Page images
PDF
EPUB

“ There is a noble hymn in French, which Monsieur Bayle has celebrated for a very fine one, and which the famous author of the Art of Speaking calls an admirable one, that turns upon a thought of the same nature. If I could have done it justice in English, I would have sent it you translated; it was written by Monsieur Des Barreaux, who had been one of the greatest wits and libertines in France, but in his last years was as remarkable a penitent.

Grand Dieu, tes jugemens sont remplis d'equité ;
Toûjours tu prens plaisir à nous étre propice:
Mais j'ai tant fait de mal, que jamais ta bonté
Ne me pardonnera, sans choquer ta Justice.
Oui, mon Dieu, la grandeur de mon impiété,
Ne laisse à ton pouvoir que le choix du supplice:
Ton interest s'oppose à ma felicité,
Et ta clemence même attend que je perisse.
Contente ton desir, puis qu'il t'est glorieux;
Offense toy des pleurs qui coulent de mes yeux;
Tonne, frappe, il est temps, rends moi guerre pour guerre;
J'adore en périssant la raison qui t' aigrit,
Mais dessus quel endroit tombera ton tonnere,
Qui ne soit tout couvert du sang de Jesus Christ.

“ If these thoughts may be serviceable to you, I desire you would place them in a proper light; and am ever, with great sincerity, “Sir, Your's," &c.

0.

No. 517. THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23.

Heu pietas ! heu prisca fides !

VIRG. An. vi. 878.
Mirror of ancient faith
Undaunted worth! inviolable truth!

DEYDEN.

We last night received a piece of ill news at our club, which very sensibly afflicted every one of us. I question 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. Sir Andrew Freeport has a letter from one of his correspendents 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 comes from a whig justice of peace, who was always Sir Roger's enemy and antago

1 "Mr. Addison was so fond of this character that a little before he laid down the 'Spectator' (foreseeing that some nimble gentleman would catch up his pen the moment he quitted it) he said to our intimate friend, with a certain warmth in his expression which he was not often guilty of, *I'll kill Sir Roger that nobody else may murder him.'”—The Bee p. 26.

On this Chalmers sensibly remarks, that “the killing of Sir Roger has been sufficiently accounted for, without supposing that Addison despatched him in a fit of anger: for the work was about to close, and it appeared necessary to close the club; but whatever difference of opinion there may be concerning this circumstance, it is universally agreed that it produced a paper of transcendent excellence in all the graces of simplicity and pathos. There is not in our language any assumption of character more faithful than that of the honest butler; nor a more irresistible stroke of nature than the circumstance of the book received by Sir Andrew Freeport."

Budgell's story is another version of the reason Cervantes gave for killing his hero ;-para mi fola nacio Don Quixote, y yo para el. Shakespere's motive for the early death of Mercutio, in the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, has been accounted for by a similar fiction.--*

nist. I have letters both from the chaplain and Captain Sentry which mention nothing of it, but are filled with many particulars to the honour of the good old man. I have likewise a letter from the butler, who took so much care of me last summer wben 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.

“ 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 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; for you know my good master was always the poor man's friend. Upon his coming home, the first complaint he 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 hopes of his 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 his death. He has bequeathed to this lady, as a token of his love, a great pearl neck. lace, and a couple of silver bracelets set with jewels, 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 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 frize coat, and to every woman a black riding-hood. It was a most moving sight to see him take leave of his poor servants, commending us all for our fidelity, whilst we were not able to speak a word for weeping. As we most of us are grown grey-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 bequeathed a great deal more in charity, which is not yet come to my knowledge, and it is peremptorily said in the parish, that he has left money 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 every body that he made a very good end, and never speaks of him without tears. He was buried, according to his own directions, among the family of the Coverlies, 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 followed the corpse with heavy hearts, and in their mourning suits; the men in frize, 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

1 The 544th number of the “Spectator” (Nov. 24th, 1712) contains a letter from the new esquire, in which he says, “I cannot reflect upon his (Sir Roger's) character but I am confirmed in the truth which I have, I think, heard spoken at the club; to wit, that a man of a warm and well disposed heart, with a very small capacity, is highly superior in human society to him who with the greatest talents is cold and languid in his affections. But, alas! why do I make a difficulty in speaking of my worthy ancestor's failings? His little absurdities and incapacity for the conversation of the politest men are dead with him, and his greater qualities are even now useful to him. I know not whether by naming those

him, a little before his death, he shook him by the hand, and wished him joy of the estate which was falling to him, desiring him only to make a 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 shews great kindness to the old 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 never joyed himself since; no more

has

any It was the melancholiest day for the poor people that ever happened in Worcestershire. This being all from “Honoured Sir, your most sorrowful servant,

" EDWARD BISCUIT."

of us.

“ 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.

This letter, notwithstanding the poor butler's manner of writing it, gave us such an idea of our good old friend, that upon the reading of it, there was not a dry eye in the club. Sir An

disabilities I do not enhance his merit, since he has left behind him a reputation in his country which would be worth the pains of the wisest man’s whole life to arrive at.”—“I have continued all Sir Roger's servants, except such as it was a relief to dismiss unto little livings within my manor; those who are in a list of the good Knight's own hand to be taken care of by me, I have quartered upon such as have taken new leases of me, and added so many advantages during the lives of the persons so quartered, that it is the interest of those whom they are joined with to cherish and befriend them on all occasions."

A The poor butler's manner. As if that manner was not the very thing that melts us. There is a little vanity in this apology for the poor butler.-H.

« PreviousContinue »