« VorigeDoorgaan »
he no man has a more cruel lot. He is the victim of a reputation. On some occasion his horse ran away with him, or some combination of circumstances occurred, resulting in his "going" brilliantly in a run, or being carried safely over some impossible place which, though he subsequently, like Mr. Winkle in his duel, had presence of mind enough to speak of and treat as nothing out of the way, and to have jumped which was to him an ordinary occurrence, he could not in any unguarded moment contemplate, allude to, or even think of without shuddering. By nature nervous and timid-weaknesses reacted upon as a sort of antidote by a love of notoriety and a secret craving for admiration and applause this heavy calamity had occurred to him, from which he could never shake himself free.
The burden of an honor
clung to him wheresoever he went. Greatness was thrust upon him. He must ride; it was expected from him. Noblesse oblige! he hates it, but he must do it. It embitters his life, but he dares not sacrifice the reputation. The eyes of Europe are upon him, as he thinks; and so, though in mortal fear during the most part of every hunting day, he endures it. He suffers, and is strong. Each day requires from him some feat of daring for the edification of the field; and he does it, usually executing it in sight of the whole field, when hounds are running slowly, charging some big fence, which there is no real necessity for jumping, at full speed, and shutting his eyes as he goes over. The county analyst, if called upon to examine the contents of the various flasks carried by the field, would pronounce this gentleman's sherry or brandy to be less diluted with water than any one else's. Honor to him! If you feel no fear, what credit to ride boldly? But if you really "funk," and ride boldly, this is to be brave indeed.
grieve to say that an almost total absence of calf is indispensable; but with this physical advantage in his favor, if he can otherwise "dress up to it," very little more is required from him. He expends all his energies on his "get-up," and when he is "got up" he is done and exhausted for the day, and is seldom seen out of a trot or a lane. Then there is the man "who can tell you all about it." He will describe the whole run, with fervent and florid descriptions of this awkward fence, or that wide brook, not positively asserting, but leaving you to infer, that he was in the front rank all the way; but somehow no one else will have ever seen him in any part of the run. This rider is gifted with a vivid imagination and vast powers of invention, and, as a rule, never leaves the road. Then there is the politician who button-holes you at every possible opportunity on the subject of the Affirmation Bill, extracting from you probably, as your attention is most likely not intent on this matter just then, some "paths" not required by the statute. Then there is, finally, the honest man who comes out, without disguise or pretence, solely for the benefit of his digestion; who never intends to jump, and never does jump.
All these varied classes are happy, and not a few of them go home under the firm impression that they have distinguished themselves; and some even comfort themselves with the reflection that they have "cut down" certain persons, who are probably quite unaware of this operation having been performed upon them, or may possibly be of opinion that they themselves have performed it on the very individuals who are thus rejoicing in this reversed belief.
With all this there is throughout these varied classes of riders, although occasional bickerings may arise, a general tone of good humor and tolerance rarely to be found in other congregations of mankind. Landlords and tenant farmers
Then among the more passive class of whose natural relation to each other riders comes the man who goes in entirely has recently been described by political for "a sporting get-up," especially for a agitators (with their usual accuracy) as faultless boot, which is generally regarded one of mutual coldness, distrust, and anas a sure indication of riding power. The tagonism - here meet with smiling counold Sir Richard Sutton, when asked dur- tenances and jovial greetings, and the ing his mastership of the Quorn Hounds, only question of "tenant right" here is whether So-and-so, recently arrived from the right of the tenant to ride over his the country, could ride, replied: "I don't landlord, or of the landlord to take a simknow I have not seen him go; but Iilar liberty with his tenant. Rivals in should think he could, for he hangs a good business, opponents in politics, debtors boot." To arrive, however, at this rarely and creditors-all by common consent attained perfection of sporting exterior, I seem to wipe off old scores, and, for the
day at least, to be at peace and charity | knows how much of his sport depends on with their neighbors.
One man only may perhaps be sometimes excluded from the benefits arising out of this approximation to the millen nium, and he, to whom I have not yet alluded, is the most important of allthe master. No position, except perhaps a member of Parliament's, entails so much hard work, accompanied with so little thanks, as that of a master of foxhounds. A "fierce light," inseparable from his semi-regality, beats on him; his every act is scrutinized and discussed by eyes and tongues ever ready to mark and proclaim what is done amiss. Very difficult is it for him to do right. There are many people to please, and often what pleases one offends another. Anything going wrong, any small annoyance, arriv ing too late at the meet, getting a bad start, drawing away from, and not towards, the grumbler's home (and grumblers, like the poor, must always be among us)-all these things are apt to be somehow visited on the unhappy master.
Upon the King! let us our lives - our souls, Our debts, our sins, lay on the King!
Then there is the anxiety for his hounds' safety among wild riders and kicking three-year-olds. He knows each hound, and has a special affection for some, which makes him in gateways or narrow passes, as they thread their way among the horses' feet, shudder to his inmost core. Sir Richard Sutton was once overheard, when arriving at the meet, putting the following questions to his secondhorse man: "Many people out?" "A great many, Sir Richard." "Ugh!" "Is Colonel F. out?" 66 Yes, Sir Richard." "Ugh, ugh!" "Is Mr. B. out?" "Yes, Sir Richard." "Ugh, ugh, ugh! Then couple up Valiant and Dauntless, and send them both home in the brougham!" This same master in my hearing called aside at one of his meets a gentleman, who was supposed by him to be not very particular as to how near he rode to the hounds, and, pointing out one particular hound, said: "Please kindly take notice of that hound. He is the most valuable animal in the pack, and I would not have him ridden over for anything." The gentleman promptly and courteously replied: "I would do anything to oblige you, Sir Richard; but I have a shocking bad memory for hounds, and I'm afraid he will have to take his chance with the rest!" All these things are agonizing to a master, and other anxieties perplex him. He
the good-will of the tenant farmers, and he sees with pain rails needlessly broken, crops needlessly ridden over, gates unhinged or left open, perhaps fronting a road, along which the liberated cattle or horses may stray for miles, giving their angry proprietors possibly days of trouble to recover them. Second-horse men too are often careless in this respect. But I must here remark as to the tenant farmers, that, as a rule, their tolerance is be yond all praise, especially when, as unfortunately is the case in many countries, the mischievous trespassers above alluded to have no connection with the county or hunt, do not subscribe to the hounds, or spend a shilling directly or indirectly in the neighborhood.
Time was when the oats, the straw, and the hay were bought and consumed by the stranger in the land, who thus brought some advantage to the farmer, and_in other matters to the small trader. But now he arrives by train and so departs, leaving broken fences and damaged crops as the only trace of his visit. These are the evils which may lead to the decadence of fox-hunting. But Mr. Oakeley, master of the Atherstone, an especially and deservedly popular man, it is true, had a magnificent proof of an opposite conclusion the other day, when over a thousand tenant farmers, on the bare rumor of the hounds being given up, got up, and signed in a few days, a testimonial or memorial to beg him to continue them, and pledg ing themselves to do all they could to promote the sport in every way, This is the bright side of a "master's" life.
But not to all is it given to bask in such sunshine. Earnest labor is required to attain this or any other success. And the following rules, I believe, always guided Mr. Oakeley's conduct as a master: —
1. To buy his horses as much as possible from the farmers themselves—not from dealers.
2. To buy his forage in the country.
3. To keep stallions for use of farmers at a low fee, and to give prizes for young horses bred in the district. (In both these objects many are of opinion that the master ought to be helped by the State, as nothing would encourage the breeding of horses so much, or at such small cost.)
4. To give prizes, create rivalry as to the "walked " puppies, by asking the farmers over to see them when they return to headquarters, and giving them luncheon.
5. To draw all coverts in their turn, and not to cut up any particular portion unduly because it may be a better country with more favorite coverts.
Lastly. To get farmers to act for themselves as much as possible in the management of poultry claims, etc., which they will then have a pride in keeping low. And above all ever to recognize and acknowledge that tenant farmers have, to say the least, an equal voice with the landowners as to the general management of the hunting.
But I have done. I have shown, I hope, that, on the whole, fox-hunting brings happiness to all the fox, when killed or hard run excepted—but I cannot go into the larger question of humanitarian sentiment; he is often not killed; and, till he is, leads a jovial life, feasting on the best, and thief, villain, and murderer as he is, protected even by the ruthless gamekeeper. In return for this his day of atonement must come. But for the sport, he would not have existed; and when he dies gallantly in the open, as in the run above depicted, his sufferings are short. I myself like not the last scene of some hunts, when, his limbs baving failed him, the poor fox is driven to depend on the resources of his vulpine brain alone. Often have I turned aside, declining to witness the little stratagems of his then piteous cunning; nay, more, I confess, when I alone have come across the hiding-place of a "beaten fox," and he bas, so to speak, confided his secret to me with his upturned and indescribably appealing eye, it has been sacred with me; I have retired softly, and rejoiced with huge joy when the huntsman at last calls away his baffled pack.
weight of happiness in the other scale. So I myself in my old age still preserve the follies of my youth, and counsel others to do the same. "Laugh and be fat," says some modern advertisement. and be happy," say I still. shall pierce the veil of the future? with the individual so I think it is with nations. They too when they grow old should preserve, or, at least, not too remorselessly extinguish their follies. I fear lest in grasping at the shadow of national perfection we only attain the reality of a saturnalia of prigs apotheosis of claptrap. Legislation has performed such queer antics lately that the angels must be beginning to weep. And ugly visions sometimes haunt me of a time coming, which shall be a good time to no man, at least to no Englishman, when an impossible standard of pseudophilanthropy and humanitarian morality shall be attempted; when the butcher shall lie down with the lamb, the alder man with the turtle, and the oyster shall not be eaten without anæsthetics; when nature itself shall be under the eye of the police, and detectives watch the stoat's pursuit of the rabbit and keep guard over spider's webs; when all property (and not in land alone, my advanced friend!) save that of Hardware magnates, who have made a monopoly and called it peace, shall be confiscated as an "unearned increment" to the State; when we have by legislative enactment forbidden the prevention and sanctioned the admission of loathsome diseases, and anti-fox-hunting may be as loud a cry as anti-vaccination; when there is a Parliament on College Green; when "the languishing nobleman of Dartmoor is free, and repossessed of Altogether, I maintain that, with such his broad acres, which, in his case alone, exceptions, at small cost of animal suffer- because they so clearly belong to some ing, great enjoyment is compassed by all. one else, shall escape confiscation; when, There are miseries of course even out as a final climax to our national madness, hunting; there are rainy days, bad scent- we have employed science to dig a hole ing days, and inconvenient mounts. The under the sea, and, by connecting us with celebrated Jem Mason, a splendid rider the Continent, deprive us of the grand and quaint compounder of expressions, advantage which nature has given us, and used to say that the height of human which has conferred on us centuries of misery was to be out hunting on an "ewe-envied stability, while thrones were rocknecked horse, galloping over a molehilly ing and constitutions sinking all around field, down hill, with bad shoulders, a us; when, having already passed laws snaffle bridle, one foot out of the stirrup, not only to prohibit our children being and a fly in your eye." But he dealt in figurative extremes. He replied to some one who asked him as to the nature of a big-looking fence in front: "Certain death on this side, my lord, and eternal misery on the other!" Such sorrows as these are not much to balance against the
educated with the knowledge and fear of God before their eyes, but even to forbid his very name to be mentioned in our schools, we deliberately and scornfully abandon our ancient religion and admit proclaimed infidelity and public blasphemy to the sanction, recognition, and
approval of Parliament; then indeed we | need not wonder if we lose not only our national sports, but our national existence; and if Divine Providence, giving practical effect to the old quotation,
Quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat, allows England, after passing through the phases of insanity which she has already begun to display, to be blotted out from the nations of the world.
W. BROMLEY DAVENPORT.
From Macmillan's Magazine. THE OLD VIRGINIAN GENTLEMAN.
chain of blue mountains, whose wavy out. lines have been following us since midday upon our right, and climbing gradually higher and higher into the western sky. Between us and them lies an undulating landscape of field and forest, rich in the gorgeous coloring of the south, and bathed in the warm light of declining day.
Our old friend the general's carriage, is there to meet us, and the beaming black face of his grey-headed Achates, greets us with grins of recognition from the box, and with numerous tugs at the brim of his shabby wide awake, as we and our trunks and the mail-bags are hustled on to the platform, by the snorting and impatient train. He wears no livery, it is true. The carriage has not been cleaned for a month. The horses probably have been taken this very afternoon from the plough; but what of that? Is not the hospitality all the greater on that account? The sta tion-master does not rush out and touch his hat, but the general is quite as much honored as if a cloud of obsequious porters and powdered footmen had assisted in our removal from the train to the trap; not from a standpoint merely of mutual respect that might apply as well in Nebraska or Ohio-but simply on social grounds alone, as a Montague of Berke
failed to maintain the credit of that highly respected and aristocratic family. The founder of the Berkeley Montagues, it is well known, surveyed in 1710 those large tracts of land upon Tuckahoe Creek in that county, which was then a wilderness poorly protected from Indians by a blockhouse, which they still in part own, while the title-deeds of the family are a grant given under the hand and seal of "Good Queen Anne."
No man with a soul within him could enter Virginia for the first time with the same feelings of indifference that he would cross the borders of Ohio or Indiana. Shocking as is the Englishman's ignorance of America's past, the fields of Virginia, at least, even through the windows of a Pullman car, will call up dim visions of George Washington and the Fairfaxes; of Captain Smith and Pocahontas; of La Fayette; of Mr. Jefferson, in his blue coat and three-cornered hat, jogging along the country road; of Patrick Henry thundering at king and Parlia-ley County, Virginia, who has in no way ment; and if all these figures are not outlined so distinctly on the traveller's memory as perhaps they should be, there will be at least a lurking tenderness for the scenes of that dreamy old plantation life that through the medium of wandering minstrels in more recent times fascinated our childhood, and with the echoes of its banjos gave us the romantic side of slavery. Then it is but yesterday that slavery itself perished upon these self-same fields, and made them the theatre of one of the most gigantic wars of modern times. Here, winding beneath the railroad is an obscure brook, whose name twenty years ago was in every Englishman's mouth as it ran red with the blood of slaughtered thousands. Here a country village, where the fate of a great nation hung for twenty-four hours upon the balance; and if any monument is wanting of this Titanic struggle, where would you find one so complete as in the great graveyards that, scattered over Virginia, bristle thick with tombstones of Federal and Confederate dead! It is at a little station not one hundred and fifty miles south of Washington that I would ask the reader to alight. For several hours we have been running south, and been gradually drawing nearer to a
In our five-mile drive we pass numbers of farmhouses of all sorts and sizes some new, some old, some large, some small, sometimes with shady porches embowered in annual creepers, and sometimes old straggling gardens full of box and honeysuckle and myrtle, thyme, and balm, and many half-forgotten herbs; but these are not inhabited by Montagues. Rippling streams cross the road in every valley, for it is mostly up and down hill. Nothing can be more picturesque than the country through which we are travelling; sometimes the rough and winding road leads us through woodlands whose large leaves wave above our heads, sometimes through open fields, where the tobacco just ripening for the cutter's knife is spreading its dark green leaves above
the warm, red soil, and where the tall Indian corn in all the splendor of its full foliage rustles gently in the evening wind. Here, too, to the right and left, stretch wide stubble fields with their deep carpet of annual weeds over which in a month's time the sportsman's setters will be ranging for the coveys of quail, but now half grown. In the valleys soft meadows spread their level surface fresh from recent rains along the margin of willowbordered streams that water and enrich them, while over their soft turf the shadows of overhanging woodlands grow longer and longer as the light of day declines. From the tall tobacco-barns comes the familiar odor of the curing of the first cut plants, and thin clouds of smoke above their roofs hang clearly against the reddening sky. Negro cabins of squared logs cluster upon the roadside on sunny hilltops, or in shady glens, while from field and forest comes the wild melody with which the Ethiopian cheers his hours of toil. Behind all, though many miles away, the grand masses of the Blue Ridge Mountains lie piled against the western sky, their rocky summits, their chestnut-shaded slopes, their deep ravines hollowed by white cascades that thunder ceaselessly through hemlock groves and shrubberies of rhododendrons and of kalmias, all mellowed into a uniform tint of the softest and the deepest blue.
mentioned in Queen Anne's grant. It has been dear since then to generations of Montagues. As men it has turned their grist and saw mills; as children they have paddled in its gravelly shallows among the darting minnows; as boys they have learned to swim in its swirling pools or dragged the seine-nets for chub and perch, or stalked the blue-winged ducks that now and then in early autumn go whistling along its surface. Many a field of the Montague tobacco too has it washed away or buried in the mud, and many a deep channel has it cut through cornfield and meadow in those occasional freshets whose violence has caused the years in which they occurred to stand out as local landmarks in the flight of time by the fireside of the negro and the poor white. No Montague has ever built a horsebridge across it. Railway companies and city corporations are the only people that build bridges in Virginia; and many an impatient lover and returning wanderer, in summer thunder-showers or in winter storms, has waited in despair on its further bank while the turbid waters have been rolling six feet above the gravelly bed of the ford, and rippling over the hand-rail of the little foot-bridge, that in fair weather does excellent service in its way.
A short struggle up the hill beyond brings us to the plateau on which the homestead stands. In front is the manWe are now upon the ancestral acres of sion itself with its two acres of lawn and the Montagues, or what is left of them, as much more of kitchen garden, surand the horses without shout or effort on rounded partly by a wall, and partly by a Caleb's part, turn suddenly from the main picket-fence. Behind are the barns, outroad, where the latter is bounded on both buildings, negro cabins, resonant at this sides by an oak forest, and dash along a hour of sunset with all the sounds incitortuous track, whose character of privacy, dental to a Southern farmhouse at close of as roads go, no one would for a moment day. Negresses, their heads bound round venture to doubt, as Caleb, with the skill with colored handkerchiefs, and carrying of constant practice, ducks his head be-tin milk-pails on them, come calling down neath, or dodges it to one side of the hanging boughs that every now and then scrape familiarly along the roof of the carriage. A big white gate, hung upon by half-a-dozen negro urchins, armed with books and slates, lets us out again into the open country, and there, upon a hill in front of us, with groves of oak behind, and apple orchards before it, the fortress of the Montagues looks out over the surrounding country. Once more we drive into a valley, and once more the horses If picked to pieces there is nothing are standing knee-deep in a little river, specially attractive about the general's while Caleb, for the last time, assists them house; but to any one who had been wanto appease their apparently quenchless dering among the whitewash, and fresh thirst. paint, and crudeness of the ordinary This is the famous Tuckahoe Creek | Northern or Western rural districts, there
the lane for the long line of cows that are slowly splashing through the ford beneath; negro ploughmen are coming in on their mules and horses singing lustily to the accompaniment of their jangling trace-chains; pigs and calves from di verse quarters, and in diverse keys, hail the approach of their common feedinghour, while through all, the dull thud of the axe from the wood-pile seems to strike the hour of the evening meal.