Chapter 4

 The Captain leaving this place, proceeded on his way; and at the distance of a mile or two met a man with a bridle in his hand; who had lost a horse, and had been at a conjuror’s to make inquiry, and recover his property.

It struck the mind of the Captain to go to this conjuring person, and make a demand of him, why it was that the multitude were so disposed to elevate the low to the highest station. He had rode but about a mile, when the habitation of the conjuror, by the direction and description which the man who had lost the horse had given, began to be in view.... Coming up to the door, and inquiring if that was not where conjuror Kolt lived, they were answered, yes. Accordingly alighting, and entering the domicile, all those things took place which usually happen, or are described in cases of this nature, viz. there was the conjuror’s assistant, who gave the Captain to understand that the master had withdrawn a little, but would be in shortly.

In the mean time, the assistant endeavoured to draw from him some account of the occasion of his journey; which the other readily communicated; and the conjurer, who was listening through a crack in the partition, overheard. Finding it was not a horse or a cow, or a piece of linen that was lost, but an abstract question of political philosophy which was to be put, he came from his lurking place, and entered, as if not knowing that any person had been waiting for him.

After mutual salutations, the Captain gave him to understand the object which he had in view by calling on him.

Said the conjurer, this lies not at all in my way. If it had been a dozen of spoons, or a stolen watch, that you had to look for, I could very readily, by the assistance of my art, have assisted you in the recovery; but as to this matter of men’s imaginations and attachments in political affairs, I have no more understanding than another man.

It is very strange, said the Captain, that you who can tell by what means a thing is stolen, and the place where it is deposited, though at a thousand miles distance, should know so little of what is going on in the breast of man, as not to be able to develope his secret thoughts, and the motives of his actions.

It is not of our business, said the other; but should we undertake it, I do not see that it would be very difficult to explain all that puzzles you at present. There is no need of a conjurer to tell why it is that the common people are more disposed to trust one of their own class, than those who may affect to be superior. Besides, there is a certain pride in man, which leads him to elevate the low, and pull down the high. There is a kind of creating power exerted in making a senator of an unqualified person: which when the author has done, he exults over the work, and like the Creator himself when he made the world, sees that “it is very good.” Moreover, there is in every government a patrician class against whom the spirit of the multitude naturally militates: and hence a perpetual war; the aristocrats endeavouring to detrude the people, and the people contending to obtrude themselves. And it is right it should be so; for by this fermentation, the spirit of democracy is kept alive.

The Captain, thanking him for his information, asked him what was to pay; at the same time pulling out half a crown from a green silk purse which he had in his breeches pocket. The conjurer gave him to understand, that as the solution of these difficulties was not within his province, he took nothing for it. The Captain expressing his sense of his disinterested service, bade him adieu.