Page images
[blocks in formation]

ALL men who are eloquent on the cruelty of hunting, beat their wives. That is a general rule, admitting of no exceptions. There is another. All men who stammer on the cruelty of hunting, are beaten by their wives. Fortunately these classes are not numerous, otherwise we should be a cock-pecked and hen-pecked generation. Humanity, in the long run, rejoices in pursuing unto the death, on foot or horseback, lions, tigers, bears, wolves, hyenas, foxes, marts, and hares. Were you to talk to himself of the cruelty of killing a lion, he would stun you with a roar of derision to a tiger, his stripes would wax blacker and brighter in contempt -to a bear, he would hug you to his heart, as the choicest of all imaginable ninnies-to a wolf, he would suspect you of being a man-trap to a hyena, he would laugh in your face-to a fox, he would give you such a brush as you never had in your life-to a mart, he would look so sweet upon you that you would be scented like a milliner-to a hare, he would prick up his ears in vain emulation of the length of your own, and wonder to see an ass among the Bipeds. They all perfectly well know that they were made to be huntedthat they are provided, to fit them for that end, with certain organs and members, which otherwise would be, comparatively speaking, of little or no use, and would get so rusty, that

ere long the creatures would be almost incapable of locomotion, and would absolutely die of fat-the most cruel death in all the catalogue. Therefore, let Sir John Brute and Jerry Sneak henceforth-on the subject of hunting-belong to the dumb animals.

Lion-hunting and tiger-hunting are merely cat-hunting on a considerably larger scale;-wolf-hunting and foxhunting are the same modified by climate;-of mart and hare-hunting, more hereafter;-but of bear-hunting it is now our intention to speak, under the guidance and direction of our sporting friend Mr Lloyd, who was born under Ursa Major, and does credit to the celestial sign of Bruin.

The passion of the chase is strong in Mr Lloyd's constitution. It seems for years to have been his ruling passion, and to have made him a perfect model of perpetual motion. But like all other passions, ruling or ruled, it can be thrown off ad libitum by a strong-bodied, strong-minded man. All of them, we hold, are in our own power, and at our own disposal. True, that while they are at their acme they hurry us away like whirlwinds. But then they are whirlwinds of our own raising, and we are still the magicians who can either allay the storm, or leap out of it, down upon the soft calm green of tranquillity and peace. Take ambition. You

* Field Sports of the North of Europe, comprised in a Personal Narrative of a Residence in Sweden and Norway, in the Years 1827-8. By L. Lloyd, Esq. London. Colburn and Bentley, 1830. Two Vols.



see the same man mad for power or fame in spring, and in summer lying half-asleep on a hillside, conversing dreamily with the clouds. Take Love. In May, a young gentleman knows of the existence in this world but of one auburn-haired, hazel-eyed, fragile-figured angel, with a slim ankle and small foot-and on the twelfth of August he is flirting with a redheaded Highland goatherdess, supported on pedestals barely human, and the terror of all worms. Just so with any other sport. In Wermeland and Dalecarlia, Mr Lloyd's whole soul was filled with bears. Then and there,

“How easy was a bush supposed a bear!"

In sleep, Bruin hugged him in his arms-awake, Bruin hobbled "before that inward eye which is the bliss of solitude." Between sleeping and waking, one cry was in his ears- "The Bear-the Bear!" And had he died of fever-which, thank Heaven, he did not-he would have confounded his medical and religious attendants-both alike ghostly-with apostrophes to Bruin. Occasionally the violence of his passion was a little relieved by a slight and transient change of its object-a wolf, for example, a lynx, a capercailzie, or a salmon. But we defy any man to cherish a permanent pas sion for a wolf. 'Tis a dirty, dingy-coloured, lean, hungry, cruel, cowardly brute, whom 'twould be paying an undeserved compliment to kill otherwise than in a pitfall, into which no sooner does the villain play plump, than his base heart dies within him; he coils himself up like a sick turnspit, pretends for a while to be a carcass, and, ere long, is so, out of pure, filthy bodily fear. As for your lynx, he is a person with whom we have little or no acquaintance; but, though sharp-sighted enough, we believe, he seems to be an insignificant devil; if not really scarce, he generally contrives to make himself so; and it is not to be supposed that a man of Mr Lloyd's abilities would give himself the trouble to pursue such a pitiful individual. Of the capercailzie on his pine, and of the salmon in his pool, heaven forfend that we should ever speak in any other terms but those of the highest respect and admiration. But

the feathered and the finned people, the one dwelling in air, and the other in water, do not readily enter into the same day or night-dream with the bear, to whom they have little, indeed no resemblance, but are entitledeach per se-to the whole of our imagination. Accordingly, though, throughout these most amusing and interesting volumes, they do now and then whirr from the forests and plunge in the floods, the bear is the prevailing, paramount, and predominant object of our friend's passion. He scampers in every paragraph, and gives up the ghost at the end of every chapter. The whole work is delightfully redolent of hides and tallow; and so full is our fancy at this moment of images of bears, that the very hands now tracing this rambling article, seem covered with hair,

"Very paws, as you might say;" and most alarming would they be, were they to squeeze the " downy fist," and encircle the tender waist, of a virgin in the Gallopade.

There is something exceedingly contemptible in visiting, now-a-days, France and Italy, Paris and Rome. The talk of such tourists is wersh indeed-nay, young gentlemen are tiresome at table who have gone up or down the Rhine. All the world and his wife have visited all the cities in Europe. But give us for our love and money, a man like Mr Lloyd, a gentleman, a scholar, and a sportsman, who has swept on skidor through the frozen forests of Scandinavia. Snow is inspiring, and ice bracing to the nerves of the soul; in narrating adventures in such a clime and country, a man's style gets as glowing and ruddy as his cheeksas rapid as the motion of his limbs on snow-skates;-in writing about bears, he leaps over a chasm with as much agility as in hunting themand his reader never falls asleep, so anxious is he to be in at the death.

As for picturesque description of scenery, our author seems to have lost no time in looking at it, and he loses none in describing it; but he gives us many striking touches as he moves along, and at the close of the volume, we feel that our imagination has been enriched with materials out of which to form to itself Scandinavian forest scenery at once singular and magnificent.

night-bivouacks are painted with great spirit.

We admire Mr Lloyd. He is a fine specimen of an English gentleman, bold, free, active, intelligent, observant, good-humoured, and generous, no would-be wit-no paltry painter of the picturesque, above all, no pedant and philosopher, forsooth-like your paid and profes sional vagrants, who go up and down a country book-making, and articlemongering to order, haunted all the while by the image of some far-off editor or publisher, and living at inns like bagmen, at the rate of two guineas a-sheet. Mr Lloyd's mind was wholly engrossed by his own wild and adventurous Scandinavian life; but when it was flown, he then be gan to lead it over again in imagina tion, and, lo! "Field Sports of the North of Europe !"

Mr Lloyd, it appears, was four years wandering over almost all parts of Scandinavia. In the summer of 1827, he lived at some eighty miles to the northward of Carlstad, a town situated at the northern extremity of the noble lake Wenern, among the largest and finest in Europe. The province of Wermeland is about a hundred and fifty miles in length, by one hundred in breadth, containing about 150,000 inhabitants. The more northern parts are hilly, mountainous, almost one continued foreststudded with numerous fine lakes, and watered by several large streams. Of the multitude of lakes we may form some idea, from the parish of Tuna in Norrland, which is commonly said to contain as many lakes as there are days in the year. Throughout the whole range which separates Sweden from Norway, nature assumes a most imposing aspect, and is sometimes seen on a magnificent scale.

There the winter is most severe, the snow usually remaining on the ground six months; but the summers are, in general, excessively warm, and vegetation proportionately rapid and rich. The principal river in Wermeland is the Klar, which, rising in the Norwegian mountains, after a course of three hundred miles, falls into the Wenern, near Carlstad. Mr Lloyd fixed his residence at a small hamlet, called Stjern, near the Klar, and on the bank of a lake eight or

nine miles long, the Răda. He occupied a single room, twenty feet square, in a peasant's cottage. Its great comfort was a large open fireplace or hearth-much needed-for on one occasion, when a friend had paid him a visit from Stockholm, some port wine, which he had brought along with him, and over which they had been enjoying themselves-as was right-in a sort of Noctes Ambrosianæ, till past midnight-Temperance Societies would not do there -was next morning frozen into so solid a mass, that they were unable to get a drop of it out of the bottles. Here he soon formed the friendship of Mr Falk, head-ranger or chief hunting-master of the Wermeland forests, which title alone would have given him the rank of a captain in the Swedish army. But in addition to this, and in consequence of his meritorious services in having ridded the country of very many noxious animals, he had received the honorary title of Hof Jägmästre, or Hunting-master to the Court, which put him on the footing of a colonel. He was a tall and handsome man, about forty years of age; his appearance, with which his actions fully accorded, denoting him to be possessed of great quickness and intelligence. In the different skalls, or battues, which he had commanded, he had killed, many of them with his own gun, 100 bears-but in all his conflicts never had received a wound. This gentleman found Mr Lloyd an apt scholar; and under his tuition the Englishman soon became as good a chasseur as in all Sweden. Mr Lloyd gives many interesting details of the domestic economy and character of the Swedish peasantry; and his volumes are well worth buying for the sake of these alone; but at present we have less to do with the boors than the bears-and therefore must forget our landlord, Sven Jansson, though somewhat of a bear himself, for sake of the veritable Bruin.

But one moment of dogs. Mr Lloyd had three :-Brunette, with pricked ears, and, but for her tail, which turned over her back, like a fox. She was a great coward, and frightened almost out of her senses at the sight or smell of a wild beast, but incomparable at capercailzies. Hector was black, with ears pricked, tail curled, and in appearance a cur,

« PreviousContinue »