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settled with him for some time at his country-house, where I intend to form several of my ensuing speculations. Sir Roger, who is very well acquainted with my humor, lets me rise and go to bed when I please, dine at his own table or in my own chamber as I think fit, sit still and say nothing without bidding me be merry. When the gentlemen of the country come to see him, he only shows me at a distance. As I have been walking in his fields I have observed them stealing a sight of me over a hedge, and have heard the knight desiring them not to let me see them, for that I hated to be stared at.
I am the more at ease in Sir Roger's family, because it consists of sober and staid persons ; for, as the knight is the best master in the world, he seldom changes his servants ; and as he is beloved by all about, his servants never care for leaving him ; by this means his domestics are all in
years, and grown
old with their master. You would take his valetde-chambre for his brother; his butler is gray-headed, his groom
is one of the gravest men that I have ever seen, and his coachman has the looks of a privy-councillor. You see the goodness of the master even in the old house-dog, and in a gray pad that is kept in the stable with great care and tenderness, out of regard for his past services, though he has been useless for several years.
I could not but observe, with a great deal of pleasure, the joy that appeared in the countenances of these ancient domestics upon my friend's arrival at his country-seat. Some of them could not refrain from tears at the sight of their old master; every one of them pressed forward to do something for him, and seemed discouraged if they were not employed. At the same time, the good old knight, with a mixture of a father and the master of a family, tempered the inquiries after his own affairs with several kind questions about them
selves. This humanity and good-nature engages everybody to him, so that when he is pleasant upon any of them, all his family are in good-humor, and none so much as the person he diverts himself with. On the contrary, if he coughs, or betrays any infirmity of old age, it is easy for a stander-by to observe a secret concern in the looks of all his servants.
My worthy friend has put me under the particular care of his butler, who is a very prudent man, and, as well as the rest of his fellow-servants, wonderfully desirous of pleasing me, because they have often heard their master talk of me as his particular friend.
My chief companion, when Sir Roger is diverting himself in the woods or the fields, is a very venerable man who is ever with Sir Roger, and has lived at his house in the nature of a chaplain above thirty years. This gentleman is a person of good sense and some learning; of a very regular life and obliging conversation : he heartily loves Sir Roger, and knows that he is very much in the old knight's esteem, so that he lives in the family rather as a relation than as a dependant. I have observed in several of
my papers, that
friend Sir Roger, amidst all his good qualities, is something of an humorist; and that his virtues, as well as imperfections, are, as it were, tinged by a certain extravagance which makes them particularly his, and distinguishes them from those of other men.
This cast of mind, as it is generally very innocent in itself, so it renders his conversation highly agreeable, and more delightful than the same degree of sense and virtue would appear in their ordinary colors. As I was walking with him last night, he asked me how I liked the good man I have just now mentioned ? And without staying for an answer told me, “That he was afraid of being insulted with Latin and Greek at his own table ; for which reason he desired a par
ticular friend of his at the University to find him out a clergyman rather of plain sense than much learning; of a good aspect, a clear voice, a sociable temper, and, if possible, a man that understood a little of backgammon. My friend," says Sir Roger, "found me out this gentleman, who, besides the endowments required of him, is, they tell me, a good scholar, though he does not show it. I have given him the parsonage of the parish ; and, because I know his value, have settled upon him a good annuity for life. If he outlives me, he shall find that he was higher in my esteem than perhaps he thinks he is. He has now been with me thirty years, and though he does not know I have taken notice of it, has never in all that time asked anything of me for himself, though he is every day soliciting me for something in behalf of one or other of my tenants his parishioners. There has not been a law-suit in the parish since he has lived among them: if any dispute arises, they apply themselves to him for the decision ; if they do not acquiesce in his judgment, which I think never happened above once or twice at most, they appeal to me. At his first settling with
me, I made him a present of all the good sermons that have been printed in English, and only begged of him, that every Sunday he would pronounce one of them in the pulpit. Accordingly, he has digested them into such a series, that they follow one another naturally, and make a continued series of practical divinity.”
As Sir Roger was going on in his story, the gentleman we were talking of came up to us; and upon the knight asking him who preached tomorrow (for it was Saturday night), told us the Bishop of St. Asaph* in the morning, and Dr. South in the afternoon. He then showed us his list of preachers for the year, where I saw, with a great deal of pleasure, Archbishop Tillotson, Bishop Saunderson, Dr. Bar
* Dr. Fleetwood, afterwards Bishop of Ely.
row, Dr. Calamy, with several living authors who have pub. lished discourses of practical divinity. I no sooner saw this venerable man in the pulpit, but I very much approved of my friend's insisting upon the qualifications of a good aspect and a clear voice; for I was so charmed with the gracefulness of his figure and delivery, as well as with the discourses he pronounced, that I think I never passed any time more to my satisfaction. A sermon repeated after this manner, is like the composition of a poet in the mouth of a graceful actor.
I could heartily wish that more of our country clergy would follow this example; and, instead of wasting their spirits in laborious compositions of their own, would endeavor after a handsome elocution, and all those other talents that are proper to enforce what has been penned by greater masters. This would not only be more easy to themselves, but more edifying to the people.
SIR ROGER'S BEHAVIOR IN CHURCH ON A
AM always very well pleased with a country Sunday, and
think, if keeping holy the seventh day were only a human institution, it would be the best method that could have been thought of for the polishing and civilizing of mankind. It is certain the country people would soon degenerate into a kind of savages and barbarians, were there not such frequent returns of a stated time, in which the whole village meet together with their best faces, and in their cleanliest habits, to converse with one another upon indifferent subjects, hear their duties explained to them, and join together in adoration of the Supreme Being Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week, not only as it refreshes in their minds
the notions of religion, but as it puts both sexes upon appearing in their most agreeable forms, and exerting all such qualities as are apt to give them a figure in the eye of the village. A country fellow distinguishes himself as much in the churchyard as a citizen does upon 'Change, the whole parish politics being generally discussed there, either after sermon or before the bell rings.
My friend Sir Roger, being a good church-man, has beautified the inside of his church with several texts of his own choosing : he has likewise given a handsome pulpit-cloth, and railed in the communion-table at his own expense. He has often told me, that at his coming to his estate he found his parishioners very irregular; and that, in order to make them kneel and join in the responses, he gave every one of them a hassock and a common-prayer book; and at the same time employed an itinerant singing-master, who goes about the country for that purpose, to instruct them rightly in the tunes of the psalms; upon which they now very much value themselves, and outdo most of the country churches that I have ever heard.
As Sir Roger is landlord to the whole congregation, le keeps them in very good order, and will suffer nobody to sleep in it besides himself; for if by chance he has been surprised into a short
at sermon, upon recovering out of it he stands up and looks about him, and if he sees anybody else nodding, either wakes them himself or sends his servants to them. Several other of the old knight's particularities break out upon these occasions; sometimes he will be lengthening out a verse in the singing-psalms, half a minute after the rest of the congregation have done with it; sometimes, when he is pleased with the matter of his devotion, he pronounces Amen three or four times to the same prayer; and sometimes stands up when everybody else is on their knees,