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s 4 2019 8 57
r 7 5920 10
Second Sun. after Epiphany. s 4 232111 9
19 M Grampound Fair.
r 7 5722 morn.
20 T ABERYSTWITH S. CHASES (two). s 4 2623 0 16 21 W ABERYSTWITH S. CHASES (two).r 7 5524 1 28
5 23 5 38 5 53 6 15 6 34 6 58 7 19 7 46 s 4 30 25 8 16 8 55 r 7 5326 3 47 9 33 10 12
23 F Pitt died, 1806.
24 S St. Timothy,
25 Third Sun. after Epiphany. 26 M Mercury rises 6 h. 39 m. A.M. 27 T Chesterfield Fair.
r 7 49 N
2 28 2 51
r 7 46 2
3 16 3 39
28 W GLOSSOP COURSING MEETING. 29 T BRIXWORTH STEEPLE CHASE. 30 F King Charles beheaded, 1648. s 4 44 3 9 25 4 14 23 31 S Hilary T. ends. Pheasant S. ends. r 7 43 4 10 42 4 44 5 7
STEEPLE CHASES IN JANUARY.
7 | Aberystwith.... .... 20 & 21 | Brixworth Many other chases for this month not yet fixed.
COURSING MEETINGS IN JANUARY.
Morpeth (open).......... 2
S. Lancashire (Chatsworth) 7 & 8 | Mountain's Town .....13 & 14
Morpeth (Longhirst), Morpeth (Woodhorn), and Mold (Eaton), not fixed.
THE POPULAR PASTIMES OF ENGLAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY.
"One lesson, reader, let us two divide,
Taught by what nature shows and what reveals-
With sorrow of the meanest thing that feels."
Such of us as are of mature days can look back upon thirty years, during which almost the whole civilized world has enjoyed an unbroken epoch of peace-a blessing on that halcyon time! which shall descend full of honour to posterity, albeit neither garlanded with the olive of the golden, nor wreathed with the laurel of the iron age. Far more excellent shall be the epithet by which other generations will distinguish it-far deeper the gratitude with which men shall recall its memory, when, dealing with the annals of bygone eras, they speak of THE GOOD TIME! The Muse (haply but for a season) dreameth indeed no more her rosy visions; but glory-aye, and for ever-hath started from its gory nightmare. Led by the fair light of science, in lieu of the meteor-flashes of imagination, mankind have found out the true philosopher's stone-the great secret of transmuting the whole physical universe into gold-by combining mind with matter. This mystery was reserved for solution in the nineteenth century. Peace, the alchymist, by whom it should be discovered-peace has been the agent of that wise, godlike school of philosophy whose founder was an Englishman, and the justness of whose system has been proved by the experience of his countrymen. Time works its changes alike for the moral as the natural world: for the generations of two thousand years ago " Plato reasoned well;" for the days on which he had fallen, Bacon argued better. One of the greatest men of our time has contrasted these stages in one of the most remarkable essays extant in our language: "To make men perfect," he observes, "was no part of Bacon's plan. His humble aim was to make imperfect man comfortable. The beneficence of his philosophy resembles the beneficence of the common Father, whose sun rises on the evil and the good, whose rain descends for the just and the unjust. In Plato's opinion, man was made for philosophy: in Bacon's opinion, philosophy was made for man-it was a means to an end; and that end was to increase the pleasures and to mitigate the pains of millions who are not and cannot be philosophers. That a valetudinarian, who took great pleasure in being wheeled along his terrace, who relished his boiled chicken and his weak wine and water, and who enjoyed a hearty laugh over the Queen of Navarre's tales, should be treated as a caput lupinum because he could not read Timæus without
a headache, was a notion which the humane spirit of the English school of wisdom altogether refuted. Bacon would not have thought it beneath the dignity of a philosopher to contrive an improved garden-chair for such a valetudinarian, to devise some way of rendering his medicines more palatable, to invent repasts which he might enjoy, and pillows on which he might sleep soundly; and this, though there might not be the slightest hope that the mind of the poor invalid would ever rise to the contemplation of the ideal beautiful or ideal good." Not to speak it profanely, in the same relation stands the utilitarianism of this instant period to the transcendentalism of that cycle of graceful fancies which inspired the song of Homer, and endowed the chisel of Praxiteles with Promethean fire. Practical knowledge has superseded speculative theory: the poetry of life has given place to the policy of living. Science has been applied to the household philosophy of every department of our social economy. Why has it not been addressed in a similar spirit to our popular pastimes? Why should not the right character of our wholesome, invigorating sports be so worthy a right understanding as the specific gravity of liquids, or the amount of carbon in a marrow-bone? Let science
be their advocate with those who hold them less worthy than they are, from a false prejudice which has long dwelt with them upon foolish and irreverent premises; and let the progress of refinement, in which they have kept pace with the advance of civilization in every other walk of life, win for them friends from among the gentle, as juster views of their true philosophy will secure for them the improved opinion of the humane.
The cardinal objections to sporting I presume are what it has pleased convention to set down and accept as its abstract inhumanity, and its tendency to promote coarseness of mind and manners. Fishing and shooting are as authoritatively declared to be cruel and barbarous, as if such was a fact established by mathematics. Even Byron, in most cases prone at the least to think for himself-we won't stop to inquire whether wisely or unwisely in the majority of instances-falls head over ears into this vulgar logic, and thus denounces poor old Walton touching one of his maxims for angling:
"The quaint, old, cruel coxcomb, in his gullet
Should have a hook, and a young trout to pull it."
Shooting, according to all authorities, is murder-" bloody, base, and unnatural;" while the chase is, by the pseudo-philanthropists, accounted a refinement on wilful slaughter. We will let philosophy deal with the first of these objections; and then see whether the social influences of the last half century will not help us to defend our system on the latter.
Philosophy cannot explain why death was originally instituted. Theology, indeed, assumes it to have been sent into the world as the punishment of sin; but, without meddling with an inquiry which might give offence, it is enough for our present purpose to say that geology has demonstrated beyond the possibility of question that death prevailed on the earth among the lower animals ages before the creation of man. I say it is beyond the compass of our reason to
demonstrate why the world was thus constituted; this, it has been truly remarked, must be the work of revelation. We now treat of the dissolution of organized bodies, without reference to the state of the soul or mind after its separation from the body. Let us follow an ardent disciple of truth in his analysis of this view. "Death," he observes, "appears to be a result of the constitution of all organized beings; for the very definition of the genus is, that the individuals grow, attain maturity, decay, and die. The human imagination cannot conceive how the former part of this series of movements could exist without the latter, as long as space is necessary to corporeal existence. If all the vegetable and animal productions of nature, from creation downwards, had grown, attained maturity, and there remained, the world would not have been capable of containing the thousandth part of them; so that, on this earth, decaying and dying appear indispensably necessary to admit of reproduction and growth. Viewed abstractedly, then, organized beings live as long as health and vigour continue; but they are subjected to a process of decay which impairs gradually all their functions, and at last terminates in dissolution." Passing from a consideration of this providence, in reference to its moral effects, he goes on to deal with it in relation to brutes. "The lower animals, whose whole being is composed of the inferior propensities and several knowing faculties, would see death, if they could at all anticipate it, as the extinguisher of every pleasure they had ever felt; and, apparently, the bare prospect of it would render their lives so wretched that nothing could alleviate the depressing gloom with which the habitual consciousness of it would inspire them. But by depriving them of reflective faculties the Creator has kindly and effectually withdrawn from them this evil: he has - thereby rendered them completely blind to existence. There is not the least reason to believe that any one of the lower animals, while in health and vigour, has the slightest conception that it is a mortal creature, any more than a tree has that it will die. In consequence, it lives in as full enjoyment of the present as if it were assured of every agreeable sensation being eternal. Death always takes the individual by surprise, whether it comes in the form of violence, suppressing life in youth, or of slow decay by age, and really operates as a transference of existence from one being to another. Violent death and the devouring of one animal by another are not purely benevolent, because pure benevolence would never inflict pain; but they are instances of destruction leading to beneficial results. While the world is calculated to support only a limited number of living creatures, the lower animals have received from nature powers of reproduction far beyond what are necessary to supply the waste of natural decay; and they do not possess intellect sufficient to restrain their numbers within the limits of their means of subsistence. Herbivorous animals, in particular, are exceedingly prolific; and yet the supply of vegetable food is limited. Hence, after the multiplication for a few years, extensive starvation, the most painful and lingering of all deaths, and the most detrimental to the race, would inevitably ensue. But carnivorous animals have been instituted, who kill and eat them; and by this means not only do carnivorous animals reap the plea
sures of life, but the numbers of the herbivorous are restrained within such limits that the individuals among them enjoy existence while they live. The destroyers, again, are limited in their turn; the moment they become too numerous and carry their devastations too far, their food fails them, and they die of starvation, or, in their conflict for the supplies that remain, destroy each other. Nature seems averse from inflicting death extensively by starvation, probably because it impairs the constitution long before it destroys life, and has the tendency to produce degeneracy in the race. It may be remarked also, speculatively, that herbivorous animals must have existed in considerable numbers before the carnivorous began to exercise their functions; for many of the former must die, that one of the latter may live. If a single sheep and a single tiger had been placed together at first, the tiger would have eaten up the sheep at a few meals, and afterwards died itself of starvation.
"There is reason to believe that, in the state of nature, death is attended with very little suffering to the lower animals. In natural decay the organs are worn out by mere age, and the animal sinks into gradual insensibility, unconscious that dissolution awaits it. Further, the wolf, the tiger, the lion, and other beasts of prey instituted by the Creator as instruments of death, steal upon their victims with the unexpected suddenness of a mandate of annihilation, and inflict death in the most instantaneous and least painful method. The tiger and lion spring from their covers with the rapidity of the thunderbolt; and one blow of their tremendous paws, inflicted at the junction of the head with the neck, produces instantaneous death. The eagle is taught to strike its sharp beak into the spine of the birds, and their agony endures scarcely for a moment. Here then is actually a regularly organized process for withdrawing individuals among the lower animals from existence almost by a fiat of destruction, and thereby providing for the comfortable subsistence of the creatures themselves while they live, and making way for a succession of new occupants." The naturalist will remark, by the way, that our philosopher, however true in his theory, has been a little partial in his agency, and will note, as he reads, that the serpent tribe, for instance, are not such philanthropists in their method of treating their prey as he would make all carnivora. "Nature," says St. Pierre, "does nothing in vain she intends few animals to die of old age; and I believe she has permitted to none, except man, to run the entire course of life; because in his case alone can old age be useful to the race. What would be the advantage of old animals, incapable of reflection, to a posterity born with instincts holding the place of experience? and how, on the other hand, would decrepit parents find support among offspring which instinctively leave them whenever they are able to swim, to fly, or to run? Old age would prove to such creatures a burden, of which beasts of prey mercifully deliver them." Thus speak the philosophers of the moral and the natural world; as fitting, I presume but to follow them longo intervallo, to which end I purpose presently to illustrate my position by more familiar in
How now, libellers of the angle-are ye ready to contend that the