I presently ascertained that coaches ran every two hours from the Green Griffin to the Royal Oak in London, a fact which the bald-headed man had maliciously (as I thought) concealed from me. The line had been established, as the barman of the Griffin told me, by Lord Brownmead himself some years ago and was maintained at considerable loss for the benefit of his tenantry and his poorer neighbors; and, as some people thought, to make amends for his opposition to the tramway. "Sometimes," added the barman, "his lordship drives hisself, and then, lor!" There could be no doubt from the gusto with which the last words were pronounced that this individual derived a more tangible joy from these occasions than mere sympathy with the honored guest who occupied a seat on the box next the distinguished whip: and I accordingly slipped half a crown into his hand à propos de bottes. He expressed no surprise whatever, but just as the coach was about to start, I found myself the pampered ward of a posse of ostlers, grooms, and hangers-on, who literally lifted me into the envied seat and evinced the most touching concern for my comfort and safety. My knees were swathed in rugs and the apron was firmly buckled across to keep me warm and dry, without any effort on my part, and as the leaders straightened out the traces and Lord Brownmead cracked the whip, half-a-dozen pair of eyes "looked towards me," while their owners drank what they were pleased to call my health, but which looked to me more like beer. As we dashed down the high street, a little man with a bald head cast a withering glance at the coach and its occupants, and, when his eyes met mine, his expression said as plain as words: "I thought so." I soon forgot him, and fell to reflecting on the curious circumstance that it should be in the power of a few potmen and stablemen to sell a nobleman's company and conversation for the sum of half a crown. Yet so it undoubtedly was. And yet, after all, it is hardly stranger than that these same potmen and millions more of their own class should have the power of selling to the highest bidder a six-hundred-and-seventieth part of kingly prerogative. The divine right of kings is just what it ever was,—the right of the strong to trample on the weak, the absolute despotism of the effective majority. Only to-day, instead of being conferred in its entirety on a single person, it is cut up into six hundred and seventy little bits, and sold in lots to the highest bidder, by a ring of five millions of potmen and their like.
Such is the new democracy, I thought, and I might possibly have built up an essay on the reflection, when I was suddenly roused from my reverie by a grunt from the box-seat. "I beg your pardon," said I, "I did not quite catch what you said." "Fine bird," repeated his lordship in a louder grunt, and jerking his thumb in the direction of a distant coppice. "Begin to-morrow: capital prospect," he continued. "Begin what?" I asked, a little ashamed of my stupidity. "October to-morrow," he replied: "forgotten, eh?" "Oh, ah ! yes, of course, October the 1st, pheasant-shooting, I see," I replied, as soon as I caught his meaning. "Done any good this season, sir?" he went on. "Good, how? what good? what in? I don't quite understand," said I. "Moors, moors," explained Lord Brownmead; "grouse, sir, grouse : are you … er … er?" "Oh, I see," I hastened to reply; "you mean have I shot many grouse this season; no. I have not been to Scotland this year; besides, I am short-sighted and do not shoot at all." A man who did not shoot was hardly worth talking to, and a long silence ensued. At last our Jehu took pity on me. "Fish I suppose; can't hunt all the year round." I repliedthat I did not care for fishing, and that I had no horses and could not af-