Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 103, December 10, 1892

Periodicals/
#Periodicals #Games/Humor
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Excerpt I may assume, that after the terrible example given in my last chapter, you have firmly made up your mind never on any account to take service in the great army of bores. But this determination is not all that is necessary. A man must constantly keep a strict guard on himself, lest he should unconsciously deviate even for a few minutes into the regions of boredom. Whatever you do, let nothing tempt you to relate more than once any grievance you may have. Nothing of course is more poisonous to the aggrieved one than to stifle his grievance absolutely. Once, and once only, he may produce it to his friends. I shall be blamed, perhaps, for making even this slight concession. Please be careful, therefore, not to abuse it. Is there in the whole world a more ridiculous sight than a strong, healthy, well-fed sportsman who wearies his companions one after another with the depressing recital of his ill-luck, or of the dastardly behaviour of the head-keeper in not stopping the whole party for half an hour to search for an imaginary bird, which is supposed to have fallen stone-dead somewhere or other; or of the iniquities of the man from whom he bought his cartridges in not loading them with the right charge; or any of the hundred inconveniences and injuries to which sportsmen are liable. All these things may be as he says they are. He may be the most unfortunate, the most unjustly treated of mankind. But why insist upon it? Why check the current of sympathy by the dam of constant repetition? And, after all, how trivial and absurd the whole thing is! Even a man whose career has been ruined by malicious persecution will be avoided like a pest if it is known that he dins the account of his wrongs into everyone's ears. How, then, shall the sufferer by the petty injuries of ordinary sport be listened to with patience? Of all bores, the grievancemonger is the fiercest and worst. Lay this great truth by in your memory, and be mindful of it in more important matters than sport when the occasion arises. Click for full size image I have been asked to say, whether a man may abuse his gun? I reply emphatically, no. A gun is not a mere ordinary machine. Its beautiful arrangement of locks, and springs, and catches, and bolts, and pins, and screws, its unaccountable perversities, its occasional fits of sulkiness, its lovely brown complexion, and its capacity both for kicking and for smoking, all prove that a gun is in reality a sentient being of a very high order of intelligence. You may be quite certain that if you abuse your gun, even when you may imagine it to be far out of earshot, comfortably cleaned and put to roost on its rack, your gun will resent it. Why are most sportsmen so silent, so distraits at breakfast? Why do they dally with a scrap of fish, and linger over the consumption of a small kidney, and drink great draughts of tea to restore their equilibrium? If you ask them, they will tell you that it's because they're "just a bit chippy," owing to sitting up late, or smoking too much, or forgetting to drink a whiskey and soda before they went to bed. I know better. It is because they incautiously spoke evil of their guns, and their guns retaliated by haunting their sleep. I know guns have this power of projecting horrible emanations of themselves into the slumbers of sportsmen who have not treated them as they deserved. I have suffered from it myself. It was only last week that, having said something derogatory to the dignity of my second gun, I woke with a start at two o'clock in the morning, and found its wraith going through the most horrible antics in a patch of moonlight on my bed-room floor. I shot with that gun on the following day, and missed nearly everything I shot at. Could there be a more convincing proof? Take my advice, therefore, and abstain from abusing your gun. Now your typical smoking-room conversation ought always to include the following subjects:—(1) The wrong-headed, unpopular man, whom every district possesses, and who is always at loggerheads with somebody; (2) "The best shot in England," who is to be found in every country-side, and in whose achievements all the sportsmen of his particular district take a patriotic pride; (3) the folly and wickedness of those who talk or write ignorantly against any kind of sport; (4) the deficiency of hares due to the rascally provisions of the Hares and Rabbits Act; (5) a few reminiscences, slightly glorified, of the particular day's sport; and (6) a prolonged argument on the relative merits of the old plan of shooting birds over dogs, and the modern methods of walking them up or driving. These are not the only, but certainly the chief ingredients. Let me give you an example, drawn from my note-book. Scene—The Smoking-room of a Country-house in December. Six Sportsmen in Smoking-coats. Time, 11.15 p.m. First Sportsman (concluding a harangue). All I can say is, I never read such rot in all my life. Why, the fellow doesn't know a gun from a cartridge-bag. I'm perfectly sick of reading that everlasting rubbish about "pampered minions of the aristocracy slaughtering the unresisting pheasant in his thousands at battues." I wonder what the beggars imagine a rocketing pheasant is like?...
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