subscribed the most money to the fight. Since the decline of ‘the ring,’ steeplechasing and that still smaller grade of gambling -- coursing, have come to their aid. Nine-tenths of the steeplechases and coursing- matches are got up by innkeepers, for the good of their houses. Some of the town publicans, indeed, seem to think that the country was just made for their matches to come off in, and scarcely condescend to ask the leave of the landowners. We saw an advertisement the other day, where a low publican, in a manufacturing town, assured the subscribers to his coursing-club that he would take care to select open ground, with ‘plenty of stout hares,’ as if all the estates in the neighbourhood were at his command. Another advertised a steeplechase in the centre of a good hunting country -- ‘amateur and gentleman riders’ -- with a half-crown ordinary at the end! Fancy the respectability of a steeplechase, with a half- crown ordinary at the end!

Our ‘Aristocratic’ was got up on the good-of-the-house principle. Whatever benefit the Granddiddle Junction conferred upon the country at large, it had a very prejudicial effect upon the Old Duke of Cumberland Hotel and Posting-House, which it left, high and dry, at an angle, sufficiently near to be tantalised by the whirr and the whistle of the trains, and yet too far off to be benefited by the parties they brought. This once well-accustomed hostelry was kept by one Mr Viney, a former butler in the Scattercash family, and who still retained the usual ‘old-and-faithful-servant’ entréee of Nonsuch House, having his beefsteak and bottle of wine in the steward’s room whenever he chose to call. Viney had done good at the Old Duke of Cumberland; and no one, seeing him ‘full fig,’ would recognise, in the solemn grandeur of his stately person, the dirty knife-boy who had filled the place now occupied by the still dirtier Slarkey. But the days of road travelling departed, and Viney, who, beneath the Grecian-columned portico of his country- house-looking hotel, modulated the ovations of his cauliflower head to every description of traveller -- from the lordly occupant of the barouche-and-four, down to the humble sitter in a gig -- was cut off by one fell swoop from all further traffic. He was extinguished like a gaslight, and the pipe was laid on a fresh line.

Fortunately Mr Viney was pretty warm; he had done pretty well; and having enjoyed the intimacy of the great ‘Jeames’ of railway times, had got a hint not to engage the hotel beyond the opening of the line. Consequently, he now had the great house for a mere nothing until such times as the owner could convert it into that last refuge for deserted houses -- an academy, or a ‘young ladies’ seminary.’ Mr Viney now, having plenty of leisure, frequently drove his ‘missis’ (once a lady’s maid in a quality family) up to Nonsuch House, as well for the sake of the airing -- for the road was pleasant and picturesque -- as to see if he could get the ‘little trifle’ Sir Harry owed him for post-horses, bottles of soda-water, and such trifles as country gentlemen run up scores for at their posting-houses -- scores that seldom get smaller by standing. In these excursions Mr Viney made the acquaintance of Mr Watchorn; and a huntsman being a character with whom even the landlord of an inn -- we beg pardon, hotel and posting-house -- may associate without degradation, Viney and Watchorn became intimate. Watchorn sympathised with Viney, and never failed to take a glass in passing, either at exercise or out hunting, to deplore that such a nice-looking house, so ‘near the station, too,’ should be ruined as an inn. It was after a more than usual libation that Watchorn, trotting merrily along with the hounds, having accomplished three blank days in succession, asked himself, as he looked upon the surrounding vale from the rising ground of Hammercock Hill, with the cream- coloured station and rose-coloured hotel peeping through the trees, whether something might not be done to give the latter a lift. At first he thought of a pigeon match -- a sweepstake open to all England -- fifty members say, at two pond ten each, seven pigeons, seven sparrows, twenty-one yards rise, two ounces of shot, and so on. But then, again, he thought there would be a difficulty in getting guns. A coursing-match -- how would that do? Answer: ‘No hares.’ The farmers had made such an outcry about the game, that the landowners had shot them all off, and now the farmers were grumbling that they couldn’t get a course.

‘Dash my buttons!’ exclaimed Watchorn; ‘it would be the very thing for a steeplechase! There’s old Puff’s hounds, and old Scamp’s hounds, and these hounds,’ looking down on the ill-sorted lot around him; ‘and the deuce is in it if we couldn’t give the thing such a start as would bring down the lads of the ‘‘village,’’ and a vast amount of good business might be done. I’m dashed if it isn’t the very country for a steeplechase!’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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