Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

a

though at the same time it renders him so popular among all his country neighbors that it is thought to have gone a good way in making him once or twice knight of the shire

He cannot forbear this exercise of benevolence even in 5 town, when he meets with any one in his morning or evening walk. It broke from him to several boats that passed by us upon the water ; but to the knight's great surprise, as he gave the good-night to two or three young

fellows a little before our landing, one of them, instead of return- 10 ing the civility, asked us what queer old put we had in the boat, with a great deal of the like Thames ribaldry. Sir Roger seemed a little shocked at first, but at length, assuming a face of magistracy, told us that if he were a Middlesex justice he would make such vagrants know that 15 her Majesty's subjects were no more to be abused by water than by land.

We were now arrived at Spring Garden, which is exquisitely pleasant at this time of year. When I considered the fragrancy of the walks and bowers, with the choirs 20 of birds that sung upon the trees, and the loose tribe of people that walked under their shades, I could not but look upon the place as a kind of Mahometan paradise Sir Roger told me it put him in mind of a little coppice by his house in the country, which his chaplain used to call 25 an aviary of nightingales. “You must understand,” says

, the knight, “there is nothing in the world that pleases a man in love so much as your nightingale. Ah, Mr. Spectator | the many moonlight nights that I have walked by myself and thought on the widow by the music of the 30 nightingales !” He here fetched a deep sigh, and was falling into a fit of musing, when a mask, who came behind him, gave him a gentle tap upon the shoulder, and asked him if he would drink a bottle of mead with her.

But the knight, being startled at so unexpected a familiarity, and displeased to be interrupted in his thoughts of the widow, told her she was a wanton baggage, and bid her go about her business. 5 We concluded our walk with a glass of Burton ale and

a slice of hung beef. When we had done eating, ourselves, the knight called a waiter to him and bid him carry the remainder to the waterman that had but one leg. I

perceived the fellow stared upon him at the oddness of the 10 message, and was going to be saucy; upon which I ratified the knight's commands with a peremptory look.

As we were going out of the garden, my old friend, thinking himself obliged as a member of the quorum to

animadvert upon the morals of the place, told the mistress 15 of the house, who sat at the bar, that he should be a better

customer to her garden if there were more nightingales and fewer [masks].

I.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

We last night received a piece of ill news at our club which very sensibly afflicted every one of us. I question 20 not but my readers themselves will be troubled at the

hearing of it. To keep them no longer in suspense, - Sir Roger de Coverley is dead. He departed this life at his house in the country, after a few weeks' sickness.

Andrew Freeport has a letter from one of his correspond25 ents in those parts, that informs him the old man caught

a cold at the county sessions, as he was very warmly promoting an address of his own penning, in which he succeeded according to his wishes. But this particular

a

comes from a Whig justice of peace, who was always Sir Roger's enemy and antagonist. I have letters both from the chaplain and Captain Sentry which mention nothing of it, but are filled with many particulars to the honor of the good old man. I have likewise a letter from the butler, 5 who took so much care of me last summer when I was at the knight's house. As my friend the butler mentions, in the simplicity of his heart, several circumstances the others have passed over in silence, I shall give my reader a copy of his letter without any alteration or diminution.

10

for

“ Honoured Sir, — “ Knowing that you was my old master's good friend, I could not forbear sending you the melancholy news of his death, which has afflicted the whole country, as well as his poor servants, who loved him, I may say, better than we did our lives. I am afraid 15 he caught his death the last county sessions, where he would go to see justice done to a poor widow woman, and her fatherless children, that had been wronged by a neighbouring gentleman; you know, sir, my good master was always the poor man's friend. Upon his coming home, the first complaint he 20 made was, that he had lost his roast beef stomach, not being able to touch a sirloin, which was served up according to custom; and you know he used to take great delight in it. From that time forward he grew worse and worse, but still kept a good heart to the last. Indeed, we were once in great hope of his 25 recovery, upon a kind message that was sent him from the widow lady whom he had made love to the forty last years of his life; but this only proved a lightning before death. He has bequeathed to this lady, as a token of his love, a great pearl necklace, and a couple of silver bracelets set with jewels, 30 which belonged to my good old lady his mother. He has bequeathed the fine white gelding, that he used to ride a hunting upon, to his chaplain, because he thought he would be kind to him, and has left you all his books. He has, moreover, bequeathed to the chaplain a very pretty tenement with good 35 lands about it. It being a very cold day when he made his will, he left for mourning, to every man in the parish, a great frieze coat, and to every woman a black riding-hood. It was a most

moving sight to see him take leave of his poor servants, com5 mending us all for our fidelity, whilst we were not able to speak

a word for weeping. As we most of us are grown gray-headed in our dear master's service, he has left us pensions and legacies, which we may live very comfortably upon, the remaining part

of our days. He has bequeath'd a great deal more in charity, 10 which is not yet come to my knowledge, and it is peremptorily

said in the parish, that he has left mony to build a steeple to the church; for he was heard to say some time ago, that if he lived two years longer, Coverley Church should have a steeple to it.

The chaplain tells everybody that he made a very good end, 15 and never speaks of him without tears. He was buried accord.

ing to his own directions, among the family of the Coverley's, on the left hand of his father, Sir Arthur. The coffin was carried by six of his tenants, and the pall held up by six of the quorum.

The whole parish follow'd the corpse with heavy hearts, and in 20 their mourning suits, the men in frieze, and the women in riding

hoods. Captain Sentry, my master's nephew, has taken possession of the hall house, and the whole estate. When

my

old master saw him a little before his death, he shook him by the

hand, and wished him joy of the estate which was falling to him, 25 desiring him only to make good use of it, and to pay the several

legacies, and the gifts of charity which he told him he had left as quitrents upon the estate. The captain truly seems a courteous man, though he says but little. He makes much of those

whom my master loved, and shows great kindness to the old 30 house dog, that you know my poor master was so fond of. It

would have gone to your heart to have heard the moans the dumb creature made on the day of my master's death. He has ne'er joyed himself since; no more has any of us. 'Twas the “P. S. My master desired, some weeks before he died, that a book which comes up to you by the carrier should be given to Sir Andrew Freeport, in his name.”

melancholiest day for the poor people that ever happened in 35 Worcestershire. This being all from,

Honoured Sir,
“ Your most Sorrowful Servant,

6. Edward Biscuit'

This letter, notwithstanding the poor butler's manner of writing it, gave us such an idea of our good old friend, 5 that upon the reading of it there was not a dry eye in the club. Sir Andrew, opening the book, found it to be a collection of Acts of Parliament. There was in particular the Act of Uniformity, with some passages in it marked by Sir Roger's own hand. Sir Andrew found that they 10 related to two or three points which he had disputed with Sir Roger the last time he appeared at the club. Sir Andrew, who would have been merry at such an incident on another occasion, at the sight of the old man's handwriting burst into tears, and put the book into his pocket. 15 Captain Sentry informs me that the knight has left rings and mourning for every one in the club.

0.

From Spectator, No. 518: The first part of a letter from

a supposed correspondent.

(STEELE.

66 MR. SPECTATOR,

“ It is with inexpressible sorrow that I hear of the death of good Sir Roger, and do heartily condole with you upon so 20 melancholy an occasion. I think you ought to have blackened the edges of a paper which brought us so ill news, and to have had it stamped likewise in black. It is expected of you that you should write his epitaph, and, if possible, fill his place in the club with as worthy and diverting a member. I question not 25 but

you will receive many recommendations from the public of such as will appear candidates for that post. . .

“ I am, Sir, &c."

« AnteriorContinuar »