L O I T E R E R.
"Speak of us as we are."
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR,
And sold by C. S. RANN, OXFORD;
Messr. EGERTONS, Whitehall, LONDON; Messrs. PEARSON
And POLLASON, BIRMINGHAM; Mr. W. MEYLER, Grove,
BATH; AND Messrs. COWSLADE and SMART, READING.
L O I T E R E R.
SATURDAY, April 11, 1789.
Digito monstrari et dicier, hic est.
THE English Nation have been long celebrated among foreigners for their remarkable eagerness in the chase, and the extraordinary pitch of perfection to which they have brought that amusement. Nor is this pre-eminence, however meritorious, in the least wonderful; since the whole arcana of sporting are now so completely laid open, in the poetry of Somerville, and the prose of Beckford, that our country Squires no longer wander about in the errors of uncertain practice, but can make their casts with regular exactness, and kill their foxes in the most systematic manner. — But there is a species of hunting, which, though little known out of the precincts of the University, is yet very much practised in it; and which, if it yields in point of health and exercise to fox, and even to hare–hunting, has in some respects the advantage over both; as it is in season all the year round, is interrupted neither by the frosts of December, nor the winds of March; and far from being an expensive amusement, is frequently found to be extremely profitable to its pursuers. —I doubt not but the greater part of my readers are by this time convinced that I allude to the diversion of Tuft-hunting; which has been so long and so successfully practiced in this place, that I am rather surprised never to have met with any treatise on the subject, laying down a competent number of rules to direct and assist the young and unexperienced, in attaining a proper proficiency in this art. - But as this species of hunting seems to have escaped the observation of the above-mentioned authors, I have for some time projected a long and elaborate work on this subject; at once so copious and so close, so replete with general remarks, enforced by particular examples, that my readers must by very inattentive or very dull, if they are not in a little time as clever at myself. —But as the above book, from the nature of its subject, must take up a great deal of time, I have been induced, in the interim, to draw up the following short, but excellent rules, suited to the comprehension of all readers, and applicable to the demands of every emergency; and which, I flatter myself, will be as useful and as much read as Ten Minutes advice to Horsemen, or Bob Short's Rules for Whist. —Reserving, therefore, a fuller investigation of the subject to the work alluded to, I shall here content myself with making a few general remarks, on the nature of the game pursued, the likeliest places for finding it, and the best method of pursuing it when found. —And it is here proper to be remembered, that, though there are some points in which the hunting I speak of resembles both fox and hare–hunting; yet, in others, it is totally unlike either. To exemplify in a very principal point. An early hour is recommended by Mr. Beckford, and allowed by all fox-hunters to be most favourable to their amusement: and yet I have been assured by very experienced Hunters of Tufts, that they never threw off earlier than twelve, and had often very great sport at a much later hour. With regard to the likeliest places to find in, much depends on the time of year, and the time of day; but in general it may be observed, that Livery-stables and Billiard-rooms in the forenoon, and Port-meadow and the High-street of an evening, are usually esteemed the likeliest places (or in the language of sportsmen, the best lodging) for game of this kind; and if you draw all those places well, I will venture to insure you from having many blank days. If, however, the above-mentioned places should fail, it may be sometimes necessary, as a dernier resource, to try their own rooms; but it has been observed that those Tufts, who take much to laying in such places, are of a cowardly nature, and seldom shew good sport.
The method of hunting them comes next to be considered; which requires indeed as much activity and caution, as large a quantity of resolution and perseverance, as any fox chace whatever. —You are not only to press them hard at first, and keep as close as possible to them afterwards, but must also be careful never to head or turn them back; for though a Tuft be a very simple animal, he is at times a very obstinate one too, and any endeavour to make him go the way he does not chuse to go, might be fatal to your sport; it being well known that a Tuft (when once suffered to get away from you) is scarcely ever recovered again. —Before I conclude these loose hints, I must also mention a circumstance, which it will perhaps require all the credit I have with my readers to make them believe, and which I assure them is nevertheless literally true. Every one has, doubtless, been informed, that the beaver (when closely pressed by the hunters, and when all escape seems impossible) has been known to leave behind him that part of his body for which he knows he is pursued; and thus, by sacrificing a little, save the rest. The creature I have been describing imitates him in this very point. For it is not only a fact, that they are often obliged to make very valuable deposits for the benefit of their pursuers; particularly when driven into taverns and coffee-houses, from whence there would be otherwise no escape; but I am informed that (mirabile dictil) commissions in the army, and even presentations to livings, have been dropped from Tufts when properly hunted, and which have never failed to free them at once from any further persecutions.— That such may be the good fortune of all my readers, who are fond of this amusement, is my most earnest wish; that it is not the luck of every one, the following letter will prove, with which I shall conclude this number.
To the AUTHOR of the LOITERER.
MY father was the son of the half brother of the third cousin of an Irish Peer, and as his family had not condescended to bring him up to any profession, was for some years of his life nearer starving, without being actually starved, than I hope you, though an author, can easily conceive. At the age of twenty–four, he had the good fortune to marry the daughter of the wife of the steward to a great man, who brought with her, as a marriage portion, a patent place in the customs, sufficient (as they had no child but myself) to support them with tolerable decency. As my father had thus happily made his own fortune by his alliance with the great, he naturally expected his son should do so too. The utility of good connexions, and the credit of fashionable acquaintance, were the first lessons I was taught. Servility and meanness were inculcated by precepts, enforced by example, and encouraged by rewards. I studied the arts of address, instead of learning my letters, and could flatter before I could spell. At the age of eight years I was sent to Eton, not because it was one of the best, but because it was one of the genteelest schools in the kingdom; where I exerted my insinuating talents with great success, and soon obtained a respectable acquaintance with the sons of our most illustrious nobility, and the heirs of immense possessions. I was their assistant in the exercises of the school, and their fag in the diversions out of it; often the confidant of their mischievous schemes, and sometimes the sufferer from their miscarriage: for all which I was rewarded by frequent invitations to accompany them home, and had actually once the honour of spending my Christmas holidays in the house of a Duke. When my friends' classical education, rather than my own was completed, I was sent off to Oxford, and entered as a Commoner in the College which my father was informed to be the most fashionable in the University. Here, far from losing those friends whom I had acquired at school, I daily made more, for I soon found that great men and great boys are pretty much alike, and that flattery is as acceptable, and relished as well at Oxford as at Eton. In consequence of this, I could soon rank in my list of friends a very decent number of Titles, not to mention a long string of Honourables and Baronets, to whom I paid a kind of secondary attention, in exact proportion to their rank. — So much in short was I in all the parties of my noble friends, that I began to last to fancy myself a great man; and if not noble, at least a sort of appendage to nobility: indeed I have certainly caught something of their manners, for to this day I can run in debt with as much spirit as the first peer of the realm, and be idle with as good a grace as if I was the heir of thousands.
But to return to my story. — At the end of four years my noble acquaintance had all left Oxford — some went to make the Grand Tour, some to be Members of Parliament, and some to take possession of their estates, become fathers of families, justices of the peace, and to sleep with their forefathers. They all parted from me, however, in the most affectionate manner, and some of them gave me most pressing invitations to come and see them. Which said invitations I soon found it very convenient to accept, and accordingly staid with them all round as long as I decently could, and I am afraid rather longer, for I did not leave them 'till after some pretty broad hints.
I was now in a most deplorable situation: my father and mother were both dead, and without making any provision for me: from all my great acquaintance I had as yet got nothing but debts, and instead of being the favoured companion of the rich and great, I was now known to few, and by those few known only to be despised. It is true that a fresh set of great men were continually entering the University; but they were Pharaohs who knew not Joseph, and I had neither skill nor inclination to play the same game over again. In this emergency I took orders, hoping to be provided for by some of my friends, and that they, to whose happiness I had so often contributed, would in their turn, contribute something to mine. I therefore applied to them and pleaded in the strongest manner our past intimacy, and my present distresses. I received from all the warmest assurance of support, and from some very liberal promises of immediate preferment. Since this time fifteen years have rolled on, and notwithstanding the earnest wishes and sincere intentions of my friends, for my advancement, I am still curate of a small village for the sum of fifty pounds a year. Not but that many livings have fallen in the interim; however, it has so happened that my patrons have been obliged to bestow them against their will on some other person.
As I have given up all hopes of preferment, and with only to make the world acquainted with my misfortunes, and the ingratitude of my friends. - I have for this purpose made choice of your paper, which I have been the rather induced to do, as I have been informed it is a very genteel one.
Tell the world then, Sir, from me, that whoever expects future and lasting patronage from the present transient intimacy of a few thoughtless young men, looks for which he will never find, and is only heaping up disappointment for himself. As for my right worthy and approved good masters, the great, — tell them, that meanness in their followers, can never justify ingratitude in themselves; for they who love flattery ought to pay its proper price, and if the, greatness of the reward is to be in exact proportion to the severity of the labour, I know not how to name a sufficient compensation for those who have spent their whole time in flattering the foibles of the great, and persuading fools that they are wise .
I have the honour to be,
Sir, you most humble servant.
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