« AnteriorContinuar »
however, without leaving your marks behind you. But where's Eglantine? where's Transit? where's the Honourable? By my soul, the roué can handle his mauleys well; I saw him floor one of the raff in very prime style. But come along, my hearty; we must walk over the field of battle, and look after the wounded; I am desperately afraid that Eglantine is booked inside-saw him surrounded by the bull-dogs-made a desperate effort to rescue him-and had some difficulty to clear myself; but never mind, 'tis the fortune of war, and there's very good lodging in the castle. Surely there's Mark Supple with some one on his back, What, Mark, is that you?'
"No, sir-yes, sir; I mean, sir, its a gentleman of our college. O deary me, I thought it had been a proctor or a bull-dog. For heaven's sake, help, sir! here's Mr. Transit quite senseless, take notice; picked him up in a doorway in Lincoln-lane, bleeding like a pig, take notice. O dear, O dear, what a night this has been! We shall all be sent to the castle, and perhaps transported for manslaughter. For heaven's sake, Mr. Echo, help! Bear his head up-take hold of his feet, Mr. Blackmantle, and I'll go before, and ring at Dr. Tuckwell's bell, take notice.'
"In this way poor Transit was conveyed to the surgery, where, after cleansing him from the blood and dirt, and the application of some aromatics, he soon recovered, and happily had not sustained any very serious injury. From old Mark we learned that Eglantine was a captive to the bull-dogs, and safely deposited in the castle along with Marston Will, who had fought nobly in his defence; of Lionise we could gain no other tidings than that Mark had seen him at the end of the fray climbing up to the first-floor window of a tradesman's house in the High-street, whose daughter it was well known he had a little intrigue with, and where, as we concluded, he had found a balsam for his wounds and shelter for the night. It was nearly three o'clock when I regained my lodging, and found Mags, the waiter of the Mitre, on the look-out for me: Echo had accompanied me home, and in our way we had picked up a wounded man of University College, who had suffered severely in the contest. It was worthy the pencil of a Hogarth to have depicted the appearance of the High-street after the contest, when we were cautiously perambulating from end to end in search of absent friends, and fearing at every step the approach of the proctors or their bull-dogs; the lamps were almost all smashed, and the burners dangling to and fro with the wind, the greater part extinguished, or just emitting sufficient light to make night horrible. On the lamp-irons might be seen what at first sight was most appalling, the figure of some hero of the togati dangling by the neck, but which on nearer approach proved to be only the dismembered academical of some gentleman commoner hung up as a trophy by the town raff. Broken windows, and shutters torn from their hinges, and missiles of every sort covering the ground, from the terrific Scotch paving pebble torn up from the roads, to the spokes of coach-wheels and the oaken batons, and fragments of lanterns belonging to the town watch, skirts of coats and caps, and remnants of togas, both silken and worsted,
bespoke the quality of the heroes of the fray; while here and there a poor terrified wretch was exposing his addle-head to the mildews of the night damp, fearing a revival of the contest, or anxiously watching the return of husband, brother, father, or son. On our arrival at the Mitre, poor Mrs. Peake, half-frightened to death, was up and busy in administering to the sufferers various consolatory draughts composed of bishop, and flesh and blood, and rumbooze; while the chambermaids and Peake and the waiters were flying about the house with warm water, and basins and towels, to the relief of the numerous applicants, who all seemed anxious to wash away the dirty remembrance of the disgusting scene. Hitherto I had been so busily engaged in defending myself and preserving my friends, that I had not a moment for reflection. It has been well observed that 'place an Englishman in the field of battle, no matter what his political feelings, he will fight like a lion, by instinct, or the mere force of example;' so with the narrator of this contest. I had not, up to this time, the least knowledge of the original cause of the row. I have naturally an aversion to pugilistic contests and tumultuous sports; and yet I found by certain bruises and bumps, and stains of blood, and stiffness of joints, and exhaustion, and the loss of my upper garment, which I had then only just discovered, that I must have borne a pretty considerable part in the contest, and carried away no small share of victorious laurels, since I had escaped without any very visible demonstration of my adversaries' prowess; but for this I must acknowledge myself indebted to my late private tutor, the Eton Cad, Joe Cannon, whose fancy lectures on noseology and the science of the milling system had enabled me to defend my bread-basket, cover up my peepers, and keep my nob out of chancery; a merit that all Keate's learning would not have compensated for, under the peculiar circumstances in which I was placed.
"It was now that the mischief was done; and many a sound head was cracked, and many a courageous heart was smarting beneath their wounds in the gloomy dungeons of the castle, or waiting in their rooms the probing instruments and plaisters of Messrs. Wall or Kidd or Bourne, that a few of us who had escaped tolerably well, and were seated round a bowl of bishop in the snug sanctum sanctorum of the Mitre, began to inquire of each other the origin of the fray. After a variety of conjectures and vague reports, each at variance with the other, and evidently deficient in the most remote connection with the true cause of the strife, it was agreed to submit the question to the waiter as a neutral observer, who assured us that the whole affair arose out of a trifling circumstance originating with some mischievous boys, who, having watched two gownsmen into a Cyprian temple in the neighbourhood of St. Thomas's, circulated a false report that they had carried thither the wives of two respectable mechanics. Without taking the trouble to inquire into the truth or falsehood of the accusation, the door was immediately beset; the old cry of Town and Gown vociferated in every direction, and the unfortunate wights compelled to seek their safety by an ignominious flight through a back-door
* Brandy and port-wine, half-and-half.
and over the meadows. The tumult once raised, it was not to be appeased without some victim, and for this purpose they thought proper to attack a party of the togati, who were returning home from a little private sport with a well-known fancy lecturer. The opportunity was a good one to show off; a regular fight commenced, and the raff were floored in every direction, until their numbers increasing beyond all comparison, the university men were compelled to raise the cry of Gown,' and fly for succour and defence to the High-street. In this way had a few mischievous boys contrived to embroil the town and university in one of the most severe intestine struggles ever remembered."
This picture of an Oxford row is not, as the general reader may imagine, the mere fiction of the novelist, but the true description of a contest which occurred many years ago, the leading features of which will be easily recognized by some sons of Alma Mater still alive, and who shared in the perils and glory of the battle.
BY MASTER HARRY.
Of all "spoil sports," to the sportsman in India, and more particularly in Ceylon, none is so much dreaded as the crocodile. They swarm in almost every pool; and, as these pools are scattered at no very great distances from each other among the jungles, it is not at all unfrequent that a jungle-fowl, or any other of the feathered tribe that one may be pursuing, falls wounded or dead into these pools. No sooner has it struck the water than up pops the snout or nose of the crocodile, who takes it down bodily; or, should it have escaped his observation for a minute or two, one's dog naturally goes after it, when he is certain to be swallowed as well. I lost no less than fifteen dogs in Ceylon, chiefly spaniels, from their being swallowed by crocodiles. So bold are these animals at times, that they will creep out of the water, and seize a dog whilst he is drinking; and there is hardly any manner of killing them: I have peppered away at them for hours together, but only killed one, which was by a chance shot under his shoulder. This one was the largest ever known in that part of the world: it measured eighteen feet in length. They are generally extremely afraid of men, but at times get so torpid or lazy, that one may approach them, and fire down their throats. They are most hideouslooking wretches; but as to their attacking people, one might as well say that hares attack them: they are only too glad to get out of the way without being molested. It is true that, in Bengal, when the natives go into the river to bathe, they are carried away now and then, and by some it is supposed to be by alligators (the chief difference that I have always found between the two species being, that the
alligator is almost constantly in the water, whilst the crocodile is to be seen generally basking in the sun on the banks); but, as only the lower extremities of their legs are visible to the animals, they are not aware to whom they belong, or they would leave them unmolested; but dogs are their principal and favourite food.
The alligator is considered sacred by the Hindoos; and I know one baboo, or native nobleman, who kept a large pond filled with them, and which became so tame that they would enter his house and eat the rice off his table. I had an invitation to see them fed on one of the holydays; and a most extraordinary sight it was. Every native in the neighbourhood was constrained to bring a certain number of Pariah dogs (these are animals apparently of no particular breed, and belonging to no particular masters); and about fifty of these animals were served up on the occasion; and, at a given signal, by beating of drums and blowing of trumpets, the first victim was hurled into the lake. The surface of the water, hitherto unruffled by a single ripple, was now one mass of living matter: hundreds of alligators' heads appeared above the slimy liquid, gaping to receive whatever might be sent to them; and dog after dog, as he was thrown in, was either gulped down entire, or torn to atoms in a moment by half-a-dozen contending animals. There was not room for another head to be crammed in between those already apparent; and how they existed was to me a miracle. Of course, no fish could live where they inhabited; and, as it was death formerly to slay one of these animals, and the punishment at present doubtless nearly as severe, there is every prospect of a fine preserve of them in a few years; and a preserve of these amphibious brutes would be looked upon with equal, if not greater, pride by a nigger than one of every sort of game by a landowner in England-of a truth, de gustibus non disputandum est.
At Barrackpore, and different other stations up the river, which luxuriate in "griffs," and where everything approaching to the slightest colouring of sport is eagerly pursued, these animals are sometimes caught with shark-hooks, which, being baited with tempting portions of white pork (thereby making use of one of the nigger's abominations to entrap his "divinity"), are set overnight in the mess 66 compound," and made fast generally to the mess-house pillars, by a rope about the size of a top-gallant brace, to which the hook is fastened by a small chain, to prevent the animal's teeth having any effect upon it. In the morning, a tremendous spluttering gives notice of a catch, and the ensnared gentleman is hauled up, amid the cheers, shouts, and yells of a dozen of unposted ensigns, who hold a court-martial over a culprit, which invariably terminates in a condemnation to be shot to death, to the utter horror of the niggers, who think that divine vengeance will surely be wreaked on the slayers in consequence. But, before the animal can be shot, it is necessary to turn him over on his back-an operation sometimes requiring no small degree of strength and trouble; and, when this is accomplished, the firing party send a volley into his heart; after which he is launched again into the sacred river.
The niggers complained to the authorities, I understand, some time
since, about the merciless slaughter of their deities; and it. was consequently forbidden by the "powers that be" that any officer should carry on a private warfare against the species, under a fine of fifty rupees for each massacred "godship;" but, if one should happen to trespass in the grounds adjoining the mess-room, he might be exterminated. And much better, I guess, would it have been for one "to have a millstone tied about his neck, and be cast into the sea," than to have shown his nose above water within gunshot distance of the mess-verandah. What the deadly enmity was occasioned by, I never heard; but I fancy it was the same natural feeling of hostility that makes us all send a stone after a snake that crosses our path.
The "general order" for a limited suspension of hostilities had only the effect of redoubling the rancour against the species; and many a party was made to go up the river, alligator-hunting. I fancy that, independent of the gun, when the beaulich (boat) had got well out of the vicinity of head quarters, the old shark-hook used to be launched over the side, and generally with tolerable success.
ON THE GAME LAWS, SHOOTING, &c.
Among the numerous improvements which have taken place in various manufactories for goods, it is but very recently that anything really good has been offered to the public for that very essential article to the sportsman-a shooting jacket. The old fashioned Barragon was a horrid fabric; and the black velveteen which succeeded, although it looked tolerably well when new, was never an article calculated to wear any length of time without appearing rusty and shabby; independently of which, the dye commonly used rendered it very rotten, and was apt to come off and soil both the hands and the other clothes. A strong description of cloth, generally of a mixed pattern, is now made, which is very superior to any other material for these garments, and by a certain process may be made waterpoof, or very nearly so, without either confining the perspiration or rendering them stiff and hard to wear-a desideratum not to be overlooked: for nothing is more wretched than an ill-made shooting-jacket, which fits you nowhere, and is as stiff as a coat of armour. Mr. Gray, of Jermyn-street, St. James's, is the only person I have ever yet met with who makes such coats really waterproof, and, in other respects, quite up to the mark.
Encasements for the legs are also worthy of some attention. To