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"You should enlist Mr. Marston for a party to Pelder Tor or Mount St. Bernard, Mary," said her mother.


Indeed, I should be too happy to be of your society," I said affectedly; "but I am afraid I should not contribute much to your amusement. 'Tis such an utter destruction of comfort to walk up hill, and I am so little in the way of that kind of fatigue that I feel quite gauché at it."

"You have bad health, I fear," said the good-natured Miss Turville, commiseratingly.

"Not exactly that. Perhaps it is because I am sitting opposite a dish of cucumbers, and the powerful odour always overpowers me to faintness."

"I suppose you have inherited that dislike," said Mrs. Turville. "There is scarcely a family of long standing without a remarkable bias or prejudice for or against some food or substance inherited from sire to son. You remember Queen Elizabeth's horror of leather."

"Mr. Marston is like my aunt's lap-dog, fed on boiled sweetbreads and milk, and carried about on a litter, I believe," exclaimed Miss Mary. "I do think you would be afraid of walking on the lawn lest a grasshopper should pop up."

"The dew and damp of the grass is what I should more likely fear. In fact, altogether country pleasures are sadly misnamed; town is the only resort for the fastidious," I replied, obtusely.

Breeding is after all but conventional; the politeness of one age is the barbarism of another. How natural are our present race of fine ladies and gentlemen compared with those of twenty years back. Eyes half shut-speech of lisping drawl-voices whose subdued murmur did not penetrate above half an inch of the most porous atmosphere, and which were altogether extinguished in a November fog-attitudes as forced as those of a Dresden ware shepherdesswere then the necessary concomitants of the fine ladies of St. James's of both sexes. I scarcely therefore exaggerated the taste of the day by transforming myself into an egregious ass. The coup-de-grace, however, was to be given at any hazard; so making myself up for the charge, I replied to some remarks of my promessa, that one naturally spent more money in town than one had."

"And pray," asked the lady, with assumed naiveté, "how does one contrive to pay it?"

"Don't pay," said I, "it's mauvais ton-anything rather than accommodate dirty mechanics."

"Suppose they insist," she urged," what then?"

"Suicide," I rejoined, with nonchalance; "suicide, or setting up as a ready money tailor."

"Do you think it necessary to make a fool of me?" said she. "Certainly not," I replied; "satisfied you need no such service at my hands."

"Is it the fashion," she asked, "to behave like a brute to a lady?" "Not to a lady," I replied; and that finished it.

She regarded me for a moment with utter disgust; and then turning her back upon me, closed act the second of my matrimonio obligato.




46 Through rustling corn the hare astonished springs,
The partridge bursts away on whirring wings;
Deep mourns the turtle in sequestered bower,
And shrill lark carols clear from her aerial tower."


The respective alternations of active employment and rest, consequent on the season, and the long vacation that follows it, have their peculiar pleasures and anxieties for the sportsman. From the month of August to that of February, his time is pretty freely passed in the field. A long harvest is his-delightful the variety and rotation of his crops. The grouse and partridge, the pheasant and woodcock succeed each other at agreeable distances, severally bringing with them a diversity in scenery and in the character of the pursuit, which adds immeasurably to the charms of shooting. Of this period, however, we have already spoken, and hope, in due time, again to speak. It is upon the thoughts, feelings, and occupations of the fowler during the interval by nature consecrated, from the beginning of time, to the great purpose of reproduction in the lower animals that we have now to descant.

The first business of the shooter, at the season's close, is to look carefully to his favourite gun. Always clean and well-conditioned whilst in daily use, this deadly instrument, which he has carried (fresh and fatigued, through wet and dry) so many a mile, and which has served his purpose so faithfully and effectively as to give rise in him to a kind of mute regard for it, now, on the eve of a long rest, has need of more than ordinary attention. Duly sensible of this, he entrusts it to the hands of a respectable gunmaker, with instructions that the insides of the barrels be dressed with emery, and the outsides browned, the locks cleaned and divested of oil, and, (nine times out of ten), that the whole be left unjoined until he shall call and examine it. A gossip with a gun-maker, especially if he be intelligent, is always agreeable. As soon, therefore, as convenience allows, he visits the craftsman in iron and wood, looks through the dazzling tubes to assure himself that every speck of lead is removed, scrutinizes the exquisite polish of the locks, puts their admirable machinery into play, and, if satisfied with every thing, orders the main-springs to be detached, the breeches put in, sees the several parts deposited snugly in their green partitions, and, lastly, the brass-bound mahogany box slipped into its travelling case of leather


there to remain until the eve of that glorious day returns, when the season again shall open, and his joyful labours be renewed.

Another care, however, yet remains to him; and that is the supervision and management of his dogs. Has he more than he chooses to keep at home, he sends his spaniels-in preference either to setters or pointers to walk, as being with less difficulty again brought into training than are the others. He looks sedulously that those who remain in kennel are properly exercised, physicked, and kept in health. If it is intended that a bitch shall litter, every precaution is observed, and no expense spared to ensure the excellence, and, when practicable, the improvement of the breed; and matter for pleasing occupation is found in the selection, rearing, and education of the whelps.

Meantime the gun is not entirely abandoned. Hearing towards the end of February, or possibly in March, that the hounds of his neighbour, Captain Dashwell, or my Lord Lovechase, had flushed a cock whilst drawing a neighbouring cover, the old passion revives; he shoulders his single-barrel, and proceeds forthwith to beat for him; or, may be, he walks down one quiet morning to some plashy meadows, where he bags a few snipes; and occasionally, at distant intervals, indulges in a few hours rabbit-shooting, simply, as he tells you, to assure himself that his old cunning of hand has not forsaken him.

Has the sportsman a young dog intended to come in for the ensuing season, of which, from the sagacity he has already evinced, much is expected, he marches forth, whip in hand, some fresh breezy day, and treats him to a range over the spring wheat, through clover and green vetches, in company with staunch pointers that know their business; and as the birds, having long been undis turbed, lie well, the first lessons at game are given with manifest advantage.

No matter what may be the course our several tastes indicate, and we therefore follow-whether we shoot, or fish, or hunt-the same subtle principle it is that actuates all who delight in the pleasures of the field. A deep, unspeakable love of natural scenery (often illunderstood, it is true, and but dimly perceived by those who, neverthe less, acutely feel it), and a ceaseless craving after mental excitement, form the chief constituents of the sporting character. This man has a passion for the chase, the next for the gun, a third for the gentle craft of angling. All of them having the same motives to action, the question, "Whence arises this diversity of pursuits?" here naturally presents itself. The answer is brief and simple. It was the circumstances under which they were respectively bred-the facilities for one, in particular, of those sports which obtained while the taste and habits were forming, that determined in each his particular bias.

However, as if in corroboration of the general proposition above advanced, it not seldom happens that the same individual delights extremely in all the recreations we have enumerated, though rarely indeed does he excel in more than one of them. For our own part, we do not hesitate to avow that, dearly as we love the noble art of

shooting, and devoted as we are to its pleasures, we have no disdain for other sports; on the contrary, having laid down the gun, we take up the rod with a light and jocund heart-and we count, in memory, a full score of enthusiastic sportsmen who do the same-rejoicing inwardly that every season brings with it fresh sources of enjoyment.

Behold then a metamorphosis-the fowler has become a fisher! In most cases, too, judging by what we have ourselves seen of him in this adjunctive character, the rod is not an ineffective instrument in his hands. Stooping gently and cautiously towards the stream, his supple wrist bends, the line glittering flies out straight to the desired spot, and the yellow May-fly, the palmer, and gnat drop as lightly and capriciously on the waters, as they would if endued with life. It is more in the playing and securing of heavy fish than in other piscatorial arts that professed fishermen surpass him. Yet the broad-shouldered, speckled felon, that gasps and slaps his tail impatiently on the gravel, bears reluctant witness that a two, or, it may be, a three-pounder occasionally rewards his skill.

And ever, as he wanders by the clear rushing river, are his thoughts called back to that sport in which his deepest affection centres. He hears the landrail crakeing in the mowing grass; and the crow of the pheasant-short, sharp, and loud-in the green recesses of the woods; or sitting, perhaps, to lunch or overhaul his creel-he does that often if it is tolerably filled-on some sandy ledge with a sunward aspect, he notices a suspicious disturbance of the soil (sundry scratchings and small irregular hollows); on looking closely, he sees, and picks up a feather-there is no mistaking it-partridges have been to drink at the stream below, and have chosen this bank whereon to bask and dust themselves. His mind is presently at work; he speculates on what may be the number of old birds left thereabout for breeding. Are they many or few? and what should be calculated on for the following season?

How wonderful-how admirable is that wise provision of Nature, which assigns to every separate act of her economy the season best adapted for its successful performance! Why should not birds breed, and beasts bring forth in autumn or winter? Is it from a knowledge on their part of the unfitness of those seasons for this act, that they refrain from doing so? No! The merit is not theirs, who merely obey a blind but imperative instinct. The Supreme Intelligence, while denying them reason, foresaw that, were not the proper time given them, they would fall into this error, their young infallibly perish of cold, and thus the eternal purpose of regeneration be frustrated; therefore he implanted in them mysteriously an impulse which at the allotted period they never forget. Spring descends upon the earth, and with her lovely fingers unbinds the icy chains which fettered it. At her call Nature awakes as from a heavy slumber, puts forth her energies, and lo! the trees throw out masses of verdure, the grass grows, the flowers blossom, and the sexual astus of the brute creation returns. All things progress harmoniously; a new race receives life, and the benevolent intentions of Providence are fulfilled.

As the summer progresses, not a few are the exaltations of hope and depressions of fear which agitate the sportsman. Birds are accidentally cut through on the nest by the mower's scythe, and destroyed by hawks, kites, and even owls; by weasels and other vermin. Nest-hunting boys, too, are an eye-sorrow to him, and may not be trusted. Or again, to his misery, he may have in his neighbourhood some envious churl who has heretofore been suspected of wilfully crushing entire coveys in the egg with his foot. Should these perils be safely passed, there are yet further anxieties remaining. Is it a wet season? the birds will be swamped in their nests, or their young perish of starvation. On the other hand, is it dry? they will suffer from extreme drought, or be thinned through falling into the gaping fissures of the soil, where, unable to extricate themselves, they invariably die." There are, moreover, epidemics sometimes prevalent among them, and other occasions for uneasiness. Well aware of these circumstances, our newspaper editors turn them to profitable account, trumpeting forth to the world, from time to time, the prevailing opinion as to the abundance or scarcity of game for the ensuing season.

The true sportsman, however, pays small heed to what others tell him on this point; he loves to judge for himself. Does he reside in a city, or large town, as too many, alas! are constrained to do, he looks out some sunny morning on the clear blue sky, and straightway tempting visions of the country rise unbidden before him. He sees blue hills, dark woods, and glittering rivers-hares squatting among the green, fresh-smelling fern, and newly fledged coveys basking on turf-slopes, or fluttering madly in dusty road-ways. What a delightful journey has imagination carried him! How dreary, and black, and hateful, now seem the vistas of brick which surround him. "It is a day to be enjoyed!" exclaims he, with a sigh. "Nature laughs loud with gladness, and beckons to the banquet. Who may withstand her? Surely not I! To horse then, at once, and away to some favourite shooting ground, where I may get one day at least, of pure delight, and above all things verify my hopes, or confirm my fears, as to the quantity and condition of the game.'

Neither is he whose better fortune it is to live in the country a whit less curious or solicitous on this head. Scarcely does he meet, in his daily rambles, a rustic, be it man or boy, whom he knows to be intelligent, but he strictly questions him as to the game he may have seen-whether pheasants or partridges, where and when he fell in with them, what their numbers and size? Soon as the hay crop is cleared off, he again leads out the favourite puppy, accompanied as before, into the pastures and aftermath, where the birds are greedily devouring the insects that abound in them.

Here he has the twofold pleasure of watching the development of talent in his dog (they alone know how great this is who have experienced it), and assuring himself, in some degree, what sport he may calculate on for the ensuing months.

* Singular as this may appear, it is a fact well known to keepers and observa tive persons familiar with the country, that, in hot dry summers, hundreds of young birds are lost in heat cracks, as here related.

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