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read in the “ Farmers' Journal," edited by one P. Virgilius Maro before the first century :

" Aut lapidem bibulum, aut squalentes infode conchas,

Inter enim labentur aquæ, tenuisque subibit
Halitus, atque animos tollent sata."

2 GEORG. 348. But, besides the absence of gutters, there is another reason which renders the Coomberies not only a pleasant fixture, but almost a sure find for an otter. The Lea is a large fresh-water lake, supplied by the Coombe, and only separated from the sea by a shingle beach, which extends along its margin for nearly two miles, until it is bounded by the cliffs. The Lea is full of fish, and attracts otters from all quarters ; but, having no hollow banks or holts, they generally return at daylight, for security, to the cliffs. Sometimes, however, a male and female will fancy the dark and unfrequented vale of the Coombe, and will “ lay up their young in one of its clitters ; or, should the wind blow “ fresh" upon the shore, the goose-footed prowler has no fancy for salt-water breakers, and betakes himself for refuge to the Coomberies ; so that few places can boast of such advantages to the otter-hunter as this charming little river.

On the 4th of this month the P. M. P. otter-hounds met at Melcombe. bridge, in the Coomberies, at ten o'clock; an hour later than their usual time, but altered in order to accommodate some of the exquisites of the neighbourhood, who excessively dislike " ungentlemanly hours.” The hounds drew downwards, and at Gara Mill they came upon a fresh trail. The late addition of two couple of foxhounds to the pack, made the old hounds flash like fire down stream ; so good was the scent, and so eager were the hounds. For three miles they never checked upon the trail, and only threw up when they reached the Lea.

The field were much delighted at the trail, and the water-scurry it occasioned ; but a shade of disappointment crossed every man's countenance as he thought of the cliffs, and the probability that there the otter had harboured.

The hounds were then cast over the shingle, but not hitting it off, one blast of the horn brought all the old hounds with their heads up stream, and pointing again to the Coomberies. It is a peculiar feature in otter-hunting, as I have before remarked, that hounds will hunt the same trail to and fro, over and over again, with as much zest the tenth time as the first ; accordingly they settled to their business “adverso amne," and to my mind with every chance of finding in the holts above.

“ I don't altogether like they foxhounds, sir, for our work,” said my factotum, Robin Hannaford ; " they be so headstrong and hurrisome. I seem the old Rattler and Rocket would'nt have passed over that otter without coming to a mark, if they had'nt been shoved ahead by they wilful toads of foxhounds."

“ Well, Robin, I think you are right ; you cannot take too much time upon a trail. Every holt should be made good, or you may leave your game behind. But what reason have you for thinking that we have been running this trail heel, and have passed over the otter ?''

Very good reason, sir. I sealed him in the sand below Leader Wood, and a monstrous great foot it was : he was then pointing upwards."

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The spirits of the field soon revived at this intelligence ; and, closely following the hounds, we soon found ourselves once more in the heart of the Coomberies. It was natural to suppose that we must be near one end of his trail ; and, finding he had not gone to sea, I expected every moment to hear one of the hounds mark him. And I was not disappointed ; for old Wakefield lay to him like a tiger, in a pile of rocks extending at least twenty yards up from the river, and the terriers were not slack in getting at him.

“ Look below, Robin,” said I ; “ for if he slips away unseen from the rocks, he'll make a tremendous rush for the Lea.”

Aye, aye, sir," said he ; as he quietly stationed himself up to his knees in the Coombe, and, peering with all his eyes into the stream, looked for all the world like an ancient heron on the watch for his prey.

From the occasional squeak of the terriers, I knew there was rough work going on in the holt; and ever as the wild animal shifted his posi

the rocks below, did the hounds mark him from above to the

At last it grew too hot for him, the terriers would not be denied, and out he glided like so much oil into the pool beneath, with the terriers hard at him, and well nigh upon his back. For more than a mile he persevered in going down stream, in hopes of reaching the Lea ; and often as he was headed by hounds and men, still he appeared undaunted. The hounds hunted the ream of the water exquisitely ; and, barring the occasional fling of a foxhound, never threw over the otter for the space of ten yards. But the foxhounds did not do half so much mischief as some of the men, who, by jumping in the water ahead of the otter, foiled the scent most effectually. I could not help wishing that the animal would take a fancy to some of their calves. The chances are they would have roared like bulls had he done so, and they would have learned a salutary lesson. “ Bubble-a-vent,” shouted old Robin ;

" the chain of 'un rises pretty rapid. He can't stand cold water much longer, or I'm much surprised.

The otter was a strong one ; but knowing the odds were against him, he tried the covers as he passed down. Then, as quickly as the hounds marked him, the terriers went in and dislodged him. Marking and bolting in rapid succession now took place; and it was very evident the otter must land, or die in his favourite element. He preferred the former alternative, as he generally does, and getting into the cover unseen, it was some minutes before the hounds hit him off : when they did, the valley rung again with the crash—" cantu rumpent arbusta. He pointed downwards, still for the Lea ; but before he broke cover the Philistines were upon him, one and all : the terriers at his head, the hounds anywhere. He fell like a hero: inflicting many and grievous wounds upon his assailants, and dying mute as a mummy. He proved to be a glorious dog-otter, weighing 24lbs.

Three cheers for the little Coombe ! This is the sixth otter I have found and killed upon it during the two last seasons ; and long as it remains undesecrated by gins and railways, I see no reason why my sport should not continue equally good for many years to come.

June 16, 1846.

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The watch, my dear madam, the watch you see, in this case, is the critic.”'


For boiling eggs, settling fights, or even qualifying runs, Sir Fretful's oracle may, perhaps, be as indisputable as he proclaims it for lengthen. ing plays; though, beyond this, I am very much inclined to doubt its use or authority.

Without being able to give precisely in a word the why and the wherefore, the timing of races and race-horses has somehow or other always appeared to my mind's eye a practice beneath “ the true gentleman sportsman.' There is a certain mixture of childishness and snobbishness ever attendant on it, that one finds it the more difficult to overlook, as we come to consider the fallacy, if not indeed the utter impossibility, of acting upon it. As a means of gratifying an idle curiosity, there may be little to say for or against the watch as a turf critic ; but, as an agent for acquiring any benefit in either a national or personal point of view, I am afraid we shall find its recommendations small indeed. At the first superficial look at such notion, to the complete tyro in fact, the minute hand would seem no doubt amongst the best and most certain assistants for testing and collating all matters of speed. The farther, however, we proceed on such a plan, the greater the difficulty we encounter, and the less confidence we entertain in the experiment. The best evidence to be brought in support of such a conclusion as this, would be the thorough contempt in which all trainers and racing men hold the timing of race-horses ; an off-hand way, though, of settling the argument, that it would hardly be fair to the clockmakers' advocates to avail ourselves of. In preference, rather let us enter bodily on the question of that the watch presumes to dictate on, and how these said dicta are to be trusted.

The first, then, and most palpable reason one could give for the use of his watch on a race would be in order to learn whether it was run truly or not. Few, it is said, beyond those actually engaged in a race can have anything like a correct opinion as to the pace at which it was enacted ; and here, consequently, the time-test would seem to come into play with very fine effect. If the pace is good, ergo the time is short ; and vice versá, if the speed is poor, the time is proportionately longer.

“Simplicity," said Lord Byron, “was one of the true properties of true greatness ;” and, most assuredly, nothing can sound more simple or straightforward in its aim and accomplishment than this ; indeed, if

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every horse, on the old order of “ take the lead and keep it,” was forced to run from end to end as hard he could crack, it might possibly be as safe a guide, as we will at present allow it to be a simple one. This, though, is rather a second subject for consideration ; the first being, how truly the watch will tell how truly a race is run ; and here again, if-much virtue in “ if”—all ran at the same weights, the same distance, over the same course, our time-keeper might amuse himself with a series of pretty propositions on the end of time and pace. Unfortunately, however, they do not ; and as they do not, the sum becomes rather more puzzling than inviting. Admitting, for instance, that weight, age, and distance are all the same, the very change in the course will furnish a difficulty in itself, almost, if not entirely, insuperable. А horse that would be timed as going at very middling speed over the Flat at Newmarket would by the watch be running as poorly or falsely, at the same time over the same distance, on some of the up-hill and down-dale courses in the provinces.

“But then you must make allowance for all that,” says the critic.

A horse that ran a cup race of two miles in good average time over a course like a bowling green, would, by the rule of hours, minutes, and seconds, have won a very false flattering kind of race over a mire, as at Bath a few weeks since, up to his hocks in mud and water.

“But of course we make allowance for all that again,” sneers the critic.

A horse with a great, long, dashing stride, that finishes his three miles over a course, where he has room to get in and keep up to his style of going, in a time that proves he really had brought them along, might run just as determinedly though perhaps, by the dial apparently quite at his ease, over the twisting and twirling of Chester.

And, for a third time, by the command of our critic, we make allowance for that too.

Then, again, as to weight. The lighter the weight a horse carries, as Captain Rous, Mr. Charles Weatherby, and other learned handicappers would tell us, the faster is he supposed to travel. Seven pounds in a mile and a half, as they would regulate it, might be taken as good as a distance ; or, to make it quite plain, equal to two hundred and forty yards. This certainly sounds a little more definite and tangible ; and by a man with an extra mathematical, senior wrangler sort of head, something, no doubt, might be made of it. Yards must naturally be estimated by moments, and miles by minutes ; and so, if a horse ran a two-mile heat truly at nine stone, we, or rather he, our learned friend from Cambridge, would set his watch to a second as to when he should reach home with seven stone seven on him. As nine stone is to five minutes and fifty-five seconds, what is seven stone seven pounds. Of course we here allow fourteen pounds to the stone, and seven pounds to the distance ; which, with a few more allowances our critic may be inclined to crave, would quickly make a tolerably clear calculation of it. “On the whoole,” however, as Mr. Wopstraw says, the man who acquired his judgment of pace by reference to his watch, would hardly be taken, on that recommendation, to make running in these times ; and though, undoubtedly, a race run from end to end would be over sooner than one played out on the waiting system, ground, weather, weights, and other items, afford so many reasons for "allowance," as to render the time-test next door to a nušlity.

The next, and still more erroneous feature, we may consider is that of collating the time of one race with that of another, and the wondrous advantage of making deductions therefrom-a vulgar error, which it is to be feared is, even in these enlightened times, occasionally relied upon by petty bettors, and the Sporting Sweep" supporters. As, for example, Iago takes longer in running over the Rowley Mile for the Column, than Tibthorpe does for the Two-thousand Guineas, or may-be just the reverse ; for I have none of the newly-established time-tables at my elbow. Well, the one that does his mile the quicker is, of course, by Father Timo's test, the better ; and might be safely backed, whatever the Ring says to "the contrarairy," at odds against the gentlemen behind time. The absurdity of for one moment attending to such logic as this ought to be apparent to the meanest and greenest capacity ; for, as I have already remarked, few horses go the whole hog all through, whatever the length of their course may be. In fact, I should say there was scarcely one race in fifty but what the minutes or moments could be lessened, was there any object or advantage in so doing. To borrow an opening from the “Sentimental Traveller," " they manage these things better in France ; " not that I can plead guilty to ever having been on a French race-course, though I still shall, perhaps, be permitted to illustrate upon hearsay. Nimrod I think it is, who, in an account of a day's sport at Boulogne or somewhere in that quarter, tells us of a horse which, although he had beaten his field right off half way from home, had still to be hustled, if not flogged in ; because, if he did not do the distance within a certain time, he would not receive the stake! And, farther than this, the mighty hunter goes on to observe how unsportsman-like an appearance such a finish has in the eye of an Englishman-how it does away with the great beauty and art of riding a race ; and he might have added how short it falls of that true test the government expected from it . The surest plan to make a fast horse a slow one is to set to, and gallop him against his own shadow ; the most difficult and almost unnatural task, to force a horse to go right away from those he has been running in company with ; and about the most generally-known fact connected with racing, that many of our best horses would always make a race of it, no matter how bad their opponents. Now, only putting this, and that and that together, I think we may venture to say that Monsieur's breed of race-horses would be none the worse, and his breed of race-riders all the better, were the grand band henceforth to welcome home the winner to the tune of " Take your time, Miss Lucy ; take your time, Miss Long.'

To return, however, to the old country. Putting public running against public running on the time-test, what with waiting orders from masters, and mighty rushes from jockeys, cannot come to much : whilst publie tersus private, I am afraid, will work on to a still worse account. I say, I am afraid, because ás évery man has a hobby of some kind or another

, one of mine is that an English gentleman, to take to the turf in a proper spirit, should have a string and trainer to himself—a system to which (amongst sundry other objections) the disadvantage arising from the want of proper trials, is argued as about the first, though one that the watch would, to the theorist, seem fully able to remove.

As again for example, Squire Homespun has two or three two year olds, that he and his man John are very ready to believe to be clippers in embryo ; yet not being quite prepared for the affidavit

, they in the first

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