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A member of this society, that would thus carefully employ himself in making room for merit, by throwing down the worthless and depraved part of mankind from those conspicuous stations of life to which they have been sometimes advanced, and all this without any regard to his private interest, would be no small benefactor to his country.
I remember to have read in Diodorus Siculus an account of a very active little animal, which I think he calls Ichneumon, that makes it the whole business of his life to break the eggs 10 of the crocodile, which he is always in search after. This instinct is the more remarkable, because the Ichneumon never feeds upon the eggs he has broken, nor any other way finds his account in them. Were it not for the incessant labours of this industrious animal, Egypt, says the historian, would be over-run with crocodiles; for the Egyptians are so far from destroying those pernicious creatures, that they worship them as gods.
If we look into the behaviour of ordinary partizans, we shall find them far from resembling this disinterested animal; and rather acting after the example of the wild Tartars, who are 20 ambitious of destroying a man of the most extraordinary parts and accomplishments, as thinking that upon his decease, the same talents, whatever posts they qualified him for, enter of course into his destroyer".
As in the whole train of my speculations I have endeavoured 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 particular, because I observe that the spirit of party reigns more in the country than in the town. It here con30 tracts a kind of brutality and rustic fierceness, to which men of a politer conversation are wholly strangers. It extends itself even to the 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 not so much as mingle together at a cockmatch. This humour 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 40 quarter-sessions.
WHIG AND TORY.
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 and the other to the monied interest. This humour 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 that the knight is a much stronger Tory in the country than in the town, which, as he has told me in my ear, is absolutely necessary for the keeping up his interest. 10 In all our journey from London to his house we did not so much as bait at a Whig inn: or if by chance the coach-man 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 beds and bad cheer; 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 the host was, the worse generally 20 were his accommodations; the fellow knowing very well that those who were his friends would take up with coarse diet and hard lodging. For these reasons, all the while I was upon the road I dreaded entering into an house of any one that Sir Roger had applauded for an honest man 1.
Since my stay at Sir Roger's in the country, I daily find more instances of this narrow party-humour. Being upon a bowlinggreen at a neighbouring 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 30 and genteeler behaviour than ordinary; but was much surprised, that notwithstanding he was a very fair better, 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 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 had picked up, nobody 40 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, 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 manner barbarians towards one another, but as it perpetuates our animosities, widens our breaches, and IO transmits our present passions and prejudices to our posterity. For my own part, I am sometimes 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.-C.
No. 130. Gipsies; Sir Roger and the Spectator have their fortunes told; anecdote of a boy stolen by gipsies.
Convectare juvat prædas, et vivere rapto.
VIRG. Æn. vii. 748.
Hunting their sport, and plundering was their trade.
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 gipsies. Upon the first discovering of them, my friend was in some doubt whether he should not exert the Justice of the peace upon such a band of lawless vagrants; but not having his clerk with him, 20 who is a necessary counsellor on those 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 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 henroost is sure to pay for it. They generally straggle into these parts about this time of 30 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 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 above half an hour once in a twelvemonth. Sweet-hearts are the things they live upon, which they bestow very plentifully upon 10 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 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 20 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 of them 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 elder 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 displeased in his heart, told him after a farther inquiry into his hand, that his true love was 30 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 batchelor, but would not be so long; and that he was dearer to somebody than he thought; the knight still repeated that 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 ake; you han't 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 40 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 conjuror, 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 dexterous.
I might here entertain my reader with historical remarks 10 on this idle profligate people, who infest all the countries in 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 the 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 20 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 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 these 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 30 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 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 40 the other hand was not a little delighted to see a son return