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MERCY IS TWICE BLESSÉD.

367 and who, in contradistinction from authors in general, does not feel himself under any great obligation to the performers for playing their parts so well: in fact, though he was told all was done that could be done for his benefit, it was himself who was done, and his benefit was, as I fear such things often are, no benefit to any one but the lessee of the premises. Let us, however, in charity hope, that whatever Mr. Nickem's deserts may be, he will be off the stage when we expect the drop scene! Our own cup of iniquity is full enough: let us, therefore, if the business of the stage demands him, mercifully direct the call-boy, wherever the culprit may be, to seek him on the 0.P.S. This shall not, however, deter us from being on our guard against his usual cast of character. To assist my reader in being so will be my attempt in the following pages.

I alluded to Nickem's managing to sell a horse for a much larger sum than he intended to hand over to the owner, and at the same time so to arrange the transaction as to shield himself from blame even should the fact come to light: but, before I explain this, justice demands an observation or two on the subject.

Whenever any one attempts to expose the tricks and nefarious practices of any particular business or class of men, he should be particularly careful not to allow it to be supposed that what he shows may be done, and certainly is done in some places, is the general practice in all, or that what a Nickem may do is to be expected from every man filling the same situation in life. There are doubtless many men of his avocation of great respectability, and in whom we may implicitly trust. We may never be so unfortunate as to meet with a Nickem : if so, I allow a know.

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ALMOST A CERTAINTY. -
ledge of his manner of managing affairs would be of
little service to us: but, speaking as liberally as expe-
rience will allow me, I do think the odd are nearly
even that we do meet the prototype of friend Nickem:
so the odds go in the same ratio that information on
this subject may be useful. To be able to judge, by cer-
tain signs and appearances, of the propinquity of
danger, is a mighty useful sort of knowledge: it does
us no harm where no danger is nigh, and does us a
great deal of good when it is. I remember being
quite of this opinion once under the following cir-
cumstances:-

I went to spend a week with a friend in the New
Forest during the hunting season, so of course sent.
my horses down. He was located in the neighbour-
hood of Lyndhurst: a more beautiful country cannot
be; that is, for those who like sylvan scenery; better
hounds need not be; and better sportsmen or a more
pleasant gentlemanlike set of men I never met in any
place, and most delighted should I be to meet them at
any time: but I must allow I should prefer that time
being from April to October, as, during the other
months, there are hounds going in other countries,
and I have an intuitive dislike to knocking my brains
about against the limbs of trees, breaking my horse's
legs or shins against stumps of the same, or tumbling
into holes and bogs. How those used to these things
avoided them as they did, I know not; but this I do
know, ten minutes made me acquainted with them
all, a degree of intimacy quite unsolicited on my part.
We found; pug went off just as I would always wish
to see him go; (that is, in a country where I could ride).
I thought I could do so there; and, as Pat says, a
pretty Molly Hogan I made of myself from entertain-

“ ALL TOO SWEET TO LAST.”

369 ing such an opinion. Chance gave me a capital place at the find, so of course, as a fresh man, I took care to get a good start. A splendid open glade was before me, a good looking-country in the distance, hounds going with a burning scent like a hurricane, myself on a thorough-bred that could, when asked, run a bit on the flat- what could a man ask for more this side of Heaven! The horse I was on cared nothing about the pace, and I only thought, if this was foresthunting, no man need wish for any other. I had heard of bogs, had been in one occasionally with the King's hounds, but those were black, ungentleman-like looking traps; not so the beautiful sward I was racing over. Presently I heard, “ Ware bog!behind me; “hold hard!” It never occurred to me that I was the party warned, and the pace was too good to look back. In a few strides I was up to my horse's fetlocks; in a few seconds more up to his girths, with the pleasing conviction that if there was a bottom it was a pretty considerable way to it. Seeing a wide expanse of the same delectable green sward before me, that I now, to its heart's content, cursed for its treachery, as Daniel O'Rourke did the black eagle; and moreover, not knowing how far it might last, I imprudently tried to turn my horse round; but a regular Hampshire chawbacon, with more sense that myself, called out, “ Lay the whip into ’un, and coom straight out." Now, the laying the whip into 'un could only affect the head, neck, withers, and loins of my horse, all other parts being secured from such a visitation by the New Forest hasty-pudding. The spurs, however,went to work, and no small share of resolution on the part of my nag brought us through, both blowing like two grampuses. People

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370

"NIL TAM DIFFICITE EST QUOD,” ETC. ETC.

may say that, professing myself a fox-hunter, and not more nervous than my neighbours, my first thought should have been which way I could again get to the hounds. Candour compels me to allow I made no such inquiry; but I instanter made another—“which was my way home!” With all appendages on me I usually ride about 11st.; I think I rode home thirteen at least, allowing for twenty-eight honest pounds of bog-adhesive mixture. I looked black enough then, and my friends told me I looked blue enough when they met me at dinner, till their hospitality made me take sundry bumpers to their continued and my better success. Success to them! I would get into another bog to meet such companions.

The next day I considered I could suit the country to a tittle ; so I mounted a mare I had, though not at all one of my sort, for she was just fast enough to drive a wheelbarrow; but you could twist her round on a cabbage leaf, and as to fencing, nothing a quadruped, from a Hendon deer to a Skye terrier, could get through or over in size or intricacy came amiss to her. We had another glorious find: the varmint came almost under my mare's nose. At such a moment no true enthusiast in fox-hunting can be, or ought to be, in perfect possession of his sober senses: it is maddening. I had, however, sense enough to know that nothing but getting first start would do for “ sober Mary:" so off I went by the side of the first two or three couple of hounds, and, without any gasconade, I verily believe I lay with them five hundred yards ; but soon I lay by the side of “prostrate Mary,” for galloping over some dry ground covered with leaves, and consequently in perfect confidence of no bog being in the way, in went Mary up to her breast in a hole,

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“MARY, MARY, LIST AWAKE.”

371 and I on her neck peeping into her ears, I suppose to inquire what was the matter. But, by other research, I found we had fallen into the rotten cavity of the roots of a former large tree. Poor Mary and I got on our legs, shook our feathers, but it was “no go:" she was lame as the tree itself, and the strain and bruise of the muscles of the fore-arm spoiled her forest hunt. ing: so I had to resort to the bumpers again to keep the steam up that evening.

Determined, if possible, to see a run in this country, I did what I considered would ensure my so doing, and to this purpose resolved to take as pioneer next day a gentleman who knew every inch of the country; but there is a wide difference between making resolves and keeping them. A most impenetrable fog came on a few minutes after we had found. I could see my vanguard for fifty yards before me, but no more. How he gave me the slip I know not, but I all at once missed him, and in his place found myself on the bank of an impracticable brook; heard the hounds running a-head; and there I was as much at home in point of knowing my locality as I should have been in the Ukraine. Our good stars order every thing for the best. I had an appointment in Northamptonshire; so I left the next day, or, as the New Forest was the grave of one so high as Rufus, I dare say it would have also witnessed the demise of the humble HARRY HIE'OVER.

It may be asked, what on earth has HARRY HIE'OVER'S tumbles and mishaps in the New Forest to do with people's transactions with a Nickem? Perhaps nothing quoad the two occurrences, but a good deal in showing the advantages of information and being put on our guard; for had I known that New Forest bogs

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