Laverick Wells

WE TRUST OUR OPENING CHAPTERS, aided by our friend Leech’s pencil, will have enabled our readers to embody such a Sponge in their mind’s eye as will assist them in following us through the course of his peregrinations. We do not profess to have drawn such a portrait as will raise the same sort of Sponge in the minds of all, but we trust we have given such a general outline of style, and indication of character, as an ordinary knowledge of the world will enable them to imagine a good, pushing, free-and-easy sort of man, wishing to be a gentleman without knowing how.

Far more difficult is the task of conveying to our readers such information as will enable them to form an idea of our hero’s ways and means. An accommodating world -- especially the female portion of it -- generally attribute ruin to the racer, and fortune to the fox-hunter; but though Mr Sponge’s large losses on the turf, as detailed by him to Mr Buckram on the occasion of their deal or ‘job,’ would bring him in the category of the unfortunates; still that representation was nearly, if not altogether, fabulous. That Mr Sponge might have lost a trifle on the great races of the year, we don’t mean to deny, but that he lost such a sum as eighteen hundred on the Derby, and seven on the Leger, we are in a condition to contradict, for the best of all possible reasons, that he hadn’t it to lose. At the same time we do not mean to attribute falsehood to Mr Sponge -- quite the contrary -- it is no uncommon thing for merchants and traders, men who ‘talk in thousands,’ to declare that they lost twenty thousand by this, or forty thousand by that, simply meaning that they didn’t make it, and if Mr Sponge, by taking the longest of the long odds against the most wretched of the outsiders, might have won the sums he named, he surely had a right to say he lost them when he didn’t get them.

It never does to be indigenously poor, if we may use such a term, and when a man gets to the end of his tether, he must have something or somebody to blame rather than his own extravagance or imprudence, and if there is no ‘rascally lawyer’ who has bolted with his title-deeds, or fraudulent agent who has misappropriated his funds, why then, railroads, or losses on the turf; or joint-stock banks that have shut up at short notice, come in as the scapegoats. Very willing hacks they are, too, railways especially, and so frequently ridden, that it is no easy matter to discriminate between the real and the fictitious loser.

But though we are able to contradict Mr Sponge’s losses on the turf, we are sorry we are not able to elevate him to the riches the character of a fox-hunter generally inspires. Still, like many men of whom the common observation is, ‘nobody knows how he lives,’ Mr Sponge always seemed well to do in the world. There was no appearance of want about him. He always hunted; sometimes with five horses, sometimes with four, seldom with less than three, though at the period of our introduction he had come down to two. Nevertheless, those two, provided he could but make them ‘go,’ were well calculated to do the work of four. And hack horses, of all sorts, it may be observed, generally do double the work of private ones; and if there is one man in the world better calculated to get the work out of them than another, that man most assuredly is Mr Sponge. And this reminds us, that we may as well state that his bargain with Buckram was a sort of jobbing deal. He had to pay ten guineas a month for each horse, with a sort of sliding scale of prices if he chose to buy -- the price of ‘Ercles’ (the big brown) being fixed at fifty, inclusive of hire at the end of the first month, and gradually rising according to the length of time he kept him beyond that; while Multum in Parvo, the resolute chesnut, was booked at thirty, with the right of buying at five more, a contingency that Buckram little expected. He, we may add, had got him for ten, and dear he thought him when he got him home.

The world was now all before Mr Sponge where to choose; and not being the man to keep hack-horses to look at, we must be setting him a-going.

‘Leicestersheer swells,’ as Mr Buckram would call them, with their fourteen hunters and four hacks, will smile at the idea of a man going from home to hunt with only a couple of ‘screws,’ but Mr Sponge knew what he was about, and didn’t want anyone to counsel him. He knew there were places where a man can follow up the effect produced by a red coat in the morning to great advantage in the evening; and if he couldn’t hunt every day in the week, as he could have wished, he felt he might fill up his time perhaps quite as profitably in other ways. The ladies, to do them justice, are never at all suspicious about men -- on the ‘nibble’ -- always taking it for granted, they are ‘all they could wish,’ and they know each other so

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