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the life of man, and how am I to despatch so
important a  subject in a dozen columns?
Come we, however, to close quarters, and
make an end on't.

There is the column devoted to
pedestrianismincluding walking, running, and
leaping matches. Tyros as we may be in
sporting matters, there are few of us but have
occasionally met an individual in short cotton
drawers and a linen jacket, with a printed
handkerchief twisted round his head, after
the manner of the French poissardes, walking
manfully along a suburban turnpike road;
his left arm kept on a level with his sternum, or
breast bone, and his right hand clutching a
short stickwalking for a wager. Or who has
not seen the bold runner, skimming along the
Queen's highway, with nimble legs and a stern
and unmoved countenance, amid the clamours
of riff-raff boys and the cheers of his

And fishing: fly, salmon, and jack? And
wrestling? And "cocking" (hid slyly in an
out of the way corner, but existing and
practised for all that). And quoits, and bowls?
And cricket? And aquatics (yachting and
sculling)? And change-ringing? And the
mysterious game of Nurr and spell, goff,
skating, hockey, quarter-staff, single-stick,
fencing, dog-fancying, pigeon-shooting,
sparrow-shooting, archery, chess, draughts,
billiards, ratting, otter-hunting? Have I
nothing to say on all these subjects? I have,
indeed, and to spare; but, knowing that I
should never finish were I once to begin, I
will eschew the temptation and say nothing.
These are bound up with us, these sports and
pastimesthey are bone of our bone, and
flesh of our fleshthey are crackling cinders
at almost every Englishman's fire-side.

One word, and an end. Of the phases of
sporting life I have endeavoured to delineate,
all offer some repulsive and humiliating traits.
In these feeble sketches of some of the sports
and pastimes of some of the English people,
I have been compelled to bring into my
canvas degraded human beingsto delineate
base passions and appetitesto become the
limner and biographer of scoundrels and
dens. It may appear to some that I have
been incoherent and fantasticalthat I have
sinned, like the painter in Horace, by joining
horses' necks to human heads,

             "——and wildly spread
       The various plumage of the feather'd kind
       O'er limbs of different beasts absurdly joined."

Yet those who know the section of the
world I have touched upon, know too,
and will acknowledge, that to all the manly
English sports that find a record in "Bell's
Life"—round all these fine sturdy oaks with
their broad chests and brawny arms
there are obscene parasites and creepers of
chicanery, roguery, and ruffian blackguardism
dead leaves of low gambling and vulgar
debaucheryrotten limbs of intemperance,
knavery and violence. The potato fields of
English sports are afflicted with something
worse than a potato blight, an insect more
deadly than the aphis vastator: by the betting
blight: the foul scorpion of betting-shops,
and racing sweeps, and public-house tossing

I hope I have not said a word in ridicule or
deprecation of the athletic sports of England
the sports that send our lads (from Eton to
charity schools) forth to do yeomen's service
all over the globe. Nor can I end this paper
without recognising the hopeful good that
education, steam, cheap printing, cheap pictures,
and cheap schools have done towards
discouraging and discountenancing that brutal
and savage wantonness in our sports, which
was, until very lately, a scandal and
disgrace to us as a nation. Every Englishman
who numbers more than forty summers, can
remember what formed the staple objects of
amusement among the people in his youth.
Bull-baiting, bear-baiting, duck-hunting,
floating a cat in a bowl pursued by dogs;
fastening two cats together by their tails,
and then swinging them across a
horizontal pole to see which should first kill the
other; tying a cat and an owl together and
throwing them into the water to fight it out;
cock-fighting (before lords in drawing-rooms,
sometimesthe birds being provided with
silver spurs); ratting; and, as a climax of
filthy savagery, worrying matches by men
against bull-dogs, the man being on his knees
having his hands tied behind him! These
sports, thank Heaven, are nearly extinct
among us, and though, from time to time, we
hear of brutes indulging in nooks and corners
in such miscalled sports, we look at them as
ruffianly anachronisms, post-dated vagabonds
who should have lived in the days when the
Roman ladies made it a sport to thrust golden
pins into the flesh of their female slaves, or
when it was the pastime of the British people,
from the Sabbath before Palm Sunday to the
last hour of the Tuesday before Easter, to
stone and beat Jews. Yet we are not quite
spotless in our sports, yet.


TROUBLED with an army of correspondents,
and with cupboards full of unsorted letters,
we were curious to see what large establishments
do with the letters they receive, and
must keep for very many years; for a letter
once received at a public office has as much
care taken of itthough written by the late
Mr. Joseph Ady himselfas if it were a
letter from a prime minister or a despatch
from the Governor of the Cape to the Secretary
of the Colonies. With this curiosity
to satisfy, we arranged with a friend in a
Government office, that we would be with him
the next morning to see his "table," as he
called it, and the modes of sorting, entering,
circulating, answering, indexing, and keeping