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young, a fierce passion-in the heart of the old, a passion still, but subdued and tamed down without having been much dulled or deadened by various experience of all the mysteries of the calling, and by the gradual subsiding of all impetuous impulses in the frames of all mortal men, beyond, perhaps, three-score, when the blackest head will be becoming grey, the most nervous knee less firmly knit, the most steely-springed instep less elastic, the keenest eye less of a far seeker, and above all, the most boiling heart less like a cauldron or a crater ; yea, the whole man subject to some dimness or decay, and consequently the whole duty of man, like the new edition of a book, from which many passages that formed the chief story of the editio princeps have been expunged, the whole character of the style corrected without having been thereby improved. Just like the later editions of the “Pleasures of Imagination, which were written by Akenside when he was about twenty-one, and altered by him at forty, to the exclusion, or destruction, of many most splendid acitia; by which process the poem, in our humble opinion, was shorn of its brightest beams, and suffered disasters, twilight and eclipse. John Wilson is somewhat long winded: but when he comes to the point you find him always to the purpose, e. g. Now seeing that such pastimes are in number almost infinite, and infinite the varieties of human character, pray what is there at all surprising in your being madly fond of shooting—and your brother Tom just as foolish about fishing-and cousin Jack perfectly insane about fox-hunting ; while the old gentleman, your father, in spite of wind and weather, perennial gout, and annual apoplexy, goes a coursing of the white tipped hare, on the bleak Yorkshire wolds? And uncle Ben, as if just escaped from Bedlam or St. Luke's, with Dr. Haslam at his heels, or within a few hundred yards' start of Dr. Warburton, is seen galloping, in a Welsh wig and strange apparel, in the rear of a pack of Lilliputian beagles, all barking as if they were as mad as their master, supposed to be in chase of an invisible animal, who keeps eternally doubling in field and forest, “still hoped for, never seen.”
Thus is the prepossession, and eke the pursuit still “ remote from cities ;" but as the arts of peace march, before them flee the boon pastimes of flood and field, for woodcraft is in some sort the type of war. Yet it is not completely routed, and leaving to posterity the care of its own cares, and the cultivation of its proper pleasures, let us, as behoves men, in every interpretation of the term, enjoy the good within our reach. It is our duty to use all precaution for the preservation and promotion of health, and not only is it a more agreeable way to“ hunt in fields” for it but a more probable prospect of a find, than may be expected from feeing the doctor; and not only is the hope “cure alone" sufficient to repay the search, but the great whet to enjoyment. By ’re Lady, it is right goodly that the season is so close at hand. I have written myself into an appetite for a burst, that will not brook long waiting. Turn then a whole wilderness of foxes afoot
“My great desire Had stomach for them all!"
All hail, November ! long wished for, a hundred times welcome, new thou art come. Let the winds blow, and crack their cheeks, what cares
the fox-hunter, so long as he hears that tocsin of the soul, the horn, which heralds “ gone-away" from twenty acres of woodland for twenty miles of open, with a preponderance of grass? Praise to the goddess of the Ephesians, the summer of our discontent is over : what long days there are between Easter and Michaelmas !
Ut nox longa quibus mentitur amica diesque
Long as to him who works for debt the day:
In such a frame of spirit, with a sound heart in corpore sano, only conceive yourself in the Crick country, with the Pytchley snugly laid under your lee, a holding scent, and a nag uuder you that knows not what it is to compound, whatever the pace.
Foxhunting is becoming a very expensive amusement, We do not hesitate to say that some countries pay more for preserving foxes and earth-stopping than kept our forefathers a good useful “cry of dogs" all the year round. Leicestershire cover rent, we have heard stated, at from a thousand to twelve hundred a-year. This may or may not be the case ; though if it be, we can only say, the sooner half the covers are stubbed the better, If Sir Harry Goodricke spent six thousand a-year, and Sir Bellingham Graham had, as reported, a subscription of four thousand a-year when he hunted it about twenty years ago, we might even put down a larger sum than twelve hundred pounds for cover rent : and if so, we can only say that land in Leicestershire must be very valuable We have it, however, in black and white, in the authority of Mr. Delmè Radcliffe, who hunted the country, that in the metropolitan county of Herts some three hundred a-year is paid for what may be called the mere good will of the keepers towards foxes. This is all artificial ; and the more artificial things become, the more expensive they grow. Indeed, if population and agricultural improvement keep pace during the next half century with the increase and improvement of the last half century, hunting will be mere matter of history in half the counties in England, Leicestershire is now no more like what Leicestershire was in Mr. Meynell's time than is Salisbury Plain like the Vale of Blackmoor at the present day. The richer land becomes, either by drainage or other artificial means, and the larger crops it grows, the likelier it is to be subdivided ; and there is little doubt that many of the large fields we still see, parts of common land enclosed within the present century, will gradually become smaller and smaller as the land becomes richer and more valuable, until hunting will be a sort of “hopping in and out" thing all day.
When Mr. Wilkins left, Mr. Payne, of Sulby, came to the rescue, and he continued at the head of the establishment till 1837-8. A
more proper master of foxhounds for the county of Northampton could not be. Mr. Payne is in every sense of the term a sportsman, and in his social capacity certainly as generally popular as any man of his time. He combines every quality for a M. F. H.—birth, condition, great local influence, and large local possessions. Jack Stevens still remained ; but he died soon after Mr. Payne's resignation, in the service of Lord Chesterfield, then master of the Pytchley. Will Derry, thereupon, became huntsman, and with Webb and Ball as whips, the noble lord of Bretby took the field in this crack country in fitting array. The mise en scene was magnificent : his stud was perfect, and almost without a limit, and it was no uncommon thing to see five-hundred men at a favourite meet. At this time Nimrod wrote, on a flying visit to Northampton :-"I had no opportunity of seeing the entire stud of Lord Chesterfield, but I heard from good judges that I should have seen about forty hunters, very superior to those generally found in any one man's stables.” This nobleman reigned for two brilliant seasons at the head of the Pytchley, and once more the country went a-begging.
Nobody was desirous of volunteering to be my Lord Chesterfield's foil ; and as no one could hope to be his rival, or even to smell at the same nosegay, matters were in a desperate condition when Mr. Smith, of the Craven, at the last moment undertook to form an administration. He certainly put his best leg foremost, and under every disadvantage he opened the campaign. It was a hazardous experiment—if not quite a forlorn hope. It was all very well for Cato to affect the victa causa, but it was an affair that might have given better men pause that entering at such fearful odds on the Pytchley woodcraft. However, with a spirit full of confidence in his own resources, this did the ex-master of the Craven, resolved to make up in out-and-out persevering sport for any want of eclat in the materiel of his establishment. With every difficulty to contend with ; in the face of abated style and depreciated appearance, Mr. Smith went to work with a will that soon found its way to many a whoo-whoop. He proved himself in Northamptonshire quite as relentless a foe to the fox as in Berkshire, and breasting the storm he continued at the head of the Pytchley for two seasons.
He was then beaten, and so would the country have been but for the sinews of war most liberally furnished by Lord Cardigan. That nobleman, it was understood, proposed to give to the country one of the most accomplished sportsmen that had ever shone in it or over it ; but for some local reasons the plan fell to the ground, and for a space Sir Francis Holyoake became master of the Pytchley. Peradventure it has at length chanced upon happier fortunes. Mr. Payne, of Sulby, again was elected chief, and that his reign might be as long as it was destined to be profitable, was the universal hope of all who have the best interests of the country at heart. While he continues to minister to its prosperity the Pytchley shall surely rank, as it does, as the crack rural country of English fox-hunting.
HIGHLAND SPORTS, AND SPORTING QUARTERS.
(Continued.) When the day had nearly closed, we found ourselves again on the grassy park immediately fronting the castle ; and as the fast receding lig... Ian autumnal evening left us but little time for consideration, we determined at once to settle our affairs with the gentleman in the basket, whom we had removed from his stony hiding-place. Among the canine race then enjoying a séjour in the Meggernie kennels were two well bred greyhound pups. These had hitherto scarcely ever seen a hare; certainly they had never tasted the excitement of an actual chace. We determined therefore on forth with granting them this pleasing amusement, with the true spirit of “doing to others, &c., and we certainly had had our quantum of sport : ergo, the aspirants for future fame at Altcar were produced and secured in slips, and a graceful pair of puppies indeed were they. On the cover of the basket being lifted, away went puss, without hesitation, doubtless nothing loath-like what shall we say?-like the diable?no! but like an uncommon strong and speedy hare, who had been well frightened, but not injured or disheartened by a few hours' imprisonment. The slips were loosed : Nature taught the rest, and away flew the puppies, proving well their good breeding by stamina and fleetness. Twice had the snow-white hare been turned, when again she stretched before her eager pursuers, immediately in front of the castle where we stood, as if determined to swim for life across the river, rather than die by such young foes, when lo! a new enemy appeared on the field of action, who soon decided the question. The scene was truly one of amusement: we had at the moment entirely forgotten that, previous to leaving the castle in the morning, a favourite and first-rate greyhound bitch, then heavy with pup, had been left in one of the rooms fronting the park, where the chace was then proceeding. The window of this room had unfortunately been left open, inasmuch as being from eighteen to twenty feet from the ground, it was never imagined that an animal in her state would endeavour to escape therefrom: nevertheless, we were deceived ; she managed, on hearing the halloos which sounded through the glen as encouragement to the young dogs, to raise herself on her hind legs and look out. The scene which presented itself was doubtless most satisfactory to her mind, for not a moment did she hesitate. Out from the window she sprung, heavy as she was, and alighted without injury on her feet: a few strides she made across the park straight for the hare, which was running at right angles to her. They met, and in an instant it was flung high in the air. Breathless with astonishment, the pups stopped their rapid career, and gazed on the lifeless body of their prey; whereas the old lady, none the worse for her prowess, walked quietly back towards the castle, as much as to say"That's the way to do the trick, young ’uns: go, get your suppers, and recollect the lesson." This self-said bitch has figured in the Coursing Calendar, as the receiver of many a stake; and the pups she produced on this occasion only one week after this window-flight all proved very superior dogs; indeed, they may fairly be said to have been in training in their
mother's womb. The amount of game killed on this day's excursion, we do not name here with any intention whatever of calling attention to its amount; the rough account of our walk must speak for itself, and will quite sufficiently explain that with shooting we combined the pleasure — indeed, the endless delight to be found in Nature's picture-gallery, so variedly and so beautifully set before us: besides which, had we not a variety of chaces--the last not the least exciting —to say nothing of the storming of black-cocks by which we commenced the various amusements of the day?
Three brace of these beautiful and glossy black-cocks, nine hares, three and a half brace of grouse, three golden plovers, two brace and á half of ptarmigan, making a total of twenty-nine head of game, was therefore all we could muster-quite sufficient, believe me, to afford an admirable day's amusement, even though we numbered four guns in the field. Let it be understood, however, that the grouse grounds of Meggernie produce quite sufficient game to secure the utmost amount of killed compatible, in our humble opinion, with the spirit of a true sportsman who shoots—not slaughters; indeed, at the moment we write this, we have before us two letters, dated, the one, Meggernie Castle, August 25th, 1846 ; the other, September 15th, which contains the following information :
“We have not done much in the shooting yet, as my party are hardly assembled ; Mr. H. has, however, been out a few
times, and at his age (73) done wonders. He killed on four different days 26., 27), 30 and 21 brace. There will be no performance like this in Scotland this year. We have plenty of game. Millions of hares!"
Truly may this be called good sport; and we will answer for it, not a chirper or a bad-tried bird was found among the number. But this gentleman is a truc sportsman by heart and deed, and has been so from seventeen till seventy-thrce. May he shoot on for years to come! The other letter states
" The sport has been excellent. We have had great days with the hares. Above the wood, on Saturday, we killed 145 hares, 12 brace of grouse, 4 brace of ptarmigan, 1 roe, I golden plover! We have killed a thousand brace of grouse since the 12th of August, though there are but few young birds !"
Turning to another document, a paragraph taken from a newspaper, and we read that on the 12th of August the owner of Monzies, a large property near Crieff, in Perthshire, killed and bagged on his moors the astonishing amount of 190 brace of grouse.
We have no patience to proceed further in such details; for without we heard the fact asserted by him who did the foul deed, wbich courtesy would compelus to believe, we own we imagine it to be impossible for any single gun to commit so great a slaughter