Page images


. BY SYLVANUS SWANQUILL, ESQ. The First of SepTEMBER!-Oh, for the harp of an Ossian worthily to celebrate thy charms! Oh, for the one string (the fourth) of a Paganini rightly to modulate thy praises ! Ods flints and triggers—if we may swear such an old-fashioned oath-what associations are conjured up in a man's breast at the mention of thy name! How distinct sound the double crack of his Manton, and the wing-whirr of the brown covey, in his mind's ear, Horatio! How brightly lies the landscape under his eye-how bland is the breath of morning in his nostrils—how joyous the bounding of his brave dogs-how light, how glad, how grateful his own heart!

September ! what a glorious month it is! Cornfields are yet waving in golden undulations over the hill-sides, or standing in tent-like rows along the plain. Sickles are yet plying among the brown ears; gleaners are yet stooping amid the bright sheaves; waggons are “ groaning" under the weight of an abundant harvest, and, as they swing through the half-yard-deep ruts in the narrow lanes, hang “ samples” of the golden grain on the unclipt hedges, for the little birds to banquet on when they are gone. In September, however, if the season has been favourable, the crops are for the most part got in ; the country, in general, is crisp with stubble; Irishmen are seen returning shoeless and stockingless to Green Erin-home is home, after all. Harvest hymns are being sung in parish churches; and farmers are grumbling at Providence, and the corn-laws, and the assessed taxes, and are certain there never were such times. But, pshaw! what have we to do with politics on the First of September? The very Senate itself is silent now, and nature seems to be enjoying a universal holyday. The country is full of life and beauty : everything is consummated. The flowers of spring, those beautiful promises, have ripened into golden fruit; the poor man's orchard is an Aladdin's garden, and every schoolboy is an Aladdin. Apples, pears, plums, apricots! What temptations are hanging about in every direction! That lad must have more than his share of honesty who can resist them all. Eve and Atalanta were overcome with a golden pippin; what wonder then that little Tommy, or Bobby, or Jacky, or Billy should be unable to resist the combined influences of russet and codling, of cøurpendu, and Waking-pippin, and Ribstone-pippin, and Keswick codling, and northern-greening, and pearmain, and nonsuch, and Hawthornden, and those rosy rascals surnamed peach !-Sweet or sour; but why do I say sour? They are all sweet to them; the very crab in the hedgerow hath its admirers on the “ lower forms," and many is the hatful that will be eaten between this and the next number of the “ New Monthly Magazine.”

Then the pears! the magnificent bell-pears! hanging along the branches like so many Great Toms of Lincoln; the bergamot, the lus

* The first of September, this year, to use an Iricism, will not take place till the second,- the Sabbath coming in the way. But we write for eternity, therefore such little accidents have no weight with us.

cious little jargonelle, the mouth-melting swan-egg, and the humble Tet'nall! The plums! red, yellow, purple, like little skins of nectar, so full of cool, ripe, luscious juice-bah! it makes one's mouth water to think of them! And then-(we say nothing of peach, grape, and nectarine, because they are not, or rarely, come-at-able by our little school friend)—then the stores of wild fruit that are growing in the dark woods, or among the sunny hedgerows. Nuts! who has not pleasant recollections of his nutting days, when he sallied forth into field and forest to procure, “ by hook or crook," a feast of those delicate morsels, heedless of keepers and indigestions, and blind to the murderous announcement that “ steel traps and spring guns are actually set on these premises.” Oh! many's the Thursday and Saturday afternoon that I have spent over head and ears in the brown hazel-bushes ; and many's the race I have run with velveteen-jacketed keeper, on emerging into day, with pockets, hat, and handkerchief stodgefull of brown-shellers. What luxury, to grasp the ripe clusters, scarcely distinguishable from the rough leaves among which they grew! What emulation about the bunches of fives, and sixes, and sevens! and with what joy we pocketed the same, earwigs and all, inly trembling lest a luckier boy should find a larger cluster! Then how we went cracking all the way home, for we were too busy to enjoy any part of our treasure in the wood! Crack, crack, crack! I wonder we did not break every tooth in our head! And what games of cob-nut ensued when we again arrived at school, to the very considerable neglect of Bonnycastle and Cæsar de Bello Gallico.

September! a bright month is September. How magnificent are the sunsets and the moonlights! The air is now so clear that you can count every tree upon the horizon, and every sundown is a picture by Claude, in “his best manner.” How full is the landscape of leaf and blossom! No winter sign yet—all is the brightness of life. Not but that some Job's comforter (the damned-goodnatured friend that pointed out to you your first grey hair) will be able to discover some fading leaf or withered bough, some jaundiced chestnut or fading birch; but, spite of the monster, all is brightness and beauty. June itself is not more full of foliage, nay, not so full; for the young shoots that were put forth at midsummer by the oak and his comrades are now fully expanded, their hues of light-green and crimson having sobered down into the general tint.* Song-birds are newly waking their voices in the woods. Our old friend cockrobin is chirruping up for joy that the dog-days are at an end, and his breast is brighter and redder than ever. The favourite warblers of spring are again trying over their chromatics and diatonics; and débutantes--young thrushes and blackbirds, cum multis aliisare heard in every bush. Flowers are still lying along the banksides, of which our well-beloved harebell is the chief in beauty. The furze is bright with yellow blossoms—when is it not, I should like to know ? and the thistle makes a fine show, with its white and crimson tufts. Clusters of yellow, star-like flowers, with orange centres, whose name we do not know, (we

* A striking feature in July and August is the putting forth of young shoots by the tirnber and other trees. The oak is most conspicuous at this time, from the strong contrast afforded by the old and new leaves ; those being of a very dark green, these of a light-green, red, or brown. The younger trees are most prolific of these midsummer shoots.

really must look over our botany,) are growing in every field and hedgeside; and other, smaller gold flowers are lying like spangles under our feet. The foxglove, glorious creature! is seen here and there, in the shady dingle, or on the cold side of the hedge, but no longer blowing with the vigour and beauty of its midsummer brethren. Woodbines are yet twining their flowery fingers among the hawthorn leaves, and the wild convolvulus is being smothered with dust on every road side.

Overhead ripe berries hang in juicy clusters: elderberries, blackberries, hips and haws, and the beautiful bunches of the mountain ash. Old women in scarlet cloaks, with hooked sticks and wicker baskets, are seen trudging up hill and down dale, wherever an elder tree is to be met with; and the cottager's wife sends for the annual cargo of coarse sugar to make her gudeman a keg of sweet wine. Now farm-houses are invisible; you can see nothing in that direction but massive ricks of hay and corn, with straw weathercocks a-top; or now and then, perhaps, a cluster of ancient chimneys peeping over their roofs. Flocks of geese, and turkeys, and pigeons, and guinea-fowls are met with in the fields, picking up the corn that has been scattered by the harvesters; and, every market day, chubby dairymaids are seen trudging to town with the fattest of them for sale.

Now the hop countries are in a complete turmoil : every man, woman, and child seems to be engaged in the gathering-a happy, sunny scene as one would wish to see on a September day. The merry groups of children, laughing among the bright foliage, and twining the green tendrils round their innocent brows; the men and women-pshaw! nymphs and swains, we mean-plucking the pleasant-smelling flowers from their stems, and cracking their jokes, and casting sheeps'-eyes and hop-flowers at one another in amorous frolic; the bright-faced boys, bearing away the lofty plants—stems, leaves, flowers, and all—to where their seniors are picking and sorting them for the service of glorious Sir John Barleycorn, Bart.; these altogether form a picture of pleasure and plenty that no age or country can surpass. In the orchard counties, tod, perry, and cider are flowing from the juicy presses; very nice liquors to those who like them; but, for our part, Burton against Worcestershire all the world over.

Now London is a desert, so to say, and the legitimates open to empty benches. Now young ladies and gentlemen throng to the sea-coast and gaze upon the ocean, exclaiming, “ There is a rapture in the lonely shore," &c. &c. (vide any young lady’s album passim). Now the Cockney, telling over the gains of the season, resolves on a voyage and a continental tour, and embarks with Mrs. Smith and the Messrs. and the Misses Smith, at the St. Katherine's Docks, incontinently. Now Parliament breaks up, and Parliamentary reporters attend union meetings and county assizes. Now“ patent percussion guns," " unrivalled pointers,” “pedometers for the waistcoat pocket," « anti-corrosive powder,”! " chemically-prepared wadding,” “gambroon shooting jackets of an entirely new cut,” and “ waterproof hats on a new principle,” are advertised in all the newspapers. Now Mr. Robins is instructed to offer to public competition divers “ eligible country residences,” “ elegant Gothic villas," " charming rustic retreats, with right of sporting," &c.; all of course “ claiming to approach FAIRY LAND."

Now wasps are very annoying in fruit gardens and confectioners' shops ; and you cannot take hold of a nice ripe plum, or green gage, without getting into a squabble with some of these impertinent gentry, Think yourself well off if you don't get one of them into your mouth before you are aware of it. Now barrels of oysters and haunches of venison pass from friend to friend, and from landlord to tenant, and from honourable member to worthy and independent elector; and boxes of grouse come in from the moors rather the worse for the journey. Now sons and heirs are invited to parks, and places, and castles, and halls, and manor houses; where beautiful, and elegant, and accomplished young ladies sing, and draw, and knit blue and white purses, and play at billiards “ a little ;” and a system of manquyring ensues, in which the one party is desirous of carrying flirtation as far as it will go without matrimony-the other of extending it to such a length that nothing less than a parson or a brother can settle the business. The younger branches, meanwhile, are content to take their station at Bath or Cheltenham, patiently waiting for a god-send, in the shape of a rich citizen's daughter or merchant's widow. But we are getting scandalous : let us haste back to the country.

To the sportsman September has much to offer; his year may be said to begin with this month. Hunter, courser, fisher, shooter-wake up every one of you—for September has joy for you all.

THE HUNTER.—Now he is abroad among the thick covers, rattling about the cub-foxes, exercising the old hounds and blooding the young ones. How gladly the old fellows_Trueman, Turbulent, Bellman, Burster, Mentor, Merryman, Rockwood, Rambler, and Co.-resume their joyous game among the fern and furze, and how well do the new entries profit by their example and the whip’s corrections! Whoo! tahlio! pug's in the open, and off they go, old and young, men and hounds, over field and fence, through the wood, up the hill, and away out of sight before we can say “ Jack Robinson."

THE COURSER.—Now he is out upon heath and hill; and his “ long dogs” are bounding among the furze blossoms. Poor puss has a weary life of it; harriers, and beagles, and greyhounds beset her by day, and poachers, villanous poachers, by night. Halloo! halloo ! away she bolts out of that patch of gorse; and Lily and Phantom, like two flashes of lightning, are zigzagging at her heels. Lily turns her, and Phan' loses ground. Lily has her-no! she turns again, and Lily is a couple of lengths behind. Again they are together; once again puss dashes off at a right angle. Lily strains every nerve to catch her before she reaches the plantation-she cannot-puss is through the paling—Lily leaps over. Where are they now? and, Echo, down in yonder farmbuilding, answers “ Where?” Has Lily been victorious ?-has puss escaped? Who shall tell ? None but Lily herself, for there she comes yonder, by the birch tree-over the pale, like a spirit-poor thing, how she pants! but no hare, and no stain upon her lips. Good Lily; here, here, here,-you have done your best—done bravely; but remember, there's many a slip between the cup and the lip!

The FISHER.-September is a new birth to him. The hot weather of July and August have been the reverse of favourable to his sport. The jack would not run with his choicest baits ; nor trout nor grayling rise at his cunningest Aies. But now his Hackles and his spring duns (the sweet little Violet in particular) come into play again; and heavy is the creel at his back as he trudges homeward at starlight, unwillingly tearing himself from the pleasant stream-side. A delightful sport is fishing ; not your sleepy,- lackadaisical float and punt work, where you are obliged to sit hour after hour, like a cat in a cherry tree, waiting to pounce upon your prey; but the wild ramble along a singing trout-stream, where every moment is full of incident, and every nook brimful of beauty-where a man is a naturalist, and a sportsman, and a painter, and a poet, and a philosopher, and a moralist, in spite of himself. Plash! --a four-pounder is rising behind that grey stone. Light as gossamer floats our line in the air-softly falls the mimic fly upon the wave-snap!-he has it-ay, and we have him too-fast, fast as fate on our trusty O'Shaugnessy.- Down stream we go, with master trouty in tow-heads up, my old boy-steady over the weeds there-he begins to reel, and to show his sides of silver and gold. Now for the landing-net, boy; here he comes--get it well under him-gently-sohout with him ; and a fine fellow he is as ever gobbled up greendrake of a May morning. . What colours-silver, and gold, and purple, and rubies plentifully sprinkled over all; and what a fine hump back! and what a beautiful, thoroughbred-looking head! By Jove, he is a fine creature, and if we could but catch another such, to make up the sixteen brace! I'm

- THE SHOOTER.-Happy he on the First of September! 'Tis true there has been shooting before to-day; but it is not every one that can afford, or that can awhile to go to the moors. It is only the first of September that makes it general. Now the yeoman as well as the squire, now the real as well as the gentleman farmer, can take the field. Shooting is shooting now. There is as much gunpowder expended on this one day as would serve to blow a Miguelite fleet out of the water. Great is the note of preparation throughout the land during the latter days of August. Our guns are newly furbished; our shot-belt is freed from the summer's dust; and our pointers and setters, that have been idling about like halfpay officers these six months, are suddenly become of especial importance. There has been much discussion on the relative merits of setter and pointer, and many ingenious objections have been raised against both. For my part I have a decided predilection-prejudice, may be in favour of the setter; not because he beats, stands, or backs better than the other, but because he looks the most good tempered. There is a sweetness of disposition about the face of the setter that is very heart-winning, to my mind; and-it may be fancy—but it has always seemed to me that this physiognomy was borne out by the character of the dog. The pointer has a sterner look; he is certainly of a more serious turn; and, I think, neither so amiable nor so faithful as the setter. However, I may be wrong; and if so, I beg the pointer's pardon. But this he must confess, the setter has the advantage of him in beauty. Yes, our favourite certainly is the handsomer; those flowing locksthose flossy ears—that feathery tail-mister pointer cannot come up to him in any of these; and last, not least, the beauty and variety of his colours! There is my own sweet pet, Ponto, spotted “ like the pard ;” there is not a stain upon his sides that should not be there, nor could you

« PreviousContinue »