網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

4

PLATE II.

THE KEEPER'S COTTAGE.

A VIEW IN PATTERDALE, WESTMORELAND.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Neither artists nor their patrons have ever been loath to acknowledge the advantage landscapes receive from the introduction of animal and the human figure, which not only add materially to the beauties of the picture, but lead the spectator to form more defined ideas of the general characteristics of the country depicted. For instance, when the spot chosen as affording a good subject for the canvas is in the heart of a well cultivated, carefully enclosed district, a team at plough, a party of reapers, a group of cattle, or something of the kind, marking the occupation of the dwellers thereon, is what the sketcher seldom fails availing himself of, to draw the attention from the continued line of ridge and furrow, or flat meadow-land. Again, in a view of the fine rugged scenery of the coast, we are nearly sure to find a fisherman busy with his nets, some children crab-hunting, or the salesman's cart awaiting for its destined load; and when the artist climbs the hill or mountain-side, the solitary, unvarying, but contented lot of a shepherd life is not often forgotten or omitted. Of all pursuits, however, connected with rural or wild scenery, sporting and its followers are the painter's favourites. What would the troutstream be, picturesque as it is, without Piscator, rod in hand, at the side of it? How great an improvement is the but partially discovered pheasant-shooter to the heavy woodland scene! and the eager greyhound striding across the plain, or the gallant pack in full cry, makes an excellent break to the open and otherwise uninviting field for the pencil.

In all ages and all countries this feeling has been the same: Rubens, Wouvermans, and many more of the old masters, delighted to employ themselves on sporting subjects, and even their gods and goddesses continually remind us of their passion for the chase. In this country too, both past and present, we have always had some who rank highest in the art similarly inclined: amongst others Morland, with nature alone for his copy and his guide, shows in many of his pictures strong indications of the sportsman; and Landseer, whether his scene be laid in baronial hall, lady's bower, or highland glen, rarely suffers his to go forth without a like feature; and who will say he does not rank with the first? Of every description of field-sport, none affords greater scope for, and none is in more request with, the artist of the present day, than that which is enjoyed on the

[graphic][ocr errors]

mountain and the moor; it is an inexhaustible fund and full of everpleasing variety. The many picturesque situations of the classically clad deer-stalker or grouse-shooter never tire either the hand of the workman or the eye of his employer; every movement has in itself the material for a picture-from the start at sun-rise, to the return to "the keeper's lodge," loaded with the spoil, and fatigued with the exertions of the day. We have already observed, that figures are of no little service in defining the nature of a locality; and who will venture to say that our keeper's lodge, with the group in front of it, and the distant view of " mountain and of flood," does not tell its own story? Every feature assists us in deciding on the habits and occupations of the inhabitants: the rough deer-hound slaking his thirst "with his brave foeman side by side:" the gude mon relieving his quiet shelty of the last brace of grouse, while one lassie stands ready to receive them, another to receive him; the sportsman approaching, the vermin nailed to the side of the cot-one and all proclaim the keeper's labours o'er-his house and home.

Nearly all our best keepers having necessarily risen from the ranks, are too apt, like most ignorant men, to entertain a feeling very like contempt for any who are not proficient in the noble art of shooting flying; it would be better, however, at times even for themselves, were they not quite so ready to express it, as will be seen by the following anecdote, for the truth of which we can vouch-A gentleman in Kent, one evening in October, ordered his keeper to be in readiness on the following morning to accompany a friend who was coming from London for a day's sport. Of course John met the City sportsman in obedience to his orders; but, having already witnessed the prowess of two or three London friends, not in the best of humours, and on their way to the ground, took little trouble to conceal the poor opinion he conceived of the new comer's capabilities. This the stranger, a member of Gray's Inn, and as sharp a fellow as most of the sharp ones in that too well-known building, was not long in discovering; and, being really equal to marking a dozen penny-pieces in succession, or bringing down a snipe with each barrel, quickly determined to play upon the self-satisfied conceit of his sporting mentor. With this view he fired his gun off at every time but the right, or never fired at all for want of a cap; wished to know what the deuce was the matter with the dogs when they pointed, and, in short, played Mr. Winkle with such success, that the keeper, as he afterwards confessed, set him down in his own mind as 66 a natural born fool." After an hour or two spent in this manner, he declared himself tired of the sport, and the keeper having been long disgusted, they marched off to an ale-house for refreshment; but on their way thither the official enquired if the gentleman had been at the expense of taking out a certificate, presuming, moreover, that he had not. "A certificate," repeated the other, with wellassumed ignorance, “O dear yes; I have got a wooden one!" at the same time pulling a large gun-screw out of his pocket. "A wooden certificate! Ha, ha, ha!" screamed his Cicerone; and this capital joke, as he thought it, so much improved his temper that, after lunch, he consented to give the cockney another trial. A point is soon

made to a stray bird--bang! down he comes-dead! "Well, to be sure, sir," says John, as he picks it up, "the beer certainly works wonders." Another point, and up rises a cock-pheasant-bang!no sooner up than down. John begins to open his eyes a little, but pockets him without a word. A third attempt, and up get a whole covey-bang!-two birds down for the first barrel, and wheeling round-bang again!-another bird tells the effect of the second. The countryman now saw through the whole game as clear as day, and, looking his hitherto despised companion full in the face as he bagged the leash, slowly articulated "d-n your wooden

certificate."

Patterdale-so judiciously chosen by our artist for a display of his handiwork-is, we need scarcely say, situated in the very heart of the lakes, or, as the inhabitants and tourists more classically term them, lochs. And let us now hear an enthusiastic admirer of them (Mr. Stoddart) give vent to a rhapsody on the very name, in the following strain:

"Lochs! we love the word lochs, as applied to those hill-girdled expanses which decorate our native land. Lake is too tame a designation-a shallow epithet. It has nothing to do with mountains and precipices, heaths and forests. Beautiful it may be, very beautiful! Windermere is very beautiful; Buttermere, Ullswater, and Conistor, are very beautiful. Nay, in truth they are of a higher nature than beautiful, for these all lie among hills-but not Scottish hills; not the unplanted places-dwellings of the storm and the eagle!"

Of these beautiful, very beautiful lochs, Ullswater lends its aid to increase the picturesque appearance of our keeper's cottage. It has been urged, as an objection to some sports, that we sacrifice nearly every other feeling to the pursuit of them; but this could never for a moment be suggested, much more proved, against such as spend their leisure amidst the many and never-ending pleasures of the lakes. Here we see, from the stricken deer before us, the stalker may follow his dangerous, and consequently doubly-exciting chase; while the flyfisher may exercise his skill in alluring the trout from the well-stocked streams, or feast on the rare and highly-prized char found in the Ullswater and other lakes. Here, we repeat, the painter sees at every turu ample subject for his genius, and the poet for his muse. Here the great "Wizard of the North" delighted to ramble" in his sporting jacket;" and when far distant from them, "the memory of the past renew" by his glowing descriptions of the scenes and sports he had enjoyed. We have applied the epithet "never-ending" to the pleasure of the lakes, and, on consideration, we feel by no means inclined to withdraw it; for, let the visitor direct his course towards them at any season, he will never find them void of attractions. In the spring, fishing may be had, such as perhaps may be equalled, but never excelled. In summer's heat, where could the lover with his bride fix on a more romantic spot for spending the honeymoon? And do not grousing and deer-stalking follow in the autumn, even to the close of the year? In fine, the lakes of Cumberland and Westmoreland are justly regarded as containing some of the most majestic scenery in Britain's isle.

« 上一頁繼續 »