Nature’s “Loafers”

An excerpt from the book ‘The New Forest’ by R.C De Crespigny and Horace Hutchinson, published in 1895.

The New Forester

The New Forester is a loafer, a dreamer of dreams, a poet, in all but the production. He is content to be a fly on the wheel of life without caring to help its impetus; he is, in fact, somewhat of a “gentleman,” in his kindly, idle gentleness. But monotonous work he will not do. For a while he may gratefully accept it; but when the haymaking or rine-ing come round he will take his leave of you, very courteously but very firmly, and will express no penitence if you find him loafing idly in the Forest – his market place – when these occasional jobs are over. Doubtless there are worse ways of life; but a result of this lack of sticking power is that the forester rarely excels – “unstable as water,” etc.


A great amusement of the foresters is to turn out in bands and go “squogging” with a “squoyle”. A “squog” is a squirrel and a “squoyle” is a hany little club of wood, like a policeman’s truncheon, weighted with wood or lead. It is used as a missile, and is, therefore, rather a knobkerry than a truncheon. New Year’s Day is the great date for these squirrel slaying enterprises. hey hunt the poor little beasts from tree to tree. Whenever one shows round a trunk or branch, whang goes a “squoyle” at him.They are eaten in pies, or are baked, as the gypsies bake the hedgehogs, in moulds of clay, and their flesh is excellent eating.

English woodland

It seems to be indispensable from dwelling in countries of peculiar natural charm, whether of mountain, or of forest, that the native of such regions, when his life business takes him to other lands, should be become afflicted with most invincible nostalgia, It is so with these New Foresters. Many of them have gone away and got good berths in distant countries, but the imperious need to be back in their native land of sylvan glade and greenwood tree has, sooner or later, proved too strong for them, and they have returned to end their days, as they began them, in loafing through the woodland and across the marshes in company with the spirit of Pan and his attendant fairies and dryads.

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