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the several writers among them took each his particular species, and gave us a distinct account of its origin, birth, and education; its policies, hostilities, and alliances, with the frame and texture of its inward and outward parts, and particularly those 5 that distinguish it from all other animals, with their peculiar aptitudes for the state of being in which Providence has placed them, it would be one of the best services their studies could do mankind, and not a little redound to the glory of the all-wise 10 Contriver.
It is true, such a natural history, after all the disquisitions of the learned, would be infinitely short and defective. Seas and deserts hide millions of animals from our observation. Innumerable 15 artifices and stratagems are acted in the "howling wilderness" and in the "great deep," that can never come to our knowledge. Besides that there are infinitely more species of creatures which are not to be seen without nor indeed with the help of 20 the finest glasses, than of such as are bulky enough for the naked eye to take hold of. However, from the consideration of such animals as lie within the compass of our knowledge, we might easily form a conclusion of the rest, that the same variety of 25 wisdom and goodness runs through the whole creation, and puts every creature in a condition to provide for its safety and subsistence in its proper station.
Tully has given us an admirable sketch of natural history in his second book concerning the Nature of the Gods; and that in a style so raised by meta
phors and descriptions, that it lifts the subject 5 above raillery and ridicule, which frequently fall on
such nice observations when they pass through the hands of an ordinary writer.
No. 21. Sir Roger at the Assizes
Comes jucundus in via pro vohiculo est.1
Publ. Syr. Frag.
A MAN's first care should be to avoid the reproaches of his own heart; his next, to escape the 10 censures of the world. If the last interferes with
the former, it ought to be entirely neglected; but otherwise there cannot be a greater satisfaction to an honest mind, than to see those approbations
which it gives itself seconded by the applauses of 15 the public. A man is more sure of his conduct,
when the verdict which he passes upon his own behavior is thus warranted and confirmed by the opinion of all that know him.
My worthy friend Sir Roger is one of those who 20 is not only at peace within himself, but beloved
and esteemed by all about him. He receives a suitable tribute for his universal benevolence to
mankind, in the returns of affection and good-will, which are paid him by every one that lives within his neighborhood. I lately met with two or three odd instances of that general respect which is shown to the good old knight. He would needs carry 5 Will Wimble and myself with him to the county assizes. As we were upon the road Will Wimble joined a couple of plain men who rid before us, and conversed with them for some time; during which my friend Sir Roger acquainted me with their 10 characters.
“The first of them,” says he, “that has a spaniel by his side, is a yeoman of about an hundred pounds a year, an honest man. He is just within the game-act, and qualified to kill a hare or a pheasant. 15 He knocks down his dinner with his gun twice or thrice a week; and by that means lives much cheaper than those who have not so good an estate as himself. He would be a good neighbor if he did not destroy so many partridges. In short, he is a very 20 sensible man; shoots flying; and has been several times foreman of the petty-jury.
“The other that rides along with him is Tom Touchy, a fellow famous for taking the law' of everybody. There is not one in the town where he 25 lives that he has not sued at a quarter sessions. The rogue had once the impudence to go to law with the Widow. His head is full of costs, damages, and ejectments. He plagued a couple of honest
gentlemen so long for a trespass in breaking one of his hedges, till he was forced to sell the ground it enclosed to defray the charges of the prosecution;
his father left him fourscore pounds a year: but he 5 has cast 3 and been cast so often, that he is not now
worth thirty. I suppose he is going upon the old business of the willow-tree.”
As Sir Roger was giving me this account of Tom Touchy, Will Wimble and his two companions 10 stopped short till we came up to them. After
having paid their respects to Sir Roger, Will told him that Mr. Touchy and he must appeal to him upon a dispute that arose between them. Will it
seems had been giving his fellow-traveler an account 15 of his angling one day in such a hole: when Tom
Touchy, instead of hearing out his story, told him that Mr. Such-a-One, if he pleased, might “take the law of him” for fishing in that part of the river.
My friend Sir Roger heard them both, upon a round 20 trot; and after having paused some time told them,
with the air of a man who would not give his judgment rashly, that "much might be said on both sides.” They were neither of them dissatisfied with
the knight's determination, because neither of them 25 found himself in the wrong by it. Upon which we made the best of our way to the assizes.
The court was sat before Sir Roger came; but notwithstanding all the justices had taken their places upon the bench, they made room for the old
knight at the head of them; who for his reputation in the country took occasion to whisper in the judge's ear, "that he was glad his lordship had met with so much good weather in his circuit.” I was listening to the proceeding of the court with much attention, and infinitely pleased with that great appearance of solemnity which so properly accompanies such a public administration of our laws; when after about an hour's sitting, I observed, to my great surprise, in the midst of a trial, that my 10 friend Sir Roger was getting up to speak. I was in some pain for him, until I found he had acquitted himself of two or three sentences, with a look of much business and great intrepidity.
Upon his first rising the court was hushed, and 15 a general whisper ran among the country people, that Sir Roger "was up.” The speech he made was so little to the purpose, that I shall not trouble my readers with an account of it; and I believe was not so much designed by the knight himself to 20 inform the court, as to give him a figure in my eye, and keep up his credit in the country.
I was highly delighted when the court rose to see the gentlemen of the country gathering about my old friend, and striving who should compliment him 25 most; at the same time that the ordinary people gazed upon him at a distance, not a little admiring his courage that was not afraid to speak to the judge.