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I was yesterday very much surprised to hear my old friend, in the midst of the service, calling out to one John Matthews to mind what he was about, and not disturb the congregation. This John Matthews it seems is remarkable for being an idle fellow, and at that time was 5 kicking his heels for his diversion. This authority of the knight, though exerted in that odd manner which accompanies him in all circumstances of life, has a very good effect upon the parish, who are not polite enough to see any thing ridiculous in his behaviour ; besides that the 10 general good sense and worthiness of his character makes his friends observe these little singularities as foils that rather set off than blemish his good qualities.
As soon as the sermon is finished, nobody presumes to stir till Sir Roger is gone out of the church. The knight 15 walks down from his seat in the chancel between a double row of his tenants, that stand bowing to him on each side; and every now and then inquires how such a one's wife, or mother, or son, or father do, whom he does not see at church; which is understood as a secret reprimand to 20 the person that is absent.
The chaplain has often told me, that upon a catechising day, when Sir Roger has been pleased with a boy that answers well, he has ordered a bible to be given him next day for his encouragement; and sometimes accompanies 25 it with a flitch of bacon to his mother. Sir Roger has likewise added five pounds a year to the clerk's place; and that he may encourage the young fellows to make themselves perfect in the church-service, has promised, upon the death of the present incumbent, who is very old, 30 to bestow it according to merit.
The fair understanding between Sir Roger and his chaplain, and their mutual concurrence in doing good, is the more remarkable, because the very next village is famous for the differences and contentions that rise be5 tween the parson and the 'squire, who live in a perpetual state of war. The parson is always preaching at the 'squire, and the 'squire to be revenged on the parson never comes to church. The 'squire has made all his
tenants atheists, and tithe-stealers; while the parson 10 instructs them every Sunday in the dignity of his order,
and insinuates to them in almost every sermon that he is a better man than his patron. In short matters have come to such an extremity, that the 'squire has not said
his prayers either in public or private this half year; and 15 that the parson threatens him, if he does not mend his
manners, to pray for him in the face of the whole congregation.
Feuds of this nature, though too frequent in the country, are very fatal to the ordinary people ; who are so 20 used to be dazzled with riches, that they pay as much def
erence to the understanding of a man of an estate, as of a man of learning : and are very hardly brought to regard any truth, how important soever it may be, that is
preached to them, when they know there are several men 25 of five hundred a year who do not believe it. L.
SIR ROGER IN LOVE. [STEELE.]
No. 113. — TUESDAY, JULY 10, 1711.
HÆRENT infixi pectore vultus. VIRG. Æn. iv. 4.
In my first description of the company in which I pass most of my time, it may be remembered, that I mentioned a great affliction which my friend Sir Roger had met with in his youth ; which was no less than a disappointment in love. It happened this evening, that we 5 fell into a very pleasing walk at a distance from his house. As soon as we came into it, “ It is,” quoth the good old man, looking round him with a smile, “very hard, that any part of my land should be settled upon one who has used me so ill as the perverse widow did; and yet I am sure I could not see a sprig of any bough of this whole walk of trees, but I should reflect upon
her and her severity. She has certainly the finest hand of any woman in the world. You are to know, this was the place wherein I used to muse upon her; and by that 15 custom I can never come into it, but the same tender sentiments revive in my mind, as if I had actually walked with that beautiful creature under these shades. I have been fool enough to carve her name on the bark of several of these trees; so unhappy is the condition of men 20 in love, to attempt the removing of their passion by the
methods which serve only to imprint it deeper. She has certainly the finest hand of any woman in the world.”
Here followed a profound silence; and I was not displeased to observe my friend falling so naturally into a 5 discourse which I had ever before taken notice he in
dustriously avoided. After a very long pause, he entered upon an account of this great circumstance in his life, with an air which I thought raised my idea of him above
what I had ever had before ; and gave me the picture of Io that cheerful mind of his, before it received that stroke
which has ever since affected his words and actions. But he went on as follows :
“I came to my estate in my twenty-second year, and resolved to follow the steps of the most worthy of my 15 ancestors who have inhabited this spot of earth before
me, in all the methods of hospitality and good neighbourhood, for the sake of my fame; and in country sports and recreations, for the sake of my health. In my
twenty-third year I was obliged to serve as sheriff of the 20 county; and in my servants, officers, and whole equipage,
indulged the pleasure of a young man (who did not think ill of his own person) in taking that public occasion of showing my figure and behaviour to advantage.
You may easily imagine to yourself what appearance I 25 made, who am pretty tall, ride well, and was very well
dressed, at the head of a whole county, with music before me, a feather in my hat, and my horse well bitted. I can assure you I was not a little pleased with the kind
looks and glances I had from all the balconies and win30 dows as I rode to the hall where the assizes were held.
But, when I came there, a beautiful creature in a widow's habit sat in a court to hear the event of a cause concerning her dower. This commanding creature (who was born for the destruction of all who behold her) put on such a resignation in her countenance, and bore the whispers of all around the court with such a pretty uneasiness, I 5 warrant you, and then recovered herself from one eye to another, until she was perfectly confused by meeting something so wistful in all she encountered, that at last, with a murrain to her, she cast her bewitching eye upon me.
I no sooner met it but I bowed like a great sur- 10 prised booby; and knowing her cause to be the first which came on, I cried, like a captivated calf as I was, • Make way for the defendant's witnesses.' This sudden partiality made all the county immediately see the sheriff also was become a slave to the fine widow. During 15 the time her cause was upon trial, she behaved herself, I warrant you, with such a deep attention to her business, took opportunities to have little billets handed to her counsel, then would be in such a pretty confusion, occasioned, you must know, by acting before so much 20 company, that not only I but the whole court was prejudiced in her favour; and all that the next heir to her husband had to urge was thought so groundless and frivolous, that when it came to her counsel to reply, there was not half so much said as every one besides in 25 the court thought he could have urged to her advantage. You must understand, Sir, this perverse woman is one of those unaccountable creatures that secretly rejoice in the admiration of men, but indulge themselves in no farther consequences. Hence it is that she has ever had a train 30 of admirers, and she removes from her slaves in town to