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The wrinkled Beldame there you may espy,
These truly singular people arrived in Christendom about the beginning of the fifteenth century. They entered Hungary and Bohemia from the East, travelling in numerous hordes, under leaders who assumed the title of Kings, Dukes, Counts, or Lords of Lesser Egypt. They, indeed, gave themselves out for Chris, tian pilgrims, who had been expelled from that country by the Saracens for their adherence to the true religion. They thus palmed themselves upon several Sovereigns, and even on the Pope himself, so effectually, as to have privileges granted them, that they were either legally protected, or silently endured, for more than a century. But when these gypsies were known to be a race of profligate and thievish impostors, severe laws were made for their expulsion from Spain, 1492; from Germany, 1500; and from France, 1561 and 1612. But no territory which they entered has been able to get rid of them. It is said that, besides the immense multitudes in Asia and Egypt, there are 800,000 scattered throughout Europe, a number exceeding all credibility! The gypsies were not known in England till about the reign of Henry the Eighth, who made severe laws against them, but
HISTORY OF THE GYPSIES.
to little purpose ; for in Elizabeth's time they are reported to have amounted to ten thousand ! Burnet says, in his Appendix to his History of the Reformation, that the extirpation of the gypsies in Suffolk was an object to be accomplished. Their number is much reduced in modern times throughout England; and the author of Guy Mannering is of opinion, that not above five hundred can now be found in Scotland. His sketch of Mey Merrilies exceeds all commendation. Justly has it been remarked, that the existence of these marauding tribes is a very curious phenomenon in society, they having nearly the same manners and habits in all the nations of Europe, and mingling every where with civil society, without ever becoming amalgamated with it! Mr. Hoyland, a quaker, of Shef. field, has published a very interesting work, entitled, “ An Historical Survey of the Customs, Habits, and present State of the Gypsies; designed to develope the origin of this singular people, and to promote the amelioration of their condition.” The social affections of the gypsey tribe are said to be very strong. Two men and their wives, belonging to a gypsey gang who had infested the county of Surry, were a few years ago tried and condemned for their numerous depredations; the men were banged at Horsemongerlane, and the women transported for life; the parting scene, on the day previous to execution, was a spectacle agonizing to humanity! . On the right may be seen the pleasant village of Wimbledon, seven miles from London. The manor,
exchanged by Archbishop Cranmer with Henry the Eighth for other lands, once belonged to the see of Canterbury. Here was a venerable mansion, built by Sir Thomas Cecil, 1588; but, having been taken down, it was re-edified by Sarah, the celebrated Duchess of Marlborough, who left it to her grandson, John Spencer, Esq. His son, the late Earl of Spencer, formed here one of the finest parks in England. It contains twelve thousand acres, adorned with beautiful declivities and fine plantations. Here is also a sheet of water, of many acres, which always adds to the beauty of any rural scene. From eminences in the park no less than nineteen churches may be counted in the prospect, exclusive of those of London and Westminster. Here are many other mansions of the gentry and of the nobility.
The church at Wimbledon was rebuilt (chancel excepted) in 1788, and fitted up in the Grecian style. The contributions of the inhabitants, for this purpose, were so liberal, that the whole was completed without any application to Parliament. Mr. Levi, a Jew, was one of the most generous subscribers. This redounds to his honour. The prejudices against this people, as a body, are at variance both with reason and revelation. The pious Israelite and the devout Christian are acceptable to the Supreme Being, and will, doubtless, meet hereafter in the kingdom of Heaven. At the same time, the benevolence which the New Testament inculcates leads us to wish that our elder brethren (for such, in reality, are these sons of Abraham) should
JOHN HORNE TOOKE. share in the superior blessings of Christianity. A curious sepulchre may be observed in one corner of the churchyard, belonging to the family of Benjamin Bond Hopkins, Esq.; also a tomb of John Hopkins, Esq., who died in 1732. He was the person celebrated by Pope as Vulture Hopkins. He is mentioned in his Satires, where the bard has amply indulged his vein for sarcastic poetry.
But the mansion at Wimbledon which will, perhaps, most excite the curiosity of strangers, is that of the late John Horne Tooke, Esq., of literary and political celebrity. A few particulars respecting a man who took such a lead in public affairs, during almost the whole of the present reign, will be gratifying to the rising generation.
John Horne TOOKE was born, 1736, in Westminster; his father was a poulterer, and acquired considerable property. The son possessed an acuteness hy which he was distinguished from his earliest years. When at Westminster School, his fellow pupils crowded round him, at his first entrance, to ascertain his father's business : be, knowing the taunts and reproaches incurred by trade, replied, that his father was a Turkey merchant! With this the lads were well satisfied; for the trade to Turkey, at that time, made a leading figure in the mercantile world. From Westminster he went to St. John's College, Cambridge. He thence, in the year 1760, entered the church, and was inducted into chapelry of New Brentford. He soon, however, became a travelling Tutor, and made the tour of Europe.
DIVERSIONS OF PURLEY.
He also involved himself in politics, advocating the cause of the renowned John Wilkes. Henceforward he threw off every pretence to the clerical profession. With his beloved Wilkes he afterwards fell out; for he had the honesty to reprobate the Patriot's disgraceful want of economy.
In 1771 he took his degree of A.M. at Cambridge. He carried on a spirited controversy with Junius, which may be seen in those celebrated Letters. He was a zealous opposer of the American war. In 1779, after full preparation for the Bar, he applied to the Inner Temple for a Call, which was refused him, on account of his being still a clergyman. Thus were his fairest prospects cruelly blasted, and hence he regarded the times in which he lived with additional exasperation. He published an original work, entitled Epea Pteroentu, or DIVERSIONS OF PURLEY, the latter part of the title being derived from the country seat of his friend Mr. Tooke, near Croydon, in Surry, whose name he had taken; and he afterwards inherited half his property. The prominent subject of the publication was the derivation of Conjunctions and Prepositions from Verbs and Nouns; assigning them, in consequence, a determinate meaning, often different from that which has been arbitra. rily imposed upon them. It is a profound work, and accordingly has met with distinguished applause from the literary world. In the year 1794, he was, along with several others, arraigned and tried for high treason. The jury, after having been out only eight minutes, returned and pronouced him Not Guilty !