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HYDE MARSTON;

OR, RECOLLECTIONS OF A SPORTSMAN'S LIFE.

BY THE EDITOR.

CHAPTER THE THIRTY-FIRST.-"TEST AND TRUE."

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Although I was the only child of Christian parents, they made no scruple, it will be seen, to hand me over, body and soul, to Mr. Thos. Longueville, for the lucre of gold. Thus uncle Tom may be said to have received, in consideration of the promise that I should become his heir, all that was mortal and immortal of me, as discount for his post-obit. No doubt, as regarded those who made the bargain, it was what they call upon 'Change a heavy premium for money, but the liberality of the discounter let me off better than could be expected. My mother's brother, to whom I was turned over, albeit the ideal of a bon vivant, continued to pass a tolerably happy life with a decent heart under his ribs, in despite of the French axiom which declares "pour bien vivre il faut un mauvais cœur, et un bon estomac." Early knowledge of his peculiarities convinced me that, though eccentric, he was ui a kind spirit; and later experience induced a belief that his palate was not the only susceptible part about him. His theory of the female character (in reference to the youthful portion of the sex) was of the species called "transcendental." This bias of his philosophy he did not exhibit after the wont of most elderly gentlemen with protuberant ventricles and without calves to their legs, that is to say, by chucking under their chins all such errant damoisels as fortune may throw in their way-his practical developments never exceeding certain high flown ideas, broached before his particular friends (ever after his particular Madeira), touching woman's perfection, to be found only in the lays of the Troubadours. My knowledge of this (weakness I was going to say) amiable trait served as a talisman in all my difficulties. I had only to volunteer, when I wanted money, either to sacrifice myself to a girl I abhorred, or refuse her because I found it impossible to love, to insure a present supply. If the old gentle

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man's digestion happened to be good at the moment, he would say to the latter announcement-" Hyde, that's noble: shews your sense of delicacy and honour. How much do you want to stop that horsemonger's mouth?" Or, if his bile was out of order, he would probably observe, Sir, you want me to furnish you with an excuse for being a rascal. What, rob a woman, and call it marrying? Better pick my pocket, there is a fifty-pound note in it: not above stealing such a trifle as that, it may be." Thus, if I made a woman the stalking-horse, I was secure to "bag" him, and I was indifferent about the means, so that I had the money.

Morning succeeded the catastrophe of my wooing, as related in the last chapter, and I was tête-a-tête with my podagrous mentor in his dressing room, where I found him breaking his fast as independent of gout as the colossus of Rhodes. Beside the usual appliances of the morning meal, the table was furnished with game pies, potted fish, and all manner of savoury German compounds, the particular item under discussion at the instant being a most oleaginous stew, flavoured with sour kraut. His temper, when he began to eat, was none of the sweetest, there is reason for believing; but, probab./ on the principle of two negatives making an affirmative, the two acids left him tolerably composed. He bade me the courtesies common to an ante-meridian meeting with an excellent grace; inquired if it quite suited my idea of what was correct to partake of char in a preserved state before noon, or whether I should like a sweetbread boiled in milk." How the affair of the boiled sweetbreads reached him I could not guess; but, as he evidently was in possession of the general events of the past evening, I cared not how minutely the particulars might have reached him. After we had eaten, he rose from out of his cushions, and, passing an arm through mine, said, "As I suppose our sojourn here will not be a very long one (you had better order the carriage in an hour), I'll hobble myself a little into the tastes of this interesting family. What a pestilent practice is that of dryrubbing floors intended for human transit: hold me fast, for a fall here would break me into pieces like a China dish." We passed first from his chamber into a sort of gallery, hung about with banners and deadly machines, no doubt borne by the grim cavaliers, scowling in canvas from the walls, when they were in the flesh. Beneath a horrible-looking old caitiff, with the face of a wolf, there stood a ghastly instrument, in form of a two-edged sword, evidently of Eastern manufacture. The handle was a skull mounted in silver, and behind it was a tablet to inform the curious that it was taken by the gentleman with the lupus countenance from a certain Saxon bishop, whom he cut down at the head of his flock in the melée at Hastings against William the Conqueror.

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In like manner he went on reading the "History of England," written in similar hieroglyphics. Here might be seen the shaft that smote his son, William of the carrots-termed Rufus by tongues polite; there memorable mementoes of the annals of the Red and White Roses, until the houses of York and Lancaster were amalgamated in that mirror of monarchy, Henry VIII. Nor did the royal trophies of the gallery end here; there was a singular looking instrument, resembling a curry-comb, which tradition reported to have been introduced into England soon after the demise of Elizabeth--probably as an accompaniment to the Scotch fiddle brought in by her successor, James I.; a set of curious receipts for making honest women, being the original patents of nobility bestowed by Charles II. on certain ladies suspect of fame, who thereby were enabled to bequeath to our times a posterity, all of whom are right honourable men and matrons; and the pouncet-box, said to have been borne by William III. at the battle of the Boyne, as a precaution in the event of his coming to close quarters with King James.

The museum was also furnished with articles of historical virtue of later date. The collection was miscellaneous, but interesting; containing, among other remarkable relics, the identical snuffers wherewith Lord Camelford extinguished the journeyman tailor, at old Slaughter's coffee-house; the green pea which Brummel having unsuccessfully chased around his plate, caused that eminent philosopher to decide against all future attempts at vegetable diet; and the embroidered handkerchief which the great Lord Chesterfield was seen to apply to his eyes on hearing it suggested, that wigs and ruffles might one day cease to give assurance of a gentleman. As these reliquia, however, did not much affect the old gentleman, and as, for myself, I never had a taste for such illustrations of the past, I deposited my companion outside the house to cultivate the Dryads, while I sought the stables for the purpose of a recreation in natural history, aided by a meditative cigar. The state of the stud almost repented me of the hurry I was in to renounce the daughter of the house. The style of hunter peculiar to a first-rate Leicestershire stable has not improved during the last five-and-twenty years. He is a higher bred animal, but without the substance and character that stamp a horse of sterling sporting currency. The squire, of the fine Christian name, Mr. Beaulieu Turville, had an unexceptionable team for the field-not such highflyers as may now be seen at the Ram's Head, or Oadby-gate-but great stalwart steeds, with furlongs of stride, and power to get through a bull-finch, which nothing but a bird could get over. One, an inconceivable roan mare, with legs all white up to the knees and houghs, and a pair of wall-eyes in her head, might have justified a lover of woodcraft for mating with Medusa, had the

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