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My friend Sir Roger, being a good churchman, has beautified the inside of his church with several texts of his own choosing. He has likewise given
a handsome pulpit-cloth, and railed in the com5 munion-table at his own expense.
He has often told me, that at his coming into his estate he found his parishioners very irregular; and that in order to make them kneel and join in the responses, he gave
every one of them a hassock and a common-prayer10 book; and at the same time employed an itinerant
singing-master, who goes about the country for that purpose, to instruct them rightly in the tunes of the Psalms; upon which they now very much value
themselves, and indeed outdo most of the country 15 churches that I have ever heard.
As Sir Roger is landlord to the whole congregation, he keeps them in very good order, and will suffer nobody to sleep in it besides himself; for if by chance
he has been surprised into a short nap at sermon, 20 upon recovering out of it he stands up and looks
about him, and if he sees anybody else nodding, either wakes them himself, or sends his servants to them. Several other of the old knight's particu
larities break out upon these occasions. Some25 times he will be lengthening out a verse in the sing
ing Psalms, half a minute after the rest of the congregation have done with it; sometimes when he is pleased with the matter of his devotion, he proprayer; and sometimes stands up when everybody else is upon their knees, to count the congregation, or see if any of his tenants are missing.
“ Amen” three or four times to the same
I was yesterday very much surprised to hear my old friend, in the midst of the service calling out to 5 one John Matthews to mind what he was about, and not disturb the congregation. This John Matthews it seems is remarkable for being an idle fellow, and at that time was kicking his heels for his diversion. This authority of the knight, though exerted 10 in that odd manner, which accompanies him in all circumstances of life, has a very good effect upon the parish, who are not polite enough to see anything ridiculous in his behavior; besides that the general good sense and worthiness of his character 15 make his friends observe these little singularities as foils that rather set off than blemish his good qualities.
As soon as the sermon is finished, nobody presumes to stir till Sir Roger is gone out of the church. 20 The knight walks down from his seat in the chancel between a double row of his tenants, that stand bowing to him on each side: and every now and then inquires how such a one's wife, or mother, or son, or father do, whom he does not see at church; 25 which is understood as a secret reprimand to the person that is absent.
The chaplain has often told me, that upon a catechising day, when Sir Roger has been pleased
with a boy that answers well, he has ordered a Bible to be given him next day for his encouragement; and sometimes accompanies it with a flitch
of bacon to his mother. Sir Roger has likewise 5 added five pounds a year to the clerk's place; and
that he may encourage the young fellows to make themselves perfect in the church-service, has promised upon the death of the present incumbent, who is very old, to bestow it according to merit.
The fair understanding between Sir Roger and his chaplain, and their mutual concurrence in doing good, is the more remarkable, because the very next village is famous for the differences and con
tentions that rise between the parson and the 15 'squire, who live in a perpetual state of war. The
parson is always preaching at the 'squire; and the 'squire, to be revenged on the parson, never comes to church. The 'squire has made all his tenants
atheists and tithe-stealers; while the parson in20 structs them every Sunday in the dignity of his
order, and insinuates to them, in almost every sermon, that he is a better man than his patron. In short, matters are come to such an extremity,
that the 'squire has not said his prayers either in 25 public or private this half year; and that the parson
threatens him, if he does not mend his manners, to pray for him in the face of the whole congregation.
Feuds of this nature, though too frequent in the country, are very fatal to the ordinary people; who
are so used to be dazzled with riches, that they pay as much deference to the understanding of a man of an estate, as of a man of learning; and are very hardly brought to regard any truth, how important soever it may be, that is preached to them, when 5 they know there are several men of five hundred a year who do not believe it.
No. 12. Sir Roger and the Widow SPECTATOR No. 113. Tuesday, July 10, 1711 Hærent infixi pectore vultus.!
Virg. Æn. iv. 4.
In my first description of the company in which I pass most of my time, it may be remembered, that I mentioned a great affliction which my friend 10 Sir Roger had met with in his youth; which was no less than a disappointment in love. It happened this evening, that we fell into a very pleasing walk at a distance from his house. As soon as we came into it, “It is," quoth the good old man, looking 15 round him with a smile,“ very hard, that any part of my land should be settled upon one who has used me so ill as the perverse widow did; and yet I am sure I could not see a sprig of any bough of this whole walk of trees, but I should reflect upon 20 her and her severity. She has certainly the finest hand of any woman in the world. You are to know, this was the place wherein I used to muse
upon her; and by that custom I can never come into it, but the same tender sentiments revive in my mind, as if I had actually walked with that beautiful
creature under these shades. I have been fool 5 enough to carve her name on the bark of several
of these trees; so unhappy is the condition of men in love, to attempt the removing of their passion by the methods which serve only to imprint it
deeper. She has certainly the finest hand of any 10 woman in the world."
Here followed a profound silence; and I was not displeased to observe my friend falling so naturally into a discourse, which I had ever before taken
notice he industriously avoided. — After a very long 15 pause, he entered upon an account of this great
circumstance in his life, with an air which I thought raised my idea of him above what I had ever had before; and gave me the picture of that cheerful
mind of his, before it received that stroke which has 20 ever since affected his words and actions. But he went on as follows.
"I came to my estate in my twenty-second year, and resolved to follow the steps of the most worthy
of my ancestors who have inhabited this spot of 25 earth before me, in all the methods of hospitality
and good neighborhood, for the sake of my farne; and in country sports and recreations, for the sake of my health. In my twenty-third year I was obliged to serve as sheriff of the county; and in my