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The fox-bounds are now out; we will therefore take a breathless gallop on paper with them, in company with the incomparable Christopher, whose playful satire all will perceive.
“Well, do you know, that, after all you have said, Mr. North, I cannot understand the passion and pleasure of fox-hunting. It seems to me both cruel and dangerous."
“Cruelty ! Is there cruelty in laying the rein on these horses, and delivering them up to the transport of their high condition-for every throbbing vein is visible at the first full burst of that maddening cry, and letting loose to their delight the living thunderbolts ? Danger! what danger but of breaking their own legs, necks, or backs, and those of their riders? And what right have you to complain of that, lying all your length, a huge, hulking fellow, snoring and snorting half-asleep on a sofa, sufficient to sicken a whole street ? What though it be but a smallish, reddish-brown, sharp-nosed animal, with pricked-up ears, and passionately fond of poultry, that they pursue ?After the first • Tally
ho,' Reynard is rarely seen, till he is run-in upon-once, perhaps, in the whole run, skirting a wood or crossing a
It is an idea that is pursued in a whirlwind of horses, to a storm of canine music, worthy, both of the largest lion that ever leaped among a band of Moors, sleeping at midnight by an extinguished fire on the African sands. There is, we verily believe it, nothing foxy in the fancy of one man in all that glorious field of three hundred. Once off and away, while wood and welkin ring, and nothing is felt, nothing is imagined in that hurricane flight, but scorn of all obstructions, dikes, ditches, drains, brooks, palings, canals, rivers, and all the impediments reared in the way of so many rejoicing madmen, by nature, art and science in an inclosed, cultivated, civilised, and Christian country. There they go, prince and peer, baronet and squire the nobility and gentry of England, the flowers of the men of the earth, each on such a steed as Pollux never reined, nor Philip's warlike son--for could we imagine Bucephalus here, ridden by his own tamer, Alexander would be thrown out during the very first burst, and glad to find his way dismounted to a village alehouse for a pail of meal and water. Hedges, trees, groves, gardens, orchards, woods, farm-houses, huts, halls, mansions, palaces, spires, steeples, towers, and temples, all go wavering by, each demigod seeing, or seeing them not, as his winged steed skims or labours along, to the swelling or sinking music, now loud as a regimental band, now faint as an echo. Far and wide over the country are dispersed the scarlet runners; and a hundred villages pour forth their admiring swarms, as the main current of the chace roars by, or disparted rivulets float wearied and all astray, lost at last in the perplexing woods. Crash goes the top timber of the fivebar gate-away over the ears flies the ex-rough-rider in a surprising somerset; after a succession of stumbles, down is the gallant grey on knees and nose, making sad work among the fallows. Friendship is a fine thing, and the story of Damon and Pythias most affecting indeed-but Pylades eyes Orestes on his back, sorely drowned in sludge, and tenderly leaping over him as he lies, claps his hand to his ear, and with a Hark forward ; tantivy !' leaves him to remount, lame and at leisure, and ere the fallen has
risen and shaken himself, is round the corner of the white village church, down the dell, over the brook, close on the heels of the striving pack, all a yell, up the hill crowned by the Squire's Folly.
“Every man for himself, and God for us all !' is the devout and ruling apothegm of the day. If death befal, what wonder ? since man and horse are mortal; but death loves better a wide, soft bed, with quiet curtains and darkened windows in a still room, the clergyman in one corner with his prayers, and the physician in another with his pills, making assurance doubly sure, and preventing all possibility of the dying Christian's escape. Let oak branch smite the too slowly stooping skull, or rider's back not timely levelled with his steed's; let faithless bank give way,
THE SLEEP OF THE YEAR.
and bury in the brook; let hidden drain yield to forefeet and work a sudden wreck; let old coal-pit, with briery mouth betray; and roaring river bear down man and horse to cliffs unscalable by the very Welsh goat; let duke's or earl's son go sheer over a quarry twenty feet deep and as many high, yet without stop or stay down the rocky way, the hunter train flows on; for the music goes fiercer and more savage-lo! all that remains together of the pack, in far more dreadful madness than hydrophobia, leaping out of their skins, under insanity from the scent, for Kelpies can hardly now make a crawl of it; and ere he, they, whipperin, or any one of the other three demoniacs, have time to look in one another's splashed faces, he is torn into a thousand pieces, gobbled up in the general growl, and, snug and smooth, and dry and warm, and cozy as he was an hour and twenty-five minutes ago exactly, in his furze bush in' the cover, he is now piecemeal in about thirty distinct stomachs; and is he not, pray, well off for sepulture!”
THE SLEEP OF THE YEAR.
Now frolicsome, fruit-bearing Nature is dull-
His farm is his garden, you see 'tis his pride,
The Peer, or the Statesman-what cares he for them?
October is from the Latin without any change, and is thus designated as having been the eighth month from March.
By our Saxon ancestors it was called Wynmonat, i.e. Wine-month; and Winterfulleth, or Winterfyllith.
ALLHALLOW'S EVE; HALLOW EVEN ; HALLOWEEN; HOLY EVE; NUTCRACK NIGHT.-October 31st. This Eve is so called from being the vigil of All Saints' Day, and is the season for a variety of superstitions and other customs. In the north of England many of these are still found to linger. One of the most common is that of diving for apples; or of catching at them with the mouth only, the hands being tied behind, and the apples suspended on one end of a long transverse beam, at the other extremity of which is fixed a lighted candle. The fruit and nuts form the most prominent parts of the evening feast, and from this
* From "Soane's Book of the Months." 2 vols. London: H. G. Bohn, 1849.