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why it wont hold our boots steadily! 0, Lord, Lord !--and ourselves gazetted last Friday to an ensigncy-seventeen years of ageand obliged to be carried to bed in a house we were never in before in our life. O, bedclothes, cover us! Dido, devour us!”
Reader-yes, my good fellow, it is yourself we are speaking todid you ever drink the “ Glorious, pious, and immortal memory?" No, we dare say not-then pray, sir, don't laugh at us. If you know nothing about it, we will enlighten your ideas on the subject.
The toast is first proposed, and repeated by the host or person at the foot of the table; and then goes all round, each one saying it in his turn; and if you miss one word of it, you must begin again, draining a tumbler of whisky-punch each time, by way of refreshing your memory, until you are perfect. Now, as this said toast takes upwards of a minute in repeating, it is not very easily committed to memory ; and by the time that you have imbibed the sixth glass of whiskytoddy, you get such a conglomerated idea of " ram'd”—“ crammed” —"wooden brogues”-“kicks”—“great guns”-and “ devils”—that the only plan to escape utter distraction and “ confusion worse confounded” is to get drunk at once. Well, to proceed
One by one, things begin to “ dawn” on our bewildered brain ; we perfectly remember having boasted how many pigeons we had shot the last time we were at the Red House.
Ay, we now distinctly recollect having said that we would ride-shoot-row-drive-and Heaven knows what beside—against any man in Ireland ; and now the hour of trial is at hand. Slowly and sadly we perform the operations of the toilet, Dido keeping us company for the apparent intention of seeing we don't“ bolt”; and at last,“ screwing our courage to the sticking place,” we descend to the breakfast room, taking more affectionate notice of Dido by the way (neither she nor ourselves knew the reason why) than ever we did of our dearest relation.
What moral courage we evinced as we turned the handle of the door, and stood unabashed in the presence of the household! If a “ virgin blush”—for it was our first case of topheaviness-rose to our cheeks, why, our cheeks must answer for it, not ourselves; but in five seconds, at all events, it was dispelled, and we were endeavouring to look as grave as a real judge who had a most ferocious sentence to deliver.
There was a twinkling smile-so we fancied-in the face of each as the salutations of the morning passed. Alas! we little knew how common such occurrences were in that part of the world, and that by what we had done we had established a good character for ourselves in the eyes of our hospitable entertainers.
How poor a term is that word “ hospitable” for our“ Squire” and his family! Irish hospitality must be experienced to be appreciated; nothing in England, Wales, or Scotland, approaches to it. is-in short we can't say what it is, so there's an end of it.
In vain for us the fried potatoes (the very name put us in mind of potations) smoked upon the table ; in vain the odoriferous fumes of the coffee fell upon our senses; in vain for us was the animal slaughtered who once was master of that huge sirloin on the side-board ; equally in vain did we urge the necessity of our immediate return to
the colonel's (where we were staying on a visit) to let him know that we were not everlastingly lost, or the horse either.
The car had been ordered, the dogs and guns were all in readiness, the particular mountains specified that were to be shot over, and no excuse whatever against going to be considered good, so-
“ Please, gentlemen, and here's Teddy at the door with the car, and he says that the old horse is somewhat fresh from want of work, and he'd trouble you to be as quick as convenient.”
A very few minutes saw us seated in the car, and driving off for the Sligo mountains, accompanied by two Russian setters, “ Dido," and a “ varmint”-looking heterogeneous specimen of “ caninity” –Teddy being dressed in "half-and-half ”sort of toggery, so that he could take his station with the fox-hounds or the bogtrotters on the shortest possible notice.
It was one of those days that one meets with in the North of Ireland, even in August; a cold, raw, undetermined sort of day, that made the mountains look doubly blue, and at the same time imparted some of that same colour to the tip of the sportsman's nose, when our party“ broke cover," and exchanged the jolting of the roads for a fine velvet turf. Alas, alas! we thought the whole mountain was covered with such, and jogged on at our ease accordingly, until hey! presto! Where? Help! Murder! Fire !
The next minute we were undergoing the process of being dragged out of the bog by half a dozen of our party, who were instructing us how to hop” from one little hillock to another, and on no account to step between unless we wished to vanish altogether from the face of the earth. Hop, indeed--why, 'twould puzzle an opera dancerand to shoot, hopping—that was the climax.
However, there was no help for it, so we endeavoured to get along by“ hopping,” every now and then sending our “ Manton” a “fearful purl" several yards a head of us. were doing their work beautifully, the other dogs backing them as stanchly as if they were of the same breed.
“ Look at them! all four! there's a picture for you! Talk of your Rubenses! Each dog crouched at a corner of an imaginary square! Now, steadyrehroo (mark !)-bang-bang! With what a flop the plump bird
the heather!” How we wish that we had caused it; however, we see there is no work to be done by us to-day, so we had better make our minds to look on at the others.
The grouse on the Irish mountains are generally found single or in pairs, very seldom in packs; which makes it to our mind more desirable sport than in Scotland, and, moreover, the pursuit of the game gives it a double excitement from the fatigue and exertion it requires.
" Halloa! stop, stop! Bob! Harry! Charley! for Heaven's sake come here. “Look what we've found! It's a young earthquake. Look at the smoke-look at ! ! !"—(we nearly put our foot into it.)
“Why, bravo! Skirmisher has scented ' a still.'”
Yes, reader, we had scented a still, and right glad were we that we had done so; we had walked at least a dozen miles over the mountain, in a diabolical temper with ourselves because we were debarred from shooting, and moreover we were parched with thirst from ex
In the mean time our setters
ertion and the overnight's convivialities combined; so the “ still” was gallantly besieged by the whole party, and having opened a hole in the top, one of our party descended and brought up some of the spirit warm from the distilling-tub, or whatever it is called, leaving a lawful half-crown in its place. Before or since, never tasted we anything so delicious; surely we shall be able to "shoot hopping" after an application of this nectar! No, we won't call it nectar, as we nevertasted that superlunary fluid, and we cannot imagine it to be half as good as native" poteen" straight from the“ still.”
Refreshed in mind and body by its exhilirating influence, our work comes doubly light to us, and we go steadily to“ business.”
“Now, sir, and if ye'll come here, its a purty shot you'll get-the ould bitch is setting beautifully.”
Cautiously we go round to the desired spot; we don't care now if the earth does swallow us, so that we do get a shot. Steady! We had almost disappeared before that desirable object was attained. Now-now then and from close to our feet a magnificent bird mounts into air, sending us almost on our back with surprise, as the tip of its wing nearly gives us a blow on the nose. Now “ the eyes of Ireland are upon us," although we are not repealers—bang ! hurra! Can't we shoot grouse? Glorious whiskey! It was all owing to you that we did not miss our bird altogether. “Bag him, Teddy."
How splendid does the scenery become all at once to us!-the farstretching blue mountains—the sparkling sea in the horizon-the fresh breeze playing on our heated cheek
“ Beautiful! How beautiful is all this visible world,
How glorious in its action and itself.” (How poetic that “ drop of the cratur” has made us to be sure!) In short, who could not be happy while he takes a temporary leave of the world on the Sligo hills in pursuit of grouse-let alone whiskystills altogether? We envy not the man whose heart would not expand with the prospect before him; but it's getting dark already; why it cannot be so late—so very late? Just seven positively; we must be returning to dinner—and turning out our game on the heather, we find that between us we muster ten brace and a half of birds--an excellent day's work for Sligo—and off we trot home.
Shall we describe that home? No, we hate descriptions, and have no doubt that the reader, like ourselves, always “ skips” them when they come in his way; but if he has read Sir Walter Scott's “ Rob Roy," he has the most faithful picture of our “home” in “ Oshaldes, ton Hall,” except that our hall is built of real stone and mortar, and contains live specimens of mortality,“ brave and fair”—he must task his memory of the work in question to supply the rest.
On our return we find that “ the horse" had been returned to the Colonel, with a notification that ourselves would not return for a fortnight, and a request that our portmanteau should be forwarded “per bearer;" and never shall we forget the happy, happy fourteen days we spent beneath the roof
“ Of that fine old Irish gentleman,"
One of the olden time."
THE HORSE AND HIS MANAGEMENT AT HOME
BY H. D. RICHARDSON, s.E.R.P.S.E.
Spain was celebrated at a very early period for a breed of horses which owed their origin to Moorish blood, and even during the days of Roman power, Calpe, the modern Gibraltar, was celebrated for a breed of horses superior to any other European variety, and only second in point of excellence to the Arabian. The Spanish horse is extremely handsome in his shape, well knit at the joints, and easy and graceful in his action. His disposition is playful, free from vice, and most affectionate to his master. The Andalusians are considered the best now-a-days, and are in great request as chargers. Pliny's description of the jennet marks them to be the same animals at the present day as they were in his time, and he calls them “Thieldones," or “ tellers of their steps.”, Justin, in describing the Lusitanian steeds, calls them swift as the wind.”
Cordova, in Catalonia, was once famous for its horses, but they are now seemingly much degenerated, as indeed may be said of all Spanish horses; and the evident reason of this falling off is the depravity of taste exhibited by Spanish breeders, who value their horses for those very points that would make any English sportsman dismiss them from his stud—viz., fore-legs far back, almost under the belly; shoulders heavy and forward ; and tail set so low as always to be squeezed close to the hams. The Spanish jockeys never suffer their horses to lie down, but keep them constantly standing on a clean pavement, with their feet chained to the ground. Within the last few years, however, I am happy to be able to say, that a healthy reaction seems to have begun to take place in the taste of Spanish jockeys, and that they are striving to restore them to their former high character, by careful breeding, and by introducing everywhere Andalusian stallions. What I have said of Spain and its horses extends likewise to Portugal.
The Italian horse has, like the Spanish, degenerated in a sad degree, but even worse; few being to be seen of any value, and those used in the public conveyances being of a wretched description and miserable appearance.
There are, however, still some fast horses to be met with in Rome, kept for racing on the Corso. These races take place during the Carnival
, and commence about dusk. As soon as they are announced, the coaches, cabriolets, and carriages of every kind are drawn up in lines on each side of the street, leaving a space in the middle for the racers to pass through. Five or six horses are trained expressly for this diversion. They are drawn up abreast in the Piazza del Popolo, exactly where the Corso or race-street begins.
Certain balls, with little sharp spikes, are hung along their sides, which serve as spurs; pieces of tinfoil are also fastened to their hinder parts, which make a hissing noise as they run, and frighten them forward. As soon as they begin to run, these horses, by their impatience to be off, show that they understand what is required of them, and take as much pleasure as the spectators in the sport. A broad piece of canvas is spread across the entrance of the street to prevent their starting too soon, and the dropping of this is the signal for the race to begin. The horses fly off together, and, without riders, exert themselves to the utmost, excited by the deafening shouts of the populace, and spurred by emulation. They run the whole length of the Corso, and the victor is rewarded, or rather his owner, with a certain quantity of fine purple or scarlet cloth.
At Ancona a gun is fired when the horses start, in order to warn those at the far end of the course to get ont of their way and to be ready to receive them; and when they arrive half-way, another; and again another, on the victor passing the goal or winning-post.
Macgill, in his amusing ®“Travels in Italy," mentions a very curious and laughable circumstance in connection with these races, which took place at Ancona on an occasion of this nature. “To guard the course, a great number of Roman soldiers, under arms, are generally ranged on each side of it. The morning after the first race, the wind blew from the north and was rather cold. I was sitting with his Excellency the Governor, Signor Vidoni, when a messenger arrived from the general, with his compliments, requesting that the race might be deferred till another day, as he thought the weather too cold to put his troops under arms. The Governor replied to him, that, “As the weather was not too cold for the ladies, he thought it was not too much so for Roman soldiers. I have seen, on a day which only threatened rain, a guard of Roman soldiers turn out, every one of whom had an umbrella under his arm, the drummer only excepted."* Shades of Cæsar and Brutus ! could ye have witnessed this, what would not have been your
emotions ? could
ye have foreseen such effeminacy as about to distinguish the descendants of the masters of the world,” what would have been your dying pangs? Alas! alas ! for Rome and her present feeble, woman
The Corso is about 856 toises in length, and it has been satisfactorily observed by means of a stop-watch, that the horses, usually small Barbs, have run this distance in 141 seconds, or about the rate of 37 feet in a second ; a rate of going by no means despicable, considering the small size and consequent short stretch of the racers, which places them on a par with any second-rate English racer.
The length of the Italian course is, however, but about an English mile, while that of Newmarket is four-a space too long for any horse to run at the same speed at which he started; and yet this has often been run at the average rate of 42 feet in the second. Childers ran a mile in a minute, which is at the rate of 82 feet in a second! so has Stirling been said to do; and these were mounted, while the Italian racers had only to carry themselves.
Macgill's “ Travels in Italy," vol 1, p. 22.