Page images

root, and sago, and, if Farmer Dale will add a fowl or two, it will make the old man comfortable until next Wednesday, when I will get Mr. Ramsay to drive me over to see him at his cottage.”

Frank Sewell promised to send a helper over with the fare, and took leave of me, but not before saying

“ Father has written to the Earl about a horse for you, Master Atherley ; for he will never rest satisfied until he gets you properly mounted.”

I now hastened to execute my commission ; and as Wyatt—who had been born and bred upon the estate-was an especial favourite with all classes, a most liberal contribution was made for him in the shape of flesh, fowl, wine, rice, and other nutritious condiments and buvables. The chaise was now at the door-a ricketty, rattling affair, with as much straw in it as would form a good stubble for a covey of partridges. No incident occurred upon the road ; and shortly after twelve o'clock, we drove up to the “ Willows,” where we were most kindly welcomed by Mrs. Ramsay and the blushing Ellen. The hours that I passed under the hospitable roof of my friends was one of the happiest period of my life. Emancipated from the control of my tutor, about to enter into the world as my own master, in constant intercourse with my charmer, can it be wondered that the moments glided rapidly away ? and when the day arrived that I was to return to Atherley Manor, I felt as if I had not been absent a tenth part of the time. Upon the evening previous to my intended departure, the subject of my future profession was again brought forward ; and although my young adviser, Ellen, had strongly urged me to adopt a peaceful employment, I could not help imagining, with all the enthusiasm of youth, that the artless girl would be proud to see my name enrolled among the defenders of the country. I therefore --having heard the advantages and disadvantages of a military over a naval life most freely discussed by two veteran friends of my host, both equally distinguished in their respective services-decided upon entering the army.

“As you have now, without any undue bias," said Mr. Ramsay, “made your selection, it will be gratifying for you to know that your father will entirely approve of the step. I have a letter from Lord Atherley, which only reached me this morning, saying that his old friend, General Havelock, has a vacancy in his regiment, and that he will strongly recommend you to the Commander-in-Chief for an appointment in it."

“And what regiment is it ?” anxiously inquired Ellen.

“The — th, one of the finest corps in the service; at least, so I am informed by Colonel Warburton,” responded the father ; “but here he is, to answer for himself.

The veteran who now entered the room, and whose loose right sleeve marked that he had been severely wounded in the service, was a brave soldier who had fought under Abercromby. Superannuated in consequence of illness brought on in pestilential climates, and by the loss of his arm, he now enjoyed a miserable pittance from the country he had so nobly served ; and although broken down by bodily infirmities, his mind still retained its power and vigour, After a friendly congratulation upon the choice I had made, the hearty colonel addressed me as follows

“You are very fortunate, indeed, to get your name down for so fine a regiment as my friend Havelock's. One battalion is on active service in Canada, and the other is at home. No corps in his Majesty's service, God bless him !”—Warburton was loyal to the back-bone-"has seen more service than the gallant --th, as their colours, which you are shortly destined to carry, will convince you."

" Canada ?” said Ellen, faintly,

“Yes, my bonnie lass,” responded the colonel ; “ wherever danger is, there will you find the 'invincibles,' as their brave commander used to call them."

A hectic flush mantled the cheek of the young girl, as she proceeded

“ But you say one battalion is in England ?"

“Oh, yes, my dear-I rather think at Portsmouth. The recruit will have to join there."

Then turning to me, he added, grasping my hand

“But you won't be your father's son if yon do not volunteer for active service as soon as you are sufficiently drilled to know the duties of an officer.”

Ellen's colour returned when she heard of my destination ; and, happily for her, the advice tendered me by the old soldier did not reach her ears.

“ I forgot to add,” said Mr. Ramsay, “ that Mr. Taylor is left in London by a cause in Chancery, affecting his brother's property ; and, as your father wishes you to commence as soon as possible your military duties, he suggests that you should remain here until his return home next month, placing yourself under the tuition of Sergeant Whittaker, of the Warwickshire Militia, now recruiting in Coventry.”

" Whittaker is a fine fellow," said the colonel. “ He served in Portugal and Spain, at Vimeira, Corunna, Busaco, Fuentes D'Onore, Ciudad Rodrigo, and was awfully wounded at Badajoz. He is a brave soldier, and an admirable drill.”

This conversation was interrupted by the announcement of supper ; for in the days I write of, people kept earlier hours than they do at present, and did not postpone their dinner till near bed-time.

Deeply interesting as the gallant exploits of the --th might have been to one inflamed with warlike ardour, I am ashamed to own that the feeling uppermost in my mind was to ascertain the colour of the facings and the lace of the regiment I was about to enter. My blooming Ellen seemed, from some secret degree of sympathy, to enter into my ideas ; for, upon taking my arm to lead her to the supper-room, she playfully said

“I hope the -th have a pretty uniform, and not those odious orange facings that the 35th have."

" You must ask Colonel Warburton,'' I replied ; "and the purse you have promised me shall be of the regimental colours."

No sooner had we taken our seats at table, than Ellen Ramsay made the necessary inquiry.

"Buff facings, my child,” responded the veteran, “and gold laceone of the neatest uniforms in the service. The buff always looks clean, and a little coloured pipe-clay renovates it if at all soiled.”

“ Then Ernest must have a watch-ribbon of that colour,” said Mrs. Ramsay; "and I commission you, my dear Ellen, to purchase him one.”

I ought here to remind my readers that gold chains and Albert-guards were not in fashion in the days when the third George reigned ; and a broad watered-silk ribbon was a necessary appendage to every gentleman's watch.

" And I will work Ernest a pair of muffatees and a purse," said the girl-"red and buff.”

“And I have a small silver flask, which was my constant companion in every campaign,” exclaimed the veteran, determined not to be outdone in generosity ; “I will have a buff cord attached to it, and present it to our young friend. I have saved many a poor fellow's life with a drop of spirit and water when he was lying wounded, with parched lips, on the field of battle."

"And what can I do?" inquired Mr. Ramsay. “But that is too weighty a matter to despatch so summarily ; so I must take time to consider. In the meantime, let me propose to you a toast and a sentiment ---Colonel Warburton and the British Army; may Gallantry and Humanity go hand-in-hand together."

The veteran rose to return thanks, modestly alluding to his own services, and throwing out hints for a young officer's conduct in barrack and the field. He concluded by proposing a bumper toast to the health of the new aspirant for military glory.

I pass over the remainder of this delightful evening—this “bright, bright spot in memory's waste.” The mornings now were devoted to drill; and the rest of my time I passed with Ellen Ramsay, talking over dreams of happiness that were never doomed to be realized. One day I had walked with her into Coventry rather earlier than usual ; and as we approached the Town Hall, I saw Sergeant Whittaker in close conversation with the corporal of another regiment, to whom he was evidently pointing me out. Three country lads, with red and buff ribbons in their hats, attracted my attention ; and I was about to cross over the street, to ascertain to what regiment they had enlisted, when both the non-conmissioned officers drew up, and formally saluted me, making the “clods” stand at “attention”—which they did by turning their toes in, giggling at one another, and pulling their forelock down with a nod like a Chinese mandarin.

“Would you like to see the Gazette, sir ?" asked the well-trained disciplinarian, in a tone so different from that in which he usually addressed me that I could not make out the reason for the sudden change. I looked at him in the hopes of an explanation, when, instead of treating me as a boy, and calling me Master Ernest, he continued—“ Perhaps, Mr. Atherley, you would like to dispense with this morning's drill-you have probably received a letter from the Horse Guard ?”

This was all Greek to me ; for I had received no communication, nor was I in expectation of any. The mystery was shortly afterwards dissolved by Ellen, whose quick eye had glanced over the newspaper the sergeant had given me, and who, at the first sight of it, saw that I was gazetted to the -- th regiment.

“Corporal Stallard belongs to your corps, Ensign Atherley,” said Whittaker ; "he has just enlisted some fine young fellows for it."

Again the corporal saluted me, and in return I made some commonplace remark ; when, being anxious to convey the unexpected intelligence to Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay, and to receive the official document from the Commander-in-Chief's department, I availed myself of the proposition of my military preceptor for a holiday. Just as we reached the * Willows,' we were met by the hospitable owner of it, bearing in his hand a large packet, directed to me as Ensign the Honourable Ernest Atherley, with “ On His Majesty's Service" in conspicuous letters. I tore open the paper, and found it to contain my commission, made out on parchment, and signed by the king himself. To adopt a popular phrase-this was one of the proudest moments of my life ; for although I had expected in due course of time to receive my appointment, I did not anticipate it at so early a period. After the warmest congratulations upon all sides, I proposed to Ellen that we should walk over to Colonel Warburton's, to inform him of the circumstance. The gallant veteran cordially shook me by the hand, and placing his spectacles before his eyes, now dimmed with age and infirmity, he pored over the Gazette, making comments upon the names of all those he was personally acquainted with, or whose services had been conspicuous.

"I congratulate you, my dear boy,” said he-“Ensign Atherley, I mean. I see Colonel Douglas has been appointed to your regiment. I thought he would not be satisfied to remain in inactivity long ; he is one of the best officers in his Majesty's service-you could not be under a finer fellow.”

I expressed my delight, when Warburton continued

“Douglas's late regiment is in the East Indies. I knew honest 'Jock' would soon effect an exchange: I heard as much last week, from an old comrade. You are, indeed, fortunate to have got into so good a regiment, and under so excellent an officer."

"Upon the following morning, I tried to “ pump the drill-sergeant as to the character of the corps and the major then in temporary command ; but I could elicit nothing, except that the ---th bore the highest reputation, and that the major had been brought up in a good school. Sergeant Whittaker was too discreet a soldier to speak disrespectfully of his superiors, or he might have told me a tale that would have taken much from the delight I then experienced at the prospect of joining my regiment. He concluded, however, by assuring me that Colonel Monteith, then in Canada with the first battalion, and Colonel Douglas, lately gazetted to the second, were “men of the most unblemished honour, and that they were respected and loved by all ranks, from the field-officers down to the drummer-boy. This intelligence delighted me not a little ; and I now not only felt happy at belonging to so distinguished a regiment, but had even a greater gratification when I thought of my uniform. I had quite satisfied my mind that scarlet, buff, and gold were the most tasteful and harmonious of colours ; and if I had required any further proof of it, it would have been found in the effect produced upon the aesthetic sensibilities of milliners' apprentices and maid-servants by Corporal Stallard, of “ours," when in his Sunday guise he strutted up and down the High-street, the “ observed of all observers."

(To be continued.)




Henry George Francis Reynolds Moreton, Baron Ducie and Moreton, of Tortworth and Woodchester, in the county of Gloucester, was born in the spring of 1802, and succeeded his father as Earl of Ducie in 1840; having married, in 1826, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Lord Sherborne, by whom he has a numerous family. The Ducies, according to “ The Peerage,” are no new creation ; for they run directly back to the times of our first Charles, when one Sir Robert Ducie, a banker, and Lord Mayor of London, had his loyalty and devotion to the luckless monarch taxed at a high price-losing, it is said, eighty thousand pounds in his support of the king's fortunes. The title, however, was not made out sooner than 1720, the second adopted, according to usage, by the heir of the house, being acquired by marriage with the Moretons, a family of long standing at Moreton, in Staffordshire.

The above gives us the pedigree of a nobleman who for upwards of twelve seasons figured not only as a master of hounds, but also as their huntsman. The sport the Lord Moreton of those times showed during his management will not soon be forgotten in the Vale of White Horse ; nor, indeed, the style and pluck with which he kept to it so long as health allowed him. Commencing as a M. F. H. early in life, so far back in fact as 1830, Lord Ducie continued to hunt his country up to 1843. The reputation he here acquired as a straight-forward sportsman would scarcely require any great detail or lengthened comment had we not fortunately an estimate ready at hand from the very highest authority. Poor Nimrod, during one of the very last tours he made (in 1839) took Lord Ducie's (or as he was then Lord Moreton's) establishment in his round of inspection ; and we gladly avail ourselves of a few extracts that could not come more appropriate than they will in con: junction with the portrait we give.

Take his lordship, first of all, as Nimrod himself did, that is as a rider to hounds, here we have it just to the point :

“ Of Lord Moreton's own style of riding I need not trouble myself to say much were I merely addressing sportsmen who hunt in the midland counties, inasmuch as to such it is well known. I believe no man ever travelled more straight to hounds than he has done, and occasionally too straight, the consequence of short-sightedness, which is a great disadvantage to any one who takes a lead. For example, he once rode at a wall on the other side of which was a stone-quarry, which was nearly proving his grave. His horse was killed on the spot, and himself only saved by having recourse to that presence of mind which becomes habitual to persons frequently exposed to danger. But his lordship's sang froid on the occasion was, as the Badminton groom would say, • extraordinary above a bit !' He first shouted out Ware quarry!' to those who might be coming his line; and looking at his horse and finding him dead, merely called to one of the whips, and said, Give me your horse, Jack,' proceeding at once to his hounds, which were running hard at the time. Unfortunately for his stable, this horse was

« PreviousContinue »