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I say copy King Henry to obviate that,
Nor depend that some friend
Will always attend,
They then may pay off
In kind any scoff,
T. I. Tappington Everard,
díay, 25, 1845.
BY THE AUTHOR OF “ PETER PRIGGINS," &c.
Like Atlas, he carries his weight.
CHAP. I. “Tom CHANTER was an independent man and a great steeple-chaser, he_”
“Stop-just stop a minute, my friend. I am a matter-of-fact man, and like to have every thing defined logically before I listen to a story. What do you mean by an independent man? A person unhung-that is -not dependent, or one of the sectarians, who call themselves independents ?" · Bah,” said I, “ don't, now don't,
don't." “Well then, never mind that part of your story; but I must know what
you mean by a steeple-chaser, or I shall be in a mist all night ?” said my
tormentor. “A steeple, as my dictionary tells me, is the spire At a Quarter Sessions held at Sandwich (some six miles from Birchington) on Tuesday the 8th of April last, before W. F. Boteler, Esq., the recorder, Thomas Jones, mariner, aged 17, was tried for stealing a jacket, value ten shillings. The jury, after a patient hearing, found him “Not Guilty,” and “recommended him to mercy.” See the whole case reported in the Kentish Observer, April 10, 1845.
of a church; and a chaser, from the French chasseur, is one who hunts wild animals. Now steeple-chaser, being, a compounded word, must mean a man who chases a part of a church.”
“ Now, do not be so absurd,” said I. “A steeple-chaser is one who would fain keep a race-horse, only he cannot afford it, and would enter him for the Derby or any other great stake. He would also like to hunt three days weekly at Melton, or in any other locality with a spicy pack, but he cannot muster the dibs. Being thus prevented by the res angusta domi from entering into his favourite pursuits, he enters into a composition with himself and keeps an out-and-outer, on which he can manage to meet a neighbouring pack now and then, and draw
himself the attention of the field by "going straight' at every thing in his way. Thus he brings himself into notoriety, and, being invited to dine with a few friends to fox-hunting,' plausibly expresses his regret that he cannot afford to subscribe to the pack and hunt regularly; but, as he loves sport, offers to back himself and his nag over four miles of the queerest country that can be picked out, against any gentleman (or gentlemen) who has courage enough-pluck is his word—to compete with him. Hé is generally either an officer on half pay, a sort of gentleman-farmer, a livery-stable-keeper, combining the retail of nag-selling, or a nondescript-a man who lives nobody knows how, but chiefly on horseback. Now and then it happens that he is a sporting Æsculapian, or publican, or a ruined-by-a-railway-coachman. He succeeds in making up a match and bets heavily upon
the result." “Yes, yes, I begin to see what you mean. My butcher and my dairymen are both sporting men-I see-you may go on with your tale, fearless of any further interruption from me,” said my tormentor.
“ Well then, Tom Chanter was an independent man, and a great steeple-chaser. He was married, had a child or two, and lived in a neat cottage not very far from Windsor. Who Mrs. Chanter was before she became Tom's wife nobody knew for certain. A whisper went abroad that he had met with her on board a Margate steamer, on her way to fulfil an engagement in the theatre of that cockneyfied washing-place, and had paid the forfeit for her non-appearance on the boards. Who Tom Chanter himself was, was also a matter of speculation. Nobody knew exactly; but as he paid ready money for every thing, kept a buggy and a pheayton, and gave dinners to some heavy swells in the sporting line,' he was looked upon as a gentleman. One fact was observed, and observed upon by the gossips about Tom's pretty cottage; no females visited him, except when the Windsor Theatre was open for the season. Then, and then only, was Mrs. Tom visited by ladies, who took an early dinner, and left before the clock struck six.
“ Another event observed, and observed upon by the same gossips, was that Tom, and Mrs. Tom, and all the little Toms, and Tom's servants, never went to church or meeting on a Sunday. Indeed, it was an undisputed thing that Tom had an ordinary at two every Sunday. Some ten or twelve men came down by the one o'clock train, and took two flies to Tom's cottage, and after dinner, sojourned or adjourned, whichever the reader pleases, to a meadow at the back of the cottage, and there amused themselves, as they smoked their cigars, with looking at a splendid horse which Tom's groom rode round the aforesaid meadow, first at a walk, then at a trot, next at a canter, and finally at a gallop. Then he put him over the leaping-bar, backwards and forwards; after which the whole party retired to the cottage, having previously pulled out, each, a little red bound book, and entered some remarks on its page or pages. Flies were ready to convey them to Slough in time for the nine o'clock up-train, which were not fitted for the entrance of people with delicate olfactories—they smelt so very powerfully of tobaccosmoke.
" During the week, Tom Chanter often ran up to London and stayed the night, and now and then had a few friends down to a grand spread on week-days, after which the night was generally spent over the card or dice-tables, and the players did not retire to bed at all, but, all unshaven and unshorn, started for town by the earliest train. But, geDerally speaking, Tom's days for entertaining his friends were limited to Sundays.
“* In his inimediate neighbourhood, Tom's visits to acquaintances were few and far between. His greatest country ally was a sporting butcher, who kept a few crack greyhounds, and him he met at the house of a sporting innkeeper, who obligingły lent them his company and the use of a little bar-parlour, elegantly filled with prints on all sorts of sporting subjects, not omitting fac-similes of the most striking characters of the day—the members of the prize-ring, or, begging their pardon, the members of the P. C., that is, Pugilistic Club.
“ Tom Chanter, now and then, had a day with the royal buck-hounds. He turned out exceedingly spicy on those occasions, and, although he invariably appeared with a cigar between his teeth, his appointments, boots, buckskins, hat, and gloves, were so good, and his pig-skin and snaffle-bridle of so excellent a cut and fit, you might really have mistaken him for a “real nob, that is, if he kept his mouth shut, which, as he was very wide awake, he generally did, unless he could make a pound or two by opening it.
“ Tom was a good rider, and Nature had kindly favoured him with a scarcity of flesh, so that he rode under eleven stone, including his saddle and bridle. He generally got a good place and kept it. It was in his favour that, unlike a man really fond of hunting, he did not care a farthing whether he saw the hounds or not, so that he took the lead of the 'real nobs,' and kept it, until his horse began to show signs of distress; then, as it was his only one, he wisely threw a shoe, or met with some other accident which compelled him to pull up, and leave those who had 'saddled (more than one) white Surrey for the field,' to pursue the chase until the deer was taken, or they were glad to cry, Hold, enough.'
“ In one of these days with the Queen's,' 'Tom Chanter had a bad fall— like Humpty-Dumpty, of whom we were told in our childhood. He was leading the field, and seeing a strong oaken paling park-fence before him, just put his beard on his shoulder, as the Spaniard has it, to see how his immediate followers liked the look of it. A glimpse showed him that no signs of trepidation were visible on their visages, and that if he meant to keep his enviable position, he must run his horse at the paling. In went the spurs, rowels deep, into the flanks of his noble steed. Three vigorous bounds, and a spring into the air, brought the horse and his rider over safely ; but, alas! within a few feet of the palings was an old gravel-pit, of whose existence Tom was not aware, until it showed itself to his astonished and alarmed view after he had eleared the fence, and was within a few feet of its edge. He pulled as bard as he was able to check the progress of his horse, but the space was too small to enable him to do so effectually. Horse and rider rolled into the pit, and, unfortunately for the rider, the horse was uppermost. The field swept gallantly past — there was not a single good Samaritan amongst ihem-and Tom might have lain there and died, had not some countrymen, who were doing their best to see as much of the royal hunt as they could on foot, come up and relieved him from the superincumbent weight of his horse.
“ Tom got up, shook his limbs seriatim, and having found that nothing was broken, quietly examined his horse with the like satisfactory result. He then pulled out his cigar-case; and a bit of amadu or tinder, lighted it, gave the snobs' a sovereign to drink his health with, mounted, and rode calmly home. But, though no bones had been broken, Tom Chanter was confined to his house for a month, and was very shy of a park-paling ever afterwards.
“Mrs. Chanter was very glad when the hunting season approached its close, as she fondly thought that her dear Tom would be safe for some six months at least; but in this hope she was disappointed, as will be seen in
CHAP. II. “Dolly, my duckling," said Tom, addressing his wife, "you must get us rather a spicy spread for the day after next. I expect a few nobs to dine at seven purcise."
“ Londoners or denizens of the country ?” asked Mrs. Chanter, in theatrical tones and manner.
“A mixture, my duckling—but all real nobs without any mistake.” “ Salmon and lamb of course."
“Of course,” said Tom, “ with spicy soups and a salad, and every thing cummyfo."
"Must we hire an occasional ?" inquired Dolly, alluding to a travelling waiter.
“By no means, my duckling; our Sam will enlist the slaveys, who will come with the swells, to assist him. It's more nobby to do it in that fashion than to have a fellow in black clothes and a white neckcloth and gloves, whom half the party will know, and the other half mistake for a methodist parson,” said Tom.
“ We must hire an extra cook," said Mrs. Tom.
“By all means-no harm in that-she won't come on,' as you stage people call it, in the dining-room scene.”
“What else should you like?-made dishes of course ?”
“ I leave all to you, Dolly; you know how to do the thing as is handsome--so do it never stop to reckon the expense-give the cook her head, and let her go at any thing she pleases. Let it cost what it will, I'll bet the long odds I make it pay.”
Mrs. Tom Chanter, having thus received carte blanche, set about procuring a professed cook and the best materials she could for a firstrate dinner, and succeeded so well, that her husband's friends, one and all, pronounced it a slap-up affair. She heard these praises that were bestowed on her exertions from the servants, for she was not one of the party who sat down to the dinner. It was a man's party, and she was not expected to make her appearance until tea and coffee had been rung for.
That event did not "come off” until nearly twelve o'clock, and, when she was introduced in form to Captain Bobsby of the —th, Lieutenant Jackson of the —th, the Honourable Slapsby Foremost, and some five or six more, perfect strangers to her, they all appeared to her to have glass eyes, and to be much troubled with the hiccups and the staggersthey could scarcely speak or walk steadily.
As the card-tables were set out ready for playing, Mrs. Tom was not much troubled to entertain the nobs, who preferred taking their coffee at the card-table, where they were soon deeply engaged in the mysteries of whist; but this scientific game was quickly voted a bore, and exchanged for the more gambling and less thought-demanding game of blindhookey. Then it was, when this change of games was carried nem. cor, that Tom, winking at Mrs. Tom, told her that she need not stay, unless she liked it, and ordered broiled bones with et ceteras at two purcisely.
Mirs. Tom took the hint and retired, but made her appearance at the same time as the supper-tray. She might as well have been elsewhere; for, after the first few little attentions had been shown ber, which are usually manifested towards ladies who condescend to sit down with gentlemen to a late supper, she was regarded as a mere cipher, except when any body wanted a rational excuse for calling for a glass of champagne; then a mere stiff nod, intended for a bow, preceded the absorption of the sparkling beverage, and broiled bones beat the lady in their attraccations, “ by chalks.”
Before the et ceteras-which meant cigars and spirituous accompaniments—succeeded the broiled bones and other relishes, Mrs. Tom was enlightened as to her husband's motives in inviting a party of strangers and treating them so munificently.
“Let me see,” said Captain Bobsby; “Mr. Chanter, I have four ponies to one with you, the field against your bay and Slapsby's gray ?”
“Quite right, captain,” said Tom, consulting his betting book.
“And I go two ponies," said the Honourable Slapsby Foremost, "on my gray against your bay?”
“Quite right,” said Tom.
“I stand a cool hundred with you that the four miles are not done under thirteen minutes ?” said Lieutenant Jackson.
“Quite right again,” said Tom.
Several other bets were referred to, and Tom, after an examination of his red book, pronounced them “ quite right.”
" Are you going to race your bay ?" inquired Mrs. Chanter.
“No-madam-no,” stammered out Captain Bobsby. “We're going to try him across the country.” "A steeple-chase, madam,” said Slapsby Foremost.
“A steeplechase with gentlemen jocks-that is, every man rides his own horse."
“Isn't it rather dangerous ?” said Mrs. Chanter, looking fondly at her spouse, and calling to mind his late narrow escape.
“ Not if you can ride and are lucky,” said Jackson. “I have known a few smashed in time.”
“Dolly, my love” (Tom never called her duckling before company), "good night-don't trouble my friends to illuminate you. I will tell you all about it purcisely by and by. No-there-don't put the cards up, I will take care of them before I retire to bed.”
It was about six in the morning when that “erent came off.” Tom