chaplain and Captain SENTRY, which mention nothing of it, but are filled with many particulars to the honour of the good old man. I have likewise a letter from the butler, who took so much care of me last summer when I was at the Knight's house. As my friend the butler mentions, in the simplicity of his heart, several circumstances the others have passed over in silence, I shall give my reader a copy of his letter, without any alteration or diminution.
'KNOWING that you was my old master's good friend, I could not forbear sending you the melancholy news of his death, which has afflicted the whole country, as well as his poor servants, who loved him, I may say, better than we did our lives. I am afraid he caught his death the last country-sessions, where he would go to see justice done to a poor widow woman and her fatherless children, that had been wronged by a neighbouring gentleman; for you know, Sir, my good master was always the poor man's friend. Upon his coming home, the first complaint he made was, that he had lost his roast-beef stomach, not being able to touch a sirloin, which was served up according to custom; and you know he used to take great delight in it. From that time forward he grew worse and worse, but still kept a good heart to the last. Indeed we were once in great hope of his recovery, upon a kind message that was sent him from the Widow Lady whom he had made love to the forty last years of his life; but this only proved a lightning before death. He has bequeathed to this Lady, as a token of his love, a great pearl necklace, and a couple of silver bracelets set with jewels, which belonged to my good old Lady his mother: He has bequeathed the fine white gelding, that he used to ride a-hunting upon, to his Chaplain, because he thought he would be kind to him; and has left you all his books. He has, moreover, bequeathed to the Chaplain a very pretty tenement with good lands about it. It being a very cold day when he made his will, he left for mourning, to every man in the parish, a great frieze coat, and to every woman a black riding-hood. It was a most moving sight to see him take leave of his poor servants, commending us all for our fidelity, whilst we were not able to speak a word for weeping. As we most of us are grown gray-headed in our dear master's service, he has left us pensions and legacies, which we may live very comfortably upon the remaining part of our days. He has bequeathed a great deal more in charity, which is not yet come to my knowledge, and it is peremptorily said in the parish, that he has left money to build a steeple to the church; for he was heard to say some time ago, that if he lived two years longer, Coverley church should have a steeple to it. The Chaplain tells every body that he made a very good end, and never speaks of him without tears. He was buried according to his own directions, among the family of the COVERLEYS, on the left hand of his father Sir Arthur. The coffin was carried by six of his tenants, and the pall held by six of the Quorum: The whole parish followed the corpse with heavy hearts, and in their mourning suits, the men in frieze, and the women in riding-hoods. Captain SENTRY, my master's nephew, has taken possession of the hall-house, and the whole estate. When my old master saw him, a little before his death, he shook him by the hand, and wished him joy of the estate which was falling to him, desiring him only to make a good use of it, and to pay the several legacies, and the gifts of charity which he told him he had left as quit-rents upon the estate. The captain truly seems a courteous man, though he says but little. He makes much of those whom my master loved, and shews great kindnesses to the old house- dog, that you know my poor master was so fond of. It would have gone to your heart to have heard the moans the dumb creature made on the day of my master's death. He has never joyed himself since; no more has any of us. It was the melancholiest day for the poor people that ever happened in Worcestershire. This is all from,