Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

IO

track she had made, and following her through all her doubles. I was at the same time delighted in observing that deference which the rest of the pack paid to each particular hound, according to the character he had acquired among them. If they 5 were at a fault, and an old hound of reputation opened but once, he was immediately followed by the whole cry; while a raw dog, or one who was a noted liar, might have yelped his heart out, without being taken notice of.

The hare now, after having squatted two or three times, and been put up again as often, came still nearer to the place where she was at first started. The dogs pursued her, and these were followed by the jolly knight, who rode upon a white gelding, 15 encompassed by his tenants and servants, and cheering his hounds with all the gayety of five-andtwenty. One of the sportsmen rode up to me, and told me, that he was sure the chase was almost at an end, because the old dogs, which had hitherto 20 lain behind, now headed the pack. The fellow was in the right. Our hare took a large field just under us, followed by the full cry in view. I must confess the brightness of the weather, the cheerfulness of everything around me, the chiding of the hounds, 25 which was returned upon us in a double echo from two neighboring hills, with the hallooing of the sportsmen, and the sounding of the horn, lifted my spirits into a most lively pleasure, which I freely

indulged because I was sure it was innocent. If I was under any concern, it was on the account of the poor hare, that was now quite spent, and almost

within the reach of her enemies; when the huntsmen 5 getting forward, threw down his pole 12 before the

dogs. They were now within eight yards of that game which they had been pursuing for almost as many hours; yet on the signal before mentioned

they all made a sudden stand, and though they 10 continued opening as much as before, durst not once

attempt to pass beyond the pole. At the same time Sir Roger rode forward, and alighting, took up the hare in his arms; which he soon after delivered

up to one of his servants with an order, if she could 15 be kept alive, to let her go in his great orchard;

where it seems he has several of these prisoners of war, who live together in a very comfortable captivity. I was highly pleased to see the discipline

of the pack, and the good-nature of the knight, 20 who could not find in his heart to murder a creature that had given him so much diversion.

As we were returning home, I remembered that Monsieur Paschal,13 in his most excellent discourse

on the Misery of Man, tells us, that all our endeavors 25 after greatness proceed from nothing but a desire

of being surrounded by a multitude of persons and affairs that may hinder us from looking into ourselves, which is a view we cannot bear. He afterwards goes on to show that our love of sports comes

from the same reason,

and is particularly severe upon hunting. "What," says he, "unless it be to drown thought, can make them throw away so much time and pains upon a silly animal, which they might buy cheaper in the market?” The 5 foregoing reflection is certainly just, when a man suffers his whole mind to be drawn into his sports, and altogether loses himself in the woods; but does not affect those who propose a far more laudable end from this exercise, I mean the preservation of 10 health, and keeping all the organs of the soul in a condition to execute her orders. Had that incomparable person, whom I last quoted, been a little more indulgent to himself in this point, the world might probably have enjoyed him much longer; 15 whereas through too great an application to his studies in his youth, he contracted that ill habit of body, which, after a tedious sickness, carried him off in the fortieth year of his age; and the whole history we have of his life till that time, is but one 20 continued account of the behavior of a noble soul struggling under innumerable pains and distempers.

For my own part, I intend to hunt twice a week during my stay with Sir Roger; and shall prescribe the moderate use of this exercise to all my country 25 friends, as the best kind of physic for mending a bad constitution, and preserving a good one.

I cannot do this better, than in the following lines 11 out of Mr. Dryden:

“The first physicians by debauch were made;
Excess began, and Sloth sustains the trade.
By chase our long-liv'd fathers earn'd their food;
Toil strung the nerves, and purify'd the blood;
But we their sons, a pamper'd race of men,
Are dwindled down to threescore years and ten.
Better to hunt in fields for health unbought,
Than fee the doctor for a nauseous draught,
The wise for cure on exercise depend;
God never made his work for man to mend."

No. 16. On Witchcraft

SPECTATOR No. 117. Saturday, July 14, 1711

-Ipsi sibi somnia fingunt.

Virg. Ecl. viii. 108.1

THERE are some opinions in which a man should stand neuter, without engaging his assent to one side or the other. Such a hovering faith as this,

which refuses to settle upon any determination, is 5 absolutely necessary in a mind that is careful to

avoid errors and prepossessions. When the arguments press equally on both sides in matters that are indifferent to us, the safest method is to give up ourselves to neither.

It is with this temper of mind that I consider the subject of witchcraft. When I hear the relations that are made from all parts of the world, not only from Norway and Lapland, from the East and West

Indies, but from every particular nation in Europe, 15 I cannot forbear thinking that there is such an

IO

IO

intercourse and commerce with evil spirits, as that which we express by the name of witchcraft. But when I consider that the ignorant and credulous parts of the world abound most in these relations, and that the persons among us, who are supposed 5 to engage

in such an infernal commerce, are people of a weak understanding and crazed imagination, and at the same time reflect upon the many impostures and delusions of this nature that have been detected in all ages, I endeavor to suspend my belief till I hear more certain accounts than any which have yet come to my knowledge. In short, when I consider the question, whether there are such persons in the world as those we call witches, my mind is divided between the two opposite 15 opinions, or rather (to speak my thoughts freely) I believe in general that there is, and has been such a thing as witchcraft; but at the same time can give no credit to any particular instance of it.

I am engaged in this speculation, by some occur- 20 rences that I met with yesterday, which I shall give my reader an account of at large. As I was walking with my friend Sir Roger by the side of one of his woods, an old woman applied herself to me for my charity. Her dress and figure put me in 25 mind of the following description in Otway:

“In a close lane as I pursu'd my journey,
I spy'd a wrinkled hag, with age grown double,
Picking dry sticks, and mumbling to herself.

« НазадПродовжити »