« VorigeDoorgaan »
He was last week producing two or three letters which he writ in his youth to a coquette lady. The raillery of them was natural, and well enough for a mere man of the town; but very unluckily, feveral of the words were wrong fpelt. Will laughed this off at first as well as he could; but finding himfelf pushed on all fides, and efpecially by the Templar, he told us with a little paflion, that he never liked pedantry in fpelling, and that he fpelt like a gentleman, and not like a fcholar; upon this Will had recourfe to his old topic of fhewing the narrow-fpiritedness, the pride, and ignorance of pedants; which he carried fo far, that upon my retiring to my lodgings, I could not forbear throw ing together fuch reflections as occurred to me upon that fubject.
They are obliged indeed to be thus lavish of their praises, that they may keep one another in countenance; and it is no wonder if a great deal of knowledge, which is not capable of making a man wife. has a natural tendency to make him vain and arrogant.
A man who has been brought up among books, and is able to talk of nothing else, is a very indifferent companion, and what we call a pedant. But, methinks, we fhould enlarge the title, and give it every one that does not know how to think out of his profeffion and particular way of life.
What is a greater pedant than a mere man of No 106. MONDAY, JULY 2. the town? Bar him the play-houses, a catalogue of the reigning beauties, and an account of a few fafhionable diftempers that have befallen him, and you ftrike him dumb. How many a pretty gentleman's knowledge lies all within the verge of the court? He will tell you the names of the principal favourites, repeat the fhrewd fayings of a man of quality, whisper an intrigue that is not yet blown upon by common fame; or, if the fphere of his obfervations is a little larger than ordinary, will perhaps enter into all the incidents, turns, and revolutions in a game of ombre. When he has gone thus far he has fhewn you the whole circle of his accomplishments, his parts are drained, and he is difabled from any farther converfation. What are thefe but rank pedants? and yet these are the men who value themfelyes moft on their exemption from the pedantry of colleges.
I might here mention the military pedant who always talks in a camp, and is ftorming towns, making lodgments, and fighting battles from one end of the year to the other. Every thing he fpeaks fmells of gunpowder; if you take away his artillery from him, he has not a word to fay for himafelf. I might likewife mention the law-pedant, that is perpetually putting cafes, repeating the tranfactions of Westminster-Hall, wrangling with you upon the most indifferent circumftances of life, and not to be convinced of the distance of a place, or of the most trivial point in converfation, but by dint of argument. The ftate pedant is wrapt up in news, and loft in politics. If you mention either of the Kings of Spain or Poland, he talks very notably; but if you go out of the Gazette, you drop him. In short, a mere courtier, a mere foldier, a mere fcholar, a mere any thing, is an infipid pedantic character, and equally
Of all the fpecies of pedants, which I have mentioned, the book-pedant is much the most supportable; he has at leaft an exercifed understanding, and a head which is full though confufed, fo that a man who converfes with him may often receive from him hints of things that are worth knowing, and what he may poffibly turn to his own advantage, though they are of little ufe to the owner. The worst kind of pedants among learned men, are fuch as are naturally endued with a very small hare of common fenfe, and have read a great number of books without taste or distinction,
-Hinc tibi copia
AVING often received an invitation from my friend Sir Roger de Coverley to pafs away a month with him in the country, I last week accompanied him thither, and am fettled with him for fome time at his country-house, where I intend to form feveral of my enfuing fpeculations. Sir Roger, who is very well acquainted with my humour, lets me rife and go to bed when I pleafe, dine at his own table or in my chamber as I think fit, fit ftill and say nothing without bidding me be merry. When the gentlemen of the country come to fee him, he only fhews me at a distance. As I have been walking in his fields I have obferved them ftealing a fight of me over an hedge, and have heard the knight defiring them not to let me fee them, for that I hated to be ftared at.
I am the more at ease in Sir Roger's family, becaufe it confifts of fober and ftayed perfons; for as the knight is the best matter in the world, he feldom changes his fervants; and as he is beloved by all about him, his fervants never care for leaving him; by this means his domeftics are all in years, and grown old with their mafter. You would take his valet de chambre for his brother, his butler is grey-headed, his groom is one of the graveft men that I have ever feen, and his coachman has the looks of a privy-counfellor. You fee the goodness of the mafter even in the old houfe-dog, and in a grey pad that is kept in the ftable with great care and tenderness out of regard to his pait fervices, though he has been useless for several years.
I could not but obferve with a great deal of pleafure the joy that appeared in the countenance of thefe ancient domeftics upon my friend's arrival at his country-feat. Some of them could not refrain from tears at the fight of their old mafter; every one of them preffed forward to do fomething for him, and feemed difcouraged if they were not employed, At the fame time the good old knight,
with a mixture of the father and the master of the family, tempered the enquiries after his own affairs, with feveral kind of questions relating to themfelves. This humanity and good-nature engages every body to him, fo that when he is pleafant upon any of them, all his family are in good humour, and none fo much as the perfon whom he diverts himself with, on the contrary, if he coughs, or betrays any infirmity of old age, it is eafy for a ftand er-by to obferve a fecret concern in the looks of all his fervants
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-fervants, wonderfully defirous of pleafing me, because they have often heard their master talk of me as of his parti
As Sir Roger was going on in his story, the gentleman we were talking of came up to us; and upon the knight's afking him who preached tomorrow, for it was Saturday night, told us, the Bishop of St. Asaph in the morning, and Dr. South in the afternoon. He then fhewed us his hit of preachers for the whole year, where I saw with a great deal of pleafure Archbishop Tillotson, Bishop Saunderfon, Dr. Barrow, Dr. Calamy, with feveral living authors who have published difcourfes of practical divinity. I no fooner faw this venerable man in the pulpit, but I very much approved of my friend's infifting upon the qualifications of a good afpect and a clear voice; for I was fo charmed with the gracefulness of his figure and delivery, as well as with the difcourfes he pronounced, that I think I never pafled any time more to my fatisfaction. A fermon repeated after this manner, is like the compofition 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 wafting their fpirits in laborious compofitions of their own, would endeavour after a handfome elocution, and all thofe other talents that are proper to enforce what has been penned by greater masters. This would not only be more eafy to themselves, but more edifying to the people.
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 houfe in the nature of a chaplain above thirty years. This gentleman is a perfon of good fenfe and fome learning, of a very regular life and obliging converfation: he heartily loves Sir Roger, and knows that he is very much in the old knight's efteem, fo that he lives in the family rather as a relation than a dependant.
I have observed in feveral of my papers, that my friend Sir Roger, amidst all his good qualities, is fomething of an humourift; and that his virtues as well as his imperfections, are as it were tinged by a certain extravagance, which makes them ticularly his, and diftinguishes them from thofe of This caft of mind, as it is generally very innocent in itself, so it renders his converfation highly agreeable, and more delightful than the fame degree of fenfe and virtue would appear in their common and ordinary colours. As I was walking with him laft night, he asked me how I liked the good man whom I have just now mentioned? and without ftaying for my answer told me, that he was afraid of being infulted with Latin and Greek at his own table; for which reason he defired a particular friend of his at the univerfity to find him out a clergyman rather of plain fenfe than much learning, of a good aspect, a clear voice, a fociable temper, and, if poffible, a man that understood a little of backgammon. My friend, fays Sir Roger, found me out this gentleman who, be fides the endowments required of him, is, they tell me, a good fcholar, though he does not fhew it: I have given him the parfonage of the parish; and because I know his value, have fettled upon him a good annuity for life. If he outlives me, he fhall 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 afked any thing of me for himself, though he is every day foliciting me for fomething in behalf of one or other of my tenants his parishioners. There has not been a law-fuit in the parifh fince he has lived among them; if any difpute arifes, they apply themselves to him for the decifion; if they do not acquiefce in his judgment, which I think never happened above once or twice at most, they appeal to me. At his first fettling with me, I made him a prefent of all the good fermons 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 digefted them into fuch a feries, that they follow one another naturally, and make a continued fyftem of practial divinity.
No 107. TUESDAY, JULY 3.
fopo ingentem ftatuam pofuere Attici, Servumque collocârunt æterna in bafi, Patere bonoris fcirent ut cunétis viam.
PHDR. Epilog. 1. 2.
The Athenians erected a large ftatue to Æfop, and placed him, though a flave, on a lafting pedestal; to fhew, that the way to honour lies open indifferently to all.
HE reception, manner of attendance, undifturbed freedom and quiet which I meet with here in the country, has confirmed me in the opinion I always had, that the general corruption of manners in fervants is owing to the conduct of mafters. The afpect of every one in the family carries fo much fatisfaction, that it appears he knows the happy lot which has befallen him in being a member of it. There is one particular which I have feldom feen but at Sir Roger's; it is ufual in all other places, that fervants fly from the parts of the house through which their master is paffing; on the contrary, here they induftriously place themfelves in his way; and it is on both fides, as it were, understood as a vifit, when the fervants appear without calling. This proceeds from the humane and equal temper of the man of the houfe, who a'fo perfectly well knows how to enjoy a great eftate, with fuch economy as ever to be much beforehand. This makes his own mind untroubled, and confequently unapt to vent peevifh expreflions, or give pailionate or inconfistent orders to thofe about him. Thus respect and love go together; and a certain chearfulness in performance of their duty is the particular distinction of the lower part of this family. When a fervant is called before his mafter, he does not come with an expectation to hear himself rated for fome trivial fault, threatened to be stripped or ufed with any other unbecoming language, which mean masters often give to worthy fervants; but it is often to know, what road he took that he came fo readily back
back according to order; whether he paffed by fuch a ground, if the old man who rents it is in good health; or whether he gave Sir Roger's love to him, or the like.
A man who preferves a respect, founded on his benevolence to his dependents, lives rather like a prince than a mafter in his family; his orders are received as favours, rather than duties; and the diftinction of approaching him is part of the reward for executing what is commanded by him.
There is another circumftance in which my friend excels in his management, which is the manner of rewarding his fervants: he has ever been of opinion, that giving his caft clothes to be worn by valets has a very ill effect upon little minds, and creates a filly fenfe of equality between the parties, in perfons affected only with outward things. I have heard him often pleafant on this occafion, and describe a young gentleman abufing his man in that coat, which a month or two before was the most pleafing diftinction he was confcious of in himself. He would turn his difcourfe ftill more pleafantly upon the ladies bounties of this kind; and I have heard him fay he knew a fine woman, who diftributed rewards and punishments in giving becoming or unbecoming dreffes to her maids.
But my good friend is above these little inftances of good-will, in bestowing only trifles on his fervants; a good fervant to him is fure of having it in his choice very foon of being no fervant at all. As I before observed, he is fo good an huf. band, and knows fo thoroughly that the fkill of the purfe is the cardinal virtue of this life; I fay, he knows so well that frugality is the fupport of generofity, that he can often fpare a large fine when a tenement falls, and give that fettlement to a good servant who has a mind to go into the
world, or make a stranger pay the fine to that fervant, for his more comfortable maintenance, if he ftays in his service.
A man of honour and generosity confiders it would be miserable to himself to have no will but that of another, though it were of the best perfon breathing, and for that reafon goes on as fast as he is able to put his fervants into independent livelihood. The greatest part of Sir Roger's eftate is tenanted by perfons who have ferved himself or his ancestors. It was to me extremely pleasant to observe the vifitants from feveral parts to welcome his arrival into the country; and all the difference that I could take notice of between the late fervants who came to fee him, and those who ftaid in the family, was that these latter were looked upon as finer gentlemen and better courtiers.
I shall not go out of the occurrences of common life, but affert it as a general obfervation, that I never faw but in Sir Roger's family, and one or two more, good fervants treated as they ought to be.. Sir Roger's kindness extends to their children's children, and this very morning he sent his coachman's grandfon to prentice. I shall conclude this paper with an account of a picture in his gallery, where there are many which will deserve my future obfervation.
At the very upper end of this handsome structure I faw the portraiture of two young men standing in a river, the one naked, the other in a livery. The person supported seemed half dead, but ftill fo much alive as to fhew in his face exquifite joy and love towards the other. I thought the fainting figure refembled my friend Sir Roger; and looking at the butler, who stood by me for an account of it, he informed me that the person in the livery was a fervant of Sir Roger's, who stood on the shore while his master was swimming, and obferving him taken with fome fudden illness, and fink under water, jumped in and faved him. He told me Sir Roger took off the dress he was in as foon as he came home, and by a great bounty at that time, followed by his favour ever fince, had made him mafter of that pretty feat which we faw at a distance as we came to this houfe. I remembered indeed Sir Roger faid there lived a very worthy gentleman, to whom he was highly obliged, without mentioning any thing further. Upon my looking a little diffatisfied at fome part of the picture, my attendant informed me that it was againft Sir Roger's will, and at the earnest request of the gentleman himfelf, that he was drawn in the habit in which he had faved his master.
N° 108. WEDNESDAY, JULY 4.
S I was yesterday morning walking with Sir brought him a huge fish, which, he told him, Mr. William Wimble had caught that very morning; and that he prefented it, with his fervice to him, and intended to come and dine with him. the fame time he delivered a letter which my friend read to me as foon as the meffenger left him.
Defire you to accept of a jack, which is the beft I have caught this feafon. I intend to "come and stay with you a week, and fee how the "perch bite in the Black River. I obferved with "fome concern, the last time I faw you upon the "bowling-green, that your whip wanted a lash to
it; I will bring half a dozen with me that I "twifted laft week, which I hope will ferve you "all the time you are in the country. I have not "been out of the faddle for fix days laft paft, hav"ing been at Eton with Sir John's eldest fon. He "takes to his learning hugely. I am,
"Sir, your humble fervant,
This extraordinary letter, and message that accompanied it, made me very curious to know the character
character and quality of the gentleman who fent them; which I found to be as follows, Will Wimble is younger brother to a baronet, and defcended of the ancient family of the Wimbles. He is now between forty and fifty; but being bred to no bufinefs and born to no eftate, he generally lives with his elder brother as fuperintendant 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 verfed 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 efteemed upon account of his family, he is a welcome gueft at every house, and keeps up a good correfpondence among all the gentlemen about him. He carries a tulip-root in his pocket from one to another, or exchanges a puppy between a couple of friends that live perhaps in the oppofite fides 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 fettingdog that he has "made" himself. He now and then presents a pair of garters of his own knitting to their mothers or fifters; and raises a great deal of mirth among them, by enquiring as often as he meets them how they wear? Thefe gentlemanlike manufactures and obliging little humours make Will the darling of the country.
hands were wholly employed in trifies; that so much humanity fhould be fo little beneficial to others, and fo much induftry fo little advantageous to himself. The fame temper of mind and application to affairs might have recommended him to the public esteem, and have raised his fortune in another ftation of life. What good to his country or himfelf might not a trader or merchant have done with fuch useful though ordinary qualifications?
Upon withdrawing into my room after dinner, I was fecretly touched with compaffion towards the honeft gentleman that had dined with us; and couldn't but confider with a great deal of cercorn, how so good an heart and such busy
Will Wimble's is the cafe of many a younger brother of a great family, who had rather fee their children ftarve like gentlemen, than thrive in a trade or profeffion that is beneath their quality. This humour fills feveral parts of Europe with pride and beggary. It is the happiness of a trading nation, like ours, that the younger fons, though incapable of any liberal art or profeffion, may be placed in fuch a way of life, as may perhaps enable them to vie with the best of their family: accordingly we find several citizens that were launched into the world with narrow fortunes, rifing by an honeft industry to greater eftates than thofe of their elder brothers. It is not improbable but Will was formerly tried at divinity, law, or phyfic; and that finding his genius did not lie that way, his parents gave him up at length to his own inventions. But certainly, however improper he might have been for studies of a higher nature, he was perfectly well turned for the occupations of trade and commerce. As I think this is a point which cannot be too much inculcated, I fhall defire my reader to compare what I have here written with what I have faid in my twenty-firft fpeculation. L
Sir Roger was proceeding in the character of him, when we faw him make up to us with two or three hazle- twigs in his hand that he had cut in Sir Roger's woods, as he came through them, in his way to the houfe. I was very much pleafed to obferve on one fide the hearty and fincere welcome with which Sir Roger received him, and on on the other, the fecret joy which his guest difcovered at fight of the good old night. After the first falutes were over, Will defired Sir Roger to lend him one of his fervants to carry a fet of fhuttlecocks he had with him in a little box to a lady that lived about a mile off, to whom it feems he had promifed fuch a prefent for above this half year. Sir Roger's back was no fooner turned but honeft Will began to tell me of a large cock-pheafant that he had fprung in one of the neighbouring woods, with two or three other adventures of the fame nature. Odd and uncommon characters are the game that I look for, and moft delight in; for which reafon I was as much pleafed with the novelty of the perfon that talked to me, as he could be for his life with the fpringing of the pheafant, and therefore liftened to him with more than ordinary attention.
In the midft of this difcourfe the bell rung to dinner, where the gentleman I have been speaking of had the pleasure of feeing the huge jack he had caught, ferved up for the firft difh in a moft fumptuous manner. Upon our fitting 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 feveral other particularities that lafted all the firft courfe. A difh of wild fowl that came afterwards furnished converfation for the rest of the dinner, which concluded with a late invention of Will's for improving the quail-" pipe.
No 109. THURSDAY, JULY 5.
Was this morning walking in the gallery, when. Sir Roger entered at the end opposite to me, and advancing towards me, faid he was glad to meet me among his relations the de Coverley's, and hoped I liked the converfation of fo much good company, who were as filent as myfelf. I knew he alluded to the pictures, and as he is a gentleman who does not a little value himself upon his ancient defcent, I expected he would give me fome account of them. We were now arrived at the upper-end of the gallery, when the knight faced towards one of the pictures, and as we stood before it, he entered into the matter, after his blunt way of faying things, as they occur to his imagination, without regular introduction, or care to preferve the appearance of chain of thought.
"It is, faid he, worth while to confider the "force of drefs; and how the perfons of one age "differ from thofe of another, merely by that "only. One may obferve alfo, that the general "fashion of one age has been followed by one par"ticular fet of people in another, and by them "preferved from one generation to another. Thus "the vaft jetting coat and small bonnet, which
was the habit in Harry the foventh's time, is "kept on in the yeomen of the guard; not with- ; out a good and politic view, because they look a foot-taller, and a foot and an half broader; "besides, that the cap leaves the face expand"ed, and confequently more terrible, and fitter “to ftand at the entrance of palaces.
"This predeceffor of ours, you fee, is dreffed "after this manner, and his cheeks would be "no larger than mine, were he in a hat as I He was the laft man that won a prize in the tilt-yard, which is now a common "ftreet before Whitehall. You fee the broken "lance that lies there by his right foot; he *fhivered that lance of his adverfary all to "pieces; and bearing himself, look you, Sir, in this manner, at the fame time he came "within the target of the gentleman who rode against him, and taking him with incredible "force before him in the pommel of his faddle, he in that manner rid the turnament over, "with an air that thewed he did it rather to "perform the rule of the lifts, than expofe his "enemy; however, it appeared he knew how "to make use of a victory, and with a gentle "trot he marched up to a gallery where their "miftrefs fat, for they were rivals, and let him "down with laudable courtesy and pardonable infolence. I do not know but it might be exactly where the coffee-houfe is now. "You are to know this my ancestor was not only of a military genius, but fit alfo for the arts of peace, for he played on the bass-viol as well as any gentleman at court; you fee "where his viol hangs by his basket-hilt fword. The action at the tilt-yard you may be sure "won the fair lady, who was a maid of ho<< nour, and the greatest beauty of her time;
here the ftands the next picture. You fee, "Sir, my great great great grandmother has on
the new-fashioned petticoat, except that the "modern is gathered at the waift; my grand"mother appears as if the ftood in a large
drum, whereas the ladies now walk as if they "were in a go-cart. For all this lady was bred "at court, he became an excellent country
wife, the brought ten children, and when I fhew you the library, you shall fee in her own hand, allowing for the difference of the lan"guage, the best receipt now in England both "for an hafty-pudding and a white-pot.
"If you please to fall back a little, because it "is neceffary to look at the three next pictures "at one view; thefe are three fifters. She on "the right hand, who is so very beautiful, died a maid; the next to her still handsomer, had "the fame fate, against her will; this homely "thing in the middle had both their portions "added to her own, and was ftolen by a neigh
"deed that paffed away half his eftate with his "gloves on, but would not put on his hat be"fore a lady if it were to fave his country. "He is faid to be the first that made love by "fqueezing the hand. He left the eftate with "ten thousand pounds debt upon it, but how66 ever by all hands I have been informed that "he was every way the fineft gentleman in the "world. That debt lay heavy on our houfe "for one generation, but it was retrieved by a "gift from that honeft man you fee there, a "citizen of our name, but nothing at all akin "to us. I know Sir Andrew Freeport has faid "behind my back, that this man was defcended "from one of the ten children of the maid of "honour I fhewed you above; but it was never "made out. We winked at the thing indeed, "because money was wanting at that time."
Here I faw my friend a little embarrassed, and turned my face to the next portraiture. Sir Roger went on with his account of the gallery in the following manner. "This man," pointing to him I looked at, "I take to be the "honour of our houfe, Sir Humphrey de Coverley; "he was in his dealings as punctual as a tradef"man, and as generous as a gentleman. He "would have thought himself as much undone "by breaking his word, as if it were to be fol"lowed by bankruptcy. He ferved his country
as khight of this fhire to his dying day. He "found it no easy matter to maintain an inte"grity in his words and actions, even in things "that regarded the offices which were incum"bent upon him, in the care of his own affairs "and relations of life; and therefore dreaded, "though he had great talents, to go into em"ployments of ftate, where he must be expofed "to the fnares of ambition. Innocence of life "and great ability were the diftinguishing parts " of his character; the latter, he had often ob"ferved, had led to the deftruction of the for
mer, and ufed frequently to lament that great "and good had not the fame fignification. He "was an excellent husbandman, but had re" folved not to exceed fuch a degree of wealth; "all above it he beftowed in fecret bounties
bouring gentleman, a man of ftratagem and "refolution, for he poisoned three maftiffs to come at her, and knocked down two deer"stealers in carrying her off. Misfortunes hap"pen in all families: the theft of this romp and fo much money, was no great matter to our estate. But the next heir that poffeffed "it was this foft gentleman, whom you fee "there: obferve the fmall buttons, the little "boots, the laces, the flashes about his clothes, "and above all the pofture he is drawn in, "which to be fure was his own choosing; you fee he fits with one hand on a defk writing and looking as it were another way, like an "eafy writer, or a fonneteer: he was one of "thofe that had too much wit to know how to "live in the world; he was a man of no juftice, "but great good manners; he ruined every bo"dy that had any thing to do with him, but "never faid a rude thing in his life; the most "indolent perfon in the world, he would fign a
many years after the fum he aimed at for his own ufe was attained. Yet he did not flacken "his industry, but to a decent old age spent the "life and fortune which was fuperfluous to "himself, in the fervice of his friends and "neighbours."
Here we were called to dinner, and Sir Roger ended the difcourfe of this gentleman, by telling me, as we followed the fervant, that this his ancestor was a brave man, and narrowly escaped being killed in the civil wars; "for, faid he, "he was fent out of the field upon a private "meffage, the day before the battle of Wor"cefter." The whim of narrowly escaping by having been within a day of danger, with other matters abovementioned, mixed with good fenfe, left me at a lofs whether I was more delighted with my friend's wisdom, or fimplicity.