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SPORTING PICTURES.

(HUGO MEYNELL, ESQ.)

BY COMPILER.

“ Talk of horses and hounds, and of system of kennel !
Give me Leicestershire nags, and the hounds of Old Meynell."

There are two portraits of Mr. Meynell extant, one painted when he was a young man, by no less an artist than Sir Joshua Reynolds ; the other, taken in his latter days, by Mr. Meynell's friend, the late Mr. Loraine Smith, of Enderby Hall in Leicestershire. Both these portraits are published. The first is drawn on stone by M. Gauci, and given in Colonel Cook's “Observations on Fox Hunting and the Management of Hounds :" the latter makes an admirable frontispiece to Mr. Delme Radcliffe's volume, called “The Noble Science," and is a beautifully executed line-engraving by T. W. Archer. The portraits are as dissimilar as two pictures of the same man can possibly be. Colonel Cook’s “ young man” likeness is a kit-cat, representing a smart young fellow, with powder and pig-tail, dressed in the height of the then fashion, single-breasted, large-buttoned, white coat, lined with some dark colour, richly-laced waistcoat, and lace frilled shirt. The features are full, but this picture contains the model of what age would work into the likeness given by Mr. Delmè Radcliffe.

Mr. Radcliffe's is the picture for a sportsman's money, and I do not hesitate to say, that such a portrait of such a man is fairly worth the price of the volume. It is a delightful picture, for it is just the sort of man that sportsmen of the present day would picture Mr. Meynell to have been. In addition to this, it is a sporting pictureeverything about it is sporting. The old gentleman is seated in his arm-chair, booted and spurred as he has come in from hunting, with his cap on the little round table (for hunting caps seem to have been worn then, 1794) and his huntsman, Jack Raven, appears at the door, accompanied by a hound cabled Glider. Against the wall of the room, which seems to be the master's “sanctum,” is a picture of a horse. Mr. Meynell is here the venerable, white-headed, old man; he looks seventy, at least. He is bald, and his hair is swept to a point at the back of the head, but not made into a pigtail. His features are very fine, and there is a speaking expression in the picture.

One can almost fancy what he is saying. The huntsman, Jack Raven, too, is good. Though they are dressed nearly alike, there is no mistaking which is the gentleman and which is the servant. Jack is an honest, bluff-looking, rather pot-bellied fellow,

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with an interregnum between his waistcoat and breeches, as though he did not wear braces. Both Mr. Meynell and he wear boot garters, fastened high up the leg. The hound perhaps, is the only faulty thing in the picture: I should say it is rather leggy. The sight of this picture makes one regret that we have not more por, traits of the heroes of the chace. Mr. Matthews, the celebrated comedian, had a collection of all the first-rate actors and actresses ; and I wonder no person has attempted a series of signal sportsmen. Surely they would be as acceptable as the winning horses of Ackermann, or Fuller, or Fores. We have the great John Warde—great I may well call him, for he weighed upwards of eighteen stone-on horseback, and in his chair; both excellent; though I prefer Barraud's portrait of him on “ Blue Ruin,” with that neat hound,

Betsey," looking in his honest face. John Warde was as great a character as Meynell, though in a different way. Meynell was the refined, Warde the natural, English gentleman. A look at Warde's face was enough to make a man laugh; there seemed to be a perpetual joke hovering about his lips.

But to our portraits. Mr. Osbaldeston has been given, wig and all, in the old Sporting Magazine, though perhaps he would have looked more like himself without that appendage. There was an excellent portrait of his first whip, poor Jack Stevens, given in the same work about twenty years before, in which Jack is represented handling his horse, in first-rate style, over a five-barred gate. There is a nice picture of Mr. George Treacher, on his white horse "Duncombe,” in the “Sportsman's Repository," published in 1820, now becoming rather a scarce work. It was painted by Marshall, and engraved by John Scott, two artists that will never be surpassed. The costume of the whipper-in behind is very good, and characteristic of the times. His coat-laps reach nearly down to his spurs.

Mr. Parker, once master of the Worcestershire hounds, has figured in the print-shops, by which means, though a stranger may forget all other masters the country has had, “Mr. Parker and Worcestershire” will always be associated. The New Sporting Magazine has also had some good portraits in this line; the late Mr. Dalyell, for instance. This is by the eminent Grant, who, unfortunately for sportsmen, seems to prefer painting the human form divine to the noble animal the horse. Mr. Dalyell's is a most spirited and original picture; not one of your woodeny, booby fied, booted and breeched fellows, staring a Trojan horse out of countenance, but a dashing sportsman, galloping a slapping horse, and hat in hand cheering on a hound. Mr. Grant made quite a revolution in the sporting picture way, by blending action and scenery with portraiture. The Melton Breakfast, and the Queen's Stag Hounds, were wonderful pictures, and the likenesses most extraordinary. Not only were they extraordinary as likenesses, but the graceful, life-like ease was so well portrayed.

Mr. Grant was pointed out for a great man by no less a judge than Sir Walter Scott. In Sir Walter's Journal, as published by Mr. Lockhart, he names Grant as having been staying at Abbotsford, and Sir Walter says he predicts he will be one of the

eminent men of his day. Would that Sir Walter had lived to see the fulfilment of his prophecy. Mr. Grant, in my opinion, is quite the first man of the times. His portraits are not only good, but pleasing. They are satisfactory portraits. One feasts one's eyes upon them. His ladies are ladies. I do not know a more vexatious thing than a coarse, hard, vulgar, tea-boardey visage, staring at you from the wall—a thing you don't like putting into the garret or lumber room, because you paid ten guineas for it. Yet, I believe, there are few better trades than the real, daubing sign-painter. People like to have their features portrayed to be handed down to posterity; and the novelty and approach-distant though it may be to a likeness, pleases as it progresses. One never goes into an inntown or country-without seeing the landlord, in his Sunday coat, generally brown, with a velvet collar, and the landlady in her Sunday cap and curls, gracing the parlour walls. These are bad enough; but when a dauber attempts a foxhunter, the effect is truly lamentable. I saw a picture in the Royal Academy once, that was enough to make one forswear foxhunting altogether; at all events, enough to make a prudent, non-foxhunting guardian determine to prevent his ward entering upon a sport of which the original of the picture was the prototype.

Mr. Davis published some uncommonly good pictures of the men, horses, and hounds of different celebrated hunting establishments, in numbers, under the title of the “ Hunter's Annual,” which I regret has not been continued, as, independently of the merits of the compositions themselves, the literary department was well and sportingly executed.

After pencil come pen and ink sketches. Sporting periodicals make us richer in these. There was a very good pen and ink sketch of Mr. Meynell, in the shape of an account of a run with his hounds, published in the Sporting Magazine in 1829, though the writer did not state when the run took place. It was in the writer's schoolboy days, it seems; for he was spending his Christmas holidays with some friends in Leicestershire, and the particular run happened to be on a new year's day. The writer says, which I make no doubt is very true, that every circumstance was as fresh, as vivid, as distinct when he wrote, as when he first told the particulars to a circle of envious and astonished schoolfellows. A first day, perhaps an only day, with such a man as Mr. Meynell, was well calculated to make a lasting impression on the fresh mind of youth—more so, considerably, than a day, however good, would do on a constant attendant with the hounds. It is the first impression that produces the lasting effect. “Early impressions,” as Nimrod says, “will last a man's life, be it the three score years and ten, and another score added to them; that is to say, if they are stamped deeply.” The writer says : “We met at Shoby Scoales; and never shall I forget my delight when that true specimen of the old English gentleman, Mr. Meynell, came up with his hounds. There was an air and manner about him which I have never seen equalled, and in all human probability never shall. His very seat had something so characteristic in it, that no one could see him on horseback without pronouncing him to be, what in reality he was, the very best workman in his way that ever graced a saddle. He was this morning mounted on his old favourite grey, which I had long had a curiosity to see; for I had often heard him spoken of in terms which I thought no animal could possibly deserve." The writer then gives an instance of the old horse's prowess. When we had been running,” says he, “ about three quarters of an hour, and at our best pace, too, we had all—those at least who were up with the hounds—made for a corner of a large grass field near Dalby, surrounded by an ox fence, expecting to find an easy outlet, as an old sportsman, Mr. Henton, of Hoby, assured us there was a gate through which he himself had passed not long before. To our infinite annoyance, however, we found that the gate had been broken, and had been replaced with a flight of rails so high and strong as to bring one and all to a stand-still. We were turning away in despair, when the old grey came up with his venerable and graceful rider, who, without giving the slightest check to his horse, but taking it in his stride, went over it in the most brilliant mauner, leaving us in the lurch, without one having the nerve to follow his example, although the bounds were a field or two a-head, and running breast high at the time.”

In reading this, we hardly know whether to almire the intrepidity of old Meynell, the gallantry of the grey, or the ingenuousness of the writer most. That it was a leap, is quite clear, or parties having the lead in such a run would surely have tried their hands at it; and the feat, both as regards Mr. Meynell and the grey, is greatly enhanced by the fact of the others having come to a stand-still, or turning away, two very disheartening things both to rider and horse, some horses resolutely refusing what they see others turn away from. Not so the gallant grey, it seems. He flew it like a bird, but the late leaders wouldn't follow.

“jle who looks, and rides away,

May live to look another day."

The Craners seem to liave got up, some how or other, notwithstanding, for our narrator proceeds with the run, having found, I should say, at Shoby Scoales, running by Ragdale and Hoby to Frisby Gorse, where they had a little breathing

time. The fox then went away to the gorse at Great Dalby, from thence to Gadsby, where they caught a view; but a mistake occurred, owing to a cur having chased the fox, but losing sight, had been run himself by the hounds for nearly two miles. This naturally brought them to cold hunting , when they again got on the line of the fox, and after forty minutes of it they found themselves close to Queenborough. “Here,” says the writer, “it was generally thought that every chance of recovering our fox was at an end, and after making several casts to no purpose, we were about to give the thing up as settled, and many had left, when one of the most singular circumstances took place that ever was recorded in the annals of fox-hunting. It occurred to Mr. Meynell that the fox had either thrown himself up, or made his way to the other side of the village. He therefore trotted on through the place, and as he passed the church-yard, two or three couple of hounds happened to stray into it; among these was a famous hound called Champion, who had found the fox in the morning, and who now again sounded a note in the same key, which speedily caught the quick ear of his old master. Mr. Meynell declared he might be depended upon; and putting his nag to the wall, le rode over it in his usual cool and beautiful style. He had not been long among the mansions of the dead before he discovered that our lost friend had gone to earth, though not exactly in the usual way: he had actually taken possession of a newly made grave, from which out he jumped, to all appearance as fresh as ever, and though by this time all the bounds had got into the inclosure, he contrived once more to give them the slip, and afforded another excellent run from Queenborough 10 Syston (now a railway station); then turning to the right, he crossed the Leicester road, charging a small river in his way, to Mount Sorrel, where he was gallantly run into near the windmill, on the hill."

This run, evidently the production of a sportsman, is, I think, quoted by Nimrod in his account of the coverts, in his “Character of Leicestershire as a hunting Country," and also in his posthumous work, “ Hunting Reminiscences.” In the latter it is given thus:

Shoby Scoales shuws fine runs into Lord Forester's country, &c. This fixture is rendered memorable from a tremendous run in the great Meynell's time, on the first hunting day of the season.” This is evidently a mistake of Nimrod's, and should be the first day of the year. A schoolboy would not be spending his holidays in Leicestershire, the first Monday in November.

• The burst,” says Nimrod, “was to Frisby Gorse; but after passing over the fine – nay, unequalled lordships of Gaddesby, Great Dalby, Queenboroughi, and Syston, the fox was killed close to Mount Sorrel. Those who saw it have asserted that Mr. Meynell, on his favourite grey horse, and his celebrated hound Champion, equally distinguished themselves on this day.”

Nimrod's acquaintance with Mr. Meynell seems to have commenced after that gentleman's resignation of Leicestershire. “Casting over my boyish days,” says he, in his “ Hunting Reminiscences,” "I will proceed to the first year of my visiting Leicestershire, which was 1802, I believe; at all events, it was the first year of Lord Sefton's taking the Quorn hounds from Mr. Meynell, and I cannot do better than commence with Mr. Meynell himself.

Of course, saw him too late in life to form a fair judgment of his usual method of riding to hounds, which I always heard spoken of as not only judicious, but bold. I can only at this distance of time, indeed, call to recollection one instance of his coming under my observation in a Fun, and that was a very sharp burst of about twenty minutes, from Thrussington Wolds, our fox being so blown at the finish of it that he sank in attempting to cross a canal. I travelled along-side this pattern for foxhunters great part of the way, and have his figure at this moment before me in my mind's eye. He rode a strong

black horse, possessing twice the speed he appeared to have, and, of course, a perfect fencer; indeed, I saw his rider charge a very fair brook, just before the finish, scarcely appearing to look at it, his attention

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