+ ~ -
 
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
 
Report an Error
Go!
 
Go!
 
TOC
 

that libraries are greater enemies to vice than
model prisons; that ignorance is the best
instructor in discontent and rebellion; and
that there is a glimpse of refinement in every
mind, however humble, which was meant to
be developed by instruction, not extinguished
by evil associations and moral destitution.

          THE SPORTING WORLD.

I TAKE it for granted that you are not a
"sporting man." I take it for granted that
you own no race-horses, yachts, or ratting
terriers; that you have not " acked the
Slasher for a 'fiver';" and that you "have"
nothing on any "event." I take it for
granted that you are not prepared to bring
forward a novice to run the Hampshire Stag;
that you are not one of the contributors to
tho correspondents' columns of "Bell's Life,"
anxiously awaiting a reply to your cribbage
query last week, and feverish to know whether
"A. wins;" and, lastly, that though you may
have a sufficient zest for the amenities of
social intercourse, you are not to be "heard
of" at the bar of any sporting public-house,
where you "will be happy to see your
friends."

I propose to read "Bell's Life"—a very
honestly and respectably conducted weekly
paperwith you, but I do not propose to read
it in that spirit. There are thousands who
read it as what it isa sporting print, giving
reliable information on all sporting subjects.
It is the chronicle of what is called the
Sporting World. A human eye, never asleep
("nunquam dormio"), and six columns of
advertisements greet us in the front page.
Instanter we become denizens if not habitu├ęs
of the sporting world. Have we horses?—here
are saddles, bridles, harness, harness paste,
unrivalled nosebands, inimitably rowelled
spurs, and patent "bits," to counterfeit the
marks appended to which is felony. Have we
dogs?—inventive tradesmen tempt us to
purchase kennels, collars, dog-whips and specifics
against the distemper and hydrophobia.

We are invited to peruse works on the dog,
works on the horse, works on the management
and treatment of every animal of which
manhaving exhausted the use and employment
has condescended to make the means or
the end of the hydra-headed amusement
known as "sporting." Foxes to replenish
the hunting preserves, which by the too
zealous ardour of their Nimrods have become
denuded of their odoriferous vermin, are
advertised in company with stud grooms who
can bleed, sling and fire horses, and whippers-in
who can be highly recommended. One
gentleman wants twenty couple of deer to
give a sylvan relish to the dells and glades of
his park; another has some prime ferrets to
dispose of "Well up to trap;" a third wants
to sell two bloodhounds; a fourth to purchase
some Cochin China fowls, and a real Javanese
bantam or two. Then there is a Siberian wolf
and her cubs to be solda bargainby an
amateur "who has no further occasion for
them" (we should fancy not); and who,
apparently puzzled as to whether they are
"sporting" animals or not, and consequently entitled
to the freedom of "Bell's Life," is perplexingly
ambiguous in his description: hinting, at the
commencement, that they would be "suitable
for a nobleman fond of zoology," but subsiding,
eventually, into a vague alternative, "or
would do for a menagerie." They would be
suitable there, I opine; but are not exactly
the sort of quadrupeds I should like to make
drawing-room pets of, or to win in a raffle.

Soon, however, a thoroughly sporting
announcement comes blazoned forth in
conspicuous type. "To be sold at Tattersall's,
five-and-twenty couple and a half of
foxhounds, the property of a gentleman
relinquishing hunting" Good; or has hunting
relinquished the gentleman: which is it?
Shall I mind my own business and take the
sale as a sale and nothing but a sale, or shall
I be malicious and surmise that the gentleman
has ridden, neck or nothing, after the
five-and-twenty couple and a half of
foxhounds till he and they have clean outridden
and lost scent of the fox, and have started
another species of vermin called the
"constable," which pursuing, the gentleman has
managed to outrun, and has ended by riding
"over hounds?" He has gone to the dogs,
and his dogs have gone to Tattersall's. Who
can this gentleman relinquishing hunting be?
Not the honourable Billy Buff, third son of
Lord Riffington of Raff Hall, Rowdyshire,
surely. Not that gay scion of aristocracy
that frolicsome pilaster (if I may call him so)
of the statewhilom of ten successive
regiments of cavalry, all "crack" ones, out of
which he was ten times moved to exchange or
sell by ten successive colonels. Not Billy
Buff, who was the worthy and emulous associate
of the Earl of Mohawk, of Sir Wrench
Nocker, Bart., and of that gay foreign spark,
the Russian Count Bellpulloff, who laid a
wager of fifty to one with Lord Tommy
Plantagenet (called "facer" Plantagenet from his
fondness for the ring), that he would, while
returning from the Derby on the summit of
a "drag," fish off four old ladies' false fronts
by means of a salmon hook affixed to the end
of a tandem whip within twenty minutes, but
happening, just on turning the quarter, to
hook a fierce butcher under the chin by
mistake lost his wager. The fifty was in
five-pound notes, and Bellpulloff offered to make
them peasants of the Ukraine (he had fifty
thousand sheep and five thousand serfs on his
paternal estate Tcharcshi-Bellpullofforgorod)
if Tommy would bet again, but the "facer"
wouldn't. Not Billy Buff, the scourge and
terror of the police, the Gordian knot and
worse than sphynx-like enigma to sitting
magistrates, the possessor of a museum in his
chambers in Great Turk Street, consisting
solely of purloined goodsarticles of vice