« AnteriorContinuar »
We were immediately conducted into the little chapel on the right hand. Sir Roger planting himself at our historian's elbow, was very attentive to every thing 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 bis knees;' and, concluding them all to be great men, was conducted to the figure which represents that martyr to good housewifery, who died by the prick of a needle. Upon our interpreter's telling us, that she was a maid of honour to Queen Elizabeth, the knight was very inquisitive into her name and family; and after having regarded her finger for some time, ‘I wonder (said he), that Sir Richard Baker has said nothing of her in his Chronicle.
We were then conveyed to the two coronation-chairs, 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 Pillow,' sat himself down in the chair: and looking
*In the chapel of St. Nicholas. This tomb was erected by the great Lord Burleigh, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, to the memory of his wife Mildred and their daughter Anne, whose effigies lie under a carred arch. “At the base of the monument, within Corinthian columns, are kneeling figures of Sir Robert Cecil, their son, and three grand-daughters. The inscription is in Latin, very long and very tiresome.”- Peter Cunningham's Westminster Abbey.--*
* This is one of the “bundred lies” which the attendant is said to have told Goldsmith's Citizen of the world “without blushing." The monument in St. Edmund's chapel is that of Elizabeth, youngest daughter of Lord John Russell (temp. 1584). "The figure is melancholily inclining her cheek to her right hand, and with the fore-finger of her left directing us to behold the death's head placed at her feet."- Keepe Yonas. Westm.) This alone is said to have originated an unwarrantable verdict of “died from the prick of a needle.”_*
3 This is the stone or “marble fatal chair,” which Gathelus, son of Cecrops, King of Athens, is said to have sent from Spain with his son when he invaded Ireland; and which Fergus son of Gyrie won there and conveyed to Cove. The stone was set into a chair in which the kings of Scotland were crowned, till Edward the First offered it, with other por.
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 honour would pay his forfeit. 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 humour, and whispered in my ear, that if Will Wimble 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 the Third's sword,' and leaning upon the pummel of it, gave us the whole history of the Black Prince; concluding, that in Sir Richard Baker's opinion, Edward the Third was one of the greatest princes that ever sat upon the English throne.
We were then shown Edward the Confessor's tomb; upon which Sir Roger acquainted us, that he was the first that touched for the Evil; and afterwards Henry the Fourth's, 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 ;' and upon giving us to know that the head, which was of beaten silver, had been stolen away several years since : 'Some whig, I'll warrant you (said Sir Roger) ; you ought to lock up your kings better; they will carry off the body too, if you do not take care.'
tions of the Scottish Regalia, at the shrine of Edward the Confessor as an evidence of his absolute conquest of Scotland. A Leonine couplet was cut in the stone which has been thus translated :
“ The Scots shall brook that realm as native ground
(If Weirds fail not) wherever this stone is found."
This prophecy was fulfilled, to the satisfaction of the believers in prophecy, by the accession of James VI. to the English Crown. How it got the name of Jacob's pillow is difficult to trace. It is a piece of common rough Scotch sandstone; and Sir Roger's question was extremely pertinent. The other coronation chair was placed in the Abbey in the reign of William and Mary.-*
? This, "the monumental sword that conquered France,” is placed with his shield near the tomb of Edward, and which he caused to be carried before him in France. The sword is seven feet long, and weighs eighteen pounds.
The glorious names of Henry the Fifth 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 shew 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 towards every one he converses with, made him very kind to our interpreter, whom he looked upon as an extraordinary mar; 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 Norfolk-buildings, and talk over these matters with him more at leisure.
1 The effigy of Henry V., which was plated with silver except the head, and that was of solid metal. At the dissolution of the monasteries the figure was stripped of its plating, and the head stolen. -*
No. 335. TUESDAY, MARCHI 25.
Respicere exemplar vitæ morumque jubebo
Hor. Ars Poet. 327.
My friend Sir Roger de Coverley, when we last met together at the club, told me, that he had a great mind to sec the new tragedy with me,' assuring me at the same time, that he had not
* This was “The Distressed Mother,” by Ambrose, otherwise “Pastoral" Philips; and, as it was advertised in the above number of the “Spectator” to be performed for the sixth time, Sir Roger must be supposed to have witnessed its fifth performance. The “first night” is thus announced in the “Spectator" and in the “Daily Courant" of 17th March, 1712.
“By desire of several ladies of Quality; by Her Majesty's Company of Comedians:
“At the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, this present Monday being 17th March, will be presented a new Tragedy called
“THE DISTRESSED MOTHER, "(By Her Majesty's command no person will be admitted behind the scenes.)
“Pyrrhus, Mr. Booth. Andromache, Mrs. Oldfield.
Phænix, Mr. Bowman. Cephisa, Mrs. Knight.
Pylades, Mr. Mills. Cleone, Mrs. Cox." Addison had a strong friendship for Philips, and took extraordinary pains, first to get his friend's play upon the stage, and next to make it succeed; for, according to Spence, he caused the house to be packed on the first night. No. 290 of the “Spectator" contains a puff preliminary.
Whoever dips into this turgid translation of Racine's “Andromache" will be much amused at the green-room grief it is said to have drawn forth. Like many a worse play, some of its success was occasioned by the epilogue as delivered by Mrs. Oldfield. “This was the most successful composition of the kind ever yet," says Johnson, “spoken on the English theatre. The first three nights it was recited twice; and not only continued to be demanded through the run, as it is termed, of the play, but whenever it is recalled to the stage—where by peculiar fortune, though
been at a play these twenty years. The last I saw, said Sir Roger, was the Committee, which I should not have gone to neither, had I not been told before-hand that it was a good Church of England comedy.' He then proceeded to inquire of
a copy from the French, it keeps its place—the epilogue is still expected and still spoken." Its reputed author was Budgell; but when Addison was asked how such a silly fellow could write so well? he replied, “The epilogue was quite another thing when I saw it first." Tonson published the play; and when it was first printed, Addison's name appeared to the epilogue; but happening to come into the shop early in the morning when the copies were to be issued, he ordered the credit of it to be given to Budgell “that it might add weight to the solicitation which he was then making for a place.” This story was told to Garrick by a member of the Tonson family. The prologue was by Steele. V. vol. i. p. 219.
* This comedy, written by Sir Robert Howard, was popular so early as 1663. Pepys, in his diary of that year, under June 12, writes—“To the Theatre Royal, and there saw the Committee,' a merry but indifferent play; only Lacy's part, an Irish footman, is beyond imagination." Posterity has not ratified Pepys's criticism as to the “indifference" of the “Committee,” for it kept possession of the stage in one form or another till very lately. The part of Teague was always the greatest favourite, and gave to the comedy the second title of “The Faithful Irishman." After Lacy it was filled with most applause by Leigh, whom Charles the Second called “his comedian:” Griffin and Bowman respectively succeeded to it, and then the sponsor of the well-known jest-book, Joe Miller; of whom a mezzotint likeness as Teague is still extant. The “ Committee," cut down to a farce, was till lately played under the title of “Honest Thieves."
Much of its earlier celebrity was due to the political allusions in which the “ Committee" abounds—to its being, in the words of Sir Roger, "a good Church-of-England play.” Sir R. Howard wrote it to satirise, in the character of Obadiah, the proceedings of the Roundheads; and, at the faintest dawn of religious excitement, its announcement in the play-bills was, even in Sir Roger's time, sure to attract large audiences. Some fiveand-twenty years before, when James the Second attempted to inflict popery upon Oxford, an interpolation by Leigh-who was playing Teague in that city-caused an intense commotion. The head of University College, Walker (whose first name was the same as that of the chief part in the play-Obadiah), had gone so far, in obedience to the wishes of the king, as to introduce popish rites, and to turn his College into a Catholic seminary. This brought upon him great indignation, a tremendous burst