« AnteriorContinuar »
lage merry in my great hall. I allow a double quantity of malt to my small beer, and set it a rụnning for twelve days to every one that calls for it. I have always a piece of cold beef and a mince-pie upon the table, and am wonderfully pleased to see my tenants pass away a whole evening in playing their innocent tricks, and smutting one another. Our friend Will Wimble is as merry as any of them, and shews a thousand roguish tricks upon these occasions.
I was very much delighted with the reflection of my old friend, which carried so much goodness in it. He then launched out into the praise of the late act of parliament for securing the church of England, and told me with great satisfaction, that he believed it already began to take effect, for that a rigid dissenter, who chanced to dine at his house on Christmas-day, had been observed to eat very plentifully of his plum-porridge.
After having dispatched all our country masters, Sir Roger made several inquiries concerning the club, and particularly of his old antagonist Sir Andrew Freeport. He asked me with a kind of smile, whether Sir Andrew had not taken advantage of his absence, to vent among them some of his republican doctrines; but soon after gathering up his countenance into a more than ordinary seriousness, 'Tell me truly,' says he, don't you think Sir Andrew had a hand in the pope's procession ?—But without giving me time to answer him, 'Well, well,' says he, I know you are a wary man, and do not care to talk of public matters,'
The knight then asked me, if I had seen Prince Eugenio, and made me promise to get him a stand in some convenient place where he might have a full
* Stat. 10 Ann. cap. 2. The act against occasional con. formity.
sight of that extraordinary man, whose presence did so much honour to the British nation. He dwelt very long on the praises of this great general, and I found that since I was with him in the country, he had drawn many observations together out of his reading in Baker's Chronicle, and other authors, who always lie in his hall window, which
much redound to the honour of this prince.
Having passed away the greatest part of the morning in hearing the knight's reflections, which were partly private and partly political, he asked me if I would smoke a pipe with him over a dish of coffee at Squires's? As I love the old man, I take delight in complying with every thing that is agreeable to him, and accordingly waited on him to the coffee-house, where his venerable figure drew upon us the eyes of the whole room. He had no sooner seated himself at the upper end of the high table, but he called for a clean pipe, a paper of tobacco, a dish of coffee, a wax candle, and the Supplement, with such an air of cheerfulness and good humour, that all the boys in the coffee-room (who seemed to take pleasure in serving him) were at once employed on his several errands, insomuch that nobody else could come at a dish of téa, until the knight had got all his conveniences about him.
N° 270. WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 9, 1711-12.
Discit enim cititùs, meminitque libentiùs illud,
Hor. 1 Ep. ii. 262.
For what's derided by the censuring crowd,
There is a lust in man no power can tame.
E. of CORKE.
Sooner we learn, and seldomer forget,
Hughes's LETTERS, vol. ii. p. 222.
I do not know that I have been in greater delight for these many years, than in beholding the boxes at the play the last time The Scornful Lady was acted. So great an assembly of ladies placed in gradual rows in all the ornaments of jewels, silks, and colours, gave so lively and gay an impression to the heart, that methought the season of the year was vanished; and I did not think it an ill expression of a young fellow who stood near me, that called the boxes those · beds of tulips.' It was a pretty variation of the prospect, when any one of those fine ladies rose up and did honour to herself and friend at a distance, by curtseying; and gave opportunity to that friend to shew her charms to the same advantage in returning the salutation. Here that action is as proper and graceful as it is at church unbe
coming and impertinent. By the way I must take the liberty to observe that I did not see any one who is usually so full of civilities at church, offer at any such indecorum during any part of the action of the play. Such beautiful prospects gladden our minds, and when considered in general, give innocent and pleasing ideas. He that dwells upon any one object of beauty, may fix his imagination to his disquiet; but the contemplation of a whole assembly together is a defence against the incroachment of desire. At least to me, who have taken pains to look at beauty abstracted from the consideration of its being the object of desire; at power, only as it sits upon another, without any hopes of partaking any share of it; at wisdom and capacity, without any pretensions to rival or envy its acquisitions. I say to me, who am really free from forming any hopes of beholding the persons of beautiful women, or warming myself into ambition from the successes of other men, this world is not only a mere scene, but a very pleasant one. Did mankind but know the freedom which there is in keeping thus aloof from the world, I should have more imitators, than the powerfullest man in the nation has followers. To be no man's rival in love, or competitor in business, is a character which, if it does not recommend you as it ought, to benevolence among those whom you
live with, yet has it certainly this effect, that you do not stand so much in need of their approbation, as you would if you aimed at it more, in setting your heart on the same things which the generality doat on. By this means, and with this easy philosophy, Iam never less at a play than when I am at the theatre; but indeed I am seldom so well pleased with action as in that place; for most men follow natnre no longer than while they are in their night-gown, and all the busy part of the day are in characters which they neither
become, nor act in with pleasure to themselves or their beholders. But to return to my ladies: I was very well pleased to see so great a crowd of them assembled at a play, wherein the heroine, as the phrase is, is so just a picture of the vauity of the sex in tormenting their admirers. The lady who pines for the man whom she treats with so much impertinence and inconstancy, is drawn with much art and humour. Her resolutions to be extremely civil, but her vanity arising just at the instant she resolved to express herself kindly, are described as by one who had studied the sex. But when my admiration is fixed upon this excellent character, and two or three others in the play, I must confess I was moved with the utmost indignation, at the trivial, senseless, and unnatural representation of the chaplain. It is possible there may be a pedant in holy orders, and we have seen one or two of them in the world: but such a driveller as Sir Roger,* so bereft of all manner of pride, which is the characteristic of a pedant, is what one would not believe would come into the head of the same man who drew the rest of the play. The meeting between Welford and him shews å wretch without any notion of the dignity of his function; and it is out of all common sense that he should give an account of himself as one sent four or five miles in a morning, on foot, for eggs. It is not to be denied, but this part, and that of the maid whom he makes love to, are excellently well performed; but a thing which is blameable in itself, grows still more so by the success in the execution of it. It is so mean a thing to gratify a loose age with a scandalous re
* In former times priests were distinguished by the addition of Sir to their christian wames, as if they had been knights.' See Dodsley's Old Plays, passin.