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Sir Roger de Coverley: essays from the Spectator
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So if you find a current lower price from an online retailer on an identical, in-stock product, tell us and we'll match it. See more details at Online Price Match. 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, without regular introduction, or care to preserve the appearance of chain of thought.
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 65 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 66 over, with an air that showed he did it rather to perform the rule of the lists, than expose his enemy; however, it appeared 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 and let him down with laudable courtesy and pardonable insolence The action at the tilt-yard you may be sure won the fair lady, who was a maid of honour, and the greatest beauty of her time; here she stands 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 as if she stood in a large drum, whereas the ladies now walk as if they were in a go-cart. For all 69 this lady was bred at court, she became an excellent country wife, she brought 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.
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 70 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 that 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 everybody that had anything 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 akin 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. Sir Roger went on with his account of the gallery in the following manner. He would have thought himself as much undone by breaking his word, as if it were to be followed by bankruptcy. He served his country as knight of this shire 71 to his dying day. He found it no easy matter to maintain an integrity in his words and actions, even in things that regarded the offices which were incumbent upon him, in the care of his own affairs and relations of life, and therefore dreaded though he had great talents to go into employments of state, where he must be exposed to the snares of ambition.
Innocence of life and great ability were the distinguishing parts of his character; the latter, he had often observed, had led to the destruction of the former, and used frequently to lament that great and good had not the same signification. He was an excellent husbandman, but had resolved not to exceed such a degree 72 of wealth; all above it he bestowed in secret bounties many years after the sum he aimed at for his own use was attained.
Intercourse with. Targe or small shield. In spite of the fact that.
Ornamental slits in a doublet, etc. A fixed amount. Discourse about. Absurd notion. I like this retirement the better, because of an ill report it lies under of being haunted ; for which reason as I have been told in the family no living creature ever walks in it besides the chaplain. My good friend the butler desired me with a very grave face not to venture myself in it after sunset, for that one of the footmen had been almost frighted out of his wits by a spirit that appeared to him in the shape of a black horse without an head; to which he added, that about a month ago one of the maids coming home late that way with a pail of milk upon her head, heard such a rustling among the bushes that she let it fall.
I was taking a walk in this place last night between the hours of nine and ten, and could not but fancy it one of the most proper scenes in the world for a ghost to appear in. The ruins of the abbey are scattered up and down on every side, and half covered with ivy and elder bushes, the harbours of several solitary birds which seldom make their appearance till the dusk of the evening.
The place was formerly a churchyard, and has still several marks in it of graves and burying-places. There is such an echo among the old ruins and vaults, that if you stamp but a little louder than ordinary, you hear the sound repeated. These objects naturally raise seriousness and attention; and when night heightens the awfulness of the place, and pours out her supernumerary 75 horrors upon everything in it, I do not at all wonder that weak minds fill it with spectres and apparitions. Locke, in his chapter of the Association of Ideas, has very curious 76 remarks to show how, by the prejudice of education 77 , one idea often introduces into the mind a whole set that bear no resemblance to one another in the nature of things.
Catalog Record: Sir Roger de Coverley; essays from the Spectator | HathiTrust Digital Library
Among several examples of this kind, he produces the following instance. As I was walking in this solitude, where the dusk of the evening conspired with so many other occasions of terror, I observed a cow grazing not far from me, which an imagination that was apt to startle might easily have construed into a black horse without an head: and I dare say the poor footman lost his wits upon some such trivial occasion.
The Knight seeing his habitation reduced to so small a compass, and himself in a manner shut out of his own house, upon the death of his mother ordered all the apartments to be flung open, and exorcised 79 by his chaplain, who lay in every room one after another, and by that means dissipated the fears which had so long reigned in the family.
I should not have been thus particular upon these ridiculous horrors, did not I find them so very much prevail in all parts of the country. I might here add, that not only the historians, to whom we may join the poets, but likewise the philosophers of antiquity have favoured this opinion. Lucretius 80 himself, though by the course of his philosophy he was obliged to maintain that the soul did not exist separate from the body, makes no doubt of the reality of apparitions, and that men have often appeared after their death.
This I think very remarkable. He was so pressed 81 with the matter of fact which he could not have the confidence to deny, that he was forced to account for it by one of the most absurd unphilosophical notions that was ever started. He tells us, that the surfaces of all bodies are perpetually flying off from their respective bodies, one after another; and that these surfaces or thin cases, that included each other whilst they were joined in the body like the coats of an onion, are sometimes seen entire when they are separated from it; by which means we often behold the shapes and shadows of persons who are either dead or absent.
I shall dismiss this paper with a story out of Josephus, not so much for the sake of the story itself as for the moral reflections with which the author concludes it, and which I shall here set down in his own words. Was not I the husband of thy virginity? Have I not children by thee? How couldst thou forget our loves so far as to enter into a second marriage, and after that into a third, nay to take for thy husband a man who has so shamefully crept into the bed of his brother?
However, for the sake of our passed loves, I shall free thee from thy present reproach, and make thee mine for ever.
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