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There is yet an hour’s play in her dorsal fin - danger in the flap of her
tail - and yet may her silver shoulder shatter the gut against a rock.
Why, the river was yesterday in spate, and she is fresh run from the
sea. All the lesser waterfalls are now level with the flood, and
she meets with no impediment or obstruction - the course is clear - no
tree-roots here - no floating branches, for during the night they have
all been swept down to the salt loch - _in medio tutissimus ibis_ - ay,
now you feel she begins to fail - the butt tells now every time you
deliver your right. What! another mad leap! yet another sullen
plunge! She seems absolutely to have discovered, or rather to be an
impersonation of the Perpetual Motion. Stand back out of the way, you
son of a sea-cook - you in the tattered blue breeches, with the tail
of your shirt hanging out. Who the devil sent you all here, ye
vagabonds? - Ha! Watty Richie, my man, is that you? God bless your honest
laughing phiz! What Watty, would you think of a Fish like that about
Peebles? Tam Grieve never gruppit sae heavy a ane since first he
belanged to the Council. Curse that colley! Ay! well done Watty! Stone
him to Stobbo. Confound these stirks - if that white one, with caving
horns, kicking heels, and straight up tail, come bellowing by between
me and the river, then, “Madam! all is lost, except honour!” If we lose
this Fish at six o’clock, then suicide at seven. Our will is made - ten
thousand to the Foundling - ditto to the Thames Tunnel-ha - ha - my beauty!
Methinks we could fain and fond kiss thy silver side languidly lying
afloat on the foam, as if all farther resistance now were vain,
and gracefully thou wert surrendering thyself to death No faith in
female - she trusts to the last trial of her tail - sweetly workest thou,
O Reel of Reels! and on thy smooth axle spinning sleep’st, even,
as Milton describes her, like our own worthy planet.

Scrope - Bainbridge - Maule - princes among Anglers - oh! that you were
here! Where the devil is Sir Humphrey? At his retort? By mysterious
sympathy - far off at his own Trows, the Kerss feels that we are killing
the noblest Fish, whose back ever rippled the surface of deep or shallow
in the Tweed. Tom Purdy stands like a seer, entranced in glorious
vision, beside turreted Abbotsford. Shade of Sandy Givan! Alas! alas!
Poor Sandy - why on thy pale face that melancholy smile! - Peter! The
Gaff! The Gaff! Into the eddy she saüs, sick and slow, and almost with
a swirl - whitening as she nears the sand - there she has it - struck
right into the shoulder, fairer than that of Juno, Diana, Minerva, or
Venus - fair as the shoulder of our own beloved, and lies at last in all
her glorious length and breadth of beaming beauty, fit prey for giant or
demi-god angling before the Flood!

“The child is father of the man,
And I would wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety!”

So much for the Angler. The Shooter again, he begins with his pop
or pipe gun, formed of the last year’s growth of a branch of the
plane-tree - the beautiful dark-green-leaved and fragrant-flowered
plane-tree, that stands straight in stem and round in head, visible
and audible too from afar the bee-resounding umbrage, alike on stormy
sea-coast and in sheltered inland vale, still loving the roof of the
fisherman’s or peasant’s cottage.

Then comes, perhaps, the city popgun, in shape like a very musket, such
as soldiers bear - a Christmas present from parent - once a Colonel of
volunteers - nor feeble to discharge the pea-bullet or barley-shot,
formidable to face and eyes; nor yet unfelt, at six paces, by hinder
end of play-mate, scornfully yet fearfully exposed. But the shooter soon
tires of such ineffectual trigger - and his soul, as well as his hair,
is set on fire by that extraordinary compound - Gunpowder. He begins with
burning off his eyebrows on the King’s birth-day - squibs and crackers
follow - and all the pleasures of the pluff. But he soon longs to let off
a gun - “and follows to the field some warlike lord” - in hopes of being
allowed to discharge one of the double-barrels, after Ponto has made his
last point, and the half-hidden chimneys of home are again seen smoking
among the trees. This is his first practice in fire-arms, and from that
hour he is - a Shooter.

Then there is in most rural parishes - and of rural parishes alone do we
condescend to speak - a pistol, a horse one, with a bit of silver on
the butt - perhaps one that originally served in the Scots Greys. It is
bought, or borrowed, by the young shooter, who begins firing, first at
barn doors, then at trees, and then at living things - a strange cur,
who, from his lolling tongue, may be supposed to have the hydrophobia - a
cat that has purred herself asleep on the sunny church-yard wall, or is
watching mice at their hole-mouths among the graves - a water-rat in the
mill-lead - or weasel that, running to his retreat in the wall, always
turns round to look at you - a goose wandered from his common in
disappointed love - or brown duck, easily mistaken by the unscrupulous
for a wild one, in pond, remote from human dwelling, or on meadow by the
river side, away from the clack of the muter mill. The corby crow, too,
shouted out of his nest on some tree lower than usual, is a good flying
mark to the more advanced class, or morning magpie, a-chatter at skreigh
of day close to the cottage door among the chickens, or a flock of
pigeons wheeling over head on the stubble-field, or sitting so thick
together that every stook is blue with tempting plumage.

But the pistol is discharged for a fowling piece - brown and rusty,
with a slight crack, probably in the muzzle, and a lock, out of
all proportion, to the barrel. Then the young shooter aspires at
half-pennies thrown up into the air - and generally hit, for there is
never wanting an apparent dent in copper metal; and thence he mounts to
the glancing and skimming swallow, a household bird, and therefore to be
held sacred, but shot at on the excuse of its being next to impossible
to hit him, an opinion strengthened into belief by several summers’
practice. But the small brown and white marten wheeling through below
the bridge, or along the many holed red sand bank, is admitted by all
boys to be fair game - and still more, the long-winged legless black
devilet, that, if it falls to the ground, cannot rise again and
therefore screams wheeling round the corners and battlements of towers
and castles, or far out even of cannon-shot, gambols in companies of
hundreds, and regiments of a thousand, aloft in the evening ether,
within the orbit of the eagle’s flight. It seems to boyish eyes, that
the creatures near the earth, when but little blue sky is seen between
the specks and the wall-flowers growing on the coign of vantage - the
signal is given to fire, but the devilets are too high in heaven to
smell the sulphur. The starling whips with a shrill cry into his
nest, and nothing falls to the ground but a tiny bit of mossy mortar,
inhabited by a spider!

But the Day of Days arrives at last, when the school-boy - or rather the
college boy returning to his rural vacation - for in Scotland, college
winters tread close - too close - on the heels of academies - has a
gun - a gun in a case - a double barrel too - of his own - and is provided
with a license - probably without any other qualification than that of
hit or miss. On some portentous morning he effulges with the sun, in
velveteen jacket and breeches of the same - many-buttoned gaiters, and an
unkerchiefed throat. Tis the fourteenth of September, and lo! a pointer
at his heels - Ponto of course - a game bag like a beggar’s wallet by
his side - destined to be at eve as full of charity - and all the
paraphernalia of an accomplished sportsman. Proud, were she to see
the sight, would be the mother that bore him the heart of that old
sportsman, his daddy, would leap for joy! The chained mastiff in the
yard yowls his admiration, the servant lassies uplift the pane of their
garret, and, with suddenly withdrawn blushes, titter their delight in
their rich paper curls and pure night-clothes. Rab Roger, who has been
cleaning out the barn, comes forth to partake of the caulker, and away
go the footsteps of the old poacher and his pupil through the autumnal
rime, off to the uplands, where - for it is one of the earliest of
harvests, there is scarcely a single acre of standing corn. The
turnip-fields are bright green with hope and expectation - and coveys
are couching on lazy beds beneath the potatoe shaw. Every high hedge,
ditch-guarded on either side, shelters its own brood - imagination hears
the whirr shaking the dew-drops from the broom on the brae - and first
one bird and then another, and then the remaining number, in itself no
contemptible covey, seems to fancy’s ear to spring single, or in clouds,
from the coppice brushwood, with here and there an intercepting standard
tree.

Poor Ponto is much to be pitied. - Either having a cold in his nose,
or having ante-breakfasted by stealth on a red herring, he can scent
nothing short of a badger; and, every other field, he starts in horror,
shame, and amazement, to hear himself, without having attended to his
points, inclosed in a whirring covey. He is still duly taken between
those inexorable knees; out comes the speck and span new dog-whip, heavy
enough for a horse; and the yowl of the patient is heard over the whole
parish. Mothers press their yet unchastised infants to their
breasts; and the schoolmaster, fastening a knowing eye on dunce and
ne’er-do-well, holds up, in silent warning, the terror of the tawse.
Frequent flogging will cow the spirit of the best man and dog in
Britain. Ponto travels now in fear and trembling, but a few yards
from his tyrant’s feet, till, rousing himself to the sudden scent of
something smelling strongly, he draws slowly and beautifully, and

“There fixed, a perfect semi-circle stands.”

Up runs the Tyro, ready-cocked, and in his eagerness, stumbling among
the stubble, when mark and lo! the gabble of grey goslings, and the
bill-protruded hiss of goose and gander! Bang goes the right-hand barrel
at Ponto, who now thinks it high time to be off, to the tune of “ower
the hills and far away,” while the young gentleman, half ashamed and
half incensed, half glad, and half sorry, discharges the left-hand
barrel, with a highly improper curse, at the father of the feathered
family before him, who receives the shot like a ball in his breast,
throws a somerset, quite surprising for a bird of his usual habits, and
after biting the dust with his bill, and thumping it with his bottom,
breathes an eternal farewell to this sublunary scene - and leaves
himself to be paid for, at the rate of eight-pence a pound to his justly
irritated owner, on whose farm he had led a long, and not only harmless,
but honourable and useful life.

It is nearly as impossible a thing as we know, to borrow a dog about
the time the Sun has reached his meridian, on the First day of the
Partridges. Ponto by this time has sneaked, unseen by human eye, into
his kennel, and coiled himself up into the arms of tired Nature’s
sweet restorer, balmy sleep. A farmer makes offer of a colley, who from
numbering among his paternal ancestors a Spanish pointer, is quite a Don
in his way among the chirpers, and has been known in a turnip-field
to stand in an attitude very similar to that of setting. Luath has no
objection to a frolic over the fields, and plays the part of Ponto to
perfection. At last he catches sight of a covey basking, and leaping in
upon them, open-mouthed, dispatches them right and left, even like the
famous dog Billy, killing rats in the pit at Westminster. The birds are
bagged, with a gentle remonstrance, and Luath’s exploit rewarded with
a whang of cheese. Elated by the pressure on his shoulder, the young
gentleman laughs at the idea of pointing, and fires away, like winking,
at every uprise of birds, near or remote; works a miracle by bringing
down three at a time, that chanced, unknown to him, to be crossing; and
wearied with such slaughter, lends his gun to the attendant farmer, who
can mark down to an inch, and walks up to the dropped pout, as if he
could kick her up with his foot; and thus the bag in a few hours is half
full of feathers, while to close with eclat the sport of the day, the
cunning elder takes him to a bramble bush, in a wall nook, at the edge
of a wood, and returning the gun into his hands, shows him poor pussie
sitting with open eyes fast asleep! The pellets are in her brain, and
turning herself over, she crunkles out to her full length, like a piece
of untwisting Indian rubber, and is dead. The posterior pouch of the
jacket, yet unstained by blood, yawns to receive her - and in she goes
plump, paws, ears, body, feet, fud and all - while Luath, all the way
home to the Mams, keeps snoking at the red drops oozing through - for
well he knows in summer’s heat and winter’s cold, the smell of pussie,
whether sitting beneath a tuft of withered grass on the brae, or
burrowed beneath a snow wreath. A hare, we certainly must say, in spite
of haughtier sportsman’s scorn is, when sitting, a most satisfactory
shot.

But let us trace no further, thus step by step, the Pilgrim’s Progress.
Look at him now, - a finished sportsman - on the moors - the bright black
boundless Dalwhinnie Moors, stretching away, by long Lock-Erricht-side,
into the dim and distant day that hangs, with all its clouds, over the
bosom of far Loch-Rannoch. Is that the pluffer at partridge pouts who
had nearly been the death of poor Ponto? Lord Kennedy himself might
take a lesson now from the straight and steady style in which, on the
mountain brow, and up to the middle in heather, he brings his Manton to
the deadly level! More unerring eye never glanced along brown barrel!
Finer forefinger never touched a trigger! Follow him a whole day, and
not one wounded bird. All most beautifully arrested on their flight
by instantaneous death! Down dropped, right and left, like lead on
the heather - old cock and hen singled out among the orphan’s brood,
as calmly as a cook would do it in the larder - from among a pile
of plumage. No random shot within - no needless shot out of
distance - covered every feather before stir of finger - and body, back,
and brain, pierced, broken, scattered! And what perfect pointers!
There they stand, still as death - yet instinct with life - the whole
half-dozen - Mungo, the black-tanned - Don, the red-spotted - Clara, the
snow-white - Primrose, the pale yellow - Basto, the bright brown, and
Nimrod, in his coat of many colours, often seen afar through the mists
like a meteor.

[BLACKWOOD’S MAGAZINE.]

[Illustration: 201]




THE ELOPEMENT.

On the banks of the rivulet Lockwitz, in Hungary, and upon the borders
of Thuringia, where a convent formerly stood, which was destroyed in the
time of the Hussites, is situated the Castle of Lauenstein. This church
property, in process of time, came under the secular arm, and became the
possession of the Count of Orlamunda, who gave this deserted domain as
a feu to one of his vassals, who, upon the ruins of the convent, built
himself a castle, and either gave his name to the property, or took his
from it, for he was called the Baron of Lauenstein.

It soon became manifest that the property of the church does not prosper
in the hands of the laity, and that such sacrilege is always punished
in one way or another. The bones of the holy nuns, which for ages had
reposed in peace in the gloomy caverns of the grave, could not, with
indifference, endure this profanation of their sanctuary. These mouldy
dead bones rebelled against the violation, rattled and rustled in the
silence of night, and raised a fearful clattering and noise in the
passage leading to the church, which had not been destroyed. The nuns,
with solemn pomp, often made a procession round the castle, wandered
through the apartments, opened and dashed to the doors, by which the
Baron was disturbed in his sleep, and could not get rest in his bed.
They raged in the hall, or in the stables, terrified the maids,
twitched and pinched them, sometimes here, sometimes there; - plagued the
cattle - the cows were drained of their milk, and the horses pranced and
snorted, and beat their stalls to pieces. This mischievous behaviour of
the pious sisters, and their incessant tricks, which embittered the life
of both man and beast, touk away all spirit from every member of the
household, down to the very bull-dog.

[Illustration: 204]

The Baron spared no expense, by means of the most renowned exorcists,
to bring these tumultuary inmates to peace and silence; but the most
powerful exorcisms, before which the whole kingdom of Belial trembled,
and the sprinkling brush dipped in holy water, which generally chases
away the evil spirits, as a fly-flap chases away the flies from the
apartment, for a long time could do nothing against the obstinacy of
those spectre Amazons, who so stoutly maintained their right to their
former possessions, that the exorcists, with the holy implements of
relics, were sometimes obliged to take to flight, and leave them masters
of the field. At last, a conjuror, who was travelling about the country
for the purpose of spying out witches, catching goblins, and delivering
the possessed from the brood of evil spirits, succeeded in bringing the
spectral night revellers to obedience, and again shut them up in their
gloomy vaults, with permission there to wag their skulls, and rattle and
clatter their bones, as much as they pleased.

All was now quiet in the Castle, the nuns again slept the still sleep
of death; but, after seven years, one unquiet sister spirit again
awoke, and once more made her appearance in the night, and for some time
continued her former pranks, until she tired, then rested seven years,
and then paid another visit to the upper world, and re-visited the
Castle. In time, the family became accustomed to the apparition; only,
when the period of her appearance approached, the domestics took care to
avoid the passage through which she was to come, and kept close to their
apartments.

After the decease of the first possessors, the inheritance fell to the
next in descent, and there never had failed a male heir, until the
time of the thirty years’ war, when the last branch of the Lauensteins
flourished: in whose production nature appeared to have exhausted her
power. So lavish had she been of the stuff which composed his body, that
at the period when it had reached its highest perfection, so enormous
was his size, that he weighed nearly as much as the far-famed Franz
Finatzie of Presburg, and his corpulence was only a few inches less than
that of the well-fed Holstener, known by the name of Paul Butterbread,
who formerly exhibited himself as a show to Parisian belles. However,
Baron _Sieg_ mund was a very stately man till this period, when his
body resembled a tun; he lived well, and though he did not waste the
inheritance of his fathers, he spared himself none of the enjoyments
of life. No sooner had his progenitors made way for him, and he found
himself in possession of Lauenstein, than, after the manner of his
fathers, he married, and at the end of a year, he became a father; but,
alas! it was of a girl, and as he had no hopes of succeeding children,
with this he was forced to be content. The thrifty mother, who at
her marriage took charge of the domestic concerns, now commenced the
education of her daughter. The more papa’s paunch gained the upper hand,
the more obtuse became his mind, till at length the Baron took no notice
of anything, except what was either roasted or boiled.

From the accumulation of family affairs, Fraulein Emily was, for the
most part, left to the care of mother Nature, and thereby found herself
never the worse. This secret artist, who does not like to put her
reputation at stake, and generally makes up by a master-stroke, for any
error she commits, had better proportioned the body and talents of the
daughter than those of the father - she was beautiful, clever, and witty.
As the charms of the young Fraulein expanded, the views of the mother
increased, and she resolved, that through her the splendour of their
expiring race should again be restored. The lady possessed a secret
pride which was not remarked in the common occurrences of life, except
in regard to her pedigree, which she considered the most glorious
ornament of their house; and so high were her pretensions, that,
except the family of the Counts of Reiuss, there was no race in
Hungary sufficiently ancient and noble, into which she would choose
to transplant the last blossom of the Lauenstein stem. And much as the
young gentlemen in the neighbourhood wished to secure the rich prize,
the crafty mother always contrived to frustrate their intentions. She
watched the heart of the Fraulein with as much care as a customhouse
officer does the harbour, lest any contraband goods should slip through;
overturned every speculation of match-making aunts and cousins; and had
such high expectations for her daughter, that no young man ventured to
approach her. As long as the heart of a maiden listens to advice, it
resembles a boat upon the calm unruffled sea, which sails wherever the
rudder directs it; but when the winds and waves arise and rock the
light bark, it no longer obeys the helm, but follows the current of the
stream.

So it was with the tractable Emily, who willingly allowed herself to
be led on in the path of pride by the maternal leading-strings, for her
still unsophisticated heart was susceptible of every impression. She
at least expected a Prince or Count to do homage to her charms; and any
less high born paladins who paid their court to her, were repulsed
with cold disdain. But before a suitable adorer could be found for the
Lauenstein Grace, a circumstance occurred which disappointed all the
matrimonial schemes of the mother; and such were its effects, that, had
all the princes and counts of the Roman and German empire sued for the
heart and hand of the fair Fraulein, they would have found themselves
too late.

In the troubled times of the thirty years’ war, the army of the braye
Wallenstein came into Hungary for winter quarters, and Baron Siegmund
received many uninvited guests into the castle, who did more mischief
than the former hobgoblins; for, although they had even less right to
the property than the former, no sorcerer could exorcise them away. The
proprietor saw himself forced to put a good face on this wicked game,
for the purpose of keeping these commanding gentlemen in good humour,
and so induce them to keep up proper discipline in the castle. Banquets
and balls succeeded each other without intermission; at the first the
lady presided, at the latter the daughter. And whenever the military
band began to play the accompanying favourite waltz, it was the signal
for the gallant Fritz to lead the fair Emily to the dance These splendid
feasts made the rough warriors more pliant: they respected the house
which had so hospitably entertained them, and guests and host were
satisfied with each other.

Among these warriors there were many young heroes, who might even have
tempted limping Vulcan’s beautiful helpmate to become unfaithful. But
there was one in particular who eclipsed them all. A young officer,
called the handsome Fritz, had the appearance of a helmed god of
love. To an elegant figure, this young Apollo joined the most engaging
manners; he was gentle, modest, agreeable, of a lively disposition and,
above all, a charming dancer. Until this moment no one had made the
slightest impression on the heart of Emily, but this youth raised in her
innocent bosom a new sensation, which filled her soul with inexpressible
delight.

But the wonder was, that this enchanting Adonis was neither called the
handsome Count, nor the handsome Prince, but neither more nor less than
the handsome Fritz. She interrogated his brother officers, one after
another, about the young man’s name and descent, but no one could
enlighten her upon the subject. All praised the handsome Fritz as
a brave man, and a good officer, and who possessed the most amiable
character, but at the same time it appeared that all was not right in
regard to his pedigree. There were as many reports of his birth as
of that of the well known and enigmatical Count Cagliostro, who was
sometimes said to be the descendant of the Grand Master of Malta, and by
the maternal side, nephew to the Grand Seignior; sometimes the son of a
Neapolitan coachman, then a full brother of Zannowichs, pretended Prince


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