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and was a generous open-hearted man, and rented from the Duchy of Lancaster the fishing right on the Wye for about three miles, including part of Miller's Dale. Whilst thus residing at Wormhill Hall, to enjoy the pleasures of fly-fishing, one of his favourite amusements, he was entertaining, with his accustomed hospitality, two guests, viz., Captain Partridge, a Herefordshire gentleman, who was cousin on the maternal side, and Mr. Henry St. John Halford, of Wistow Hall, Lancashire, son of Sir Henry Halford, M.P., for Leicester, and husband of one of the late Mr. Bagshawe's sisters. Thus accompanied, the atttractions of trout-fishing afforded by the romantic river Wye, which he anxiously preserved, may be readily imagined. Mr. Bagshawe had been repeatedly annoyed by the nocturnal visits of a gang of poachers to this secluded spot, and he was determined to put a stop to the proceedings of these desperate marauders, especially as they had of late behaved with the most insolent audacity. He had reason to suspect that they would be again spearing on the Wednesday night, and a resolution was at once formed by Mr. Bagshawe and his guests to frustrate their designs, and, if possible, to capture the delinquents in a body. The necessary steps were taken to accomplish this purpose. About half-past ten o'clock, Mr. Bagshawe and Mr. Halford left the Hall, and proceeded down the stream in the direction of Raven's Torr. Captain Partridge and the keeper, Jarvis Kaye, accompanied by a bull dog, held in a leash, followed about an hour later. The two latter walked along the river bank through Wye Wood. When they had reached the stone bridge connected with the Buxton Road, at the Miller's Dale toll-bar, they observed below them, down stream, the reflection of lighted candles on the water. This was at once a conclusive proof that the poachers were at their work of trout spearing. Instantly, Captain Partridge sent the keeper, by a circuitous route, to inform Mr. Bagshawe and his companion of the circumstance. In the meanwhile, the Captain placed himself in ambush near the Toll-bar, and watched the poachers up stream. They passed within a few yards of him ; but he was so well concealed that they did not observe him, otherwise his life probably would have been endangered. The gang consisted of ten or twelve men. At this fearful moment a horseman came along the road from Taddington. At the sound of the horses' hoofs, a signal-whistle was given higher up stream, and the lights were instantly extinguished. The poachers concealed themselves under the bridge. Soon afterwards, the candles were relighted, and the spearing resumed. On reaching the bridge, Mr. Bagshawe wished to attack the poachers at once; but his friends, seeing the folly of attacking such a band of ruffians with their inferior force, he yielded to their advice, and went to Wormhill for more assistance, and soon returned with a party of men. Three of them were injudiciously sent over the stream, and five laid down where they were. The lights were approaching. The first man with the light held it up towards them. At that moment a signal (a chirping noise) was given. Mr. Bagshawe, who was armed with a life preserver, threw off his coat and said "We have them now," and immediately, "Go at them!" They all jumped up; the dog was slipped, and instantly two guns were fired, without inflicting injury to any one. Mr. Bagshawe rushed into the water and attacked the first man with the light. A desperate fight ensued. Mr. Bagshawe was soon struggling in the water with more than one
man, and called out for assistance; he had fallen or been knocked down. He was found with his head resting on a stone on the margin of the stream; and nearly every one in the melée was more or less injured. Two of the poachers, Milner and Taylor, were secured. When Mr. Bagshawe was got out, he said, "We have had a terrible fight; they have nearly killed me; three big brutes got me down in the water; I think one of them must be dead." He was only sensible for about halfan-hour; he was assisted to the Hall; he began to talk wildly, and became insensible; and expired in the course of the day. The jury, in the coroner's inquisition, brought in a verdict of "wilful murder" against Milner and Taylor. Soon afterwards five other poachers were apprehended, and a similar verdict was given against them. Thus, they were all committed on the same charge-" wilful murder." The trial came on at Derby, ten days after the perpetration of the fatal deed, viz., on the 29th of July, before Mr. Justice Maule. Mr. Macaulay appeared for the prosecution; the prisoners were defended by Mr. Serjeant Miller. The proceedings occupied nearly twelve hours. Contrary to general expectation, the jury, after an absence of about a quarter of an hour, returned a verdict of "Not guilty" with regard to all the prisoners. According to the ruling of the learned judge, who possesses the reputation of being one of the soundest lawyers on the bench, if the poachers had not reasonable means of knowing that the party who attacked them did so for the purpose of apprehending them and bringing them before a justice, their resistance was justifiable; and further, though they might be guilty of homicide, they were not chargeable with the guilt of murder. The evidence adduced was deemed of such a nature as to bear out the view taken of the case by the learned judge; and hence this unexpected decision, which has taken the country by surprise, as well as astonished the poachers themselves. For a long period complaints have been made as to the severity with which the game-laws are administered by magistrates; but whatever may have been the desperate rashness of the unfortunate Mr. Bagshawe, whose fate is deeply lamented, here is a case in which no punishment is inflicted, though life has been sacrificed.
Poaching a stream for trout, is a totally different matter from cover or field poaching for pheasants, hares, and partridges; although instances are on record of one man being equally expert in all these unlawful practices. The means applied and the mode adopted with regard to trout, are after this fashion :-The spear shaft is made of different lengths, some four or five feet, according to the depth of the stream; the spear-head is provided with four or five prongs; these prongs are barbed like a fish-hook, so that when the trout is struck, it is impaled, with no chance of writhing itself off. Lanterns are generally used, particularly in windy weather. In the lamentable encounter on the Wye, the poachers had two lanterns, and two candles in each lantern. It sometimes happens, however, that naked candles are used when the night is calm and still, and some of these midnight robbers prefer them to lanterns, because they say that they can see the fish more distinctly. In the latter case, a "light board" is used; this ten or twelve inches in length and four inches wide; in the absence of sockets, three nails placed in a triangular form are driven nearly together, in three or four differ nt places-sometimes more, for the purpose of holding the can
dles. Between the handle and the candles a semicircular piece of canvass is placed, so that the light cannot shine on either the hand, face, or person of the poacher who holds the board, and he is thus enabled to discern every object placed before him more distinctly. Armed with the spear in his right hand, and holding the lights in the other, the poacher is ready to commence operations. A companion is placed on each bank of the river, and some at a considerable distance up strean and down stream, for the purpose of giving the signal whistle in case of the approach of danger or discovery from keepers or watchers, or otherwise. These midnight marauders are well aware of the habits of the trout, and act accordingly. The fish at night-time, particularly if the weather be favourable, leave the deeps, and resort to the shallows to feed. For this end, they always place themselves with the head to the stream, and to keep themselves too in this position, their tails are continually moving from side to side. The spearer then goes into the water, which is, perhaps, about two feet deep, and advances invariably up stream and in the rear of the fish. Listening for a moment that all is safe, with no sound floating on the still air, except the murmur of the stream near hand, or the fainter roar borne from a distance, whilst the light flickers about the overhanging boughs, or the abrupt rock and its many dark recesses, he pushes onward, moving the lights from side to side to discern the object of pursuit. His eyes are remarkably quick, and his hand and aim equally expert and sure; and no sooner has he observed, by the aid of the lights, a fish, placed in the stream as already described, than it is struck with the spear, and one of the barbed prongs is sure to impale his victim. The prize is instantly secured, and thrown to his "mate" on the bank for his safe keeping. Scarcely a trout can escape an "old hand," although one of his main objects in the capture is to secure the finest fish. Indeed, the reputation of a clever spearer is estimated by the weight which he has been enabled to kill, rather than the number; for the heaviest trout, from two to three pounds each, fetch the most money and make the handsomest dish for the table. Should the alarm whistle be sounded, either up or down stream, the lights are instantly extinguished; the spearers leave the stream immediately, and, joining their companions, they lie down or secrete themselves in the underwood which decorates the margin of the stream, till the danger has passed. When all is again clear and still, the candles are relighted, and the spearing is resumed with increased alacrity and determination that nothing shall possibly escape their vigilance. The trout-stream poachers, like the other minions of the moon who resort to cover or open, make it an invariable rule to visit those spots which are the most rigidly preserved. The danger of detection may be greater, but the prize is more certain and valuable, and hence the truth of the remark becomes more apparent, viz., "the more preserving, the more poaching." Nor in the present state of society with regard to the poaching fraternity does it seem possible that the law, however severe, can put an effectual stop to a practice which unites with the pleasures and excitement of the pursuit, a higher rate of profit and emolument than can be obtained by the labours of an ordinary calling. The destruction which the troutspearers make in one night may be estimated by the fact that they are enabled to return from the preserves, like those on the beautiful
river Wye, laden with many stones weight of the most beautiful fish, to the deep mortification of the proprietor, as well as to the friends whom he may invite to participate in the enjoyments of fly-fishing, during the trout season, amid scenery the most beautiful, and associations the most gratifying.
We lately read a Cork newspaper (The Constitution) in which was an article giving an account of the remarkable duels which took place in the olden times in the Beautiful City. We were in Cork at that period; knew all the parties; the circumstances were accurately and correctly detailed, and were true in every particular. In a subsequent paper, there was an acknowledgment, and very properly so, that the article in question had been copied from the Sporting Magazine. We casually saw the magazine, and found such to be the case. We were in a reflecting mood, and many reminiscences of the Beautiful City in olden times were brought vividly before us. Time, place, and circumstances, are the great auxiliaries to memory; in fact, memory itself is neither more nor less than an act of the mind, by which we are enabled to revive past perceptions of time, place, and circumstances. We fear we are becoming metaphysical, and what is still worse, desultory and digressive; but our readers, if any such we have, we trust will pardon us; and moreover we are afraid we shall be considered even more so, before we come to the gist of our story, our first brief. In no part of Ireland probably could you find a greater combination of talent and eccentricity of character than both was, and is, always to be found in the city of Cork. The Southerns have always been peculiarly and pre-eminently distinguished in our universities and in the higher walks of literature; and Cork, to the present day, maintains that high distinction. Amongst others who resided in Cork in the olden times, was a gentleman called Daniel David: we think we have sufficiently identified the individual; he was notorious for his eccentricity of character, combined with talent the most extraordinary; but on a particular subject, his mental power of calculation was almost incredible; in as short a time as we take to write these few lines on this subject, he could mentally, without pen, ink, or paper, multiply five or six numbers by five or six others. No matter how complicated a debtor and creditor account may or might have been, he could unravel its intricacies and strike an accurate balance-sheet. This gentleman also had some literary notoriety; he was proprietor of a paper-if we mistake not, the Sentinel; it was an unstamped weekly periodical, purporting exclusively to give the local news of the Beautiful City, the arrivals and departures of the beaux and belles. It was particularly panegyrical of the ladies; it was laudatory of their perfections in all particulars, and was peculiarly patronized by the fair sex. By a happy felicity of talent, the editor brought into propinquity with each other in his paragraphs certain beaux
and bells suitable to each other in his, the editor's, views; and many eligible marriages were thus brought about by the happy pen of the editor. No wonder, then, if he was patronized by the ladies; independent of which, the editor, from his courtesy, his politeness to all, was a general favourite, saluted by all, and graciously returning the salute with uncovered head and obsequious bow, he walked the streets on light fantastic toe he always, wet or dry, carried an umbrella, or umbrellas-on a wet day umbrellas, one of which was invariably tendered to some lady requiring its shelter; and so Mr. Daniel David's politeness was rewarded by an invitation to a small "tea fight"-such was the name in the Beautiful City. He lived at that time in the upper storey of a house near George-street; he did so because he thought the air was purer and better the higher you went. His household consisted of one little servant-of-all-work, and one domestic animal-a cat with one tail. Well would it have been for poor Daniel, if the latter had not constituted part of his establishment. You will say, "Why, what harm could a cat do him?" and yet, strange to say, that same cat was the cause of all his misery and misfortune, as you will learn in the sequel of our story. There was a cat, but it had more tails than one, which, in by-gone years, did much mischief in civilized life, which never made a bad man better, but which made many a good man bad; we hope the time is coming when its existence and name shall be only a matter of history. But we must return to our story: Mr. Daniel D., as we before said, had a little servant and a cat; he was blessed with a very good appetite, and he invariably bought for his dinner each day one pound and a half of either steaks or chops. Upon various and sundry occasions, he missed part of the one or the other; his suspicions were roused; he charged his little girl with the theft; she stoutly denied the charge-said it might be or was the cat which had taken the missing part. At length the fertile imagination of Daniel David hit off a notable way of discovering the thief or plunderer. Now, reader, what do you think the redoubted Daniel did? He weighed the cat in the morning, returned to his dinner, missed part as usual, charged his servant-same story of the cat; he then reweighed the cat, found Miss Tabby the same weight, not a whit heavier; he instantly seized on his little servant, brought her before the magistrates, stated his charge, the weighing and reweighing the cat. The complaint was instantly dismissed by the magistrates; but mark the sequel-what will not a day sometimes bring forth, and how will a small and trivial circumstance often change the current of human life, and agitate and disturb its stream which hath flowed in tranquil serenity! Heretofore Daniel David had walked the streets of Cork self-satisfied, self-pleased, saluting all, and returning their salutes. What a reverse of fortune was he to experience on leaving the police-office! Scarcely had he left the office, when his ears were assailed with one loud shout from the mob who thronged the door, "Who weighed the cat?" Go where he would, in the public streets, in the bye-ways, in the country, no matter where-this horrid cry, "Who weighed the cat ?" assailed his ears. His temper changed: he became irritable, irascible, almost furious; his popularity was on the wane, his paper declined.
In pejus ruere, ac retro sublapsa referri."