Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

THE COUNTRY GENTLEMAN.

19

is beloved by all about him, his servants never care for leaving him; by this means his domestics are all in years, and grown old with their master. You would take his Valet-de-chambre for his brother, his butler is grey-headed, his groom is one of the gravest men that I have ever seen, and his coachman has the looks of a privy-counsellor. You see the goodness of the master even in the old house-dog, and in a grey pad that is kept in the stable with great care and tenderness out of regard

to his past services, though he has been useless for several 10 years.

I could not but observe with a great deal of pleasure the joy that appeared in the countenance of these ancient domestics upon my friend's arrival at his country-seat. Some of them could not refrain from tears at the sight of their old master; every one of them pressed forward to do something for him, and seemed discouraged if they were not employed. At the same time the good old knight, with a mixture of the father and the master of the family, tempered the inquiries after his

own affairs with several kind questions relating to themselves. 20 This humanity and good nature engages everybody to him, so that

when he is pleasant upon any of them, all his family are in good humour, and none so much as the person whom he diverts himself with: on the contrary, if he coughs, or betrays any infirmity of old age, it is easy for a stander by to observe a secret concern in the looks of all his servants.

My worthy friend has put me under the particular care of his butler, who is a very prudent man, and, as well as the rest of his fellow-servants, wonderfully desirous of pleasing me,

because they have often heard their master talk of me as of his 30 particular friend.

My chief companion, when Sir Roger is diverting himself in the woods or the fields, is a very venerable man who is ever with Sir Roger, and has lived at his house in the naturen of a chaplain above thirty years. This gentleman is a person of good sense and some learning, of a very regular life and obliging conversation : he heartily loves Sir Roger, and knows that he is very much in the old knight's esteem, so that he lives in the family rather as a relation than a dependent.

I have observed in several of my papers, that my friend Sir 40 Roger, amidst all his good qualities, is something of an humorist;

and that his virtues, as well as imperfections, are, as it were, tinged by a certain extravagance, which makes them particularly his, and distinguishes them from those of other men. This cast of mind, as it is generally very innocent in itself, so it renders his conversation highly agreeable, and more delightful than the same degree of sense and virtue would appear in their common or ordinary colours. As I was walking with him last night, he asked me how I liked the good man whom I have just now

mentioned; and, without staying for my answer, told me that he 10 was afraid of being insulted with Latin and Greek at his own

table; for which reason he desired a particular friend of his at the university to find him out a clergyman rather of plain sense than much learning, of a good aspect, a clear voice, a sociable temper: and, if possible, a man that understood a little of back-gammon. “My friend,' says Sir Roger, ‘found me out this gentleman, who, besides the endowments required of him, is, they tell me, a good scholar, though he does not shew it: I have given him the parsonage of the parish ; and because I know his

value, have settled upon him a good annuity for life. If he 20 outlives me, he shall find that he was higher in my esteem than

perhaps he thinks he is. He has now been with me thirty years; and though he does not know I have taken notice of it, has never in all that time asked anything of me for himself, though he is every day soliciting me for something in behalf of one or other of my tenants, his parishioners. There has not been a law-suit in the parish since he has lived among them; if any dispute arises they apply themselves to him for the decision; if they do not acquiesce in his judgment, which I think never happened

above once or twice at most, they appeal to me. At his first 30 settling with me, I made him a present of all the good sermons

which have been printed in English, and only begged of him that every Sunday he would pronounce one of them in the pulpit. Accordingly, he has digested them into such a series, that they follow one another niturally, and make a continued system of practical divinity.'

As Sir Roger was going on in his story, the gentleman we were talking of came up to us; and upon the knight's asking him who preached to-morrow (for it was Saturday night) told us,

the Bishop of St. Asaph in the morning, and Dr. South in the 40 afternoon. He then shewed us his list of preachers for the whole

[blocks in formation]

year, where I saw with a great deal of pleasure archbishop Tillotson, bishop Saunderson, Dr. Barrow, Dr. Calamy, with several living authors who have published discourses of practical divinity n. I no sooner saw this venerable man in the pulpit, but I very much approved of my friend's insisting upon the qualifications of a good aspect and a clear voice; for I was so charmed with the gracefulness of his figure and delivery, as well as with the discourses he pronounced, that I think I never passed any time more to my

satisfaction. A sermon repeated after this manner, is like the 10 composition of a poet in the mouth of a graceful actor.

I could heartily wish that more of our country clergy would follow this example ; and instead of wasting their spirits in laborious compositions of their own, would endeavour after a handsome elocution, and all those other talents that are proper to enforce what has been penned by greater masters. This would not only be more easy to themselves, but more edifying to the people.-L.

(Steele seems to have had a strong liking for the character of Sir Roger, and not to have been willing to resign it to the sole handling of 20 Addison. At this part of the Spectator there are three papers from his

pen on this attractive subject. In No. 107, the kindness which marked the knight's intercourse with his servants and tenants is described; he is painted as a sort of elderly Sir Charles Grandison. In No. 109, he takes the Spectator along he line of his family pictures, and descants upon them; this paper is a little dull. In No. 113, he confides to his guest his hopeless passion for a certain beautiful Widow, whom he had first seen some three and thirty years before, and who, without absolutely rejecting his suit, had tantalized and led him captive ever since, a willing thrall to her incomparable charms.]

No. 103. Sir Roger in the country; Will Wimble.

Gratis anhelans multa agendo nihil agens.

PHÆDR. Fab. 5. 1. 2.

30 As I was yesterday morning walking with Sir Roger before his

house, a country fellow brought him a huge fish, which, he told him Mr. Will Wimblen had caught that morning; and that he presented it with his service to him, and intended to come and dine with him. At the same time he delivered a letter, which my friend read to me as soon as the messenger left him.

SIR ROGER, 'I desire you to accept of a jack, which is the best I have caught this season. I intend to come and stay with you a week, and see how the perch bite in the Black River. I observed with some concern, the last time I saw you upon the bowling-green, that your whip wanted a lash to it; I will bring half a dozen with me that I twisted last week, which I hope will serve you all the time you are in the country. I have not been out of the

saddle for six days past, having been at Eaton with Sir John's 10 eldest son. He takes to his learning hugely.

I am, Sir,
Your humble servant,

WILL WIMBLE.'

This extraordinary letter, and message that accompanied it, made me very curious to know the character and quality of the gentleman who sent them; which I found to be as follows. Will Wimble is younger brother to a baronet, and descended of the ancient family of the Wimbles. He is now between forty and

fifty: but being bred to no business, and born to no estate, he 20 generally lives with his elder brother as superintendent of his

game. He hunts a pack of dogs better than any man in the country, and is very famous for finding out a hare. He is extremely well versed in all the little handicrafts of an idle man: he makes a May-fly to a miracle; and furnishes the whole country with angle rods. As he is a good-natured officious fellow, and very much esteemed upon account of his family, he is a welcome guest at every house, and keeps up a good correspondence among all the gentlemen about him. He carries a tulip-root in his

pocket from one to another, or exchanges a puppy between a 30 couple of friends that live perhaps in the opposite sides of the

county. Will is a particular favourite of all the young heirs, whom he frequently obliges with a net that he has weaved, or a setting dog that he has made himself. He now and then presents a pair of garters of his own knitting to their mothers or sisters; and raises a great deal of mirth among them, by inquiring as often as he meets them, how they wear? These gentleman-like manufactures and obliging little humours make Will the darling of the country.

Sir Roger was proceeding in the character of him, when we

[blocks in formation]

saw him make up to us with two or three hazel twigs in his hand that he had cut in Sir Roger's woods, as he came through them in his way to the house. I was very much pleased to observe, on one side the hearty and sincere welcome with which Sir Roger received him, and on the other the secret joy which his guest discovered at sight of the good old knight. After the first salutes were over, Will desired Sir Roger to lend him one of his servants to carry a set of shuttle-cocks he had with him in

a little box to a lady that lived about a mile off, to whom it 10 seems he had promised such a present for above this half year.

Sir Roger's back was no sooner turned but honest Will began to tell me of a large cock-pheasant that he had sprung in one of the neighbouring woods, with two or three other adventures of the same nature. Odd and uncommon characters are the game that I look for, and most delight in; for which reason I was as much pleased with the novelty of the person that talked with me, as he could be for his life with the springing of a pheasant, and therefore listened to him with more than ordinary attention.

In the midst of his discourse the bell rung to dinner, where 20 the gentleman I have been speaking of had the pleasure of seeing

the huge jack he had caught, served up for the first dish in a most sumptuous manner. Upon our sitting down to it, he gave us a long account how he had hooked it, played with it, foiled it , and at length drew it out upon the bank, with several other particulars that lasted all the first course. A dish of wild fowl that came afterwards furnished conversation for the rest of the dinner, which concluded with a late invention of Will's for improving the quail-pipe".

Upon withdrawing into my room after dinner, I was secretly 30 touched with compassion towards the honest gentleman that had

dined with us; and could not but consider with a great deal of concern, how so good an heart and such busy hands were wholly employed in trifles; that so much humanity should be so little beneficial to others, and so much industry so little advantageous to himself. The same temper of mind and application to affairs might have recommended him to the public esteem, and might have raised his fortune in another station of life. What good to his country or himself might not a trader or a merchant have done with such useful though ordinary qualifications !

Will Wimble's is the case of many a younger brother of a

40

« ZurückWeiter »