« ForrigeFortsett »
often an object, the size of a man, may be missed, even at that range, by an inexperienced practitioner. Certainly my nerves were not in the best shooting trim, and the way in which I had been spending the last four-and-twenty hours was not likely to be conducive to accuracy of eye or steadiness of hand, and I blazed away some half-dozen times without the slightest effect upon my gigantic antagonist, whose gnarled and knotted trunk remained scatheless as before. At last I hit him, though about ten feet from the ground, and Jack, out of patience with my repeated failures and slow progress, exclaimed, “This will never do: I'll set the hair-triggers, Nogo! and mind what you are about with them. Above all, be steady!” The hair-triggers were accordingly set. The pistols, as Jack assured me, were true as rifles ; and certainly the mechanism of the locks, and the manner in which these fine triggers went off at the slightest conceivable touch, was curious in the extreme. I took one out of his hands, and bringing the sight to bear with all the accuracy I could command, succeeded in planting a bullet well into the sheet of white paper, then doing duty as an antagonist. “Bravo! Nogo,” said Jack, “this is what you required !” and with a smile he handed me the remaining weapon, prepared, as before, to go off at the very lightest touch. I had just taken it into my hands, with some remark eulogistic of its properties, when“ Bang!” I was startled by a sudden explosion right under my face, that made me leap three feet from the ground. The next moment I felt a thrill in one of my arms, as though suddenly seared with a red-hot iron. I was conscious of every pulsation in my brain beating with a sound like the stroke of a church clock. I heard Jack's voice, thick and indistinct, as the shouts of a multitude. The giant elm and the evening sky were swimming before my eyes ; the short mossy turf, to which I seemed suddenly so close, was heaving around me. I grasped it with the clutch of a drowning man. Of that last effort I have the most vivid recollection—but I can remember no more.
(To be continued).
ADVENTURES OF A HARE; WITH ANECDOTES OF
HIS MANY FRIENDS.
EDITED BY SARON.
“ Inter quadrupedes, gloria prima lepus.”
My Birth and Early Days—Some Account of my Ancestors-My Descent from
a noble Hungarian family-Their Arrival in England, and Presentation to the Prince Regent-Virginia Water-Narrow Escape from the Poachers.
I was one of a numerous family, and was born within a few miles of Windsor, so universally celebrated for its stately castle. A tuft of grass, in a small wood near Virginia Water, pointed out the place of my birth; and it was there, in a fine sunny morning in early spring that my eyes first opened upon the light of heaven. For the three subsequent weeks, I enjoyed happiness without alloy, my mother luxuriating in all the delights of her rural caudle-herbs, roots, fruit, leaves, grain, acacia, Spanish broom, and cistus. Before, however, the month had expired, my early griefs began : deserted by my father, who had unscrupulously left both his wife and child upon the parish, I was clinging for support to her from whom I had derived my existence, when a severe and sudden malady, produced, as it was supposed, by an over-course of bark, deprived me of what in the innocence of my heart I deemed to be a tender parent's care. Had I possessed the experience of after-life, I should not have so deeply deplored the loss of one who, like the rest of her unnatural sex (I speak of the Rodentia, not human class), would have driven me from hearth and home, to struggle through a wild and thorny path, beset with dangers on every side by day and night. Sad is the thought that earth, air, fire, conspire against our hapless, timid, helpless race. Man-blood-thirsty, lawless man, murders or hunts us to death to gratify his inordinate passion for sport. The grovelling hedgehog, the offensive polecat, the destructive stoat, the purblind buzzard, the ignoble rapacious owl, the majestic celestial bird “consecrated to Jupiter,” all mark us for their prey. To return to my narrative : of my personal appearance I can say little. If the foul fiend Flibbertigibet did not squint the eye, he gave me the hare-lip, and I was born with the most anti-aristocratic ears, for they were long and drooping, with eyes more prominent than beautiful. Of my education-to adopt the old adage_"the least said is the soonest mended”; I never got a remove above my first form ; one point, however, I piqued myself not a little upon, namely, that like the youth of the present day, I was undeniably fast. My genealogy must not be so briefly disposed of, for I can claim an ancient and honourable pedigree, tracing my ancestry to the days of Cæsar, when the Britons, unlike the degenerate race of more recent times, pursued us for the sport alone, and not to gratify their pampered appetites. My mother's family were of Hungarian extraction, and had formerly lived at Urmeny ; the sporting propensities, however, of the popular owner of the estate Graf— had nearly cut down the family tree, for shooting and coursing were carried on to an alarming degree. Happily a party of Englishmen, attracted to Vienna by the celebrated Congress of 1815, had paid a visit to the territory, for the purpose of witnessing the races, breeding establishment, paddocks, farm, and flocks of sheep of the Graf, and one of the “ Britishers,” attracted by the beauty of my ancestors, expressing a wish to see an alliance between the noble heirs of Hungary and the pure blood that runs in the Saxon's veins, proposed that my maternal grand-parents should leave the wild forests, the fertile plains, the magnificent lakes of ancient Panonia for the rural glades of “merrie England.” This proposition was cheerfully agreed to, and upon the following day they quitted their “ fatherland,” en route for Albion's isle. The journey was delightful; the track passed through a fine cultivated valley, the sides of which were covered with magnificent timber, the Neutra winding its serpentine course along the bottom, a thousand thousand brilliant flowers were on its banks, and the brightest sunbeams upon its waters. A ridge of mountains to the north and east formed a magnificent background to the picturesque scenery. After passing Freystadt, Tyrnau, Sarfo, and paying a short visit to Cseklesy, the domain of Graf Esterhazy, the travellers reached Presburg, declared by Ferdinand, in the year 1536, the capital of Hungary, the place where the kings were crowned, the diet held, and where the regalia, consisting of the crown and sceptre of their first king Stephen, is still shown. From Presburg the travellers proceeded to Vienna, where the greatest excitement prevailed, in consequence of the news having reached that city of Buonaparte's escape from Elba; as one of the young Englishmen held a commission in the army, and as war was inevitable, Captain Harcourt (we give a nom-de-guerre) lost no time in making the best of his way to England, accompanied by those from whom I claim my origin. After some hair-breadth escapes, thie party reached London, where the captain found orders to join his regiment immediately at Windsor. No sooner had he arrived at the latter place, than a route for foreign service was placed in his hands, with orders for his troop to commence its march the following morning at daybreak to Dover. For the next four-and-twenty hours the state of bustle and excitement at the barracks, caused by the sudden order in the midst of peace to take the field, can be better conceived than described. Officers were purchasing canteens and camp equipages, exchanging hacks and buggy horses for serviceable chargers; the commanding officer and riding-master were busily employed in selecting the best-constitutioned troop-horses for the approaching campaign ; the adjutant was hard at work in his department; the inedical staff were engaged in packing up their travelling pharmacopeias ; while the calls on the paymaster for certain loans and advances were such, that had it not been for a stringerit order that no one was to overdraw his account, the respected chancellor of the military exchequer would have been placed in an awful fix, and would probably have found himself not in a situation to have supplied the sinews of war. The men were assisting in packing the baggage ; while fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, sweethearts, Jews, tradesmen, duns, and parish constables were anxiously urging for admission within the barrack-walls. In the hurry of the approaching märch, the distinguished foreigners had nearly been forgotten ; they had been furnished with quarters perfectly unsuitable to their station in life, and were horrified to find that instead of roaming at large in the vaunted land of liberty, they were cooped up in a small temporary shed adjoining the riding-house. Fortunately, the captain's batman was not quite so oblivious as his master, and he took ä " better late than never” opportunity of asking hini for further orders. “The best thing you can do, Hargraves," said the young officer, “is to take them to the head keeper, in the Great Park, and tell him to forward them to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, in the course of the day. Have Sultan saddled at half-past four." This direction was speedily attended to ; and before dusk the noble Hungarian prisoners found themselves in the royal domain, and although their freedom was still denied them, they had a much larger field to range in than during their incarceration at Windsor cavalry barracks,
After four o'clock stables, the captain mounted his charger to take a ride, perhaps for the last time, over the green sward of that forest scenery, immortalized by Shakspeare , and having wended his way
towards the then residence of the Regent, presented, through the equerry in waiting, my respected ancestors to “a prince, the prince of princes at the time.” Nothing could be more affable, than the heir to the throne was to the gallant officer : he asked a thousand questions about Vienna, tlie dress of the troops, the appearance of the men ; and when, in reply, Ilarcourt gave a graphic account of the sledge-parties, the reviews, the battues, the tournament, and described the appearance of the noble Hungarian guard, all men of rank and station, the Prince showed his delight by inviting his visitor to dinner that day at eight o'clock.
“Of course, Captain Harcourt, you will come in marching order," continued His Royal Highness, “and if you will call at the castle, on your way home, General - who dines here, will call for you at the barracks.”
The captain expressed his thanks, and took his leave, but not before his travelling companions, emancipated from their thraldom, had been allowed to range at large in a small plantation near Virginia Water. The dinner passed off delightfully ; everything that good taste could suggest appeared in the arrangement of it-a round table, admirablydrilled servants, no ostentatious display of plate, the dishes few but exquisitely dressed, and wine of every cline and hue in perfect order. The conversation of thie illustrious host was brilliant in the extreme; there was scarcely a name alluded to of foreign potentate, English patrician, or plebeian, that did not give His Royal Highness an opportunity of repeating some anecdote about ; and there was not a "lark” that had been indulged in by the young officers quartered at Windsor, that was not known to, and good-humouredly hinted at, by the princely George.
Although somewhat capricious in his friendships, prejudiced in his views, and spoiled by the adulation that was paid to the rising sun, the heir-apparent to the throne of England possessed many kindly qualities; nor was the charge of changeableness to be attributed entirely to hini, for in the case of Brummel and the late Reverend Edward Cannon, they both conducted themselves in a manner that would have been uncourteous (to say the least of it) to any one inoving in good society. The remark of the layman and beau about his " fat friend,” and Wales, touch the bell !" are as familiar as "household words ;" while the rejoinder of the clerical wit, though not generally known, was equally offensive to good taste, and not at all calculated to raise him in the estimation of that prince who was universally acknowledged to be “the finished gentleman from top to toe.” His Royal Highness had been trying over a piece of sacred music on the far-famed organ at the Pavilion, Brighton ; and turning to Cannon, asked him his opinion of the performance. The Dean, with a satirical curl upon his lip, replied that nothing could have been worse executed. The manner, the voice, and the look which accompanied the cutting and ungracious critique, produced, as it naturally would be expected to do, so great an impression upon the mind of the Regent, that Cannon was never afterwards invited into his presence. One trait of forgiveness in the person of the conduct of the injured patron ought to be recorded. In after life Cannon, worn down by ill health and poverty, was instrumental in getting up an address at Ryde to his early benefactor, then George the Fourth, on the occasion of his departure for the sister kingdom, Shortly afterwards his resources failed him, and in a moment of despair he addressed a letter to the monarch, asking for some temporary assistance. By return of post a cheque for a hundred pounds was transmitted to Cannon by order of the King; thus proving that His Majesty could not only forgive an injury, but was liberal enough to feel for the distress of his former associate. With the above anecdote, which the Dean repeated to us with his eyes full of tears, we shall conclude this brief allusion to that prince, upon whom Wraxall gives the following just eulogium :-" Nature had bestowed uncommon graces upon his figure and person. Convivial as well as social in his temper, destitute of all reserve, and affable even to familiarity in his reception of every person who had the honour to approach him ; endued with all the aptitudes to profit of instruction, his mind had been cultivated with great care ; and he was probably the only prince in Europe, heir to a powerful monarchy, competent to peruse the Greek and Roman poets and historians in their own language. Humane and compassionate, his purse was open to every application of distress ; nor was it ever shut against genius or merit.”
We have digressed, and shall now return to our immediate subject. My ancestry, naturalized in this country, indulged in their dolce far niente for many years within the precincts of Virginia Water, where neither gun nor hound was admitted, and lived to a green old age.
My grand-parents having intermarried with the “fair-haired daughters of the Isle," my claims to Hungarian blood can scarcely be made out ; and although I still feel proud of my descent from that noble race, I myself was born with all the rights and immunities of a British subject. “ Time had rolled his ceaseless course," and the majority of those already alluded to no longer existed at the day of my birth. Of the crowned heads that assembled at Vienna, on the occasion of the Congress, not one remains : Austria, Prussia, Russia, Wurtemburg, Bavaria, and Denmark have witnessed the vanity of earthly rulers ; their diadems have descended to succeeding generations; and few of those who affixed their signature to the declaration of the allied powers, denouncing Napoleon " as an enemy and disturber of the tranquillity of the world,” are now alive to meditate upon that act. Metternich, Talleyrand, Clancarty, Cathcart, Palmella, Hardenburg, Rasumowsky, Nesselrode, have shuffled off their mortal coil. Stewart remains ; and with him Wellington, the hero of a hundred fields, whose name will remain an imperishable monument in the annals of his country. The object of their vengeance-that warrior chief who had overrun Europe from the Tagus to the Kremlin-has ceased to rule the destiny of nations, and with proud Austria's mournful flower, the empress Marie Louise, and their ill-fated progeny, is now beneath the silent tomb. A retrospective glance will prove the mutability of worldly affairs : the nephew of the “denounced” one guides the helm of France. The lines of Napoleon's farewell have in part been realized
“ Farewell to thee, France !- but when liberty rallies
Once more in thy regions, remember me then-
Though wither'd, the tear will uphold it again :
And yet, may thy heart leap awake to my voice-
Then turn thee, and call on the chief of thy choice !"