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Mr. concerned in the blide on cartzatue whicks on
who daily finds himself so seated as a matter of course, but with the vulgar and hateful presumption which looks on poverty as dishonour, and wealth the one and only virtue which enables man to mount the ladder of distinction here on earth, and, for all he believed to the contrary, to attain the bliss of heaven hereafter ; and, as far as the earth was concerned, he was not far wrong. In fact, in the estimation of Mr. Snareall, the man wanting money-however exalted his talents, his virtues, or even his rank-unless he possessed an actual title which had a value, was nobody, and ought not to encumber the earth with his presence. And in like manner, all human beings rose in his estimation in exact proportion to their worldly wealth. Money was his idol ; to make it, his daily occupation ; to increase it, his hourly thoughthis nightly dream! He had, in fact, but one object in life ; in plain language—the surest and quickest way of turning a shilling into a guinea. A lord was only a lord to him if wealth was attached to the coronet. A woman-however fair in person or refined in mind - a mere animal of household necessity, to order or cook dinners, and receive or wait on company--save that she had wealth, and then she was an angel. The fairest landscape was to him a desert, if the lands on which he looked were of little value per acre, or the glorious woods unfitted for the axe. Sportsmen were mere savages, who expended money on expensive and evanescent pastimes, instead of converting that money by usury into more ; sporting, in its practical sense, a joy unknown to him, save the sporting with people's feelings to his own advantage ; horses, mere animals to assist the labours, not the pleasures, of man; dogs, created brutes to guard the house from the midnight burglars, or to tend the flocks.
Such was the individual who presumed, thus unsolicited, to seat himself in a chair, which, from generation to generation, had been handed down in the family at Brooklands, and wherein the highest in the land in birth, and mind, and virtue, had felt proud to find themselves. As the Squire of Brooklands entered, and thus courteously addressed him, he scarcely rose.
“Good morning, sir! I would hope that I have not kept you waiting. To what may I be indebted for the pleasure of your visit-magisterial business, I conclude ; or are you desirous to add to my stud? If so, I may as well tell you at once that my stable is tolerably full at this moment."
“Neither the one or the other,” replied Mr. Snareall, only half rising from his well-cushioned chair ; “neither the one or the other. I know nothing whatsomover of an, 'orse, save that those in the London cabs, poor brutes, are rarely up to the work required of them, considering the price charged for conveyance ; and as for magisterial business, I am a Londoner, who arrived last night by mail, and was put down at the side of Low Bottom Lane, where I had to walk with my bag on my shoulder half an hour in the mud and dark to the “ Western Arms," improperly termed an inn, there to obtain a bad bed and a worse chop, for which I shall possibly have to pay high.”
“ Well, sir, pardon me, it will teach you this lesson in future : When next you come into Gloucestershire, ask for some eggs and bacon, or ham and eggs, and a quart of home-brewed, instead of a chop and sherry, and you will be well served for a little outlay. And now, what
may be your business? Is it of dog or horse—mead or woodland ? We are plain, and, I trust, honest people in these parts—respecting men for their virtues, and, as I hope, pitying and pardoning their errors ; loving nature for nature's sake, and even dumb brutes for their affection to man. So fear not my faithful companion, though he certainly does not look pleased to-day.”
This had reference to the noble deer-hound I have already named, who, having followed his master into the library, was apparently illpleased with the manner of the visitor, from some cause or other, derived from instinct.
"A splendid animal, is he not, Mr. Snareball ?”
“Snareall, at your command. He is a very fine brute, indeed ; but I am little accustomed to the canine race. Moreover, so large a creature as this would be insupportable in a metropolitan residence ; anddown you—ladies' lap-dogs, squire"- and this with some vulgar familiarity " are bad enough. But I cannot abide big creatures like this. What a vast quantity of victuals fit for human beings he must consume. In fact, the dumb species are not particularly to my taste.”
"Nor the talking ones to mine," the noble animal appeared to say, as with his brilliant eyes he first looked fondly on his master ; and then turning towards Mr. Snareal), appeared to say—“Only give me a chance, that's all, and would not I shake the breath out of your body for speaking so disparagingly of our race."
While the squire, taking up the cudgels on behalf of his favourite hound, exclaimed, with some ire
“ Dumb creatures ! Dumb brutes, as you term them-yet not in the sense you use the word-I fancy. Dumb creatures! Why, the two homely words convey an appeal to our protection and pity. Dumb creatures are in their love so faithful, so patient in their sufferings, so submissive under wrong, so powerless for remonstrance or redress, that we take their parts against the human brutes, their oppressors, as naturally as was it a positive duty. I am not sure that I do not carry my sympathy still further. But I see, sir, you do not go with me ; I therefore ask your forbearance that I should have commenced a conversation in which, doubtless, you are little interested, and, consequently, have wearied you. So, once more, let me say-now to business. To what am I indebted for this early visit ?"
" Why, squire, I will be as frank and as brief as possible," said the little man in black, who, though he boasted of no tail, must have belonged to the Nick family ; for, as he arose from his soft-cushioned chair, his little sharp eyes appeared to glisten as those of a lawk about to strike his enemy. “I come not from myself, or of myself, though I am, literally speaking, here myself, but from that highly respectable tree, or firm, of Bagall, Payne, and Snareall, of which I am the junior, though, I would hope, not the least important link.”
"Oh, a lawyer-a lawyer are you?” said my good old parent, who was then little accustomed to the profession would he had never known. ,
“ Yes, sir, I have the honour to belong to that useful and dignified profession. So I may at once proceed to inform you, that we three A.-A.-L's—which readeth attorney's-at-law-were setting together, a few nights' since after office-hours, over a boiled bone and a sneaker."
"A sneaker !"' exclaimed my governor, “and what may that be ?"
“Why, squire, a sneaker-did you never hear it called by that name? Well, to explain : in city phraseology it meaneth nothing more or less than a stiff glass-with or without, hot or cold-of cognac, rum, or ginuines, as may be according to taste, with just sufficient aqua puraor, in nature's terms, hard water-to extinguish the fire, but not the aroma, of the alcohol. So thus the sneaker-so called from the peculiarly mild yet extremely agreeable manner with which it ripples down the throat, most agreeably exciting the palate as also the senses of man - a broiled bone, or a rasher such as you recently alluded to, or even a crust and a piece of Cheshire, and an onion from its mother earth, are most undeniably sociable accompaniments to exciting the mind to more than ordinary powers, and assisting digestion to a most extraordinary degree ; indeed, I most strongly suggest and recommend a nocturnal sneaker, with the accompanying little agreeable et-ceteras I have named, to your honoured self in particular, and to the whole Brookland establishment in general, not even forgetting the female branch of your household, who, if they differ not from the young women who are bred and born within sound of St Paul's, are above all the human race most addicted to sneakers and young onions.”
“I feel highly obliged for your suggestion ; but pray proceed with your business."
“Well, sir, to continue. We lawyers are a practical species given little to writing ; our clerks make our bills of cost, spoil parchment, and issue writs. But as I was saying, Bagall, Payne, and your humble servant were enjoying a little physical as well as mental recreation after the labours of the day, when our good waiting-maid, Matilda, entered the room, and placed on the table that friend to mankind and the people of England in particular, known to all the reading and unreading world—the Times. Well, squire, the Times lay there on the mahogany, when Payne—whom we term the dirty-work Co., that is, a right straightforward, sharp, legal adviser, who never says die, but go-a-head and get all, and beggar your neighbour, what's the odds ? his money or his coat or his life, it is all the same in the end ; in fact, a regular out-and-outer in the way of practical business-having placed his third empty tumbler on the table, and crossed his slippered feet on the fender, suggested a trifle of the news. “News !' exclaimed Bagall, finishing his sneaker, and taking up the paper, 'news !-why, by St. George, the Grand Broad Gauge have got their bill to Bath and Bristol, and contemplate a branch right through the Vale of Brooklands to the good old city of Gloucester.'”
“The devil they have," said Mr. Western ; " then I'll be hanged if they touch my land.”
“Pardon me, sir, pardon me I said projecting, not projected ; nothing is decided, in fact.”
“And never will be, while I am owner of this property."
“ The Parliament House of Commons are a powerful, and, oft-times, a self-willed body of the Legislature ; so it is impossible to say what may or may not occur, events and time only can explain. Bagall, however, with keen perception of advancing times, and a still keener head for the main chance, seeing the possible, nay probable, intention of the Broad Gauge directors, has, or rather is desirous of, giving them the go-by ; so we three--that is the Co., Bagall, Payne, and self-put our heads together over another sneaker with,' squire-yes, obserye me, 'with,' squiremand, ere the night waned, it forcibly occurred to us that something might accrue to our respectable firm, if, leaving the Great Gauge to project, we should proceed at once to business, and get up a line ourselves. This great question unanimously agreed on, we retired, and slept soundly on the subject ; and the next morning, after a substantial breakfast, having in no manner deviated from the previous night's decision, we requested the opinion of Mr. Hawkseye, R.E., the celebrated engineer, who without hesitation took up a map of the county, and with broad-nibbed pen laid down a narrow-gauged line which will run right through the east end of your park, sweeping away, I regret to be obliged to notice, one of your lodges and sundry fine old oaks, passing, I very much fear, through the centre of your breeding paddocks, but putting several thousand pounds into your pocket. This settled, Bagall drew up a prospectus with much intelligence and conciseness, selecting in his imagination--and forwarding to the printer with an assurance of their acquiescence-several influential names, among whom you number as a director of course adding those of the firm as legal advisers, Hawkseye as engineer, and Dick Sawdust, Graball's wife's cousin, as secretary, This speedily arranged, we dined together at Richmond--turtle, turbot, venison, a few extra trifles, chateau-margot, and so forth-naturally putting the outlay down to the account of the company to be a mere trifle-nine thirteen-including waiters and sneakers. And here I am as county inspector-general, canvasser, and inquirer soother of landlords and so forth, at your command.
As I heard my dear old parent subsequently admit, in his first moment of anger he could scarcely refrain from taking up the poker and beating the rascal's brains out, and then lie laughed, and added, that his skull might have been too thick and hard even for a poker; and then he bethought himself to throw him out of window, but that might have injured Mary's flower-beds ; or have kicked him out of the room. But Squire Western was a gentleman—which comprises innumerable excellencies and noble feelings ; moreover, he was benevolence and gentle courteousness to excess. So he commanded himself in a great measure, only exclaiming
• Then, sir, whatever you may call yourself, the sooner you return to your insolent employers the better. Tell them, that for three hundred years my ancestors have lived respected at Brooklands, loved by their neighbours and friends, and respected by their tenants, without law or lawyers, engineers or railways ; that hitherto I have considered an Englishman's house his castle ; and if any of your people put a foot on my land, my servants will have orders summarilly to eject themeither over the gates or into the lake. It is not my custom to treat a stranger with discourtesy or inhospitality; therefore, I beg you will take refreshment and then the sooner you leave Brooklands the better. And, mark me! should my name appear in print as a director of your scheme, hateful as law is to me, I will sell my whole estate rather than not effectually punish you. So take warning. And now excuse me, Mr. Bagall, Payne, or Snareall-whichever you may think fit to call yourself, as a member of so respectable a firm-I am going to Low Bottom Copse with my dogs, to look for cocks-better pastime, I imagine, than concocting railways.”
CHAPTER XVII. “Going to Low Bottom Copse with his dogs, to look for cocks !" sneeringly exclaimed Snareall, as the squire left the library ; " going to Low Bottom-devil! Degenerate human nature-vulgar sporting habits—wading through mud and mire, wood and brake, to kill a few harmless birds, which can be bought for money in the market, and this is termed sport! Alas! what frivolity and weakness at the very moment I come to offer thousands for the making a mere footpath through his property! Poor benighted old man ! his tastes are sufficiently displayed on these walls. IIere a mare with a foal by her foot by ?-that picture alone would fetch hundreds ; and another, a sporting piece by Incedars, doubtless valued at another thousand, and so on. Alas, what little reverence for marketable money! were they mine, how soon would I convert them into cash. No wonder such people submit to be taxed-taxed ! and so they ought to be, that we, the working bees in the great hive of life, may live. They have means to feast, hunt, shoot, and sleep ; but such men as Bagall, Payne, and Snareall never sleep; or, if they do, it is with one eye open, like the Bristolians.' No, they are ever wide awake while money can be extracted from the pockets of their fellowcreatures !"
Would that Bagall had been bagged himself ere he or his Co., Mr. Snareall, ever crossed the threshold of dear old Brooklands. Payne would have caused us all less suffering in after years. As it was, at the moment Mr. Snareall went his way, fuming and fretting, and wondering how any one could be so great a simpleton as to pass his time in wasting powder and riding to hounds while thousands were to be had for the mere asking, we two then merry sporting boys, being soon joined by the governor, walked briskly away that fair winter's morning to the most celebrated spot in all the vale for cocks. Scarcely had we reached it, than-whir - whir--bang
“ A. miss, by St. Hubert! I was thinking of that confounded lawyer and his insolence. Ten thousand pounds for what? - to drive a roaring, tearing, steam-engine right through my home park, and destroy all the privacy of happy Brooklands ? No, no-never while I live."
Whir-whir-bang again! How now, another miss! And yet he was reckoned the best shot of the county.
“Hang me, but this fellow has unnerved me with his confounded railways. But come, boys, I will kill the next for a crown."
And so he did, and another, and another, till the short winter's day closed, and once more a happy family party we sat around a blazing hearth at the old hall at home. Dinner over-as was occasionally the custom on cock-shooting days, when we were alone—the old keeper was directed to attend, bringing with him, on a sort of large wicker-work tray, the produce of the day's sport. This was a matter of enjoyment no$ only to Arty as myself, but while Mary loved to handle the birds, even my dear mother would sometimes, though calmly, enter into our joys, in her delight at witnessing the health and spirits we gained by being constantly in air and exercise. Moreover, the aged keeper was a character in these days rarely met with ; as fit a subject, in physical bearing, for the display of talent in an artist, as were his many excellences as a servant and eccentricities as a man, for the pen. Mine, I