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He here observes a certain laconic side-smile on the countenance of the groom - a kind of smile as if in anticipation of something to smile at.
“I have no hesitation in saying,” replied the owner, " he can carry you or any other man in any country and with any hounds.”
What do you expect for him ?” “ Four hundred !” Of course, this was a floorer.
* Now," said the owner, “if you would permit me to point out a horse to you, I think I can put one into your hands that would suit you in all respects ; it is this chesnut. I took him in exchange from a friend of mine. He has three failings, neither of which, I should say, would be objectionable to you in the country where you hunt. He is particularly pleasant to ride, very safe, and handy at fences, goes a fair pace, and will go on till nightfall. But, like the brown horse, is not as fast as I like them here, and he does not like wide water ; independent of which, he is a size less than I usually have them. I should say in Surrey he would be perfect ; and I will take £100.”
There is a certain feeling of vanity in man that is not confined to the breast, which is generally pointed out as its locality, but runs, like the nerves, over every part and particle of the body; so, touch it where you will, like the string of a harp touched by the scientific finger of a master whose intent is to produce harmony, it “discourses most eloquent music;" but, when the careless and rude finger of truth is applied, it often gives back a twang that seems to jar to the very pedals.
The description of the horse seemed to bode his suiting our buyer; but the not being objectionable to him and his country seemed to carry with it something burdering on a latent hint at inferiority that he winced at. He felt the truth of the thing, would have owned it to himself, but to have it, as it were, forced on him by another, though done without any intentional offence, made it no more palatable than Pistol found the leek, or the persuasions that induced him to swallow it. He even thought of dashing at the four-hundredpounder at once; but, as he was a man of sense, the thought merely fitted across his brain, so he compounded with good sense, good manners, and a little mortification, by asking if he might take the liberty of sending a brother-sportsman to look at the little horse, and to ride him. Both permissions being granted, he took his leave; and next day the friend came. He and the seller were at home at once; they saw what each other were in a moment.
• Take him into those meadows," said the latter;“ put him at any fair fences you like; if you get him into one, I shall forgive you.”
The horse answered all that was said of him. Both agreed he was all that could be wished for the proposed buyer. His friend made his report, and recommended him not to miss the horse. He promised he would not; but it did not do. The "him and his country" still jarred like the string touched by truth; and then the buying a horse on a friend's trial and judgment had a want of independence about it that chafed him; and then the horse was not a wide brook-jumper. True, there were no wide brooks to jump where he hunted. He was not quite so fast as his present owner wanted—this seemed like putting up with something like an inferior thing. No:
he would choose for himself, and see if lie could not, by giving a litile inore, get nearer perfection. He tried : went to a dealer, gave £150, got one that he was told was perfection itself. This he had no great opportunity of finding out; but the first day, after one burst, he clearly ascertained he was a lame one. He would have consulted the interest of the pocket more by taking his friend's recommendation, and have made a better addition to the stud.
When using the term “stud,” our ideas are chiefly led to the contemplation of the hunter's stable. I only mean it, as used in these sheets, to allude to horses in general; but, be the stud what it may, it is composed of horses used more or less as animals for real use or business, or for pleasurable purposes. Of course, the horses used for the park and street are for use, but not use in ihe light in which I contemplate the term.
Now, there are two opposite ways in which horses may be kept; and both will answer well if in all particulars the system is adhered
There is the rongh and ready plan, and the plan that brings out horses in fine condition; but the person is unreasonable as regards bis servant and his horses, if he thinks he can combine both. If a lady merely wants a pair of animals to drag a machine on wheels about, so as to convey her free froin wet or cold wherever and whenever she is disposed to go out, and cares nothing for their appearance, the rough plan will do, provided they get plenty of corn; and such' horses, with a good tough coat on them, and winter-cloths across their loins, will stand inclement weather, and be no more hurt by it than the cart-horse. But then their pace must accord with their appearance and treatment; for the cart-horse, hardy as he is, would very soon get under the doctor's lands if he was subjected to heats by fast work, and then to stand while his waggon was loaded and unloaded; for though a long coat will keep off a certain degree of rain from the pores of the skin, and a dry one will keep out the cold air, a long coat wetted with sweat is anything but likely to prevent colds, if horses are afterwards to be kept loitering about at doors. Such horses, of course, in point of keep, will cost just as much as those in good condition, and, after all, confer anything but credit on their mistress. If a lady thinks the term “my carriage” sufficient, no matter what that carriage may be, well and good. I can only say I consider the difference between such equipages as Lord Anglesey's, Lord Sefton's, and many others, and that of some that we occasionally see, is much greater than between the latter and none at all. In fact, if I had ever owned such a turn-out as I have seen some ladies sport, and wished to make a morning call, I should have desired the cortège-man, horses, and vehicle-to stop a few doors off, lest I might be suspected of owning them.
It is quite true private individuals of moderate means are not called on or expected to keep such equipages as the nobility or persons of great wealth, yet still may want a carriage for their families; and one that will pass without observation of any sort is here quite appropriate: but as most persons wish to make as decent an appearance as their means permit, and as my object is as far as I can to further their object as regards their horses and their appliances, I only beg the masters of such equipages to believe me when I assure
them that taking care their ladies are not in inclement weather all the morning shopping, that they under such circumstances curtail the length and number of their morning visits, do not order the carriage at eleven and keep it waiting till one to take them out, or at one in the morning and keep it till three to bring them home, will just make the difference of having an equipage that is at least creditable, and one that would occasionally induce a cabman to call out, Who wouldn't keep a carriage ?”
It is true we see the most splendid equipages out in the most inclement weather ; but what are they doing? Taking their lords or masters to or from the House, to dinner or a party, bringing their ladies from a silla to the town-house, or to a dinner or party also. The pace keeps them warm while going, they set down, and come home, and are dried. There are other horses and other harness, if wanted, to fetch their owners back; but we do not see such owners starving their horses and servants, cheapening bonnets or silks at half-a-dozen different shops. Many hundreds who do, if they were going to ten different ones close together, would not, if they lived two hundred yards off, walk there, and, knowing they should be three hours, order their carriage to call for them at a certain hour, for the world. What, lose letting the nine see they kept a carriage! Oh, the delight of “Put those things into the carriage !" or “ William,” beckoning their servant into the shop," put this in the pocket of the carriage !" Pleasant and salutary all this, for clipped horses. I have in my eye a family of a certain grade, and, from the animus of each member of it, pretty accurately guess what would be done should they perpetrate a carriage of any sort. If they wanted to go to dinner at seven, won't it be ordered to the door at five, to be seen there? If wanted to go shopping, which it certainly would be iwo bundred and fifty days a year, won't it be ordered at two, to go at half-past three? Won't it be “to and again,” as people describe our canine friend in a fair? Won't the tablets to write on, and the “ tablets of the memory," be taxed to rake up all and every person they ever spoke to, and to find out their residence, to make a call in the carriage? Won't Thomas be taught to give a regular “ Londonderry” at the door, only somewhat longer and louder ? As the boys say, “ Won't he, though ?”
(To be concluded in our next.)
SPORT WITII “ THE FIFE HOUNDS;" OR, A PEEP AT “MERRY JOHN” (WALKER) IN HIS “ OWN LITTLE
Kind Reader! It was with a heart as light and free as down from the eider-duck's breast, that we took our departure from the banks of the Pow on the afternoon of Friday, the 26th day of November last. The day was as fine as a • foxhunter" could wish for, and we were all " cock-a-hoop" for a glorious day's sport on the morrow. As we were bowled along on that best of regulated convey:
The Victor,” viâ Glasgow and Perth, the grey mists settled down on the mountains, and as the shades of evening closed around us, we were set down at The Star hotel in the “ fair city” of St. John (Perth). Having domiciled in the "fair city," and in all comfort for the night, on Saturday, the 27th, we were up with the lark, and by 7 A.M. were safely seated on the first morning coach that leaves Perth for Lindores ; and as the latter place was the FIXTURE for the “ Fife hounds” on this eventful day, you see we came it rather strong in sporting a conveyance (public) and four to the meet. Our “ Jehu" was a brother of Mr. RICHARD CRUICKSHANKS, one of the most spirited coach proprietors in
Scotland”-and a merry and funny old file we found him. Our journey was made pleasant by the many anecdotes told to us by this merry little knight of the whip, and the were often reminded on
our journey to Lindores that they must go a little faster (by-the-bye, I should observe that the said coach runs to Lindores to catch the mail-train on the Edinburgh and Northern railway). In this form “ Coachee” would every now and then address his team : “ Come, Jamie” (meaning one of the nags), “ a little faster, my man ; we will be too late for puffing Willie' this morning” (meaning the train). Then, in another minute or two it would be : Come, Mary, my bonny lassie” (addressing himself to one of the leaders), " a wee bit gallop, if ye please; puffing Willie' is sure to be waiting on us, and do ye no ken that there is a foxhunter on the box this morning? And you, Jenny, just let the gentleman see that you can use your legs wi' the best of them. That's it, Jenny; De'il tak’ me, but ye wad do to follow the hounds after a'.” In this merry mood we arrived at the small village of Lindores ; and where we parted with our friend Mr. Cruickshanks. Being now left to our own solitary musings, and having an hour to spare previous to the time of the fixture (half-past 10), we poked our nose into a
“ cobbler's shop," thinking that “ Crispin" would be able to give us some information anent the hounds ; as we were an entire stranger in those parts. Nor were we disappointed.
“ Good morning, Mr. Crispin ; good morning, sir. Do you know where the hounds meet when they come to Lindores ?”
“ Yes, I can easily tell you that. They meet at my door.”
“ And where do they draw' for a fox ! Are there any good coverts in this neighbourhood ; and are there any
foxes ?” “ Oh yes, sir, there are plenty of foxes ; and if the 'mist' would clear I could show you as pretty a covert as you ever set eyes on; and just on the face of the hill, and within three hundred yards of the back of the house ; and what is more, I have every reason to believe that there is a good fox in it this very morning, as I saw him last night in the gloamin', and I am sure that he has not been disturbed since then."
My next inquiry of this “cobbler king” was—" Well, old fellow ; is there a public-house in your village ?"
“ Yes, sir."
And it was soon pointed out to me ; and thither I bent my boots. This pot-house is kept by a Mrs. and Mr. Rollo. The good dame, as I was told by her lord, was confined to bed with “ influenza ;" and as I requested from him a cup of tea he was rather taken aback. A cup of whisky could have been most easily procured, but I required none of him.
Tea, tea," muttered the old fellow, “ I am no sure if there is any in the house ; but I will gang ben the house and see what the gude wife says on the subject.
And as soon as I had got rid of the old gent, I had a regular survey of the interior of the kitchen, and soon found the implements for a cup of tea ; and on the return of the old man I demanded a clean towel from him.
His remark was- “ Do you want to wash your face? and if so, I am sure it does not want it, as it is as clean as a new pin.”
“ Never mind, old fellow, find me a clean towel ; and I will show you what purpose I want it for.” This done, I spread the clean cloth on his little dirty table ; and having infused a pretty strong cup of the Chinaman’s beverage, sat down, and made a pretty fair breakfast. This done, I sallied out, and found that my friend Merry John (Walker), with eighteen couple of his darlings, had just arrived at the door of the “ cobbler ;” and in another minute I was beside him, and after a most friendly greeting between us (being old and sworn friends) I made inquiry after what sport they were having this season, and was answered by at least a dozen of honest sportsmen, that they never had had a better season—“ Plenty of foxes, and never saw our hounds and huntsman in better trim. But where is there a better man in field or kennel than John Walker? There may be many a clever huntsman in this snug little island of ours ; but I am sure that there is no better man in his profession than “merry little John' who hunts the Fife country!”
After waiting till nearly 11 (by this time the fog had left the mountain-side, and we then caught a glimpse of the cobbler's covert, called “ Kinnaird Hill,” lying on the south side of the hill that overlooks the village of Lindores), a well-mounted field ready for the foray, among whom we recognized many old friends : —The master, Mr. White Melville ; Lord Ogilvie, son of the Earl of Airlie, a very promising young man in the field, and a good horseman ; his brother-in-law, Captain Rait, of Aritson, one of the quickest and best men with hounds I ever saw in the “ pig-skin ;” Mr. Balfour, of Balbirnie, and his brother; Mr. Wolf Murray and his brother, Captain Murray ; Mr. Wedderburn ; Mr. Bethune ; Mr. Gilespie ; and many others, too numerous to name. By-the-bye, I should not forget to mention a “ Mr. Jones” from England, a good sportsman and kindhearted fellow; he has a good stud of horses, and hunts regularly with the “ Fife.” This gentleman has seen a good deal of hunting in the South, and can go the pace with the best ; but, he remarked to me, he had never seen any pack that could come up to “ Merry John's” in all his travels. What do ye say to this, ye men of Warwickshire, the Quorn, and Northamptonshire ?
But we must on to Kinnaird Hill, where the hounds and their clever huntsman had not been many minutes when the cheerful notes of Bonny.. lass, Baroness, and Baronet were heard ; every face beamed with joy, and every lip whispered - a find.” The greater part of the field were on the south side of the wood ; but we quickly moved through the middle of the planting by a narrow ride, or wood-road, and just as we emerged in a body at the north side of the covert, we beheld the noble pack in full chorus : threading the gorse to the left, a dozen voices asked of the few who had taken up their stand at this side of the covert