Page images

“I do not remember I have anywhere mentioned in Sir Roger's character his custom of saluting everybody that passes by him with a Goodmorrow or a Good-night. This the old man does out of the overflowings of his humanity ; though, at the same time, it renders him so popular among his country neighbours, that it is thought to have gone a good way in making him once or twice knight of the shire. He cannot forbear this exercise of benevolence even in town when he meets with any one in his morning or evening walk. It broke from him to several boats that passed by us upon the water; but, to the knight's great surprise, as he gave the Good-night to two or three young fellows a little before our landing, one of them, instead of returning the civility, asked us what queer old put we had in the boat, with a great deal of the like Thames ribaldry. Sir Roger seemed a little shocked at first; but at length, assuming a face of magistracy, told us that, if he were a Middlesex justice, he would make such vagrants know that her Majesty's subjects were no more to be abused by water than by land.

“We were now arrived at Spring Garden, which is excellently pleasant at this time of the year. When I considered the fragrance of the walks and bowers, with the choirs of birds that sung upon the trees, and the loose tribe of people that walked under their shades, I could not but look upon the place as a kind of Mahometan paradise. Sir Roger told me it put him in mind of a little coppice by his house in the country, which his chaplain used to call an aviary of nightingales. “You must understand,' says the knight, there is nothing in the world that pleases a man in love so much as your nightingale. Ah, Mr. Spectator, the many moonlight nights that I have walked by myself, and thought on the widow by the music of the nightingale !

“We concluded our walk with a glass of Burton ale and a slice of hung beef. When we had done eating ourselves, the knight called a waiter to him, and bid him carry the remainder to the waterman that had but one leg. I perceived the fellow stared upon him at the oddness of the message, and was going to be saucy; upon which I ratified the knight's commands with a peremptory look."

We now conclude this series of papers. The account of the death of Sir Roger is in Addison's best style. It is said that he killed his good knight to prevent others misrepresenting his actions and character. It certainly was not easy to preserve the true balance between our amusement at the eccentricities of his hero and our love for his

goodness, as Addison alone has preserved it. Steele vulgarized Sir Roger.

“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 correspondents in those parts, that informs him that 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 antagonist. 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 when 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 readers 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, Sir, 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 roastbeef stomach, not being able to touch a surloin, 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 last forty years of his life; but this only proved a lightning before death. He has bequeathed to this lady, as a token of his love, a great pearl necklace 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 frieze 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 everybody 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 Coverleys, 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 frieze, 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 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 quit-rents 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 shows great kindness to the old housedog 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 enjoyed himself since; no more has any of us. It was the melancholiest day for the poor people that ever happened in Worcestershire. This being all from,

· Honoured Sir,
*Your most sorrowful servant,


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 Andrew, opening the book, found it to be a collection of acts of parliament. There was in particular the Act of Uniformity, with some passages in it marked by Sir Roger's own hand. Sir Andrew found that they related to two or three points which he had disputed with Sir Roger the last time he appeared at the Club. Sir Andrew, who would have been merry at such an incident on another occasion, at the sight of the old man's handwriting burst into tears, and put the book into his pocket. Captain Sentry informs me that the knight had left rings and mourning for every one in the Club."


CAVENDISH. AMONGST the earliest memoirs on English history, and certainly far exceeding most memoirs in interest and importance, is · The Life of Wolsey, by George Cavendish, his Gentleman Usher. It was long a question who wrote this remarkable book ; but the doubt was satisfactorily cleared up by Mr. Hunter, who found that it was written by the brother of Sir William Cavendish, a faithful follower of the great Cardinal. There are ten MSS. in existence of this ancient work; but it has been very carefully edited by Mr. Singer. We confine our extracts to those striking passages which relate to the death of the great Cardinal.

Wolsey had been dismissed from Court and had retired to his palace at Cawood, previous to his installation at York as Archbishop. He was suddenly arrested on a charge of high treason, by the Earl of Northumberland, and was forced to set out for the metropolis. Very soon the Cardinal fell ill; and it is evident, from the cautions observed, that those about him suspected that he intended to poison himself. Ill as he was, the Earl of Shrewsbury put the fallen man under the charge of Sir William Kingston, the lieutenant of the Tower, whom the king had sent for the Cardinal, with twenty-four of his guard; and with this escort he departed on his last journey. “And the next day he took his journey with Master Kingston and the guard. And as soon as they espied their old master in such a lamentable estate, they lamented him with weeping eyes. Whom my lord took by the hands, and divers times, by the way, as he rode, he would talk with them, sometime with one, and sometime with another; at night he was lodged at a house of the Earl of Shrewsbury's, called Hardwick Hall*, very evil at ease. The next day he rode to Nottingham, and there lodged that night, more sicker, and the next day he rode to Leicester Abbey; and by the way he waxed so sick that he was divers times likely to have fallen from his mule, and being night before we came to the Abbey of Leicester, where at his coming in at the gates the Abbot of the place with all his convent met him with the light of many torches; and whom they right honourably received with great reverence. To whom my lord said, • Father Abbot, I am come hither to leave my bones among you ; 'whom they brought on his mule to the stairs' foot of his chamber, and there alighted, and Master Kingston then took him by the arm, and led him up the stairs ; who told me afterwards that he never carried so heavy a burden in all his life. And as soon as he was in his chamber, he went incontinent to his bed, very sick. This was upon Saturday at night; and there he continued sicker and sicker.

“ Upon Monday in the morning, as I stood by his bedside, about eight of the clock, the windows being close shut, having wax-lights burning upon the cupboard, I beheld him, as me seemed, drawing fast to his end. He perceiving my shadow upon the wall by his bedside, asked who was there : “Sir, I am here,' quoth I; “How do you?' quoth he to me; · Very well, sir,' quoth I, if I might see your grace well :' • What is it of the clock ?' said he to me; Forsooth sir,' said I, “it is past eight of the clock in the morning. •Eight of the clock ? ' quoth he: 'that cannot be;' rehearsing divers times,

ipboard, I be shadow upon the 1; · How upd. He perceivisir, I am here 1, if I m

* Not the Hardwick of Derbyshire, but of Nottinghamshire.

« PreviousContinue »