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SIR ROGER IN LONDON. [ADDISON.]
No. 269. — TUESDAY, JANUARY 8, 1711-12.
Ævo rarissima nostro
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 5 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 to 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 15 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 20 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 5 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 alms of
him. I could hear my friend chide him for not finding 10 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 15 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
in his hands, and being willing to lay an obligation upon 20 him, have deposited with him thirty marks, 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, 25 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 tribu30 lation, 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, 5 “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 10 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 hog's puddings with a pack of cards to every poor family in the parish. “I have often thought,” says 15 Sir Roger, “it happens very well that Christmas should fall out in the middle of winter. It is the most dead and 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 20 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 25 beef and a mince-pie 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