صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني


FOX-HUNTERS. suit of the glorious sport, would again rouse his cooling passion to that enthusiasm that fox-hunters enjoy more than perhaps any other class of men. Long may such enthusiasm animate such men, and long may such men live to feel it! Let misanthropes rail at mankind in general; let the money-loving and money-seeking soul shrink into itself, and, judging by that self, look on others with suspicion as cold, selfish, and illiberal: grant that the ordinary run of men deserve such epithets, who ever found such degrading feelings in the heart of the true fox-hunter ? The very fellowship of the chase forbids it. A brilliant run, like a well fought field, calls forth mutual admiration among those who have gallantly led the van, and binds such gallant hearts in closest fellowship over the bivouac, whether that be in the tented field or in the hereditary hall handed down from ancestors, who, instead of fritting away their fortunes in frivolous pursuits among still more frivolous nations, have nobly used those fortunes on their native soil, and earned for themselves that best and noblest reward, the praise and blessings of their friends and countrymen as the best supporters of their parent land.

Such are fox-hunters, such are the manly and liberal feelings our country sports cherish and keep alive; and next in merit to the patronisers of such sports are those who hand down in imperishable memory such names and such men to posterity. And who contributes more to towards this than the painter, the engraver, and the publisher ? True, the master mind and talent of the painter justly ranks higher than the mechanical imitative art of the engraver; but we must not forget that a fine picture only gratifies its pos66 COME LIKE SHADOWS, SO DEPART."


sessor and a chosen few : it is the art of the engraver that enables the object to meet the eye of thousands : he it is who enables the mimic representation to become possessed by foreign nations, and from “ Indus to the Pole” silently, but energetically, to show the manly feats that lead to the daring spirit which keeps our hearths and homes inviolate.

In this iron age, who can peep into futurity and say whether the steam-engine that enables us to fly like meteors through our native land, and bring nations as neighbours to each other, will eventually prove a blessing or a curse. Politics are no subject for sporting works, though sporting pictures and sporting prints have ever been children of their adoption : but who can see the coaching scenes so ably and so truly characteristically illustrated by C. C. Henderson, Esq., and by some others, and not feel a sigh escape him for scenes and days gone by? Time was when we should have hailed such specimens of what was our country's boast with unmixed pleasure; but now a saddened feeling creeps over us from their very fidelity, somewhat similar to those pleasurable but painful feelings with which we witness the faithful representations of those dear to our recollection, but now no more.

The snorting monster, that we could almost fancy frightens Nature from her propriety in its headlong course, has, no doubt, its great conveniences : but all the pleasure of travelling is gone. Cold must be the heart that could travel through a blooming and a fertile country without feeling an elevation of spirits that we shall never again experience. Time was when the summit of each hill afforded fresh objects for our wonder or admiration; but now we grovel 298


through the flats and valleys of our country; and those lovely prospects that Nature has presented to us are no more seen by the traveller than by the blind mole which forms her miniature tunnel beneath our feet.

The sordid wretch may button up his coat, and chuckle at the idea that he saves his wretched pence by being exempt from the accustomed fee to the servants of the road: these, in the littleness of his grovelling mind, he swells into extortions : extortions we will allow they were, but they were petty extortions that he might refuse if he chose to be known in his true character, a mean and griping votary of mammon, who would not purchase the cheerful and ready service of the whole world at the expense of the smallest coin in his pocket if he could avail himself of forced assistance without it. Give me the welcome smile of the pretty chambermaid, the bustling readiness of the waiter, when we were in the habit of sleeping on the road; the grin of recognition of the horsekeepeer at the change in return for the simple shilling occasionally given, with the little flattery expressed to others that we are “one of the right sort." These were all little attentions, purchased if you will have it so, but still attentions that showed we were some one in the scale of existence, and further showed we were not all deserted on the main”-road I must add, to make the quotation applicable; but now it is “ Take your seat, sir, if you please,” or “ Now then take your place," the terms and tone depending on the class of carriage we get into : bang goes the door, and then we may go to Derby or the devil for all he cares, to whom we are of no further consideration than the dead pig behind, which travels as fast as ourselves,

" ELASTIC FROM HER AIRY TREAD." 299 and can form about as correct an idea of the country he passes through.

Oh, the delight of a fine morning in days gone by when, intending to go by the Telegraph, the Express, the Tally-ho, or the Tantivy, the soft and pretty voice of the more pretty maid awoke us from dreams, perchance of azure eyes or raven locks, with “ Your warm water and five o'clock, sir,” — an attention she coquettishly assured each traveller (who passed a compliment to her vanity and an extra shilling to her pocket) was only shown to the chosen few. She trips across the room, and well she kens the meaning of the look that follows a figure many a courtly dame would give her thousands to possess. Down, down rebellious thoughts, if any such arise, and, like unbidden visions, they sometimes would. That sly and roguish smile was well reserved to the moment when the door was closing. Our guardian angel ordered that it should be so, and “Being gone, I am a man


Then no bleak and cheerless platform awaited us starving with cold while our conveyance is preparing. No, Boots, the indefatigable Boots had taken care of the right sort. “Let them-'ere breakfast where or when they will, I've made all right for you, sir.” This is something better than companies' servants. I always hated a company's coach where “no fees to servants" prepared me for a dogged reception till it was known I set such rules at defiance.

And then the “Now, if you please, sir," from Jem the guard brought Boots with our coat and comforter.

What do you take this morning, Jem ?” prevents all danger of luggage left behind. “ One minute, coachman, till I look at your team,” told as plain as 300

1 as

THE MAIL COACH. any promise that half-a-crown in lieu of the bare shilling was about the “ ticket.This, where one was not already known, insured the “ Tom, put them coats right,” and brought the horsekeeper with some clean straw for the toe-board. If known as the right sort, all this was done as a matter of course : one, two, three, four, and we were seated. “Are ye right, sir ?” —“All right!” The thong lightly passed over the off-wheeler, and tightening the near leading-rein brought us off the curb-stone. The “Dusky Night,” "Old Towler,” or “The Mail Coach," from the bugle, told the drowsy world that we were wide awake; the rattling of the swing bars told us that the leaders had not steadied to their pace. “Who-ho!” cried the coachman, and each horse felt his traces. We cleared the town a straight mile of ground before us: no need of - springing'em :" they knew the spot; they were off like four flushed snipes: the coachman's hands gave and took with their determined pull; away they went snapping playfully at each other, as much as to say ten miles in forty-five minutes be ......: it's only a lark to us! Oh the delight of thus careering across a country, instead of being lugged by the tail of a smoking, hissing, steaming, burning devil, who only appears in his element when plunging into a tunnel dark as his native Erebus.

Who can look at the print from Herring's painting of the “ Mail Change” without a feeling of inspiration? There they stand the beau ideal of what mail horses should be, and but for a few somethings worth a hundred a-piece. Verily, friend Herring, if coaching was again in its zenith, thy judgment of the right sort would be worth a thousand a-year to coachowners. Herring, Henderson, Fores and Co., though

« السابقةمتابعة »