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be at home and in bed; subscribe to every conceivable thing in the county, from the Spring Handicap to the Dorcas Society for Lying-in Females; get up when he would prefer to lie in bed; mount his friends, or those he thinks so; stick covers, satisfy demands for apocryphal turkeys, and hear his servants blown up and his system condemned by every jackanapes who wants to let off his bile. In fact, he is as dependent as a member of parliament on the caprices of others, with the additional chance of breaking his neck in polite countries it might be first to be sure, but they stand upon no such ceremony here. I say nothing about the paying for it, because that's the real pleasure after all. What costs nothing, can be of very little value.
Neph.-As you get old you get worldly, uncle. I call it a noble am
Uncle S.-No word in the English language is more abused. If a fellow wants to provide for himself and his family, with a place in the Customs for his butler's son, he gets into parliament, votes with the minister, and calls it a noble ambition. When you first thought of the army, a red coat was a noble ambition; or the grocer's daughter at whom you made eyes during church-time from your tutor's pew, and who ran away with that good-looking apprentice in a cotton apron and an imperial. I do certainly think, that as money has to be spent, and foxes are to be hunted, it would be difficult to find a more gentlemanly, agreeable, healthful, or even rational amusement, than the pursuit of reynard under difficulties; and as poor men cannot, and parvenus ought not to be masters of hounds, we ought to be very grateful to men of fortune and position, who take the responsibilities of a crack country upon their shoulders.
Neph.-By the way, have you seen Whyte Melville's new work, "Tilbury Nogo?" I know he's a favourite writer of yours: your wish that he might follow up Digby Grand with some more of the same class literature has been unexpectedly accomplished.
Uncle S.-I know the book, and am delighted to hear it; it came out originally in numbers, in the New Sporting Magazine; and few things in that excellent periodical have amused me more. Whatever that gentleman puts his hand to, evinces an union of admirable, I regret to add rare qualifications: the zeal and vigour of the sportsman, with the taste and reading of a public school. Every line that he writes exhibits the style and feeling of an unmistakable gentleman and the scholar. Dogs, horses, mess-table slang, even fashionable conventionalities, are easy matters to string together, so long as they keep within the beaten track of the professional penny-a-liner; but when you have to join them with development of character and those contrasts of light and shade which alone make a book on such subjects readable, it becomes a very different pair of shoes. A magazine article is one thing-a two volumed novel is another one may be the work of a ready-witted impostor; the other must be the work of an observing and analyzing mind.
Neph.-What's your favourite picture: Nogo weighing for Saraband "before the storm comes on," or the Widow weighing for Nogo, preparatory to the matrimonial breeze? I could forgive him for falling in love with Kate Cotherstone; but how he managed to walk into the trap, baited with so strong a piece of cheese as Mrs. Montague Forbes, I can't imagine.
Uncle S.-Vanity, my dear boy-all vanity. The rock he split upon shoals thousands of us: nothing more natural in life, and shews the author's full appreciation of the character he was drawing. Mrs. Montague Forbes is admirable: I can hear the rustle of the beflounced and befurbelowed silk dress, and see the very strings of the cap she laid wait for him with, in the shrubberies of Topthorne Lodge. Nogo was a child in her hands for love-making, as he had been in her brother's for steeple-chasing you would have been just the same. Take an old man's advice: get rid of your self-conceit, and then you'll see that your friends are only making a tool, and the women a fool of you. The moral of Mr. Whyte Melville's work, as I read it, is this—" Vanity is the root of all evil;" and 'tis a root out of which grows a fool, and the rogues of the world feed upon it. Segundo is an excellently drawn portrait, more common perhaps in the sister country than in this, though they have been subjected to so much transplantation and borne it so well, as to have become almost indigenous; and the hand that drew it, placed the picture cleverly in juxtaposition with the thoughtless but highly principled guardsman; a character which, if it imbibes some bitter poisons in the public schools of this country, gets the most powerful antidote against their ill effects from the same great sources. I hate your cant, so prevalent just now, about the horrors of public-school malignity. If you wish your boy to turn out an imbecile, or such an outrageous blackguard that you dare scarcely acknowledge him, send him to a genteel seminary, where he writes what he calls his Latin exercise over a mahogany table, aud has thin bread and butter, and a feather-bed to go to sleep upon to make quite sure, mind 'tis at a watering place; if fashionable, so much the better, as he will have every opportunity of getting into mischief with the maid-servants of the neighbouring young lady's establishment: when very precocious, he may present you with a housemaid and daughter-in-law rolled into one. Moral restraint, not physical, is the thing that makes the gentleman.
Neph. That's all very well about public schools, but you seem rather to have run your engine off the line: how about Mr. Whyte Melville's book? I want to hear your opinion of some more of his creations, I think you literary people call them. How do you like Bagshot?
Uncle S.-Joe Bagshot? admirable! that's one of the qualities which distinguishes Whyte Melville, and one or two more writers of that class, from the old school of sportsmen. Formerly, if a clergyman was fond of a horse or a dog-a good shot or a good rider, nolens volens, he was compelled to become a two-bottle man at least; to share in every debauch which his half-civilized patron thought proper to indulge in; to back his lies, his bills, and his horses, and to disgrace the sacred character he had assumed, by every species of immorality. The Squire Westerns and the Tom Joneses of the day favoured the hallucination: a previous reputation made the parson of the parish twice as bad as he had any inclination to be they kept him up to the mark for the sake of seeing somebody worse than themselves; and bookmakers acted by his reverence much as the world acts by the devil, in painting him about as black again as he really was. Mr. Melville acts upon a different principle; he paints things and men as they are, and when the original is not fit for representation, he leaves it out of his canvas. The clergyman of the present (what is called the sporting clergyman, pre-eminently so) is a gentleman: the fact of
his being so, and having been brought up amongst gentlemen, is at once an apology for his recreation partaking a little of the lay character; but it makes him no worse a parish priest, nor less alive to the wants, physical or moral, of his parishioners. Methodist parsons and fat pluralists are seldom fond of the sports of the field; the one has never lived amongst them, the other is incapacitated for any active exercise but carving the "haunch" or playing a rubber. But there are plenty of Joe Bagshots about the world, and long may they live. At a certain time of life, a clergyman becomes either a Joe Bagshot, or an obese dignitary, a mass of self-conceit and censoriousness, thanking God that he is not as other men are—a feeling of gratitude in all probability reciprocal. But I did not mean to enter upon a discussion as to the relative merits of clergymen and their pursuits: another time I may do so it is a subject that will well bear a little investigation. I admire the character that our author has drawn, and I believe every reader of the book will acknowledge its beauty and its truth.
Neph.-If I may be allowed to remark upon its truth, it occurs to me that the author has made a slight mistake in poetical justice, if not in the probabilities of life, by uniting our friend Joe in the holy estate of matrimony to such a Circe as Kate Cotherstone.
Uncle S.-If Joe Bagshot had been an Ulysses, he had principle enough to keep himself out of such a mess; but in this case it appears that in plain prose Mr. Whyte Melville has only sacrificed poetical justice to probability. A middle-aged country parson is just the fish to have been taken by such a bait. Guileless and simple as a child, do you think he saw breakers in such an unruffled sea? I never knew a good-hearted ecclesiastic, say a Fellow of a college (if he had not already what has been facetiously called in a well-known speech on the Oxford Bill, a venerable Eve already waiting for him in the garden), who did not consider it his peculiar privilege to fall in love with the first pretty girl he came across; make love to her while his house was being furnished-he locating at her father's, of course, in the meantime; marry her almost before the paper on the walls was dry, and take her home to repent at leisure; or to be the most uxorious, henpecked, miserable specimen of domestic happiness in the world, shunned by his old friends and pitied by his new.
Neph.-Perhaps you're right, sir: experience makes fools wise, or I should be brighter. By the way, as we are on the subjects of books, it reminds me of some pictures which I have lately seen at Fores's, the publishers, at the corner of Sackville-street: you remember those clever hunt pictures by Herring, which were engraved last year, called "The run of the season;" they seem to have been painted as pendants to those; the subject, however, less in your line than mine. They are four pictures, admirably painted, representing four scenes of a race-course: I need hardly say that the horses are wonderfully painted in every conceivable attitude; and the figures, which are not sparingly introduced, are as life-like as possible: indeed some are portraits. There is a bloom on the horses quite beyond anything I have seen.
Uncle S.-You are quite right: I have seen them, and if there is one thing which Mr. Herring succeeds in better than another, it is the condition he manages to throw on to his horses: in this new series
this is particularly remarkable, and, on the whole, I prefer them to the "Run." Fores, at all events, knows what he is about in employing such talent, and deserves success: such enterprize wants nerve, and should have the support of all lovers of the turf. If racing ever becomes a dead letter, the world will appreciate such life-like productions.
Neph.-And as to the characters, I could have sworn that I saw half of them, at least, at Tattersall's, on Sun Saturday last; touts, prophets, and thimble-riggers of every degree.
Uncle S.-Come, speak out, like a man: say Sunday, as you were going to well-bred persons, like myself, never speak disrespectfully of Tattersall's being open on Sunday: who could, when the company consists of so goodly an assemblage as dukes, marquisses, lords, idlers, and swindlers? Now that a herd of vulgar persons should wish to open the Crystal Palace, to draw metropolitan dirt into a wholesome atmosphere, and to tempt Sabbath-breakers from their dog-fighting, badger-baiting, and other subterranean iniquities of a still worse kind, does seem to me a most preposterous proposition. What! let the Great Unwashed enjoy themselves on the Sabbath rationally? Oh! no! Bagnige Wells if you like; beer and baccy to repletion; but no high art, no science, no fresh air. That's our prerogative: we don't buy and sell on Sunday, you know: we only make a book, or inspect the goods we mean to bid for on Monday. Ring for candles, Charlie; we're in the dark.
A WEEK AT LEINTWARDINE.
The Mayfly having now begun to appear upon the water, the most interesting period of the whole year to the fly-fisher, a friend belonging to the Leintwardine Club kindly invited me to meet him at Shrewsbury, and from thence accompany him for a week's fishing to the Teme. Accordingly taking the three o'clock railway train from the former place to Ludlow, we reached the Craven Arms' Station, and from thence proceeded in a chaise to our destination, where we arrived about half-past six o'clock, passing through a highly wooded and very beautiful country. Leintwardine, which is situate within the Hundred of Wigmore, is a small village, with an old church, and a very unpretending, yet comfortable inn, at which the members of the fishing club generally assemble about the end of May, as on the 1st of June the grayling season commences; the trout fishing having begun some time earlier. The village is of the most humble character, containing but a few gentlemen's houses, and the rest are mostly cottages, with one or two shops, and the whole features of the place are of the most primitive nature; nevertheless, amid so scanty a population
of the genteeler kind, two medical gentlemen find custom sufficient to induce them to reside there; and a retired colonel, formerly in the Indian army, also lives in one of the best houses in the place. An old-fashioned but very picturesque stone bridge of three arches spans the river, which at times is subject to great floods, the rich meadow grounds on each side being completely covered with water, and forming a vast lake. At a little distance from the village, and almost surrounding it, may be seen very high hills, if not deserving the name of mountains, many of them clothed with oak timber to their summits, and forming deep valleys and passes between them of the most beautiful character. Down the middle of the principal valley the river Teme winds its course, turning and twisting about almost every hundred yards into horse-shoe shapes, and forming heavy sluggish pools, the delight of the grayling, and succeeded by rapids as eagerly sought by the trout. Several remarkable places are in the immediate neighbourhood, well worth a visit on nonfishing days. Dowton Castle is a splendid modern building, now belonging to Sir Rouse Boughten's family, through the unfortu nate death of the only son of the late Mr. Knight, the former proprietor, who was killed by accident in a shooting party. The property is now let to J. Tarrat, Esq., who has lately taken it from the beautiful situation of the castle, and for the sake of the fishing and sporting, the river running through the grounds for several miles, commencing at Beaubridge, a wild romantic glen, with a bridge and road across it, where the club water ceases, and distant from Leintwardine, by the road, about six miles, but following all the sinuosities of the river, gives a distance of near twelve miles for fishing. Another place of much notoriety and interest to the visitor is Wigmore Castle, a fine old ruin of large extent, and in tolerable preservation, situated on a commanding eminence, beneath and adjoining a higher hill at its back, but built long before gunpowder was known, or any fear was entertained of the castle's being commanded from the height above it, which is now, and probably was then, crowned with oak wood, and forming a part of the very extensive country called Wigmore Chase. As far back as Henry the Third's time, the forests and chases in this country are particularly alluded to, and mention is made of the Chase of Wigmore, the resort of deer and wolves in those days, and which, with other adjacent places, was afterwards incorporated, by an Act of Henry the Eighth, into the Hundred of Wigmore, comprising large tracts of woods and wilds.
In Henry the Third's reign (1238), Peter Corbet, who afterwards became a Baron, was ordered to use all possible means to destroy the wolves in the forests and other places adjacent, where herds of deer were then living in their native state; and indeed, even in the present time, so extensive are the woodlands in the neighbourhood, that small herds of deer are still to be met with, breeding and living quite wild; but these are fallow deer, and not the red deer as heretofore of bold Robin Hood's time. Wigmore Castle formerly belonged to the powerful Earls of March, and the Lords Mortimer, the latter of whom gave no little trouble to Henry the Second to put down their rebellious attempts against him; but in 1158, the Lord Hugh was obliged to surrender the castle to the King's forces then sent against it and other strong places in the neighbourhood, but whether this castle was then or more recently dismantled does not