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As soon as I had got it down, I found it very unpalatable; upon which the knight, observing that I had made several wry faces, told me that he knew I should not like it at first, but that it was the best thing in the world against the stone or gravel.
I could have wished, indeed, that he had acquainted me with the virtues of it sooner; but it was too late to complain, and I knew what he had done was out of good-will. Sir Roger told me further, that he looked upon it to be very good for a man while he staid in town, to keep off infection, and that he got together a quantity of it upon the first news of the sickness 5 being at Dantzic: when of a sudden, turning short to one of his servants, who stood behind him, he bid him call a hackney-coach, and take care it was an elderly man that drove it.
He then resumed his discourse upon Mrs. Trueby's water, telling me that the Widow Trueby was one who did more good than all the doctors and apothecaries in the country: that she distilled every poppy that grew within five miles of her; that she distributed her medicine gratis among all sorts of people; to which the knight added, that she had a very good jointure, and that the whole country would fain have it a match between him and her; “and truly,” says Sir Roger, "if I had not been engaged, perhaps I could not have done better."
His discourse was broken off by his man's telling him he had called a coach. Upon our going to it, after having cast his eye upon the wheels, he asked the coachman if his axle-tree was good. Upon the fellow's telling him he would warrant it, the knight turned to me, told me he looked like an honest man, and went in without further ceremony.
We had not gone far, when Sir Roger, popping out his head, called the coachman down from his box, and upon presenting himself at the window, asked him if he smoked. As I was considering what this would end in, he bid him stop by the way at any good tobacconist's, and take in a roll of their best Virginia. Nothing material happened in the remaining part of our journey, till we were set down at the west end of the Abbey.
As we went up the body of the church, the knight pointed at the trophies upon one of the new monuments, and cried out: "A brave man, I warrant him!" Passing afterward by Sir Cloudesley
Shovel, he flung his hand that way, and cried: "Sir Cloudesley Shovel! a very gallant man!" As we stood before Busby's " tomb, the knight uttered himself again after the same manner: "Dr Busby! a great man! he whipped my grandfather; a very great man! I should have gone to him myself, if I had not been a blockhead; a very great man!"
We were immediately conducted into the little chapel right hand. Sir Roger, planting himself at our historian's 13 elbow, was very attentive to everything he said, particularly to the account he gave us of the lord who had cut off the king of Morocco's head. Among several other figures, he was very well pleased to see the statesman Cecil upon his knees; and concluding them all to be great men, was conducted to the figure which represents that martyr 15 to good housewifery, who died by the prick of a needle. Upon our interpreter's telling us that she was a maid of honor to Queen Elizabeth, the knight was very inquisitive into her name and family; and after having regarded her finger for some time, "I wonder," says he, "that Sir Richard Baker has said nothing of her in his Chronicle."
We were then conveyed to the two coronation chairs, 10 where my old friend, after having heard that the stone underneath the most ancient of them, which was brought from Scotland, was called Jacob's pillar, sat himself down in the chair; and looking like the figure of an old Gothic king, asked our interpreter: "What authority they had to say that Jacob had ever been in Scotland?" The fellow, instead of returning him an answer, told him “that he hoped his honor would pay his forfeit." 17 I could observe Sir Roger a little ruffled upon being thus trepanned; but our guide not insisting upon his demand, the knight soon recovered his good humor, and whispered in my ear, that if Will Wimble 19 were with us, and saw those two chairs, it would go hard but he would get a tobacco-stopper out of one or t'other of them.
Sir Roger, in the next place, laid his hand upon Edward III.'s sword, and leaning upon the pommel of it, gave us the whole history of the Black Prince; concluding, that in Sir Richard Baker's opinion, Edward III. was one of the greatest princes that ever sat upon the English throne.
We were then shown Edward the Confessor's 21 tomb; upon which Sir Roger acquainted us, that he was the first that touched
for the evil : and afterward Henry IV.'s, 23 upon which he shook his head, and told us there was fine reading of the casualties of that reign.
Our conductor then pointed to that monument where there is the figure of one of our English kings without an head; 24 and upon giving us to know that the head, which was of beaten silver, had been stole away several years since: "Some Whig, I'll warrant you,” says Sir Roger; "you ought to lock up your kings better; they will carry off the body too, if you do not take care.”
The glorious names of Henry V. and Queen Elizabeth gave the knight great opportunities of shining, and of doing justice to Sir Richard Baker, "who," as our knight observed with some surprise, had a great many kings in him, whose monuments he had not seen in the Abbey."
For my own part, I could not but be pleased to see the knight show such an honest passion for the glory of his country, and such a respectful gratitude to the memory of its princes.
I must not omit that the benevolence of my good old friend, which flows out toward every one he converses with, made him very kind to our interpreter, whom he looked upon as an extraordinary man, for which reason he shook him by the hand at parting, telling him that he should be very glad to see him at his lodgings in Nor'folk Buildings, and talk over these matters with him more at leisure.
IV. DEATH OF 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 the old man caught a cold at the countysessions, 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 honor 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 reader a copy of his letter, without any alteration or diminution.
"HONORED 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 at 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 neighboring gentleman; for you know, 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 roast-beef stomach, not being able to touch a sirloin 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 hope of his recovery, upon a kind message that was sent him from the widow lady 2 whom he had made love to the forty last years of his life; but this only proved a lightning before his 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 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 moving sight to see him take leave of his poor servants, commending us all for our fidelity, while we were not able to speak a word for weeping. As we most of us are grown gray-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 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.4 The whole
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 writing burst into tears, and put the book in his pocket. Captain Sentry informs me that the knight has left rings and mourning for every one in the club.