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and on and on, till the Western horizon shut in the scene. “Ah!!! groaned we : but we will not let the reader into the secrets of our thoughts-except these-that forty pounds a year, books, friends, and a few articles of similar sorts, got somehow mixed together and made up an agreeable miscellany enough of hopes. On the right was an oldfashioned farm-house, and, as we approached it, the farmer, we supposed-an infirm-limbed man—was wheeled out at its gates in an iuvalid's chair, attended by a servant and a young gentleman, his son, and the field-gates being thrown open before him, was soon among his labourers, getting in the hay-harvest-the most fragrant labour of the farmer's year. The air was scented with it—the ground was sweet with it : health and gratification seemed to breathe in every wafture of the new-mown fragrance and every movement of the gently-agitated air. The wind seemed loth to carry its fragrant load away, and yet it would
- for there is not a part of this great metropolis which is not conscious that the hay-harvest in its neighbourhood is going on : the scent of it -the wind being favourable— visits it in the coolness of the evenings of June, and sets the thoughts of its town-prisoned people fieldwards.
On we went, listening to the cuckoo—where ?-and the blackbirdand the thrush—and the little linnet-and some other small contributors to Nature's “ Little Warbler”-a pleasing miscellany of songs, “ to be had gratis” in “the Row:”—be particular, however, in inquiring for the right Row—the hedge-row. Just as we had made up our mind who was the possessor of the desirable copyright” of the words and music of this most interesting collection of old Natural Melodies, and having critically investigated the style of both, liking the unaffected simplicity of the one and the unlearned learning of the counterpoint of the other, we tumbled over a stile of another sort, and upon picking up ourselves, and looking where we were, guessed where we were, and there we were upon the fifth common of our uncommonly common pilgrimage -Wandsworth Common.
On we went, enjoying the fresh, cool, open scene, and the silence, only broken by birds-and the gloriously bright and warm sunset-and the loneliness : for the only living thing we saw—the birds keeping themselves out of sight—was a brown spaniel dog--a rambling, meditative, humorous dog, like ourself. We looked all round, a circle of some niles, to see if he had a master anywhere thereabouts : no—he was alone : a “melancholy Jaques,” in a shaggy coat, going about upon all-fours ! We did not interrupt the current of his cogitations, and let him pass. The Common was now all ours, and we enjoyed it: we were “monarchs of all we surveyed,” and well to do, and well content. Getting off the Common at last, we found we were in the right road—one lined, on both sides, for a quarter of a mile, with beautiful dwarf-oaks, here and there interspersed with two or three poplars and some stately elms; but the oak is, par excellence-at least, I think so—the pastoral painter's tree. Look at its innumerable arms, and their graceful attitudes, and the undulating lines they make, and the broad wideness and handsome wholeness of the whole, and you will say that it is the landscapepainter's tree. Look at it, and through it, especially at twilight, and you will see more of its beauty than you can behold in the common light of day. A little farther on, I was struck with the care which some one had taken of an old oak-tree“ which grew aslant a " pond, and would have tumbled into it, if its main limb had not been under-propped by a stedfast post, and its minor limbs bound up strongly, to support one another, with sheets of iron. Who had this reverence for the old tree, that they would not cut it down, but tended it like a deformed child or old man grown decrepit? You could not help thinking well of them : I could not.
On and on we went, and in no long time were again on Clapham Common, now grey with the gradually-deepening dusk of evening; but the birds were not yet a-bed-the cattle were still cropping—the sheep were still bleating—the crows, vagrants like myself, were returning home, and cawed and chattered in such inharmonious fashion as I should be loth to imitate when I wish to be listened to, as I do sometimes. The Common passed, that most enduring beast of burden, Adam's pad, trotted me safely, at a good pace, down the hill, past Stockwell, through Kennington, and I stepped down from my stirrups at my own humble door in ancient, archiepiscopal Lambeth, untired in mind, untired in limb, and not a whit the worse for all my travails. I used to think that the North side of London was “the ruralest”-to use a town-made idiom : after this day, and the scenery I have seen, I give up that old opinion as beretical, and shall, with Richard,
“Saddle white Surrey for the field to-morrow." Now, gentle Reader, as you have listened to me so far, listen to me a minute longer, and answer me-Which is more pleasurable—more healthy, hearty, and even entertaining, a walk or a lazy, idling lounge up and down Regent-street, or such a walk and lounge as I have only half described up and down hill and dale, and over common, and “thorough weed”—I won't say wood—"and thorough brier ?”—If you will not candidly speak out for the latter, I will: it shall have my voicea weak one-and my vote and interest. “ Think of that, Master Brooke !"
AN ORIGINAL ESSAY ON SHOOTING.
“ Draw, archers, draw your arrows to the head."-SHAKSPEARE.
At this season of the year, when Nature, no longer clothed in her mantle of green, has already assumed her many-coloured suit, when the dew lies heavy on the morning grass, and the fields, stripped of their bounteous gifts to man, are opened to his amplest range, a word or two upon shooting will not be deemed mal-à-propos, either by such of our readers as pursue the sport, or by such as do not; for it is the especial privilege of the didactic to find favour alike with those who understand a subject, and those who are desirous only of understanding it. To the discussion of this theme we, or (to be more honest and natural) I may boast of bringing especial qualification ; seeing that I know nothing whatever of the matter, and have not many times in the course of my life discharged my missile weapon, nor ever, to the best of my belief,
been guilty of disturbing hair, feather, or naked skin from the surface of man or beast. The consequence is, that I must come to the subject a mere tabula rasa, exempt from all prejudices, all false doctrines, heresies, and schisms; and further, it is likely that I must take some pains with my essay--a necessity by no means imposed upon those who consider themselves quite at home with the subject matter of their discourse. The best way of studying any branch of science, it has often been said, is to write a book on it; since, in that case, a man must more thoroughly satisfy himself that he understands as he goes : for if, in his presumption, he makes more haste than good speed, he will be soon brought“ to book," and compelled to try back, till he gets on the right scent again. This method, too, is especially available to those who, from some unexpected turn in the wheel of fortune, find themselves called upon (on pain of not eating) to teach something,--anything, no matter what, to those who know no more than themselves. The tutor, so circumstanced, has little more to do than to keep one lesson in advance of his pupil, and all will go on well; so that, at the end of the course, if the lad be not much the wiser, he himself is; and that, at least, is so much clear gain. Instances may be cited in which the tutor, going a step further, (or stopping short 'a step, shall we say ?) has contrived to learn from his pupil, and instead of leading him forward, absolutely pushes him along the road, to pioneer for their common information. But to act thus requires the assurance of an Irishman joined to the caution of the Scot, a combination too rare to be counted upon en thèse générale.
Being, then, in this happy state of ignorance concerning shooting in all its departments, I certainly would set to work and compose a volume on it as large as Beckford's if I only had the time; but, alas! few men's ignorances are confined, to one branch, and I do not write at a rail-road pace. I should never, therefore, overtake my desire for instruction, if I proceeded on so elaborate a scale. Instead of a book, I must content myself with an article for the magazine: and here let me observe, en passant, on the happy universality of magazines, and the opening they afford to encyclopædic attainment. Our readers will perhaps recollect that our worthy collaborateur,“ the Captain,” has laid it down in the last number of the “ New Monthly,” that magazine writing is, of all mødes of composition, the most difficult; owing to the necessity of writing “up to the mark,” (a necessity, bythe-by, which presses particularly in the present article on shooting.) Every paper, as he justly insinuates, is part of an infinite series ; and is not to be judged merely by its own merits, but by those, also, of its relations and dependencies. While all other mortals have only to dread their failings and deficiencies, the magazine writer is the victim of his own successes. As Ovid says of the contrivers of instruments of murder, it is justice that he should arte perire sua, that he should be laid aside prematurely, as soon as he arrives at the length of his tether, and can no longer “outdo his former outdoings.” Lucky, then, is it for this class of writers, that they have so wide a range of materials for their labours, that “ the world is all before them where to choose,” use a more homely expression, that “all is fish which comes to their net!” With a scope less wide, the genre would soon be brought to a standstill; even as it is, with the license to treat de omnibus rebus et quibusdam aliis in full possession, it is sometimes difficult enough to hit upon an unworn subject. What between the number of periodicals and the rapidity of their succession, the utmost ingenuity must sometimes fail; and it is an act of mercy to the reader, if a contributor thus pushed, will take some little pains adroitly to conceal the dishing up of his crambe repetita, by a taking title.
But whither am I wandering? Am I not proving a little too plainly what a bad shot I am, and how wide I can swerve from my mark ? “ revenons à nos
perdrix." Shooting is an art whose origin loses itself in the night of time. Not to mention the Hittites of holy writ, who must have been so named for the justice of their aim, we hear of no nation so savage as not to have discovered some instrument for carrying destruction beyond the reach of the arm. Shooting, therefore, we should think, must be an innate propensity of the species; and man be aptly defined a shooting animal. Such being the observed matter of fact, we need not travel far for the metaphysics of the case: they lie on the surface. The invention of shooting depends upon two very primitive impulses,-the general desire to obtain our ends, and the tender regard we feel for the integrity of our own proper persons; which either of them may very naturally originate the thought and desire of bringing down an opponent or a prey, as Bob Acres has it," at a long shot." In the development of this notion, civilization has made but small advances on savage art. The feathered weapon of the wild man contains implicitly all the intention of the best detonating hair trigger ; while the tipping the arrow with a mortal drug transcends our happiest notions of slugs and langridge. Not, however, that I am disposed to undervalue the destructive efficacy of gunpowder, or to overlook the sublimer energies of twenty-four pounders and thirteen-inch mortars. But as far as a musket or a rifle go, it must be admitted that they want some advantages possessed by the arrow; on which point the reader is referred (in order to save time) to Colonel Roach Fermoy on the defence of Ireland.
Here, however, a great question presents itself for solution; namely, whether the employment of missiles was first suggested in the practice of war, or of the chase. On this point, as usual, much may be said on both sides. On the one hand, it may be stated that fear enters for so much into the naked idea of the practice, that war must have been necessary to inspire the thought. In the order of nature, too, springes and traps for animals should have preceded the invention of arrows, and by this anticipation have kept the notion out of men's minds. But, on the other hand, the habit of eating is confessedly of the remotest antiquity; and if the indulgence of that habit is so difficultly accomplished in civilized society, there can be little hesitation in admittir.g that savages must often have been put to their trumps for its gratification. As Petronius says, “ Magister artis ingenique largitor, venter;" which, being interpreted, signifies that nothing sharpens man's invention like a smart access of hunger. Here, then, is a desperate dilemma; and I pray the reader to regard the ingenuity with which I shall lead him out of the labyrinth. To tell the plain truth, the proposition for a long time puzzled even myself; and after revolving all the arguments, feasible or fallacious, on either side the question, I was about, as Billy Black says, to“ give it up,” when, “ like the sun new lighted out of chaos,” the truth flashed upon me. Abstractedly speaking, either proposition is within the bounds of possibility; but that possibility amounts to a probability, and the probability grows to a certainty, when we combine both motives, when we call to mind that cannibalism is an attribute of savage life, and that the desire to get rid of a foe must be vehemently enhanced, when to the satisfaction of killing the gentleman, is added that of roasting him for supper. War and the chase being thus incorporated, and, so to speak, identified, the combined necessity, without all doubt, must have been sufficient to energize the bumps of some savage cranium up to the invention. Such is my solution of this intricate question. If the reader knows a better, well and good ; if not, let him hac utere mecum, for he is heartily welcome. All I ask in return is, that he will not imagine that, like many other authors, I invented the difficulty for the purpose of showing with what dexterity I could remove it, and that, like Tom Thumb, “ I made the giants first, and then I killed them." There is a paltriness in such clap-trap contrivances which I utterly despise: and this I would have the Zoili of the press, and the scandal-hunters for blue-stocking coterie tea-tables to know beforehand; in order to save them the trouble of making the accusation, and the disgrace of its confutation : but to return.
Next to the antiquity of a thing, the great consideration for an essayist is its nobility, a notion, by-the-by, tolerably vague. For whereas in the discussion of persons, nobility has generally been assigned in consideration of superior capabilities for destruction, or, in more civilized times, for superior do-nothing-ness—(if you read Greek, you will remember Aristophanes' definition of a gentleman)—in the estimate of things the attribute is, on the contrary, conferred on an apprehension of some utility, physical or moral, inherent in the subject. Thus we have the noble science of blazonry, the noble art of falconry, and the noble game of goose. In either of these senses, however, shooting may be termed noble ; for whether we shoot partridges or scoundrels, the resulting advantage is self-evident, while no one will dispute the destructiveness either of a general engagement or a battu. Accordingly, among the most ancient zodiacal tablets we find Sagittarius figuring with the best; who was, in all likelihood, translated to the skies upon an opinion or conceit of the nobility of his nature. Whether that notion was founded on his physical archery, or, as is more probable, metaphorically, in his quality of horse-marine, for his shooting with a long bow, this deponent sayeth not. It is also recorded, in honour of the art, that Apollo and Diana were dead shots; and the fact is the more worthy of note, inasmuch as the former being a graduated physician might have dispatched the Master and Miss Niobes quietly and with infinitely less danger of disturbance from the police, if he had not considered the bow the more high-minded and gentlemanly mode of proceeding. Another test of the nobility of shooting lies in the popularity of the matyrdom of the inevitable St. Sebastian, whose picture, to be found in every collection, stuck all over with arrows, may have inspired the first crude conception of a plum-pudding.
On this consideration, however, I shall dwell no longer. The num. ber of shooting galleries established in all places of fashionable resort, which have even threatened to supersede the billiard-table, sufficiently indicates the high estimate which the world has formed of the handi