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DEATH OF SIR ROGER.
to a close. One obvious expedient was to kill off, or otherwise dispose of, the members of the Club. We find mention made accordingly, in No. 513, of the Clergyman as lying on his death-bed, and four numbers later the incomparable Sir Roger himself is made to succumb to fate. On the whole, Addison's management of the character had been little interfered with by the other contributors. In a paper (No. 174), probably written by Steele, the knight holds an entertaining argument with Sir Andrew Freeport on the merits of trade; and in one by Budgell (No. 359), he is made to discourse on beards in a style neither edifying nor witty. A slight mention of him occurs in No. 359. But about a month after the appearance of Addison's paper, just printed, describing Sir Roger's visit to Vauxhall, Steele introduced him (No. 410) as the hero of a questionable and unseemly adventure, in which the reader is presented with the disagreeable alternative of considering the poor old knight either as a knave or a fool. He is described as falling in with a girl called Sukey in the Temple cloisters, with whose appearance and manners he is so much taken that he gives her a dinner at a tavern, invites her to come to his lodgings, and promises that if she comes down into the country she shall be encouraged. This made Addison very angry; he is said to have had a sharp altercation with Steele *, and he resolved to send the darling of his imagination to the land where the “wicked cease from troubling," and no rude hand could mar the sweet image of simplicity and goodness which he desired should be the final result, in the minds of thousands of readers, of the contemplation of Sir Roger's character. We are thus brought to the following paper.]
No. 517. Death of Sir Roger de Coverley: Letter from his butler
Virg. Æn. vi. 878.
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 so 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 county sessions, as he was very
* Life by Dr. Johnson.
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. 1 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, 10 several circumstances the others have passed over in silence,
I shall give my reader a copy of his letter, without any alteration or diminution.
'HONOURED SIR, * 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 county-sessions, where he would
go to see justice done to a poor widow woman, and her fatherless 20 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 30 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 frize-coat, and to every woman a black riding
DEATH OF SIR ROGER.
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 grey-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 10 ago that if he lived two years longer, Coverley church should
have a steeple to it. The chaplain tells everybody 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 up by six of the quorum : the whole parish followed the corpse with heavy hearts, and in their mourning suits, the men in frize, and the women in riding-hoods. Captain Sentry, my master's nephew,
has taken possession of the hall-house, and the whole estate. 20 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 30 death. He has never joyed himself since; no more has any of us.
'Twas the melancholiest day for the poor people that ever happened in Worcestershire. This is all from, 'Honoured Sir, your most sorrowful servant,
EDWARD BISCUIT. 'P.S. My master desired, some weeks before he died, that a book which comes up to you by the carrier, should be given to Sir Andrew Freeport, in his name.'
This letter, notwithstanding the poor butler's manner of writing it, gave us such an idea of our good old friend, that upon
the reading of it there was not a dry eye in the club. Sir Andrew, opening the book, found it to be a collection of acts of parliament. There was in particular the Act of Uniformity, with some passages in it marked by Sir Roger's own hand. Sir Andrew found that they related to two or three points, which he had disputed with Sir Roger the last time he appeared at the club. Sir Andrew, who would have been merry at such an incident on another occasion, at the sight of the old man's hand-writing,
burst into tears, and put the book into his pocket. Captain 10 Sentry informs me, that the knight has left rings and mourning for every one in the club.-0.
[In the following number Will Honeycomb is disposed of; his sprightliness and knowledge of the town will be at the service of the Club no more. Captain Sentry succeeds to the estate of his uncle Sir Roger de Coverley, and we are to suppose that he will not often be seen in town for the future. He almost says as much in a letter introduced in No. 544, probably written by Steele, in which also he takes occasion to protest that the passage in No. 410 relating to Sir Roger's behaviour to the girl whom he met at the Temple
cloisters had been misunderstood, and that not the slightest reflection on the 20 knight's moral character had been intended. In No. 541 we are told that
the Templar has determined upon a closer pursuit of the law," which seems to be a way of saying that he will not any longer frequent the Club.]
No. 530. Woman-haters generally marry in the end. Letter
from Will Honeycomb, announcing his marriage to a farmer's
Sic visum Veneri; cui placet impares
Hor. Od. 1. 33.
It is very usual for those who have been severe upon marriage, in some part or other of their lives to enter into the fraternity which they have ridiculed, and to see their raillery return upon their own heads. I scarce ever knew a woman-hater that did not sooner or later pay for it. Marriage, which is a blessing to
MARRIAGE OF WILL HONEYCOMB.
upon such a one as a judgment. Mr. Congreve's Old Batchelor is set forth to us with much wit and humour, as an example of this kind. In short, those who have most distinguished themselves by railing at the sex in general, very often make an honourable amends, by chusing one of the most worthless persons of it for a companion and yoke-fellow. Hymen takes his revenge in kind, on those who turn his mysteries into ridicule.
My friend Will Honeycomb, who was so unmercifully witty 10 upon the women, in a couple of letters », which I lately communi
cated to the public, has given the ladies ample satisfaction by marrying a farmer's daughter; a piece of news which came to our club by the last post. The Templar is very positive that he has married a dairy-maid: but Will, in his letter to me on this occasion, sets the best face upon the matter that he can, and gives a more tolerable account of his spouse. I must confess I suspected something more than ordinary, when upon opening the letter I found that Will was fallen off from his former gaiety,
having changed Dear Spec, which was his usual salute at the 20 beginning of the letter, into My worthy friend, and subscribed
himself at the latter end of it at full length William Honeycomb. In short, the gay, the loud, the vain Will Honeycomb, who had made love to every great fortune that has appeared in town for above thirty years together, and boasted of favours from ladies whom he had never seen, is at length wedded to a plain country girl.
His letter gives us the picture of a converted rake. The sober character of the husband is dashed with the man of the town, and
enlivened with those little cant phrases which have made my 30 friend Will often thought very pretty company. But let us hear
what he says for himself.
"MY WORTHY FRIEND, I question not but you, and the rest of my acquaintance, wonder that I, who have lived in the smoke and gallantries of the town for thirty years together, should all on a sudden grow fond of a country life. Had not my dog of a steward run away as he did, without making up his accounts, I had still been immersed in sin and sea-coal n. But since my late forced visit to my estate, I am so pleased with it, that I am resolved to