Notice throughout this piece the archaic phrases used.]
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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 humour, 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.
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 valet de chambre for his brother; his butler is grey-headed, his groom is one of the gravest men that I have ever seen, and his coachman has the looks of a Privy Counsellor. You see the goodness of the master even in the old house-dog, and in a grey 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 countenance 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 the family, tempered the inquiries after his own affairs with several kind questions about themselves. This humanity and good-nature engages everybody to him, so that when he is pleasant upon any of them, all his family are in good-humour, and none so much as the person he diverts himself with. On the contrary, if he coughs, or betrays any infirmity of old age, it is easy for a stander-by to observe a secret concern in the looks of all his servants.
My chief companion, when Sir Roger is diverting himself in the woods or the fields, is a very venerable man who is ever with Sir Roger, and has lived at his house in the nature of a chaplain above thirty years. This gentleman is a person of good sense and some learning; of a very regular life and obliging conversation: he heartily loves Sir Roger, and knows that he is very much in the old knight’s esteem, so that he lives in the family rather as a relation than a dependent.