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feeding not á rod from my door, was account, it will probably be found that no very wise act. I poached, as you agriculturists are not such decided call it, to feed my children. I have gainers by the change as most of them never killed game for any other pur- imagine. Besides all which, it must pose ; and whilst there is a head of it be manifest to all who have eyes to left, and I am able to catch it, they look round them, and minds to come shall not be beholden to the parish for prehend what they see, that with the a meal.”
race of petty farmers has expired one I cannot help thinking that the hisé of the finest and most virtuous classes tory of Simon Lee, as far as it has yet of society. Their houses were the been detailed, contains a lesson well nurseries of good and faithful serworth the attention both of country vants; they were themselves hospigentlemen and farmers. Whilst the table to the utmost extent of their old system of land-letting continued, means, and almost always honest. and every twenty or forty acres of They were really, I say not upon pringround supported an honest family, ciple, but certainly upon honourable it is very probable that the landlord prejudice, attached to the constitution received a less sum in the shape of crop in church and state. If, then, the or yearly rent, and that the yeomanry country have suffered in its moral rode poorer horses, and kept poorer character by their annihilation, he tables, than they do at present. But must be a very short-sighted politician it is equally certain, that the paupers indeed who imagines that the injury 10 be relieved by their parishes then, thereby inflicted upon society can be came not up to one fiftieth part of at all compensated by any improvethose which are continually seeking ment in the art of agriculture, or inand obtaining parochial relief now; erease of the amount of produce raised and if the increased burthen thereby from the soil. imposed upon the land be taken into
HAVING thus made my reader in cording as neighbours chance to live some degree acquainted with Simon on good or bad terms with one anLee and his family, I proceed at once ther; for it very seldom happens, Í to detail the circumstances which am sorry to say, that the poorer classes alone, when I took up the pen, I had speak of their acquaintances, except intended to detail. Simon had been from the dictates of prejudice, either an inhabitant of his cottage on the for or against them. Then every prumoor upwards of twenty years before dent man will hear all that is said, I came to the parish. The fits of sick- and remember it; but he will use it ness already hinted at had come and only as the mariner uses his log-book ; gone by long ago, and the habits con- he will take it as a guide in the meansequent upon them were all entwined while, but make large allowances for in his very nature, so as that nothing the possibility of being deceived. In could remove them. In fact, Simon the case of Simon, I found this cauhad ceased to be regarded by any of tion peculiarly necessary. To whomhis neighbours with an eye of pity ; soever I put a question respecting the for his misfortunes were all forgotten. inhabitant of the cottage on the moor, Whilst his poaching propensity conti- the answer was invariably the same;nuing in full vigour, all men spoke of “ We know but little of him, sir, for him with abhorrence.
he neighbours with no one; but they One of the first acts of a country say he is a desperate fellow." By the clergyman, after he has settled him- farmers again I was told of his extreme self
in the spot where his duties lie, insolence, whilst Sir Harry's gameis, at least ought to be, to call upon keeper, who attended my church, asthe whole of his parishioners, rich and sured me
" that he was the most poor ; and to make himself acquainted, troublesome rascal in all the county.” as well as he can, with their respective So, thought I, here is a pretty sort of characters and circumstances. In pro- a person with whom I am to come into secuting these inquiries, he is, of contact. But I remembered the less course, liable to be imposed upon, ac- son given to me by my good father, VOL. XIX,
and under the idea that he really was woman, but now a hard-favoured slate a very wretched character, I resolved ternly dame) leaned over the pot, and to spare no labour to effect his reform- was in the act of brushing off such paration.
ticles of a handful of salt as adhered to The first time I visited Simon was her palm. The children, one apparently in the month of October. As I was about five, the other about seven years anxious to see and converse with the old, were rolling in the middle of the man himself, I delayed my stroll till floor, in a state but few degrees remothe sun had set, and the hours of la- ved from nudity; whilst a taller girl, bour were passed; then, fully antici- whose age I should guess about thirpating a disagreeable interview, I sale teen, dandled an infant in her arms lied forth. Half an hour's walk beside an opposite window. brought me to his hovel. I confess Such was the general aspect of the that the external appearance of it by room, and the disposition of the family, no means induced me to doubt the when I entered. With respect to furevil rumours communicated from so niture, I observed a small deal-table, many quarters ; but appearances, I four chairs, rush-bottomed once upon recollected, were often deceitful, so I a time, but now greatly in need of redetermined to suspend my judgment pair, a stool or two, a little arm-chair, till better grounds should be given for with a hole in its seat, and a long forming it. I accordingly knocked at bench or form. But there were other the door; a rough voice called to come implements to be seen more attractive in; I pushed it open, and entered. than these. On the beam which ran Let me describe the coup d'oeil as it through the middle of the ceiling, was then fell upon me.
suspended a long fowling-piece; there Stepping over a sort of oaken ledge, were cranks near it for two others, perhaps three or four inches in height, but at present they were empty. A I found myself in a large apartment, game-bag, dyed all sorts of colours the floor of which was earthen, and with blood and grease, hung upon a full of inequalities. The apartment nail in the wall opposite to me; bein question occupied the better part side it were two few-nets, such as of the basement of the house; that is fishermen use when they drag drains to say, it took in the whole of the or narrow streams; and a third, of - lower story, except a scullery and coal- longer dimensions, fit for use in a pond hole, partitioned off at one of the ex- or lake, was thrown across the boardtremities, by a few rotten boards. ing which separated the apartment There was no want of light here ; for from the coal-hole. Three or four though the better part of each wine shot-belts dangled over the fire-place; dow was stuffed, as I have already de- whilst several pairs of strong muda seribed, there being two casements, boots, leathern-gaiters, hob-nailed besides a door on one side, and a like shoes, &c. &c., were scattered at rannumber on the other, besides various dom in the different corners of the fissures in the wall, the crevices capable of admitting the sun's rays were The dogs, whose growling had been greatly more abundant than may usu- sufficiently audible even previous to ally be seen in the English poor man's my knock upon the door, no sooner dwelling. The room was low in the eyed me, than with one accord they roof, in proportion to its size. The sprung to their legs, barking angrily, walls, originally white-washed, were and showed every tooth in their heads, of a dingy brown; on the right hand as if prepared to pounce upon me. They as you entered, was the fire-place-a were, however, in admirable training. huge orifice-in the centre of which Simon had only to raise his finger, stood a small rusty grate, having a giving at the same time a low whistle, few sticks burning in it, and a pot when they dropped down, as if they boiling above them. On one side of had been shot, and remained, belly to this grate, and within the cavity of the ground, without moving limb or the chimney, sat Simon. At his feet tail, during the whole of my visit. I lay a lurcher, a niel, and two rag. could not but pity the unfortunate ged black terriers; and he himself country gentleman, into whose pre· was busy twisting a wire, no doubt sence these dogs, with their master, for some useful purpose. His wife should make their way. (originally, I have been told, a pretty It was easy to discover from the
demeanour of all present, that Simon the law of the Bible ? I have read had been little accustomed to receive that book through more than once, visits from the minister of his parish. and I cannot see that a poor man is Both he and his wife appeared utterly there forbidden to kill the creatures confounded at the vision which now which God has made wild, and given stood before them. The wire which up as a sort of common possession to he had been twisting was hastily drop- all. I know man's laws are against ped; he rose from his seat, and unco- me, and I have felt their severity bevering his head, stood staring as if he fore now; but I go by the law of my had seen a spirit. In like manner, the Maker, and as long as I do that, I housewife seemed rooted to the spot care for no man. which she occupied when I raised
But God's laws are against you the latch ; and the noise of the very also. We must submit to every ordi. children ceased, as if by magic. I had pance of man, for the Lord's sake; and actually advanced as far as the chim- to the game-laws among the rest. ney-corner before my parishioner “ So I have been told," answered recovered himself, or found tongue Simon; yet the very persons who enough to request that I would be persecute me most severely for occa, seated.
sionally killing a hare or a pheasant, It was not long, however, before are continually violating the laws in Simon and I found ourselves mutually matters quite as serious. Why, there at ease, and the prejudices under is not a magistrate upon the bench which I laboured respecting him be- against whom I could not peach, for gan to give way. He was civil, with purchasing India handkerchiefs' for out meanness; respectful, without ex- himself, and French gloves and stockhibiting the most remote approxi- ings for his ladies. I do not blame mation to cringing; and honestly, yet them for that, not I; I see no reason manfully, professed to be flattered by why all these things should not be the marks of attention which ! paid within the reach of every man who him. “ You are the first minister can afford to pay for them; only, I that ever darkened these doors,” said say, let them wash their own hands he; "and the only gentleman that has clean of breaking the laws of the land, condescended to notice old Simon Lee, before they are so severe upon a poor since he became poor and friendless. man like myself, if he catch a head of I am glad to see you, sir. I liked your game now and then to fill his children's discourse last Sunday much ; but, bellies. Besides, if they had left me thank God, want nothing from you to rear these young ones on my father's except your good-will."
farm, they never would have found “And that you shall have, my me cross them, let them do what they friend,” replied I; “ but they tell me. would.” Simon, that you do not lead exactly The conversation being continued the sort of life that you ought to lead. in this strain for some time, and no How comes it, that men's tongues effect produced upon the poacher's seem so free, when you are the subject sentiments, I gradually changed the of their talk ?"
subject, and led him to talk of other “ Indeed, sir," replied Simon," that things, such as I deemed most likely is more than I can tell. I know very to betray him into a disclosure of his well that I am no favourite here; and real character in the common occurwhy? because I hate gossiping; be- rences of life. The result of the whole cause I fancy myself as good as any of was, that I rose to quit his house,
because I sometimes speak my full rather of compassion than of any mind, and will not always run into other feeling. I was conscious that the mud when a farmer or his horse he had in him, at least the elements chances to be in the middle of the way of a good member of society; and if But judge for yourself, sir. Try me, these were somewhat deranged by the and if you find me a thief or a rogue, preponderancy of an illegal habit, ! then turn your back upon me. could not, in my own mind, avoid
“ But you are a poacher, Simon; blaming for it, not only the proprietor and poaching, you know, is against of his little farm, who had so rudely the laws of your country.”
ejected him from his home, but the “ So it is, sir," was the reply, “and parishioners at large, who originally I am very sorry for it: but is it against drove him to it by the needless seves
rity of their manner, when want and believe that I put a stop to many a sickness first urged him to apply for drunken brawl. Such meetings, at relief. I learned from him, that nei- least, I was assured, had invariably ther he nor his son had any regular ended, during my predecessor's time, employment. People are afraid of in riot and intemperance; in mine, I us," he said, “ God knows why; and can safely say, that the instances were yet, sir, there is not one among them rare indeed, in which the slightest who will deny, that both Joe and I deviation from strict sobriety and good do a good day's work when we can fellowship occurred. As ill luck would get it, and that we are always ready have it, however, a violent quarrel to undertake any job that may be of- arose this day between Joe Lee and fered.” I was at the time in want of another person ; and as the quarrel some one to assist ine in laying out ended not where it began, but led to the grounds about the vicarage, and very serious consequences, it may be. planting the church-yard; I engaged proper to state how it originated, and Simon on the moment, and I never to what height it was immediately had cause to repent of the measure carried. during the whole time that he was in Our Squire had lately added to his
establishment a new game-keeper, a I have said, that Simon's eldest son blustering, hot-headed native of Yorkhad attained his twenty-third year at shire. This person having been worstthe period when our acquaintance com- ed in a variety of games, in which he menced. He was a well-grown, pow- appeared to consider himself an adept, erful youth ; not handsome, certainly, finally challenged any man upon the but straight, broad shouldered, full common to shoot with him, for a chested, and five feet ten inches high wager, at a number of sparrows which without his shoes. It was not often he had brought in a cage for the pur. that Joe Lee mixed in the sports of pose. The challenge was accepted by the village youths; for, brought up Joe. The number of birds to be let as he had been, he was shy, or, as the loose was a dozen a-side, and the parneighbours called it, proud, like his ties were to take the alternate shots, father ; but, when he did join their whether they chanced to be fair or meetings, there was not a lad among Both men were noted as exthem all that could heave the bar, cellent marksmen-a great degree of bowl, bat, or run against him. In interest was accordingly excited on wrestling, too, he was unrivalled ; and the occasion ; and though the majority as to shooting, when Shrove Tuesday of those present wished well to Joe came round, Joe saved many a devo- Lee, simply because he was a man of ted dung-hill cock, by challenging his Kent, and not a Yorkshireman, there companions to shoot at penny-pieces, were not wanting numbers who backor small shingle stones thrown into ed the keeper to the customary extent the air. Generally speaking, indeed, of a pint, or a quart of ale. The prehe never strove at any game without parations for the match were soon gaining the prize, for he was prudent made—the umpires took their staenough never to attempt anything tions; and a trap being formed at of which he had not some previous the distance of thirty paces from the knowledge.
sportsmen, the sparrows were remoIt chanced that, about a year and ved to it from the cage, one by one. a half after the interview above re- The first fire fell by lot to Joe, and corded, the young men of the pa- it was successful, he killed his bird. rish met, as their custom was, on a The keeper was equally fortunate certain holiday, to play their match when his turn arrived. Thus they at cricket, and to try their skill in went on, displaying an extraordinary foot-ball, racing, and other athletic precision of aim, till the fifth fire came sports. To these meetings, by the round; Joe's took effect; the bird at way, I never failed to give my coun- which the north-countryman shot, tenance. For the most part I stood flew off untouched. A shout was of by till one or two contests came to a course raised by Joe's backers; whilst close; and by thus proving to them those of his opponent were proportionthat religion is no enemy to mirth, as ably downcast. Itscon happened, how, long as it exceeds not the bounds of ever, that the rivals were again on an moderation, I have good reason to equal footing ; Joe missing, and the .
" It is a
other killing. And now each had but ness of his rival, the keeper next bea single charge reserved ; each, too, gan to vent his spleen upon Joe's dog. had missed but once ;' consequently One of the ragged terriers of which I each could count ten dead sparrows have already spoken, belonged, it apfor eleven shots. This fire must there- peared, to Joe, and it seldom left his fore decide the match. You might heel, let him go where he would. On have heard a pin drop upon the very the present occasion it lay beneath the grass, when the trap being raised the form on which its master sat, perfectlittle bird rose in air, and Joe, with ly quiet and inoffensive. one leg advanced somewhat before the d-d shame that such fellows as you other, followed it with his gun. He should be allowed to keep dogs," said fired. The sparrow soared up for a the surly keeper, giving at the same moment, and dropped perfectly dead, time a violent kick to the unoffending just within distance. I looked at the animal. “ If I was master, I would game-keeper at this moment, and ob- have them all shot; and by G- the served that his knees treinbled ; he first time I see that brute self-huntwas flurried beyond measure, and the ing on our land, he shall have the conconsequence was, that the shot flew tents of this piece in his stomach." harmless, and the bird escaped. In- Still Joe kept his temper, and parried stantly the shouts of the Kentish men the attack the best way he could ; but rent the air, and I quitted them, hav- his blood was boiling, and it only ing seen Joe, whose shyness and pride wanted a little more provocation to were both for the moment forgotten, bring matters to an issue. “Will you elevated upon the shoulders of a couple
wrestle a fall, you -?” cried the of lusty youths, and commencing his keeper, rising and throwing off his triumphal march round the common. jacket. “ With all my heart,” exPerhaps it is to be regretted that I claimed Joe; “and don't spare me, for, had not remained amongst them a by the Lord, I don't mean to spare little longer ; had I done so, in -all you.” To it they went; and after a probability matters would not have few severe tugs the keeper was thrown taken the turn they did.
heavily. He rose with considerable Chagrined and irritated at his de- difficulty, and complained grievously feat, the keeper mixed no more in the of his head ; staggered, and fell again amusements of the day, but sitting to the ground. Immediately some of down in a booth, swallowed large po
the lads ran to his assistance ; tations of ale and spirits, too often black in the face. They undid his the resource of the uneducated classes neckcloth, threw water upon him, against the pangs of disappointment but all to no purpose. His limbs
As the liquor began to quivered convulsively, his eyes opentake effect, the man became quarrel- ed and shut once or twice, a gasp, a
He accused Joe, who having rattle in his throat, and he was a successfully finished a foot race, rest- corpse! A quantity of blood gushing ed upon a bench near, with foul play. from his nose and mouth, gave eviHe insisted that the eleventh bird fell dence of some severe internal injury; out of bounds; and being corrected in whilst the only word uttered by himthat particular by a reference to his own self, namely, “ My head, my head," umpire, he changed his mode of attack seemed to imply, that a concussion of for another annoyance. The poach the brain had occasioned it. Let the ing propensity of Joe's father, his injury, however, be where it might, it pride, and his poverty, were thrown in was a fatal one; for when the methe son's teeth. Joe bore it ; not with dical assistance arrived, which was out a struggle—but he did bear it. promptly sent for, life was wholly exEncouraged, probably, by the calm- tinct.
As may readily be imagined, a ter- it. The question most keenly agitamination so awful to sports, begun, ted was, how were they to dispose of and heretofore carried on in the best the unfortunate perpetrator of the possible humour, produced no trifling deed ? That he willingly killed his sensation among those who witnessed antagonist not one among