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mg them to take every deer in this forest alive, and to convey them in carts to Windsor. In the course of the summer they caught every stag, some of which showed extraordinary diversion; but, in the following winter, when the hinds were also carried off, such fine chases were exhi. bited as served the country people for matter of talk and wonder for years afterwards. I saw myself one of the yeoman prickers single out a stag from the herd, and must confess that it was the most curious feat of activity I ever beheld,-superior to anything in Mr. Astley's riding-school. The exertions made by the horse and deer much exceeded all my expectations, though the former greatly excelled the latter in speed. When the devoted deer was separated from his companions, they gave him, by their watches, law, as they called it, for twenty minutes ; when, sounding their horns, the stop-dogs were permitted to pursue, and a most gallant scene ensued.
TO THE SAME.
Though large herds of deer do much harm to the neighbourhood, yet the injury to the morals of the people is of more moment than the loss of their crops.* The temptation is irresistible; for most men are sportsmen by constitution: and there is such an inherent spirit for hunting in human nature, as scarce any inhibitions can restrain. Hence, towards the beginning of this century, all this country was wild about deer-stealing. Unless he were a hunter, as they affected to call themselves, no young person was allowed to
* Nothing can be more true than these remarks. The state of demoralisation of the people in the neighbourhood of the New Forest, for instance, is beyond what can well be imagined. Deer stealing is a temptation which few of them can resist, and the consequence is idleness, drunkenness, and immorality. The Act of Parliament which removes the deer from the New Forest, will confer a blessing on the whole neighbourhood.—ED.
be possessed of manhood or gallantry. The Waltham blacks at length committed such enormities, that Government was forced to interfere with that severe and sanguinary act called the Black Act,* which now comprehends more felonies than any law that ever was framed before; and, therefore, a late bishop of Winchester, when urged to re-stock Waltham chase, refused, from a motive worthy of a prelate, replying, that “ It had done mischief enough already."
Our old race of deer-stealers are hardly extinct yet. It was but a little while ago that, over their ale, they used to recount the exploits of their youth; such as watching the pregnant hind to her lair, and when the calf was dropped, paring its feet with a penknife to the quick, to prevent its escape, till it was large and fat enough to be killed; the shooting at one of their neighbours with a bullet, in a turnip-field, by moonshine, mistaking him for a deer; and the losing a dog in the following extraordinary manner :Some fellows, suspecting that a calf new-fallen was deposited in a certain spot of thick fern, went with a lurcher to surprise it; when the parent hind rushed out of the brake, and taking a vast spring, with all her feet close together, pitched upon the neck of the dog, and broke it short in two.
Another temptation to idleness and sporting, was a number of rabbits, which possessed all the hillocks and dry places ; but these being inconvenient to the huntsmen, on account of their burrows, when they came to take
the deer, they permitted the country people to destroy them all.
Such forests and wastes, when their allurements to irregularities are removed, are of considerable service to neighbourhoods that verge upon them, by furnishing them with peat and turf for their firing; with fuel for the burning their lime; and with ashes for their grasses ; and by maintaining their geese and their stock of young cattle at little or no expense. I
* Statute 9 Geo. I. c. 22. + This chase remains unstocked to this day; the bishop was Dr. Hoadley.
This was the case when Mr. White wrote this passage ; but alas, since then Parliamentary enactments have deprived the labourers of much of their rights of common, by enclosing them, and thus much of their means of subsistence, and consequently of their prosperity, have disappeared. Whenever labour was slack, the common was always a reserve on which the labourer could employ himself, by cutting fuel, making brooms, &c.—Ed.
The manor farm of the parish of Greatham has an admitted claim, I see, by an old record taken from the Tower of London, of turning all live stock on the forest, at proper seasons, bidentibus exceptis, “ sheep excepted."* The reason,
presume, why sheep are excluded is, becaase, being such close grazers, they would pick out all the finest grasses, and hinder the deer from thriving.
Though (by statute 4 and 5 William and Mary, c. 23) “ to burn on any waste, between Candlemas and Midsummer, any grig, ling, heath and furze, gorse, or fern, is punishable with whipping, and confinement in the house of correction;" yet, in this forest, about March or April, according to the dryness of the season, such vast heath-fires are lighted up, that they often get to a masterless head, and, catching the hedges, have sometimes been communicated to the underwoods, woods, and coppices, where great damage has ensued. The plea for these burnings is, that, when the old coat of heath, &c., is consumed, young will sprout up, and afford much tender browse for cattle; but where there is large old furze, the fire, following the roots, consumes the very ground; so that for hundreds of acres nothing is to be seen but smother and desolation, the whole circuit round looking like the cinders of a volcano ; and, the soil being quite exhausted, no traces of vegetation are to be found for years. These conflagrations, as they take place usually with a north-east or east wind, much annoy this village with their smoke, and often alarm the country; and once, in particular, I remember that a gentleman, who lives beyond Andover, coming to my house, when he got on the downs between that town and Winchester, at twenty-five miles distance, was surprised much with smoke and a hot smell of fire; and concluded that Alresford was in flames; but when he came to that town, he then had apprehensions for the next village, and so on to the end of his journey.
On two of the most conspicuous eminences of this forest, stand two arbours, or bowers, made of the boughs of oaks the one called Waldon Lodge, the other Brimstone Lodge ; these the keepers renew annually on the feast of St. Barnabas,
* For this privilege the cwner of that estate used to pay to the king annually seven bushels of oats.
taking the old materials for a perquisite. The farm called Blackmoor, in this parish, is obliged to find the posts and brushwood for the former; while the farms at Greatham, in rotation, furnish for the latter; and are all enjoined to cut and deliver the materials at the spot. This custom I mention, because I look upon it to be of very remote antiquity.
TO THE SAME.
On the verge of the forest, as it is now circumscribed, are three considerable lakes; two in Oakhanger, of which I have nothing particular to say; and one called Bin's, or Bean's Pond, which is worthy the attention of a naturalist or a sportsman; for, being crowded at the upper end with willows, and with the carex cespitosa, “clumpy sedge,"'* it affords such a safe and pleasant shelter to wild ducks, teals, snipes, &c. that they breed there. In the winter this covert is also frequented by foxes, and sometimes by pheasants ; and the bogs produce many curious plants.t
By a perambulation of Wolmer Forest and the Holt, made in 1635, and the eleventh year of Charles the First, (which now lies before me,) it appears that the limits of the former are much circumscribed. For, to say nothing of the farther side, with which I am not so well acquainted, the bounds on this side, in old times, came into Binswood, and extended to the ditch of Ward-le-ham Park, in which stands the curious mount, called King John's Hill, and Lodge Hill, and to the verge of Hartley Mauduit, called Mauduit-hatch comprehending also Shortheath, Oakhanger, and Oak-woods; a large district, now private property, though once belonging to the royal domain.
* I mean that sort which, rising into tall hassocks, is called by the forester torrets ; a corruption I suppose of turrets.
Wild ducks and teal also breed in the thick heather in the neighbour hood.-Ed.
+ For whicl: cousult Letter LXXXIV, to Mr. Barrington.
It is remarkable, that the term purlieu is never once merr tioned in this long roll of parchment. It contains, besides the perambulation, a rough estimate of the value of the timbers, which were considerable, growing at that time in the district of the Holt; and enumerates the officers, superior and inferior, of those joint forests, for the time being, and their ostensible fees and perquisites. In those days, as at present, there were hardly any trees in Wolmer Forest.
Within the present limits of the forest are three considerable lakes, Hogmer, Cranmer, and Wolmer; all of which are stocked with carp, tench, eels, and perch: but the fish do not thrive well, because the water is hungry, and the bottoms are a naked sand.
A circumstance respecting these ponds, though by no means peculiar to them, I cannot pass over in silence: and that is, that instinct by which in summer all the kine, whether oxen, cows, calves, or heifers, retire constantly to the water during the hotter hours; where, being more exempt from flies, and inhaling the coolness of that element, some belly deep, and some only to mid-leg, they ruminate and solace themselves from about ten in the morning till four in the afternoon, and then return to their feeding. During this great proportion of the day, they drop much dung, in which insects nestle, and so supply food for the fish, which would be poorly subsisted, but for this contingency.* Thus Nature, who is a great economist, converts the recreation of one animal to the support of another! Thomson, who was a nice observer of natural occurrences, did not let this pleasing circumstance escape him. He says in his Summer,“A various group the herds and flocks compose :
on the grassy bank, Some ruminating lie; while others stand Half in the food, and, often bending, sip
The circling surface." Wolmer Pond, so called, I suppose, for eminence sake, 19
* This passage proves what an accurate observer Mr. White was of apparently trifling facts and circumstances in natural history. He might have added to the above that so economical is Nature, that when cattle are standing in the water, they whisk off vast quantities of flies, which are greedily devoured by the fish which assemble about them, and these, more than the dung, supply thom with food.-ED.