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pany, was whistling to himself in a very thoughtful mood, and playing with a cork. I jogged Sir Andrew Freeport who sat between us; and as we were both observing him,
we saw the knight shake his head and heard him say to 5 himself, “A foolish woman! I can't believe it." Sir
Andrew gave him a gentle pat upon the shoulder, and offered to lay him a bottle of wine that he was thinking of the widow. My old friend started, and, recovering out
of his brown study, told Sir Andrew that once in his life 10 he had been in the right. In short, after some little
hesitation, Sir Roger told us, in the fullness of his heart, that he had just received a letter from his steward, which acquainted him that his old rival and antagonist in the
county, Sir David Dundrum, had been making a visit to 15 the widow. “However," says Sir Roger, “I can never
think that she'll have a man that's half a year older than I am, and a noted Republican into the bargain.”
Will Honeycomb, who looks upon love as his particular province, interrupting our friend with a jaunty laugh, 20 “I thought, knight,” says he, “ thou hadst lived long
enough in the world not to pin thy happiness upon one that is a woman and a widow. I think that without vanity I may pretend to know as much of the female world as
any man in Great Britain, though the chief of my knowl25 edge consists in this, that they are not to be known.”
Will immediately, with his usual Auency, rambled into an account of his own amours. “I am now,” says he,“ upon the verge of fifty” (though, by the way, we all knew he was turned of threescore). “You may easily guess," con
, 30 tinued Will, "that I have not lived so long in the world
without having had some thoughts of settling in it, as the phrase is. To tell you truly, I have several times tried my fortune that way, though I can't much boast of my
“I made my first addresses to a young lady in the country ; but when I thought things were pretty well drawing to a conclusion, her father happening to hear that I had formerly boarded with a surgeon, the old put forbid me his house, and within a fortnight after married his daugh- 5 ter to a fox hunter in the neighborhood.
“I made my next applications to a widow, and attacked her so briskly that I thought myself within a fortnight of her. As I waited upon her one morning, she told me that she intended to keep her ready money and jointure in her 10 own hand, and desired me to call upon her attorney in Lyon's Inn, who would adjust with me what it was proper for me to add to it. I was so rebuffed by this overture that I never inquired either for her or her attorney afterwards.
"A few months after, I addressed myself to a young 15 lady who was an only daughter and of a good family; I danced with her at several balls, squeezed her by the hand, said soft things to her, and, in short, made no doubt of her heart; and, though my fortune was not equal to hers, I was in hopes that her fond father would not deny her 20 the man she had fixed her affections
upon. But, as I went one day to the house in order to break the matter to him, I found the whole family in confusion, and heard, to my unspeakable surprise, that Miss Jenny was that very morning run away with the butler.
25 “I then courted a second widow, and am at a loss to this day how I came to miss her, for she had often commended my person and behavior. Her maid, indeed, told me one day that her mistress had said she never saw a gentleman with such a spindle pair of legs as Mr. 30 Honeycomb.
“After this I laid siege to four heiresses successively, and being a handsome young dog in those days, quickly made a breach in their hearts; but I don't know how it
came to pass, though I seldom failed of getting the daughter's consent, I could never in my life get the old people on my side.
“ I could give you an account of a thousand other unsucs cessful attempts, particularly of one which I made some
years since upon an old woman, whom I had certainly borne away with flying colors if her relations had not come pouring in to her assistance from all parts of England; nay, I believe I should have got her at last, had not she been carried off by an hard frost.”
As Will's transitions are extremely quick, he turned from Sir Roger, and applying himself to me, told me there was a passage in the book I had considered last
Saturday which deserved to be writ in letters of gold; 15 and taking out a pocket Milton, read the following lines,
which are part of one of Adam's speeches to Eve after the fall :
“Ohl why did our
Mankind? This mischief had not then befallen, 25
And more that shall befall - innumerable
As some misfortune brings him, or mistake; 30
Or whom he wishes most shall seldom gain,
Sir Roger listened to this passage with great attention, and desiring Mr. Honeycomb to fold down a leaf at the place and lend him his book, the knight put it up in his packet, and told us that he would read over those verses again before he went to bed.
XXXI. SIR ROGER AT VAUXHALL.
Tuesday, May 20, 1712.
Criminibus debent hortos.
Juv. 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 the philosopher was at home. The child who went to the door answered 10 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 a good evening. The knight put me in mind of my promise from the bottom of 15 the staircase, 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 herself who is a notable prating gossip, engaged in a conference with him, being mightily 20 pleased with his stroking her little boy upon the head, and bidding him be a good child and mind his book. We were no sooner come to the Temple
Stairs but we were surrounded with a crowd of watermen, offering us their respective services. Sir Roger, after having looked 25 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 bate him a few strokes of his oar than not employ an honest man that had been wounded in the Queen's service. If Į 5 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 so made the best of our way for Fox-hall. Sir Roger obliged
the waterman to give us the history of his right leg, and 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 reflections on 15 the greatness of the British nation; as, that one English
man could beat three Frenchmen; that we could never be in daager 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 20 the seven wonders of the world; with many other honest
prejudices which naturally cleave to the heart of a true Englishman.
After some short pause, the old knight, turning about his head twice or thrice to take a survey of this great 35 metropolis, bid me observe how thick the city was set with
churches, and that there was scarce a single steeple 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; 30 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,