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thie tops of churches ; and the grey-and-white wagtail appears ; snipes, woodcocks, herons, wild-ducks, and other water-fowls retire from the frozen marshes, to streams still open.
“ The fowler now steals upon the spot with cautious step,
And peering out, surveys the restless flood;
All seasons, all weathers, which God in his goodness has granted to man, have their charms and their enjoyments. To him who has a light heart, and a crown in his purse, feeling no hatred in his heart, and surrounded by the chosen of his affections, what more joyous than the winter season? To a sportsman and a lover of the country, it is possibly the chosen period of the year--his mornings passed in hunting and shooting, he returns with health invigorated, and spirits exhilarated from the pleasures of the chase and exercise, to the cheerful home-circle, the blazing fire, the curtains closed, the apartment welllighted and “comfortable”-to use the best of English terms—to enjoy female society, books, and music. Ah ! 'tis a pleasant season, that of winter; though gladsome is the flowery Midsummer, and so ever was it at the Old Hall at home!
True to the opinion of Hoofcut, ere the moon had well risen the ground was already hardened by the commencement of an intense black frost-80 intense, indeed, that day by day the earth appeared the more and more as if bound in iron; the lakes were frozen over thick and strong ; and skating, as wild-duck shooting, took the place of hunting ; while friendly hospitality was dispensed with kind and generous plenty at the Hall to all the country round. Among the many who were wont to visit there, was one whose beaming face and amiable disposition I shall ever recollect with pleasurable feelings, though I was but a boy when he was ever welcomed at my home, though now long years have elapsed since his remains have been laid in the church-yard. At the period to which I more particularly allude, he might be fairly termed a country squire, of good family and sufficient means for all the conveniences--indeed, luxuries of life. In manner he was kind and courteous to all; a just and active magistrate in summer ; a thorough-going foxhunter in winter. No meet, however distant, whatever the weather, but there he was if the hounds were there, mounted on a powerful horse ; his fair, but handsome, cheerful face beaming with kindness and joviality. “How now, boys ?” he was wont to say, as we met after church
almost the only time in the hunting season we ever saw him, save at the dinner-table, or during a frost-" How now, boys ? are you not for the meet to-morrow? Come over, lads, to Partridge Court, and dine with me!"
And then with equal kindness and generosity he would give us a tip when the holidays were over. But like many other men of his kindly nature, neglectful of business, and distrusting no one, he never could understand that a rent-roll of twelve hundred per annum was not sufficient to keep up a stable of twelve hunters, for not one of which he had given less than a hundred guineas, and to feast as to lend to his sotermed friends on all sides. So, rents being ill-paid, he had occasional recourse to a loan ; and all the world knows that loans mean lawyers --and Heaven help the man that requires their help! for he will soon become helpless. And such was the fate of poor D- ! A first-rate rider, and as pleasant companion as ever sat before a well-provided board. The following lines, from the witty pen of Hood, precisely describe him as to his career :
" What with keeping a hunting-box,
These rhymes will furnish the reason !" Such was the man: such were his virtues : such his errors. There have been many more such, and will be again.
While the frost lasts-and, to be truthful, it was a “stunner”-to use a " stunning” vulgar expression—permit me to speak of another well-known character, who has only very recently resigned the chase, and with it a life-as far as his sporting passion was concerned—that is marked with pedestrian and other feats of a most extraordinary nature. Many a half-crown has slipped from my pocket into his in sheer admiration of energy, activity, and all-enthralling love for what is generally denominated sport ; while, mounted on a tolerable nag, I have vainly endeavoured to beat him. This enthusiastic and truly admirable practical sporting biped was known throughout the Earl's hunt by the cognomen of Jim Hastings. If so be it was truly that given to him by his god-papa, I cannot vouch. I generally termed him “Jim," poor fellow, as he generally replied “Master Fred;" the “ Master,” as the “Fred” remaining much to my satisfaction from the day I first rode Barleycorn's Jumper, till that of my being gazetted as a captain of Light Dragoons—and may it evermore till the hour of death by word, as doubtless it did in recollection, had not the stalls of the Old Hall at home ceased to be tenanted by the hunters of Squire Western.
Now the well-known James Hastings-better known to the members
and frequenters of the hunt as Jim the Jumper-was the descendant of highly respectable parents, his grandfather having not only claimed the peerage of Huntingdon, but he actually had himself expended the whole of his means on the prosecution of that claim. His father also was a person of considerable education and ability ; and as an amateur actor of some celebrity, performed Sir Peter Teazle on the Cheltenham boards, frequently giving amateur theatricals at his own house. Jim Jumper, the subject of my early sporting admiration, was originally brought up-wonderful to relate !—as a tailor. No offence, ye most necessary and hard-working, and oft-times ill-paid, members of society ! But truth will out—and I must admit, what all the sporting reading world will admit, that it is astonishing, but not the less a fact, that this the ninth part of a man could perform such herculean pedestrian tasks as those I am about to relate :
It was, if I err not, some thirty-six or forty years lang syne that Lord F- , then Colonel Berkeley, brought his hunting establishment to Cheltenham, that Jim was first seized with a positive furorede-chasse ; and one of his first feats in this line was to get up an amateur hunt of his own, which thus took place :—The meet was in the main street of Cheltenham ; the pack, consisting of Jim's favourite terrier, and such other puny terriers, curs, or what-not, who were out for a bit of pastime; the game, a red herring attached to the wheel of the “ Highflyer,” a celebrated fast London coach. As the hour for its starting sounded on the church-clock, coachy mounted, and away they went. A few minutes being allowed-in due sporting style—the terrier leader of the heterogeneous pack was laid on the scent, and away they went, soon followed down the High-street by nearly every cur in the town
“ Both mongrel, puppy, whelp, and hound,
And curs of low degree." This extraordinary pack chased down the High-street, and along the Gloucester-road in full cry, continuing the pursuit as far as the “ Pheasant”-a small roadside inn—where, the horses being frightened by the variety of canine notes, and the shouts of the followers, bolted, and upset the coach into the ditch. This was poor Jim's first hunting adventure, but by no means his last.
From that day he steadily attached himself to the Earl's hounds, attending all their meets on foot, both in the Cheltenham and Berkeley countries. Some of his feats, arising out of his intense passion for the chase, must have been all-engrossing and almost incredible : nevertheless there are many who will corroborate the facts I name. To walk from Cheltenham to Berkeley-twenty-five miles—from thence to the meet ; to follow the hounds all day, be in at the death, and return to Cheltenham home the same night, was a common occurrence. Another of his feats was still more remarkable :—The meet being at Broadway, sixteen miles from Cheltenham, he was up betimes in the morning ; walked from Cheltenham there ; thence to the covertside, eight miles ; ran with the hounds all day; and was in at the death at Fairford, twelve miles ; back to Broadway, twenty miles ; and thence to Cheltenham, sixteen. But as if this was not sufficient to quench his indomitable ardour and physical power, he joined a badgerhunting party the same evening at Queen and West Woods, at least twelve miles more, making the distance accomplished between sunrise and sunset actually eighty-four miles. What think you of this, ye turtlefeeding gentlemen, who live at home at ease, and fancy that six turns on a dry terrace, in woollen hose and thick shoes and clogs, is exercise sufficiently fatiguing to secure appetite, digestion, and a snore after dinner! Indeed, his enduring powers were such as almost to stagger belief-so much so, indeed, that he was frequently mentioned in Bell's Life as the "Flying Tailor.” Numerous were the mounts kindly offered to him by members of the hunt and others, but invariably declined, inasmuch as he declared that riding was to him far more fatiguing than walking and running. During the runs his services were great-far more than possible to say. Was there a gate to be opened, Jim was at the very spot; then shooting a-head he was not seldom in at the death, before the best men in the field. With stick in hand, and hand in pocket, he could top the highest fence ; and his opinion in reference to scent, and not less as regards the recovery of a lost fox ; the admirable tack with which he would recommend a cast ; and, in fact, his general knowledge of the chase was extraordinary. If ever man was born a sportsman, it was poor James Hastings; and as such he died. The last “ Tally-ho!” the last cheer to the pack running into their dying fox, has sounded in his ears. He is himself run to earth by the grim Destroyer: he has been in at the last death -his own! And honour be to the noble master of the hounds it was so long his delight to follow ! He has generously provided the means for his respectable and decent funeral,
He has unhappily left a mother, aged 90, in indigent circumstances ; but doubtless the same kind protector will not allow her to want. In the days of her prosperity she acted the part of Sally Teazle, for the benefit of the local charities. May the local charitable now act the part of Lady Bountiful towards her. Sportsmen are generally kind, liberal, and feeling ; and humble though the hero of our tale was, he has left behind him many who will regret his absence at the covert-side when, the summer passed, its glories and delights give place once more to the sound of the huntsman's horn, and the chorus of the chase.
Chap. XV. Ten days of severe frost had bound the earth in an iron grasp, and our holidays were drawing to a close, when the will of God in one short night broke that iron grasp asunder as a reed. As I have said, it was our custom to sleep, i. e. the brothers, in adjoining apartments, the door of which being ever thrown a-wide, was but a trifling separation. It was there, if I recollect aright, on the 14th of January in the Comet year, or thereabouts—as this of 1851 will henceforth be termed that of the Exhibition, or the Eclipse, the former decidedly eclipsing the latter, inasmuch as there might have been one in Norway ; but forsooth! in Old England there was nothing but a soaker !-that my worthy fraternity entered my dormitory in a somewhat airy costume, considering the period of the year and the severity of the season ; in fact, though a portion of his somewhat slender person was covered by a snowy chemise, whereas the shaggy capote would be somewhat more to the purpose—which snowy chemise descended only to his knees, thus discovering a very indifferent pair of understandings, and exclaimed
"Brother mine, awake from thy heavy slumbers! Awake! and look from thy lattice-window. Awake!” he repeated, shaking me by the shoulders, with some difficulty arousing me, inasmuch as we had been from home on a Christmas revel the night previous, and had kept it up till 2 A, M.; added to which—boy though I was I already found myself most devotedly in love with a little blue-eyed fair-haired girl, with whom I had danced and eaten bon-bons; and I was dreaming, at the moment I was so roughly disturbed, that somehow or another I had become lord and master of the Old Hall at home, and of the sweet little creature in a white frock, and sash as blue as her eyes, and ankles as taper as her wrists, who, in after life, might have shared my fortunes, had not circumstances or the events of life, happily perhaps for us both, doomed it otherwise ; and all I can hope is that her fortune has been a bright one, which then promised to be as fair and happy as her sweet self.
MY DEAR PISCATOR
I have had a very pleasant fortnight's trip to some of my old quarters; and as I know you are interested in anything that concerns trout fishing, I write you a short account of it. I have explored new ground, or rather water I should say, as well as revisited olil scenes. I sent you, a couple of months ago, an account of my “ Trout Fishing among the Black Mountains," in April last year, and I described to you the pleasant village of Llanfihangel Crugcorney as possessing “good accommodation for man and horse.".
Towards the latter end of August, I bent my steps towards the Great Skyrrid Inn, intending to have a few quiel day's fishing in the Honddu and Monnow. My friend G. S. was to meet me there, and we were to take an excursion up the river Wye. I found the water in the brooks very low and clear after so much dry weather, and the fish were, consequently, very shy. I only killed 15 trout, and those small, the first day. Luckily, during the night a little rain fell, which slightly coloured the water. I rose early with the hopes of a good day's sport, nor was I deceived in my expectations. I knew, from the quantity of trout I saw the day before, that rain alone was wanted to make them rise freely.
I began to fish close to Llanfihangel, in the Honddu. I did not do much at first, perhaps I began rather too early (9 A.M.), or the fish were feeding below : I had only killed half-a-dozen by the time I arrived at Altrynes, where the Honddu joins the Monnow. Then indeed my sport began. I rose some good fish in the first long stream, and it was not long before three half-pounders rolled their sparkling bright yellow sides over the gravel. I am generally a very merciful fisherman, and I give the trout, as soon as caught, a rap over the head