Imagens das páginas
PDF

Skipping a mass of country meetings, we come to the twin-tryst Bibury and Stockbridge. The former. by failure of a race for the Bibury Stakes, was all but limited to one day-a very full one. It opened with the victory of the colt by Epirus, out of Enterprise, of Derby memory, for a Produce Stake of 50 sovs. each, h. ft., 13 subs. IIe was at one period of the traffic backed at 7 to 4 on him, but left off at 6 to 5 against him. A Plate of 70 sovs., for all ages over two years old, produced seven amateur jocks at the post, the winner Capt. Little on Remunerator. The Champagne Stakes, for two-year-oids, Aitchbone Won, beating three others by a neck ; 6 to 5 on him. A Plate of 60 soys., for two and three-year-olds, Longreach won in a field of eightcleverly ; and Guardsman having walked over for the Bibury, the list was wound up with a Scurry Plate of 70 sovs., handicap, won by Shropshire Witch. The “ all but one day'' was ousted by means of a Handicap Plate of 40 sovs., made for amateur riders on the Thursday ; three ran for it, and Sagacity, with 5 to 2 on him, won. Then followed the Stockbridge moiety of the meeting. It was put on the scene with the Third Year of the First Stockbridge Triennial Stakes, 35 subs. The field mustered three. The odds were 5 to 2 on Cariboo, who made ducks-and-drakes of it, winning by eight lengths, or the like. Second year of the Second Triennial Stakes, 36 subs., induced 5 to show. They laid 7 to 2 on Lamartine. It was a race between the favourito and Glenhawk, the latter being only beaten at the finish by three-parts of a length. First year of the Third Stockbridge Triennial Stakes, 43 subs. This came off with six runners, Kingston backed at 5 to 4 on him. The result was two dead heats between Chief Baron Nicholson and the favourite -the pair ultimately dividing the stakes. The Stockbridge Plate, of 50 sovs., for all ages, heats, closed the catalogue with three of those remnants of a barbarous age; won by Woodsprite, the best of three. Great things are promised at this Siamese meeting in 1852.

Contemporary with Bibury and Stockbridge, were Newton races-extending, however, over three days. There was a “dotation" of five hundred pounds, and, as the ring told you with a crow, “ lots of betting ;" but the ensemble was not brilliant. The weather might have been better, and so might the attendance. Winchester races fell also in this week. They were not profuse of sport. Cariboo was allowed to walk over for the Queen's Hundred, and cheerful won the Original Hampshire Stakes by a head, in a field of four, A Produce Stakes of 50 sovs. each, h. ft., for two-year-olds, six subs., was run a match between the colt by Venison, out of Passion, 2 to 1 on him, and Mary Bland. The favourite won by three parts of a length. Two other events were proposed, but they did not come to any. thing,

Newcastle Races occupied the last week of June. They consisted of the now regular four days; and between fine weather and a good bill of fare, resulted satisfactorily. The feature of the meeting was, of course, the great handicap-The Northumberland plate. For this seventy animals were subscribed, and a field of eight paraded. I have neither time nor disposition to analyze the mise en scene of this weight for wisdom issue. The favourite was Uriel, at 6 to 4 against him. The winner was Neasham, one of the foremost of the field for the Derby. His weight of hounds, against the threatened invasion : such a protest must surely have effect. The rights of fox-hunters may probably be like the privileges of parliament-more dependent on practice than on any positive law. To the credit, however, of those who have been considered as intelligent sportsmen, their conduct has been directed by an honourable adherence to a custom which can be completely justified by the immoderate expense inseparable from the support of a pack of foxhounds. The custom to which I allude is, that whenever a pack of foxhounds has hunted a country with the consent of the proprietors of the estates where the coverts are situated, it is not in the power of the owners of these coverts to take them from the Hunt to give them to another. Allowing this to be a principle of fox-hunting, there appears to me to be no question as to the right of Mr. T. Drake's retaining the country in question. The time since Mr. Drake first hunted these coverts would almost confirm a title to an estate by prescription. His hounds have been in full possession of the country, from which there has been no dereliction. It is exceedingly unfortunate that any difference of opinion should arise between two masters of hounds ; and the consequence will be that both will suffer, as the gentlemen of the country who are displeased by the intrusion will destroy the foxes, by which the country will be of use to neither.

Some years ago many applications were made to Lord Ailesbury (by his late Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and others), for leave to hunt the Marlborough Forest and Collingbourne Woods. His Lordship constantly declined any interference, on the ground of the country being hunted by the Craven Hounds, and referred the applicants to Mr. Dundas, the then Master of the Craven Hounds, saying, “he knew the laws of fox-hunting too well to suppose that he had a right to give leave to any person to hunt even his own coverts."

I have heard of an anecdote told of the late celebrated John Warde, which I believe to be strictly true. When Mr. Warde was hunting the Oakley country, the late Duke of Bedford established a pack of foxhounds, and one day appointed them to meet at a covert of his own ; Mr. Warde wrote a polite note to the duke, stating that, according to the rights of fox-hunting, he could not draw the appointed covert, although it was his own. In consequence of this the duke altered the fixture, and on the first time of Mr. Warde meeting at this said covert, the duke, and his friends who were staying with him at Woburn, attended at the fixture, when Mr. Warde rode up to His Grace, and taking off his hat, out of respect to the duke, said, “ My Lord Duke-I am extremely sorry that my duty as the present occupier of this country compelled me to establish my right to draw this covert : having done so, I now concede it to your Grace, so long as I hunt the Oakley country, and have no doubt it will afford you good sport.” This was well worthy of John Warde as a gentleman, and an intelligent sportsman. June 6, 1851,

RABY.

THE SOUTH AFRICAN HUNTER: HIS WORK, AND ITS

NATURAL HISTORY.

BY GELERT.

II. The limit assigned to us in the pages of this publication did not permit us to conclude our notice of Mr. Gordon Cumming's interesting work in the last number ; we therefore again invite our friends, who love the adventurous, to ensconce themselves in an casy chair, and listen to the further deeds of this bold hunter among the savage beasts and scarcely less savage men of Southern Africa.

We left him prostrate on the ground from the kick of an ostrich, a fine old cock, the muscular power of whose thigh resembles that of a horse more than that of a bird. We have already acknowledged our obligation to the author for enlightening us on the subject of the ostrich's eggs; the hatching of which, according to popular belief, has been erroneously attributed rather to the rays of the sun than to the fostering and natural heat of the parent birds. It is not improbable that this error originated with the poetic language of Job ; for the sacred writer in allusion to the ostrich, says, She leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in the dust, and forgetteth that the foot may crush them or that the wild beast may break them. She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers ; her labour is in vain without fear, because God hath deprived her of wisdom ; neither hath he imparted to her understanding. What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider.” It is also mentioned by the prophet Jeremiah that “the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.” The great naturalist, Shaw, in his work entitled “Travels in Barbary,informs us that a very little of that natural affection, which so strongly exerts itself in most other creatures, is observable in the ostrich: for upon the least distant noise or trivial occasion she forsakes her eggs or her young ones, to which, perhaps, she never returns ; or if she does, it may be too late either to restore life to the one or to preserve the lives of the other. Agreeably to this account, the Arabs meet with whole nests of these eggs undisturbed; some of which are sweet and good, others are addled and corrupted; others again have their young ones of different growths, according to the time, it may be presumed, they have been forsaken by the dam. They oftener meet a few of the little ones, no bigger than well-grown pullets, half-starved, moaning and straggling about, like so many distressed orphans, for their mother. . And in this manner the ostrich may be said to be hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers ; her labour (in hatching and attending them so far) being in vain, without fear or the least concern of what becomes of them afterwards. The statement made by Mr. Gordon Cumming with respect to the incubation of the male as well as female ostrich, is corroborated by the celebrated African traveller, Barrow, who informs us that the male, distinguished by its glossy black feathers from the dusky grey

female, is generally seen with two or three, and frequently as many as five, of the latter. These females lay their eggs in one nest, to the number of ten or twelve each, which they watch all together, the male taking his turn of sitting on them among the rest. Between sixty and seventy eggs have been found in one nest, and a few are most commonly lying round the sides of the hole, having been thrown out by the birds on finding the nest to contain more than they could conveniently carry.

The only living specimen of the desert which Mr. Gordon Cumming has brought to England with him, is that of the little bushboy, whom he captured among the reeds of a fountain near which he was encamped. Ruyter, for such is his namo, is a genuine son of that race which has been described by naturalists as linking the human with the brute creation ; and as he is part and parcel of it, so is he far from being the least interesting subject of the African Exhibition. Though arrived at maturity, his pigmy form reminds one of a bantam cock, erect, lively, and bumptious; and the growling, snarling noises of the animal, as he gambols in his waggon, announce an intimate knowledge and cofraternity with hyænas, jackalls, and other denizens of his native forests. Captain G. Cumming speaks of him as baviog “ever since faithfully followed his fortunes through every peril and hardship by sea and land; and that he alone stood by him, when forsaken by all his followers in the far interior."

On the 18th of January, 1844, our author reaches “ the magnificent Orange river, whose fertile banks were adorned with groves clad in everlasting verdure ;" and which he rapturously pronounces to be “the Queen of African rivers." His predecessor and fellow-labourer in the same field, Captain William Cornwallis Harris, also expatiates largely on the beauties of this stream: “Emerging from this desolation and sterility,” he says, “ the first glimpse that we obtained of it realized those ideas of elegant and classic scenery which exist in the minds of poets. The alluring fancies of a fairy fiction, or the fascinating imagery of a romance, were here brought into actual existence. The waters of this majestic river, three hundred yards in breadth, flowing in one unbroken expanse, resembled a smooth, translucent lake; and as its gentle waves glided past on their way to join the restless ocean, bearing on their limpid bosom, as in a polished mirror, the image of their woodclothed borders, they seemed to kiss the shore before bidding it farewell. Drooping willows, clad in their vest of vernal freshness, leaned over the bank, and dipping their slender branches into the tide, which glistened with the last rays of the setting sun, seemed fain to follow.” Experience itself is necessary to enter fully into the sensations of the delighted traveller at the sight of water in the desert ; language is inadequate to the task. Thus we find that after escaping from the arid horrors of the parched karoos, the two authors reach the banks of the Orange river, at separate times, in an ecstasy of joy and satisfaction.

On his onward journey towards the interior, Captain Gordon Cumming falls in with various tribes of Hottentots; those denominated Griquas and Bastards being in close alliance with the English government. He describes the district which they inhabit as being the most desirable in Southern Africa for farming purposes, there being abundance of foun. tains throughout its whole extent capable of being led out to irrigate the land ; without which no gardeus can be formed nor wheat grown in

that country. IIe says, that rich pasturo is abundant ; that cattle, sheep, and goats breed remarkably well there; and that the Bastard's country is especially adapted for breeding horses, large herds of which may be seen pasturing high on the mountain sides, or scattered in troops over their grassy plains. The horses, too, are not subject to a deadly distemper, which, along the frontiers of the colony, commit sad ravages amongst them during five or six months of the year.

Here, then, we have the information of a gentleman who bears strong testimony to the agricultural advantages of that portion of Southern Africa. Surely, with these facts before us, and while vast numbers of our fellow-countrymen are annually flocking to the shores of Natal, (for within the last eighteen months no less than three thousand five hundred souls have left England for that country), it is the duty of our emigrant societies to ponder well cro they persevere in recommending a district that tecms with danger to the all but defenceless settlers. Nature, it is true, invites them there ; but “the sword of Damocles hangs over the country ;” two hundred thousand bold and disciplined Caffres, well versed in the art of war, are located within a week's march of that portion of the colony which has a military force of only six hundred men to protect it! At the moment we are writing, Caffraria is disaffected; yea, more, is in open rebellion against the British government, and we tremble for Natal. On the other hand, amongst the flat-nosed Hottentots residing on the north bank of the Great Orange river, the fertility of the country and the comparatively peaceful character of its inhabitants appear to offer colonial advantages, which, if accessible to the English, they would do well to exchange for those of the Natal coast.

The hunter now shapes his course for the Vaal river, in search of that noble animal the roan antelope, and other game which he had not yet encountered. He succeeds in crossing that stream without impediment; but finds the country covered with a variety of mimosa, called by the Boers Wait-a-bit thorns," which, being crooked like fish-hooks, impede his progress and tear the very shirt from his back, as he follows his prey through these kill-devil covers. The zeal of the hunter, however, flags not; he succeeds, after a long and desperate chasc amid rocks and bushes, in killing a noble specimen of the buck koodoo, whose ponderous spiral horns reward him for the labour. That night, he says, “ the koodoo skin was my mattress, my saddle was my pillow ; and supperless I lay down to rest, without any covering save an old shirt and a pair of leather crackers. The excitement of the thrilling sport which I had enjoyed prevented my sleeping until a late hour ; and when at length I closed my eyes, I dreamt that we were surrounded by a troop of lions, and, awaking with a loud cry, startled my men and horses.”

M. Desmarest, in his description of the koodoo, says that it inhabits the mountains, and is the most magnificent of all the antelope tribe, measuring eight feet in length, four in height at the shoulder, and that its horns, which are particularly grand, measure nearly four feet. By “ the mountains ” he probably means such ground as Mr. Gordon Cumdescribes, where he speaks of the rocky hills over which they led him. But M. Desmarest's mountains must be mere mole-hills, or the chase which our gallant hunter records with so much spirit, and, we doubt not, with equal veracity, would be simply impossible.

« AnteriorContinuar »