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let out at them in rather unmeasured terms, to the utter astonishment of one unfortunate wight, who claimed the privilege of exhibiting himself upon the plea of being a committee-man, and expressed his surprise at Mr. N. for using such dreadful language to one of his consequence. “The committee be d-d,” said Mr. Nichol; “You are not worth damning singly, so I'll d---n you all in a lump.'
In the earliest accounts of history, the amusement of hunting has been recorded as forming one of the chief employments of man; and even at the present day, there is no country where the chase is not a favourite pursuit. The enormous expense which some monarchs have gone to for the purpose of enjoying one day's grand pageant in the chase, would hardly credit belief; but the exhibition of those days consisted in merely driving together an immense herd of deer and other animals, and slaughtering them in heaps without discrimination. To England alone we must look for that most manly of all recreations --the chase of the fox. Even in the sister gem of the ocean, where Irishmen are proverbial for their hard-riding and attachment to the sport, the baneful effects of mis-government seem to threaten it with annihilation. It is not many weeks since, the Marquis of Waterford -acknowledged as one of the wealthiest and most liberal noblemen of the land-has been compelled to relinquish the country he was hunting, in the county of Tipperary, on account of the numerous demoniac attempts, not only to poison his lɔrdship's hounds twice, but even to destroy by incendiarism the stables occupied by the horses of the hunt. No cause could be attributed to this most atrocious act, but that spirit which so unhappily stalks abroad in that devoted land, threatening with secret death all those who may differ from the perpetrators either in politics or religion. The following account, which appeared in the Limerick paper, and was copied into many of the daily journals, will throw as much light on the subject as if I were to attempt to write a dozen pages in condemnation of this most fiendish outrage:
“Lord Waterford has expressed his determination never to hunt the county of Tipperary again; but in order that this resolution should not impair the future operations of the club, with a truly generous and sporting feeling, the noble peer has signified to the committee his intention of presenting fifty-two couples of hounds and five horses from his own stud, besides an annual subscription of £100 to the hunt. It appears that it was not one or two, but a dozen threatening letters his lordship had received about persons in his employment, which was sufficient to disgust him, even if his stabling had not been fired. A better justification of one of the greatest evils that ever afflicted a country-absenteeism-could not be well conceived; and if report spoke true, much more had taken place, well calculated to disgust the noble marquis, and thus deprive the country of the benefits accruing from the constant residence of a wealthy, liberal, and kindhearted landlord.”
Although in many parts of the continent the nature of the land is most favourable to hunting, being in many places an immense expanse of as fine champaign country as could be wished for, still the tastes of the inhabitants have hardly ever led them to attempt it ; in fact the enormous penalties, and other annoyances attached to riding over that land which is in cultivation, although not even sown with a crop, would entirely deprive the sportsman of following his amusement with the least degree of comfort or security.
The manner in which the fox is destroyed on the continent is by the gun, or digging him with a small dog resembling our crookedlegged terriers, in Germany called dacks-hunden (corrupted into taxles), or badger dogs; and although both in that part of the continent and in France hounds are kept, they are employed in hunting the wild boar and the stag, the coup de grace being in most instances given by the gun or spear. As I have observed, little or no hunting has ever been attempted in the real English style, excepting by some sportsmen who a few years ago established about 20 couples of hounds at St. Omer's, which under the management of Mr. Woodbridge, so well known as a first-rate performer in Essex, had very tolerable sport, and killed a great many foxes; but it was chiefly cover-hunting, from the reasons I before mentioned. In the spring of the year 1843, when the Earl of Chesterfield was at Rome, where his lordship had been spending the previous winter, he sent for 15 or 16 couples of draft hounds from England, and by having several sharp runs in that neighbourhood, and
killing a few brace of foxes in gallant style, he quite astonished the Italians; who, fond as they are of music, had never before been delighted with such harmonious melody as echoed upon that occasion through the hills and vales of that classic ground. The number of foxes shot in France is, during some seasons, very great. According to the summary published in the Journal des Haras, for August, 1837, the numbers returned as killed amounted to 14,791; besides wolves, old and young, 641; boars 461. When travelling in Germany, in the year 1837, the author saw amongst many other curiosities at Kranistine, which is the hunting chateau of the Grand Duke of Hesse Darmstadt, in one of the rooms, a very curious picture, representing a royal party enjoying the diversion of shooting wild boars in a small enclosure ; from which it appears that the animals were enticed or driven into a small space, surrounded by net-work, and at one corner was built a room, through the windows of which the sportsman was enabled to show his skill in rifle-shooting, without any inconvenience from either the wounded animals or the inclemency of the weather. This mode of diversion is now seldom or never practised ; but Mr. Bright, in his travels through Austria, informs us, that so lately as 1814, a similar exhibition took place in the neighbourhood of Vienna. In mentioning the amusements with which the court were entertained in that year, he describes one which was designated by the title of a “Royal Hunt," and says that “the monarchs and royal personages who were to be the chief actors in this tragedy, provided with fowling pieces, placed themselves in certain stations within a large arena, which had been prepared for the purpose, several miles from the city, and was surrounded by accommodations for a large assemblage of nobility. Each of the sportsmen was attended by four pages, to assist in reloading, while yeomen armed with spears stood behind to protect them from any danger which might threaten. All being thus artfally arranged, a number of wild boars, deer, hares, and other animals of chase, wbich had been before provided, were let loose in succession, and the privileged sportsmen continued to fire, until the whole were destroyed, or the destroyers were weary of their labour. It may excite some surprise, but I was assured by one of the spectators that, though all the monarchs were tolerable marksmen, none shot so well as the Empress of Austria, who always selected the hares as the smallest objects, and never failed to kill with a single ball. The ladies, it was said, entered with spirit into this amusement, and seemed delighted at the sufferings of a poor fox which, after being fired at till all his legs were broken, still gasped for breath.”
In speaking of hunting on the continent, I cannot prevail upon myself to dismiss the subject without giving some account of one of the most extraordinary characters as a sportsman, or rather sportswoman, that ever existed, either in this country or in any other. The person to whom I allude was the Baroness de Dracek, or Drack, as it is pronounced ; she resided in an old-fashioned chateau, surrounded with woods, on the Belgian frontier of France, and about sixteen miles from the town of Calais. In the year 1839, I visited the place from curiosity; and although nothing but the history remained of this most eccentric character, save and except a few relics relative to the chase and other emblems of her darling occupation, a short sketch of what I saw, will, I hope, not be found unentertaining to the generality of my readers. The celebrated Nimrod visited the house about the same time that I did, and from his graphic pen I will endeavour to give an abbreviated account of the curiosities of the place. On approaching the grand entrance, nothing particularly struck the eye excepting a kind of pent-house, which had been built up purposely to protect from the weather a large collection of the heads of wolves killed in the chase by this modern Camilla. Upon entering the house, we passed through the rooms on the ground-floor, where still hung many of the family pictures ; amongst them were several representing the Baroness in her usual hunting costume, and in the act of performing some of her most renowned exploits in the chase. The most remarkable was where she was described upon her favourite gray horse, prepared to start on a hunting expedition; her style of dress, which it must be allowed was unique, was the following. A green coat, with a gold belt round the waist ; hat with a high crown, having a small gold band round it; her hair powdered, and appearing behind in rather large curls; leather breeches, and boots; and seated in her saddle, of course, à la chasseur. In addition to all this she had the couteau de chasse by her side, and the figure of the wolf on the buttons of her clothes, denoting the chef d'ouvre of her pursuits. Her best hunting dress, richly ornamented, cost 1,200 francs; but with the exception of one button not a remnant was to be found. Behind her saddle was placed a blouse, to be resorted to in case of rain. In the dining-room I was shown the spot where this extraordinary person, stricken with apoplexy, fell in her seventy-fifth year, dying on the following day. Her grave where her remains rest is situated at no great distance from the house, in the church-yard, between two elm trees, where on a wooden cross, is the following inscription.“ Ici repose le corps de noble Dame Marie Cécile Charlotte de Lauretan, Baronne de Dracek. Décidée le 19 Jan., 1823, agé 75.” There is a rude sketch of the family arms, which are wolves with the heads of cocks. Amongst the pictures in the house is one, I forgot to mention, representing our heroine in the act of fishing, in which she was a great adept. The kitchen was an ample apartment, and bore evident traces of the good cheer which once existed in this hospitable chateau. She always had a dinner party after each day's hunting, which was three days a-week. In the kitchen was the head of an immense stag, shot by Madame herself: he was nine years old when she killed him. A picture also represents the following remarkable fact, which I had almost forgotten to mention. As the hounds of this lady were pursuing a ferocious boar, a woodman chanced to be in his path, and apprehensive that he might attack him, was about to aim a blow at the animal as he passed. Whether from agitation at the moment, or wishing the blow to be effectual, it is not in my power to determine; but with such force was the weapon raised, previous to its being struck, that it entered the man's head, and killed him on the spot. Madame is represented riding up to him, and offering him assistance. In her bed-room up stairs was a row of saddle-rests, seven in number, on which her own saddles were kept. Also six rests for her guns, over the fire-place, in the use of which she was most expert ; in fact, almost the last act of her life was to kill an owl with her rifle on the top of a dove-cote. All her dinner knives were mounted with stag's-horn, killed by herself; and even the whistle, with which she used to call her pointers, was made from the tusk of a wild-boar of her own killing, and which still remained amongst her trophies. Her stud of hunters consisted of eight. She hunted all the year round, as when the stag and boar were out of season, she had a pack of beagles to hunt the badger, and on other days amused herself by earthing the fox. She was fond of cock-fighting, and this amusement was carried on in one of the out-houses, where chairs were placed round, and all the neighbours who would come, were made welcome. The following anecdote is told of her as very characteristic, and at the same time hard to be excelled. On her return from one of her excursions—as she went from home to hunt when game ran short-she passed through St. Omers with nine wolves' heads exposed to public view; blowing the horn herself, and thus attracting notice. So rich was her hunting-dress upon this occasion, that the soldiers at the gates presented arms as she passed, mistaking her for a general officer. She was known to have killed upwards of six hundred and seventy wolves in her time, besides hundreds of deer and other game. It is singular that almost the last wolf she killed was hunted by her hounds into a village where there was a wake, or ducasse, and where she shot him in the midst of the festivities.
REMINISCENCES BY AN INDIAN OFFICER.
“ The hills and dales of merry England have been the best riding-school to her gentlemen.”—Professor Wilson.
It is true, most sagacious Christopher—from whom I have borrowed a motto-that English gentlemen do not live at case: their pleasures are rough and manly, befitting the war of life. In the parish where we were born (scven of us, myself the seventh brother), none of gentle nurture but worked harder for pleasure than the sons of thrift and servitude for daily bread. Let alone the “ Heelands o' Scotland” for rearing gaunt horse-troopers for the colonies. Seven good fowlers and clever riders across a country were we, before we could currently read more than the horn-book and big Bible. Knowing in the haunts of the buzzard and the kite, the falcon and the merlin, even of the solitary peregrine in all its rare beauty, our earliest days were not unattended with danger—nay, with absolute peril. In the superstition of our land of mist, did we not reckon every exploit lucky according to its risk ? And, now that six of us have been buried in the swamps of India, do I, the sole remaining prop of my father's ancient house, dread aught but the jungle-fever or the creeping sickness of inaction? In the dreary route from India to Cabul (dreary because accompanied by severe changes of climate), might I not have fainted with toil, like some of my men, but from my early apprenticeship to sport? Glorious sport! which braces the nerves and swells with wild but not cruel excitement the breast of every healthy son of the empire! Have we not, I and my fellows, penetrated the almost impenetrable jungle to have a cast at the game—the deer and wild-boar more particularly, with which a hundred wild districts of our route abounds? Have we not dined off venison of our own killing--and cooking, too, for that matter—to avoid being poisoned, and all within sight of the warlike Belochees? We boast not of the tusks of elephants, of tiger and other skins, which we preserve as trophies of our inherent love of sport, to carry with us when we return to the land of our forefathers, because such spoil belongs to pacific India : hours, days, weeks-spent in hunting, shooting, fishing, yachtingthese are the periods I least regret in my many-coloured life. riding my own horse for a sweepstakes at the eastern presidencywhile shooting the wild-fowl of the Himalayas—while in all seasons, and in all climates, setting agoing the befitting pastimes of the country