Page images
PDF
EPUB

3

are

of the wild Tartars, who are ambitious of destroying a man of the most extraordinary parts and accomplishments, as thinking that upon his decease the same talents, whatever post they qualified him for, enter of course into his destroyer.

5 As in the whole train of my speculations, I have endeavored as much as I am able to extinguish that pernicious spirit of passion and prejudice, which rages with the same violence in all parties, I am still the more desirous of doing some good in this 10 particular, because I observe that the spirit of party reigns more in the country than in the town. It here contracts a kind of brutality and rustic fierceness, to which men of a politer conversation wholly strangers. It extends itself even to the 15 return of the bow and the hat; and at the same time that the heads of parties preserve towards one another an outward show of good-breeding, and keep up a perpetual intercourse of civilities, their tools that are dispersed in these outlying parts will 20 not so much as mingle together at a cock-match.4 This humor fills the country with several periodical meetings of Whig jockies and Tory fox-hunters; not to mention the innumerable curses, frowns, and whispers it produces at a quarter-sessions.

I do not know whether I have observed in any of my former papers, that my friends Sir Roger de Coverley and Sir Andrew Freeport are of different principles, the first of them inclined to the landed

25

and the other to the monied interest. This humor is so moderate in each of them, that it proceeds no farther than to an agreeable raillery, which very

often diverts the rest of the club. I find, however, 5 that the knight is a much

stronger Tory in the country than in town, which as he has told me in my ear, is absolutely necessary for the keeping up his interest. In all our journey from London to

this house we did not so much as bait at a Whig 10 inn; or. if by chance the coachman stopped at a

wrong place, one of Sir Roger's servants would ride up to his master full speed, and whisper to him that the master of the house was against such an one in

the last election. This often betrayed us into hard 15 beds and bad cheer; 5 for we were not so inquisitive

about the inn as the inn-keeper; and provided our landlord's principles were sound, did not take any notice of the staleness of his provisions. This I

found still the more inconvenient, because the better 20 the host was, the worse generally were his accom

modations; the fellow knowing very well that those who were his friends would take up with coarse diet and an hard lodging. For these reasons, all the

while I was upon the road I dreaded entering into 25 an house of any one that Sir Roger had applauded for an honest man.

Since my stay at Sir Roger's in the country, I daily find more instances of this narrow party humor. Being upon the bowling-green at a

neighboring market-town the other day (for that is the place where the gentlemen of one side meet once a week) I observed a stranger among them of a better presence and genteeler behavior than ordinary; but was much surprised, that notwithstanding 5 he was a very fair bettor, nobody would take him up. But upon inquiry I found, that he was one who had given a disagreeable vote in a former parliament, for which reason there was not a man upon that bowling-green who would have so much 10 correspondence with him as to win his money of him.

Among other instances of this nature, I must not omit one which concerns myself. Will Wimble was the other day relating several strange stories that he 15 had picked up, nobody knows where, of a certain great man; and upon my staring at him, as one that was surprised to hear such things in the country, which had never been so much as whispered in the town, Will stopped short in the thread of his discourse, 20 and after dinner asked my friend Sir Roger in his ear if he was sure that I was not a fanatic.

It gives me a serious concern to see such a spirit of dissension in the country; not only as it destroys virtue and common sense, and renders us in a 25 manner barbarians towards one another, but as it perpetuates our animosities, widens our breaches, and transmits our present passions and prejudices to our posterity. For my own part, I am some

times afraid that I discover the seeds of a civil war in these our divisions; and therefore cannot but bewail, as in their first principles, the miseries and calamities of our children.

No. 25. Sir Roger and the Gypsies
SPECTATOR No. 130. Monday, July 30, 1711

Semperque recentes
Convectare juvat prædas, et vivere rapto.

Virg. Æn. vii. 748.

5

As I was yesterday riding out in the fields with my friend Sir Roger, we saw at a little distance from us a troop of gypsies. Upon the first discovery of them, my friend was in some doubt whether he

should not exert the justice of the peace upon such to a band of lawless vagrants; but not having his clerk

with him, who is a necessary counselor 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 15

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 the hog loses his way

in the fields, it is ten to one but he becomes their 20 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 5 a piece of silver every summer, and never fails being promised the handsomest young fellow in the parish for her pains. Your 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 10 his fortune is told him, generally shuts himself up in the pantry with an old gypsy for above half an hour once in a twelve-month. Sweethearts are the things they live upon, which they bestow very plentifully upon all those that apply themselves to 15 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 to his account of a people who were so 20 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 3 of the crew, after having examined my lines very 25 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,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »