« ForrigeFortsett »
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 10 observed to eat very plentifully of his plumb-porridge n.
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 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,' said he, don't you think Sir Andrew had a hand in the pope's procession’n.
without giving me time to answer him, “Well, well,' says he, ‘I 20 know you are a wary man, and do not care for talking 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 observations together out of his reading in Baker's Chronicle »,
and other authors, who always lie in his hall window, which very 30 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 aspect 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 wax40 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, till the knight had got all his conveniences about him.-L.
[At the end of this paper, which is on Pin-money, occurs the following passage about Sir Roger's hapless suit to the widow.]
I remember my friend Sir Roger, who I dare say never read this passage in Platon, told me some time since, that upon his courting the perverse widow (of whom I have given an account
in former papers) he had disposed of an hundred acres in a 10 diamond ring, which he would have presented her with, had
she thought fit to accept it; and that upon her wedding day she should have carried on her head fifty of the tallest oaks upon his estate. He further informed me that he would have given her a coal-pit to keep her in clean linen, that he would have allowed her the profits of a wind-mill for her fans, and would have presented her once in three years with the shearing of his sheep for her under petticoats. To which the knight always adds, that though he did not care for fine clothes himself, yet there should
not have been a woman in the country better dressed than my 20 lady Coverley. Sir Roger, perhaps, may in this, as well as in
many other of his devices, appear something odd and singular; but if the humour of pin-money prevails, I think it would be very proper for every gentleman of an estate to mark out so many acres of it under the title of The Pins.-L.
No. 329. Sir Roger and the Spectator visit Westminster Abbey. Ire tamen restat, Numa quo devenit, et Ancus.
HoR. Epist. i. 6. 27. It yet remains to tread the drear descent,
Where good Pompilius, and great Ancus went. My friend Sir Roger de Coverley told me t'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 disputes with Sir Andrew Freeport since his
* No. 26, omitted from this selection.
last coming to town. Accordingly I promised to call upon him 10 the next morning, that we might go together to the Abbey.
I found the knight under his butler's hand, who always shaves him. He was no sooner dressed than he called for a glass of the widow Trueby's water, which he 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 20 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 stayed 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. 30
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 and 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 40 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 his 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. 10 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 Cloudsly Shovel , he flung his hand that way, and cried, “Sir Cloudsly Shovel, a very gallant man!' As we stood before Busby's n 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 20 blockhead; a very great man!'
We were immediately conducted into the little chapel on the right hand ». Sir Roger planting himself at our historian's elbow, was very attentive to everything he said, particularly to the account he gave us of the lord who 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 n. Upon our interpreter's telling us that she was a maid of 30 honour to Q. 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, set himself down in the chair; and looking like the figure of an old Gothic king, asked our interpreter, what
authority they had to say, that Jacob had ever been in Scotland ? 40 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 t’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 10 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, 20 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 30 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.-L.