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SIR ROGER AT VAUXHALL. [ADDISON.)
NO. 383. — TUESDAY, MAY 20, 1712.
CRIMINIBUS debent hortos. — Juv. Sar. i. 75.
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 inquiring whether 5 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 Io a good evening. The knight put me in mind of my
promise from the bottom of the stair-case, 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 15 herself, who is a notable prating gossip, engaged in a
conference with him ; being mightily pleased with his stroking her little boy on the head, and bidding him to be a good child, and mind his book.
We were no sooner come to the Temple-stairs, but we 20 were surrounded with a crowd of water-men, 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 anybody to row me, that has not either lost a leg or an arm. I would rather 5 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 Vaux-hall. Sir Roger obliged the waterman to give us the history of his right leg, and 15 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 reflexions on the greatness of the British nation; as, that one Englishman could beat three Frenchmen; that we could never 20 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 25 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 30 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 anywhere mentioned, in Sir Roger's character, his custom of saluting everybody 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 10 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 on the water; 15 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,
old put we had in the boat, with a great deal of the like Thames-ribaldry. Sir Roger seemed 20 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 ex25 quisitely 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 30 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, “ that 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 5 on the widow by the music of the nightingale !” Here he 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 10 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, 15 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 ; 20 upon which I ratified the knight's command with 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 25 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 improper persons.
THE DEATH OF SIR ROGER. [ADDISON.)
No. 517.-- THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 1712.
HEU pietas! heu prisca fides ! - 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 5 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 county sessions, as he was very 10 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 men15 tion 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 20 heart, several circumstances the others have passed