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I visited him, the morning after my arrival, in his chamber, which is in a remote corner of the mansion, as he says he likes to be to himself, and out of the way. He has fitted it up in his own taste, so that it is a perfect epitome of an old bachelor's notions of convenience and arrangement. The furniture is made up of odd pieces from all parts of the house, chosen on account of their suiting his notions, or fitting some corner of his apartment; and he is very eloquent in praise of an ancient elbow chair, from which he takes occasion to digress into a censure on modern chairs, as having degenerated from the dignity and comfort of high-backed antiquity.
Adjoining to his room is a small cabinet, which he calls his study. Here are some hanging shelves, of his own construction, on which are several old works on hawking, hunting, and farriery, and a collection or two of poems and songs of the reign of Elizabeth, which he studies out of compliment to the squire; together with the Novelists' Magazine, the Sporting Magazine, the Racing Calendar, a volume or two of the Newgate Calendar, a book of peerage, and another of heraldry.
His sporting dresses hang on pegs in a small closet: and about the walls of his apartment are hooks to hold his fishing tackle, whips, spurs, and a favourite fowling-piece, curiously wrought and inlaid, which he inherits from his grandfather. He has also a couple of old single-keyed flutes, and a fiddle, which he has repeatedly patched and mended himself, affirming it to be a veritable Cremona; though I have never heard him extract a single note from it that was not enough to make one's blood run cold.
From this little nest his fiddle will often be heard, in the stillness of midday, drowsily sawing some long-forgotten tune; for he prides himself on having a choice collection of good old English music, and will scarcely have any thing to do with modern composers. The time, however, at which his musical powers are of most use, is now and then of an evening, when he plays for the children to dance in the hall, and he passes among them and the servants for a perfect Orpheus.
His chamber also bears evidence of his various avocations: there are half-copied sheets of music; designs for needlework; sketches of landscapes, very indifferently executed; a camera-lucida; a magic lantern, for which he is endeavouring to paint glasses; in a word, it is the cabinet of a man of many accomplishments, who knows a little of every thing, and does nothing well.
After I had spent some time in his apartment, admiring the ingenuity of his small inventions, he took me about the establishment, to visit the stables, dog-kennel, and other dependencies, in which he appeared like a general visiting the different quarters of his camp; as the squire leaves the control of all these matters to him, when he is at the hall. He inquired into the state of the horses; examined their feet; prescribed a drench for one, and bleeding for another; and then took me to look at his own horse, on the merits of which he dwelt with great prolixity, and which, I noticed, had the best stall in the stable.
After this I was taken to a new toy of his and the squire's, which he termed the falconry, where there were several unhappy birds in durance, completing their education. Among the number was a fine falcon, which Master Simon had in especial training; and he told me that he would show me, in a few days, some rare sport of the good old-fashioned kind. In the course of our round, I noticed that the grooms, game-keeper, whippers-in, and other retainers, seemed to be on somewhat of a familiar footing with Master Simon, and fond of having a joke with him, though it was evident they had great deference for his opinion in matters relating to their functions.
There was one exception, however, in a testy old huntsman, as hot as a peppercorn; a meagre, wiry old fellow, in a threadbare velvet jockey cap, and a pair of leather breeches, that, from much wear, shone as though they had been japanned. He was very contradictory and pragmatical, and apt, as I thought, to differ from Master Simon now and then, out of mere captiousness. This was particularly the case with respect to the hawk, which the old man seemed to have under his peculiar care, and, according to Master Simon, was in a fair way to ruin; the latter had a vast deal to say about casting, and imping, and gleaming, and enseaming, and giving the hawk the rangle, which I saw was all heathen Greek to old Christy; but he maintained his point notwithstanding, and seemed to hold all this technical lore in utter disrespect.
I was surprised at the good humour with which Master Simon bore his contradictions, till he explained the matter to me afterwards. Old Christy is the most ancient servant in the place, having lived among dogs and horses the greater part of a century, and been in the service of Mr. Bracebridge's father. He knows the pedigree of every horse on the place, and has bestrode the great great grandsires of most of them. He can give a circumstantial detail of every fox-hunt for the last sixty or seventy years, and has a history for every stag's head about the house, and every hunting trophy nailed to the door of the dogkennel.
All the present race have grown up under his eye, and humour him in his old age. He once attended the squire to Oxford when he was a student there, and enlightened the whole university with his hunting lore. All this is enough to make the old man opinionated, since he finds on all these matters of first-rate importance, he knows more than the rest of the world. Indeed, Master Simon had been his pupil, and acknowledges that he derived his first knowledge in hunting from the instructions of Christy; and I much question whether the old man does not still look upon him as rather a greenhorn.
HOW TO GROW RICH.
It is not my business to discuss or pursue any nice abstract question in philosophy or metaphysics, which may arise in the progress of this history. I only record facts; and though it may be said that nothing can come of nothing, I have the means of proving beyond the possibility of cavil or dispute, that Peter Pellet, the new lord of Cwn Owen, did literally begin the world with nothing, nay worse than nothing, having been born in the poor-house of the parish of Keynsham (between Bath and Bristol), and bred up on the eleemosynary contributions of the parishioners of that place, until he was able to do in the world (as it is called) for himself. The little citizen bowed with as much humility to Mr. Geoffrey Owen, as if he had been selling a saucepan, instead of buying a castle; so habitual were the manners to which he stood indebted for the goods of fortune. The latter, in following up the suggestion which the peculiar circumstances of his situation had prompted, addressed Mr. Peter Pellet—" You appear to be a very fortunate man, sir, by your successful industry to have become the purchaser of this castle."
"Castle, quotha!—yes, yes,—I ask ye pardon—it was called a castle in the pertic'lars of sale, and that were my main objection."
"Objection—How's that, sir?"
"Why, I never see'd a castle that warn't a jail—I ask ye pardon—and so thinks I, a'ter all I've toiled and laboured—and owed no man a farden—it's but a bad job to buy oneself into jail, that's a good 'un—aynt it—but la—they laughed at me, and said e'ery man's house was a castle in this country; so I made no more ado but bought it out and out, as the saying is—I ask ye pardon."
"My pardon! For what, sir I"