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years old, equipped like a sportsman, with a tiny gun, made to fit; and well had the boy already learned its use. The train followed. We did not pass a coppice, not an enclosure, no, nor scarcely a tree, but they called forth some curious illustration ; for everything had been formed, created by him. He was himself even a more delightful illustration of Burke's garrulity of age,
" which loves to diffuse itself in discourse ; but then it was such discourse !-the honest experience of a life of eighty winters and summers, scarcely one hour of which had been wasted, for it had been a life of action. I may truly say
I learned more of planting and pruning—of husbandry and pasturage—of sheep and cattle—of the art of improving rural industry into rural wealth and contentedness—than during the greater portion of my whole life ; for here the practice was made visible. I had theorized, heaven knows how much; but here was the living, palpable effect,-a paradise formed out of a waste; magnificent woods; corn-fields like gardens; farms to invite the man of skill and capital, and still further to enrich him ; cottages where that love of order which commands the comfort of the inmates reigned over all. The Squire's talk, however, was not “alway of bullocks." Men-men in the proudest sense of the word—men ennobled by their deeds had been his friends, companions, and guests from his youth upwards. Princes, statesmen, and men of science had traversed the same paths; and no small share of curious personal and political anecdote peopled, as it were, with figures his landscape-conversation. Yet still its greatest charm was its truth. It was so hearty, you could not challenge with a doubt a single particle: indeed, the first object, if that which flowed so spontaneously could be said to be born of
any other motive, was to amuse his friend; the second, but perhaps more than equal intention, was to impress his principles, his views, his pursuits, his amusements, and, above all, his benignity and the love of rural affairs and diversions, deep into his little heir and successor's heart.
But the battue !—I am not overfond of a battue: it is not Englishit is not fair sporting, which is the instinct of animals and the skill of man put into open conflict. In a battue, the poor tame creatures are herded for slaughter, driven into a corner by a mob; the shooting is for the stick, as it is technically phrased-not for the pleasure, but the pride of the murderer of hecatombs. Yet there is, it cannot be denied, a multitudinous delight in the array, the perpetual firing, the hurry, the heaps of hares, rabbits, pheasants, woodcocks, partridges,-nay, even in the danger, an excitation, second only to the gregarious gratification of foxhunting, which amounts to “ the total absence of all thought and reflection," an equally good definition of sport and courage. My quieter taste leads me, I own, to plain partridge-shooting. Pursuing this diversion, I can compare the subtle instincts of the dog and the bird, and put my own skill to the test. I can admire the ever-changing face of Nature at every step—the shifting screens of hill, and wood, and water, and valley, and find intervals for praise and thanksgiving to the great Maker of all things; and so, like old Izaak Walton, I can exalt and translate
my diversion into “ the contemplative man's recreation.” But once again, to the battue. - At the side of the covert waited four keepers, in their livery of green plush coats, scarlet waistcoats, and goldlaced hats, men of mould and stature, thew and sinew. One of them, the Squire whispered me, had fought with the first of English pugilists,
and beat him. Finer fellows I never beheld, “rough and hardy, bold and free," but always respectful, in despite of their eagerness for the sport, and the equality it rarely fails to produce. A covered waggon attended for the game. Every sportsman was attended by a village-boy, to gather up the slain, and notch his shots. There were servants with horses and second guns, the whole muster somewhat exceeding forty, not the least interesting figure in the group being the gallant Lord ******** at eighty-six !-the conqueror in many a field of glory.
The Squire gives the order to set on, accompanied with the cautionary disclaimer, not absolutely needless, when there are fifteen guns,
thirteen of them double-barrels, and no one stops for another's charging-—“I answer for no man's life.”
The advance is scarcely begun before the first shot is heard, to which there succeeded an incessant rattle, enlivened with the stimulating awakeners of 6 Cock," “ Hare,” Rabbit,” Hareback, from the keepers, and the eternal “ Hi-hi, hi-hi," from the sportsmen, to give notice of their whereabout to each other-almost the only chance of safety—and the flushing of pheasants, the rush of dogs, and the dashing of the beaters through the covert. Even down to his retriever, the Squire is superior. A pheasant is winged—“ Let out Nelson,” and away trots the tall stately Newfoundlander, milk-white, the consciousness of power discoverable in his every movement. In a few seconds, he scents the wounded bird—darts forward-tracks it with the certainty of instinct-plunges upon it-lifts it from the ground like a strawtosses his head into the air—and walks, like a conqueror, majestically back towards the lad who leads him. I have followed the sport now for the best part of fifty years, and it is almost the pleasure of my dotage. Heaven knows, I have little of sentimentalism, but I never see a pheasant rise in the glory of his bright and burnished plumage, never hear the crow extorted from him by surprise or fear, never see him struck, his swift passage stopped, his out-stretched neck relax and drop from the line of his flight-I never watch his heavy descent from bough to bough till he falls upon the green earth from which he so lately sprung in all the pride of his exceeding beauty, without a shadow coming over me; and I mourn with the melancholy Jaques, that
“ We are mere usurpers, tyrants, (and what's worse ?)
To fright the animals and kill them up
In their assigned and native dwelling-place." But the merry“ hi-hi," and not “ the sad heigho" is the cry, and we go
“ Over hill, over dale,
Over park, over pale,“' till the morning (alias the day) closes. Reader, if you follow the sport, and, like many a modern, court the arts which not only help him through wet days, but teach him how to look at the face of nature and to love her like her true worshipper, you will doubtless have regarded with a sportsman's eye, the fine old engraving of the Duke of Newcastle returning from shooting. There sits the fine old gentleman upon his sturdy pony, the keepers, dogs, and game in a picturesque assortment, strewing the foreground. If you have not been among the chosen, and have never rejoiced in the multitudinous slaughter of a modern battue, you must have envied the heap of dead birds and animals by which the
July.-- VOL. XLI. NO. CLXIII.
painter doubtless intended to compliment the skill and the rural dominion of the said Duke. No doubt you have felt all this; but go with the Squire to the larder built in the cool security of a plantation adjoining the mansion—view from five hundred to a thousand, and sometimes more than a thousand, head of various game* suspended in the nicest order, the prey of one single day, and you will indeed marvel at the scope of covert, and the protection which can rear such prodigious numbers of the feræ naturæ, for the sport of one man and his friends! Yet this is but one day in three in every week, yielding the same diversion, from November to February, when covert-shooting begins and ends
and he has made it all. And now come the hours when the change from the manners of the olden time is most to be observed, most perhaps to be lauded. The party assembles for dinner-not in the rush-strewn hall, littered likewise with hounds, hung round with antlers, bows, and otter-spears, and attended by grooms and falconers—but in the noble saloon, adorned with the works of the finest masters, perpetuating the triumphs of art, the achievements of heroes, and the identity of ancestors. The gentleman displaces the sportsman, and he who was foremost in the rougher exercises of the morning often outvies his rivals in the refinements of the evening. Here, too, store of ladies”-not the animal automatons, workers of tent-stitch, manufacturers of pies and pickles, wives
“ To suckle fools and chronicle small beer," such as are seen in our ancient pictures, patting a pet lamb, simpering at a rose, or leering over a lap-dog—but graceful beings, elegant and polished alike in mind and manners, imaginative, informed, gay, and accomplished, fitted and fashioned for the society of men of the court and of the world. Restraint is banished, because familiarity is impossible; discourse is airy and excursive, because benignity is the motive, and courtesy the end. All take, because all know, their place; ability enjoys its admiration, and mediocrity its ease and amusement; the table no longer
66 Groans Beneath the smoking sirloin, stretch'd immense
From side to side," but the palate is solicited by viands which tempt not more by their variety than by the inventive elegance with which they are prepared and served. Trenchers and flaggons and tankards are displaced by the rich and infinite diversities of plate, porcelain, and glass, while the storied epergne, the art of which Benvenuto Cellini himself might applaud, beguiles our memory of the season by offering the beauty and the fragrance of the spring flowers, or the luxury of the summer and autumnal fruits, which the brilliant mirror at its foot reflects and multiplies. The wines of France and Spain, Portugal and Germany, enliven the repast, and elevate, but no longer madden or stupify, the spirits of the guests.
“ Nor wanting is the brown October, drawn,
Mature and perfect, from his dark retreat
Of thirty years; and now his honest front * At Somerleye, in Hampshire, whilome the seat of Henry Baring, Esq., upwards of five, or I think six, thousand head of game and rabbits were killed in one week, during a visit made to that gentleman by the Prince of Esterhazy. Three hundred and sixty-five pheasants were also killed in one day at the same place. Sir Richard Sutton,
of Norfolk, killed from his own guns, one hundred and forty-two partridges, on the 2nd of September, 1833. Such is modern sporting!
Flames in the light refulgent, not afraid
Even with the vineyard's best produce to vie." For the Squire is as proud of his beer as of the other products of his estate, and will often invite his guests to pledge him in his own growth and his own brewage, which, clear as amber, mantles in the glass, as if in honour of his recommendation. He is alike and justly proud that he grows twenty coombs of barley per acre, and brews the best ale in the county. They are a part of his triumphs over a meagre soil and an ordinary beverage. The dessert which follows is the produce of acres enough for a farm, and of a circuit of walls and houses ample enough for the site of a village. Thus he glories in demonstrating the power that surrounds him at home, upon his own estate and his own domainthe proper empire of a country gentleman.
The repast is over, and the servants are gone. It has been the Squire's fate to be twice married. He is surrounded by children and grandchildren, the adult offspring of his first engagement. The door opens, and in rush four boys, lovely and fair as the Cupids of Guido, (this is no fiction) and a tottering little darling of the softer sex. I have never seen such a sight-I have never so felt such a sight as the crowding of these fellows to their father's side and into his bosom. The contrast, yet the affection! Like everything else about him, it tells of union and of sincerity; of the patriarchal bond that links all together. The almost infant girl, her soft flaxen locks bound back with little azure bows, toddles to her lady-mother -- is caressed and placed upon the table-surveys the party to discover her father, and towards him she waddles, lisping his name at every step, till she clasps her little arms round his neck. “O! who would not be a father!"
Such scenes may be deemed childish as they are common; but here, I say again, they are emblems of the patriarchal sentiment and connexion that reign over all, and form the very genius loci. I have seen as much of splendour, as much of luxury, perhaps more of both elsewhere, but I have never felt the same affection, the same heartiness endear and assure the reality of the enjoyment. That reception which comes of politeness, courtesy, urbanity, kindness, in other houses, is in the Squire's the very soul of friendly welcome and paternal protection. The stranger immediately catches the inspiration, for he cannot but perceive that the heart is concerned in everything. One of the days of my visit was the birthday of one of the children. It was celebrated by a ball given to the domestics; there were almost a hundred. The parlour guests descended amongst them, and it was delightful to see the Squire take out the charming Lady ***** ******, and move down thirty couples with the grace of the olden time--the octogenarian dancing with the gallantry of age and the spirit of youth on the birth-day of his boy of five years old! It is impossible to describe the effect. Never again shall I behold joy so tempered with respect and love as in that mixed assembly of the noble and the dependent.
The Squire has taken an active part in politics, for he has been the firm and consistent friend of civil and religious liberty from his very entrance upon man's estate, from the very dawnings of his understanding and his reason. He was never a bookish man, but he was not without a knowledge of the history of his country, or the principles of the constitution, and he determined zealously to assert them. It was natural that such a man should be chosen, repeatedly chosen,“ Knight of the
Shire ;' and it is recorded of him that he delivered a county address, like a true country gentleman, in buck-skin breeches and boots-that he never asked a favour of a Minister-never darkened his conscience by an interested vote in Parliament, or a vote against the liberties of his country-never soiled his additions by court subserviency. He is indeed often heard to express his wonder that gentlemen, men of rank in the realm, and who might be of real estimation and importance upon their own estates, should wear away a life of etiquette and insignificancy in the offices of a Bed Chamber Lord or a Royal Chamberlain--mere bubbles in the heat and effervescence of the ocean of party, or poor players in the pageant of state. Worldliness and court-intrigue are alike alien to his free nature.
I have reserved for the last place the strongest characteristic of his mind—that which exalts and dignifies, while it softens and harmonizes his pride of place and fortune. He feels, with a devout fervour-a piety of heart, which every upward glance towards the great canopy of heaven, every survey of the prospects his taste has raised and adorned, confirms, a profound thankfulness to the Great Being who has thus gifted him to benefit his fellow-creatures, and thus truly to enjoy his fortune. There is scarcely an hour in the day that he does not express this sense of the exceeding blessing; and on the Sabbath he is never absent from the worship of God in his own parish church--an example of sincere and rational piety. His village is a scene of industry, comfort, and contentedness. His sweet Lady daily superintends the instruction of the young; while her husband cares for the habitations, the gardens, and also for the employment of the adult, and the provision for the aged. He maintains that mother earth will, in all cases, repay the rightlydirected efforts of her children; and his affluent tenantry, his finelycultivated farms, his cheerful labourers, his noble animals, in a word, the abundance that shines and increases around him, justify this sound and wholesome doctrine.
Thus have I endeavoured to shadow out, not only what ought to be, but what are the distinctions of the Squire of modern from him of olden days, since arms have yielded to arts. Here is typified, under a not unreal existence, what constitutes the first duty of a landed proprietor -THE LOVE OF HOME, and all which it inherits,—the pursuit and exaltation of agriculture,--the adorning of an estate,—the supervision and advancement of the fortunes of tenants and dependents,--the noble hospitality,—the generous sports,—the social intercourse,—the love and patronage of literature and art,--the distinguished political integrity,and, above all, the proper estimation of all these goods, that make up the catalogue of the superiorities of English character. All these are, even in the weakness of these latter times,” now found in the Squires of Old England, according to their degrees of standing, wealth, and intellect.. Should it be thought that my portrait is gigantic and powerful beyond nature, I have not only the excuse of inculcating, for the imitation of all those whom it may concern, a possible perfection, but the satisfaction of being able to produce a living model, whom, ending as I began my paper, for he has rejected all loftier additions, I shall especially designate by the title of
« THE SQUIRE."