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his master full speed, and whisper to him that the master of the house was against such a 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 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.
Since my stay at Sir Roger's in the country, I daily find more instances of this narrow party-humor. Being upon a 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 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 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 were 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 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.
Spectator No. 130. Sir Roger and the gypsies.
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 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, 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 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 gypsy for above half an hour once in a twelvemonth. Sweet-hearts 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 girls 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 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 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 gypsy finding he was not displeased in his heart, told him after a farther 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 gypsy 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 that she was an idle baggage, and bid her go on. “Ah master," says the gypsy, “that roguish leer of yours makes a pretty woman's heart ache; 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 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 gypsies now and then foretold very strange things; and for half an hour together appeared more jocund than ordinary. In the height of his good humor, 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.
Spectator No. 131. The Spectator sees reasons why he had better
return to town.
It is usual for a man who loves country sports to preserve the game in his own grounds, and divert himself upon
those that belong to his neighbor. My friend Sir Roger generally goes two or three miles from his house, and gets into the frontiers of his estate, before he beats about in search of a hare or partridge, on purpose to spare his own fields, where he is always sure of finding diversion when the worst comes to the worst. By this means the breed about his house has time to increase and multiply; besides that the sport is the more agreeable where the game is the harder to come at, and where it does not lie so thick as to produce any perplexity or confusion in the pursuit. For these reasons the country gentleman, like the fox, seldom preys near his own home.
In the same manner I have made a month's excursion out of the town, which is the great field of game for sportsmen of my species, to try my fortune in the country, where I have started several subjects, and hunted them down, with some pleasure to myself, and I hope to others. I am here forced to use a great deal of diligence before I can spring anything to my mind; whereas in town, whilst I am following one character, it is'ten to one but I am crossed in my way by another, and put up such a variety of odd creatures in both sexes, that they foil the scent of one another, and puzzle the chase. My greatest difficulty in the country is to find sport, and, in town, to choose it. In the meantime, as I have given a whole month's rest to the cities of London and Westminster, I promise myself abundance of new game upon my return thither.
It is indeed high time for me to leave the country, since I find the whole neighborhood begin to grow very inquisitive after my name and character; my love of solitude, taciturnity, and particular way of life having raised a great curiosity in all these parts.
The notions which have been framed of me are various : some look upon me as very proud, some as very modest, and some as very melancholy. Will Wimble, as my friend the butler tells me, observing me very much alone, and extremely silent when I am in company, is afraid I have killed a man. The country people seem to suspect me for a conjuror; and, some of them hearing of the visit which I made to Moll White, will needs have it that Sir Roger has brought down a cunning man with him, to cure the old woman, and free the country from her charms. So that the character which I go under in part of the neighborhood, is what they here call a “white witch.”
A justice of peace, who lives about five miles off, and is not of Sir Roger's party, has, it seems, said twice or thrice at his table, that he wishes Sir Roger does not harbor a Jesuit in his house, and that he thinks the gentlemen of the country would do very well to make me give some account of myself.
On the other side, some of Sir Roger's friends are afraid the old Knight is imposed upon by a designing fellow, and