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we soon found by his conversation that he was a person who laughed at the ignorance and rusticity of the country people, and was resolved to live and die in the mode.
"Sir, if you think this account of my travels may be of any advantage to the public, I will next year trouble you with such occurrences as I shall meet with in other parts of England. For I am informed there are greater curiosities in the northern circuit than in the western; and that a fashion makes its progress much slower into Cumberland than into Cornwall. I have heard in particular, that the Steenkirk* arrived but two months ago at Newcastle, and that there are several commodes in those pasts which are worth taking a journey thither to see.'
N° 130. MONDAY, JULY 30, 1711.
VIRG. Æn. vii. 748.
On spoil they live, and make of theft a 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 discovery 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 these occasions, and fearing that his poultry might fare the worse for it, he let the thought drop: but at the same time
* The Steenkirk was a kind of military cravat of black silk; probably first worn at the battle of Steenkirk, fought August 2, 1692.
gave me a particular account of the mischiets 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 the 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 hen-roost 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 pot 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. Sweethearts 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 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 dili. gently, told me, that I loved a pretty niaid in a corner, that I was a good woman's man,with some other particulars which I do not think proper to relate. My friend SirRoger alighted from his horse,and exposing his palm to two or three 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 older 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 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, “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 ache; you have not 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 toit. 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 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 conjurer, 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 dextrous..
I might here entertain my reader with historical remarks on this idle, profligate people, who infest all the countries of Europe, and live in the midst of governments in a kind of commonwealth by themselves. But stead 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 priated in one of our monthly accounts about twenty years ago. “As the trekschuyt, or 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 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 farther examination that he had been stolen away when he was a child by a gipsy, and had rambled ever since with a gang of those 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 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 the other hand was not a little delighted to see a son return to him,
whom he had given for lost, with such a strength of constitution, sharpness of understanding, and skill in languages.' Here the printed story leaves off ; but if I may give credit to reports, our linguist having received such extraordinary rudiments towards a good education, was afterwards trained up in every thing that becomes a gentleman; wearing off by little and little all the vicious habits and practices that he had been used to in the course of his peregrinations. Nay, it is said, that he has since been employed in foreign courts upon national business, with great reputation to himself and honour to those who sent him, and that he has visited several countries as a public minister, in which he formerly wandered as a gipsy.
N° 131. TUESDAY, JULY 31, 1711.
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 neighbour. 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