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gipsies. Upon the first discovery of them, my friend was in some doubt whether he should not exert the justice of peace upon such a band of lawless vagrants: but not having his clerk with him, who is a necessary counsellor on these occasions, and fearing that his poultry might fare the worse for it, he let the thought drop; but at the same time gave me a particular account of the mischiefs they do in the country, in stealing people's goods, and spoiling their servants. "If a stray piece of linen hangs upon an hedge (says Sir Roger), they are sure to have it; if a hog loses his 10 way in the fields, it is ten to one but he becomes their prey : our geese cannot live in peace for them. If a man prosecutes them with severity, his hen-roost is sure to pay for it. They generally straggle into these parts about this time of the year; and set the heads of our servant-maids so agog for husbands, that we do not expect to have any business done as it should be, whilst they are in the country. I have an honest dairy-maid who crosses their hands with a piece of silver every summer; and never fails being promised the handsomest young fellow in the parish for her pains. Your 20 friend the butler has been fool enough to be seduced by them; and though he is sure to lose a knife, a fork, or a spoon, every time his fortune is told him, generally shuts himself up in the pantry with an old' gipsy for about half an hour once in a twelvemonth. Sweethearts are the things they live upon, which they bestow very plentifully upon all those that apply themselves to them. You see now and then some handsome young jades among them; the sluts have very often white teeth and black eyes."
Sir Roger, observing that I listened with great attention 30 to his account of a people who were so entirely new to me, told me, that if I would, they should tell us our fortunes. As I was very well pleased with the knight's proposal, we rid up and communicated our hands to them. A Cassandra of the crew, after having examined my lines very diligently told me that I loved a pretty maid in a corner, that I was a
good woman's man, with some other particulars, which I do not think proper to relate. My friend Sir Roger alighted from his horse, 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 sun-burnt 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 10 displeased in his heart, told him, after a further inquiry 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 somebody 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 ha'n't that simper about the mouth for nothing." The uncouth gibberish with which all this was uttered, like 20 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 this 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 30 at which this race of vermin are very dexterous.
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 off, 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 compassion 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 10 speak readily in three or four languages, and learned, upon further examination, that he had been stolen away when he was a child by a gipsy, and had rambled ever since with a gang of those strollers up and down several parts of Europe. It happened 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 which that country abounds; and the mother was so afflicted at the loss of a fine boy, who was her only 20 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 30 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 everything 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 pere
grinations: 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.
XX. THE VISION OF MIRZA.
Saturday, September 1, 1711.
Omnem quæ nunc obducta tuenti
Mortales hebetat visus tibi, et humida circum
The cloud, which, intercepting the clear light,
WHEN I was at Grand Cairo I picked up several oriental manuscripts, which I have still by me. Among others I met with one entitled, The Visions of Mizra, which I have read over with great pleasure. I intend to give it to the public when I have no other entertainment for them; and shall begin with the first vision, which I have translated word for I word as follows:
"On the fifth day of the moon, which according to the 20 custom of my forefathers I always kept holy, after having washed myself, and offered up my morning devotions, I ascended the high hills of Bagdat, in order to pass the rest of the day in meditation and prayer. As I was here airing myself on the tops of the mountains, I fell into a profound contemplation on the vanity of human life; and passing from one thought to another, surely, said I, man is but a shadow and life a dream. Whilst I was thus musing, I cast my eyes towards the summit of a rock that was not far from me, where I discovered one in the habit of a shepherd, with a 30 musical instrument in his hand. As I looked upon him he
applied it to his lips and began to play upon it. The sound of it was exceeding sweet, and wrought into a variety of tunes that were inexpressibly melodious, and altogether different from anything I had ever heard. They put me in mind of those heavenly airs that are played to the departed souls of good men upon their first arrival in paradise, to wear out the impressions of their last agonies, and qualify them for the pleasures of that happy place. My heart melted away in secret raptures.
"I had been often told that the rock before me was the 10 haunt of a genius; and that several had been entertained with music who had passed by it, but never heard that the musician had before made himself visible. When he had raised my thoughts, by those transporting airs which he played, to taste the pleasures of his conversation, as I looked upon him like one astonished, he beckoned to me, and by the waving of his hand directed me to approach the place where he sat. I drew near with that reverence which is due to a superior nature; and as my heart was entirely subdued by the captivating strains I had heard, I fell down at his 20 feet and wept. The genius smiled upon me with a look of compassion and affability that familiarized him to my imagination, and at once dispelled all the fears and apprehensions with which I approached him. He lifted me from the ground, and taking me by the hand, ‘Mirza,' said he, ‘I have heard thee in thy soliloquies, follow me.'
"He then led me to the highest pinnacle of the rock, and placed me on the top of it. Cast thy eyes eastward, said he, and tell me what thou seest. I see, said I, a huge valley and a prodigious tide of water rolling through it. The valley 30 that thou seest, said he, is the vale of misery, and the tide of water that thou seest is part of the great tide of eternity. What is the reason, said I, that the tide I see rises out of a thick mist at one end, and again loses itself in a thick mist at the other? What thou seest, says he, is that portion of eternity which is called time, measured out by the sun, and