Sir Roger de Coverley, a fifty-six-year-old bachelor, the benevolent autocrat of a large Worcestershire estate. The knight’s humaneness, according to his own opinion, is the result of his love for a beautiful widow whom he has wooed for thirty years. His kindness is equaled by his rigid control of his servants, whose morals, finances, and behavior are the assumed responsibility of Sir Roger. In London, he presides over “The Club,” an informal but close-knit group of men of divergent interests and personalities. Sir Roger’s every thought seems marked by affability, his every act by broad knowledge and understanding.

Mr. Spectator, the anonymous first-person narrator of the articles describing customs and personalities of eighteenth century London. The writer sets the tone of the journal with the editorial pronouncement that any faulty character described in the journal fits a thousand people and that every paper is presented in the spirit of benevolence and with love of humankind.

Captain Sentry, Sir Roger’s nephew, who leaves a successful naval career to assume his position as heir to Sir Roger in the Club, as well as in his uncle’s financial holdings. The captain’s great courage, keen understanding, and gallantry in naval sieges are quietly balanced by an invincible modesty, qualities that make him a liked and admired individual.