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WE have most of us, when boys, written
edifying themes on gratitude, virtue, and
luxury. The latter was a particularly favorite
subject; but we never suspected, nor do we
now suspect, the conclusion of that theme to
be applicable to ourselves. When we have
said our say about Lucullus's suppers in the
Hall of Apollo and Heliogabalus's dishes of
peacocks' brains, we think there is an end of
the matter. Not a squire amongst us, nor a
clergyman either, ventures to point to his
neighbour and boldly utter, "Thou art the
man! " But facts are better teachers than
sixth-form themes. Our national shortcomings
in the prosecution of war (redeemed, it
is true, by a heavy penalty of blood), give us
the hint that we may have too much yielded
to the blandishments of pacific civilisation. I
have conversed with sensible Frenchmen in
easy circumstances, wealthy even, who have
not hesitated to say,

"You English are too nice, too dainty in
your personal ways, too luxurious. You
think too much about your 'confortable' in
your every-day life at home; and that's why
you began so badly in the Crimea."

Now, although we certainly were not
comfortable in the Crimea when the French had
succeeded in making themselves perfectly
so, the main question is none the less
deserving of attention. Is it true, that
fastidious gentility has threatened to be the
ruin of England? That genteel young men,
from smart linen-drapers' and druggists'
assistants upwards, have thrust willing young
women aside from employment in offices they
would admirably fill, while themselves have
forgotten every manly exercisethe cricket
bat, the long pedestrian journey, the amateur
firebrigade, and the volunteer drill? Have we
been wearing out our hearts after points of
etiquette, the patronising smile of aristocratic
acquaintances, high places in the synagogues
and streets, contemptuous puttings-down of
dusty working-men, attempts at mimicking
novel heroes of the exquisite class, and
other mint-and-cummin tithings of social
welfare,— have we been doing this, leaving
unthought-of the means of strengthening the
national sinews by physical training and the
acquirement of practical knowledge? It is
really a serious affair, if true, as many say
and believe.

Gentlemen are, at this moment of our
publication, popping their guns at partridges
and pheasants,— sport in which active
women, with a slight change of attire, might
participate. Many a French vivandière
would succeed very well after a few days'
practice. In a French village which I now
and then frequent, there died, not very long
since, a lady, the entrance-hall of whose château
was hung with skins of wolves of her own
killing. What would she have said of a
battue of pheasants reared under coops, with
barn-door hens for their foster-mothers? But
my friend Dr. Whipemwell means to set his
boys a theme on luxury, as evinced in English
sport. They will be required to leave
the Romans out of the question altogether,
and to discuss the moral and corporal
tendency of the preservation of hares and
partridges on the nation at large;— whether, in
consequence of the penalties on poaching, the
majority of our population know the right
end of a gun from the wrong one; and
whether, supposing a few thousand armed
Russians landed on the Suffolk coast (a
possible, though I hope not a probable
hypothesis; but the Muscovite fleet at Cronstadt
remains intact), they would not butcher the
inhabitants with almost as little effective
resistance as Captain Cook's sailors experienced
when, landing on some desert isle, they
knocked the penguins and noddies on the
head with bludgeons.

Our Indian sportsmen have done themselves
credit by their onslaughts on wild pigs
(mischievous brutes and capital eating), lions and
tigers. Our Indian ladies have proved themselves
heroines. Gordon Camming is to be commended
for having started fresh ideas as well
as fresh game; I only wish he had killed more
carnivora and fewer innocent cameleopards
and antelopes. You remember the
engraving, in Forbes's Oriental Memoirs, of
the tiger carrying off a child in the presence
of its mother, as she entered a jungle to
gather sticks. The man who followed and
shot that tiger would make by far a better
bag than if he had killed five hundred leash
of birds between his hot luncheon and his
footbath previous to dressing for dinner. I
am acquainted with a family who lived ten