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me, in the balcony, was a well-dressed group of ladies, who had just quitted their carriages to obtain a more commanding view. The day being fine and clear, the telegraph was in continual activity, speaking silently in an unknown tongue, or rather on her fingers, to her facsimile in Liverpool, repeating all the news which the ships from the New World, the brigs from Africa, or the sloops from the Mediterranean had already told her, as if neither wind nor steam was rapid enough to convey the intelligence that the cotton crop of slavery had failed, or that Africa was exhausted of her palm oil. On the summit of the hill were planted numerous poles, belonging to the merchants, each with its own private signal, and one was now hoisting to tell its anxious owner that his vessel was in the offing, for almost within gunshot lay the ocean, literally covered with vessels and steamers of all shapes and sizes, from the large three-masted American, with her characteristic white sails, to the small fishing smack, bearing either to or from the vast commercial town of Liverpool which lay beneath, about two miles distant to my right—a commingling of churches and tall chimneys, flanked by an immense line of docks crowded with floating forests, but obscured and scarcely visible from the clouds of dark smoke, chiefly sent forth from the small steamers constantly passing and repassing between the old town of Lancashire and the new town in Cheshire, separated by the Mersey, which is here nearly a mile in breadth. Just at the foot of the hill lie the pleasant suburban retreats of Brighton, Egremont, and Seacombe. What a contrast of scenes and occupations, and yet how closely brought together! While many a pensive idea forced itself on my imagination, as I meditated on the contrast between the dangers of the deep, the toils of the factory, and the amusements of the chase; the hounds had already entered the cover at the north end.
The cover occupies the whole of the west side of the hill, from the summit to the base; it is about two furlongs in length, and from five to six hundred yards in breadth, thickly planted and well furnished with underwood; two or three dykes, running from top to bottom, divide it into sections, and somewhat ease the labours of the dogs in compelling reynard to show himself to the company. Along the top of the hill
ruris a wall, defending the cover, but not too high to prevent the pedestrians from looking over and enjoying the whole craft and mystery of the scene. Along the wall is a narrow carriage way, generally the position chosen by the horsemen and lady amateurs ; but this part of Cheshire is too near the seat of commerce to be patronized by the aristocracy. As the dogs gaily swept the cover, game of all kinds started to view. The pheasant whirred as he rose, agreeably disappointed at not hearing the fatal thunder; the woodcocks silently cleaved the air, but were not so fortunate, for two sportsmen, taking advantage of such a favourable occasion, consigned many a poor victim to his well replenished bag; while in the plain beneath were
“Greyhounds in the slip, straining their necks,” waiting to display their extraordinary speed, by trying it against the first timid hare which should cross their path, flying from imaginary enemies; and they had not long to wait, for “out of the frying-pan into the fire” ran a fine puss ; the dogs were instantly slipped, the ground was open and level, puss exerted herself to enter a most tantalizing clump; but two to one is an unequal match, and she failed in affording a full view of an excellent course to those who were anxiously expecting a more enlivening scene. There was not, as yet, even a whisper that reynard was at home; but to the crack of the whip echoed the hammer of the copper works, and the horn of the huntsman was almost silenced by the speaking-trumpet of the pilot, as he issued orders on his pathless course. This cover is usually considered a sure find, and the dogs had now almost reached the other end as silent as the grave, to the great disappointment of a large field. They were in the act of debating what cover should next be drawn, when from the extreme corner rose a short sharp twang; the huntsman rose on his saddle bow, all was hushed, expectation sat on every brow; the note was repeated more confidently, and as instantly acknowledged by the huntsman with the cheering cry of “Hark to Countess"- let the ladies alone for finding out a secret. The huntsman dashed through a chevaux de frize into the cover; the enlivening note of the horn, the crack of the whip, the music of the pack, and the loud halloo of “ tally!” now echoed through the wood; and even the old wall was so delighted as to repeat all the sounds. The pack were too well educated to need any instruction now. The first note had scarcely died away, when another of a different tone was heard; and it was delightful to hear the music gradually swelling into one loud chorus, as dog after dog dropped in, and confirmed by his cries the important discovery. " Thes. : My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind,
So flewed, so sanded ; and their heads are hung
Judge when you hear.” How forcibly was I then reminded of the verses of our poaching and immortal bard!" Hips: I was with Hercules and Cadmus once,
When in a wood of Crete we bayed the bear
MIDSUMMER-NIGHT'S DREAM. Let his admirers say as they will, I love to dwell on the idea that Shakespeare was a poacher. He never could have described so accurately forest scenes unless he had witnessed them, nor so enthusiastically unless he had enjoyed them. I looked up at the benevolent countenance of Sir Thomas Stanley, and thought that the bard would never have been driven from Avon if the other Sir Thomas had to him any resemblance. The game was now afoot, and though completely screened by the thick underwood from the dogs, was plainly visible to all on the brow of the hill; and it was curious to see him turning and doubling, misleading the pack to the edge of the wood as if he had actually gone off, then passing between two or
three dogs, still keeping himself invisible. Playing with them thus for a while, so as to confuse them, he went straight down the whole length of the cover pursued closely by the dogs; but this also was a mere ruse. Independently that he would have been hemmed in by the sea before he had run a mile, he was as close an observer of the wind as any of the sailors whose voices even then were resounding in his ears; no
sooner therefore had be arrived at the end than he hurriedly retraced his steps ; and he must have laughed in his sleeve at their peculiar ideas of following him—he running south, and they running north.
Dr. Johnson thought that music gave no positive pleasure; for after being delighted at a musical party, he says he came away without any new ideas, and that it pleases chiefly by absorbing the attention and removing our thoughts for the moment from disagreeable reflections. The latter quality it certainly poseesses; but children, who have no painful ideas, are moved in the street to dancing. Shakespeare calls the drum“ spirit-stirring.” Our own feelings are in favour that the pleasure is positive; and had Johnson been with me on Bidston Hill on that morning, he would have seen the horses prick their ears with delight, and a herd of cattle frisk about and whisk their tails through pleasure, while the dogs kept up a continuous and harmonious concert for more than twenty minutes, having a writ of ejectment from Bidston cover against reynard ; and as Goldsmith so beautifully and truly expresses it, “cheering on each other with their mutual cries." I love all that comes from the hand of Nature her scenes, her scents, and her sounds. Art is but the handmaid of Nature; the true goddess must alone be worshipped. How the eye is ravished by a moonlight scene, a blue sky, a tranquil lake, a verdant hill! How refreshing and grateful the odour of a new-mown meadow, the distended udder of the milk-dropping cow, the sea-weed just cast from the depths of the ocean on shore for man's use ! and how is the ear soothed by the concert of the feathered tribes; lulled to repose by the rippling of a stream, or the advancing tide, as its tiny waves exhaust themselves gently on the shore, or startled by the thunderbolt! And even the insect tribe furnish their quota of pleasure, as Thomson has remarked in those beautiful lines :
“Nor undelightful is the ceaseless hum
With eyes half shut.”
effect. This may be the cause why the chase commands so many devoted adherents, for
* The blisses we find
No stings leave behind,
But health and good humour unite. He also tells me that he never knew a person fond of hunting who became the inmate of a lunatic asylum. On hinting to him that Jack Mytton was not perfectly sane, he explained it by showing that from indulgence in wine he was almost always on the verge of delirium tremens. I ventured to allude to the quickness of the pulse in fever ; but he did not consider that mere quickness of pulse was a sign that the blood circulated more rapidly ; for on the contrary, the heart was feeble, and required to beat two or three times to circulate the same quantity of blood for which one pulsation would suffice if the heart was strong. This, then, shall be my answer in future to all protective animal societies and anti-hunting persons, for I like “ to be able to give a reason for the faith that is in me." I now remember I never offered the Doctor a fee for his opinion. Could he have been serious ?
Reynard lost not a moment at the south end : time was precious ; and already the dogs had detected the dodge, and with shouts of triumph were coming up again at full speed. He cleared the wall at one bound, breaking cover most beautifully. In vain the huntsman shouted the cheering cry of “ away !” the well-nosed animals would not be beholden to any mortal for their sport—they were there to give, and not to receive pleasure. They were then tracking him most scientifically, having discovered the trick he played, and were now bursting through all obstacles in full cry. So confident were they that he had crossed the wall at a certain point, that they jostled each other in their laudable ambition to be the leaders of the day. A hasty consultation as to the route was immediately held on clearing the wood, the pros and cons were most acutely argued ; and no group of lawyers on the trial of a most important personage for high treason, no assemblage of physicians in the antechamber of a dying monarch could have showed more impressement than did this sagacious pack, as nature instinctively taught them to fulfil the purpose for which they were created. There was for a few minutes a Babel-like noise, a confused running to and fro, until one bursting from the narrow circle boldly led the way through a small gap, to the no small mortification of his rivals. His opinion, however, was not to be contradicted, and away the pack went at a rapid pace,
Præteritum temnens extremos inter euntem."
But however it happened, although the pack had been scattered north, south, east, and west, before one field was passed they were seen alltogether; and as they passed up a dark ploughed field, the motley-coloured troop afforded a pleasing contrast, presenting a most beautiful picture. I have seen the sketch actually realized ; for in a carriage on the hill-side sat a young lady, who handled her pencil most tastefully, and who came to take some hunting views for her brother. It was her first appearance at a fox-chase, and she employed me to interpret the terms and elucidate the mysteries of the chase. She had already sketched
the opening scene in the farm-yard ; the drawing of the cover, where the variegated colours of the dogs contrasted so well with the green underwood, was not overlooked ; and having announced to her that the scene in the ploughed land was emphatically the chase, or full cry, it was instantly transmitted to paper. The worthy baronet, for whom we all waited, at this moment gave his horse head ; and forgetting even to bid her good bye, I cleared the hedge, and was soon at the side of the huntsman. The pace was actually killing for the time ; but after a run of two miles, reynard sheltered himself in a wood. He did not deem it prudent to remain a minute, for I saw the runaway bolting at the other end. It surprised me to discover that the huntsman seemed rather inclined to restrain the pack in the wood; and inquiring the reason, he candidly informed me that his master enjoyed the sport, but could not now ride hard, and therefore he kept the dogs checked. Many men of many minds." A few years after, when hunting over the same identical ground, his son, Sir William Stanley, urged horses and dogs at their utmost speed, and I was near being left behind, ignorant that the Reform Bill had passed the Hooton kennel. I dare say he will take out a patent for putting steam into his dogs to increase their speed.
The hounds, however, could not be long kept hoodwinked : they soon emerged from the wood; but if straightforwardness and speed could have saved reynard, he would have been saved. So rapid and uninterrupted was the chase, that although side by side by the huntsman, and close at their heels, I once or twice imagined that they must have viewed him. Not so, however. The day was beautifully fine, and warm. It is a popular error amongst sportsmen and others, who should understand the case better, that in frosty weather the scent lies badly. This is not the true explanation of the admitted fact, that the dogs are frequently at fault on a frosty day; it is because the nose, the organ of smell, is, like our fingers, benumbed by long exposure to the cold ; we have
little feeling in our fingers if they be very cold, and the same cause acts on the nose of the dog. It was not long before we came to a place called Bromboro ; but the huntsman desired me to turn aside from fox and hounds, and take the road, unless I preferred swimming an arm of the sea. Fortunately the hounds here had a slight check, or otherwise we might have finished the steeplechase by ourselves.
Were I standing over a mine ready for explosion, or treading the deck of a sinking ship, I believe I could not help, like Square, seeking the final causes of things. At our most rapid speed, it puzzled me to know which dog led the hue and cry, or was there a committee appointed ; for it was impossible that any dogs except those in a line behind the first could assist in the pursuit. It seemed to me that while one dog had the scent he gave tongue, that the moment he lost it he was silent, but that another on his flank having dropped on it he then gave notice, and thus there was no impediment to the speed. I came to this conclusion from observing that while at full speed alongside of a hedge the cry suddenly stopped, but that the game was overran, not through a mistake, but apparently from inability to check their speed. On falling in again with our amusing vagabonds they were running on the shore, parallel with the Mersey, for the tide was out ; the Eastham boat was just approaching the ferry, it was close to the shore, and the passengers hallooed and made signals that the game was right before