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leathern gaiters. Eight or ten large fish had been taken, and the chasse had wandered some two or three hundred yards from the spot where the sahibs had left their guns, when suddenly a shriek was heard from one of the men who searched the bank with their feet: he was seen to fall back in the water ; and a huge serpent, uncoiling himself from his cool lair, and raising his head above the surface, took his course down the centre of the stream, lashing the water into a foam ; while the villagers fled in every direction. Not so the gallant shikarees : closing together as the monster approached, they cut at him vigorously, and severely wounded him. A terrible tussle now ensued : turning upon his assailants with open mouth, the snake attempted to seize one of them ; but was repelled by a shower of blows and several fresh wounds. He then once more sought safety in flight, but was pursued by his active enemies ; and, being disabled by a well-directed cut, that broke his spine, was dragged to land amid the shouts of all present. The sahibs had, indeed, charged into the river to help the shikarees ; but their guns being left behind, their knives were of little use in such a melée, and the victory belonged solely to the two swordsmen. The snake proved to be a very large rock snake (a species allied to the boa), and measured nearly fourteen feet in length ; while the thickest part of his body was as large as a stout man's thigh. W-- and A- made an attempt to preserve the skin ; but the numerous wounds, the heat and closeness of the weather, and the want of arsenical soap rendered their efforts unavailing.
(To be continued.)
LETTERS FROM MY UNCLE SCRIBBLE.
MY DEAR NEPHEW,— The Oxbridge dons have prejudices on certain subjects--as who has not ? - which are more easily conceived than overcome. No man parts with a prejudice readilv-it's worse than a bad habit to get rid of, particularly when it has a show of reason, which it must be confessed theirs have. Theirs are in favour of quiet, order, and sobriety within the walls of St. Boniface, a moderately regular attendance at lectures and chapel, with a very gentlemanly disregard of praying whilst there. It must be allowed that they deal much with externals, but then it's the way of the world to do so ; and it is well that they should conform in some things to general opinion. They have a very decided objection to young gentlemen of a sporting turn of a special class, who exhibit themselves in innocent rivalry with the proctors of the university, with a bow-legged bull-dog with one eye, and a head like a cannon-ball with the erysipelas. I think this is scarcely to be wondered at, especially as we know that the sport does not end in a quiet walk with this warlike follower. These white-chokered and black-breeched professors have likewise a prejudice against bull-baiting, cock-fighting, tandem-driving, drag-following, and steeple-chasing, or the exhibition of a pink nerdlessly in the middle of the quadrangle. These are prejudices shared with the world in general. You have your prejudices, too ; and should be very lenient towards theirs. Why do you dislike your old schoolfellow Slocoach ? Because he can't shoot. Here's a precious reason to give for treating a man to the cold shoulder! You don't like highlows and black cotton stockings, nor a second day's shirt, nor old women, nor a buggy with red wheels, nor a woodland country, nor about one thousand other things, all matters of opinion. So you see, my dear boy, you have a few prejudices too,
But amongst the prejudices of the Oxbridge dons I omitted fox hunting, because I do not believe that they have any especial dislike for that. Of course everywhere some cantankerous old fogies are to be met with, who will set their faces against everything you youngsters delight in and very hard you think it. But before you begin condemning the whole batch, and sentencing them to temporal and eternal punishment, you should remember two things : First, the dislike to it is not general in Oxbridge amongst the authorities ; and, secondly, those who do oppose it strenuously find their best reasons for doing so in the circumstances of many of the professors of the noble science. A great number of you youngsters are impostors. Look round at your own companions : what do you know of them or their circumstances-who were their fathers and mothers, where they came from, and, I was going to add, where they go to ? Nothing whatever. They are well dressed, moderately well looking, write good long-and-shorts, and have a splendid opinion of themselves. They belong to the cricket clubs, dining clubs, and boating clubs, where they eat, drink, and are more than merry, very frequently. They go out on horseback every fine day, but not on their own hacks: they hunt every saint's day, and any other time they can get excused lecture, or do not happen to have any, but not on their own hunters. They hack twenty-four miles to cover, and back again, when they dine at the “Mitre" on champagne and claret, and blow up the waiter, because he is the only person they ever think of paying. They have jewellery, books (which they do not read) with handsome bindings, pictures (which they do not understand) with handsome frames. They go to Ascot and Epsom, make a small book-generally a very bad one; and had they lived in my young days would have spent the time while the horses were running, in a roulette booth, or at thimble-and-pea. In fact, amongst those gay companions of yours, “ fine feathers make fine birds"; and those good looks and well-cut trousers cover about as much heartlessness and want of principle as one commonly meets with on the 21st of June.
Now you know the reason why the dons at St. Boniface do not encourage hunting ; why they do not openly proclaim it what they know it to be—the most healthy, manly, gentlemanly, orthodox amusement, and natural recreation of an undergraduate, yet discovered. You surely do not mean to tell me that old Roots of Muddlehead College, or Tom Long of Unity, dislikes hunting in the abstract. No-no-no. But they know the world—at least, the Oxbridge world better than you do. And so does your old uncle Scribble, my boy; and it shall not be his fault if you are not kept in the straight path, and yet have a great deal of fun for your money. You may hunt, and you may hunt at Oxbridge, if you only have tact enough to do so properly ; and though somewhat more expensive there than in most places, you will find it still about the cheapest amusement in the world for a light weight, if you only set to work in the proper way.
You young gentlemen only see one side of the picture, the dons see both ; and very startling the other side is, when turned round : Birth and connections, respectable generally ; always a widow and five sisters. The spes domůs at a public school-boiled mutton at one o'clock, at home. At college—the hunters, &c. ; and the mutton cold at home ; lots of chalks ; enlistment in a cavalry regiment ; the discharge ; a precarious subsistence ; late ordination ; a book on the Derby ; the pot boils over ; exit the spes domûs to a foreign chaplaincy of £50 per annum under an assumed name. This is the most favourable finish to the Oxbridge hunting, in nine cases out of ten. The back woods, or death in a sponging house, is not an uncommon result of the sportsmanship I have endeavoured to describe. Now none of these catastrophes need affect you. The Scribbles are a fine old family, and legitimate sportsmen ; as such they will be recognized. By careful management you may have as much hunting as is good for you, and yet be a gentleman and a scholar, if you will bear in mind your old uncle's advice.
First of all, ride your own horses. Half the men at Oxbridge are obliged to hire hacks because they never have had a horse, and their appearance at home with such a quadruped would inevitably produce a fit of apoplexy in the widow, and matricide is too strong for a youthful stomach. The system of hunting from Oxbridge on hired horses is a very expensive one. You may say fifteen miles to cover. Two guineas your hunter, fifteen shillings your hack ; horse and groom out all night nine shillings more, perhaps two nights ; accidents, lameness, or even death. And when men never pay ready mouey, they are seldom screws ; twice a week only at this work makes a heavy bill at the end of three years, especially for men without a shilling. Even if you were justified in this extravagance, you may easily avoid it : buy your own horse or horses, and keep them, if you like, at livery; then you know your expense.
But you want to know how to buy? At eighteen no man must expect to go into the market with the experience of eight-and-forty. Your weight is the first consideration ; anything under twelve stone ought to ride something very nearly, if not quite, thoroughbred. Blood teils when all the bone in the world will be of no service. The old-fashioned hunter was of this sort : round-barrelled, short-legged, broad-chested, compact, fifteen-two ; very good for enclosed banked countries, and fifteen stone. The present style is different-clean-made, lengthy (especially in the hind-quarters), fine-shouldered, not too broadchested, and not so closely ribbed up as most men would have it. Pace and extension are grand requisites. The midland counties, with their broad ditches, are the countries to teach them their business. Big legs below the knee are not of half the consequence that large arms and thighs are ; only let the legs be wiry, never mind the size. The price for a lightweight need not exceed £60, £70, or £80; for a heavy weight $200
is not too much. Never buy a shallow horse ; I mean high on the leg for his girth. I have seen many narrow, but deep, horses go well carrying weight; but I never saw a horse shallow from the withers to the arm do a good day's work, or a bad one, well. Mind the hind legs ; all the propelling power comes from the rear. The hocks need not be large ; flesh is often mistaken for power. They should be clean, and the legs incline outwards from them. Many persons think a straight hind leg a warrant for jumping; I confess I do not agree with them.
In commencing dealing, many youngsters begin with an error, and find much difficulty in suiting themselves with a stud. The mistake is this-an idea that all horse-dealers are rogues ; never was a greater error. The trade holds out temptations, but these temptations are often resisted. I venture to say that, though there are rogues, and a vast number of them, amongst the fraternity, they do not outnumber more honourable professors. What say you to lawyers? I should like to see some of these two persuasions shaken out of a bag together. There are good and bad in all trades, and, my dear boy, you must excuse me if I enquire after the honesty of the bishops. “O tempora, O mores !” these are sad times. But let us draw a veil over the shortcomings of those who should know better, and give the horse-dealer a little credit, if only on the score of mutual obligation, for he frequently gives you a good deal. Moreover, only lay something to the account of the buyers themselves; their greenness, their utter ignorance of the animal, and their extreme arrogance and pretension, are wonderful. It is beyond human forbearance to resist ; their absurdities are very dear at a fifty pound note.
Before entering upon the mysteries of dealing, and the selection of a stud, there is one rule by which you should endeavour to abide. No rule is without an exception ; but generally avoid buying of a gentleman -I mean, from one of your own friends or acquaintances. There may be circumstances which render it desirable ; and you may serve yourself and him ; but usually you disappoint yourself and lose your friend. If you could only get at the real secrets of a stable, it would prevent a nervous man from ever buying a horse again. Few men sell what thoroughly suits them, excepting when a fancy price commands a fancy article ; but a good looking, well bred, slashing goer, and fine fencer, with enduring qualities, and good temper, if perfectly sound, seldom leaves a gentleman's hands until he has had the best of him, and not always then. You may get a perfectly sound horse; for few gentlemen, no true gentleman, would tell a direct lie, if questioned upon the subject. All the hells and betting-list houses, with every other abomination of the sort, have not brought them to that yet (God knows what it may do!) But perfect soundness is a very small item in a perfect horse. What do you know of his powers, his stable-management, his constitution, his riding, his performances ? for whilst in your friend's hands he was not made the least of in a run over the mahogany. Add to all this that there is a certain consideration due to the feelings of a gentleman, which prevents that searching investigation and undeniable trial, so necessary on the buyer's side ; not but that an honest dealer has feelings to be respected too, but they are of a different kind. Besides, from the very nature of things, you go to the gentleman unsus
picious of fraud-half asleep, to say the least of it-and consequently too often deceive yourself ; but you go to the dealer's yard wide awake, and too sharp by half, very often, to buy the horse that would have suited you out of a million. Then comes the afterpiece ; suppose he turns out wrong, or you can't ride him. In the one case, two or three letters, beginning very affectionately and ending very punctiliously “My dear Sir” and “ Yours very faithfully,” never getting you a shilling of your money back, and invariably creating distrust and coldness between two good fellows, if not a downright quarrel. In the other case, all satisfactory and straightforward ; a written warranty, or a vet.'s opinion (wbich is not always worth much), a few short and decisive letters-on your part, at all events, distinctly containing what they mean-sale on a market hill, or a comfortable stand at livery, a return of the whole or part of the money, or an offer to take back and exchange on reasonable terms ; and if the worst comes to the worst, it's only a little law with someone you don't care about ; and we all know the dealers are sure to get the worst of it, and not you—but the lawyers the best. So stick to the legitimate trade, and avoid dealing with gentlemen, excepting under particular circumstances ; such as unavoidable absence, incapacity, broken thigh at the beginning of the season, young and timid bride, or infuriated mother-in-law with at least £60,000 in the funds at her own disposal; nothing short of something of this overpowering guarantee for safety should induce you to become the purchaser of your friend's best horse, as long as a dealer's yard remains open to your speculations. There is a way of buying horses, there is a way different from either; but, mind, I don't recommend it to you; for it requires natural powers of discrimination, a long head, and nice judgment. I mean of a farmer—a farmer's young'un, four, or even three years old. The first inquiry should be for pedigree, and mind you get it. A friend of mine went to buy a horse of a small dealer in one of the midland counties, and was much struck by the handsome appearance of a hunting-looking mare in foal. He was not long without a price being put upon the mare; and as the Belzoni blood was fashionable for hunters, there was no difficulty in finding a sire for the expected produce. “You're quite sure it was old Belzoni ?" Out came letters by the dozen, and curses and asseverations by the hundred. “Very well, if what you say is true, I'll take the mare; but if you were half up to your trade in buying as you are in lying, you would know, what I do, that Belzoni died just sixteen months ago." So much for pedigree ; but you must have one from a farmer; and try for the right one if you like the look of the young'un. Some of these have a good many (pedigrees, I mean), and then you can have which you like they are very useful for selling again.
The first consideration, after a close inspection of shape and make, and a pretty well-founded notion that the good points will be sufficiently developed to cover the bad, is as to your own capabilities. Have you nerve and hands? and, having these, can you tax your patience ? Can you school through the summer, and wait patiently upon hounds in the winter, without attempting a first-flight place? Will a second-class suit you, or even an honorary fourth? Can you leave a good place in a long thing for the sake of the young 'un, and turn your head towards