Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

Gazette,' you drop him. In short, a mere courtier, a mere sol. dier, a mere scholar, a mere any thing, is an insipid pedantic character, and equally ridiculous.

Of all the species of pedants which I have mentioned, the book-pedant is much the most supportable; he has at least an exercised understanding, and a head which is full, though confused; so that a man who converses with him may often receive from him hints of things that are worth knowing, and what he may possibly turn to his own advantage, though they are of little use to the owner. The worst kind of pedants among learned men, are such as are naturally endued with a very small share of common sense, and have read a great number of books without taste or distinction.

The truth of it is, learning, like travelling, and all other methods of improvement, as it finishes good sense, so it makes a silly man ten thousand times more insufferable, by supplying variety of matter to his impertinence, and giving him an opportunity of abounding in absurdities.

Shallow pedants cry up one another much more than men of solid and useful learning. To read the titles they give an editor, or collator of a manuscript, you would take him for the glory of the commonwealth of letters, and the wonder of his age; when perhaps, upon examination, you find that he has only rectified a Greek particle, or laid out a whole sentence in proper commas.

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 wise, has a natural tendency to make him vain and arrugant.

L.

1 A newspaper so called from gazette, the name of a piece of current money which was the original price at which it was orig'na ty sold.—0

No. 106. MONDAY, JULY 2

Hinc tibi copia
Manabit ad plenum benigno
Ruris honorum opulenta cornu.

HOR, 1 Od. xvil.. 14

Here to thee shall plenty flow,
And all her riches show,
To raise the honour of the quiet plain.

CREECH,

Having often received an invitation from my friend Sir Ro. ger de Coverley to pass away a month with him in the country," I last week accompanied him thither, and am settled with him for some time at his country-house, where I intend to form several of iny ensuing speculations. Sir Roger, who is very well acquainted with my humour, lets me rise and go to bed when I please ; dine at his own table, or in my chamber, as I think fit; sit still, and say nothing, without bidding me be merry. When the gen. tlemen of the country come to see him, he only shews me at a distance. As I have beerr walking in the fields, I have observed them stealing a sight of me over an hedge, and have heard the knight desiring them not to let me see them, for that I hated to be stared at.

I am the more at ease in Sir Roger's family, because it consists of sober and staid persons; for as the knight is the best master in the world, he seldom changes his servants; and as he 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

• These papers from the country abound in beauties of all sorts, and among others, are remarkable for the utmost purity and grace of expression. The character of his knight, is a master-piece, in its kind, and, only equalled (for, I think, it is not excelled) by that of Falstaff in Shakespeare. The comic genius of the author no where shines out to more advantage than in this instance.-H.

brother: his butler is gray-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 gray pad, that is kept in the stable with great care and tenderness out of regard for his past services, though he has been useless for several years. .

I could not but observe with a great deal of pleasure, the joy that appeared in the countenances 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. This tumanity and good-nature engages every body to him, so that when he is pleasant upon any of them, all his family are in good bumour, 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 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 nature of a chaplain above thirty years. This gentleman is a person of good

a The word, “nature” is used here a little licentiously. He should have said " in the office," or, “the quality of a chaplain.”-H.

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 dependant.

I have observed in several of my papers, that my friend Sir Roger, amidst all his good qualities, is something of an humourist; 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 and 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 was afraid of being insulted with Latin and Greek at his own table, for which reason he desired a particular friend of his at

i The literary acquirements of the squireantry of Sir Roger's era were few.

At a time not long antecedent, “an esquire passed for a great scholar of Hudibras, and Baker's Chronicle, Tarleton's Jests, . and the Seven Champions of Christendom lay in his hall window among Angling and fishing-lines." * But that Sir Roger may appear in this, as in other respects, above the average of his order, there is in Coverley Hall a library rich in “divinity and MS. household receipts." Sir Roger too had Irawn many observations together out of his reading in Baker's Chronicle, and other authors “ who always lie in his hall window;" and, however limited his own classic lore, it is certain that both in love and friendship he displayed strong literary sympathies. The perverse widow, whise cruelty darkened his whole existence, was a “ reading lady,” a “desperate scholar," and in

argument as learned as the best philosopher in Europe.” One who, when in the coun :ry,“ does not run into diaries, but reads upon the nature of plants-has o glass hive and comes into the garden out of books to see them work.” in his friendship, again, Sir Roger was all for learning. Besides the “Spectator”—to whom he eventually bequeathed his books, --he indulged a Platonic admiration for Leonora, a widow, for.

* Macaulay's History of England. VOL. 1,-13

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 backgammon. 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 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 any thing 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 lawsuit in tha 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 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 naturally, 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 after

merly a celebrated beauty, and still a very lovely woman-who “turned all the passion of her sex into a love of books and retirement.”.

*Doctor William Fleetwood, afterwards Bishop of Ely, who is also mentioned in No. 384 -0.

« PředchozíPokračovat »