« AnteriorContinuar »
On the other side, some of Sir Roger's friends are afraid the old knight is imposed upon by a designing fellow, and as they have heard that he converses very promiscuously when he is in town, do not know but he has brought down with him some discarded Whig, that is 5 sullen and says nothing because he is out of place.
Such is the variety of opinions which are here entertained of me, so that I pass among some for a disaffected
Ι person, and among others for a popish priest ; among some for a wizard, and among others for a murderer: and 10 all this for no other reason, that I can imagine, but because I do not hoot and hollow and make a noise. It is true my friend Sir Roger tells them, that it is my way, and that I am only a philosopher ; but this will not satisfy them. They think there is more in me than he dis- 15 covers, and that I do not hold my tongue for nothing.
For these and other reasons I shall set out for London to-morrow, having found by experience that the country is not a place for a person of my temper, who does not love jollity, and what they call “good neighborhood.” A 20 man that is out of humor when an unexpected guest breaks in upon him, and does not care for sacrificing an afternoon to every chance comer; that will be the master of his own time and the pursuer of his own inclinations ; makes but a very unsociable figure in this kind of life. I shall there- 25 fore retire into the town, if I may make use of that phrase, and get into the crowd again as fast as I can, in order to be alone. I can there raise what speculations I please upon others without being observed myself, and at the same time enjoy all the advantages of company with all 30 the privileges of solitude. In the meanwhile, to finish the month, and conclude these my rural speculations, I shall here insert a letter from my friend Will Honeycomb, who has not lived a month for these forty years out of the
smoke of London, and rallies me after his way upon my
• Dear Spec,
I suppose this letter will find thee picking of daisies, or smelling to a lock of hay, or passing away thy 5 time in some innocent country diversion of the like nature. I
have, however, orders from the club to summon thee up to town, being all of us cursedly afraid thou wilt not be able to relish our company after thy conversations with Moll White
and Will Wimble. Pr’ythee don't send us up any more stories 10 of a cock and a bull, nor frighten the town with spirits and
witches. Thy speculations begin to smell confoundedly of woods and meadows. If thou dost not come up quickly, we shall conclude that thou art in love with one of Sir Roger's
dairy-maids. Service to the knight. Sir Andrew is grown the 15 cock of the club since he left us, and if he does not return quickly will make every mother's son of us Commonwealth's
“ Dear Spec, thine eternally,
XXV. TO LONDON BY STAGE-COACH.
Wednesday, August 1, 1711.
Qui aut tempus quid postulet non videt, aut plura loquitur, aut se ostentat, aut eorum quibuscum est rationem non habet, is ineptus esse dicitur.
Having notified to my good friend Sir Roger that I 20 should set out for London the next day, his horses were
ready at the appointed hour in the evening; and attended by one of his grooms, I arrived at the county town at twilight, in order to be ready for the stage-coach the day
following. As soon as we arrived at the inn, the servant 25 who waited upon me inquired of the chamberlain, in my
hearing, what company he had for the coach. The fellow answered," Mrs. Betty Arable, the great fortune, and the
+ widow, her mother; à recruiting officer, — who took a place because they were to go young Squire Quickset, her cousin,
that her mother wished her to be married to "Ephraim, the Quaker, her guardian ; and a gentleman that had studied himself dumb from Sir Roger de 5 Coverley's." I observed, by what he said of myself, that according to his office, he dealt much in intelligence; and doubted not but there was some foundation for his reports of the rest of the company, as well as for the whimsical account he gave of me.
The next morning at daybreak we were all called ; and I, who know my own natural shyness, and endeavor to be as little liable to be disputed with as possible, dressed immediately, that I might make no one wait. The first preparation for our setting out was, that the captain's 15 half-pike was placed near the coachman, and a drum behind the coach. In the meantime the drummer, the captain's equipage was very loud that none of the captain's things should be placed so as to be spoiled; upon which his cloak bag was fixed in the seat of the coach ; 20 and the captain himself, according to a frequent though invidious behavior of military men, ordered his man to look sharp that none but one of the ladies should have the place he had taken fronting to the coach-box.
We were in some little time fixed in our seats, and 25 sat with that dislike which people not too good-natured usually conceive of each other at first sight. The coach jumbled us insensibly into some sort of familiarity, and we had not moved above two miles when the widow asked the captain what success he had in his recruiting. The 30 officer, with a frankness he believed very graceful told her that indeed he had but very little luck, and had suffered much by desertion, therefore should be glad to end his warfare in the service of her or her fair
“In a word,” continued he, “I am a soldier, and to be plain is my character; you see me, madam, young, sound, and impudent; take me yourself, widow, or give me to her; I will be wholly at your disposal. I am a soldier of 5 fortune, ba !"
This was followed by a vain laugh of his own, and a deep silence of all the rest of the company. I had nothing left for it but to fall fast asleep, which I did with all speed. Come,” said he,“ resolve upon it, we
will make a wedding at the next town : we will wake this 10 pleasant companion who has fallen asleep, to be the bride
man, and,” — giving the Quaker a clap on the knee, he concluded, “this sly saint, who, I'll warrant, understands what's what as well as you or I, widow, shall give the bride as father."
The Quaker, who happened to be a man of smartness. answered, “ Friend, I take it in good part that thou hast given me the authority of a father over this comely and virtuous child ; and I must assure thee that if I have the
giving her, I shall not bestow her on thee. Thy mirth, 20 friend, savoreth of folly; thou art a person of a light
mind; thy drum is a type of thee, — it soundeth because it is empty. Verily, it is not from thy fullness, but thy
, emptiness, that thou hast spoken this day. Friend, friend,
we have hired this coach in partnership with thee, to carry 25 us to the great city ; we cannot go any other
This worthy mother must hear thee if thou wilt needs utter thy follies; we cannot help it, friend, I say; if thou wilt,
I we must hear thee: but, if thou wert a man of under
standing, thou wouldst not take advantage of thy coura30 geous countenance to abash us children of peace. Thou
art, thou sayest, a soldier; give quarter to us, who cannot resist thee. Why didst thou fleer at our friend, who feigned himself asleep? He said nothing, but how dost thou know what he containeth? If thou speakest improper
things in the hearing of this virtuous young virgin, consider it is an outrage against a distressed person that cannot get from thee: to speak indiscreetly what we are obliged to hear, by being hasped up with thee in this public vehicle, is in some degree assaulting on the high 5 road."
Here Ephraim paused, and the captain, with an happy and uncommon impudence, — which can be convicted and support itself at the same time, — cries, “ Faith, friend, I
I thank thee ; I should have been a little impertinent if 10 thou hadst not reprimanded me. Come, thou art, I sce,
I a smoky old fellow, and I'll be very orderly the ensuing part of the journey. I was going to give myself airs; but, ladies, I beg pardon."
The captain was so little out of humor, and our com- 15 pany was so far from being soured by this little ruffle, that Ephraim and he took a particular delight in being agreeable to each other for the future, and assumed their different provinces in the conduct of the company. Our reckonings, apartments, and accommodation fell under 20 Ephraim; and the captain looked to all disputes on the road, as the good behavior of our coachman, and the right we had of taking place as going to London of all vehicles coming from thence.
The occurrences we met with were ordinary, and very 25 little happened which could entertain by the relation of them; but when I considered the company we were in, I took it for no small good fortune that the whole journey was not spent in impertinences, which to one part of us might be an entertainment, to the other a suffering.
30 What, therefore, Ephraim said when we were almost arrived at London, had to me an air not only of good understanding, but good breeding. Upon the young lady's expressing her satisfaction in the journey, and