[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

and exposing his palm to two or three that stood by him, they crumpled it into all shapes, and diligently scanned every wrinkle that could be made in it; when one of them, who was older and more sunburnt than the rest, told him, that he had a widow in his line of life. Upon which the knight cried,

Go, go, you are an idle baggage;' and at the same time smiled upon me. The gipsy, finding he was not displeased in his heart, told him, after a farther enquiry into his hand, that his true-love was constant, and that she should dream of him to-night. My old friend cried Pish, and bid her go on. The gipsy told him that he was a bachelor, but would not be so long; and that he was dearer to somebo. dy than he thought. The knight still repeated, • She was an idle baggage,' and bid her go on. * Ah, master,' says the gipsy, “ that roguish leer of yours makes a pretty woman's heart ache; you have not that simper about the mouth for nothing.' The uncouth gibberish with which all this was uttered, like the darkness of an oracle, made us the more attentive to it. To be short, the knight left the money with her that he had crossed her hand with, and got up again on his horse.

As we were riding away, Sir Roger told me, that he knew several sensible people who believed these gipsies now and then foretold very strange things; and for half an hour together appeared more jocund than ordinary. In the height of his good-humour, meeting a common beggar upon the road, who was no conjurer, as he went to relieve him he found his pocket was picked: that being a kind of palmistry at which this race of vermin are very dextrous.

I might here entertain my reader with historical remarks on this idle profligate people, who infest all the countries of Europe, and live in the midst of governments in a kind of commonwealth by themselves. But instead of entering into observations of this nature, I shall fill the remaining part of my paper with a story which is still fresh in Holland, and was printed in one of our monthly accounts

about twenty years ago.

As the trekschuyt, or hackney-boat, which carries passengers from Leyden to Amsterdam, was putting ofi, a boy running along the side of the canal desired to be taken in : which the master of the boat refused, because the lad had not quite money enough to pay the usual fare. An eminent merchant being pleased with the looks of the boy, and secretly touched with com-passion towards him, paid the money for him, and ordered him to be taken on board. Upon talking with him afterwards, he found that he could speak readily in three or four languages, and learned upon farther examination that he had been stolen away when he was a child by a gipsy, and had rambleil. ever since with' a gang of those strollers up and down several parts of Europe. It ha, pened that the merchant, whose heart seems to have inclined towards the boy by a secret kind of instinct, had himself lost a child some years before. The parents, after a long search for him, gave him for drowned in one of the canals with woich that country abounds; and the mother was so afflicted at the Joss of a fine boy, who was her only son, that she died for grief of it. Upon laying together all particulars, and examining the several moles and marks . by which the mother used to describe the child when he was first missing, the boy proved to be the son of the merchant whose heart had so unaccountably melted at the sight of him. The lad was very well pleased to find a father who was so rich, and likely to leave him a good estate ; the father on the other hand was not a little delighted to see a son return to him, whom he had given for lost, with such a strength of constitution, sharpness of understanding, and skill in languages.'--Here the printed story leaves off; but if I may give credit to reports, our linguist having received such extraordinary rudiments towards a good education, was afterwards trained up in every thing that becomes a gentleman; wearing off by little and little all the vicious habits and practices that he had been used to


in the course of his peregrinations. Nay, it is said, that he has since been employed in foreign courts upon national business, with great reputation to himself and honour to those who sent him, and that he has visited several countries as a public minister, in which he formerly wandered as a gipsy.


[ocr errors]

N° 131. TUESDAY, JULY 31, 1711.

-Ipsæ rursum concedite syloce

VIRG. Ecl. x. 63. Once more, ye woods, adieu. It is usual for a man who loves country sports to preserve the game on his own grounds, and divert himself upon those that belong to his neighbour. My friend Sir Roger generally goes two or three miles from his house, and gets into the frontiers of his estate, before he beats about in search of a lare or partridge, on purpose to spare his own fields, where he is always sure of finding diversion, when the worst comes to the worst. By this means the breed about his house has time to increase and multiply, besides that the sport is the more agreeable where the game is the harder to come at, and where it does not lie so thick as to produce any perplexity or confusion in the pursuit. For these reasons the country gentleman, like the fox, seldom preys near his own home.

In the same manner I have made a month's excursion out of the town, which is the great field of game for sportsmen of my species, to try my for. tune in the country, where I have started several subjects, and hunted them down, with some pleasure to myself, and I hope to others. I am here forced to use a great deal of diligence before I can spring any thing to my mind, whereas in town, whilst I am following one character, it is ten to one

[ocr errors]

but I am crossed in my way by another, and put up such a variety of odd creatures in both sexes, that they foil the scent of one another, and puzzle the chace. My greatest difficulty in the country is to find sport, and in town to choose it. In the mean time, as I have given a whole month's rest to the cities of London and Westminster, I promise myself abundance of new game upon my return thither.

It is indeed high time for me to leave the country, since I find the whole neighbourhood begin to grow very inquisitive after my name and character; my love of solitude, taciturnity, and particular way of life, having raised a great curiosity in all these parts.

The notions which have been framed of me are various ; some look upon me as very proud, some as very modest, and some as very melancholy. Will Wimble, as my friend the butler tells me, observ. ing me very much alone, and extremely silent when I am in company, is afraid I have killed a man. The country people seem to suspect me for a conjurer; and some of them, hearing of the visit which I made to Moll White, will needs have it that Sir Roger has brought down a cunning man with him, to cure the old woman, and free the country from her charms. So that the character which I go under in part of the neighbourhood, is what they here call a White Witch.

A justice of peace, who lives about five miles off, and is not of Sir Roger's party, has it seems said twice or thrice at his table, that he wishes Sir Roger does not harbour a Jesuit in his house, and that he thinks the gentlemen of the country would do very well to make me give some account of myself.

On the other side, some of Sir Roger's friends are afraid the old knight is imposed upon by a designing fellow; and, as they have heard that he converses very promiscuously when he is in town, do not know but he has brought down with him some discarded Whig, that is sullen, and says nothing be cause he is out of place.

[ocr errors]


Such is the variety of opinions whńch are here entertained of me, so that I pass among some for a disaffected person, and among others for a popish priest; among some for a wizard, and among others for a murderer; and all this for no other reason that I can imagine, but because I do not hoot, and halloo, and make a noise. It is true, my friend Sir Roger tells them, "That it is my way, and that I am only a philosopher; but this will not satisfy them. They think there is more in me than 'he discovers, and that i do not hold my tongue for nothing.

For these and other reasons I shall set out for London to-morrow, having found by experience that the country is not a place for a person of my temper, who does not love jollity, and what they call good neighbourhood. Å man that is out of humour when an unexpected guest breaks in upon him, and does not care for sacrificing an afternoon to every chance. comer, that will be the master of his own time and the pursuer of his own inclinations, makes but a yery unsociable figure in this kind of life. I shall therefore retire into the town, if I may make use of that phrase, and get into the crowd again as fast as I can, in order to be alone. I can there raise what speculations. I please upon others without being observed myself, and at the same time enjoy all

the advantages of company, with all the privileges of solitude. In the mean while, to finish the month, and conclude these my rural speculations, I shall here insert a letter from my friend Will Honeycomb, who has not lived a month for these forty years out of the smoke of London, and rallies me after his way upon my country life.

DEAR SPEC, • I SUPPOSE 'this letter will find thee picking of daisies, or smelling to a lock of bay, or passing away thy time in some innocent country diversion of the like nature. I have however orders from the club to summon thee up to town, being all of us cursed: ly afraid thou wilt not be able to relish our com.

« VorigeDoorgaan »