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HYDE MARSTON;

OR, RECOLLECTIONS OF A SPORTSMAN'S LIFE.

BY THE EDITOR.

CHAPTER THE THIRTY-SECOND.THE WIGHT.

Insula parva situ-sed rebus maxima gestis.
It is an isle

Beautiful as a wreck of Paradise.-SHElley.

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I remember to have met with the following passage in a fashionable author, who was probably describing his own case:-"When the whole enjoyment of the day is to eat and drink, and sleep, and talk, and visit, life becomes a burden too heavy to be supported.' This is so much the fact that the only danger is, it may be regarded as a harsh truth. The prospects of the rich man are by no means placed in a flattering point of view in holy writ, yet his instant condition is little better. "Live on sixpence a day, and earn it," appears a very apocryphal recipe for happiness in his eyes whose destiny it is to rise up early to toil; but did he know the dark despairs of ennui, the fiendlike tortures of indigestion, and the piecemeal perishings of a life of ease, he would learn to estimate aright the excellence of the birthright to which they are born who live by the sweat of the brow. This knowledge-one of the best fruits of philosophy-is, however, ripened only by experience, which accounts for the flavour of its early specimens being so little relished. I am here speaking of the rich man of mature age; youth, whatever its condition, is not to be measured by any standard. At puberty we swallow with impunity those substitutes for granite-Norfolk dumplings, and survive the horrors of a haggis; and I have seen an Eton symposium, whose revellers were all sprigs of the finest quality, whereat the rum and milk was quaffed from out a utensil which, like the chest of drawers in the "Deserted Village," "contrived a double debt to pay." Now, my bon vivant uncle was, as I have shown, a capital companion upon the eat, drink, and be merry system, contenting himself after having fed, "like any other swine;" but taken in the morning he was not so palatable. In fact, he bore his forenoons, as Byron says the human stomach is wont to carry vegetables, "in a grumbling way"-so grumblingly indeed, that without being very undutiful I might have called it grunting. Poor fellow! I did pity him as he growled down three cups of green tea on the following morning, and snarled up a handsome segment of a perigord pie; but, nevertheless, I grew tired of the murmuring stream, and so got rid of him when the meal

was finished, chartering a yellow post-chaise to convey me to Loughborough so soon as I had packed him in his travelling carriage, and addressed it to Cheltenham. And thus (but not, as I trust, in a like manner), the reader and the biographer are about to be separated for a space.

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When supreme bon ton condescends to visit that Eden of the western wave which mortals call the Isle of Wight, it abideth at Cowes, or haply Ryde; but when fashion goes to town for the season, you do not find it settled in Whitechapel. Nevertheless, estimated by the scale of Nature, the northern and southern shores of that lovely islet bear the relation towards each other which, according to the standard of style, Shoreditch does to St. James's. At the extreme western point of the island are the rocks so well known as the Needles, and beneath the promontory whose boundary they constitute, is a creek where, when winds breathe soft, sparkle waters more lucent and bright than ever canopied a Peri; the name of this fairy harbour is Alum Bay-the approach to it is a lawn of the most exquisite verdure, descending with a graceful sweep from the adjoining table land for about half a mile. At the present hour it is a spot of almost matchless tranquil beauty, but at the period to which my tale refers it was as lone and solitary as a valley of the Himalayas. The only habitation it contained was a fisherman's hut, buried within a small copse of dwarf oaks that clothed the foot of the High Down.

One evening early in the autumn, a lady who alighted at Yarmouth from a splendid equipage, engaged a boy as a guide to Alum Bay, and left the town with him on foot, and without any other at tendant. In a few days afterwards a person arrived from London, bringing with him a number of workmen; and it was presently rumoured in the neighbouring hamlet of Freshwater, that a great lady had purchased the lease of the fisherman's cottage, and was building a fine house in its stead. The first part of the report was true, but the substitute for the cottage was a very unpretending edifice. It was a villa, containing several rooms indeed, but all on the ground floor; while apart, and at some distance, was a building in which the servants were to reside, and where all the business of the household was to be carried on.

About the middle of September the new tenant took possession, and it became known that she was the widow of a French nobleman, and very wealthy. Her train, though not numerous, consisted of domestics such as are found only in establishments of the highest class, and their equipment bespoke the luxurious and expensive habits of the mistress they served. The lady appeared young and beautiful, but she rarely was to be seen, and kept aloof from all association with the neighbours of any condition. The want of roads around her abode furnished a courteous excuse for visiting, and the details of the household were exclusively managed by a steward. The few who gained admission to the stranger reported her to be reserved in manner, somewhat haughty in her bearing, and as having surrounded herself with every appliance of refinement that the most courtly taste

could suggest. In a situation an anchorite might have chosen, suddenly appeared the bower of a lady fair, noble and rich, whence fragrance and melody breathed, and where luxury and refinement were the presiding spirits. Such are the changes we read of in Oriental fables as brought about by some potent enchanter, and that we occasionally witness in our own days, achieved by the great modern magician-Gold! Will he ever give me a touch of his hand or a taste of his sorcery?

As a retreat from the hurry of life, with the privilege of freedom from observation, and the enjoyment of a delicious climate amid scenery of rare loveliness, England has no region that will bear comparison with the southern coast of the Isle of Wight.

On the Downs that wend to the westward, you can wander for days without encountering a human being; and such of the peasantry as may fall in your way betray none of the inquisitive spirit so common among those who dwell apart from their fellows. A natural courtesy-haply the effect of the ease of their position, and the civilized character of the district in which their lot is cast--distinguishes the rural population of this happy island. It has been well said, that in nature there is nothing vulgar; and I should not desire a better illustration of the theory than to see a batch of Gravesend cockneys turned loose among the rustics doing homage to May-day at Gadshill village, or on Atherfield green.

The recluse of Alum Bay-if her object were a separation from the world, such as art has made it, and a communion with it where man has not yet succeeded in distorting nature-selected well, and soon appeared to feel that she had done so. The shepherd who was betimes abroad would find his flock formed into a solid square, gazing upon a figure already in the distance, whose approach had aroused their fears, and long after sunset had ceased to light the Downs to seaward, became aware that the wild track which led him to his home was also trodden by another. The small hamlet of Freshwater, which consisted of about a dozen cottages of the humblest kind, was the only attempt at gregariousness exhibited by the colonists of the neighbourhood. There occasionally a matron peasant would prate to her gossips of the great foreign lady; but, save such casual allusion, the career of the stranger was suffered to proceed without note or comment. So scant was the population, and so limited their wants, that beyond their daily bread they needed nothing while health was Vouchsafed them. In sickness or any casual distress, they found ready aid and ample relief in the liberal kindness of the lady of Alum Bay, whose hand was ever open as the day, whatever the motive of her charity.

"Whom does time gallop withal," of those who drive the quill? Not with your dramatist, whose pace is never graceful unless it keep due measure. There are, doubtless, some worthy exceptions to the rule of the unities in dramatic composition; but, sadly fallen as the art of the playright is, I cannot but respect the fabricator of modern theatrical exhibitions, who, however little indebted to the muse, seldom taxes the credulity of his audience to the extent of accompanying him, in the shifting of a drop, from Paris to Pekin, or to con

clude that a couple of centuries intervene between the fall and rise of the act-scene. To the writer of fiction much license belongs that cannot be allowed its exhibitor. How many a drama, which in representation not only revolts our reason, but outrages our patience-in the perusal affords unalloyed delight! How excellent to read is

"The Comedy of Errors!" and yet, is it not an insult to the audience of a theatre to require that they shall not be able to distinguish Dromio of Ephesus, with a snout like the proboscis of an elephant, from Dromio of Syracuse, with no more nose than a chimpanzee?

The novelist is one "whom time does gallop withal," and to whom a liberal ubiquity of place is also permitted. For this reason I have associated the reader with Madame de Beauplans, at her villa in the Isle of White, without putting him to the fatigue of a journey from the Rue Rivoli to Osborne's hotel in the Adelphi, and a narrative of the arrangements that preceded her insular settlement.

But because of this facility of scene and season it behoves us especially not to fall into any obscurity respecting our dramatis persona. The practice of this commendable perspicuity has drawn upon many an unfortunate weaver of Parnassus the charge of being prosaic and tedious; but (always with a proper keeping of bounds) while the laconic best becomes the dialogue of a drama, the circumbendibus is compulsory in your fashionable novel of action and sentiment. The Gath who should dispatch a bay-window confab at White's, in a couplet or two from the vocabulary of compliments; or a téte-û-téte between her Grace of Muchgabbleton and the Baroness de Plusparoles, with a question and rejoinder, would deserve to be perpetual secretary to a non-intermittent general council of a national association, everlastingly sitting, speculating, and speechifying, "de cunetis rebus et quebusdam aliis." Your compiler of memoirs is in an intermediate state between the play writer and novelist. It is optional to his purpose and his taste either to make his readers abruptly acquainted with his persons and places, or to bring about the familiarity by easy stages. In short he is a free agent in ink, and doeth, or may do, as it seemeth best to his judgment or his humour. His characters tell their own stories, long or short, or he is their mouthpiece they come to the reader, or the reader is forwarded to them, and he is introduced to them either at fifteen or fifty. Still this license must not be abused till it becomes licentiousness. Your biographer may choose his own time and place for the introduction; but it is not lawful for him to effect it in masquerade, and therefore it is imperative upon me no longer to leave unsaid who Madame de Beauplans, the island recluse, may be.

Fortune took it into her head about the same period to select, for no very obvious reasons, three young women on whom to lavish her favours with romantic prodigality. The first of these was an actress, &c., &c., of the name of Mellon, who became Duchess of St. Albans; the second was a charity girl, by name Dawes, subsequently Baroness de Feucheres, and bosom friend of the Duc de Bourbon; the third, Madame de Beauplans, the wife of the French banker, née Caroline G--. The banker survived his marriage but a short season-probably his happiness was too much for him (matrimonial

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