« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
ning me to leave it behind me. But, "no, "faid I to myfelf; this is all the bread that "I have, or may ever have during life, "and I know not where to get a bit "in the whole world; befide, I do this "man no harm in taking it away, fince I "leave him money enough wherewith to "buy more." So I put the bread in my pocket, and went on my way, leaving behind me about four or five pence in the wrapper.
I had not gone far, however, before I faid to myself again, "This man is a beggar by trade, and gets halfpence from "every paffenger that goes the road. But
alas, no one living has any pity upon 36 me; and fo to ftarve alive, or take the "money, is all the queftion." So faying or fo thinking, I went back on tiptoes, and ftooping and feizing my prey, I flew away like lightning.
As foon as I had got out of the reach and fight of the poor man, the first motion I felt was the joy of having fuch a prize; but I had not gone far till this joy was much abated, my fighs began to heave, and my tears to flow apace.
That night, I took up my lodging in a waste hut that lay a little way off the road. But though, as I thought, I had plenty of bread, and money enough
about me; yet I found myself exceeding heavy, and I was not able to pray, as I did the foregoing nights.
During all this time, I neither knew where I was, nor whereto I was going, nor any thing more of my travels than that I came from London. When I had fpent to my laft penny, and was walking, flow and melancholy, on a by-path that led through some woody lawns, I heard the voice of merriment, and, quickly after, perceived a group of gipfies that came from behind fome trees.
As I faw that I could not escape them, I gathered courage, and went forward, when, coming up, they stopped and eyed me with much attention, and made a ring about me. Where are you going, my child? fays a man with a broad girdle and a very formidable beard. Indeed, Sir, faid I, I cannot tell. And where did you come from then? From London, Sir, fo please you. From London, child? why, that is a very great way off. And pray what made you leave London? To get away from my mafter. But I hope you did not come away empty, you brought fomething from him, did not you? Some little matter, good Sir, but I was robbed of it on the way. Hereupon, this ve nerable regent smiled, and, turning to his dependents,
dependents, As far as I fee, faid he, this chap will answer our purpose to a hair.
Here one of the females asked if I was hungry; and on my answer in the affirmative, they all invited me with a jovial air to dinner. We then turned a distance off from the path wherein we had met, and gradually defcended into one of the pleasanteft fpots in the world. It -was a dell furrounded with hills, fome of which were flanting, fome headlong and impending, and all covered or spotted with groups of trees, of different heights, forts, and colours; through which the e defcended a gurging rivulet, which, having rolled over ftones and pebbles, gre v filent in a fmall lake, that reflected the circling objects from the hills around.
Immediately nature's carpet was covered with a large cloth of fine damasked linen. The baggage was taken from the fhoulders of the bearers; and before I well could obferve what they were about, there was spread, as by art-magic, before my eyes, the moft various and fumptuous banquet I had ever beheld. Down inftantly funk the guests; fome fitting, like the Turks, cross-legged; while others lolled, like the Romans, befide each other.
As they had travelled far that day, they all eat in filence; and, in a fhort space, the burden of the luggage carriers was pretty much lightened. In the mean time, fome arofe, and unladed two affes of the creels which they carried. The cloth then was quickly emptied of the cold fowls and baked meats, with the loins of beef and mutton; and leather-jacks, that contained plenty of the beft wines and other liquors, were set before us. These, again, were decanted into clean japanned pitchers; and a japanned cup, of equal measure, was given into every hand.
Then began mirth and jollity to flow round with the cups; never did I fee fo pleasant, fo gleeful a company. Joke and banter, without offence, were bandied from every fide; and burfts of laughter were echoed from the answering hills.
As foon as I was warmed, and my heart opened by what I drank, they all expreffed a liking and kindness for me, and requefted that I would tell them my ftory, without difguife. Accordingly I made an ingenuous confeffion of all the matters related. But, inftead of meeting thofe reproofs which I expected for my wickedness, they jointly began to ridicule my fcruples, and put to fhame the little fhame that I had of my evil-deeds.
My child, faid their ancient governor, when you have been a fufficient time with us, you will then learn what it is to be wife and to be happy. You will then know that religion is nothing but hypocrify or fashion. There are thousands and ten thousands of religions upon earth, all contrary, and fighting the one against the other. People pretend to fear God, when it is the fear of the laws alone that is before their eyes. God is not to be feared, but to be loved, my fon, for he is a very gracious and a bountiful God. He gave the heavens, in common, to the birds of the air. He gave the feas, and rivers also, in common to the fishes. And he gave this whole earth in common to mankind. But great people, and people of power, have feized it all to themselves, and they have made to themfelves poffeffions and properties by fences and inclosures; and they have again inclosed these inclosures, by laws of their own making, whereby the poor are to be punished, when they attempt to reclaim any part of the natural rights with which God had gifted them. But when the poor, without fear of the laws, can gain any thing from the rich and the mighty, who have robbed them of their rights, they may furely do it with a fafe and