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with every natural anxiety to get through before you, they invariably give you fair play. I can't say as much for our neighbours. Your civility in opening a gate is generally rewarded by being pushed over it; and a friend of mine, to whom it has twice happened, finds the fencing far less dangerous.
You know our master? if not, he's the beau ideal of a fashionable sportsman--good-looking, cheerful, well-dressed, without an atom of dandyism, and sufficiently zealous without forgetting the “gentleman;" he hunts his own hounds without displaying the apathetic indifference too common amongst sportsmen of the present day, or the six o'clock-rising, beef-and-beer-eating boisterousness of the old school. There's one little change in his appearance this year, and it seems to have been commented upon by a very elegant and distinguished writer to the N-H- I am sure you will appreciate the extract :-“There were a good sprinkling of gentlemen to meet the worthy master, George Payne, Esq., who is too well known to require comment, except sporting a new cap, which is far preferable to a tile when hunting ; but I must say that gentleman looks best in a castor, at least, appeared so to me.” What a fortunate man George Payne is to have some public character to tell him how to dress, and in such good English too! How like it sounds to “ Which it are, in courge, accordinge!" of Mrs. Gamp. He's changed his hat and his stud : the latter change is not remarked upon; so I suppose Mr. Payne forgot to consult the county upon his change of " castor," and the gentleman feels aggrieved. The change of stud is, I believe, for the better, though one excellent horse, John Bull, is gone out of it, not to return. His place is supplied by the Merry Shepherd, Oscar, Wandering Jew, and others, to whom I wish a long season and a merry one.
There's another class of persons here who are very fond of the master the farmers, the yeomen of Northamptonshire : no inconsiderable body. They're all of them theoretical sportsmen, many of them practical : not one that does not feel disappointed at his gorse being drawn blank; many that love to see reynard killed; a few that make him more than an occasional present from their poultryyard. One of them sung me a song the other day, and I made interest with a sporting tradesman to get me a copy: here it is :
“ A tumbler of punch to the health of George Payne !
Come drink, my brave yeomen, the toast :
For the man that's a whole county's boast.
Rich and poor will both bid him God speed !'
Who's the foxhunter's friend at his need.
" There's no brook that's too wide, and no bullfinch too high,
When he settles himself in his seat,
And for pace, sir, he cannot be beat.
And Lilburne resounds to his voice,
George Payne is the winner for choice.'
" In a country all grass, and where foxes abound,
And with farmers so fond of the sport,
Or forget one of such a good sort.'
And the first in the flight is George Payne-
We shall know where to find him again." The gentleman who wrote that has been kissing the Blarney Stone to some purpose; but the fact is, that he deserves everything that can be said of him, for the country was actually begging, and would have gone begging some time longer but for Mr. Payne's liberality. May he be well supported, for he richly deserves it. I
suppose you want to know something of the sport this month : well, first of all, it is only the end of the first month; and secondly, nothing can be so horrid as the description of a run, unless well told; what must the description of a whole month's runs be? Every now and then a penny-a-liner treats “Bell's Life," or the “Era” to " another day with the Pytchley,” or “the Pytchley again,” in which he mistakes the names of all the covers, and describes some worthy who dropt upon the hounds from no one knows where, in crossing a turnpike road, as having led through the run. Lord' Orford must have been surprised, if not gratified, to find the other day that “the Honourable F. Villiers went, like a pigeon, up to this point, and that his lordship then took up the running with his usual good judgment and perseverance.” Lord Alford, for whom it was intended, modestly enough declines standing godfather, not having been first at any time in a run which nobody saw. It was a most wonderfully fine thing, and certainly as little seen as any run upon record, excepting one I heard of in Leicestershire (true or false, I know not), when Lord Gardner caught sight of the hounds twice in half an hour, and the rest of the field “nowhere.” The meet was Kelmarsh, the seat of Lord Bateman--not he so celebrated in song, “whó shipped his self all aboard of a ship”—but a gentleman who prefers "shipping his self all aboard of a saddle.” From Kelmarsh gorse a fox went away to Naseby, twenty minutes too fast for anything but good men and good horses. Having run him to ground, Waterloo cover afforded another fox, and a good one; this is almost the finest country in England. From there to Braybrooke, and on to Marston Wood, is no joke with a scent breast high. Mr. Payne found it matter of great difficulty to get through it: Lords Henley and Alford picked their way at no inconsiderable distance from the pack: accident assisted the Honourable F. Villiers to the end of the run. Mr. Bevan was obliged occasionally to look for a light place in the fences; and his horse's hind legs stuck so very ominously in the bank of the brook which he came at first, that it gave no great encouragement to Lord Henley and about two others who were behind him, though his lordship really got over very well. Every description of difficult fence presents itself in this formidable country; and at almost the beginning of the run an awful rail very nearly settled the business. Mr. Bevan, however, got over it, and Mr. Villiers hit it so hard as to loosen it. This gladdened the hearts of his successors; though I believe I've told you every one who saw the run at all, and they only at a distance.
Now don't let this descriptiou frighten you: you'd have been in the crowd, and society is a great blessing. Nothing is so horrid as jumping into a field quite alone, and seeing no earthly way to get out again. I'd rather be in a pond with a dozen people. When you come down here you'll probably see a tall, good-looking man, with a seat rather far back for my taste. If you want to make his acquaintance (and you will lose a very great pleasure if you do not do so), ask him to be so good as to show you the way home. His friendship will not be obtained quite unconditionally ; but I think it well worth the money. You know I like a good jumper: I thought I had one; and after a moderate day's sport, I turned to go home. I applied to the gentleman whose good-tempered expression of face had beguiled me into a belief in his singleness of purpose and extreme honesty of heart." “Certainly, with pleasure; I go your way, and shall be happy to
At the next village we found his hack-a useful-looking, half-bred mare, no beauty, but with length and strength. We went a short distance along the road, amusing each other dulcibus alloquiis, and amongst other things I was a little diffuse on the merits of my horse. “Oh! I'm on a hack," said my conductor—“a fair beast, and good jumper enough; but, of course, not like your hunter. Í know a short road through these gates, at least I may make a mistake as to a field; but of course we can manage to get along over a fence or two." Could the most unreasonable man object? We turned through the gate to the right, another gate and another. Distrust, if it ever existed, was lulled to sleep. "This little fence, a mere gap.” “Certainly, shall I go first?" " As you please.". Very good : two
but much increasing in size: in fact, the increase in size was so rapid that I should have smelt a rat, only my companion was so agreeable, and laughed and talked and praised Highflyer so much, I couldn't get away from him. The fourth gap was outrageous, and I nearly got a cropper-a wide ditch, with earth scraped out, and festooning the taking-off side, with a tightly laid hedge on the top of a bank. Gap, indeed! it would have been out of the kitchen-garden of the giant Blunderbore, of nursemaid recollections. We were now going at a moderate gallop, which here my friend increased to a very respectable hunting pace. He scarcely deigned to look round at me, though I've since heard bim say he was positively afraid. The field we were in was a large one, half a mile long, with a most auspicious-looking white gate at the top. My joy knew no bounds, for it was now anything but light enough for a steeple-chase. Straight on went my leader. I was just able to see his mare make what appeared in the distance a jump, when I observed, for the first time, a row of willows lower down in the field. A row of willows means a brook: there was no time for waiting ; my companion surveyed me from the opposite rising, though still going on. What was to be done?-a stranger in a strange land. Stand still ?-Impossible! Go back ?- Worse and worse ! Now I mentally shook my fist at him, and corporeally ground my teeth, as I stuck my hat on firmly. It might be a mere grip! the thought was balm to my wounded spirit. Just then we neared it, and -oh! horror of horrors ! fifteen feet of water, if an inch. It was too late to stop; and we went comfortably into the middle. I was soon out, and away I went after my friend. He waited for me at the gate, and positively pretended not
more little gaps,
to know that I'd been in the water ! “ There is but one more fence, and I really am so sorry.” “Oh! come;" said I, “ that's really—" and I deliberately pulled up. The absurdity of our situation seemed to strike him much more forcibly than it did me. “There's the gate, by Jove!” said he. “Well, l’il be hanged if it isn't locked !” “Í don't care; it's pitch dark, and I shan't ride at the fence.” ne must ;" said he, grinning like an ogre: and we did, and got home safely; and I've forgiven him, which entitles me to rank as a Christian-on the score of charity, at all events. And when you come you may make a very agreeable acquaintance, but it must be at the expense of a little schooling.
By the way—I've nearly filled the sheet of paper; and you see we've had very good sport altogether through November, from Sulby, Kelmarsh, Braybrooke, Misterton, Crick, and other places, and the county is flourishing. Lord Clifden is at Brix worth ; Sir Thomas Hesketh has taken Misterton; Lord Henley has built some capital stabling at Watford for the accommodation of strangers : something is said about their being occupied shortly. Before I finish, however, I must tell you of a nice little thing we had from Crick; because it is rather a favourite meet, and we generally have sport there. The principal features of the village are a large old half-dismantled looking inn, and which must be so except on hunting mornings; a linendraper's shop at the corner, and the fine old church, one of the “ lions" of the county. The inn-yard is crowded with horses and grooms: before it are the hounds, with the servants awaiting their master, and giving an occasional flank to a quarrelsome hound, and a touch of their cap to some well-known habitué of the Pytchley, as he comes into the town. The old clock strikes quarter to eleven, and the clear distinct note still rings on the ear, when George Payne rounds the corner by the linendraper's shop, in company with Lord and Lady H-nl-y, his host and hostess of the previous evening. A minute later, and a pair of very neat ponies, ridden by a postilion, drive round the same corner, bringing guests from Watford Court in her ladyship’s pony carriage. The village fills from all sides, and there are four roads to it. The er end is almost blocked up by a phaeton from Fawsley, with R-n-d K-11-y and his party, who, if he gets well away from the crowd at Crick gorse, will go as straight as it's possible for man to go. Under favourable circumstances there is no better man to hounds in the county. Who's this on a hot hack, just come from the station ? Lord S-th-e, after his victory at Worcester : and that's Lord Howth's horse he's on--only 710 guineas' worth, Mr. and Mrs. Bn, Captain H-b-t, of Bilton Grange, Lord B-m-n, T--n H-g-s, and W-It-rL-r--th from the Buckinghamshire country, crowds of officers from Birmingham and Northampton, Lord C–fd-n, Sir Thomas H—th, and on the outskirts about seventy more in red, black, and brown, positively too modest to get into the middle of the village; whilst in the centre of all the nobs sits “snob,” talking to nobody, caring for nothing ; but you don't know what snob is. You've read of Nimrod's snob in that valuable production the “N. S. M.;" but then he was a totally different fellow. He went at all the big places, and was asked to all the big places. Our snob never rides at a big place, and is asked nowhere, except to get out of the way when he stands trying to look through something he's afraid to jump over. He wears a cap and a dirty face under, as if he fell asleep in his chair last night, and forgot to wash when he got up in the morning. He has a detestably-stained pink, badly cleaned leathers, and highly wrinkled and lowly polished boots. He rides a seedy chesnut, with some good shape about him, but no flesh, no fore-legs, and ragged hips ; and no wonder, for he does five days a fortnight. This is our snob: surely he supplies the
NH with an account of our runs, for as he never takes part in them, perhaps he sees them the better-mind free from anxiety and his body from danger. They've found a fox in the gorse: a ring to the village again, and three gentlemen down out of the twelve who are with them in the three first fences: a slight check at the village, and a fine opportunity for the roadsters, for away we go at a rattling pace again, and run into the varmint on Lord Henley's lawn at Watford. Everybody was first some part of the way; but whether in the road, or over the grass, is so invidious a question that it is never put. The pony-carriage had the best of it along the road certainly; but it happened to be the shortest road, we having done the distance in about thirty-five minutes across the country. An excellent luncheon recompensed me for being nearly ridden over at the third fence: it must have been accidental, as I have not an enemy in the world. My kindest regards to your mother; and pray take care of yourself at this dangerous season of the year. Burn this for what would “snob” say if he saw it: and believe me,
Yours very faithfully,
THE HIGH-METTLED RACER.
PLATE VIII.-THE ROAD.
ENGRAVED BY E. HACKER, FROM A PAINTING BY J. F. HERRING, SEN.
“And when the thorough-bred one did settle down to his trot, his snorting could be heard by the passengers, being as much as to say, 'I was not born a slave.' In fact, as the proprietor observed, he had been a very fair plate horse in his time.”_"THE ROAD," BY NIMROD.
The eighth event in the life of a race-horse belongs entirely to one certain period. Not very many years since, and the system of travelling was altogether too slow to allow him to make one at it; while in a very few years hence he will be as totally incapacitated from just the reverse cause. We have chosen, in fact, an era for dating from, that lets him down as gently and comfortably as possible. There are, or were, few more regular or fairer portions than that of a good coach-horse; it was a service always well paid for, and, of the two, rather under than over marked. Though undoubtedly deprived of a