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RECALLED TO TOWN.
not satisfy them. They think there is more in me than he discovers, and that I do not hold my tongue for nothing.
For these and other reasons I shall set out for London tomorrow, having found by experience that the country is not a place for a person of my temper, who does not love jollity, and what they call good neighbourhood. A man that is out of humour when an unexpected guest breaks in upon him, and does not care for sacrificing an afternoon to every chance
comer,—that will be the master of his own time, and the pursuer 10 of his own inclinations,—makes but a very unsociable figure in this
kind of life. I shall therefore retire into the town, if I may make use of that phrase, and get into the crowd again as fast as I can, in order to be alone. I can there raise what speculations I please upon others without being observed myself, and at the same time enjoy all the advantages of company with all the privileges of solitude. In the meanwhile, to finish the month, and conclude these my rural speculations, I shall here insert a letter from my friend Will Honeycomb, who has not lived
a month for these forty years out of the smoke of London, 20 and rallies me after his way upon my country life.
DEAR SPEC, I suppose this letter will find thee picking up daisies, or smelling to a lock of hay, or passing away thy time in some innocent country diversion of the like nature. I have however orders from the club to summon thee up to town, being all of us cursedly afraid thou wilt not be able to relish our company, after thy conversations with Moll White and Will Wimble. Pr’ythee don't send up any more stories of a cock and a bull, nor frighten
the town with spirits and witches. Thy speculations begin to 30 smell confoundedly of woods and meadows. If thou dost not
come up quickly, we shall conclude that thou art in love with one of Sir Roger's dairy-maids. Service to the knight. Sir Andrew is grown the cock of the club since he left us, and if he does not return quickly, will make every mother's son of us commonwealth's men.
No. 269. Sir Roger comes up to town to see Prince Eugene: he tells the Spectator the news of the country.
Ævo rarissima nostro
OVID, Ars. Am. i. 241.
DRYDEN. I was this morning surprised with a great knocking at the door, when my landlady's daughter came up to me, and told me, that there was a man below desired to speak with me. Upon my asking her who it was, she told me it was a very grave elderly person, but that she did not know his name. I immediately went down to him, and found him to be the coachman of my worthy friend Sir Roger de Coverley. He told me that his master came to town last night, and would be glad to take a
turn with me in Gray’s-inn walks n. As I was wondering in 10 myself what had brought Sir Roger to town, not having lately
received any letter from him, he told me that his master was come up to get a sight of prince Eugene , and that he desired I would immediately meet him.
I was not a little pleased with the curiosity of the old knight, though I did not much wonder at it, having heard him say more than once in private discourse, that he looked upon prince Eugenio (for so the knight always calls him)n to be a greater man than Scanderbeg n.
I was no sooner come into Gray's-inn walks, but I heard my 20 friend upon the terrace hemming twice or thrice to himself with
great vigour, for he loves to clear his pipes in good air (to make use of his own phrase), and is not a little pleased with any one who takes notice of the strength which he still exerts in his morning hems.
I was touched with a secret joy at the sight of the good old man, who before he saw me was engaged in conversation with a beggar man that had asked an alms of him. I could hear my friend chide him for not finding out some work; but at the
same time saw him put his hand into his pocket and give him 30 sixpence.
Our salutations were very hearty on both sides, consisting of many kind shakes of the hand, and several affectionate looks
SIR ROGER IN LONDON.
which we cast upon one another. After which the knight told me, my good friend his chaplain was very well, and much at my service, and that the Sunday before he had made a most incomparable sermon out of Dr. Barrow. I have left,' says he, 'all my affairs in his hands, and being willing to lay an obligation upon him, have deposited with him thirty merksa, to be distributed among his poor parishioners.'
He then proceeded to acquaint me with the welfare of Will Wimble. Upon which he put his hand into his fob, and pre10 sented me in his name with a tobacco-stopper, telling me, that
Will had been busy all the beginning of the winter in turning great quantities of them; and that he made a present of one to every gentleman in the country who has good principles, and smokes. He added, that poor Will was at present under great tribulation, for that Tom Touchy had taken the law of him for cutting some hazel sticks out of one of his hedges.
Among other pieces of news which the knight brought from his country-seat, he informed me that Moll White was dead;
and that about a month after her death the wind was so very 20 high, that it blew down the end of one of his barns. But for
my own part,' says Sir Roger, 'I do not think that the old woman had any hand in it.'
He afterwards fell into an account of the diversions which had passed in his house during the holidays; for Sir Roger, after the laudable custom of his ancestors, always keeps open house at Christmas. I learned from him, that he had killed eight fat hogs for this season; that he had dealt about his chines very liberally amongst his neighbours; and that in particular he had sent
a string of hog's-puddings with a pack of cards to every poor 30 family in the parish.' 'I have often thought,' says Sir Roger, ‘it
happens very well that Christmas should fall out in the middle of winter. It is the most dead and uncomfortable time of the year, when the poor people would suffer very much from their poverty and cold, if they had not good cheer, warm fires, and Christmas gambols to support them. I love to rejoice their poor hearts at this season, and to see the whole village merry in my great hall. I allow a double quantity of malt to my small beer, and set it a running for twelve days to every one that calls for it. I have
always a piece of cold beef and a mince-pye upon the table, and 40 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 reflexion 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 England, and tol 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 10 observed to eat very plentifully of his plumb-porridge".
After having dispatched all our country matters, 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 the 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,' said he, don't you think Sir Andrew had a hand in the pope's procession'n- -but
without giving me time to answer him, 'Well, well,' says he, ‘I 20 know you are a wary man, and do not care for talking 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 sight of that extraordinary man, whose presence does 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 very 30 much redound to the honour of this prince.
Having passed away the greatest part of the morning in hearing the knight's reflexions, which were partly private and partly political, he asked me if I would smoke a pipe with him over a dish of coffee at Squire'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 aspect 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 wax40 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 no body else could come at a dish of tea, till the knight had got all his conveniences about him.-L.
[At the end of this paper, which is on Pin-money, occurs the following passage about Sir Roger's hapless suit to the widow.]
I remember my friend Sir Roger, who I dare say never read this passage in Platon, told me some time since, that
his courting the perverse widow (of whom I have given an account
in former papers) he had disposed of an hundred acres in a 10 diamond ring, which he would have presented her with, had
she thought fit to accept it; and that upon her wedding day she should have carried on her head fifty of the tallest oaks
his estate. He further informed me that he would have given her a coal-pit to keep her in clean linen, that he would have allowed her the profits of a wind-mill for her fans, and would have presented her once in three years with the shearing of his sheep for her under petticoats. To which the knight always adds, that though he did not care for fine clothes himself, yet there should
not have been a woman in the country better dressed than my 20 lady Coverley. Sir Roger, perhaps, may in this, as well as in
many other of his devices, appear something odd and singular; but if the humour of pin-money prevails, I think it would be very proper for every gentleman of an estate to mark out so many acres of it under the title of The Pins.-L.
No. 329. Sir Roger and the Spectator visit Westminster Abbey.
HOR. Epist. i. 6. 27.
Where good Pompilius, and great Ancus went. My friend Sir Roger de Coverley told me t'other night, that he had been reading my paper upon Westminster Abbey,* in
* No. 26, omitted from this selection.