Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

for the Widow abated and old age came on, he left off fox-hunting ; but a hare is not yet safe that sits within ten miles of his house.

There is no kind of exercise which I would so recommend to my readers of both sexes as this of riding, as there is none which so much conduces to health, and is every way accommodated to the body, according to the idea which I have given of it. Doc

tor Sydenham is very lavish in its praises; and if the 10 English reader will see the mechanical effects of it

described at length, he may find them in a book published not many years since under the title of Medicina Gymnastica. For my own part, when I am in

town, for want of these opportunities, I exercise my15 self an hour every morning upon a dumb-bell that

is placed in a corner of my room, and pleases me the more because it does everything I require of it in the most profound silence. My landlady and her

daughters are so well acquainted with my hours of 20 exercise, that they never come into my room to disturb me whilst I am ringing.

When I was some years younger than I am at present, I used to employ myself in a more laborious

diversion, which I learned from a Latin treatise of ex 25 ercises that is written with great erudition; it is there called the oklopaxía, or the fighting with a man's own shadow, and consists in the brandishing of two short sticks grasped in each hand, and loaden with plugs of lead at either end. This opens the chest, exercises the limbs, and gives a man all the pleasure of boxing, without the blows. I could wish that several learned men would lay out that time which they employ in controversies and disputes about nothing, in this method of fighting with their own shadows. It might conduce very much to evaporate the spleen, which is makes them uneasy to the public as well as to themselves.

To conclude: As I am a compound of soul and body, I consider myself as obliged to a double scheme of duties; and I think I have not fulfilled the busi- 15 ness of the day when I do not thus employ the one in labor and exercise, as well as the other in study and contemplation.

XI. THE COVERLEY HUNT.

THOSE who have searched into human nature observe, that nothing so much shows the nobleness of 20 the soul, as that its felicity consists in action. Every man has such an active principle in him, that he will find out something to employ himself upon, in what

IO

ever place or state of life he is posted. I have heard of a gentleman who was under close confinement in the Bastileo seven years; during which time he amused

himself in scattering a few small pins about his 5 chamber, gathering them up again, and placing them

in different figures on the arm of a great chair. He often told his friends afterwards, that unless he had found out this piece of exercise, he verily believed he should have lost his senses.

After what has been said, I need not inform my readers, that Sir Roger, with whose character I hope they are at present pretty well acquainted, has in his youth gone through the whole course of those rural

diversions which the country abounds in; and which 15 seem to be extremely well suited to that laborious

industry a man may observe here in a far greater degree than in towns and cities. I have before hinted at some of my friend's exploits : he has in his youthful

days taken forty coveys of partridges in a season; and 20 tired many a salmon with a line consisting but of a

single hair. The constant thanks and good wishes of the neighborhood always attended him on account of his remarkable enmity towards foxes; having

destroyed more of those vermin in one year than it 25 was thought the whole country could have produced. Indeed, the Knight does not scruple to own among his most intimate friends, that in order to establish his reputation this way, he has secretly sent for great numbers of them out of other counties, which he used to turn loose about the country by night, that he 5 might the better signalize himself in their destruction the next day. His hunting horses were the finest and best managed in all these parts : his tenants are still full of the praises of a gray stone horse that unhappily staked himself several years since, and was buried 10 with great solemnity in the orchard.

Sir Roger, being at present too old for fox-hunting, to keep himself in action, has disposed of his beagles and got a pack of stop-hounds. What these want in speed he endeavors to make amends for by the deep- 15 ness of their mouths and the variety of their notes, which are suited in such manner to each other that the whole cry makes up a complete concert.

He is so nice in this particular, that a gentleman having made him a present of a very fine hound the other day, the 24 Knight returned it by the servant with a great many expressions of civility; but desired him to tell his master that the dog he had sent was indeed a most excellent base, but that at present he only wanted a counter-tencr. Could I believe my friend had ever 25 read Shakespeare I should certainly conclude he had taken the hint from Theseus in the Midsummer Night's Dream:

5

My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind,
So flew'd, so sanded ; and their heads are hung
With ears that sweep away the morning dew;
Crook-knee'd and dew-lapp'd like Thessalian bulls;
Slow in pursuit, but match'd in mouth like bells,
Each under each : a cry more tuneable
Was never holla’d to, nor cheer'd with horn.

IO

Sir Roger is so keen at this sport that he has been out almost every day since I came down; and upon the chaplain's offering to lend me his easy pad, I was

prevailed on yesterday morning to make one of the 15 company. I was extremely pleased, as we rid along,

to observe the general benevolence of all the neighborhood towards my friend. The farmers' sons thought themselves happy if they could open a gate for the

good old Knight as he passed by; which he generally 20 requited with a nod or a smile, and a kind inquiry after their fathers and uncles.

After we had rid about a mile from home, we camo upon a large heath, and the sportsmen began to beat.

They had done so for some time, when, as I was at a 25 little distance from the rest of the company, I saw

« PředchozíPokračovat »