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The words too eager to unriddle,
The poet felt a strange disorder; Transparent bird-lime form'd the middle,
And chains invisible the border.
So cunning was the apparatus,
The powerful pot-hooks did so move him, That will-he, nill-be, to the great house
He went as if the devil drove him.
Yet on his way (no sign of grace,
For folks in fear are apt to pray) To Phæbus he preferr'd his case,
And begg'd his aid that dreadful day.
The godhead would have back'd his quarrel ;
But, with a blush, on recollection, Own'd that his quiver and his laurel
'Gainst four such eyes were no protection.
The court was set, the culprit there ;
Forth from their gloomy mansion creeping The Lady Janes and Joans repair,
And from the gallery stand peeping:
Such as in silence of the night
Come (sweep) along some winding entry (Styack* has often seen the sight),
Or at the chapel-door stand sentry;
In peaked hoods and mantles tarnish'd,
Sour visages enough to scare ye, High dames of honor once that garnish'd The drawing-room of fierce Queen Mary!
* The housekeeper.
The peeress comes; the audience stare,
And doff their hats with due submission; She curt'sies, as she takes her chair,
To all the people of condition.
The bard with many an artful fib
Had in imagination fenc'd him, Disprov'd the arguments of Squib,*
And all that Groomt could urge against him ;
But soon his rhetoric forsook him,
When he the solemn hall had seen ; A sudden fit of ague shook him
He stood as mute as poor Macleane. I
Yet something he was heard to mutter
“How in the park, beneath an old tree, Without design to hurt the butter,
Or any malice to the poultry,
He once or twice had penn'd a sonnet,
Yet hop'd that he might save his bacon ; Numbers would give their oath upon it,
He ne'er was for a conjrer taken."
The ghostly prudes with hagged face
Already had condemn'd the sinner; My Lady rose, and with a grace
She smil'd, and bid him come to dinner.
“ Jesu Maria ! Madam Bridget,
Why what can the Viscountess mean ?"
* The groom of the chamber. + The steward. # A famous highwayman who had just been executed.
Cry'd the square hoods in woful fidget;
“ The times are alter'd, quite and clean :
“ Decorum's turn'd to mere civility !
Her air and all her manners show it. Commend me to her affability !
Speak to a commoner and poet !”
[Here 500 Stanzas are lost. ]
And so God save our noble King,
And guard us from long-winded lubbers, That to eternity would sing,
And keep my lady from her rubbers.
Roger de Couerleg.
FROM ADDISON'S PAPERS IN THE
Sir ROGER DE COVERLEY is one of those truthful types of character, which, though created by the mind of man, yet, by the ordination of Nature herself (for Nature includes art among her works), outlasts the successive generations of flesh and blood which it represents. The individuals perish, and leave no memorial; nay, we hardly care to know them while living. We might find them tiresome. We feel that Nature has done well in making them; we are grateful for the race; especially on behalf of others, and of the poor ; but we do not particularly see the value of their society ; when, lo! in steps one of Nature's imitators-called men of genius—and, by the mere fact of producing a likeness of the species to the mind's eye, enchants us forever both with it and himself. A little philosophy may easily explain this; but perhaps a little more may still leave it among the most interesting of mysteries.
We have said a word elsewhere (see Gradations of Clubs) respecting the first invention of Sir Roger by Steele, and the compatibility of his early fopperies with a genuine simplicity. But unquestionably Addison took up the invention of Steele, and enriched and completed it in a way that left the invention itself at a distance. The whole of the following papers are from his exquisite pen. They render comment superfluous. One has nothing to do but repeat passages, and admire them.
SIR ROGER'S HOUSEHOLD ESTABLISHMENT.
HAVING often received an invitation from my friend Sir
Roger 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 my ensuing speculations. Sir Roger, who is very well acquainted with my humor, lets me rise and go to bed when I please, dine at his own table or in my own chamber as I think fit, sit still and say nothing without bidding me be merry. When the gentlemen of the country come to see him, he only shows me at a distance. As I have been walking in his fields I have observed them stealing a sight of me over a 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 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 valetde-chambre for his 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-councillor.
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 a father and the master of a family, tempered the inquiries after his own affairs with several kind questions about them