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he shook him by the hand at parting, telling him that he should be very glad to see him at his lodgings in Norfolk Buildings, and talk over these matters with him more at leisure.
The first part of Spectator, No. 331.
WHEN I was last with my friend Sir Roger in Westminster 5 Abbey, I observed that he stood longer than ordinary before the bust of a venerable old man. I was at a loss to guess the reason of it, when after some time he pointed to the figure, and asked me if I did not think that our forefathers looked much wiser in their beards than we do without them? “For my part,” IC says he, “ when I am walking in my gallery in the country, and see my ancestors, who many of them died before they were of my age, I cannot forbear regarding them as so many old patriarchs, and at the same time looking upon myself as an idle smockfaced young
fellow. I love to see your Abrahams, your Isaacs, 15 and your Jacobs, as we have them in old pieces of tapestry, with beards below their girdles, that cover half the hangings." The knight added, if I would recommend beards in one of my papers, and endeavor to restore human faces to their ancient dignity, that upon a month's warning he would undertake to 20 lead
up the fashion himself in a pair of whiskers.
XXIX. SIR ROGER AT THE PLAY.
TOS Tuesday, March 25, 1712.
[ADDISON. Respicere exemplar vitae morumque iubebo Doctum imitatorem, et vivas hinc ducere voces.
My friend Sir Roger de Coverley, when we last met together at the club, told me that he had a great mind to see the new tragedy with me, assuring me at the same time that he had not been at a play these twenty years. 25 “ The last I saw," said Şir Roger, “was the Committee,
which I should not have gone to, neither, had not I been told beforehand that it was a good Church of England comedy." He then proceeded to inquire of me who this distressed mother was; and upon hearing that she was 5 Hector's widow, he told me that her husband was a brave man, and that when he was a school-boy he had read his life at the end of the dictionary. My friend asked me, in the next place, if there would not be some danger in coming home late, in case the Mohocks should be abroad. “I assure you,” says he, “ I thought I had fallen into their hands last night, for I observed two or three lusty black men that followed me half way up Fleet Street, and mended their pace behind me in proportion as I put on to get away
from them. You must know," continued the knight, with 15 a smile, “I fancied they had a mind to hunt me, for I
remember an honest gentleman in my neighborhood who was served such a trick in King Charles the Second's time ; for which reason he has not ventured himself in
town ever since. I might have shown them very good 20 sport had this been their design; for, as I am an old fox
hunter, I should have turned and dodged, and have played them a thousand tricks they had never seen in their lives before.” Sir Roger added that if these gentlemen had
any such intention they did not succeed very well in it; 25 " for I threw them out,” says he, “ at the end of Norfolk
Street, where I doubled the corner and got shelter in my lodgings before they could imagine what was become of me. However," says the knight, “if Captain Sentry will
make one with us to-morrow night, and if you will both of 30 you call upon me about four o'clock, that we may be at
the house before full, I will have my own coach in readiness to attend you, for John tells me he has got the fore wheels mended."
The captain, who did not fail to meet me there at the
appointed hour, bid Sir Roger fear nothing, for that he had put on the same sword which he made use of at the battle of Steenkirk. Sir Roger's servants, and among the rest my old friend the butler, had, I found, provided themselves with good oaken plants to attend their master 5 upon this occasion. When he had placed him in his coach, with myself at his left hand, the captain before him, and his butler at the head of his footmen in the rear, we convoyed him in safety to the playhouse, where, after having marched up the entry in good order, the captain and I 10 went in with him, and seated him betwixt us in the pit. As soon as the house was full and the candles lighted, my old friend stood up and looked about him with that pleasure which a mind seasoned with humanity naturally feels in itself at the sight of a multitude of people who seem 15 pleased with one another, and partake of the same common entertainment. I could not but fancy to myself, as the old man stood up in the middle of the pit, that he made a very proper centre to a tragic audience. Upon the entering of Pyrrhus, the knight told me that he did not 20 believe the King of France himself had a better strut. I was, indeed, very attentive to my old friend's remarks, because I looked upon them as a piece of natural criticism; and was well pleased to hear him, at the conclusion of almost every scene, telling me that he could not imagine 25 how the play would end. One while he appeared much concerned for Andromache, and a little while after as much for Hermione; and was extremely puzzled to think what would become of Pyrrhus.
When Sir Roger saw Andromache's obstinate refusal 30 to her lover's importunities, he whispered me in the ear, that he was sure she would never have him; to which he added, with a more than ordinary vehemence, “ You can't imagine, sir, what 'tis to have to do with a widow !"
Upon Pyrrhus his threatening afterwards
to leave het, the knight shook his head, and muttered to himseir, “Ay, do if you can.” This part dwelt so much upon my
friend's imagination, that at the close of the third act, s as I was thinking of something else, he whispered in my
ear, “ These widows, sir, are the most perverse creatures in the world. But pray,” says he, “ you that are a critic, is this play according to your dramatic rules, as you call
them? Should your people in tragedy always talk to be 10 understood? Why, there is not a single sentence in this play that I do not know the meaning of.”
The fourth act very luckily begun before I had time to give the old gentleman an answer. “Well," says the
knight, sitting down with great satisfaction, “I suppose 15 we are now to see Hector's ghost.” He then renewed
his attention, and, from time to time, fell a praising the widow. He made, indeed, a little mistake as to one of her pages, whom at his first entering he took for Astyanax;
but he quickly set himself right in that particular, though 20 at the same time he owned he should have been very glad to have seen the little boy, "who,” says he, 6 must needs
fine child by the account that is given of him.” Upon Hermione's going off with a menace to Pyrrhus, the audience gave a loud clap, to which Sir Roger added, 25 “On my word, a notable young baggage!"
As there was a very remarkable silence and stillness in the audience during the whole action, it was natural for them to take the opportunity of these intervals between
the acts to express their opinion of the players and of their 30 respective parts. Sir Roger, hearing a cluster of them
praise Orestes, struck in with them, and told them that he thought his friend Pylades was a very sensible man they were afterwards applauding Pyrrhus, Sir Roger put in a second time : “ And let me tell you,” says he, “though
be a very
he speaks but little, I like the old fellow in whiskers as well as any of them.” Captain Sentry, seeing two or three wags who sat near us lean with an attentive ear towards Sir Roger, and fearing lest they should smoke the knight, plucked him by the elbow, and whispered something in his 5 ear that lasted till the opening of the fifth act. The knight was wonderfully attentive to the account which Orestes gives of Pyrrhus his death, and, at the conclusion of it, told me it was such a bloody piece of work that he was glad it was not done upon the stage. Seeing afterwards 10 Orestes in his raving fit, he grew more than ordinary serious, and took occasion to moralize, in his way, upon an evil conscience, adding that Orestes in his madness looked as if he saw something.
As we were the first that came into the house, so we 15 were the last that went out of it; being resolved to have a clear passage for our old friend, whom we did not care to venture among the justling of the crowd. Sir Roger went out fully satisfied with his entertainment, and we guarded him to his lodgings in the same manner that we 20 brought him to the playhouse ; being highly pleased, for my own part, not only with the performance of the excellent piece which had been presented, but with the satisfaction which it had given to the good old man.
As we were at the club last night, I observed that my 25 friend Sir Roger, contrary to his usual custom, sat very silent, and instead of minding what was said by the com