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R A M B LING R E MINISCENCES OF
-En age, segnes
Virg. Georg. 3,
“ Hark away, hark away, hark away is the word to the sound of the horn, And echo, blithe echo, while echó, blithe echo makes jovial the morn.”
CHORUS TO BRIGHT PH@bus.
No; we will not look upon the hunters of Kentucky yet ; the mighty dead of other days claim first our admiring contemplation. It will be good for us to look at their portraits in Time's old diorama—to see them face to face through History's faithful theodolite.
What an innumerable army ! Patriarchs, sages, kings, heroes, inspired, demigods, sacred, profane! Blessed is thy memory, O son of Cush, and thy name glorious, captain of the host, and father and beginner of all hunting! Of whom else doth the historian bear record, that he " was a mighty hunter before the Lord ?"
Posterity hath not done justice to Nimrod. Even Josephus barely mentions him, and we are left entirely in the dark as to the character of his game and the weapons of his craft.
It is not vain, however, nor improper, as we hope, to speculate upon a matter which, to hunters, is a subject of such
thrilling interest. May we not, then, imagine and believe, that the founder of Babel was one of the giants of those days, and that his armory was fashioned in the workshop of that skilful artificer, Tubal Cain, and that he hunted the mastodon and magatherion ? But let every man think for himself.We said that posterity had not done justice to Nimrod. We ought to except from this censure those good poets Tickell and Somerville. They have both glorified him in verse. Their researches, whether of fact or fancy, are worthy of the attention of the judicious antiquarian.*
It would argue gross ignorance, or else wilful malice, not here to name the unfortunate Esau. He, too, was a ning hunter, a man of the field.” Frequent, doubtless, were the nights when the dutiful son, returning tired from the hunt, comforted his kind old father's heart with a saddle of good venison, the trophy of his trusty bow and quiver. But alas ! alas !—there are passages in the life of Esau upon which we cannot bear to dwell—themes too high.
Let us pass on. Who cometh next? Truly, Samson, Milton's Samson Agonistes, beyond challenge a keen hunter. This honorable
reputation he worthily acquired by his 'capture, adjunction and adignition of the three hundred foxes, which he turned among
“ When Nimrod bold,
his father-in-law's grain-stacks, to punish him for trading away his wife when he was temporarily absent from the family. For one man to catch three hundred foxes, upon one hunting expedition, or even in the course of a whole season, it requires not only great strength, but much ingenuity, earnest perseverance, faithful patience, good love, and good luck. Samson was an uncommon man.
We take occasion here to caution the scrupulous reader to look not upon us as a Philistine. We desire to be understood as making these references to the hunters of the by-gone days of Palestine, with no sceptical levity, but with faithful reliance upon recorded facts. We will further remark, that great as was the performance last referred to, yet we believe it may be accomplished by a man of extraordinary powers, without the aid of any miraculous assistance. We esteem that it was so accomplished, and that it was one of the ordinary occurrences in the life of the hunter Samson. As such it is our duty to record it here. As such, we celebrate the enterprise, and enshrine it with its author in our gallery of hunters.
But let us look upon the profane and the mythological, and then, peradventure, we may be permitted to moralize, without restraint. The Heathen celebrated mighty hunters. Great is his glory, who is vouched for by Diodorus and the almost Christian Cicero. A poet's incarnation he may be, but
people seem to believe in him, and to recognize and to worship his attributes. Do we ever say Samsonian? No; we always call it Herculean" task. Son of Alcmena, fortunate were the irregular nuptials of thy honored parents! Happy was the earth, when thou wert delivered to deliver her of Hydras and Chimæras. Happy was the sky which received thee back to rule the seasons,-as some, not vain, imagine,-and to quaff old nectar with thy father Jupiter.
But we have no sympathy with people specially gifted. Hence we contemplate the exploits of demigods with cold wonder only, and not with the hearty enjoyment with which
listen to the story of a sporting friend, who is like ourselves, and from a knowledge of whose character we may judge of the extent of the embellishments. Moreover, it is hard to comprehend the glory of cutting off dragon's heads, and doing such other deeds of desperate valor as the biographers of Hercules have, with commendable particularity, set down to stimulate our ambition. For one thing, however, we love as well as admire the hunters of old times. They had the true spirit of chivalry in them. Hunters were patriotic, and generous, before printing and gunpowder were invented. Now, we offer rewards to men to do themselves a pleasure, and give bounties for dead wolves and crows.
Theseus, Castor, and Pollux. It is almost ludicrous to think of one of these heroes sending in an affidavit, duly sworn to according to law, and claiming from the overseers of the town a ten dollar bill for shooting down a wild cat.
Nestor, Ulysses, Diomedes, swift-footed Achilles. Xenophon tells us that these were all mighty hunters. But they were statesmen, warriors, and benefactors, too. By Diana! When we think of these, and of some glorious few other such ancient megatherial earth-gods, who made for history and poetry a subject and a beginning, our anger waxeth hot at the assurance of the muskrat-catching poachers of modern times, who affect to call themselves hunters. They are blasphemers. They take the name in vain.
Saint Saggitarius forefend that we should shoot an undeserved arrow at the bear-hugging Colonel Crockett!
But our conscience pricks our judgment to pronounce its denial that he can challenge any better claim to the laurels of a hunter than a half-şhrived ghost in purgatory
can put forth to a fee-simple foot-hold among the stars. There is no registry of the name of clown-hunter in any book of heraldry that we wot of.
Multo majora canamus.—Is there any thing more glorious in fact, or in fancy, than the impersonation of the chaste, virgin, huntress goddess ? Worthily was she mistress and queen of the chase. We seem to see her now, her maidens all put forth, bending from her firmamental throne, to whisper a kiss upon the fair brow of Endymion, innocent youth, as he lies, cold and tired, on the summit of old Latmos. Now a beain from her eye falls upon the expecting boy; and nowa cloud hides them from us, and our vision is gone! fess, that if we were to catch the moon in company with Endymion, we should be apt to be revengeful, and furnish another proof of the truth of the old maxim, that “three spoils company."
There should be no eclipse, nor any other sort of fun that night. We would punish the proud Dian for her cruel treatment of the unwittingly offending Actæon. A hunter, he, and a brave. Her worshipper. And yet, forsooth, because, with no malice aforethought, and by mere accident, he happened to stumble upon her one day in the woods when she was not dressed for company, she must needs metamorphose him into a stag, and set upon him his own rapacious dogs! Out upon such savage prudery! Nephele, and Hyale, and Rhenis, and Psecas, and Phiale, and all the rest of ye, heartless nymphs ! We have no patience with your affectation, making your mistress to act like a very lunatic !*
Unhappy Actæon ! “ Sic illum fata ferebant.” Bad luck
(*) “Sciut erant nudæ, viso, sua pectora Nymphe
Percussere, viro, subitisque ulutatibus omne
Ovid Met. lib. 3.