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The "Field" Newspaper.
fields and trees than you would turning out of the manifest life and civilisation of the city street. You are growing cheerful and thankful now; but before it grows dark, you must look round out of doors : and that makes you entirely thankful and cheerful. Surely the place has grown greener and prettier since you saw it last! You walk about the garden and the shrubbery: the gravel is right, the grass is right, the trees are right, the hedges are right, everything is right. You go to the stable-yard : you pat your horse, and pull his ears, and enjoy seeing his snug resting-place for the night. You peep into the cow-house, now growing very dark : you glance into the abode of the pig: the dog has been capering about you all this while. You are not too great a man to take pleasure in these little things. And now when you enter your library again, where your solitary meal is spread, you sit down in the mellow lamplight, and feel quite happy. How different it would have been to have walked out of a street-cab into a town-house, with nothing beyond its walls to think of!"
Such a writer has a healthy, happily constituted mind; and his book may help to make men more rural, happier, and better. And so adieu and all luck to the “Country Parson !" If he is still a country parson, may his lawn and his shrubbery be ever green; may his manse be bright without and within, and his Yule log burn cheerily; may his parish love and value him! But if they have lured him to serve a town cure and to dwell in towered cities and the busy hum of men, may he be as “jolly” as such adverse circumstances will allow !
If a man is to devote his life to sport, there is no country where he can have sport so continuously as in Britain. Horace's usurer, who would give up his Lombard Street and lead an Arcadian life, anticipated some sport among the pleasures of his retirement. In winter, he was to drive the covert for wild boar; but though he beat the wood with many dogs-hinc et hinc multo cane, -it was only to drive into snares or traps the tusky pig whom our Indian youth sticks with the spear. The Roman wished to net hares, and thrushes, and cranes-let us hope the birds were ortolans and woodcocks in spite of “Riddle" -at any rate, they were for the pot—those jucunda præmia. In spring, summer, autumn, poor Alphius looked for no sport. Not so the English sportsman. Witness the columns of the newspaper, whose title we have joined with worthy company at the head of this Article. What country but Britain could furnish subjects or readers for the weekly sheet devoted to rural pleasures! Under its present management, and showing everywhere the genial influence of Mr. Frank Buckland, and occasionally the curious research of Mr. Pinkerton, The Field comes very near to all we desire in a rural paper. It has shaken off the occasional coarseness that offended us in our old friend Bell's Life, and without altogether renouncing the old manly prize-fight, and the thoroughly English race-course, it finds room, and turns the attention of its readers—town readers as well as rustics—to the more elegant and civilizing pursuits of natural history and gardening. To one who, like ourselves, does not habitually receive it, a file of The Field opens up unexpected enjoyment. It is not any of the subjects of sport or exciting amusement—the hunting, racing, coursing, yachting—that strikes us most. It is the wide-spread interest the paper proves in subjects of natural history-in times and habits of animals, from deer to snails--in farming and gardening-in all plants and fruits-in everything rural, ---- by people of all ranks and in every situation. It seems as if every village, from Cornwall to Caithness, had a naturalist who communicates his local observations, or states his puzzles, either honestly signing his name, or modestly veiling it under initials. In a late number (5th December), we observed notices of dilatory migration of swallows from Littlehampton, Sussex; from Burton-on-Trent; from Rochester; from Weston-super-mare; from Hastings : Of uncommon birds, from Camden-town; from Colchester: Of the shrew mouse and frogs, from Marlborough: Of the robin's migration to Malta !Of the unconjugal fight of the white-headed eagles who reverse our human customs, for the wife gets in a rage and kills the husband, from Dr. Bree of Colchester: Of blackcap warblers, and golden-crested wrens, and Bohemian waxwings, from Wick, -alas! what did they there in December? These trifling notices open scenes of rural occupation, of intelligent enjoyment free to poor and rich. Were we to make a tour through England--and where will the tourist find so enjoyable a route as that despised one of home-land ?-we should seek out these correspondents of The Field, and place ourselves under their guidance, each in his own parish.
With the help of The Field, a stranger might form some idea of country life among us. The character of the man who can enjoy the whole cycle of its sports is, we fear, beyond foreign comprehension. We would gladly lay aside our editorial impersonality for a page, to make our readers a little acquainted with a real living sportsman, in company with whom we poor scribbler have sometimes lived.
Our friend—we may call him so, without naming him-is high-born, and not being born to estate or wealth, he is free of the entanglements which beset the great, much more than men of low degree will believe. But our friend's birth and connexions give him the entrée to some of the best sporting quarters in England and Scotland; and his experience and The Noble Sportsman.
knowledge and hearty love of sport, not to mention the unselfish nature of the true sportsman, make him a welcome addition to any sporting party. Take the manner of his life then, as he has described it to us while we ate our luncheon together by the moorland spring, and while the gillies were emptying the bags on the heather beside us :—“In November, at my brother-inlaw's, who keeps foxhounds, but hardly hunts, and leaves their management to me, we have the kennels and drafts to put in order; to see the young hounds out; to enter them with a little cub-hunting; and as the weather gets wintry, and the grass well down in the ditches, we get into the full swing of the hunting season. If frost sets in steadily, the young fellows are off to town, but one or two old ones like myself, who don't care for London drawing-rooms and clubs, find the country still pleasant. We steal quietly through the covers for a pheasant or a cock-enough for our own larder and for presents to neighbours --but battues are not in fashion with us. When the weather is open we hunt thrice a week, and on the idle days I tie a few salmon flies, read The Times, or a good novel, when so rare a thing is to be had.”
We discovered later that his reading is more extensive. He is Eton bred, and didn't he surprise us once with a pretty jeu d'esprit in Latin, in good set longs and shorts, right in quantities and in sense! But we must not interrupt our friend : " As the hunting-season draws to an end, and the birds begin to sing, I am off for the North; for above all sport, far above any other amusement, stands salmon-fishing. I am an old fellow, and I tell you the most exciting moment of my life is when I strike the first fish of the season, and he makes the reel scream as he takes off thirty yards of the line at a dash. For two months of spring I spend most of daylight in the Spey,--not fishing it, as the luxurious Southerns do their Tay and Tweed, from a boat, but on foot; from the bank where it is deep, and wading where it gets wade-able."
We have sometimes watched ourstalwart friend stalking through the quick streams below the Cruives of Spey, and throwing a long straight line from that huge rod of his, while the bits of floating ice popple harmlessly against his well-cased legs (eủKvýμιδας). ).
But thus he went on : “ In midsummer time there is a space of two months when there is really nothing to do, and I often spend the months of June and July at a pretty German watering-place. I like that country and the people, and it is amusing to figure what might be made of such materials for sporting purposes, if the people were but awake to the capabilities of their country. When the cherries are over, and Baden is getting too hot, it is time for Scotland again ; and I am here
VOL. XL.-NO. LXXIX.
always before the 12th, with the excuse of something to do in the way of preparation, however well M‘Bean looks after his kennel. Grouse-shooting is the perfection of steady autumn amusement. No day without a bag! The autumn months are pleasanter in Scotland too than anywhere else I have tried in Europe, and the sport suits the season; nice easy work, with exercise enough to brace and bring the constitution up to its highest health. One might tire, indeed, of the unceasing repetition of good grouse-shooting, such as we have it here, varying only in a few birds more or less in the bag, as the day has been wet and windy, or too hot and still, or just the light breeze that bears the scent to the dogs, and keeps them and us cool. This work might at last tire one, were it not for that dear deceitful river which lures me out day after day to whip its streams, and at this season rewards me only with the sight of a big tail, as the monster flounders through the water beside my fly; or if I do hook him by chance, and succeed in landing him through all that broken water and rock, I find him a black-a-moor, such as we were condemned to eat yesterday.” Reader, the fish of yesterday was an excellent new-run salmon, in good condition. The cook had dressed it in slices, as salmon should be dressed, and we approved even of its rich colour, though inclining to copper. The dark river soon gives that colour.
"But it is neither the shooting, nor that pretence of fishing, that makes this season and this place the best of my year. It is the fresh, brisk air--the beautiful hill and glen-the solitude of this wild scene; for why need a man shut out a bit of poetry when it runs against him ?” Little thought our friend that his whole yarn rung in our ears like an idyl of the most genuine poetry. “Add to all that, the free life we lead at the shieling. Am not I right, that, after a day's shooting, a dinner in our shooting-jackets, with the deal table and the sanded floor for all splendour, with fresh-killed salmon, a leg of that dwarfy mutton, some grouse, a dish of potatoes bursting their brown jackets, for viands,-all dressed by Mrs. M'Bean and her neat-handed Phyllis, with the permitted pipe, and the tumbler of four-yearold Brackla after,-is far above the most careful feast at the • Trois frères,
' or even under the hospitable roof of the ‘Père Philippe !' I really don't know why we leave this place so soon as we do. I suppose the weather gets disagreeable to some of the party. For my part, I don't dislike the rough weather of autumn; the fire of peats, with a topping of birch billets, makes a good addition to our evening enjoyments; and for sport, it gets better to the last. Grouse-shooting in the end of September and October is much finer and more exciting sport than the first of the season. A dozen brace then are worth having, and take some skill and patience to bag them, very different from
the unfledged chickens of the 12th. But, like everything else that is good, this life comes to an end, and next week we are to have our two days' final driving of the wood in the glen for vermin and roe and fox. It seems against nature with me to shoot a fox, but the farmer's joy when he sees one rolled over, and carries him home for skinning, reconciles one to the atrocious deed. Last of all, we have our day of the white hares; all the guns along the tops, and the school-children, with whom this is an annual holiday, scattered about the lower grounds to keep the hares moving, who move upwards and meet their
The boys have a brace of hares a-piece, and after that distribution there are more than the keepers and gillies can carry away. That is the last scene here, for which reason I mention it; but I have known it occasionally, when the snow was well-baked, and the air still and bright, a very pleasant, lively day.
“ The next scene of my life is in a midland county, among muddy turnip-fields, and covert sides. Partridge-shooting is the prose of gun sport. It is a pity the season for it and the grouse-time could not be reversed. One might enjoy English shooting before a day like this. But even a little partridgeshooting is amusing. The abundance of game is pleasant, coming after the wild season of grouse; the working of the highbred dogs with their English keeper is a beautiful thing; and as October brings rough weather as well as pheasant-shooting, the change from this stormy hill-side and the sanded floor of our bothy, to the shelter and comfort of an English country-house and ladies' society, is not an unmitigated evil.
“A very small change takes me on from the partridge ground to the kennels and the fox-hounds again, and so I have gone round the dial of my year!”
“ Thus sang the swain :
To-morrow to fresh fields and pastures new !" Our friend, this noble sportsman, chose to measure and mark the circle of his year by the succession of his sports ; but that was a fancy, like the shepherd's, who' marks the time of day by the little flowers that blow at certain hours. No one who bore him company in sport; no one who had the privilege of smoking a pipe with him after a day of cheerful exercise, could set him down as a mere hunting, shooting, fishing machine. There is a fund of pastoral feeling, of unconscious poetry, that underlies the character of every sportsman worthy of the name. Very different, to be sure, was the sportsman whom St. John has somewhere mentioned :—C.'s whole occupa