« AnteriorContinua »
to it, he gave us a long account how he had hooked it, played with it, foiled it, and at length drew it out upon the bank, with several other particulars that lasted all the first course. A dish of wildfowl that came afterwards furnished conversation for the rest of the dinner, which concluded with a late invention of Will's for improving the quail-pipe.
Upon withdrawing into my room after dinner, I was secretly touched with compassion towards the honest gentleman that had dined with us; and could not but consider, with a great deal of concern, how so good a heart and such busy hands were wholly employed in trifles; that so much humanity should be so little beneficial to others, and so much industry so little advantageous to himself. The same temper of mind and application to affairs might have recommended him to the public esteem, and have raised his fortune in another station of life. What good to his country, or himself, might not a trader or merchant have done with such useful though ordinary qualifications?
Will Wimble's is the case of many a younger brother of a great family, who had rather see their children starve like gentlemen than thrive in a trade or profession that is beneath their quality. This humour fills several parts of Europe with pride and beggary. It is the happiness of a trading nation, like ours, that the younger sons, though incapable of any liberal art or profession, may be placed in such a way of life as may perhaps enable them to vie with the best of their family: accordingly we find several citizens that were launched into the world with narrow for
tunes, 'rising, by an honest industry, to greater estates than those of their elder brothers. It is not improbable but Will was formerly tried at divinity, law, or physic; and that finding his genius did not lie that way, his parents gave him up at length to his own inventions. But certainly, however improper he might have been for studies of a higher nature, he was perfectly well turned for the occupations of trade and commerce. As I think this is a point which can not be too much inculcated, I shall desire my reader to compare what I have here written with what I have said in my twenty-first speculation. ADDISON.
No. 109. THURSDAY, JULY 5.
Hon. Sat. 2. 1. 2. v. 3.
Of plain good sense, untutor'd in the schools.
I was this morning walking in the gallery, when Sir Roger entered at the end opposite to me, and advancing towards me, said he was glad to meet me among his relations the De Coverleys, and hoped I liked the conversation of so much good company, who were as silent as myself. I knew he alluded to the pictures; and as he is a gentleman who does not a little value himself upon his ancient descent, I expected he would give me some account of them. We were now arrived at the upper end of the gallery, when the knight faced towards one of the pictures, and as
we stood before it, he entered into the matter, after his blunt way, of saying things as they occur to his imagination, witout regular introduction, or care to preserve the appearance
of chain of thought.
• It is, said he, worth while to consider the force of dress; and how the persons of one age differ from those of another, merely by that only. One may observe, also, that the general fashion of one age has been followed by one particular set of people in another, and by them preserved from one generation to another. Thus the vast jettingcoat and small bonnet, which was the habit in Henry the Seventh's time, is kept on in the yeomen of the guard; not without a good and politic view, because they look a foot taller, and a foot and a half broader; besides that, the cap
leaves the face expanded, and consequently more terrible, and fitter to stand at the entrance of palaces,
• This predecessor of ours, you see, is dressed after this manner, and his cheeks would be no larger than mine, were he.in a hat as I am. He was the last man that won a prize in the tilt-yard, which is now a common street before Whitehall. You see the broken lance that lies there by his right foot: he shivered that lance of his adversary all to pieces, and bearing himself, look you, Sir, in this manner, at the same time he came within the target of the gentleman who rode against him, and taking him with incredible force before him on the pommel of his saddle, he in that manner rid the tournament over, with an air that showed he did it rather to perform the rule of the lists than expose his enemy: however, it appear. ed he knew how to make use of a victory, and
with a gentle trot he marched up to a gallery
where their mistress sat, for they were rivals, i and let him down with laudable courtesy and
pardonable insolence. I do not know but it might be exactly where the coffee-house is now.
You are to know, this my ancestor was not only of a military genius, but fit also for the arts of peace, for he played on the bass-viol as well as any gentleman at court; you see where his
viol hangs by his basket-hilt sword. The action I at the tilt-yard you may be sure won the fair lady,
who was a maid of honour, and the greatest beauty 1 of her time: here she stands in the next picture.
You see, Sir, my great great great grandmother has on the new fashioned petticoat, except that the modern is gathered at the waist; my grandmother appears.
if she stood in a large drum, whereas the ladies now walk as if they were in a e go-cart. For all this lady was bred at court, she
became an excellent country wife; she brought i ten children: and when I show you the library,
you shall see in her own hand, allowing for the difference of the language, the best receipt now in England both for an hasty-pudding and a white-pot.
If you please to fall back a little, because it is necessary to look at the three next pictures at one view; these are three sisters. She on the right hand, who is so very beautiful, died a maid; the next to her, still handsomer, had the same fate against her will; this homely thing in the middle had both their portions added to her own, and was stolen by a neighbouring gentleman, a man of stratagem and resolution; for he poisoned three mastiffs to come at her, and knocked down
two deer-stealers in carrying her off. Misfortunes happen in all families: the theft of this romp and so much money was no great matter to our estate. But the next heir that possessed it was this soft gentleman, whom you see there: observe the small buttons, the little boots, the laces, the slashes about his clothes, and above all the posture he is drawn in (which to be sure was his own choosing) you see he sits with one hand on a desk writing, and looking as it were another way, like an easy writer or a sonneteer; he was one of those who had too much wit to know how to live in the world; he was a man of no justice, but great good manners; he ruined every body that had any thing to do with him, but never said a rude thing in his life: the most indolent person in the world; he would sign a deed that passed away half his estate with his gloves on; but would not put on his hat before a lady if it were to save his country. He is said to be the first that made love by squeezing the hand. He left the estate with ten thousand pounds debt upon
it; but however, by all hands I have been informed that he was every way the finest gentleman in the world. That debt-lay heavy on our house for one generation, but it was retrieved by a gift from that honest man you see there, a citizen of our name, but nothing at all a-kin to us. I know Sir Andrew Freeport has said behind my back, that this man was descended from one of the ten children of the maid of honour I showed you above; but it was never made out. We winked at the thing indeed, because money was wanting at that time.'