Harry Graham: The Sporting Spirit
[»The emotional surprise and the unexpected suddenness in the rise of game require great accuracy, rapidity, and nerve control, and experience is in my favour that there are some who are improved in these essentials of good shooting by a little alcohol at lunch.«—Dr. T. Claye Shaw in the Times.]
It once was my habit to miss ev'ry rabbit
At which I might happen to fire;
I wasted each cartridge despatching some partridge
To die in a neighbouring shire.
By nature ungainly, I struggled, but vainly,
A duck or a woodcock to kill,
And cut a poor figure when pressing the trigger
With far greater vigour than skill,
Until, all at once, I discovered a tonic,
And now (so to speak) my adroitness is chronic!
A flask of old brandy I always keep handy,
And, after an opportune nip,
My wits are collected, my aim is corrected,
My weapon with firmness I grip.
I notice, untroubled, that all things are doubled;
Two outlines I hazily trace
Of ev'ry cock-pheasant, and shooting grows pleasant
When each single bird is a brace;
Each teal has a twin, ev'ry black-cock a brother,
And so I am bound to hit one or the other!
My methods may flurry those neighbours in Surrey
Whose eyes I persistently wipe,
And startle the Vicar whom once, when in liquor,
I shot, in mistake for a snipe;
At Bolton or Belvoir my faithful retriever
Retrieves more than any dog there;
No bag is so heavy as that which I levy
At Welbeck, so what do I care?
Sustained by old brandy, in covert or stubble,
My fame (and my game) I can daily redouble!