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a crimped hat upon his head with the Union Jack emblazoned on it; another in his hand, which he explains to you (if you will pay him for it), changes into many forms, amongst others a sentry-box in St. James's Park, or a lady's fan.
Then the “ Old Ship”—somehow or another I like the look of the Old Ship—it gives the idea of some fun and jovial souls with which it was acquainted in days gone by. The gay, glittering Silvani's, where one longs to ruin oneself ; everything in the best of taste, from a pen-wiper to the porcelains of Dresden, Carpo li Monti, and Sèvres (some of it old !). But the taste for old china is quite as dangerous in its way for those who are not thoroughly acquainted with the present system of repainting as that for the old masters. It is said the old Sèvres porcelain may be known by the evenness of the glaze continued over the piece, the absence of which to the practised eye would denote that the medallions of flowers, landscapes, or figures had been repainted. I am not speaking of the cross L's or the little hole often bored through the rim of the piece underneath-of course they can easily be made. Trays full of charms, such as the Italian ladies wear to keep off the “evil eye” or their lovers, if they do not find a sufficient confidence in themselves or in their prayers ; but theirs are generally of coral — beautiful coral—these at Brighton are of all metals, and no doubt are, in their way, quite as effectual. Strange mixture! there are drums, pistols, and cannons to keep off the officers; but, oh perversity of female nature ! a slipper to attract them, an opera-glass to look at them, a fish to catch them, a steam-engine to run away with them, and a cage to hold them.
Brill's Swimming-Bath, in which I hope to have a plunge on my return; Madame Mercier's, the best milliner, they tell me, in Brighton; Madame Temple's rare repository; then the Pavilion—the ci-devant but not sea-side abode of royalty. By-the-by, there is a quaint old print hangs up in the entrance-hall to Creke's Baths, and the porter there will act as cicerone, and point out the worthies and unworthies of that day, as they appear on the Old Steine and the New Steine. To the right the Chain Pier, but I cannot see the end of it the fog is so thick ; a dangerous promenade, I should think, that must be now-a-days for the ladies, when a whisk of rude Boreas may reverse a steel petticoat, and the fair wearer suddenly find herself garotted, but not robbed.
The Cliff is now ascended—its pretty, gay-looking houses—" Clarence Mansion,” with its two lofty bay-windows of plate-glass and bright green jalousies. Were I to have a house in Brighton, I should, judging by external
appearances, like to have “ Clarence Mansion.” Farther on, is the house where Canning lived; "the Bristol," with its three bows; then a horseman in long boots (like Rice's, but not nearly so neat); then the Duke of Devonshire's fresh-painted and gay-looking corner ; Lewes Crescent obscured by a labyrinth of tamarisk-quaint-looking stuff (tamarisk is said to be the only plant that will flourish in these parts, exposed to the sea breeze, but it is not ever green); and then comes Arundel-terrace ; the last Bath-chair; and we are out of Brighton.
Straight along the cliffs (as Mr. Walton's foreman had told me) until I came to the turnpike, where I am asked for “Tuppence.” All the turnpikes about Brighton are " tuppence.” When, in these days of railway, is this remnant of barbarism to cease ?
More horsemen now pass, and one lady. Her horse is going at that indescribable
pace between a walk and a trot, but neither the one nor the other. “It's a rack," says the American reader ; “ a market trotbutter and eggs," says my English reader. “Stuff!" says the horseman; " the animal only wants holding together.” This was evidently the case here, but its fair freight has no idea of doing it; she has out-distanced her master and party. She is sitting across her horse, and shows a good deal of the fog between her habit and the saddle, and does so at regular periods. She has a very pretty hand, though not a good one on a horse ; her waist is long—but not too long-her habit does not fit: it is evidently hired with the horse for the day's hunting. Her hair is lovely, and is enclosed in a net studded with little silver beads, which sparkled like dewdrops in the fog as it appeared from under the coquettish little hat, well put on, with its scarlet feather. This and the habit, I thought, were faulty; and as I pass her, I can see a most elaborate arrangement of crève-cours. A chain of at least three are arranged in front of the tip of what must be a tiny little ear. Her profile is decidedly good; but I cannot imagine how the crève-coeurs stand the fog, damp weather being supposed to be fatal to curls ; but probably the bandoline is assez forte; it cannot be mere sugar and water, it must be positive glue. She looks like mischief and going, but as the eye wanders downwards to her horse's fore-legs, they are, as the Yankee would
"a caution!” She is followed by another lady, a hobbledehoy, on a hard-pulling roan, and a riding-master. The plot thickens, but the mist evidently thins ; still the fog hangs grey and dense over the sea—a leaden-like weight upon it, making one giddy to look over those cliffs upon-nothing.
An effigy of a nondescript vessel looms through the haze, but no ship can be there, surely—the roar of the ocean is two hundred feet below; it looks cutter-rigged ; it is neared, and turns out to be a coast-guard station, having a mast, a topmast, and yard-arm rigged in front of it; from the topmast-head streams a pennant, and from the yard-arm a small red enisign." The whole looked neat and natty, as all government things of the sort, standing in a small garden, with gravel walks, enclosed by a sprucely trimmed hedge of tamarisk. The number of these stations hereabouts is legion.
What an expense to the country! Free-trade, indeed! why not free-trade in wine and oil as well as in corn ?
Portslade is passed, and I sidle on to the green sward at the side of the road between it and the yawning cliffs. The perfection of turf to gallop over is on these downs, to be compared only to that on the Curragh of Kildare; so light, so corky. Away I go, on, on over the springy turf. Hurrah ! the fog is lifting, drifting away. The effect is grand; a light spot, brightening all the while, marks where the sun means to make his appearance; this completes the agreeable sensations the canter has excited. It will clear at twelve. I then overtook a man who wore the Queen's livery—a blue jacket, brass buttons, and a nautical-looking cap; a long telescope is under his arm, he has a peculiar walk, as they have in all professions—the soldier, the sailor, the flâneur, the clod, and the coast-guardsman: this man was one of the latter very expensive articles.
* Good day.”
“What is the weather going to do?”
“It will clear directly, sir; it's lifting to seaward, a certain sign that it will."
“ What are those little heaps of white chalk placed for at such regular intervals as far as I can see ?”.
“ They are to guide us as we walk along by night ; if it was not for them we could easily walk over the cliff.”
“Do you often catch fellows smuggling?"
“Oh dear no, sir. Never, sir; not in my time, sir! A long time ago I've heerd tell they did such things.
Another steep hill descended, and at the bottom another coast-guard station is passed. This one appeared like a small village. The mist was all this time clearing off. To the right the broad sea, sulky and swollen, began to show signs of life here and there, and there was to be seen a sail on the smoky horizon. To the left were the downs, dotted with clumps of gorse, and here and there white scores of chalk ; flys, phaetons, a basket-carriage on the road, more horsemen, and even horse-women, in the valley and along the hill-tops. On the far side of the hill is Telscombe Tye. But I was late; the music of the hounds and the horn can be heard. They are coming my way; a number of horses' heads appear on the hill-top. Another moment, and hounds, huntsmen, horses, men and all, are in view, going at a devil of a rate.
To my mind “ The Brookside Harriers” are the prettiest pack of hounds I ever saw; they are so even in height, so prettily marked, and such good colours—all except one, a yellow dog, and I would draft him (he is too fast for the rest). They are hunted admirably by Saxby. In his green coat and broad-brimmed hat, he looks, as he is, the right man in the right place; and, though I am no lover of hare-hunting, I liked the turn out.
The hares on these wild hills run straight (whether from being constantly hunted or not I cannot say, but they do), and, what is still more extraordinary, will go to ground like a fox. The poor thing they were following went for three or four miles nearly straight, but was eventually mobbed in a patch of turnips. This went against the grain—at least with me! Hunting here reminded me more of that on the Campagna, near Rome, than of any other place or country I know. Here and there, too, a shepherd, leaning on his long staff in the distance, could easily be mistaken for a Roman pastore, and brought to my recollection a day I had there some years ago, when Borghese had the hounds—a tolerably good specimen of a scratch-pack in the fullest sense of the word; for when running at a pace known “as breast high,” a couple or three of the leading hounds all of a sudden stopped dead short. There were no holes that I could see, or any sort of place for a fox to disappear in. After quite a scene had been enacted they were eventually whipped off. “What is it?” I said—“what did they come to fault about?” The reply from Italian friend, in sotto voce, was : “ They are truffle dogs ! they found truffles ! and when they find them they navare will leave them. They will go scratch, scratch; they like them, evair so much better as one fox.”
There are no fences on these downs, but some riding is required. The hills are very steep, very slippery at times, and there are trea
cherous cart-tracks overgrown, which require a little management and quartering, as do “the ridge and furrow," well known to those who have ridden over high Leicestershire. The sketch in Punch of Mr. Briggs is not much exaggerated, where he is depicted as enjoying a day with the Brighton harriers, when having ascended one hill just to descend another as steep-Montaigne Russe-like-has to put on steam enough to force himself up the third. It is perfectly astonishing to the uninitiated how some of the horses, with the sort of fore-legs they possess, can carry their riders down such precipices; yet they do, poor things! and many of them have a turn on the Esplanade in the afternoon.
Well, I joined the chase, and a right good pace did these little hounds go. “No tailing,” to use a fox-hunter's hackneyed expression ; you might " cover them with a sheet." During the ardour of the chase, and as I was nearing the top of one of these descents, all at once rush came by me, his nose
high in air, a thorough-bred horse, going at the rate of fifty miles an hour, bearing its fair freight, who, at a glance, I recognised to be her of the elbows and the spangled net, from which her hair at one side was streaming; but the same glance enabled me to see that the arrangement of crève-ceurs still stood. In her wake came the hobbledehoy on the roaring roan, and close alongside of the Amazon raced the riding-master, hanging on her quarter (as the sailors would say), and luckily on her bridle too-just in time to force her horse's head round as he was going to charge down the precipice, and away he went instead in a contrary direction. The roan followed suit--not so its rider ; the young gentleman made very short work of it-he simply threw himself off.
Having had a capital gallop, I turned my horse's head in the direction of Brighton, and left the Brookside harriers to look for another hare. Englishmen in general have a strong prejudice against hare-hunting, in which I have been always inclined to join. “ There is something grand, they say, in hunting the wild fox;" that is an English fox-hunter's opinion. What is a Frenchman's, we once heard : “ You English are one extraordinary people ; you have, for example, your chasse au renard --your fox-hunting, as you call it; you ride all one long day after & great many dogs and one stinking animal, and when you have catch him at last you can neyvere eat him.”
“Mais revenons à nos moutons," as the French would say. I left the Brookside harriers well pleased with the capital sport they had shown, and quite impressed with the fact that hare-hunting on these downs, whatever it may be elsewhere, is a very good pastime. No end of amusement in one shape or the other is afforded to the looker-on, who gets a good gallop in the freshest possible of air and over the most delightful turf, and can reach Brighton in good time to wash, dress, and flirt.
The day is now gloriously fine, and the sun shines. My horse starts at the streaky shadows made by the arms of a windmill (Irish horses are not accustomed to windmills). The tide is out, and men are shrimping; a couple of blue crows are pluming themselves on the cliff, and a couple more coast-guard stations are passed, which I had not remarked on my way out in the morning.
face of Brighton is changed as I re-enter it and encounter crowds on horseback. Riding-masters surrounded and followed by squadrons of ladies ; flys, donkeys, goats, chairs and perambulators, pedestrians in morning costume, two or three bands, organ grinders, a monkey mounted on a greyhound armed cap-à-pie, Lewis's Marionettes, brandy-balls
, and a long horn heralding forth the birth of the Brighton Gazette of the day, a small boy or two, “ Heralds and Stars only a penny!” and jolly, good-humoured Punch, with his own peculiar
I love old Punch, and am never tired of him, be he where he may. This one was at the corner of West-street-undeniably good. But the people will all go in to luncheon soon, and so shall I—after I have been to Brill's Baths. Nothing could be better than all the arrangements : its ante-room, with newspapers, the list of the hounds, and the telegraphic despatches.
Having discussed a dozen and a half of oysters, with their proportionate quantity of most delicious brown bread-and-butter, I went to the window. * The Barber,” or sea-fog, of the morning, had mystified their outward surface, and elongated the objects seen through the glass in one direction, while in the other a reverse effect was visible. I cannot see very plainly into the bay-window opposite, but I do think I can discover a lady amusing herself with an opera-glass (a double-barrelled one). What is she looking at? The sea, of course, for there is nothing else visible (from my side at any rate) down the opening at the end of the street ; but the sea is smooth and tranquil, not a ruffle upon its bright surface, not a vessel even. She is leaning back. I cannot see her face, only her taper little fingers as she directs the glasses. She has some rings, but the jewellery does not look first-rate. It is bad, decidedly; probably a forget-me-not, or something after that fashion, on an onyx stone; but she has a plain one on the fourth finger of her left hand, so she
be & widow.
She has changed her position a little, but I cannot see her face, that is still behind the curtain; there is a fairy foot, and a very mischievouslooking slipper with a bow upon it, as it peeps from under a bit of lace looking work, and a red petticoat of course; ce n'est pas mal, but in altering her position she has also brought her glasses to bear in another direction—a little more to the right. I fancy she has been at work, for at the same time she balances a ball of white cotton on the cross-bar of the middle window of the bay, where it steadies itself. I can see nothing, so I conclude the sea—the boundless sea—is still the object of attraction.
I turned from the window to light a cigar, but the fire had gone out and
my fuzees were damp, and I was some time bungling before I could get my cigar a-going, when a knock at the opposite door attracted my attention. I cannot tell why I did it, but I looked instinctively first at the bay-window, where the glasses had disappeared, and I could just catch through the gloom a glimpse of a retiring form as it disappeared in the depth of obscurity. A man is standing at the door. I cannot see his face for his whiskers; he looks all hair and teeth, like a ratcatcher's dog. A spruce-looking maid opens the door, and is sent up, no doubt, to know if the inmates are at home. Quick as lightning, something which glistened, and looked very like a key, is tried in the lock. It fits, evidently