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No. 335 [Sir Roger At the Play — from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 335
Tuesday, March 25, 1712. Addison.
Respicere exemplar vitae morumque jubebo

Doctum imitatorem, et veras hinc ducere voces.


My Friend Sir ROGER DE COVERLEY, when we last met together at the Club, told me, that he had a great mind to see the new Tragedy [1] with me, assuring me at the same time, that he had not 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 not I been told before-hand that it was a good Church-of-England Comedy. [2] He then proceeded to enquire of me who this Distrest Mother was; and upon hearing that she was Hectors Widow, he told me that her Husband was a brave Man, and that when he was a Schoolboy he had read his Life at the end of the Dictionary. My Friend asked me, in the next place, if there would not be some danger in coming home late, in case the Mohocks should be Abroad. I assure you, says he, I thought I had fallen into their Hands last Night; for I observed two or three lusty black Men that follow’d me half way up Fleet-street, and mended their pace behind me, in proportion as I put on to get away from them. You must know, continu’d the Knight with a Smile, I fancied they had a mind to hunt me; for I remember an honest Gentleman in my Neighbourhood, who was served such a trick in King Charles the Seconds time; for which reason he has not ventured himself in Town ever since. I might have shown them very good Sport, had this been their Design; for as I am an old Fox-hunter, I should have turned and dodg’d, and have play’d them a thousand tricks they had never seen in their Lives before. Sir ROGER added, that if these Gentlemen had any such Intention, they did not succeed very well in it: for I threw them out, says he, at the End of Norfolk street, where I doubled the Corner, and got shelter in my Lodgings before they could imagine what was become of me. However, says the Knight, if Captain SENTRY will make one with us to-morrow night, and if you will both of you call upon me about four a-Clock, that we may be at the House before it is full, I will have my own Coach in readiness to attend you, for John tells me he has got the Fore-Wheels mended.

The Captain, who did not fail to meet me there at the appointed Hour, bid Sir ROGER fear nothing, for that he had put on the same Sword which he made use of at the Battel of Steenkirk. Sir ROGERS Servants, and among the rest my old Friend the Butler, had, I found, provided themselves with good Oaken Plants, to attend their Master upon this occasion. When he had placed him in his Coach, with my self at his Left-Hand, the Captain before him, and his Butler at the Head of his Footmen in the Rear, we convoy’d him in safety to the Play-house, where, after having marched up the Entry in good order, the Captain and I went in with him, and seated him betwixt us in the Pit. As soon as the House was full, and the Candles lighted, my old Friend stood up and looked about him with that Pleasure, which a Mind seasoned with Humanity naturally feels in its self, at the sight of a Multitude of People who seem pleased with one another, and partake of the same common Entertainment. I could not but fancy to myself, as the old Man stood up in the middle of the Pit, that he made a very proper Center to a Tragick Audience. Upon the entring of Pyrrhus, the Knight told me, that he did not believe the King of France himself had a better Strut. I was indeed very attentive to my old Friends Remarks, because I looked upon them as a Piece of natural Criticism, and was well pleased to hear him at the Conclusion of almost every Scene, telling me that he could not imagine how the Play would end. One while he appeared much concerned for Andromache; and a little while after as much for Hermione: and was extremely puzzled to think what would become of Pyrrhus.